A few months ago I was having a fitness discussion with a group of friends. One of the skinny ones mentioned something about insulin spikes. He said it as though this would come as some sort of revelation to us. Most of us were fat, and we thought this was cute… that he just figured this stuff out. I mean, we’d been reading about insulin spikes, and the insulin resistance that comes with it, for at least fifteen years, yet it was news to him. The tubby people in the group could probably hold their own at an endocrinologist’s convention, and the skinny guy had no clue.
This got me thinking. All of us fat people knew exactly what it was that was making us-and keeping us- fat. Then why the hell were we still so fat? It certainly isn’t lack of knowledge.
I have all of my diet and exercise related books on their own bookshelf. I took a tape measure and measured them. There’s about six feet worth of weight loss data. I’ve read them all, but I’m still carrying an extra fifty or so pounds.
After brooding on this for a while, I came to the conclusion that it’s motivation. There are a lot of other things that come into play (the ease of eating bad foods, the time factor, the social problems that come with eating well, etc… ), but they could all be overcome with the proper motivation.
Motivation is easy for some people. Sometimes feeling better is motivation enough, sometimes it’s health issues, sometimes it’s fitting into certain clothes, and all of those things can help, at least for a while, but many of us need a different motivator. I’ve tried bets, contests, groups, partners, etc… but all that seems to be lacking something. I thought about how I’d been motivated in the past, and I realized that ridicule is the most effective motivator for me. You want me to do something? Call me a pussy.
Now, you can talk about support, kind words and all that crap, and that may work for women, and the kind of guys who go on “The Biggest Loser” and cry about all the reasons that they eat their emotions and, blah, blah, blah… but I’m a regular guy. Building my self-esteem won’t work. Tearing it down will.
I’ve managed to do “okay” without the ridicule- or maybe it was self-ridicule that motivated me. I was 296 a couple of years ago (I almost wish I’d eaten just a couple more cheese steaks and pizzas so I could say that I was 300 pounds. Much more dramatic), and I’ve managed to make a few changes that have brought that number down. For the past several months I’ve been hovering around the 235 mark. It’s just that every time I start to get back on the horse, I fall off.
With each little lapse it becomes easier to lapse again. Without something to keep me in check, I reach a kind of complacence. I’m very forgiving. Especially of myself.
I needed to find someone to work with me. Not for support, but for goading me in that special way that would keep me going. Someone to hold me accountable. It couldn’t be a skinny person, like a personal trainer. It had to be a fellow fat guy. Someone slovenly, pathetic, gelatinous… a real mess. Naturally, John came to mind.
He’s a lot like me in that the new agey “support” kind of stuff won’t work. Much like me, he needs a more direct approach. I think he’ll respond to mockery well, and there’s the added benefit that, with him, it’s so easy to do.
My hope is that he- and you- will call me out when those lapses happen. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll support each other, but when we fall off… let’s just say that we won’t mince words.
As another benefit of this system, we- and you- will be able to see what actually works. I’ve pulled what I feel are the most logical nutrition and exercise approaches from my six feet of knowledge, and he’ll do the same. We’ve reached the same conclusions about certain things, but wildly different ones for others.
Here’s my plan:
I’m going to follow the Primal diet here’s the site: The Primal Blueprint). It’s pretty close to the dietary changes that’ve helped me drop the sixty pounds, and it fits with the most compelling nutritional research on my six feet of bookshelf space. It’s a plan that could easily be followed for life, and not just a “diet.”
I don’t have a gym membership, and no real equipment of my own, so for muscle building I’m going to be using bodyweight exercises. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with responsible weight training, and I’m not going to rule it out as something that I may go back to in the future, I just think that there are plenty of gains to be made using only body weight with far less risk and expense than with iron. some of the best exercises I’ve found are well demonstrated in Combat Fitness.
Cardio? Once again I turn to my six feet of knowledge for this one. I see no real benefit in what would traditionally be considered “cardio.” A few times a week I’ll be doing the PACE program: heres the page. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing worse than being chained to a machine for any length of time, and the PACE program is extraordinarily flexible when it comes to how you get your heart rate up.
We’ll both be weighing in every week and posting pictures every four weeks. We’ll be honest about what we’re doing- or not doing- and making fun of each other when we mess up. And we expect you make fun of us for any backsliding we may do too.
Here are some things you won’t be seeing. You won’t be seeing a gym rat who took a few weeks off, got puffy on water, took some pictures, worked out a couple of weeks, then took pictures of his “transformation.” We won’t have tans that came from a can or a booth. We won’t be doctoring our photos, or shading our bodies for effect- so this may be ugly for a while. We’re not athletes or models, we’re just regular guys who’re making an effort to improve. And you’ll witness those efforts. The efforts of two big fat guys.