The purpose of this blog is to attract and empower people like me, who have struggled for a lifetime with weight loss challenges and have felt “less than” healthy and “less than” a confident person as a result. The title is a portmanteau of the words “endomorph” and “metamorphic.” “Endomorph,” for those unfamiliar with the term, describes a particularly human body “style” or somatotype, specifically the type of person who easily gains fat, struggles to keep it off, and tend to have larger joints (think shoulders, hips, knees) than your average Joe. “Metamorphic” implies major physical transformation. But “endomorph” also literally means “inner shape,” which is strange isn’t it? It’s not like the person who came up with the term was thinking “fat people who wish to be fit struggle with their internal demons every fucking day,” did they? But we certainly do.
The endomorph in first-world countries surrounded by first-world foods and temptations finds itself naturally soft and weak. We tend to have high cortisol levels as a reaction to stress, and pack weight around the midsection or thighs. A “fat acceptance” movement exists to make people feel more comfortable, but if you’re a lazy fat person, face it, you’re not healthy.
Lazy skinny people aren’t healthy either, but it’s not a competition to outlive them, is it? It’s a competition to have the most fulfilling life for yourself that you possibly can. Screw worrying about fat acceptance or whether skinnyfat people are lucky or unhealthy on the inside or whatever you think about them. It’s fine to accept yourself for who you are, it’s a part of NOT being fat and unhealthy. But I think it’s “sub-optimal” to accept “sub-optimal” behavior from yourself, and if you accept the fact that you are fat with finality, like that’s who you are, then this is not the place for you.
A metamorphosis must be imposed by the brain on the body, to give the body what it truly needs to be healthy and happy. This process is what I call EndoMetaMorphic transformation, because it sounds cool and is inspiring to me. It occurred to me several days ago (now months), in a gym locker room, as this entire blog materialized in my mind. “You will write a book. But first, you must start a blog. It will be called Endometamorphosis.com. Oops, somebody already got that. It will be called EndoMetaMorphic.com, and it will be great.” I’ve got reams of material to share with you about my progress and how I keep myself motivated and keep finding new ways to identify progress when we think we’ve “plateaued” — this has involved so much research and effort and soul-searching and inner turmoil that I can call myself extremely fortunate to have emerged from it with a positive perspective instead of completely giving up, as I have “temporarily done for multiple years at a stretch” in the past.
You change your outside, from within. The brain exists to get the body what it wants. The body exists to get the brain what it wants. Which is first? Who wins? Neither wins. You are your mind, and your body. But without volition and will, you can’t achieve anything.
Your body protects your brain and with the brain’s help, selects and obtains food to fuel them both. Your brain makes decisions that can protect or damage your body. Which decisions will you make with your brain? How much better will your brain get at processing information and making decisions when you take care of your body? The answer won’t surprise you because you already know for a fact in your heart that anything you do for your physical health and well-being is going to benefit your mind, and anything you do that truly benefits your mind is going to translate into improved health for your body. Your body is full of organs and your brain is one of them. It’s not the most important, nor is your heart. In isolation they are all useless, and while it’s helpful to understand the purpose of all of our internal organs and processes, it’s most important to realize they all serve a singular purpose. That purpose is to live, and to feel good while doing it. It’s a total package, and in order for it to work for you, it has to work in concert, with a shared objective. Well-Being is the goal.
Many endomorphs struggle with emotional issues like depression and we know that “well-being” is a holy, holy, holy fucking grail. It’s so wonderful to wake up in the morning thinking “I own this day. It’s my day to do what I want with.” It doesn’t happen on its own. Sometimes it seems to come out of nowhere, but if you look closely, there’s a reason. Maybe it’s a sunny day. Maybe you got a great night’s sleep and worked out intensely the day before. Maybe you’ve been eating especially well, and just magically hit the right nutrient balance to keep your brain pleased without realizing it.
Even if you have to work that day and have profound and endless obligations, you must start each day grateful that you are alive. You must notice that you woke from your slumber into a world that gives you experiences and depth to explore. But well-being is truly a pain in the ass to hold on to, isn’t it? It seems like a treadmill, and the more obsessed you are with being well and feeling good, the harder you might find yourself working just to enjoy the act of being. There’s a time and a place for scrambling, and a time to relax and enjoy what you’ve achieved.
For now, let’s get back to physiology, but understand that I have spent years studying my own tumultuous mood and how it interrelates to others and I have a lot of insight to offer you.
A lot of people bicker about how significant somatotypes are or whether they are real, but if you’ve ever noticed that some people seem to eat whatever they want and don’t gain weight, and others struggle to lose weight no matter how much they restrict calories, you’ve had a glimpse into this dilemma. Somatotypes are not necessarily “all-or-nothing,” most people share characteristics from the three classic types:
- Ectomorph – “hard gainer,” has to eat a lot and make an effort to gain weight
- Mesomorph – “natural muscle gainer,” tends to be in good shape with little effort and packs on muscle rapidly when consuming more calories than “baseline”
- Endomorph – “natural fat gainer,” ultimately manifested in many individuals as metabolic syndrome.
Endomorphs often struggle with a lifetime of disappointment. We often find that it’s not all that difficult to lose a lot of weight within a few months, and to keep it off for perhaps a few months to a year. But the weight always creeps back, and it seems to intensify each time — it’s almost as if our body learns how to become “even fatter” next time around, as if it becomes more efficient at using smaller and smaller amounts of calories.
Because that’s exactly what’s happening. Endomorphs tend to naturally fall into the “I must restrict my calories as much as I can stand” mindset, and then fail to realize when the appropriate time comes to stop doing that. It certainly can work for a period of time, but then another phase is in order, and it’s not surrender. You must continually change and strive to get better and improve, there is no single formula that can be followed all the way to completion except for that, to know that you must always be finding a way to be better than you were yesterday.
We find it difficult to find a comfortable medium, to simply eat “enough calories” and in fact just might find it easier to restrict ourselves significantly when trying to lose weight, vs. just shaving off a few hundred calories a day or increasing activity. To eat “just the right amount” tends to involve eating “instinctively,” whenever we are hungry, and just enough. Try doing that all day and you’ll find yourself eating 4-6 times a day, easily. Is that a bad thing? It depends on what your goals are, and whether it’s easier for you to keep track of individual calories, carbs, and other macronutrients, or whether you’d prefer to give yourself a healthy assortment of choices, and to graze as necessary.
Endomorphs often live a life of social sadness, starting out as a naturally “fat kid” who only really begins to excessively indulge as the slings and arrows of being continually battered take their toll. They watch their good friends eat the same Twinkies and Pizza and so forth without packing on the weight, and many of those friends end up being “skinnyfat,” which is a topic for another post. The health detriments of being fat or skinnyfat take a long time to really catch up with us, but they do, and many signs of degeneration and aging are simply due to the fact that your body is far more sensitive to dietary and other physiological needs than it was during our prime phase of growth and development, before reaching the approximate age of 30.
But each slight to our physiology slowly adds up, and sooner or later we struggle not only to be naturally at a healthy weight, but we struggle in the fact of a potent, painful, but comforting food addiction.
I have a lot in store for you with this blog. I did not set out to write one. I have tried to get myself in a better physical place countless times, beginning around the age of 20. I am now 36 and I am now quite serious. I am now in the best shape of my life, and I know that only about 1% of people who struggle with weight succeed in the long term. At least, I know that’s a story that gets told, and if you tell yourself that story from the wrong angle (“1% is a hard place to be”) you will struggle. If you tell yourself you are excellent and you desire to be in that 1%, and to help others expand that 1% into a 2% and a 3% and beyond, you’re on the right track.
I intend to stay in that 1%, expand it, and to bring you with me. Please come again! This is your place.
So far I have lost 70 pounds in about 10 months. The first 50 pounds took 3 months, which is a bit too fast but I am impulsive and needed to see those results — and I’ve been slowly losing the rest while also gaining muscle mass and allowing my extra skin to slowly shrink without dramatically losing too much weight.
I can jump several feet vertically and horizontally at the same time, like a damn fool, and without hurting my knees. I can play with my kids like never before. I can run and breathe easily, ride my bike as furiously or moderately as I want, and it was no accident getting here. There are many strains and aches and pains along the way. If I want to have a serious bout of exercise, there will be more aches and pains to manage.
It was incredibly complicated when I try to explain it; it was not as simple as “calories in, calories out” no matter how many clueless people want to tell you as much. That logic is merely a singularly useful piece of information that has its place, but it’s not the only answer, and it can’t be sustained for many weeks at a time before it catches up with you.
It’s simply not that simple, which is exactly why we struggle. We think we can just ratchet our caloric intake down to 2,000 or less without major consequences. Then we eventually hit our “good enough” plateaus, or our walls, and suddenly the weight is creeping back up. Hint: a plateau is your body’s way of saying “hey, let’s see what it’s like to simply maintain this plateau for awhile. Let’s let our hormone levels rise back to normal by eating a little more, let’s recover better from exercise by eating a little more, and then we’ll try to burn some more weight later.” Plateaus are often also an indication that you might be gaining muscle mass. That’s a good thing! You keep that muscle mass by eating enough, not fighting bitterly against the plateau. You need to enjoy mini-victories along the way, and plateaus are not a bad thing, they are self-regulating communication from your body, and you should listen to them.
I don’t have all of the answers, but I have a lot. The answer for the endomorph is to embrace the fact that your body wants to be big. And then, you must build the body that you want. You are not trying to become Arnold Schwartzenegger, but he does have a lot to teach you…