A word about weight loss...
Having gone through the yo-yo of being an obese kid, turned myself into a fit and active teenager by firstly running then lifting weights. Career, business focus and a predilection towards heavy drinking and smoking and frankly treating my body more like a tip than a temple. On top of that, I smashed my back up in my early twenties and I was back to obese by 36. That was the age I returned to NZ from overseas.
By the time I hit 40, I had been diagnosed pre-diabetic. Didn’t care, carried on, and frankly with all the childish male ego known to humanity, was more than proud of my appalling work/life balance and consumption habits.
Here’s what changed and what I learnt along the way to being where I am now. I share this not to be self-indulgent but rather I hope you find something interesting, educational and it should give an idea as to my approach with weight loss..
I found my ‘why’. It was one simple thing and one embarrassing experience that gave me the why I was going to change. Number 1. I wanted to see my belt! Pretty simple but it wasn’t about a number on the scales, it was the desire to fit into my clothes not over and out of them. Number 2. I went on a ski trip to Wanaka with a couple of colleagues. It had been 4 years since I had left Japan and hadn’t skied since. I was a pretty handy backcountry skier even in an overweight state. Nevertheless, 4 years on (sedentary, smoking, drinking, working, working…), 2 runs at Cardrona destroyed me. I have rarely been so embarrassed; a bright red, perspiring heap of shamed uselessness.
The ‘how’. Shortly after returning from that trip I went home one day and declared 3 changes. I was now a non-smoker. Yep, cold turkey – I didn’t ‘give up smoking’, I became a non-smoker, there’s a subtle but significant difference. I had decided to get fit, had joined a gym and the dog (Dexter) and I were moving to the beach (divorce made the trifecta).
After my back injury in my 20’s, it was my ego that kept me out of the gym. I used to lift heavy and didn’t believe I could with my back and therefore wasn’t going to enjoy it. However, having been sedentary for 15 odd years, despite knowing how to train, my body, function, posture and form had all changed. So…I started getting injuries: rotator cuff twice, patella tendons, bicep tendons…I was one more injury away from deciding it was all too hard and by this stage I was really enjoying working out. A good physio and a personal trainer who was into mobility and posture turned it around for me. I got my corrections done and gained a methodology to maintain a body that will train well into old age without living in the physio room.
I was training hard with weights, as well as Les Mills RPM and Sprint classes, I was living at the gym. However, I had plateaued at 105kg and the harder I trained, all that changed was the frequency of physio appointments. A friend introduced me to a nutritionist, Tarren McCall, this changed everything. I got measured, it was depressing but I engaged, did monthly follow-ups and for the sake of perspective that first day I was 30% body fat and about 72kg lean mass. Today, I sit around 12% and 88kg lean mass.
The adjunct to the nutrition plan happened a bit by accident, which was a GP visit and consequently blood tests that discovered I had high estrogen (alcohol will do that) and low testosterone (alcohol and lack of exercise). As we age, men especially; their testosterone levels drop from around 40. We live in the dark ages in NZ regards men’s health and hormones (one of the few areas women have it better), if your GP isn’t delivering an open, intelligent dialogue on that subject then change doctors. So, armed with this information I could make the necessary nutrition adjustments and my results got even better.
So, for me the key elements were finding my ‘why’ and then putting together the people who had the expertise to guide me on the journey.
Blood tests: I’m adamant with my clients that they should get blood tests. You need to know where you are with your hormones, lipids, etc. Not doing this robs a nutrition plan of information it needs to be optimal. Even if all that comes out is you're low on Vitamin B, which was the outcome for one of my clients, it all helps towards better outcomes and health.
Nutrition plan (70% of the result): It’s a plan, not a diet, fad or fashion. Without expert advice and it’s not expensive, I believe your fooling yourself. If you think you can do this yourself, get another hobby, you've got too much free time and spare knowledge.
Training Plan (30% of the result): I’m obviously biased here but from my own experience I could not have achieved my results without a trainer (and I’d been in gyms from my teens), period. I think of it like this, “buying a ticket on a plane, doesn’t qualify you to fly it. No different than a gym membership qualifies you to get positive training outcomes.”
Finally, one of the biggest mindset changes I had to go through was focusing on the journey rather than the destination. Through the many yo-yo periods I had always thought, “I’ll do this and then when I get there it’s all good, I’ll be happy.” When I changed that to, “this journey is now part of my life, lifestyle, it’s sustainable, I enjoy it, I’m having fun, I’m happy.” I got results and I’m a happy, healthier person for it. Don’t put your self under duress to change and to that end I’ll throw a stone…things like crash diets, 12 week transformations are a movie ticket, not a life.
The journey ‘is’ the destination!