Over the past nine months, I have managed to lose weight and completely transform my body. Just 36 weeks ago, I weighed 141 pounds and had the classic skinny-fat figure. Sure, I could fit into a pair of size four jeans, but it was one hell of a squeeze, and it made me look something akin to an over-packed sausage.
Now, under a year later, I’ve managed to lose fat, build muscle, and drop over 22 pounds. I regularly get complimented on my weight loss—and even more frequently, I get asked for tips on how other people can achieve the same.
This transformation certainly wasn’t easy, but here are the most important things I learned along the way:
1. Cut Down On Sugar
It may sound obvious but cut down on the sugar. Yes, sugar in moderation is okay. But too much can easily cause a calorie surplus. It contains 16 calories per teaspoon (about 4 grams). Sugar-packed foods like cookie, cake, and candy are high in calories and provide zero nutritional value. You will likely not feel satiated after consuming.
2. Drink More Water
Many people struggle to lose weight because they don’t consider the impact of liquid calories. Stop drinking carbonated drinks such as Coca-Cola or Sprite and opt for a glass of water instead.
3. Go Through A Devastating Breakup
That’s right. To meet your weight loss goals, experience the pure sorrow of a relationship breakup. And not just any breakup—a truly terrible one; the kind that makes you feel like your ribcage has been crowbarred open and your heart stamped on by a herd of rampaging bison.
In one of your fits of singledom-inspired bad decision making, sign up for a gym membership. Sure, you’ve never lifted a weight before, and you have no idea what the hell you’re doing, but it’s something to occupy all that free time you have now.
Start by going once a week. Spend most of your time trying to coordinate your arms and legs to work simultaneously. Listen to all of the mushy gushy breakup songs on the treadmill. As tears start to run down your face, hope that they mix with the sweat pouring off you so no one will notice. Go home and feel like a tired, disgusting mess.
Look at his Instagram and see all the happy, smiling photos of him having fun with friends. Close the app and make a commitment to go to the gym twice a week.
Spend one session doing a half-assed jog on the treadmill and one session awkwardly using the weight machines. Go bright red when a personal trainer tries to tell you that you’re using the upside down leg press thing wrong, and scurry to the locker room out of sheer embarrassment. Go home and replay the whole humiliating experience over and over again.
Open Whatsapp and start reading through all of the messages from early on in your relationship. Hearts and kisses litter each conversation, like confetti. You check your most recently used emoji list—the smiles and sexy salsa dancer have been replaced by sad and crying faces. And a picture of a chicken. Because that’s what your diet mostly consists of now.
Start going to the gym three times a week. Read fitness magazines as you grind away on the static bike and discover why you should split your training into different muscle groups. Learn how to track your calories. Uncover the secrets of getting abs. Use one of your workouts to put this new abdominal education into action. The remainder of your week will be spent struggling to sit up.
Go shopping for healthy new foods and make a fool of yourself as you ask an assistant where the kwee-noah is. Remember how fun it was when you used to go grocery shopping together? Pushing each other around in the cart and planning meals for the week. Feel the knot in your stomach, followed by a painful reminder that you trained abs yesterday.As you head to the comfort of the ice cream aisle, stop in your tracks and head to the checkout counter.
To distract yourself, go to the gym. This is the fourth time this week. Turn the treadmill incline up to 20%. Add an extra 20 pounds on your deadlift. Put more gangsta rap on your playlist. Dead Prez are your training buddies. DMX is your spotter. Wu-Tang gets you through your workout.
When you get home, take a shower, and slip into your unflattering lounge clothes. Prep your tilapia and green beans for one. As you watch Pumping Iron for the 20th time on Netflix, notice you’re wearing one of his old t-shirts. Feel the tears sting your eyes and your bottom lip tremble. Grab your phone and begin to text him. Stop yourself mid-heartfelt confession and breathe. Purchase yourself a pair of overpriced Nike sneakers instead and then go to bed.
Go to the gym five times a week. Meticulously plan each session and add in those new “accessory lifts” you found online. Your friends have started calling you “obsessed,” but you’d much rather be training than getting drunk in some shitty club.
You hit your goal of a seven-minute mile. The “obsession” is paying off.
You finally take the time to step on the scale and realize that you’ve lost weight. You take a look in the mirror and for the first time in your life, you can see muscle definition. The whole gang is there: your quads, your delts, and your abs are starting to peek through. You take a photo of your new-found figure and post it to Instagram.
Does he leave a comment? Probably not.
But you can bet your bottom dollar he saw that post and thought, “Wow!”
You don’t have the energy to check that night because you trained triceps and forearms today.
You start going to the gym six times a week. You’re one of the regulars now. You get head nods from the training veterans and compliments on your technique. As you attempt to max out on squats, you ask some dude in a basketball jersey to check your form. You hit depth and then pop the bar up like it ain’t nothing but a peanut. Basketball Jersey Guy gives you a thumbs-up.
You get caught up in work and end up going to the gym late. You hate missing your usual gym time! As you finish up your bicep curls and give your arms a little flex in the mirror, Basketball Jersey Guy catches your eye and smiles. You’ve been caught being a narcissistic asshole, but he keeps on smiling. He has a really nice smile and really nice biceps too…
He asks you if you’re training for anything particular, and you respond with a shrug. You’ve never really thought about it before. He tells you that you’re looking great and to keep it up. You go bright red and feel a different kind of embarrassment than that time you were doing weird things on the leg press—you feel flattered.
In the locker room, you check your social media while downing a post-workout shake. There are photos of the ex with his new lady.
Your stomach doesn’t knot. Your eyes don’t water. You just keep scrolling. Basketball Jersey Guy friend requested you on Facebook. You giggle like a school girl.
As you walk home, you realize that it has been months since you’ve started working out. You recognize that heartbreak started you on your fitness journey, but it is your own personal willpower, strength, and determination that has kept you going. You’ve built muscle, you’ve lost fat, you’ve bought jeans in a size smaller, you’ve become accustomed to carrying Tupperware around everywhere.
4. Eat More Cruciferous Greens
They fill your stomach and stop cravings. Plus, broccoli looks like cute little trees!