Everyone wants to be fit. I mean, if we could snap our fingers and look like Henry Cavill or Chris Hemsworth or Scarlet Johanson, we would, right? No one looks to Homer Simpson and says to themselves, “THAT’S the body-type I aspire towards!”
Obviously, I need to caveat this by saying that being content with yourself is not the same as being proud of your body. You’re allowed to be overweight and feel good about yourself, but managing your weight is about more than just simple vanity. I was not proud of the fact that I was overweight (Oh who am I kidding, I still am). I wanted to be better. I am being better.
I don’t think it’s arrogant or vain to be proud of my accomplishment, despite how far I still have to go, but neither am I shaming or trying to hurt those who are in the same position. Losing weight is an an achievement and it’s own reward, just like Grande Vegas casino bonuses.
Anyway, enough rambling. Allow me to share my journey!
Learning about Health
You would think that with the thousands of health websites, magazines, and fitness experts out there that a reliable source of information to learn about what it means to be healthy would be easy to come by. Oh, you sweet summer child.
There’s a lot of scientific studies about human health. Reading these directly, though, often requires very expensive access to scientific journals, and are written by and for other scientists in the field. All the technobabble then gets translated by journalists who go and publish much more straightforward articles for the likes of you and me. The problem is that journalists are pretty useless at their jobs.
Now we’ve got thousands of journalists mistranslating or misinterpreting the scientific papers, then using each other as sources, and passing that information on to you and me who then spread it by word of mouth in a massive game of telephone, with everyone ending up fat and confused by the end of it.
The only consistent rule I’ve found is that bloggers are absolutely the worst. Don’t even bother.
The Golden Rule of Weight Loss
As someone whose choice of study is much more straightforward (engineering), I like finding consistent, reliable rules. The human body is possibly the most advanced and complex machine on Earth. It would take a room full of machinery to do what the human body does every second, and replicating the human brain is something that still hasn’t been done.
So the only consistent rule of weight loss that I have found is:
To burn fat, calories-out has to be greater than calories-in.
That might seem obvious, but this concept seems to get diluted when talked about in the mainstream. Sure, vitamins and carbs and cholesterol are important, but the most basic rule of fat burning is that you have to use more energy than you take in.
It makes sense too, right? What is fat? It’s how your body stores excess resources, in case it can’t get enough in the future. To lose weight, you need to force your body to start tapping into those excess resources. The question is, how?
Weight Loss Methods
As I said, weight loss is ultimately about caloric management. There are two ends of this attack that your need to consider; Your caloric input and your caloric output.
The caloric output is the part most people know how to do, or at least where to get started. Exercise. You increase how much physical activity you do, and your body has to use more energy. There’s a lot of variation to this too. You can play a sport, or go swimming, or ride a bike to work.
For me, I wanted to do calisthenics (body-weight exercises). Everyone knows what a pushup is, but I didn’t know how to train. I didn’t know how to get better. So I started downloading some apps. There’s are loads of free weight-loss and exercise applications in the Play Store, so I just picked one and tried it out. It’s great, and there are lots of exercises that I now do regularly that I didn’t even know were a thing when a started.
I also started just walking a lot more. I really enjoy listening to podcasts, so instead of sitting in front of a video game while listening to whatever, I instead listen to podcasts literally on-the-go. Ten thousand steps a day might seem like a lot, but you get used to it surprisingly quickly. You have to pick what you like to do and stick to it.
At the same time, you should experiment. You might discover something you never would have thought you’d enjoy because that’s the ultimate crux- exercise doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Do it right, and own it.
Now the second half of the problem is caloric input. Eating. By all accounts, this half of weight loss seems to be universally harder across the board. Diets are just awful. One of life’s best aspects is good food, and to give it up for what seems like nominal results can be immensely demoralizing.
But they get results, and can often get results even if you don’t exercise a day in your life. The trick is finding something that works for you.
One of the most effective diets is the Keto / Low Carb diets. It really does work, and will get results quickly. The hard part is maintaining the diet for a length of time. While I found this diet to be effective, I just couldn’t maintain it. The fact that I keep kosher, am a Super-Taster, and a picky eater meant that I could only really eat eggs and meat for every meal and that simply was not sustainable. Anecdotally, this diet has done wonders for other people, and I definitely saw results myself for the short while I tried it. If this seems like something you can do, then go for it.
I personally, however, prefer what’s known as intermittent fasting. You basically give yourself a limited window where you’re allowed to eat. The idea is to reduce how many calories you input not by what you eat, but when you eat. I’ve been following a schedule where I don’t eat from about 10 PM to noon the following day.
It’s not an uber effective diet, and I eat badly during my window it doesn’t do squat, but my caloric input is down across the board regardless. I definitely do NOT recommend this for everyone. Some people just cannot handle the hunger pangs, whether for medical reasons or not, and should look into alternatives.
Also: Sugar drinks are bad, whether it’s Coca-Cola or Apple Juice. If you can, stick to water and non-sugar teas and coffees. If you can, diet sodas for the win, baby.
But it’s as I said. Weight loss is a problem that has to be fought from both ends, so neither just dieting nor just exercise is going to work for most people. Getting some combination of the two is usually the way to go and the most effective way to get results. THAT is how I lost twenty pounds. A couple of months of calisthenics, long walks, and eating better.
Let me tell you something. Seeing the number on the scale slowly tick down is one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve ever gotten. Weight loss is hard, and every pound lost is its own reward.
(Just don’t reward yourself with cake and Pepsi, alright?)