Recently I wrote about my journey of 200 days of walking at least 10,000 steps (now at 234 days) but the other half of the story is the eating habits, getting in shape, and losing weight. As I said previously, it all started one day when I was walking around a seminary campus and I was out of breath, sweating, and tired. I needed a change and I knew that it had to begin with eating. Anything you read about trying to lose weight says this as much. A healthy lifestyle begins with what you put in your body. At this point I hadn’t conducted any research but I decided that I was going to try to cut down on refined foods, fried foods, and sweets. This seemed like a simple way to begin to reduce my caloric intake without making drastic changes. In addition, I tried eating less, which was always difficult. So I did this for about a couple months until I was introduced to a guy named Phil Maffetone.
Maffetone specializes on topics such as fat loss, fitness, and healthy living. Three key takeaways helped shape my eating habits that I’ve continued to this day:
- Sugar addiction is a real thing – at first, I would have said there is no way that I have a sugar addiction. I never really craved sweets (although when I did eat sweets it was entirely too much) and I wouldn’t say that I had a “sweet tooth.” But as I read and began looking at labels I realized that sugar is in everything. I was in an endless cycle of craving carbs, especially sugar. This craving leads to a further poor diet and consistently stores the carbs as fat.
- Carbohydrate Intolerance – Maffetone argues that carbs are actually the real reason for the fat epidemic in our society. Our high carb diet is actually making us gain weight. High carbs over a long period of time aid high blood sugar, fatigue throughout the day, bloating, lack of concentration and more. Eventually this leads to high blood, gaining fat, diabetes, and more. Looking at my way of eating it was extremely high in carbs, especially of the refined variety.
- My diet should consist of higher amounts of fat and low amounts of carbohydrates. This was the most surprising of all to me. How could a diet that is 60-80% fat be good. After doing further reading I realized that he is probably right. And, my experience after 6 months of eating this way I think he is correct. A high fat low carb diet has given me more energy than I’ve ever have. I don’t get sleepy anymore. Haven’t been bloated since eating this way. Headaches are almost non-existent. And overall, I’ve felt better than ever. Additionally, I’ve not worried about the amount of calories I intake but rather on eating the right foods. I probably eat about as much as I used to but it is the right foods now. This way of eating is also really easy when eating out. No bun on sandwiches, salads instead of fries, and grilled instead of fried foods. Overall, this has been the biggest change for me.
It really is crazy how much sugar is in processed foods. Anything from spaghetti sauce, to juices, to “healthy” snack bars, to protein shakes, and much more. I’ve slowly learned that you have to read the label on everything plus the ingredients to see what and how much sugar has been added to the product. This has largely led to a mostly whole food way of eating because it is healthier and just easier to do.
My fats have largely come from a variety of nuts, olive oil, and coconut or MCT oil. In the morning, I’ll have a couple eggs, berries, 2-3 tablespoons of coconut or MCT oil, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Avocados have also become a staple in my diet. Still seems crazy to me starting by day with 300-500 calories of fat first thing but its been working really well.
Apple Watch & Fitness
When I first received an Apple Watch I basically used it for notifications. I basically ignored the fitness tracking and filling up my activity rings. But I decided it was a good time to start paying attention to the rings so I wore the watch when working out. I was so out of shape that filling the activity rings was fairly easy. As I progressed, my goals increased, and had to work harder and be more active throughout the day to hit them. I’ve always set my goals to be achievable by just being active throughout the day, generally by walking. I didn’t want to set unrealistic expectations (and unhealthy!) of having to do a formal workout everyday but I also need to be more active (this is wear the walking and 10,000 steps per day comes in).
As I continued, I realized I was piling on several days of filling up all my activity rings. This became motivation to fill up my rings every day. There are countless days that I know I would not have been active throughout the day if it wasn’t for the Apple Watch and the streak of days that I had built up. I remember several instances around Christmas with traveling that I was sitting a lot. A couple nights I would get on the treadmill and walk for 20, 30, or 40 minutes so I could fill up my rings. I know for a fact, that without this motivation I would not have done this at 11:30 pm at night! So, while it may seem ridiculous to say that my journey of weight loss and better fitness is attributed to the Apple Watch, I really don’t think I would be here without it.
Overall, this journey of weight loss and better fitness has been challenging but fun. At this point I’ve been doing this for almost 8 months (235 days to be exact) and have never felt better. I just hit the 100 lbs down mark a week or so ago, dropped several shirt sizes, and drastically reduced my pant size. I never would have thought that this was possible but now, the change in eating, habit of staying active, and reaching those daily goals to not break the streak is now part of my life. I wouldn’t say I am on a “diet” but rather this is just the way I eat now. Most of the motivation is how I feel. Its less about losing the weight (although that is certainly part of the goal) but rather feeling confident and energized throughout the day. Its been a great journey and fun to reflect about it in this post.