Paleo Challenge 2012

Tomorrow I start the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge. I’ve mentioned this to plenty of people and I usually get the same question? Why am I going on a diet?

When people hear the word diet today, the first thought that pops into their mind is a weight loss diet. The truth is we are ALL on a diet. Some have good diets where they maintain weight and stay healthy. Some have bad diets full of all sorts of unhealthy food. And of course there are the ever so abundant weight loss diets. So whether we like it or not, we are all on some sort of diet.

The Lurong Living Paleo Challenge in this case isn’t necessarily about using the Paleo diet to lose weight. Instead it’s about using the diet to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Under the premise of the challenge, if I eat Paleo and give it my all in the gym, I will see improvement. Who wouldn’t want to give that a shot!?!!?

The truth is I eat a “mostly Paleo” diet already. Usually very low in grains and sugars, bad fats, etc. It has kept me in terrific shape and allowed me to continue to see progress in my weights and times. However one realization I’ve come to recently is that I need to eat more!! Due to illness a month or so ago and just regular plateauing, I’ve found that my caloric intake is much lower than what I should be taking in.

Now on my “mostly Paleo” diet, I’ve supplemented this with both more protein (good), more “good fats” (good) and more carbs (grains, sugars, etc. not so good) This has actually worked well for me. However the premise under this challenge is that I should be able to do the same thing under a Paleo diet, and this is exactly what I plan to find out. Can I gain (good) weight and see me weights and times improve over the next two months?

Tonight’s bounty at the store was mild. Chicken breast was on sale so I grabbed plenty. Almond milk and coconut milk to mix my post-workout protein shake with (the coconut milk for fat/calories). And then a ton of fruit and veggies: sweet potatoes, squash, onions, carrots, grapes, and berries.

For those unaware, Paleo is based on what Paleolithic man supposedly would have eaten. This was before farming, keeping animals, etc. So things like grains (cereal, bread, pasta), dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt), legumes (beans, peanuts, etc) were not available, and thus not at all a part of the diet. Same thing with fats and oils, which are limited to mostly nut oils, REAL vegetable oils (remember corn, soybeans, and such are not vegetables), and animal fats. This is a rather quick summary just to give you a general idea.

So that is MY challenge. If the diet is as long term as I believe, I should have no problem seeing my weight go UP over the next 8 weeks and see my times and performance improve. I know it can already maintain my weight and health. Now let’s see if it can be used for gaining.

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The Endless Journey

Two years ago I started exercising with the goal of losing weight. I lost ~18lbs due to my appendectomy, and I figured with all of the change going on in my life at the time I might as well take that “head start” and do something with it. I did what most everyone does when they want to lose weight. I started counting my calories. I started running for long periods of time every day (40-60 minutes). I got on the free weights and weight machines and lifted really heavy weights 8-10 times in a row (or until I failed), rested 60 seconds, and then repeated that two more times. On some days I worked out my arms with a bunch of different exercises. On other days it was my legs. One day would be shoulders, and let’s not forget about my chest on another day. And truthfully, I lost all of my weight doing this; to the tune of 60 total pounds in 6 months. However at that point something occurred to me. Going back to that first sentence, my goal had been met. So what do I do now?

To me this was a very unusual concept. I mean I enjoyed looking at the weights going up routinely, and I enjoyed looking at the running times coming down.. but what sort of goal was I now left with? Body fat? A certain speed or certain weight on a particular lift? It occurred to me that without a goal, without a finish line, I could (and usually do) become very disinterested to continue with things. It’s easy to lose focus or drive when you are not driving TOWARDS something.

It was around this time that I had started talking with a trainer regularly at the gym I was at. Now let me say that I typically abhor personal trainers. Your “typical” personal trainer at a big box gym is someone who usually knows how to get your heart racing, knows what machines or motions build big muscles, and if you’re lucky knows how to do all of this stuff without getting hurt. Again, if you’re lucky. However, in talking with Jeremy very early on I wasn’t entirely convinced that my broad stereotype really applied to him. I mean he wasn’t exactly “let’s do jumping jacks for 20 minutes”, nor was he “3 sets of 20, go”. He had his students using their body weight a lot. Had them doing complex motions with maybe a 5-10lb plate or a band at most. It seemed interesting, but again seemed focused on “anyone can do it” instead of “I am really going to get you in shape.” I have to admit, if you’re reading this Jeremy, that it seemed pretty lame. I mean at the time I thought “I guess they were primarily trying to lose weight, not build muscle”, but I (naively) just didn’t see how this sort of exercise was ever something that could be beneficial outside of some rudimentary weight loss clinic. (Yes I now know I was wrong :P)

Still, in talking with him more and more, it became apparent that, my uninformed opinion on his program aside, this guy knew what he was talking about. Immediately he told me to start reading up on various exercise methodologies. From Russian conjugate periodization to circuit training to gymnastics style calisthenics. In my research during this time I came across and had started doing Crossfit on my own. Taking the WOD (workouts of the day) from the main site, and using another site (Crossfit Brand X) to scale them to my abilities. Again Jeremy’s knowledge came into play. Crossfit many times is about doing complex Olympic-style lifts, and frankly… me hurting myself was a matter of when, not if. You can only gain so much information from watching videos on YouTube, and it’s a miracle I didn’t manage to hurt myself during this period. He would correct my form, inform me on the purpose of the lift, where the potential to hurt myself existed, all without trying to “pitch me” on taking his group classes. I was so confident in his ability that I didn’t hesitate when my wife thought about joining his class as I knew she was in capable hands.

With his help, I found a new level of exercise and fitness. Gone are the days of spending 1 1/2 or more hours in the gym. Gone are the days of doing bicep curls and leg lifts or other isolated exercises. I discovered exactly what Jeremy was teaching his class. Full body movements are more efficient than isolated motions. Being able to move a heavy weight around in an isolated fashion means NOTHING if you can’t even move your own body weight around in a compound motion. Getting really strong using your muscles in ways you normally wouldn’t use them is pointless when compared to getting really strong using your muscles in ways that you use them every single day!

It’s now that I FINALLY understand what fitness is. Fitness is not about where you’re going but the journey in getting there. It’s not about lifting heavy weights over and over so you can move onto even heavier weights. I mean things like PRs (personal records) and six packs are nice, but I’m now finding even more impressive are the things I never thought about two years ago. Playing sports. Doing gymnastics. Being faster. Having more power and endurance. Being able to actually JUMP to get a ball or staying in a game without being winded. Not caring about how much or what I eat because I know that what I’m eating is good for me. In thinking about things I wanted to do with my daughter, recently one of the things that came to mind was rock climbing, something she enjoys doing. Of course it had been in my head for a while “I would like to do that”, but now to actually EXPECT to not only be able to do it, but to keep up with her, that’s something that never would have even been on the radar two years ago. There is no “goal” now, unless you can count wanting to do whatever it is that comes to mind as a goal and knowing that you have the ability to succeed at it. Well I guess that’s it. My new “goal” is to live life to its fullest. I’ve always been capable of doing whatever I set out for myself mentally, and now I can apply that same philosophy to intense physical activity as well.

So life is good now. But there is a frustrating part, because when people ask me “How did you do it? How did you lose the weight?” I simply can’t bring myself to lie to them. I did it by running and lifting weights. :( I spent 6 months of my life ignoring the bigger picture and looking at a scale multiple times a week to see a number get lower and lower. And as a result, for 6 months of my life I completely missed the point. Now when people ask “How did you lose the weight?” I say to them very simply: I wasted six months losing weight. I burned the calories and limited how much I ate. I lost the pounds. And I wasted six months of my time running and lifting weights, where I could have been instead focusing on getting stronger, becoming more flexible, being faster, moving better, eating the RIGHT foods, and letting my body figure out where its weight and fat percentages were supposed to be. Get off the treadmill. Get out of the weight room. Whether it’s Crossfit, calisthenics, intervals, sports like soccer or basketball, yoga, or whatever. Become a HEALTHIER FITTER person. Stop “burning the calories”. Get off of the scale. Get out there and “do it”. Take care of your body and it will take care of you back.

To that end, I just wanted to say that in the past few months I have been very fortunate to find a Crossfit gym FINALLY close to home. Badger Crossfit and Tyler specifically have carried on where my previous learning left off. Spending 10-25 minutes in a day in a high intensity workout, doing motions and exercises that will make you more fit everyday even without realizing it is always a revelation. Yes it makes you better at physically strenuous activities, but it even changes simple stuff like how you go down to sit in a chair, or squat down to pick something up. Or even just stand there relaxed. Understanding how the human body is SUPPOSED to move, and bringing yourself closer to that in how you move every day.. Eating foods that our bodies were designed to eat, and staying away from the foods that have led to over 66% of our adult population being overweight. THAT is a journey I am proud to be on and Badger Crossfit has been the perfect place to facilitate that. What’s my weight or how big is my waistline? I honestly couldn’t tell you at this moment. It’s been a while since I’ve cared. Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to the dog park to tire my dogs out long before they tire me out.

Update: For those new to this page, here is my previous post talking about my final results, as well as pics. http://www.borgh.us/2010/08/02/finally-weight-loss-pics

Update 2: Jeremy now has his own gym where he continues his fitness boot camps. The site is Express Fitness Camps. I owe Jeremy a ton, and unquestionably without his selfless guidance I would have eventually ended up hurting myself very quickly. Thank you Jeremy and good luck!!

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Finally weight loss pics

So, I am posting pics finally.. mostly because I love this Kermit shirt!!

Before

Here is me Jan/Feb 2009. This was pretty close to my low point (heaviest). I was probably around 200-205 in this pic.

I topped the scales at 205-210 by November 2009 when I went in for my appendectomy. Basically my appendix was less than an hour from bursting according to the doctors. So my originally planned orthoscopic appendectomy turned into an open one instead. :\ Where I was looking forward to 2 or 3 pencil sized scars I now have about 3 inches across my abs and a ton of scar tissue right under the skin.. bah..

However thanks to my downtime from the open appy, I managed to lose about 10lbs. during recovery. Of course I also managed to lose my business for good. :( All of that combined really put my life into perspective and started my goal of, well, living. Getting healthy. Not dying young. That sort of thing.

After

Here is me this weekend. 157lbs.

so since the beginning of the year I have been doing heavy weight reps (10-12 x3) and moderate running (3-8 miles two to four times a week). My diet has been low fat (under 30g), high protein (1g:1lb), and moderate carbs (1200-1600 calories during weight loss, about 2200-2700 calories since I stopped working to lose weight). The past two months I have been training to put in a 3:30 or lower time in my marathon this fall, but after doing a lot of research, this may be my first and last marathon as the body and muscle structure of an elite marathon runner isn’t really what I’m going for overall. Really the marathon is more of just a “I used to look AND FEEL like the first picture, and a year later I put in a 7:40 pace in a marathon”. I sincerely felt like I was going to die before 40 in the first picture. There was more to it than just my weight that you see which I won’t go into, but needless to say I feel great now.

For some reference of scale above… the polo in the first picture is a large. The t-shirt in the second pic is a medium. my waist in the first pic was 36″. My waist in the bottom pic is 28″.

So there you finally have pictures.

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Need to start running outside

Been doing great on the treadmill, but need to start actually running outside.. at the very least on Wednesday afternoons and possibly some mornings, as well as my long run on Saturday or Sunday. I had an app for my iphone that I used last year for some bike rides, so I decided to try it out for running/walking. Seems to work pretty well, though I need an arm band for my phone so it can get a GPS signal without me needing to hold the phone.

Walking at EveryTrail

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“Your body hides your weight well”

“Your body hides your weight well.” I am sure many of us have heard this saying before or even told it to ourselves. While I can honestly say I’ve never been flattered enough to have been told this, I have definitely thought this on many occasions.

“I don’t look 175.”

“I don’t look 190.”

“I’m a little overweight, but I look alright for someone who’s 200+ pounds!”

The thing about this rhetoric is that it is not based on denial or deception. On the contrary, it’s based on everyday perception and perceived norms and tolerances in society.

When people see us everyday, much like we see ourselves daily, we don’t see the small changes from day to day, and thus don’t see the larger changes over time unless we happen to see pictures from a long time ago. Thus even if we are two pounds more even just two weeks later, in our eyes we appear to be the same. When we are two pounds more two more weeks later, we are still the same.

For those of us who were fit at one time or another, these “still the same” moments end up defining our weight gain. When I was 150lbs. back in the mid-90s and ended up with my hernia operation that stopped my workouts, it wasn’t probably more than a few months before I gained around 4-5 pounds. Hey, I’m not working out, taking things a bit more relaxed.. Gaining 4-5 pounds is normal! I still look the same so it hardly seems to be a big deal. You become accustomed to it and suddenly two to three more pounds finds your reaction to it the exact same. It’s strange to say, but the human mind actually perceives your body the same at say 150 pounds as it does at 200 pounds as long as enough time passed in between the two weights.

Perceived norms is also a deciding factor in this saga. Now don’t misunderstand me. I love that healthy sized adults are today’s cultural norm, and that for the most part a little more weight is more acceptable than a little underweight. The starving model look that seemed to infest our culture from the 70s through the 90s is dead and gone, replaced by a return to curves, tone, and health. Unfortunately this does lead to what “heavy” is now. Years ago at 5′ 9″, an adult male would probably be considered fat at 175-180 pounds. Not obese but definitely be made aware that they needed to lose weight. Now at 5′ 9″, I don’t think one person would question someone weighing in at that same weight and height. When I’ve recently been at that height, clothed, people thought I was crazy for wanting to lose another 20+ pounds. Heck, for most people to consider someone obese these days it seems like you need to be looking at a BMI of at least 34-35. Now the truth is that this is both good and bad. On the one hand, people that are somewhere between 10-20 pounds overweight are not leading a dangerous lifestyle and are found to look perfectly acceptable in society. It creates more confident individuals, happier people, and less stress on a daily basis. On the downside, 10-20 pounds overweight eventually becomes normal, and 20-40 pounds overweight now turns into “I could probably stand to lose 5-10 pounds”. The scale only goes up from here, both figuratively and literally.

The question is, should we change this and how do we go about it. While I do promote healthy living and being at a healthy weight, as I said earlier I love that it is ok in society to have a little bit of weight on you. It is certainly much less pressure on our kids and in our schools, and one would hope in the long run leads to lower incidents of eating disorders or incidents of “corrective surgery” at younger ages. However, with that being said, you definitely should know what your “ideal” weight is, and if you choose to keep a few pounds on your body make sure you are still maintaining a healthy weight within a reasonable range of that “ideal” weight. 10-20 pounds over your ideal weight isn’t even worth giving thought to in my opinion. However, 10-20 pounds over “10-20 pounds over” your ideal weight is mist definitely something you may want to reconsider.

With all of this being said, the number one most important aspect of any of this is for you to be happy with yourself and your body. Being unhappy with how you look or your weight can very easily lead to stress, depression, or bad choices. Whether you are losing weight or decidedly not, you need to be happy with yourself and with your current condition. If you’re not, then look at changing it, more than likely at that point in baby steps. Try to start being happy with the little progress you make and it will be easier to be happy with your self at all of the remaining steps along the way.

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Current fitness status Week 13

Weighed in on Monday at a lean 169lbs. This is the least I’ve weighed since probably around 1999 to early 2000. From here the years effectively keep rolling back until my goal weight which I can now reveal is 155lbs. It may seem smallish, but for those who don’t know me I’m only 5′ 9″ tall which lends itself to a pretty nice weight and frame. Strength is through the roof as well, or at least better than it’s been for the past 14 years. Very close on most weights to beating my peak fitness levels from around 1995-1996. Running is coming along great with my current pace at around 8:53 and incline work going well. Current goal is still to finish the Lakefront Marathon at a pace under 9:00 which means finishing under 3:45. This would be a pretty substantial accomplishment I feel for someone who was around 50 pounds overweight just five months ago.

I’ve decided pictures will be coming, but not for a few more weeks yet. I want to be within mere pounds of my target weight before posting all of the pics (I think around three or four different weeks so far).

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Review: Clash of the Titans

What do you get when you take a highly revered all-time genre classic and give it a modern makeover? You might think this would be difficult to pull off, and with the new release if Clash of the Titans, you’d definitely be correct.

Overall I certainly enjoyed the movie more than not. It got a lot if things right, even improving on a scene or two, and in the end left me not regretting the cost of the ticket. Spoiler stuff here, so if you don’t want to know anything about the movie stop trading until the last paragraph.

In the ‘positives’ category there was the increased focus on mythology over the original. The theology of the gods was really light in the 1980 movie and just a backdrop for Ray Harryhausen’s work to shine. Here it is front and center and Zeus’ and the rest of the gods’ rage is thoroughly understood and apparent. And despite many of the scenes on earth being better in the original, I will defend to the end that Medusa’s confrontation was handled much better here. I also liked Andromeda’s reduced role here. The love story in the first was a bit far fethced and tacked on.

Now the negatives. Outside of Medusa, every other set piece in this movie was lesser. Maybe it’s nostalgia speaking, but you could see the time and effort put into the original stop motion effects. In this movie, the effects were frankly aboutas cookie cutter as they come in Hollywood these days. Perfectly fine mind you, but I just can’t see a young kid coming out of this movie today wondering how they did all of that like children coming out of Clash of the Titans or Jason and the Argonauts years ago. The Kraken is a perfect example. Sure the old one is a bit corny nowadays, but there is a cohesiveness and specific design to it. This Kraken was “Let’s throw Godzilla 1998 with a bunch of tentacles in the movie!”

And that is really my biggest fault with the movie. It tried to hit all if the right notes, but never seemed to strive to go above and beyond. Entertaining but I simply doubt it will end up being memorable. In the end perfectly average.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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How To Lower Your Calories Without Starving

aka Working Out. Plain and simple there is no other way. Your body needs x amount of calories to maintain itself. These can be figured out from the link in the other day’s post. If you eat consume more calories than this maintenance level you will gain weight. If you consume fewer calories than this maintenance level you will lose weight. The approximate number of calories in a pound is 3500 calories. So if you can manage to consume 3500 fewer calories in a week than your body needs, you will in theory lose one pound. If you can manage to consumer 7000 fewer calories in a week than your maintenance levels you will lose two pounds, etc.

Now let’s say your caloric maintenance level is 1600 calories. To lose one pound in a week you would have to lose 500 calories per day. That means just through dieting you would have to eat 1/3 of what your body needs in a week just to lose one single pound. Now to me, there is not finishing everything on your plate, and then there is stopping eating before you are satiated. If I feel hungry I get anxious, grumpy and obnoxious, so cutting out one third of my food to the point of losing a single pound is ridiculous. But let’s take this further. To lose two pounds in a week, you would need to cut out 1000 calories from your diet. Again assuming you are at 1600 calories, this means cutting out two thirds of the food you need for your body to maintain itself. To take this one final step further, let’s then assume that you are needing to lose weight in the first place because you are eating MORE than your caloric maintenance needs. So if you are already at 2000 calories a day and now needing to cut back to 600 calories a day, this is downright starvation and any basic dietitian will tell you that your body does not like to starve. You can only starve it for so long before it starts fighting back through drastically lowered energy, replenishing required fat and carbs, muscle atrophy, etc. But beyond that, your hunger will never feel satiated meaning you will feel hungry all of the time!!

And thus we arrive at exercise. I run at 6.3mph for 40 minutes with a 5 minute cooldown at 4mph. This results in a net expense of 535 calories according to the treadmill. Doing this five times a week nets me a total caloric burn on the treadmill of 2675 calories. If I simply eat my maintenance level of calories in a given week, I will lose 3/4 of a pound every week just running. This means you are feeling satiated, your body and metabolism are getting the amount of calories you need to operate, and your body will burn the fat when going into a metabolic state to make up for the rest. I also add in 4 days of weight lifting for anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the day. Figuring out those calories over the course of a week weight lifting contributes an additional 2100 calories burned over the week. So now between weight lifting and running I am burning 4775 calories a week which at maintenance caloric levels translates into 1 1/3 pound lost every week.

Now we can start looking at dieting!! We need an additional 2225 calories shaved off our diet every week to hit a 7000 calorie deficit. Divide that up by 7 days and we are looking at around 315 calories per day that needs to be cut. At 1600 calories per day of maintenance, you are now needing to reduce your diet by a mere 1/5th of it’s calories. This is generally not even enough to leave you feeling hungry and is still more than enough to provide both the energy and protein needed to build muscle and keep going throughout the day.

So you can see where we go from practically starving ourselves to lose a pound of fat a week to cutting back just a little food and losing two pounds a week. You can technically extrapolate this out as far as you’d care to go: run for workout for 7000 calories a week and cut back on 2500 calories for a heavier individual and you could be close to 3 pounds a week. Sure this doesn’t sound as impressive as shows like The Biggest Loser where they lose 10-15 pounds in a week, but doing 2-2.5 pounds every week for just two months amounts to 16-20 pounds. Even at obese levels 16-20 pounds is going to make a night and day difference to how you feel and look.

Most of my information has come from the National Institutes of Health. My actual caloric needs and burns are figured out based on my activities and running.

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