It’s been about a year since I hit my low of 197. That’s the picture above. Today a year ago I ran my best 5k time ever at 29:31. I’m not the same waist line as that day, but be damned, I’m killing it now and will continue to kill it and go past what that picture was.

I’m not at my low. In fact, I’m somewhere around 245 at the moment. I stopped weighing myself daily and now do it about once a week or so, just to get a rough idea of where I am. How does this happen? I’m going to play a series of events over the last year and how it has impacted me. Interestingly enough, my wife commented to me “it’s not like I see you overeat or anything”. And such is the struggle of many of us.

Event 1 – Almost immediately after this 5k, my running became almost non-existent. My mom’s stage 4 pancreatic cancer took a turn for the worse. Her condition had been fuel for me to take me to my goal. But now, seeing her quickly degrade – my exercise became less.

She died a week to the day after Thanksgiving, and those last 2 weeks took a toll on me with sleep and the agony of seeing her in that state. Then, the first Christmas without her. This quickly took me to 218.

Event 2 – winter – I was mentally fatigued and decided I needed to take running off until Feb. I stopped going to the trainers when I hit 197 and had 3 years in with her. I miss those sessions with my friend – but I also miss the accountability routine which helped me stay on course. By end of February, I was 225-228.

Event 3 – pregnancy kicking up. Now March has come, and once every 2-3 weeks I’m having a cheat meal or day. I’m not sleeping well with the wife’s snoring. I can’t really find hours a week now to bike endlessly or go somewhere to run for an hour.

Event 4 – COVID – now I’m stuck at home. Where for the previous 2 years I normally ate 1 meal a day, now I’m eating lunch with my wife. While it was nice, I’m adding extra calories and can’t get out running. I’m stressed all the time with COVID and financial collapse of the country. I’m obsessed about learning my way to making money. Getting to 241

Event 5 – My boy is born! Best day of my life, but of course – nothing in life is easy with me. He’s in the NICU for a week and sleep just doesn’t exist for the better part of a month. We go to my in laws and I feel disgusting. I stopped weighing myself 1 month earlier and I’m having too much food while there. When I came back in August, I estimate 260-265, although I can’t confirm. Sleep is still elusive.

For all of the above, I can tell you the number 1 catalyst for me has been stress. That cortisone in you holds weight, and the best way to get rid of cortisone? Sleep. Yeah. Only this past month have I been able to get more, and only the past month the scale has come down significantly. When you burn 4,000 calories a day, you can pretty much eat what you want. Now, you have to rebuild and start over.

For me, something happened about 7 weeks ago. I cried. For the first time since my mom’s passing, I lost it. I didn’t realize until that moment that I hadn’t really grieved. Had to keep going with the next challenge up. What many people see above is a series of events – but these were all tied into one giant knot of stress. When my mom passed, I had no real time to mourn, my wife was pregnant. I was working OT with my job and my contract was up, meanwhile the world around us was falling apart. Those few minutes of blissful solitude somehow unwound 9 months of being knotted up. It was as if this giant truck was pulled off of me. And that was the beginning of the turnaround for me.

Wow….

I almost felt like I heard “Gonna Fly” – the Rocky theme in the background. This is where I thrive. Being that underdog. Being the one everyone overlooks. Being bet against.

Derrr……ummmmm….now I’m a dad again. With an infant, there’s no time like I used to have to exercise, but as he gets older, I should be able to do a little more.

So, I can’t just go off on 3 hour bike rides. It’s been a struggle and a fight to prioritize workout time, but I need to do it or else my waist will spiral out of control and I’ll be dead. See – writing helps me with my stress a lot, but running and biking are my true zen zones. I started this whole thing 4 years ago so I could welcome my newborn into the world and have fun playing with him. But I just underestimated the level of stress and what that does to me personally with my pant sizes. I sometimes feel like I failed others, but then I do my kick ass workouts and kill it and realize I’m playing the hand of cards the best I can at the moment. And…times are getting better!!!

How do you get back to it?

  • Set a goal – I was at 197. My goal this time around is 180, but with some muscle. My mistake last time was training for a weight which stripped off a lot of muscle. While I did hit a number on the scale, my strength was mostly gone. This is on ME. When shit went sideways for me, unless I was running an hour a day, weight came back on me. I was obsessed with long distance running and tri, and was determined to sacrifice muscle and strength for a leaner body. That’s on me. When you cannot run an hour a day, the weight comes right back quickly.
  • Set a schedule. I am doing short runs M and W with a long run on Saturday. I have no 5ks to train for, so I’m mostly doing a 3 month maffetone block of zone 2. This will get me back in a groove and get my HR back down and calm me. I want to do T and Th for light biking. Weds and Sun for weight training downstairs.
  • Walk. I walk my dog a lot. This can not only help burn calories, but get you in a better place mentally. I was doing this a LOT over COVID to at least keep some endurance with my legs.
  • Food. I have yet to re-join any of the services I used (edit, just re-joined myfitnesspal today to get back to tracking items), but I might do that this morning to track. With low carb living, sometimes the carbs can get away from you. I like the idea of a “keto reset” every 3 months or so for 1-3 weeks and live in a low carb realm of 75-125g. I had gone about 2 years now without tracking anything, and I have to say, the last year or so I could have used it.
  • Fasting – this has been a struggle for me this time around, and the truth is, I don’t want to do it as much. I have gone the occasional Friday not eating, but I used to eat one meal a day. I feel with running/biking/lifting over lunch, I want to give my body the fuel and protein it needs. With my training, I do 3 weeks on, 1 week off. On the week off, I can capitalize more on the fasting protocols. I might do a 3 day fast this coming week.
  • Supplements – when I started getting back at it, I was complaining of the aches and pains. My wife asked me “where are all of your supplements”. I had let them lapse in October of last year, and I said, “sure, let me get some”. Yeah, I’m glad I did. Feel much better with them.
  • Protein – one thing I did last time around was .6g per pound of lean body mass for weight loss. I didn’t have a ton, I focused more on the number on the scale. This time around, I’m highly focused on protein. I think I’m somewhere around 200g per day, and I can tell you I think my body is holding up much better with the physical stresses I’m putting it through. While I’m not looking to get “yoked”, I see a tremendous value in having strength of some sort. Maybe over 10 years of running and biking my body naturally gets to 165, but in the medium term I’m looking for 175-180.

Overall, I’d advise people to start slowly. Most people that would talk to me about keto were super excited and then they would burn out in 2 weeks. Their enthusiasm would hit a brick wall if they didn’t take off 40 pounds in 2 weeks. You can do small changes daily which add up into really good habits over time. The weight melts off of you like this.

One thing I do before I run these days is have 2 pieces of dried apricot. It’s about 10g of carbs. Carbs are the devil!!! Yeah, I know. I know. Carbs have their place for me with training and races, and unless I’m really doing some work, I try and avoid them as much as possible. Generally speaking, if I DO have some carbs, it’s right before exercise to try and burn them off immediately and use them as power to build my muscles. With keto, you will find it very difficult to build muscle of any sort. It’s great for “weight loss”, but it’s hard to really build muscle without some sort of carb catalyst to do so. So if I’m doing a 5 mile run, I figure that 10g of carbs helps me a LOT the first 20 mins, then after 20 mins I’m really just burning ketones and in my glory.

Another thing people freak out about with the scale they don’t realize is water. Yesterday, I ran 10k. My body has inflammation and holds some water and the day after something like this I might actually weigh more. To top it off, I take pre-workout almost every day and that holds about 4-5 pounds of water on me. I also do “low carb wraps” and “low carb ice cream” from time to time. A LOT of of low carb (net carb) foods have a soluble fiber in them that holds a lot of water.

One thing I used to do with my monthly weigh ins were to cut the pre-workout, the wraps, and the low “net carb” foods about 8-10 days out from weigh in. I’d stop any runs on the Tuesday of the week of Sat weigh ins. Then, I’d do a “fasting friday” the day before a weigh in. Most times, in those 8-10 days, and with the day fasting, I’d drop 10-12 pounds. So – my 197 pounds lasted for a few days until I was back at the “street weight” of 205-208. I think my point with this is that there are ways to trick the scale if you want, but many low carb diets may hold some water in some way, shape, or form. If you are doing monthly weigh ins, just do the same thing each month so you are consistent. I liked the feeling of waking up that weigh in morning – everything just felt amazing. So – I did it to chase that feeling once a month.

How long will this take? Don’t know. Don’t really care. A year? I could bank on 4-6 pounds of weight loss a month on my old plan. I think this might be similar, but the slight difference is I will be looking to add .5-1 pound of muscle a month. The hope is this helps boost the metabolism a little more.

What mental trick I used to do was just to “attack the 5s”. If I’m 246 this morning, I dial in on 245 as my near term goal. If I’m 243, 240 is my near term goal and I attack like a rabid dog.

What are my LONG term goals?

I crave my endurance runs and bikes. It’s probably the highlight of my weeks. I’ve been sick this past week, and it’s funny. The first lap here yesterday I was ready to quit. My legs hurt. I had a COVID test this week (negative), but I kept up with my fitness plan. I was soooo looking forward to that time, I willed myself to keep going. At one point 3 miles in, I’m like, “I think I have 5 in me today”. At 4 miles, I knew I had 6 in me. At 6, I thought I could do 10 but it’s been 90 minutes and I need to really take it easy.

But my long term goals have to do with olympic and half ironmans. I did a single sprint tri, and my shorter term 2021 goal is to knock out 3 or so sprint tris and get to 180ish.

But to do longer bikes and runs you need endurance and strength. The people best suited to win sprint tris are very thin and fast people. I am looking for the 175-180 pound with some muscle to build strength and endurance needed for longer races.

My first Olympic event will be in 2022. These are 1600m swimming, 25 miles biking, 6.2 miles running. Each of these distances I’ve done individually. I just did 6.2 miles running yesterday at 245 pounds.

Daily life

Yesterday, I ran a TON. Last night for dinner, I had a 10 oz new york strip steak, 2 wings, about the equivalent of a small potato chopped up and some brussels sprouts. I also had a scotch. When you run THAT MUCH in a day, you can have some carbs. That potato I estimated at about 40g. Sometimes, small amounts of carbs may even help with the day after aches and pains. So – when you kill it on certain days, don’t worry about a few carbs. Where this gets dicey is to then have 2 rolls, rice, and a dessert with it.

So…getting back to it – again, this time I’m 2 months in and estimated about 15-20 pounds down from whatever the hell I did to myself.