22 Comments.

Welcome peeps, to a new segment here on The Effortless Gent. We’ll call it EB, or The Effortless Body. Clever, right?

Why talk about the body? Isn’t this a site about style?

In case it isn’t glaringly obvious, your body has a lot to do with style. The more fit you are, the better you feel, the more confident you become, and the more you’re willing to try new things. Not to mention that the more fit you are, the better your clothes look on you.

Losing fat and getting fit is monumentally important if you care at all about personal style. Whether you need to lose just 10 lbs, or 100 lbs, getting fit will help in your quest to look better and present the best possible version of yourself to the world. Not to mention the numerous side benefits such as better health and more energy.

This isn’t just outer layer good looks anymore.

History and background

You might be wondering what kind of authority I have on this subject. If you consider first-hand experience any indication of authority, in recent years I whittled my weight down from an all-time personal high of 241 lbs to 164 lbs (I’m 5’9″) through various methods of experimentation in food intake and energy expenditure tweaks. This all happened within a period of two years from 2005-2007, and an average of -5 lbs every two weeks the first 4-6 months.

huge B

Trying my hand at plus-size modeling in 2005

I melted away fat like it was going out of style, I’ve hit plateaus where I went months without any significant fat loss, and eventually found ways to break through those plateaus to begin another downward trend in fat loss, all the while increasing muscle mass or at the very least, keeping it constant.

Big kid style

I was a moderately husky individual in high school and throughout college. Not like insanely obese, but quite portly and plump. I wasn’t happy with my appearance. I was never satisfied with how anything looked on me, never comfortable in well-fitting clothes.

I spent years trying different diet and exercise routines but I never had my heart in it. I never succeeded or reached a level to where I saw significant progress. A lot of that has to do with mindset, but equally as important is the process behind it all, both of which I’ll be covering in future EB articles.

One day during my senior year of college, I decided enough was enough. I can’t say exactly what it was, but it was like a switch just flipped. All of a sudden, I was committed and my mind was right and I had enough persistence and dissatisfaction to see this through. And so, I did.

What I plan on covering

In addition to more details on the history of my body transformation (which I’d love to illustrate if it’s relevant or interesting at all), I’ll be discussing topics relating to mindset, psychology, self-talk, motivation, process habits, goal setting… you get the picture.

If you think about it, these topics aren’t exclusive to weight loss, but could be applied to pretty much any aspect of your life if you want to improve. Losing weight just happens to be the subject I have experience with, so I’ll stick to that, but you can imagine the parallels.

I also want to focus on maintenance. I know people who have lost more weight than I have, only to gain it all back, and to me that’s so heartbreaking. I can never imagine going back to how I was, and I take active approaches to making sure I never do. It’s all about finding a happy medium. You don’t always have to be at your peak fitness level, but you should never slip back to your old self. Me personally, I hover between 164 lbs and 174 lbs. My lowest was 159 lbs, and like I mentioned earlier, my highest was 241 lbs. As of today, I’m 169 lbs.

Hopefully you’ll find some of my methods useful and worth experimenting with to some degree in your own life (but again, don’t take my word for it, consult with a professional first if you have pre-existing conditions.)

When I say “experimenting”, I’m referring to the mini food and exercise hacks I’ve tested as I look for the most optimal approach to maintenance. I struggle with the same stuff as everyone else, namely trying to maintain the balance between making healthier food and lifestyle choices and the more delicious, indulgent choices and less-than-active decisions. A lot of it comes down to balance and moderation. Oh, and knowing when to say when.

How is this different from any other weight loss / fat loss information I’ve come across?

The biggest difference is the fact that I’ll be covering the important stuff that comes before actual body transformation, stuff I feel is more important than simple techniques or workout routines.

Without mastering things like mindset shifting, setting and managing expectations, and silencing negative self-talk, you’re destined to get nowhere.

Few articles touch upon the importance of getting your mind right before attempting to lose that first pound. That’s like walking out the door without first deciding where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

I will definitely divulge the details of how I did it (again, only if that’s interesting to you), but I wanted to focus on the topics I listed above because I feel that would be infinitely more helpful.

Finally

As always, I’ll be as transparent as possible in everything I discuss. I’m not saying the specific methods I used will work for you, and of course you should talk to your doctor before trying anything crazy. I will however urge you to try the mental games I suggest, and for bonus points, attempt to apply them to other aspects in your life. I bet you’ll notice significant improvements once you apply, and practice, and apply some more.

So there’s my introduction to this new topic! Look forward to more articles in the coming weeks.

My question(s) for you

What do you think about the physical body as it relates to style? Completely separate? Totally intertwined?

Do you have any questions in particular about this topic, my decision to cover it, or certain things you’d like to see discussed here?

Suggestions are always appreciated and considered, so please, talk to me in the comments below.

You could also tweet me, or find me on Facebook.

PUBLISHED March 24, 2011


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr.


  • http://profiles.google.com/mr.g.bagga Gautam Bagga

    This is a really brave post, man. I applaud you for putting your story out there and it is truly quite compelling. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Regarding the information you’re talking about, I think that there is a real shortcoming in quality articles on weight loss and toning (and general fitness) in fashion-oriented publications and websites (and vice versa). I look at some of the looks that Men’s Health throws together in their fashion section and am often appalled, while GQ’s workout tips leave me wondering if their target audience is one minor royal – rich enough to survive without doing anything (and perhaps too minor to warrant letting him out of the palace).

    Even online, the focus is always on one and not the other, which is crazy when you think about, as you say, how connected the two are. Fashion websites seem to draw the line at ‘what looks good for your body type’ without ever really helping you make the shift from heavier to skinnier or from skinnier to more athletic. My interest in men’s fashion is about making myself look better and feel better, primarily for myself. It’s the same reason I go to the gym. So why not combine the two?

    I’ve touched on your questions already, but I’ll answer them explicitly.

    My own take is that what you wear depends entirely on what kind of body you’ve got as well as who you are in terms of personality. To say that it’s all one or all the other is bunk. Two people with similar bodies can’t automatically pull the same outfits off. So that speaks of personality influencing the outfit. But similarly, and not to put too fine a point on it, the heavier gentleman wearing a Slimane-inspired won’t look great.

    However, credit to you for covering this! I look forward to reading more!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Gautam,

      Thanks man. You said it right here: “My interest in men’s fashion is about making myself look better and feel better, primarily for myself. It’s the same reason I go to the gym. So why not combine the two?”

      And you’re right that two people can’t be expected to pull of an outfit in the same way, even if they have similar body types. It just doesn’t work that easily. Style’s all about personality and finding what works best for you as an individual. I try to touch upon that here at EG.

      Hopefully I won’t let you down with future articles. :)

  • http://twitter.com/undershirtguy undershirtguy

    well barron, you asked so i’ll throw in my 2 cents.

    although i applaud the the principles behind this post, i was immediately put-off by the following portions of your post:

    “Not to mention that the more fit you are, the better your clothes look on you.”

    >what i heard: if you are overweight, you cannot look good in your clothes. this is a totally false statement and although i’m not personally overweight (any longer), i felt this was a personal blow to those that are. there are plenty of great example of heavier people who dress amazing and have a great sense of personal style. be careful not to alienate people in your writing because thin does not equal handsome/beautiful/stylish.

    ” Losing fat and getting fit is monumentally important if you care at all about personal style.”

    >what i heard: if you are overweight, you don’t or won’t care about your personal style. dead wrong again barron. although i’m no fashion-savvy guy, no matter my weight, i’ve always cared about my personal style. even at my heaviest, i took care of my appearance, hygiene, and wore appropriate clothes for the situation i was in. no one would ever have suggested that i didn’t care about how i look, and you shouldn’t imply that either in your writing.

    Whether you need to lose just 10 lbs, or 100 lbs, getting fit will help in your quest to look better and present the best possible version of yourself to the world.”

    >what i heard: if you are overweight, you aren’t the best possible version of yourself. in my own humble opinion, i think that’s a personal blow to people who are currently overweight. i totally get what you mean because i, like you, have continued to feel (mentally and physically) better as i’ve lost weight. but my point is, since i believe you are writing with the sincere intention of helping others, you should be considerate of any audience that might be reading. this is how you or i might feel, but it’s not how everyone will.

    of course, it’s your right to write whatever and however you want (after all it’s your blog), but if you take a moment to consider the above, i hope you can see a different point of view.

    keep up the good work barron. i know how much effort goes into writing about a topic you’re passionate about.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Tug,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m never out to intentionally offend people, but I do write what I think and feel. These aren’t attacks or blows to anyone, it’s just a simple observation and spoken from first-hand experience.

      To address your perspectives directly: I truly believe that deep down, no overweight person can be aware of their overweight state and honestly say they are happy with how they look and feel. And from first-hand experience, B at 80lbs heavier did not look as good in clothes as he does right now. It’s just a simple fact. No need to sugar coat it, if you ask me.

      My personality and point of view are what draw my strongest supporters and most passionate readers. My blog topics and writing style aren’t for everyone, and I figure it’s best to just be the most real version of me I can be. Those who don’t like it aren’t forced to stick around.

      Anyway, I think my readers understand how I roll and that I mean to hurt no one… that I am really trying to help, so they tend to not take anything offensively. If a random reader happens to stop by and my writing doesn’t resonate with them, I will gladly point them to one of millions of other sites online.

      Like I always say, it’s a big internet out there. :)

    • Dave

      I find Tug’s criticism strange—what he heard is not what Barron wrote. The sentences Tug points out seem uncontroversial: the main ideas is you’ll look better if you’re fit than you’re fat (or for that matter too skinny).

      Of all the style blogs I’ve read, amidst all the discussion of what looks good and so on, I v. rarely hear a blogger talking about getting fitter. I think it’s great that Barron’s acknowledging this. I don’t see how we could without offending reader’s with Tug’s apparent sensitivity. That is, the problem seems to be Tug’s, not Barron’s.

      I think everyone has a friend whom they admire for integrity or style or general awesomeness who is overweight. We understand overweight does not equal evil or lazy or worthless.

      • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

        Hi Dave,

        Thanks for your comment. When I was writing, I certainly didn’t intend for its meaning to be looked at in that way, and I’m glad you can see that.

  • http://twitter.com/Delonjo Delonjo Barber

    Hi!

    I am a brand new TEG reader and I totally relate to your journey. I am 36 years old and since high school I was always an out-of-shape, slightly chubby individual whose weight fluctuated wildly because I was–admittedly, in hindsight–lazy. I lacked any drive to push forward but I always found the time to whine about my body. I am 6’1″ and my peak weight in Feb 2010 reached ~240 lbs. with a 42 waist. The moment that changed my life was when my best friend mistakenly bought some pants too big for himself and gave them to me. They were size 42. I was aghast and objected (with a smile) that they would not fit. I tried them on, and to my ultimate chagrin they fit like a glove. That was the moment when my mind opened up and I said ENOUGH!

    I found a trainer on YouTube. (Oh, yes I did!) I began exercising to a hearty sweat each morning before work. And I changed my eating habits completely. I stopped drinking “mass quantities” of beer. And I started cooking healthy foods for myself instead of eating junk and fast food. (A side benefit of this is that I save so much cash.) I went from a size 42 to a new size 31–yes, 32 is a little to big for me. (Yay!) My weight is now 165 lbs.

    Now, I’m all about fashion and looking good in my clothes, but back then it took a four-horse carriage to drag me kicking and screaming to a clothes store. I enjoy shopping so much. I finally get it! I’ve been liberated! I feel like a superhero when I’m dressing for work now. Everything has to look and fit like so. I am having the time of my life!

    Thank you for sharing.

    PS: It is totally hearbreaking when I see those Biggest Loser contestants return to their previous sizes. I just don’t understand that they did all that hard work–and it is HARD WORK–for naught. Not I! Never again!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hi Delonjo,

      Thanks for stopping by. Brilliant! Your aha! moment reminded me of my own. I met my cousin’s soon-to-be-fiance, and he told me his story of how he used to be 300+ lbs, and how he got down to 170 lbs. I told myself that if he can lose THAT MUCH, I can lose 50 or 60 lbs (my initial goal).

      That’s a great story man. I wish I would’ve thought of looking through YouTube. I just hit the gym and got on that elliptical machine, every day for at LEAST 30 minutes. Boring, but it was effective and with enough persistence, I started seeing results and that inspired me to try out other things (running, weights, circuit, etc.)

      Shopping is definitely more exciting when you can buy things in sizes you want to shop for.

      Awesome man! Hopefully you stick around for the future articles and maybe you can even contribute some of your own experience to the comments.

  • Grant

    Very interesting post, Barron. I want to let you know I disagree with Undershirtguy. I didn’t interpret it in that way at all.

    Looking forward to reading more!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hi Grant,

      Thanks, sir. I definitely did not mean anything offensive at all, so I’m glad you didn’t take it that way. Tug was just pointing out a different perspective. I addressed my stance below :)

  • TimL

    Hey, first Post from a longtime Reader.
    First off, great idea! These two go hand in hand together wonderfully.

    As far as suggestions, I think you should either write or source on article about the way to properly view food-being that it is fuel for your body.

    Sure, you want taste and flavor, but not at the risk of polluting your engine-to run with the analogy- with stuff that will inhibit performance. I know for me, personally, this completely changed the way I think about eating. It becomes less about pleasure and fullfillment and more about fueling my body to be its best. This not only helps in keeping you thinking positive about yourself, but with the right types and amounts of foods, can give you better overall health and help prevent disease.

    I commend you on bringing this up, and can’t wait to see what you come up with. Best of luck!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Tim! Thanks for commenting; I’m glad I was able to draw you out of the woodwork, haha.

      That’s a great idea. I actually wrote that down because of your suggestion, so thanks for that. I have a running list of topics I can touch upon in the future. If you ever have any others you’d like to see me discuss here, just let me know. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/alexanderblake Blake Hammerton

    I completely agree with this. I find Undershirtguy’s response interesting too. The greatest thing about his response was his insight, and complete lack of attack. He mentioned what her heard/read in your statements, and offered up his perspective on it. Kudos, my friend. It is rare to see that kind of self-control.

    I work with clients in coaching and hypnosis for weight loss constantly. The biggest truth I keep hearing (to sort of argue with Undershirtguy) is that “no, being overweight truly ISN’T the best possible version of myself.” Not my words. My clients tell me what their “ideal” self looks like, and their “ideal weight” for themselves. Does EVERY overweight person feel out-of-style or unhappy? Certainly not, but every human being, regardless of weight/size is driven to look his or her best. Especially those reading websites like this.

    The one piece I’d like to stress as you go through this series is the focus on the mental/psychological factors involved. If your belief pattern has you overweight, all the weight will return when you’re done “dieting.” You have to modify the belief pattern and self-image to create real, permanent results. TimL made a great point below about viewing food differently. This changes the pattern in your mind, and you make different choices based on it.

    This is too long-winded. I’m looking forward to reading more!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hi Blake,

      I agree, Tug (undershirt guy) did approach it very civilly, which I respect. It’s funny you mention the statements you can deduce from your talks with clients. I’m not surprised at all, because it’s the same thing I knew about myself deep down. You said it perfectly right here: “…every human being, regardless of weight/size is driven to look his or her best.”

      Thanks also for your suggestions regarding what to focus on. In fact, I hope I made that clear in the post that this segment on EG will be about the stuff you need to take care of BEFORE you lose your first pound of fat. Things like mental and psychological issues (like you mentioned), mindset, self talk, etc. (And of course things like maintenance and maybe some of my own experiments and hacks, but the former is much more important in my opinion.)

      Looking back, I realized how important that was in my own journey, because it took me years of battling with negative self-talk and a defeatist attitude before I was able to basically shut myself up and get to work. I think conquering one’s own self-doubts and mental limitations is a huge part of the battle, and that can apply to much more than just fat loss.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • http://twitter.com/undershirtguy undershirtguy

    hey blake, thanks for the compliment. as a long-time blogger, i sometime over-dissect the written word.

    even so, if i read something i don’t totally agree with, i try to present my view-point as objectively as possible so the other party doesn’t feel as though i’m trying to attack them. because in all reality, i’m not.

    i look forward to following the journey.

  • Poetcop

    I’m glad you get a sense of satisfaction out of designing a weight loss approach that has worked for you, but I hope as you continue the series you will acknowledge that bodies are complicated and very different from each other, and respond very differently to diets and exercise, with the net effect that reducing their weight over the long term is exceedingly difficult for most people. http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/04/02/us-dieting-idUSN3036700020070402?pageNumber=1
    To say that no fat person can be truly happy, as you do in the comments, is very presumptuous. I like your fashion posts and the concept of being the best possible version of yourself, but I hope you don’t end up making people feel rotten when their body doesn’t respond to “mini food and exercise hacks” like yours did.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      I realize every body is different, and each one reacts to diet and exercise differently. And I’m also not a nutritionist or a dietitian. The most important thing is that people who ARE unsatisfied, at least try to do these things. Who knows, they may work, they may not.

      Just to clarify, I never said fat people can’t be happy. I said no overweight person can be 100% happy about their bodies and health. Big difference.

      I also mentioned (twice and also in the comments below) that I’m not focusing on diet and exercise exclusively, because all I know is what worked for me. Instead I’d like to focus on the mind, the psychology, the self-talk, the motivation, all of the things that matter before you can even lose your first pound of fat or gain your first pound of muscle. That, and maintenance. I’d love to explain what I’ve done personally, but you and I both know my specific methods won’t work for everyone, but still, some may be curious as to what I’ve done.

  • Eric

    Sweet B! I’m looking forward to see what you put out for this. Woot woot!

  • Matt

    Hey, B, great post. I just came across your blog today (I’m just getting into men’s style), and this completely hits home. I’m 5’6″, and over the course of college and a couple years after, I went from looking good (albeit having no style) at 145 lbs to my personal high at 211 back in 2006. I’ve tried losing weight over the years, but have never really mentally committed until recently. I would bounce between 200 and 210, until I finally applied a couple lifestyle hacks that seem to be working. I’m assuming that you found, as I have, that fad diets and specific workout routines are of little use, but learning how to incorporate healthful habits into your daily life (e.g. smaller portions, more veggies, less meat & starch) works wonders. I’ve just broken under 190 for the first time since before my wife got pregnant in 2009 (I was down to about 180 when a relocation and the pregnancy let old habits creep back in), and hope to be down in the 150’s within a year or so.

    As to those criticizing your statements implying that overweight individuals , I’m 100% in agreement with B. When I was in high school, people use to tell me I walked “like a model.” I assume that meant confident, head up, shoulders back, and no slouching (when you’re 5’6″, you’ve got to make the most of every inch you’ve got). When I put on all my weight in 2001-2006, I carried myself differently, as “shoulders back” starts to mean “stomach out”, not to mention the extra weight dragging down my frame 24/7. When I was down to 180 in 2009, I started t regain my posture, and started to get my swagger back. I’m still holding on to my swagger and my posture has improved, but I’m still hesitant to try new clothes because when you’re short and fat, very little looks as good on you as you imagine when you buy it.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Matt,

      Good luck on your journey to the 150s. You said it, it’s all about incorporating healthful habits into your everyday life; it has to be a complete lifestyle change. It’s definitely a struggle but I have no doubt you’ll get there.

      Keep it up!

  • Dan

    This section is great, Barron! I discovered EG last year and bookmarked it but I never had the chance to visit regularly. The articles, especially the reviews are all good but I am not sure if they are available here in the Philippines so I never had the motivation to check regularly. But this section will change that, I am sure.

    I am a homebased programmer and I weigh 68 kgs and I stand 5′ 6″. I used to work in my dad’s farm during my college years and I maintained my weight around 50-55 kgs for years until I started working in an office. Right now, I am alarmed because my feet hurt sometimes when I walk. I tried dieting, pulling weights but it really didn’t change anything except that I gained more weight. Maybe that’s what you meant by mindset, I give up in the middle and slip back to my usual, unhealthy practice. And like Matt, gaining weight really changes the way one carries himself and at my age, baggy clothes and a limited wardrobe is really out of the question.

    I am looking forward to reading more articles here in EB and in EG, in general. There is a wedding, first wedding in the family, this December and I’d really want to lose my beer belly (even if I didn’t get that by drinking) and be more confident that time to compensate for my height (I stand the shortest in the family). I hope to get help and encouragement from you and the other gentlemen who have been through this before.

    More power to EG!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Dan,

      Glad you’re back :) The office setting always gets people; it’s that constant state of sitting and lack of physical activity that just packs on the lbs, especially when eating habits stay the same.

      A wedding is a good motivator to lose the weight. Find a workout routine and eating regimen that you can stick to, and see it through to the end. Make it more of a process than something you attach emotion to. Food is just fuel for the body, after all. I know the diet in the PI isn’t always the best for losing weight, but there are always alternatives.

      Check back again for more entries on this stuff.