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Reply To: Has Matt himself gotten results?

Blog Forums Raising Metabolism Has Matt himself gotten results? Reply To: Has Matt himself gotten results?

#15539
David
Moderator

I haven’t followed the forums much in the last couple months, but I checked in today and noticed I’d been mentioned in this thread’s OP (as well as in a later post). I’d been thinking of writing an update anyway, so here I am.

First off, Amy left a very useful comment about halfway through the thread, with a moderate view that is well worth listening to. I agree completely we all need to monitor our own bodies to gauge our true needs. There is no set of rules that can replace being in tune with one’s own body. I’m going to share my own experience, but I don’t have any expectation that what works for me is going to work for everybody.

For me, exercise has been the most important factor. I probably sound like a broken record to anyone who’s read my earlier posts, but a combination of resistance training and cardio, performed religiously, has been essential for beating my chronic illness. It would be no exaggeration to say I’m not the same person I was last year. I have more energy to do the things I want to do; I have less pain; my digestion is improving. I don’t know why my health declined so precipitously in my early 20s, but I’ve learned that I can restore it with hard work. Right now, that means 90 minutes in the gym every day. I started at maybe 20 minutes, and I just felt better as I built my physical capacity. It seem 90 minutes a day is the sweet spot for me, as a long-term approach to keeping chronic illness at bay.

With regards to diet, the most important message available at 180 is not to be afraid of eating. Every few years, there seems to be a new fad demonizing some perfectly normal food, whether it be whole groups like fat or carbohydrates, or smaller categories like sugar, saturated fat, PUFAs, starch, etc., etc., etc. I played this game for a long time (up until last fall), because I was certain there was some ideal diet that would fix all my problems. But there wasn’t. All I ended up doing was distracting myself from what I really needed to do, which was to bust my ass in the gym and get fit.

Diet does matter, however. Here are a few things I still try to do:

1) Find a caloric intake that is easy to maintain and promotes gradual weight loss–and stick with it.
2) Plan my meals ahead of time and eat them at a regular time.
3) Eat to nourish my body, not to alleviate boredom or to lift my mood.
4) Eat what I like. Don’t eat what I don’t like.
5) Don’t skimp on the protein.
6) Balance my fats and carbs as desired. Both provide energy, but (in my opinion) fats are better for energy when I’m sedentary (like when reading); carbs are better for exercise.

I can eat all the ?junk food” I want as long as I keep to reasonable portions and make sure I meet my nutrient needs. I drink a can or two of Dr. Pepper every day. I drink beer. I eat spaghetti, pizza, brownies, potato chips, steak, and white rice. However, I don’t overeat, and I also eat typical health foods like cottage cheese, chicken breast, celery, peas, and milk, in order to make sure I hit my basic nutritional requirements, especially for protein and calcium.

This plan has been working for my weight too. At my biggest last spring I was at a BMI of about 32 (just into the obese category); I got down to about 31 by the end of the summer, down to 29 by December, and now on the first day of March I’m at 26.5. Translated into pounds, that’s a total weight loss of just over 35 pounds, with almost half of it coming off in the last three months, when my diet and exercise program have finally become optimized. I’m also significantly stronger at a BMI of 26.5 than I was at 32. With the muscle I’ve built, I must have lost even more than 35 pounds of fat.

I still have a bit to lose before I find my ideal physique, but the final goal is coming into sight. My old clothes are starting to fit again and my ?fat clothes? are becoming loose. At the same time (and far more importantly) my chronic health problems are diminishing and I have hope that, within another few months or maybe a year, I may not have any health problems at all–and that’s after ten years in which life was hardly worth living because of the pain and fatigue.

For me, it’s not about whether I avoid sugar or starch; whether I count my SFAs, PUFAs, or HFCS, or any other acronym you could name. What matters is keeping a reasonable calorie ceiling, eating what tastes good to me and fulfills my basic needs, and increasing physical conditioning through regular exercise.

In a nutshell, I learned a lot of important lessons at 180, but ultimately I had to adapt my plan to what worked for me. I believe flexibility and independence are important for anyone trying to rebuild their health in a way that can be continued long enough to be worthwhile.