I’m going to stop referring to it as “weight loss” and refer to it more as “Healthy Living”. The weight will take care of itself naturally, and I’m not going to beat myself up over the scale this time around.
In this edition, I’d like to share some lifestyle changes that have really paid some good dividends thus far. Some of the no brainers:
- Quit smoking
- Gave up all sodas (maybe 18 months ago?)
- Eating “healthy”
Smoking and me have had a love/hate relationship since college. I’ve gone years without a smoke, and mostly the last 2 years I’ve quit for months on end with an occasionally 2-4 week bout of smoking under heavily stressed times. The sodas were hard for me, as I used to drink a LOT of diet soda. Then you read the studies that apparently the artificial sweetener has an effect on your body as if you had sweets. Eating healthy is outlined more in my most previous post, but the cliff’s notes version is I stopped eating most processed foods, using MyFitnessPal to track all micro/macro nutrients, and I’m sort of eating all the time with smaller healthy meals. As far as exercise goes – well, this sort of fell into place when the previous 3 items were addressed. After long periods of inactivity, it takes 2-3 weeks for you to get back to really exercising as a habit more than something you are torturing yourself with.
So here’s my “low” of about -223-227 when I was graduating HS. At that weight, I could run about 4-5 miles at a time. My high school cross country team won states like 4 out of 5 years at that time, so most of my friends were big time runners. I got into running, but could come nowhere near any of them in times. They were machines. One of the guys on that team just did a “100 miler” in running last month. F that!!
When I went off to college, I was an athlete. OK, maybe I wasn’t a division 1 athlete, but I still was active. I played baseball and was a heavyweight wrestler. I showed up to school at 6AM a lot to lift weights. I ran after school. I was in karate. I played rec basketball. I played football when younger. I played a year of college tennis, and as a freshman was the 4th flight on the team. Then I pledged a fraternity and not sure what the hell happened, but I wasn’t on the team anymore from missed practices. In HS, after I’d run after school, then after baseball practice, I’d serve tennis balls for hours as the lights came on and sometimes left at 9:00PM. Sometimes friends would come play and I’d be there until 10 PM. I’d play tennis for 4-5 hours on a hot Saturday afternoon in Reading with my HS friends and have an impromptu tournament. And….biking was among my favorite activities growing up. I’d bike all the time as a kid. Before I had a car, I actually biked like 14 miles to say hi to a girl…then biked back home. I was so shy…I never even said hi. I did see her. Just sort of was like “what the hell am I doing” moments and turned around. I’ve gone up and down in weight most of my life, so I may have been thinner at some points when younger but saw myself as a blimp. “Friends” relentlessly made fun of me to remind me how little worth I had. They would constantly tell me what I couldn’t do…or what my limits were. Essentially, you have zero self image and your confidence of anyone liking you is roughly zero. It’s perhaps why I took so much to the books, music, chess….it was a way of bettering myself that I had an aptitude with.
College sort of cured me of being shy, for some part, but it also helped put 115 pounds on me. I drank my face off in order to come out of my shy state. It was funny…the more I drank, the less I gave a shit if people thought I was heavy. I was addicted to the social interactions I was now able to have when drinking. The booze itself I never was addicted to. The main picture you see is me at around 223-227 pounds, but the story here is I broke my foot in wrestling in 11th grade and went from 235 to 295 in a few months, then in Feb of my senior year I lost 70 some pounds in 2 months. I went off to college with the mindset I was 300 pounds and so disgusting no woman would ever talk to me. Enter alcohol as the “I don’t give a shit” effect, and I ended up liking college a lot. Perhaps too much. Perhaps I never wanted to leave.
So maybe in the pic at the top I had an extra 25-30 pounds on me. I was in pretty good shape at one point. One time after I graduated college, I was 23 years old, and I weighed myself at a scale in the mall. 342 (Edit – in all fairness, I was 280 in my senior year and shredded my ankle and was on crutches for almost 6 months. The inactivity bloated me to epic proportions). Cried a bit to myself, then got pissed and ran for an hour and 45 minutes at my old high school. I calculated it was somewhere approaching 7 miles. You exercise people know that after x amount of distance, you hit your stride and you just stay in that stride for as long as you can. When things happen to you based on appearance and self image, sometime you have the HATE exercise. You all know what I mean.
I now digress…
I’ve recently discovered something interesting. With a lot of my dieting, I’ve FAILED miserably mostly due to withholding certain things and taking in TOO LITTLE calories. I want you to consider what happened to me yesterday. I biked 14 miles and had another 3-4 miles or so of walking in.
In the mosaic above, you see my bike at the halfway point on my rail trail (start at the 20 mile mark at York College), a pic of the trail, a pic of the park I walked at…then after all of the exercise I did, you see me at 918 calories shy of my daily goal (in fairness, the breakfast you see there was a late brunch). When you eat healthy, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to eat as much as I need in a day if I’m vigorously exercising. The last pic is my dinner. I planned on 8 oz of chicken and 1 cup of rice with broccoli. However, I was sooooo ridiculously under my calories that I bumped it up to 16 oz of chicken and 1.5 cups of rice. I felt sick with myself after that – you have to understand, the 918 remaining is AFTER the punishing dinner. The 918 also accounts for 150 in apple sauce I planned for dessert I just couldn’t do. So my under for yesterday was actually 1,068. That’s good…RIGHT???
Ehhhh….not really. Today, what happened is a lot of soreness, as I predicted. Days where I was closer to my calories, I had zero soreness. When I’m exercising a lot, if I don’t get within 300-400 of my daily calories, I wake up aching a lot. My body has thus told me today is an unscheduled off day, where I was planning on running/lifting today and taking tomorrow as a rest day. I think I plan on doing a good hour or two of light walking, but none of the intense cardio I was hoping to do.
According to Jen Heward (and a few others), one of my previous issues with dieting has been being WAYYYY under for days/months on end. If you see the above calorie intake for yesterday, that would be me for an entire summer. Run/bike hours a day, eat atkins-like and maybe take in 1200-1600 calories, and actually burn close to 5,000 calories (including the BMR number). I would tell myself that carbs were evil and atkins makes sense because I just lost 30 pounds the first month I was on it. Then the last 2 months – no weight loss. 7 years ago, I spent all of July/August biking 20 miles a day/running 2-3 miles right after 3 times a week. I was on atkins and had roughly 1600 calories a day. In those 2 months, I gained 5 pounds back of the 30 I lost. Again…friends and family SEE you, and they think you are lazy. You are stupid for doing atkins. That you need surgery because you have no will power. Then you say “piss off” to atkins and eat your pizza porn you’ve been keeping from yourself…and all of the weight comes back on within a MONTH. So – recap – 3 months of torturing yourself, 1 month of eating normal with carbs and the occasional bad day and over the course of 4 months….you might be up 3 pounds. It destroys you. Then maybe you say “fuck it” for the next year and another 20 sneaks on you. You try weight loss again…and BAM…you fail yet again, this time perhaps on a paleo…or zone..or low fat…or whatever.
But this time around….except for yesterday….I’m usually within 400-500 calories and I’m shooting for 1.5-2 pounds of weight per week. I want to do it the “right” way, and have some patience with this. Be healthy, not a certain weight. I realize, for me, this is going to be a 2-3 year process and not a 4 month “quick fix”.
Yesterday, I went to the York Market and visited my wife’s friend’s health food stand and got some staples reloaded. Of particular interest here for all of you is the rolled oats. How was I able to do all of that exercise with ease? A lot of it was proper fuel. 7 years ago when I did all of that biking/running on atkins?? Sheer determination. You see…Atkins doesn’t really give you the carbs you need to do a lot of intense exercising, and I did many of those workouts and 60% effectiveness or less. You then are BEAT. Yesterday, I ate my oatmeal about 45 minutes before I started biking. The complex carb is like rocket fuel for you.
I did a post with this awhile back, but try the following:
1 cup of rolled oats to 2 cups water. So, you might also want to do 1/2 cup of oats if you’re doing a 20 min cardio workout. I was planning on biking for well over an hour and wanted to put fuel in me.
- 1 cup oats
- 2 cups water.
- Combine oats and water in pot and put heat on med high. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Add a pinch or two of salt.
- As your oatmeal thickens, add:
- 1 TBSP honey
- cinnamon to taste
- frozen or fresh fruit – I like about 1/2 cup blueberries for this.
- Enjoy your rocket fuel about 45 mins before your cardio!
For meal prepping, I have also done some of the following for meals, then boxed them up for the freezer. Note you have about 4-8 oz of protein, maybe 100-150 cals in starch, and a veggie for some fiber and micronutrients.
Lastly, sometimes when I’m a little hungry at like 4:00PM, I might have a 200-250 calorie starter salad and not eat dinner until like 6 or 6:30. I use the Kraft Zesty Italian which is like 60 calories for 2 TBSP rather than the thick creamy dressings that might be like 180 calories. Dinner might be one of the prepped meals from above which might be 350 calories.
To conclude….I’m eating very healthy, and it’s really easy because I’m not having any cravings. As I mentioned in my previous post, it just feels like a combination of getting all of the right nutrients coupled with gut flora coupled with being de-stressed, that I am not desiring my beloved pizza like before. And guess what? If I REALLY want it? I’ll go have 2 slices on a Saturday night and count it as my cheat meal for the week and not give two shits about it. I’m just not going to order a pizza on a Thursday night and eat half of it and a bunch of wings. What is staggering is how much “healthy” food you have to consume to match the calorie counts of unhealthy foods. I am never, ever hungry.
Consider my pizza porn picture below. These two slices were consumed on a Saturday afternoon for lunch. It is probably the equivalent of 3 of my prepped meals in containers above for calories. I could not even consider eating 3 of them in one sitting…
Yes…someday I will have this again, but it will most likely be a Saturday evening “cheat” meal for the week. Not a typical lunch food.
Time to be healthy…in body and in mind.
Be the best version of you.