Okay, I’m sucking at ketosis these days. I’m still working through the leftover zuppa toscana from this weekend, and I keep finding myself with a spoon in a jar of Justin’s Honey Almond Butter in the evenings. Some of it is just a natural snacking response (more reason to get my kale chips dehydrated), some of it is a reaction to some stress about the remodeling project, some of it is just not putting a high enough priority on staying low carb. It’s easy to justify eating more carbs on the weekend, since we’re usually entertaining or celebrating or something (this weekend was my wife’s birthday dinner and she and I demolished another Chocolate Thunder from Down Under at Outback). The problem is that the weekend starts on Friday evening most weeks, and doesn’t end until…Tuesday? Leftovers, you know. My wife won’t eat them and I can’t stand to waste food. So I’m starting to think about trying to do a low-carb thing during the week, and then allow myself a little more leeway on the weekend. Not sure. I’m honestly really getting very lean and gaining muscle pretty rapidly. It feels a little silly to obsess over my diet when I’ve been doing so well even with the slip-ups. So maybe my trial is over? Maybe I’ve figured out that I don’t really have the need or the desire to be in a state of ketosis every day for any length of time. Maybe I just realized that I can reach my goals without depriving myself as much as I had thought was necessary. I honestly don’t know. I’m going to continue trying to stay lower-carb, especially during the week, but not sure if I’m going to worry as much about it on the weekends. We’ll just have to see. I will let my body guide me.
There’s also physical progress. Did my Monday Measurements yesterday and had some excellent results. I weighed 209 lbs (up from 207.2 last week), got a 14.1% body fat on the Omron (down from 14.5% last week), measured in at 34.5″ waist (down from 35.5″ the previous week, though I think that’s more likely to be a measuring error), and pinched at 12mm on my suprailiac (no change from last week). So, taking these numbers together, and combining them with the changes I’m seeing in the mirror, I think I’m still leaning out a bit and am starting to put on more muscle. I’m definitely seeing increased definition in a lot of areas, even beyond what I had been seeing. I’m also feeling things slimming down just by the thickness of the subcutaneous fat over my various muscle groups.
Timeout for vanity or narcissism or whatever. For the past few weeks now, I have spent more than a little time touching my midsection. Now it’s my arms and shoulders, too. I spend longer than usual in front of the mirror when I’m getting ready. I just move my body around and watch what it does. This probably sounds weird and egotistical. Even to me, it does. But I don’t think it really is. Let me ‘splain.
I have never been lean. Not at any point in my entire life. I have been muscular, generally large, and strong, but never lean. Not even as a skinny teenager. I always just had a bit of a tummy on me, and it has bothered me ever since I got old enough to care what I looked like. This is a large part of why I have tried an absurd number of diet plans and workout plans. People who know me now may not know about all this, because I never really talked about it all that much. I’ve tried Atkins, Body for Life, Power of 10, Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle, Slow Carb, the Lifetime Fitness 50/25/25 plan, going soda free, candy free, and more that I can’t think of off the top of my head. I’ve read significantly more diet plans that I never tried. Some of these attempts actually lasted a while and worked pretty well. Eventually, though, the calorie counting, the portion control, and the fat reduction just wouldn’t work for me. I was hungry, I was tired, my digestive system was a mess, and I was bored with the same bland foods over and over (Atkins didn’t work because I thought I could eat the same amount of candy I always had, but replaced it with sugar free stuff. Sugar free candies have a laxative effect if eaten in excess, and one class session with my stomach rumbling so loudly that one of my classmates asked me if I was okay ended my Atkins experiment. Most of my experiences with the other diets would not have applied to Atkins if I had done it properly.) The plans just wouldn’t work for me long term, because I didn’t have the motivation to inspire the willpower to get over the hurdle of the diet to reach my goal. I also think that a lack of understanding held me back. I would read the books, absorb the information, follow the plans, etc., but it was a black box. I didn’t know what my body was doing with the foods I ate, and the diet plans didn’t seem to care. A calorie was a calorie, and the calories were really what mattered. Counting them either by portion control, by weighing and measuring, or by limiting the list of acceptable foods to the point where I literally couldn’t stomach more than a small amount got me to the same place. I was restricting calories, trying to increase activity, and seeing results, but only in a very slow way. My effort input into these plans was high, and my results output was low. Motivation waned.
Fast forward to the present. Rather, 6 months ago. I’m as heavy, as fat, and as lacking in muscle as I’ve been in a long time. Maybe ever. I’m feeling fat, I’m looking fat, and I’m just not happy with my life. My energy is pretty dismal, and I’ve got major digestive issues. If it wasn’t IBS, it was something close to it. I’m eating literally whatever I want, paying zero attention to calories, nutrient content, or anything else. About the only thing I’m not doing is drinking soda. I am working out a little, mostly running 3 miles 1-3 times a week at a reasonable pace. That starts to taper off after my Tough Mudder in June, though, and I’d pretty much stopped by September/October. I had gotten into pretty good shape with my trainer between March and June, but I didn’t maintain the diet or the exercise once we stopped working with him. I just settled in to a sedentary lifestyle full of sweets and drive-through food. Not just any drive-through food, either. Decadent, unnecessary crap like fried macaroni and cheese bites and french fries dipped in honey mustard dressing. Like the fries weren’t bad enough, right? It was less than ideal by any standard. Here’s the thing, though. I’m tall, and I have a big frame. So I didn’t look overly fat to people, even at 25+% body fat. I wore clothes that hid it well, and my beard kept a delineation between face and neck. I was fat by any reasonable definition, but I could get away with being fat because I still felt like I looked pretty okay. It’s amazing how our standards can fall to keep up an illusion we have about ourselves. I didn’t really feel like I looked okay, I had just decided that I could live with looking not okay, because the effort required to get myself to looking good again wasn’t worth it. Hopefully that makes some kind of sense. So now, actually fast forward to the present. I’ve lost 40 pounds, over 10% body fat, 5-6 inches off my waist, etc. I’m the leanest I’ve ever been in my adult life, probably my childhood, too. Not just saying that, either. I tried on a suit I had gotten for a high school dance, and the pants are now loose on me. I’ve grown more than a little in height, and I weigh far more than I did, but my waist is significantly smaller than it was.
So what does this mean vis-a-vis my vanity/narcissism/egotism? Frankly, as confident as I have always seemed to the people who know me, I have always been insecure about my appearance, specifically my unclothed appearance. I was ashamed of my body, felt that I looked fat and unattractive, would avoid putting myself in situations where I thought people would be able to see and judge me with my shirt off, etc. If I ever worked hard enough to start feeling good about myself, there was always my belly fat that kept me from getting too pleased with my progress. So now that I’m actually feeling confident and attractive and lean for the first time, I don’t think it’s vanity to be enjoying my new body. It’s more like fascination mixed with incredulity. I never thought my body would look like this. I’ve always been a combination of cerebral and physical, but my mind took precedence. I never cared enough about my body to work hard enough to get to this point before, but not having the body I wanted still bothered me. Does that make any sense? It bugged me, but just enough to make me feel bad about myself, not enough to make me change. That’s a bad spot to be in, for sure. So now, I’m feeling good. And feeling good about my body feels good. When I see myself in a mirror, or when I’m taking a shower and I feel my muscles moving under my skin, I feel strong, powerful and attractive. That’s an empowering feeling. Few people would say that I need any more confidence (I’m often accused of egotism or arrogance), but this is the kind of internal confidence I’ve been lacking, in one of the areas that has always bothered me. I’m probably going to be insufferable now.
So I’m going to celebrate it. I’m also going to celebrate the fact that I finally found the method that works for my body and for my level of motivation. Some people just roll out of bed and can’t wait to get into their running shoes, or can’t wait to go weigh out their egg white omelets or something. They enjoy the activity of being healthy, they enjoy the control they exert over their actions, and the results that they achieve through force of will. I know, because I have felt the same enjoyment. I just felt it for a few months before it faded away. The results I’m getting now completely outweigh the effort I’m putting in. Sticking with this lifestyle has been almost effortless, and the rewards have been fantastic. I’m not saying it’s the only way to get to your goals, but I’ve tried more than a few other ways and I can safely say that this is the best for me.
Whew, that’s a big long post. That’s just a load of stuff that’s been kicking around in my head for a while and it feels good to get it in writing. I’ll stop now. Thanks for reading!