Self Improvement

Stop being fat

If there are no health issues, that cause weight gain, then being fat is a choice. This is a choice I was making for years. There are tons of choices in life, but we often don’t recognize them. To us, they may seem like the inevitable consequences of a given situation, something that is beyond our reach.

3 Years ago I weighed 211 pounds (96kg). I’m a meager 5 feet 8 (177cm), so this weight puts me over to the obese category, according to BMI index. I was 35 at the time and my overweight has started to pile since my later 20’s.

I knew quite well I was fat, but I thought this is just the way things are if you work a corporate office job. I was quite good at finding excuses for not changing anything in my life.

Does any of those excuses sound familiar?

– I don’t have time to eat healthily, let alone exercise.
– Healthy food is difficult to source and cook.
– My family will not like to eat healthily.
– I can’t find a healthy lunch at work anyway.

Nothing wrong with being fat.

For a long time, I saw nothing wrong with being fat, I had become used to the situation and it didn’t concern me further.

I have never liked sports in my life, except for some martial arts training in my teens for a year or two. Everything else was really not my thing. Running was really the worst of all.

On top of that, I have had quite a bad lifestyle. In addition to alcohol, and tobacco I had a habit of staying up really late, I never ate breakfast. I ate a lot of stuff made of mostly sugar and fat and of course, I ate too much of everything.

Then about 3 years ago my long-time relationship ended and I kind of began to think about what to do with my life. What do I like about it and what aspects need to be changed.

It started to feel pointless to live a life riddled with bad habits and a loose attitude.

There were several things that I wanted to change, like becoming financially more responsible, building a positive mindset towards the future, but the biggest one was to stop being fat.

I hated the way I looked and I’ll be frank about it, being fat felt like crap.

Does any of this feel familiar?

  • You get out of breath if you have to climb to the second floor using stairs
  • During sleep, you sweat and snort
  • If you have to go somewhere on foot, you get into a bad mood
  • You need a nap after you get home from work

I had enough of this. I told myself that this will change, whatever it takes.

First I started to ride a bicycle. It was about 6 miles (10km) twice a week. This got rid of 14 pounds in a few months. I also stopped eating sugar and wheat. Other than that I was not paying attention to the food I ate.

Fueled by the initial success I tried to introduce running.

This was hard. I was completely wasted after a mile. I had a taste of blood in my mouth and it felt like heart failure was around the corner. I did these one mile runs a couple of times, then I had to stop.

My legs started to hurt 24/7, it was as if the leg bones were hurting. It was difficult to sleep. I think I was just too fat for it. I had to ditch running and kept cycling instead.

During this period I also struggled with quitting smoking. I was using nicotine batches, these worked ok. Sometimes I fell back and still smoked a few cigarettes. But the important thing was, that I had seen that I could do without and I liked it a lot. I had made up my mind that even if I happened to smoke a cigarette from time to time, that I will not become a smoker again.

Things got better, but I wanted more. I knew I was not able to lose weight without changing my diet. So I joined a paid diet plan for 30 days.

This was a good idea for several reasons. I learned many important things.

Learned to cook healthy meals.

The diet plan I had used unprocessed ingredients and mainly a quick and easy preparation process. It came together with shopping lists and recipes. The meals were very good indeed. There were a lot of things and ways I haven’t tried before, but they were all tasty.

I started to eat regularly.

The diet plan told me to eat 3 times a day and then a healthy snack in the evening, a tiny bit of cheese and an apple for example. Once I did this for a week, my body became used to it. I didn’t feel any need for snacks in between, the ingredients in the meals we selected to that they keep you full until the next meal with ease.

I learned how much food per serving is good for me.

The diet plan was strict about the amount of meat for example, for me mostly about 0.45lbs (or 200g) per serving, but green salads, cucumber, and tomatoes, for example, you could eat as much as you wanted.

For a month or so I weighed the ingredients, but then I was accustomed enough, that I could measure them by eye.

I think I lost about 20 pounds by combining a diet plan with exercise, but this was not the most important thing, as I think in hindsight.

The most important was that I learned the three things above. It taught me healthy eating! Once you learn this at least on a basic level, you learn how to change your weight at will.

It will take some time to get a feel for the calorie consumption balance, but after a while, you get an idea how much you have to exercise and how much you can eat to keep losing weight at a steady pace.

The math behind this is that you have to burn more calories than you put in your mouth daily. You WILL lose weight that way, there is no way around it.

Big changes happen in small steps.

It’s almost impossible to drop all your bad habits at an instant and learn new ones right away. Change in habits is best-done step by step. It may take several years to replace bad habits with better ones and change your life.

This is a good practice, that way the change has time to settle in and habits will stick, forming a mindset.

Healthy habits are not just something you’re doing, if so then they are merely some actions. Those habits have to become the way you are. The sum of our habits makes up to a large extent what we call our lifestyle.

3 years later.

Today I’m still not my ideal weight, but very close to it. At current 170 pounds, I feel much better. I can do all kinds of sports I like, including running regularly. I ran 203 miles (327km) in 2018, I hope to top it in 2019.

In addition to cycling and swimming, I started going to the gym lately.

Healthy eating has become a natural habit for me. I will eat the birthday cake when the occasion asks for it, no problem. There is no point in going crazy about avoiding unhealthy food. If you eat something bad, just move past it and don’t do it again.

It will not do much harm, if you fail from time to time, as long as you keep bouncing back to your now normal healthy habits.

What supports weight loss?

It’s great if you get a good portion of support from your loved ones. The change to eating healthy is best done for the whole family, it’s really difficult if one family member has to cook separately. Hopefully, this will plant a healthy-eating habit also in the children. I know from my experience that after some time unhealthy food becomes difficult to eat. A burger feels like a brick in the gut for an hour and after that, you’re hungry again.

For example, it would be quite difficult to quit smoking if it wasn’t done by both of the spouses at the same time.

Health starts from the inside.

Physical health is not possible when a person is weak mentally. If you are weak regarding discipline, there is very little chance you are able to lose any weight. Without discipline we are like children, reaching for instant gratification whenever possible. Our own mind is the toughest obstacle in our lives. Weight loss is no exception.

We have to value and love ourselves, then we are able to put in the effort to make change happen.

To sum it up.

You will lose weight if you change the way you live. It will have to be a transformation of lifestyle. People who have a positive mindset, eat well and exercise regularly are in good shape. If you want to lose weight then become one of those people.

It’s as difficult and as simple as that.

Self Improvement

Save some or spend it all?

Saving money is supposed to be a good thing. But others say, live in the moment, there is no point to plan ahead because you can’t predict the future. Is this to conveniently justify the need for instant gratification, to consume in the flow of consumerism as much as possible? It has become normal to spend more than you have and pay for it later.

Borrowing money and paying it back later is a way of pushing the pain away into the future, taking money from your future self. It has been found that it’s difficult for people to connect with future self. It’s like a whole other person with their other person’s worries.

Some people save. They have different reasons for doing so but the result is the same – their future self will have it easier. Do these savers have more empathy for their future selves so to say? I save money as well. To me, it seems very reasonable that I want to be better off in the future than I’m now. Savings give people freedom. Freedom to fail, to change jobs, freedom to move and to face unexpected problems.

Saving is hard. It feels like you waste money by saving it. If you take a portion of money out of consumption, it feels like it’s been waisted – strange, isn’t it?

Saving becomes easier if you trick yourself into it. For me, the “pay yourself first” method worked wonders. After arranging a monthly automated transfer from my main account to a backup account it took a couple of months to get used to it. After that, It didn’t feel like I missed the money at all.

Then, as time passed the money I put aside started to add up. Savings have a very positive and calming psychological effect. There is a lot less financial drama in life. All the financial issues get some slack.

You can always choose to spend the money you have saved, but it doesn’t work the other way around.

Self Improvement

7 ideas, how to be a better person in 2019

I believe that people are destined to evolve. Here are some proposals that might motivate you to become a better person in 2019.

Work with yourself. If you strive to be better tomorrow than you were yesterday, then look into the mirror at first. If you are broken and sick you are of no good use to others and society.

1. Meditate

Meditation is a very simple yet unique practice. By introducing it to your daily routine little by little you are gaining access to mental benefits that are hard to overestimate.

One of the most important of these is the ability to raise your mental balance point with meditation. This is what can be called your default state of mind. There is no better practice than meditation to do anything about it.

2. Stay in the moment.

Living the moment to the fullest makes happy, the Guardian writes. Meditation helps to stay in the moment, it helps to avoid a wondering mind, that carries us away from the now. How is that?

It is a special ability of humans to let our mind wander to think about the past and future, to consider alternative scenarios of events and plan ahead. But this wandering tends to be uncontrollable and may degrade the experience of living.

Worrisome thoughts of upcoming exams may ruin a vacation trip.

3. Think ahead.

Let’s use our wandering mind on purpose and in a positive way this time. There are many situations in life when planning and foresight are valuable.

Have a healthy lifestyle. Gather firewood before the winter comes. Service your car regularly to avoid breakdowns. Save up some money to prepare for unexpected expenses.

Stay on top of things so you don’t become a burden to yourself or anyone else, just by being reckless.

4. Appreciate what you have.

There are people that are better off than we are, may it be genetically, financially or in whatever way. We look at ourselves – Nah, too poor, too unhappy, too meaningless.

Seldomly do we recall the ones, that have it worse than us. If you are among the 1 billion that lives in the developed world (roughly about 50 of the most developed countries) then you can consider yourself very fortunate. Only every 7th person on earth is as lucky as you.

Give it a thought. Do you really need a new phone every 6 months?

Look outside yourself.

5. Be kind, always.

Being kind doesn’t cost a thing, but it changes things. A lot. In ways, you will never know. Kindness spreads like a good virus, a good deed will go far.

Receiving a kind word can save someone’s day. There is always some genuinely good side in every person, don’t be shy – let them know.

6. Spend time with loved ones.

Time is the most valuable resource we have, do you agree? We should treat it accordingly. Humans are social beings at the core. Research says time spent with loved ones is time well spent.

7. Do a good deed for a stranger.

Have you ever helped an elderly person cross the road, or climb stairs? It feels great, give it a try. It’s a double win situation, you feel you did something good and the other person feels noticed and helped.

If you can’t find enough old people waiting by a pedestrian crossing, try donating money, or even better your time to good causes on a regular basis.

Trying to become better feels good – give it a try!