Recently, one of my buddies and clients from the gym reached out with a question. Julian is experiencing the frustration that most of us encounter at some point or another during our journey. Over the life of this newly created website I have already touched on plateaus and how frustratingly difficult to overcome they can be. Julian reached out with the following:
I can’t seem to break pass being 305 lbs. Lately, I’ve been over stressed and feel like shit most of the time. Like I go to the gym but it doesn’t seem to be enough. When I seem to think I’m doing the right things to lose weight, it ends up being a waste of time. When I wanna do stuff at home I get discouraged or distracted very easily. What can I do to get past this?
What Julian is experiencing is nothing new, and definitely not out of the ordinary. Using myself as an example, I’ve been back at training now for nearly two years, one of those as an instructor. I’ve logged countless hours of cardio and strength training. I’ve been eating like a semi professional athlete, and I’ve still not fully removed the belly fat from my mid section.
I understand how Julian feels because I’ve encountered those same struggles on this journey. 3-4 hours of training, minimum 6 days a week, and my “rest” day consists of cardio and yoga. Yesterday was my first day off from training in weeks due to exhaustion. Though, the argument could be made that I am severely over training, and that’s why I haven’t ripped up how I want, that’s another story for another day.
Plateaus are a motherfucker, and they mess with your head, motivation, and all that. I do my damn best to stay away from the scale too. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat, and if you are lifting weights as part of your training, it’s likely that you are building muscle while burning fat. So be careful with the scale, go with how you look, feel, and how your clothes fit. Again, be careful with that scale. My scale’s battery died, and I haven’t checked in months, but the mirror tells me I’m making progress, regardless of the number. That’s the problem with the scale, the number messes with our heads.
Julian and I are at different stages on our journey, but when I started this back in 2015, I weighed about 275 pounds and was rapidly approaching the 300 pound mark. Since then I’ve managed to drop a good deal of weight while reshaping my body. I’m trying to ensure that Julian does the same. However, he’s not at the same place I am today, so his regiment must be for the stage he’s at today.
I asked J about his meal times and what he ate. His response was the typical response one could expect from a relatively new beginner. He could NOT tell me the times he ate, nor an exact breakdown of what he was eating. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that you need to log each and every meal, (though many find that helpful, I hated doing that) but you should have a good handle on what you are putting in and when you are putting it in. For example, right off the top of my head, I could tell you each and every meal that I’ve had this week. But for purposes of this article, let’s focus on today:
8:45am – 4 boiled eggs.
12:00pm – Salmon, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans
3:30pm – 4 slices of chicken breast (coming)
8:00pm – protein shake (or sushi/Bareburger as I’ll be in forest hills with the lady for a meditation class. Controlled flexibility is important too)
11:00pm – protein bar or macadamia nuts with brazil nuts
That’s more or less my plan for the day. Now it is subject to change depending on what happens, but generally speaking, I can tell you what I’m eating for the day. This is one of the things that I will be advising J to do. The answer can’t be, “I’ll just eat something when I’m hungry.” That’s a recipe for failure. You need to plan and plot your meals ahead of time, or at least have a general idea of what’s going on there.
Like I said, I’m not one of those people who weighs his food, nor do I count every damn grain of rice that I ingest. Living that way is okay, if that’s your thing, but I’m not competing, I’m not an elite athlete, I’m just a dude who’s trying to live healthier and look good. J is the same thing. Living that way makes you crazy, it’s not something that you can sustain long term, and in order to succeed in this, it has to be sustainable.
My most important piece of advice I’d give J is to get a grip on the food. We need to figure out what he’s eating, when he’s eating it, and how to improve on that. Training is good and necessary, but the food is super important. In this case, I think that the reason his efforts have stalled is because of the diet.
Also, we need to understand and address one more factor. The mental aspect of this. J needs to understand that this takes time, a lot of time. You have to be ready to do it, commit, and just keep pushing forward. Using my earlier point, it’s almost two years of hard training, and I still haven’t sported the 6 pack. That can be discouraging, but you have to keep going forward. No matter what, time is going to pass. Unless we die, one year from now, we’ll still be here.
So the question is, will you be closer to your goal, or still frustrated, and wishing that something happened? There is no choice here but to do it. Like Nike says, just do it. Get up, several times a week, workout, sweat, eat clean, do that again, and again, and again, and again, and just let time pass. The time is gonna pass regardless, and you could be closer or not. The choice is all yours, but the process is action! Just keep working towards the goal, no matter what! If it takes long, okay, fine. But don’t stop, keep going and going. Next thing you know, it’s a year later, and you’ll be that much closer! You’d be surprised how quick a year passes, and the difference that it can make in your quality of life!
Like I always say, you could have started yesterday, but the next best day is today!
The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author.
Also published on Medium.