Man vs Food: Whiny Emo Edition
I feel like I’ve spent the last ten years telling people “I’m trying to lose weight”. There’s certainly never been a time where I’ve attempted to put on weight, and the times when I haven’t had much of an opinion either way have usually been because of a bout of depression-induced apathy. Einstein allegedly said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and while I think it is very likely to be a misattribution, whoever did coin the phrase had a valid point. I have been “trying” to make changes to my lifestyle for a very long time now, and nothing much has changed. I still eat a very unbalanced, carbohydrate/sugar heavy diet, fueled more by emotions and bad habits than informed decisions. I recently made another weight loss bet in a bid to finally force myself to make healthy, positive changes to my life, but in so doing I know that I can’t do things the same way I have been, or I will be setting money alight. So… what is the strat this time?
Early last year I spoke to an old university friend that I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. We had met at our university’s gaming and esports society - he sat next to me at one of our LAN events - and that kinda says all you need to know about us. He was definitely obese when I knew him then, in part due to the fact that he appeared to buy crisps, chocolate and soda wholesale and then consume an entire box of each during the course of a 24 hour LAN event. But after catching up with, I learned he had lost an insane 140 lbs or almost 65kg. He was now in great shape - and looked a lot better than me. Naturally I asked him how he did it, and then he hit me with his big secret. Forget keto diets, intermittent fasting, fat loss tips in Men’s Health - my buddy had it figured.
"Eat less, exercise more."
There it was, the winning formula in just four words. In today’s information age of fad diets, skinny tea and a whole lotta photoshop skewing our perceptions of what healthy people look like, I had forgotten how simple (but not easy) it is to lose weight. You eat less, and you exercise more. The driving principle behind almost all weight loss is a caloric deficit, so that's what I need. I now have my guiding principle, but I understand the practical application of it will not be so simple.
Let’s start with exercise. Fortunately for me, this is relatively easy. Everybody says, find something you actually enjoy doing and just do that - so that’s what imma do. I have started going to the gym regularly in the last couple of months and I’m actually enjoying powerlifting, if you could call what I do powerlifting. I would love to compete semi-seriously at some point down the line, but for now I am just glad I actually enjoy turning up to the gym to squat, bench and deadlift, and that doing so doesn’t feel like a chore.
everybody knows his bright red van that you can’t out-train a bad diet. Diet is where it all falls down for me usually, and that is where I am going to have to make big changes if I am going to be successful. There are a hundred “one weird weight loss trick!”s that I could try, and admittedly there are a handful that I think are legitimately useful in some small capacity that I will use, but there is still an underlying problem that I have to deal with. I have a tendency to binge eat high carb foods, which of course will pile on the weight. It’s mostly an emotional thing I think, and probably something I should talk to a professional about. It’s definitely fucked up, past a certain point I’m not even enjoying it, I am just eating for the sake of eating, to try and fill whatever existential void is currently growing inside of me. I always hate myself for it afterwards, and wonder why I do it, before doing it all over again. I don’t really understand the intimacies of addiction, but I’m guessing this behaviour could be something along the lines of addiction - I kind of “see red”, but not red, whatever colour gluttony is - and I don’t really feel in control. It requires a huge mental effort to not eat and the tiniest iota to somehow justify eating more. That is where I think the heart of the problem lies, it is the reason I have not lost weight and kept it off in the last decade, it is the reason that I will fail if I don’t make manageable, sustainable changes this time.
With regards to how I am actually going to do anything about this, I’m not really sure, I’m not a psychologist. I think there are a few parts of it, that I am hoping will help. First will be recognising when I am in the binging mental state, and acknowledging it in the moment, even if I then do go on to overeat. Second is understanding that I will 100% binge at some point, and that is OK. One analogy I like for long-term weight loss is that it is like trying to balance a coin on its end - you are unlikely to succeed the first time, but if you keep trying, eventually you will get there. Getting back on the metaphorical horse is the way only way to travel any meaningful distance on horseback. Fortunately the format of the bet adds some motivation for this - instead of a lump sum if I miss the weight by the deadline, I have to pay a small amount for every day I miss it by. In theory, that means I will eventually get there, or else I’m gonna end up putting my friend’s kids through university.
There are a bunch of other small things too, which are “rules” that should be relatively easy mentally to abide by but will contribute to maintaining a caloric deficit. No liquids apart from water, coffee, spirits and tonic, as much capsaicin as possible, intermittent fasting (8 hour feeding window/day), intuitive eating, etc.
I’m excited and scared. I really want to make things work this time, and I think I can do things differently enough that I might actually be successful. I’m scared of failure - not just for myself and my bank balance, but for my family. We all struggle with weight, and if I could make a big change then I think it’d help them too. I’m also scared that I will lose the weight, and not be any happier. My self esteem won’t go up, and I won’t magically get laid more (and by more, I mean at all). I am pretty sure that if I don’t like the way I look now, I still won’t like how I look 14kg lighter. But oh well - even if that is the case, I will be healthier, and in a position to compete in the u83kg weight class in powerlifting events, so there are benefits outside of my ego. I’ll probably write a couple more posts between now and November detailing my progress, ie complaining about how difficult it is and how much my life sucks. Peace ✌️