Background: My health and wellness journey has been a long one. I was always a “fat kid” – ballooning to about 300 pounds when I graduated from high school.
In 2004, I lost 80 pounds. By late 2005 I had gained it all back.
In 2009, I lost about 50 pounds, and by 2011 had gained back everything I had lost, plus more.
In 2013, I lost around 80 pounds. As of 2019, I have kept this weight off and made progression down my health and wellness journey — in other words, I continue to get healthier as time goes on as opposed to less.
What made 2013 different from 2004 and 2009? I had deprogrammed a lot of the BS that I had been taught about weight loss and health for my entire life. Most of what we are taught by teachers / nutritionists / trainers / coaches is absolutely wrong.
Here are my biggest health and wellness takeaways that have allowed me to achieve the result of sustained weight loss
1. Know your Purpose
Why do you want to lose weight? Is playing with your kid tough? Do you have less energy as the day goes on? WHY are you doing this? It can’t just be to look good and be skinny. Find a reason higher than yourself. Without a purpose, a “WHY” for the change, it won’t last. But don’t stop there. Write out your purpose. Put it on a white board on the wall and look at it EVERY SINGLE DAY. The WHY drives the HOW, not the other way around. If you have a strong enough WHY, you can do anything.
2. Whatever You Do, Sustain
The following things are not sustainable over a long period of time: counting calories, putting your food into dumb multicolored tupperware, or severe carbohydrate restriction. Any “system” diet is pretty stupid. There is a good chance that if your diet has a name, it’s not long term sustainable.
3. Eat by Macronutrient profile
I would encourage anyone reading this to do most of their own research here. In fact, I would go so far as to say if you’re interested in long term weight loss, you should read a book or paper on macronutrients and how they work. To give a very overly basic TL;DR – everything you consume is made of one of three macronutrients – protein, fat, carbohydrates. The macronutrient ratio is what you are looking for — I try to shoot for 50% protein, 30% fat, 20% carbs.
4. Rotate 5-6 core meals
When I see people fail, it’s because they don’t have anything quick and easy to eat. People don’t actually need as much variety as they think – people use variety as an excuse to cheat on their diet. Find 5-6 health lunches / dinners (each) that fit your macros, and rotate those. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel with meals every day.
5. Weekly cheat day, no matter what
Cheat days give you something to look forward to each week. Nothing is forbidden. If you eat clean for 6 days per week and eat whatever you want for 1 day, I promise you that you will lose weight long term.
6. Embrace Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is not a diet, it’s a feeding schedule. IF doesn’t change anything – total calories, macro profile, type of food. IF is merely a schedule for when to eat. I personally like a 18/6 fasting/feeding window but I’ve people do okay on 16/8 as well as the more hardcore 20/4. The old fashioned rule about “eating every two hours to keep your metabolism going” is not backed by any science – it’s not true.
Both a weekly cheat day and IF get toward the same goal – stop negotiating with your mind. The combo of these is designed to kill any temptation to eat unhealthy food. You simply don’t eat outside of your feeding window (period) or eat anything outside of those 5-6 meals on your clean days. But you know that cheat day is coming, and it will keep you sane. But don’t negotiate with your mind during the week. Don’t even give yourself the option.
7. Neither fat nor carbs are bad
Back in the 90’s we were told fat is bad, and in the 2000’s, carbs became the enemy. Neither is entirely true. While you want to avoid certain types of saturated fats, fat is a vital part of a healthy human diet. Same goes for carbs — extra carbs do not make you fat, your sedentary lifestyle makes you fat.
8. Lift Heavy Shit
I don’t care your age/gender/goals — lifting weights will help everyone. Whether you’re an out of shape dude who wants to lose inches or an older female who wants to maintain health, lifting weights is the quickest way to results. If there is one thing I can promise you, it’s that you won’t get big and bulky from lifting weights. It will slim you down and make you look more lean.
The Pareto Principle is everywhere in everything. Intense weight training is the 20% input that will get you 80% of your results.
9. Drink More Water
If you think you drink enough water, you don’t drink enough. If you think you drink too much you’re probably closer. While advice here varies widely, I’d put minimum consumption at 175oz – 220oz daily depending on your size. An ounce for every pound of bodyweight is not a bad benchmark. Also – chug 20oz the moment you wake up. If you are sleeping correctly, you should be dehydrated.
10. Stop the Excuses
People have lost weight and gotten healthy who are way busier than you with less resources.
“I do not have time”
“I’m too busy”
“I can start next week”
“It’s just too hard”
“It won’t work for me because…”
“I’m not meant to work out”
“I don’t like to diet”
“No one around me supports me”
These are all fake excuses. Those are internal excuses that have to do with your own time management, not a reflection on whether you can do it. I promise you that people much busier than you have turned their lives around. It’s an excuse to fail, plain and simple.
11. Seek Out Inspiration
Do you have podcasts/blogs/etc that inspire you, make you want to be healthier? Get obsessed! Dive in to health, wellness and personal development podcasts. You are the average of the 5 people you spent the most time with – if you can’t get inspiration from the people around you, you need to seek it out for yourself in other forms. Keep watering and maintaining the garden of personal development in your brain, because weeds will grow automatically if you aren’t careful.
12. Practice Gratitude
No one is forcing you to diet. You have to do it for yourself. Don’t feel down that you can’t eat sugar – be grateful that you have the opportunity to live a healthy and passionate life, which most people do not do. It takes extraordinary effort to get extraordinary results, and be grateful that you are the type of person who is going above and beyond to get extraordinary results. You rock!