Eat More. Be More.

You Can’t Change the Body Until You Change The Mind

They say physical transformation is 20% exercise and 80% diet. That sure seems to be true. Think about how many times per week you eat, while you will spend maybe three to four hours working out.

The Diet

Change is hard. How many of your New Year’s resolutions are still on track? If you answered that question like 98% of people, you fell off somewhere. It’s not because you didn’t want to make the change, but something happened. If you want to change your body, there are certain things you’re going to have to take control of. The first is what goes into your mouth.

Flickr image by David Shankbone

Flickr image by David Shankbone

Let me be clear. I am not a trainer, coach, medical professional or dietitian. I’ll simply tell you what I’ve read, researched, and tried that has worked (or not worked) for me. Most of it should be common sense, but sometimes we need to hear it from someone that’s been there. As always, consult a doctor before starting any exercise program.

My Bad Habbits

I lived on fast food, sweet tea (I’m a Texan), and Dr. Pepper (a true Texan). When it wasn’t fast food, it was fried, greasy, or covered in sauce. Oh, and the bread and pasta. Mmmm…..

I’ve never been a huge fan of sweets. You’d think this would be a good thing, right? But instead of having an ice cream cone after my bacon cheeseburger, I’d rather have another bacon cheeseburger. A double. Guess which has more fat and calories.

I kid you not, there were sometimes I’d grab a fast food lunch, eat in the car on the way back to the office, and stop for a SECOND LUNCH before I got back because I was still hungry! Or was I?

Cut Your Portion Size

Is it any surprise that as portion sizes have grown in the last 30 years, so have our waistlines? Common knowledge is that it takes 20 minutes after you eat for your stomach to recognize that your’re satisfied. The first small thing you can do is eat until you’re not hungry, not until you’re full.

Cut down your portion size to recommended guidelines. A lot of restaurant meals would be better for you if you ate half for dinner, and the other half for lunch the next day because the servings are HUGE. Once you finish that, wait at least half an hour. If you’re still hungry later, have a snack like fruit or beef jerky. And of course, a glass of water before meals takes up valuable stomach real estate and is zero calories. You’re not drinking enough water anyway.

Change Your Mindset

When I made the decision to lose weight, I knew it was going to suck. It meant giving up so many of the foods I love. I know a lot of people who have “cheat days”. I decided against this for two reasons:

  1. It meant I was going to cheat during the week and eat bad.
  2. I didn’t want to lose control and rationalize doing it again too soon

If I planned to cheat on the diet, I would. Rather than plan for this, I made a deal with myself. I could have whatever I want, whenever I want, but only if I REALLY wanted it. And I wouldn’t gorge myself. So when I’d think about stopping at McDonald’s for a Big Mac, I’d ask myself if I’d be upset that I didn’t have the burger and fries in two hours, or would it even matter. After a while I knew I’d be upset if I did have the burger and fries. And sweet tea. Texan, remember?

Did it work? In the last 4+ months I have probably had what I’d call a real cheat meal four times. Total. Why? Couple of reasons. I love food. And the worse it is for me the more I like it. I was afraid that if I had 2 slices of pizza, I’d eat the entire pizza. I also knew I’d rationalize another bad meal by saying, “Well, I already blew it this week, what’s one more going to hurt?”. Slippery slope.

The other reason is the workouts. After about a week of working so hard I would be covered in sweat, despite it being 25 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the gym, I’d think about how hard I worked to get those calories off. I couldn’t justify putting that crap into me when I was working so hard to get it off.

Tweet: If menus had burpee counts instead of calorie counts, we’d all be skinny! #nsb

If menus had burpee counts instead of calorie counts,we’d all be skinny!

The other thing I discovered is food alternates. There’s probably a name for it, but that’s what I call them. If I want a burger, I’ll have a grilled chicken sandwich instead. When we go out to eat, I look for what is healthy, and what I want thats not, then I find something in between, but closer to the healthy side. After a while, the choice to eat healthy gets easier.

You Have To Commit

Saying you want to change isn’t going to cut it. You have to come up with reasons and turn them into goals. Goal planning should involve listing the reasons why you set the goal, the benefits of reaching the goal, and most importantly, the consequences of not meeting the goal. I’ll be doing a post over how to set SMART goals in the near future, so subscribe be email in the sidebar so you’ll be sure not to miss it.

Here were my reasons for wanting to lose weight and improve my fitness:

  • Get rid of my gout
  • Get rid of knee and back pain
  • Not get tired doing minimal physical activity
  • Avoid diabetes and heart disease
  • Not being limited to the big and tall stores
  • Increase my confidence level

The benefits and consequences became apparent once I clearly defined my goals, though they aren’t listed here. Anytime I don’t feel like working out, I ask myself if I’ve met my fitness goals. When that doesn’t motivate me, I reach down and grab a fat roll. This tells me skipping the workout isn’t an option. Not as long as I can do that.

Below were the initial goals that I set for myself:

  • Drop 80lbs of fat. (This has now been revised upwards a little)
  • Gain 35lbs of muscle
  • Be able to do 45 minutes of aerobic activity
  • Regain the flexibility I had while teaching martial arts
  • See my abs and a vein on my biceps
  • Wear a Crossfit t-shirt in public without people thinking I found it


Avoid the Sabotuer

There will be people that try to sabotage you. Usually it’s because they’re jealous you’re doing something they won’t. Most commonly you’ll hear, “Try this. Oh, just one won’t kill you.” They probably don’t even realize they are trying to derail you. I mean, who intentionally tries to get you to fail? What happens is that when they see you do it, they know they can too, but don’t want to make the commitment.

I used to get offered sweets and treats that would show up at the office. After about a month, the food would still show up, but it wasn’t offered to me because everyone knew I wouldn’t be having any.

Once people see your results and commitment, they may jump on board wanting to make the change themselves. This happened to me. I’ve known a couple of people who have lost serious weight through diet and Crossfit. Their results made me think I could do it too. And I was right.

Track What You Eat

One of the best apps and websites to track your food intake is MyFitnessPal. It’s amazing how many foods are already in their database. Entering foods is easy, and you can create meals for things you eat regularly. I have the same salad probably 5 nights per week with my protein. I saved all the ingredients as a meal and can enter it with one click. To make it easier, a bar code scanner is included. Simply can the package and enter how many servings you had.

The first two to three weeks I did this I was stunned. I once topped the scale at the doctor’s office at 283lbs. After entering some of the fast food and restaurant meals I had been eating, I wondered how I didn’t weigh 350lbs. It is shocking how many of the “healthy” meals at restaurants account for more than half of the calories you should be consuming for the ENTIRE DAY! And salads can sometimes be the worst items on the menu.

There is also a place to track your weight and your activity. You can customize your goals and even track your macros (carb, protein, fats). I use this feature daily to monitor not only my calorie intake, but the breakdown.

For the first two months I had potatoes either for lunch or dinner several days per week. And the occasional wheat bread, or rice. Once I started noticing how many carbs I was eating, I changed my meals to lower my carbs and the weight really started coming off. I lost 10lbs the first week I dropped my carbs down! And I knew exactly what foods did it because I had them all logged.

One Day At A Time

Change is hard. But when you break it down in to small pieces, set realistic and attainable goals, and focus on each day as it comes, you can do it. If I can, anyone can. I’m still on the journey, and the destination is becoming less important. My fitness is no longer a target with a finish line, it’s a lifestyle.

What this also does it gets me away from focusing on a far off result and allows me to enjoy the ride. Small goals. Consistent improvement. Frequent victories. That is what keeps you going.

What is the most significant thing you could do first to improve your health?