Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Dieting

Back in October I introduced my plan to lose weight, get back into 100 miler shape, and live a healthier lifestyle. In case you missed it you can read about it here: A Personal Revolution. In that post I said, "Though I am about to embark on the most difficult life change of my entire existence. This change, is a diet change, and it is the basis of my pending weight loss and preparation for the Vermont 100." This could not have been more understated. Over the last 5 months, I have followed my dieting plan as closely as possible. I've learned a lot during this process and I've learned a lot about other people. It truly is amazing living a healthier life looking back into the "other world." I'll admit it.. I'm a people watcher.

In this post I'm offering up a more in-depth discussion about my diet. How things have been going, the challenges I've faced, thoughts I've had, and really just try to share with all of you a very real look inside of where I'm at.

It's been an interesting journey for sure. Since the start of my diet in October, I've successfully lost 17 Pounds. I started at a weight of 175 lbs and took my first photographs at 173.6 on October 16th. My goal weight is 155 lbs. That picture in October was very telling to me. I had just returned home from a 3 mile run. I was winded and looked like the quintessential "Mouth-Breather." I had gone to the store that week to buy some new pants, as none of my other pants fit me anymore. My waist size was up to 34", I wore a belt with my new pants even though I didn't have to. I felt awful. Depression was settling in again. To bend over and pick something up off the floor I had to hold my breath. I looked as awful as I felt.. and I knew something had to give. That 3 mile run was actually a challenge too!

People automatically think that just because I run ultras, it's "easy" for me to lose weight, or that I'm all ready in great shape. The truth is, weight loss for me has never been an easy feat. In April 2000 I weighed 180 pounds. To this day, it is still the most I've ever weighed in my life. I have a picture of it, and I chose not to ever share it. It's embarrassing. I didn't start running until 2004, and by October 2007 I was down to 145 pounds, the lowest I've ever weighed. It took me quite a long time to lose all of that weight back then, certainly not 3 years, but it wasn't easy.

Since 2007, my weight has slowly been on an increase. I weighed 165lbs at the 2008 Vermont 100. I got back down to 160 for my first run across New Hampshire in September 2008. I was back into the 170s that winter, struggling with depression and lack of running due to deadlines at school. I weighed 175 again.. then got back down to 160 in June 2010. I haven't weighed that much since, until now, and it's been a real struggle.

1. Stupid/Stubborn: I always ate what I call a "yaw-range" diet. If it was yellow, orange, brown and/or boring.. I'd eat it. Mac N' Cheese, Pizza, Chicken Tenders, Steak and Cheese Subs. Cholesterol City. I was also rather fond of Fast Food and Soda, Two things I wasn't ready to give up. My stubbornness to ignore the elephant in the room, my eating habits, and continue down a destructive path, prevailed for many years. I came up with every excuse and reason in the book to not eat healthier, to not make changes. From, "I can't eat salad" to "it's too expensive to eat healthy." (News Flash! It's a hell of a lot cheaper to eat healthy as opposed to the processed crap I had been eating!)

2. Depression: I use food as a comforting mechanism. I gain most of my weight in the winter when it's cold and depressing outside. I'd hibernate, run less, and eat more. Eating has always made me fell better, and to some extent, it still does.

3. Naive: I just never cared to do any real research. The first time I dieted was the Ultra-metabolism Cookbook. I gave the book to my wife, she skimmed through it, and I asked her what it said. That was the extent of my research and I continued to make poor choices. In turn, I was naive to the real research and to my own choices. I found reasons and excuses to make it ok.

Over the last few months I've done my grocery shopping at quite a few places. Sprouts, Target, Walmart, Costco, King Soopers. My overall food bill is marginally cheaper than what it used to be. Take out all the fast food and eating out, and I save a good $100-$150 a month. Stop buying overly processed foods at the store, I save $100 a month or more. Now I buy lean meats, frozen berries, fruits, vegetables all in bulk. I'm still making a green smoothie for breakfast every single day. Even while I was on vacation.. I've stuck to it. It's all about the choices we make, right?

Nothing pains me more than food shopping because I look into a painful window of the world. Watching as over weight parents buy nothing but CRAP for their overweight kids and I'll be the first to argue that it's child abuse to let your child get so over weight. I know that they all suffer from the same things I did before this diet. Depressed, uneducated, naive, EXCUSE makers. Walmart customers are the unhealthiest, followed by the Costco crowd. Why? Cheaper prices helps you buy MORE OF THE SAME stuff.

Anyway.. I'm rambling. Look.. I've been told a million times, "It's all about choices." And it is. I'm frustrated for all of those who continue to make poor choices and play the woe is me card. I was there.. I made better choices.. and now I feel great. Though I'll admit, I have a lot more work to do and it will never end. The biggest glaring fact I can provide you though is this. It's not just a good diet. It's regular exercise, especially so the older you get. Eating better alone won't help you lose the weight or feel better. You need to sweat and yes, it hurts. You need to be willing to do the work. Do the work mentally/emotionally, from a diet perspective and from an exercise perspective. All three of these together are the keys. No crash diet will ever be a successful way to lose weight. Settle all of your internal issues and get out and exercise, the rest will melt right off.