I’ve always struggled with weight. Growing up, I went through seasons- some heavier than others. I was never obese, but I certainly wasn’t a picture of health either. I was pretty average actually. I played basketball for a few years, which of course helped to keep the weight off. But, I was never the jock with washboard abs and popping muscles.
Of course, life happens- marriage, kids, and corrective back surgery were all a part of the slow drift into stress eating and horrible life patterns. Add to that a slowing metabolism and, well, there you go- hello, 275lbs.
At my heaviest, I was miserable, though, I didn’t realize it. I couldn’t walk a flight of stairs, summers were sweaty nightmares, I wore a CPAP machine in order to sleep, I had asthma, and I felt short of breath every time I had to speak publicly (which, as a Pastor, is a lot), I had severe acid reflux, and I was always tired. At the time, it just felt like my normal.
So, did I have an epiphany? Did I have a health scare that made me turn from my wayward ways? How does someone loose over 100lbs (in less than a year)? What’s the secret? Answer: There is no secret.
There was no “aha moment,” no revelation, and no spiritual awakening. I was using food as a way to cope with stress. In point of fact, I still do (albeit to a much lesser degree). I was tired of being tired. I had 3 small children and I was the dad that sat on the bench at the park. I wasn’t involved. I couldn’t be. It was sin. It was gluttony. So, one day, even though I had tried to loose weight 1000 times before, I tried again for the 1001 time. It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed… the next attempt could be the one.
My plan was simple: Eat less food. Weight loss isn’t rocket science. People on TV prey on our vulnerabilities and are quick to sell us the next sure-fire way to drop pounds for good. You have the Keto diet, the Carnivore diet, the Paleo diet, the South Beach diet, the Atkins diet, etc. etc. ad nauseam. But at the end of the day, every single one of these programs operate on the exact same principle: Eat less calories. The only thing you need to do in order to loose weight is to create a calorie deficit. Eat whatever you want, so long as you maintain a calorie deficit and you will loose weight. Now, that being said, healthier food goes a lot farther than junk food. Just eat 100 calories of candy (not that much) and 100 calories of fruits/veges and you will soon learn that if you don’t want to feel like you’re starving all day then you need to eat healthier. Nevertheless, the basic principle is to simply remain in a caloric deficit.
I learned this by using Weight Watchers. Their point system was easy to learn and it works by first creating a calorie deficit and then incentivizing the user to eat healthier foods. I lost my first 40lbs or so by sticking to Weight Watchers. Once I figured out the principle, I stopped paying for it and starting logging my calories on my Fitbit.
I lost 40lbs by doing absolutely zero exercise. Most people over value exercise in the weight loss equation. But think about it, if you run for an hour, you’ll burn roughly 500 calories… or about a slice and a half of a greasy pizza. Why not just forgo the pizza? Or… some people will run for an hour and then justify eating three slices of greasy pizza. See the problem? The name of the game is forever and always CALORIE DEFICIT. Now, look, you can go pay Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem all you want, but you’re wasting your money. There, I said it.
With that said, I do exercise. In fact, I love it. But I realize that when it comes to weight management, it’s only about 10% of the equation. I exercise, because I love running. I didn’t always. I discovered that you can choose to go on long, slow runs rather than sprinting and puking up your lungs. My runs are a time for me to not think- which, is important because I’m always thinking. So, yes, exercise is important- it improves your strength and cardio functions and generally makes you feel better. Choose something that YOU like to do. Want to run? Go for it. Want to swim? Do it. Want to lift? Yeah, bruh. Play basketball, tennis, ride a bike- who cares- just do something active.
Look, if you’re reading this, trust me when I say: “You can do it.” The weight loss industry is HUGE and they are banking on that one time moment of inspiration to sell you crap you just don’t need. You can loose weight… for free… without a ton of exercise… But you have to be willing to do the hardest thing of all: Deny yourself. Tell yourself no. Put yourself on a food budget. Find someone to help you stay accountable. Compete with someone.
The reality is, you’re where you are because you did that to yourself. Now take ownership, stop overthinking it, and try for the 1001 time. You can be whatever you want to be- but no one is going to do it for you. Here’s the secret: There is no secret.