This might come off as some sort of brag but it’s a story of persistence and fighting well established beliefs that have held me back over the years.
The Weight Struggle
I’ve struggled with my weight over the years. My family knows. Friends of my youth know. You might be able to relate.
If you have never struggled with losing weight or tried to get a healthier body, this post is not be for you.
But the fat, this adipose tissue, has haunted me at times over the years. It’s caused me many problems. Yet I never seemed to be able to figure it out for more than a short while.
Eventually, I found myself weighing in at 330 lbs years back. Being 6’4″ helped somewhat but fat is fat.
Poor health is the result. I got flesh eating bacteria in my leg about 13 years ago. Docs said my immune system was compromised and made me vulnerable to attack.
Several surgeries and a few weeks in the hospital later, they came in and told girl and me that I’d live. We both cried tears of happiness.
If you’ve never had someone tell you that it doesn’t look like you’re going to die, let me tell you.. it’s a life moment, this near death.
Time for Change
No two ways about it, I had to get healthy or face being dead. It’s funny how you can be super motivated after an event like that only to back slide again.
I got my testosterone checked. Low, 200 range. Fixed that and never looked back.
I did the P90X workout plan thing a few rounds. Lost the first big chunk. But I also hurt myself.
Intermittent Fasting then helped me get the next big chunk off. (Credit to Jay Campbell and PD Mangan for their research)
But I plateaued around 240. I didn’t seem to want to take the next step. I kept eating crap and drinking alcohol. I was having fun but was totally stuck.
I looked in the mirror and wasn’t totally disgusted any more. I put my health on cruise control and simply worked to maintain. IF twice a week & minimum workouts allowed me to eat whatever and not gain.
But it’s now obvious, I wasn’t willing to stop looking at food as a celebration, rather than start looking at it as fuel, a means to an end.
I’ve Tried Them All
Like many of you, I’m on social media, Twitter especially, and I’ve been subjected to all the health fads and tips you can possibly consume.
Keto, Atkins, Carnivore, Intermittent Fasting, you name it. Many people do well on one of these. I’m not knocking any of them. If it works for you, it works for you.
I’m not you. The only thing I ever stuck with was IF.
Two things I’ve read that have always resonated: 1. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. 2. Abs are forged in the Kitchen.
Face To Face Meeting
Cut to 3 months ago. I was with several men at the 21 Convention in Orlando. My friend Phil Foster (@evolvedphil on twitter) showed up in the best shape I’ve ever seen him. Several of us were peppering him with questions on how he got so freaking ripped. The four of us had been in the gym together the last few mornings.
And because he is who he is, he offered to help sort some things out.
Phil has a bodybuilder mindset. We all sat around trying to learn how to get ripped.
He said, “You gotta trust me. I’m gonna tell you what to eat and when to eat it. I’m gonna dictate your gym time six days a week. I’m going to hold you accountable. You have to be serious.”
Step One for me was to get a DEXA full body scan for my baseline. Even though I thought I had come a long way since 330 lb, I was still carrying around 59 lbs of body fat. 26%. My goal is to get in the 10-13% range. This was my choice, not a directive.
Step Two was an in-depth interview on my health. Past injuries. Medical conditions I have now, etc. This information was crucial to tailoring a plan for me to succeed.
This isn’t a cookie cutter, one size fits all, recipe. It can’t be. We are all different.
Step Three had me download My Fitness Pal and start tracking all my macros.
We got started and the first thing that hit me: I have to eat carbohydrates. Carbs are the devil, right?
Come on now, any good Bro Scientist will tell you that Carbs will keep you from losing weight.
I ate like my ancestors. Multiple meals a day. Balanced nutrition. Real food. No garbage.
The Carb Myth dissolved.
Phil modified my macros every week or two based on my goals but also my starting health.
There was a lot more behind this planning than I really understood. It sounded okay but I couldn’t verify much via google. I just blindly went with it. What I was doing on my own wasn’t working.
Then there was the gym plan. Six days a week. I won’t get into minute details but let’s just say I’m leaving the gym after roughly two hours drenched in sweat. It doesn’t matter what time of day you work out, but the plan changes somewhat if I have to change my normal time. There’s a lot going on here.
I’ve been working out at home with dumbbells and a Total Gym gizmo for the last 5+ years. But I had to join a gym to really make this work.
I also invested in a weighted vest for my cardio.
I now had skin in the game.
Oh my lord… Bro Science Death #2. I had to do cardio. I see the looks. I laugh. Hard core weight guys won’t jump on the cardio machines. Whatever. I’m following the plan.
I’ve never hired a coach in the gym. Most of them look pretty damn worthless to me. Half of them have more body fat that I do.
I had some low back and knee issues, not to mention losing part of my thigh to the bacteria thing. I had convinced myself that there were things I couldn’t do in the gym.
But I was coached up, starting with light weights, good form and good rep counts. After a short time, I was doing things in the gym I didn’t think I would ever do again.
One thing I learned from Phil is to work with a Pro. Get someone that has the education, the certificates and the training. If that person hasn’t transformed their body into something admirable, then why am I’m going to place my trust and my health in their hands? I want to see their receipts.
Speaking of Receipts
Nearly three months later, it was time to get the follow up DEXA scan. This was my decision from the start. I was actually encouraged to wait another few months.
Keep in mind, we’d been doing this over the holidays. I simply had a normal Thanksgiving and Christmas. I drank some booze and ate whatever I wanted.
But the next day, I got back on the horse.
You can either drink alcohol or lose weight: choose one.
So, the follow up.
Lost 21 lbs of fat. Gained 10 lbs of lean body mass (muscle it appears). Body Fat dropped from 26% to 17%. My goal is 10-12% range.
More importantly, my visceral fat went from 4.6 lbs to 1.1 lb. That’s a 76% decrease.
Visceral fat is that internal fat around your organs.
It’s a great general health indicator. This is a much bigger deal than I ever imagined.
I’ve tried everything under the sun, ever fad diet you can think of. I have never had such a professional experience in total body reshaping. Find a pro you trust and follow the plan.
Commit to the suck and embrace it. My food plan definitely affected meal time around my house.
This wasn’t 3 months and stop. I see these food principles being life long changes for me.
And once I’m in maintenance mode, I do plan on fasting 20 hours at least one day a week. I’m still a big believer in all the health benefits from fasting.
If you want to work with Phil, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @evolvedphil .
My goal on these emails, or my blog, or social media, is this: When I find something that works well, I’m going to report it to you.
I’m not here to sell you on this or anything else. If you’re sick of all the things that haven’t worked, this might be your golden ticket.
This is hard work but the results are worth it. I hope you are taking big positive steps to improve your health in 2020. Don’t wait.
If I can do it at age 58, you can do it too. Dedicate and execute.
TL:DR … What’s old is new again. Eating a balanced diet and hard work in the gym pays dividends.