So here’s the deal. We all want to lose all the weight we’ve packed on as quickly as possible, right? I mean, that’s obviously the most appealing option. Get major results, and get them fast! Who wouldn’t want that? I can’t even begin to say how many times I’ve wished there was a magic pill I could swallow that would just melt all the fat I have away in a matter of weeks or even a few months. I think I would seriously consider selling a kidney for something like that.
How many of us wish we could take a vacay from our jobs, check out of life and into a fat farm or something like that for a 24/7 program that will guarantee us results? I did something like that once. It was called Basic Training for the U.S. Army. I didn’t join the Army to lose weight, but losing weight was a result of joining the Army. I didn’t lose a ton of weight, but I lost a ton of fat due to constant physical activity all day long. Like ALL day long. Drill sergeants watching my every move like a hawk. And seriously restricted meals. If you couldn’t eat it in 3 minutes, 5 tops, you couldn’t eat it. Who wouldn’t lose gobs of fat in an environment like that? Look at that TV show, the Biggest Loser. Those people have Jillian Michaels holding their feet to the flames and they lose a staggering amount of weight in a matter of weeks.
I mean, where do I sign up, right??
But let’s be real. There is no magic pill, so my kidneys are safe. I can’t afford to quit my job to take a vacation to a fat farm. And the grim, brutal truth of it is, I gained every single bit of fat I shed in basic training back almost the instant I came home, plus some. Let’s not even talk about the Biggest Loser bunch. Those people got screwed. Most of them have gained everything back and have totally wrecked their metabolisms in the process. It’s not good.
So that’s depressing, right? No magic pill? Sucks. Yeah, reality sucks sometimes, but it’s where we live, so we need to deal with it.
Reality is I didn’t gain weight overnight. It seems that way sometimes, but I didn’t. In fact, if I want to be SUPER real, my “weight gain” actually started when I was just a little kid (even though I wasn’t fat as a kid). I say this because I started off my life long journey of horrible habits right out of the gate. Habits that directly contributed to every single pound of fat I’ve ever put on this body. I’m 35 as I’m writing this. So that means I have had 35 YEARS of gaining weight to get me to where I am today. I was heavier two years ago when I started this process than I am today, but still. For simplicity’s sake we’ll go off of today and use the 35 number. That’s a LOT of time spent gaining weight.
So why do I think I can reverse 35 years’ worth of getting fat in a few weeks or months? In what Universe is this even REMOTELY reasonable or logical?
Let me say it again. It’s NOT REASONABLE to think I can lose all of this weight in the span of a few weeks or months.
Let’s suspend reality for a minute though. Isn’t that always fun? Let’s pretend I don’t weigh close to 300 pounds, and let’s pretend that I only have 20 or 30 pounds to lose. Then I COULD lose it all in the span of a few weeks or months, right?
I wish. I really, really do.
Back to reality. I’ve been there, and done that. Remember, I didn’t always weigh 300 pounds. Once upon a time, for many years, I was a healthy weight. If I’d gain 20 pounds, I’d starve myself or exercise like crazy or do a combo of both to lose that 20 pounds as fast as possible. And then I’d go back to my tried and true unhealthy habits, but gain 40 pounds that time around. And thus the cycle repeated itself until I found myself well over 300 pounds. Probably pushing 400. I don’t even know because I was too scared to look at the scale (more about that later).
Maybe people that don’t have food issues, or a lifetime of unhealthy habits (post-partum women come to mind here) can lose an extra 20-30 pounds in a relatively short amount of time and keep that weight off permanently, but the cold, hard truth is that for 99% of the rest of us, it’s not in the cards. 99% of those of us that have that extra weight have it because we have issues. I’m sorry, but we do. The fat we see on the outside is a physical symptom of what we have going on with our brains, our habits, and our lifestyles.
Those are the things that HAVE to change in order for us to get rid of fat forever.
Yeah. This is old news, right? I mean, we’ve all heard that same song and dance 50 billion times, about changing our habits and lifestyles and brains so that we can have long term success.
So what? That’s not what we want to hear. I personally don’t necessarily WANT to change all my bad habits. I don’t WANT to give up things like pizza, Doritos, cookies, pop, beer and bacon. I don’t WANT to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go to the gym to exercise. I don’t WANT to eat vegetables at every meal, and I REALLY don’t want them to be the MAJORITY of what I am eating.
What I WANT is not only that magic pill we were talking about, but also its cousin—the one that you pop so that you can stuff your face with every conceivable junk food known to man, sit around in your sweats all day long, and not gain a single pound. That’s what I want.
But there’s that pesky thing called Reality again. And Reality doesn’t give a rat’s ass what I want. Reality is filled with annoying phrases like “Calories in vs calories out” and “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Etc, Etc. But just because reality is annoying and we don’t WANT to be living in it, doesn’t make it any less true.
So let’s examine what’s true. The truth is, I have to make changes if I want to lose fat and keep that fat off forever. The truth is that change is not necessarily fun. The truth is, it’s not reasonable to expect to lose 35 years’ worth of fat in several weeks or months.
But there’s another set of truths, and to be perfectly honest, these are THE truths that propelled me off my butt and convinced me I COULD do this in the first place. The truth is, time marches on. The truth is, we have a choice between doing what we are currently doing or making changes. The truth is, even if the changes I make are tiny—I mean REALLY tiny—and it takes YEARS to see huge results, I am better off making those changes than I would be if I changed nothing.
Think about what that means. I’ve had 35 years’ worth of bad habits that led me to being say, 350 pounds. If I make one habit change, and that change causes me to become 299 pounds after two years’ time, aren’t I glad I made that change? Isn’t being 299 pounds better after 2 years than making no habit changes and remaining 350 pounds? What if I add in a few more habit changes and another two years and I’m at 200 pounds by then? Four years to lose 150 pounds? That seems like it’s forever! But would I rather be 200 pounds four years later than still being 350 pounds? Let’s add in a few more changes over year 5. At the end of it, I could be 150 pounds. Seriously, who wants to “wait” 5 years to lose 200 pounds? That sounds insane. But would I rather spend 5 years making tiny, tiny changes and eventually seeing the scale say 150 pounds than do nothing and still be 350 pounds 5 years later?
The thing I realized was, the time was going to pass me by no matter what I did. Whether I changed, or whether I stayed the same, time would march on, and the years would go by. I can’t control that. But I can control whether or not I stay the same during these years. And when I made the commitment to myself that I was going to lose this fat, I decided right then that I didn’t want to be 350 pounds anymore. Not for one more hour, year, or minute. I decided it DOES NOT MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES for me to lose this fat. It really doesn’t. I still want the magic pill. I’d still sell my kidney for it. But since that’s NEVER going to exist, and since time will go by no matter what, all I can do is change during this time. If I make changes, eventually I will reach my goal. That’s just reality.
Take this scenario. Right now you’re broke. What if someone came to you and told you that if you’d save a dollar every day for an undetermined amount of time, and add any additional dollars that you can spare along the way, you’d eventually be handed a check for a million dollars. Would you do it? It sure couldn’t make you any worse off than you were before, right? If, 5 years from now, that person still hadn’t handed you the million dollar check, and if you’d still only managed to save 1 dollar a day-nothing extra-you’d still have $1,825 in the bank. You’d no longer be broke. Doesn’t this seem like a no-brainer?
And here is the bonus. Every single day that I keep my commitment to change, I am forming new habits. I’m replacing the 35 years’ worth of horrible ones with ones that will ensure that the fat I am losing stays lost. The TIME I am investing in changing these habits will NATURALLY shape a new lifestyle for myself. It will allow my brain to change and evolve so that, someday, all the things I listed above that I really don’t WANT to do will become the things I want.
I’m absolutely sure of this.
The thing is, we as a society need to stop watching the clock. It’s not a competition to see who can lose the most weight the fastest. Instant gratification has gotten us nowhere. In fact, instant gratification is what made 99% of us fat in the first place.
When I made the commitment to change, the very first thing I did, on day one, was sign up for a gym membership. That’s all I did that day. I walked in, sweating like crazy because I was so nervous, and filled out the forms and paid my fees. And then I went home. The next day I met with a personal trainer. I decided that I was going to meet with him 3 times a week for a half an hour each time. I decided I didn’t have to make any changes other than that. 3 times a week with the trainer for 30 minutes each time. Nothing else. And I didn’t add in a single other change for at least the first month. It might have even been two. The first two times I met with my trainer I puked all over the wall of the gym (didn’t get to the garbage can in time). It was humiliating. I wanted to quit so bad. The first two weeks I was more sore than I have ever been in my entire life. Combined. Again, I wanted to quit so bad. But each time I wanted to quit I reminded myself that I was ALREADY better off than I would be if I’d sat at home and done nothing, made zero changes. And the knowledge that I was ALREADY BETTER OFF is what sustained me. My trainer at the time, didn’t even weigh me. He took no measurements. It just didn’t matter to me. The ONLY thing that mattered was that I didn’t quit and that I was better off each day than I had been the day before.
Today I am 285 pounds. And I’ve wanted to quit many, many, many, MANY times in the two and a half years it’s been to get down to 285. Every single pound lost has been a major battle, and obviously, the weight is not coming off fast. But this is the choice I’ve made. I have chosen to change, albeit slowly, and let time go by, while making and maintaining tiny changes along the way. The result has been that I have lost weight. I have gained muscle. I am so much stronger than I was on day one. I can walk up a flight of stairs now without becoming winded. I can tie my shoes without becoming a contortionist. My quality of life is 500 million times better than it was on day 1. The fact that I am better off, and that I will REMAIN better off for the rest of my life makes any sacrifice of time well worth the investment.