I’ve always felt like an outcast in my family. They work very hard, but I don’t ever remember my parents making me go to the gym. Unfortunately, I was never shown the ropes when it came to working out or lifting weights.
I was the stereotypical scrawny kid growing up. Although I participated in a few sports in my youth, I never developed a muscular physique. Looking back, I think my body fat percentage was approximately 12-15% back then. When I was younger, I didn’t realize or care that I wasn’t in great shape physically. All that mattered was that I could run, eat anything I wanted, and have mom make us home-cooked meals.
Things started to spiral out of control after I had to relocate to a place that was 200 miles away from where I was living in order to continue my education. A lot of the time, I’d eat at fast food restaurants for all three meals of the day. A normal day, indeed. To make a long story short, I was not taking care of myself, and I never had.
It didn’t take long for the pounds to start piling on, and before I knew it, I was significantly overweight. To say I’m overweight would be a massive understatement. In fact, I was clinically fat, bordering on morbid obesity. When I was 115 kg, my body mass index was 38. One must have let a few things lapse in order to be classified as “morbidly obese.”
The Revelation That I Had Become Severely Overweight
After what may have been five or so years, I ran across an old flame one night. When she walked over to greet me, she reached out and touched my stomach. I have no idea what possessed her to do that, but she did, and the ensuing shame and guilt were overwhelming.
It was like one of those movies where something happens that completely changes your life, and suddenly your entire life flashes before your eyes at 32X normal speed. Except, all I could see was the accumulation of small decisions that added up to my current situation, like bingeing on junk food and not exercising even once a week, or the shock I had when I caught sight of myself in a full-length mirror in the bathroom before jumping in the shower. I was utterly shocked. When I saw myself, I couldn’t believe how chubby I looked.
I started working out the day after and haven’t stopped since. I’ll confess that my first motivation was probably very shallow, but it was enough to get me started, and in time I grew to enjoy the entire process of improving my physical fitness and health.
The problem isn’t admitting that we’re overweight; rather, it’s the constant stream of negative thoughts about our weight that keeps us from really losing weight. The real challenge is getting things done, specifically, getting started. I had to make some terrible mistakes before I could figure out how to succeed.
The Mistakes I Made In My Weight Loss Journey
I tried everything from the Slim Fast program to the Atkins diet to the juice diet to the ab belts and tummy shrinking wraps and calorie counting and whatnot at the outset.
Even after realizing my error, I continued making the same mistakes by joining a gym in an effort to lose weight as quickly as possible. I was under-fueling and over-training. I was doing cardio and weight training for over two hours a day, six days a week. There was no doubt that this plan would fail, and it was also evident that I couldn’t keep up with it.
How come now I seem to be getting it right? I did this by going quite slowly. I learned the hard way that it takes time to undo years of negative routines. You must be patient with yourself and realize that being healthy and losing weight are both long-term endeavors. It’s something you can learn, and you’ll grow better at it the more you practice.
What Finally Worked For Me To Lose Weight And Become Shredded
I went from 115 to 84 kilos in a year, which equates to an almost 31 kg fat loss with minimal muscle loss. Modifying my approach gradually has been the key to my success.
I realized that in order to eat healthily, I had to select things that I actually like. I needed nutritious, delicious options I could consume on a daily basis. So, I began trying to find healthier versions of the foods I already enjoyed. Starting with soda, then on to lemonade, then fruit-infused water, and ending with just plain water.
I went from not eating any vegetables at all to eating only frozen ones cooked in the microwave to learning how to make fresh ones and now eating a variety of them at each meal.
My calorie intake was already gradually decreasing. At first, I created a deficit of only 250 calories per day, but when I saw results, I gradually increased it to 500 per day, and eventually to 750 per day. Because of changes in my metabolism, I was getting close to a deficit of 800 calories by the time I finished.
Cutting calories that much affected my energy levels, making exercise difficult. Yet, I kept telling myself that I had come too far and was too close to my objective to give up now.
The last four months were when my body went through a very noticeable and pretty amazing transformation. Now that I had gotten into decent shape, I was on the path to becoming absolutely shredded.
My legs were the first to look amazing, and my lower face was the last to show off a chiseled jawline. I may have appeared to have gained some weight at first, but now that the fat has been burned off and the muscle is showing, I’m sure I look much larger than I did before.
With the loss of fat and the gradual increase in lean muscle, my chest became much more square, and the best part was that I no longer had man boobs. My greatest accomplishment, though, is that I could actually see my abs. I’ve never had anything close to a six pack.
As you may have figured by now, this whole trip hasn’t been a picnic. But folks coming up to me out of nowhere to tell me how much they’ve been impressed by my change has only served to fuel my own motivation. Regardless of one’s background, it is inspiring to demonstrate that anything is possible.
What I’ve learned is that the cumulative effect of consistent, little effort is substantial. I know this goes against the advice or marketing hype offered by a plethora of Instagram influencers and stunning personal trainers online, but they have stuff to sell, and there’s nothing more appealing than a quick fix for a problem with which we’ve struggled for years. But I assure you, a 12 or 8-week “Body Transformation Programme” is not where you’ll find the solution.
Each of us will have to come up with our own solution because there is no single “correct” way to improve our health. The only correct path is the one that leads to your own happiness.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.