People ask me all the time how I managed to lose weight and get so fit. I’ve written about it all over the place on this blog, but never in just one place. The story behind my transformation is actually pretty boring. I didn’t take any pills (this time) or stick to a diet program like Weight Watchers, Atkins, or South Beach. There were no detoxifying drinks or colon cleansers either. In fact, I still drink diet soda and I don’t really care which whole wheat bread is the best, as long as it’s good. Nope, my story is very simple. In November of 2007, I started to move my body more and I stopped shoveling massive amounts of food into my mouth.
It was a long process. It was a hard process. It was a process marked by starts and stops. There were times when I was extremely motivated and lost several pounds per week, but there were also times when I fell off the wagon and didn’t feel like exercising at all. When you’ve spent year after year conditioning your mind and body to expect a caloric surplus and a sedentary lifestyle, you’ve got to spend a lot of time reversing those expectations as well. And even though I’m no longer losing weight, I still have to think like I am so that I don’t start thinking like I used to.
There are lots of awesome tools out there to help you lose weight and get fit. But for me it came down to three basic principles: Count your Calories, Move your Body, Hold yourself Accountable.
If you don’t know how much food your putting in your body, there’s no way you can create a calorie deficit–and the key to any good weight loss program is caloric deficit. The science of weight loss can not be denied or avoided. So if you want to lose weight, then you’ve got to start counting calories! Keep a food journal, use Dailyburn, write it on a frickin’ napkin. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but you’ve got to keep a log.
But counting calories is only a start. You have to do some basic research to determine how many calories you actually need to consume to meet your goals. Use an online calculator to determine how many calories your body needs to maintain its weight. Eat 500 less calories than that per day and you should lose one pound per week. If you don’t, make adjustments in your plan until you’re losing the weight that you want to be losing.
I’ve said it before that I don’t think exercise should be used to create a caloric deficit. I still believe in this. In fact, when you’re first starting a weight loss program, I recommend replacing any calories you burn via exercise by increasing your calorie intake accordingly. Still create a 500 calorie deficit, but if you burn 300 calories on the elliptical, replace those calories with highly nutritious foods that will help your body recover from the workout so that you can do it again.
Exercise makes you a fitter person. It turns your body into a healthier engine and better prepares you for the challenges of life. It enables you to take the stairs, play tag with your kids, or even run a marathon. But many people use exercise as an excuse to eat whatever they want. Do not go down this road–it will only delay you in reaching your weight loss goals.
The biggest key to my success has got to be the high degree of accountability I’ve placed upon myself. When I finally decided that it was time to lose weight and get fit, I told everyone I knew. I initially told my friends and family and of course they were supportive. But they had heard it all before.
But when JD and I started this site and got a few readers, man was the pressure on. I don’t like to fail at anything. And failing publicly isn’t an option for me. There’s no way that I’m going to put every thing out there in a public forum and then come up short. Get Fit Slowly is how I hold myself accountable to my actions and goals. But there are lots of ways to find accountability. Start a weight loss program with a friend and check in with each other as often as you need to. Have a weight loss contest at work or make a bet with your wife.
Accountability will help you get through those really tough times–and there will be really tough times. But each time you successfully navigate one of the many challenging periods during your journey, you lay the foundation for success in the future.
Deciding that you want to lose weight and get fit is the first step in a long road. If you use the three tools outlined in this post to help you get started, I know that you can be successful at this. I said it earlier, it won’t be easy. But nothing worth doing ever is.