This lead me to think about the countless number of guys out there who are standing in my former wide width shoes. (Hey, you gotta love New Balance and the many wide widths they come in.) So, I decided to pass on a couple of pointers that are targeted specifically towards all my Big Dawgs, which are those guys who need to shed 100 or more lbs. In true MLBF style, I've decided to give you some bullet points that I feel are crucial to you achieving your goal(s):
- Set small and reachable goals
This may seem obvious, but it's really not, especially when you have a lot of weight to lose. What most non-obese (including those considered overweight) don't understand is the feeling of being trapped in a morbidly fat body. This stifling feeling is something that you have to experience to fully appreciate what I'm talking about. Since we feel trapped, the only thing we really care about is losing the damn weight, and, unfortunately, many of us could care less how we do it. This desperation is one of the reasons the weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business. Yes, I know that you have a lot of weight to lose and, if you could, you'd like to snap your fingers and have that gut disappear, right? Of course you would. Hell, I had many tearful nights sitting at my computer wishing that I could simply chop off all of the mounds of flesh (and fat) that rested in my lap.
Listen fellas, snap out of it, OK? There is no magic pill, operation, or even diet that will cause you to lose weight as fast as you would like to, so forget about it. Make up in your mind that you want to average losing no more than 1-2 lbs a week and remember that it's not all about the journey, but what you learn while you're on it.
- Stop Dieting and Make a Life-style Change
If you are serious about losing the weight and keeping it off, then you are going to have to be serious about the life-style change that you are going to have to make. Most folks go on a diet and think that once they reach their goal weight, then they can go back and eat whatever they want. Man, how foolish this type of thinking is. This is the mentality that must die! There's one important thing that I want you to etch into your weight loss psyche: Once you start to lose weight, you will never be able to eat the same amount of food that you did prior to losing weight. If you do, you will regain the lost weight. That's right, I want you to have a hard look at the amount of food you need to consume to stay at your current size. Take a mental picture and kiss it goodbye because to lose weight and keep it off, you'll never be able to consume that amount again. Oh, and a true life-style change is one that happens over time (i.e., months, years) and not something that you can master in a couple of weeks.
- Stop Living in the Past
Yes, yes, I know that you use to play football in high school or college, and you were the man on the basketball courts back in the day. I'm sure that you also had a nice bod at that time too. Well, those days are gone my friend, so let 'em go. Stop looking at your current self with nostalgic thoughts of how you use to be able to do a hundred reps of (fill in the exercise here) before you let yourself go, yadda-yadda-yadda. Bredren, please let it go. You'll never reclaim the years of your youth, no matter how badly you reminisce about them. Hey, I was just as guilty as many of you. I would often tell people how I could actually dunk a basketball (on the shorter, outdoor courts) back when I was a freshman in college, and then go on to tell them about how active and athletic I was (was being the key word here). There's no need to live in the past guys when you can create a healthier and stronger you NOW!
Man, I would love to meet my former self now. That 18 year-old punk couldn't hang with me in any activity you name. I can do more pushups, pullups, dips, lift heavier weights, run faster, farther, etc. now than I could when I was just starting college. Basically, I would kick my young ass. Guys, get to the point where you feel, as I do, that not only is youth wasted on the young but it's grossly overrated . . .
- Only Compete Against Yourself
OK, I know that we men are usually competitive creatures by nature; however, you need to redirect and focus your competitive spirit towards yourself. If you workout in a gym, don't gaze in amazement at the guy who looks like he's going to be on the next cover of Men's Health (one of my goals). There's no need to put anyone on a pedestal or make yourself feel as though you are less than they are because you have so much weight to lose. Hey, you had absolutely nothing to do with that guy getting buff, just as he had nothing with you becoming obese. So, why even compare or even try to compete with him. He's not your opponent--your soon to be former fat self is. You are striving to be the best (fill in your name here) there can be, and only one person can determine that: you!
- Don't Drink From the Goblet of Haterade
My friends get a kick out me talking about drinking from the Goblet of Haterade. OK, for those of you not keeping up with the current Urban American slang of the day, let me explain what I mean by this. First, when someone is extremely envious of another person, you can say that s/he is "hating" (i.e., jealous) on the other person. And, Haterade is simply a play on combining the words "hate" with the sports drink "Gatorade". OK, I think you get the picture now.
Just as you don't compete with anyone else, don't envy or "hate" on them either. This is a trap that most fat guys get caught in. Being jealous of someone because they've lost weight or are losing more weight than you is simply juvenile. Instead of hatin' on someone, use that energy to be motivated by them instead. Download their pictures and use them for motivation and not an invitation to sip from the goblet. Right now, I'm using D'Angelo's music video Untitled as pure motivation to get lean!
- Stop Worrying About Loose Skin
Yes, you are going to have loose skin, especially if you've been obese for some time. Start explaining this to yourself now, so that when it becomes more noticeable, you won't completely freak out. However, the good news is that your skin is a living organ that sheds and rebuilds itself. So, how much your skin comes back after weight loss depends on your diet composition, age, how long you've been obese, and your genes. It's also important to keep your skin hydrated by using lotion or body creme after bathing. I've found that drinking lots of water does wonders for your skin too. Finally, realize that your skin is very thin and what most people call loose skin is actually loose skin that still has fat under it. To get an idea of how thin your skin is, pinch the back of your hand. I'm currently battling with the last bit of fat on my belly, and I can tell you that it's not an easy task. Now, I can fully understand why people get tummy tucks or lipo after losing a lot of weight since you have to fight against your bodies metabolic adaptations to your new, and improved, active life-style change.
- It Ain't Easy
Losing weight is not an easy task; the failure rate of people to maintain the lost weight in this country proves this point. However, it is not an impossible task and it does not take the strength of Hercules either. The problem with many of us is that we get caught up in the all or nothing mentality. Either we are 100% on a diet or we are 100% a failure and decide to go back to our unhealthy ways of eating. Guys, stop swinging from one end of the pole to the next. What you are embarking upon is a life-style change that you will continue to refine for as long as you live! If you are serious about losing and keeping the weight off this time, then you need to realize that this is a process that you will have to not only be an active participant, but you will need to take the leading role. Yes, you are going to have to take charge of your health and be willing to admit that either you don't understand how to lose weight, which my last bullet addresses, or you understand the theory side and are having problems putting it into practice. Either way, the road to weight loss is full of ups and downs, which is no different from the life you're living right now. So, keep telling yourself that you can handle it.
- Feed Your Brain to Lose the Weight
I love having this phrase as the signature for my email and forum posts. Oh, I have to give credit to my brother Elgin for coining this catchy phrase that pretty much embodies the message that I'm trying to bring to my readers. If you don't have a good and working understanding of how the body loses and gains weight and how diet composition is factored into the equation, then you are bound to following someone else's plan. And, following someone else's plan is like trying to live someone else's life. You need to become the authority of your body and health. Stop sitting on the sideline of your life as a passive observer, simply giving the reigns of your health over to your doctors. As I've said before, there's more than enough information on the internet and in the books that I've suggested on my blog for you to make very intelligent decisions about your health, diet, and exercise. Look, your brain is a large muscle and learning new information, in addition to meditating, is a great mental workout.