Monday, October 15, 2018

Misson Accomplished!

I have some good news, blog!

I mentioned in a previous post that I had been dieting with a lot of positive benefits and results.  That was back in March.  I'm happy to say that, nine months later, I'm proud to announce that I've reached my goal weight!

I lost 40 pounds!

I have been fit and athletic my whole life.  The weight crept up on me following my car accident in 2016; I was in a wheelchair for a long time and unable to walk on my broken leg.  Weight gain and weight loss is often gradual, so it wasn't until I saw a picture of myself onstage at a bar contest that I went, "oh my God, I got chubby."

This is the picture that made me decide it was time for a change.

I made a commitment to get back to my previous body type, which was no easy feat since my knee still has issues and I can no longer do any high-impact, strenuous exercise.

Over the course of nine months, I went from a BMI of 27.3 to 19.7.

Here was my system: not the keto diet.

 I got abs now.

 And a thigh gap, unfortunately.  I am not a fan of the thigh gap.

Seriously, though, I did not use any specific diet or system.  That's because I firmly believe that there is no magic diet or system. I used the TDEE calculator to calculate how many calories a day I needed.  Then, I eliminated 200 calories a day.  I tracked calories and weight change using My Fitness App.  (This app can calculate for you how many calories you need to scratch per day in order to lose a pound a week.)  (A pound a week is considered the safest amount of weight to lose, assuming you are normally overweight person in generally good health.)

Here's what my weight loss graph looks like on MyFitnessApp.

Here's some fun facts: a pound equals about 3,500 calories, so you'll need to be in a deficit of about 500 a day to lose a pound a week.  This sounds like a lot but it really isn't.  I didn't even do any exercise until the last month or so.  (During the last 2 months, I joined LA Fitness.)

One of the easiest things to cut out was alcohol, which has a lot of discretionary calories.

Protein & Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram. 
Alcohol = 7 calories per gram.  
Fat = 9 calories per gram.  

I'm feeling a lot better and happier with myself now.

With regards to the keto diet, the current hot diet of the day, I want to take a moment to examine its effectiveness.  Is it effective?  The short answer is, yes.  Like most fad diets (Atkins, Mediterranean, gluten free, etc.) it forces people to examine the food they are eating and second-guess what they put into their bodies, which naturally tends to make people focus on their calories even if they aren't strictly tracking them.  It also eliminates a lot of crap from one's diet.  A person on keto won't be eating cake... nor will a person on Atkins or a person who is gluten-free.  Creating barriers to eating junk typically results in weight loss because, well, you're suddenly not eating junk.

Note that I'm not talking out of my ass when I talk about the keto diet.  I studied the keto diet and its efficacy in treating epilepsy for two years, so I've got a pretty goddamn good idea of how it works and what it does.

Personally I don't recommend the keto diet for weight loss because I do believe it's sustainable in the long-term, and every diet should be a sustainable one.

The basis of the keto diet is this: your body typically converts carbs into glucose, a simple sugar, for energy.  If there are no carbs in the diet, the body shifts its metabolism into a state known as ketosis, in which the liver converts fats into fatty acids and uses those for energy instead.  The best indication that a body is in ketosis is the presence of ketones in the blood.  Note that ketones are a byproduct of ketosis, so that ketone weight loss coffee is total bullshit.  The ketones don't make you lose weight; the ketones are an indication that you're losing weight.  I goddamn hate keto coffee, the largest supplier of whom is ItWorks!, a multi-level marketing pyramind scheme best known for selling people weight loss cling wrap.

Here's the income disclosure statement for those thinking of slingin' the cling.
The top one is what's on their website.  
The bottom one is a corrected graph that isn't trying to deceive you.

(Side note: ketosis is a "sliding scale" metabolism measured by ketones in the blood.  Too few ketones means you're not in ketosis, and too many puts you into ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal condition.  The "sweet spot" for people attempting to achieve dietary ketosis is 1 - 3 millimolar.  Ketosis can also be induced rapidly through starvation but this can put you into ketoacidosis and is not recommended.)

The thing about ketosis is, it's a very delicate metabolic state that takes time to achieve, and it's very easily disrupted.  It can takes weeks to establish real long-term ketosis and can be undone with a single cookie.  The diet was originally created for epileptic patients who were resistant to treatment and it has some potential drawbacks.  For me, thought, the primary drawback is simply that the idea of eliminating carbs (bread and fruit) from your diet entirely simply isn't that realistic in our society.  And like any diet that requires broad-stroke diet eliminations, it can be a lot harder to get the right balance of nutrients.

This isn't to say I'm necessarily against the keto diet.  I have friends who are doing it and love it.  But my question is, are they going to do it for the rest of their lives... or are they eventually going to go off it and gain back the weight?  Personally, I think that the ideal diet is one that teaches you how to identify good foods, gauge your own health accurately, and learn not to overeat.  The ideal diet is one that becomes a permanent lifestyle change that keeps the weight off.  And honestly, the amount of work you'll put into managing a ketogenic diet is probably more than trying to maintain a caloric deficit the old-fashioned way: by counting calories.

There are, of course, plenty of people out there who claim that diets aren't effective and that no one keeps the weight off.  These people are wrong.  The myth that "95% of people gain back the weight" is based on a single study in 1959 that had only 100 participants... and those participants were being treated for their weight at a nutrition clinic, and gained the weight because they left the program and reverted to their old eating habits that had caused them to be obese in the first place.

One of the things I've become hyper-aware of during the last nine months is that "body positivity" posts are almost always aimed toward overweight people that put down slender body types, discourage diet and exercise, and mock those who lack "curves." (These include posts that say things like "overweight men are better in bed!" and "only dogs like bones!")

REAL body positivity means BUILDING UP people, not breaking them down. Real "body positivity" shouldn't make people feel bad about their bodies. Full stop. Everyone deserves to love themselves, and no one deserves to feel like less of a person because of their weight... whether that weight is high OR low.

That being said, losing all of that extra weight has made me more mobile, more energized, and has given me more confidence in my appearance.  I consider myself body positive, and it was out of love for my body that I decided to start feeding it better and exercising it more.  Here's to a lifetime of fitness and health!

Remember, we're all just ghosts driving meat skeletons around.
...but why wouldn't you want to drive the Cadillac of meat skeletons?

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