Trying to reverse 25 years of failure
How a 45-year-old dude decided to find out
I won't attempt to speak for you, but I am confident that if you are here now you are looking to create massive change with the body you now have. I can definitely relate to that. The weight loss industry as a whole didn't help me much. It hindered me with the glut of contradictory information it presented.
But part of my frustration was also directed at myself and this problem that hid behind many aliases. Call it what you will, whether it be love handles, stomach fat, flab, a spare tire, or gut, but whatever it was best known by, I had it for the better part of 25 years and I couldn't get rid of it.
Sure there were times when I seemed to make some progress, but then, for reasons I could never fully understand, I always managed to find my way back to a weight and a look that I was just never comfortable with. It was like I had this internal thermostat and while I wanted to turn it up and keep it up, you know, to fire up my metabolism and burn that nasty goo around my midsection, my body was more content to turn it off and just keep things as they were.
When I look back, my struggles actually started at about the age of 20 (years not months...I was simply a pooping machine at 20 months). I started working out because my university years, which were lean when it came to money, studying and decent grades, weren't so lean when it came to my ability to store body fat. My 5 foot 9 inch frame soared up to about 210lbs, which is probably about 40lbs above what my ideal weight should have been.
I have since spent the last 25 years chasing this vision of the body that lay dormant in my imagination. I worked out like a dog at times (well not like a real dog, although if you throw a tennis ball I will run and chase it), was vegetarian for the better part of 18 years and seldom ate fast food or vast quantities of junk food.
And yet, I was still fat. Probably not fat compared to what others might be struggling with, but fat by my standards. What does that mean? Well I could easily grab a handful of fatty flesh anywhere on my midsection. It has always been that way for me. Perhaps for you as well. I have always carried a lot of body fat even though I was more active than the average bear and ate better than most bears as well.
My moment of truth...
I'm not exactly sure what sparked my turnaround, but in late November of last year (2010) I had an epiphany of sorts.
I decided that I was no longer going to listen to any experts.Why? Because I had listened to them for 25 years and they had gotten me nowhere.
These so-called experts can never make up their minds. One day high carb diets are the way to go. The next it is low carb. The day after low-fat diets are all the rage. And all have "proof" that their diet is the only solution possible. Well they can't all be right. It seems logical that within that mass of overwhelming data an answer has to exist for each of us.
I was also frustrated because it seemed I was always waiting for someone else to come out and solve my problem for me, eagerly awaiting that next program or study or diet that was going to finally get me "there", which is just a ridiculous way for anyone to lead their life.
So I decided enough was enough. I fired any and all experts in the field and set forth to become the expert on my body.
The building of a personal philosophy...
My next step? I threw out everything that I knew about weight loss and exercising and started rebuilding my program from ground zero. One of my main philosophical components this time around was that I was going to steal the best ideas from those who had generated results themselves. And so I stole liberally from the likes of Tony Horton (P90X), Zuzana and Freddy (Bodyrock.tv) and Mark Sisson (Mark's Daily Apple) to name a few. Looking back, I realize one of my fundamental flaws with my weight loss approach was that I lacked any kind of personal philosophy; one that I had developed and tested specifically for my unique body type. I was always doing the stuff that worked for other people's bodies expecting that it would naturally work for mine as well. It was a boneheaded mistake now that I think about it, but it just never occurred to me then.
What abs have in common with Mount Everest...
And so with my new philosophy in tow, I began testing everything and challenging assumptions that many firmly believed were true. (More on this later, but one thing I tested and eventually cut from my program were those incredibly boring cardio workouts everyone says you MUST do. I now do zero cardio.) Most importantly, I started piecing together a philosophy based on sound principles, all funneling into one main goal...get myself a freaking 6-pack. [Footnote: 6 months ago a six-pack was my goal because I saw this as an exercise journey. Today I see this as a more holistic journey and would now say I'm in pursuit of the total package, which encompasses mind, body and soul.] Why a 6-pack? Well, that is to fat loss what reaching the summit is for those climbing Everest. Sure it is nice to get close, in fact anywhere along the path to the summit is better than where we start originally, but only a special few ever actually make it to the summit and it is there where all great inspiration lies. So to it is with fat loss. Lots set out for the summit, but most crash and burn long before they ever get close. So I took up the challenge to see if I could muster the resolve and the know-how to summit the mountainous terrain of six-pack abs. I had a second reason as well. Part of my epiphany included the thought that if I can't control my body, how could I possibly expect to make any lasting change in any other areas of my life. I was sure this journey would carry significant lessons that I could then transfer to all other parts of my life.
An Unexpected Detour...
Things went really well until January and then I hit I a bit of bump. Actually it was more of a wall. I started putting weight back on again. But I knew why. Tim Ferris had screwed me over. I'm kidding of course. He didn't do it intentionally, but it came about as a result of reading his book, "The 4-Hour Body." In it he talked about the benefits of having a slow carb breakfast. I was still vegetarian as of that reading, but his suggestion of a breakfast that contained nothing more than eggs, beans and veggies was totally doable. But after about three weeks I noticed I was putting weight back on and because I was recording my foods, I knew the only real change to my diet were the beans in the morning. DAMN YOU TIM FERRIS! I immediately took the beans out of my diet, but I was still intrigued with the slow carb idea and hit the internet to find out more. I somehow ended up on Mark Sisson's site, Mark's Daily Apple. I started poking around the 1000's of articles he has on his site and I came across one that really altered my destiny. "How to succeed with the primal blueprint." It was a fascinating article. He had included the chart below, which intrigued the hell out of me for the simple fact that it basically turned meal consumption into a simple mathematical equation. Needless to say the idea captivated me. I'm a bit of a numbers geek and the idea of eating a controlled number of carbs each day seemed absolutely doable. It was tangible and measurable. So I quite literally ended my vegetarian ways that night and the next day started implementing ideas about primal eating along with the other aspects of my philosophy.
And the results...
Well I started eating like Fred Flintstone (primal or Paleo for those who are more formal than I am) on January 27th and quite literally followed the above chart to a tee.
And I have experienced great success. Don't get me wrong. I work my ass off each and everyday, battling the resistance that wants me to go back to the "good ole' days."
That isn't going to happen of course because along the way, a weird, albeit glorious side effect has occurred.
For the first time in my life, I know what I am doing is working. I have never had this kind of certainty in this area or any other in my life for that matter. I have finally found something that works for me.
I will continue to refine and tweak my program of course, but I am now at the point where I have my fat loss on autopilot.
I'm not at my goal yet. In fact, one aspect of my philosophy is to get results slowly and sensibly over time (which is a real freaking challenge because I have fallen into that trap of wanting everything NOW!). It's imperative my fat loss methods be sustainable over the course of years, not something where I deprive myself for a month or so and then go back to eating like Oscar the Grouch...you know eating garbage and stuff.
If you haven't done so already, you might want to consider subscribing to follow my progress and steal a few tricks that you can apply to your own journey. Just a thought.
To MAKING SHI(F)T HAPPEN,