The only time that I was really happy with my weight was around the end of highschool. I was around 170 lbs. This was not a healthy achievement though, as I was quite depressed at the time and was eating next to nothing (break up...hormones...the usual) Regardless, with the weight training and exercise that I did then, it really got me looking and feeling great.
Then came University.
Late night sub runs, and crappy yet delicious bad-for-you food all the time took its toll quickly. In subsequent years, living with Jos and Brian, we were hitting the gym often, and doing some crazy Charlie Poole workouts. Very little cardio for me, but heavy muscle development which means heavier Mike.
Towards the end of university, my pallette started accepting beer. It didn’t just accept it, it thirsted for it. Mmm...beer. But, with the beer comes the beer gut. There was a direct correlation between beer and pub food. Chicken wing and beer nights, Raptors and beer, jazz clubs and beer. You get the picture. My weight was frequently between 210-220 give or take.
Then came teaching.
I usually didn’t eat breakfast, and had a very small to-go meal (either soup, or a granola bar) for lunch. Being on my feet, and being busy all the time at work my weight dropped during the day, but my metabolism would kick my ass with the giant double portions I would consume at dinner. I would also usually have something later at night like chips, or general bad-for-you snacks.
To compound this bad eating cycle, I would frequently overeat on the weekend, and have a lot of fried food and...you guessed it: beer!
Now, summer vacation seemed to be the worst. World of Warcraft beer junk. BREAK OUT THE DORITOS! Most people would probably take advantage and be outside and doing active activities during the summer season, but mine was spent with listless hours doing dick-all. I blame the internet. By the time I would hit school again, I’d be around 225 lbs.
By the time September was over, I was around 215 lbs.
Both of my former roommates are currently in good shape. During the wedding we were at, I was drilling one of them for information on getting healthy and losing weight. After my 7th or so Corona (free!), I told Jos that my goal was to be under 200lbs for my birthday (November 6th) After several more free Corona’s, a midnight seafood buffet and the hangover the next day, I was ready to start.
Diet for me was the killer. I liked eating delicious things, and no vegetables. I would eat when I was hungry. I really had to shift my thinking away from the ‘eating to be full’ ideal, to the ‘eating as fuel for the body’ thought train.
All things considered, your weight is pretty much determined by the number of calories you take in. If you take in more calories than your body burns throughout a day, you will put on weight. If you take in less calories than your body burns in a day, you lose weight.
Armed with this knowledge, I set to change my eating habits. Working for a school that has two nutribreaks is actually a good thing (basically our school is set up into three time intervals.) All of the literature I’ve come across suggests that you should try and eat several smaller meals throughout the day to maintain your energy level, and keep your metabolism at optimum functioning.
I went cold turkey with my diet. And I’ve also stopped calling it a diet, and started calling it a life-style change...sounds more permanent. Here’s what I used to eat, and what I eat now..
Orange juice, bagel w/cream cheese OR McDonalds Breakfast Wraps
During the day:
Several coffee’s with cream, 2-3 nutri-grain bars, or soup-at-hands
Some type of bad snack (small bowl of chips, or other not-so-good things)
I would make sure there were no leftovers usually
Beer Fried goodness from the pub
Big delicious (high calorie) meals made from scratch.
- Sitting around doing nothing
-Half bowl of cereal (either cornflakes, regular cheerios) with some bran flakes on top and skim milk
- Glass of water
- Protein shake
During the day
- 1 and half Nutrigrain Bar (other half before going to the gym from school to give me the energy boost for the gym)
- Protein shake
- Freshly prepared food, one serving. Usually have leftovers
- Grapes or apples for snacks if really hungry during the evening (but I’m usually okay)
- These are still tough for me, but it’s getting easier.
- I’ll usually have my same breakfast, and the two protein shakes throughout the day.
- Usually I’ll have leftovers from the week for lunch
- Something homemade for dinner
- I’ll usually have a couple of drinks, and some type of not so good for you snack, but rather than lets say devouring a bag of chips, I’ll do up one bag of popcorn for the night (shared)
That’s it more or less food wise.
Here are the biggest changes -
Absolutely NO fast food. Burger joints, Taco joints, and Fry wagons are a thing of the past. The convenience of these (usually) high calorie places were hard to pass up...more so for the convenience sake. But I really don’t miss them. We still eat out, but I watch what I order from restaurants, and will only get a half a sub with no dressing if I hit up the sub places. Buffets are a no-no.
Yes, it’s delicious and wonderful, but on average about 100 calories per beer (bottle). Once you work off 100 calories on a treadmill, you get a new respect for what you’re eating/injesting. With beer (liquor) you’re also usually tempted to snack too. I make a sober vow to my sober self not to overeat if I’m going to have a few, and make sure I have healthy snacks on hand.
Loved sweet chili heat doritos. Loved spicy pepperoni sticks. GONE. Homemade guacamole and sow sodium chips = great weekend alternative. Staying away from the occasional layer dip too (sour cream, meat, cheese, etc.)
The largest part of losing weight, or getting healthier is definitely the diet. You can work out all the time, but if you eat horribly, chances are you’ll not get your results. One of the hardest things that I’ve had to deal with is my changing metabolism as I get older. Basically, your metabolism is how your body handles and stores food. If you’re inactive, your body stores a lot more.
Here’s how I started off at the gym.
Running is usually considered the best form of cardio. Your body isn’t getting any help from a machine. It’s just you, pulling your own weight. So I started on the treadmill.
My first goal was to figure out how much I’d burn off in a 20 minute span. It came to about 190 calories in 20 minutes. Next time I went to the gym, I ran again, and had the goal of of 200 calories in 20 minutes. My main goal was to hit 250 calories in twenty minutes. The first day I actually did it, I nearly died after, but it was uber satisfying to achieve my goal. I keep upping my goal, and am currently at 310 calories in 20 minutes consecutively. When it comes to cardio, I leave part of my soul on the treadmill. My mind takes control of my body, and forces it to meet my goal. I’m flat out dead when I’m done. But it starts to rip the weight off you really quick.
When I lift weights, I lift at high intensity. Very little breaks between to keep my heart rate up. I’m not looking to become Mr. Universe ripped, but I have a goal of being ‘lean’. If anyone is interested in my workout, I’ll post what I do. I keep it fresh though, I don’t stay with things too long.
215lbs. (September start of year)
208lbs (October 2nd)
I was under 200 lbs by Halloween
[As of when I write this] I’m currently at 186 lbs, having lost 29 lbs since the start of the school year. I’m really quite proud of it. People are noticing, and as vain as it may sound, it makes me feel good. And I feel better too. I have more energy, I want to do things other than just bum around, and I’ve started to really enjoy the gym, rather than it being a chore.
***Jan 12 - 177lbs
Again, I have no real end goal in mind, when I’m going to stop...I’m always redefining what I want to do, and when I’ll have it done by. My current goal is to be under 180lbs for 2010 [which I met], and if I reach it earlier, I’ll adjust from there.
Just some general tips that have worked for me
- Announce your goal. I’ve found that this really helped, because you’re actually trying to live up to a verbal promise you’ve made.
- Cut out the juice. Juice is loaded with sugars...just eat fruit if you crave juice
- Cut out the pop. Drink Water.
- Drink water
- Start with small goals: A lot of people start with "I want to lose 50 pounds." Sure, it may be true, but you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s a huge number, and results don’t come quick. Start with something more manageable, like 5 lbs by the end of the month, or a decrease in fat % by the end of the month. Or to fit into an old pair of pants.
- Cut out the fast food: as I said, it’s actually easier to do than you think
- Prepare meals using fresh ingredients (fresh veggies, and lean meats)
- Do at least one thing active every day (whether it’s going to the gym, skating, swimming, going for a walk, walking the dog...and be true to yourself to do it daily)
- Be aware of calories. I’m not saying that you need to calorie count, but when you actually look at what you have to do to burn calories, you start to appreciate lower calorie options.
- Tell people of successes
- Don't be afraid to tell your relapses...accountability
- Reward yourself when you’ve reached a goal. This doesn’t need to be food...it could be buying new clothes, going to a nice restaurant, etc.