It’s been almost 2 weeks since I wrote A big fat confession, where I spilled my guts about my bad habits regarding my health and diet routines. Today, I wanted to follow up with how far I’ve come, what I’m hoping to accomplish, and what I’m actually doing to accomplish my goals.
At the time of writing that post, I was about 194lbs. Today, I’m 184. 2 weeks, 10 pounds. A weight-loss rate that has been thought to be a little too ambitious. Many blogs and articles I’ve read over the years about weight loss have often said that losing more than 2 pounds is often related to malnourishment, and is probably too much to be considered “healthy.” That this rate of weight-loss leads to drowsiness, head aches, a lower immune system (i.e more likely to get sick), and the like. So that begs two questions for me: what am I doing, and how do I feel.
NOTE: Before reading any further, I’m no dietitian or health professional. I’ve just done some research, watched some documentaries, and made a choice. That choice might not be yours, and it might not work for you, and that’s fine. I’m not here to debate or discourage other diets, exercise routines, etc. I’m simply sharing what I’ve been doing.
What am I doing?
Well first, I’m eating less calories. Probably 1,000 or so less than I was before. Now, that seems really insane, but hear me out. I was eating large breakfasts, fast food lunches, large dinners, desserts, drinking cocktails, and snacking in-between. In other words, most of what I was putting into my body was pre-made junk food. Now I eat between 1000 and 2000 calories every day.
I know what you’re thinking “Isn’t 1000 calories too low?!” Well, if you believe everything you read, sure. But also remember, a calorie is not just a calorie. 70 calories of a cup of soda pop is not the same as 70 calories worth of mixed greens. In fact, 70 calories of mixed greens is not only more nutritious (duh), but more filling and sustainable than sugary drinks. And that’s basically the kind of thing I’ve been eating – nutritious, low calorie, filling foods.
Also, I’ve been trying out “intermittent fasting” after hearing about it from a co-worker. “Fasting?! Do you mean starving yourself?!” Not at all. In fact I’m very loosely following this diet pattern in a way that is comfortable for me. The basic idea, is that you give yourself an 8 hour window to consume food, and a 16 hour window to process that food and use it – and excess fat – for energy. So for me, all that means is skip breakfast. Which is great, because I usually hate eating breakfast. It makes me feel sick, and I’m usually more tired by the end of it.
The cool thing about fasting like this, is not only have I noticed myself losing weight faster, I actually have far more energy throughout the day, and I’m consuming much larger, well balanced meals in the evening. Which really works for me, because I love food and love to eat. Hell, that’s how I got overweight in the first place. But to reshape a habit into something that actually benefits me is a no-brainer.
So what kind of food am I consuming every day? Well, again, I don’t eat breakfast, and rarely ever did in the first place. So there’s that. Instead, I drink a bottle of two of water, which actually makes me feel quite full and energized. For lunch, I’m usually eating a sandwich or a salad. My sandwiches are either egg salad sandwiches with mixed greens, or a turkey sandwich with all the good stuff – mayo, lettuce, pickle, cheese, tomato, etc. Dinners always vary, but almost always consist of fruits and/or vegetables, and something protein rich.
Now keep in mind: I’ve only been doing this fasting thing for about a week. Before I did it, I was already losing weight. You don’t need to do this to lose weight or be healthy. It just so happened this eating pattern fit really well with how my body naturally feels every day.
Anyway, after I eat, I typically work out. Now I’m not some workout-buff who goes to the gym and spends hours lifting till blood shoots out of my eyes. No. I get on the elliptical for 20-45 minutes every day, usually spending 10-15 minutes on the highest resistance. After that, I usually do a mix of situps, crunches, planks, and pushups. Occasionally, I’ll join my wife for 20-30 minutes of yoga.
So, all in all, I’m eating less calories, consuming more nutritious, natural foods, and working out every day. That’s it.
How do I feel?
In short: amazing. Intermittent fasting has been said to make those who practice it feel more energized, and that’s 100% true for me, and I’m loosing weight much more quickly than when I wasn’t “fasting”. Honestly, I use the term “fasting” lightly, because, again, this was a fairly normal pattern I initially thought was wrong. I’d always been told breakfast was the most important meal of the day, but it always made me feel sick and tired.
I have more energy, I feel more focused at work, I feel more energized working out, I don’t feel dizzy or drowsy like have with past routines. Confidence boosts from the near 20lb loss aside, I feel far less depressed, lethargic, and comfortable in my own skin.
And that’s really all I care about. I feel healthy again. But I’m not done. Caring for my health and well-being is not something I can ever be “done” with.
Last year, I had made it a point to start making healthier choices. I had weight just over 200lbs, I felt uncomfortable, my clothes didn’t fit, my belly touched my legs when I sat down, it was all bad. And you would think 206lbs would be “normal” for a 6’2″, 26-year old man. That may be if all you do is pump iron and brag about it. “200 pounds of pure man, bruh!”
But that wasn’t me. Every day, I was drinking sugary drinks, eating sugary foods, listening to Sugar Ray, it was all bad. So I made a change – I would work out an hour a day, 5 days a week, and cut out the junk. And it worked. I lost 21lbs or so, coming in around 184-185 lbs. I went down a few inches around the waist, and had to ditch my L and XL shirts for something a bit more fitting.
But then, life happened. My job demanded long, 12 hour days, I started commuting a longer distance, and I was just tired. I got tired- well, lazy. It didn’t seem worth keeping up my health if all I was doing was driving 2 hours a day to go to-and-from a desk-job, stay sitting at that desk for 10-12 hours a day, and come home with little energy to enjoy the few hours left in the day.
Excuses. Just because things are a little harder does not excuse me from making healthier choices. So I confess, I’ve been a lazy pig over the last couple months. Focusing on my own stress without being proactive about it lead me down a rabbit hole of drinking sugary drinks, eating fatty and sugary foods, and listening to “Every Morning”. Not cool. I jumped back up to 202.6lbs, my clothes stopped fitting, and I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.
About a week and a half ago I stepped on the scale and saw that 202 number. All I could think as I stared at that little LED screen in front of my toes was You really f***ed up. You stopped caring, you stopped trying.
F*** that. Immediately I began thinking of ways I could improve myself, and for me, it starts with diet. I cut out the sugary junk and fast food, limiting myself to water, fruit, and homemade meals. I also started using my elliptical trainer for 20-30 minutes a day, or for however long I can without feeling like total garbage afterward.
A week and a half later, I’m 193.6 lbs. Clothes are already starting to feel better, I feel like I have more energy during the day than before, and I feel a lot less depressed. Feeding stress with junk food = being stressed AND fat = being stressed, fat, AND depressed.
And this isn’t just about the weight for me anymore. It’s more about how I feel. When I come home, am I too tired? When I eat, am I unbuttoning my pants? When I sit, am I sweating? Is the sound of Mark McGrath’s screaming “I just wanna fly” emanating from the speakers of my car radio?
All these terrible, terrible things must come to an end. Not to look better, not to have a lower number on the scale, or any of that superficial crap.
Fact is, when I’m a dad, I want to have the energy to get up from the couch and play with my kid. When I’m an old man, I still want to take my wife to the beach on our 60th anniversary. Not breathing heavily on a couch, bathing in my own sweat caused by the stress of walking to the living room, or laying in some hospital bed because I didn’t give a shit.
No more excuses.