Sunday Funday?

I have blogged about this a few times, but am rehashing because the CrossFit gym I go to is doing a “healthy eating challenge” (is there a gym that isn’t?). Instead of filling up Facebook I figured I could write more here, include some pictures and post the link.

Here is my story (I hear the old Law and Order voice in my head…).

I have tried it all. I started losing weight about four, maybe five years ago. I am guessing 4.5 years. Since fall 2011.I started losing weight so I could run with my son when he got older and started playing sports. Didn’t want to be that fat dad sitting on the sidelines. I started to lose weight by running and going to Weight Watchers (my highest KNOWN weight is about 280, but I am guessing, as you will see in a picture below, I weighed well over 300 pounds for a good chunk of my life). I lost about 50 pounds doing that and then I plateaued. That’s about when I found CrossFit in 2012 and in 2013 I started eating Paleo. The combination helped me drop another 30’ish pounds.

I have gained about 20 pounds since my lowest recorded weight (201 and now I weigh in close to 220). However, I think that is mostly muscle. When I started CrossFit my best deadlift was 185 and now it is 385. I couldn’t snatch a bar and now my all time best snatch is 190. When I started I couldn’t press more than 130 pounds or so, now I can strict press over 200. I have definitely gotten stronger. My metcon times have also dropped – a lot. When I started CrossFit I couldn’t do Fran in less than 10 minutes and that was scaled. Now my Fran time is under 4 minutes. I don’t run nearly as much, but I ran the Turkey Trot this past Thanksgiving in really cold and snowy weather in less time than I ran it about 3 years ago in much better weather.

I put in the work in the gym. Just look at my logs on this site and you will see I rarely miss a day. But I think the quickest way to lose weight and make a change in your appearance comes in the kitchen. Work your ass off all you want in the gym and if you go home to crap food and beer you won’t see much change, if any.

So, that is my story and why I think I can help anyone who would like help. I have lost 80+ pounds and kept it off. If I catch myself just right after a workout, in the right light, with a unicorn behind me, I can see a six pack. After 30 years of being over weight and 18 or so of those being flat out obese, I still have some work to do and that is where my experimenting with diets has come into play.

Picture evidence. Continue reading

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I want diet advice from someone who was fat

Time for a bit of a vent…I am sick of seeing people on TV and the internet giving advice on how to lose weight when they themselves have never had to lose weight. Pictures of some ripped or skinny person selling their diet when they have never had to lose weight.

I imagine, and I guess I can verify this, gaining weight is a lot easier than losing it. I mean, stuffing your face with donuts and milk to gain weight would sure be a lot more fun than stuffing your face with spinach, kale and chard to lose weight. Right?

I know a little about both. As a guy who once weighed over 300 pounds I sure know a path to gaining weight. OK, not the kind of weight that most want to gain, but I can sure pack on the pounds if I want to. And now that I weigh about 210 I know how to lose it, too.

What I don’t know and what I am struggling with is losing the final 10-20 pounds of fat. Maybe it’s loose skin, maybe it’s not. From what I have read loose skin is paper thin and what I have left isn’t paper thin. My skin might be a bit loose, but there is something there I can still lose. I would LOVE to do a muscle-up someday weighing under 200 pounds. Chest to bar pull ups would sure get easier and maybe I wouldn’t think handstand push ups are the bane of my existence.

How do I do this?

I workout five to seven days a week. When I workout I nearly throw up from time to time and I always soak my shirt with sweat. I am not doing some easy things when I workout. I see my strength numbers growing and my metcon times dropping. Most would say that those numbers are all that matters, not what the scale says. And I agree with that. However, I want to look better with my shirt off. I look better now than I did even a few years ago and definitely better than I did five years ago, but I want to get ride of these last few pounds. Count calories? Did that. Whole 30? Did that. Paleo? Still doing that. Zone diet? Did that. Counting macros? Currently doing that.

What I am sick of, and this will seem like I am picking on one person here, is seeing Christmas Abbott looking ripped and skinny and trying to sell me a diet. Why? Because she used to look like this:

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#TBT in 2000/2001 before I started to love my body. I was about 95#s here, all skin and bones. Smoked like a chimney and drank daily. If you look at my mother you can see she was living the same lifestyle (minus the excessive drinking). Since she has also quit smoking (after 30 years of being a smoker) and had been taking care of herself better, loving her body better. It's never too late to start a change. Find your inspiration, your reason and go for it. Find out how I transformed my life through my #thebodyreview www.ChristmasAbbott.com #christmasabbott #relentlesslife #thebodyreview #badadsbodybook #fitaid #Fitmoo #nfsports #neverquit #rehband #eleikosport @fitmoo @fitaid @nfsports_ @eleikosport @rehband @fitmarkbags @powerandgraceperformance @questnutrition

A post shared by Christmas : Badass Body Life (@christmasabbott) on

We – especially the fat people I know and used to be – know this kind of person. The uber skinny person that can eat a steady diet of fried mozzarella, ice cream and pizza and never gain a pound. I used to live with a guy who ate frozen White Castle burgers, cheese pizza and cereal like it was the only food on Earth and never weighed more than about 130 pounds at about 5’10”. I have a cousin who lives off of a similar diet with the same results.

Not everyone is created equal. Some of us have to really work hard to not get fat. Some of us do not. Jealous? Sort of.

So when Abbott peddles her new diet I wonder. I wonder what makes her qualified to tell me what to eat? When I searched “Christmas Abbott dietary experience” this came back as the first result from Google, which is on the cover of her book:

CrossFit celebrity Christmas Abbott shows how to attain the body of your dreams with a targeted eating strategy and total-body workout plan that will whip glutes and hips—and every problem area—into top shape.

As a formerly “skinny fat” woman, Christmas Abbott knows what real women need to get the butt and body of their dreams. In The Badass Body Diet, she dispels the myth of the health benefits of a “pear shape” body, teaches readers how to spot-reduce excess fat with targeted meal plans and recipes that zap cellulite, and galvanizes them with a quick and simple workout plan for a toned butt—the key to total body fitness.

So she is a CrossFit celebrity who was “skinny fat”. I want someone to teach me what to eat who was “fat-fat” and isn’t just a face/body. One who actually had to lose weight, the tough weight, and how they did it. Or how they got others to lose that weight.

Abbott is probably the nicest person you meet and probably one of the hardest working, I just find it hard to buy….

…ahh…who am I kidding? I am bitter. I wish I was skinny and just had to add some muscle to an already super skinny frame. Let me lift all the weights and drink a bunch of milk. That would be awesome. I would mix in some chocolate milk and peanut butter for sure. Sounds like a much more fun battle than trying to lose 100 pounds only to look like you have small bags of skin hanging from your body that probably requires surgery to correct.

Damn! Why did I sit around playing Tecmo Bowl while eating chips and salsa in school?!

What “Paleo” means to me – it has changed

I started eating “Paleo” in 2012. Back then I was coming off the low fat/high carb diet. I ate a lot of Subway. This was still back in my Weight Watchers days so I tracked my food using their points systems. I ate a lot of their “1 point” snacks, a lot of fruit and loved going to Subway for a turkey or club sandwich with pretty much all of the vegetables and NO MAYO!

I was hungry. A lot.

My wife had been doing this Paleo thing for a few months and I finally read It Starts with Food by the Hartwig’s followed shortly after by reading The Paleo Solution by Mr. Paleo himself, Robb Wolf.

After reading It Starts With Food I was sold after the section that basically described my day of eating: yogurt for breakfast with some cereal or granola and then maybe a few hours later I was starving so I ate a granola bar, then by 10am I was starving so I went to Subway and had a six inch sandwich with some baked potato chips and by 1pm I was starving again, so another high carb snack (probably a 1 point WW snack of some sort) and by the time I got home from work I was famished and I would have some wheat pasta with red sauce a some meat of some sort. Still starving before I went to bed I had another high carb snack of some sort – but all in all I stayed within my point allotment for the day as prescribed by Weight Watchers.

That was me – almost EXACTLY what I went through everyday. Continue reading

How to be successful at CrossFit

I have been coaching CrossFit for about two and a half years now.

About five years ago I weighed close to 300 pounds. I would venture that my heaviest in my lifetime was close to 330 pounds. I now weight about 205-210.

I have been doing CrossFit for about four years.

I have seen a lot of people come and go and I have seen success. Whether that success comes in terms of weight or how you look in the mirror naked or if it comes by the weight on your bar or your first muscle up. I have seen a lot of success. I have seen a LOT MORE failure. I have seen people quit. Never show up again. Disappear. Never make a real change in their life. Failure.

I have seen it in myself. I used to wear size 40 pants. I now own pants that fit around my waist comfortably that are size 32. I can squeeze into size 30 pants. When I first started to empty my closet my first round of shirts were XXXL – THREE X’s!! I now own three shirts that are sized medium. I have added nearly 200 pounds to my squat. I remember failing over and over again at 95 pounds in my snatch during the 2012 Open. My PR is now 190 pounds. I used to not be able to run more than about 30 seconds at a time, I can now run a sub nine minute mile. My first 5k my goal was to not walk any part of it, now my goal when I run a 5k is less than 27 minutes.

I have seen success first hand in my own performance and in others. This is what I have learned.

There are three types of people who come to the gym and do CrossFit. There are other types, but these are the three main, large groups. Only one of them truly produces change and success.

Before I get into the three groups, let me say that nutrition and sleep are also VERY important if you truly want to effect change. You cannot eat like shit and counter that in the gym. If you eat like shit you will look like shit and you will perform like shit. Simple as that. If you do not sleep enough you will also see performance issues in the gym. And, in my case, if I do not sleep enough my will power to NOT eat like shit goes out the window. I need at least seven hours of sleep a night, preferably eight.

But, with that being said, here are the groups of people I see in the gym. The largest group first and the smallest group last. Continue reading

I stopped counting calories. Already.

A few weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea to count my calories. I gave it a solid four weeks. I started this in hopes of losing a few pounds, and that didn’t happen. But that isn’t why I stopped.

I stopped tracking my calories this week because I found myself eating food based on caloric value rather than nutritional value. It became too easy to have food x because it wasn’t that high in calories. I was still eating mostly Paleo while doing this, but it was becoming easier and easier to justify a tortilla when I went to Chipotle. In many cases I would justify it because I thought I NEEDED the calories. When I get Chipotle, according to their website, my burrito bowl is about 625 calories – rice, veggies, chicken, two scoops of mild, one green and guac – 625 calories. In many cases for me to get to my goal of about 2600 calories a day I needed more calories.

This led to cheating more when eating out. Instead of getting a salad, as I often do, when eating out, I would have a burger with a bun or bread. I would have regular fries or maybe some tortilla chips.

Then came McDonald’s. Hey – they egg mcmuffin is only 300 calories and if I don’t get butter? Only 270! I can have two of those!

This wasn’t good. Obviously.

This was turning into something more closely related to Weight Watchers than eating whole, quality foods.

The scale wasn’t changing, I am still right around 210 pounds. I didn’t notice any changes in clothing or appearance, either. The gym wasn’t impacted by my poorer food choices, either…until this past weekend.

This past weekend was the Great American Beef Festival. I like beer. I volunteer at the GABF every year for the past five years. Typically the diet goes off during this period for obvious reasons, but this time I tried to keep track of my calories during the event. On Thursday night I had the equivalent of about one beer or about 16 ounces of beer. On Friday night I had about three beers worth. Not too shabby. I did a good job avoiding the big ass cookies in the volunteer area by breaking off a chunk of one and eating that instead of the whole thing. I didn’t over indulge on pretzels. In fact, I kept them to a minimum considering. On Friday night I went out with my wife after GABF and we had a cheat meal, but nothing way out of the ordinary for a cheat meal for myself on the weekend (I typically have one meal where I go off Paleo on the weekends). On Saturday I don’t drink, but I still volunteer and I went to Which Wich after for lunch (again, it was all about the calories). Then I had a burrito that night with the family. It was far from an idea three day period for someone who likes to eat Paleo, but it happens. It has to happen to keep your sanity. But then the next day at the gym happened.

During all of this I didn’t get too far off of my ideal caloric intake. I was right around my 2500 calories per day. But on Sunday morning I felt like SHIT while at the gym. I ate pretty clean on Sunday in hopes to get back to normal, but on Monday I felt really heavy, too. While my calories were inline with what I should intake, now my performance was starting to suffer.

Sure, it might be unfair to make this judgement after an extreme three day period like I had this weekend, but I think that is the avenue I was headed down. If I was going to spend all this time and effort researching how many calories are in various foods and recipes, checking websites for calorie information and weighing and measuring my foods I better see a response for the effort – and I didn’t see it. Why waste the time and energy doing that if I wasn’t going to see any results? And when it starts to make my mind think McDonald’s is OK? I need to step back and take a second look.

The problem I was trying to address originally was that I might not be eating ENOUGH calories to sustain and/or allow my body to burn fat. That I might be starvation mode at times. How do I track that if I am not tracking calories? I guess I am not.

These final pesky pounds I would like to use will just need to come off in time? Maybe a cleanse is needed to rid myself of some junk in my intestinal track? I have never done one of those…I guess without getting professional help and finding out exactly what I need to intake to lose weight, yet sustain performance in the gym, I might need an expert. I am unable to do so myself. Is losing 15 pounds worth the money? I don’t know the answer to that.