For those of you not subscribing and passing through, I wanted to put out a bit of a rant on HOW I lost the weight.
Yesterday, a random guy at my gym stopped me and said he had been seeing me in there the past few months. He congratulated me on my weight loss and asked me how I did it. I was sort of embarrassed, as I don’t randomly have strangers come up and talk to me – especially about that. I kind of stuttered a little…I was just done doing some abs and following my trainer to the next implement of torture and it caught me off guard.
For those of you just tuning in, I’ll give you a nice overview of 4 key tips to losing a ton of weight. No 40 page rant today. Next week, I think I will add another list of smaller items that helped these 4 key tips.
Food strategy – this is the most important.
The body at the gym is built on the food you put on the table. It takes a lot of time, but I can attest to this personally.
For so many years, I have tried dieting. It failed. I mean, it was successful for awhile, but ultimately it failed. I dealt with “caloric restriction” and I’d go months eating 1200-1600 calories, if that. I’d be hungry all the time. I’d exercise to such extremes I’d injure myself. Weight loss would stop, then reverse. Tired…injured…starving….it was a recipe for collapse, every time.
I wanted a food strategy that:
- Didn’t leave me hungry all the time
- Gave me all the nutrition I needed
- Kept me fueled for exercise
Ultimately, my trainer led me to 40/30/30. Prior to that, I was on 1200 calories a day and running/walking 3-5 miles 5 times a week. I ended up at the trainers after 20 some pound weight loss…and injuring myself yet again. 40/30/30 meant that I needed to have 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. Over 15 months, I lost about 70 pounds. I had lost some more than that, but my carbs were consistently going up to 50-55-60% and I had regained some weight. This was a REALLY good strategy to start. It got me tracking all of my food and understanding the nutritional makeup of just about every morsel of food that went into my body. So many people see “keto” and want the quick weight loss. I’d advise this step first for at least 6 months to begin the weight loss.
Eventually, after the 70 pound loss, I went keto. You can see a ton of my blogs about this (maybe over 50 now?), but the big takeaway for me is how amazing I feel on it. I never got the keto flu like many because I saw online how to avoid it. Once you become fat adapted, things just get sharper in your life. You start to learn the dangers of added sugar in just about every product out there – keto helped me go even deeper into “whole foods”.
On top of keto, I have used a strategy with intermittent fasting, one meal a day (OMAD), alternate day fasting (ADF), and fasting (Fasting Fridays 2-3 times a month on Fridays, zero food). I have taken off another 65 pounds on keto in 10 months. Word of warning with keto – it will take you roughly 3-4 months, if not more, to get most of your gym strength back. I got about 95% of my bench strength back, but what I lost was relatively heavy weight for 7-12 rep range. This is because of the fuel systems – there is the phosphate system, which will get you the first 1-3 heavy lifts, then the glycogen system, which is what gets you the 7-12 reps, and then the aerobic system, which converts fats to ATP/energy. Keto is more geared towards your aerobic system. When I do go to the gym, it’s more “time under tension”, so maybe I’ll bench 40-60 pounds for 2 minutes straight. Keto helps preserve glycogen, so I still do have some there, but it goes quickly. After spending my entire life literally larger than every human around you – you don’t feel the need to gain tons of muscle mass, you want to lose fat and get a better body composition.
With the above “diets” – or lifestyles, I’d prefer (it’s been 25 months for me, it’s not a diet, it’s the way I live) – you need to plan ahead. I’d consider this one of the biggest failures of any diet or lifestyle choice.
- You should learn how to do some basic meal prep. Many times in years’ past I failed due to coming home later in the night, nothing in the fridge, and ordering a pizza or getting “window food” thrown at me on the way home. I lived a stressful life, but I didn’t do myself any favors.
- Meal planning. You don’t need to plan a month of meals out, but let me tell you – when you go to sleep at night, you should have a plan of what the next day has in store for you. A saying I love – “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
- Plan for events. In the 25 months I’ve been in this lifestyle, I’ve had weddings and parties I’ve gone to. Sometimes I eat in advance. Sometimes I eat nothing that day and indulge a little for dinner that night. Sometimes I have a beer or two. You need to find what works for you. Living a cleaner lifestyle does not mean becoming a fitness monk and living cleaner than a nun. It means you have 90-95% of your life that is clean and you account for the 5-10% as EXCEPTIONS, not the norm. My life used to be wondering if I was having pizza, cheesesteaks, cheeseburgers, sandwiches, or McDonald’s for dinner. Every night. You need to flip that.
Part of doing this blog was to have a diary of sorts. Hold myself accountable. Put my weights out there and hold myself to the fire. There is a certain vulnerability and freeness that comes with being honest with yourself and others that allows you to then start the healing of sorts. Yes, I spent a large part of my life dieting. The worst parts were when you were 20 some pounds into a diet of weight loss and some well-meaning friend tries pulling you aside to tell you to lose weight because they are concerned for you. They mean well, but they have no idea you already made that decision 2 months ago and you just ran 2 miles prior to seeing them. This has happened to me probably more than 25 times in my life, and each time it was pretty demoralizing. Your friend – they mean the best for you, and had no idea of what struggles you go through. So…part of this “accountability” has also been to apprise my friends of my progress all along.
With the blogging/writing, accountability can also take the shape of goals and fitness trackers. I created some smaller goals which are achievable – such as running a 5k in November. I have more lofty goals of doing my first Sprint Triathlon in August 2019. Then I have ridiculous goals I may never achieve such as joining the military. People might see these goals and tell you that you can’t do them. You aren’t good enough. Well…well….no one expected I could lose 135 pounds, and I did that.
Here’s the secret. START WITH SMALL GOALS. 5 pounds. Trying keto for 3 weeks. Track your food for 1 week straight. The little goals start getting you a lot of confidence and allows you to then shoot for larger goals. When you start to get tons of success, your confidence increases even more – and you shoot for lifelong goals that your entire life people have steered you away from.
If you are majorly overweight, I’d recommend walking. Perhaps you feel it’s boring, or not fast enough for you. Remember what I said above about little goals? Start small. You have an entire cardio system and metabolic system we need to re-build, re-start, and re-design from the ground up. If you start by running…or start by doing crazy shit, you most likely will hit walls or injure yourself in the first 30-90 days. When you tell yourself you can eat that cheeseburger because you plan on doing some form of activity tomorrow…well….calories don’t exactly work like that.
I used to see these fitness trackers estimating 1,000 calories burned! Wow! I can now order a pizza and not gain weight! Yeah no.
I can tell you that of all of the fitness I’ve done over the last 25 months, I feel it has contributed 10-20% to my weight loss. I’ve run up to five miles. I’ve biked 30 miles. I’ve swam for an hour. I have had 4-5 hours of heavy fitness in a day. This doesn’t move the needle on the scale, long term. What this does is increase all of the good shit going on under the hood. Over years of eating better, the clogs in the engine clear up and you start to perform better.
You want to build a solid framework – going to the gym 1-2 days a week is all you need. I do full body workouts for about an hour. Do you know how many times I started, and failed, with going to the gym 5-6 days a week? You want to figure out your splits. You need to spend 1-2 hours at the gym. No. You don’t need all of that. You want to do proper form, don’t worry about heavy weights right now. If you’re a new gainer, you can probably put on 10-15 pounds in your first year of lean body mass.
You want to improve your cardio systems. Cardio doesn’t necessarily mean running on a treadmill for 45 minutes. If you have a fitbit or the like, you can see cardio might mean kettle bell exercises for 2 minutes. Rowing, walking on an incline. HIIT training.
Once you improve your lean body mass and cardio systems, you start to have a better means of burning fat for fuel, your reduce your resting heart rate, and your blood pressure drops. All of your lipid panel numbers start improving. Mood improves. Energy improves.
Overall, life starts to become much brighter. It’s not such a struggle to walk stairs, sit in an assigned seat at a stadium, or even buy clothing.
It’s Sunday. How many of you reading this are saying, “maybe I can start this Monday”. Or, “I have a major party to do Saturday, I’ll start it the Monday after that”. What you can do, today, now, is start planning.
For the 3 weeks leading up to the start of my transformation, I was doing YouTube videos for 2-3 hours a day. I wanted to hear it all, but I first started with food prep. Trying to map out what I wanted to eat, how much, how to cook it – getting recipes. All of that you can do leading up to whatever Monday you start.
Once I did start, I was a man on a mission. But here’s the deal, just like exercise, I started slowly. With the 40/30/30, this was under the “if it fits your macros” model. So that first 15 months? I had started with 3-4 cheat meals a week. I was eating 3 meals a day, so I was having a cheat meal 3-4 out of 21 meals. This meant, perhaps on a Saturday night I was eating 2 slices of pizza and French fries!!! But I also went light on breakfast/lunch that day – I was hitting my macro and calorie goes…but I was doing it within a framework.
Over time, those 4 cheat meals were 3…then 2…then 1…then perhaps 1 every 2 weeks. This allowed me to build habits and consistency.
When I switched to keto, I already was done with the cheat meals for maybe 6 months. If I wanted a cheat meal, perhaps a party or a wedding, I’d plan for it ahead of time.
The key was….getting back to it the next day.
Time is short my friends, about to go running. I have some more items I will add to this on my next blog.