The Psychology of Being Thin After You Were Fat

If you have ever dieted down from a fat state (fat, as in you had over 30% bodyfat, and very little fitness level to start with) then perhaps we are kindred spirits. This entry covers The Psychology of Being Thin After You Were Fat

I used to be fat.

Fat, as in a 36 inch waist, a bodyfat percentage around 30%, and a myriad of health problems. Quite honestly at my lowest point I was convinced that I was going to die of cancer or some other terrible disease because of my poor health. My self diagnosis should have been a wake up call.

My personal before and after photos

One day it hit me, hard. I had damaged my energy levels to such an extent, and had such a lack of energy and passion for doing anything in life that I had convinced myself I had developed a terminal illness.

WAKE UP CALL TIME: I lacked any sort of accountability, and instead of facing reality that my actions determined my terrible health I was ready to blame it on a terminal illness that I never had.

How Being Fat Has Shaped my Psyche and Outlook

In many ways, being fat and getting lean is similar to being once addicted to a drug. Let’s take meth for example. It is a good example if only because I get to use this awesome image from AMC's "Breaking Bad."

Just replace meth with a Filet-o-Fish with extra tartar sauce.

Now, I have thankfully always had the guidance and common sense to stay away from meth and other types of mind controlling chemicals. Addiction to a drug like meth is very much like addiction to food. When you are "on" you will find a way to get your food in, but when you kick the habit, you are reminded of how you never want to be ever again.

Simply put, I live the majority of my life with the fear of getting fat once again, and will do anything short of the extreme to fight the urge to overeat, and gain the fat back that I sacrificed an entire year of my life to strip off.  Just like the junkie who is now clean spends his time devoted to finding ways to stay clean and not go back to their old ways.

My daily drive has become a world furthering myself professionally, eating healthy, training hard in the gym and helping write about it for everyone on this website.

All the while, I am of course buried in an avalanche of ads for food and new products that I know are probably amazing to eat. And eat. And eat some more of!

Me, on a "cheat day."

When I decided to try and Add Muscle, My Brain Exploded!

Over and over the fat guy tells himself that he has a goal. What was your goal? My goal was around a 10% bodyfat.

Setting goals is always important. Without a destination you will never stay on track and provide yourself the ability to correct things if you are going off course.

My goals were simple:

  1. Obtain somewhere around 10% bodyfat. Even if it meant losing muscle mass in the process, get there by any means.
  2. Bulk (add muscle) when at 10% until I was back up to a point where I was not comfortable with my body and then cut (diet) down to 10%, and repeat the cycle.

Somewhere along the line, according to a bodyfat gizmo and also a caliper reading I managed to hit around 10.25% bodyfat, which means that the long wait was over and I would be able to now build all that muscle I always wanted, and look like a comic book superhero. Excellent, right?

The problem is, self image always comes into play, and you end up instead realizing that after a year of eating less than you need, you are now required to increase food intake.

IN SHORT: the reality of intentionally eating more than you should hits you, and although you love food, several factors come into play psychologically…

Hard Work WILL Pay off, it is Always Worth it

Overall it took me several weeks, and a massive life change to come to terms with myself. I always had the ability to take accountability, but I decided it was easier to look to other reasons for my poor health and fitness level.

I was fat, but my fat was a side effect. A side effect of my “drug” of choice, that drug being food. Did my addiction still exist? Of course. Would I forever be locked into and attached emotionally to food for the rest of my life? Possibly, however the prospect of getting fat was seriously going to impede my ability to hit the goals I had set for myself.

My new goals were muscle gain, a new physique, and amazing body that would be functionally strong. To live a healthy life and have the physique to match that of a person who takes amazing care of himself. My reasons were sound and for the first time in my life I decided that I had at least regained some control over things.

IT IS A SIDE EFFECT: My fat was a side effect of my “drug” of choice. The food that I turned to, the poor choices I made for myself, and the resulting terrible outlook on life I once had.

Sometime's it is Still a Struggle

I would be lying if I said that things were simple. That all I do is eat whatever I want and enjoy the "good life."

The truth is that I struggle with it at times. Fat is going to come and go in my life. I will need to endure in order to press forward. Tracking calories for years helps me to be able to control my own fitness level and body type. Learning that if I workout super hard I can "earn" my junk food and enjoy life is a much better mindset to have than an out of control, no holds barred experience that I lived before.

Somewhere in there, I try to forget that at one time there lurked an underachieving nerd (now I am a fit nerd!) who chose to blame genetics, environment and everything else on his situation.

Coming to Realize the Truth, Putting Together the Pieces

If you are a former fat person, always come to terms with the fact that if you wish to gain weight, and do so in a reasonable time frame, some fat gain will occur.

Complicated diets are fine, and there of course ways through intermittent fasting to minimize your fat you do gain. You will need to as the saying goes "crack a few eggs" to bake the worlds best cake. You can indeed come to terms in your own mind that you will fluctuate weight, fat levels and body type as time goes on, but in the end your journey will be worth it if choose to go all in a really embrace a great fitness regimen.

I love intermittent fasting, it is what helps me to maintain excellent health levels while I enjoy an active lifestyle where I am not stuck in a gym every single day of the week.

I would advocate any program that has people eating well, lifting heavy things, or doing any sort of physical exercise that they love.

Remember that you became fat for a few reasons:

  1. A lack of knowledge.

You ate poorly, and had no idea why you should not have eaten ten slices of pizza aside from “its fattening.”

  1. A complete lack of goals.

If you lack reason or a goal then randomly do whatever, whenever, for no real REASON then expect terrible results.

  1. A lack of reasons to turn the extra calories into anything but fat.

A friend pointed this out to me but it’s so basic. We workout and use the extra calories for lean muscle, however couch loving folks turn all that excess purely into fat.

So with all this in mind, commit yourself and put your head down and run towards your goals.

Keep a log, keep accountability and keep your faith.


There are a few places to get some great inspiration and backup.
Lyle McDonald's Body Recomposition Leangains Community

Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

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