Quick Thought on Weight Loss

I’m trying to stay off twitter, but still want to write (and, apparently, share) my random thoughts. Here’s one:

Since my second kid was born, I’ve put on a little weight. Not a ton, but some. At the height of my running prowess, such as it was, I was about 170 pounds. These days I’m floating around in the low 190s. I’m six feet tall, so twenty five pounds is noticeable, but not life altering. My clothes still fit, but a bit snugger. My face is fuller,  but not pudgy. Horrifically, I can feel some jiggle when I run, but at least I can still run.

This is the current state of things:

Me. circa July 2018

I’m trying to reverse this. But with two kids and a demanding career, it isn’t easy. Most of the change has to happen not through my old stand by – high mileage, but instead through  my biggest challenge — controlling what I eat.

All of this is made even harder by the fact that I’m 43 years old now. Old enough that the metabolism is really starting to slow, and every poor food choice goes right to the gut.

So, I’m doing my best to follow the diet protocol described by Dr. Valter Longo. Its simple, its intuitive, and its showing some modest results.

It’s also leaving me hungry.

And that’s fine. I need to remember that if I’m eating a snack and two meals in a twelve hour window, that’s significantly less than I was eating before. And a body at rest likes to stay at rest. Once you get to 195 pounds, your body wants to stay at 195 pounds. Changes to that are going to be hard. They’re going to require some unpleasant hours when you’re not starving, but you could definitely eat.  I need to get through that, I need to find a new equilibrium. I need to be hungry.

As Dr. Peter Attia said somewhere, if our ancestors couldn’t perform complex tasks while hungry, we wouldn’t be here today. I’m trying to remember that while I write this memo on an empty stomach.

62 Day Challenge: Introduction

I was going to do this as a second, secret, tumblr, but I can’t figure out how to format anything there, so you’re stuck reading this here on Milo. Sorry. Luckily, the vast majority of people who visit this site visit the BQ(Q) pages, so they should be spared my navel gazing.

 

Here’s the deal: I’m a reasonably fit 41 year old father, runner, and lawyer expecting a second child in June. In May, I’m running the Brooklyn Half Marathon in what will probably be my last race for some time.  I want to set a PR. More than that, I want to shake things up with my health and fitness. I want to crank things up a notch, challenge myself a little; see if I can meld the stupid and the healthy into a little mini project before the second baby comes and my life becomes a series of diaper changes and sleepless nights.

So, inspired by the funny and strangely motivational Live with a Seal, and that dude’s crazy project of eating like the Rock for thirty days, I’m doing my own little challenge. I arbitrarily set it for 62 days because that’s how many days it is from today until the Brooklyn Half.

The Challenge:

  • 10 hours of exercise a week

My big one. To me, there’s something special about hitting that ten hour mark. It takes commitment, and it produces results. I’ve reached ten hours here and there over the years, but never consistently. Until now.

Exercise, for this goal, means physical activity undertaken to improve my health. It includes all the stuff you’d imagine: running, biking, weight lifting, push-ups. It also includes stretching, balance work, and foam rolling. It does not include just walking around, even when that walking around is to try to reach my step goals (see below)

  • Stay ahead of the Garmin

I have a Garmin 225 that I use for running and daily step counting. The default setting on the watch is that every time you hit a step goal, it increases the goal slightly for the next day. For the past two weeks, I’ve met or exceeded the step goal every day and the goal keeps going up. I’m going to keep that going until it’s time to taper for the half.

  • 100 push ups a day

These can be done throughout the day in sets of varying length. I just need to get 100 a day.

  • Fruit till noon; vegan till six (Monday – Friday)

I’ve been following Mark Bittman’s Vegan till Six diet off and on for a while now, and I’ve seen strong results. Now it’s time to take it more seriously; recommit to it; and double down by sticking with fruit till noon. I’ll surely write more about this later, as well as about the Lean 13 Program from Nutrisystem . I hope this leads to some weight loss, but more importantly, a further drop in my cholesterol. I’m only committing to doing this Monday-Friday, but I’ll try to eat healthy on the weekends.

Note: I do not ask Thai restaurants if they use fish sauce in their tofu curry, nor do I ask the the guys at the deli if they used beef stock in the vegetable soup. I used to be a guy who did those kind of things, but that was many, many years ago.

  • Five minutes of meditation

I’ll surely write more about this as well, but study after study has shown the benefits of mediation. I struggle to find the time for this, so set this goal at what I think is a completely doable, no possible excuse, 5 minutes. Honestly, I hope to do more, but to meet the challenge, 5 minutes is enough.

Caveats and Exceptions:

My little corner of the working world is obsessed with “smart goals” and “identified contingencies”. So here’s the caveats and exceptions:

I’ll be doing a mini taper in the two weeks before the half, so the ten hours of exercise and staying ahead of the Garmin, won’t be applicable for the final two weeks of the challenge.

Additionally, I’ll allow one “off” week of not hitting ten hours during this period. Shit happens, people. I want to make these goals “smart” and not give up on the whole plan just because one thing goes wrong.

For the next 62 days, I’ll be filling out a little template here with my work-outs, what I ate, how long I mediated, etc. It will be at least as fascinating as watching paint dry.

964 Must Read Words On My Incredibly Fascinating Diet

Bad News.

Three months ago I went to the doctor for the first time in years. I got some bad, but not surprising, news. I had high cholesterol.* I wasn’t surprised. High cholesterol runs in my family and I have, for years, let the fact that I’m a pretty active person cover up for the fact that I am also a pretty bad eater. Running as much as I do means you can have chips and Italian hero for lunch and not really gain weight. And I did that, many, many times. For years.

Now those bad eating decisions have coming home to roost. My numbers weren’t high enough for my doctor to panic, but she did suggest I make some lifestyle changes. Meaning, eat a bit healthier. Swap out buttered toast for a whole grain cereal. Give up the chips for lunch. Try to eat more veggies and less dairy. Nothing crazy, just common sense changes. I did these things, but it didn’t feel like enough, nor structured enough for my personality. So, about six weeks ago, I started following the “Vegan Before Six” eating guidelines developed by Mark Bittman.

Vegan Before Six doesn’t get the kind of attention other diets like paleo or vegan largely, I think, because it is so sensible, it isn’t even really a diet. The guidelines couldn’t be easier. Indeed, the rules are right there in the name – eat healthy vegan foods** before six pm, then eat a reasonable dinner that may or may contain non-vegan ingredients. There’s a book (of course) and it contains some additional guidelines, but really its so simple you can just start doing it.

I did. And this week I went back to the doctor for a lipid scan. My ldl went down ten points in three months while my hdl stayed relatively high***. The doctor was happy with the progress, and so was I. The diet seemed to be working.

Long time readers of this blog know I’ve dabbled in various diets over the years, none of which have stuck. That’s why I didn’t write about this VB6 thing when I started. It seemed to me that no one would be interested This time, I’m not thinking of it as a diet. Rather, I’m simply changing the way I make food choices. So far, it seems to be working. Its (relatively) easy, I feel better, and the test results are positive. I’m going to stick with it. If the test results plateau, perhaps I’ll reexamine.

So What Exactly Are You Eating?

Ideally, mostly this.

Sometimes this.

OK, here’s the deal. Six days a week, I eat a vegan diet until 6 pm (really its till whenever E and I actually sit down to eat dinner, which can be 8:30 or later). Often, this means homemade cereal for breakfast, a salad or vegan sandwich for lunch, and apples and nuts for snacks. Then, we eat a sensible dinner. Usually meat with veggies and whole grains, but not always. Last night we ate Xi’an Famous and it was delicious.

I take Saturday’s off from the diet because, well, I like challah french toast with the little dude.

I think a key to this is not to try to make up for lost meat and dairy at dinner. It will do no good if you eat a salad for lunch and then have nachos for dinner every night. I also think its important to not be too rigid with the rules. If we’re going to someone’s house for brunch on a Sunday, I’m not going to demand vegan fare, but I will attempt to be reasonable with what I eat for dinner that evening.

As a side note, I’m finding that my taste buds are changing somewhat. I’m craving more fresh fruits and veggies, even at night, and am somewhat less interested in meat. I think there’s some science behind this, which I might explore in another blog post.

Why Didn’t You Just Go Vegan?

Because I’m not that guy anymore. I spent six years of my life as a vegan (plus another four as a vegetarian) and I’m still sad about the delicious meals I missed during those years. I doubt I’ll ever follow such a strict diet again.

What I like about the VB6 guide to eating is that it allows me to make meaningful changes to my diet without forcing me to give up the delicious, joyous, meat and dairy filled meals I enjoy with my friends and family.

For me, for now, this isn’t about an ethical decisions regarding animal rights (though the more I think and read, the more concerned I am with the environmental concerns of mass meat consumption). Rather, it is about being healthier in a way that I find sustainable. And to be sustainable for me, it needs to involve the occasional steak dinner with friends.

I’m seven hundred words into this and I don’t know why you wrote it.

Here’s why I wrote it – I am more and more convinced that the key to health isn’t exercise, its diet. I’ve exercised regularly for years and my cholesterol numbers are still unacceptably high. Why is that? Because I haven’t been paying attention to what I eat. Now that I’m paying attention to it, I’m seeing results. And those results make me want to learn, and do, more. I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it takes to eat healthy, I know I have them, and I plan to write about them here.

I hope you’ll follow along.

* Nerds will ask so the numbers were total cholesterol: 248, LDL: 150 HDL: 80, triglycerides: 92

**e. g. salads, fruits and veggies, true whole grains, not french fries.

*** Again, for the nerds, total cholesterol: 222, LDL: 149, HDL: 64, triglycerides: 88