I’ve been writing on here for awhile now, and wanted to document my journey from the start until the end. Sadly, despite losing 50 pounds, I have a ways to go. However, my life has changed drastically just by going in right direction. I plan on going through this to completion, and it might take me some time yet. Perhaps I have a book in this before it’s all said and done. I have a lot of content to write about, and I could write entire chapters on some items here. Below, I want to recap some of my most important items. I have a more comprehensive list a few writings back, but maybe I can keep this brief for anyone that is just stopping by here for the first time.
- Drink lots of water. It all starts with this. I was chronically dehydrated for most of my life. 2-3 diet cokes a day does not satisfy your need for water. I’m at 4-5 quarts a day now and I think I’ve been hungry maybe 5-6 times in 6 months or so. I read an article that said if you’re dehydrated, your body can send hunger pangs to you in a way to trick your body into hydration. This could explain my massive amount of pasta cravings over the years which have suddenly disappeared when properly hydrated.
- Eat a decent amount of protein. Protein also helps keep you from being hungry. It “satiates” you so you aren’t hungry. I use fage greek yogurt a LOT because one cup has like 22g of protein. Also, try to choose meats with protein that don’t have a ton of fat. Chicken breasts/pork are better choices than steaks.
- Weigh/measure everything. The other day, I was 400 calories short on my calories for the day and around 7:45 at night I felt “I could eat”. I didn’t want to make up a meal, and my bed time was soon, so I decided to have a snack – something I rarely do. I got out one of my small glasses and weighed one serving of Cheese Its – 150 calories. I couldn’t believe how small one serving was. I could probably eat half a box when on the couch a few years ago for a snack and would have mentally thought it was 200 calories. In retrospect, it might be easy…REALLY easy to eat 500-700 calories in “snacks” because you don’t measure them out. This is also true for meals. You try to eyeball things and guess something is 500 calories. Unless you cook the foods yourself, it’s hard to tell. Every portion of food you are eating you should understand the approximate values in.
- You cannot exercise yourself thin. Building on the item above, you hear a lot that your body is built by the dinner table, not the gym. I spent many, many years taking off 20-30 pounds with excessive running over weeks/months, only to either hit a wall and gain it all back the moment I stopped running or I cut calories too much and burned off tons of precious lean body mass when running myself ragged…and lowered my body’s ability to burn calories at rest. You need to speak to a trainer/dietician to understand how many calories you should be having…for YOU…not what some gym dude tells you. If you have too many calories, you will not lose weight. If you have too little calories, you will eat off muscle and lower your BMR.
- BMR…and weight. Measure everything. But do not obsess over the daily fluctuations. Understand that your body will burn x amount of calories a day by you doing nothing. Understand that higher levels of salt can hold some water. Understand that one pound equals 3500 calories. Understand deficits which are too much, understand those that are healthy. For most people, a “healthy” weight loss may be 1.5-2.5 pounds per week. If you are losing much more than this on average, it doesn’t mean you are a better dieter. It means you might also be burning off dense muscle as well as fat. Muscle burns like 8 times more calories than fat. So….you want to create a small deficit and work the process. Keep your valuable muscle, build a little on it, keep your BMR high, and burn FAT, not muscle.
- This is a journey, not a sprint. I told my trainer when I started with her I’m looking at this as a 2-3 year project, and I’m 6 months in. I don’t know about any of you, but how many times has the following happened..you lose 10-15 pounds over 2-3 weeks. You start doing the math. “If I can lose 5 pounds a week, it will take me x amount of months to be happy”. I have done that probably 50-75 times in my life. Every time, I have failed. I have lost a decent amount of weight a few times – but by doing it the WRONG way, which then led to….months to take off 30 pounds, 3 weeks to put it back on and then some. I have mentally prepared myself for 1 pound of “real” weight loss a week. So far, in 6 months, my average is 2 pounds per week. And this was mostly done during the colder months when I’m not anywhere near as active. Most winters, I’m gaining 20-30 pounds which I try to then take off every summer and usually do. I’m hitting the warmer months now 50 pounds down. I can realistically see myself hitting another 50 this summer. But I have to do it the right way. If I want to go run 2-3 miles on a gorgeous spring day because I like it, I will. But I will not run 2-3 miles a day 4 times a week anymore, because it has not been healthy for me physically. More on that below.
- Use weights to lose weight, not cardio. I used to think because I liked to run and bike so much, that if I just hammered it out, I’d be thin. I still run a little here and there, but it’s because I want to exercise the heart with cardio, not running 45-60 minutes as a means of losing weight. By using weights, I’m building lean body mass slowly and increasing (or keeping the same) my BMR whilst losing fat. I have been scared of seeing these videos of people losing 100+ pounds and having “loose skin”. Apparently, there’s a lot of opinions on that, but one prevailing one I feel is that it is fat. They have taken off massive fat, but also stripped their body of tons of muscle to support the body. I am planning to do this over 3 years and slowly build a strong, lean body mass (and some size where needed) while I am hammering fat off. The trainer has me step on this fancy scale where it is showing my weight loss coupled with my fat weight/muscle weight/water weight. What is has been showing over 3 months is increased muscle/water mass and decreased fat mass. So – whether this takes me 2-3 years or the like, I’m ok with. I just think losing 100 pounds in 6 months creates a whole new set of health problems for the rest of your life that I’m not interested in pursuing.
- Meal prep. This might have been like Napoleon finding the Rosetta Stone. I have been able to make up many meals at once, freeze them, and pull out meals in a pinch that are healthy to eat. I have a 90 min commute to work. Do you think my ass wants to cook a big meal every night when I come home? No. Pop one of my meals in the microwave, 5 mins later I have an amazing meal. I make vats of soup and freeze. Two hours then makes up 15 lunches for the month.
Above – you see the chicken/rice/broccoli meal fresh then frozen. Next to it, you also see how I make up 4 or so overnight oats at a time then pop one in the bag for lunch with soup. Last – I might also make up 3 pounds of chicken for a few days, then make a quick salad, pop some chicken in the microwave and have a ridiculously healthy dinner in 5 mins. It’s about being smart with your time here. I love to cook, but time is precious and it’s not sustainable to cook big meals every night, especially for yourself. Make a big batch and freeze 4-8 servings. These are your meals you can either plan to eat or eat in a pinch.
I’m 5’9″. My ending hope is to be about 165-170 and be a runner/biker/swimmer that competes in events and doesn’t finish last. Someday, I’d like to seriously compete. At my core, I’m a competitor, and I derive joy in mastering topics. My fascination with mastering my body will give me perhaps another 50 years of life. While my end goal is that, my intermediate goal is to be 190-210 and built with a lot of muscle. I already have a ridiculous amount of it. I am just trimming a lot of the fat off without losing any at the moment. I am “threading the needle” if you will. I am using the gym and my diet to use some of the stored energy to build muscle. You can’t have too high of a deficit in calories. It’s not a trick of any sorts, it’s just been working well for me.
So maybe sometime in the future…8-16 months, I hit my 210 or 200. I can imagine this summer and next summer combined with killing it during the winter months will get me there sooner rather than later. But I’m also aware that setbacks happen. Once I reach that goal…I will be happy with phase 1. That is, reducing my fat percentage by a LOT. However, my life goal is to have a lower BMI and take the 200 pound frame into another 2-3 year plan of slowly reducing the muscle mass. I feel like the extra weight can put a strain on the heart. I also like the idea of competing in those races 25-30 pounds less. I am not in my teens, and don’t give two shits about bulging muscles to impress girls.
Right now, I’m trying to plan to live another 50 years in a healthy manner. To me, this means a low body fat AND low BMI. So – my 2-3 year journey may turn into a 6 year journey….but I want to be that 48 year old competing in an ironman. Not the 48 year old at 400 pounds that is getting his third bypass and is dealing with diabetes and possible cancer.
That fate is mine, and I own this. No one can take this from me. No one can make me feel a certain way anymore. I am focused. I am driven. And now, I have the means, education, fortitude, and support needed to do it. I can’t imagine how good I’m going to feel another 50 pounds down!