How I lost 60 pounds of fat and lived to tell the tale.
June 7, 2011
I’d like to start by writing that I’m not in the habit of writing long, winding, fragmented posts, and this one will be long, but still to the point, and it will end with a workout routine that is beneficial to anyone who wants to get in shape no matter what your personal beliefs are and what you choose to eat. However, if you want to shed the most fat in the shortest time and you are at a hight body fat percentage, or even can’t figure out how to lose that last five pounds of fat, this will do it. And, no, it doesn’t have anything to do with yoga, because yoga is not exercise, but yoga will enrich this undertaking just as it has mine.
The Rules: No sugar, no white bread, no juices unless watered down significantly, no soda, no sweetened iced teas, no pasta, no white rice, and small, dense meals that contained a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and grains or vegetables. I’m not a person with a large frame, and even though there are and have been fatter people than I was, I definitely reached critical mass. I looked and felt like a swollen pickle. I went from a 210 pound fat guy to a 150 pound stick in no time. I was losing weight so fast people couldn’t keep up with recognizing me each time they saw me. I did it by exercising intensely in my home and keeping to a strict diet, and it had nothing to do with yoga. Well, almost, except for the fact that coincidentally I discovered yoga at the time that I decided to get in shape the real way, by putting my muscles under great stress and burning calories. I practiced yoga every morning soon after the sun rose, but only for under 30 minutes, which was enough. I wasn’t interested in hanging around and lollygagging, and that meant with my diet, with my exercise protocol, and my yoga experience.
If for some reason I didn’t exercise intensely with weights and my own bodyweight but instead just dieted and did yoga, the results wouldn’t be nearly as quick or dramatic. I lost over 25 pounds in the first month, and in the second month I had to buy a new wardrobe.
I ate only three meals a day, of a certain proportional composition, and drank only water or green tea, unsweetened. I would lift weights at least three times a week in my apartment and work intensely (little or no rest between sets). These simple rules put my body into a fat burning state in which I was burning more calories than I was taking in, and the fat I had stored all over my body was being used as fuel for my workouts. Ironically, I started this because I felt I had no energy. Changing these behavioral aspects actually accessed my fat energy stores and allowed me to break that lethargy barrier. In retrospect, I suspect I was becoming insulin resistant, also called metabolic syndrome, in my overweight and under active state because I felt like I was on the verge of a diabetic coma if I ate any simple carbohydrates as a meal.
To follow what I did exactly, it helps if you are not overly sensitive to caffeine because that allows you to get a sustained alertness and energy boost when you feel you need it, especially if you also suffer from metabolic syndrome. My caffeine intake was limited to the green tea I was drinking, which was subtle to me, and doubles of espresso that worked like magic as soon as I limited my diet and began losing weight. It helped having a home espresso machine, and two shots in the morning and another two in the afternoon did the trick.
The routine: upon waking, the first thing to do was yoga, before eating, even drinking in the morning. This would raise the metabolism and leave me in a very hungry state, ready for breakfast. If on a rare occasion I didn’t break a sweat doing yoga, I would do another 20-30 minute session so that I did.
The meals: this part is easy because it didn’t change. Do you like pizza? Well, if you do, you’re in luck , because this is the pizza diet. There is a pizza place that may be in your area that delivers to your home and you can even order online so they never screw it up. Let’s call it Father Jonathan’s Pizza. I would order the extra-large size because they cut that pie into 12 slices, not 8, so you’re also eating less pizza, which is good. No deep dish or similar crusts, just a regular amount of dough. My special variety of pizza was a veggie pie with cheese, sweet peppers, tomato slices, and black olives. A whole pie would last 4 days since you only ate three slices per day, one per meal(this diet turns out to be economical). But that’s not even close to done. You can’t eat pizza all day. On each slice, I put crushed red pepper(I like spicy foods), something called Hot Pepper Ketchup(to add moistness to the whole affair) and one can of 365 brand Albacore Tuna in spring water and no salt (this is the cheapest highest quality tuna I could find–Bumble Bee and the like are atrocious). That’s it. Slice of pizza, one butter knife’s worth of Hot Pepper Ketchup, crushed red pepper (maybe some dried garlic powder), and one can of high quality tuna. I would have either water or brewed green tea on hand to drink. The meals eventually changed by removing the pizza and switching to wild and brown rice varieties in small quantities to replace the same amount of carbohydrate bulk to balance out the tuna. To prepare the rice I would simply boil one bag for about 50 minutes and it would last me a week. Before eating I would pour a little organic cold-pressed flax oil onto the rice, then crushed red pepper, then a spicy tomato pasta sauce that contained no sugar. Consequently, when I made this change, I was also eating the breakfast meal more as a real breakfast by changing it to two eggs, a 4 oz. cut of wild caught Alaskan salmon, and a piece of whole grain bread with 2% milk fat cottage cheese. If I was hungry between these meals, I’d eat some baby cut carrots, about 5 raw almonds, and a small can of V8 juice.
The fat-burning workout: let’s face it, if you’re serious about getting healthy you have to do the work. If you’re not a wuss, you’ll be able to do this. If you are a wuss, you won’t. Did you hear me? If you try this and decide you can’t do it with that little voice inside your head, then you are a wuss and should probably take a less aggressive and longer route to getting healthy and losing weight. It’s all up to you. Why do I write it like that? Because the things that I do now, five years later, are way more intense and more difficult than this fat burning workout. But if you’re out of shape, it’s what you need and it won’t be easy. These exercises are compound movements. This is your cardio and your anaerobic weight training all at once. It is like putting your body under 2-3 times more
stress than doing one movement focused on one muscle group. This will shred you and sculpt your body like you wouldn’t believe.
Movement 1: Forward Lunge with biceps curl and shoulder shrug.
Grab a pair of dumbbells that you are comfortable with. You will be doing two sets of this exercise. On the second set, I would increase the weight slightly. To start, I grabbed 15-pound dumbbells.
Stand straight up with your feet hip-width apart, looking forward, with the weights hanging at your sides with your arms straight. Lunge forward with your right foot, not too far, and after making contact with the ground, lower into the lunge straight down while curling the weights up toward your chest, ending the motion just above your forward thigh. Reverse the motion of the lunge and the biceps curl until you are back to starting position, then shrug your shoulders with the weight. Repeat all of the above with the left foot lunging forward. Congratulations, you have just performed one rep. Do this 15 times. Breathe, drink water, take a minute or two. This is intense. Then either grab a heavier weight (I used 20-pound dumbbells) or use the same weight and do another set. You’re done with the first exercise.
Movement 2: Shoulder press with triceps extension.
Grab the same dumbbells you started the first set with and stand with your feet hip or shoulder width apart. Lift the weight from your sides into a shoulder press. This is a light weight but you will be doing compound movements and lots of reps, so it will feel difficult later; concentrate on the movement of the weight, don’t rush through it. Immediately at the top of the press, come back down to the tops of your shoulders and position the weights in front of your chest as you bend at the waist only, keeping your back straight. Once your torso is parallel with the ground, extend your hands with the weights behind you by straightening your elbows and contracting your triceps. Bend back up at the waist while positioning the weight back to your shoulders and prepare to repeat the exercise. This is one rep. Do it 15 times. Grab the heavier weight when you’re ready and do another set. Congratulations, you’ve just done the first four sets of the fat-burning workout. The rest is easy, trust me. On all movements, inhale as you prepare for the movement, and exhale as you push the weight through the movement.
Movement 3: Close-grip or shoulder-width chin-ups.
When I was about 210 pounds, I couldn’t even do one chin-up. Remember, this workout was at home, so I had no cable lat-pulldown machines to set at 90 pounds to do these. Instead, I put my 5-foot bar across the top of my stairway so that when I stepped down a few steps the bar was above me and I could grab it and hang on it. I would give myself a slight jump up to assist me with the chin-up, and I would use my weight to come down slowly back to hanging position. I only helped myself enough for my muscles to be able to get my heavy body up there. Do something like this if you have to. If you go to a gym, use the assisted chin-up machine or a cable lat pulldown machine. Do 15 chin-ups and don’t rest in between. Eventually I was able to do 15 on my own, then 20, then 25, and more. Do two sets of 15 chin-ups.
Movement 4: Dumbbell squats.
Grab dumbbells that you can handle holding at your sides while standing, and inhale, drop your hips down behind you while bending at the knees as if you were sitting back into a chair that isn’t there. Exhale while coming back up, keeping the weight at your sides without bending your arms or swinging them forward or back. Do this 15 times. At home, I did this with 40-pound dumbbells to start, then I would put together the weight-adjustable dumbbells with a higher weight. Do what you think you can handle. These days I might try this with 65 to 85 pound dumbbells. Do two sets. Congratulations, you’ve just done 8 sets of the fat-burning workout.
Movement 5: Bench press.
You need a bench and a barbell to do this. Luckily, I had this at home, nothing fancy, and not as heavy-duty as the ones in the gyms. I would do one set with 135 pounds, and another set with 155 pounds. Do however much you think you can do 15 reps of and do it twice. Increase the weight of the second set by 10-20 pounds if you’d like. Congratulations, you’ve just done 10 sets of the fat-burning workout.
Movement 6: Bicycle crunches.
Lie on your back, and do stomach crunches while holding your legs up in front of you and rotating your feet as if you were spinning an imaginary bicycle crankset. Keep your arms up behind your head and rotate your spine slightly with each crunch so you alternate reaching your elbows toward your knees. Do 15 or more crunches, preferably to failure. Do two sets.
Movement 7: The Superman.
I didn’t understand this exercise for a while but did it anyway. I understood eventually that it helps with your posture. Lie on your stomach looking forward with your hands in front of you the same way Superman would fly in the comics and movies. Lift one arm off the ground as well as the opposite leg and hold for five seconds. Then lift the other arm and opposite leg and hold for 5 seconds. Do that 15 times. Do two sets. Congratulations, you just completed the fat-burning workout.
This workout can take anywhere from 40 minutes to one hour. If you’re able to do it quicker, that means you are using lighter weights. Your body will be in delicious pain for at least two days if you did it right. Do yoga on the pain days. Do the workout again on the non-pain days. Watch the fat disappear and the body become a hard, chiseled figure.
I went down to 150 pounds, which I felt was too light for me. Since then, I’ve somehow managed to get back up to 180 pounds and not gain any fat in the process. That means this is not a fad diet, but a lifestyle diet that works in the short run and continues to work in the long run. There it is. You now have the knowledge. Do something with it.