Focus on Fitness

11 January 2013 · 31 comments

My head is full of things to share with you, but my time is scarce. I shouldn’t even be writing this now. I have an Entrepreneur article that is two days past due! But, as I say, there are so many things to tell: I’ve had an offer accepted on a condo, I’m getting braces next Tuesday, and I’m learning all sorts of little lifehacks from my friends lately.

Today, though, I want to take a few moments to talk about the strange world of weight loss. As you may recall, I lost fifty pounds from January 2010 to June 2011. I did this through a combination of smart eating and dedicated exercise. (To be honest, though, the exercise accounted for 80% of the success; my diet has never been stellar.)

I’ve managed to maintain a healthy weight and fitness level for eighteen months. Sure, my weight fluctuates over time, depending on how much I’m moving and what sorts of crap I’m eating. But mostly, I’ve kept the weight off.

During December, however, I went off track for the first time in three years. Because of a shoulder injury, I wasn’t able to exercise as much as I’d like. And because of the holidays (and because Kim and I spent a week vacationing), I ate like crap. More to the point, I drank like crap. I had a lot of alcohol last month. Bottom line? I entered the new year feeling and looking awful.

No worries. I had a plan.

After I returned from Houston last weekend, I stepped on the scale to get a frame of reference. On Sunday night, I weighed in at 181 pounds, the first time I’ve been over 180 in…well, almost two years. After seeing that shocking number, I implemented emergency measures.

  • I fasted for 24 hours, from Sunday evening ’til Monday evening. (Kris and I met for Hawaiian food on Monday night. I ate chicken and salad and rice.)
  • From Tuesday to Wednesday, I did Dr. Oz’s three-day cleanse, during which I drank fruit/vegetable smoothies for my meals.

The results were impressive. This morning, I weighed in at 169 pounds, a drop of twelve pounds in four-and-a-half days. Admittedly, these pounds were mostly bloat from too much salt, sugar, water, and alcohol. But that was exactly the point of the fast and cleanse, right?

Moving forward, there are a few more things I plan to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Tomorrow (or tonight), after about a month of no regular exercise, I’m heading back to the gym. Bring on the Crossfit! Plus, Kim and I will shift some of our food-oriented dates to exercise-oriented dates.
  • Kim has shifted from a paleo diet to one that’s far more plant-based. While I’m not willing to go that far, there’s no doubt that I need more fruits and vegetables in my meals. That’s a focus for the next few weeks. (And, I hope, beyond.)
  • I had a glass of wine with my brunch on Sunday morning. From that point until Valentine’s Day, I intend to drink only water. No alcohol. No coffee. No soda. No juice. No nothing. (Well, except for green tea. I’m allowing myself green tea.)
  • Actually, I’m eliminating all mind- and body-altering substances until Valentine’s Day, including ibuprofen and melatonin and caffeine. I want to see what it feels like to have no chemicals in my system.
  • I’m going to re-focus on running and biking. These two activities fit my body type, and I really enjoy them. For the past few years, though, I’ve mostly done strength training. That’s great (and I’ll continue to lift weights), but aerobic activity is more my thing, so I’m going to return to it.

My focus on fitness was a key component of the life changes I’ve made over the past few years. I grew a little complacent this summer and fall, though, because I’d reached a sort of fitness peak. But the truth is, that peak cannot be maintained without effort. Injuries and busy-ness and dating are no excuse.

I’m excited to be back on track. Healthy eating and exercise can actually be a lot of fun. They make me feel great.

Right now, though, it’s back to work. I still have that Entrepreneur article to write. Soon, though, I’ll tell you more about my condo, about my braces, and about all of the little lifehacks I’ve learned lately! Life is fun, isn’t it?

1 Stephanie M January 11, 2013 at 12:01

Hi! I’m a long time reader, but a very infrequent commenter. I think this is my first comment on your new blog! I’m glad you’re still writing, I love your outlook on life and hearing your take on things.

I just thought I’d share…I’ve had braces (as an adult) for the past two and a half years. I get mine off on Monday. They were hard…but not in the ways I expected. The worst was when I needed to wear rubber bands, which made it tough to talk. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the results when you’re done.

2 bethh January 11, 2013 at 12:05

well that was a seemingly-painless home-shopping project! that’s great. Learn from my recent move travails and get insurance if you rent a truck, I had an adventure that is costing me $1000 (thank goodness for auto insurance but still).

Do you realize most green tea is caffeinated? :)

3 jdroth January 11, 2013 at 12:12

Blarg. Okay, I may have to re-think the green tea then. In college, I always drank hot water with a slice of lemon. That may be my go-to drink for the next month.

4 Sandy E. January 12, 2013 at 07:14

No, don’t rethink the green tea — Lipton makes Green Tea and on the front of the box it says “Decaffeninated.” 20 teabags to a box and 130mg tea flavonoids per serving. (I usually buy 4 boxes at a time).

5 Peter January 14, 2013 at 06:00

Should steer away from anything that is “Decaffeinated” This is usually done by using chemicals to remove it.

You can remove most of the caffeine yourself by steeping the tea in hot water for 20sec or so, then transfer the tea bag to your tea pot or mug and steep it again. That pre soak will remove most of the caffeine.

6 bon January 14, 2013 at 18:46

roiboos tea (“red tea” or “african red tea”) is caffeine-free and tastes fantastic. Another great and healthy option is organic ginger tea. You can also start experimenting with simply pouring boiling water over different combinations of fresh herbs (rosemary, mint, ginger, lemongrass, tumeric) and maybe add a touch of honey

7 Brooke M. January 11, 2013 at 12:08

just curious, did you take in anything other than water during the 24hr fast?

8 jdroth January 11, 2013 at 12:12

Just water. It sucked.

9 Stephen January 11, 2013 at 14:49

Be prepared for most of the weight to go back on so as your body salt level stabilises. It generally takes a week or two of training for weight to stabilise again.

And take my advise, do not underestimate the benefit of crash days where you eat junk food. Not just for the mental aspect, but it actually helps you lose weight as it stops the starvation response from your body and keeps you metabolism up. I had some of my biggest body fat drops on weeks I ate badly back when I was on a major fat loss push.

10 Mike January 11, 2013 at 12:59

Hey J.D.
Wanted to let you know that your articles about Crossfit, as well as my sister telling me her experiences with it, have given me the push I needed to join. I’ve got a TON of wieght to lose (like 200 lbs) and thought that Crossfit was for athletic people only. I’m sore as all get out but loving it so far. Thanks for the great blog and various insights!
If I manage to snag a tic to WSD this coming Wed, I’ll make sure to say thanks in person this July, hopefully having lost 50+ lbs myself. :)

11 Ian January 11, 2013 at 14:00

I have never tried a fast but I am interested. It does sound pretty rough but I guess that is where the no guts no glory part comes from. I have kinda hit a plateau with my weight, before I went back to school I worked out a bunch but after I went back that went away. I was able to mitigate massive weight loss with a halfway recent diet and sporadic exercise but that’s not enough. You are right, I have to be done with the excuses. The drinking slows me down as well, sometimes effecting the next day. Here’s to getting back on track!

12 Tyler Karaszewski January 11, 2013 at 20:32

Congrats on refocusing on your fitness, it’s a worthwhile goal. But, ugh, “detox”. The linked plan conveniently doesn’t say what sort of “toxins” it removes or how it manages to accomplish that, or why fruit would work better for it than, say, potatoes. Guess why I think they leave out all that info?

13 mark January 11, 2013 at 21:01

JD,

I thought you were smarter than to listen to Dr. Oz. Do yourself a favor and check out Mark’s Daily Apple (google it, and no, it’s not my site, I just happen to share the same first name). That is science-based approach to health. You’ll be particularly interested to see the information concerning cardio.

14 Tyler Karaszewski January 12, 2013 at 14:08

This is not a “science-based” approach, it’s just a “pro-paleo” approach. If it were science based, it would be full of repeated tests showing evidence of why he’s right, not anecdotes and unsupported claims.

15 Bella January 12, 2013 at 14:19

You know. Marks daily apple had me thinking he was all rightious and all. Until I got to the part where recommends replacing actual food with processed protein powder. His special ‘good for you blend’ of course.

16 homerica7 February 3, 2013 at 11:47

@Bella, can you provide a link that says this? I’ve been reading Mark’s Daily Apple for years and I have never seen that recommendation. He usually focuses his actual products towards athletes. In general, I would say he recommends copious amounts of vegetables (i.e. Big Ass Salad), but says not to be afraid of fats (except trans-fats and fats with large amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids), and if you need to eat carbs, stay away from wheat and other gluten-based carbs. He also recommends avoiding processed food and trying to eat grass-fed, free range meats.

@ Tyler, while his approach is paleo-based, he includes numerous links in the articles to the studies from which he bases his approach. It is absolutely “science-based”. For example, scroll down to the the question about first aid (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/antibiotic-ointments/#axzz2JrnffThZ). There are numerous links to books and scientific studies in that article alone. If you don’t agree with the principles, that is fine, but I would hardly say the approach is not science-based.

17 Melanie January 12, 2013 at 06:26

Just wanted to say “yah” to Kim for embracing a more plant based diet. I cut all animal flesh and by products from my diet cold turkey in August 2011 and I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever done for my body and soul. I can’t encourage you enough to give it a try even if you only begin doing it once a week. You will be doing wonderful things for your body, mind, animals and our planet.

18 Andrew Snyder January 12, 2013 at 08:21

I really don’t want to sound like a scold, but I will—

A “cleanse” may make you feel virtuous or good, but in reality it accomplishes nothing: toxins are only cleaned from the body by the liver and kidneys performing their proper functions.

Also, your exercise regimen probably had a lot to do with your body’s appearance, strength,and flexibility, but it was mostly certainly diminished food intake that led to your weight loss. Exercise alone simply doesn’t cause weight loss.

Pease don’t demonize the word “chemical!”. While you may not be ingesting pain relievers or caffeine or sleep aids, you are ingesting chemicals with every breath you take and every piece of food you eat.

Dating and busy-ness may not be excuses to avoid exercise but injuries certainly are unless you want more severe injuries.

The benefits of moderate alcohol (wine, really) consumption far outweigh those of green tea. Of course, I may be biased in that I find green tea utterly disgusting!

Dr. Oz belongs more to the realm of publicity than anything else.

19 Debbie January 12, 2013 at 08:32

JD:

I also had braces as an adult and have two suggestions:

Get an battery operated tooth brush–I used Phillips Sonicare from Costco–braces are tough to clean and it was a great relief for me to use this brush when I was tired at night. The heads (expensive) did wear out much faster but it was worth the cost.

Second, wear your retainers FOREVER. The tooth ligaments have a long memory…

And have fun with it–you’ll feel like a teenager again!

Debbie

20 Diane C January 12, 2013 at 22:01

Oh, I so second this. I wore my retainers for 20 years after having braces as an adult. I had to get a couple of crowns two years ago and never had my retainers adjusted. Result/ $800 bucks for a new set of retainers. The good news is that my new ones are much cooler – I went for the glow-in-the-dark option. Now, if I can see them, I drag my ass out of bed and put them in.
Buy the Sonicare toothbrush Debbie recommends and the new Sonicare Air Floss. Also, get the giant pack of G*U*M Soft-Picks and stash them everywhere. Nothing works better for getting stuck food out of your braces when you can’t get to your toothbrush. I found the best prices at Costco. Compared to what you’re paying for orthodontia, the costs are minimal and the payoff maximal.

21 Kim Hawkins January 12, 2013 at 10:45

The biggest reason to go on a fasting/cleansing regimen, is to reset the mind and taste buds to plainer food.

I highly recommend “The Pleasure Trap” by Doug Lisle. He explains why almost all of us have trouble maintaining a healthy weight in this culture. I also recommend “The End of Overeating” by former Surgeon General David Kessler.

22 Naomi January 13, 2013 at 10:30

It’s funny, my experience with losing weight has been the opposite. For me 80% is diet, 20% is exercise. I went to the gym every single day, hired a personal trainer, and my body fat positively would not budge without a change in my diet. The biggest change happened when I eliminated alcohol. This year, I’m eliminating refined sugar.

For me it is easier to eliminate something rather than reduce it. It takes the decision-making out of the equation. As I’m standing outside Cupcake Jones as my friend is inside, it is easy to say, nope, I’m not getting a cupcake. Before, when my goal was to reduce sugar, it was easier to say, OK, this one cupcake won’t hurt. But those “one off” cupcakes added up quickly. Same thing with wine, beer, and cocktails. None is easier than some.

23 Felicity Fields | Online Marketing Coach January 13, 2013 at 10:44

When I started my own business a couple of years ago, one of the things I was really excited about was having the flexibility to exercise on my schedule. As it turns out, half the “challenge” of staying fit while working in an office job was fitting in the exercise around a strict routine. Oops! ;)

So now, my treadmill desk is back out of storage, and I’m walking on it at least 4 hours a day while working. Soon, I may even go back to the elliptical machine at the gym. :)

24 Matt Henderson January 13, 2013 at 11:08

Hi JD,

After reading Gary Taubes, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and his easier-to-follow “Why we get fat”, our family has been on the Paleo diet for 2.5 years.

http://www.thisux.com/2011/10/01/a-personal-experience-with-the-paleo-diet/

My wife recently had a blood analysis done, and the results were so good that the doctor called her in to talk about it. In particular, she wanted to know about her diet. When my wife said we eat something called, “Paleo” (not very well known here in Spain), the doctor responded that she and her husband (another doctor) are also paleo (and acknowledged that it’s a pity the information about low-carb diets isn’t more wide-spread yet here.)

Matt

25 stellamarina January 13, 2013 at 14:38

I do not know why everybody is giving Dr. Oz such a bad rap. I cannot but help think that they have never really listened to his advise or know anything about Dr Oz’s background experience. Wish you well JD in your new year goals.

26 Tyler Karaszewski January 13, 2013 at 21:28

Go read the “controversy” section on his Wikipedia article if you’re actually interested.

27 stellamarina January 14, 2013 at 12:25

mmmmm…..just had a look at the Wikipedia section you recommended. Actually now I understand now why he, as a heart surgeon, is so interested in alternative therapy….because he has seen it work from his wife’s work. I think the fact that he is willing to check out all sides of the story is very good. I find some stuff just too new age and airy-fairy for me but I do know that some alternatives do work. ( I was a nurse many years ago) The mind-body connection is a big part of health.

28 Olga King January 14, 2013 at 10:42

To re-set the taste buds I would recommend Whole30 plan. My sugar-addicted husband (pancakes, cereal, PBJ and pasta kind of guy) is finding it extremely hard – yet fascinating. Way to go on no drugs though! I don’t take stuff, but melatonin is my friend a couple times every week, so I can get at least 6 hrs of sleep (if lucky). Awesome to hear you re-committing to exercise! Any kind is a good kind, as long as you give it effort and are consistent. Limiting alcohol in the future – and salt from now on – should be good for body composition AND health.

29 Kathi January 14, 2013 at 12:58

Does anyone have experience with the “set-point” theory as it relates to keeping weight off? Supposedly if you can stay the same weight for 6-12 months, your body “sets” to this weight and it is easier to maintain after that…

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