Monday, August 26, 2013

Try Not, Do Or Do Not Lose Weight -- How to Start Losing Weight the Trooper Way

 I have a friend who is what I call a “researcher”. He likes to plan, read, and think about how he is going to lose weight. He wants to trick his body by using high protein diets, do a week’s long “cleanse”, or drink nothing but expensive powdered milkshakes. He does everything but eat right and work out. While some of these strategies may help supplement a good foundation of diet and exercise they are definitely not a replacement. In my opinion my friend just needs to get out there and troop! 

Honorary 501st Member Adam Savage, of Mythbusters fame, once said “failure is always an option”. Adam wasn’t just talking about blowing stuff up, you are going to fail a lot in your quest to lose weight but it is the observed results that matter. For example, last night I failed to complete a 5k. When I gave up I was angry at myself, I was disappointed, and I broadcasted my failure. The next morning when I stepped on the scale it turns out I had lost weight. Even though I only made it 3k into a 5k I still did a 3k. Failure is always an option because these failures still yield results. 

 So how do you start losing weight? You eat right, and exercise; you make a lifestyle change, and that can start any time, your change can start right now if you want! Another friend, Brandon, made a lifestyle change two nights ago after a game of racquetball. Brandon’s choice to eat right and exercise may eventually result in failure, but the results will be good no matter what. A year ago I got Jules Winfield’d by my lady when she started Weight Watchers. She started doing it, which means I pretty much had to start doing it. One day, by mistake, I made a lifestyle choice.

The Weight Watchers points program speaks to my inner power gamer and helped me make the changes I needed. That said, it’s just calorie counting for dummies. A month into Weight Watchers and I went from a 29 point (easily 1000+ calories) lunch to a lean 13 points, and I walk away without going hungry. These changes were all compromises with myself; drop the cheese and save a point, change to wheat bread and save a point, instead of chips get apples and save three points. These compromises aren’t huge crash changes, they are slow and they helped me build new, sustainable, habits. Since you get points back for exercise in Weight Watchers, I started playing racquetball with my coworkers, and biking to work. These were all little one and two point refunds that added up. Then one day I challenged myself to run a 5k and since then the weight has been melting off.  All of this was a lifestyle change, I try to exercise at least once a day, and eat light breakfasts and lunches so I can enjoy myself at dinner. Again, this isn’t a series of exercises that will leave me sore and give me the feeling I “earned” a chocolate milkshake, or a super sized Carl’s Jr meal. These are simple activities that get me up and moving for at least 30 minutes.
I still retained some old habits, I love that big dinner, and every now and again I destroy an unsuspecting pizza. These unhealthy activities just have new reactions now, I exercise after that big dinner, and I feed on pizza as little as possible then spend the rest of the weekend eating right. While I am not knocking my friend’s aptitude for research, I am knocking his refusal to get out there and hit the pavement. Tricking your body isn’t sustainable, it may work to lose 4-5 pounds for a weekend, but you aren’t going to be able to keep it up. The recidivism rate of p90X and other “0 – ripped in 6 weeks” type diets is incredibly high because you aren’t fixing the core problem; you have unhealthy habits, and have had them for a very long time. It’s cool, let’s just be honest about it you failed and that’s fine, failure is always an option – at least you are doing something about it!


  1. Great link to that comparison paper. Permanent lifestyle change is definitely the only way to do this in a sustainable fashion, and anything permanent is worth getting started on right away.

    1. Absolutely Andrew! When people hear or read "lifestyle change" I think they get scared. Nobody is talking about sentencing you to a lifetime of salads and kale chips. Making a positive change can be small, like jogging with the dog instead of just walking it, or ordering a small combo meal instead of a large.

      Remember Plastoid Pursuit isn't advocating the "0 - Ripped in 6 Weeks" approach. We are all about the long game here.