I’ve been really reluctant to say much about how radically I’ve changed my health lifestyle. As some people know, I went on a rather insane eating diet a few years back, dropping over 70 lbs. at one one point. Like most diets, this didn’t last, and I gained some of the weight back, and constantly fluctuating between 173 to as much as 190 pounds. My calorie intake was extremely low, and my exercise routine was all over the place. All it took was me falling off the wagon for a few weeks, and I would put on 10 pounds within days. Obviously, I’d fallen victim to the diet yo-yo system.
Earlier this year, I sort of hit my 173 to 175 plateau, and no matter what I did, I didn’t feel healthy and I wasn’t seeing results. Let me just say, that in the past, I was told how arrogant and obnoxious I was about losing weight a few years ago. I can see where that was the case, and I’ve tried really hard not to do the same thing this time, as I’ve radically changed my health. A little over 4 months ago, I decided to stop eating meat. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what that would entail, but I knew that something needed to change. Let me start by saying, that all I originally did was stop eating meat. That was my goal, to see if I could go without meat for a month. I did not cut out all meat based products. I still used diary and eggs in lots of things. After all, I workout 5-6 days a week, so I believed the myth that I needed to be doing all these different things (food wise), if I wanted to see results.
Here’s a little back story, at my heaviest, 4 years ago, my jean size was 42×32. Let me just say, that the 42 was generous. My gut and love handles hung over that 42 inch waist size. At my lowest point, I weighed 163 lbs, and actually looked really unhealthy. I was only consuming about 1300 calories a day, and was exercising almost 1000 calories every day or so. There was no way I could keep that up, so obviously, I gained weight back. My pants dropped to 32×32, which was really my goal for my mid-section. I wear 32×32 pants throughout high school and much of my undergrad in college. As I put some of the weight back on, and my weight went up and down over the next 3 years, I was usually wearing 34×32 in most cuts of jeans. I was on a crazy yo-yo of going through pants that fit, then didn’t fit, fit then didn’t fit. Pretty much, if I let my calorie counting slip, I was done for within a few weeks, and it took months to recover again. I know that waist line is not an indication of overall body health, but that is where I tend to store my weight, and it is a good indication for me, of when I’m over weight.
So, I had cut out meat for the month. I then went on this insane protein kick. I’m not getting enough protein, so I must find every way possible to get more. That meant nuts, chickpeas, eggs, greek yogurt, anything that had protein that was actually meat. I actually started gaining weight the first month. I was still watching my calories, but I kind of figured the increase in calories was ok, since I was not eating all that meat. As a side note, I also decided not to just eat a lot of pasta dishes. I made sure that all my meals were pretty much pasta free, unless I went to dinner out with the girls. I didn’t want all those carbs to just take the place of meat.
At the same time, I started watching a lot of different documentaries on the food industry and moving towards a plant based diet. I realized that I really hadn’t changed much, other than I had removed meat. I decided to try something radically different. I was already incorporating lots more vegetables into my diet, more than I had ever eaten before, and I was already getting 4-5 servings a day. I also decided to cut out as much processed food as possible. I knew this was going to take me a bit longer, but that was and is my goal.
This is where I’m at so far. I’ve removed all meat products from my diet, this includes eggs and dairy. On occasion, I will have cheese at a restaurant, but I’m working towards removing that as well. I buy virtually no processed foods, other than tempah and tofu. I’m not going to take the time to make these myself, and I’m going with organic versions of both. I use almond milk in lots of things now, if it called for milk, I’m using almonds. I have completely removed my use of oils in cooking. I’m still working on a good hummus that doesn’t use oil, so at this point I’m still buying a processed hummus that contains oil. The key to all this, is that I am no longer on a diet. I haven’t actually counted a calorie in months now. I can tell you that my caloric intake is more than double what it was before. My breakfast alone is almost 800 calories.
A brief word about weight lifting. I feel victim to the old idea that you need all this massive protein to build muscle. The same myth that fitness magazines have been feeding us forever. I have never been a supplement taker, I did that crazy whey powder stuff in college, and yes, I did bulk up. However, bulking up is not what I want, nor do most people who want to live a healthy life style. I want to be fit and healthy. I decided 2 months ago to try a vegetable based protein powder in my morning shake. I had removed my boiled eggs every morning from my diet, and I knew that I could feel the missing protein by the time I worked out at night. So I found a purely vegetable based protein powder that offers 22g of non-whey protein and only 120 calories. On a side note, my breakfast has around 45g of protein in it, and there are no meat products. Just think about that.
So, the million dollar question is, who do I look and feel? I only weigh myself once every two weeks now and I am consistently 178 pounds. Think about that, I actually weigh more than I wanted to. However, all my pants are now 32×32, and fit like they should, and I’m wearing medium sized shirts. Even at 168 to 173 lbs., I couldn’t wear a medium sized shirt. The last time I did my fat ratio, it was 13%. That’s not bad at all for some one who isn’t a professional athlete and who is 43 years old. Of course, my BMI is off the chart. The BMI is the worst indicator of body health. In order to be “healthy”, by BMI standards, I would need to weigh 155 pounds. Don’t get me wrong, if your BMI is off the chart because of fat, then yes, it is a good indicator of poor health. If your muscle to fat ratio is way on the muscle side, it tells you nothing about your health.
I guess that was a long winded way of saying that I’m not on a diet anymore, nor do I plan to ever be on a diet again.