The Great Defattening – Week 0

4 days since I told people I was doing this and I’ve had a huge, unexpected wave of feedback. The results have been promising. And I now have a starting point. Not a bad half week.

Metrics

So, the fat stuff first.

This morning I tied a tape measure around my stomach. A minor problem was completely de-tensing. I consciously hold myself very straight, so this was the first time I’ve actually seen my gargantuan relaxed belly. Vile.

I am rotund to a measure of 37’’.

This is now my benchmark. If it goes down I’m winning. If it doesn’t I may have to go back to first principles and have a rethink.

As a less objective benchmark I’ll be using a picture from 3 years ago as my minimum look. I remember feeling unimpressive even then, so it most likely won’t be a satisfying end point. Hence ‘minimum’. Here it is:

A gift for International Men's Day

Social Media / Feedback

Thoroughly amazed. I was – and still am – expecting a core group of people to be active and the rest to gradually disappear, but I never expected such a big initial show of interest. I must have spent more time on Facebook in the past week than I have in a good 6 months. It is, I confess, exhausting and very distracting.

That said I am very aware that I’m the one gaining from this. Perhaps the most difficult change for me is likely to be bringing my social activities in line with everyone else. I’m also going to have to put a hefty chunk of time aside to keep this interesting for the core group. I’ll work that out this week.

The feedback has been wonderfully varied: good, bad, sarcastic, surprisingly serious and often unexpected. An unasked for boon has been hearing other people’s experiences, rewarding enough on its own.

As ever, it’s also been a real pleasure reconnecting with characters whose existence I’d completely forgotten. I’ve met some seriously interesting people in my time.

Questioning decisions

This is a lifestyle change, not a crash diet

I’m trying to lose fat without sacrificing health or productivity. I could simply stop eating for a few weeks but this experiment isn’t my sole priority.

The hardest part, I’ve found in the past, is controlling outside factors. That means not being caught without a choice for food and preparing for unavoidables.

But, going against the grain of the diet-trope, it’s not about sacrifice. Or rather, it avoids unnecessary sacrifice. I enjoy my meals, based around well-chosen foods. I love exercise, it’s simply a question of finding the time and energy. This whole thing is about doing things efficiently and sustainably.

So, why social

The experiment involves bolstering myself to say ‘no’ when I might have made an excuse and said ‘yes’. And to tip the scales between me taking a day off the gym and forcing myself to do so. It’s a hack so that I’m not wasting my willpower fighting against myself; I’m simply fulfilling a contract with others.

The hard part – creating an environment in which I’m not constantly struggling against desire, researching the best-for-me approach to diet and honing the most efficient ways of getting the best results – is down to me. But the little things that have hamstringed me in the past – excuse making, lacklustre self monitoring, exhausted willpower – are now out of my hands.

Early results

My timing has, perhaps, been awful: The day after launch I had a long-planned piss-up, followed on Saturday by a family event at an Indian restaurant.

During the piss-up I drank wine – in line with the diet – but dinner was rice-based due to a combination of time, geography and starvation. The Indian meal, however, was an Indian meal: a sodding explosion of carbohydrates. I decided, in the face of confirmed failure, to count that as my cheat day and cram in a few sweet things afterwards.

Expected / hoped-for effects

From the moment I made a choice to go social – a few days before launch – I’ve noticed the main change I was hoping for: a sense of responsibility stopping me from making easy excuses.

It’s like a modern Stoic method: I feel like I’ve got people I respect looking over my shoulder and analysing my every move. It’s amazing.

Take the piss-up for example: I’m 95% certain I would have written that day off otherwise, been correctly sociable and had a few pints. Instead I was willing – for the greater good – to make the easy sacrifice and become a wino for the night. In and of itself this… vigilance… is worth the trouble.

Wrap up thoughts

For fat loss this week has been useless, sure, but I can see this idea having real legs. Next week should [will] prove this to be true.

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