Over the course of the last two years, I’ve been in a lot of different shapes. Well, ‘fat’ isn’t a shape, so I’ll start with ‘round’, and now, two years later, less round. Roughly 20lbs less round, depending on how many beers with an Oreo chaser I’ve had recently (Side note, beer and Oreos, phenomenal. Honestly, one of the best combinations since Hall and Oates. But I digress).
That consistently maintained 20lb weight loss has given me a lot.I’m in much better cardiovascular shape. I’m leaner – my belt is no longer straining to hold back the male equivalent of a FUPA. It’s all around been a good thing. I’ve learned some interesting lessons through the process.
Not all diets work the same all the time
In my powerlifting days, I loved low to no carb diets. Love love loved ‘em. Easy to stick to, easy to prep for. Goodbye demon carbs! Now? Can’t really do it any more, not with the hard beating my body takes in jiu jitsu and muay thai. Now I need carbs. I’ll even dream about rice; true story, rice is delicious. I’ll stick to a diet without any processed carbs or as few as possible, but I need the sweet potatoes, the rice, and the other starchy veggies I used to avoid. It’s important that you keep your dieting philosophy in line with what your body is telling you. Do your research and experiment with different eating methods. Things will change, and it’s important to stay on top of it.
Losing a lot of weight really quickly is a mind fuck
I started out around 240lbs and now I typically hang out around 215-220lbs, and I cut as low as 184. That kind of hardcore weight loss does silly things to your mind and can warp your body image. It’s important to keep in mind that overall health is the goal, not the number on the scale. If your clothing is fitting better and your mirror image matches the image in your head, that’s the important part. The scale matters for competition and can serve as a benchmark. It’s not a measurement of self worth.
Your body is a stubborn bitch
I spent a lot of years trying to get big and strong. I’d set my body to think that eating way too much was just enough, and that I needed to be a certain size to satisfy my behind the scenes ingrained body type. Resetting that has been a real pain in the ass. If I’m not careful, my body will attempt to revert to the big ole previous shape, without a lot of the muscle that I had before. That would be a disaster. It takes a lot of vigilance to keep the weight down and rewire ten years of gym rat behavior.
Staying in shape is just as hard as getting in shape
Here’s an uncomfortable truth – it’s never going to get easier. You’re never going to hold on to any muscle gains or weight loss without an incredible amount of work. Making your body change means overcoming years of decisions made in the opposite direction. Once the change happens, it takes the same amount of work to keep it. It’s a shitty realization, I know, but it’s real. There’s no coasting. You may get accustomed to the work, you may enjoy the process. There is not really a point where the effort is, however, any less.
Getting in really good shape, and getting really lean, does odd things to a body
Remember when you could eat a whole bag of Doritos, suck down six sodas, and then go out into the world without a care? I do. Now? Under the same circumstances, assuming I was able to be more than a foot away from a toilet, people would assume the facial swelling was the result of a birth defect and that my ankles and hands had been some how inflated with an air compressor. After getting into really amazing cardiovascular shape, my aforementioned stubborn bitch of a body no longer handles sodium or large doses of sugar all that well. I’ve heard from other teammates variations of the same; some can’t do a lot of bread and pasta anymore, some can’t handle any artificial sweeteners. Be prepared, once you hit your goal or if you get your body down to where it hasn’t been before, things will change.
Getting out of shape Is stupid easy
You can take six weeks of ass busting and ruin it in two days. It’s an unfair truism. I’ve seen peak conditioning ruined by a weekend soaked in grease and beer. I wish it were different, but it’s not. Getting out of shape is as easy as falling down a hole. Be aware of that, it’s sad to watch someone get in phenomenal condition and have it evaporate because the discipline fades.
I’m not in the best shape ever, but I’m better than I was. That’s the point. Getting your body to where you want it is a process that takes time, and there will be setbacks and poor choices made. It’s ok, it’s about being better tomorrow than you were yesterday, not being awesome for one day, and forgetting about it forever.