As humans we go through a lot of problems in life. Some go away and some scars us for the rest of our lives. One of which is “Weight Problems”. From the time you are a baby and till you are entering your 5th grade; people think you are super cute. Then elementary school starts and you start seeing other kids around you who are involved in sports, who are super fit and you start getting an inferiority complex about your looks. And of course puberty is hard on people as well. The icing on the cake is (pun intended), your family members and loved ones start calling you fat when you most need their help. I was this kid and I faced all these issues growing up.
Throughout my childhood I was ridiculed for being fat. I have been called by different names starting from “Elephant”, “Hippo” and other nasty things. During these times, I tried all sorts of things from protein shakes, medications, weight training, cardio but still could not lose weight. Then, I started doing some changes in my life that I am going to share with you in this post which led me to the path of being my best; healthier self.
My journey to fitness started in June 2010, when I was 252 pounds at my heaviest. Now I am 186 pounds. Here are my before and after pics (NOTE: The before pic was taken in December 2015 when I was 238 pounds, so it was not even my heaviest weight. Also this is not photo shopped :-))
Now why am I saying all this, you may ask? I wanted to share my real life weight problems and tell you how I have brought it under control and I plan to stay this way for the rest of my life. There are some basic things I have done which worked for me and hopefully some of it may help you too.
The 6 Key Factors for Weight Loss
Factor 1: YOU NEED A TRIGGER
The reason I was not losing weight for most part of my life was that, I did not know the science behind it. I did not know that losing weight was; 80% the way you eat and only 20% about working out. From June 2010-February 2015, I did a lot of working out and lost a bunch of weight. I lost about 25 pounds to reach 215 pounds (I later gained most of them back). But the problem was, I still kept eating a lot of food (which I still do) but I did not pay attention to what I was eating and what my mind/body was trying to tell me about it.
I DO NOT believe in the concept of measuring the amount of calories that goes in/to amount of calories going out. The reason is, this may lead to weight loss temporarily but does not lead to improvement in health and good eating habits. For Example- I could eat 300 calories worth of donuts or 300 calories worth of fruits/vegetables. Both are equal amount of calories but only one of them is healthier for you.
From March 2015-December 2015, a lot of things happened in my personal life. I stopped working out and gained some of the weight back. End of December 2015, I was 238 pounds.
To start anything you need some sort of trigger. When I say trigger, I mean some incident or experience that gives you a realization that life needs to change, SHIT NEEDS TO START HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. YOU need to change.
The trigger came to me in 2 forms
I went for a general physical check up in August 2015 and my cholesterol; fat, sugar and blood pressure had increased two folds from my normal numbers
I ripped through 2 pairs of shorts because I was huge in October and November 2015. Finally, in December 2015 I bought a $130 pair of jeans from Nordstrom. I was all excited to wear it only to eventually find out that it was not going past my thighs. This was a size 40 pair of jeans. I was really pissed because I spent all this money only to find out that I cannot wear it (On a side note, now I am a size 33 and never again paying this much for a pair of jeans. Lesson Learnt!!!)
These trigger events made me want to do something about my weight. So recognize these kinds of triggers in your life.
Factor 2: YOU NEED INSPIRATION
For anything you do, you need that spark and inspiration to get you started in the right path. This can come from various sources, for me it was through books, weight watchers and most importantly my wife (She went through the same experiences as me)
On January 2nd 2016, I joined Weight Watchers (WW). My wife had a lost a bunch of weight previously by joining WW so I thought why not give it a shot. I am one of the most skeptical people you will ever meet but to get back control of my life and desperately wanting change, I went all hands on deck with WW.
The thing I liked about WW was, you could eat anything you want, as long as you stick to the amount of points (a number calculated based on various factors) you can consume per day. The general theme is healthier foods are lower in points and awesome foods (which usually tastes the best like Donuts) are higher in points. In this way, you are forced to make choices with your eating habits to stick within the allotted points.
One awesome deal about WW is, once you hit your goal weight (I set mine at 195 based on what my doctor recommended and the research I did), the membership is free for life as long as you stay + or – 2 within your goal weight.
So I started in January 2016 and since then I have lost 50 pounds. I did not do anything special except tracking my food every single day, read a lot of books on mindfulness, self-motivation and goal setting. You can find my reading list here -> http://www.rajsubra.com/inspirational-books-articles/ and started working out at least 3 days a week, every week till now.
Now these things have become a routine for me just like how I brush my teeth, take my shower, go to sleep at night. The hardest part of starting anything is pursuing it at least for 30 days. After 30 days, it starts becoming a habit. I would highly recommend reading the books by Charles Duhigg on this topic. He talks about the 3 R’s which is Routine->Repeat->Reward.
A great quote which I read from a book called “The 12 week Year” is
“If you want different results, you need to do be willing to do different things and things differently”
Factor 3: YOU NEED MOTIVATION WHEN YOU LEAST FEEL LIKE DOING THINGS
The hardest part of going to the gym is “going to the gym”. Say you set your mind on waking up each day at 5 AM. You do it for the first 4 days, then you slowly start getting lazy and hit snooze on your alarm clock the next few days. Then after a week, you give up. How many people have done this before?
It is during these times that you need motivation to remind yourselves of the goals you have set and why it is important in your life. Below are some things I have done to get my source of motivation
- Inspirational quotes
I stuck inspirational quotes all over my house, starting from my bedroom where I wake up every day. For Example- as soon as I wake up, I see a print out of the below quote staring right at my face
“Losing weight is hard, being fat is hard, pick your hard”
This makes me wake up in the morning as it makes me feel guilty and at the same time gives me the necessary kick in my ass to get out of bed.
In my kitchen, I have numerous inspirational quotes; one of them stuck to my fridge is this
“You’re fat, don’t sugarcoat it cause you will eat that too”
I know, I know what you are thinking… man this guy is really hard on himself. But let me ask you this, the next time you try to get that cheesecake out of your fridge when you are really full and do not have any space to fit anything in your stomach, guess what you will be starring at (apart from your cheesecake of course) when you close the fridge?
- Have Google Reminders
On my phone I have variety of reminders set to never expire to motivate me during the day; everyday. Some of them are-
- Drink water – This reminder pops up every 3 hours during the day between 9 -5 PM
- Be Mindful – This reminder pops up 2 times a day to let me know that I should be intentional about anything I am doing during the day including eating
- Track WW points – This reminder pops up 3 times a day letting me know that it is time to track my food points in the WW app
And so on….
For me google calendar works really well but you could do this via sticky notes or other apps as well
Factor 4: DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY
After trying out various ways to keep myself motivated, one thing I can say with certainty is, when you are doing something you enjoy; you have more chances of keeping yourself motivated to accomplish things. Some of the things I do is-
- Go running with my wife. It is like date night without the romance, great food, fancy clothes, ambience and actually none of it. But, it does help us talk about different things and helps to take our mind off running and focus on us, which is the key aspect of doing this, so that you can run longer. Sometimes, we keep a goal in mind and based on this we map our running path and duration. Most of the times the goal we usually set involves a donut shop, a great breakfast place or somewhere they have great beer. We run till we reach this destination. This way we earn our food and do not fee guilty about eating it. In 2017, me and wife did the Chicago spring half marathon together. It was a great experience
- I love basketball and crazy about it. Go Cavs!!!! (Shout out to The Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team; in case you were wondering). That being said, I started playing basketball about 3 times a week. This was the best workout till date for me. I did unfortunately break my hand last summer but still trying to get back into it
- My wife and me travel a lot. That being said, we try to do at least couple of hiking, walking and running trips during our travels. This helps us to stay physically and mentally fit. Also makes up for the great food and beer we have at different places.
- Watch a TV show on Netflix; on your tablet, phone or TV when you workout. This way you do not feel the pain mentally and physically
- Listen to inspirational podcasts while working out. Usually the podcasts I listened to are in between 45 minutes to an hour. So it helps to get a good workout in and also enriches your mind with ideas and knowledge. This is what I do 90% of my time while I am recovering from my hand injury and till I get back into playing basketball.
Factor 5: LOOSING WEIGHT IS A TEAM SPORT
Research has shown that for any work you do; if you make yourself accountable to someone (apart from yourself) you get far better results. So make losing weight a team sport and find that person who can keep you on track. In my case, it was my awesome Wife. She knew what I was going through and I had requested her to keep me under check at all times. It is not an understatement to say that, without her I could NOT have accomplished this goal of losing weight. She is my friend, coach and cornerstone for everything I do.
If you are single don’t worry, you may still have that one friend/girlfriend/boyfriend you trust, or the personal trainer you are paying lots of money to; and for the money he/she is getting they better support you and hold you accountable.
Factor 6: QUANTIFY YOUR WEIGHT GOALS AND ANALYZE RESULTS
It is not enough that, you just read books, work out, eat well or join a support group like WW without periodically analyzing whether something you are doing is actually working out for you. It is really important to collect different data points about your weight and analyze the results.
In my case I have a Weight chart (an excel sheet), where I track my weight everyday and track whether I have worked out on any particular day. This helps me analyze the data and figure out whether what I am trying is actually working out or not for me. I took a print out of this and stuck it in my bedroom. It helps to keep myself accountable.
In summary, hope is a good thing. There are different paths to losing weight. Finding that path is hard but hopefully some of things I mentioned in this post help you out in your journey as well.
If I can do this, I think anyone can do it.
Share you experiences with me in the comments section or hit me up with any questions at – firstname.lastname@example.org
For the experiments I have started doing, check out this post – http://www.rajsubra.com/2017/09/13/selfexperiment/
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