30 Pounds Down

When you step on the scale and see the dial ring up at 205lbs, especially at only 5’9″ tall, you realize you need to take steps to fix things. I couldn’t walk from my car to my cubicle without being winded (maybe about a two or three block walk). I was not sleeping well and according to my wife snoring frequently. I was eating as much as 2500-3000 calories per day of food, something I wasn’t aware of until a bit later. All of this combined with a desk job and life of high stress over the past many years have combined to put on about 60 pounds of weight over the past 15 years.

You put it off because maybe you aren’t as distinguishably obese as many other people out there. You justify it to yourself as “Yeah, I have a little weight I could stand to lose..”. But at the end of the day whether you have 10 pounds or 110 pounds to lose, it all has to start the same way and all follows the same path.

I have to confess, my path to the loss didn’t start that way though. Every great once in a while something comes along that gives you that added push needed. In my case it was coming down with appendicitis in mid-November. The surgery was fairly routine, though open and not laproscopic. The recovery afterward was fairly heavy on pain killers and I definitely needed them as my stomach felt like someone sliced across my stomach with a 5 inch incision all the way through to my insides. Oh wait, they did! Between all of this my appetite dropped and over the course of the next six weeks I lost approximately 15 pounds. With those 15 pounds behind me I decided it was time to lose the rest of the weight I had made excuses for over the year.

The first necessary thing is to start exercising. I am currently signed up at Snap Fitness, and while the free weight area is a bit small and there are relatively few machines, it is very convenient in terms of location and hours, and does have a few facilities like tanning and personal trainers if desired. Outside of a few days of waiting for a station or free weight area here and there I really have very little to complain about.

Now here’s the thing about exercising. You need to sweat. You need to push yourself further than you want to be pushed. I think as humans we have a tendency to set very modest goals for ourselves. I could probably get by on seven hours of sleep so I’ll get eight. I could probably run around the block in two minutes but three minutes is still good. Internally and subconsciously I feel we know exactly where our capabilities lie, while externally and consciously we set our expectations just a bit under that. While exercising, specifically weight lifting, I’ve learned to throw that ideology out the window. You almost have to get rid of that line of thinking and I believe that’s why at the gyms you don’t see a lot of people getting serious on weight training and instead congregate in the cardio area. There’s probably a higher sense of reward saying you walked your 3 miles today compared to only lifting a 10lb. dumbbell ten times for two sets.

For my weight training I am following Doug’s Mega Cutting Routine. While a cutting routine is typically used to shave off a few pounds from an already fit frame, I figured in my case it would be a great way to both lose fat and build muscle at the same time, a guess that has so far proven correct. I did have to modify it slightly though. I can’t do tri-sets due to not being able to set aside 3 stations for rapid rotations. I changed the two light cardios per day to one heavy cardio 4 times a week to match the weight lifting. I’ve also had to modify one or two exercises to compensate for the equipment I have to work with at the gym. But outside of that I would say 99% of that routine is intact.

Over the first week or so I noticed that I actually put on five or six pounds. This is when I realized the next part was absolutely critical, a diet. Losing weight, aka burning fat, is a two step process. The first is keeping track of how many calories you are putting into your body and the second is making sure over the course of a day you are burning more calories than you put in. Where most weight loss diets fail is that they require minimal exercise and act on the basis of starving yourself. Unfortunately our bodies know when we are starving, especially if we are not feeling satiated. This leads to feelings of hunger which in turn leads to feeling distracted, anxious, and stressed. This is why it’s a two step process. This first step is eating so your body feels satiated. You should find out your caloric maintenance levels, include your level of exercise, and then subtract a modest amount of calories from that. Here is a pretty decent caloric calculator I found on the web. Using such a calculator you can figure out your daily needs with exercise, and then subtract 20% from that. Doing this what you will usually find is that you are eating and feeling good about it, not at all starving, yet still losing weight at the same time. But again, if you don’t have a good exercise regimen in there you will more than likely just feel hungry all of the time by just cutting calories.

As for quality of food, to my belief, your quality of food can be anything as it’s the calories that count. if you want to get your calories from chcolate cake get it from chocolate cake. Things I have found though:

  • Garbage in garbage out. If you take in high quality carbohydrates and protein your body will perform better. If you take in fats and sugars your body will behave worse.
  • Healthy foods leave you feeling better and more “good full” than bad foods. Eat a half loaf of whole grain bread and then eat a dozen chocolate cookies and see which one you have more energy after.
  • It’s not only important to get your calories in, but to get them in at the right time. Get carbs in before you are going to expend energy (workout). Get protein in before and after you work on building muscles.
  • No matter what you would like to drink during the day, nothing is better than water and milk. Pretty much all I’ve relegated myself to drinking and I couldn’t feel better about it.

So that’s my plan that started back in January. Next few posts I’ll catch you up to date to see exactly where I’m at now. I decided not to do a lot of pictures during this whole process but do have a few to share. We’ll see what else comes as time goes on.

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