How Strength Training Transformed Mario
Believe it or not, both pictures are me. The photo on the left was taken in September 2005 and the photo on the right was taken in August 2012. In those pictures, I weighed 230 lbs. and 160 lbs, respectively. Nothing specifically motivated me to lose weight. I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had always been an exercise enthusiast, but my regimen wasn’t focused and years of yo-yo of dieting just made me bigger and bigger. I was ready for a change.
So I put a plan together: Not a diet, but a change of life. I took up Olympic weightlifting, found a coach who put my first workout plan together for me and I created a long-range plan to change my eating habits. Eight years later, and 70 lbs lighter, I competed in the World Masters Weightlifting Championship. When I weighed-in for the meet I was 20 lbs lighter than I weighed as a senior in high school! .
Have you ever looked at how fit people (notice that I don’t use “thin”) don’t seem to struggle with their weight and diet? Well, it’s because they don’t diet. Their lives are made up of healthy habits. This is their normal way of life – and I promise you that they’re not born with those habits. They developed them over time.
Athletes say that they don’t exercise and diet, they train and eat. Think about that, because it’s a big distinction. They do not deprive themselves of food to lose weight and make themselves miserable. That’s not conducive to successful performance. Instead, they learn to fuel their bodies with their bodies’ needs and developing this thought process is critical for long-term change. Considering healthy eating habits as something that you do for yourself (rather than as misery you have to endure) is motivating. Over time, becoming accustomed to quality fuel, the body craves healthier choices and one’s thought process about food evolves.
Now, that’s not to say that you must become a competitive athlete and should never have sweets. Nothing extreme is healthy and you have to enjoy the food you eat. You can’t make a life-long change to something that makes you miserable. The key is understanding the difference between good, quality food and processed food, which are really food-products (read: junk). This is where understanding nutrition labels becomes critical.
Quality food is delicious and satisfying and is probably very likely similar to what your grandparents ate. It certainly is in my case. Part of my family came from the Mediterranean area. You’ve probably heard about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, which really isn’t a “diet” but a lifestyle, which evolved from whatever they could grow, catch, and hunt (and ferment!). It’s simple but delicious and has all the nutrients the body needs. The cuisines of many cultures share the same characteristics. I guess there really is no school like the old school.