On January 1st, I decided it was time to address the issue of my weight gain over the last three years. The cause of my weight gain was simple (I stopped running, stopped lifting, and ate and drank everything I wanted), so the solution was simple also.
In six weeks I’ve lost approximately 15 pounds and dropped two pant sizes. My BP has dropped from, shall we say, “Go to the ER”, to ‘high normal’. I still eat almost everything I want. If I got serious I could lose another 15 pounds in 30 days, but because of my lifestyle choices, the number of birthdays we celebrate and various other excuses, I will probably take 60 days to lose the next 15 pounds, and I’m okay with that.
I’ve done this before and it works, so I have confidence and patience. It helps that my Wife usually prepares my meals for me. It doesn’t help that my children enjoy surprising me with martinis they’ve made for me to see whether I can tell if it was shaken or stirred.
My point is: this works. I did it before to lose 60 lbs successfully. Go off the plan, and I can put it back on.
Here is the summary:
Eat the Slow Carb nutrition plan made famous by Tim Ferris. You’re never hungry and you have the energy to perform at a Father of 13 level.
Exercise aggressively for 45 minutes six days a week using the Clay Manley method (that’s Clay below). Don’t worry, if you are mobile you can do this.
Get eight hours of sleep every night. Nap if the sleep quality is poor.
Now, the truth is that I have not done any of these things strictly and I am still losing weight. I still drink booze and eat pizza. I have only exercised six times per week one time-on average it’s 3-5 times. I am doing pretty well on the sleeping part-for most of my adult life I have averaged about 6 hours, so this is a big change. If the Wife and Baby are not getting along and my sleep is short or of poor quality, I take a nap in the afternoon.
In coming posts I will detail exactly what I’m doing, because it’s a proven method, and I believe anyone can do it long term. You can drop the weight pretty quickly, beat type 2 diabetes if your blood sugar is an issue, and almost certainly fix your blood pressure problems as well.
Stay tuned for a detailed overview of why eating on the Slow Carb nutrition plan is so great.
Four years ago, I lost 50 pounds in four months. It was pretty easy; eat little and run often. I ran 2 to 3 miles a day and took up tennis. Eventually, I got tired of being skinny. I started lifting weights seriously. However, the diet available to me didn’t provide much in the way of protein. I managed to put on about 10 pounds in 18 months without changing pant sizes.
Four years ago, I lost 50 pounds in four months. It was pretty easy; eat little and run often. I ran 2 to 3 miles a day and took up
tennis. Eventually, I got tired of being skinny. I started lifting weights seriously. However, the diet available to me didn’t provide much in the way of protein. I managed to put on about 10 pounds in 18 months without changing pant sizes.
My circumstances are different now, and so I wanted to experiment with a dramatic reversal of what I did for several years. I all but eliminated my cardio, running no more than one mile at a time, and that only occasionally, just so I wouldn’t get out of breath walking up the stairs. I also reduced the frequency of my workouts, from 5-6 a week to 3 to 4, and dramatically changed my approach. Instead of 60 to 90 minute sessions, I do about 45 minutes. Instead of 3 minute rests between sets, I do no more than 60 seconds, and I do 4 sets of 6-8 reps rather than 3 of 10 to 12.
I abandoned any attempt at restricting what I ate or drink, except to limit my intake between noon and 8pm. This is called “intermittent fasting“. I also leaned heavily towards paleo, usually eating meals consisting of meat and green vegetables. I didn’t always stop eating at 8pm, I didn’t always stick with the paleo diet, and I ate breakfast on the few occasions She cooked beforehand without asking me if I wanted homemade sausage biscuits, eggs Benedict, homemade biscuits with homemade gravy, or a Bloody Mary.
Admittedly, this wasn’t purely ‘self experimentation’, a la Tim Ferris. I wanted to see if I could reduce my time at the gym so I could add a few other family activities to the schedule. Cutting the exercise time ought to involve a drop in performance, right?
The results have been…interesting. Skipping breakfast is pretty easy. Not eating after 8pm is, for me, hard. Eating as much as you want is pretty easy. Eating only protein and veggies is not. That bag of Doritos that #2 and #11 somehow missed can disappear pretty quickly if the only carbs you’ve had in 72 hours came from a martini two martinis yesterday.
At the gym, I was shocked. In 30 days my bench press jumped 30%, my squats jumped 60%, and I max out most of the machines,
which probably represents a 50lb increase in most every area. (Not the most powerful man in the world, granted, but #2 is bigger and has a 21 year advantage on me and he’s been conspicuously absent with me lately, preferring to “get my workout in early”, as he says. This despite the fact we started attracting small crowds as we exceeded 450lbs on machines). I gained 10 pounds in 30 days. Fat? Muscle? I don’t know.
What’s next? Conventional wisdom and the over-eager fitness trainer at the gym would say to hit the treadmill again and up the reps to cut the fat and see how much I can drop while preserving my strength gains. I’m not convinced. Sounds like a lot of work. Besides, it’s time for second lunch.
Nine months ago, on the hottest day of July, at 2:47pm, I ran a 6:09 mile. I had not run a mile at any reasonably respectable speed since the fall of 1993, when I ran a 5 minute mile on the tarmac at Goodfellow AFB. Back then I was single, weighed 160 pounds, and had yet to discover alcohol, sushi, second breakfast, and a great many other vices that can impede performance.
Anyway, I would not have run nearly that fast last July had I not had a compelling incentive; there were 11 members of the Mexican Mafia of Marion at the track, ready to enforce the outcome of the event. You see, I was racing against one of their own. El Conejo was 22 and very eager. I suspect he had never had the straight-up opportunity to beat a white man at anything. He drank a contraband energy drink before the race and was bouncing around the track. I was stretching and drinking water.
If I won, which they all deemed highly unlikely, then a friend of mine who had gotten himself into debt with the MMM (and had no easy way to repay), would be released from their grip. If I lost, then this friend of mine would become the, how shall I say this, the ‘servant’ of the MMM. It was imperative I win, and so I had skipped my normal morning weight-lifting and scheduled the run at the hottest time of the day. You see, although El Conejo was much younger than I and undoubtedly quicker, I had regularly been running two or three miles a day in the heat. Although I was running slowly, I thought for sure the endurance I’d built up would count for something. El Canejo would steal a chicken from the kitchen and run to the dorms, or outrun virtually any throw to first on the softball field, but otherwise, he engaged in no physical activity I could observe. He also smoked. I thought I had a decent chance. Besides, my friend had nothing to lose and due to his credit rating, no other hope. His confidence in my performance was such that he didn’t even show up to watch.
There was one white man there as a witness, a politician, and runner himself, whom I had befriended. I later learned he had bet heavily on me, but he was the only one there who did. Although by the final lap there was a decent crowd of non-Mexicans there, at the beginning we were lonely, and it looked bad.
At the signal, we began, he in a full out sprint. I ran the fastest pace I thought I could maintain for four laps. He finished the first lap 100 yards in front of me and his gang taunted me. At the end of the second lap, I had caught him and a growing group of white guys were cheering. At the end of the third lap, he was 10 yards behind me and I knew he was finished. I was gradually increasing my speed and he was breathing very heavily and coughing. I gave it everything I had that last lap and crossed the line at just over 6 minutes. He collapsed well short of the finish line about 30 seconds later. When I left 10 minutes later he was still on the ground, motionless. The MMM released the debt as agreed. I was a little sore the next day; El Canejo never got out of bed.
The almost-six-minute mile was an anomaly. My average three mile time, until four months ago, was about 24 minutes. Nothing to be proud of unless you’re 38, white, high-mileage and have lost 100 pounds. I had put a lot of work and more than a decade into that weight. Shedding it required more work.
Regrettably, over the last four months I’ve not been able to maintain the same hour a day lifting weights and 3 mile a day routine that I had come to enjoy. It’s caught up to me. My three mile time, shown below, has slipped by four minutes and my pants have shrunk. At this rate, by Christmas I’ll have trouble walking to the kitchen and back between meals without having to pause to catch my breath and I’ll be back to shopping at Nashville Tent and Awning for clothes.
My goal is to raise money for the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Gallatin by running in their 5k in July. This is a more noble goal than simply running to lose weight. There may even be an indulgence attached to it, although I haven’t found a direct mention of it in the Raccolta and Father hasn’t returned my phone call about it. SVDP does great work helping out truly needy families who are facing emergencies. I’d like to win my weight class, at least. It would be nice if I could place highly in the Over 35 and Under 40 Sedentary Male category. If I could finish in sight of the soccer moms who do Pilates, yoga, cross fit and P90X between visits to get hair, nails and skin done, that’d be even better. Regardless, I’m posting this as a sort of universal accountability measure. I’m sure you’ve heard of UAM before. Now that I’ve put this out there, I’m much more likely to stick with my running plan. Stay tuned.