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The name “Tubby” is hurtful, as my weight problem is glandular.

27 February 2012

Seriously, this was the only really unhealthy stuff I could find in the house. It's all expired.

Recently, I had a co-worker message me. She’d heard that I’d recently lost a lot of weight (true), and wondered how I did that. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know the answer to that question — I had several painful mouth surgeries and ended up on a liquid diet for several weeks. I rightly guessed that wouldn’t be an option she was interested in, but I had another method.

See, I’ve been just about every body shape a guy my size can be. When I graduated high school, I was 135 pounds, and nothing but bone and muscle. At 26, I was about 215 pounds, just plain fat. Two years later, I was 185, and a friend accused me of using steriods (I wasn’t, of course, I just hit the gym a lot). So the stuff I did in that two-year period, I figured, might be of interest to my co-worker.

So I laid out exactly what I did to lose all of the weight and gain all of the muscle back. I won’t go into details here, because I’m not turning this into a fitness blog, but suffice it to say, there was a lot of information. At the end of it all, she mentioned that it seemed like a lot of work.

Well, yeah, I thought. Of course it is. You’re looking for a big result — you have to put in a lot of work. But then I realized it wasn’t her fault for thinking this way, not when so many diet and exercise plans promise to turn you into an underwear model in just 15 minutes a day. We’ve gotten to think that everything should be easy and quick, and if something’s not, we don’t bother doing it.

It’s like the Craigslist people I blogged about last week — they want writing a book to be easy and quick (for them), so they outsource it. Or attempt to, and get laughed at on sparsely-traveled blogs.

Here’s the thing — nothing is ever easy. It’s not meant to be. Writing, staying in shape, eating right — it’s all meant to be an uphill battle. All of the things that are bad for you are easy — eating McDonald’s six days a week (how did you think I got fat in my 20s?), drinking, smoking — they’re easy, and more importantly, kind of fun. The stuff that’s worth doing, though, is hard, and kind of no fun.

So, what’s your secret to doing the not-fun stuff? Please don’t say it’s eating McDonald’s for every meal. I tried that once. It… didn’t go well.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 27 February 2012 1155

    As a person with a real glandular problem, I’ve still been able to lose weight. Definitely some discipline involved, but it came down to eating well and walking. That was really it. Maybe one kind of out there meal on the weekend, but other than that, no beer, mild exercise, and eating right.

    Weight came off and stayed off.

    It really seems if people go for the quick fix that they rebound. I know when I’ve made a bigger effort that I’ve lost and then gained back. But when I stuck to what worked, all was well.

    • 27 February 2012 1358

      That’s the thing a lot of people don’t want — discipline, and doing something that they don’t really want to do. I think if you’re heavier than you’d like, but not really willing to do anything about it, just be comfortable with it. That, or realize it’s going to be a whole lot of work and make yourself do it.

      Fad diets and exercise schemes are temporary. If you grab an Army training manual from the 40s, everything you need is there. It’s not easy, or quick… but like you said, stick to what works.

  2. 3 March 2012 1851

    Shawn,

    Discipline, and whatever you call the opposite of discipline, are habit in and of themselves. I had gotten very overweight and generally unable to do those hard things that I wanted to do. My road back came with building up my self discipline in small, very conscious steps.

    I used to promise myself to go to the gym every day, and, if you didn’t, then, yes, I was a lame human being, but maybe not a complete waste of space.

    After years of that not working, I switch tactics. I promised myself to put on my exercise clothes before 3PM, and, and this is the key part, I was doing it not to exercise not my body, but my self discipline. And it was such a small thing to do, so, if I did’t, I was a complete loser, with no hope. I might as well shoot myself. So I set an alarm on my phone, and I did it.

    After a while, I upped it a little. I told myself, “I am going to get dressed for exercise at 3PM, and walk out the door.” And this was still easy, and I did it.

    In fact, I forced myself to go back in, a few times, to hammer home the point that I was not promising to exercise. I was keeping my word to myself. I was being a man of my word.

    … but most of the time, now that I was out and ready, I did exercise.

    More importantly is, in the long run, that I was re-imagining myself as someone who did what he said he would do.

    It turns out, that a lot of the reason I did not do the hard things is because I would imagine the “hard” bits. The discomfort and general unpleasant feelings a fat man feels when exercising. I would dwell on it. So, I would never get out the door.

    Changing the goal from the exercise to the preparation to exercise, freed me from dwelling on the “hard” bit. When I start thinking “Oh, Christ, I don’t want to exercise!”, I stop myself, and say, “You are not going to exercise. You are merely following through on your promise to get ready and go outside. You can come right back in, if you still don’t want to do it.”

    And so I do. And then, partly because I have gotten an ego boot (for lack of a better phrase) from following though on my word, I generally do exercise and feel better about myself for it. This became a positive feedback loop for me.

    I am simplifying all this, and, of course, I had some setbacks, and lots of other factors, but, this definitely helped me do what I wanted to do instead of whining about it.

    Best,

    Brett

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