“The 2 Pounds Rule” & The Magic Trick of Weight Loss

After losing 90lbs and writing “How To Lose Weight in 4 Easy Steps”, I get a lot of questions about weight loss. It’s a little weird, because I’m not a nutritionist, or a personal trainer, or an expert on fitness —or an expert on anything, really. I’m a comedy writer who plays video games with Conan O’Brien on TV.

But hey, I’m always happy to help.

A question I get a lot is “How much weight is healthy to lose per week?” I get this question, on average, about 20 to 30 times a week. No joke. I really hate answering stuff this specific because A.) I’m not a doctor (see the part above where I mention that I’m a stupid idiot who plays video games for a living), and B.) because people tend to think that if the number on the scale is going down, they’re doing weight loss right. Which is not true.

So, you know what? Fuck it. Here is the answer to the question that everyone asks me — but not the question they think they’re asking (which is “How many pounds is healthy to lose per week?”); here’s the answer to the question they’re actually asking (which is “Does losing weight seriously have to take this fucking long?”).

Ready? Let’s go:

“Hey Bley! I’m working hard on fitness (gym, 8hrs of sleep, diet); You dropped a chunk… how much were you losing a week? Is 2lbs really it if you have 100lbs to lose? Been cruising reddit but thought I would ask someone who experienced it. Thanks!!” — Anonymous

2 lbs is really it, friend.

Here is the deal with weight loss — the real deal: It takes a long fucking time and it is frustrating as fuck and horribly slow and it never feels like it’s getting anywhere… Until, suddenly, it does.

It’s like a weird magic trick. An AWFUL, PAINFUL, HORRIBLE, TAKES-WAY-TOO-FUCKING-LONG magic trick. But if you keep after it, and are diligent, it is absolutely magical. There’s no other way to put it that comes even remotely close.

One of the lines in How To Lose Weight in 4 Easy Steps that people seem to write me about the most is the line “Your body changes slowly, then all at once” — that is the absolute truth. You will feel like you are going nowhere. You will feel like giving up. How bad do you want it? Because on week 9 of eating healthy and hitting the gym, you will find out. On week 13, you will find out. On week 39, you will find out. On week 57, you will find out. It took me a year and a half — that’s around week 78, btw — before people started noticing. By that time, I was well versed in how bad I wanted it. Well versed.

78 weeks. That is so many meals. So many weekends. So many birthdays, lunches, brunches, dinners, donuts at work, sober nights out at the bar, friends getting pastries at Starbucks, free craft service on sets, home cooked lasagnas, friends’ BBQs — there were so many easy and poor food choices to avoid. It was (and is) endless.

So this becomes your life: Every single goddamn fucking day, you will have to make a bunch of little choices that don’t seem like they matter — what’s a couple cheez-its here or there? What’s one can of Coke a week between friends? — and you will have to constantly choose the boring, shitty, low calorie choice. Every time. No slippin’. Because losing weight is a battle that is fought by inches. It is a victory won with a thousand tiny cuts. And that’s why it’s so hard for people to do it, and to do it in such a way that the weight doesn’t come back on.

That is how you are going to do it.

And that is why you are going to be successful.

The first day back on set after Beck Bennett had lost the 30 lbs for the 4 Easy Steps short film, one of the very first things we talked about was that line about how you work for so long and then suddenly you’re thin: He said that he had lost like 21 lbs, and no one was saying ANYTHING to him — and inside, he was like “What the fuck? I’ve lost all this weight and no one is noticing!?” — and then, literally, he lost three more pounds and every single person in his life was like “holy shit man! You look great!” Three pounds, dude. There’s a tipping point where it just happens. That’s real.

So don’t sweat the numbers. I know you have to — like you said, I’ve been there — but try to not sweat them so much.

I will also point out that this whole process is really not about losing weight. It’s not about numbers. It’s about making a lifestyle change — so in that way, thinking about it with that perspective, it SHOULD take you a long time. You want it to. The good part about it taking a long time is that you are not just shedding pounds; you are creating new habits and new ways of eating and thinking about food that you want to live by from now on. You want to forget the usual Sunday night meal you always ordered at Taco Bell. You want to forget how you always made your footlong meatball sub so that it came out exactly how you liked it. It’s important to understand that what you are UN-learning is as or more important than what you are learning. And that kind of learning ain’t some fucking correspondence course, friend. That kind of learning is going to take some time. Unfortunately.

So you just have to do it, and keep doing it, and keep doing it, and then KEEP doing it, and do it for a long long time until you break through and form those new habits and unlearn all those shitty ones. The weight loss is just a byproduct of all the rest of that — and as a byproduct, it doesn’t really matter how that number is changing every week. If you are taking care of yourself, eating right, hitting the gym, and getting enough sleep (which is a big factor that everyone always fucking forgets about and underestimates but is extremely important for keeping your discipline up so I’m glad to hear you’re doing it), the numbers will fall. Guaranteed.

It’s not easy. It will take discipline, and you will feel like a fool. It will make you question your entire existence. It will take you always being the odd person out who is ordering shit with no cheese and no butter and the sauce on the side and fruit instead of home fries and are those fish tacos grilled or fried and is there any way I could substitute brown rice for that and sometimes eating before you go out and and sometimes looking up the menu beforehand so you know exactly what you’re going to order and sometimes even bringing your food to parties and eating in the kitchen like a psychopath and always without fail dealing with everyone looking at you like some kind of culinary freak… But take pride in those things. Those things are what are putting you out ahead of everyone else. Those are the things that are actually making a difference.

It is easy to put on cool neon stretchy workout clothes and go into a gym and run on the treadmill and do yoga and lift weights and fist bump other people and feel like a bad ass and all that stupid shit. It is easy to do those things because you feel cool doing that stuff. There is no way to make “I’m sorry, but could I substitute egg whites?” feel cool. No fucking way. But anyone you think is cool does it, and does it regularly. Trust me. Everyone in shape eats clean. They have to — they’re just meat and bone like the rest of us. Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Gosling, Idris Elba, Ryan Reynolds, Beyonce, Olivia Munn: The laws of calories and mathematics still apply to us all.

There is nothing less sexy than being a boring, picky eater who makes sure they get enough rest, but make no mistake: That is what will make you a warrior.

Losing weight takes time, and it takes discipline. Luckily, you have both.

I believe in you. Good luck.