About white carbs

White carbs. You may have heard them mentioned as public enemy #1. I dunno about that, but I’m pretty sure they’re not good for you, if your #1 goal is to lose fat.

White carbs, by my definition (based on reading I’ve done), are processed carbs, like sugar and white flour. I avoid them. I also like to avoid white rice and potatoes.

Why avoid them? The problem with white carbs is that they rather quickly increase your blood sugar, which spikes your insulin, which processes the excess sugar into fat. They can also lead to a host of other problems, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. If you can read the first 100 pages of  Good Calories, Bad Calories and still think you can consume all the white carbs you want, well, I don’t know what to say.

In that book, acclaimed science reporter Gary Taubes makes a strong argument against white carbs. Perhaps the most compelling evidence is the incidence of type 2 diabetes and cancer in native tribes before and after the introduction of white carbs into their diets. Before white carbs, those diseases were virtually non-existent. After the white carbs were introduced to the natives, well, a few years later, guess what? Yeah, you guessed it.

I have been experimenting with white carbs on my own body.

I was completely off white carbs and, in fact, all grains, for about six months. During that time my weight stayed steady. Recently, I purchased some supposedly carb-inhibiting white pasta by Dreamfields. I’ve also been less cautious about how much white bread I’m eating. I am still, however, completely off anything with sugar added, except for some honey or dates put into a protein shake after weight training.

(The reason for carbs with a protein shake after weight training is that an insulin spike after weight training is good. Insulin, in addition to helping to store fat, also helps the body assimilate proteins, so having it in the body along with some protein right after a workout will build muscle more efficiently.)

My waist size has been creeping up. The creep is slight, a mere one-half- to three-quarter-inch so far, but that’s too much. I was at one waist size for about 8 months, and now it’s moving upward. What’s that about? What’s causing it?

Are the white carbs the cause of the added size? I don’t live in a closed environment, so there could be other causes, but the white carbs are my primary suspect.

I will finish off the pasta — I still have a few boxes — continue to observe my waistline, and then go off white carbs again when it’s gone.

Damn white carbs!

P90X tips

Here are some tips based on my experiences while doing P90X.

  1. Be in tune with your body. How do you feel today? Can you really push it? Should you take it easy? Listen to what your body is telling you.
  2. Don’t hurt yourself. This is obvious, but it’s also tough to do. Very often when we start an exercise program, we will tend to overdo it. This is especially true when working out with P90X DVDs. Those guys and gals are in shape, and you might not be, but you’ll still want to try to keep up with them. Fight that urge! Don’t be lazy — you gotta BRING IT — but do not push too far.
  3. Write it down. Tony harps on this during the workouts, but that’s because it’s important. Writing down what weight or band you used and other information will help you know where you’ve been, but also will make your workout much more efficient, because you’ll know which weight or band to use next time you do the same workout.
  4. Work through pain. Well, most pain. Sometimes you really are hurt, but there were several times when I felt injured and would have stopped in the past. Instead I worked through it.  In fact, I’ve had triceps/shoulder pain in my left arm that’s been there for months. I’ve been working through it, and it’s been slowly getting better. I could have stopped working it, but I could feel that this was an injury that could be worked through. See #1 above.
  5. Get enough protein. The P90X diet guide recommends a 50/30/20 protein/carbs/fat calorie distribution. This works for me. You may need to add some protein shakes into your diet to get enough protein. I did. Shakeology is pretty good for after a workout, because it has some carbs, but for general use, I prefer Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Whey in either vanilla or chocolate. I chose that brand because it has no carbs and no artificial sweeters. Vanilla goes best with most of the fruit I mix it with.
  6. Almond milk is great! I have never cared much for cow milk. I think it tastes okay, but it just seems kinda nasty to me. Psychological, I know, but there are alternatives, so I put soy milk on my cereal for many years. Then I discovered almond milk, specifically the no-sugar-added variety. Wow! Delicious! I prefer Blue Diamond. Silk brand is good, but there is no “no sugar added” version available to me, plus I think Blue Diamond’s texture is a little better.
  7. Be smooth when handling dumbbells. Pick them up gently. Put them down when you’re done, then bend and pick them back up to replace them in the rack. Don’t be jerking them around or you could tear something.
  8. You can get a good workout with the bands. If you don’t have a few hundred bucks to spend on dumbbells, get some bands. I found a set of Ironman adjustable dumbbells at Costco for $300. They work great. I have used the resistance bands from Beachbody, too. They also work great.
  9. Commit to the program. The infomercials tell you to “Press play every day.” Do it. My first time through P90X, it was week 9 before I felt comfortable missing a workout. I was dedicated to it, dedicated to getting fit.
  10. Commit to the diet. The vast majority of your body composition is determined by your diet, so leave the junk food alone. You can take a break from the diet plan every so often, but make sure you keep it at only “every so often.” I know from experience, it’s very easy to fall off the wagon. Very easy.

My goal for this year is to lose this waist fat

If you’ve read “about the author” you know that my weight peaked at 235 — pretty huge for a 5’10” guy. I lost 50 pounds by restricting calories and walking and I thought I was stuck there, but then my brother turned me on to P90X and I found out I could lose even more fat while also adding muscle.

… HOWEVER …

While I lost 4.5″ off my waist after the first round of P90X, I am stuck at that waist size. I cannot seem to lose these final few pounds of fat.

Fortunately, my chest, shoulders, and back are all much larger, so that diminishes the waist fat, but, really, I’m not happy with that. Getting larger up top so my middle appears to be smaller is not acceptable.

I am at a bit of a loss on how to lose the waist fat. I’ve read all kinds of books on the subject, and I’ve experimented with my body. I am pretty sure that carbs are a primary factor in fat storage, but I also know that I feel like total and utter crap without carbs. Plus, as you may realize, I am not a fitness fanatic. I like my relaxation and I prefer to live my life without obsessing about whether or not I was able to get a workout in or whether or not I can eat exactly perfectly healthy all the time.

So here’s my plan:

PART 1: Eat lower carb (no more than 150 carbs a day), lower fat (not obsessively, just keep an eye on the fat), and high protein (aiming for 50% of calories from protein). When I started P90X, I was on their recommended eating plan, which was 50/30/20 (protein/carbs/fat). I lost fat fast on that diet, but I turned to a primal diet about six weeks into it after reading Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint.

I went totally off grains (no rice, corn, wheat, rye … nothing) for 6 months and increased my fruit intake. The fruit was not necessarily in keeping with Sisson’s ideas — he likes to get most of his carbs from veggies, with only some fruit thrown in — but it’s much easier to eat fruit, which I primarily do with frozen fruit in my protein shakes, than to eat lots of veggies. Plus, okay, I’m not a huge fan of vegetables.

The upshot is that I’m fairly happy with my diet, but it’s not getting me where I want to be. I’m not going to restrict calories — that just doesn’t work for me in the long run — so 50/30/20 (or thereabouts) is where I’m headed.

I also, however, feel that I need to step it up on the exercise side. That leads me to …

PART 2: I’m going to give Insanity a try. I bought it at the end of 2010 with this in mind. I checked out one of the DVDs a few weeks ago, and, whoa, it is tough. Yes, tougher than P90X. But I’m pretty sure it’s what I need, or, anyway, I’m pretty sure there’s no way to be sure without trying it, so I’ll give it a go.

After one round of Insanity — which is a 60-day program — I plan to go back to P90X with other Tony Horton DVDs thrown in to mix it up, keep the muscles confused.

I have to admit that I am a bit concerned about my knees. I have some weakness in my right knee and some arthritis in my left one. I keep the arthritis pain and stiffness away with a low-grain, high-activity lifestyle, so I’m not worried about that, but the right side may prove problematic. Still, one of my favorite sayings is, “There are always good reasons not to do something. Successful people often ignore those reasons.” I could just write off Insanity as impossible with my knees. But. Not. Gonna. Do. It. Is this a no-guts-no-glory attitude? Is it foolish? Perhaps, but I will never know until I try.

I still have another month to go on this current round of P90X, so I’m going to wait to start Insanity until after I’m done with that, but I’m really looking forward to this new challenge. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Today kinda got away from me….

I really wanted to get a workout in today, but I work out in the living room, and my wife was in there watching tv, relaxing. That’s cool by me, because she really does put in a lot of hours at work and needs her downtime.

(BTW, I have in the past asked her to leave for an hour while I work out, but today was not the time to do that. Trust me.)

She was headed in to work this afternoon to catch up on paperwork. I’ll work out then.

That didn’t happen. She did go to work, but I had eaten too soon to her leaving, and I needed a cardio workout. For me, that’s two hours to wait after eating, or I’ll hurl, I swear. Oh, well.

No huge deal. I’ll skip it. After all, I justified, I did a hard back and biceps workout yesterday. I could use the rest….

Well, feeling guilty and wanting to move, I could not just sit there, so I ended up upstairs cleaning out our extra room, which I am turning into a workout room. I made sure I went up and down the stairs quickly and often, so at least I was getting in a bit of cardio.

Did I fail? Yeah. I wanted to get a cardio workout in, but I didn’t. Was the day a total fitness failure? Not at all. Plus, I did get a lot of prep done to the workout room that will, hopefully, in the future, prevent the whole thing that led to the failure to begin with.

Yup, I gotta get that thing done. Weekend workouts are hard to get in without it.

Does your significant other sidetrack your fitness goals? (Part 2)

Read part 1.

Okay, so you’ve had that moment, you’ve decided to eat healthy, but your significant other is not on board. That’s fine. Difficult, but fine.

You simply need to eat separate meals. Sorry, but you gotta do it.

Well, not necessarily. You can do it like a friend of mine, and make food for both of you — or all of you, if  you have others in your family — and then you just eat what you can. But that gets old. Fast. For example, if you choose to go low carb, you end up peeling the breading off fried chicken, eating burgers without the buns, having a delicious BLT sandwich — without the bread. You are making do, instead of creating meals that are right for your goals.

You just have to have to get over it, get over the trouble it is, get over the psychological drama that may ensue, and just fix yourself separate meals.

I know, it’s tough. For me, there was a problem with the invisible rift that put between me and my wife. We were dining together, but not really, because I almost always had to have different food than she did. But, you know what? It was only weird for a while. Now it’s normal.

That’s why I say get over it. It’s all psychological. What the heck is wrong with eating what you want to eat, especially if what you want to eat is aimed at creating a healthier you? Sometimes you really need to put yourself first. This is, after all, your life we’re talking about.