Overcoming obstacles is tough -- but doableBy Su Reid-St. John, for Sharecare
I've gained and lost a lot of pounds in my life, but I've got nothing on fitness trainer Drew Manning. In his new book Fit2Fat2Fit, he tells how, in a single year, he gained the weight equivalent of a good-sized Labrador retriever (75 pounds, to be exact) to learn what it was like to be overweight so he could better identify with his heavy clients -- then lost it all again. (Don't try this at home.)
Gaining the weight, which Manning did in just six months, was easy. All he had to do was eat junk food and fast food, drink soda, and trade his gym membership for a spot on the couch. No surprises there. But losing the weight?
Manning thought that part would be simple, too. His starting view, he admitted, was that his overweight clients simply weren't trying hard enough. But he ended up encountering bumps along the way that challenged even his iron will. Here are some of them - along with expert advice on how anyone trying to lose weight can hike their odds of overcoming them.
1. That sugar-fat addiction
Though he previously loved healthy foods, Manning became well acquainted with cookies and French fries during the "fit2fat" portion of his journey -- and it was tough to let them go. That's not surprising, since the kind of "white" carbs found in junk food affect the part of the brain that produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control how we experience pleasure, making these foods downright addictive. "Once these areas of the brain are stimulated, you'll keep on wanting more of the addictive substance, whether it's alcohol, drugs or carbs," says Mehmet Oz, MD.
2. Gym aversion syndrome
When the time came to reunite with the gym, formerly buff Manning felt self-conscious about having to resort to newbie moves like knees-down push-ups and assisted pull-ups. He's far from alone. "Feeling self-conscious about your physical appearance is quite normal when first starting out on an exercise program," says Sharecare Elite Trainer Darrell Chichester. He points out that even the fittest, most toned gym rats probably felt the same way when they first started out. "When they see you, they see somebody who has bravely taken those difficult first steps and are hoping for your success," he says.
3. Feeling the burn--too much
Manning was sore for days after his first few workouts as his previously neglected muscles were working hard to keep up and get stronger. First rule of thumb when your own muscles are singing a similar tune: "Rest," says Sharecare fitness expert Todd Townes. "Always pay attention to your body. It will tell you when it needs a break and when it is ready to push forward."
4. Saying goodbye to soda
Manning suffered from headaches after kicking his soda habit. That's not surprising, given that a 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew (his preferred drink) has nearly as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. But kicking the soda habit is key. Even diet soda is bad for your waistline.
What it all comes down to is this: If you're having a tough time losing weight, don't blame yourself. It's hard work! But as Manning can now attest, if you're committed to shedding the pounds, it will happen.
Su Reid-St. John is Sharecare's Senior Fitness Editor. She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband, daughter, and cat, and can be found inline skating, Nordic walking, cycling, doing yoga, and strength training (TRX is her new obsession) whenever time allows.
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