I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember. I mean, I wasn’t a fat toddler or anything, but since I was old enough to realize what it meant to be fat, I was, well, fat. Never morbidly obese, but never thin. Never fit. Never particularly healthy. This stretched from the time I was probably 8 years old until my late 30’s.
I knew I was overweight. Deep down, I knew I should do something about it. And randomly, I would get sick of being fat and try some fad diet, or exercise routine in hopes of slimming down. But after a few weeks, or months, they’d all end the same. I would regress into my bad habits, with various justifications: I don’t have the time. I don’t have the energy. And I adopted a victim mentality: I’m always going to be fat. I just can’t lose weight. Why can skinny people eat so much junk, and even when I eat right, I don’t lose weight? Losing weight is so much harder at my age… Most of us who struggle with our weight, if we’re honest with ourselves, can relate.
This morning I weighed in at 204 pounds. Granted, at 6’ I’m still solidly in the “overweight” category according to CDC’s Height & Weight Chart; I’ve still got a ways to go. But I’m down over 35 pounds in the last 18 months. The weight loss has been a steady progression, without regression. How did I do it? Within a series of posts here in the blog, I’ll explain all of the details: What I eat, what I drink, exercise, lifestyle changes, and more that have allowed me to get from “obese” to merely “overweight” (and trending in the right direction). More important than the details, is the reasoning. I changed my thinking. And that’s where I want to start – because I think it’s the most critical facet – My Why.
Like I said earlier, I’ve always been fat. A part of me always wanted to change, but I never really did. So why now? Sure, there are the obvious reasons. I wanted to live longer. I wanted to be more active and have more energy with my children. I wanted to set a positive example for them of what healthy and fit look like. I wanted to look better. I wanted to feel better.
But for me, those wants weren’t enough to move the needle and make it happen. No, for me it was more about changing the internal script. Michael Gervais, host of one of my favorite podcasts, Finding Mastery repeatedly says that we can ultimately work to elevate and “master” three things in life: our mind, our body, and our craft. In 2 of the 3 areas, I’ve always felt like I was pretty strong. I’m confident, optimistic, and for the most part, mentally strong. And in my chosen field, I’ve worked to become extremely successful. But my body? It’s never been a strong point. And like I said above, I always had an excuse. I never allow myself to be a victim in other areas of life: I guard against that mentality with vigilance. But in terms of my physical ability and appearance, I was absolutely a victim. I refused to accept the fact that it’s 100% within my control. The craziest part is that I was so blinded by that mindset that I didn’t even realize I had fallen into it!
So after some thinking, I looked at this as a challenge (and I tend to work better when I challenge myself). Why is this lack of fitness acceptable? And when I flipped that script in my head, losing the weight became possible. I started reading – and really searching for methods and resources to help me in my pursuit. I started exercising – I even hired a trainer to show me what to do (and not to do). In doing so, I’ve allowed myself to completely reframe my relationship with food. I’ve realized that I’m a stress eater (when I don’t know where to turn, I find comfort in overeating). I’m not going to claim that I’ve completely eliminated it; but I’m much more self-aware, and typically capable of reminding myself that the answer doesn’t lie at the bottom of the bag of Doritos or a gallon of ice cream. I’ve learned to look at food more as fuel. I know I can’t pour 87 octane into my race car and expect it to perform. In much the same way, I can’t be at my best on a steady diet of McDonald’s and DQ.
In the coming weeks, I’ll provide details of specific things that have helped me along the way – things that you may be able to implement yourself – but remember that the WHY is far more important than the HOW. If you struggle with your weight, I’ll ask you: what’s YOUR why? How can you reframe your why into a forcing mechanism to allow you to get to where you want to go? I’d love for you to post your answer in the comments below.