THE MIND GAME OF WEIGHT LOSS
For as long as I can remember the “fitness industry” has always been a part of my life. I started little athletics and EDFL footy as a six year old and just last Easter (2017) competed for the second time at the Stawell Gift in the Victorian Athletic League. It’s fair to say that “fat” and “obese” are words I have never associated myself with. However since 2009 I have helped hundreds of people change themselves from being associated with those words, most with great success but unfortunately some unsuccessful. I wanted to dig deeper to find out why everyone wasn’t successful...
I began to think what I can do better as a professional to understand why some people fail at their weight loss journey. The more I thought about it the more I understood it’s the mind game that everyone fails at. 90% of people can exercise, 90% of people can eat foods that are going to help with their weight loss. So why are there so many people overweight? Why do so many people have trouble losing weight? Why do so many people lose weight to only put it all back on plus more?
Everyone goes about their weight loss journey one of four ways.
Person 1: They join a gym, train every day for a month. Lose X amount of weight but wanted to lose more. They then get angry at themselves and stop going to the gym because “it’s too hard” or it “didn’t work”. Now they eat more food because of their increased energy requirements/adaptation to training and put on all the weight they lost plus a little more.
Person 2: They go on a “diet”. They eat as little calories as possible or exclude all the “bad” food and just like person 1 they drop weight fast over a month or two. Then they realize they can’t keep dropping their calorie intake so guess what? “it’s too hard” it “didn’t work” and the weight comes piling back on.
Person 3: This person is what I like to call a destination weight dropper. Might be for a holiday, a wedding, a birthday, anything really. These people are actually very smart. They know exactly what they need to do in exactly the right amount of time to do it. They drop the fluff, they look great and then two weeks later its back to planning the next ‘destination’.
Person 4: this person gets it. This person wakes up one day and says screw it I need to change something. They bust their ass day in and day out. They listen and learn what it takes to keep the weight off not just lose it. This person is very rare. This is the person that 1,2 & 3 want to be but haven’t figured out the mind game yet.
I have spent most of my life (yes, even in high school taking mates to the gym) teaching people how to train, get stronger, lose weight, put on muscle, get faster and be healthier physically and mentally. But how can I tell someone who is 20/30/40kg overweight how they should feel? How do I know how hard it is for that person? What struggles have they had? Why are they the size that they are?
In April 2017 I decided that I was going to find out. I had just competed in a sprinting event which due to the move of my current studio I was not in the best shape for but was weighing around 90kg (2016 season I was down at 86kg). I wanted to still train and get stronger but I also wanted to put on enough fat for people to go “oh shit what happened to you”.
Fast forward to September and I had a family holiday in Hawaii where the insults started creeping in. Friends, family even a few clients started commenting on my appearence (yes!! it’s working). At this point I still wasn’t convinced I had put on enough weight to really make people notice and was sitting around the 101/102kg mark. I had started to tell clients and friends about what I was doing but really wanted to reach the 20kg weight gain before I begun the weight loss journey. The hardest two weeks ever. (Before you read this I just want you to know that I am well aware that most people don’t become obese over night or over a month or even 6 months for that matter but I can assure you that there are people that live like this on a daily basis.)
I gave myself two weeks to put on as much weight as possible. I didn’t train. I just ate anything and everything. It was hard to wake up in the mornings. It was hard to walk up the stairs in my gym. It was hard to breathe at times. I felt sick after every meal. I never tracked my calories but I would say I was consuming around 8000cals per day. McDonalds, pizza, ice cream, drinking chocolate topping, hot dogs (3 or 4 for lunch most days), cookies, doughnuts, you name a bad food and I was eating it. I would tell people and they would laugh and say “but how much fun is it”. Yeah sure when you have any of them once or twice a week its great fun, try having it 5/6/7/8 times a day and see how fast your body decides what “fun” is.
The most I weighed in at was 110.6kg. I’m sure there will be people reading this thinking "lies" I was 110 in high school that’s not big. Everyone is different and all you have to do is look at the photos and see how much damage I had done to my body. The bad part is that I had done all this in only 5/6 months. I can still only imagine how hard it must be for someone who has lived like that for 5/10/15 years but at least now I can imagine it. Before I had no idea, no idea what it was like to buy double and triple xl clothing so clients and friends wouldn’t see the size of my stomach. No idea what it would be like with the cravings for bad food on a daily basis. No idea of the anxiety and stress id get just taking my clothes off. I was 15kg over the biggest I had ever been, was I going to be able to lose it?
The Weight Loss Plan: I was in that much of a hole I just couldn’t wait to stop doing what I was doing. I just wanted to train again but I knew if I went about it the wrong way I would hurt myself. I didn’t count calories for the first two weeks I just wanted to make sure that I was training every day and eating “clean” (which is such a bullshit word). From Saturday to the following Saturday I lost 8.3kg (I then rewarded myself with a large pizza and a 6 pack of cans. 100% legit). The second week I lost a further 1.1kg and although I had dropped 9.4kg in two weeks I was becoming person number 1 and wasn’t happy with that so decided to start counting calories. 2600 calories was the daily target and I stuck to that day in and day out for the next 42 days losing another 11 kgs.
Did I starve myself? No. Did I stay away from alcohol? No. Did I stay away from pizza and ice cream? No. You’re probably reading this thinking I’m telling lies or I’ve just made a mistake. No, no, no, no, no. I still ate maybe 80% “clean”(meats and veggies) but roughly 20% anything I wanted providing it worked into my calories for the day. Week 7 I ate ice cream every single day and I lost 2.2kg that week. How? I had overcome the mind game of weight loss and discovered losing weight is just as much about feeling good psychologically as it is about what you do physiologically (training/ calories). In the beginning I just wanted to burn burn burn. I was training 3 or 4 hours a day but very easy work outs. “Why would you train so much”, “that’s crazy”, “you’ll hurt yourself”. Guess what? I didn’t. I did what I needed to do to drop the weight as fast as possible. I wanted to do it as fast as possible to show all my clients how it can be done. I don’t expect everyone to have 2/3/4 hours a day to train but there isn’t one person I’ve come across in 9 years of personal training that doesn’t have at least one hour a day to exercise (cut the crap, you’re only lying to yourself).
After 4 weeks I had an Inbody scan done and found out I had lost around 3kg of muscle so I decided to cut all cardio type training (omg how are you ever going to lose weight without doing cardio!!!!!!!). The first 4 weeks I lost 12.4kg, the second 4 weeks I lost 8.5kg. If you take away the initial week of rapid weight loss (which will usually happens 90% of the time starting a new program this intense) I was averaging a higher weight loss in the second 4 weeks to the first 4 weeks. Although I completed this transformation in 8 weeks, I am not promoting this as the best way to do it, nor the worst way to do it. The most important thing is what happens afterwards- not returning to old habits. Just remember, time equals pressure, pressure causes stress and stress decreases overall results. Be happy and enjoy the journey.
The facts: Day 1. Inbody Results Date 14/10/17 Weight 109.1kg Fat mass 25.7kg Body Fat % 23.6% Hip: Waist 1.06 Chest 129cm Stomach 116cm (6cm bigger than my 39 week pregnant client at the time) Hips 105cm Bum 114cm Quads 73cm each Upper Arm 43cm each Day 56 Inbody Results Date 9/12/17 Weight 89.7kg down 19.4kg (lost 18.5% of my body weight in 8 weeks) Fat mass 13.1kg down 12.6 kg (lost 48% of my body’s fat mass in 8 weeks) Body Fat % 14.7% down 8.9% Hip: Waist 0.94 down 0.12 Chest 123cm down 6cm Stomach 94cm down 22cm Hips 95cm down 10cm Bum 105cm down 9cm Quads 65cm each down 8cm each Upper Arm 40cm each down 3cm each
Q & A Q: Cardio training for fat loss? A: Only if you’re an athlete competing in a sport that requires a great cardiovascular output. Do you need to do it? No. If you want to do it feel free but know you’re going to decrease lean muscle mass in the process so any weight you may be seeing drop on the scales may not necessarily be fat.
Q: Do you have to eat clean 24/7? A: No. Just like cardio, if you want to eat healthy nutritious foods all day every day feel free. I love pizza, I love ice cream, I love having drinks on the weekend with mates. The important thing is knowing what’s in the “bad food”. Adding the calories to your daily plan no matter what. Choosing a lower calorie option when available (vodka waters is key hahaha).
Q: What happens when you reach you goal weight? A: Celebrate! Embrace the fact that you are awesome and that you have done something you wanted to do and told yourself you were going to. Otherwise what’s it all for? Love the challenge but understand that it’s not a race and there is no finish line in your fitness journey. Week in week out you will have up and downs and change your plan and change your goals but if the main focus is always health then the rest fill follow. So don’t stop………. EVER!!!!
Q: Whats the most important thing when losing weight? A: Being happy!!! Perception is everything!!! I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard “I almost didn’t come today” or “I’ve only lost 1kg”. These two statements are used so negatively but if you just step back and look at what you are saying it can be used so differently. You wanted to sleep, you want to say no, you wanted to turn your alarm off but you didn’t!!!! You got out of bed like a boss and you’re smashing the start of your day. And yeh you did lose 1kg, that’s awesome. Go and do it again next week and then the week after and the week after until that 1kg becomes your weight loss goal.
TAKE HOME POINTS • Don’t judge anyone for what they choose to do with their life. If they ask for help be kind and help. Don’t ever tell someone who is struggling what they are doing wrong, rather give advice on how to improve. • Not everyone wants to lose weight, some people just like training. • Going 100% is not sustainable long term (1/2/3/10 years) • If you don’t enjoy training learn how to or stop training. (don’t do anything you don’t enjoy) • If you want to lose weight count calories for at least 2 months and learn what you are eating. • Look at health as a lifestyle and not a ‘destination’ • Set small goals before you set big goals • Time frames = pressure = stress = no results. Take your time, you have your whole life.