Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Knowledge is Power

My weight on Mars (July 2013). That makes 927 reasons to go to Mars.
There really is still only one rule, I promise. But, just as every law requires regulations to implement it, so too that One Rule requires a few guidelines to have it's maximum impact.

Guideline, The First (Primus):

Get on a scale at least once a week. Knowing how far you've gone requires knowing where you started. If you're the overly analytical sort (like me) you can do it more often; however, in that case, you must keep a careful record and look at the trend over several days, as your weight can easily vary by several pounds just based on varying degrees of hydration and the physical weight of food still in your digestive tract.

Regardless of how often you weigh yourself, in order for the comparisons to be meaningful, it's important that the circumstances be as uniform as possible. First thing in the morning with no clothes and an empty bladder, is usually the easiest. Even then, be aware that water retention can vary from day-to-day if your salt and/or water intake varies (water weighs 8.3lbs/gallon).

My own... personal... nightmare

It may seem innocent, but a simple bathroom scale can be one of the most terrifying objects imaginable. Hyperbole aside, it was certainly an emotional experience for me getting on a scale for the first time in several years. It was made even more so by the need to hunt down a scale that would accommodate my (quarter-)tonnage. But in the end, it had to be done and I'm better for the experience and knowledge.

You can do it!

Monday, January 6, 2014

One Rule to Rule Them All

The bad news...

No carbs? What do you mean, no carbs? To be fair, eating zero carbs is nearly impossible without resorting to extreme measures. That said, if you're doing it right, most of your carbs will be coming from green vegetables. That's right, spinach has carbs. Not many, but if your goal is a maximum of 30 grams per day -- and yes that is your goal -- they add up pretty quickly.

The good news...

It really is easier than it sounds. The first week will require some willpower, but after that sticking to the one rule should be mostly an issue of keeping the sugar pushers at bay. Repeatedly explaining to people that they're not helping by offering whole grain bread and sugared-up low-fat alternatives can be more harrowing than resisting strolling down the cookie aisle at the supermarket.

Here it is...

One simple rule: Don't eat sugary foods!

What is a "sugary" food? It's anything that you would think of as sweet, starchy (starch is basically sugar by another name), or glutenous* (anything containing grain or flour).

You can do it!

*Gluten itself is actually a protein, I'm describing the general class of food products. Most gluten-free products will contain just as many carbs as their traditionally prepared counterparts. It's the grain that you're really trying to avoid.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Keester into Ketones (Fat into Fuel)

NOTE: Be smart, read this disclaimer before doing anything based on what you read here.

It all started when, Security Now host, Steve Gibson's urine began smelling like nail polish remover. Strange as it might sound, that was one of the surest signs that a fundamental shift had taken place in Steve's metabolism. A shift I would experience myself a few weeks after watching him explain his experience. That shift is something very different from the traditionally desired speeding up of one's metabolism. It's a change not in how fast your body burns calories, but in the source of the calories burned. After all, if you're looking to get rid of fat, burning glucose (sugar) as your primary fuel is (at best) inefficient.

"A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips." Sounds logical, doesn't it? The problem is it's completely wrong from a biochemical standpoint. Fat does not go directly from mouth to muffin top. Where does it go? Right where all nutrients absorbed from food go first, your bloodstream. The important part is what happens with the fat from there. If your body is conditioned to use that fat immediately as fuel, it gets burned. On the other hand, if carbs are your main source of energy it will be stored.

But wait, there's more!

If you're reading this, chances are you're interested in losing weight. Well you've come to the right place. The wonderful thing about a ketogenic diet -- the extreme end of the low-carb diet spectrum, in which this metabolic change takes place -- is that fat doesn't hang around in the blood stream for very long. Once you've burned what you've eaten, your body starts converting your keester into ketones which are then burned by your cells instead of sugar. All you have to do to keep the process going is avoid letting your cells take the easy way out by reverting to burning sugar. 

Gary Taubes explains the biology and nutrition better than anyone I've heard, without getting needlessly technical. If you're interested in the details (which you should be) or simply don't want to take my word for it (which you shouldn't), I suggest you watch this presentation. If you still want to know more, read his book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. If you're still not convinced, try the more information than you could possibly require version: Good Calories, Bad Calories

More definite advice on where to get started is on it's way. While I work on that, try replacing that pasta with a salad, just be careful of the added sugar in low-fat dressing.

You can do it!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Saved By a Belle

"Wait! Did you really just say that?" That was my first thought when I suddenly realized that I wasn't being looked at as the fat guy. Others often see changes in us that we can't see for ourselves. In my mind I was still the ogre, not worthy of a second glance from such a beauty. 

I'd made it over the Smokey Mountains and across the Great Plains only to find yet more mountains in my path. Progress was slow and motivation subsiding. The urge to settle was great. My original purpose of ensuring I didn't die young and miss out on tomorrow had been met. What I needed -- and now had -- was a reason to climb for a better today.

Find your reason, it doesn't have to be a big thing. Long-term goals are great, but the short-term ones are what keep you from settling for the first comfortable resting spot along the way. It helps if that goal is more than just a number. Numbers are too easy to give up on. How do you want to feel? What do you want to look like? What do you want to be able to do? Numbers aren't important; it's how achieving your goal makes you feel that counts. Imagine your destination and keep going until you get there.

You can do it!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Yes, that was me...

...less than two years ago. I was at my highest (known) weight of a frightening 520 pounds. I'd actually been near (possibly above) that weight for a year or more at that point. Now that I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel -- and confirmed that it's most likely not an oncoming train -- I've decided to share my experiences. I've waited until now to share much of this in detail because, it seems to me, explaining the sausage making process can be even more difficult that watching it; especially when you're the sausage.

So what happened two years ago? Why did a 29 year old man (who'd been fat since preschool) suddenly decide to fix something that had been broken for a quarter-century? In a word: love. For those who know me and know the situation, you'll understand. For the rest, sorry but it's not entirely my story to tell. Suffice it to say that knowing that I would likely die young took on a new significance when I found a reason to live.

Extraordinary accomplishment requires extraordinary motivation. I had been killing myself (slowly) for decades. Fixing the damage was going to either require many years of slow weight loss, requiring steady motivation year after year, or an even more concerted effort for a shorter period. Frankly, I think the former would have been harder.

Fortunately, most people don't need to lose more than half their body weight. Those of you who do, I hope you're able to find sufficient motivation to do what's necessary. In either case, I am here to testify that it can be done; no surgery, no starvation. It isn't easy, but it is possible.

I'll detail the choices I made along my journey in future posts. To get you started, here's where my research began: