I got this question from a new reader, and its one I have never fully addressed.
” I would like to know which programs and books you recommend for my goals. I’m grossly overweight (330 lbs), and am (in theory) a fencer in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I want to get into fighting shape; improved speed, dexterity, low profile, flexibility. What books and exercise programs should I pick up?”
Firstly, salute to this gentleman for wanting to be in better health, the desire to change is a critical first step.
Now, his situation, he is obese. To start with, I’d suggest he read my 40 Facts and Strategies of Fatloss.
Leading off from there,
When you are obese, there are FOUR major points I have for losing bodyfat
1-Learning how food works
-This does not mean religiously counting calories right from the start, but it does mean learning some basic food science and having a grounded understanding of metabolism. If you lack this 101 knowledge, it becomes very easy to fall into bad dieting practices and false expectations. For this, there is one book I recommend as a must read
The Poor, Misunderstood Calorie, by Dr. William Lagakos
2-Evaluating your life based on HABIT
With obese people, you are dealing with what is fundamentally a cognitive behavioral problem. As such, the most impact mode of changing your health is going to examining your behaviors, your overall daily lifestyle, and then making key shifts in behavior/habit that will have positive outcomes.
Basically, you are evaluating your state of life based upon how you ACT, and then finding ways to change how you act accordingly.
The book to read on this, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
3-Start Training first, then “diet” second
This one surprises people. Understand, I am not suggesting that exercise is more important than diet. In 30 years of research, exercise by itself has been proven to NOT work for long term fat loss. Dietary change MUST happen for fat loss to happen.
That said, and I have made this point in this past; Exercise is NOT for “fat loss”, exercises is for improved HEALTH. Meaning increased strength, increased muscle, improved insulin sensitivity, stronger immune system, so on and so forth.
Exercise gets your body into a healthier state so that fat loss can happen.
Exercise is the stimulus that directs your body HOW to use the food you eat. By exercising first, you develop the biofeedback awareness of WHAT foods fuel you, what foods inflame you, and what foods work better or worse for your energy levels.
Optimally, you will lose bodyfat by lifting and eating properly, but if you were to start with one or the other, I’d say start with the lifting.
4-Embrace a Long term mindset
Wanting to lose fat fast is always going to end in disaster. If you’ve been obese your whole life, you are undoing years of habits, mental programming, and permeation of toxic living into all aspects of life.
In light of this, progress is NOT going to be linear, you ARE going to fail often, and you must assess improvement by winning the war, not every individual battle.
Assessing improvements by way of TRENDS is the approach to take. If you go from 330 to 300 in 6 months, you’ve MADE progress. If you go from 330 to 270 in another 6 months, you’ve made progress.
Losing 100+lbs of excess bodyfat can be time, but it absolutely takes TIME, and you have to accept this wholeheartedly.
The Practical Approach Formula
1. Start by incorporating physical activity into your life. Start with wherever you are at. Walking, parking the car farther away, taking stairs, etc
2. When you are ready, get to a gym. Being obese can make a lot of exercises difficult, so start with machines. Hire a trainer if you can afford one, and learn to lift properly.
3. Become more aware of your eating and environmental triggers around how you eat
4. Said simple, aim to make better eating choices over time
5. As your eating habits improve, set reasonable goals for fat loss month to month. You will NEED to count calories eventually
6. Aim to lose 4-8lbs a month. If you lose more than that, great, but dont expect that trend to continue
7. After dieting 3-4 months, take two weeks off, and eat at Maintenance. This will give you a physical and mental break. Then resume dieting
8. Repeat the above process as many times as necessary. It takes as long as it takes
To note, you will quite likely have to to deal with toxic people, unsupportive family members, and a host of other people problems that will arise during the above process.
Talk again soon,
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