Update Oct 14, 2018: I lost another ten pounds, and update the title. It formerly read: How I lost 20lbs in under two months.
Update Sept 2019, a year later, I’ve maintained the target weight. I continue to be mindful on diet, and frequently use portion control boxes. I’ve been alcohol-free for a year, that helped too. CrossFit aprox 4–5X a week.
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I usually write about tech and business, this is a far departure from my usual topics. Yet a few folks have asked me to document, so others can benefit on the method I used to safely lose weight. First, I want to be clear I’m neither a nutritionist, dietician nor wellness professional, I’m only sharing what worked for me. Just as different fitness routines are appropriate for each person, I finally found the method is effective for me. I’m not an athlete, I don’t have a six-pack, I’m a busy parent, husband, colleague, business traveler and entrepreneur — I know how hard it is to balance everything.
In addition to frequent fitness: 1 eat clean, 2 mostly vegetables, and 3 not too much. Duh.
Seems simple right? Then why do I, (and millions of people) struggle to keep fat off so they can have a healthier life? Apparently, it’s not that easy.
Background: Despite doing extensive fitness (CrossFit 3–4X a week) I wasn’t getting rid of fat fast enough, I had a junky diet that consistent of rich food, lots of restaurant food and enjoy adult beverages. I had completed a series of Dexafit body scans, and while I was seeing muscle increase, and fat decrease, I was still holding a large spare tire around the midline.
In August 2018, I was preparing for a life insurance physical, and then decided to clean up my diet. For those that know my personally, when I commit to something deeply, I’ll go all in, 100%, much to the annoyance of those around me, heh.
First of all, to be clear, I’ve been doing consistent fitness for a few years. Crossfit is a fantastic high intensity interval training, with a wide variety of fitness modalities from stretching, balance, cardio, olympic lifting, gymnastics, plyometrics (jumping), body weight movements, and more. I’m literally in the best fitness shape of my life, and completed the Spartan Trifecta in 2017. But it’s not enough, as my friend Andrew Todhunter told me: “You can’t out-fitness a bad diet.”
Inspiration: I look at many Instagram “Meal prep” channels, Paleo accounts, and have seen how some of my CrossFit coaches (who have six-packs on their front — and back — I kid you not) eat. Some of them, who go to the Crossfit games, do meal-prep on Sunday, preparing for the entire week. I took a nod from that.
Part One: Eat Clean.
I adopted a Paleo diet. Mostly fresh, whole foods. I’ve had very little preservatives, mostly fresh meat (for me mostly wild fish or eggs). Vegetables are cooked in olive oil (lightly sprayed) on a pan, grilled or steamed — never fried. No starchy vegetables like potatoes. No legumes. No sugars, which means I cut out most breads, fruit, sweets and alcohol. During the start, I made the mistake of no carbs, which will make you crash during athletic workouts. Before a workout, I’ll intake a portion of carbs, but on a normal day, I’ll have a single piece of toast in the morning. Regarding no sugar, that also means no alcohol (I drank valerian tea as a subsitute), which was difficult, and even more trying in business situations. Not only does alcohol have empty carbs, it reduces self-control which results in making bad decisions at 10pm in front of the pantry. I did drink while in Europe, but gained no weight as we were eating correct portions, not-over-indulging, and walked a great deal. I eat about 5 times a day: 3 large meals and 2 snacks, then a whey protein shake before bed, and also after a heavy workout. I drank a lot of tea, and got a wide variety of exotic flavors, including some night-time teas with sleep-inducing valerian root which was my substitute for alcohol.
Here’s a typical daily diet:
- Breakfast: 2–3 eggs, with vegetables. Often a side salad, one single piece of toast, or oatmeal.
- Morning snack: Greek yogurt (nothing added) and I add almonds.
- Lunch: Pre-made, portion control box. If at a business meeting, a salad, fish entree.
- Afternoon snack: Greek yogurt (nothing added) and I add almonds
- Dinner: Pre-made, portion control box. If at a business meeting, a salad, fish entree.
- Nightcap: Whey protein shake, which not only makes you feel full, it’s low fat, helps your body recover during evening, and milk makes you sleepy.
- A variety of teas all day. I love David’s Tea and have a wide range of exotic flavors.
- Daily vitamins.
Part Two: Eat mostly Vegetables
Many nutritionists advise half your plate be fruits and vegetables, but for me, fruit is out, due to the high sugar content. So half (or more) of my meals are vegetables during the weight cutting period. Nothing fried. Often grilled, cooked on a pan with light olive oil, or steamed. Perhaps I’d add some seasoning or hot sauce. Overtime, you get to appreciate the taste of each individual vegetable, buy organic. Legumes and tofu are out. So most often I’d eat leafy greens, tomatoes, squashes, onions, bell peppers, sweet peppers, and a few spicy peppers.
Part Three: Don’t each too much.
Did you know, it takes our stomachs about 20 minutes to indicate to our brains that our stomach is full? Imagine if you were filling up a car with petrol and it took 20 minutes for you to realize the tank was full? You’d have gasoline spilled everywhere and a bloated bill on your credit card. No, we have auto-stops at the pump, so we don’t cause damage. We need to do the same when we’re eating. So how do we stop eating and avoid the seconds? Portion Control. The best way to do this is to pre-plan your meal into portion control boxes. Overtime, my stomach will actually lost elasticity and shrank, and I naturally eat less — no stomach staple surgery was needed.
I also saved time and money. I was cooking meals, which would last me for 3–4 days in a row. I was able to get some meal prep down to 30 minutes, as I now know what to buy, prepare and cook. I often buy pre-cut vegetables at Whole Foods, but while it costs me more, it saved me time during a weekday. Throw the vegetables into a steamer and come back in 10 minutes. Since 50% of your meals are vegetables you can save significant money, buy buying fresh, cutting up, and preparing.
For me, I proportioned the boxes as full meals. 50% or more are vegetables, including some spicy or sweet peppers for flavors. 25% clean protein, and then the last 25% for likely some carbs, more vegatables and perhaps some nuts.
Here’s a link to the portion control boxes I got on Amazon. Get glass. Please note, liquids can spill in between the individual cells when the lid is sealed on, keep upright at all times. The top opening with the included cutlery is super helpful.
You may be unimpressed, and I don’t blame you.
By now, you’re probally slapping your forehead, this dude Jeremiah hasn’t told me anything I don’t already know. I’m sure someone has told you everything so far, there’s no secrets here, but putting them consistently into action is difficult. This is where it’s key to do food prep in advance. If you correctly proportion your healthy meals, you won’t be tempted to “eat outside of the box”. This is the key method, preplan, prepare, be intentional, see the results.
In addition to frequent fitness, eat clean, mostly vegetables, and not too much. Duh.
I’m down 20lbs of fat (update: Oct 14, 30lbs down). Lost a few fat percent points, dropped two pant sizes, and a shirt size. The large beer belly I had for years is mostly gone, there’s still a bit left, but I’m content. I love waking up each morning during this weight loss period, I skip to the scale and enjoy seeing seeing weight drop.
The story is incomplete. I’ve not shifted to maintenance mode. Ill come back and update this post, later.
Wishing you all your very best in fitness, nutrition and wellness, I hope my story is inspirational for you to find what’s right for you.
Update: May 11, 2019. Seven months later, my weight is still at a healthy BMI. I’ve changed my lifestyle: Clean eating, 12–13 hours of fasting, moderate sized portions of clean food, no alcohol (the cravings ceased). In the morning, I wait for body to get into Ketosis for an hour or two, I drink black coffee and water. Eat a large healthy breakfast, mid-morning snack of yogurt and nuts, a normal lunch. Dinner is when I reduce intake, smaller meal. Stop eating after that meal at about 630pm, aside from relaxing teas for the evening. May have a before bed protein shake if we lifted heavy at Crossfit. Maintaining CrossFit (it really is a near-balanced workout) fitness 3–5 times a week.