Mental Strength is more important than Physical Endurane

In order to build muscle, increase flexibility, or over all stamina the same process must take place. Micro tears form in the muscle, tendons are stretch past comfort, and your lungs are deprived of oxygen; your muscles, tendons, and lungs, given proper rest and nutrients, will not only recover, but become stronger. This happens only if you push yourself beyond your physical limits. In other words, your mind must pick up the slack. It is a hard process to grasp at first, but it applies to almost anything in life.

By only trying do you have any chance of succeeding, and just like a new experience your muscles and organs ‘learn’ and adapt. You must push yourself beyond your comfort zone if you want to grow. If you want to become more fit, improve your diet, or do anything successfully you must have the mental strength to push past any discomfort. This article explains the science of mental toughness in great detail, far better than I can.

Muscle building is a great metaphor for life

Your brain should be treated like a muscle. You can strengthen your ability to focus, to resist temptation, and you do through exercises. In other words, it takes practice.  The best weight lifting exercises one can do, male or female, involve compound movements. These exercises are difficult for the unfit/novice weight lifters because they involve several joints and muscles. This requires some to do isolation movements/exercises in order to strengthen supporting muscles, in other words, break the problem down into smaller steps until you solve the bigger problem.

Sometimes you have to trick yourself into doing something

I have hip bursitis on my left side. When I was overweight, it was nearly impossible for me to sit or stand properly. Squats, one of the greatest compound movements a human could do for themselves was physically impossible at first, but over time the fear became more of an issue than my physical ability. I had to trick my mind into thinking It was physically okay for me to do an activity. There are several ways to do this for different activities, but in this case I did the activity by placing a chair that would allow me to go “parallel” (having your hamstrings and calves form a 90 degree angle). Eventually, I went past parallel, but whether you should go past parallel on a squat depends on your pelvic structure, but I digress…

This war you’re fighting is won and lost in the mind. The psychological war waged in your quest for self improvement cannot be won in one decisive battle. You must strategize, pick your fights carefully, know your limits and whether you are prepared to take on your next goal. You will become overly optimistic when you strategize, forethought can be a drug: check yourself before you wreck yourself! This is why almost all my post will involve topics involving the mind.

I will be posting a video blog tomorrow, take care!

-Cyrus

Social Anxiety: A deterrent to weight loss

I have mentioned several times that a support group is vital for your weight loss, but when you are overweight simple interactions can cause intense anxiety, the very idea of going to the gym can derail your fitness journey. I have had  thoughts such as “people will think  I am pathetic panting at the gym” or “I will look so ridiculous people will stare.”

Not all of these thoughts start in our head. Social stigmas are not created by one person, but a society. As I have said before, my opinion is that being overweight is the only social stigma on par with mental illness. When the two intersect you have entered a very lonely niche. A vicious cycle that will derail or stop you from ever starting your own self improvement journey. So this post is dedicated to ways I have, had, and do overcome social anxiety. Hopefully it helps you…

Some of these suggestions may seem anti-social, so you should not do these long term if at all! You should not only going to the gym to use equipment. You should be going to meet people who will help you in your journey. Extra suggestions I found useful can be found here.

Do not go to the gym yet, exercise in public while practicing positive reinforcement

The beginning of my self improvement journey started with a lot of walking around in public settings. Going over my negative, irrational thoughts, which are also known as Cognitive Distortions. I started to create rebuttals for each cognitive distortion, a technique known as positive reinforcement. I would discuss these with my therapists and friends and over time the positive thoughts would balance, if not override, the negatives. This was my cognitive-behavioral therapy in a nutshell.

I was still afraid of going to the gym, but I had to take the next step, so I did something very familiar to my anxiety riddled self…

Run and Hide

When I first started going to the gym I would wear sweat pants and a hoodie to hide, well, everything. I had my favorite cardio machine, and I would even take weights into the racquetball rooms that were less visible so I could be by myself. This is pretty extreme, but it got me into the gym. Overtime I stopped wearing the sweater and sweat pants as a shield and moved onto my next suggestion…

Headsets and a Playlist

Find a pair of headsets that will stay in your ears and enter your own world. Eventually you will need to interact with your fellow gym residents, but for now breathing the same air is enough. I still do this from time to time. Sometimes I just want to with myself and the bar and think of nothing else. It has been almost effective as meditation for me. Once you are able to move around the gym to your own theme song, you should probably move on and experiment with new classes, new workout routines, etc. I understand people are afraid of making asses of themselves learning something new, so it might help to use my next suggestions…

Go with someone of equal or worse shape than you

This sounds like a shitty thing to say, but sometimes you need someone worse off than you to put things into perspective. It serves a dose of reality that things are not as bad as your anxious little head is making them. This person obviously has to be just as committed and reliable so if you find that person do not let them go! You both will go places. You might be saying “well, I am not the reliable one,” which is fine, you just need to make yourself reliable and the next step might help you…

Plan ahead

This never fails when i’m struggling to get myself into the gym. The night before I pack my gym bag full of all my equipment, powder, supplements, shoes, towel, and I put them where I can easily grab them on my way out to the gym.Planning ahead allows you to stop thinking and start doing, everything has already been set aside. You just need to grab your gear and go, which plays into my next suggestion…

Just do it.

Still the best marketing slogan I have ever come across. When Positive reinforcement and friends cannot motivate you simply cease all thought and start walking towards the gym. Anxiety is essentially fearing the future, something that does not exist. You are projecting the worse case scenario fo what might happen. Aside from practicing being ever present, ceasing all thought and taking action is the best thing you can do to get your butt in the gym.

After these steps, start treating the gym as a home, not a vehicle.

This is the step I am currently on. Most of us go to the gym because it will put us on the fat burning train, but what happens once that journey is done? You have now lost your purpose to go “gyming” and it may begin a vicious cycle of yo-yoing, also known as the yo-yo effect. It is time to set new goals and join the fitfam community. Take classes, find groups on meetup.com that train together, become more invested and more involved. I will probably joining this group on meetup.com.

I suck at conclusions. See you guys tomorrow!

-Cyrus

Oh, one more thing…

Even though this is a Canadian campaign, if you want to talk to me on twitter (@hckia) about your social anxiety please do so with the hashtag #BellletsTalk , since its goal is to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

140 lbs and 2 and half years later, I had a tummy tuck (operation pics)

I was pretty much done with this blog.

To me, a blog needs to do at least one of two things, enrich you, or enrich me. Frankly, it just felt like gloating.

However, in the aftermath of my surgery, where I had too much time to think about an emotional downturn I suffered pre-op, I turned back to blogging on my wordpress.org site, The Angry Philanthropist. I also began a video blog, which was awkward at first, but now enjoy immensely. As I said in this blog post, it has been a cathartic experience, to say the least.

This encouraged me to consider reviving this blog, but with a greater focus. The problem is I can not even answer the question “how did you lose the weight?” because that was never the problem. The problem was “how do you keep OFF the weight?” The reality is I could have lost the weight A LOT faster and have in the past. I yo-yo dieted for a long time and it took its toll on my skin. I realized if I wanted to keep my weight off I would have to change my lifestyle and never go back. I had to target my behaviors.

By targeting my habits that contributed to weight gain and replacing them with ones that contributed directly or indirectly to weight loss I gradually saw my weight fall off. I did become more conscious of what I ate, but the nutrition aspect of my weight loss really didn’t take place till I had already dropped about 50 pounds. Before that I would eat a little less here and there, gradually reduced my portion size, but I was mainly focused on changing my lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to look good with your weight loss, your nutrition should be a top priority, but if you’re 100+ lbs overweight chances are you have a lot of issues to target before you make it your key priority. The first step is recognizing the causes of your problem and poor food options is just one of them.

As you can see making this a blog about how I lost the weight would be a complicated issue, so I’ve decided to make this blog about starting about my journey towards a healthier lifestyle. I’ll discuss behaviors I target, foods I eat, my moods, emotions, basically anything that helped me lose my weight and hopefully, in the process, you’ll get some information out of it. In return I’ll have you, the readers, keep me accountable. I will do video blogs as well at this channel. I will create a playlist called Hoomy’s world which will be specifically dedicated to this blog.

Anyhow, without further delay, here are my before and after pictures, followed by my pre and post-operation pictures…
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Around my Peak weight of 295+ lbs

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Before and after pictures of my peak condition

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peak condition with no shirt (can see the loose skin)

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loss of muscle mass due to having to cut back before the surgery (and loss of focus) targetted skin is marked

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three days post surgery and massive swelling

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three days post surgery and massive swelling

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three days post surgery and massive swelling

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at present(still swollen, but not as much)

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at present(still swollen, but not as much)

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at present(still swollen, but not as much)

Patience, a virtue we never had…

My generation has been called lazy, unmotivated, spoiled, and many other negative adjectives. We were the first generation to see the commercialized internet come into existence, experiencing total anonymity (through AOL chatrooms, forums, and online video games) while simultaneously experience over exposure (through xanga, friendster, myspace, and facebook). We have been called Generation Y, the “echo boomer” generation, and I am sure something else that ambiguously describes the era in which we spawned.

While both nouns (anonymity and exposure) have damaged our psyche and reputation in ways our parents will never understand, there is a larger villain at hand, and it is not a noun, but a verb…

Overload: We are overloaded with more information than we could ever consume. Information that could (and probably should) bring down the college industrial complex. Instead of bringing about the true information era it seems like we have entered an age of disinformation. Instead of being enlightened we are bombarded with random, useless, and absolute pure shit. The worst part of all this? The expediency of this new era makes us have ZERO PATIENCE FOR ANYTHING. We look for ways to lose weight quick, learn this or that the easy way, and the list goes on and on.

“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” – Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington brings me to the point of this lil blog entry: Sometimes focus, dedication and patience is required, not a quick way out. You want to learn a computer programming language? Fine. That will probably take you years to get decent at the level you fantasize. You want to learn French? Same thing. So what do I want to accomplish? I have 15 pounds to lose and came to the conclusion there are two ways to go about this…

1. I starve/poison myself, causing metabolic damage, which will make me look like shit.

2. Make a food log entry to monitor what I eat, build muscle to burn body fat, and give my body time to recover from my work outs.

The second option takes longer, requires focus, dedication, patience (during the recovery days and weeks), and hard work. For this reason I took the latter and my body is already thanking me for it. I will not post pictures since I will be in Italy on July 24th, but I will do so afterwards, promise!

Here is a look at my diet so far…

Been using calorie counter to keep track of my diet. I do not have time to post my workout schedule, but I will do a mini blog post before I leave for Italy.

See you next time!

-Hoomy

Que Sera Sera…

“whatever will be, will be…”

I have spent most of my life catastrophizing; always scared of the future and regretting the past. It was not until my “quarter-palooza” (25th birthday) that I realized living in the moment is not a state of being, but the only time you are alive.

The future is fiction, and the past might as well be. It was not until this epiphany that I began to break my vicious cycle of extremes. It was not until that moment my depression and anxiety truly subsided. The binging on food, drinks, exercising, lying… the excess of “pleasure” slowly, but surely became more manageable. It was not that I stopped doing ‘things,’ I simply stopped going to extremes as often. I began to search for a balance in my life, and always try to “live in the moment.”

I am sure you are thinking “that’s nice Hoomy, I’m pretty sure I’ve read about this in some fortune cookie,” and that’s true, this is easily said and hardly ever done, but to give this scribble some substance…

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(The picture above taken in spring 2010)

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(Left – 225lbs, middle 210 lbs, right 187lbs 22% body fat)

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(185lbs 21% Body fat)

The last picture just a few days ago. I have spent the past two years losing weight slowly as possible. This is a great accomplishment for me, but not in the way you might be thinking. The accomplishment was that I did not go to any extremes to lose the weight and my body rewarded me for it.

You see, I have been here before. The first time I was at this juncture I was 17 years old, I weighed 295 pounds, and lost 140 of it in six months. Such extreme weight loss caused my hair to thin and my skin to sag. My appetite came back with a vengeance and with my metabolism slowed to a snails pace I skyrocked back up to 270 pounds. At the age of 21, I lost 90 lbs in nine months. I lost an additional 20 when I was hospitalized with gall bladder disease and pancreatitis. I kept the weight off for a longer period, but by age 25 I was back to 275.

If you do the math that means I lost 250 pounds and gained 230 from the age of 17 to 25. So in reality, it took me 8 years to keep off 20 pounds.

In both these weight loss attempts I suffered immensely. I starved, exercised through injury, wore sweaters/sweats in 90 degree weather, and did aerobic exercises till my shins couldn’t take anymore. So what was different the third time around? I stopped ignoring my body. I fed my mind with food, information, and positive thoughts.

I focused on fixing my behaviors. I slept more, drank more water, and kept my hygiene up. I learned how my body responded to certain foods, I managed my portions, and I never starved myself. I learned to cook a little bit more and tried to eat in instead of eat out. These steps alone caused me to lose 50 lbs by the summer of 2011. 

I know you are expecting me to tell you my entire regimen, how I lifted weights and worked my ass off. The truth is that while I did work my butt off to lose the weight my CORE problem was never the workouts. My problem was that I was a liar. I still am a liar, more or less, but I am much more honest than I was before. I would tell myself one day my agony would be worth it. I told myself whatever pain I endured would be returned in the form of pleasure, but I was lying to myself.  In reality I could write a book on how to NOT lose weight the right way. I am just beginning to learn the proper form, but I leave that for another post.

Tomorrow is not promised. You only have today and with such precious time you can only make small incremental changes. If you are given the gift of another day, month, year, you MAY bare the fruits of your micro-labors, but only if you “work” on it day by day.

I suppose that’s the point of this blog…

I plan to keep track of what I do day by day to improve myself. I want to make a transformation as extreme as you see in those pictures, but for it to be done in such a subtle matter that it sneaks up on me as if I did nothing different. So covert will this transformation be that one day it will simply dawn on me that I am a completely different, a better person.

Welcome to my world.

Hoomy’s world.