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Ok folks, this is more of an Andy post than it is a Travel Blog post, but many have reached out wondering how my weight loss journey that began early this year is going, so I figured a quick update would be ok.
Reminder of where I began
At the beginning of 2019 I posted this big emotional soliloquy about becoming an airline free agent after losing my American Airlines Executive Platinum status. I then soliloquy’d that one of the best ways to prepare for Life in Coach was to drop some extra weight.
And then I didn’t really change anything and thus gained 17 pounds during 2019.
On January 1, 2020, I began a really tough elimination diet called Whole30. And, well, it worked. I dropped 23 pounds in January, even after traveling to London for work for 9 days!
I decided to keep going on the Whole30 diet as the world shifted from Normal to Pandemic. And, well, it kept working.
[drum roll] well, have I kept it off?
I’ve lost more. How much in total?
80 pounds as of yesterday.
What does that look like? Ok fine, here’s a picture of me last Christmas and another this past Saturday.
(that’s not my beer, for the record)
Ok what have I done to stay on track?!
I’ve largely stuck with my rules I created for myself when this whole thing began:
- I would only cook and eat at home whenever possible
- I would not allow junk food/drinks to be in my home
- I would “cheat” (I hate that word, it’s just food) only if in a social situation that was celebrating something, in other words if it was just me I would stay on program
I will say this: the first 50 were easy compared to the most recent 30. My body has adapted to my diet and the weight loss has slowed down, but you know what? That’s ok. I’ve had some days and weeks where my weight has (gasp) even gone up. That’s ok. I’m happy with where I am and I’m motivated to keep going, and neither of those have anything to do with a number on a scale.
The primary thing for me is remembering why I started this: I was a big dude and wanted to be smaller. I want to stick around this world for a while before going to the next one and I have some health conditions which run in my family. Smaller Andy seems like he’ll live longer than Bigger Dude Andy.
What have I learned about nutrition?
The main lesson is this: it really comes down to calories. I have a list of foods I like to eat and another list of foods I like to avoid eating. Here’s the thing, though: if I eat too much of the Good Food I’ll still put on some weight over time. I don’t rigorously track the calories eat, I just kinda know if I’m overeating at this point. Too much is still too much, whether good or bad.
Also this: whenever I’m really feening for a snack, it usually means I’m thirsty. One of my bigger rules I’ve tried to abide by lately is to not snack, to eat three defined meals and that’s it. If I’m desperate for a snack, I drink a good bit of water and wait 30 minutes to see if I’m still hungry or not (I’m usually not).
What about those five products you recommended a few months ago?
Fine, I’ll post them again (and my advice hasn’t really changed, I still use all of these regularly):
1. Vitamix Blender
Ok so one of my main problems with eating healthily is that I don’t like the taste of most vegetables (primarily because they do not taste anything like ice cream or cake). Enter the Vitamix. It is phenomenally easy for me to just chuck whatever vegetables I don’t like eating into the blender with some spinach, almond milk, almond butter, a few blueberries/raspberries/carrots, and then sit back and listen to the raging fury of the Vitamix unleashing its mercy on the poor vegetables and liquefying them into a marginally-tasting shake that I can drink quickly with little regard for taste. I know it sounds awful but even if it tastes awful it’s over with pretty quickly and I get my veggies.
(You definitely don’t need a Vitamix, as there are far cheaper options, but from everything I read online these things are fantastic and durable, I’m a very big believer in Buy Once Cry Once and getting quality products from brands who support them)
2. Withings Smart Scale
Ok this is where I disagreed with the Whole30 program as it applied to me. The Whole30 program recommends against weighing yourself for the 30-day duration of the program (since weight loss is a by-product of the program but not the actual goal), but personally I needed some quantifiable feedback on a daily basis. I weighed myself every day I could, and this is the scale I use at home. The best part is it connects to an app via WiFi and uploads my weight data there for cool graphs like the one you saw earlier in this post. This graph was absolutely critical for the plateaus I’ve hit so far because it took my feelings out of things. It wasn’t “oh I’m sure I’m doing ok” but rather “you lost 4 pounds last week, it’s ok to hang out at a similar weight for a few days” because I had the data right there looking at me.
It was reassuring to see progress on the scale because I suffered from a major case of body dysmorphia and actually still struggle to see many physical differences, even after 50 pounds lost.
3. Almond Butter Packets and Larabars
The above are just a few of the varieties of the Larabar flavors that are compliant with the Whole30 program, a great list here: https://lifehealthhq.com/whole30-larabar/
Whole30 gets you looking at ingredient labels for almost EVERYTHING because ALMOST EVERYTHING has added sugar in it in some shape or form. The items linked above don’t have any ADDED sugar, so they’re compliant. I really tried to limit myself when it comes to Larabars, though, because they are exceedingly sweet because they use dates in most recipes. But still, in a crunch, spreading some almond butter on a Larabar would be enough to get me to the next meal.
4. Peloton bike
By no means am I saying you need a Peloton bike to lose weight. Or a bike at all. Just have something you do to stay active, whether going for a walk or jogging (ew) or something like a Peloton. I used Peloton bikes for free at my office gym but that closed due to the current crisis so I ended up just biting the bullet and getting one for the house. If you have one and want to follow along, my username is PlayMoreMetal! And if you’re interested in buying one, feel free to use my referral code, we both get $100 off: ZA9EUT
5. Athletic Greens
Ok remember in the Vitamix section I mentioned I struggle eating enough veggies? Enter Athletic Greens. They’re simply the best green supplement powder on the market (in my opinion, which basically means they have great marketing I dunno). Their powder is not cheap but it’s the easiest to mix in my experience and tastes great even just in water.
Athletic Greens was my safety net to make sure I was getting enough nutrients and minerals. Listen, perfect world I’d be brave enough to just shut up and eat more vegetables but it’s far from a perfect world. The best part about Athletic Greens is they sell single-serve travel packets which are super easy to throw in luggage on your way out.
This stuff isn’t cheap, I get that. There are plenty of other green supplements out there, this is just what works for me.
Surprise bonus kind of random 6th product – Pork King Good Pork Rind Crumbles
Ok bear with me here. If any of you have done Whole30 you know that you eat a TON of chicken on the program, to the point you quickly get tired of It. I like having a little bit of breading on my chicken to break up the monotony, and I love these pork rind crumbs. They don’t have any carbs or gluten, just protein and salt. The texture is similar to breadcrumbs but you don’t have to worry about EVIL GLUTEN (said tongue-in-cheek). Completely surprised by how much I enjoyed these!
What’s your ultimate goal with this?
I’ve lost 80 pounds in 6ish months. Might as well go for an even 100 by the end of the year, just to say I did it.
After I hit 100 I’ll reintroduce some foods and (gasp) have a beer or two and probably level off about 10-15 pounds above my lowest. I think that’ll be a good weight for me.
Here’s the most important thing you should take from this
My “why” is just that: mine. Please don’t look at me and say “well I’ll do exactly what he did for the reason he did it”. Don’t compare yourself to who I am today. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to do this and how long the hours between meals seemed, sometimes it takes all your willpower just to make it to the next meal. That’s great. If you feel like you need to drop some weight, any progress is real and worth celebrating. You losing 5 pounds is just as impressive as someone else losing 100 because it’s not the number that matters, it’s someone taking control of that part of their life that matters.
I can definitely say this now: weight loss won’t fix you. Who you are when you’re bigger is who you are when you’re smaller, you’ll just have spent way more money on clothes since all your old ones are comically big. Some of the issues I had I blamed on my weight but they waited patiently as I lost weight and then popped right back up for Skinnier Andy to deal with. So be careful with your expectations (and don’t feel like you need to lose weight to deal with your problems).
Hopefully a big update coming in a few months, but feel free to leave any questions in the comments below!