Thursday, October 17, 2013

Over the last two weeks I lost 9 lbs and I am at my lowest weight since June and I am eating more than ever and I am not counting any calories.  I have not increased my exercise time.  So how did I do it?  I simply improved my eating habits even more than what they were previously.  However, I am eating a LOT of food and eating until I am full.

After losing over 150 pounds a few years ago and keeping it off, my biggest fear has always been to regain some, all or more of my weight.  Sorry as a food addict, the fear is always there no matter how many years go by.  There is nothing wrong with having fears, you just need to face them and then conquer them.  Okay, so lets get to the details of what has been occurring over the last few weeks...

Why am I still trying to lose weight? Well first of all during my latest injury I regained almost 10 pounds. (I gain weight very quickly.)  No, it was not muscle either even though I was focusing on weightlifting during my injury time.  But the reason I want to lose more weight is because I know if it happens, the running (and now cycling) will become easier as my body weight becomes less.

So as the scale (and waist size) went up, I still felt I was "eating right".  So I started asking myself questions.  What was I doing wrong?  Am I going to be fat again?  What do I need to do to avoid what happened to Ben Davis (he lost a lot of weight became famous, wrote a book, went on tour, then regained weight and went back up to 320 lbs)?  The good news is he is back on track and trying to go back down.  Now back to me...

I knew I wasn't going through depression.  Well, I was a bit down about not being able to run and missing my marathon in September.  However, I was handling this injury a lot better than the ones in the past so I knew that was not it.  So I determined that it had to be my food intake.  I started examining what I was eating. 

Old "Good" Eating  Habits
Over the last 4-5 years the eating habits were good, but just too many bad ones here and there.  For example, I would eat a few cookies after a good workout.  If the guys went out to eat, I ate some appetizers.  If I ran 15 miles in the morning, multiple cheat meals/snacks during the weekend, etc. 

During this past injury, I will honestly tell you that I was not overeating. I was not being a couch potato and just eating aimlessly. I was not eating boxes of cookies. I was just eating a bit too much each day, exercising less due to injury, eating too many "cheat" snacks and meals and not eating enough of the right foods.  I was exercising, but nothing close to the 30-40 miles I was running previously.

I used to eat a lot of egg whites, some veggies and meat for breakfast. Some high calorie protein bar for a snack in the morning. 1-2 chicken breasts with a salad for lunch and/or dinner. Maybe another high protein bar for afternoon snack. Then top it off with a protein shake at night. I was doing this forever and it worked, but then it stopped.

So why would I keep doing this, if it is not working?  The body changes as you age, so sometimes your thought process has to be adjusted too if you want to reach new heights.

New Eating Habits
So I figured out that if I don't want to ever regain a lot of weight I will have to get the clean eating closer to 95-99% vs 85-90% which is where I was at over the last couple of years.  I only got away with it for a few years, because I was running and exercising a lot.

With my improved eating, I want to say that I was influenced by some incredible famous runners/athletes like: Rich Roll, Tim VanOrdenMichael Arnstein, Matt Frazier, and Vinnie Tortorich.  I have read their blog posts, their books and/or listened to their podcasts or YouTube videos.  During my day to day life, I love to keep learning.  I have an open mind for all subjects.  What they talked about made a lot of sense so I was willing tighten up a few of eating patterns.

Now you are asking after looking at those profiles...Fred, are you vegetarian/vegan?  No.

However, what I can tell you is that my protein intake has been reduced drastically.  Why?  Well my old high protein eating habits were not getting it done, so why not change things around?

Let me try to summarize my more "strict" way of eating.  I eat real food the majority of the time. I would say I am eating close to what Vinnie Tortorich calls, "No Sugar, No Grain" (NSNG). However, as many people know, I have never followed a diet so I will not say I am 100% team  NSNG, Paleo or any labels that people like to put on themselves. 

I am probably more like what +John Kaufmann from Google+ calls a "Flextarian".  (Note: I also want to thank John for answering a lot of questions about cycling, workouts, eating, etc.. John is an amazing guy on Google+ and one of the many reasons I have learned to appreciate that social media platform.)

Nowadays...I consume a lot of smoothies.  My Vitamix blender gets filled to the top with veggies and fruits to start the day (see example below).  YES, the smoothies are freaking delicious.  I would never eat or drink anything that I had to hold my nose to swallow.

I eat a small salad for a morning snack.  Maybe one of those snack bars, mixed nuts or fruit before lunch.  Then for lunch eat a big salad with one small chicken breast and some fruit.  For dinner, a steak (small piece) and sweet potato or veggies. 

Or if the family is having something I don't want to eat, I will just make another smoothie stuffed with real food.  How do I resist the temptations throughout the week?  When you are seeing results and you are feeling better, it gets easier to say no.  Also, the less sugary foods you eat, the easier it gets. 

Below are some more details on what I was eating previously and what I am eating now.

Liquids and Foods I am Now Consuming:
- A LOT of vegetables (kale, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, etc.)
- A LOT of fruits (apples, pineapple, bananas, blueberries, pears, peaches etc.)
- Fats (coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, unsalted nuts, almond butter, etc.)
- Unsweetened Almond Milk
- A lot more smoothies with the products listed above.
- Water (I still aim for 130-150 ounces per day.)
- C2O Coconut Water
- Coffee (1 cup about 5 times per week)
- Some protein each day (chicken, steak, eggs, etc.)
- Alcohol (1-2 beers about every other week.)
- Frozen custard (Once every two weeks at most.)

What I No Longer Eat/Drink:
(Most of these items I was not eating over the last 4-5 years, but I am now getting even more strict.)
- Dairy (No cheese except on pizza and a splash of a creamer in my coffee a couple of times a week)
- Bread (once in great while I will eat a burger with bread)
- Flour (only pizza on cheat day)
- Wheat, grains, pasta.  (I have not had pasta in years now.)
- Sugar (because of all the fruit I eat now, my sugar cravings have dropped tremendously)
- No Pre-Workout drinks.
- Soda, pop or juices.  (I have been soda free for about 4 years now.)
- A lot of protein.  (I am going to play around with this, but for now the weight has dropped and the body fat % is the same as when I was eating less carbs and more protein.)
- Very little processed food.  The goal is to eat clean 95-99% of the time.

Supplements I Consume:
(These are items I add to my smoothies or have as snacks.)
- Plant Based Protein (I still like to add protein to my smoothies.)
- Amino Acids (Good for recovery and for lack of protein in diet.)
- Flax Seed (More fiber for the smoothie to feel full longer.)
- Maca Powder (All sorts of claimed benefits, read on the link.)
- Multi-Vitamin (Sometimes)
- Vitamin B (To add what I am missing from meat.)
- Glutamine (Good for recovery.)
- Hemp Seeds (Good for fat and protein in smoothies.)
- Chia Seeds (Good for energy and protein added to smoothies.)
- Quest Bar (A pretty good clean eating snack bar.)
- Clif Bar Kit's Organic (A GREAT tasting and clean eating snack w/only 4 ingredients.)
- Xenergy Energy Drink (I know, I know, the last habit I need to kick.)

Lessons to Share:
  • Just because you lose weight and keep it off, it doesn't mean you have all the answers. 
  • Once you reach a certain weight, you shouldn't be satisfied.  There is no finish line.
  • Always have an open mind to learn more from all sorts of people including Paleo, vegetarian and vegan supporters. 
  • Don't follow any certain diets.  Figure out what works for you.
  • Do not exercise to eat what you want.  Exercise to become more fit, healthy and to develop better habits that will last a lifetime.
  • If you keep eating the bad foods, you will keep craving them.  Less bad habits, keep the cravings away.
On my next post, I will talk about how I am changing my exercise habits to reach more goals.

Thanks for reading!  I have always said this is a journey so new challenges will pop up and I will battle them as they appear.

Feel free to add comments, share the post on Google Plus, +1 the posts and shares, like and share on Facebook, re-tweet on Twitter, etc.  Let me know if you picked up any good tips with this blog post or if you want to add any to share with the audience.

By: Fred Lechuga

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