With the new year comes all the resolutions. One of the most common is some flavor of “losing weight” or “getting in shape” or other such thing.
I’m no guru on this, but in my time of doing both of those things (and just being an old fart that’s experienced a few things in life) there are a few things I’ve picked up on.
1. You have to really want it
Many new year’s resolutions are made out of some weird obligation to the calendar — because the year has incremented by 1, now we will make changes in our life.
If you really want to make a change in your life, you start “now”. Doesn’t matter if it’s January 1 or July 1 or May 22. If you want to change, start right now.
But it’s more than starting now, it’s starting and really wanting it. I mean, wanting it so bad that you’re truly willing to make the lifestyle changes and the sacrifices needed to make it happen, because it will be difficult, it will be uncomfortable, it will suck at times. That you accept the weird looks, the backlash and flack from family and friends, the fact you’ll be called “obsessive” and that people just won’t understand. That it aches to the pit of your stomach and in the marrow of your bones as to how much you really want this.
Because if you don’t really truly seriously want it, it won’t happen. You’ll be on the train for a few weeks, then somehow will drift away and back to where you started. Been there, done that.
It’s OK if you don’t really want it. Be honest with yourself. This is just like any long-term endeavor: success will take a long time, and will come from consistent application of whatever is needed to accomplish the goal.
2. Weight-loss is all about food — and eating less of it
The thing today is to talk about what food you eat: carbs or not; GMO or not; gluten or not; local or not; etc.. That matters, but not as much as you think.
I mean, you could eat a truckload of no-carb, no-gluten, GMO-free, locally raised, blah blah whatever buzzword food, and still get fat because you’re eating a ton of it. Or you could live on McDonald’s and just eat very small, modest amounts and you will lose weight.
Calorie balance is still the #1 — by a longshot — factor in determining if you’ll gain or lose weight.
I really didn’t want to admit it for a long time. I wanted to lift more weights or find other ways to drop the weight. It just didn’t happen or didn’t happen on the long-term. I had to simply eat less, and continue to adjust my intake to eat even less as my body adapted. It’s a constant downward movement in terms of intake. I did increase my exercise levels too, which has helped (it does burn calories), but ultimately it’s about your food intake and regulating it.
Sometimes it sucks, but it really doesn’t have to. Part of making it not have to is ignoring a lot of the media messages about “what’s bad for you”. Yeah I know, diet soda and artificial sweeteners are evil and horrible (tho there’s more and more mounting science that is actually moving a lot of this into the realm of: less certain, needs even more research). But if not for diet soda, I’d freak out and fail on this diet, because I have much deeper “stress/comfort eating” and sweet-tooth issues to overcome. I’ve never been a diet soda drinker, and most of them still make me wretch (Diet Hansen’s sodas have been my go-to), but if having a Diet Hansen now and again is what helps me get a fix and stay on the wagon, fine. It sure hasn’t hurt my progress, and long-term I don’t see myself drinking them — it’s just a tool to get me through this period.
Another thing that helps?
3. Get Help
I spent many years trying to self-direct my diet, and it failed. Some people can do this, and while it worked for short-term stuff, it didn’t pan out long-term. Getting on with Renaissance Periodization helped tremendously.
First, I can just listen to Nick, do what he says, and the results come. I mean, it’s been 5 months and I’ve dropped 30 lb. He sends me a spreadsheet, and as long as I follow it, it works. It’s kinda nice to offload that work to someone else.
Second, it’s an ability to have a teacher. Here’s someone to whom I can ask questions. That if I need a little support, have a concern, whatever, I can go to. That’s invaluable. Being able to learn so I can start to do things on my own? That’s big, because believe me, there’s tons of chaff out there, and having someone who know what’s wheat makes a big difference.
Yes, make sure you find someone solid. There’s lots of “fitness gurus” out there that don’t know a damn thing. Vet ’em well.
Third, when you get someone who knows what the heck they’re doing, it can actually make for a diet that is manageable. I mean, some of the stuff I’ve tried before was just bullshit that drove me nuts. But this diet approach RP and Nick have me on? It’s really workable. Oh sure, dairy is cut out, and while I miss a good cheese, it’s really not so horrible. A lot of diets label fruit as evil and bad, but pfft… not here; fruit good! Carbs aren’t evil either; in fact, I drink straight-up Tang as a part of my peri-workout nutrition. Really, this is about the most sane and manageable dietary protocol I’ve ever dealt with, and it certainly is one you could adopt for the rest of your life and not go crazy.
4. Be Patient. Be Disciplined.
This is the hardest part.
It takes time. Again, I’ve been doing this for 5 months now, and I still have more to go, possibly another 5 months, before I hit my Defattening goal. Whatever time it takes tho doesn’t really matter; it’s about getting where I want to be, and doing what it takes to get there.
Yes, there are times that it sucks.
But this is where you need that deep desire down to the marrow in your bones to want this. That drive, that hunger (so to speak), is what you need to keep you strong when it gets tough.
For me? Taking off my shirt and looking in the mirror is a serious motivator. In one respect, it’s seeing what I don’t like to see and being mad enough about it (and that I ever let myself get to that point) that drives me. In another respect, I can also see what is emerging, and what will be when I get there, and I cannot wait for that day when I pull off my shirt, look in the mirror, and see this sexy beast staring back at me. I know if I want that to happen, I have to stay focused, I have to stay disciplined and dedicated.
And you just don’t get that from some trite New Year’s Resolution.