Entering the fortieth year of my life I noticed that some things were getting to be a problem: I was getting tired way too easily, I had zero endurance. My back and my knees hurt. My stomach ached constantly. I slept badly. I felt miserable. What was the problem? Was it that “Low T” that I keep hearing about on television? Maybe it was some kind of age-related condition… Nope. I had a bad case of the “fat ass”.
I’m just under 5’10″ and have a slight frame; a natural ectomorph. However, I had recently topped out at 193 pounds. It may not sound like too much, but let’s face it: That’s about 30 pounds too much for my frame. How did I get there? Honestly, I think it was because I was miserable and unhappy about some work problems and other stuff, and in response, I had decided to commit suicide by food. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but to say that I had decided to give up on being healthy would be an understatement.
I can’t tell you exactly how or why I decided to change things, but I can point to certain influences. Joe Rogan’s podcast was a major one. Getting a positive message in your ears almost every day can be extremely powerful. Joe’s mantra of “be the hero in your story”, along with exhortations to work out and healthy starts to build after a while. I admired Joe (and still do) and the message began to sink in. Another part of my story is bumping into Mike, an instructor for the local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym. I was always awkward and afraid to be physical, but Mike’s encouragement to get in and give class a try reached me at just the right time. Of course, that this is Joe’s martial art of choice didn’t hurt things. In any case, Mike was confident, friendly and non-judgmental. I thought if the instructor was this nice, then chances were the rest of the class would be too. Long story short: I was right.
It’s about four months later as I write this, and now I’m just under 170 pounds, with a target weight of 165 just around the corner. It’s been work, but I can’t deny that it’s been fun, too, and it gets funner (and easier) every week.
Since I’ve been the worst case scenario for diet and exercise improvement (very sedentary job, sedentary hobbies, overworked, extremely poor diet habits and major inadequacies about my body and poor self-image overall) and I’ve still been able to do it, I know you can too. Here are some suggestions that have worked for me. Maybe they’ll help you, too:
1) Your definition of healthy and happy may differ from mine. Some people feel beautiful and healthy at 300 lbs. That’s your choice if so, and if it is, then this probably isn’t for you.
2) Know that you’re not going to have the body of a model unless that’s your whole life. Especially if you’re not 22 anymore.
3) Don’t think of getting “fit”. Think of getting “well”. Nobody wants to be sick.
4) Boil the frog: make changes to your lifestyle a little bit at a time. Don’t go cold turkey, or the “frog” that is your willpower will hop out of the pot.
5) Know your strengths. I get super bored with gyms. I like to play. I also know that if I keep kettlebells at work I’ll use them.
6) Make smoothies in the morning, and even lunch if you can. My BJJ instructor eats one solid meal a day, and he’s strong and fast.
7) Only do exercise that feels like play. Kettlebells are fun. BJJ is fun. Jogging is fun. Yoga is fun.What’s fun to you?
Find YOUR source of motivation. I didn’t like physical confrontation. BJJ keeps me motivated b/c I don’t want to be choked or arm-barred.
9) Follow Michael Pollan’s advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables. Also: Kill the sweets and fried foods. You know better. Nobody should have to tell you that.
10) If you can, hang out with people who exercise. Get some positive peer pressure going.
11) Don’t be afraid to have a “cheat” meal once in a while, but if you do, you can only have a NICE meal. Spend a few bucks.
12) Buy yourself something nice when you reach your goal. Also, give yourself permission to buy anything that will enable your fitness journey. Running shoes, weights, pedometers, new workout clothes? Buy ‘em.
13) Remember: This is a war, not a battle. You’ll have set-backs and disappointments. Dust yourself off and get back to the fight.