Thursday, 23 July 2015

Weight Loss Story (first draft)

If you want to shred an extra weight, you can apply the simple equation if you burn more calories than you consume you will lose weight.  On the other hand, consuming more calories than what you burn off leads to weight gains.   So basically if you eat and exercise more you will lose weight however, calorie restricted diets are not sustainable and exercise alone is a very difficult way of creating a calorie deficit.  Furthermore, combining restricted calorie restricted diets and increased exercise lead may lead to reduced performance, becoming more lethargic and reduced immune system making you more prone to illness.  This latter approach is definitely not sustainable for long periods of time.

These are often short term approaches that lead to initial weight loss but the weight is gained once you completed this ‘fad’ diet and returned to your usually lifestyle.   The only option is a complete lifestyle change.   This blog is focused on how I managed to shift more 70 lbs, lowering my waist size from 38” to 30” and still maintain a good level of exercise without feeling lethargic or drained.  Some of my ideas were taken from Tim Ferriss – the four hour body.  

If you are overweight then unless you have a medical issue (e.g. thyroids) then the chances are you have some bad lifestyle habits.  For me, I was a sucker for sugary energy drinks, alcohol, rubbish junk food and take-aways.  When I was at my biggest I weighed 110 kg or 243 lbs (17 stone).

If you can identify what aspect of your diet has resulted in your extra weight gain then you have already made great process.   Probably worth writing a list of things that you consume and if it contain plenty of sugar then it is a likely cause of being weight gain.  Stopping abruptly of these sugary foods can be difficult especially as sugary foods are addictive.  My advice would be to make a slow transgression you know that you might struggle.  I started my replacing sugary energy drinks with diet cokes for example.  I also went through a period of having limited money so that helped me to cut out eating out all the time.  

The next thing to do highlight some short-term realistic targets.  For me every weekend I was determined to better the previous weekend’s PB.   By the training and losing a little bit of weight I was able to improve my course PB on almost a weekly basis. 

Also, at this stage by avoiding eating crap food and alcohol and increasing running to three times a week.  I also made sure I never skipped breakfast and now religiously I had 2 weetabix biscuits with either skimmed or semi slimmed milk.  I also targeted my daily calorie intake to 2000. Almost, immediately, the weight began drop off me.  I weighed myself once a week on the same day at the same time.  It important to do this as your body weight can fluctuate depending on how hydrated you are (couple of kg is possible).   Therefore, if you keeping a record then it important to keep the conditions the same in order to gauge any differences in mass more accurately.  For me, I weigh myself first thing in the morning on a Thursday before breakfast and after a toilet visit.  Anyway by sticking to 2000 calories per day (probably 1800 calories would be a good target for females) I started to get lighter.   The lighter I got the easier I found running got easier and my parkrun times drastically improved.  I have been losing weight at a consistent rate of 1-2 lb per week.  After a period of time I finally lost > 40 lbs dropping a couple of waist sizes in the process.

However, my progress was postponed when I went away to Northern Canada on fieldwork for 4 months of the summer.  I returned the UK in October and ran the Robin half marathon in Nottingham.  During this race I picked up an injury, common runner injury of ITB giving me pain around my knee.  I also persevered through the Congleton half and Great South West run with this injury.  After I decided to take a complete month off from running.  I made a return at the Conwy Half a month later to bag a new PB.  Then in December I went away to San Francisco and came back in time for Christmas.  Anyway before going off too much of a tangent in this period between October and December exercise was sporadic and I didn’t pay much attention to what I was eating.   It was only in January with the Stoke FIT Awesome by April that I decided to pay attention to my lifestyle.

However, I have recently been reading the 4 hour body by Tim Ferriss.   There are lots of interesting stuff written in this book I got particularly interested in the chapter on subtracting fat.  In this particular chapter Tim recommends eating simple meals that comprise a combination of proteins, legumes and vegetables (see lists below).  If you are feeling hungry eat the same food again.
·         Egg whites with one whole egg for flavour
·         Chicken (no skin)
·         Beef
·         Pork
·         Fish
·         Lentils
·         Black beans
·         Butter beans
·         Pinto beans
·         Spinach
·         Asparagus
·         Broccoli
·         Peas
·         kale
·         Mixed vegetables

So for lunch and evening meals this is pretty what I ate.   My favourite was black beans, lentils or a combination with kale.   From the protein list I would ribeye steak after a tough training session and chicken, salmon or tuna for other meals.   I would eat for 6 days week giving myself a cheat day at the weekend.   However, Tim recommends this type of meal for breakfast but I decided to stick to a bowl of muesli.  Despite eating these meals I was still able to train hard including running up to 20 miles for the Stafford 20 and training for potteries marathon.

In the first week of January I weighed 189 lbs.  I stuck to this diet all the way through to April and dropped a further 20 lbs.   I never felt lethargic or hungry during this time.  I was also able to put in some intense speed training and some long distance running without any negative impacts related to my diet.   I also started to go to the gym before work mainly because I am an early person and I didn’t want to start work too early.  In the gym I did a bit work with weights and kettlebells which might have contributed to my weight loss along with the diet.  On my cheat days I would consume a huge packet of crisps, eat curry and drink loads of beer.  In his book Tim Ferriss recommends having a cheat day once week to help reset a slowing metabolism.  It is also good to reward yourself for eating healthy for 6 days too.

Losing the weight I have seen substantial improvements in performance.  I have seen my parkrun times improve from 31:17 to 20:01.  I have seen my 10K race times improve from 55 mins to 41 mins and my half marathon times improve from 2:21 to 1:33.    I am currently running in good form but this is all down to losing the equivalent of 35 bags of sugar.  I really don't think I could run with that weight in a back pack.  Also there is a similar story with Graham McLachlan from the Michelin running he has lost a quite a bit of weight and is now smashing all of his course times by big margins.

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