“You can have results or excuses. Not both.” -The Arnold
Long time no see everyone. I apologize for not being more active on my blog. Life has been super crazy.
If you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw the latest news in my personal life. In the last 4 months, I’ve lost a serious amount of weight and built up some muscle mass and now, for the first time since college, I’m back to being physically fit and healthy!
I’m deservedly very proud of myself for this! I’ve always been active and athletic. I love sports, I love running and I love the outdoors, but since college, I’ve gotten less and less physically fit. I slowly (but surely) added on the pounds. I never got to a dangerously unhealthy level, but technically I was overweight. At my worst, I was about 194 pounds. At 5’9″ tall, that’s definitely overweight.
I always tried fixing it. I’d try to eat healthier, I’d try working out more, but nothing stuck. My motivation would never last longer than 2 weeks. About year ago, things started to shift for the better. At the time, all I did was drastically increase my water consumption and almost completely eliminate liquid calories (no soda, no juice infrequent alcohol, etc). I didn’t change anything else besides that. But it’s something I stuck with and didn’t quit. And I honestly believe it was the catalyst for a greater change I made earlier this year.
This past May, my motivation went from 0 to 60 in a matter of minutes. I’m not sure how but I’m not complaining. I made the decision to get fit. I consciously decided that I was sick of my current lifestyle. This time I was determined to lose some weight. I didn’t set a weight loss goal though. My goal was simple: I want to look in a mirror with my shirt off and be happy with what I see. That’s it. I think my mindset at the time was that I would set a numeric goal for myself and be disappointed.
There is one simple rule for fat loss: Calories In/Calories Out. Every tip and trick you read, every fad diet you check out, every workout program you try, they are overcomplicating the very basic, scientifically-proven way to lose weight. Calories in and calories out. I don’t care what method you use to lose weight and get in shape, but as long as your calories you take in exceed the calories you burn, you won’t lose a single pound. You need to eat less than you burn. Plus, until you get serious about counting your calories, you will never know for sure if you’re burning more calories than eating. You need to count your calories.
Time to get to work. I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app. I figured out my BMR (how many calories my body burns in a day without any extra activity) and TDEE (BMR plus calories burnt through activity. Click here to find out your BMR and TDEE: BMR Calculator. I researched expert advice on how many calories less than your BMR a male should consume to lose weight. My BMR in May was roughly 1850. Experts say you should eat 500 – 700 less calories a day than your BMR to lose at least 1 pound a week. So I made my limit 1200 calories a day. In order to eat 1200 calories and still get enough food to feel somewhat full everyday, I cut out most sweets and fats. I lowered carbs. I focused on a macro diet of 40% carbs, 40% protein, and 20% fats. Basically I ate chicken, rice, and veggies all day, every day. The cool thing is that there a million ways to cook chicken and rice so I never got bored. Also cool is that when I ate smart for my meals, it allowed me to have a treat several times a week like a small bowl of ice cream or a big cheeseburger on a Friday night. My meal plan was awesome in that I was eating right and yet I enjoyed it. I never got tired of it. I still don’t tire of it.
For exercise, I chose a low weight, high cardio workout plan to start. I didn’t want to try building heavy muscle until I lost weight. But I didn’t want to lose strength so I still did some weight training. Research shows that having muscle and strength will assist in weight loss. Don’t completely ignore weight lifting! I started running 3 – 5 times a week and lifted weights on the opposite days. I’ve always loved to run and it was wonderful to see how much easier running got as I got healthier. I hit a sub-7 minute mile just a few weeks ago. For longer distance running (5+ miles), my average split is 8:30 minutes. My new goal is to run 5+ miles under 8:00/mile.
Every body is different. Every person will have different results at a different rate. With my approach, I expected to lose 1 pound a week. Instead, I lost closer to 3 pounds a week. I’m very lucky for that! That won’t be everyone’s results. But if you remain focused and consistent, you will see a change. It’s guaranteed.
So here I am, roughly 4 months after I got serious and now 40 pounds lighter. My love handles are gone, and my stomach is very close to being completely flat (not quite there yet). Everyone has noticed that I lost weight and the encouragement I get from my friends and family is wonderful! I went down 6 pant sizes. Shirts no longer bulge out around the midsection anymore. It’s amazing. Although I now have the frustrating task of replacing pretty much everything in my closet. I begrudgingly admit that it’s a good problem to have!
I’m still eating at a calorie deficit, but not as severe. I’m eating roughly 200 calories less than my BMR. I won’t go back up to maintenance (eating the same amount of calories as my BMR) until my stomach is completely flat. I went from high cardio workout to a heavier weight lifting workout. My workout plan is called “5×5”. It’s a very simple, very effective workout plan. Learn more about it here: Stronglift 5×5 Workout. All the extra calories I added to my diet is in the form of protein because it is a necessary nutrient for muscle building.
Making this change in my life has been incredibly beneficial on so many levels. The most obvious change is that I’m a lot healthier now. I turned 30 this year and I had to realize that as I get older, it’ll only get more difficult to stay in shape and healthy. The later I start, the harder it’ll get. I’ve now put myself in a position to live a longer, healthier life. There have been other benefits that I didn’t expect, mostly psychological and emotional. My outlook on life has improved. I’ve learned so much more about discipline, focus, and responsibility. I’ve found exercising to be therapeutic. Lastly, if I were being completely honest, I’ve found myself to be more attractive to the opposite sex (not a bad thing!).
So why did I share all this? Several reasons. First, I just wanted to share this great experience with you all. Your encouragement and support is something I’m immensely grateful for! Second, I wanted to share how I did this for those of you looking to do something similar. I wanted you to see that it’s not that complicated. It sure was hard at times, but it’s absolutely possible. Third, I’m constantly craving feedback. For any of you that have ideas or tips to improve on what I’m doing (or to correct what I’m doing wrong), I’d love to know! During this whole experience, I never wanted to do anything that was unsafe or unhealthy. I believe I achieved that, but I don’t want that to change. Lastly, I want to help any of you that need it. Whether it be encouragement or advice, don’t hesitate to talk to me about your own journey. I love talking about this stuff. I am no expert when it comes to physical fitness and nutrition, but I have learned a lot through my experiences and want to help in any way I can.
Thanks for reading, guys. I appreciate comments so feel free to leave some below!