Challenge complete!

Technically, as of Saturday 3/17, it’s 102 pounds right now.  I started this journey on Sept 2016 at 372.2 pounds, so I’m about 18 months in and clocking in just a smidge above 270.

The first 12 months, I did a “standard” diet and lost about 80 pounds – but then 2 things happened.  I went off the rails for 5 days in Sept 2017 at a yearly poconos summit with my friends.  This was lots of boozing and eating terribly, but by no means did I overeat to the tune of 19 pounds.  It took me the next 4-5 weeks to take that off, then for the next 2 months or so, the scale didn’t move.  Nothing worked.  The “great plateau”.  I cut food, I added food, I ran my face off, I didn’t run at all, I worked out 3 times a week, or once.  Close to Christmas, I started gaining weight, despite eating about 2500 calories a day.

I decided I wanted to try something different, so I tried Keto.  I decided on a 3 month challenge, and I have 1 week to go on that – and I’m down 32 pounds.  I want to keep going on this, it seems natural for me and I feel amazing.  Something that helped recently was that I got cold weather gear, and this allowed me to walk the dog, run, and bike in some pretty chilly temps!

I’m just astounded how good I feel on this, and unlike in my early 20s when I did atkins, I have zero issues with not having bread.  My big thing is I’m a HUGE pasta lover, and I could never give that up.  Well, I have been using zucchini in its place pretty successfully, and further below you will see the zucchini lasagna!

Where to go

  1. 265.  It’s what I weighed at my senior prom prior to dropping a bunch of weight.  It’s a mini goal, it was also the weight I clocked once as a sophomore in college.  So, I’m trying to remember how I felt/looked in those pictures and tell myself I’m doing good.  Sorry, but when you step on the scale and it says 372, it hard wires your brain to always feel fat and ugly.  It just does.  What’s funny is when you are that big, no one makes eye contact with you, so you avoid eye contact with others.  Going through the grocery store now is weird because people are always making eye contact with me and it’s….weird.  I’m not saying I’m attractive, I’m saying that when you are soooo beyond that people don’t even acknowledge you.  So to suddenly see eyes on me after 20 years or so is sort of surreal and uncomfortable.
  2. 227.  The next BIG goal is 227 for me – hoping to hit this by end of summer/early fall with lots of my exercise!  When I was in high school, my normal weight was 240-250.  I was not thin.  My junior year, I broke my foot and got up to 295.  My senior year, I went running for 2 months and took a lot of it off and went down to 227.  Just before my freshman first  day of school, I was 233-235.  At the end of my freshman year, I was 255.
  3. X-Large.  I think I’m about 20 pounds away from XL.  2XL fits nicely now for most things, and given I am taking 6-10 pounds off a month, I want to continue pushing this to try and hit 250 by June 1st.  Then, I will buy some summer clothing for XL.  Hoping to be 227 by October.  My 43rd birthday is in November, so I’d REALLY like to hit it by then.  Given that is 8 months away, and I have 43 pounds to do that, it’s about 5.5 pounds per month.  With the amount of exercise I do on one meal a day, I think I’m going to hit that by the end of summer.
  4. 5k/sprint triathlons.  Looking to see if I can get in on that deal.  I would like to try and run my first 5K by end of june.  I did an indoor sprint triathlon like 10 years ago and finished 2nd to last 🙂  Those are pretty cool.   No lake swimming.  10 mins of swimming/30 mins of biking/20 mins of running.  My current capacity is 30 mins swimming/90 mins of biking/45 mins of running – so I might be good for this event, I’d just like to do it and maybe be in the middle of the pack?
  5. The rest of my 40s.  I want to live life – and I’m getting a taste now of how that feels with my athletics.  I want to do races, train, be fit.  I’m 18 months in now and feel I understand my body for the first time ever!
  6. The march to 12-15% bodyfat.  OK, this might be a pipe dream, but where I plan to end.  My numbers still have me somewhere around 40%.  Which is still….FAT.  I get this.  But I have a job to do, and I know how to execute now.  Below is some math to show how this works.

 

Current weight – 270.8.  Bodyfat 42.5%.  Fat mass 115 pounds.  Total body water 114 pounds.  Fat free mass 155.8.

So – 115 pounds fat?  OK, I started well over 200 pounds of fat, so yeah, I’ve taken off a good 100 pounds of FAT.  What most people don’t realize is we need SOME fat, and in fact quite a bit.  If you had zero percent, you’d be dead.  World class bodybuilders who look vascular and kind of gross are like 4-7%.  I have zero interest in this.  Most people who look amazing with washboard abs are somewhere like 12-15%.  I’d love to hit that, but I think I will look and feel great anywhere between 15-20%.  Here’s how that math works.  I think any of you with some negative body image can use this math below to make a realistic plan for YOUR way forward.

I’m going to assume my FFM (fat free mass) is 160-165 in 6-12 months for the math below.  It’s been over that on this journey as I’ve added/lost muscle.  Keto is relatively nice with muscle sparing as well.  So, if my FFM is 160, what does 20% look like for weight?  This is 160 x .2 = 32.  160+ 32 = 192.  Now, I think I will be closer to 165 FFM in the next 12 months, so that is 165 x .2 = 33.  165+33 = 198.  The same is true for 12 to 15%  Let’s start with the low end…and work to the high end.

160 x .12 = 179.2 (this is where most movie stars do the washboard abs, which I may never get to lol)

165 x .15 = 189.76

165 x .2 = 198 (normal)

So – 198 I would look “normal”, and I’m 270 now, so I have about 80 pounds of fat loss to do.  I will have to gain 5-10 pounds of muscle.  Given I have already logged 168 on the FFM on that scale before, I don’t see this as terribly insane.  There are some fluctuations on this scale, so I mostly want to know what ballpark I’m looking at more than an exact number.  And….the exciting part – I have NOW through early November for outdoor exercise, or roughly EIGHT MONTHS of running, biking, hiking, walking, swimming, etc to do this in.  At about 6-8 pounds per month of net loss, that’s roughly 48-64 more pounds by November, with an outside possibility of 80 pounds by November if I’m able to hit 10 pounds per month.  With exercise of 5 times per week with weight training, this is realistic, albeit a long shot.  Point is, by my 43rd birthday, I could hit 190-220.  That is 2 years after my start at 372.2 and probably 63% bodyfat (I didn’t get this taken until I was 347 and 57% bodyfat).

The bottom line here is that I feel I may have a “normal” weight that is pretty trim at around 195-200 pounds.  I can see my “forever” weight probably around 180-190.  This is how you set your goals.  I had a one-time goal of being 165-170 and running a lot, but if you look at my frame and my muscle, this might not be humanly possible without dumping 20-30 pounds of muscle.  So, I feel I’m going to look damn good around 185-190 with 12-15% bodyfat.  That is healthy, realistic, and achievable with proper nutrition and exercise (luckily, I’m doing both of those!).  What’s of interest is as you lose weight, you may lose muscle as well.  The diet I’m on with keto, it’s muscle sparing and I have .6-.8g of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.  Perhaps I do lose some muscle, but with proper weight training and nutrition, I feel I may not dip below 150 FFM and am trying to work for 165 FFM.  So I am aware there may be some wild swings here, but the internet is littered with people who have done keto for weight loss and kept an amazing muscular frame in the process.

 

Keto lasagna!!!

OK – so this is something I’ve wanted to make forever.  I have made the zoodles up and love them.  Mostly, the zucchini doesn’t have much of a flavor, but it can hold the pasta consistency.  The money is in creating great meat sauces with cheese that the zucchini then becomes a delivery vehicle for it.  I found some recipes online, but I decided to wing it.  The recipe I made up has pepperoni in it – I didn’t really taste much of it, but it’s part of the recipe and macros below.  Next time, I’m going to swap out pepperoni for Italian sausage.  I have ZERO issue making a meat lasagna with this!

 

How to make?  This looks to be in an 8×8 glass dish and makes 4 BIG pieces at about 10g of net carbs per piece.  Yes…10!  It’s about 800 calories for a piece, but I’m usually doing one meal a day during the weekdays and 2 meals on weekends, so even with 1.5 pieces, keto coffee, and lunch, I still only had about 1900 for the day.

Needed:

  • 1 pound grass fed ground beef (I use the 85% nature’s promise).  I use grass fed due to higher omega threes and lower fat.
  • 3 medium zucchini (Only used about 2.5, use a mandolin to cut .25 inch pieces)
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk mozz cheese
  • 8 tbsp parmesan cheese (I use pecorino romano, to TOP the lasagna with 2 TBSP per piece)
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1.5 cups Rao’s pasta sauce (I got the kind that was 70 calories for a half cup, it’s expensive but the lowest carb and best tasting sauce on the planet)
  • 1 oz pepperoni (in the future, this will be sausage)

Method:

  1. Zucchini – this is a wet veggie, so most of the time in prep was dealing with this.  Use the mandolin to cut a bunch of zucchini up.  I used 3 medium/large zucchini.  I sprinkled salt on them and let them sit for close to 10 minutes.  This draw out moisture.  I turned on the oven at 350 and continued some of the prep below.IMG_3607
  2. Cut up 1 small onion and 3 cloves of garlic.  Heat your pan on medium, add about 1 TBSP of olive oil.  When hot, add the onion and salt/pepper.  When the onion is just close to carmelizing, add the garlic.  This is only needed to heat for about 1 minute.   Too long and you burn it and it tastes like dog doo.  At the end of that one minute, put in a bowl aside for a few minutes later.
  3. About now, you will take your zucchini, dry with a paper towel.  Then, rinse (to get the salt off) and dry again.  Put on a sheet with a rack for 7-10 minutes to dry them out further…you just want to draw some moisture out, not crisp the damn things.  So there’s a fine line here.
  4. Once in the oven, fire on your ground beef and salt/pepper.  Just as this is getting close to done, take out the zucchini and take off the tray.  Stack on the side if you want, just get them off the heat.  You can drain your meat at this time, but I use a lower fat ground beef and there’s not a ton of fat with this, so I will just add my onion/garlic mix to it at this point.   THEN – add 1 cup mozz and 1/2 cup of Rao’s sauce and mix up.  Once the cheese is melted, put all of this in a bowl.
  5. Lastly – make up the ricotta mix.  Take 2 cups ricotta, 2 eggs in a bowl.  Add some salt, garlic powder, oregano, and basil to taste.   Whip up.  This looks pretty liquid, and you want this to cook, so you try and keep this on separate layers from your sauce.  The egg in here makes your ricotta more solid.  You can add the parm/romano at this point to this mix, OR top at the end.  I like to top with it.  However, adding at this point would add to the base flavor of the romano, but I didn’t want to make this too salty.
  6. Put together.  At the bottom of your glassware, add a little sauce.  Just a thin layer so the zucchini doesn’t burn/stick to the pan.  Then, add some thin slices of zuchhini as the base.  I made the base layer slightly overlap to have max coverage.   Then – build as you want.  My first layer was ricotta and pepperoni, then more “noodles”.  Then, meat mixture, then more “noodles”.  Then, more ricotta topped with the remaining meat mixture, then “noodles” on top – followed with sauce and cheese on top.

Finally – I baked at 350 for 50 minutes.  At 40 minutes, I took it out and added some more mozz cheese.  Total cheese used was about 2 cups, 1 for the meat mixture, the rest was on top.  Let cool for about 10 minutes, THEN cut and serve.   Not nearly as liquid-y as I was expecting, so my treatment of the zucchini worked out well.  Delicious!!

 

As a bonus…

My sleep has been silly.  I remembered when I did atkins before a few times, the sleep was amazing.  Well, now I have my fitbit to track this stuff.  This is why keto might be a lifelong thing for me…

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Bonus , part deux – with one meal a day (OMAD), you can make some ridiculously rich dinners and have zero guilt.  Of interest with keto, is I’ve explained how hunger mostly disappears, but the hunger that does remain is very controllable.  Below is a meal to die for….which I would make up on a “rest” night.  I don’t like giant steaks in my belly for running/biking.  My preferred meal for that is…salads with meat or my chicken/cabbage.  This is a hearty meal that I might take my dog for a walk for 30 mins after.

1 pound NY strip steak and cauliflower mash.  The cauliflower here was steamed, then I used cheesecloth to take more moisture out.  It’s then hit in the food processor with the Kerrygold grass fed butter (omega 3s and less inflammation), heavy whipping cream, parmesan cheese, salt, garlic powder.

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