A Gay Man’s Guide To Losing Body Fat

ancient grains pasta, baby spinach and feta cheese with olive oil

It seems like every couple of years there’s a new diet craze and everyone jumps on board. “Lose 10 pounds in ten days!” the headlines will read as everyone is walking around the office with little shakers in their hands, little satchels of nuts or perhaps some pills they have to swallow 5 times a day. In several weeks you’ll see people actually losing the weight and you may be tempted to join all the fun and hype. But you feel much better when you see the same people gaining the weight back and you say to yourself “yeah, I knew it wasn’t going to work.”

Losing weight has always been a hot item, since I was a kid I remember my mom doing all these fad diets, and one in particular I still remember because of the level of confidence she had while explaining it. “It’s all about the carbohydrates…” she would boast. “I don’t count calories, I count carbohydrates (the word carbs wasn’t used back then).” And she did lose a ton of weight and then she’d gain it back and she’d lose it again…..you know the story. Always doing the low carbohydrate thing.

Gay men can be particularly shallow at times, often judging people first on appearances and then getting to know the real person later. Much later. I like to think that I’m not included in this negative generalization, but sometimes I catch myself doing that very thing without even realizing it. Of course there’s a certain percentage of our community that’s actually openly shallow and enjoys body shaming those around them in an effort to conceal their own insecurities. But that’s another post. To summarize we tend to be self conscious at times regarding excess body fat, whether it be from a positive or negative source.

So how do we really lose the weight? It’s simple really. It always has been. Burn more calories than you take in. That’s it. If your body doesn’t have enough energy it turns to reserves. And that’s fat. Well for the most part, because it will also burn lean muscle because it’s an easier source of energy. Here’s the deal. Your body is always trying to reach homeostasis. That’s the state of perfect balance for those that have never heard the term.

The problem is we as Americans don’t like this concept. We don’t like the extra fat our body wants to have around the midsection to keep babies safe and to prepare for the hard winter. No, we want six pack abs which most of bodies consider starvation. We want tons of muscle packed on our frame and our bodies think “Hmmmmm I don’t seem to need this anymore, let’s make food out of it.” In fact we’re constantly fighting our bodies desire to be like it used to be when we hunted in open fields, chasing our dinners.

The other problem we face, as my mom already knew, is sugar. I can’t emphasize this enough. We are surrounded by it and it’s high in calories so it makes an excellent energy source. But when we have too much of it our bodies tuck it away for safe keeping and we know that as love handles, beer bellies and the list goes on. Almost everything we eat as Americans has sugar in it, in one form or another and there are lots of different types. Sucrose, glucose, maltose, galactose (brings me back to Dr. James Henderson’s biology class in college) and tons more. The problem is we love it so much for the same reasons our bodies want to store fat. It’s a quick source of energy and our bodies are still operating in the stone age but living in modern times. Technology has enabled us to evolve incredibly fast while leaving our primal metabolisms behind. Our bodies aren’t designed to have this abundance of food all the time, they are designed to handle harsh winters, famine and sometimes a nomadic existence, moving with the food source.

Since our physiological past is haunting us we really need to step up to the plate when it comes to eating right. Dieting is a completely temporary and possible harmful way of losing weight. You need to change your eating habits permanently and in a way that you’ll still enjoy what you’re consuming. And since Americans don’t understand the concept of moderation, this makes it even more difficult.

Here are some tips that have helped me stay fit over the years. Granted I have my periods of weight gain like anyone, because I live in 2017 and our lifestyle enables fat gain, not weight loss. So I get it, there’s not enough time and it’s tough. But it’s either this or a hospital emergency room.

  • Keep moving. You have to keep the body moving, the blood flowing and that will require fuel. Walk around the block, the parking lot, anything you can do to burn more calories. There’s a train station next to my condo and there’s gentlemen walking in circles around the parking lot every evening. He’s listening to music, talking on the phone, but he’s doing it. You can too.
  • Watch your sugar intake. This isn’t rocket science. A teaspoon of cane sugar weighs four grams. Now while the jury is out on how your body responds to different types of sugar, this is a really good visual guide. Would you allow someone to hand you 9 teaspoons of sugar and then consume it? That sounds gross right? Well that’s how much sugar is in a 12 oz can of Coke. Use this as a guide. Divide all the sugar content listings by four to get how many teaspoons.
  • Read labels. Know what you’re consuming and learn to recognize good carbs and bad carbs. Manufacturers are now required to list “Sugars” on their labels. Those are some of the worse carbs and will give you a better indication of what you’re eating. Good carbs come from veggies, fruits, nuts and whole grains.
  • Eat more good carbs. As I just stated, good carbs come in the form of veggies, fruits, nuts and whole grains. Your body is an expert at breaking these down and as a result they’re great at handling cravings.
  • Eat more healthy fats. Fish, eggs, avocados, nuts… think Omega 3 fatty acids. Take a good quality Omega three supplement if you need to.
  • Eat grass fed and free range meats when possible. Grass fed beef has more healthy fats than stressed out grain fed animals confined in a pen. You produce enough bio-toxins with your stressful lifestyle, why would you consume another stressed out animal’s toxins as well? Only eat happy and healthy animals. “Happy Egg” brand eggs are incredibly delicious and available at most supermarkets. They may be more expensive but those hens have acres and acres of land to run around and bask in the sunshine.
  • Burn more calories than you take in. Remember surplus calories are stored as fat. You don’t want a surplus, so think of yourself as our nation’s budget. It’s doesn’t have a surplus and either should you (calories wise).
  • Eat more often. Yeah yeah, you’ve heard this a dozen times. I wonder why? Because it works. Eat around six small meals a day instead of three big ones. The simple act of breaking down your food also requires calories. So if you’re stomach is constantly cranking away with healthy food, then you’ll burn more calories.
  • Stick with it. Remember this isn’t a diet, it’s a new way of life! Celebrate this new beginning with a party and tell friends on social media that you’re starting a new life. Ask them to join you and maybe have parties where you discuss yummy recipes, etc.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself a break now and then, have that slice of cheesecake but be warned: once you start breaking away from sugar you will crave it less and less and eating it won’t seem so appealing. It’s an addiction and eventually you’ll come out of rehab. It’s all about mindset and learning to identify happiness with feeling good and not eating bad.

Just remember you’re not alone and we’re all struggling with this issue. Don’t let the few exceptions of skinny ass people get you down. You have no idea what’s going inside their body or their lives that keeps them thin. They might have a bad crack habit or a ginormous worm living inside them that they went to Europe to have it implanted. Everyone has different metabolisms and genetics plays a huge role. Listen to your body and understand what it wants. You’ll be happy you did. 🙂

feeling fit and trim, not an everyday occurrence

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