Today I hit 40.0 pounds lost!
One thing of note, is I never had less than 2400 calories per day to do it. It took me to actually go the step of hiring a personal trainer to coach me through this.
Left to my own devices, it would have been yet another 3-4 month trip into 1600-1800 calories, running 2-3 miles 3-4 times a week followed by 25 pounds of weight loss, plateau, extreme fatigue, then binging on everything I’ve been avoiding for months on end. Within 2-3 weeks, I would have put all of the weight back on and then some more.
I wanted to write at this checkpoint because I want to convey that this is achievable by just about anyone. Granted, I am under a lot less stress than I have been in years, but that was a catalyst to help me get going this time around. What’s different about this time…is that I have TONS of energy and I can see the path to achieving my goals. I have been busting my ass now since around Sept 1…so I have 5 months in, at about 8 pounds per month, or roughly 2 pounds per week loss. However, unlike other times where I ran and ran and ran and deprived myself of calories, the difference here is I’ve been mostly strength training and eating a shit ton of food. The idea here is to keep my BMR pretty high, keep adding some lean muscle, let the deficits happen in the gym and lose FAT, not WEIGHT.
My friends over the years have seen me lose weight, then gain weight back. It’s to a point where I think they just want to see the after product now, and luckily, this time I’m going to deliver. The big secret for me here has been learning to eat.
Learning to eat? What are you, 10?
In many ways, I was. My parents did a great job raising a decent person….but one thing I’ve had to deal with on my own as an adult is unlearning bad habits. Without throwing family dirty laundry on the street, I can tell you that my eating habits were very poor….some of my own doing, some of terrible influences.
I was stuck in a cycle of emotional eating. Let me walk you through some scenarios, and tell you how I would react. Then I’m going to walk you through how I broke the cycle….
- Let’s celebrate! Birthday, promotion, holiday….you choose foods that make you feel pleasant, you eat too much of it, you loosen your belt buckle, and have a good time with family/friends.
- I’m having a bad day at work/relationship/someone said something to me – I wanted to reach for bad foods because they made me feel good.
- My wife and I cannot agree on dinner, for the 1035th time – my last option I said was “McDonalds” after I started with healthy options. She didn’t say no. I am now fixated on my McDonald’s meal and nothing will get me away from that.
- The weekend is coming. Let’s go out to dinner, I want to feel good.
- I am supposed to exercise tonight, but I just ate a meal and I’m sleepy. I’m feeling pretty tired.
- I’m so tired I don’t want to spend an hour a night cooking.
Now, when you try and add a 1600-1800 calorie diet to this…pick whatever diet you want, you will eventually fail. These 6 items above will crush any diet, no matter how much you want to run to try and burn things off. I have always been an athlete, despite my size…so a trainer for me and knowing where to start was something very good for ME. You have to find what works for YOU. Hopefully, you’re out there reading tons of different advice, and maybe the 1-6 above might be reflective of your background and you find the below useful.
So, I have some of my MOST important tips to try and get yourself out of the high/low emotional eating cycles and to maybe “learn” how to eat.
- Benchmarking. Get your BMR checked and discuss this with a professional. Look, losing 10-20 pounds is EASY. You’ve probably done it 35 times before. But if you want to lose 50, 100, or even more, please get yourself in to see someone and get a baseline. My BMR comes out around 2750 these days on the fancy scale. It was initially 2830 or so. So, my trainer said to eat 2800 calories a day. My perplexed look signaled I was confused. I thought I was getting nutritional advice from a professional? Yup…turns out you need to trust these people. While many may not have an advanced nutritional science degree, they have a pretty goddamn good idea how to help you get in shape and eat better. Trust your professional.
- Start the program. Now that you aren’t eating 1200 calories a day, try to get a good breakdown of macros from your professional which might suit your goals. For me, it was adjusted to 40 percent carbs, 30 percent fats, and 30 percent protein. Get MyFitnessPal to track your food and macros. I have written a few posts on this already.
- Prep food. While I still eat about half of my meals fresh, half of my meals are in the freezer waiting for me at any time. This helps you remove the McDonald’s option when you have chicken, rice, and broccoli waiting for you at any time.
- Accountability. Divorce yourself from your significant other with food if you have to. I had to. Maybe you have to as well. I told my wife, “I love you, but I’m divorcing you from my food choices from here on out. good luck”. Since then, I’ve been in beast mode and haven’t looked back.
- Cheat meals. Have 1-2 cheat meals per week. Do not have “cheat days”. This means if I want to, I can still eat out with the team once a week, and go out with my wife on weekends. However, I pre-program my meals in and allow calories for these events. Meaning, that even though I’m having 2 slices of pizza for lunch on Wednesday, I’m not going over my calories for the day and I have ensured my macros for the day are hit by perhaps having a lot of lean protein and a salad for dinner that night. For me, this was the difference maker. Instead of an “atkins” type diet where “pizza is evil”, I would still allow myself to have pizza, just not as often and in such mass quantities. This means I never really deprive myself of any food, I just choose to eat it more carefully and less frequently. THIS WAS A DIFFERENCE MAKER with my sort of rule set.
- Eat healthier. I used to have a giant plate of pasta with meat sauce, maybe go back for seconds with a half plate. Have some bread and butter with it. Mentally, I’d just guess 700 calories for the meal. When I sat down one day and put stuff into MyFitnessPal (mock up meals) I learned that the pasta dinner I might have eaten might be like 2000 calories. Like measure shit out, build out recipes, measure portions, etc. So 20 years ago, I might be like “ummm 1/3 of what I eat here will still leave me hungry!”. Well, when you follow your macros, and introduce healthy foods, you will find that you are rarely hungry. I only eat pasta now maybe once a week as opposed to 4-5 times a week like I used to – and when I eat it, I’m having lots of veggies with it, maybe protein as well. Maybe I try wheat pasta for the increased amount of fiber.
- Expand your food database. I would have this list of maybe 10 of my favorite foods, and most nights would be some form of rotation with this. You need to kill this off and maybe use this for a cheat meal once in awhile rather than shit you eat every night. FOOD IS FUEL FOR THE GYM. What I’m finding is things like oatmeal cups are rocket fuel for a great workout. Check out pinterest. Try ground turkey recipes. Zoodles are my latest infatuation. You need a larger variety in your diet.
- Eat what you log, don’t log what you eat. By preparing food in advance and the night before programming in what I’m going to have for the next day, I know if I touch that one cookie, it’s going to throw off my calories and macros for the day. It’s so much easier for me to know in advance.
Edit: 9. Drink tons of water. Put down the sodas, juices, etc. I have been dehydrated for the better part of 2 decades. Just about 18 months ago my wife got me drinking water. My trainer bumped me from 2-3 quarts a day to 5 quarts a day. You have zero clue how bad you are feeling from dehydration until you actually get proper hydration levels. In addition, the water helps you burn the fat when you exercise and allows proper cell functions. Another hint – a primitive action our body does when really dehydrated is – send hunger pangs. This is because it figures that it will get water from the food. So how many hundreds of times in your life do you think you ate a plate of pasta because you were dehydrated?
Better nutrition -> better workouts and more energy -> better sleep -> feeling better -> prepping more food -> better nutrition.
As promised – here’s the visio. I’m a visual guy, so I put my architect skills to work!
You see where I’m going with this?
When you start to feel better, the highs and lows of life don’t affect you as much. All of the shitty foods you ate…the MSGs, the pre-packaged garbage, the salt, the fats….all of this food kept you prisoner.
Poor nutrition -> bad workouts and little to no energy -> bad sleep -> feeling poor -> not thinking ahead with food -> poor nutrition
And here’s another visio 🙂
And your cycle continues.