Life boils down to a series of decisions.
For Guy’s Guys, it’s no different—each day we’re faced with a number of choices. What we eat and what we elect to put into our mouths impacts our health, looks and waistline. Of course, lifestyle also plays a major role in managing our weight. As the years pass, the choices become more important because our metabolism slows down. If we don’t get a handle on our weight and fitness, well... Have you seen a lot of fat old people? You get the drift. As we age, weight management becomes a slippery slope, and when we factor in a glut of processed foods and GMOs we’re faced with, we can get in deep doo-doo quickly. My choice was to take action and mark the results.
I hope our guy and gal readers relate to my sojourn and I sincerely hope it provides encouragement for achieving their own personal goals. Part 1 focuses on how I lost the weight. Part 2 chronicles my learning, because without achieving knowledge about yourself, you’re likely to fall back into the same patterns that packed those unwanted pounds on in the first place.
It all started when I stepped onto the scale late last year. I could not believe what I saw. I’d broken through the 200lb barrier for the first time in my life. I have not been “thin” since my college days, but over the years I’ve have stayed in decent shape. But I was mortified when I saw that big two on the scale. Having run three marathons and consistently banged out sets of between fifty and eighty pushups almost every day since my teens, I had never let my weight or level of fitness slip beyond my reach. But that was then.
A few factors must be noted. Last year I became a new dad and decided to take a left turn on my career and go all in on my Guy’s Guy brand. Talk about stress! Adding to the pressure, I’ve always been a nervous eater. When I get uptight, I munch. I’m sure many readers feel me on that. Bottom line—I had a paunch and needed a plan. So I gave myself six months to lose serious weight and keep it off. Here’s how I did it.
A Vision. The Plan
I knew that to succeed I needed a clear idea of what success would look like, a solid plan, and time to execute it properly. I wanted this to be a fun challenge where positive choices would be their own reward. Although there would be sacrifices, I did not want to constantly punish myself and hear that little voice in my head barking, “I can’t have this. I can’t have that”. That was critical. After hemming and hawing about what was realistic, I decided on dropping thirty pounds over six months. I’d kick off the program with a big move to lose ten pounds and continue in phases of dropping three to five pounds or so every few weeks. I’d maintain the loss for at least a week before adding additional action to ladder down. No crash and burn diet aids, shredders or fat burners were allowed. This was going to be old school.
The Critical First Two Weeks.
I kicked off the program on January 1st by drinking only organic juice for a week. All I consumed was the liquid from organic vegetables and apples. The juicer extracted the fiber and pulp and I drank my meals. I also jumped on the elliptical trainer for an hour followed by a few sets of free weights four times a week. This helped fuel my metabolism. But the down side was that I was always hungry. Like a lot of guys, I’m not huge on veggies and salads, so a diet of carrots, celery, beets, ginger, kale and spinach juice was a major adjustment. Where were my beloved peanut butter, fish tacos, and tequila? Grrr. When I hopped on the scale on January 4th, I had already dropped a four pounds. That made a difference. What did I want¾ mandarin orange vodka or a trim waist? Tough question, but I held my resolve and got through that challenging first week. I was rewarded when I hit the scale on January 8th. I had dropped eight pounds. I considered a quick return to my past eating habits, but that little voice reminded me that I’d pack the weight back on faster than I’d lost it. This was a watershed moment. I needed to launch the second stage immediately. I read Dr Oz’s quick weight loss plan and modified it so I could stay focused, while getting a little relief. I kept juicing in the morning, but added black beans and rice, grilled fish dinners with a big organic salad. I avoided booze, ice cream, chocolate, dessert, cookies and candy. I was pleasantly surprised when at the end of week two I had dropped fourteen pounds.
The First Four Months.
From January through March I maintained a somewhat strict diet and my cardio workouts. Although I was still juicing for breakfast Monday through Friday, I went back to eating fish tacos and the occasional slice of wheat pizza. I did not eat meat (haven’t for six years), booze, or caffeine. I did slip back into an occasional tab of dark chocolate, an organic cookie, decaf coffee with whipped cream for dessert though. Once the weather broke, I took to the streets and ran the six-mile loop around Central Park at least once a week. It’s a hilly track that never seems to get any easier. By April 1st I had lost twenty pounds and was holding steady. I felt great, slept like a baby and was fitting into all of the clothes that had become too tight for me in the early stages of the winter. On April 15th I had my first glass of wine and drank in moderation for the next few weeks. But I think this prevented me from getting to the next level. Just as an aside, I did not view what I was doing as a sacrifice. I was having fun learning about my body and habits. I really did not feel that I was missing anything by eliminating so many foods that are really not nutritious. I was rethinking my relationship with food and I liked it better.
My weight was down twenty pounds, but it had leveled off. I bounced between a loss of eighteen and twenty pounds for the next month. I still felt great, but I had reached a plateau. No matter what I did, the weight would not come off. I needed to take the program to the next level. So I stepped up my workouts, hitting the gym or road five times a week. But what truly ignited the third stage of the program was cutting carbs, gluten, sweets and salt. I eliminated pizza, bread, added salt, processed foods, sweets, and alcohol. By mid-June I was down twenty-eight pounds and feeling wonderful. By July 4th, I had hit my goal of losing thirty pounds. Two weeks later I’m holding steady at thirty while anticipating that I will whittle away any residual abdominal fat over the remainder of the summer. Again, I feel fantastic and have more energy than ever. The last time I ran the park I finished the loop ten minutes faster than I did during the spring. In fact, my times are the same as they were twenty years ago.
I can’t speak for anyone else when it comes to weight management, and I’m hoping this does not come across as boastful. But, it’s comforting to know that we all have the internal capacity to change and reach our goals if we focus and do the work. There really are no shortcuts in life and if you do things the right way, it feels a lot better when you succeed. Next week I’ll address the learning I picked up over the past six months.
Are you ready to get a handle on your weight and fitness?
This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week are all the guys and gals on “The Biggest Loser”. It’s easy to dismiss these folks, but you have to give them credit for going for it. Let’s wish them well.