Before and After….
(On the left, Me and Bertie Higgins in 2006. On the right Me and Bertie Higgins in 2012)
By Larry Madill
Since Fall 2012 people — some close friends, others perfect strangers, and more still those that just fall somewhere in between — have been asking me, How did you do it? How did you lose so much weight in a year? What’s your secret? My shrugging response has always been, “I just did it.” I would love to claim I was being purposefully vague in order to create an air of mystery around me but the truth? The hard truth? The real truth?
I just did it. I just made a decision, acted on that decision, and lost at least 85 pounds (and I suspect it might’ve been close to 100) in the span of less than a year.
C’MON! I can hear you cry in disbelief. I saw on Doctor Oz where if you take two teaspoons of cinnamon while standing on one foot you can lose ten pounds in two weeks, that’s how you did it right? Nope. Its that new diet where you only eat a fistful of chicken breast and two handfuls of kale every day, right? Nope. You no carbed! Nope! You carb loaded! Nope.
The honest to god truth is, I just did it. No tricks. No gimmicks. No outlandish diets.. I just did it. I worked out and I ate healthier. But for those who want a bit more than my typical taciturn answers this is how I did it.
I just did it. Okay, that time I was just screwing with you.
The Decision …
Somewhere at the tail end of 2011 I looked in the mirror and said, This is not who I want to be. This is not who I am. This has got to change. I wish I could be less cliché and say I came to this realization for selfless meditation, but that would be a lie. I came to this realization after the disastrous end to a relationship that started in Heaven and crashed into Hell. I fucked up. She fucked up. We all fucked up. We broke up.
I ended up back in Los Angeles,Christmas 2011, staring in my roommate’s mirror asking, What happened to you? How did you become this … blob person?
My weight had nothing to do with the disintegration of that relationship really; other issues did (my other blog post in ten years from now). However, from a certain point of view, that isn’t entirely true. When you are obese, like ridiculously fat, you’re self-esteem is gone and your self-respect is non-existent. When you happen to luck into someone who doesn’t mind seeing you naked you tend to latch on and hold on for dear life.
I just realized I am tempering myself by taking the Is and changing them to Yous. This is what I did, and because I had zero self-esteem and zero self-respect I tolerated stuff during that relationship that I shouldn’t have because I honestly felt, welp, this is the best you can ever do, fat-ass, got to live with it. Until I couldn’t tolerate it anymore and I was out of there…
… And back in Los Angeles, looking in that mirror, saying, Who am I? And more importantly, Who do you want to be? I knew that I didn’t want to be what I was anymore. Did I look at GQ Magazine, see a picture of Brad Pitt, and say, I want to look like that? No. I did not want to look like anyone in particular. I just wanted to be better and be happier.
The Action …
I was fortunate in a few ways that I was never a great stranger to exercise. I had been exercising in fits and stops since 17. I knew that my problems were result of two things: terrible eating habits and a lack of movement. So I said to myself, after Christmas 2011, time to start moving, and time to clean up that diet and start eating like your 30 and not 16.
The exercise was the easy part. I had, a couple years past, bought a copy of Power 90. Old school, pre-P90X, short shorts Tony Horton, Power 90. My original goal was to do P90X, but I knew enough about fitness to know that a 290 frame and an Extreme, hour long fitness program is a cocktail for injury and failure. So I started with Power 90. Every day, six days a week, alternating between Circuit Training and Cardio. I stretched a 90 Day Bootcamp program into a 120 day bootcamp program. And I was sore almost every day for the first 30 days, and I was tired, and I got tendonitis in one ankle, and I stopped and I started, and I could barely get through five push-ups. But I kept doing it, I kept pushing play and every day I got a little bit better, and a little bit stronger, and a little bit thinner.
When Summer of 2012 rolled around I had graduated to P90X. By then I had dropped from 285 to 228 and Power 90 had really ceased to be much of a challenge. P90X kicked my ass around the block for three weeks just like Power 90 used to, and I was sore, and I hurt, and I was tired, and I didn’t want to get up at 5AM to do Back & Biceps so I could make a 7AM crew call, but I just kept doing it. I kept pushing play and I kept getting stronger and better and thinner.
In Fall of 2012 I went from P90X to Insanity, and guess what happened? I was sore and I was tired and I was tired, but I kept pushing play and kept doing it. And I got better and stronger and faster.
By the end of 2012 I was around 215. Around because eventually the number on the scale ceased to matter. The things that mattered were things like I could go into a store with the reasonable expectation of finding clothes that fit, I could run a 5K in twenty minutes. I was healthier. I was better. That’s what matters.
AH-HA! P90X that is how you did it! I guess, if you want to be simple and reductionist. I love P90X and Insanity and a lot of Beachbody’s programs because they are toolkits. Inside those boxes is the basic structure of how to live a happy and healthier life. Personally, I need a bit of structure, and using P90X as that super-structure works for me. Do you need P90X to lose weight? No. It is useful. But P90X is not a magic bullet. There are no magic bullets.
People always ask me about the This Diet or the That Diet, and what I think of the This Diet or the That Diet, and I tell them there are no magic bullets. Diets don’t work. What works? Affirmative decisions to eat better. More veggies. More lean proteins. More fruits. Good supplements like Shakeology and whey proteins and quality multivitamins. Cut out the tasty poisons — the Coke-a-Cola with the high fructose corn syrup, the Milk Ways with the unpronounceable ingredients, the Burger King pink slime whoppers — that are killing you. Cook for yourself and don’t let the restaurant industry shove whatever high calorie concoction they’ve dreamt up in a test kitchen in your mouth. Eat better and count your calories. That’s all you need to do. It is all pretty simple stuff. I know, because I did it.
People don’t listen though. They just walk away talking about the This Diet or the That Diet, insisting that that Magic Bullet is out there, somewhere.
Everyone thinks I’ve got a secret. What I think they are really asking me is, “How did you stick with it?” And, again, I just did.
Why? Not because I wanted to look like Brad Pitt. If you approach weight loss and healthier living with the attitude of, “I want to look like BLANK” or “I want to have six pack abs.” just don’t bother. Your goals probably aren’t realistic outside of genetic engineering and persistent air brushing so why even bother?
I stuck with it, and continue to stick with it, because I wanted to be better. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to feel healthier. I wanted to do things I couldn’t do before. All in all I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to be the best person I could be, and to do that I had to fight through a lot of pain and pass up a lot of desserts. Was it worth it? Yes. I would never trade what I have now for all the desserts at the Cheesecake Factory.
So there is the long answer. I personally prefer my short answer, I just did it. You can do it too. Make a choice today and say, I want to be better than I am, then … just go do it.