Another reminder to myself – EAT, damnit!

Here I am eating 2,700 calories per day in an attempt to get under 200 pounds. I have been eating pretty damn close to this many calories a day for a solid four months. The benefits of tracking your food via myfitnesspal – I see that I changed from 2,800 calories a day down to 2,700 during the first week of July.

I still weigh around 212 pounds most days. Sometimes under 210 and sometimes closer to 215, but 212 is a pretty solid number.

However I hurt. My back hasn’t been pain free for at least the same time frame in which I changed my caloric intake.

Taking a step back – I don’t just track calories, I track macro intake, too. Currently I am eating 40/30/30 carb/pro/fat. Up until recently it was 45/30/25, but still 2,700 calories.

In looking at my workouts dating back to July I see that I start to complain about my back hurting.

Coincidence? I bet it isn’t.

I re-read two blog posts I wrote about this same time last year. Blog post from November 17th, 2015 and blog post from November 30th, 2015. Both talk about eating more and having positive results. Although one does talk about gaining weight and worrying about getting fat again. My biggest fear – waking up and being fat again. This fear keeps me tracking my food maniacally as I still do today. It keeps me working out when I probably shouldn’t be due to nagging injury. I want to keep myself accountable in both what I eat and my exercise to prevent waking up one day and realizing I am once again fat.

So last year about this time this is what I see:

  • On Monday November 16th I was slated to eat 3,400 calories – high carbs, low fat, over 200 grams of protein on a daily basis. It looks like I quickly adjusted down to 3,200 calories based on what I read in that second blog post on November 30th and what is in myfitnesspal. I stayed at 3,200 calories for a few months and then over the course of the next several months continued to take away 100 calories every few months until I got down to the 2,700 I am at right now and have been for over 4 months.
  • Looking at Decembers workouts a few things jump out. 1. I was working out more often including 2 a days fairly regular. 2. there is no complaint of pain. 3. The numbers I was lifting are better than they are today – heavier bench, deadlift and clean numbers jump out.
  • Moving into January I did Fran and was only 2 seconds off my PR – about 2 months ago we did it and I was almost a minute slower. I did Diane and cut 2 minutes off of my PR. I almost jerked 265 which I actually can’t imagine doing today.

Then the purchase of CrossFit Crush happened in March. I was still eating 3,200 calories a day, but my general stress/activity level went up by way of owning a gym. I started to note that my “cardio” times were dropping in March. Jackie was slower among other things. But I wonder how much of this was related to the added duties of being a gym owner? I know I never broke 220 pounds on the scale. So I wasn’t getting appreciably fatter.

In April the numbers still look good in my training log. I deadlifted 380 on at least 1 occasion and cleaned 245 – both numbers I just don’t feel like I could do today. Still eating 3,200 calories per day.

But in mid-April my calories started to decline. April held strong, but my mid to late May I started to note some disappointments in my lifts. By mid June I started to comment on my back and by then my calories were down to 2,800 per day. It’s essentially all down hill from there.

To summarize for myself: when I was eating over 3,000 calories a day I was setting PR’s and feeling good. Most noticeably in my higher rep deadlift sessions with weight over 300 pounds.

At no point did I get over 220 pounds.

Now I am eating around 2,700 calories a day and feel pretty beat up. No more PR’s. Running isn’t any better. Muscle ups aren’t any easier. Things I tell myself would be better if I weighed less. But there is the kicker – 500 calories a day less (I ate 3,200 calories for months where I at 3,400 calories for only a month at most) and I still weigh about the same.

Travis – please remind me again why you are eating so little?

That’s it. I’m kicking it back up starting immediately. I’m putting my goal daily at 3,000 again and on the days in which I work out I am having an extra Isagenix meal replacement shake at the end of the day that I will NOT count towards my daily intake. Just some extra calories in the form of good protein and carbs.

STOP CUTTING CALORIES, TRAVIS! It doesn’t work.

Me without a shirt on…posted on the internet…

This is has been something I have thought about doing for a long time, but haven’t because of embarrassment. Part of me thinks I look pretty good without a shirt on, and the louder part sees the imperfections. The “saggy skin” from being overweight for the better part of 20+ years.

I look at myself from when I played Little League Baseball and I was chunky. I have had kids on my son’s team that I thought were fat. That was me when I was eight. I wasn’t really large or wouldn’t even call myself obese, but I was fat.

In High School I was totally sheltered and shy because I was overweight and was picked on.

It only got worse after high school when I moved out on my own and really started eating shitty. I started playing way too many video games and the combination of never moving and eating like crap really piled on.

I would start going to the gym after I turned 21 and went to Las Vegas – it was the first time that the idea of a girlfriend was enough to get me to do something about my weight.

I was doing the basic globo gym routine, though. Lots of sets of 10, lots of rest between sets and little sweating. No plan around getting stronger. Sure, I got stronger, but it was because before the gym I didn’t do a thing – of course I was going to get stronger just by going. But plateau’s happened all the time. I didn’t really care, I just started to look at the gym as a reason to go eat a big pile of horrible food afterward.

“Hey, I was just at the gym so this big burrito covered in cheese is totally OK.”

The knowledge of not being able to out-work a bad diet was not in my head. The scale didn’t change, but I never really got on the scale.

Fast forward another 5 or 7 years of occasionally going to the gym and now I am wearing XXXL. Yes, three x’s. I shopped the Big and Tall sections only. Stores that didn’t carry anything bigger than XXL or size 42 inch pants were off limits – they didn’t have anything that fit me.

Fast forward a few more years and I have actually got myself down to about 230 pounds. Probably the lightest I had been in a number of years. I meet my future wife, we get married and I get comfortable again. Bam, back to 290-300 pounds.

This gets me to the picture on the left in the set of pictures below. That picture was taken at my son’s first birthday party, so about February of 2010. That’s me. Large, red cheeks and I am out of breath when I tie my shoes. Continue reading

Someone stop Planet “Fitness”, please

I am far from perfect when it comes to my diet. From the time I started this blog several years ago when I was pretty damn strict Paleo and doing Whole 30’s to now when nothing is really off limits as long as it fits my macro goals my diet has been rangy at best. I’m not a lean mean fighting machine. Not to toot my own horn but I have a six pack that is visible when I wake up in the morning and after a hard workout there is definitely definition…but there is also a lot of loose skin still present from weighing close to or over 300 pounds for most of my adult life. I’m far from perfect looking and my diet is a large part of that.

With that all being said, this makes me sick:

ugh

This was taken from Facebook and the name and identity is hopefully hidden well enough. This isn’t even a friend of mine so this makes me feel a bit like some sort of freaky and gross stalker that takes pictures of people in public and posts them, but the point isn’t the person in the picture, it’s what is represented.

Along with this picture was some text that basically said something like, and I paraphrase just a bit “I worked out for 90 minutes and my gym was giving out free pizza so, why not??”

Your GYM WAS GIVING OUT FREE PIZZA?!?!

WHAT.

THE.

FUCK!?

I have heard that Planet Fitness does shit like this, but I haven’t seen it up close and – like 3 friends removed on Facebook – personal. I have seen the memes for Planet Fitness that jokes that they do not allow deadlifts or people to “intimidate” other members by looking healthy, but I figured they were jokes. It’s no joke, is it?

This poor soul went and probably burned somewhere in the realm of 300-400 calories. Maybe. If she really busted her hump she might have hit 500 calories. But that is 90 minutes of pretty intense activity. That isn’t a small piece of pizza and I’m guessing it represents at least 300 calories. You do the math.

I would feel dirty if I wore a Planet “Fitness” t-shirt in public. It would be like wearing a Donald Trump t-shirt to a political conference.

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

Nutrition change – again

In early August I visited the dunk tank and got my body fat tested. The first time I have had someone test my body fat since I was probably in middle school and they did the caliper test on my calf and my side – no idea what that said.

After trying to guess my body fat a few times with measurements, I decided to take the plunge, literally. I was definitely nervous, but really wanted to know my resting metabolic rate which is something this test provides. I wish I wasn’t such a cheap ass because I would have long ago paid for a dietitian to help me cross the proverbial finish line.

In August I was pleasantly surprised when the results showed that I was just over 13% body fat. In my age range that placed me just on the high edge of being “athletic” – better than “healthy”. Shocked to say the least. I was a bit skeptical simply because I had hiked Gray’s and Torrey’s peak that morning and when I do something long and aerobic like that I tend to weigh at least a few pounds less than normal. For this test I weighed 207.

I found out my resting metabolic rate was just barely over 2,300 calories. This means if I woke up and laid in bed all day I would still need 2,300 calories to maintain weight. Well, up until that point I had been eating close to 2,300 calories a day. On some day’s I was eating well under 2,300 calories a day.

I also saw an Instagram post from Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet that said she eats close to 200 grams of protein a day. I wasn’t getting close to that either (I wasn’t tracking macros as this point, but I went back and looked at a few days and realized I was getting closer to 100 grams per day). I decided for the next few months I would eat a lot more and make sure to get enough protein. I set My Fitness Pal to 35% protein, 35% fat and 30% carbs with a minimum of 2,300 calories a day. I would track all of my activity (guess my CrossFit…) with Map My Run and those added calories would add to my 2,300 calories and I would eat that, too. This resulted in most days around 3,000 calories, give or take a few hundred. Unfortunately this was all a guess, too, since I wasn’t tracking my heart rate, but it was better than before.

It had been three months since my last check and I wanted to get checked again. I wanted to get checked before the holidays and possibly adjust my nutrition based on the results – and I plan on getting tested again just before my birthday at the end of January. I am definitely heavier, but how much fatter am I? I know I weigh closer to 213-215 now, but how much of that is muscle or fat? Has my new diet (more calories and a lot more protein) helped?

The results were positive! I did weigh more (215) and my body fat went up just over 1% to about 14.3% (if I recall correctly), but I did gain 4.5 pounds of lean mass. While I don’t want to get fat, I do want to deadlift 400 pounds, squat over 300 regularly (would LOVE to get 3 plates on the bar for a squat) and also snatch 200. I don’t think those will come without feeding myself.

So, here enters my nutrition change. I have started eating more carbs recently and less fat as I try to meet my 35/35/30 goals. I hadn’t realized how much fat I ate before – it was a lot. Think grass fed beef with guacamole added, for example. Or eggs with bacon and guacamole. I didn’t know that a meal like that is almost all fat, no carbs and some protein. Eating a lot of fat isn’t bad, I know the benefits of getting into Ketosis, but I have read a lot more recently that eating carbs benefits CrossFitters who need to be able to perform at high output levels.

Enter Instagram again. This time a post by Margaux Alvarez where she outlines how she tries to eat a lot more carbs than protein.

I had been suspicious that CrossFit athletes eat more carbs than protein based on a few other things I have read, but everyone wants to charge for any information like this. (Not saying that is bad, people have to make a living, but, like I said, I’m a cheap ass…). This was enough evidence that I need to eat more carbs.

Within the comments on Alvarez’s post was a link to a blog that would outline how and why she eats the way she does. Within this is the suggestion that you should eat 18-20 calories per pound you hope to weigh. The first sort of calculation I have ever read suggesting how much someone should eat. It also talks about eating the same amount of calories everyday, regardless of activity or lack thereof. For Alvarez she eats 20 calories per pound desired, but she is super active – much more so than I. I would like to weight 190 someday so 190 x 18 = 3,400 calories per day.

For the next three months I am going to attempt to eat 3,400 calories per day with 40% of the calories coming from carbs, and splitting the remaining 60% between fat and protein. This still gets me well over 200 grams of protein per day, but will definitely add more carbs to my diet – a lot more.

This will be difficult over the holidays, but I am going to give it a shot. After I am tested again at the end of January I will adjust, if needed. Maybe at the end of January I add another 4 pounds of lean mass and reduce my body fat by a percentage point or two?

I have been tracking my workout progress for a few years and that has helped me make improvements. Now it is time to do the same with nutrition. Test, change and retest and see how it effects my body and my performance in the gym.