How It Started...
Just over a year ago, I found myself increasingly tired and barely able to fit in my clothes. I became more depressed each passing day. I refused to buy bigger clothes, yet wearing the clothes I had was literally painful. Even though I left work each day at 3:00pm, I went home and fell asleep. I had no energy!
Although the weight I gained was not excessive, I had obviously gained a considerable amount of fat. I just kept making excuses for my fat gain (It's just bloating from what I ate, I'll eat less tomorrow, I'm just getting older, it must be a thyroid problem or hormones... any of these sound familiar?)
When I decided to really face reality, I decided to make a commitment to do something productive for myself and my situation. I joined a brand new health club that is known for seriousness and not for being a singles, pick-up scene. I made an appointment for an assessment with a personal trainer and that was the beginning of my fitness journey.
My initial fitness assessment showed that I was approximately 31% body fat! While my weight was only 150lbs. on a 5'8" frame, I was still teetering on being OBESE! (Yes, a fat-thin person). I was appalled and disgusted and decided to do whatever was necessary to change my body once and for all. I signed up for sessions with a personal trainer to work with me three times a week and told him that my goal was to be the poster child for the health club some day.
I also increased my cardio workouts to four times a week to start. Please note that when people saw me they might have thought that I could afford to lose a few pounds, but would never have guessed that my body composition was just shy of obesity. That is why I highly recommend that everyone have their body composition tested regularly and forget using the scale.
Your health and well-being due to body composition may be far different than you think if you are strictly using the scale as your measurement. You also do not have to appear visually obese to actually be obese. (So many aspects of your health are related to your body composition so go find out!)
Do Your Homework:
Next, I did a lot of reading on my own searching out nutritional information. I knew that I could spend a lot of time in the gym but would still be spinning my wheels if I did not eat correctly.
Bodybuilding.com is a great resource for articles and advice on diet and nutrition! My favorite source of excellent nutrition information came from the two books written by Will Brink (a Bodybuilding.com writer). I highly recommend both books!
They were incredibly useful for me and will continue to be in my resource library. The first book is Diet Supplements Revealed. This book was my first line of defense in eating correctly to lose body fat.
Once the fat was out of the picture, I turned to Muscle Building Nutrition to build quality muscle while keeping body fat to a minimum.
You cannot fail if you follow the information in Will's books. Please refer to Will's books for the details and to use his wonderful calculators for your body. In very simple terms, I made a commitment to eat very clean and switch to 5 smaller meals a day. Skipping a meal became cheating. My favorite foods are oats, fish and vegetables with flax oil and a gallon of water.
By the end of the first month I had seen dramatic results! Comfortably fitting in my clothes was no longer an issue and my body fat had decreased significantly. My energy level greatly increased and I felt like a different person. I was hooked!
10 Months Later:
Ten months later, I was more committed than ever! Since starting my entire program of working with an excellent personal trainer and eating correctly and consistently, I had lost about 16% body fat or the equivalent of approximately 27 pounds of fat! (just visualize 27 pounds of fat on top of a scale!)
My lean body mass had also increased about 33 pounds. I made a lifestyle change (not a diet!) which keeps me eating correct portions sizes 5 times a day consisting of lean proteins, carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables. I am committed to keeping myself fit for the rest of my life; improving as much as I can.
My energy level has skyrocketed since the beginning of my program and my self-esteem has improved. Becoming physically fit was the best thing I ever could have done for myself and my family. Now, I am an enthusiastic advocate for eating correctly and exercising consistently.
I would love to be able to motivate and encourage others to do the same! This is why I have now become a personal trainer and hope to coach others to be the best they are capable of!
BONUS: Weight Loss Vs. Fat Loss
Note: This is an excert from Will Brink's article A Unified Theory Of Nutrition!.
This is where we get into the crux of the true debate and why the two schools of thought are not actually as far apart from one another as they appear to the untrained eye. What has become abundantly clear from the studies performed and real world evidence is that to lose weight we need to use more calories than we take in (via reducing calorie intake and or increasing exercise), but we now know different diets have different effects on the metabolism, appetite, body composition, and other physiological variables. Thus, this reality has led me to the unified theory of nutrition which states:
This seemingly simple statement allows people to understand the differences between the two schools of thought. For example, studies often find that two groups of people put on the same calorie intakes but very different ratios of carbs, fats, and proteins will lose different amounts of bodyfat and or lean body mass (i.e., muscle, bone, etc.).
Some studies find for example people on a higher protein lower carb diet lose approximately the same amount of weight as another group on a high carb lower protein diet, but the group on the higher protein diet lost more actual fat and less lean body mass (muscle).
Or, some studies using the same calorie intakes but different macro nutrient intakes often find the higher protein diet may lose less actual weight than the higher carb lower protein diets, but the actual fat loss is higher in the higher protein low carb diets. This effect has also been seen in some studies that compared high fat/low carb vs. high carb/low fat diets. The effect is usually amplified if exercise is involved as one might expect.
Of course these effects are not found universally in all studies that examine the issue, but the bulk of the data is clear: diets containing different macro nutrient ratios do have different effects on human physiology even when calorie intakes are identical (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11).
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