Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

I guess that phrase has been around for a while, but I heard it the other day for the first time — read it in my friend Amanda’s status update — and I really like it, because that about sums it up.

Maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe you think you need that cinnamon roll or that slice of birthday cake or that bowl of ice cream. Maybe those do taste better to you than skinny feels.

Maybe that is because you’ve forgotten how skinny feels.

I was skinny when I was in my 20s. I mean really skinny, like 110 pounds lighter than I was when my fatness peaked in my 40s.

But I’d forgotten how skinny feels.

As I gradually built up my fat stores over the years, I simply accepted my weight gain as an inevitable part of getting older. Thinness is a thing of youth, I thought. As we get older, we automatically gain fat. Look around? All old guys are fat, right?

That is true to some extent — I am having a helluva time trying to lose these last pounds around the middle — but the first 60 lbs sure as hell came off, and stayed off . While I am much more active now than fat Steve was, the vast majority of my success in fat loss is directly attributable to my change in dietary habits.

75% to 80% of our body composition is based upon what we put into it, so, we are, indeed, what we eat. Not literally, though. That is the mistake in logic that’s been destroying Americans for 40 years. “Accumulated body fat causes all kinds of health problems,” we are told, “so we need to stop eating fat.”

The problem with that seemingly logical statement is that it’s simply not true. The science never supported it. Officials jumped to the “dietary fat is bad” conclusion, and then, when the studies didn’t support it, they were too embarrassed to ‘fess up. So they stuck to their guns, and now the American people are overweight and diseased.

Fat consumption does not lead to higher levels of stored fat. It does not raise blood cholesterol or triglycerides.

The science has shown over and over that it’s the sugars we consume that are much more likely to be stored as fat, which, in turn, raises our blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

(Don’t take my word for it. It’s all right here in science reporter Gary Taubes’s book Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It.)

So what was the primary change I made to my diet to lose and keep 60 pounds off? I got off the sugar. If something was created to be sweet, I don’t eat it. Period. No ice cream, no cupcakes, no Cinnabons.

And now, while I am not technically “skinny”, I do know how it feels to be thin again. I no longer need those blood pressure meds I was prescribed. I no longer need that cholesterol med I was prescribed. I no longer feel aches and pains that I was pretty sure shouldn’t be there. And I never want to go back to what I was.

Did I love that ice cream, those cupcakes, those Cinnabons? Yes. Do I miss them? No.

You know why? Because nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

Day 30 of my High Fat Diet and more about Yoga!

Here I am in day 30 of my high-fat diet, and I was just telling my friend yesterday how I feel that my body is undergoing some kind of positive transformation. I feel leaner and more energetic. I feel as if I am getting stronger.

It’s not as if this is a change that is overwhelmingly better than any of my previous changes, but it’s something, which is better than nothing, which is what I had before. I was stuck. That’s why I kept changing things up until I found something that felt as if it was getting me out of my fitness rut.

But it’s not only about the diet. In addition to eating high fat — 2000 to 2400 calories with targets of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs — I had also been doing yoga, and only yoga, for 24 days (with a few days off in there).

I broke the streak on Monday with a round of Insanity Pure Cardio — and, yeah, my glutes were sore the last couple days — but I am sticking with yoga as my primary workout. I’ll do another aerobic workout on Friday, then increase aerobics to 3 times a week starting next week, in addition to my yoga.

I had not meant to be so much into yoga for so long. I meant only to use it as a transition workout after I tweaked my back, but the way I feel makes me want to stick with it for a bit longer.

You may or may not recall, depending on how often you read this blog, that I was introduced to yoga through Tony Horton’s P90X. Tony is not a yoga master — he’s just a guy who likes to stay fit and enjoys a yoga workout from time to time. Because he was my gateway to yoga, I really didn’t know much more from a practical standpoint than what he covered during his workouts.

But I knew if I wanted to advance in yoga, I’d need to find a better teacher than Tony. On Amazon, where I buy almost everything, I found Rodney Yee.

Rodney Yee has a ton of yoga DVDs, but I bought one called Ultimate Power Yoga just to check it out. That DVD has five 15- to 20-minute workouts on it, each with a different focus. And my world opened up.

Let me backtrack a bit.

When I saw yoga was part of P90X, I was intrigued, because I had always thought yoga was a good all-around fitness program, but I had never gotten around to trying it out. It was always so much easier to run or lift weights or do something else I understood better. Yoga, after all, is kinda weird for us euro-americans. You have to learn a bunch of poses. You have to stay still in those poses for what seems like a long time. There is a lot of balancing. It all seemed a bit much.

But Yoga X showed me that once I learned the poses and understood a bit about the rhythm and flow of a yoga workout (I know the yoga people call them “practices”, but I’m sticking with “workout” for now), it was really quite enjoyable, and I always felt great afterward.

So I bought Tony Horton’s two One on One yoga DVDs. I used them extensively, and it was exciting when I could finally do them both all the way through! (Yoga is not easy — it’s definitely a workout.)

As I added more and more yoga days into my program, I felt that I needed to get some new DVDs to keep from getting bored. Enter Rodney Yee.

I now have more than 20 yoga DVDs by Rodney Yee and others. I haven’t tried the workouts from others yet, because I really do enjoy Rodney’s workouts, but I’m sure I’ll give them a go sometime in the future.

So, let me see, I guess I got off on a love song to yoga, so what is the point of this post?

1) High Fat Diet – After 30 days, it really seems to be working for me. As someone whose blood-sugar continually flirts with “too high”, I suppose that makes sense. After another month or two on this diet, I’ll see about getting my blood tested and judge it from there. If I am judging solely based on how I feel, though, I give it thumbs up at the 30-day mark.

2) Yoga – I love it. Perhaps you’ll love it too. (Thus ends my song.)

My high fat diet PLUS yoga PLUS allergies

I am in day 20 of my high fat diet, which aims for 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs.

My body seems to have adapted to the lack of carbs, so I am not feeling as run down, although I’ve been doing only yoga the past 10 days. I switched from Insanity to yoga because I tweaked my back, but I liked the yoga so much, and my back was feeling so good, that I decided to stick with yoga for a few weeks. I haven’t done that before and have been wanting to give it a shot, so now’s a good a time as any, right?

I’ve always liked yoga, and I am really thankful that  Tony Horton got me into it during P90X. It seems like a great way to stay in shape, although I do feel the need to add some cardio. I will do that once I feel my back is in really good shape. Honestly, my back hasn’t felt this great in years, so I don’t want to do anything to mess it up.

As for the high fat diet, I am again feeling like it’s a mixed bag of pluses and minuses.

First of all, I continue to struggle to stay under 2000 calories, which was not a problem on my high-protein diet. For some reason, when eating high fat, I end up in the 2200 to 2400 calorie area almost every day.

Not that there’s anything too wrong with that. I burn enough to still be able to see negative net calories on that regimen, but I’d always read that fat is far more filling and satisfying than carbs and protein, and I am just not finding that to be the case.

Also, I am feeling some of those same episodes of “hitting the wall” after a high-fat meal. I had previously attributed that phenomenon to too much carbohydrate, but now I wonder what the real cause is.

For example, as I write this, I feel somewhat sleepy. Well, I had a good 7.5 hours of sleep last night, and it’s still morning. However, about a half-hour ago I had a heavy cream latte that had about 20 grams of fat in it. So, yes, I wonder what is causing the sleepiness.

Honestly, it could be allergies. While my mountain cedar sensitivity is severely diminished during this period of no-grain eating, it’s been raining a lot here, and mold still seems to have a pretty strong negative effect on my body.

Aside from all that, I feel great. My energy level is fine, my strength is great, and I haven’t had any problem sticking to the diet. When I go out to eat, I usually have a salad with some protein in it, which is usually what I had to eat when I dined out before anyway.

Today’s Super Bowl party at a friend’s house may prove challenging — not sure what to expect for food there — but I can always eat nothing, and maybe that will keep me under 2000 calories for at least one day.

High fat diet – Day 8

It’s day 8 of my high-fat diet, which consists of 70% of calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 10% from carbs. See more here at my original post on the subject.

How do I feel?

Hmmmmmm…. Mixed bag.

I feel great in that my allergies are not bothering me at all right now, at a time when they should really be flaring up along with everyone else’s, with the mountain cedar hitting San Antonio quite forcefully. I attribute my allergy resistance to the lack of grains in this current eating plan, because I noticed this same phenomenon during my 6-month hiatus from grains back in 2010.

However, while the allergies are held at bay — and that is great, lemme tell ya — I do feel a bit run down.

According to the experts I trust on the subject, this is a normal reaction as my body adjusts from running on carbs to running on fat. The adjustment period lasts around two weeks.

It’s this adjustment period that has always foiled me in the past when I tried to eat low-carb.

However, the difference this time is that I am also eating low (but enough) protein and focusing on getting enough fat for fuel. I have to say, I feel so much better on low-carb this time than I have in the past. I am not even tempted to give up yet, and, in fact, I’m very interested to see what will happen with my body after the transition.

Experiments like this are fun for me! Everyone’s body is different. Some people can handle a lot of carbs. I’m not one of those people, so I’ve been trying to eat low-carb for years, but it never worked out for me. This time it may.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Now I gotta go do Pure Cardio and Cardio Abs.


I’m giving high-fat eating a shot

I started a high fat diet on Tuesday.

High fat, of course, implies low-carb, and I’ve always been intrigued by the low carb lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle, not a diet, because once you go low carb, you gotta stay low carb.

Well, to be fair, low-carb is not necessarily a lifestyle, per se. There are plenty of people who cycle low-carbs with high carbs or do intermittent keto runs, like my friend Rob Gioia. But my body does not respond well to that.

Let me explain why high-fat / low-carb is a lifestyle for me.

The primary benefit of low carb living, if you are trying to lose fat, is that it puts your body into a state of ketosis, which depletes your body’s stored glycogen and forces it to burn fat for fuel.

To get to ketosis, you need to consume 50 grams or less of carbohydrate per day. That’s do-able, but the body takes a good 2 weeks to get accustomed to this new way of eating (which is really just an old way of eating, but you can read the book for the specifics).

All that is fine, but the problem, and the reason low-carb is a lifestyle, is that if, after you are into ketosis, you splurge on carbs just one time, you pretty much reset the clock on the glycogen stores, and it’s a week or two before your body is burning fat again.

Okay, well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

So this new way of eating was brought on by a well-researched book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.

I’ve read Protein Power, which is the definitive book concerning the power of low-carb living and science behind it.

I’ve also read Good Calories Bad Calories, which is the definitive book concerning the politics behind the U.S. goverment’s push for low-fat regimens.

Both of those books are well-researched and include a lot of impressive data. So when one of the authors of Protein Power, Dr. Michael Eades, said that the recently published The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living was the book he wished he’d written, well, of course, I had to buy it.

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living is a quick read compared to those other two, and provides a lot of the science you might want to know about the low-carb lifestyle.

I’ll stop there, because this is not a book review. Read the book.

I’m in day 4 of a high-fat diet because of that book. I also happen to be in week 3 of my Insanity with weekends off program.

According to the authors, it’s not a good idea to engage in high-level fitness activities while transitioning to the high-fat lifestyle, but I ain’t stoppin’ and everything seems to be fine so far. I guess I’m fit enough that Insanity is not that much of a stretch for my body.

Plus, I learned 2 things from that book that I had not picked up from other low-carb books, and those 2 things might be helping me out. Maybe the info was there in the other books, but I missed it.

  1. You gotta add salt. Low-carb diets cause salt to pass out of your body rather quickly, so you must be sure to consume salt. Low salt puts you at risk for all kinds of things, like soreness, fatigue, um, death. You know, bad things. Read the book Salt for more on that.
  2. You gotta add fat. Lots of fat. That’s why I call this a high-fat diet, rather than a low-carb diet. I’m in the 70%-of-my-calories-from-fat range.

When I read concept #1, about the salt, that made a lot of sense to me. If you buy into the paleo theory, which claims that our bodies have not evolved to the point where we can healthily consume all these grains/carbs that we eat, because they are relatively recent additions to our diet — and I do buy into that way of thinking — then the salt thing makes sense.

Doctors tell us not to eat a lot of salt — it’s bad for us. But … but … we like salt. Seems to me that fits with paleo theory. Our ancient ancestors, who survived mostly on fat and protein, needed a lot more salt on their paleo / low-carb diets, than modern humans do on their high-carb diets.

So from paleo days it is natural for us to like salt, but on our modern high-carb diet, salt causes health problems.

So, that clicked with me. Paleo diet = low carb = more salt.

As for #2 above, combining low-carb with high-fat, as opposed to high-protein, eating, wow, that is a no-brainer. I feel like an idiot for not seeing it before, but I am a product of my society. I’ve been told for so long that fat is bad, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that it is not.

Yeah, if you’re going to cut carbs, you have to get energy from somewhere, and fat is the way to go, because the body does not efficiently turn protein into fuel.

So, to the point: I’m in day 4 of a high-fat diet, which is 2000 calories a day, with 70% of calories from fat, 10% from carbs, and 20% from protein. And I feel great!

This lifestyle is not for everyone. My fasting blood-sugar hovers right around 110 (which is the cusp of normal/high), so I’ve always gravitated toward low-carb. I have noticed that I get that “sugar coma” feeling even after consuming only 20 carbs at a meal, and … I really don’t like that feeling, even though it passes fairly quickly.

So I thought I’d give this high-fat thing a try for at least 3 months. So far, so good, but it’s early. I’ll keep you posted.