where does one begin?

Something I never really considered when I started this “No More Mr Fat Guy” thing, is the fact that I now receive messages and emails asking for advice (mostly on how to get over the initial hump). I feel highly honoured and privileged that my story so far has triggered something in the minds of others; as far as advice goes, all I am qualified to do is to relate my own story.

From what I have read, there are many components of my “back story” that appear in the stories of others. This gives me great hope that what I have been able to do this year can be replicated by others.

the starting point

Currently I am convinced that most people will only ever take serious action once the pain (whether physical, emotional, intellectual) becomes bad enough. This has parallels with the classic case of an alcoholic seeking help only after he or she hits absolute rock bottom.

I think that we humans are reasonably adaptable, and so we tend to “cope” quite well. Unfortunately for our health, wealth, business or personal life, “coping” is a bare minimum level of existence.

Once we get to the point where we can no longer cope, where we FINALLY realise that things MUST change – then we can begin the healing process and start changing our lives for the better.

In my case, I had spent the best part of 25 years promising myself that I would “do something” about my fitness, waistline and health. I have been a member of 3 or 4 gyms over the years – this usually goes OK for about 6 months before I start going to the gym less and less. Eventually I wind up paying the monthly fees without actually going for anywhere between 3 to 6 months – I then finally get around to cancelling the payments…

Up until the age of about 30, drinking large quantities of beer, smoking 20 cigarettes a day, eating all the food that tastes wonderful but slowly kills you from within… none of that really mattered. While I had relative youth on my side, I managed to keep going fairly well (or so I thought anyway).

Being a software developer, my work didn’t require high levels of physical fitness, so everything seemed fine. I did keep promising myself to “do something one day” though…

For me the starting point came when I turned 40; this is an age where a man starts realising he may not be immortal after all. If you get to 40 and your lifestyle is an unhealthy one, you start becoming aware of the possibility of heart attack, and you also start thinking that things like cancer could be less than a decade away.

6 days before my 40th, I became a father for the second time. That brought things into focus; if I wanted to see my son reach adulthood, I was going to have to make it to 60. If I wanted to play an active part in his life, I was going to have to do much more than “cope”.

but where to begin!?

The reality is that the actual change in your new direction will already have occurred once you hit “rock bottom”. There will have been a subconscious realisation that things MUST change; a switch will be flipped, somewhere deep inside your mind.

This internal switch is the true beginning of the next phase of your life’s journey – at some point afterwards things will start to change on the outer level. Subsconsciously you will be seeking the solution that is appropriate to you.

For me, this took the form of a website client who is a personal trainer. A discussion about Britt’s business website ultimately led to the creation of the No More Mr Fat Guy blog, and everything else that has unfolded since.

In physical terms, the beginning was a 20 minute walk at 5am one weekday morning. That was it. That was the very first 1.6km of a very very long road that I now needed to travel down.

how to begin

We are all unique individuals, so there is no “one size fits all” method that will solve everything for everyone. ¬†What I can say with reasonable certainty, however, is that there is an overall blueprint or template that can be taken, adapted, modified and personalised to suit.

In the very early days, this blueprint can be summarised as:

  • Move More
  • Eat Better
  • Drink Better
  • Accountability
  • Support

These 5 components are the key to getting things going and then building momentum. They require a little effort, but rest assured that they won’t require too much effort!

move more, eat & drink better

Don’t head off and join a gym (not yet anyway) – if you are suffering the net effect of a number of years of neglect, then you’re going to notice some fantastic changes with a few simple tweaks.

Simply go for a walk each morning, lunchtime or evening (whichever you prefer), start taking specific notice of the food you are shoving down your gob, and drink lots and lots of water (even if you hate the stuff – as I did!)

You’re not going to believe this (I know I didn’t) but if you follow this advice, you will soon find that you start to ENJOY water – even CRAVE it.

With your food, pay attention to what you eat, think about whether you are making decisions that take you “towards the goal” or “away from the goal”. I would also recommend keeping a journal or food diary.

For each day simply record:

The exercise you did (e.g. went for a 10 minute walk at 7am)

The food you ate at each meal and snack

The drink you consumed, time of day etc.

Some notes about how you feel

To get an idea of what I mean, have a look at the very first daily journal entry I wrote.

accountability & support

Accountability is an important weapon in your battle against the old you. At the first level you need to be accountable to yourself – that’s largely why I recommend a daily journal. If you write things down honestly they will make you stop and think about your decisions.

It helps keep you honest with yourself – if you write down “ate celery” when you really had 2 slices of chocolate cake, you will know in your heart that you’re simply cheating yourself.

For me personally, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same for the vast majority of people, 3rd party accountability is needed to ensure you stay on track.

At the most basic level, simply tell a loved one about your plans and intentions; whether it’s a friend, work colleague, family member etc. as soon as you TELL someone else, it becomes so much harder for you to go back on your word!

You may find that the accountability gained from a group setting suits your personality; somewhere like Weightwatchers, for example.

Another person, or a group, can also be a great source of support, which you really are going to need further down the track. If you’re living with someone else, you will also need their support in other ways. For example, if you and your family regularly sit down to a large plate of fried fish and chips, it’s going to be tougher for you to “eat better” unless you have support within your home.

I cannot overstate the importance of accountability and support, so set up as much of these things as YOU need. Rest assured that you don’t have to go to the same extremes that I did, but I have to say that there’s tremendous power and motivation that comes from ¬†publicly blogging, maintaining an open/public journal and putting it out on Facebook!

just frigging do it

The chances are you’ve had enough of the old you, the internal switch has been flipped and you really are ready to change direction.

So do it. No more excuses. You don’t have to go bench press 80kg right now.

It all starts with something as simple as a small walk and a glass of water…

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