Sunday, July 31, 2011

Getting serious about getting in shape: thoughts and observations.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a big guy.  Sure, I am fun to hang out with, and make lots of witty and funny jokes, and I am an all around good person (heh, don't want to toot my own horn), but if I do not get my health under control all of those awesome things about me, will eventually disappear, because I will eventually disappear.  It is no secret that excess weight has a myriad of health problems to go a long with it.  Excess fat, especially excess belly fat, compresses your internal organs (hey, you only have so much space in there), leads to higher blood pressure, higher incidence of diabetes, higher risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.  Excess body fat makes you sleep worse, makes your body ache, and gives you less energy.  It also leaves you winded walking up stairs, or walking down the block.  Walking down a hill is pretty easy though, unless your knees hurt.

Interesting side note: if you lose 1 pound of weight, you decrease the pressure on your knees by 4 pounds!

Personally, my weight has left me with borderline high blood pressure, borderline high cholesterol, sleep apnea, energy that makes me want a nap in the middle of the day, and body aches.  Now, all of these things are fine if I do not want to live past 50, if I did not have a wife, and if we did not eventually want to have children.  However, none of those things are true, and thus I need to make huge changes.

Tipping the scales at what amounts to at least two slightly overweight men, I realize that drastic changes are not only suggested, but they are damn well mandatory.

Just go on a diet Anthony.
I have tried dieting.  I have tried tons of diets over the years and while some of them have helped me lose some weight, I have never been able to stick to the diet, nor has the weight ever stayed off.  I tried the low carb diet specifically for teens, I tried the cabbage soup diet, Weight Watchers, Atkins, and following the food guide pyramid.  The only two that remotely worked were Weight Watchers and Atkins, however with Weight Watchers I got sick of counting the points, plus I had to pay to go to meetings and being short on either time or cash always hindered that plan.  Atkins was great for a few weeks and I lost about 20 pounds (which is also what I lost on WW), but it became a bit too restrictive for me.  No fruit, no beans: double whammy for me.  The food guide pyramid is rubbish, if you would like my own personal opinion.  I do not believe that the recommendations on the food guide pyramid (or plate as it may be at this point) are good for Americans.  There are other guides for different parts of the world, and they are mostly filled with lots of proteins (beef, chicken, fish) and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds) and low on the grain recommendations.

So what are you trying to say Anthony?
I have been doing a lot of reading lately in between failed diets and gaining back more weight than I lost to begin with, and I am seeing common patterns.  My own deductions seem to be that our current diet in America is wrong, and the average waist line seems to back that up.  Not only are our diets wrong, but what we have been told to eat is wrong.  Somewhere a long the line, we were told by the government that we should be eating 6-8 servings of grain everyday, and we were told by advertisers that fat is bad and we saw a deluge of low fat foods hit the shelves.  We were told that red meat will kill you, and that eggs will clog your arteries.  The American diet was turned on its head, and Americans have been getting fatter ever since.  It really is no secret that the consumption of all of the low fat foods in this country has upped the consumption of sugars and carbs, because when you remove fat from foods, you need to replace the flavor some way, and adding sugar is the way they do it.
In 1977 the McGovern Commission released dietary guidelines recommending more grains and less meat and fat.  These guidelines were released despite protests from the medical community.
 Sugar, more specifically glucose, is needed for cell energy and plays an important role, however, any dietary sugar that is not used by the body is stored in the form of fat.  That stored fat turns into the crap hanging off of your body at the stomach, legs, and arms.  Those low fat foods, as well as all of the bread, rice, pasta and grain in general are making us fat by giving us more sugar than we need!!!  We can get the carbohydrates we need by eating vegetables, and if we need more energy, our body will use the stored fat we have, and break down protein in order to use it for energy should we need more.

The other disastrous consequence of all of those low fat products is that it robs you are a very important protein hormone called Leptin.  Fat secretes Leptin and it tells your brain that you have plenty of fat stores for energy.  It tells your brain to stop eating!  Without Leptin, you will overeat, and when you overeat you get fat.  Those low fat foods and carb laden foods do not allow for the release of Leptin.

So what is the plan?
My personal plan is fairly simple.  After doing lots of reading and research (which I am continuing to do), I have decided that I need to kick the crap to the curb and start eating like humans ate before we decided that meat and fat were bad and that grains and "low fat" foods were what the body needed.  My goal is to eat like my grandparents, or great grandparents and like those before us.  It will be proteins and healthy fats as well as carbohydrates from meat, eggs, nuts, berries, natural oils, avocado etc.  It is a lot like the Atkins diet, except I can have the fruit, and I can have nuts as well.  I can also eat sweet potatoes when I would like them.  It also means no bread or pasta, no bagels, no pizza, no hoagies, it is essentially no carbohydrates except from vegetables.  Ideally all of the vegetables would be fresh and the meat would be from grass fed animals, but that may not always be possible.  Essentially I will be trying my best to eat like a paleolithic human being.

Stay tuned for future blog posts as I chronicle my journey from a big unhealthy guy, to a trim healthy guy and I will also post more resources for what I hope to accomplish.



  1. Every journey begins with that first step. As you and ALL of my former students know I am a large person also. So I totally understand where you are. You are much younger and I am PROUD that you are taking the first steps. I have been working with a Nutritionist and while it has been slow losing,the scale is going down. That being said we must remember we are more than that number on the scale. Also you are right it is not about "Dieting" it about "Living" and everything in Moderation.
    Two books that have helped me on this journey are:
    "Women, Food and God"(Geneen Roth) and "A Course in Weight Loss - 21 Spiritual Steps(Marianne Williamson.
    Continued success and I would like to accompany you on this journey as I am sure will many others.

  2. Thanks for the comment Barb and I hope you keep reading my blog. I am proud of you as well that you are working with a Nutritionist and that the scale is going down. Congrats and that is awesome!!!!

    I completely agree with you that it isn't about finding some fad diet that will make me lose lots of weight, because when I stop that diet, I have learned nothing and will gain back all of that weight.

    Welcome to the journey...or really, thanks for welcoming me to the journey that you are already on.


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