Today, I have three stories to share with you.
These stories are chock-full of inspiring pictures and practical tips to start your week the right way, whether you're digging for inspiration, looking for a realistic idea of what's possible for your body, or simply wanting to see proof in the pudding that my recommendations work whether you're trying to do an Ironman triathlon or just shed a few pounds.
Let's jump right in. I think you'll find the third story in particular hits home for you…
#1: Mori's Story: “From Sedentary To Superhuman”
Let's start with Mori. Mori is a 29 year old member of the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle, and here is Mori's story:
“I just wanted to show what me implementing Ben's advice has done for me.
I've been funneling a lot of Ben's advice through to my parents and brother who lived a similar lifestyle to me. In the last 6 months between my mom, brother and I we've lost over 125lbs and are in the best shape of our lives (mentally and physically).
On November 2012, I ran my very first mile of my life at 29. I now run 40-100 miles each week and am registered for a 50 mile ultra marathon in May 2013. This will be my first athletic or competitive event ever.
September 2012: Smoker, sedentary life-style, night owl, never been to the gym, takeout 2 x a day, ramen once a day, didn't eat vegetables, 60hrs+ wk on the computer, 20hrs+ wk on the couch playing video games, depressed, taking 90mg of Ritalin a day, resting heart rate of 100 BPM, no energy.
Today: I basically try everything that Ben talks about in his podcasts. I'm in sync with circadian rhythm, workout 5-6 days a week (short HIIT on weekdays, strength 1x a week and long slow distance on weekends), i eat 95% superfoods, utilize a lot of the “extras” when needed (maca, chlorophyll, spirulina, b5, beta alanine, glutamine, trace minerals, tyrosine, 5-htp, bitter melon, etc. etc. etc.), wear Gunnar glasses, wake up and stare at the sun in the morning, my dog is on BARF diet (his coat is shiny!) and I feel awesome!
A lot of crazy s*&it has happened to me mentally and physically because of these extreme changes in such a short period of time. My senses are heightened, my sense of time has changed, I've become more social, I've become a much better person in general, I'm 10x smarter, I make more money, I can read faster…I could go on and on. Going from a decaying fat blob my entire life to whatever it is I am now literally feels like someone gave me superpowers.”
Robert's Story: How To Lose 115 Pounds & Keep It Off
Next is Robert Wadhams. Robert is a BenGreenfieldFitness reader and listener, runs the blog “From Mailboxes To Miles” , and also writes articles for SparkPeople.com, such as “How To Lose 100 Pounds On A Crazy Schedule”.
In 2008, Robert started his journey at 385 pounds, and since then has gone from a size 52 to 38, losing over 115 pounds and running a marathon in the process. Robert is currently training for his first Half-Ironman triathlon…
“What did I do this time that helped me succeed when, at other times, I've failed?
I have asked myself that question often.
I was caught in a vicious cycle. I would experience a measure of success, then mysteriously self-destruct and find myself right back at square one again. At that point, I would lose hope and then lose interest altogether until the next health scare would jar me from my apathy.
How did I break the cycle? The foundation of my success boils down to four key concepts.
1) I Made Small Changes
How many times have you and I started some diet with radical fervor and rigid adherence, only to have our resolve collapse after a month or two? I learned the hard way that trying to make sweeping dietary changes is like leaping from one speeding train to another headed in the opposite direction. I experienced success when I started right where I was with foods I was already familiar with and made them as healthy as I knew how.
For example, simple swaps such as drinking water instead of sugary soft drinks, lean sandwich meats instead of salami, thin crust cheese pizza instead of a deep dish supreme. While there was certainly much room for improvement early in my journey, I had to start somewhere. As I established a base of healthier eating, I slowly began to expand my horizons to adopt new practices and foods. Gradually, the results began to show as I patiently experimented and found what worked for me.
Take home lesson: Keep it simple. Establish a base of healthier eating and allow yourself time to grow.
2) I Looked for Opportunities
Exercise: Working a demanding or non-traditional schedule can leave us feeling like we are sitting on the sidelines, while our goals seem miles away. I needed to adapt because my situation was not going to change. Rather than allowing myself to feel controlled by circumstances, I took action by making a list of those things I did have control over and focused on that. I quickly identified gaps in my schedule that would allow a solid 15 minute workout before work or in between naps when preparing for night shift. By committing to short, intense workouts, I was able to maintain and even build my fitness in between my long sessions during my days off.
Nutrition: I succeeded by making my diet as “grab and go” as possible. For example, I made meals in bulk and pre-portioned them out by serving size in sandwich bags. By doing this, I was able to quickly assemble a lunch and run out the door when demands came calling. This allowed me to have better control of my calorie intake when my schedule was hectic. As a result, I became more consistent with controlling my calories in situations where I previously would have just guessed, or worse, grabbed something from the drive-thru.
Take home lesson: If you make it easy, you will make it happen.
3) I Learned The Power Of Consistency
For a time, I worked with a personal trainer and it was the best money I ever spent. Besides learning proper form and how to create my own workouts, I learned the value of commitment to training. For every time I “felt like it” there were probably five times I didn't. She held my feet to the fire and would not accept no for an answer. We worked out when I didn't feel like it, when I was tired, and even after a bad day. Thankfully she endured my complaints until I finally learned to discipline myself. As I pushed through it, the fog would clear. For those times the fog didn't clear, I still burned more calories than if I allowed myself to stay in a slump.
A person who has a serious illness never quibbles with the doctor about finding the time for treatment. Obligations or not, the job gets done. Life's priorities are upended and everything revolves around the next appointment. If I was to have any hope of overcoming my obesity, I had to make exercise and nutrition a priority.
Take home lesson: Do not wait for some elusive “I’m motivated” feeling. Just do it and the results will follow.
4) I Abandoned My “Goals”
This sounds counter-intuitive, but hear me out. My motivation would plunge if my progress did not meet my expectations. I had what I call the “paycheck mentality”. I would work hard, then expect a “paycheck” at my weekly weigh-in. Unfortunately, no one informed the scale that it was time to pay up. After several weeks of mixed results, I would get discouraged and that is where the trouble would start. I finally came to an understanding that changed my whole perspective.
No one who is seriously ill goes into a hospital with the idea that they can set a timeline as to how fast they will recover and return to a normal life. The only thing that can be done for them is for the doctors to stabilize them and then create the conditions that will promote healing. After they have done that, it is up to the body to heal itself on its own schedule. The same applies to weight loss.
I had to quit setting unrealistic goals and focus on the only thing I had control over, the environment I created every day. Once I focused on creating the conditions for weight loss to occur through exercise and nutrition, I was able to relax and allow my body to respond. By letting go of my preconceived notions of what ought to happen, I was able to lead my body beside the still waters rather than beating it into submission. Instead of making empty promises of “I'm going to lose 40 pounds by summer”, why not say, “Today, I will commit to the choices that will create the best environment for my body and let nature take its course”.
Take home lesson: Create and maintain an environment where weight loss is possible. Then, just let it unfold.
This list is hardly all-inclusive. I am not the only one who has ever succeeded at losing a significant amount of weight. But these are the key concepts that I personally found helped me in my weight loss success.
What made me a loyal listener of the Ben Greenfield podcast is the sincerity of his effort in bringing us well researched information week after week. When a man puts his heart into something, it shows. It was through his podcast that I understood my need to find a better fueling protocol. When I trained for my first marathon in 2011, I flew by the seat of my pants. I used tons of gels, sports drinks, and what ever else the popular running culture promoted. At the same time, my weight loss came to a screeching halt.
I continued on this path of frustration for almost a year until I started tuning into Ben's low carb approach and became aware of the hazards of high carb fueling. The light came on and I realized that I was creating havoc in my body with my blood sugar spikes and the resulting insulin response. Small changes in my fuel choices began to pay off, and since then, I have lost another 15 lbs. I have grown to appreciate the wealth of reliable information that Ben puts out there week after week. When Ben's podcast is on, class is in session.”
Story 3: You.
That's right. It's your turn.
What has worked for you, in training, weight loss, diet or life in general?
Have you gleaned anything from this website, or the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast?
Please share. You'll find that by inspiring others, you feel really, really good, and just like Robert and Mori, you'll pour even more fuel into your own inspirational fire. Give it a try, and if you like this kind of stuff, check out these inspiring video testimonials shot at my recent Become Superhuman live event and listen in to this story with a 55 year old man who I helped shed 130+ pounds in his quest for Ironman Hawaii in Kona.
You can share your story in the comments section below. Or if you'd prefer, you can e-mail me your story. Or better yet, if you're really brave, you can go post your story on the BenGreenfieldFitness Facebook wall.