Keep in mind: I’m a sample size of one person. My fitness & body composition goals are individual, are different from yours, and are subject to change.
How did I get started? I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been extremely overweight, but for most of my life I’ve felt I had more fat on me than I’d like and was also extremely weak. I cycled between overfat (up to 150 lb & well over 30% bodyfat) to what I now consider skinny fat (126lb & still ~30% bodyfat) for well over ten years.
Then in the summer of 2015, I decided to stop searching for silver bullets, stop feeling sorry for myself, and start approaching the process logically like the engineer I am.
The resolution? Consistently track my program, collect self-telemetry, then debug, update the program, and iterate. I reasoned that if I can just track something consistently, I can at least:
1) Collect enough data to aid in troubleshooting.
2) Have more than one way of measuring progress, so that if one number stalls/regresses, I have backup data to tell me whether or not I’m still on the right track or need to change things up.
It started with just tracking weight and calories (for #1 above), then tape measurements (for #2 above), then macros (back to #1), then body fat percentage (#2), which naturally led to strength training as I tried to develop the lean mass to make that percentage more awesome. +More parameters as I see fit (get it? get it??).
So what is my point? Before I started tracking, I had unrealistic expectations of what fat loss looked like, and I figured I can’t be the only one. Have you ever seen dramatic before & after photos of fat loss miracle cases and thought “Wow, they make it look so easy?”
On the other extreme, how about any fitspo media championing severe versions of the No-Pain-No-Gain philosophy, driving home the point that reward only comes after brutal punishment? Now I have nothing against these either. They’re mostly (but not always) well-intentioned, and they can work for motivation in the short term.
But we could use some realism too. To be frank, from my experience it’s not about going all out at max difficulty for a brief period of time and getting dramatic results. It’s about consistently doing a handful amount of progressively harder work for a long time – subject to individual goals of course.
So I’m documenting the details of my experience, including all the stalls, all the setbacks, all the data that don’t always seem to make any sense (and it happens, a lot). Perhaps people will find it useful or relatable.
I started strength training and paying more attention to my macros in late 2015. Notice how even as I was (intentionally) gaining weight back in late 2016 in order to build more muscle, my waist did not revert to its old measurements! That means at the same weight, I was almost certainly at a lower body fat %.