What is my plan for losing weight and getting back into a high level of fitness? It’s pretty easy. It includes:
- Strict Whole30/Paleo Diet (transitioning to Paleo after W30 is complete)
- At least 7.5 hours of sleep each night
- Exercise every other day for first week or two, transitioning to 6 days a week (letting each body area rest for a day after a workout)
- NO SABOTAGE (that’s what I call cheat meals/food items/alcohol)
- Be patient and trust the process
Doing those fivethings have helped me lose 130 lbs in one year, and over 150 lbs total in the past. Now, after a year of allowing myself to stray from this plan, I find myself heavier and out of shape (to be fair, I got out of shape due to two unrelated injuries three months apart from each other) and needing to lose the weight and get fit again.
The good news is that this plan works. It works surprisingly well. I say surprisingly because I was honestly surprised to see the weight loss rates I experienced on my first Whole30. I couldn’t believe that I was losing weight as quickly and as steadily as I was without doing any exercise. My entire life, I’d been fed the mantra that you have to sweat fat off to lose weight. My own experience was going against everything I’d ever been taught about weight loss from grade school to the Marine Corps.
I thought I might be sick, or something was wrong with me, so after a month, I had a physical. Everything not only looked normal, but vastly improved from a few months before. My blood sugar was normal. My liver enzymes were normal. I had gone from being a diabetic with fatty liver to having results that appeared to be from a healthy person. The tests were repeated, and the same results came back. Another physical three months later confirmed the first two. Fast-forward a year, and I was given a rigorous physical to join the National Guard, and passed the high standards for military service with flying colors.
The Steps In Depth
My method for lifestyle change starts with Whole30. All the information you need about Whole30 is available on the website, so I won’t go into it here. But I recommend you look at it there. Literally everything you need to start and complete a Whole30 is available, free of cost, at the Whole30 website. That’s what my wife and I did, and we trust in Whole30 to reset our appetites, to retrain our brains for proper portion sizes, and to reset our bodies to break any sugar addiction we may have regained.
The Paleo Diet is what we do long-term after completing a Whole30. The main difference is that The Paleo Diet allows you to have food items made from whole ingredients that mimic non-Whole30 compliant foods like cookies, pizza, etc. Whole30 works to not only reset your body chemistry to a baseline, but to also break you of craving certain foods. The Paleo Diet is good for cutting out the foods with added sugars, grains, and legumes, but some people can find it leads them back to eating foods that contain sugars or other non-compliant ingredients. Paleo bread is rarely as good as wheat-based bread (except when it comes to soda bread!), and some people craving a slice of bread can be lured into cheating.
Why is this so high on the list? Because it’s the secret weapon that ensures that your body will lose as much weight as it possibly can. What most people don’t realize or know is that our bodies actually lose weight while we sleep. While you may lose water weight when exercising at the gym or on a run, your body doesn’t actually process that exercise and lose weight until you are lying in your bed, asleep. The more sleep you give your body, the more time you give it to lose weight. I have found that in the past four plus years, that whenever I hit a plateau, it was almost always caused by a lack of steady sleep. When I fixed that, the weight loss trend continued.
This step isn’t necessary. I know that it’s not something you expect to read on a health and fitness blog, but it’s true. I lost 130 lbs in one year without a single step of exercise. Not a single drop of sweat was expended to exercise, yet I lost weight steadily, consistently, and safely. How? By eating right. Nothing more, nothing less. I was actually very insistent about not exercising for that first year because I wanted to see if it was possible to lose the weight without exercise to prove it not only to myself, but to those who read my blog. When I added exercise to my plan, I lost an additional 20 lbs.
This is what I call cheating. Cheat days, cheat meals, etc. I’ve read other diets and blogs from other fitness gurus and experts who say that cheat days and cheat meals are okay. THEY ARE NOT! They set you back and put you at jeopardy of failure. It’s like what they say about heroin: NOT EVEN ONCE. I have learned the hard way, more than a few times now, that once you start to let yourself cheat, it snowballs. I am now 40 lbs heavier than I was a year ago because I allowed myself to eat a meal here and there, or to have a few drinks here and there which escalated into a much less healthy lifestyle. Like a drug addict, I thought I had it all under control until I didn’t. It took me feeling incredibly uncomfortable in my dress uniform to realize the damage I’d done. You have to remain vigilant and just say no to those temptations that come along.
This is another secret to weight loss and fitness that nobody talks about. You hear things like, “Do the work!” and “You have to work hard!” but nobody acknowledges that these changes take time. Sometimes, a long time. When I undertook a healthy lifestyle back in 2015, I lost 20 lbs in the first month. You’d think that I was ecstatic, but truth be told, I wasn’t. I couldn’t SEE the change. Sure, the scale was rewarding me with smaller numbers, and yes, even my pant size changed slightly, but I was so heavy that 20 lbs was a drop in the bucket. It would take another four months before I looked in the mirror one day and the face looking back at me was a face I hadn’t seen in a long time; my face. My not-so-fat face. You can’t get fit in a week, and you can’t lose significant weight in a month. The more weight you have to lose, the more patient you need to be, because you didn’t pack it on overnight. Losing it will take longer than it took to put it on because our bodies are stubborn and optimized for survival. Your body will do everything it can to hold onto the fat stores.
There are other things within these steps, like food-prep, portion control, discipline, determination, motivation, perseverance, etc. They are all important, but in themselves, won’t do anything for you. Follow the five steps, and you will find success. Decide to start. If you have already undertaken a healthier lifestyle, commit to it 100%. No sabotage. There is no finish line, but the road gets much smoother when you’re doing the right things.