- UPDATE: as of December 6, 2019, I weigh 157.1 pounds, two pounds from my goal of 155. Solid win!
- Between August 26th and October 31st 2019 I went from 180 pounds to 160 pounds.
- I switched from a high-protein high-carb diet to a vegan diet.
- I did 30-minutes of "zone 2" cardio each morning
- The biggest contributor to weight loss isn't diet or exercise...
A few things I need to say before we begin...
Firstly I am not a doctor, nor did I seek the advice of anyone in the medical profession before doing what I mention here. If you've tried everything you can think of to lose weight, including what I mention here, you may consider seeking the help of a professional. Sometimes getting the opinion and advice of another with broad experience can help. With that said, I firmly believe you are fully capable of seeking the answers within yourself and losing the weight you want to lose.
Secondly, what works for me may or may not work for you; more than likely it won't work for you. There are a variety of factors in play - age, starting weight, life circumstances, etc. As an example, 99% of what I did works for my wife, who is a mere two years older than I. The keys are experimentation and being easy on yourself as you experiment.
Now let's get to it!
This is the story of how I lost 20 pounds in 2 months. I share my story with the intention of helping you lose all the weight you want to lose, and keeping it off.
I've tried many diet and exercise plans in the past, including:
- 2.5 hour body building workouts 4-5 times per week.
- Using handfuls of expensive "fat burning" supplements on a daily basis.
- Insane amounts of cardio (1+ hours per day).
- Super low-carb diets.
- Paleo diet.
I found none of these to be sustainable, and as many others have experienced, once I stopped the weight came back on, not overnight, but back it came!
What I was looking for, and have found, is a diet lifestyle that works for me, works well, and is sustainable in the long run.
As a result of my weight loss and daily spiritual practices:
- Many have remarked how good I look.
- Coworkers ask me for weight loss advice and tell me I am an inspiration to them.
- My children who usually eat very healthy are eating even healthier.
- My head is clearer.
- I have more energy throughout the day without having to consume high levels of caffeine.
- I feel more relaxed and at peace.
I'll take that any day of the week over eating a ton of crap that makes me tired, reduces my lifespan, and has a negative impact on the environment.
Let's take a look at how this came to be.
Why I Decided to Lose Weight
Even more important than the "what" is the "why". Without a compelling reason to lose weight and keep it off you won't, it's as simple as that.
I have a few compelling reasons to maintain a healthy lifestyle:
- I'm married to a wonderful, beautiful woman who I want to grow old with.
- I have two beautiful daughters I want to spend many years with.
- I have a lot to do on this Earth, and need the maximum amount of energy, focus and health possible to fulfill my purpose here.
At the end of the day it all comes down to love - I want to continue to give and receive love for as long as God gives me, and to do that I need a healthy body and mind!
Tracking My Weight
I hate tracking calories or anything I'm eating. I've done it before and had no intention of doing it again. However, I did need to track my weight so I knew if I was making progress.
To keep it simple I used the Health app on my iPhone. Here are screenshots of my August and October numbers:
Except for my heart rate during cardio exercise, my weight is the only thing I track.
Typically I try not to weigh myself on a daily basis. I've found it to be true that my weight can fluctuate between 2-4 pounds based on water retention. So if your weight goes way up or down seemingly overnight don't beat yourself up! Instead, go back to your healthy diet lifestyle and weigh yourself in a few days.
My Sustainable Diet Lifestyle: Vegan/Vegetarian
Before I started my sustainable diet lifestyle I ate a lot of meat - large steaks, ribs, chicken - you name it I ate it, and loved every minute of it.
However, something in the back of my head was telling me this was not sustainable. At one point my weight ballooned up to 185 pounds! At 5'9" I looked and felt fat. Additionally, I would practically pass out at my desk an hour or two after lunch, and I felt enormously tired by the time I got home, which didn't make me fun to be around.
In August 2019 my family and I spent three weeks in Thailand. It was at the tail end of the trip when I decided to make a big change and go vegetarian. On the plane home while reading Diet for a New America by John Robbins I decided to take it a step further and go vegan (no animal meat, eggs or dairy).
As soon as we got home I became a strict vegan, which frankly was easier than I thought, even while traveling, an excuse I had used in the past for my poor eating.
However, I felt I didn't have enough information on proper food combining to ensure I got enough of what my body needed. That's when I was turned onto Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. Rather than make specific diet recommendations (they don't "recommend" going vegan), Fit For Life provides a framework within which to work.
A framework is NOT a diet. I could work with this...
I highly recommend you read the book for all the "eat as much protein as you can stuff into your face" myth busting proof you need. With that said, here's the framework I followed which progresses from morning to evening:
- Fresh fruit & fruit juices
- Fresh vegetable juices and salads
- Steamed vegetables, raw nuts & seeds
- Grains, breads, potatoes, legumes
- Meat, chicken, fish, dairy
That's it! Simple enough to fit on a picture I could put onto the lock screen of my iPhone so I would remember it.
Again, the Diamond's don't say not to eat meat; the choice of becoming a vegan was entirely up to me. Many of the reasons were based on what I read in Diet for a New America and my moral compass.
Do what feels right to you. I love you regardless of your choice.
How Much Cardio Do I Need?!
As I mentioned before, in the past I've done grueling 2.5-hour body building workouts and insane bouts of cardio. I stopped all of that when I realized I had no compelling why to continue.
However, I do love slinging kettlebells and riding my bike. I also love long hikes and rucking.
Keep in mind that cardio isn't the best tool for weight loss - it's a supplement to the most important ingredient - your diet. However, the health benefits of cardio cannot be overstated. So get up off your ass and go for a walk a few days a week, at least.
I wanted to add some cardio in the mix so I started doing 30-minute stationary bike workouts. In order to continue my morning studying I purchased audio books and listened to them while biking. I chose the stationary bike as it's something I can do on the road or in my house.
While in Thailand I purchased a heart rate monitor (HRM). I use it along with the Polar app because there's a fine line between moderate (fat burning) and aerobic (endurance) exercise. My goal was fat loss, so I needed to ensure I stayed in the moderate zone. An HRM helps with that. I recommend getting one that goes around your chest as it will give you the best readings.
I hopped on my bike every day for two months, listening to audio books and having a great time.
The True "Secret" To Losing Weight
While diet and exercise are nice, and definitely part of the equation, without a critical component it would all be for naught. That component - a spiritual foundation that greatly reduced my levels of stress.
That's right, a spiritual foundation.
Why? Because stress will mess you up more than just about anything else in life.
Stress puts your body into survival mode where it stores every last calorie it can.
Stress causes you to make very poor food choices because it lies to you when it says you'll feel better eating that cake or ice cream instead of the salad or fresh juice.
Stress directly causes headaches, muscle tension and pain, chest pain, fatigue, and much more of what you don't want in your life.
I've always had, to a greater or lesser degree, a spiritual foundation. What I found though is I had lost touch with God and, relying on myself for everything inside and outside of my control, had lost all sense of control and was eating in an attempt to feel better.
That realization hit me in the face like a ton of bricks.
And it wasn't recent. Many of the best memories I had were around food.
In order to turn these things around I did all of the following:
- Began a daily meditation practice. I made a conscious connection with God and my guides a top priority over everything else in my life. If my head wasn't straight I would be no good to anyone, and as I mentioned before I have a lot to do in this life!
- Took the time to figure out what eating to excess while in a group (of any size) did for me, and found ways to get those same feelings without the eating.
- Followed the exercises in A Course In Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson and had some serious conversations with myself.
It is my firm belief that having a spiritual foundation allowed me to lose the weight I did. I've seen countless people attempt weight loss through diet and exercise, only to lose not a single pound no matter what they did. The ingredient they were missing was the spiritual component.
There is no separation between our bodies and minds. If you want to get your body into shape, you need to get your mind in shape as well. Full stop.
One More Very, Very Important Thing
I've spoke about the reasons why I decided to lose weight. I've also spoken about the "secret" to doing so. I hope to have impressed upon you the need to find internally your motivation. I cannot stress this enough.
It is true the weight of our bodies is seen visibly in the world. But they are a mere reflection of the intention we hold inside our minds, in our Spirit.
So right now, take a moment to list, on paper or on your computer, what you will gain not by losing the weight, but on your journey to doing so.
For example, I wrote the following:
- I am infinite patience, when the scale goes up rather than down.
- I am kind to myself, when I "give in to temptation" to any degree.
- I am peace, knowing I am on a journey and will ultimately achieve my goal, or not.
- I am love, knowing I am not alone, and am already more than I thought I could be.
I highly suggest you do this.
Now take your list and put it wherever you need to in order to remind yourself of what you truly gain by losing the weight.
Put it on your fridge.
Download the Motivation app and create a custom lock screen on your phone.
Put it in your journal.
Put it on a card in your purse or wallet.
But do it. It's so important.
You are truly worth it.
Next Steps for Me
Recently I've cut back on biking and instead am enjoying long walks in the Fall weather. Additionally, I drink Green Vibrance first thing in the morning, and occasionally eat avocado toast for breakfast as well. I'm also experimenting with eating veggie burgers and Beyond Meat products.
The weight continues to come off, my connection with God continues to strengthen, and I feel amazing.
Next Steps for You
Before you consider trying what I recommended here, or experimenting to find what works well for you, in addition to writing what you truly gain by losing weight, I highly suggest you do two things:
- Begin a daily meditation practice. Start with just 5 minutes per day, first thing in the morning. When your mind wanders gently bring yourself back. Be gentle and patient with yourself.
- Take an honest look at your relationship with food. Why do you eat what you eat? What does it do for you? What could you do instead to get that same feeling? Brainstorm a few ideas and try one for a few weeks.
Once you do that, begin experimenting with diet and exercise. Remember, adding is always better than subtracting. So don't begin by depriving yourself of the food you love, instead add a helping of fruits or veggies to each meal.
The more good, wholesome food you eat, along with a continued daily spiritual practice, the lower your tolerance for crap - physical and mental - becomes.
If You'd Like Some Help...
I know how hard and lonely it can be going on a journey by yourself. Sometimes our friends and family aren't as supportive as we'd like, and support, especially at the beginning, can help us to get on the path of becoming the person we want and know we can be, the person we truly are.
If you'd like a guide along the way, I would be honored to fill that role.
Let's set up a time to talk and see if a 5AM Guide Session is right for you.
I look forward to helping guide you on your journey, and learning from you on mine.