I’m a problem solver. I work with some of the most complex technology in the world and lead teams implementing it. But how does that translate to being healthy and trim? Well, you have to understand a root cause problem before you can really figure out how to solve the problem – the right way. You can put band aids on things, but only when you really confirm log files with multiple sources can you really then put together a strong engineering recommendation for the time ahead. So let’s take a look.
Well, if you are late to the game, I had previously lost 175 pounds over 3 years. I was in fighting shape then!!
I had a bit of a cheat code over some of you in that I’d always been an athletic person. In fact – hurting myself doing some of that had led me to gain weight then, as it has now. So I want to tell you I have experience with weight loss at “expert” level.
This is where I am now – forgive the mirror, I noticed it needs a clean afterwards lol. I didn’t realize the background until now and shit on the floor. Yeah…so what lol. You aren’t paying for this subscription content now, are you? Good. So get off my shit.
But I ask you this – do you go to the gym and pick this dude as your trainer?
Not so much. So why listen to me, at all? Because I understand your struggles. They are real. I’ve obviously been there. Some people eat whatever the hell they want and are skin and bones, others look at a brownie and the next thing you know they are shopping at Big and Tall.
My recent story
Social media is filled with perfect lives. People who can do no wrong. It’s a marketing thing. Whether your perfect friends on facebook are secretly broke flashing matching Humvees in the driveway, or the neighbors with the champagne picture at a resort they put on a credit card – or the “perfect” couple you see who had had issues for decades – social media is rift with fairy tales. Occasionally, people stumble. I did. I’m here today because I’m now coming to a place where I can sort of get back on the track. I have a bunch of weight I’d like to take back off since the 3 year mark I hit 197. I’m somewhere between 285 and 295 depending on the crazy weekend I have. I have a disclaimer here I’ll go into more below that the most recent 20 has been over about a 4 month mark where I changed my diet from low carb to not low carb. My body didn’t like that so much. I was probably about 10 more than I am now, but my body finally adjusted last month and now I’m ready to begin.
Leading up to COVID, I had gotten down to 197, ran a bunch of 5Ks, and even did a sprint triathlon. I was hiking a lot, running an extreme amount, and probably biking 100 miles a week. I was in the office every day, and walking around a lot. I did OMAD (one meal a day) which looked like this – 3 stalks of romaine, a pound of chicken, you get the idea.
I would not eat most Fridays and have 2 meals each day on weekends. I was probably exercising at a high level about 15 hours a week. At this time, I was being interviewed by US Cybercom for a direct commission into the Army.
Where it went to shit
About 3 years ago, my mother’s cancer progressed. My wife was also now pregnant, and I was learning about the repo market going to shit. This ties in with my financial writings of the last 3 years. My weekends and evenings were spent with my mom 90 minutes away. I still had to work 90 minutes away, take care of my family, and shit around the house. I was scrambling with the repo market news. Not many on the planet understood what I read, and with this, I went into a form of “flight or fight” mode – where my stress hormones went into overdrive. Nov 2019 was when I ended my training sessions after 3 years with my wonderful trainer, and stepped on the scale at 197. 3 weeks later, my mother was dead, and when I went to put on my suit for the funeral, nothing fit. Somehow, I had hit 219. WHAT???
Yeah, I had gained 22 pounds in a month. No idea how. I didn’t sleep much, and I had stopped exercising 100%. So I just figured some stress things were going on, and after the holidays I’ll get back to it.
In Feb 2020, at the end of February right before COVID, I was 225. I could not figure out what was going on. I started running again, but I was putting on a lot of miles. Trying to cry run of sorts – to me it’s a form of rage running where you take out your frustrations on the pavement. I had quite a bit of 5mi and 6mi runs in a short period, and then the pinch in the back began.
I shut down the running. Figured I’d give it a few months. And then the world went to shit….
Also at this time, I was following the COVID story since day 1 in January. I built a pantry downstairs, and I’m sure this added to layers of stress. My wife was 6 months pregnant, and now I’m dealing with the fucking zombie apocalypse. So when my son was born, I was 245. He had to spend 10 days in the NICU, and I had no idea if he was going to survive. Also during this time, the offices were all shut down for 2 weeks (I mean 2 years) to slow the spread – and with this, it meant I was home, every day. I had a team of 70 or so I was responsible for, and well – no one had this on their bingo card.
With being home with the wife instead of at the office, I ended up eating lunches with her, and then ate my big salad for dinner. No fasting Fridays anymore because I was in the house.
I was still low carb – but now I was eating more calories than the OMAD. No walking around the office or running on the installation’s track after work.
We then welcomed home my baby boy – and well, anyone with a mom bod or dad bod can tell you what happens next. Lack of sleep for the better part of a year is the norm. This then has you completely blowing apart any sense of a workout routine. Just the year earlier where I was going on 45 mile bike runs for 3 hours, I was now not really allowed to be out of the house much and leave the wife alone. This may have then changed my course I’d do from the flat 45 mile ride 20 mins from the house to the 12m course right out of the back door that was hilly as shit. Meaning, I went from 4 hours away to 1. Running became something I had dreams about. Hiking for 4 hours to music? Hahahahahhahhhahahahahha. Yeah, no.
The best I had really hoped for the last 2 years was walking the dog and taking junior with me in the stroller.
So in the better part of 2 years since my son was born, I gained roughly 30 pounds. I mean, that’s just over a pound a month. An extra 3500 calories a month. An extra 120 calories a day. Think of that. My weight gain over 2 years was the equivalent of a pat of butter a day in excess. When you take into account the lack of exercise, and the increased calories – the only reason I probably didn’t blow up was exercising when I could. But – alas – I’ve had some nagging back injuries that really have taken my running, biking, and walking game down for weeks at a time.
This joke writes itself. But for the first year of my 175 pound weight loss, I lost the first 72 pounds using 40/30/30. That is, 40% carbs, 30% fats, 30% protein. Most of my weight gain in my life was more or less a product of excessive carbs that were not great with satiety. I had too little proteins. This led to a lot of breakdowns with me physically. Eventually I was just not doing well on this – my carb intake started creeping up, and the trainer suggested keto.
Anyone that has done keto knows the first 15-20 pounds you lose is pretty quick. This is mostly your body getting rid of a lot of excess water it’s carrying. Anyone who then STOPPED a low carb diet also has seen that 15-20 come back on rather quickly. This is your body retaining a ton of water.
I can tell you that I felt AMAZING on keto, and then I transitioned to “low carb”, which for me was 1-2.5 hours of exercise avg a day with 75-125g of carbs. My exercise burned off these carbs rather quickly. What I can tell you is that I needed carbs for peak performance with my triathlon and 5ks. I would train with carbs right before running.
This diet can get rather expensive, however, when you start eating more than OMAD, skipping Fridays, and eating 2 meals on weekends. I was now eating lunches. Costs of meats went through the roof. I have tons of meat frozen here – but I wanted to take a break from “low carb” to then go back to 40/30/30. I wanted to train more with carbs and explosiveness. But work smacked me upside the face about 5 months ago and lunch time runs or dog walks became a thing of the past.
So in February or so, I bought a shit ton of rice, beans, oats, and other staples to cook and prep WITH my meats. With costs of food skyrocketing, I wanted to try and lower my cost of food. But – there’s a trade off here. I also needed to start being mindful of calories again. I have been shitty with this up until the past week or so.
With 40/30/30 I was militant about calorie counting. With keto, you don’t really need to, at all. The proteins and fats are highly satisfying and with this, I wasn’t hungry much. I did several 3 day fasts as part of autophagy – and man, you feel amazing. But towards the end of low carb, my calories started creeping up.
Below is what I got cooking. Junior is now 2 and walking well. I am looking to start to do some running after he goes to bed soon, if my back can handle it. I think I can get out for more biking/hiking than the previous 2 summers, so looking to do more of that. But here’s what I got cooking
- Any weight loss plan starts with the diet. You cannot outrun a bad diet. Period. I will be using the 40/30/30 and start around 2400 calories. I’m down around 10 from my peak about a month ago already, so I’ll just count this as my re-launch party.
- I will weight train twice a week. Usually Weds and one weekend day. 3 sets. Nothing crazy. I focus mostly with the large muscle groups.
- Walk daily. I have to keep up with walking the dog, the damn back gets to me.
- Tennis. I had been playing with my 13 year old, but my stupid ass was doing 100mph serves, which has been what’s been causing some of the back issues. I love the hitting around. I can usually play until the wind in October shuts me down.
- Biking. Can’t do it this weekend, but looking to get out one day next weekend for a 25 mile bike. I did that maybe 4 times already this summer, so I’ll take the 1,000 calorie burn with this. I want to do a Sat or Sun until probably late October.
- Hiking. This was one of my favorite things mentally to get right. I’m a tad bit on the musically inclined side of things and with this, I want to put on some jeans, my hiking boots, a wind breaker, a winter hat, and hike for 2-3 hours at Rocky Ridge.
- Running. This is tricky, and I have to be careful. I have nothing to prove to anyone. My peak run is 8 miles or so. I think I need to get back to the 1-2 mile runs I’d do 2-3 times a week just to get going and stay zone 2 with a nice last 300-400 yards. I LOVED zone 2 running. Mental health right there folks. I think I just want to put the time in during winter for 20-30 minutes at a time, a few times a week. Get the extra calorie burn.
Any plan needs metrics and achievable goals – that can be measured. A realistic goal is about 1.5 pounds a week. If I really push it, I am looking at 2 pounds a week, maybe 2.5. To do this, I need to create a calorie deficit with 40/30/30. I’m going to start with 2400 calories and track this for 1 month from today.
I have my weight this morning, and can measure my weight 4 weeks from now on a Sat morning. You take this weight difference (perhaps 4 pounds) and you divide this by the weeks. 4 weeks, 4 pounds, is 1 pound a week or 500 calorie deficit a day created. If I look at my logs, I can see that I was consuming 2400 a day and exercising about 100 a day (on average). This tells me that I was burning 2,900 calories a day.
If I want to double that, I’d have to create a 1,000 calorie deficit a day. This is harder than it looks. That means I maybe cut to 2100 calories a day, and burn 3,100 per day. This is a DEFICIT of 7,000 calories in a WEEK.
The good news is that weight training with legs, hiking, running, biking – these are calorie intense exercises. If I bike for 1,000 calories on a Sat and hike for 1,000 calories Sunday.
I have a goal of next summer competing in the triathlon I did in 2019. I finished 138th out of 238, and I’d like to finish in the top 100. This is measurable and achievable. After I take off about 40-50 pounds in the next 5 months or so, I will start my tri training.
In years past, I made mistakes with weight loss that were costly. Here are some things I have to remind myself of, and will let you know about.
- Drink tons of water. A little known fact I once read – is that when you are dehydrated, your body may send hunger pangs. Perhaps you love pasta, and your body knows if you eat pasta, you will get water in it.
- Don’t kill yourself exercising. I was training for years before I could do 2-3 hours of exercise a day. Today, this second, I could go run 5 miles. I may hurt myself. It’s not important at this point to stretch your limits. The goal is to create a deficit, not run an ironman.
- Rest days are extremely important. The first thing you want to do is “I’m going to join a gym!”. You go and burn yourself out in a month. My trainer told me basically you only want to exercise a muscle group 1-2 times a week. This is why I have Weds and Sat or so for my weight training days. When I run, I usually will do Tue/Thu/and a long run Sunday. My Tue/Thu runs are zone 2 with about the last 25% of my run at a high level. I would do some intervals with these. My sunday run had distance, but was pure zone 2 and a mental health recovery run. I CRAVED running for 1-1.5 hours Sunday mornings. It is my nirvana.
- Don’t eat like every day is your birthday. I “put in the work” during the week and would start off perhaps having 2 “cheat” meals a week, maybe 3 when I was much worse off. Over time, it would more or less only be Sat night. But I never blew my calories for a day. And I would not go out of my 40/30/30. What I mean is if you want pizza and fries on a Sat night, ok. Perhaps you bike for 1,000 calories Sat afternoon, eat a higher protein lunch, and try and pre-plan your meal for Sat night. So instead of ordering a pizza in and going full gluttony, I’d go THERE and have two slices and fries. This kept me from overeating the pizza at home. This method also told me when to stop. So I might have a budget of 1,600 calories for a dinner at a wedding or restaurant with friends. I’d eat reasonable. Over time, you don’t want to eat like shit because of how you feel the next day.
- Alcohol by exception. I rarely drink anymore, but I need to unload like everyone at times. Account for these calories, they aren’t free. You will find that you feel a bit different on months of no booze for a Sunday morning run of 5 miles versus trying to patch together a 2 mile run after you booze hard on a Sat.
- Every 3-4 weeks you might want to take 3-7 days off. Depending on your age, health, etc. I know when I was training a lot, I’d do 3 weeks on, 1 week off. This was to keep me from overtraining. I had a few tri books I read and followed a lot of amateur tri people for training. During your time you take off, don’t blow your diet. What happened a lot to me was I needed the rest, but I craved getting back to it. If you are over 50, perhaps 2 weeks on, 1 week off.
- Tech is your friend. Music helps me with a ton of exercise. The fitness watches and apps also were really good. My three go to items are MyFitnessPal (calorie tracking), Strava for the bike and running metrics/tracking, and Training Peaks for those who want to train for more difficult items.
- Stay away from shit processed foods. Once you get away from “vegetable oils” your body will start to thank you. Reduce/remove all “processed foods” and try to eat as much simple ingredient foods you can. A general rule is to shop around the outside of the supermarket more than the inside.
- Do a lot of meal prepping. The last thing you want to do is have it be 4:45 and you have nothing in the fridge, you’re starving, and don’t have an hour to cook. I do a ton of meal prep when on 40/30/30. Examples of some of my meals I make are in 4 cup containers – 2 cups for the big area, and 2 cups in 1 cup areas. As an example of my most recent prep, I have 2 cups of white rice, 1 cup of chicken breast, and 1 cup of black beans. I throw on some hot sauce and there’s a 700 calorie or so dinner that is pretty satisfying. For lunches, I might make the 2 cup area broccoli, then 1 cup of chicken breast and 1 cup of rice, for perhaps a 450 calorie meal.
- Walk/lift for weight loss. I need to stress that while we are looking for calorie deficit, we also do not want to do nothing but cardio. Why? If you have too FEW calories and kill it with the cardio, your body will strip the protein off and convert that into glucose for energy. If you have ever run a lot and smelled ammonia on you after the long run, congrats – you just converted muscle into energy to burn. The first 72 pounds I lost, the trainer BEGGED me not to run. I listened. But I WANTED to run, so I did that for the last 100 pounds or so. I believe my last 25 pounds I screwed up by doing so much cardio, my body ate my muscles. At 240 pounds, I could bench 225 three times. At 197 pounds, I struggled to bench press 95 pounds once. BE CAREFUL if you add cardio.
- Adding muscle burns more calories. When you add 2 pounds of muscle in a month, but take off 10 pounds of fat and add 5 pounds of water, your scale make say you lost 3 pounds. Don’t worry. I ran into this problem a lot and would get dejected. You want to add muscle as muscle burns a LOT more calories than fat. The secret then is how to add muscle without using cardio for hours to then use the muscle for energy. This is why long distance runners are bean poles. This is why sprinters have massive quads. When you watch the fitness guys on youtube, these guys are eating 2700 calories per day. Why? They need to preserve the muscle and their metabolism may be burning 4,000 in a day due to all of the muscle mass.
- Considering measuring inches rather than pounds. If you are chronically dehydrated, you may gain 5 pounds the first month. Could put on 2 pounds of muscle, 8 pounds of water, and lose 3 pounds of fat. This kind of shit happened to me all the time when I would start working out.
Comments/questions? Add here and I’ll update you all on the progress next month.