When I was 20, my health wasn’t a priority. For the longest time, I remember weighing 185 for some reason. That was my “panic” number for a while, and then it became 200 and 215. I think you guys get what I am saying. Basically I was dieting my way to obesity.
My weight loss approach in my 30’s was simple: cut out the M&Ms and Cokes for about a week. That soon stopped working– partly because I didn’t get it, and partly because I was crushing my metabolism (muscle mass, mainly) with the extreme back and forths. In an odd way, those “panic” numbers hurt me.
For instance, let’s say I stayed at 215 for a couple of years but I made health a priority. I would have stayed that weight while gaining muscle. THAT’S RIGHT! Without lifting one weight, I would have gained muscle over time and my body would have adapted to that weight. Instead, I would have a pity party and starve myself after. I did this ad infinitum. So, let me make this clear: your body is the best resistance tool you have. If I had stayed 215, my body would have adjusted to my lifestyle changes by building muscle without any physical stimulus.
Should I have made better choices? Absolutely. Should I have made fitness a priority and found something I love? Absolutely. But what started out as a fat problem became a muscle problem. I had never let my body adapt naturally. We are all playing a game of attrition.
So, let’s talk about what I did that finally worked.
1. When I broke my ankle, I was already in an unformed cycle of eating less. Being “healthier” at that time wasn’t actually healthier, but it was a start. I lost weight. A lot of the recommendations I make are based off my inability to properly recover from injuries (you’re welcome). Long story short, your metabolism is going to kick into high gear when you need to recover from a big injury so there is no need to be super aggressive with calories while injured.
2. Coming out of that injury, I was under 200 lbs for the first time since 2006. Once I got down to 185 lbs, I started body fat testing. These tests changed me life. Oh, sure– the results pissed me off. I had Ilost 40-45 pounds and I was still 32% bodyfat. That was like getting a brick to the face. Hearing that I was 32% was like hearing “you still have a gigantic mountain to climb.” But here was the thing that kept me on the path, I wasn’t starving this time.
I got down to 170 by low carbing. I also looked like a bag of skin. So of course I wasn’t happy being 200, but I knew my method of weight loss wasn’t ideal since I felt and looked bad. As I started going through physical therapy, I was observably very weak– a “I don’t feel capable” kind of weak. So what did I do?
Three hours a day of cardio, of course.
I used mostly low impact machines and often cardio’d twice daily. I only heard and listened to “do more, eat less.” I did do one thing actually correctly, though– I didn’t eat less. I had spent my thirties eating less and knew it didn’t work.
I’m doing 3 hours of cardio a day, sweating my ass off and eating over 3000 calories a day with kind of marginal gains but I was certainly better off than I was before. So that’s when I started juicing green vegetables and that one single act changed my life the same way many other things were changing my life. I juiced religiously for about 6 months. It wasn’t the juicing that was magic, though, it was that I was abandoning a lot of the bad behavior still in my life. Even though I was eating a lot at that point, my foods weren’t quality, whole foods. Juicing led to me eating whole vegetables regularly, which led me to eating better meats, which led me to relying on starches for energy rather than constantly resorting to sugar. We can talk all day about whether or not sugar is good or bad, but let’s be real– it always comes down to dose. I knew I was eating too much sugar and too many foods that didn’t fuel my system well. I didn’t get as sick or as hurt as much. So, the question of whether or not you can out eat a bad diet is basically moot. Of course you can, but most people don’t have the work capacity to do it.
3. I started dabbling with weights, but I was mostly putzing around. It was pretty obvious I needed some muscle. At this point, fitness and health were priorities for me; I was eating whole foods, I felt great, and I exercised consistently. My diet was mostly meats and veggies. While I didn’t have a lot of carbs, I also didn’t avoid them. Most of my carbs came from the foods that I still had occasionally, but not the consistent routine of starches that fuel me now.
I dropped 10 percent body fat and went from 185 to 162. I was 22%, I was working my ass off and I once again looked like a bag of skin– that’s when I started CrossFit. Within 6 months, I was 9% at 149.5, but I looked small and I couldn’t do a lot. Within days of taking the picture at 9%, I was back at 155. The picture on the sales page is me at about 160 with full muscles. I stayed at 165 for about two years after that with almost no need for change at all.
All that failure, all those things I did wrong led me to the path that I needed to find. Some of that stuff was truly scary, and some of that info pissed me off, but it didn’t represent me. It didn’t represent my will or my heart. Rather than looking at it as frustrating, I looked at all of it as an opportunity to learn. That’s how it changed my life, and now, it’s how I’m helping change yours.