As a personal trainer, I have heard from many of my clients over the years that I don’t understand what it is like to lose weight because I’m not overweight. It is true that I have never been overweight. I admit that I don’t truly understand the experience because I have not lived the life of being overweight. However, I can speak to losing weight because I have done it. Sure my journey and experiences are different than a person who is overweight and wanting to lose weight. I see this everyday with my clients and I empathize with these people. Although I don’t know what it’s like to be overweight, I do know what it feels like to be unhappy with my body which is a common theme regardless of body weight. It’s hard for many of us to feel comfortable and confident in our own skin. If you are anything like me, the body image struggle is real. Let me take you back to when I was learning to accept my body.
Here’s my story. I was the skinny kid who weighed 150 lbs at 6 feet at the age of 19 years old. I was active and healthy, but as a guy, I wanted to be strong and muscular. You know, not a wimpy kid but a real man, whatever that means. After intense training, I hit a high of 190 lbs at 29 years old. I gained lots of muscle through these ten years of strength training, but there is no doubt that I gained some fat as well. I stayed between 180- 185 lbs for years after this point with different degrees of body fat dependent mainly activity levels. I felt confident and strong, and that is what I needed at that point in my life.
My training was intense 5-6x/week but I would not eat very healthy. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. Fast food, pizza, burger, the list goes on. I also ate lots of home made healthy foods but it was in abundance. My goals were different at this point because I was looking to get “big” and taking in lots of calories really helped me gain muscle. I felt fit and strong, but I didn’t always feel good with my energy levels and digestion. Was I overweight? The answer is a resounding NO. But I didn’t feel I was at my best! This is what matters most to me now.
After many years of eating whatever I wanted, in whatever quality I felt like eating, I decided to make a change. I decided that I was eating too much food, too much bread, too much carbs, too much sugar, too much chocolate. Yes I have a sweet tooth and love chocolate. This is my hardest food not to indulge in. I decided to eat less because I wanted to feel better with my mood, not necessarily to lose weight. This was just the by-product of these healthier habits. It definitely helped me feel higher energy and be more calm, focused, and happier. It improved my life. I get more done in the day, and I just feel like a better version of myself.
I lost 15 pounds. Most of it fat, some of it muscle. It was hard for me not to lose a little muscle because I changed my training methods (less frequent hard training) and reduced my food. I discovered new goals and a new perspective. Some would say this is growth. I learned how to train and eat smarter and I’m very appreciative that I’m living a healthier lifestyle.
So how did I do it? It was not anything like rocket science. It was an act of being consistent and applying some basic principles. I started by reducing the size of my meals ( first and foremost) and then the amount of meals per day. I started to eat more vegetables, and eat to the point of feeling satisfied, not stuffed. I also opted for less breads, pasta, rice, fruit, and junk food such as desserts and chocolate. To be clear, I do eat many delicious foods and don’t deprive myself. I’m just more mindful of what I’m eating and how I’m feeling. I pack my food for the day and prep food to ensure I have quality food that will keep me energized and refrain from making poor food choices.
Let me tell you the first month or two of adjusting my food was a transition, where my body was saying what are you doing to me. Please stop. I chose to ignore that. I was eating less. This is the most important principle of losing weight for most people. Eating less doesn’t mean that you should feel less energy. On the contrary it’s all about finding the right balance.
Here are the major benefits of sticking with my newer way of eating habits for 6 months.
These are not meant to impress you. They are the truth of how I feel. I’ll share with you what matters to me. Perhaps some of you can relate.
My depression is under control and I feel happier.
My energy levels are much better and I don’t feel like I have drops in levels or need to take naps during the day.
My digestion is better and I feel like I have less bloating, and easier bowel movements. I know, TMI.
I feel lighter, probably because I AM lighter at 170 lbs.
I can run faster because I have less weight to move. I dropped 2 minutes off my 7 km runs.
I’m leaner and have less fat. I can now see my abs.
The one thing that anyone can relate to when you lose weight and inches is that your clothes don’t fit anymore. I now have a different wardrobe.
I feel more confident and more in control of my life. This is my experience and my methods, and this has worked for me. Everyone is different, so find what works for you. However, the foundations are a good place to start. Everyone will have a slightly different way to get to their goals.
It must be important enough to you to want to do something different than you are doing now. If it’s important to you, then you can do it. Embrace a better and healthier life.
Tips to make this work for you.
Get into a routine that is all about keeping it simple.
Reduce eating out. This will save you money and reduce temptations to over-indulge.
Keep portions small. Remember our stomachs are not that big and we really don’t require a lot of food to meet our needs, especially if your activity levels are not very high.
Eat from a plate half the size you would normally eat if you have weight to lose.
Eat half of the main meal if you eat out.
Eat vegetables everyday, and make this a priority. Eat them first with your meals. If you don’t like vegetables, find a way to like them by experimenting with different ways of cooking methods or adding spices and herbs.
I don’t know everything about nutrition and I never will. All I know is there are ways that work well for most people and if you are in the majority you will lose weight and feel better if you follow these principles.
It’s important to have people guide you along your journey and support you.
I coach these principles from Precision Nutrition, a coaching system that I have been certified with since 2015. Weight loss doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It takes the right coach and plan to get you feeling like the best version of yourself. My experience with weight loss has given me insight into this often frustrating process. I’m a firm believer that role modelling is a key to success. I’m not perfect, I simply dedicate myself to learning and sharing everyday with my clients.
I have found that chasing weight loss is like chasing your shadow. It never really happens. Focus your attention on feeling better and eating well and the weight loss will happen. Too much ultra focus on losing weight puts a lot of pressure on us and it can deter our progress. Weight loss will happen if all the other habits are in check. Patience, and consistency pays off.
We are not defined by our body weight. Let’s find a better way to embrace a feeling of loving ourselves and our bodies.
We all have the ability to shape our bodies, but most importantly shape our lives.
I look forward to hearing all about your success stories.
If you would like more information on training and a program that would be right for you, please contact me:
I would be happy to answer any of your questions.
I operate Fast Track Fitness at Prime Personal Training, a private studio located at 429 St Laurent Blvd in Ottawa, Canada. My mission is to empower people to achieve a healthier mind and body through fun exercise, delicious meals, and a positive mindset. I will keep you on track with a variety of custom programs and ongoing support. I offer health programs that focus on weight/fat loss, and injury/disease prevention and rehabilitation. I have coached hundreds of clients to stellar results over the last 15 years and look forward to celebrating your success story.