Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Post 13: Humble Beginnings (plus 3 questions you need to ask yourself)


Aka The 70 lb Down Series: Episode 2: Humble Beginnings

Hi Guys,

Hope you’re having a good week so far. Today, I’m going to be bringing you Episode 2 of the 70 lb Down Series (the first part, where I tell my story, can be found here). This post is going to provide a great starting point for anyone beginning their fat loss journey.

It’s going to be quick and dirty.

We’re going to identify 3 important questions you need to ask yourself before you get on the path, and these will lay the groundwork for how you’re going to proceed. You can write down your answers, but I understand how some people can be embarrassed by doing so. It helps to put promises in writing; it makes them appear more “real” and set in stone, but just thinking these questions quietly and coming up with concrete and truthful answers is sufficient.

This post will be very useful for the person just starting out, because you need to realise your motivation, and how you’re going to measure and continue your results. This should also be useful for the experienced fat burner, because you’ve got to make sure you’ve got all of your bases covered, especially in answering question 3.

As usual, I’ll be looking at things from a pragmatic perspective, and I won’t be pulling any punches. By answering these questions you make a pact with yourself; one where dishonesty is only going to hinder your chances of success.

Question 1: Why?

Why am I here? What am I doing? Where did I come from?
Where am I going? Why do I want to lose weight?
(...make sure you ponder all the big ones...)
I think I actually posed this point a long time ago when this blog went by a different name… but it still holds (and we’re going to expand upon it of course). Ask yourself: “what motivates me?”...

Do you want to become healthier? Lower your blood pressure? Lower your triglycerides? Lower inflammation?

Do you want to increase your lifespan? See your grandchildren grow up? Play with your kids more?



Or, as most commonly is the answer: do you want to be leaner? Do you want more self-confidence? Do you want to be more attractive in general?

I’m guessing that for 95% of you, you want to improve how you look. 4% of you are kidding yourself, and the other 1% has a genuinely selfless reason.

But that’s okay. Heck, it’s why I got up to all these shenanigans to begin with! The truth isn’t ugly, it is what it is. The delicious irony is that once you do lose a load of fat, you end up realising it was the improvement in your confidence that made you so much more attractive! However for most people, myself included, they wind their self worth so tightly around their bodyfat % that the two become one and the same.

On top of that, there are a lot of positive externalities to fat loss, and I think it would be tough to lose fat while not also lowering inflammation, for example.

Once you’ve identified your why, you can now single in on the metric which you will measuring yourself against (primarily). Let’s move onto question 2…

Question 2: how am I going to track my results?

Notice I didn’t make the question “how?”, e.g. how am I going to lose 10 lbs. You see, that’s not a question I can answer 100%, I can really only take you 80% of the way, and it might not be a question you yourself can answer just yet. The answer to that question is specific to each individual and a journey in and of itself.

Using sophisticated software is great for measuring
goals but sometimes pen and paper is all you need
However, you can answer how you’re going to track your results, and with ease. You can use your favourite spreadsheet software (e.g. Excel, Google sheets, etc.) or simply pen and paper (just make sure it’s somewhere you won’t lose it!).

What are you going to be tracking? If your answer was blood pressure to question 1 then it would be blood pressure. If your answer was play with your kids more then you could track minutes played per day. If your answer was to look better naked then you can track bodyfat %.

Get the ball rolling and literally write down your starting point (if you feel brave enough!), then get into the habit of updating the metric every day, week or month. I measure my bodyfat % (using a very rough estimate) each day. I don’t take each entry at face value, however, I look at the results in the trend. Measuring more frequently also gives me great feedback on what happens when I eat certain foods. FYI I advise tracking bodyfat % over weight since over time you will lose some muscle and a significant amount of water weight. After the first 2 weeks of dieting, losing 1-2 lbs of fat a week will minimise muscle cannibalisation (something I wince thinking about!).

If you would like access to my own spreadsheet which I use to track my #gains, comment down below or message me on social media.

So far you’ve got a why, and you’ve got a solid, numerical way to track how you’re doing. This is vital because this way you can practice reverse thinking (explained here), a vital tool to make each measurement fall in your favour (psychologically).

The last piece of (the beginning of) the puzzle is…

Question 3: how will you break through plateaus?

Plateaus are an unfortunate obstacle which you will encounter on your journey. Whatever you’re currently doing will take you to whatever state of homeostasis supports it. If you eat a tonne of food and get fat you’ll have more fat cells, which contain more mitochondria, which require more energy and therefore you have a higher metabolism. Eventually your metabolism matches your caloric intake and your weight stabilises.

The same could go for someone dieting down, they reduce their fat stores and muscle to a point where the reduced amount of mitochondrias leads to caloric intake equalling calories burned.

These are called plateaus, and having a little pre-commitment will help you to break through them. You’ll recognise a plateau because your results will stall for around 2 weeks. It is vital that you give yourself a couple of weeks to test the plateau. You don’t want to push yourself harder than you need to.

Plateaus, as far as the eye can see! Unless...

The reason why I recommend having a plan to break through them is so that you can introduce variety. There are diminishing returns to everything, so rather than someone saying I am going to reduce my calories until they (rather illogically), reach zero, they can instead reduce them by a little bit, introduce a bit of cardio, and/or drop their carb intake.

Here are some plateau breakers which you could plan on using:
  • Some cardio
  • Swapping your cardio for high intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Reducing carbs and replacing with protein or (preferably) healthy fats
  • Reduce your overall food intake
  • Increase your fibre
  • Start intermittent fasting
  • Start Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting (link here)

Pick 3 plateau breakers which you’ll utilise.

Takeaways

So let’s bring those three questions together:
  1. Why do you want to change?
  2. How are you going to measure this change?
  3. How are you going to overcome obstacles by breaking plateaus?

Once you’ve answered these three questions you’re going to have the foundations for your plan.

This is a great exercise to get anyone started out on a fat-loss path: the first step is commonly the most impactful. Once you instigate momentum it can only build.

Remember to contact me if you’d like access to my own tracker. I’m more than happy to be passing it on to anyone who would like it!

What would be your answers to the 3 questions? Comment down below. I’d love to see what you guys think.

Cowlean

2 comments:

  1. How do I calculate body fat %.

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  2. There are multiple ways, ranging from the very cheap (caliper test) to the very expensive (the bod pod). You can also use certain scales which can send a (harmless) current of electricity around your body and measures the reaction. They do this to measure your BF% in well-man clinics.

    I would recommend using one of the cheap methods or getting one of the scales, and finding a starting point. Then add 3% to whatever the measurement was. That's your starting %. Multiplied by your weight is your fat, then as you lose weight you could subtract from this number. You can make this calculation more sophisticated by saying that you can only lose X lbs a week of fat (2 is a fair number to start with), so that number should only reduce by a certain number maximum per week (the rest would be counted as water weight or even muscle!).

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