A very good friend of mine messaged me the other day and began a familiar routine that she does: she complained about wishing to manage her weight better. Now to be sure, she has a very cute face, and indeed, a sparkling personality to match, yet, she continues to struggle with what I would called a “mild” weight issue. I say mild in the sense that it’s not health threatening, and that what extra weight does exist, are merely cosmetic pounds, if you will. Anyway, being the good friend that I am, I spent about a half an hour talking to her about her feelings about the weight, her intentions for losing some, and her overall approach to the situation. What I found was a fairly typical view on being overweight: completely negative.
Listen folks, I get it. It’s not a comfortable subject. It’s not something easily approached with a smile. Weight and the cosmetic implications associated with it are a truly personal and sensitive point of scrutiny that entails the messiness of social expectations and self-esteem. We all know this already. It’s no wonder this topic is met with anger and aversion. However, the point of this article is provide people with ideas about how to get past all that. So let’s get started already dammit.
1. Stop talking. Start sweating.
100% of anything that’s ever been done in the history of the entire universe has happened in exactly that one way: it was DONE. You see this kind of thing plastered all over sports tee’s and Nike commercials. Well, that’s because it has merit folks. People spend more time talking about the things they are going to do than actually doing them. In fact, I read one study on success in general that said people are MORE likely to fail if they talk excessively about goals they hope to achieve. The logic behind this study was that, by simply telling others what we hope to do, we become satisfied with their positive reaction to our news. Essentially, this means that people tend to feel accomplished JUST by talking about their goals, and therefore, cease to feel an urgency to act. On the other hand, if you make it a point to let results speak for you, action becomes a much more potent and efficient way to shape up and get healthy.
2. Agriculture Sucks.
If you ever payed attention in History class, you’d realize that ancient humans didn’t start consuming carbs on the level we do today until farming was developed. Before human civilization discovered the ease of growing countless fields of grains that could harvest and stored, we ate meat, roots, nuts, and fruits. I used to think fad diets were silly as hell, I mean, of course we need carbs right? Right. But the fact of the matter is, the amount of carbs that we consume today are astronomically larger in comparison to our hunter gatherer days. Think about it: ancient humans developed farming as a means to grow their numbers through a sustainable food source. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean we have to eat it. If you were to take an inventory of how truly pervasive carbs are in the average diet, you might be shocked. Between snack foods, pizza, breads, crackers, cookies, cakes, and BEER (OH MY GOD BEER—OUR STAPLE FOOD SOURCE), you’d realize that slimming down is all about carb control (NOT carb elimination—but, mostly, because we need that beer to stay sane).
3. Ditch the Social Bashing
The first thing my friend said to me while addressing the issue of her weight was:
“Yeah, well it would be nice if people just accepted others for their personality. But that doesn’t happen.”
First of all, that’s just plain horse shit to begin with. The implication here is that everyone is a superficial asshole and that personality is not valued. I don’t think it takes a genius to understand that there are plenty of celebrities, as well as many of our own friends, that are overweight, yet, well-liked and adored for their personalities. I also think that this kind of thinking inhibits real progress by putting us in a victim state. It creates a kind of helpless role for us that says: I’m always at the mercy of others, and even if I get into shape, it will be because I had no choice. That’s not a good place to start. We need to start from a place that begins with US, not others’ points of view.
On the other side of of this spectrum I say:
“You know what, some people are morons and only care about physical appearance. It f*cking sucks. Move on.”
Thinking in that direction takes the focus off the real question and only delays progress. The only important question is: what are YOU going to do about YOU? Ditch the social backdrop.
4. Binge Drinking is for Morons
I love beer. I mean really. I f*cking love it. But, seriously, this isn’t college anymore and we all know how that first year turns out: FAT. They don’t call it freshman 15 for nothing folks. That’s roughly 15 lb. of beer.
I was talking to a friend while in Japan who had revealed to me that she was getting a bit of a tummy. Being the pint-sized chick she is, I didn’t think much of it, though, she was obviously concerned enough to mention it in the first place. From there she moved on to a drinking story, and by the time she had finished, I was more than curious about her alcohol consumption. I asked her, flat out:
“So… how often would you say you drink?”
“Ohh…haha… probably like 5-6 times a week”
“5-6 times a week! Dude…what the fuck, how much beer do you drink during each session?”
“About 4-5 glasses each”
Though she assured me that she had “ways” of keeping her weight in check (which I’m certain involved cocaine), for those of us who don’t wish to complicate one problem with another, we need to be mindful of our drinking. Dude. Drinking 5-6 times a week at 4-5 glasses a pop is friggin insane. I drink (MAYBE) twice a week, and will have 2 beers, 3 at the most. My friend also cited all kinds of social reasons for drinking so often: maintaining work connections, networking opportunities, etc etc. Listen up people: what the hell happened to willpower and individualism? It’s completely possible to be social without having to drink yourself into a alcohol-induced coma. Cut out the beer carbs, bro. Period.
5. Change Your Angle.
When I first joined the soccer team in high school I sucked. I was fast, but my knowledge about field communication and game awareness was terrible. And, to top it off, the captain hated me and was a bit of a bully. So, it goes without saying, I wanted to kill him. But, there was a problem: he was huge. He would have killed me—plus he had a lot more friends than I did. Anyway, I hated this dude so much, but there was no way I could beat him in a fight. So what did I do? I got smart. Rather than challenging him to an all-out brawl, I decided to work on myself and began practicing soccer on my own. I’d watch soccer games, play on the weekends, do drills. You name it, I did it (everything short of hiring a Mexican prostitute). Eventually, with the skills I developed, I won the “Most Improved Player” award and was a starter on the team. But best of all, as I started to earn the trust of the other players on the field, the captain had no choice but to lighten up on me, as all of his friends began to like me. My new value as a team player translated to acceptance overall, as that trust began to open up the minds of my fellow teammates. Soon, they became more receptive of my humor and began to see my true personality as well. So what’s the point? Change your angle.
There’s no way I could have beaten up the captain; a direct attack would have failed miserable, gotten me kicked off the team, and I would have gained nothing. But, by getting smart, and changing my relationship to the problem, I was able to gain an advantage and win. Changing your relationship to the issue of weight and healthy exercise is about coming at it from a different angle. If you’re seeing exercise as a burden, as pointless, or just too hard to do, you need to find a different perspective and approach to the issue. You can never get to the summit of a mountain if you’re taking the wrong path. Find the right path.
6. Don’t Quit Before you Start
This is probably one of the most important things I’ve ever learned. When it comes to exercise and results, things are gonna feel a whole lot worse before they feel better. And, that’s exactly when people quit: right before it gets better. If you imagine progress and pain to be an “S” shaped curve on a line graph, you’d see that the initial slope is steep and painful. However, at some point your pain and body hit a “plateau” in which the pain of exercise becomes bearable. This means that you’ve made progress and it’s time to increase your intensity during future workouts in order to challenge yourself again. But what tends to happen is, before the first plateau where people would normally see progress enough to motivate them onward, they quit. They end up saying “I’ve been working hard for 3 days now, and I don’t see shit happening”. Well, it can take up to 2 weeks sometimes to really feel the breathing room in your workout, though, once you get there, your motivation goes through the roof. You just need to get to that first plateau, and then, you got it down, because after that, it’s the same cycle over and over: steep slope, plateau (ahh), steep slope, plateau (ahh). I learned this well through long distance running. Don’t quit before you start people. Keep going.
I hope this silly list will help motivate people to really tackle their issues with weight and exercise. No one is saying it’s easy. But then again, nothing good ever came easy, so why are we always so f*cking surprised when it turns out to be hard?