alcohol, Andrew Weil, breathing, changes, coffee, diets, excercise, fat, food, green space chickens, happiness, inversion table, muscle, sleep, stress, stretching, The Time Given, vitamins, water, weight loss, worry
Not long ago I posted a brief rant about losing weight, getting in shape, and threatening to steal a piece of exercise equipment. That last bit cost me a visit and a stern warning from the Sheriff. Luckily, in spite of my dieting, I happened to have several fresh donuts on hand. Wheeew.
As of the last time I weighed in I have officially lost a little over 40 pounds! That is a lot – almost as much as my daughter weighs. I started out in late September at 238 lbs and after losing almost 17% of my original weight I’m down to just under 198. It is the first time I’ve been under 200 in almost twenty years. I hate to admit it, but back in 2007 I tipped the scales at 255. At that point I knew I had a problem and I managed to shrink back a little though not nearly enough.
Like I said last time, what I’m doing is not a diet – it’s a life change. Life is funny. As a child I alternated between being tall and skinny one year and husky the next. Luckily, around eight grade I evened out at mostly skinny. In high school I began to lift weights in addition to those other activities that keep young people annoyingly in shape.
Once I got to college I began to SERIOUSLY hit the weights, alternating between power-lifting and bodybuilding. I also did a bit of trail running. By the time I graduated I weighed in at around 230 muscular pounds. Then for the better part of two decades I did absolutely nothing – except eat. Gradually, my muscles gave way to rolls of fat, I started shuffling about, and I felt terrible. I dieted for my wedding and several other times I made attempts to reclaim my former glory. Each was a failure. Why? Because I didn’t really want to be fit. Like any good American I wanted to take it easy, eat burgers, and drink beer. No wonder we’re the most obese people in human history.
For the education of anyone else interested, I have decided to explain how I accomplished my recent success. Please understand I am not a professional in this area. I was a certified personal trainer in college but I never really made great use of that credential. I am not in a position to relate scientific methodology here. If you think you have a serious problem you may want to consult a doctor or a trainer.
If you are just ready for a change I suggest you start by reading this. I am devoting a whole chapter in The Time Given to the subject also. I would consult with your doctor just to be on the safe side. Then maybe with his guidance you can work with a nutritionist or trainer. Be mindful a lot of what I’m going to tell you is more mental and emotional than physical. And, much of the physical stuff doesn’t sound like a training program either. By the way, while this process has been fun for the most part, I have not found it necessarily easy.
Having blabbed all that, let me set the stage for what I’ve done:
2012 was a very difficult year for me. I found myself swamped by several of those great troubles that go along with life in the modern world. Good things happened too, but good things often come with a stress all their own. Mixing good and bad together day by day and month by month, I was “down” to say the least.
In early September of last year I tried a big criminal case. It had consumed much of my year and I ended up presenting before a Jury. I thought my client was the most sympathetic individual on earth and the matter would be a slam dunk for us. The Jury thought otherwise. We lost. I’ve tried lots of cases before and I have lost a few. None stung like this one did. I still can’t believe it happened the way it did and sooner or later I plan to tell that story of injustice to the enlightened public; I’ve contacted two heavy-weight freedom advocates for assistance.
Back in September I hit a low I’ve never experienced before. I don’t think I talked to anyone or did anything for about a week. Fearing I was slipping into major depression I consulted with my doctor. It was during the appointment weigh-in that I discovered my heft; I had assumed I was something like 215 or 220 at most. The rest of the appointment was a success. The doc ordered me to make major changes if I wanted to improve my life station and my health. What he said were things I really knew the whole time. But, sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else.
I set out to make the change. Maybe it was the lingering shock of the trial defeat and all else that had befallen me or maybe it was something else but, I immediately began to lose weight. This was mainly due to the fact that I ate almost nothing. I used to love to eat - anything and everything. Back in college I could chow down on a whole large pizza and still maintain a healthy shape. Things changed over time. Big meals became my enemy.
Now, suddenly, I had no appetite. I wasn’t even hungry nor conscious of my lack of eating until one day when I developed a case of the shakes. I then realized I had probably eaten twice in the past four or five days. Realizing that wasn’t healthy I forced myself to nibble here and there. The weight kept coming off. People began to comment and ask what I was doing. I honestly answered, “nothing.”
Once I dropped into the 220s I made the decision to not simply decrease my calories (as was the case anyway) but to alter what I ate. Between October and December I figure I cut those calories in half – down from 2500 to 3000 per day to about 1500 or so. The weight kept coming off.
I changed the food I ate. Studies have shown that you can lose weight eating pure junk-food as long as you eat the right amount. The numbers make sense. However, I really don’t like junk food and I am suspicious of the long-term effects of such dieting. I embarked into “healthy” eating. Not carrot juice and tofu or the like. I just cut out the crap – like sodas, heavy bread and pasta, and snacking. I like meat and I eat a good variety. Instead of having two pork chops as before, now I stop at one. I like fruits and veggies and I eat a great variety of those. All things in moderation. I suppose the food part is a balancing act and each person’s needs are different. I have stumbled upon what works well for me. You might need that professional help I mentioned earlier. If you do, don’t hesitate to get it.
Food is not the only important item of consumption. Humans must have water to live and I drink a great deal of the stuff. When I work out I drink H20 constantly. I drink it at home and at the office and most other places. Water performs many miraculous functions for the body and when you drink enough things are well-regulated.
Speaking of drinks, over my lifetime I have developed a liking for strong coffee and excellent ale. Coffee in the morning is a great pick me up. However, I have found that one or two cups does the job fine – no need to drink a pot.
Overconsumption of coffee and other caffeine products leads to the jitters, energy crashes, headaches, and it reeks havoc on certain natural body chemicals. Not being a professional I still understand that too much caffeine inhibits cortisol production which slows down fat burning. I may have got that all wrong but now that I drink less of the stuff I feel better and have more energy.
As for alcohol, I particularly like strong, dark and flavorful ales, porters and stouts. I honestly enjoy the tastes of such beers and I find them a pleasant way to relax at the end of the day. They also are a great source of calories, some are 300 to 400 or more per bottle. The solution I have settled on, just like with food and coffee, is to cut back to a reasonable quantity. Moderation. If you have a problem with alcohol this is a great chance to get help, by the way. The Bible talks about enjoyment in moderation. If you can’t moderate, it’s probably best to abstain.
It’s funny. Once you cut back on these things and get used to getting by on less, you don’t miss them at all.
In addition to drinking plenty of water I also take a complete multi-vitamin once a day to supplement any nutrients I might otherwise miss. I have considered adding fish oil to the regime but I don’t know much about it and what I’m doing seems to work for me.
Let’s see. We must have food or we die within about 30 days or so. We can do without water for around 3 days. Air! We cease moving without air in around 3 minutes. Everyone breathes subconsciously. Did you know you can learn to breathe better? I read Dr. Andrew Weil’s book Eight Weeks to Optimum Health and he discusses the importance of proper breathing and the techniques to do so. They’re easy. Essentially, it’s taking longer, deeper breaths of air. This allows more oxygen to absorb into the blood. The more oxygen in the blood, the better the body functions. Deep breathing also performs the magic trick of killing stress. Interestingly, de-stressing allows for better breathing.
I also decided to give up worrying. It’s pointless. I’m not completely there yet but The Time Given has another chapter dedicated to the issue. Stress and worry feed off of each other and both take their toll. Stress cannot be completely eliminated from life, indeed some stress is good for you. You need to eliminate or counter the bad stress in order to be happy. Plan and carry out those tasks necessary to get unpleasant things resolved. Write off or hand off to God those things you simply can’t handle. And, most importantly, don’t fret over any of it. Laugh even.
Another stress and fat fighter so many modern people neglect is adequate sleep. I sleep better now than I have in years. The results are cumulative. It’s also important to stretch daily. Dogs and cats stretch all the time and pound for pound they’re usually more energetic than us. Emulate them. Stretching has all kinds of benefits.
The word count is getting up there and I haven’t even touched on the physical exercise part of my routine. Next time I will discuss weight training, cardio training and really cool stuff like the steam room and that awesome inversion table. I’ll also cover having more fun, being productive, avoiding negativity and making more positive changes. Stay tuned!