Another popular e-mail question: “What advice can you give me, as someone who needs to lose a lot of weight, and is just starting?”
I have thought this over many times and narrowed it down to the four commandments.
1. Be public.
If you keep this to yourself, it will be easy to quit. The thing about having a health problem/addiction, is that the natural impulse is to hide it and keep it secret that you’re trying to better yourself. But, it’s also easier to quit if it’s just you that knows about it.
And here’s a secret: Unlike some addictions like alcoholism or drug use that are hideable, obesity is different. People know you’re obese. It’s not your little secret; you’re not fooling anyone (no matter how much black or vertical lines you wear). So if you want to change, tell people. It seems embarrassing, I know. And it’s hard, but you’ll find that the people that love and care about you are going to be excited for you.
2. Get involved in something official.
The feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself will keep you motivated to keep going. Join a local fitness movement (running club, cycling group, weight watchers, etc…) If you have a group of people with likeminded goals, you’ll keep coming back. As a bonus, if you join a running club, you’ll have official races (Crazy scary, at first, but really no big deal.) that you can work toward to keep you having goals. Get involved. You won’t regret it.
3. Do something that you enjoy.
Running isn’t for everyone, so don’t do it if you don’t want to. Do you enjoy rollerblading? Good. Do that, but do it enough for it to work. Love cycling? Perfect. Did you swim in high school and kind of wish you could get back into it? Great.
If you hate what you’re doing, you won’t be doing it for very long. If I had said at the beginning, “I’m going to get really freaking good at doing the elliptical,” BenDoesLife would have lasted two weeks. Find something that works for you and kill it. You can do it.
4. Be a smarter eater.
And I don’t mean you have to find a popular name-brand diet thing. If you want to, fine, but they aren’t for everyone. But you have to eat better and, more importantly, smarter. Are you and your friends going out for pizza? Ok. Have two slices instead of seven (which was my number of choice.) Want something easy for breakfast? Toast an English muffin rather than a Pop-Tart.
And, if nothing else, learn portion control. Our portion sizes are completely out of whack these days, and what you think is a small meal is probably still more than you should be eating. It’s going to take a month or two before you’re used to the smaller portions but you’ll get there, and it’s imperative that you do. Give it time.