Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and said, “I’m not that overweight,” only to then step on the scale and realize you have hit your highest weight in months or even years? If so, you are not alone. Trust me.
Despite having been a military physical training leader since 2003, it took me seven years to reach my ideal body weight. At about five foot ten (and a half), that is somewhere between 165 and 175lbs depending on how much muscle I happen to be carrying.
All those years I had been maintaining a “healthy” 190lb physique. I participated in a weekly physical fitness program, though I rarely lifted weights and tended to eat and drink whatever I felt like putting into my body. I was also a long-time cigarette smoker (quit after 16 years).
For a military PT leader, that’s not exactly the picture of health.
I needed to lose weight, but like so many overweight Americans, I wanted to lose it fast. I tried “fat burners,” fad diets, trendy workouts…you name it, I tried it. Finally I figured it out. Eat less, eat well, and let out my inner athlete.
Fall seven times, stand up eight. ~ Japanese Proverb
Yes. I had an epiphany, but that didn’t mean I was forever in the clear. Over the past year, my fitness focus shifted from cardio and overall strength conditioning to increasing muscle size and strength. I made an amatuer’s mistake.
Building and sustaining muscle mass requires an increase in caloric intake. Like any smart person would, I satisfied my body’s need for additional calories by eating more food. Unfortunately, the energy sources I sought out were often low-quality foods high in calories, fat and carbohydrates.
In less than 10 months, I went from an optimal 175lbs to a whopping 189lbs. Talk about going full circle–almost. Fortunately, I caught it. I was able to reflect on where I was just a year ago. I have taken immediate action. It won’t be easy (good results rarely come with ease), but I look forward to the challenge and with sharing the experience as part of this blog.
Immediate Gratification: An Inconvenient Truth
I tend to be a very results-oriented individual. I’ve worked on projects that have spanned years, sometimes picking up somewhere in the middle only to hand it off before completion. That takes discipline, patience and vision. Why should losing weight be any different? It isn’t.
It’s very easy to over-indulge in high-calorie foods and beverages, and it’s just as easy to sabotage hard work–I am good example of that. The important thing is to pay attention to what you’re doing (or not doing) and to then do something with that information.
– You scarf down a fast food meal deal because you forgot to go grocery shopping.
– You call in a late-night pizza because the chinese food you ate three hours earlier has left you feeling hungry again.
– You skip a week of working out because you’re just too busy.
– You gulp down a large, sugar-laden cola at the theater. It came with free refills and a large tub of “buttered” popcorn (also refillable for free).
– You skip another week of working out because you’re still too busy.
– You throw back beer after beer while catching up on past episodes of Biggest Loser on Netflix.
– You skip on another month of working out because your gym membership expired and you’re waiting for the weather to warm up/cool down to make an outdoor workout easier to “get into.”
We all know it takes months of healthy eating and exercise to achieve sustainable weight loss. We also know that it takes just one double bacon cheeseburger with large fries and a milkshake to destroy a week’s worth of hard work. We know these truths, yet we continue to largely ignore them. Why?
Because they are inconvenient.
That is why so many of us struggle when it comes to pleasing our senses; particularly when it comes to food, exercise and weight management. One’s desire to lose body fat is usually driven by what we see with our eyes. A fatter version of yourself staring back at you in the mirror. A pair of jeans that used to be your “fat” pants but now serve as your favorite pants (you kept them as a reminder). A scale that must surely be broken, but if it really is right…
No one expects to see immediate, positive results when it comes to fat loss, but everyone wants to.
“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”
As it moves across the sky from east to west, the sun’s position relative to the horizon gives us a pretty good idea as to what time it is. That’s because those are changes we can easily and readily observe. But what if it took months just to go from noon to mid-day? It would be really hard to get a gauge on time, right? — And so it is with fat loss.
America is fat and getting fatter each day. It is a very sad reality. What can be done?
With each passing day of habitual inactivity and overeating, the road to recovery gets longer. And rather than being given more time to recover, our lives are being ever shortened by the effects of gravity, cellular breakdown, environmental hazards, and, of course, our lifestyles.
Sadly, more and more overweight parents are raising overweight children. This is one of the most evil realities of immediate gratification. Kids who grow up obese never know what its like to not be obese. This is, pardon the pun, a big problem and probably deserving of its own post.
The point is that our days are not unlimited. If you’re fat (this next part is key) and want to do something about it, you must begin immediately. Do not wait. It can start with your next meal, with abstaining from that high-calorie snack just before bed, with deciding to go out for a walk after dinner, with seeing your physician to get on a healthy living program…with becoming part of the growing community of healthy-living Americans out there.
This initial post is admittedly quite long. Future posts will surely be shorter and more focused on a particular subject. The purpose here was to establish with everyone how I view fitness and healthy living in general. I am concerned. As a military member, I am especially concerned as more and more young American men and women are being turned away from service due to obesity. I want to be part of the solution, and if you’re still reading this, you probably do, too.
With that, I invite anyone with a positive spirit to participate in this blog. Leave a comment, or share a link to your own blog or other health and wellness website.