My freshman year of college, I lost 100 pounds.
Most people who have followed me for any period of time are aware of that.
Occasionally though, I will stumble across someone who doesn’t. Sometimes it is an old high school classmate and other times it will be someone that I had yet to meet entirely.
Regardless of who the person is, the following dialog almost always goes the same.
After going through this exchange more than a handful of times, I’ve managed to get my responses down to a science.
“Getting active is key, make sure you get some sort of fitness plan.”
“Nutrition isn’t a percentage of the game, it’s the light switch. If you want to see results you’ll have to watch what you eat.”
“Supplements are great, but they won’t do much until you get the first two things in order.”
After giving them a bazillion times I’ve started to realize why they also tend to go in one ear and out the other, why people nod their head and smile, only to walk off and never put the advice into use.
Everyone already knows that stuff.
Or they’ve already heard it, at least.
That isn’t to say that stuff lacks importantance, because it doesn’t.1 But today, rather than harping on about what you already know, I’m going to share with you 3(ish) things you aren’t told about when losing a massive amount of weight.
Things I learned while losing 100 pounds myself.
1. You’ll Lose Weight Much Faster Than You Think
Consistency is absolutely key when starting a new fitness venture, and in today’s microwave society that can be an issue with some. Assuming that isn’t a problem, and you’re willing to buy in for a significant period of time, then I’ve got some great news for you:
There’s a good chance the weight will absolutely fly off.
The most effective program will always be the one you aren’t doing. Since you’re just now starting, nearly any program will work.
Everything works because everything is new.
Your body is phenomenal at adapting to environments and stimuli as they come. It’s a survival instinct.
- Get cold and your body will draw the blood from the surface (preserving the heat it has) and begin to shiver (manufacturing a bit of heat on its own).
- Wear a poor fitting pair of shoes and your skin will begin to callous as a means of protecting your foot at it’s vulnerable spots.
This applies to fitness and nutrition as well.
- Begin lifting heavy weights and your body will decide that (rather than being crushed or injured) building muscle is probably a good idea.
- Start eating less than your body is comfortable with and (rather than starving) it’ll begin tapping into your bodyfat stores as a means of energy.
Your body wants to be as fit for the environment as possible and it wants to do so quickly.
You’ll lose the weight much faster than you expected.
1a. Until You Don’t
Almost as common as the question of “how’d you lose all the weight” is “how long did it take you?”. My response is almost always the same, one that I’ll share with you.
The first 80 pounds took about a year.
And the last 20 pounds?
That took about a year too.
A lack of progress (within a program) tends to happen for 1 of 2 reasons:
- the program hasn’t been done long enough
- the program has been done for too long
Eventually, like all things in life, progress tends to slow. You’ll hit a point of diminishing returns and the novel effects of a new diet and fitness regimen will begin to wane.
This isn’t a sign that your body has become reluctant to progress, but that it has exhausted any adaptive quality to the things you’re doing.
It’s time to change it up.
Where as in the beginning, everything worked because everything was new, the trick here will be discovering the things that work best for you now.
Everything still works… just not for everyone.
Take some time, change it up, and find what works for you.
Unsure of how to do that?
Reach out to me and we’ll get you going in the right direction.
2. You’re Going To Be Hungry
Here is something we all know:
You didn’t gain the weight in a week or a month — you spent years gaining it — and as such, it is going to take a moderately significant amount of time to reverse things.
Here is something we don’t all know:
The habits you developed while gaining the weight weren’t developed in a week or a month — you spent years developing them — and as such, it is going to take a significant time to reverse things.
Things that are new tend to have a stronger and more noticeable impact on us.
Similar to how your body will initially super-compensate to weight training by manufacturing muscle at a faster rate. Or how your body will jump to extremes early on in a diet and break open those body fat stores. Your body is about to overcompensate the unfamiliar feeling of hunger… by being really fucking hungry.
Up until this point in your life, you’ve spent years and years eating too much. You’ve spent alot of your time feeling full and merry, and very little time feeling hungry and cranky.
This is all about to change.
Early on in your diet you’ll start to notice a bit of a hunger setting in. Sometimes this comes in the form of a roar rumbling upwards from the depths of your stomach, and other times it will come masquerading as a ravenous food craving (salt, sugar, grandma’s cooking, etc.).
This isn’t anything abnormal, but it is something that will suck.
It is also something you cannot change.
And your success is going to become dependent on your ability to overcome one very specific truth:
That you are going to be hungry.
2a. Until You Aren’t
Here is the silver lining to this whole hunger thing:
Anything that can happen can happen in reverse.
Which is also maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever wrote, but stay with me.
We just discussed how you’ve spent years and years feeling full and how the hunger is going to hit you hard early on. Well, luckily this works both ways.
As you tough through the suck you’ll start finding yourself better able to deal with the hunger. The cravings that had seemed to scream at you so loudly will begin to linger off. And you’ll start realizing that what had seemed so hard has become little more than a slight discomfort.
This is your body adapting to it’s new (slightly-hungrier) environment.
As you gain momentum with your diet, you’ll start letting go of the habits that had managed to work as a crutch for so long. Small(er) portions will become more routine. Sweets will become more of a treat and less of an expectation.
Hunger will become an obstacle that you have no problem hurdling.
The major key is that getting to this point will take time.
3. You Won’t Notice How Far You’ve Come
There is an extremely peculiar trait amongst anyone that has managed to make an extreme physical transformation: They continue to see themselves in a warped light, one that paints their own self-image in a way that reflects where they’ve come from.
- Formerly fat people see themselves as fatter than they really are.
- Formerly skinny people see themselves as smaller than they are.
I suffered from this and there is a chance that you will too.
You’ve already read my canned response about losing 80 pounds during the first year and 20 pounds the second. What I didn’t share was the mental and social journey that accompanied that transition.
For the first 12 months of my journey, the weight seemingly jumped off my body, and the results were significant. While 80 pounds wasn’t my end goal, it was still a decent chunk of weight and definitely nothing to sneeze at. The weight loss became blatantly apparent to everyone in my life… except for myself.
Where everyone saw someone who had worked his ass off and transformed himself, I only saw someone with a lot of work left to do. The fat that still clung to my body managed to eclipse any semblance of progress and triumph.
You’ll reach a point where your pursuit of the end-goal will be so polarizing that you’ll have trouble grasping anything else.
And unlike everyone around you, you will have trouble seeing just how much progress you’ve made.
3a. Until You Do
You aren’t going to read about any of this last point in a research-study, but let’s be honest… those things blow anyways.
The last 20 pounds took me an entire year to lose for a couple of reasons:
- My program became stale and my progress slowed.
- My motivation ran thin and I needed a moment to let it recharge.
- My life became hectic and my priorities shifted temporarily.
Alot of things happened and they all played a role.
But a major reason it took me so long was because of how reluctant I was to accept how far I had come.
As you near your end-goal things become less about all out effort and more about the subtle brush strokes. Things that had started as so chaotic become more of an art, dependent on your ability to slow down make deliberate and intuitive decisions.
To do this, you must accept how far you’ve come — you must accept the person you see in the mirror.
Not the person you expect to see or used to see, but the person you are.
The person you’ve become.
Eventually you will realize just how far you’ve come.
And when that moment happens, every ounce of progress will seem to have happened over night. Partially because of how instantaneous it manages to appear, and partially because of the feeling that you finally woke up.
Which… maybe you did.
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