“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” – Benjamin Franklin
September 2010 (93 kilos)
Hardly a week goes by without someone familiar looking at me from head to toe, smiling wistfully, and saying that they should really get back to the gym to get in shape. Even more frequently, people ask me for advice on losing weight and ‘getting in shape’.
The former usually never get to the gym, and the latter tend to tune out when I get to the importance of diet in any weight-loss programme.
“Oh man, dieting is not for me”
“The gym? Went for three days, it’s not for me”
“I’m a foodie, I just can’t help it”
The truth is that your body is in the shape it is because of a set of habits that you have picked up and followed for years. It could be the Friday night drinking spree, the 2 litre bottle of carbonated beverage that you go through in two days, the dessert binges every other day, or as in my case, all of the above!
‘Getting into shape’ often needs sweeping changes in habits, and not all of these come easy.
In my opinion, the desire to change is the most important. It is this desire that inspires changes, and ensures that you get back on the wagon every time you fall off. Your desire for change must be stronger than your craving for your favourite junk food, a slothful week, or anything that gets in the way of your fitness goals.
Another important thing is your support structure. It is very important for those close to you to understand the changes that you’re trying to make, and if not help you with them, at least not try to pull you down.
A year ago, when I decided to give up all alcohol for a month, a long time friend wouldn’t buy any reason for me not having a drink. I had to tell him that I was on antipsychotic medication that reacts terribly with alcohol before he stopped badgering me! I wouldn’t blame him though, there was a time when the two of us were called ‘bar bankrupters’, because between us, we could drink a small home-bar dry.
Like him, many friends will not understand the ‘change’ – some might resent it, some might try to roll it back, but if you’re lucky, you’ll find those who will pat you on the back and help you deal with it.
Luckily for me, most of my friends though, have been very understanding of my diet choices, and even help me work meal/activity plans around my needs.
The most important thing is persistence. There is a strong possibility that you will fall off the wagon. I did, every weekend for six months. When you do mess up, don’t get back on your programme from ‘tomorrow’ or ‘Monday’, do it right then. Stop what you’re doing and fix things from the next meal itself.
Suppose you miss a couple of gym sessions, don’t let the guilt get to you, just get back to attending from your next session. Every day off your program will subtract seriously from your gains.
The best way to manage a lifestyle U-Turn successfully, is to ease into it. If you make too many changes at the same time, things will become difficult.
Say, on a given Monday, you decide to hit the gym, start a diet, and quit smoking, by Thursday, you’ll be faint from the sugar/carb cravings, sore from the exercise, and psychotic from the nicotine deprivation.
The best way to do this is to start simple – eliminate the harmful stuff first. Say on day 1 you quit smoking. Once you’re properly off cigarettes for a month or so, begin a diet. Once you’ve been able to stick with the diet for a couple of months, start working out. This will ensure that your body beats these stresses one at a time instead of all at the same time, increasing your chances of success.