By Yajen Tan
Weight loss is a big deal. We all know that shedding off the extra pounds can do wonders for our health. It seems pretty clear to most people that the simple formula to weight loss is to move more and eat less, or sometimes even “just eat healthy”. Obviously those lines never helped anyone out, otherwise, our lives would be much less complicated. I’ve experienced multiple instances where I’ve been able to shed roughly 20 pounds of weight, and after all of those experiences, I’ve finally found out what made the results last.
To give a little perspective, I’m a male, 5 feet and 8 inches tall, with a starting weight each time between 165-167 pounds. Before you try to imitate or replicate the results of my experiences, check with your physician or qualified professional to make sure that any of the following is safe for you.
Approach 1: The Pain Train
I grew up as a very active kid. I played in multiple sport leagues every year, participated in band, percussion, and scouting in high school, and started visiting the gym at the age of 12. It would be fair to say that at 12 years old, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing in the gym. Most of my hours spent there was messing around with all the machines that I was curious to try.
When high school came around, I started a routine workout schedule of 3-5 sessions a week and maintained that for the most part of my high school career. Once I stepped foot in college, I fell off the wagon for a couple months and noticed that I put on some weight. At this point I weighed in at around 167 pounds. Without any intention to lose weight, I just decided that I wanted to get back a little of that muscle that I lost.
I dove back into a full workout program without hesitation. Right off the bat, I was training 6 times a week for about 1.5 hours, each session, of pure weight lifting. For those of you who haven’t experienced being a little too ambitious after a long period of inactivity, the best way to describe it would be that I was painfully sore for an 3 entire weeks. As a college kid who had nothing better than to spend all my days in the gym, I decided to just push through it and keep going. 5 weeks later, I had actually dropped 15 pounds of weight. After accounting for the muscle mass that was gained during that period, it would be fair to say I had dropped a full 20 pounds in that experience.
Approach 2: Temporary Intermittent Fasting
Fasting is something that I looked into very closely when the ketogenic diet started to surface. I became very interested in how fasting affects the body, so I decided to give it a shot. I chose to try an intermittent fasting routine that consisted of 16 hours a day of fasting and an 8 hour feeding window, the time when I was allowed to eat.
In about 8 weeks time, without having made any other significant change to my routine, I had dropped about 18 pounds. After a little reflection, I would say that most of my weight loss in this experience had been due to caloric restriction. I wasn’t intentionally lowering the amount of calories that I was consuming, but I had trouble fitting in my normal calorie consumption within that 6-8 hour feeding window that I gave myself.
Approach 3: Choosing a Healthy Lifestyle
After giving up intermittent fasting, my weight did start to slowly creep back upwards. I took the initiative, during this time, to adjust my overall dietary behaviors in three big ways: lower my alcohol consumption, eat a lot more vegetables, and incorporate more high-fiber foods into my diet. These were the only three goals that I had for myself, weight loss was completely out of the picture.
As I began meeting these three goals that I set for myself, I naturally started to shed weight. I actually did no measuring at this time and only really noticed when I started hearing over a dozen times a week, “wow you’ve lost so much weight”, which honestly really freaked me out at first. But this entire time, the real goal of my habit adjustments were for me to have more consistent energy levels, to sleep better, and just to feel more alive.
After a ton of trial and error, I found my personal 5 tricks to improve sleep and productivity.
Let Health Be The Focus, Weight Loss The Result
This is also something that I see with many of my clients nowadays. The ones that achieve the most success are those who are able to make these positive lifestyle changes that I recommend. Those who struggle with their body goals are almost always dealing with additional troubles, outside of fitness and nutrition.
I’ve learned throughout this process, that we focus so much on the idea of weight loss, that we lose sight of what a healthy body weight encompasses. A healthy body is supposed to feel energized, low-stress, well rested, and highly active. If we step back for a moment and try to craft our behaviors around those pillars instead, weight loss is something that will come naturally as a result.
Yajen Tan is the founder of local fitness and nutrition brand Gimme Fit, which focuses on helping men and women jump start their way into healthy, sustainable lifestyles. To keep up with the latest updates in the health and fitness world, check out our Facebook page.