Since the end of February I’ve changed a lot of things in the name of fitness. This is due in large part to a chance meeting on an airplane and a subsequent picture. I was on my way to Brainshare 2013 and caught a connecting flight. I sat down and had a pretty quiet and normal flight. At the end of it I spoke to the person next to me. She mentioned she had made it to Hollywood for American Idol. I thought it would be neat to take a picture with her in so I would know who to root for if I caught an episode (I never did, but Amber was eliminated in early May towards the end of the contest).
After arriving in Salt Lake I looked back to the picture and realized that I was pretty embarrassed. I hadn’t looked at myself in a mirror in a while really other than to shave, and didn’t notice that I’d gained quite a bit of weight. I knew something had to change, much like my doctor had told me the previous year. My wife and I joined a gym and I started eating a lot healthier. Things improved and I’ve dropped 45 pounds. Today I finally hit my first main goal, to get to 20% Body Fat. I’m at 20.1, which I consider hitting that. I definitely feel better about myself, and I feel better than I did in January. I’ve had a few people ask what I’ve done and now would be a good time to talk about it. A side effect of this is that my blood pressure is actually a whole lot better than it was, or so my dentist said at the last checkup.
I have some rules in place that I try to follow pretty strictly. These are what I consider lifelong changes at this point. Unless something drastically happens, this is what I’ll be doing from now on, in no real particular order.
Food and Diet
- No more fast food except for unsweatened tea.
- No more breads
- Try to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
- No sodas or carbonated drinks (excluding beers). I do not like carbonated water, so I’m generally just talking about sodas.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Eat as few carbs as possible.
- Eat as few sugars as possible. Sugar hides in so many products it’s crazy.
- No pasta. Replace it with Spaghetti Squash.
- Try to eat as much fresh product as possible. This doesn’t happen all the time, but strive towards it. Example: Frozen chicken loses out to fresh chicken.
- Snacks are now things like almonds. Tamari almonds are my new snack this month actually, I highly recommend them. Watch out for cashews.
- Water intake is crucial. Drink as much as possible.
Anything less than 1.2 gallons of water a day is not enough water.
- Exercise at least 1 hour 6 days a week.
- No, seriously. Get up early if need be. I famously used to have to get up with 5 alarm clocks, and I would get up between 4:45 and 5 am to be at the gym by 5:30 to be out by 7:30 to be at work by 8:30.
- Do at least 45 minutes of cardio a day until you hit 25% body fat. Then do at least 30 minutes and add in more weight lifting.
- If you plan to do lifting, look to programs like StrongLifts 5x5 (pdf) or Starting Strength to get a plan that’s worked for a lot of people. I used to do StrongLifts about 2 years ago and liked it, this time I’m probably going to go with Starting Strength.
- Switch up your routine a bit, don’t get used to it.
- Most importantly, stick with it.
- It is extremely important to track exactly what you eat. I would highly recommend MyFitnessPal. There is a website, an iphone app, an android app, etc.
- You can track how far you run/walk and at what intensity. I wear a FitBit Zip everywhere and you can see my progress here on my fitbit profile. Nike has a tracker, Jawbone has one. Whatever you choose, use it. Ask your friends if they use one, and see if you can compete with them. If you use a fitbit add me.
My typical day now looks something like this.
- Get up at 9 am.
- I eat a 4 scrambled eggs with spicy pico and sauteed mushrooms. If we have leftover things like chili or pastor, something with protein, it goes on the eggs too.
- Grab the kids, head to the gym.
- Put the kiddos into the child care, drop off my bag and head over to the treadmill or rowing machines. Row 4000 meters or walk for 10-15 minutes.
- Move on over to either lift, do box jumps, or something else.
- Shower, change, pick up kids, take them home.
- Eat a protein bar on the drive home.
- Eat some chicken or fish. I grill a lot of meat now, so there is usually some kind of chicken in the fridge waiting around for me. If it’s not available then eat a protein bar or drink a protein shake.
This is about 2 days worth of chicken
- Play with the kids
- Get dressed for work, pack my lunch, head to work.
- Eat a protein bar on the way to work.
- Work, eat dinner. Usually chicken. Sometimes chicken on a spinach tortilla with guacamole. Exciting stuff.
- Go home, pass out.
- Every once in a while I’ll eat a greek frozen yogurt before passing out.
When I first started this diet/exercise change, I promised myself one cheat day. No, not a day where I could eat anything. But a day where I wouldn’t track what I ate. If I was 200 calories over I wouldn’t get mad about it. About 2 months in I stopped tracking my food and I continued to lose weight. I was eating the same things I had been at that point, knew what to eat and how much to eat and in general had trained myself. I’d recommend that anyone trying this should track for a minimum of 2 months and then see how they do without tracking for a week.
Here’s what my weight loss looks like:
Here’s what my fat loss looks like:
You may notice that I haven’t hit my goal weight yet. However, I will get there. I weigh myself every day, and once a week I check body fat percentage. This has worked pretty well to help with tracking. When people ask me what I’m training for, I tell them that I’m training for the NFL Combine. What I’m really doing this for is to be healthy, to be around for my kids in a much more active and healthy way, and be happy with myself. I’ve been happier with myself since changing to a different kind of eating and living than I had been. My wife has made a lot of changes on her own she’s generally happier about herself as well, and I’m pretty proud of what she’s accomplished as well. My hope is that we can continue on the path of living healthier. I wrote this post because someone I know kept asking me about what I did, so hopefully this can help him as well.