My Story Of Getting Fat, Yo-Yoing, Exhaustion, Mistakes, And Eventual Victory Over Fat
In the summer of 2005, I was FAT and I felt terrible. I had ballooned up to 237 pounds and almost 30% body fat. I had been consumed with building a business, was stressed out, working like a maniac, eating way too much fast food, and definitely wasn’t working out. I had completely let myself go. I had gained around 30 pounds in one year and in theory, I was trying not to. Blah!
Today is July 25, 2011 and I FINALLY feel that I have figured out this fat loss stuff. I am 195 pounds and am maintaining 10% body fat with minimal effort. I don’t feel hungry. I don’t feel tired. I don’t do marathon cardio sessions in fact I do very little cardio. I lift weights three times a week for around 35 minutes per session. It’s still sinking in that my body could achieve and maintain a super fit look with so little effort. It’s still hard for me to believe, especially since just last summer I was maintaining the same weight and body fat percentage by doing a whopping 90-120 minutes of cardio six days per week. I of course couldn’t maintain that type of lifestyle which led me to searching for easier (and healthier ways – that isn’t easy on your body) to lose fat and maintain the look I was going for.
Between then and now, I have had a lot of ups and downs and I’m grateful for every one of them. The downs taught me that something wasn’t quite right in my approach, and the hope of the next up helped me to push through my frustrations.
I’m guessing that you don’t want to read a book today, so I’m going to summarize the basic steps that helped me to really understand how to lose fat fast in a healthy way.
1st Wrong Move – Low Fat Diet
The weight loss and fitness industry (as well as the food industry) has led us to believe that low fat diets are the key to losing fat and weight, so this is where I started. I would eat ‘healthy cereals’ with skim milk, egg whites, chicken, vegetables – you know all the foods that low fat dieters eat. This cycle in different variations lasted for years.
You can lose some weight this way, especially if you’re really out of shape. I did, at first. Since I had achieved some results with this diet, I stuck to it for quite a while. In fact, I didn’t really ditch the low fat idea until about six months ago. The ideas I had in my head about fat were too deeply ingrained until I ran into issues which I’ll describe a little later.
2nd Wrong Move – Low Carb, Low Fat Diet
The low carb craze was hard to pass up – too many people were losing weight with it. I gave it a shot and I lost quite a bit of weight with it. The problem was, my workouts were terrible. I couldn’t lift weights to save my life, in fact I was getting weaker with each lifting session. Once I lost around 30 pounds low carbing it, but my muscle size completely tanked. I had decided that I could live with this because I did look better – a lot better. My body fat levels were lower and that’s what I was going for. I still had a decently muscular build so I was pretty happy with that look.
I played yo-yo with this type of diet for years and years. When I was disciplined with it, I would lose a lot of weight (unfortunately not enough fat) and when I wasn’t, I just kept thinking that I needed to be more disciplined. It honestly didn’t even enter my mind that there could be an easier way to do things. I didn’t think that getting fit was supposed to be easy. I thought it was supposed to be super hard – like it was. It was a BADDDD cycle.
3rd Wrong Move (worst move) – HCG
At one point in the process, after gaining around 15 pounds and again being unhappy about my weight, I tried an HCG diet. I lost around 30 pounds in around 40 days, but to my dismay, I lost almost 20 pounds of muscle and that isn’t good.
At some point in this whole process, I got tired of the yo-yo effect. I knew how to lose fat but I could also gain it at an almost-impossible-to-believe pace. If I relaxed for 10 days, I would easily gain 10 pounds. After years of chalking this up to ‘lack of discipline’, I finally decided to find out if I could get this under control. It took a lot of testing before I finally did. But, my thinking was on the right track. I had completely destroyed my metabolism.
4th Wrong Move – Higher Calories, More Exercise
Once I figured out that my 200 pound self had the metabolism of a 120 pounder, I started trying to lot harder to really figure out this health thing. I finally got afraid enough to lose my ego – the ego that kept me in the same dumb habits for five years. Even though higher calories and more exercise wasn’t a permanent solution, it was a huge step forward. I finally started fixing my metabolism.
I decided that I had the time to exercise more so I decided that I would try to raise my metabolism by eating more and exercising more. I would eat around 3500 calories per day and would exercise for probably 2 1/2 hours per day, six days per week. It was a LOT of exercise haha I honestly don’t know how I did it. I kept this up for probably six months and got RIPPED. My metabolism did improve dramatically during this time period but I still didn’t feel right. I knew deep down that I couldn’t maintain that much exercise for my whole life and also, I didn’t feel like my muscles were strong. They were much weaker than they had been during other parts of the process. I also didn’t want to tell people about the extreme amounts of exercise I was doing. It was too extreme.
1st Right Move
After all of those years of using unhealthy methods that only worked in doses, I decided that I would do everything possible to learn about the physiology of fat gain and loss. I read book after book and started testing some of the ideas I was reading about.
My first breakthrough was learning about insulin and blood glucose and the effects they have on fat gain. I found out that many of the foods I thought were super healthy were contributing in a huge way to my difficulties.
I learned that in order to successfully lose fat without killing your metabolism you need to learn how to control your blood sugar. I’ll explain how this works later in this article, when I talk about what you should eat if you want to lose fat.
2nd Right Move – Affect Of Exercise On Blood Sugar
After studying blood sugar for quite a while, I started theorizing that exercise could be used to control blood sugar before or after I ate unhealthy foods. Having this theory led me to some experiments that were done by other people who were successfully eating boat loads of calories before and after they worked out without gaining fat.
This idea was useful because I knew that there was no way I would be able to live a life without cheating.
3rd Right Move – Affect Of Healthy Fats On Appetite And Metabolism
After I started figuring out the blood sugar aspect, I started to change what I ate. The problem was, I found myself hungry all the time and I knew that something still wasn’t right. I believed that there had to be an easier way.
Looking into appetite control eventually led me to some really interesting studies about the hormonal and metabolic effects of healthy fats. I was at first extremely resistant to these ideas because my ideas on fats were deeply seeded. I had read articles and scientific advice a million times that said that fats (at 9 calories per gram) were the most calorie dense of all foods and that people who eat fat can’t eat as much food without gaining weight.
Eventually I couldn’t shake off the fact that fat might help me to control my appetite. I eventually decided to experiment with it. I started to add healthy fats to all of my meals. I added either avocado, olives, olive oil, peanut butter, or real butter to every meal I ate. Amazingly, within two days my appetite completely changed. I wasn’t hungry anymore. I expected to gain weight because I was eating more calories. However, the weight gain didn’t come and before too long, I didn’t want to eat as much as I had before. I altered my diet accordingly.
The most surprising effect of adding healthy fats to my diet would come later. For years I had felt weak at the gym and was starting to chalk that up to my age (I’m 33). However, a few weeks after I started adding healthy fats to my meals, I started feeling a lot stronger, even though I wasn’t eating a ton.
I started trying to figure out why I was getting stronger and that led me to some research that some really smart guys were doing on healthy fats and hormones. I figured out that the diets I had been using for years were suppressing many important hormones, including testosterone. This was what was keeping me weak, and without knowing it, my new diet was turning this around for me. I then learned about other hormones that I was messing up and many of them were contributing to my low metabolism and inability to quickly lose fat.
While I was getting stronger, my strength gains eventually stalled out, and that led me to try to learn more about what was happening to me physiologically.
4th Right Move – Back Off On The Exercise
Taking a physiological mindset helped me to make a lot of tough choices and the toughest of all was my decision to back off the amount of exercise I was doing. I had a lot of anxiety associated with this because I had gained fat so many times in the past – often because of lack of exercise.
However, I started wondering if I was stunting the growth of my muscles by not allowing for recovery time. It was a huge leap of faith to back off on my exercise, but I can honestly say that it helped me a LOT. I started to get strong again and that strength improved my metabolism. To my surprise it was a lot easier to keep fat off, even during moments where my discipline waned.
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