Monday, February 24, 2014

How I Killed Fatty McFatty

     I was too fat to play keeper anymore during the pick up soccer matches at our local soccer complex. So I quit. I didn't want to quit playing soccer, just playing keeper. So at the beginning of the summer of 2013 I showed up at the fields and stepped onto the pitch without my gloves, or other keeper gear, and took my new position as a forward. I jogged down the field to get warmed up. I had to stop before I got to the end line because I was out of breath and my chest burned. This might not end well, I thought. The match started and I made two runs down the field and I had to sit on the sidelines to catch my breath. I finished the match somewhat but came hobbling home. I could barely move my legs and my back hurt. I was breathing heavily again at the top of my single flight of stairs heading up to my apartment. 

   I got home that night and knew I had a decision to make. Either I would need to give up the sport that I loved or I would need to get back into shape. I couldn't bear the thought of only getting to watch soccer for the rest of my life.  I was in bad shape. I hadn't taken my shirt off in public since 1991. It was a chore to tie my own shoes. I had to use my arms to lower myself into the seat of my car. I could use my stomach to hold my plate while I watched tv. It was easier than trying to reach the TV tray.

     I had heard Rush Limbaugh mention more than once that the biggest factor in losing weight was simply caloric intake. So I decided that I would begin to investigate this claim. I read dozens of articles online and in health magazines and the underlying message was the greatest facilitator of weight loss was the simple formula of burning more calories than one eats each day. 

     I love eating. I love eating just for the taste. For me, hunger has no relation to eating. "I'm not hungry for a donut" has no meaning for me whatsoever.  This didn't change when I decided to burn more calories than I ate. I also discovered that I used eating as a coping mechanism. When things didn't go right during the day, I would turn to a Carmel Roll or a cheeseburger. Or a Taco Burger, or a donut. Or several donuts. You get the picture.

     Here is what I did to begin my quest to lose weight and play soccer successfully again. 

     I searched out a dozen calorie calculators online and entered all my information. I specified that I wanted to maintain my current weight and that I led a seditary lifestyle. I felt this would give me the best base calory count off which I could work. I took the answers to ten of those results and averaged them. This gave me the basis for how many calories I needed to eat each day. The formula then includes subtracting 500 calories a day from that calorie base for every pound you want to lose each week. 1 pound a week is reasonable. 2 pounds a week is probably close to the max. I set my self to lose 2 pounds a week. This meant I needed to consume 1,000 calories a day less than what I had determined was the amount of calories I needed to maintain my current weight. Granted, as you lose weight and eat less and exercise more, these amounts change and their effects differ but this was a good place to begin. Of course, counting calories is hard. If you are eating out of a box, it is easier, but eating out of a box is part of the problem.  So determining how many calories is in tephe awesome meal your wife cooked for you for supper is not an easy task. Keeping track of this day in and day out is even more difficult. If you do not keep track, you will fail. So I turned to technology. For me, I love using apps on my iPhone and iPad. Love it! I found several good apps for keeping track of what I was eating each day. They let me set goals and helped me keep them. They even had mechanisms for searching for foods and then providing the calories and other nutritional information for me to save into the app. The best part was that they keep a record of what I have entered so the next time I ate the same item, I didn't need to search for it again. I started with one app and then after several months I switched to another. There are many options and features to suit your needs. Most have a website version to use if you do not use a smart phone or tablet. It helped me succeed immensely.

     Next, I determined to essentially eliminate sugar from my diet and reduce my carbs. I did this a number of ways. I stopped drinking all pop, juices, or any other beverages that were not water or milk. Now I am not saying not drinking juice was the best plan, it is just what I did. Eventually I began to drink a can of zero calorie pops either at lunch or at supper. It might not be the ideal plan but it helped me refrain from drinking the really bad stuff. I also purchased sugar free chocolates and cookies to satisfy my need to finish a meal with something sweet. Keep in mind, I drank pop nearly exclusively for decades. Sweets were also an entire section on my food pyramid. It replaced vegetables, I think. What I am saying is this was a gigantic departure for me in my daily diet. It was a shock to my system. It was not easy to do. But it needed to be done. Moderation in this regard would have been equal to failure. I also switched to a low calories whole wheat bread. The cost is comparable and the taste and texture are really good. I didn't miss out on my breads at all and cut my caloric intake in half. Along with my diet modification, I always ate breakfast, I always ate lunch at a near specific time and I never ate after supper. Not even a snack.  This was the most difficult thing for me. Eating was a past time. But nothing good comes from the calories you take in after about 8 pm. So I stopped that all together. 

     To replace all that pop, I began drinking water exclusively (save for the milk I had with my cereal in the mornings).  I increased my water intake to half of my body weight in ounces daily. This was difficult. I weighed a lot. That was a lot of water. I tried adding no sugar flavorings to the water to make it more palatable. But what I discovered was always maintaining a supply of ice cold water did the trick. As long as it was cold, it was refreshing and I didn't need the flavors to help me drink enough. I purchased an insulated water bottle for my work, for my home and to take with me when I played soccer. This way there was always cold water within reach. If it was available, I found I would drink it. Thankfully, where I live, the water out of the tap is virtually ice cold. It is a little less so in the summer but it is still cold. Regardless, I used two bottles that I would refill and place in the freezer so I would always have cold water available. 

     And I played soccer. I had been playing just once a week because that's what my schedule allowed and that was all my body could handle. A few weeks after beginning my lifestyle change, I went to a chiropractor to get a back issue dealt with and I mentioned to her that was was playing once a week and I wondered if that exacerbated my back problem. She responded to the contrary. She encouraged me to play more if possible. The main reason was it would help build up strength in my back and would not hurt it but actually help remedy it. Of course, increased playing time during the week would burn tons of calories as well.  I rearranged my schedule and began playing 3 times a week. It was really painful in the beginning. But the passion I had for the sport helped me push through it. 

     The final thing I did was to begin to sleep 8-9 hours a day.  This was difficult as well. It meant I needed to get to bed at a certain time no matter what. It also meant I needed to adjust that time as I discovered the need to get up earlier in order to facilitate positive changes in my activities during the day, such as morning exercises and other things to get my mind and body going strong earlier in the day.  Sleeping at least 8 hours a day is extremely beneficial to your health. One side benefit to my weight loss was the fact that your body actually burns fat while you sleep. Well, I should clarify, it burns calories while you sleep. If you just had a huge meal or a snack just before bed, then it will burn those calories, however, if you have refrained from eating after supper and you go to bed on an empty stomach, your body will still burn calories, but it will be your fat instead of the food you just ate. If I can burn fat while I sleep, I am all for it! That kept me motivated to fight the cravings to eat in the evening.

     Last night I scored my first goal in our indoor season. It wasn't pretty (I used my knee) but hey, a goal's a goal.  I also stepped back into goal and made a few saves and didn't give up any goals. I didn't limp at all after the match. I bounded up the stairs to my apartment and didn't even have to take an extra breath. I have lost 46 pounds, a fifth of my previous body weight, and my back no longer is an issue. 

     Your lifestyle change might entail slightly different modifications. You need to find what works for your body, but this is how I did it and if I can do it anybody can.  I am not finished yet. The winter has been a struggle with the limited opportunities for playing soccer but I do not plan to go back to my previous lifestyle. This was truly a lifestyle change, not a diet. I hope something of what I have done will work for you. And I would love to hear about it and also hear what has worked for you. Maybe it will help me get to the next level.


  1. Nyk,
    I am glad to here of your weight loss journey brother. I started a diet and exercise route the Monday after Thanksgiving 2012. From then until June 2013, I lost about 65 lbs by watching my calories and sugar intake and doing at least 30 minutes of cardio and strength training (mostly running,walking, push ups, and sit ups) at least 5 days a week. Before my weight loss, I was pre diabetic, suffered from acid reflux, and sleep apnea. all of that was over by about 5 months in. In June I moved back to Indiana to a new church. Since then unfortunately , I have put back on 50 lbs and am suffering once again from all my old ailments. I have very recently committed to getting back with it and I am very encouraged to read of your progress. Keep it up and please keep me in your prayers!

  2. Cam,

    Well the good news is, you didn't gain it ALL back! So you are starting ahead of where you were before. The key it seems is turning that diet into a lifestyle. Hopefully then it won't come back. This time think of it as a new way of living rather than a diet to lose weight. Let me know how it goes. Praying for you certainly!


  3. So start to lessen the days you have it and also start to lessen the amounts. By weening off, before you know it, you won't even miss it anymore. How to lose side belly fat