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How to Lose Weight
Your 2022 New Year's Resolution; why it's already on track to fall apart, and how to better yourself the right way.
My arms and hands shake. I tug down my bandana — crusted with ice and frozen into a solid slab — and blow hot air into the vents on the back of my gloves.
The wind bites at my cheeks, burning my skin. It’s bitterly cold, but as long as the snow is still falling, I could not care less.
The sky is gray and overcast. A few stray flakes are still falling, and a bigger storm is on the way. The long, winding groomers of Copper Mountain are blanketed with more than a few inches of fresh powder; the best showing of the season to date.
No matter how chilly the air get’s, you won’t catch me complaining today.
I just cross my fingers, and pray the chairlift doesn’t get stuck.
The chair zips into the wheelhouse. Before the detachable lift can slow down, I shove off the seat and glide away from the unloading zone.
I plunk myself down onto a snowdrift, and start ratcheting down my bindings. About halfway through strapping my feet in, I realize something: I’m not out of breath.
I’ve never been an unhealthy weight, at least not medically speaking. But for the past season-and-a-half, I’ve found myself short of breath when adjusting my bindings.
It’s an awkward position to be in for sure: sitting down, hunched over, knees pressed against my chest in bulky ski gear. Surely that would give anyone a hard time.
That, plus the high altitude on the summits.
And the cold air.
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Excuses like these allowed me to creep up from my athletic physique in high school, all the way to a few french fries shy of overweight.
I had ignored the snug sensation of my t-shirts around my gut, just as I’d written off my home scale.
“It’s probably broken,” I told myself. “I can’t have gained that much.
Carrying My Weight
The changes became undeniable when I began lead climbing. Anything greater than a weight difference of 50 pounds between belay partners requires different techniques and more care. They also tend to result in longer falls for the heavier climber, and more jarring catches for the lighter one.
I planned to lose ten pounds for convenience, for safety. Not because I needed to. Certainly not because I’d fallen out of shape.
I decided to start simple: replace one meal per day with a healthier one. I began meal prepping, eating grilled chicken with salad for lunch each day.
Over the course of about a month, I lost a couple pounds through this change alone.
My real progress came when someone gifted me a shirt and bought me a large, instead of a medium — the size I’d worn my entire adult life — and it fit perfectly.
In that moment, I held the shirt in my hands and felt every excuse I’d made over the last five years come crashing on top of me. Lies, half-truths and nonsense I’d used to justify enormous portions, gratuitous snacking, and sloth.
A (Relatively) Quick Fix
After my revelation, I immediately signed up for Weight Watchers. Through the program I dispelled quite a few misconceptions about the things I thought were healthy.
I learned how to eat well by making real meals, buying real foods, and cutting out the synthetic, artificial, and junk.
I started losing about three pounds per week. Before I knew it, I shed 15 percent of my body weight. I have more energy, breathe easier, and stand taller.. I jumped two bouldering grades, unencumbered by excess fat. I feel more nimble on my snowboard and bike.
I won’t sit here and pretend it was easy or quick. Big lifestyle changes are hard to make, and tougher to maintain. But the most time consuming part of the entire process was the denial.
In hindsight it’s plain to see how deluded I was. I’ve had to cinch down the straps on my ski pants, radio vest, all my backpacks, my climbing harness, and my chalk bag. Hell, I’m even wearing my normal belt a notch tighter.
With each little adjustment, I feel proud of the progress I’ve made. But also profoundly irritated with myself over one infuriating fact.
If I’d Been Honest With Myself, I could’ve Felt Better Sooner
New Year’s Resolutions are stupid. Not because they usually fail. Not because they seem weirdly obligatory. But because they encourage us to delay improvements that could bring us real and meaningful fulfillment.
Whatever you’ve resolved to try and improve: don’t wait until until January 1st to begin. Don’t even wait another minute. Start now. You’ll be able to enjoy your progress and the results of your hard work, that much faster.