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  • Writer's pictureChuck Johnson

My 5 strategies for sustainable weight loss

At 13% bodyfat after a 20-lb weight loss

So for those who follow me on Insta I’m sure you’ve noticed the weight loss. While this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten in this kind of shape, this is the first time that I’ve managed to find a way to sustain it. I’ve heard that most people who get the body they want relapse back into bad habits and lose it again eventually, and that was also the case with me. So this time, (which I think is my fourth or fifth time), I wanted to find a way that was easy enough to make it a lifestyle instead of a diet. While I'm still not perfectly satisfied (if that's even possible) I am far enough along in the process that I can comfortably (and honestly) say "This worked for me."

1. Understanding my motivation

The reason I wanted to start with this one was because at the fact of the matter is, the core of anyone’s success (in pretty much anything) is motivation. And in my case, part of the reason I hadn’t succeeded at building this system before was because I didn’t have strong enough (and clear enough) goals. “Looking better”, or “Losing weight” is a place to start, but before I could really succeed, I needed to outline both what my #1 goal was (a 6-pack before I shoot my first feature film, Eastbound Traffic) and more importantly WHY. Doing so allowed me to figure out what other smaller goals I needed to set along the way to make that happen. (Ie getting comfortable with eating only twice a day, hitting 86kg, 84kg and then 82kg consecutively, etc).

One of the things I learned from Taekwondo is that it’s all about having one big goal (ie a black belt) and then having a bunch of smaller goals to hit along the way. Hitting the smaller goals will help you gain the confidence that you can do it, while the larger goal will give you something to continually keep your focus on.

2. Intermittent Fasting

For some people, it’s carnivore, for some it’s KETO, for some it’s becoming vegan or vegetarian. All of these things can work, but for me I found that intermittent fasting was the easiest. For the most part, I don’t really count calories. If I wanna eat it, I just eat it. I just eat it within a certain time window and that’s all. While it take a minute for your body to get used to it, (I’ve found it was 3 days to a week) you do get used to it. I also liked it because less meals actually meant less spending (on groceries or eating out) and more importantly MORE TIME in my day.

In the morning, I’d have a quick nutrition drink (like ensure) and then have a coffee while I start working and that’s in. Then lunch as usual, (basically whatever I want) and then a leaner dinner before 6pm, so I was just starting to get hungry around the time I would go to sleep. I found this also had another positive effect. Having a regular lunch and small dinner meant I had the energy I needed for the day, but was relatively low energy at night when it’s time to start winding down to sleep. This made me more tired sooner, so I go to sleep way earlier and then consequently wake up earlier. Just from this habit I started waking up at 5 or 6am every day super energized and ready to go instead of 7, 8 or later and feeling somewhat groggy. Adding two hours of early morning productivity time when your mind is super sharp (and everyone else is still asleep) was huge for my productivity as well. I almost never bother working past 9pm these days.

3. Swapping out carbs for boiled sweet potatoes whenever possible.

This was what I used to do, and I’ve always found to be an extremely effective way to lose weight. It also really cleans you out because the sweet potatoes are so fibrous. The problem with it is that on a super irregular entertainer’s schedule, by itself, it was hard to maintain. I just couldn’t always find the time to cook, or the ability to carry food with me. So instead of the main way to lose weight it became a supplement to move things along faster. (If you swap out sweet potatoes for rice or bread, the same quantity of the former only has about 30% of the carbs as the later- and it’s slow burning so your body can run on it for forever).

4. Letting go of snacking and sugary drinks

You don’t necessarily have to let go of snacking; (you just have to be careful what you snack on) but personally, I found it easier to let it go completely as snacking works like an appetizer for me- it just makes me hungrier. It’s easier not to do it at all. Losing weight when consuming sugary drinks is damn near impossible though. Take for example, the fact that a Coca Cola has about 40 grams of sugar in it. For an athletic male of my size (6”2’ and around 200lbs) that’s literally pretty much all of the sugar that your body can handle processing in one day… IN ONE DRINK. That means that if you consume literally anything else your body will start to convert the excess sugar to fat. Or if you are less that a 200lbs, high metabolism, athletic male, even if that’s all you consume, you will most likely gain weight in a day. You just have to let them go. For myself, there are still certain foods that I simply can’t stand to have without a coke- hot dogs, bacon cheeseburgers, nachos, certain Korean foods, etc so for me, the trick was to stay a away from eating those foods except on special occasions; and when I do eat them, I compensate somehow (I make my other meal for that day VERY lean, I exercise a lot more the next day, I eat really lean lunches for the next few days, etc). 5. Sleep well

I really really cannot stress this one enough. Your body makes most of its fat-burning chemicals while you sleep, so burn most of your fat while you are sleeping. (Believe it or not, you actually breathe it out), so if you don’t get a good night’s rest, even if you do everything else right, it’s hard (although not impossible) to lose weight. As aforementioned, a big part of my weight loss was that by eating lean at night, I just got more tired earlier. I also realized that when you eat at night, you put a lot more energy into your system and that makes the winding down process harder. Not eating on the other hand (at least for me) had the opposite effect. I’d also heard that much like any other system in your body, your digestive system needs time to rest too, so going long periods in a 24-hour period on an empty stomach keeps it a lot healthier in the long run. Another thing I discovered was that going to bed earlier also lowered my anxiety. Going to bed at midnight meat that if I didn’t fall asleep as soon as I got in bed, I was already falling below the necessary amount of time I needed to rest, feel good the next day, burn fat, etc. By going to bed early, there was no rush to fall asleep. Basically I just took away all the stimuli (and excess energy from having a full stomach) until my brain got bored and simply shut down. Another thing I did is I never nap for more than 15 min during the day, and I never use my bed for anything but sleeping. I don’t want my mind or body to associate the bed with anything but sleeping. I never use my phone in bed and I also use the night mode and have the screen brightness go down after 6pm to start the wind down process. Doing all these things together means I pretty much pass out as soon as I hit the pillow every night.

BONUS TIP: Monitor your weight (and waist size) daily

While this point does put us past the 5 points I mentioned earlier, I thought it was too important to skip, so I wanted to mention it anyway. Keep in mind that both losing weight (and gaining weight!) are slow and gradual processes. That means you don’t see a change every day. If you expect to, you are only going to be disappointed. The place to see the change is when you step on the scale or you measure your waist. (The reason the former is important is because muscle is way heavier than fat and if you are exercising a lot, you may not see a weight loss at all- on the contrary, you may gain! BUT you’ll see the difference in your waist size.) Conversely, if you aren’t careful it’s easy for cheat meals to become more and more frequent. Stepping on the scale every day ensures that for better or worse you can see your successes (and failures) every day even if you can’t see it in the mirror. It also allows you to figure out how much you can intake, and the kinds of things you can get away with eating, and how much you need to compensate to make up for cheat days, bad sleep days or whatever else.

If I can give any last advice, be strict with yourself, but DON’T BE HARD ON YOURSELF. If you look at my own weight loss, I failed to keep it off 4 or 5 times, and even the loss this time was all ups and downs until I really locked in my system. That’s just how it goes.

Expect it. It’s a fight. Especially early on, you’ll have rough days; and sometimes you’ll win some, sometimes you’ll lose some. Don’t hate yourself for the loses. See them as lessons learned. Enjoy and celebrate the victories; and eventually, you’ll get there. 👍🏾 #weightloss #dietingin40s #achievinggoals #intermittentfasting #bodysculpting #losingweight #motivation #dailymotivation

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