Congratulations! You have embarked on a journey that will test the very core of your being, battling not only your physical limits but also any and all powerful insecurities that have, up until now, been controlling your emotional state and your eating habits for years. That doesn’t sound too hard, does it?
The general plan is pretty simple: Eat better and move more. But we’re going to have to delve deeper into this thing if you are aiming to lose at least 25% of your bodyweight and keep it off for the rest of your life. If you want to lose anything more than 10 pounds you have to gear up, and if you have been “living large” for years you aren’t even aware of all the tools you’re going to need. The general plan is simple, yes, but it sure as hell ain’t easy and you will need to be prepared. So put down that dumbbell and celery stick because you’re not ready for those yet.
For years, I had struggled to gain control over my weight, only to end up being heavier than when I started. I would try fad diet after fad diet, fast after fast, and I would run run run run run run run run and all I would get is a couple of weeks of extreme unpleasantness and then a sense of utter failure, which I would try to cover by eating more and thereby exacerbating the problem. One of the issues was that I wasn’t in it for the long haul. I wanted to eat slightly better and jog for a little bit and lose fifty pounds in a few weeks. This was, of course, pure bullshit and it’s no wonder I failed constantly. But the other problem was that I had no idea what the hell I was doing and my continuous nonsuccess made that clear. But where could I go, what could I do to get a grasp on what I was trying to do? How could I learn the best way to fight my weight and sculpt my body? If only there was something that could tell me . . .
Out of all the tools that I had to add to my arsenal for weight loss, an education in nutrition and fitness was one of the most important. Many people envision there bodies to be simple machines, like slinkies, and feel that altering their bodies should be as easy as pushing that slinky down the stairs (which I’ve never actually been able to do). But your body is not a slinky, it’s an advanced chemistry set wrapped in a puzzle, wrapped in another even harder puzzle, wrapped in an oddly shaped piece of meat, and it comes with no instructions. If you are aiming to lose 20 lbs. or more, you are not just trying to reshape the meat on top, you are futzing around with the chemistry set inside. Would you just walk into a chemist’s laboratory and start pouring that tube of green liquid into the beaker of orange liquid, heat it up and then pour it on some salt? No, because it might explode or create some kind of lifeform that looks like a cute little parrot but in fact breathes fire and sucks blood. If you want to really dosomething, you have to read.
Through reading and studying, I learned how my body processes food and turns it into energy, how different foods provide nutrients to different parts of my body, what happens to my body when my heart reaches its optimal heart rate, and oh so much more. Now if you have the money for a personal trainer, you don’t have to learn all this stuff, you just have to do what they tell you to. But if you can’t afford one, find something aggravating about a thin, sculpted Adonis telling you how you should live, or feel that it is inherently immoral and wrong to have to pay money to become healthy, then you’re going to have to learn it on your own.
What is vital about reading is not so much learning what the right thing to do is, but learning what the wrong thing is. There are just as many paths to “Improving Your Body” as there are to “Fucking (the unpleasant kind) Your Body Over”, and many of those bad roads have already been taught to you. Things like the food pyramid, that running is the best form of cardio, that you need to cut fat completely out of your diet, that carbohydrates are bad for you, that you need three square meals a day, that you should only lift weights if you want to be all muscley; all of these things have been taught to you either by your parents, teachers or the media, and almost all of it is incorrect and leading you astray. By studying you will begin to see how you’ve been wrong about this whole notion of “Healthy” that you’ve had for your entire life
And don’t go reading some holistic, new age, “I’ll only drink lemon water and put dirt on the tip of my tongue” material. Stick to medical journals, credible nutritionists and personal stories of people who have lost lots of weight. Understand that it’s incredibly easy to hurt yourself through improper diet and incorrect exercise, so trust that the people who have spent the last decade in medical school know what they are talking about.
By the end, you’re not going to have the knowledge of how to lose weight, but you will have all the knowledge you will need to be healthy. And that, my friends, is truly half the battle. Change your diet because it’s good for your colon, good for your blood and your mind; Exercise more because it’s good for your lungs and your heart. Make the changes in your life to be as strong and fit as you possibly can be at this very moment and you will find you have much more energy and feel more alive than you had before. And most likely you will have lost some weight in the process, and now that you have altered your body chemistry and created new and better habits, it’s not going to be so difficult to adjust them again to lose more weight. Knowledge is one of your best and brightest allies, and once you have it, it’ll never go away.