I’ve been posting rather more than I would have expected on FetLife’s dieting & exercise related groups. If you’re reading my profile having come from one of my posts on those groups, I feel like I should provide some kind of credentials to backup my otherwise uninformed Internet ramblings.
For most of my life, taking dieting advice from me would have been a bit like taking sobriety tips from a guy guzzling from a large brown paper bag on the street corner. I was without any equivocation FAT for most of my adult life (and most of my childhood for that matter). It’s only in the last two years that I got the figurative kick in the tush I needed from an old friend and decided to get my shit together.
At my heaviest, I tipped the scales at about 435lbs on a 6′ frame. (In fact, I tipped the scale so hard I had to buy an industrial shipping scale to weigh myself since most “standard” bathroom scales top out some where around 300-350). I’d dieted “a bit” on my own, and by the time aforementioned gluteal kick came around, and I really started getting serious about losing the weight, I was down to 420lbs as of 02-Jan-2011.
I started out with diet alone and no exercise to speak of, mostly because I simply was in such bad shape that I couldn’t realistically do any kind of exercise. Walking up the stairs broke a pretty good sweat… I followed a protocol known as a protein sparing modified fast which in its most simplified form is 750-1000 KCalories of protein per day, zero fat, zero carbs (other than fiber), and a ton of vitamins to make up for all the nutrients not present in the diet. Appetite suppressants are almost mandatory to get through it (either prescribed by a doctor or OTC ephedrine). It’s a hard plan to follow, you’re hungry most of the time for the first few months, but I lost anywhere from 3-6 pounds per week consistently.
Fast forward a bit to early April, 2011, and I was down to about 350. With the weather in Northern New York finally starting to warm up a bit, I started walking. My first “official” exercise walk was about 2 miles and took me about an hour. When I got home, I was trashed…
I kept at it over the next few months and finally started jogging a bit by the end of April. At that point, I was using the “Ease into 5k” iPhone app and doing walk/run intervals. Keeping up with the initial set of intervals was killer, and it took me a few weeks to catch up to the app.
The intervening year & change that elapsed until I’m writing this was pretty much more of the same. I slowly got to run further & faster, started going to the gym to lift weights and hit the treadmill religiously three days a week over the winter. As I write this, I’m down to 230lbs, I can run 5k in about 34 minutes, and I’m a week away from doing my third sanctioned 5k event: Warrior Dash (the second time I’ve done that particular event).
Comparing how I feel now to two years ago without using cliches like “night and day” isn’t possible (or at least is beyond my own limited word-art). I have more energy, I look forward to doing things socially outside the house without dreading how exhausted I’ll be just trying to move around. I’ve found that a runner’s high is almost as good as a good pain-fueled endorphin rush, and nobody thinks you’re sick & twisted for doing it (no, who am I kidding… People still think I’m sick & twisted for getting up early to run or going out in 90ÂºF heat…). All positive improvements, to say nothing of increased *ahem* stamina…
When I do post on the FL health groups, I try to be compassionate, because I remember being fat. I remember how hard it was to get started, how many false starts I had over the years. For me, the kicker was seeing a friend who was half the man I’d last seen and learning from him that he’d done most of it in just over a year. The promise of that kind of result (and seeing it with my own eyes) was what I needed to get going.
Starving yourself to lose 5lbs a month and having to do that for 5 years to get to a reasonable weight isn’t sustainable. The payoff for a nice slice of cheesecake really is better than seeing a tenth of a pound lost on the scale the next morning. Losing 20, sometimes 30 pounds a month, seeing amazing results in just a few months & knowing that I’ll have a body that resembles the one I’ve always wanted in just over two years start to finish… That’s what it took for me. It’s not quite instant gratification, but it’s damn close. That’s more rewarding to me (now) than that slice of cheesecake, and I can usually manage to pass up the “goodies” and enjoy my payoff on the scale in the morning. The better part of a pound a day is nice to see.
That said, for my compassion, I don’t take BS very well. When I read someone say, “I’ve tried everything, nothing’s worked,” I remember my own whining over the years. And I remember that every time I said those words, I was so full of shit it was running out my ears. It’s easy to half-assed diet. It’s easy to cheat “just this once” three or four times a week. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work if you want to lose weight and get healthy. So if you read one of my posts and it seems like I’m being harsh, please forgive me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate how difficult it is to find the motivation to get healthy; but I remember that what I ultimately needed was someone to kick me, not coddle me.
So… My dieting strategy has been unconventional. I’ve done numerous things that established medical wisdom would call unhealthy, ineffective, or just down right stupid. The thing is, it’s worked for me. It’s also worked for my friend and is still working for my significant other. And for all three of us, all of the established medical wisdom over the years (eat lots of small meals, you can’t lose weight without exercising, low fat/high carb is good for you…) didn’t help us in the least.
Desperate times call for desperate measures… At least for someone who’s young and fortunate enough to have not started accumulating all of the obesity related secondary diseases, PSMF can work and can be safe. That said, do as I say and not as I did and consult with a doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program…