Day 102-2 (W, 120411) — Adapt and Overcome

Reworking the Plan.  Yesterday, I laid out four steps I was going to take to regain control of my weight.

  • Step 1. Back to a very low-carb diet (VLCD), between 20-40 carbs per day, including keeping a food diary.
  • Step 2. IF as usual.
  • Step 3.  Increase the intensity of my 2 workouts.
  • Step 4.  Take early morning walks of 3 miles +/- and add in a few sprints.

Yesterday, I ate a total of 920 calories, including 20g of carbs, 71g of fat, and 46g of protein.  Almost all of that was a big salad for dinner.  I felt fine and didn’t snack on any carby items, even “approved ones” like berries, Greek yogurt, dark chocolate, or almonds.

What I didn’t do was workout.  I meant to, but when I got home, I had things to do and wanted to spend time with my wife and kids, so it got pushed back and pushed back until I didn’t happen at all.

Based on this, I’m already altering the plan.

No Plan Survives First Contact.  During my repeated procrastination last night, I was reminded of a short passage from Why We Get Fat and something Taubes said about working up an appetite so you could eat more than usual:

The instructions that we’re constantly being given to lose weight — eat less and exercise more — are the very same things we’ll do if our purpose is to make ourselves hungry, to build up our appetite, to eat more.*

Based on this and some further thought about what I need to do to get going again, I’ve decided to suspend Steps 3 and 4 for the time being.

  • Step 1. Back to a very low-carb diet (VLCD), between 20-40 carbs per day, including keeping a food diary.
  • Step 2. IF as usual.
  • Step 3. Increase the intensity of my 2 workouts.
  • Step 4. Take early morning walks of 3 miles +/- and add in a few sprints.

They’ll come back eventually, but, for now, this will allow me to focus my attention on food: what am I eating and how much.

It acknowledges that, for me, exercise improves fitness, not decreases weight: 90% of any fat loss I achieve is based solely on the food I eat.

Eat right and I’ll see the scale move.
Eat poorly and I won’t, no matter how much or how quickly I move.

It also helps prevent burnout.  I’ve seen how over-committing can sabotage a program, both in myself and others.   By working on one issue at a time (fixing my food), I will lower my stress and improve my chances of success.

Two exceptions apply here:

  • If I happen to wake up early, and feel sufficiently rested, I may take the odd morning walk or two, but I won’t rouse myself from sleep just to do it.  (Not yet, anyway.)
  • If I get a wild hair and decide to do some push-ups, pull-ups, or other exercise, I won’t stop myself; but I won’t stress out about what I am “supposed” to be doing.

Coming Soon.  In our next installment of The Life and Follies of New John, I’m going to discuss why I choose low carb as my preferred way to diet.


* Why We Get Fat, Ch.3 p. 40.  This implies that I should also give up IF.  For me, however, I’ve found that fasting is not a problem and, since it’s food-related, I am going to keep that portion of my plan.

5 responses to “Day 102-2 (W, 120411) — Adapt and Overcome

  1. John,

    The program you outline is exactly what I did to lose ~60 pounds in around 8 months. I didn’t exercise *at all* the first 4 months of it. By that time, I had lost 45 pounds and had so much new-found energy that I actually *wanted* to workout just to burn the excess energy I had. I ran into problems working out while keeping to 30g or less of carbs most days. Light cardio was fine, but weightlifting was impossible without carbs I found.

    Like Taubes warns – my appetite did go up. And, as soon as I started working out, the weight loss slowed to a crawl. I didn’t gain weight, just didn’t lose it…but fitness is good, so it’s a tradeoff worth making once the excess weight is off. I did slowly lose more weight while working out a few times a week doing just light cardio – I lost another 20lb or so, which made my total loss about 65 pounds as of last October, when I went into official ‘maintenance mode’. I’ve since lost a couple more pounds but otherwise have easily maintained. A few weeks ago I did have to reintroduce some starches or else I wouldn’t be able to lift weights. The starches have been a God-send – I have been feeling awesome, dropped a couple of pounds, and am the past couple of weeks am able to lift weights and feel great doing it. Wish I would have reintroduced good starches sooner (specifically, I eat a big sweet potato within an hour of weightlifting).

    So…I think your plan will work. Don’t over-think it – just be mindful of the total carb count per day, take it one day at a time, and before you know it you’ll reach your goal.

    One other thing – you said you only ate 920 calories in one day? That’s a recipe for disaster man! You may lose weight for a few days doing that low a caloric intake, but it will just result in unnecessary stalls as your body will go into starvation mode. More importantly – you’ll feel like shit doing it. Eat man! Especially saturated fat. Lots of dietary fat, to replace the carbs.


    • Not to worry about the 920 calorie day, Mark. It was a one-off. I just happened to eat little and feel fine that day. The next day (yesterday), I was back up to 1681 calories. I’ll be posting my food diaries as I go along.

      Thanks for the continued support and advice.

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