Weight Loss: The wrong and dangerous way!
This is a topic which I have always wanted to talk and share about to others who may be on a similar journey or at the start of their weight loss journey. This is inspired by my own journey of losing weight and the battle that I went through.
When I first started losing weight in July 2016, I weighed in at 227 pounds with a 40% body fat percentage (BF%) . Before that, I had a terrible relationship with food. Coming from a South Asian household where foods are high in fats and carbs, it was deemed impossible for me to get going as I never cooked for myself and just had whatever my Mum made me. I use to eat out a lot and order food and eat all sorts of junk to the point where I felt physically sick and went to bed feeling like I ate a whale. (No joke!)
So on my first day of losing weight, I cared so much about calories and nothing else. I use to consume as little as calories as I can. Looking back on the app I used (MyNetDiary) it was roughly on average around 850 calories per day for the first two months. Cardio was another thing which I made the centre of attention. It is shocking looking back and saying this now - but I use to do 3 hours of cardio most days. I remember going 1 hour in the morning, 1 hour in the afternoon and 1 hour in the evening with little to none weight training on most days. As a result, I lost an abnormal amount of weight, (I remember losing 10 pounds in one week!) I dedicated my whole life and wellbeing to losing weight that it isolated myself from the outside world.
Prior to my weight loss, I had been going to the gym on and off since July 2014. I remember lifting heavy and doing a lot of strength training where I did gain a lot of muscle. I did cardio too but not like after when I had started my proper weight loss. I was eating a lot - foods high in protein and just junk really. I was not on any diet or anything at the time. I was always that big person, but I did have fairly big muscles, but it was all just covered in the layer of fat I had around my muscles, so I lacked in definition.
Going back to my weight loss journey, I labelled nearly everything as 'bad food' I had little understanding of nutrition and the Science behind weight loss. I use to think I need to eat as clean as possible for me to get the weight off and stay away from fat as much as I can. My family members were concerned as I use to go to the gym for hours and they had seen the drastic measures I put myself through.
When I moved out and started university in September 2016, my weight loss was on standby, and even though on most days I use to eat little calories (Averaging 1200-1500 calories at the time of university) I had fallen into the vicious cycle of binge eating. This was down to the fact of me essentially starving myself from the past. I did get down to 190 pounds in December, and it was evident to see that I lost a considerable amount of muscle mass and fluid. As I was classified as obese when I first started, I probably would have lost more than the average safe rate of 2 pounds of fat that you can lose when (Eating the right amount of calories!), but I also lost a heap of muscle, and my strength was missing. I remember going back home in the Christmas Break and binging bad. It took a while for me to recover and get my act together for the gym again. I had gained around 16 pounds weighing 206 pounds in a short space of time at the start of January 2017. I had a target of being 170 pounds for when I first started.
For me the number on the scale meant everything. I use to be disheartened when I gained the slightest bit of weight or if I only lost a little. I just wanted to lose weight as fast as I can in the shortest amount of time. I had gone on an 'egg diet' which I had found on YouTube which was again really low in calories (700-900 calories), and I lost around 2 pounds nearly every day. It might have been weight loss but not FAT LOSS. I felt even weaker, and it started to take a toll with my general well-being. I did not look forward to going to the gym anymore, and I was always in a depressed mood. I struggled with sleep! I use to wake up in the middle of the night and binge. I had got to as low as 165 pounds following this 'egg diet' from 176 pounds in a string of days.
The truth is we all live in a NOW society. We want results fast in the shortest amount of time that we often forget the journey. You can eat the right foods and even some foods that are high in fat - it is just all about how you are doing it. Weight loss is not all dooms day! - It can be fun and challenging. Understand nutrition and learn to love it! It took me such a long time to master food for my body. I feel like I know so much now than ever before that I am openly willing to give advice and share my experiences. I am no expert of course but information is readily available on the internet, and you can get your hands on some excellent sources of information that can help you in the long term. Most importantly, SUSTAINABILITY is crucial for progress.
I can proudly say that I no longer binge eat (or haven't in a long time!) This is mostly down to my current meal plans which I have managed to fit around my macro nutrients that I enjoy which keep me full and happy. I no longer look at the weight scales anymore and monitor my progress by checking my Body Fat Percentage % .
Do not turn a blind eye when it comes to nutrition. I urge for anybody who is reading this is not ever to make the stupid decisions I made! You can lose FAT safely while maintaining your muscle mass by tracking your macronutrients and eating a little bit more. Learn to understand food and be open to trying different things to see what works well for your body. You can do things such as carb cycling and just adjusting your macros, in general, to change things around. As of right now, I love cooking and trying new foods. I am aiming to get to 10% BF before I start my bulking phase while staying lean as much as I can, and I love every bit of my journey. Currently, I have a body fat percentage of 17.4%.
You have got your whole life ahead of you, and there is no rush. Take things slowly and progressively and see the changes in yourself! Remember SLOW PROGRESS is better than NO PROGRESS.
I hope this post helps people to understand that crash dieting and eating low calories, in general, is not safe for your well-being and health!
15 - 20% below maintenance (with macros in check) is the way to go! You can also adjust your macros according to your needs, and of the level of physical activities you do but ensure your macros are in a safe percentage.
Dare to dream and see your life change for the better.
Share your stories; I would love to hear from you.