This has been a summer of revelation for me in many ways. In my personal life I discovered that I love food. Those who know me understand that I love food. It’s a silly statement when an obese guy says he loves food. But this summer I learned HOW to love food. As an adult, my relationship with food has been terrible. In June I read The Wild Diet by Abel James. I can’t view food the same now. In a short 2 months I’ve shed 15 pounds. Not only that, but, in February I received some depressing stats from some blood work completed for a wellness program at work. My Ldl cholesterol went up from the normal range to the concern range. My Hdl cholesterol had dropped from the concern range to the low range. Most concerning, my triglycerides number jumped to 220 into the high range. It was a frustrating time and I had every excuse in the book to explain away the numbers. “I let my job stress me out.” “I haven’t slept well.” “Overweight is in my genes.” “I don’t have time to work out and be a father.” It can go on and on.
The most frustrating part is I’ve worked out a fair amount as an adult. I like a good workout. I like to sweat. I’ve went through periods and lost 20+ pounds. But I ALWAYS gained it back with a few extra lbs. This January I set a frustrated resolution. I wasn’t going to jump on a bandwagon diet again, but I needed to learn more about what I was eating. As you gain weight you will quickly learn that working out with extra pounds sucks! So I logged my food 5-6 days a week from January to June. It blew my mind away! I was regularly eating 3,500-3,800 calories a day. It was sickening! But even worse, I wasn’t really able to lower the calorie intake. Sure I could go a few days with less food, but I always hit a day that I let loose and went even higher with the calorie intake.
At the end of last school year I hit a new plateau. 268lbs! 268lbs!!!! My body ached and I just got sick of it. As I stumbled across the The Wild Diet, I realized I had little control over what to do about my diet. I knew I could cut calories over the summer and drop 20 lbs, but by the 20th lb I would be back at that place of hunger that always seems to return. I kept thinking, “What’s the point? I might lose some weight but the breaking point will come and I will give in to that love of food.”
But The Wild Diet was telling me to love food. And it made me realize that we were made to love food. So how can I love food and cut those calories at the same time? It doesn’t make sense. But the more I learned, the more I realized I need to keep learning more. What we eat is important, but when we eat certain things is also important. Also, a lot of the food we buy in the grocery store is literally less nutritious than garbage. No, for real. I spent so much time doing things like looking for bread with more fiber. But we’ve destroyed wheat in this country. Have you ever noticed that all bread products have 4-5 vitamins added into them? Why is that? The FDA requires it because the product doesn’t have enough vitamins or minerals in it after we’ve stripped it of all natural nutrients during processing.
We’ve destroyed our food but awakened our hunger hormones at the same time. I felt hungry before because my body craved nutrients even though I was eating so many calories. So in June I started making some small changes. First, I dropped the chocolate and milk in my morning coffee and replaced it with heavy cream. I switched out granola bars with almonds, walnuts, cashews or Brazilian nuts. I dropped as much bread or processed carbs as possible. At first, I didn’t really start losing weight but all of a sudden I was eating 3,200 calories yet I didn’t feel hungry at the end of the day.
I took it further in July. For the most part, I dropped any carbohydrates for breakfast. If I have more than coffee and cream, I eat bacon and eggs. If I want more I add greens to the eggs. I dropped fruit during the day and saved it for dinner. I dropped my lunch down to green vegetables, nuts and dark chocolate if I wanted more. And I ate a lot at dinner. Remember, I love food. The daily calories continued to drop. I stopped drinking pop but I didn’t even think about that. I simply don’t want it anymore.
The calories have continued to drop and my palate is definitely changing. I can tell when I eat carbs for breakfast. I’m much slower throughout the day if I eat pancakes or toast in the morning than if I just have coffee and cream. I always want to eat more during the day if I start with those pancakes or toast. I’m still eating huge dinners. My wife thinks I’m nuts most nights, but she can’t argue with the daily calories. In the last 3 weeks, the numbers have shifted done to 2,700-2,900 calories a day. The best part about it: I have barely even thought about it. School has started and I’m not hungry all the time. I have energy. My feet are not as stiff in the morning.
I love food and I’ve learned what that actually means. This time the weight is going to keep coming off because I’ve learned to shut off my hunger hormones. I can’t do carbs in the morning. My brain wants carbs all day if I eat them for breakfast. And guess what? I can go a whole school day with coffee and cream, green vegetables and nuts throughout the day and maybe a piece of dark chocolate for just a little more. Last year I couldn’t make it through 1st period before wanting a fiber bar or an apple.
The Wild Diet is different, I’m not hungry. The weight will continue to come off and I feel so much better. A little over a week ago I went to the doctor and asked to have blood work done just to see what has happened. It’s amazing! I’ve slowly made changes over 2 months and all my numbers improved, some by up to 40%. My Triglycerides, which over the last 5 years slowly jumped up to 220, dropped to 114 in 2 months. In 2 months they went from a significant concern to normal! My LDl cholesterol even dropped to 103, just above the normal range, even though I’ve eaten more bacon, olive oil, coconut oil and fatty nuts in the last 2 months than most years of my adult life. My HDl cholesterol has also gone up to be in the normal range. Every number in my blood work hasn’t just gotten better, it shows an average person instead of the obese man I’ve been for a long time.
And I still love food! The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s important not to waste that love of food on nutrient lacking products. My body doesn’t need carbohydrate fuel to make it through the day efficiently. The carbs actually slow me down! So what’s next?
- I’ve dropped using any oils processed through hydrogenation. Vegetable and Canola has been replaced with bacon, coconut oil and olive oil. Do you know how good scrambled eggs are when cooked in the bacon grease from 2 pieces of bacon?
- I’ve given up salad dressings for 1-2 Tbs of olive oil. I crave greens this way now!
- I still love chips and ice cream. Those are the danger foods for me when the kids are in bed and I’m sitting down in front of the tv. I’m not going to give them up but I’m going to work hard to enjoy them with others. I eat less chips when my wife reminds me she wants some. Plus, it’s more fun to have ice cream with someone.
- I will keep a stock of dark chocolate (not the stuff with multiple ingredients that even I the Latin teacher can’t read to understand but the stuff with 70%+ cacao), natural cheeses and nuts. These foods are much closer to the plants or animals they come from than the sugar and vitamin injected breads and granola bars I was eating before.
- I’m making my own jerky out of venison when I have access to it.
- I’m eating as much venison, pheasant and fish as possible.
- I will be back to enjoying workouts. I’m done trying to run long distances. I hate it. I’ve always been able to force myself to run 2-3 miles, even at 268lbs but it is a waste of time. I really don’t have time to put multiple hours a week in the gym. Therefore, I’m going to shoot for 2 weight workouts a week, but I will only complete exercises that work my core. I don’t have time to isolate muscles. I need to get the most out of it as possible. I’m going to include 1 interval workout a week with the weights. Some weeks it will be short sprints and jogging, other weeks it will be biking and others it might be body exercises like burpees, but I’m only going to do 1 a week. On off days my goal will be to walk or bike to work with 1 day on the weekend totally for rest. For the 3 weeks I’ve done this, my body is responding extremely well. I might be sore but I’m not aching. I’m already at a point that I’m longing for the next workout. It’s fun and exciting when my body isn’t aching and sluggish.
I know it’s only been 2 months, but this time is different. I’m not ravishingly hungry. I’m not craving specific foods. I eat a little throughout the day when I’m hungry and I let my love of food take over for dinner. This time is different. It might take me a year to be where I want, 200 lbs, but the weight is going to keep coming off. Next summer when I play soccer with Mara, my 5 year old, I won’t ache afterward. The aches are already vanishing. I love food and I can’t wait to learn more about the great food God has made for us. This time is different. No, but really, this time is different! I love food and why should I eat anything I don’t love?