I have always fluctuated in my weight by +/- 20 lbs., but last year I hit the highest weight I've been at in history at 237 lbs. I am now down to 188 lbs. and 14% body fat. While I still have a long road ahead of me, I am extremely proud of my progress. So, if I was a relatively active individual how did I weigh 237 lbs and what changes did I make to cut the body fat?
It was a snowball effect of losing weight. I started out wanting to learn Olympic & Power Lifting movements, like squat, dead lift, and power cleans. Then, I got addicted to using a step mill (a machine with a revolving set of stairs). Next, I found myself being more particular about my diet. I started reaching for raw vegetables and fruit rather than junk food. As my new healthy behaviors developed, it became second nature and my brain would begin to crave these healthier options. All of the sudden, my mood and demeanor would diminish if I was unable to workout that day or if I had eaten terribly for a few days. It can all be summarized into three major steps: 1) develop a diverse physical routine; 2) manage your diet; and, 3) plan your long-term goals.
1. Physical Routine
Whether you're a runner, weight lifter, or live on the couch, the first major step is to develop a physically diverse routine. I've dabbled in a lot of physical activity and I would say that it is hard to be extremely successful in one activity without diversifying your workouts.
Don't just go through the motions! When you are actively working out, you should be physically and mentally exhausted at the end of your work out. If this is the case though, be sure to do a few days of active rest; i.e. days that you are resting, but still physically active. For example, I lift weights and do intensive cardio throughout my work week. On the weekends, I aim to take my daughter on strolls, chase her around the park, or do some kayaking.
2. Manage Your Diet
Moderation! In the first few weeks of your new found excitement, I wouldn't worry about going off the rails and eating only the healthiest items you can find. Look at the bigger picture. What are some of the most unhealthy habits you have when it comes to eating? Are you skipping meals and binge eating fast food because of timing? Do you eat a lot of sweets? Do you snack right before bed? Do you drink/smoke a lot?
I thoroughly enjoy craft beer. Once I began to enjoy less and less beer, the weight really started to shed. The trick became to teach my brain how to enjoy one or two and not three or four.
3. Long-Term Goals
Having a sense of longevity and developing realistic goals to achieve those long-term results really helps. For example, if you wanted to compete in a marathon race (i.e. 26.2 miles) then look for smaller races to build up to that point (e.g. 5k, 10k, half marathons, etc.). In my case, my long-term goal is a flat stomach. I know that percent body fat is directly tied to that; so, I've been setting goals to reduce body fat percentages and testing body composition on a regular basis.
Today, is the day that you begin. Do not trick yourself into thinking you will start the next day, or the next. Start today and realize that every decision you make that day is directly correlated to your results. Don't think that one cookie, venti caramel machiatto, or one hour less of sleep is a big deal? IT IS! Remember, obsessing over the smaller details in the beginning will have a huge impact on the bigger picture and your progress to your long-term goals.