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Still Losing Weight - Lessons Learned

It’s been a couple of weeks since I used My Fitness Pal to log my food consumption. Primarily because I spent nearly a week out of town, some of it driving for up to 17 hours at a stretch. Secondarily, I’ve maintained my basic calorie levels and macro-nutrient proportions, with a couple of interesting exceptions, and my weight has continued to slowly drop. 

My bodyweight yesterday was 179.5#. I don’t believe that in my adult life a scale has shown me numbers under 180#. Not sure. I’ve reportedly been an adult for a long time, and it could have happened in the mid-1980s for a while. 

The “goal” I set for myself is 175#; it’s really an arbitrary number, but beginning a couple of months ago at 195#, it seems reasonable. So far I don’t believe I’ve lost appreciable muscle mass. At the very least, nearly all the 16 or so pounds gone is body fat. When I arrive at 175#, in another week or two (I’m intentionally slowing down), my plan is to remain there for a couple of weeks, hopefully encouraging my system to stabilize. Working through all this slowly helps my metabolism remain cranked up. I think.

Top-end strength is down. My back squat is definitely decreased, though I’m not attempting any max-effort reps. What would be the point? Metabolic workouts at CrossFit remain taxing and tough, but I’m clearly moving more quickly. My motor is running a bit hotter.

Running and cycling are definitely easier. My waist is 32” if not a bit less. Clothes don’t fit, and a belt is necessary with everything I wear.

Here’s the big lesson, reinforced daily. I’ve been eating too much food! Good food, sure, healthy fats, real food, but too damn much of it. All these years thinking I could jam all the quality fat I wanted into myself, have been shown (in my case, at this time in my life), to have been adding unwanted body fat. 

My protein levels have been steady at one gram per pound of bodyweight, or a bit more. Carb levels vary, but they aren’t too high. Many days my carbohydrate intake is in the 50-70 grams level, and much of it’s vegetables (sauteed in coconut oil). The remainder of my carbs are sweet potatoes, white rice, Build and CarboLyze. Most days I consume no bread, no crackers, no nuts, almost no cheese, and certainly no sweets.

Exceptions for me are rare, but I enjoy them on social occasions. Driving from Asheville, North Carolina, last week, passing a Waffle House at every exit, I finally succumbed and pulled into one. The pecan waffle was as great as I wanted it to be (watching Anthony Bourdain discover Waffle House this season on his TV show spurred me through their door). Scattered hashbrowns weren’t terrific, but not bad. Scrambled eggs were fine; the coffee was sub-par. But who goes to Waffle House for the coffee? I was entranced by the employees, the customers (some of whom were barefoot), and the overall ambience. I may never go back, though.

Keep working out. I got to a gym every day I was visiting Asheville. I also drank some marvelous beer each night (there seem to be breweries on every block), but it had no effect on my weight. Could be due to the constant walking up and down hills that Asheville is built on. Perhaps it was the tough, long daily workouts at Summit CrossFit. Or maybe it’s that I don’t drink too many of them!

Eat less food. Make every calorie count. Cut your fat intake way down (all of it should be quality saturated fat (lard, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil). Work out as hard and as often as you can. Keep your protein at one gram per pound of bodyweight, or more, daily. Drink a gallon of water. Do not snack! Meat, vegetables, rice, potatoes, repeat. Eat your meals, take in those intra-and post-workout shakes, but relax about thinking you must eat constantly to be lean and muscular and fit.

When I get closer to my ketogenic diet phase, I’ll write about my experiences with keto, my plan, and the secret weapons I'm going to be experimenting with.


8 Hours of Torture (Fun?) on the Bike Today

Rather spontaneously, I entered a Century Bike Ride this morning, the Backdraft Bike Tour. Sure, they have 25, 50 and 75 mile options, but are those for me? Nope, said my ego, egged on by long-ago memories of my bike racing years and the level of cardio fitness that accompanied that time. Forget about the fact that yesterday I put myself through a decent WOD at CrossFit Green Bay, then stayed after for a back squat session. Let's not even raise the little issue that I've only been on a bike three times this spring, after virtually not riding the previous two summers (meniscus tear, etc.).

My argument was that I'm a consistent CrossFit athlete, train traditionally with weights a couple of other times weekly, have been doing a bit of running, and am down to a near-record 181 adult pouns of bodyweight. This reminds me of a few years ago, when I ran the entire Fox Cities Marathon, all 26.2 damn ugly concrete miles, with only a few 3-mile runs and Tough Mudder under my belt as training. Again, the conceit that CrossFit makes us prepared for anything. Of course, I would have helped myself if I'd purchased real running shoes, and those burpees at each mile marker...

What could go wrong? 

Well, crazy winds could be the staple of today's weather. I'm talking constant, turn-a-corner-stop-moving winds. On a course consistently exposed to the weather, with many hills.

Took me eight hours! That's right, eight freakin' hours in the saddle. My quads are dead; my left glute feels like someone smacked me with a 2x4. In a long life of cycling, including years of racing both road and mountain, today was as difficult as anything I've done on the bike. Yeah, I'm older now, I get it, but my nutrition is fine-tuned and I feel great. This is a tough course.

The small-town fire departments who hosted and organized and ran this Backdraft Bike Tour did it all right. Rest stops had plentiful food, lots of water, and big jugs of Skratch Labs hydration mix. I was pleased to see this great cycling (probably any endurance sport) supplement on hand. Never having used Skratch Labs powders until this spring's cycling season I'm impressed and already consider it critical to my cycling. As I ramp up my running I'm going to be adding it to my water bottles for longer runs.

Today's Backdraft Bike Tour featured the best signage I've seen, ever, for a century ride. Any time there might be a question in a rider's mind about which way to go, boom, signs were present. When the course turned, two signs were there. Impossible to get lost.

Nutrition played a big role for me, of course. Early this morning I scrambled four eggs, gobbled that down with coffee. While driving the 20 minutes to the start, I ate 1 1/2 Lara Bars (three little sample bars). With me in my fanny pack (that's right, I'm bringing them back), I had several more sample Lara Bars, two packets of Progenex Force, three packets of Progenex More Muscle (whey protein), two packets of Progenex Build (sweet potato powder), and a hell of a lot of Skratch Labs.

One water bottle on my bike was always protein/water. The other was water/Skratch/and sometimes Force. Over the course of the eight hours I refilled both bottles three times, consuming substantial extra Skratch (I was just dumping it wildly into the bottles - remember, I was doing this outside). If a little is good, more should be great, right? I used both packets of Progenex Force, both of the Build, and two of the protein packets. I had a constant flow of BCAA, protein, and carbs at all times. Remember, I was cycling at a high level of intensity for eight hours!

Little of the food at the rest stops appealed to me. Once I had a banana. At another stop I gobbled a quarter of a bagel, smeared with Jiffy peanut butter. Kinda gross, I know, but I needed calories! A local bakery had created a dense bar filled with honey, peanut butter, cranberries and other fruit, called a Trek Bar, and I had one at a stop, but for a while it felt like a rock in my gut. No issues, but I decided it wasn't a good thing for me today.

By the end of the ride, I was shot. It was difficult to get un-clipped and off the bike. The finish line had pasta, ugly spaghetti sauce (it may have been sitting there for hours), applesauce, baked broccoli, and some other things. I'm guessing the food set-up was better earlier in the afternoon when the 600 or so 25-50-75 mile rides finished. I chowed on two plates of plain pasta, a bunch of applesauce, two bottles of water, and when I felt better, hit the road the home.

Tonight I enjoyed a couple cups of mixed vegetables, a cup of rice, and two hamburger patties, all mixed together and heated with a bit of salsa on top. Now I need to get to bed early tonight.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot! I took an ice bath when I got home. I hate 'em, but they are great at making a difference in recovery. And do I need that.

I feel strongly that the combination of my general all-around fitness, my ability to efficiently ride a road bike, meant that my positive nutrition gave me the ability to perform like this for eight hours. I'm looking forward to this event next spring. Let's hope the wind gods take the day off!

@progenex, @skratchlabs


Relationship Advice: Both of you better be MyFitnessPal fiends

Let's get this out of the way first: day three of no wine. Tonight, no whining! Only a few minutes ago, 8:30 p.m., dinner eaten, done with dishes, did I realize I hadn't given a glass of wine a thought yet. I guess that's a breakthrough. The LaCroix water is shining as a substitute.

I was struck tonight, as Anne and I spent our customary hour to 90 minutes weighing-prepping-cooking food for tonight's meal, and much of tomorrow, that our relationship is special, enabling us to flourish when this is one of our primary night-time activities. At least we do all this together. Can you imagine if, in a relationship, one person came home in the evening from the gym, and then spent the next 90 minutes weighing-measuring-cooking-eating, all the while updating their MyFitnessPal log? While their partner was watching TV or otherwise not involved? I'm damn fortunate.

Tonight is a good example; we got home from CrossFit Green Bay about 7:00 p.m. Tired, from a particularly exhausting strict press - deadlift - handstand pushup hour. Driving home we discuss what we're going to eat tonight.

Anne is on a strict plan, with her macros broken down, so she works hard to match her desired numbers each day. I, on the other hand, am chronicling what I do, rather than shooting for specific macro-calorie numbers. In prep for tonight I had gotten a couple pounds of grass-fed ground beef from the freezer, and had made a batch of white rice, as we were low. I always keep baked sweet potato fries and white rice on hand, ready to go. While the rice was cooking this afternoon, I also baked a couple of chicken breasts I'd taken from the freezer. This was in my "free time" hour this afternoon, home from working at the gym, which came after a quick morning workout at Xperience Fitness (every muscle group bodybuilding session).

Never be without quality protein and carbs, already put together the way you like 'em, ready to go. We're tired at night, but devote the time necessary to weigh-calculate-eat what is needed. Tonight I enjoyed a couple of burgers from the grill (with mustard and a dab of relish), and a couple cups of white rice. That's it. My post-workout shake, enjoyed while driving home from CrossFit, contained two scoops of protein, and one scoop of Carbolyze (Species Nutrition). And of course BCAA and creatine peptides (Progenex Amplitude). Oh, and Gaspari Nutrition Carnipure. So this meal came about 90 minutes after my shake.

My eating today was pretty much on point, but a bit more supplement-oriented than my usual. Breakfast was a Best Bar Ever (chocolate peanut butter), while walking the dog. Two hours later I was in the gym, and had my usual shake afterwards. But, I goofed up. I hadn't used Carbolyze in a long time, and added two scoops to my shake, out of habit (I always use two scoops of Build or Vitargo when they are my carb source).

After a few hours of training clients, my big meal was coconut oil-vegetables (2 cups), a half pound hamburger patty and a half cup of white rice. All cooked together in that trusty 10" pan I use several times most day.

How did this all work out today, macro-wise?  A damn big (for me) carbohydrate feast, 269 grams! Easily my biggest total since I've been tracking. Protein was ok, 199 grams, and fat was a svelte 61 grams!  For those keeping score at home, that's 44% carbs, 33% protein and 23% fat. 

Weight this morning was once again 182#, but I am still losing body fat. And people at the gym are beginning to notice.

Yesterday I had a snack meal of non-fat yogurt -chia seeds - chocolate protein powder. Stir together, enjoy with a cup of coffee. Other than that, and some left-over coleslaw from Memorial Day, my food was consistent. No weight-training yesterday, but a good run including some stairs downtown (3x up and down). Ran most of 45 minutes. I feel good about that, after the long draining Murph workout the day before, Memorial Day.

MyFitnessPal informs me my 132 grams of carbs yesterday was 24% of my totals; fat was 105 grams and protein was only 171 grams.

I feel great tonight, other than my neck and shoulders ache from all the handstand pushups. When I get tired I ram my head into the ground too hard, before the kip! But, I'm happy these 61 1/2 year-old shoulders (each has had rotator cuff ruptures one time or another) felt so good tonight.

@gasparinutrition, @speciesnutrition, @progenex



More Resolutions: No Wine This Week!

The exclamation point is deserved, in this case. Anyone who knows me well, is aware I enjoy a glass (or so) of wine each night. Every night. I'm shooting for the next five nights in a row without any wine. One, to see if I can do it. Two, wondering if I'll drop a bit more body fat without those carb calories in the evening. Three, I keep running up against a teeny bit of science telling me the metabolizing of wine (or beer or liquor) slows down body fat loss. It's that simple. I'm not worried about my health, I don't drink enough for that to be an issue. 

Just more experimenting upon myself, physically and mentally and emotionally.

I didn't keep a food log this holiday weekend. Other than a piece of ice cream cake this afternoon (after a long tough workout at CrossFit Green Bay), even with drinking two Old Fashioneds last night, my eating was on point. Vegetables, a bit of fruit today, eggs, chicken, brats, meatloaf. Over and over. 

Body weight remains stable at 182. It will be interesting to see if taking wine out of my life, even for a few days, appears to have an effect on body weight or composition.

Back to MyFitnessPal in the morning!


Adding Starchy Carbs to My Day

I've determined over the past few days that adding some starchy carbs (white rice, sweet potato) to my diet is paying dividends. Here's why:  when my total carbs in a day were almost entirely vegetables, my total carbs grams each day were barely keeping me going. Monday I only took in 110 grams; Tuesday 131, but by Wednesday I'd jacked it up to 187 grams.

I believe what was happening on the low carb days, why I was foggy and lacking in energy, was my brain and body were in the never-never-land between ketosis and fully fueled. Remember, I'm working out nearly every day. Most of my sessions include some intensity, whether at CrossFit or in the gym. I'm not spending 90 minutes flexing in front of a mirror! With all of my carb intake coming from vegetables some days, I had very little glucose available in my system for use in workouts. But because I wasn't low enough in carbs to get into ketosis (and I'm not attemping to do that right now), my system was producing no ketones. Result:  blah energy systems.

My solution (experiment) is to add a half cup of rice or sweet potatoes to a couple of meals each day. No toast, no crackers, no crumbling of my discipline. This relatively small amount of starchy carbs in meals other than surrounding my workouts immediately paid dividends. Energy is up, workouts improved, my brain feels better.

The quick weight-loss I was experiencing slowed down. As of this morning I was 182#, but I don't care too much about the scale. The mirror and how my clothes feel is much more important. A couple of days ago I was comfortably wearing an old pair of 32" waist black jeans, and excited to do so.

I'm continuing with the rice or potatoes in each meal (not breakfast today, it was a shake with protein-Build-Fiberlyze-berries-BCAA). Tonight I'm squatting, so it will be interesting to see if that goes better than my squat session did Monday.

Weighing and measuring food continues. I made some small meals two days ago using sirloin tips, onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and lots of spices. Baked in foil packets, each little meal contains 8 oz of meat, 8 oz of red potatoe and 1.5 ounces of carrots. Individually wrapped and now in the fridge, they are proving to be wonderful, convenient snack meals. Pull one out of the fridge, and either warm up in an oven or hit the microwave for two minutes. They were simple and quick to make, and the seasoning mixture of olive oil, sea salt and pepper, worstershire and soy sauce, minced garlic, chopped onion and lemon juice helps them be flavorful yet lean and healthy.

Time to heat up the trusty pan and get mys second meal of today going. I think I'll sauteee some vegetables (there's a shocker), add some sweet potato and ground pork, then hit with four scrambled eggs and be happy!

Remember, you can do this too. Prepare ahead with batches of food, and meals become quick and simple.