If you read my last post, The Care and Feeding of Super Heroes and Beauty Queens, you’ll know I briefly touched on the research I did into diet. You’ll know I followed that research until my “diet” just became how I ate normally. One of my biggest questions was whether or not a new way of eating could actually be sustainable. And cost-effective.
I do need to assert that I am not a doctor. I don’t have any formal training in diet or nutrition. All I have is life experience, trial-and-error and personal research. I can tell you what has worked for me. And, from what I’ve read…maybe only thousands of others.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to skip to the end, let me tell you that this post ends with me losing thirty five pounds in five months. I reached my goal of getting to my “optimal” weight. I didn’t break the bank and I’ve been able to sustain this method for over three years with no ill-effects…except for one. My friends and family can’t stand to go to restaurants with me. And, they know better than to ask for my advice on food. There are a few of my friends who definitely “get it.” I’ve even recruited a few folks in to a trial run of this lifestyle. And, even the ones who haven’t stuck with it maintain that it’s pretty easy to follow. They eventually just wanted something else more than a werewolf body. And, that’s totally OK. I mean, most of these people knew me when my sack lunch of choice was two PB&J sandwiches, two smallish bags of chips, and a Dr Pepper. And, probably a Snickers bar or a leftover donut for an afternoon snack. My wife and I would buy brownie mix once a week and have brownies and ice cream every night in front of the TV. Those were the days! So, I get it. I totally get it when people think I’ve gone too far with this crazy eating and CrossFit thing. Especially since I used to have the fitness and dietary habits of Jabba the Hut.
After all my research, I was able to break down my eating principles into two sentences;
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. –Greg Glassman, “What is Fitness?,” CrossFit Journal (Oct. 2002)
If you want to know the “why’s” behind how these two statements work, see my previous post for some great reading material. But, if you’re like me and are just really darn good at following orders, just try the above two sentences for a week…and then a month. (check progress…trust and verify!)
I went Paleo and Started CrossFit pretty much cold turkey starting the first week in January of 2011. For me, Paleo meant giving up sodas, breads, pastas and, eventually dairy. After my first week of going from zero exercise to three days of CrossFit, and eating according to those two sentences I lost five pounds. In the second week, I tried giving up dairy as well and lost another five pounds. The other twenty-five came off gradually over the next four and a half months. But, I was able to see steady progress along the way. And, the coolest thing was I never went hungry. I learned what snacks to carry around me (lots of nuts and apples!) I started travelling with food to have on hand so I wouldn’t have to waste a good cheat day on airport food. I ate when I was hungry…and my new CrossFit habit seemed to support that. And, yes, my family thinks eating out with me is no fun…because I have ordered a burger without the bun and broccoli instead of fries. Once again…I’m no foodie…so I never felt like I was giving up too much. My heart goes out to people who don’t like eating vegetables or can’t imagine their life without bread. That was never my problem, and I consider my self lucky.
I’d read somewhere about how some people need a cheat day for their own sanity. I think I was pretty hard on myself for a few weeks before I allowed myself a true cheat day. But, man was that cheat day glorious. Pancakes for breakfast, a bacon cheeseburger and fries for lunch, pizza with soda for dinner and ice cream out with the family for dessert. A-maz-ing. The next morning was even more amazing. Truly. The new two-sentence diet had trained my body to use fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel. So, now, all of a sudden I was introducing all this foreign stuff to my body and I would swear my body had no idea what to do with it. That morning…I think I lost another seven pounds. (figuratively speaking.) I had friends experimenting with the same diet and they were able to relate to my, umm…findings. Garbage in, garbage out. Cheat day over, food hangover endured…now back to work! I probably had a big cheat day like that about once or twice a month…but kind of cashed in on little cheats on other Saturdays. Anybody that knows me will tell you I’m a sucker for chips and salsa. Corn chips are definitely NOT Paleo…if I’m diagnosed with cancer one day, I’m sure the doctors will somehow connect it to all the corn chips I talked myself into. I would choose chips and salsa over ice cream. That’s my weakness, my Achilles heel, the thorn in my side. I even started CrossFitting more often just so I could eat more chips and salsa during the week and not gain any extra weight! (And, that seems to have worked out.)
After going Paleo, you’re kinda bored with the same old eggs for breakfast every morning and salad for lunch. There were some days I’d swear if I saw another chicken breast for dinner I was going to lose it. There was one night where I broke down and was craving chocolate so bad I thought I may have actually turned into a woman. (So glad I found that Paleo brownie recipe.) The moral of the story is that I learned to adapt. I’ll bet there was a time that most of us didn’t like coffee. Or beer. But, you acquire a taste for the things that are worth it. And, there are lots of folks out there going through the same challenges, reaching for the same goals. People say all the time that it takes a village…and that’s what a good CrossFit box should be. CrossFit Fort Worth had become my village…a great collection of like-minded individuals. Like-minded individuals with really good recipes! The support group saved my butt countless times and helped me to my goal. And, now I’m part of that village answering questions from folks who are currently where I was three years ago. I was pretty clueless and had lots of questions. Turns out everybody was there once. And, that’s pretty cool.
Here’s a fun little graphic I stumbled on a while back that has served me pretty well. Keeps things pretty simple. Especially the part about having a face: