How Working Out Less Made Me Lose 20 Pounds
Let's be honest.
Trying to lose weight sucks.
Building muscle is hard.
Trying to do both of these with a busy lifestyle and responsibilities?
Add in the fact that there's so much information out there, it is hard to know fact from fiction.
Which diet is best? Why do all the gurus promote conflicting BS?
How do I know which workout is best?
All of this makes it so easy to just be stuck in "consuming" mode and not "doing" mode.
As a working husband and father to a human and an active canine, my life's BUSY. I work a demanding day job in healthcare, and I am also a high school coach.
Needless to say, my free time is limited. So how did I manage to drop 20 pounds and get in great shape?
I was in my mid-20's, recently engaged, and had just started a job in a new career field working 60+ hours per week. Life was crazy busy.
I told myself I didn't have the time to worry about what I was eating.
I didn't really concern myself with what I ate or drank. I would meet up with friends and co-workers multiple times a week for lunch and happy hour.
My cholesterol and blood pressure shot up to the high-risk range, and I had gained 20 pounds within a year.
I remember looking in the mirror, and I couldn’t even recognize myself. I had lost any muscle definition I had. I was skinny fat, I felt like garbage, and I felt stiff when trying to simple things like squat down to pick something up.
And it seemed like it all happened in an instant.
My doctor told me that I had a very short amount of time to turn things around or I’d be on cholesterol and blood pressure meds for the rest of my life.
And I was still in my 20's!
I want to see my kids grow up, and in fact, I want to see their kids… and maybe even their kids’ kids.
And I knew I wouldn't be able do that with a layer of fat around my belly and not taking care of my health.
So I decided to get into working out and eating right.
Like most people, I took to Google to try and find "best workout for busy schedule" and "best diet to lose weight"... I think you can guess what happened.
An insane amount of articles all saying conflicting things popped up. I found a few sites that seemed legit, and started reading their content.
Then, I went to their Instagram's to see if there were any workouts that they had posted.
The majority of what exists are "bro" workouts or high-intensity circuit workouts
The majority of what I found fell into one of two categories:
1- the "bro" workouts showing a shredded 20-something
2- the "sweat til you drop" workouts filled with burpees, supersets, and chaos.
If that was all I could find, it must be the right way to do it. So I decided to start with number 2 first. I started doing insane circuit-based workouts.
My muscles would burn like crazy, and I swear I'd lost weight just from sweating. I'd be sore for 3-4 days after and was miserable. It was not fun, and while I initially saw some results, I plateaued after a few weeks. I spent months trying the same thing with no more progress.
So I moved to doing the "bro" workout. Purely weight training, focusing on individual muscle groups, working out 5-6 days a week, and each workout was over an hour. This was way more enjoyable for me, and I fell in love with lifting.
After about 6 months or so I stopped making progress. I couldn't seem to lose any more weight or build any more muscle. Since it worked for me to start, I kept doing it (with a few tweaks to the exercises and volume) for a couple more years.
However, I was spending a huge part of my life just working out.
I had to drive to the gym.
Track every single calorie.
Food prep, home-cook my meals, make sure I have enough protein, fat, and carbs per meal…
I spent 4 hours a day working on my health and fitness.
I was so dead set on becoming healthy that it started to eat away at my professional goals & family time. Then, when I found out I was going to be a dad, I wanted to be home as much as possible. Working out like this would not make that possible.
I was burned out.
When I decided to take a week or two off, I would instantly gain weight. Even when I would work out 5-6 days a week for more than an hour at a time, my weight would slowly creep up.
Somehow, after a few years, I was 20 pounds heavier than when I started, and it barely looked like I worked out.
When I was stressed out, working out no longer helped take that stress away. It made me even more stressed.
Most fitness and nutrition programs don’t focus on getting the best results in the least amount of time.
You have to spend 1-2 hours a day every day working out.
And beat yourself up through exercise and extreme dieting; counting calories, restricting what foods you are allowed to eat (that's no fun!) and the number of calories you can eat.
My body felt like it was constantly fighting to recover and always stressed out.
I knew there had to be a better way.
I cut back to working out only twice a day to allow my body to recover while also trying to make sure I didn't lose whatever muscle I had built.
I also decided to stop obsessing over what I was eating and how much.
Instead, I just decided to focus on hitting my specific protein goal each day and didn't worry about the other macros or calories.
Want to see the hacks I used to stop worry about counting calories and putting protein intake on autopilot?
Research shows that to build muscle (or in my case at the time, make sure I didn't lose muscle), the average person should aim for ~1g per pound of body weight.
To hit this goal, I had to add 1-2 protein shakes per day.
3 weeks into doing this and I felt so different. It was like my body was finally listening and responding to me!
For the first time in almost a year, my weight started to consistently drop each week.
I was getting stronger on my lifts, finally being able to break past the plateaus I reached.
After 6 weeks, I was actually in the best shape I had ever been in. I dropped the 20 pounds of fat and put on some muscle.
I looked better AND felt better. My energy felt like I was a teenager again and I was no longer stiff and rigid moving around.
And, the best part, I had my freaking time back to myself! I was no longer spending countless hours every day and week at the gym, counting calories, and prepping meals. Talk about misery.
I think the only person more excited about that than me was my wife.
Since this, I consistently work out 2-3 times per week max. This lets me keep my time to myself, while still reaping the benefits of exercise.
And it keeps me from overtaxing my body and allowing proper recovery.
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