I’ve lost a huge amount of weight, 140 pounds from my staggeringly high point of 439 pounds, but most of those came off a while ago, and I’ve been stalled and fluctuating ever since. The low 300s are worlds of functional difference away from the mid-400s, though, so it’s been easy to stay complacent.
Limiting carbs played a big part in the biggest weight drops, but I wasn’t getting enough quality nutrition with my early Atkins days, and way too much in the way of artificial sweeteners and processed low-carb snacks. After I started moving into a primal diet in early 2012, I paid attention to quality food sources and nutrient composition, and a few markers of health that had been lacking began to improve — but a few of those pounds began to creep back, as well. I was eating great, real food (mostly), but not balanced in type or amount. Too much fruit, too many starchy veggies, huge portions. And every now and then I’d still indulge in those artificial chemical cocktails sold in the form of Atkins protein bars.
Another huge caveat: I had never started exercising, apart from two or three short-lived stabs at treadmills, ellipticals, and weight machines in an ordinary strip mall gym. Although evidence shows that exercise alone won’t result in significant weight loss, I knew it was a critical part of improving general health and body composition, and that it could make a big difference in weight loss efforts when combined with a careful change in diet quality.
It wasn’t until this past year that I really started hitting the gym or, rather, the box. I started n00b training at CrossFit South Arlington in May 2013. It’s all about functional movements, scaled to individual capacity, and it’s already made a big difference — helping me drop more than 30 pounds from the point at which I had stalled, and generally giving me more energy, stamina, and strength. As I wrote in CFSA’s Facebook group a while ago, in a note thanking the coaches and others for helping me progress:
As a scrawny nerd who grew up into a massive geek, and who tends to be painfully introverted around people I don’t already know well, I’ve never in my life felt comfortable in any kind of gym environment — until I came to CFSA. That’s largely thanks to Megan and Meredyth, along with the rest of you friendly coaches and CrossFitters. So, because Meredyth is abandoning evenings for the insanely early morning classes, and I haven’t been in Megan’s classes for a while, I just wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation. I’m still just taking baby steps compared to most of you, but doing this at all is still life-changing for me. You all keep me motivated and coming back, even when I’m tempted to sneak away quietly to my car halfway through a metcon run. Thanks!
The CrossFit community tends to be devoted to paleo eating, and with good reason. I’ve been eating more or less along those lines for a while now, but I’ve never really gone hardcore. Never fully given up dairy, never worried about the bits of sugar in bacon and salami, allowed myself too many periodic indulgences. So, I’ve opted to join CFSA’s Whole30 program, which requires participants to remove all instances of problematic food from the diet for 30 days in a short nutritional self-experiment. After I see how I feel eating 100 percent clean for a few weeks, I can see how I feel different if I add some of those foods back into my diet.
CFSA has opted over time, in its experiences with prior participants, to double the length of the program, so this will really be a Whole60 — or Whole30x2. I started on Wednesday, Jan. 15, and will wrap it up on the morning of Monday, March 17. Sixty days of strict paleo, with a focus on quality food sources, sensible portions, regular exercise, and an improved sleep schedule. It’s the way I should be doing things anyway, but working with a group of people who are going through the same thing at the same time will help keep me accountable and focused on making it all habitual.
As part of the program, I’ll be posting photos of everything I eat here on the blog along with any thoughts I have along the way. This is already the end of the second day of the program, so here are my first two days’ worth of food photos:
Wednesday, Jan. 15
Starting weight: 315.8 pounds (no more weight measurements until March 17).
I woke up at 11:35 a.m. (after heading to bed at 4:45 a.m.), a drastically late night-owl schedule that I hope to scale back during the course of the program into a habitual bedtime of not much later than midnight. Kind of a fitful sleep, especially toward the end. I skipped breakfast, as per usual, something I also hope to change.
Lunch: 3:15 p.m. | 3.5 oz. of herring filets
Snack: 4:50 p.m. | 2 Tbsp. coconut butter
Forgot to take a photo. It’s 100 percent coconut, though.
Dinner: 10:00 p.m. | 8 oz. salmon, 1/2 sweet potato, 1/2 sweet onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 Tbsp. ghee, 1 tsp. coconut oil, herbs & spices
I ate half of the contents of the skillet below, saving the other half for breakfast.
Wednesday, Jan. 15
I woke up at 9:55 a.m. (after heading to bed at 2:45 a.m.). Mostly slept OK.
Breakfast: 10:35 a.m. | 8 oz. salmon, 1/2 sweet potato, 1/2 sweet onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 Tbsp. ghee, 1 tsp. coconut oil, herbs & spices
See photo above. I ate half of the contents of the skillet, leftovers from dinner.
Lunch: 1:30 p.m. | 6.7 oz. tuna filets in spring water
Dinner: 9:20 p.m. | 6 fried eggs, 2 Tbsp. ghee, herbs & spices