There are times, when We The Software People keep aside the HTTP header and body and take a look at our own Header and Body. We don’t like what we see and we go, “Yikes, its Status 413: Payload too large.”
This blog is about one such time.
At the start of this year, I had one such Status 413 moment and decided to do something about it. I joined a health club and lost about 12 kgs over a period of 4 months. It was a whole new experience for me. I don’t want to get into those details. They aren’t as inspiring or as interesting as this famous transformational video
However there’s one thing I have realized during this journey
The PROCESS to lose weight is extremely simple.
But FOLLOWING the process is extremely difficult.
Being a great fan of analogies I was looking out for analogies that show this difficult journey. The one that kept popping up everywhere on the internet was the 80/20 rule – “Weight loss is 80% diet, 20% exercise” with the following pie chart image.
In theory this is correct, but I felt the representation is completely wrong. If you look at the pie chart image, you would think that diet and exercise are completely unrelated and independent of each other. It gives you a feeling that you can A> Completely ignore the diet. B> Just concentrate on exercise and still get a 20% benefit !!. After all it’s so much easy to go on a walk in the morning than drink green tea every day.
This one big misunderstanding is quite prevalent. Everyone who wants to lose weight start off their weight loss resolution as – “I will start walking everyday from tomorrow” or “I will join a gym from tomorrow”. And we all have seen what happens to these resolutions. Long time back, I too had made this assumption and joined a gym. Never did I look at my diet. After a month of exercise I decided to quit. The weighing scale had not shown any change and I didn’t see any benefit in sweating it out.
My point is that the famous pie chart image puts you off. A picture is worth a thousand words – a lot of them unsaid. Sometimes those very unsaid words lead people to make the wrong assumptions. If we have been recommended 1 hour of exercise and rigorous diet, we think doing half an hour of exercise and dieting 3 days a week will still give us 50% benefit. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.
To better explain how the process works, I have come up with another analogy. One which I feel is better in conveying the idea visually.
Imagine you have to go from a base of a mountain to the plateau. The slope is steep, but the plateau is flat. That slope is your weight loss journey. You cannot stop on the slope. You have to continue walking till you reach the plateau. Otherwise you will fall down. The plateau represents a steady state once you have achieved your goal.
Rather than the 80/20, I would divide the slope into 50% of Dedication, 40% of Nutrition and 10% of Exercise
These three – Dedication, Nutrition and Exercise are not independent. Instead these are linked together as if in a chain. Having Dedication is a pre-requisite of Nutrition. And following good Nutrition is a pre-requisite of Exercise. If you do exercise without Nutrition or just plan on Nutrition and Exercise without putting any dedication, you will fall off and return to Ground zero of the Base. Each of these HAS TO “Happen-Before” the next one to be really successful.
The first 50% of the slope represents your own determination, your own willpower. That’s the biggest challenge you will face in your journey. Unless you decide to do it, nothing will work. Nor can anyone help you at this point. You can appoint the greatest trainer or dietician, but they won’t be able to help you unless you yourselves firmly “Decide”. You need to understand and accept that getting fit (rather than just weight loss) requires a lifestyle change. You cannot continue your current lifestyle and expect a miraculous weight loss.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
When it comes to weight loss, I think we all are guilty of insanity. Everyone wants to be fit. but no one wants to change. I have wanted to lose weight for the past few years. Yet I didn’t do anything different and still expected to lose weight. So the first step of this journey is to get rid of this insanity and dedicate yourselves to a lifestyle change. Do this and you have crossed 50% of the journey. Ignore this and you are bound to remain where you are.
Once you have really “DECIDED”, the next 40% of your journey would be your diet or nutrition. You need to take a long and hard look at what you eat versus what you should be eating. This is the second big challenge you will face. Its not easy to give up those bad habits that you may have developed over a long period of time. The only consolation I can offer for this stage is that once you actually give up your habits, you would realize that it wasn’t as bad as you had thought it would be. I was shocked when I was asked to give up my daily few cups of tea. (Those who know me would know that my definition of “few” is around 6 cups). And yet after I actually stopped, it wasn’t that difficult.
Once you are dedicated and have altered your diet, you have already reached 90% of your journey. However a great danger lurks at this point. Remember, even though you have climbed 90% , you are most vulnerable at this point. Falling after climbing 10% is a small disappointment. Falling after 90% is disastrous. The only way out is to start exercising. It’s not optional. You HAVE TO. No matter how much dedication you have and how strictly you control diet, it cannot be for lifetime. There will be a time when you would want to eat that Ice cream Sundae or Vada Paav or maybe just go to Barbeque Nation and hog those delicious starters. It is very very difficult to control your impulse for a long time. No one, I repeat, No One can be on a prolonged calorie deficit diet. The only help you have at that point is to burn those extra calories through exercise. Exercising also helps you gain Muscle Mass which increases your metabolic rate. Once you develop your lean muscle mass, you would be burning more calories even while sleeping. As the financial experts say – Don’t work for Money, Make your money work for you. In the same way, let lean muscles burn calories for you.
Now that you have dedication, have control on your diet and do regular exercise, you are unstoppable. You would start seeing a steady weight loss as well as improved fitness. Soon you would reach the plateau of a fit body. Once you reach this level, you are on safe ground. You don’t really have to put in extra efforts to maintain your weight.
The only thing you have to do at that point is to NOT LOOK BACK. Just keep moving forward. Of course you can still fall down if you start moving backward by giving up all the exercising and good eating habits. But after such a long and difficult journey, I am pretty sure you would have started liking the “New You”. Giving up good habits at this stage becomes difficult and Dedication comes easily. Moving forward then comes across easily like a normal habit. In software terms it then stops being a development project and moves into routine maintenance stage.
Well, I started out thinking this would be a small blog but it has become quite long. So let me stop myself now and lend you my ear.
Have you had any similar experience? Do you agree with this analogy? Do you have an even better one to share? Let me know in the comments below.