I PICK TINGS UP AND PUT DEM DOWN.
We’ve all seen the commercials. They are pretty hysterical. But there’s an element of science behind bodybuilding, which many like to call “bro science”. There’s a lot of things this community has done over many decades which are passed down from one generation to the next.
Then there’s the academics with the “real” science, with fancy studies. I would like to remind everyone of the following:
- Eat eggs! Don’t eat eggs. Wait…eat them! Hold on. Wait, you’re good to go.
- Margarine is half the calories of butter! Go ahead.
- Cholesterol in your diet will kill you.
- Low fat diets are the best way to prevent heart disease and lower weight.
All of these were backed up by multiple studies, and even the FDA in many cases. Then, the science found out other shit. And then more science refuted that. So…do we listen to our doctors, who are not trained dieticians pushing us pills they don’t exactly know what they do…or do we listen to “bro” science”? Or academic papers? Or CNN/Fox, depending on what wing of the plane you tilt towards?
A guy like me was a TERRIBLE eater as a child. I mean terrible. I deserved to be a fat kid on food, and am proof you cannot exercise yourself out of being fat. But I want to share something with you. When you look at someone with extra weight, often there are things you say or think:
- That person needs to go on a diet
- Just put down the fucking donuts already
- Just stop eating
When I see someone with extra weight, here’s what I see:
- What sports injury caused that?
- Were they in a bad car accident?
- Did they suffer some terrible tragedy as a child?
- Did they pick up unhealthy habits when young and they can’t break out of the cycle?
- Does the person make attempts to lose weight?
- I wonder if they are going through some serious shit.
- I wonder if they are treated as badly as me by people
- Have they ever been thin?
- Are they a party animal that is fun to be around?
- Is the person seriously depressed and food in their medicine?
- I bet they make some fucking tasty food
- I exercise a lot and ended up fat. I wonder if they exercise as well or if they really are “lazy”?
- Where do they shop for clothing? Seriously. I had a fucking problem finding clothing
- Are they the chocolate lovers and cakes group or are they the all you can eat folks or perhaps the “deep fry everything in oil and drench with butter folks”?
- And…what lifestyle do they lead which might be interfering with their success?
The list goes on and on. I don’t think people really appreciate how someone not only gets to be a level of obese, but what great care it takes to maintain that physique. I clocked in at 372 at my peak. What many people don’t realize is at this weight, people go out of their way to avoid eye contact with you. For me, this usually happened over 320 or so. Now, I’m not thin by any means, but at the grocery store, I get pleasant smiles, when I walk around the neighborhood, neighbors engage me or wave. I don’t think people also appreciate the isolation that ridiculously large people face. Or perhaps the mainstream cruelty that is still pretty much ok to make fun of. Don’t get me wrong, some of it is hilarious. But there are real people stuck inside of this outer shell.
Many people will never have the strength, courage, and tenacity to lose the weight the “proper” way (or proper for them). What’s interest is, it is a complete lifestyle change. It’s not about cutting calories…I mean it is, but you also don’t understand the lifestyle that a lot of people are living. Look at my list above with what I think when I see overweight people. All of the people on that list have dreamed what it would be like to wake up the next day “thin”. Every one of them. And guess what? Many of them have probably dieted and failed 800 times due to bad information, bro science, or some dieting trend that works for a bit, then slams them in the face with weight gain.
My weight loss slowed down…I sort of had a party of all parties 6 weeks ago. I put on 19 pounds in 5 days, then spent over a month taking it all back off. But it also gave me an opportunity to reflect on my current lifestyle.
My lifestyle changed, and guess what? The weight did drop off. Below I’m going to hit on some of the biggest lifestyle changes, then follow it up with some sciencing the shit out of what I’m doing.
- Smoking. I tried to quit off and on for many years. I may have quit 100 times. How many times did I make it past day 3? Maybe 10. Twice I’ve made it over a year, including this last time. This was a bad habit I picked up freshman year of college and I believe is one of the single-most worst things I’ve ever done with my life. I robbed me of a lot of the exercise I did. Worse, it affected so many other aspects of my life. I’ve been off of this for about a year and a half with the exception of 2 weeks last summer leading up to my yearly poconos event. Interestingly enough, I was the ONLY one smoking there. This year, none of us did. I literally don’t miss it this time around.
- Booze. I might have one drink every 2-3 months. Except the poconos now. In my twenties, there was always a party to go to next week, a bar to go to…I am terribly shy around people, and booze helped me talk to women. So yeah, when I was single, alcohol was required. No matter how hard you exercise, you can’t lose weight drinking 20-40 drinks a weekend. And that was after college. I put on 100+ pounds in college from drinking probably 5-6 days a week for 8-12+ hours. I really never missed the booze, I was addicted to the parties and girls 🙂
- “Window food”. I now do a ton of meal prep. I used to have the debate of “what’s for dinner” for 30 minutes every night, which led to going out somewhere unhealthy or buying window food on the way home. I divorced my wife from the food choices in my life, and I think I go over my calories once a month by 200-500 calories. I have recorded every meal in MyFitnessPal for well over 450 days, and I religiously track what I eat. I own a food scale, real cooking tools, and stepped up my game on foods I eat.
- Exercise. I’ve always been someone who played sports. But my lifestyle now is to engage in physical activity. I used to worry about date night or family time or ignoring my family by exercising. I still do, to an extent, but now I take my kid on a walk with the dog around the block a few times and talk. I take the wife on hiking trails with the dog. I want to go biking with the family. My sense of living my life is doing physical activities. I can’t wait to teach my son tennis and bike with him for 10-20 miles. This may then lead to a thinner me wanting to kayak, compete in events, or have family gym time. It’s who I always was inside, it’s just now been surfacing the last year. At 294, I’m in better conditioning now than I ever was, including when I was 227. Today, I had a brutal hour training with the trainer in the gym, then went and swam 1000 yards. I feel amazing.
- Going out to eat. I still go out to eat occasionally, but it’s maybe like once every 2-4 weeks. If I want a cheeseburger, I get it. I just usually have a lighter lunch that day and try to fit it into my macros. Maybe I’ll get something a little healthier? No, I no longer get hot dogs at the kid’s concession stand for baseball, I might bring some strawberries. I care a lot about what goes into my body, and this has changed everything about my mood, my energy, my disposition on life.
- I drink only water. I used to drink a ton of diet soda for 2 decades…maybe 4 a day. Now, I drink 5 quarts a day of water in a super awesome water bottle. It was amazing how dehydration makes you hungry. I still get a little hungry, but I pound water all day and my hunger levels are just not what they were. This helps you make better decisions on whether or not to order that pizza. You aren’t super hungry and you have 23 prepared meals in your freezer. Makes it much easier to make the right decision.
So…with the sciencing this thing.
You know, when you get to be the weight I was, you start to look at youtube. You see these people with perfect bodies…then you google what it looks like to lose 100 pounds. Many of these people feel great with less weight on, but have terrible problems with “loose skin”. I once lost about 65 pounds in just over 2 months in high school, but I didn’t seem to have those issues. The quick weight loss terrifies me due to what that looks like. Given my long term goal is to land at a healthy and trim 175-180 with some muscles. You start to do the math, and you realized that a guy last summer decided he wanted to lose 200 pounds and still look good after it.
Ladies and gentlemen, in my teens I was a nerd chess player. I once calculated 16 moves in advance to win the game.
So I put that to use.
I realized my limitations. I’m not a chemist, nutritionist, scientist, personal trainer, or anything of that nature. Likewise, you see a lot of people who are in great shape giving advice to people like me who need to lose 200 pounds. Because of this, many failed diets have happened.
Ultimately, the ONE THING that has helped me? Eating ENOUGH food.
People like me who have been heavy….look at the list above…we got shit going on somewhere or another. What happens a lot is there are triggers to people like me. We go on diets as a side effect of not feeling in a good place. Maybe a 5 year old at the checkout line calls you fat. Maybe a girl you adored for years friend zones you one day. Maybe you overhear people saying mean things about you.
And we diet.
I have gone on many diets where I’d say my average caloric intake was 800-1200 a day. I once lost 40 pounds in a month. Breakfast was a piece of string cheese and a small handful of peanuts. Lunch was a whopper with cheese, no bun or anything. Dinner was a lunchable on the way home with ham/cheese with a small bag of cashews with 2 diet pepsis. I did that every day and my job at the time was walking 5-10 miles a day as a PM on a computer rollout project. I went from 330 to 290 in one month. Atkins-style. Needless to say, I couldn’t sustain this forever. My job came to an end, I got stressed, ordered a pizza, and that was that.
In high school…I lost that 65 pounds in just over 2 months after a serious rejection lol. It’s high school, shit happens. You just think “if I was thinner”, someone would like me better. Often, perhaps, you don’t realize at the time, perhaps that person isn’t into the same shit as you? You’re 16 or 18, hormones are everywhere, and it takes you a few years until you “get it”. My point is – I’m sure many millions of teens go through this daily.
So calorie restrictions, self flagellation, and short cuts to lose 100 pounds in 5 months don’t help.
Changing your lifestyle. Do one of those items above, one month at a time. Not all at once. There’s a difference now with perspective.
Previously, I’d diet out of a lot of self hatred of what I had become. This time, it was about embracing life and inhaling in all it had to offer.
Any of you who have read my long ass writings have seen my pizzas. You’ve seen my hacks. You’ve seen my exercises.
Here’s my plan to science the shit out of myself to my next goal – 227. 227 is the weight I was in the picture in my previous page. This goal is now 67 pounds away. In high school, I would have dropped to 800 calories and ran 2-3 miles a day for 2 months and injured myself. Today….I have some weapons.
- Cardio. This is not to happen, other than low-impact and low heart rate cardio. When you walk, slowly swim, bike at a leisurely pace, you are indeed burning available carbs, but you’re also burning fat. This is the pepe le peu method. Slow and steady burn. I don’t have an issue doing 30-45 minutes with any of the above. Beyond that, I’m worried a little about catabolism. Look up “fat burning zone” with your heart rate monitoring stuff.
- Weight training. I’m upping my weight training to 2-one hour sessions a week which are full-body workouts. This will be Saturday and Wednesday. On Sunday, I will try and do a 30 minute session at home on anything not covered by the trainer yesterday. So tomorrow, I have some back and abs to work on. By resistance training, I will continue to build lean muscle. I’m 42 in a month. No one ever bothered to tell me, ever, that if I lifted weights like a fiend, I will never get “huge”. That’s steroids guys. Look up “natural body builder”. These guys are like 5’9″ and 190-195 at 5-7% bodyfat. I feel I could get to 200 with 17-20% bodyfat within 15-18 months. Phase three is then dealing with the last 10-30 pounds in a smart way, as to minimize muscle loss and maximize fat loss. Luckily, there’s an entire library of YouTube for how to do this. The first 170 pounds? Not so much.
- Calories. I’m currently sitting around 2300 calories taking in, and my BMR is somewhere like 2531 on the fun scale. I will now closely monitor the BMR as my weight slowly drops and my muscle slowly builds. Now, the BMR may drop over time, as fat weight also contributes to this. But unlike the guy who drops 100 pounds in 5 months who has literally destroyed his muscle and left skin flopping everywhere, I plan on dropping a good deal of fat weight and building a stronger frame. There is a need to thread here folks. If you drop calories too much (my previous 1,800 failures), you then start to drop muscle and your BMR drops like a a cinder block.
- Macros. Ask a trainer, body builder, etc – and everyone may have different answers. The keto people need high fat and low carbs/protein. Atkins wants low carbs and whatever else. For me…here’s how this is going:
- 24 hours before an anticipated training event, I will target 40-45% carbs, 30% protein, and 25-30% fats. I want to ensure my muscles have the glycogen stores filled to ensure I have the batter charged for heavy lifting. I will usually have a meal like an overnight oatmeal cup (good simple/complex carbs) or spaghetti and meatballs (wheat spaghetti, moderate portions with higher amounts of grass fed beef meatballs) to give me a nice carb boost to get the muscles moving.
- Immediately after my lift and continuing on “rest days”, 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fats. Ideally, I’m ok with a few higher points on protein an few lower on carbs/fats.
- Supplements. While 80-90% of my plan is being designed on the dinner table, and 10% or so in the gym, there’s a few supplements I’m taking to fill in gaps:
- Fish oil. I need the omega 3s from salmon, and I just don’t eat enough fish
- Whey protein. It’s hard to get THAT MUCH protein daily. I’m now re-configuring my overnight oatmeal cups to have less oatmeal and whey. Whey protein is AMAZING with silk unsweetened almond milk.
- Multi-vitamin. The jury is out on these, but I don’t feel it will hurt.
- Magnesium. Calming effect. It also supposedly rejects some cravings. Helps me sleep soundly.
- melatonin. I’ve been taking sleeping pills for years now. Melatonin was a new addition to replace the pills. I had terrible sleep my first 35 years on this earth, and amazing sleep much of the last few years. I take one a night.
- Cheat meals. I am averaging about one every week or two. I forced myself to have one last night. You can’t “eat clean” 24×7 for the rest of your life. Life happens. Make splurges the rare exception and not the norm. My body started feeling like a high powered machine a few months back. Granted, I’m still overweight. But I can just feel how my body is changing.
- Sugar. I still have fruit sugars, occasionally. I eat complex carbs like brown rice, wheat pastas, grains like oats. But sugar has been mostly eliminated from my diet for a long time. Look into how this is not only the main cause for heart disease, but now studies are essentially stating that sugar fuels cancer cells. Wonder what changed in the last 30-40 years to make our nation lead in heart attacks and cancer deaths? High fructose corn syrup, anyone?
First world problem:
In 10-20 pounds from now, not one single article of clothing I own will fit me anymore. I’m already having problems with my work outfits. I’ve had to drill holes in my belts. Several. As of this past week, I need to spend time today drilling more holes. While my weight has not changed much the past 6 weeks due to my poconos debacle, inches are being lost everywhere.
Look, if you’re losing weight “properly”, meaning no more than 1-2 pounds per week, occasionally you will hit the wall. Work the process. Do not give up. As I mentioned above, I’m taking off more inches. When I started this, I was wearing a size 22 shirt. I’m now in a 20 and they are clown sized on me. Luckily, I actually own 2 19’s from many many moons back I never got to wear. They actually are a little big.
I have hit a few of these with the weight numbers. But get this…I’m drinking literally 10 pounds of water a day. I eat 2-4 pounds of food. Some foods hold more water. Sometimes you are building muscle. Sometimes you are burning fat. It took me awhile to stop obsessing over the number, and embrace the progress.
My next goal is 67 pounds. I’m hoping to achieve 4-8 pounds of loss per month. This is slow loss, with building muscle and taking off fat. Not trying to just drop “weight” and lose a lot of muscle.
With luck…and hard work, this will take me about 8-12 months. Or, June-Oct 2018. Looking forward to a 5k dedicated in my friend’s name next July at the end of the month, hopefully coming in there around 225-230.