“My weightlifting belt must’ve shrunk while I was gone!” I distinctly remember saying this as I tried to get my lifting belt on the first time I needed it upon returning to work out. And that was on the first hole! Normally I had been on the third or fourth hole. I had just started back at CrossFit Modig after having bicep tendon surgery and while I was partially joking on the outside, inside I was in shock. Panic began to develop. I realized that my desire not to buy a larger lifting belt was the catalyst to get a plan in place to address my weight.
Prior to that day I wasn’t exactly making weight management a top priority. So when I hit some tough months at the end of 2015, things seemed to escalate. That September I had a substantial surgery to repair a ruptured bicep tendon that completely tore off at the forearm. The following month saw the collapse of the oil & gas market and it finally reached me personally with the loss of my job. As if those weren’t enough, my wife Kasey and I were expecting our third child in March of 2016. The compounding affect of not having a job, the surgery and the possibility of not being recovered enough from surgery to adequately help with a newborn, caused a tidal wave of stress to come crashing down on me. The pressure seemed to keep piling on and, without realizing, a physical toll began to take over.
The beginning of 2016 started to improve as I began a new job in January, working out slowly in February and was holding a healthy baby boy in March. With the massive reduction in mental stress, it became increasingly clear the physical fall out I experienced during that time. Weight gain. I had no idea. I went to have a physical and stepped on the scale at 260+lbs. I immediately buried that information. Not wanting to process it, I made all sorts of excuses including “it wasn’t accurate because I had all my clothes on anyway.” Whatever my excuses, I had the presence of mind to recognize I needed to get the weight gain addressed. Quickly! I was getting closer to 40 and knew that carrying around extra body weight wasn’t a life extending choice. So it was either deal with it then, which is the youngest I’d ever be, or deal with it later when it’s harder and the risks are increasingly catastrophic. I decided for the now.
In the past I’ve had good success eating strict paleo. I started to incorporate that back into my eating habits, but it was slow going with little motivation and discipline. I was finding that not having measurable feedback made it difficult to hold myself accountable. While I was losing a bit of weight, it wasn’t at the pace I wanted. As 2016 kept moving, I started to see and hear little bits about the Ketogenic diet. Everything I came across stuck with me, but I didn’t devote much time to learning more about it. I didn’t want to experiment with anything and then end up where I was 6 months later and have lost that time. My wife and I started looking at some of the commercial weight loss places that map it out for you. Those were prohibitively expensive to me and I wasn’t clear on how to maintain positive results without continuing to pay for it. I also thought that losing the weight should be my responsibility and something I should be able to do. I was at a crossroads. So knowing those commercial places would always be there, I decided to give the ketogenic diet a go and proceeded started to learn as much as I could about it.
Generally speaking, what stuck out to me with Keto was that it is a high fat, low carb diet. The reduction in carb intake puts you in a metabolic state where your liver is breaking down fats which then produces ketones. Your body burns those ketones as the primary energy source. There are a host of benefits associated with being in this metabolic state, but the big one is weight loss. Before I began to take it on, I realized that first I needed to set a plan and figure out what I was eating versus what I was going to eat. The website I found to be the most user friendly was Keto Calculator.
There was a list of questions I answered and it put together a plan of where my macros needed to be. This first part was the single most important step for me. I needed to know what to eat and in what quantity. Once I had my numbers in line, I got after it trying to be as close to my target macros as possible and gave my body a couple weeks to reach a ketogenic state.
I started to keep track of my weight in mid-December of 2016 coming in around 245lbs. But then the weight started coming off daily and would keep coming off pound by pound. I liked that there was a lot of paleo principles associated with the diet as well. While your specific macros will vary from someone else, it still has a focus on eating high quality, whole foods. After a month, I stopped keeping daily logs of my macros. This worked well until my weight loss eventually stalled. When I noticed that, I would immediately start tracking my macros again and would see where carbs were sneaking into my daily diet and slowing me down and I would adjust and get the weight loss back on track. I’ve been doing this cycle off and on since. And its been working really well.
A big part of this process has been learning how to hold myself accountable to sticking with my goal. Aside from the tracking tool, my wife was a huge part of the process. I knew she would always have an honest assessment of the progress. Another was to write my personal goal on the huge Modig goal white board. Make it measurable! Another tool is the product that measures the ketones in your body. It was nice because the process of changing your metabolic state is being able to measure the ketones your body produces. I used the ketositx to measure the levels of ketones. Having those different feedback loops were critical to me. How my body felt during workouts and recovery was another huge bit of feedback! And finally, the last tool were the members and coaches at Modig! Trust me, everyone around you at Modig is in tune with how you are performing and will let you know that they notice.
David has a good eye for finding some of the best coaches around. His whole team is great at offering suggestions and, in general, just good resources to any questions that come up. Reducing the amount of extra and unnecessary weight I carry around, I’ve noticed my results during workouts are improving as well. My knees don’t hurt during squats or following any jumping related exercises. I’m in more control of my breathing too. Initially I was worried about losing strength, but quite the opposite has happened and those numbers have been increasing. I’ve also been able to handle my cardio workload much better too! Its been awesome.
Outside of the gym my family and I keep a really busy schedule. I’ve noticed that my energy levels and focus have improved and sharpened both at home and at work. I’m currently in the 204-208lb range, but we’ve wrapped up “Birthday Season” for our family, so once again I’ll start tracking my macros tightly for a couple weeks. This will allow me to refocus and evaluate what foods are working and what should be eliminated. One item I’ve been considering lately is that perhaps I might need to incorporate more rest into my workout regime. But I just moved into the 8th hole in my weightlifting belt, so it’s tough for me to back off when the results are still coming in!!