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While I loved playing Rugby as a job, I always looked forward to the holidays and the chance to relax.
But when they finally rolled around, I was never able to fully enjoy myself as I always had two words on my mind… “Fat Club”.
A club that I was a regular member of.
Fat Club (now called Sumo Club) is for players who fail to meet their skin-fold targets (fat levels) when returning from holidays, and are punished with extra fitness and chores, during what is an already physically gruelling preseason.
And it sucked.
But it did help me face up to the fact that I had an eating problem, and I was never alone as I always had plenty of my fellow front rowers keeping me company.
I would train really hard and get in shape, all for it to be undone once the season ended, and that was a cycle that continue over and over, until I discovered ‘tracking what I ate’.
Tracking my food has changed my life, and there’s just no other way to put it, as it helped me to find balance with food, and I now have a stress-free relationship with what I eat.
The physical benefits of losing weight are well known, but what it’s done for my mental health is incredible and I think these benefits aren’t talked about enough.
I feel like I have my whole brain back, as a big part of it was always being wasted stressing about what I could or couldn’t eat. My confidence and sense of self worth are at all-time highs, and I believe it’s from finally shredding my unwanted weight and doing so in a sustainable way.
I feel great and have more energy than ever before. Energy I use to exercise, keep up with my 3 kids and strive to do great work. I’m more optimistic about my future, and I no longer catastrophize or waste energy beating myself up for eating too much or for having a treat.
All the negative self talk has disappeared and I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to helping others feel the same.
Firstly, I’m not saying anyone has to lose weight, and I’m certainly not saying people need to weigh their food, track their macros and count every calorie in order to do so.
But if you want to lose a bit of weight easily, you just need to be consistently mindful when you’re eating, and the easiest way I know to do that is to track what you eat.
Tracking helped me to become more aware of what I ate and showed me when I’ve eaten too much (or not enough) as I was blissfully unaware prior to tracking.
You don’t need to track everyday and you certainly don’t need to get it perfect, as just eating normally while estimating portions will help you to lose weight in a sustainable way, even if you only track a few days per week.
Just the process of being mindful (without the stress of trying to get it perfect), helps me make better choices then if I was eating on autopilot.
(If you want to do bodybuilding or fitness modelling, then scrap everything I just said as you probably need to get hardcore about your tracking).
I regularly eat the foods I love, I feel good about myself, and have all the energy I need for everything that’s happening in my life, and I think 28-Day challenges and fad diets only set people up for failure.
What happens when the challenge is over?
Or when you can’t keep up with a diet that restricts you from having the foods you love?
And have you noticed that all of weight loss programs and health challenges are all between 28 days and 12 weeks?
I believe that’s because they’re unrealistic and require too much change, which then makes people feel shit about themselves when they’re unable to keep it up, and fall back into old habits once the challenge is over.
But then the fitness industry can sell you another program 6 months later when you feel like giving it another crack.
And after all, who doesn’t love a repeat customer?
I’m not sure if they’ve done this intentionally, but I think the fitness industry has a lot to answer for as they’ve exacerbated a vicious cycle of human nature.
A cycle I was stuck in and one that would start when I’d eat without thinking, which led me to over eat and put on weight.
Then when I’d feel fat, I’d try too hard to lose the weight and become obsessive about my food and work out heaps.
And because I was so desperate to change, I would set an unrealistic weight goal and time to achieve it by, making me a prime customer for any “lose weight quick” scheme.
Of which would all end in ruin as I would run out of energy from not eating enough fuel to keep up with my training, which would then cause me to give up, feel shit, and put all the weight back on.
Looking back, I believe this cycle was leaving me vulnerable to having parts of the fitness industry pray on my insecurities, and believed that I was lazy for not being able to reach an unrealistic expectation of what a “healthy life” looks like.
But after tracking, I’ve realised there’s nothing wrong with me (just my approach), and I’ve never had an issue with my weight again.
I also enjoy my food more than ever, and I’ve designed Alfred to help anyone who feels stuck like I was.
Last week I wrote about how I escaped from the Brumbies Fat Club, and how I think losing some weight is as simple as being “consistently mindful when eating”.
Now I understand people may find my advice unhelpful, similar to the “just eat less than you burn” mantra that gets thrown around.
I also understand that by explaining my answer to a complex and personal problem in a simple way can come across as ignorant and over-simplistic, in the same way “Score more points than the opposition” is all you need to focus on in order to win a game of Rugby.
While both statements are technically true, their not very helpful as the “eat less than you burn” advice made me feel stupid when I failed to lose weight, despite taking it on board.
Until tracking, I didn’t know how to achieve that in sustainable way, and while I do stand by saying that weight-loss can be simple, I never said it was easy.
Nowadays it’s so easy to eat too much, and I imagine it was very hard to get fat 200 years ago.
Inventions like UberEats, takeaway and convenience stores all stocked with yummy (but cheap and highly processed) foods means we now have easy access to an unlimited supply of food.