How I Managed To Lose Weight For Good And Keep It Off After Years Of Failed Yo-Yo Dieting
Today marks the 4th anniversary of the day I ate peyote in my flat in Belfast and tripped so badly that I ended up vomiting in front of a Tesco delivery man whilst scuppering around my flat, terrified that the place had been invaded by huge crystal spiders.
By that point I’d already reached my fattest,weighing in at just under 280lbs.
If I was to think back to how I felt on that night I could have never imagined that I would finally find a way to manage my weight and change my life.
Here are 15 things that I did differently on this weight loss attempt that I didn’t do on previous efforts.
- I changed my lifestyle – The truth is diets are bullshit especially if you’re obese. When you diet you tend to think that you’ll arrive at a point where you’ll be able to eat normally and stop killing yourself in the gym. That’ll be your tipping point back to square one. In terms of my “lifestyle change”, I haven’t actually changed that much. I no longer drink sugary coke and my alcohol intake is half it was at the time. The biggest change I’ve made is through the running, which brings me on nicely to the next point.
- I’ve learnt to enjoy exercise – In the diets I’d tried previously I’d hate exercise as I’d be constantly out of breath and feeling like death (even whilst walking). I did it differently this time by taking everything slowly. When I was 280lbs I wouldn’t walk any faster than a crawl but I’d cover 5 miles (sometimes it’d take me close to 2 hours to do it!). I stopped associating exercise with pain and instead it became an outlet, something I enjoyed doing. When I started out running I wondered how anyone could ever find this enjoyable, but I stuck with it and over the course of my first year learned to enjoy it. The truth is that exercise becomes easier the more you do it. You don’t have to keep pushing yourself to the brink to reap the benefits of it. I just keep it slow, relaxed and at my own pace and it’s served me well for 2 1/2 years now.
- I expected to fall off the dieting wagon and made preparations for it – There may be weeks or even months where you do no exercise and eat like crap. This is fine. If you prepare yourself for the occasional slip up and do your best to get back on track then you will succeed in the long run. My problem with past weight loss attempts was that I’d fall off the wagon and that would be it. I’d be back to eating junk food and doing zero exercise.
- I found a true reason to lose weight – If you’re just doing it to win the favour of shallow bitches/bastards then forget about it. You’ve gotta find your own self worth instead of searching for acceptance from those who previously looked down on you.
- I treated my weight loss adventure as a journey – It’s not about getting to a certain weight or running a certain amount of marathons. It’s about understanding why you got to your low point to begin with. Once you understand where you’ve come from, you can make plans on where you’re gonna go next.
- I didn’t hate where I was when I started – If you are at your fattest now then this is as bad as it can get if you decide to do something about it today. You don’t have to let things slip any further. If you’re caught in the throes of self hatred, then you won’t be able to see the forest for the trees. If you keep moving forward step by step then you won’t go far wrong.
- I stopped obsessing over the finer parts of my ‘dieting’ – I’d obsess over Weight Watchers points for hours thinking that I’d gain weight by miscalculating my intake. If you make your life miserable by counting calories or through any other dieting technique, then you’ll struggle to keep with it. The important thing is to focus on eating healthier and sustaining that over the course of months and years. If you drive yourself mad with any diet then you’ll quit and rebound which is counter-productive.
- Part of me expected myself to fail again after all these attempts, but another part of me knew success was possible if I put my mind to it. – Forget about all of the other times you messed up your diet and concentrate on getting the small things right this time! It’s the little day to day decisions that make the big difference. Order a regular Big Mac instead of a Supersize. Have an apple instead of a Mars Bar. Keep your head up high and be consistent.
- I didn’t listen to compliments from others as the weight started to drop off – If you listen to compliments from strangers as you lose weight, then you’ll also take insults to heart from nastier types. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. Your goal is to better yourself and to keep moving forward. All it takes is for one idiot to call you a name for the wheels to come off your lifestyle change if you rest your heart on everyone being nice.
- I’ve kept tracking my weight and my progress – I weigh myself twice a week now just to prevent myself from ever having to step on the scales again only to find I’ve put on 50lbs since my last weigh-in. Sometimes you’ll go up and other times you’ll go down. But the only thing that matters is that you keep on going forward, even if you’re going forward from a few steps further back than last month.
- I’ve made friends who are interested in exercise – This is why I love being a runner, it’s so easy to meet new people at races, clubs and on Twitter. Once they become part of your social circle then you’ll be invited out for runs and other social gatherings. Their lifestyles will rub off on you.
- Setting a daring goal made all the difference for me – As stupid as it was resolving to run the Belfast Marathon 2011 in the summer of 2010 in Prague, it helped focus my mind and set the wheels in motion. Since then the wheels have came off many times but the key to success was in dusting myself off, trying to learn from mistakes and resolving to act smarter next time.
- I realised the only person who is responsible for my success or failure was me – You are in complete control. Whether you eat well or exercise is up to you and no-one else. It’s OK to make excuses for failing occasionally, but if you start weaving your excuses into a sob story narrative, then you’re only deluding yourself if you think anyone else cares. You’ve gotta change your own life to change your own life. Every one else is too fucked up too care with their own issues and problems.
- I dropped the fatalistic “I’m doomed to be a lazy fat mess forever” bullshit – I opened my mind to the possibilities of what I could be and worked towards creating a better version of myself. You alone invent the face that you’ll bring to the world.
- Most importantly, I’m still trying.. – I know that if I stop now then I’ll go back to how I was. The important thing is that I don’t want to stop now. I love exercising. I love the lifestyle that goes along with it. I’ve managed to create my own way of living that I’m happy with. And long may it continue!