How to go from overweight to awesome

We all know that while fat loss is simple, it isn’t really easy. Ok screw that. Fat loss is hard and it sucks big time! Who likes to eat under control? Be it controlling quantity or quality, it sucks. As animals we are naturally gluttonous and the act of watching what you eat truly sucks. As humans we are naturally greedy and the thought of ‘having your cake and eating it too’ is very appealing as much as the reality of ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ is appalling. Nothing profound here. We all know this. And there is an entire industry that lives off of our tendency to get fat, greed to not make any compromises and fear to deal with reality. As a result, we use fat loss strategies that help us reach our goals quickly without having to really hate life.

But these strategies that are aimed at fast results don’t apply to everyone and things are different for the bigger guys and gals among us.


I really don’t want to get into the humane and morality side of the argument so I’ll throw in some disclaimers up front.

– This is applicable to anyone who is overweight by 20 kg (45 lb) or more.

– I realize that you may have hormonal imbalances or a genetic disposition to be overweight/obese, but that doesn’t change anything that I’m going to say here.

– I’m in no way being mean. I’m just not being artificially nice (read: fake) like most people you meet possibly are. So if you can’t deal with reality delivered in a no-BS tone, maybe this isn’t for you.

– Be sure to talk to your doctor before making any of these changes ‘cos your health is going to get so much better and he/she may mistakenly take credit for it.

But you have to be nice, Raj!

Ask any of my clients and they’ll tell you I’m full of love… tough love, but love nevertheless. Make no mistake – I will do anything and everything possible to help you reach your goals, but never do anything that even closely resembles sugar coating and hand holding. Why? ‘Cos you’re not stupid! Like one would expect you to take action if you’re running out of money to feed your family, I expect you to take action if your health is deteriorating rapidly. You need reality and I never think twice before giving it to you.

But the truth is – I’m nice. Very very nice actually. I care about you enough to not let you fail. And I do that by being mean real. Don’t get it?

Listen. According to you success is making that number on the scale drop. According to me, success is making you aware of your true situation, feeding you with knowledge about fitness, nutrition and health, moving your thoughts from ‘Where is that bloody magic pill?!’ to ‘This needs work but I know can do this!’ and, finally, pointing you towards the path to sustainable long term health and, hence, happiness.

But you have to be ready to work, buddy!

As far as I’m concerned, there are two types of people – the type that does what it takes to reach their goals and the type that does whatever it takes to reach their goals.

If you are obese or grossly overweight, you better learn to become the type that does whatever it takes to reach your goals! Effort is not what you think it is and don’t ever come to me saying ‘I put in all the effort but I see no results!‘ until you have understood and done everything that is mentioned below.

Your don’t want a diet. You don’t want fat loss. Diets and fat loss are for people who have a couple of kilos to shed. You want lifestyle changes. You want a transformation. A transformation is like going to school or getting a degree. It is in many ways a graduation! It requires time, consistency and effort. Working out well one day or eating one good meal is like doing well in one class test. It is worth a pat on the back but not much more. You need to be able to consistently do what(ever) is required for however long it is required for you to get to where you want to be.

It isn’t going to be quick. I took you decades to get to where you are today. It will take you a significant amount of time to get to where you call yourself fit. Understand that and get ready for the ride. And don’t forget to pack a few thousand gallons of patience ‘cos you’re going to need all of it and possibly more.

It isn’t going to be easy. You are going to be unhappy with either what you eat or how much you eat or both. Lunch will not be ‘Living life king size’ anymore. Choco-whatever-nonsense won’t feature in your life other than in the line “No choco-whatever-nonsense!”. But you had your fun all these years. Don’t try and make it easy. Harden the f*ck up and grab the bull by the horns!

You need to eat right... today, next week, next month, next year and for the rest of your life.

– Stop constantly telling yourself that you’re making sacrifices or compromises. This is your new way of life… the healthy way of life. Don’t resist it. Embrace it. This is the right thing to do!

– Eat real food! Base 90% of your diet on vegetables, meat, eggs, fruits, lentils and dairy. Supplement with non-allergenic starches (potatoes, rice etc.) and stay the hell away from potentially allergenic foods! Special mention – stay away from wheat and any gluten containing foods. Move from vegetable and seed oils to ghee, coconut oil, lard and butter. But, irrespective of what oil you use, reduce oil consumption to ~ 2 tbls per day. Read more about why and how to eat real food here.

– Keep the math out of it. Food isn’t just about calories. Eat below appetite. But don’t starve yourself and don’t eat to fullness.

– Have a legit food log. Write down anything and everything that goes into your mouth. This will help you truly understand how much (and what) you actually eat.

– Learn to cook! Understand recipes and find multiple ways to cook per these guidelines. ‘Boring food’ is a phrase that doesn’t exist. It generally means ‘I don’t know how to cook’ but in my world it means ‘I lack commitment’.

You need to stay active… today, next week, next month, next year and for the rest of your life.

– Move! This could mean regular walks or playing a sport or even zumba classes for all care. But find a place to move. Find a way to move. Find a reason to move.

– Add some form of resistance training. Push, pull, displace and carry some weight 2-3 days a week. No other details matter right now.

– Mobility is a need. A lot of overweight/obese people lose plenty of weight and find themselves (relatively) skinny but can’t seem to be able to move through their full/optimal range of motion which limits them majorly in performing optimally in life. If focused mobility work is not an option, incorporate functional mobility drills into your daily life (more on this later).

You need to get your sleep… enough of it.

– I understand you’re busy. I understand you have a taxing job. I understand you want to stay up late and watch some TV. But do you understand that the lack of sleep is messing with your health? Do you understand that the lack of sleep is stopping you from progressing towards your goals?

– Chronic sleep deprivation (i.e. sleeping a little less over years) causes weight gain, irritability, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, increased stress hormone levels, compromises immunity etc! Read more about the importance of sleep here at The Harvard Medical School and here at Chris Kresser’s 9 Steps of Perfect Health.

You need to reduce stress.

– You need to not be obsessive.Worrying constantly about numbers on the scale or whining about giving up that dessert or complaining about having to make changes, isn’t doing you any favors except making you chronically more stressed.

– Chronically elevated stress levels (due to lifestyle or work or obsession) stalls fat loss without doubt and puts you at a much higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, memory impairment and more. Read what the awesome Robert Sapolsky says about stress and it’s physiological effects and to understand more about how stress destroys you and how to keep it at bay, knock here at Chris Kresser’s door once again.

Stay sane. Stay strong. Before you say ‘No I can’t eat that cake’ with puppy dog eyes that are ready to burst into tears, say no to pity and say ‘f*ck no’ to self-pity! The act of saying no to that cake is NOT a sacrifice. It is NOT a compromise. It is an act of awesomeness that is slowly but steadily helping you walk towards a goal that is larger than life!

The world is a mean messed up place filled with tasty junk food, cushy chairs and sedentary solace! I’m not complaining. I made it that. You made it that. And it is awesome the way it is as long as you’re not a total idiot. I’m just saying you need to be aware of this and be prepared to deal with every obstacle life throws at you.

I understand this is a lot of work. Definitely more work than any of your friends or colleagues or relatives would ever need to put in. But I want you to understand that you have a lot more to gain out of this!

Now get ready ‘cos this is a challenge and this absolutely calls for a fight! But whats life without a challenge? Whats life without a fight?

Peace out!


15 responses to “How to go from overweight to awesome

  1. VK January 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Nice article Raj. BTW, whats your thought on Quinoa? Is it real enough, or should we stay away from it as much as wheat and other grains? That seems to be the latest fad here…

    • Emilie January 30, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      If I may add something, Quinoa is not a grain. It’s actually a member of the grass family and related to vegetables such as spinach and beets. So as far as I’ve understood, quinoa is perfectly ok to eat.
      But I would also like to know your opinion of it Raj 🙂

      • RG January 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm

        VK & Emilie,
        Though Quinoa is not a grain, many anti-nutrients like saponins, phytic acid, trypsin inhibitors and tannins, have been found in Quinoa. There are ways to reduce anti-nutrient content (like in legumes) but then my beef with grains and gran-like Quinoa has always been that they dont have much to offer other than starch i.e. no micros, very little protein, no good fats etc. So why build your diet around them? Build your diet around real food (meat, veggies etc) and supplement with grains. Read this for more –

  2. Mitchell - Home Fitness Manual January 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Raj, you’re right, it can totally suck when someone is eating on a regimen. However, with the right meal plan and the right cardio routines, these are the true secrets for fat loss when compared to the results of fad dieting. The thing I have noticed is once you build a rhythm in a meal plan based around veggies and protein there seems to be less cravings for junk foods. Also, a cheat meal/day can help manage the occasional need for a treat.


  3. Mathangi Jeypal January 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    As always with a blog of yours – new way of seeing the same thing… whirrrrr…clickk!!!

  4. Mathangi Jeypal January 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    That is my mind working…:)

  5. Arunima January 30, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Raj, Why do you recommend <= 2TBSP of oil ? If I understand correctly( from your posts and others ) fat in food doesnt make us fat if we restrict carbs. That fat is supposed to be our source of energy. So what am I not understanding here ?
    Also you seem to be having lentils and recommending it too – do you soak or do some pre processing to them to reduce their negative impacts. Thanks !

    • RG February 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Fats dont make you fat but when you’re trying to lose weight (fat), its wise to eat less calories per bite. That is, its better to eat foods that arent dense in calories. Oils are extremely dense in calories and can be over-consumed very easily. Hence the recommendation.

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  10. Tharini February 25, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Hi Raj….wonderful words full of energy and every line speaks out to me. I love what you said here:

    “The act of saying no to that cake is NOT a sacrifice. It is NOT a compromise. It is an act of awesomeness that is slowly but steadily helping you walk towards a goal that is larger than life!”

    Shall be reading more of your other posts too. Thank you!

  11. Madhav March 20, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I am waiting for Quad to come to Bangalore.

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