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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To abort or continue? More diet talk.

It has been about two weeks since I started eating 3,400 calories a day, regardless of activity level.

It sure feels a lot longer than two weeks, but two weeks ago I wrote this blog post about eating more and changing my carb/fat/pro intake levels.

This morning I weighed myself and I weigh just over 219 pounds. That scares me. That is four pounds more than I weighed when I had my body fat tested about two and a half weeks ago and about 13 pounds more than I weighed when I did the Pound for Pound competition in early October.

I have always said that I don’t want to wake up one morning and weigh 220 or 230 pounds again. Before I started tampering with my nutrition I weighed in under 210 pounds everyday. Sometimes around 205 or less.

I need to write to give myself some perspective and put my thoughts on paper.

  • It’s only 15 pounds, at most, since I started eating more and that date spans back to early August. So I have gained about 12-15 pounds in four months. Is that too much? I know from a recent test that about four pounds of that weight gain is lean mass.
  • I just went on a vacation and we just passed Thanksgiving weekend – I could easily drop a few pounds by just returning to eating normal.
  • I feel pretty good at the gym.
  • Some of my clothes have felt a little bit tighter.
  • I don’t think I see a change in how I look in the mirror. If anything, I actually felt like I looked leaner this morning BEFORE I stepped on the scale.
  • I feel better – healthier. I don’t have as many little nagging injuries. Tomorrow I will attempt 15.3 again for the first time since I did it last March in Arizona and hurt my shoulder – an injury that seemingly has only gotten better once I started eating more – and eating more carbs. Prior to August my shoulder was still bad, add in more calories and carbs and it has gotten better.

I am really, REALLY tempted to bump my calories per day down from 3,400 to 3,200…but it’s only been two weeks.

I have noticed at night I sometimes feel like I need to eat something just to eat – not because I am hungry – to get to my caloric and macro goals. If I dropped a few hundred calories per day I feel that wouldn’t happen as often.

I did some calculations based on the information provided on prepareandexecute.com and if I am a “1 times a day metcon” guy and want to weigh 190 pounds I should be eating about 3,050 calories a day. If I assume the same level of activity but want to weigh 200 pounds then it jumps up to just over 3,400 calories per day.

If I assume “competitor level” of activity (not Games level, but between metcon guy and Games level guy) and want to weigh 190 I should eat 3,200 calories per day and if I want to weigh 200 pounds then it jumps way up to 3,600 calories per day.

So I think either 3,200 or 3,400 is right. After two weeks and Thanksgiving and a vacation do I change or do I stick with it for another month?

I think I am going to drop. With the caveat that if I am really hungry at night I will eat a few hundred extra calories. I think most days 3,200 calories will be plenty.

I am scared of the scale, what can I say? I know I am not supposed to look, but I also know that I should weigh closer to 200 pounds than 220 for my height. If I was six foot tall or taller I would be OK with 220 pounds, but at about five-nine I think it is too much.

Change in diet documented. Again. More to come, I’m sure.

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.

McDonald’s isn’t dying….so stop hating

McDonald’s has a big red target on their back, don’t they? I have shot at them a few times on this blog. (One, two, three and four times — maybe I love them?)

This post comes from the spattering of “McDonald’s is dying” posts I see on Facebook. Here is one example and here is another.

I think these stories are nothing more than click-bait – the attempt at the websites to get clicks to drive up their clicks and then they can charge more for advertising. Franchisees are upset about serving breakfast all day and they are crying.

I don’t know about the McDonald’s where you live, but pretty much all of them around me have gotten a nice face lift recently. I stopped at a remote McDonald’s in the mountains after hiking with my wife for a reward (dipped ice cream cone!) and even that McDonald’s had been remodeled. They are also opening up new stores near me. They just opened one two blocks from me and according to Google there are eight other McDonald’s within about 10 miles from the new one. And I live on the very southeast side of the city so those eight McDonald’s are all west and north of the new one. Imagine if they could open up some east and south?

McDonald’s isn’t going anywhere. Continue reading

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:

View this post on Instagram

#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?!