Advice for Starting Out…

So, in another place, a friend asked for advice regarding her boyfriend, a mechanic, starting out in a high weight category, anything at all that might help. Specifically, it addresses some health concerns and lowering of carbohydrates and calories for health reasons…just to share the starting perspective. However, the majority of this information applies to lowering calories alone or lowering carbs alone, and I have perspective on this, too…

After I wrote it, I felt really good about it, some I’m going to pat myself on the back about it, and post it here. If any tidbit helps anyone, I’m happy to have shared it… Calorie and macro breakdowns based on calculators and his individual stats were provided, but I’m not including here, as it is about privacy and respect, etc.

“Nutritional breakdown sounds pretty reasonable to me. I still am classified as Severely Morbidly Obese, but a lot of that is because I am short. I have to get to 220 pounds or so to move down to just Obese, if I remember right. And right now, my thyroid is in chaos still, so my focus is on leveling out rather than weight losses at this point.

My biggest thoughts would be…for someone being overwhelmed, just creating a food diary – where he writes out what he is eating is a good start. Not calories, not carbs, not fats…not weighing food, anything. “Restaurant Double whatever…” with times, if possible. Eventually any notes (not filling, etc.). Just tracking for a week or so without changing anything gives you a whole perspective that’s foreign if you’ve never done it before. Honestly, when I was 319 pounds, I thought I knew what I was eating, but the mind lies to you.

Secondly, I would strongly recommend he focus on some tangible goals. Long term, and short term. Does he want to be able to run? Wrestle? Fly kids with kiddos/nieces/nephews/cousins/friends’ children? Do a sit up? Wrap a towel around him and see it close? Be able to shop in a regular store? Drop a belt size. Look down and see something other than belly? I mean, really, what are things he thought he’d never be able to do (or do again) that he misses? Ride a bike? Fly in a plane without needing a seat belt extender? Do a workout? Live past 40? I mean really, have him dig in. Because honestly, if he can’t even make a fantasy list and do some mental exploration at this point, this whole journey will be a very difficult run for him.

Focus on some short term goals? Want to drop a notch in his belt? Change shoe size? Be able to fit his hands into tighter spots in a car engine? Get under the car with a normal jack only? Cross his legs? Tie his shoes without awkwardness? Be able to skip a favorite food? Find new foods?

Also, make sure to get some health goals in… Get off a medication? Drop weight by XYZ? Drop BP by 10/5? Drop FBG by 10, whatever. Drop cholesterol. Pick several. Just kind of get him thinking. Also, you might want to cover the basics. Any lowering of carbs, even if he’s eating 500 a day now and only goes down to 450, will cause some water/sodium losses. Some nutrient deficiencies will surface that he probably didn’t realize before, especially dropping “fortified foods” that might have camouflaged certain issues.

A friend of mine likened it driving a car around without maintaining it, washing it, or doing anything to it except filling it with gas. Then, 5 – 10 years down the road, you get it and check out, start doing maintenance, and washing the mud off the car. Now you see the deep dents hail made, the flat tires, the engine needing a tune up and a dozen oil changes, the routine maintenance like changing the belts, and doing a detailed internal cleaning, etc. Since you mentioned that he’s a mechanic, I figure this might ring true with him.

Now that he’s weighed in, will you see him soon enough to help him take reference pictures and measurements? Because those will be critical. Tell him that once he reaches XYZ point that he can burn them if he wants, but all of us who’ve made progress at all wish we had pictures at all, more/better ones…because he WILL make progress. Let him know that he will probably make huge strides at the beginning of any changes, but that it will slow down. Let him know that some people have to gain BEFORE they can lose, even at his weight, because they have health issues that have to be treated before the body will tolerate the stress of weight loss. Show him pictures from folks like (other friends within our mutual group who have made massive changes in body composition while maintaining weight values) and Staci from Nerd Fitness… Let him know that weight is nothing but a number, because I can show you two pictures at nearly identical weights taken years apart, and I look 50 pounds heavier when I was carb burner than when I went lower carb – and a lot of this is related to inflammation or differences in body processing reactions. Let him know that things like testosterone and men’s health hormones require fat to exist…

Let him know that at times, this will be the easiest thing in the world, at times it will seem impossible. Remind him that everyone has different health, issues, DNA, requirements. He should evaluate if things are working well about every 12 weeks. Things may and very likely will seem worse before better. While I’m thinner than I was, sometimes I feel worse about my nude self, because I’m lumpier and floppier now since my skin hasn’t tightened any and I’ve still got a long way to go, etc. (Compression garments are said to help with this – if he has that option). Let him know that he might change sizes quickly – and that belts will be his best friend, as will clothing swaps/discount shops, etc., but that he will need to buy stuff periodically, or it gets really hard to see progress.

Let him know that his buddies will probably give him crap about it…because it isn’t consider “manly” to diet. He just needs to come up with some things to help his confidence when that happens… My responses would be different than his I’m sure, but with guys, focusing on virility, renewed vigor, testosterone improvements, and such….are probably good ways to go.

I could probably go on for days…but there are some men here, too who can probably help as well.

I would also say, start annoyingly slow with exercise. He wants to protect himself from injury so that he can work easily and all that… I’d recommend starting with weights. It’s where he’ll see the most improvement, particularly since he is man. After some of the weight starts coming off, walking/moving/standing/etc. get easier. Maybe challenge him to step competitions…most smartphones have built in ones even if y’all don’t have trackers. Encourage him to find things he enjoys. Maybe he’d like martial arts…or competition body building…or just anything. Don’t rule anything out…

Let him know that getting healthier is so much more about the mind that the body. I’ve spend six months at a time sometimes just getting right in my head first…there will be plateaus, there will be setbacks. Never question your intuition. Ask every question, no matter how embarrassing…because someone out there has probably already been there. And consider this a lifelong thing….not until XYZ goal, and then I’m back to normal…because it never happens well if you do that. Tell him it’s depressing and demoralizing, but he will find a new level that works for him, and occasional dips back into old behavior won’t be too detrimental down the road (some old indulgences may be allowable eventually, but you’ll bet they won’t feel the same), but slipping at first happens to nearly everyone.

Remind him that each bite, each step is a new chance to start over. A day is never ruined until it’s gone, and even then, if you learned something from the misery, it wasn’t wasted… Nutrition ALWAYS trumps any calorie or carb. Every time. Even if you screw up off plan, if your next bite is nutritious food, setting you up for a better next day or next minute, you are still winning. The whole health journey is about progress. Perfection, willpower, they are myths and will fail. Create backup plans for your backup plans… Don’t be afraid to try foods you used to hate as your body changes, your mind and mouth and such will change, too….

Okay, I’m stopping before this comes a novel…

Above all, be kind to himself, love himself, know that setbacks and failures will happen and they don’t mean anything long term. Step back and think about the fact that a year from now, 5 years from now, 20 years from now, you won’t remember what you screwed up last Tuesday. 80% compliance, 80% of the time…nearly anyone can see that perspective…it doesn’t give you permission to mess about with those off percentages… It just means you’re ahead of the curve if you beat it, but you’re stick in the pack with the rest of us if that’s your average…

Oh, and there will be hungrier days – and less hungry days. Caloric deficit – once he gets to that point – should bee looked at on a 7-14 day average…not every day. No two days are exactly the same. He doesn’t see the exact same cars for the exact same problems every single day in and day out, right? So his body’s needs will change. And often…adaptability will be his favorite best trait… And if dropping something like sodas seems impossible, trying watering them down a little bit at a time until you won’t even notice anymore…

Feel free to hit me up with ANYTHING ELSE…EVER.

4 comments on “Advice for Starting Out…

  1. I LOVE that you shared this because it was so well written and put together, yet sooooo relatable. Makes me just want to get out there and kick some ass!

    • It didn’t move me quite that much, but I think it helped me work through a few things…still feeling raw over having put that much of me on a page, but it will come with time, I think…

  2. Amy Kimmel says:

    all I can say is that your comments are so well written – I would think you have the capability of reaching an audience with your style of ‘sharing’ that needs to be ‘out there’.

    This was written with some man/friend in mind, but I am going to share this on my own page for others who may be struggling with this same thing.

    • Thank you. I do have moments of clarity, and I try to get as much out of those moments as possible. And absolutely, this translates to pretty much anyone, anywhere…

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