Two thousand fifteen has been an interesting year. The best Seattle summer in the last twenty-two years — climate change is working out nicely here, for now; Nine camping trips — with cameos from deer, bear, and hunting owls alike; And another year of kids growing up — and more distant.
Sometime in early March or late April — I cannot recall which just now — something struck me. I’m going to be thirty-nine, which — since the year we celebrate is the year we have completed — is another way to say forty. My weight at the time had started to bother me again. I had been heavier before, I had also been lighter. And just at what point does one decide to do something about it?
For me it was that evening out back of the house with our neighbors over at the fire pit. I asked my wife, Nicole — “Would it be possible for me to lose fifty pounds in twenty weeks?” It seemed like some nice round numbers I could get behind. Simple. Linear. Math. Two and a half pounds a week. It seemed reasonable to me, but it is Nicole who has the domain expertise.
“It’s possible. But it would be hard.” She said.
Tuesday, March seventeenth was day one of my new diet; I had weighed in that morning at two hundred forty-two and four tenths pounds. I would weigh in every morning for the next twenty weeks. Have the same snacks. Have the same meals. The routine was simple. Break fast at five in the morning. Snack at eight. Lunch at eleven. Snack at two. And evening meal at five.
“Just tell me what you ate,” muttered several readers.
- 1/4 cup oats
- 6 egg whites
- lean turkey added to eggs
- 2 scoops protein powder
- an apple
- chicken breast
- two scoops protein powder
- chicken breast
- no beer
- no eating from 5pm to 5am
- black coffee is okay
So how did I do?
It took me twenty-one weeks to hit a total of fifty pounds lost. So I missed my goal by one week — although, hit one hundred ninety-two and seven tenths of a pound a week early.
Variation is important. After a while, your body will acclimate to your fuel. My initial breakfast was one-half cup vs. one-quarter, as well as having a one-quarter cup of orange juice and a yogurt. I would usually cut the orange juice with a pint of sparkling water. It was kinda like a mimosa in the morning. Also, originally I was only having one scoop of protein powder at each snack, but we realized I was too under carbed, and we upped it to two.
The hardest thing is making the decision to do this. Once you can decide that, the rest will take care of itself; Provided you stick to the plan.
Things I’ve learned along the way. My moods and general personality are definitely related to my blood sugar levels. I’ll suddenly start feeling grumpy, or dead-brain and sure enough it’s been almost three hours since I last ate. This is normal and dangerous. After about four weeks into this the wife was fed up with my insane crankiness, and asked that I stop. It was a difficult conversation but a rewarding one, as most hard things are. It served to reset my self-awareness of how I was treating other folks around me. I had a similar slide-back somewhere around week seven.
It takes two. Empathy and understanding from your partner, and not being a complete dick-ishness from you. Just be ready.
And for god’s sake keep a jar of peanut butter with you at all times, have one at your work desk, and several around the house — preferably one that the kids don’t know about. And if you start feeling like you’re going to faint — which you will from time to time — take a small scoop of peanut butter. Or almond butter. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll start feeling better. Within one hundred seconds usually.
Coffee is dangerous. Not for it’s nutritional contents, but the caffeine. It masks your ability to know that you’re hungry. I’d recommend dialing down the coffee when you first start. Or set a timer for every three hours to remind yourself to eat.
Ritual is a powerful thing. I still break my fast this way every morning some twenty-six weeks after first starting.
When you hit the wall, you hit. The. Wall. You need to eat immediately. It’s worth planning. If you start browning the turkey when you’re already hungry, you might pass-out in your kitchen and die.
After you’ve gotten through the first four weeks, you may want to start changing up the protein source. I think I made it about twelve weeks before I could not eat another fucking chicken breast.
Anything lean will do. Fish is good. Pork is a nice change. And that ninety-eight percent fat free turkey is great. Shrimp is another great treat. Being the penny-pincher that I am, cost was always in my rear-view mirror. Chicken is by far the cheapest lean protein source you can get. Safeway has got you for four dollars a pound. That lean turkey (not the ninety percent, or the ninety-three percent) is five. Pork can range from five to six dollars a pound. Oh, and I’m always talking boneless. Some fish are great deals at six or seven dollars a pound. Salmon is heaven at eight or nine. And shrimp is the fruit of eden at ten dollars a pound.
Next? Part 2 where I bring physical activity into the mix.