So, as of this writing, we are a little over one month into the New Year’s resolution cycle. If you believe the “studies” the results aren’t good. According to a 2015 study from the Nielsen Analytics Firm, only 64% of all resolutions make it past the first month. And only 46% make it longer than 6 months with a mere 14% actually achieving their goal. But if you pick and choose who to listen to, that just might be the good news. In 2017 US News reported 80% of all those making a New Year’s resolution were over it within the first month! I happen to go to a gym in the morning (yes, I’m just a little nuts) and from what I see the US News report is probably more accurate. At least for those who resolved to go to the gym in the morning.
It’s a bit comical to watch the gym fill up with newbies the first week of January. The lockers are full and waiting in line for a shower is just a reality. By about the second week we are noticing a turnover. The people there the first week are starting to fall off but new ones are still showing up on a daily basis. So the numbers look pretty consistent. By about the third week in January, Michigan will normally begin to experience a pretty serious bout of winter. There is nothing better at breaking the iron clad will of a new morning gym goer like a little snow. Not so much trouble getting access to the equipment and the lines for the shower are pretty much gone by now. Another couple weeks and we’ll be back to the regulars with the possible addition of one or two hardy souls hell bent on loosing that “stubborn belly fat”!
The one thing almost all studies and “experts” agree on is, losing weight is the number one resolution made every New Year. And there is an overabundance of information in cyberspace telling you “exactly” how to do it. Unfortunately, most of it is wrong. Full disclosure… I’m not a doctor. I didn’t even play one on TV. But there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that helped me out and I thought I’d share my journey and the things that worked for me.
About two years ago I stepped on the scale and was shocked to see it read 199.8 lbs. You see, I have spent most of my life in the 160 range. I’m about 5’-10” that felt about right for me. As I slowly started packing on the tonnage, some obvious things started to happen. I started cutting the grass with a rag in my pocket to mop up the sweat running down my face. That was new to me. I’m don’t sweat. In fact, in high school I used to run by the drinking fountain and throw water on myself just so the coaches would think I was working. I had about 5% body fat. There just wasn’t anything to sweat out. Suddenly I wasn’t having that problem. I also noticed my energy level dropping. Well at least I though that’s what was happening. Turns out, dragging around an extra 40 pounds take a lot of energy. My energy level wasn’t dropping. In fact, I was probably using more. And all of it! So I set out on my quest to reduce my pants size as well and that %&#$ number on the scale. Spoiler alert… I dropped 35 pounds, and man do I feel better!
So what’s the secret? Here’s the bad news. There isn’t one. But you already knew that. It took me years to put that weight on. It wasn’t going to just “melt away”. If you ever run across an add claiming to “blast away belly fat in days” don’t waste your time. It’s not going to happen. First thing I came to realize is targeting fat loss is not a reality. While its true sugar seems to find its way to your middle, making it go away takes an all over approach. There is a ton of information out there on things like subcutaneous fat vs visceral fat and why one is worse for you than the other. If you are so inclined, look it up. But for me, I just wanted it to go away. I named my kids, I named my animals. I didn’t need a name for my belly fat.
The second reality, losing weight and getting healthier is a lifestyle, not a diet. In my mind a diet had a beginning and an end. So at the end you stop dieting and guess what, the weight comes back. Doesn’t that somehow define insanity? You know, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Funny how that works! No, getting healthy is a mindset and a lifestyle and if you’re serious about it, it’s here to stay. For me, that involved making a hobby out of it. Something I enjoyed doing. I did little things to force myself to keep going. I downloaded a pedometer app on my phone and started counting steps. I made it fun and challenging in small ways. I started finding myself parking a little farther away from the door just so I could get a few more steps in. I’m lucking enough to live by Lake Michigan. So on a nice day in the summer I might grab some lunch and take a walk down by the water. Before long, I was looking forward to seeing if I could best last week’s step count. I joined a gym and started making new friends in the morning over a workout session. I now really look forward to going. We actually have fun together. And finally, I got excited about learning about food and how it interacts with my body. This is not a difficult science but, for me, it was fun to discover why eating a certain type of food would help me lose weight and not be hungry. Like I said, a hobby was forming. And believe it or not, I was actually having fun with it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid and turn into a nut case (some would disagree)! I still like my beer and I’ve never met a pizza I didn’t like. But I started to pull back in places that was easy for me. I walked by the doughnuts that seem to be on the table at work almost every day. Sure, I’d grab one every once and a while but I could pass them up too. My biggest problem is snacking at night. So I found something that I don’t have to feel quite as guilty about. I love all of the new flavors of Triscuits. If you’re watching your calorie intake, Triscuits are a pretty good snack. And it beats the heck out of taco chips and dip. And let’s face it, those big bags of Tostitos were meant to be single servings.
The idea of working out is indeed a science and ripe with controversy. Let me say it again. I’m not a doctor nor am I a sports trainer, physical therapist, nutritionist or anything but a guy trying to lose a little weight and be a little healthier. But I have honed in on the idea that to lose weight all over, including your gut, you have to do some resistance training. You have to lift a little weight. Be that actual weight or your own weight. Walking on a treadmill is going to give you a good strong heart but do nothing to your waist line. Some will disagree but that’s what I’ve found. It’s what worked for me. There is a lot of science around metabolism, fat stores, heart rate, etc. and all of it points to the need to stress your muscle mass. Your body will thank you.
So, I’ve rambled on long enough. Bottom line is, I found something that worked for me and I hope you can to. I realize I may be one of the lucky ones that found a way to actually enjoy this process. What I can tell you is that it is a journey of small steps and feedback. I weigh myself every morning. That tells me what effect yesterday’s actions had. Chinese for lunch will almost assure an additional two pounds on the scale in the morning. I know that and make my decisions accordingly. I’m much more in tune with my decisions now than I have ever been. For me, this is good stuff.
Hang in there and don’t quit. Your heart and waist will thank you!!
So once again, I thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope you have enjoyed it and found some small level of inspiration. Please take a moment to subscribe at the bottom of this page. And as always, I welcome your questions and comments. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.