Monday, January 24, 2011

Diet is a Four Letter Word - Seriously

I will start by stating the obvious. I've been blessed, fortunate, whatever that most of my life I have been more thin than not. Sure there were a couple of times that I sort of gained unneeded weight like in 1993 from eating too many donuts when I worked for Martin Marietta and then again in 2002 when I ate and lifted in earnest to actually bulk up intentionally. Still the progression through my life was skinny, trim, fit, muscular, bulky, bulkier, to, well... beefy.

But one thing was always constant. Start running again, lift a bit, and I mean moderate efforts here, and the weight would melt off. Well I am here to tell you that on the edge of turning 43, that shit just doesn't work anymore.

My philosophy has always been to eat, drink and be merry. Sin at night and pay penance the next day through miles of running. And for most of my life that worked just fine, maybe even too well as it often encouraged me to over indulge way more frequently in things than I probably ever should. One of the perks of being young(er.)

My sins included cupcakes, BEER, Mtn. Dew, Tons of Big Macs, fries... I would schedule my weeks by what restaurants I wanted to eat out at and when. Huge assed Chipotle Burritos and don't forget the chips and salsa... AND that large Coke thank you very much. Regardless of my age or my denial of it, I still believed that my metabolism as a result of my high levels of activity would burn it all off. Well guess what? It didn't.

I would or could run and workout for many hours per week and my weight would not budge. Only in cases of extreme load and I am talking like over 60 mile weeks would the needle start to show improvement on the scale. The truth was obvious and right there in front of me. The old philosophy of run, run, run and burn everything off just did not work anymore. To say that I was in denial would have been an understatement.

But in my defense, I was lucky my whole life and yes, with a bit of work on my part I managed for the most to wear the same sized jeans most of my adult life as I did in high school. But that fostered my core beliefs. I did not believe in diets. I believed you could eat too much of course and moderate intake but ultimately I fully believed that all it would or could take for simple weight management was the appropriate amount and type of exercise performed consistently as a part of ones overall lifestyle.

So imagine my dismay when I started running ultras a few years ago. Training harder than I ever had in my entire life,yet my weight at best would stay the same...

Well, after the Leadville 100 this year during my recovery phase I ate, I drank, I smoked cigars and I ate and drank some more. The pounds piled on quickly. I started running again and still those few pounds stayed. WTF??? Worse yet, I felt it. Again, the answer was RIGHT there in front of my face, I just refused to believe.

Okay I admit it, I did diet once. I did the the Atkins diet with spectacular results. I dropped weight and gained lean mass at an amazing rate. I understood from that experience that cutting back on sugar (sodas especially) would be of great benefit. Of course I had to cut out other junk as well.

I struggled with this. I didn't want to do it, to deny myself some of the basic simple things in life that I enjoyed? WHY!? It wasn't fair.

Well... thankfully, when I was contemplating all of this back in mid to late October, Melissa was on travel and she had sort of the same idea as I had, for different reasons but the overall concept was the same. We would be a lot better off if we cut sugar out of lives. Sodas, junk food, etc... all of that. I was so relieved and even excited when she brought the idea up. I needed this and really the truth as I saw it, this wasn't for just simple weight loss and management. this was really the start of a different lifestyle and set of eating habits.

Most things I could give up readily... sweets, candy, things like that... but caffeinated soda's? That was going to be tough. Another dirty secret... diet sodas? I am one of those lucky people who gain weight even drinking diet sodas and probably more so than regular sugared ones. Nope, even they had to go.

So the great purge happened... all of the snacks thrown out, no more soda's, etc. Ground rules were discussed and agreed upon. Free days would have to happen every once in a while.

In a month, I saw great improvement. I felt better for certain. I missed stuff definitely but the the benefits I felt outnumbered my cravings.

Weight started to drop off a little bit at first. I felt less bloated heavy as had become the norm. My "gut" was falling off as well. Jeans started to fit more loosely till the point I had to go down a size.

So... the proof was in the sugar-free pudding so to speak. Clean up the diet and the weight drops. I didn't do anything drastic or restrictive just started to make what I considered better decisions. But to be honest, even in the light of my success, I still resisted the notion that it was that simple. But it was.

To sum it up I eliminated these things and pretty much in this order. Sugar. Anything obvious of course, ie Pop Tarts and pastries, cakes, etc. Sodas! Along with soda's anything containing HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) which is the center of a lot of attention these days. I realized that "all" sugar could not be avoided so like I said, I stuck to the obvious things and it worked.

So that sums it up. Just another perk of middle age I guess... you just can't get away with stuff like you did 15 - 20 years ago. Eventually you are going to have to start practicing some discipline. Damnit!

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