Must Weight Loss Be Accompanied By Pain?

This is what discomfort looks like.

Discomfort? Yes. Pain? Definitely not.

“But you said that weight loss and fitness comes with discomfort and pain!” Yes. Weight loss AND fitness come with discomfort and pain. Weight loss alone doesn’t have to be painful. Will changing one’s lifestyle cause discomfort? Sure. But not pain. Getting fit, on the other hand, will most definitely involve pain. I’m experiencing that right now, as my legs burn from the last two runs I completed in the past three days. Today will be another rest day to give them more time to recover, but I’ll be back to running again tomorrow. But you know what’s crazy? They hurt far less today after last night’s run than they did yesterday. And I know from past experience that they will hurt less tomorrow, and on the morning after tomorrow night’s run, they will hurt even less as my body begins adapting to running.

Weight loss is accomplished primarily through diet. Yes, burning calories will create a caloric deficit which leads to weight loss, but that can be done through diet when you cut out high-calorie foods, or dense caloric foods like grains. Fitness, on the other hand, is only improved through exercise.

When I lost my first 130 lbs, I did it all through diet alone. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. Sure, I experienced the Whole30 Flu in the first week of my first Whole30, but afterward? Nothing. No discomfort, no false hunger, no appetite beyond normal, “It’s time to eat a regular meal” hunger. I was losing steadily and consistently 10 lbs a month and I was doing it without going to the gym, without running, without yoga, or anything at all. Friends I knew who were into health and fitness couldn’t believe my results were from changing my diet alone. The thing is, I didn’t see it as changing my diet for a short-term weight loss. I saw it as changing my lifestyle. This was something that I was going to do for the rest of my life.

The fact that I slipped back and re-gained a good amount of weight is testament to the fact that humans love food, and that allowing ourselves to eat off-plan is a very slippery slope that can very quickly get out of hand and out of control. Like any drug, sugar is addicting, and if you let a little in, it will take hold of you and make you crave more. Even this morning, as I write this, I find myself wanting something sweet. It’s been four days now on this Whole30, and I still have the cravings. Yesterday after lunch, it was the same. I finished a chicken breast that Sherry made in the Instant Pot with apples and walnuts served with mushroom caulirice, and about 20 minutes later, I wanted a dessert or something sweet. I instead made a hot cup of tea with lemon which sated the appetite and got me through the worst of it.

If that’s the only discomfort I’ll have while losing weight, I’ll take it! But for me, there’s more to this. I have to run to get back into shape for the military. Today, more than ever, my fitness is extremely important, so it’s a responsibility I do not take lightly. I’ve been pushing slightly harder than I normally would, knowing that I have training coming up that will require me to exert myself physically, and with the world scene being what it is, my very life and the lives of others may depend on my fitness. So, I endure the pain of pushing myself not because I’m doing so to lose weight, but because I need to strengthen my body.

So, if you want to lose weight, you don’t need to suffer a gym. You don’t need to get out on the street and run. You don’t need to contort yourself with Yoga, or spend 5% of your annual income on a Peloton. All you need to do is make some good decisions on the food you are going to be eating by doing some meal prep and then using discipline and make more good decisions when eating. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

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