May 252016

My Weight Loss Story – Part 2

by Michael


I listen to a lot of podcasts at work and some of them had some health and fitness related guests on that were discussing the benefits of the ketosis diet. The basis of this diet is that consume about 50% of your calories from fats and forego the carbs. In doing so, you will optimize your body to burn fats as a fuel source instead of carbohydrates. This was a new concept to me but I was very curious to learn more about it. Then I found some podcasts that were either specifically about health and fitness or had regular guests on to discuss those topics. Before I continue, I want to state that I am not on a ketosis diet because I feel like it’s a little too difficult for me to strictly adhere to. There are however, a lot of things that I have taken from it that I do really like.

I remember a time in the 80s where buzz phrases like “low in fat” started to appear on the packages of products in the grocery stores. Years later, this has evolved into phrases like “an excellent source of whole grains” and “zero trans fats” which would lead you to believe that products like this are in fact, ideal for your health when in reality, a low-fat chip for example would 1 – taste terrible and 2 – is likely loaded with salt and sugar so it will actually taste like something that you would enjoy. In other words, it’s probably not good for you.

One of the shows I listened to had a guest on that was discussing the benefits of a high fat diet and specifically mentioned that cavemen were not out harvesting grains so they’d have enough energy to hunt in order to survive. They were eating animals and produce and the fats they consumed became their source of fuel.

I dug deeper into the topic and discovered that then ketosis diet was popular among the ultra-endurance athletes that were doing things like running 100-mile races. Athletic accomplishments like this, while impressive, are not something that I’m interested in yet the benefits of the diet are still compelling to me.

The guest would go on to give examples of what you should be eating via multiple choice questions. Time after time, he would suggest the highest item in fat or the item in the list that you’d consider to be the most sinful of the group. One example really stuck out to me and that was when he recommended eating a Snickers bar over some other items because of the items mentioned, it was the highest in fat content and therefore would be most likely to satisfy you for the longest period of time. He was clear to recommend this was only something that he’d recommend in a bind and this was not something that you should normally do. The thing that I took away from this was that if you were going to cheat on your diet, go for it. Don’t eat the fat-free frozen yogurt because a facsimile of the thing you’re craving won’t actually satisfy your desires. Instead, just get the ice cream that has all of the fat and sugar in it that you’re craving. Don’t eat it often and you should be fine.

Another guest on another show had uttered a few phrases that really resonated with me. Don’t count calories, make calories count. The other thing he said was something about earning or working hard enough so that you deserve to eat your carbohydrates. These phrases weren’t new to me but they really struck a nerve this time.

On to the diet. There are a few principles that I follow.

1 – Whenever possible, eat the fattiest version available. Gone are the days of tasteless boring skinless chicken breasts. Hello chicken thighs pan fried in coconut oil and kale sautéed with bacon!

2 – Snack on the fattiest snack items. My go to items are salami, cheeses, nuts, avocados, and veggies with Greek yogurt based dips.

3 – The carbs I eat most often are those that have a low-glycemic index value. This means that legumes and beans are the preferred carbohydrate.

4 – It’s OK to cheat on when I ride my bike a little because I will burn a ton of calories on those days. This is when I’ll have a slice of pizza, a bag of chips, or glass of wine.

A typical day of eating looks like this for me:

Breakfast – 2 pieces of bacon, 2 scrambled eggs cooked in the bacon grease, topped with avocado and jalapeños. Sometimes I’ll throw a fistful of sweet potatoes in if I feel sluggish. When I go running before work, I’ll eat Greek yogurt with blueberries afterward because I won’t have time to cook.

Lunch – Black beans topped with cheese and jalapeños, a spinach salad with olive oil and vinegar, a chicken thigh or two, and some avocado.



Dinner – A steak, Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon, and a side salad.

In addition, I’ll eat one or two snacks from the list I mentioned earlier.


So what’s missing? Low-fat foods and grains – the very things that we’ve been told to consume a lot of because they’re good for us. I’m convinced now that it’s all a lie. I also don’t eat much sugar. I’ll eat some in a natural form, like what comes with fruits and veggies, but I’m fortunate that I don’t tend to have a sweet tooth. I primarily eat these foods after I exercise to help stave off an energy crash and it tends to prevent me from committing larger infractions.

I’ve been eating like this for now for a few months. The results were:

  • I have dropped 25 pounds and a pant size.
  • All of the fat I’m eating has kept me happy and I feel like this diet is very sustainable over the long haul. I don’t feel like I’m starving myself or seriously depriving myself of the foods that I love.
  • I’ve also had blood work done and all of my stats have improved – my weight is down, my cholesterol is down, and my resting heart rate is down.
  • My BMI has lowered by 3%.

I don’t necessarily have an end game for what I want to weigh. While losing weight is necessary for me to achieve my fitness goals, it’s not my primary focus which in a way, makes all of this a bit easier since I’m not constantly focusing on losing weight. Instead, I’m focused on biking, running, pull-ups, and push-ups. Anything that makes this stuff easier is good in my book.

May 232016

My Weight Loss Story – Part 1

by Michael


Every year, I set personal fitness related goals for myself. In the past, my goals have been around cycling a certain amount of miles. I have a back injury that rears its ugly head from time to time and this has lead me to conclude that if I keep doing the same things, I’ll keep getting the same results. As a result, I’ve decided not to ride my bike everyday or do any of the same exercises on consecutive days.

Last year, I pedaled 2,100 miles over several commutes from my home to work and back. For all of my efforts, I lost zero pounds last year. Losing weight wasn’t the focus of riding all those miles but you’d think that I’d be able to shed weight without thinking about it due to the biking but that just wasn’t the case. I concluded that while I enjoyed exercising, the reason I hadn’t lost any weight was because of my diet.


My goals this year are to be able to do 100 push-ups in one set and do 10 pull-ups in one set. When I say things like, “I’m going to do more push-ups this year” it holds no water because there’s nothing holding me accountable. I need an amount and a time frame in order to be successful. At the start of this year, I was able to do 15 push-ups and zero pull-ups. My goals seemed lofty for sure but I’m a numbers guy and measurables like this are what drive me to success. I just needed to figure out how I was going to be able to accomplish it.

My first goal was to work my way up to being able to do 100 push-ups in a day. On the day of the Super Bowl, I was able to do 100 push-ups in a single day for the first time in my life. I did them in 5 sets of 20 over about a half hour period. This was a major achievement for me and it was the first time I believed that I would be able to accomplish the push-up goal this year.

Then I was able to do them in 4 sets of 25 push-ups. Shortly after that, 30, 30, 30, 10. Last month, I was able to do them in just 3 sets – 35, 35, 30. The next step from this point is challenging and I’ve concluded that in order to be able to do 100 push-ups in just 2 sets, I will need to do 2 things. 1 – I will have to do more than 100 push-ups in a day and 2 – I will have to lose weight. For every 10 lbs I lose, that’s 1000 fewer pounds that I will have to push-up over the set of 100. Tipping the power to weight ratio in my favor was obviously going to be necessary in order to be successful.

Just like I said earlier about exercising, I need a weight loss goal. I cannot just say to myself that I want to lose weight and have it stick. I just don’t operate like that. At the start of every month, I assess my progress and set a new monthly goal for myself and I get on a scale weekly to monitor my progress. I don’t know how much weight in total I want to lose, I just assume that I’ll know it when I get there. I know that I’m looking for an optimal power-to-weight ratio that allows me to accomplish my push-up and pull-up goals.

What I don’t do is count my calories. I don’t do this because it constantly makes me feel bad. It makes me feel oppressed, like I’m doing something bad that needs constant monitoring when in reality, I’m eating food and I don’t want to beat myself up for doing that. I know what’s good for me to eat and what isn’t. I don’t need to quantify all of the calories I’m consuming.

The other piece to this is that I exercise. A lot. But this isn’t the reason why I’ve lost weight. I’ve lost weight because of the diet. My exercise looks like this – M/W/F, I bike about 21 miles to/from work. T/Th/Sa, I run in my neighborhood. I created a running goal for myself this year of being able to run 6 miles in under an hour. I’m currently up to 4.7 miles in about 45 minutes. All of this is in addition to my push-up and pull-up goals, which I’m working on each twice a week. I wear a heart rate monitor to track this data and on average, I’m burning 6000 calories a week while exercising. Unlike tracking the calories that I consume, tracking the calories that I burn is empowering. It’s proof that I’m working hard and that I’m getting better as I’m able to run further and my per-mile pace drops. This also allows me to not feel any guilt when I want to drink a glass of wine with dinner because I’ve earned it.

So where am I at now with my push-up goal? I’m up to doing 160 (8 x 20) or 150 (6 x 25) twice a week. For the pull-up goal, I’m just doing as many as I can with the assistance of resistance bands over a few sets. The best part about these goals is that I’m not concerned about failure at all. If I do fail, I will have done thousands of push-ups and pull-ups this year and that itself is a huge personal victory for me. I’ll post an update in January and will let you know if I was successful or not in achieving my goals.

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and will detail the food part of how I lost the weight.