When I was 30 (I am 43 now) My cholesterol was tested at 250, which is not out of control but not great, my Triglycerides were 205 though which meant that I was holding a lot of body fat, I know that now, I really did not know what that meant at the time.
In 2007 I lost about 25 pounds white knuckling it through a low carb diet that left me stressed out and unhappy, once I added the carbs back in the weight came back.
In October of 2009 I got weighed for Life Insurance, I weighed 213 pounds. Not only had I gained back the pounds I lost but I added 13 pounds.
In January of 2010 I resolved to lose weight by basically not eating like a moron any longer. That did not work what did work was that I was in a motorcycle accident, the people at Reynolds Rehab in Eagan got my ankle healthy and got me moving.
In October 2010 I hired a personal trainer to come to my home to work out both my wife and I, I was convinced if I could keep moving I would lose weight and get healthy. While it never really worked I got down to 185 pounds and hovered there for quite some time. While I had lost almost 30 pounds I did not look much different. It was becoming apparent that there was another level of health that I needed but I genuinely had know clue how to reach that level. Looking back at how easy it is to maintain my health now I wish everyone could know what I know now. There would be infinitely less physical and mental pain related to health.
Googling the term “how to lose a double chin” I found the works of Gary Taubes “Why we are fat and what to do about it”. What I learned is there are no real exercises to lose a double chin, you have to reduce body fat.
About the same time I read the 4 hour body, I am a big Tim Ferriss fan and he mentioned the idea of using a BodPod for Body Fat testing, the book was released on December 14th, I took my first BodPod on December 17th of 2010. I thought I would be around 25% since I felt I was relatively healthy (remember I had lost 30 pounds and I was working with a trainer for months at this point), I was not, my first BodPod had me at 31.4%. That moment devastated me, I didn’t think of myself as that unhealthy. So much so that I retook the test with similar results a few days later. I was starting to figure out that it was more nutrition than exercise at this point.
On January 1st 2011 I started my “2 a day” trainings, being a boxing fan I felt I could work myself back into good health. One compromise I would not make was reducing my calories because my experience in 2007 left me very jaded, as well as having hypothoroid issues and testosterone problems.
Within 75 days I had gained 7 pounds of muscle training at super high intensities for sometimes twice a day. I often made myself sick and injured. I was gradually replacing bad food items with better food items (or so I thought at the time), my results were amazing, everything seemed to be working but I had started to compromise on food (meaning I had to eat well to get these results, I could not just eat anything I wanted) and I was working out all the time.
At this point I was scared to death not to work out because I just did not want to be fat anymore but I was constantly sick and injured and I fought through that, which is something I would not recommend knowing what I know now.
In April I met a friend that introduced me to the Paleo diet. I explained to him that was mostly what I was doing but I was wrong, other than avoiding sugars the way I ate was not like I eat now.
I was convinced at this point that the answer was mostly diet and armed with the knowledge of Paleo I began to research Anti-Inflammatory diets. That is when everything changed. Turns out that eating mostly lean meats, good nutrient dense vegetables and occasionally some fruit is not only good for you but if you eat mostly those foods you do not have to worry much about consumption. So I ate for size and my body responded well.
By May 03 I was down to 19% Body Fat which is a miracle all by itself, by June I was back to 21%, the culprit was Milk. I was drinking milk in an attempt to gain muscle, my weight had gone from 185 to 161 in June. I knew how to lose weight but I was clueless about gaining muscle and eating to gain muscle. I seemed to be stalled around 20%. Since 20% was a goal at one point I almost quit right here, looking back I am glad I did not.
In late June I attended a Crossfit Level 1 certification, while I thought I was familiar with Crossfit because of my work at high intensity I had no idea at all. As far as I had come there was a part of the certification where you do a workout called “Fran”, basically 21-15-9 reps of Thrusters at 95 pounds and Pull ups. I couldn’t do one of either and I could not contain myself, so I started to cry. As far as I had come it seemed I had REALLY a long way to go. I was wrong!
Driving home from the certification in Chicago I was defiant, I would not have my accomplishments diminished by this ultra-fitness standard. I just wanted to gain a little muscle, that was like Cirque-Du-Soliel of fitness, by the time we approached Minneapolis my wife had googled the gym near my house and I joined the very next day. So much for defiance.
My progress was slow at first, hell I am not a fire breather now but I can do Fran without crying now and I recently deadlifted 275 pounds 65 times in one day while doing a ridiculous amount of pull ups and wall climbs (don’t ask, they suck). Basically when I used to work out I did all the things I was good at and so whole sections of my body never got addressed. Now that I work on my deficiencies a whole new world has opened up for me.
In September after some experiments with Intermittent Fasting I stumbled upon Leangains.com, being very familiar with my body and what it was capable of doing I started eating up to 4000 calories but in an 8 hour window a day. Said differently I skip breakfast for maximum health. Just an aside, people who skip breakfast don’t kill their metabolism, that is not why it is unhealthy for most people. My first meal of the day is my biggest and it typically looks like what people think breakfast should look like. I normally eat anywhere from 1500-2000 calories in one sitting. The typical way for me to “Break my Fast” is a 10 ounce grass fed ribeye, big helping of sweet potatoes cooked in coconut oil with various peppers and onions, 4 Omega 3 enriched eggs with a Kale and Blueberry Salad. For dessert I will often have a 10 ounce bowl of Whole Greek Yogurt with Strawberries and Raw Cacao Nibs.
For the first time in my life I am completely content as it relates to health and fitness. My body heals better because I do not inflame it because I eat mostly anti-inflammatory foods, what little healing it does need is aided by “Skipping Breakfast” and less than 20 minutes of Crossfit a day does the trick to keep me in shape (the total time commitment is an hour but most of it is stretching and getting ready for what’s about to happen).
Today my fitness journey ended exactly one year after my first BodPod, the final tally was 9.1%. While that wraps this up with a nice little bow I think the thing I am most looking forward to is just being able to move into my next phase of health and fitness. Clearly this year was a very measured approach, next year will be much more deliberate, less measuring and more enjoying the journey.
This is me about a week ago (probably at about 10%).
Final Tally, I started with 57.1 pounds of fat and now I have 13.8 pounds. For a total loss of 43.3 (this was after I already had lost 30 pounds).
Maybe more remarkably because it is difficult to both lose fat AND gain muscle I started with 124.5 pounds of lean mass and I now have 135.689 for 11.189 pound gain.