I’m no healthcare or fitness professional. Always consult your doctor before taking some random guy on the internet’s advice.
I’m lazy. I think running is for when a saber-toothed tiger is chasing you, and little else. This self-image and consequential inaction led to me being 60 lbs overweight circa 2015. I’m over 6 feet tall, but when I stepped on the scale and saw that I was closer to 300 than 200 lbs, it was still a come-to-Jesus-moment. Sure, like everyone else I’d dreamed of having Brad-Pit-in-Fight-Club-abs, but ultimately it was not the love of skinniness but the hatred of fatness that motivated me. Self-disgust fueled me where self-confidence failed–your mileage may vary. A little over a year later that 60 lbs was gone, and the habits I developed in order to shed that weight have become a permanent and even beloved part of my lifestyle. So, what did I do?
- I gradually–with an occasional self-congratulatory sweet tea–got down to only drinking water, unsweetened tea, and 1% milk with scoops of protein powder shaken in.
- I got rid of all desserts and gradually got rid of almost all carbs. I’ll still eat some bread for the purposes of a sandwich, but that will eventually go as well. The rare fruits that I eat are my only sources of sugar. (I’ll still have a piece of cake at birthday parties–I’m not a monster, after all).
- I ate all the meat, greens, vegetables, and avocados I wanted. But, because these are so filling and genuinely nutritious as compared to carbs and sugars, I was still eating less than ever before.
- I started doing at least twenty minutes of light cardio every day–a walk around the neighborhood, or jumping jacks/jump rope during bad weather. This was the sort of exercise where, ideally, I would get some endorphins without feeling exhausted after-the-fact. It still sucked at first, though!
- On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (spaced this way so that there is always a “recovery day” in between) I would do EITHER a calisthenic or weight-lifting routine.
- For calisthenics, I did “The Big Bodyweight Three.” Pushups, crunches, and squats. At first I always did as many reps as I could, because what I could do wasn’t much. I think my first day was three pushups, ten crunches, and four squats–no joke. Instead of letting those pathetic numbers urge me to quit, I decided they were so pathetic that they had to be surpassed. Now I do 25-50 reps of each.
- For weights, at first I only did deadlifts, meaning I bought a mat, bought a barbell set, placed said barbell with 40 lbs worth of plates on said mat, and started picking it up to pelvis-level and setting it back down (rinse, repeat). Eventually I also bought a rack and a bench, meaning I could now do “The Big Weighted Three” of deadlifts, squats, and bench-presses, only adding on more weight when my previous personal-bests began to feel easy. (The rack helps keep the barbell from falling upon you if you lose control while squatting or bench-pressing, and is therefore essential. It is also important to study each of these movements before trying them, so that you do not injure yourself due to bad form. If I could figure them out, you can too.) At first I tried for just three to five reps of each. Now I do 10-25, depending on whether I am lifting for weight (strength) or reps (endurance).
That’s it! If anything, my approach may be too easy for the lion-hearts, warrior-spirits, and go-getters out there. But for a sedentary lump like me, it was just right. Moving into the second year I also invested in some kettle-bells and dumbbells to mix things up–but the reality is that a floor is the only indispensable implement. If you want to be a Spartan, eventually you’ll also incorporate pull-ups and serious cardio like sprinting or running. But I found those to be utterly demoralizing while overweight, so consider leaving them for after your scale reads what it ought to read.
Everything in moderation; health is about the rest of your life, not vanity and instant gratification. Ignore the mind’s complaints, but heed the body’s warnings. Suffer properly.