You are not warriors. You are all delicate flowers. You’re perfect the way you are. You need to learn to be comfortable in your own skin. Love yourself. It’s what’s on the inside that matters.
At least, this is what the world wants us all to believe.
I’m not going to disagree with any of this, not here anyway. I’m not going to tell you to stop being a pussy and harden up. I’m not going to tell you that I think fat shaming is OK.
I just want to ask you a question.
When you look in the mirror, and when you hear people say ‘you are perfect the way you are’ – is that what you really think?
Are you happy with what you see in the mirror?
Because the world is trying to tell you that you should be. They don’t give you a choice. You are perfect the way you are.
So do you agree with the world?
If the answer is no, or yeaaaah I guess I wouldn’t mind losing a few kilos, or if you’re just not happy with what you see in the mirror, then all I’m going to say is, that’s OK too.
You are allowed to wish that you were different. You’re allowed to wish you had bigger muscles, or less weight around your midsection. It doesn’t mean you’re insecure, it doesn’t mean you hate yourself and it doesn’t make you a sissy. It just means that you have a more ideal picture in mind.
It is not wrong to think this.
More importantly, it may not be as hard as you think to achieve.
Don’t get me wrong, losing a lot of weight is not easy. It’s hard. It’s hard to stay in really good shape, especially in our culture. I’m just saying it’s maybe not hard in the ways that you think.
Last year, I lost about 10kgs and have since kept it off. I didn’t do anything particularly drastic, but I definitely did some things.
So if you’re looking in the mirror and you don’t think you’re perfect the way you are, and you do want to change, then here’s 5 things that I learned, that helped me lose 10kgs last year and keep it off.
5 Highly likely but not absolutely foolproof tips to help you lose weight and keep it off.
1. Minimise your reliance on willpower
Most of us think willpower is just some intangible force that we can apply at our choosing to achieve difficult tasks, to cut against the grain. One of the big reasons that people get so down about failure is they attribute it to a lack of ‘willpower’.
If only I just had more willpower like all of those other healthy people. When we rely on willpower, and fail, especially as men, we count it as weakness. It makes us feel inferior. However, that’s not how willpower works.
Willpower is not some arbitrary force, but rather, it is directly related to our physical body. Just like energy, our will power is affected by our physical wellness, and like energy, it comes and goes.
It can be affected by lack of sleep, improper diet (so ironic), our mood, and a variety of other factors. Generally our ability to exercise our will is strongest when we first wake up, and just like energy is drained as we use our body, our will power is drained as we go about making decisions.
That’s the real key. Learning to harness your willpower, means learning to harness your decision making abilities.
If your goal is losing weight, it is absolutely necessary that you understand that you cannot rely on willpower to avoid that junk food, or to get you on that treadmill (I hate treadmills FYI).
I could go on for days. The moral of this story is there are two main things you need to do, to focus your willpower onto weight loss:
- Understand that your willpower is at its strongest in the morning and gradually dwindles with every decision you make
- Minimise the number of decisions you have to make during the day as much as possible
How does this translate into weight loss. Well it’s up to you really, but here’s what I did.
- I had a couple of very simple, well defined metrics which reduced the amount of willpower I needed to get me through
- I had a plan to reduce my coffee consumption (less milk and sugar)
- I had a fantastic wife to help me
- I didn’t set impossible expectations
- I “took the weekends off” (just don’t go crazy)
- I started eating salads for lunch every day at work, instead of toasted sandwiches. I did this by getting my wife to make them for me (World’s greatest wife), so I didn’t have to think about it, and all I had to do was put my salad in my satchel in the morning before I left for work.
- I also removed my personal stash of coffee from my work desk. This meant that I could only have a coffee when I left in the morning, and another on my morning tea break that was provided by my office (OK I put one sugar in this one – it was pretty bad coffee).
- So long as I resisted the temptation to buy food, all I had to eat physically was an apple, and my salad. This minimised my decision making requirements. This also served the added bonus of making sure I was simply eating physically less food, which brings me to my next point.
2. Eat less food
For most of my adult life I generally ate heaps of food, especially at meal times. I prided myself on eating like a horse (I still can when I need to by the way, don’t tell me I can’t do it, don’t you dare!). One of the most obvious changes I made when I started losing weight was I just ate less food. I actually felt hungry at meal time, instead a slight lingering satisfaction from the previous meal. It was easier to eat healthy, because I was hungry, and the food tasted better.
Most of us eat wayyyyy more than we really need to. I don’t have to convince you of this, you already know what I’m talking about. We’re men, we’re barbarians and we pride ourselves on our appetite, and this is a good thing. The problem is when that appetite consists mainly of processed foods, and food super high in sugar and calories, and we don’t do the exercise to burn it off, it results in excess fat storage.
I swapped out toasted sandwiches for salad as my lunch, and cut down from around four to two cups of coffee per day.
I learned to embrace the feeling of hunger before each meal as a good thing.
It became my friend, my ally, my tough love. Every little grumble reminded me that my body was now digging into my glycogen deposits, instead of increasing them.
I wasn’t starving myself! But I was allowing my stomach to empty, before I went and filled it back up again.
Eating less is tough because, well most of us love food, and we’re constantly surrounded by it. Also the feeling of hunger is one of our bodies ways of telling us that it needs energy, and this can be an extremely difficult feeling to ignore (and often one we shouldn’t ignore). This is one of those things you need to save up some willpower to expend on during the day (so don’t waste it on social media).
I’ll conclude this point with a very clear warning about the dangers of eating disorders. In no way am I advocating any form of destructive eating behaviour, starvation, or extreme fasting, and if you think you are at any risk of this, then consult your doctor! (Seriously!!) I’m simply saying that if you allow your stomach to empty before you eat, you’ll be doing a much better job of controlling your calorie intake.
3. Sugar is the devil
Again, this should be another no brainer by now. Sometimes we need to be told something we already know, before we’ll do something about it. Sugar is just bad, pretty much just super bad, and provides very little benefit to us (if any) except to make food taste better. Even when health professionals are saying that it’s OK to eat some sugar, it’s always predicated with responsible consumption. However, if you’re overweight and sugar is something you crave, then cold turkey is best (hard, but best).
Yes it is definitely true that there are lots of different types of sugar, and a lot of them are not so bad. But if your goal is rapid weight loss, strictly speaking, then far and away one of the best things you can do is to cut way, way down on your sugar intake. Of course a healthy diet contains fruit and some starch, so be careful. However, it’s simply true that eating less sugar will help you lose weight fairly quickly.
4. Burn more energy than you consume
Some guru’s will tell you that it’s more complicated than this. Sure, that’s true technically.
Listen, if you weight 150+ kilos, and you just want to lose 50kg or so, then embracing the mantra ‘burn more calories than you consume’ will absolutely help you do that. If you’re not a professional powerlifter, or triathlete, or super model, then you don’t need to know the technical details. Keeping simple will go a long way in the beginning.
I lost ten kilos because I was burning more calories than I was eating (hence point number 2), period.
I was eating less food overall, and the food I was eating was less calorie dense (think lettuce instead of cheese, apples instead of muffins).
Overall, points 1 and 2 are gold here. If you can commit to the first two points, then it will make points 3 and 4 far more achievable and manageable. If you eliminate the choices available to you, and only leave yourself with lower energy food, it will make it easier to eat less calories.
The last tip is more internal.
5. – 98% of the battle is psychological
When I first swapped out my delicious meat and cheese sandwiches for my delicious salad, I didn’t jump on the scales for about a month. I was terrified to.
What if it didn’t work?
What if all this hard work I put in amounted to nothing?
I was so afraid that I hadn’t lost so much as half a kilo, that I couldn’t bring myself to even check.
Because I’d never done it before. I’d heard testimony after testimony and read heaps of common sense advice like the points I’ve just described to you above, but I’d never actually lost any of the weight myself. I just couldn’t picture it happening in my mind.
Now I’ve never weighed more than 91 kgs. I don’t know how it feels to be obese and I’m not going to say I know how you feel if you are.
But I do know what it feels like to think something’s nearly impossible, and be proven wrong.
When I first jumped on the scales, and realised that I’d lost almost 5 kilos in a month, I felt like I was on drugs. It was the first time I noticed that my pants were literally starting to get too big. Seeing that it was actually possible to lose that weight, to make a real tangible change, was more than I could handle. It lit a fire inside of me. By the end of the year I’d dropped 10 kilos and people were noticing, making comments and giving me genuine praise.
Let me tell you, there is simply no comparison between the phrases,
‘You’re perfect the way you are’
‘Wow dude you have lost weight, it’s really obvious’
Because one of them is a compliment, and one of them is a lie.
The world will lie to you. The scales will not.
If you understand how willpower works, and use it to your advantage, you will see results. However, I can’t convince you of this; you have to see it for yourself.
Bonus tip – hard work
Back to reality. This is a blog for warriors, men who want embrace excellence. I said in this post that anything worth doing is really, really hard. I told you that posts like this very one you are reading may inspire and motivate you, but this is not real motivation, it’s just motivation sugar.
The tips I provided above will only get you so far. At some point or another you will face temptation, you will have to fight to stay on the narrow path, the warrior’s path. Everything I said above is really great advice, so long as you’re realistic about your expectations. You have to do hard things, to get big results.
Before I wrap up, here’s just a few little extra nuggets I picked up along the way, to supplement the points above:
- Beware of sneaky sugar
- Milk has lactose
- Potatoes have starch
- Fruit (don’t cut it out, just remember it is still sugar)
- ‘Low fat’ means high sugar and salt
- ‘Low sugar’ means high fat
- Fat is not your enemy, sugar is
- Fat has nutritional value, sugar by itself does not
- Almost anything in a sealed packet, anything processed, anything long life, anything that has label saying ‘I’m healthy’ is probably not healthy
- Fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, things that grow – almost impossible to go wrong
- Even if you’re concerned about GM – GM vegetables are still going to be way, way, way healthier than anything you buy in packet labeled ‘low fat’, ‘organic’, ‘all natural’
- Don’t over think it. Try the ‘anything but’ method
- ‘Anything but McDonald’s’ gives you options, not restrictions
I’m not telling you that you’re not perfect the way you are. I’m simply asking you if you think that about yourself. If you do then great.
However, if you look in the mirror and behind all that macho confidence, there’s a part of you that wishes you looked more like Gerard Butler, then all I’m saying is it’s not a crime to think that. It’s not a crime to seek a better version of yourself, and it’s not a sin.
So stop lying to yourself, and stop letting the world lie to you.
The point is you can. If you have the right tools, the proper understanding and you work hard, losing weight is very achievable.
So what are you waiting for?
Come up with your first battle strategy right now, and leave a comment telling me what you’re going to do to start making changes.
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