With the New Year upon us I want to get somethings off of my chest.
1. Don’t take a shortcut or a 30 day “challenge” in an attempt to lose weight
For those that don’t know I lost somewhere around 100 pounds and have now kept it off for about two years. I will throw one caveat in here, if you need to lose 10 pounds then maybe the 24 Day Advocare type challenge might be just what you need, but if you need to lose a significant amount of weight, don’t start that way.
How long did it take you to put on 100 pounds? 50 pounds? or more? Years, right? So why do you think you can take it off in a month or month(s)? There are no quick fixes, shortcuts or easy answers. The only answer that will get you to lose weight AND KEEP IT OFF is hard work. You need to spend time in the gym (or outside) and you need to SPEND MORE TIME in the kitchen re-learning how to eat. I live and die with a Paleo lifestyle, but no matter how you choose to eat you need to re-learn how you eat. No more junk. If you choose to eat processed “grains” like bread and pasta try to supplement with non-processed food. Eat food without labels, because if a food needs a label it isn’t food.
You can try all you want to run off the pounds (literally pounding the pavement daily), but without fixing what you put onto your fork you will NOT make progress.
I know quite a few folks who have taken on the 24 Day Advocare challenge and here we are months later and many of those same folks are doing it again. Why? Because it didn’t work. Sure, it worked because on day 25 they weighed less than on day 1, but by day 50 they had put it back on. Taking on a “challenge” just screams, to me, when that challenge is over you can go back to eating shit. Why not make a lifestyle change instead? Do it in small steps if you need to. Week 1 eliminate something like chips or crackers or alcohol. Week 2 eliminate something else that is keeping you from looking good naked in the mirror. Keep going that route until your diet is clean. That’s how I started about five years ago.
I’m doing just that starting tomorrow – no more soda. Again. It is the one addiction that I can NEVER cheat with. I have proven to myself that I can quit soda, but once I have a sip it is REAL easy to start drinking ounces and ounces of it daily (I’m talking 50+ ounces…). I am also cutting out beer until my birthday. I don’t splurge on beer and I have proven to myself that I can drink two or three beers a week, not a day. I do live by the “one cheat meal per week” theory and when I am doing really well with my diet it is just that, one cheat meal per week. But, that cheat meal is something like Hacienda where I still get lettuce cups for my tacos, but I do eat some chips and salsa. After this period of no beer I will also allow myself a beer or two. But no soda.
Anyway, I am getting off this topic already – make a life change. These companies that sell x number of day challenges know they don’t work. They fill your body with chemicals that cost hundreds of dollars and then want you to keep buying them – or better yet – do another challenge in the near future so they can get a few more hundred from you. Just eat real food and change your life, that is what works. I speak from experience.
2. My improvement in CrossFit
And what has eating clean gotten me? Well, it got me a Grace time of 1:49 the other day. For those that don’t know Grace is 30 clean and jerks at 135 pounds. CrossFit is awesome because you re-do workouts from time to time and see improvements in your overall fitness. And CrossFit isn’t just tracking my improvements in activities like running, it compounds exercises to measure overall fitness. The guys/gals who lift in the Olympics are fit, right? Or a TYPE of fit? Those who run marathons are a TYPE of fit, right? Those who can deadlift 800 pounds are a TYPE of fit, right? I think it is safe to say that there are many sports or activities that can display fitness – CrossFit takes all of those and rolls them up into one sort of workout (or workouts over several weeks and months) to build the fittest representation of yourself.
Before I found CrossFit I tracked how fast it took me to run three, four and five mile distances. When I look at my little black book (and if you don’t track this stuff, YOU SHOULD) I see that on December 7th, 2010 it took me just under 34 minutes to run 3.1 miles on a treadmill (this was after many months running shorter intervals getting to the point where I could run, without walking, for 3 miles). By April of 2011 I ran 3.1 outside in under 30 minutes in a race environment. My first attempt at 5 miles came on December 29th, 2011 and it took me 55:45. By July I ran 5 miles in 52 minutes.
The point? During the above activity I couldn’t squat more than 185 pounds (recorded on April 2nd, 2012) or deadlift more than 185 (recorded on May 31st, 2012). When I found CrossFit things changed. I can now deadlift 365 pounds and squat 300 pounds and I run far less….but…I ran a 6 mile leg of a marathon on a team this past April and completed the 6 miles in just over an hour. Or, to put it into perspective, about 5 minutes longer than it took me to run 5 miles when I was running multiple times a week.
Thanks to CrossFit I can now lift very heavy weights AND STILL run as good as I did before I found CrossFit. I will say that neither my squat/deadlift numbers or my running times are really all that impressive, but I can do both. I know a few people that can DEFINITELY run faster than me, but they cannot lift nearly as much.
And this is coming from a guy who about six years ago weighed in at close to 300 pounds and couldn’t run more than a minute or two without being severely winded.
Here are some of my CrossFit “Girl WOD” improvements:
- Grace: 10:09 on 7/13/12, 6:37 on 9/21/12, 4:10 on 12/4/12, 2:47 on 4/26/13 and 1:49 on 12/30/14
- Fran (21, 15 and 9 reps of 95 pound thruster and pullups): 11:08 with assisted pullups on 7/17/12, 9:30 RX’d on 9/7/12, 5:52 on 1/5/13, 5:39 on 4/26/13 and 4:18 on 8/13/14
- Jackie (1000m row, 50 thrusters at 45 pounds and 30 pullups): 12:11 with assisted pullups on 7/20/12, 10:50 RX’d on 12/20/13, 9:26 on 5/13/13 and 8:03 on 12/13/14
- Diane (21, 15 and 9 reps of 225 pound deadlift and handstand pushups): 6:30 with 175 pound deadlift on 10/18/12, 9:23 RX’d on 1/23/13, 7:27 on 8/13/13 and 6:25 on 2/10/14
All the while my max lifts have gone up (front squat from 185 on 5/8/12 to 280 on 11/6/14, for example) and my running has maintained. I can still go run 6 miles without any running training and finish without walking and running at a decent pace (for me).
3. Finally, me
What does all this work LOOK like? I have debated putting the picture below into this post. This is a big moment for me, because I used to NEVER take off my shirt in public. NEVER. And I even wrote this post, let it sit for a few hours, then re-read to see if I really wanted to post the picture. It’s nerve wrecking for me.
I remember one of the lowest points in my life was when my dad took my family to Hawaii. Sounds horrible, right? It shouldn’t have been, it should have been awesome. It wasn’t for me. I was so overweight and so unhappy with myself I just couldn’t enjoy myself. The trip involved lots of time in the pool and the ocean which meant bathing suits, which meant no shirt. Not for me. I either avoided the water like the time my family went snorkeling and I refused to go or if I did get in the water I ruined a t-shirt by swimming with a cotton t-shirt on. Ridiculous. At that time in my life I am guessing I weighed in close to 330 or 350 pounds. I was miserable.
That’s me in Hawaii in September 2001 and me in a CrossFit comp in April of 2013.
Another picture for reference, here I am with my son before I started to run. I started down this path to a healthier life thanks to him. I wanted to be able to keep up with him on the playground and on the ball field. I started running and started Weight Watchers about five years ago because of him. He is now nearly six years old (turns six in February) and I coached his t-ball team this summer and play on the monkey bars with him at the playground. Sure, I could have coached his t-ball team weighing in at 290, but it would have EXHAUSTED me. I definitely could not have played on the monkey bars with him at 290…or fit on the slides.
Finally, here I am after working out yesterday.
This is still a work in progress. The loose skin or extra fat is still slowly coming off. As I said at the top of this post: it took me years to put on the weight and it is STILL TAKING ME YEARS to take it ALL off. I will get there. There are signs of a six pack inside of there, the place I used to call a keg. 2015 will be another step down the path to look and feeling my best. The goal? To be here for my son and my daughter for as long as possible. There isn’t a quick fix or x-day challenge that will help me be here for as long as possible – hard work and continuing to work on what I PUT INTO my body will.