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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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.

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

So sick of products claiming to be healthy, when they clearly are not

I saw a commercial yesterday where two trim ladies walk into an apartment owned by one of them. Both in workout gear and acting exhausted as it was apparent they just got back from a tough workout of some sort. The owner goes to the fridge and gets two bowls of strawberries while the other lays down on the floor….apparently still suffering from the workout. The one getting the strawberries puts some whip cream on top – Reddi Whip – and serves. The one on the floor is shocked! How could you ruin your workout with whip cream?! The other tells her there is only 15 calories per serving. All is good in the world – belly up!

First, according to Reddi Whip’s website there are 15 calories per two tablespoons of cream and the amount they put on those strawberries in the commercial is more than two tablespoons.

Second, what’s actually in it. We all know – or you SHOULD KNOW – that calories are not the most important thing on the label, the ingredients are the most important thing. When looking at the Reddi Whip website for ingredients the first thing I found was this:

Product formulations and packaging may change. For the most current information regarding a particular product, please refer to the product package.

That doesn’t give me a sense of relief. I read this to mean that at any point in time you might get a bottle of Reddi Whip and it might have different ingredients versus the last bottle I purchased. Who knows what is in it?? Who cares?! It tastes good and only has 15 calories!! On the front page of their website it does have a picture of ingredients and it is highlighting that the first ingredient is cream, which is good. But the third ingredient is sugar and so is the fourth (corn syrup). It also contains something called “Mono- and diglycerides carrageenan”. That doesn’t sound like food.

Why not just eat the strawberries and call it good? I will never forget the story told in It Starts with Food when the Hartwig’s recall a seminar in which someone asked if they could put a sugar substitute on their strawberries to make them sweeter. What’s sweeter in nature than strawberries?! Strawberries are about as sweet as anything in this world, outside of pure sugar. If you eat a bowl of strawberries and think you need to sweeten them up with something your palate is gone and you need a serious re-education on food and what is good for you.

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Next up is my boss. He is trying to lose 10 or 15 pounds. He isn’t a big man by any means and I am guessing he can’t lose much more than 10 or 15 pounds, but he is too concerned about avoiding fat. I have tried to educate him in round about ways over the past year or so, but he continually brings in junk that he thinks is healthy, but it isn’t.

Yesterday was the kicker. He brought these into work and was happy because they were “fish” and had “zero fat”.

Again, what’s in them? This proved to be difficult for this product. The website doesn’t have the information and searching on Google took more work than most products – a lot more. If you can’t find the ingredients online then the manufacturer is definitely trying to hide something. ABORT!! ABORT!!! AVOID!!! ABORT!!

According to Wikipedia:

Crab sticks (imitation crab meat, seafood sticks, krab) are a form of kamaboko, a processed seafood made of finely pulverized white fish flesh (surimi), shaped and cured to resemble leg meat of snow crab or Japanese spider crab.[1]

So it isn’t crab? It’s just white fish? Then why is it pink? They must add something to it. I can’t find any ingredient information on what is in these things. I did find an article on sfgate.com about if they are healthy are not. The article leads off with:

Imitation crab is made with a type of fish called surimi. Manufacturers add fillers, flavoring and color to surimi to mimic the taste, texture and color of real crab legs. Imitation crab meat is a versatile ingredient that costs far less than the real thing. The meat can be used in many dishes and contains certain nutrients that are essential in a healthy diet. However, imitation crab does have nutritional drawbacks that decrease its overall nutritional value.

But then in the second paragraph goes on to say:

Imitation crab is low in calories and fat, which makes it an appropriate addition to your diet if you are watching your weight or trying to shed excess pounds. Choosing low-calorie and low-fat foods is also a healthy way to protect yourself from chronic illnesses such as heart disease.

I stopped reading. The author obviously still thinks the food pyramid is valid.

I wouldn’t eat a “food” that doesn’t list it’s ingredients anywhere on the internet. It isn’t just crab, that much is obvious, so what’s in it? I’m not willing to find out.

Nearly caved to my addiction yesterday

I am far from perfect. My diet is far from perfect. I do like to think it is better than most when I am “on”, however. But I haven’t been “on” for a while now if you include diet soda as “off”. Which most do.

I had kicked my diet soda addiction for a while prior to leading up to the cruise my family and I went on in October, then I had a sip of the nasty/tasty devil. Hooked. When I say hooked I mean over-indulging. My addiction to soda borders on embarrassing. Ah, who am I kidding? It IS embarrassing.

When I am hooked on soda I might drive out of my way to get a soda. Let me take a step back – I am cheap, too. I would drive out of my way to go to a gas station where I know I can get a soda for 79 cents versus going to a station on my way home where the soda is over a buck.

There were times recently when I went out to eat just for the soda. I refused to buy it and keep it in the house, but there were times I went out to eat at a place like Chipotle just for the soda. I didn’t really need or crave the food, but the soda….I NEEDED that. This last weekend we went to Whichwich and I had a salad. I could easily make a salad at home, but I didn’t have soda at home – and I had a refillable glass! Double score!

I can eat clean really easily. I can get off of processed grains, sugar, gluten and soy pretty easily. I can cut my alcohol intake down to once a week in the form of two or three beers really easily. I have all of that under control, but cutting out soda, that’s rough.

So on Monday I went cold turkey. No more soda, beer or sugar. I threw in beer and sugar after the holiday as I had too much over the two weeks leading into the New Year. No more of any of those things until my birthday which is at the end of this month. Well, no more sugar or beer until my birthday and no more soda ever. I can’t drink the stuff. I get addicted entirely too easily.

Monday went well with no cravings. I was very surprised.

Tuesday was a bit more difficult and came with a headache all day. It was odd, the first craving I felt was when I was drinking my protein shake after my morning workout. It triggered my brain. When I drive to work from the gym I often get a soda to sip on the drive. That shake triggered my brain into wanting soda.

Then Wednesday rolled around and my brain started arguing with itself. I started to rationalize diet soda in two ways: 1. it is zero calories and 2. if I eat perfect except soda, it could be worse.

I know it isn’t entirely about weight. I know that while I weigh essentially the same today as I did at this time last year my body is still changing in other ways – I look more muscular and some of the hard to lose fat around my midsection is slowly disappearing. But, that scale calls me almost as much as the soda. And if I am eating near perfectly, why not just make it perfect? Why let soda control me in so many ways?

I even went so far as to Google “diet soda Paleo” to hopefully find some “expert” tell me it is OK to drink the stuff. It led me quickly to a few strings where people had asked the same question: if I eat 100% Paleo and drink diet soda, is that so bad? The answers in return were all essentially the same – yes it is and you can beat your addiction. I went from seriously considering, even planning, on having a diet soda with dinner yesterday to deciding to keep at it and kick this addiction in the teeth.

If you think “food” manufacturers aren’t producing their food with the intent of turning you into an addict that needs more and more of said “food”, try to stop eating crackers, bread or drinking diet soda. It isn’t easy. If you weren’t addicted it would be easy.

Here I am on day 4 and ready to continue on without soda. My Nalgene bottle has water in it with two slices of lime and two slices of lemon to give the water some flavor and I brew an iced tea every morning (no sweeteners and tea with no additives or soy) to give me something different to drink, too. I can now stomach Kombucha and that is another solid option to soda.

I feel like I have written something very similar to this blog before…