Three years ago I was a part of this frightening epidemic, then one day I decided that enough was enough. For most of my life I was in denial over what I was feeding myself every day until I could no longer hide from it.
If you are looking for advice from somebody who has actually been in your shoes and can understand how you are feeling, I urge you to keep reading. If you are not then I am sure you know someone in your life that is in need and could benefit from this information. If you do then please share this article on your facebook wall or on twitter.
Who knows? You might inadvertently change someone's life...
Step 1. Admitting I had a problem
For years I strolled through life paying absolutely no attention to my health or to my body. Every now and again people would try to help by telling me (in their own polite way) that they were concerned about my health – but I never took their concerns seriously. In my mind, I was fine. I can remember telling myself that "it's perfectly normal for a person to gain weight as they get older... that's just life."
Inevitably I had to wake up from this fantasy and finally face the numbers on the scale. At the age of 23 I looked down to see that I weighed more than 330 pounds! To help put that in some kind of perspective for you, a healthy BMI (for me) would have been anywhere between 18-25. My BMI was over 42! By definition anyone over 40 is considered a class three (morbidly) obese individual. The jig was up. I couldn't lie to myself anymore. I had to admit that I had a problem and that I needed help.
Step 2. Do research and learn from others who have already done what you are about to do (like this site)
In my experience, it is always best to take advice from people who have been successful at what they do.
If you want financial advice for instance, you wouldn't go out and talk to a bunch of broke people would you? Of course not! Instead you would go out in search of someone who has a proven track record of winning with money! If you wanted weight loss advice you wouldn't talk to overweight people or people who have been thin their whole lives. Instead you would talk to people who have successfully accomplished the weight loss that you're trying to accomplish. To me that just makes all the sense in the world. That being said, my advice to you is to get advice from individuals who used to be big and not only lost the weight, but have also kept it off for some time.
I can't tell you how often I come across these 'one-hit-wonders' who lose a bunch of weight, get on YouTube, make a video about it, reach a ton of people and then wind up gaining all the weight back. I don't know about you but I am not inclined to take the advice of someone who consistently succeeds then fails at what they do. Instead I'd rather spend my time seeking out people whose advice I feel is worth following because they did it the right way.
Step 3. Trial and error
After you have found a few people who you believe are the "real deal" and who have offered their advice, your next step is to try that advice on for size and see how it fits. Let's face facts: What you have done in your past is what brought you here today. So based on that same logic, the only way to change your future is to change your current behaviors.
To do that you have to commit to doing different things every single day that will help improve your situation now and in the future.
For example: If you can commit to burning an extra 300 calories every day through exercise while also making the commitment to reduce your caloric food intake by 200, you will lose roughly 1/7th of a pound each day. At first blush that number might seem rather insignificant but you must keep in mind that it was this exact same slow and steady progression of excessive calorie intake that got you into this mess in the first place. All you are doing now is acknowledging that same pattern and turning it around to benefit you.
You have to remind yourself that you are in this for the long haul so you need to start looking at the big picture: Yes, 1/7th of a pound doesn't feel like much progress today. But after just one week that 1/7th will have turned into an entire pound! Before you know it a year will have zipped by and voila! Now you are down more than 50 pounds! (or you are down to your ideal weight: see below)
Another thing to keep in mind throughout this entire process is that your body will allow you to lose only so much weight before finally leveling off. This happens because if you were to keep losing weight forever you would eventually just disappear! So before you begin it is a terrific idea to do some research and learn what your "ideal body weight" is so that you have a ballpark estimate for when you should expect to see your weight level off.
Step 4. Eat healthy food
I've written about this in great detail already so I will spare you and simply state that you are what you eat. If you would like to learn more about my philosophy on healthy eating please feel free to check out the following links:
Step 5. Cardio, cardio, cardio!
There are a many different exercise programs out there to help people lose weight these days and if followed, I believe that most of them wind up being beneficial in the long run. However, for people who are trying to lose a large amount of weight, I would highly recommend focusing most of your time on doing cardio exercises like cycling, speed walking/running and swimming.
Some people would love to tell you that weight training is thee way to go if you want to lose weight. Don't get me wrong - I am a strong supporter of weight training and I agree that it can help with weight loss. All I am saying is in the initial stage of your weight loss, it will be far more beneficial if you focus most of your energy on cardio workouts. The reason behind this is purely logical: doing cardio gives you the most calories burned for your workout buck while simultaneously improving your muscle tone and strength.
Think about it – you can't go for a run or on a bike ride and avoid using your leg and calf muscles can you? With cardio you are burning a ton of calories while also building muscle (which in turn burns even more calories) and improving your cardiovascular (breathing) capacity so that you can work out even harder and longer later on. These are three very great benefits packed into one awesome workout! That's why I suggest doing cardio exercising first and then...
Step 6. After you hit your "ideal weight," focus on strength
Like I said before, there is only so much weight a person can lose before their body finally says, "Alright! I'm done!" It is only after reaching this stage that I recommend adding strength specific workouts to your already stellar cardio regimen. Specifically what I mean is to try and develop a cardio and strength training routine that will help you gradually (remember that we are in this for the long haul) transform your lighter frame into one that has more lean muscle mass.
Remember though that this is just a general outline of how I personally went about losing the weight. Feel free to experiment and reformat this to fit your individual requirements– I'm just providing you with the basics.
Step 7. How to keep it off for life
The key to long term weight management is to never give up! I believe the reason so many people find themselves in situations where they lose the weight and then gain it all back is because they simply give up and revert back to their old way of life. I am here to tell you that you can choose a different path – you can choose to be different. All you have to do in order to stay motivated and keep yourself on track is follow three simple rules:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
- Always have a goal you're trying to reach
- Once you reach that goal, set a new one for yourself
Perhaps you decide that after you reach your ideal weight, your new goal will be to run a certain distance that you've never run before? Maybe you decide that now you want to focus on reaching a certain body fat percentage? Or maybe your goal is to reach a new push up or pull up max? The point I am trying to make here is that it doesn't matter what your specific new goal is as long as you always have one!
So that is the long and the short of it ladies and gentlemen. Losing weight and getting in shape is really not rocket science. It's simply a matter of consciously doing more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff.
One thing I had to keep telling myself at the beginning of my weight loss journey was that it took years to put on... expect that it will take years to come off. I know that is not what most Americans want to hear because most overweight or obese people are constantly on the lookout for the next quick fix. The reality though is that there are no quick fixes – if you can't gain a hundred pounds in one day, why would anybody think they can lose a hundred pounds in one day?
The way I see it you can either choose to stay where you're at right now and not change anything knowing that in a few years you'll still be the same (overweight). Or you can decide to change your behaviors today and guarantee that in a few years you'll be thinner and healthier for it – the choice is yours.
I've said it before and by golly I'll say it again... slow and steady wins the race!
- Corey Barton