Once upon a time there were 4 overweight friends who just finished high school and were going to go away for tertiary studies. They always complained about their weight and said they wanted to lose weight but never really got around to doing anything about it. They weren’t obese, but they weren’t exactly healthy either.
They were out one day when all of a sudden a lamp appeared out of nowhere and a genie popped up. The genie said “I shall grant you each wish”.
The first friend said “I want to lose weight” and the genie replied “Sure”. With a wave on his hand the friend had lost the majority of his muscle mass and was left with his fat. He “lost weight” but was pretty much made of fat with still large “volume” and flabbiness of fat round his belly, and chin. He didn’t look great and looked a little bit like jelly.
The second friend noticed this and said “I want to lose fat, but not muscle mass” and the genie said “Sure”. So again, he waved his arm and all of a sudden, the friend and was very lean all over. There was not much “definition” in his body though as he hadn’t been doing any weight training, so he was basically just “thin”. He looked a little frail and thin.
The third friend noticed what happened and said “I want to lose fat, and gain some muscle mass” and the genie said “Sure”. Again, the genie waved his hands and all of a sudden the friend the friend had ripped abs, was lean all over, and had definition. He wasn’t bulky or Mr Universe, but he was a fine specimen of a human being.
The fourth friend noticed what happened and said “I want the knowledge and motivation to lose fat, and gain some muscle mass”. And the genie said “Sure”. He waved his hands and nothing happened. He was still overweight and unhealthy while he stood next to his flabby friend, thin friend, and lean and well defined friend.
The 4 friends went their separate ways off to university and after a year they decided to meet up. Friend 1, 2 and 3 all reverted back to their former overweight selves. The flabby one put back on muscle he had, the thin one put back on fat, and the ‘ripped’ one lost his muscle definition and put back on his fat. The 4th friend on the other hand looked like the 3rd friend after the genie encounter. He got lean, gained muscle definition, but wasn’t bulky either and was in great health, had a positive attitude towards himself, his body image, and his life, ate well, knew about nutrition, slept well, meditated, drank lots of water, took any supplements he needed and was full of energy and motivation to take on life.
The moral to this ridiculous story, there is no “silver bullet” to losing weight (ok, maybe some surgical operations, but we will ignore those for now). “Diets”, in the mainstream sense of the word, is only a temporary “quick fix”, but aren’t a long term solution. It will be what you do on a regular basis throughout your life, whether it be daily or weekly that will determine what your long term health and weight will be (barring genetic and hormonal issues outside unmedicated control).
Weight loss isn’t the point, healthy habits which are repeated regularly and consistently over a long period of time until they become built into your lifestyle is the point. Weight loss is a beautiful byproduct of the healthier lifestyle.
In reality, I think it won’t be any single healthy habit that will get you to your optimal health. Yes, I’m saying even what you eat isn’t the golden key. It will get more than half the way, but it is the other healthy habits you do surrounding what you eat that will compound your eating efforts. I did my Nutribullet for over 2 years and I did get my weight down from 80.7kg and 25.1% fat (30/12/15) to as low as 72.7kg and 19.3% fat (17/3/2017). My lowest body fat percentage registered was 9/4/17 at 15.7% at 75kg but I think that was a bit of a one off with maybe optimal hydration and the scales working a bit dodgily at the time.
When I was my “lightest” I was “thin”, had a flat stomach, and had a body fat percentage I got comments like “you are fading away” and “i’m concerned about you” and “go eat something”, which at the time was thinking “I thought losing weight by controlling my diet was what you were meant to do”, but this was only piece of the puzzle. I did no exercise, did no weight training and didn’t build any muscle or had any definition. Hence, the “looking weak” part. I wasn’t at my optimal health either. Much better than I was before, but still didn’t have “healthy” blood work.
The more and more I dig into personal development podcasts, and health and nutrition articles and videos, the more I believe psychology plays a very big role in “losing weight” or “becoming your optimal self”. The words we use, empowering or disempowering, blaming genetics or hormones, our attitude towards food, our knowledge about food, and prioritising your health are only a few things that come to mind.
Again, I stress, I’m not a medical professional, nor nutritionist, personal trainer, nor have any health related qualifications. What I do have is 2 years worth of experience in absorbing hundreds of hours of self development and lifestyle improvement podcasts, and a willingness to try and improve myself, and share what I have learnt to my friends or complete strangers who want to improve their health and optimise their life.
I hope this post helps give you food for thought about how you look at “weight loss” and open yourself up to looking at a holistic approach to improving your health and life.