I have had a weight problem most of my life. I'm not morbidly obese although many doctors would label me "obese." Honestly, I've got a belly and my body fat percentage seems to want to hang out at around 30. So really, just above "overweight" according to BMI. Never really hindered me physically, just sometimes I feel chunky and rarely do I appreciate the roll when I sit down.
As most people who are overweight, I am guilty of yo-yo dieting. In 2000 I was at my heaviest weighing 233 pounds. At five-foot, seven-inches, that's a hefty load! In 2002, I joined Weight Watchers and managed to get down to 147 pounds (about six pounds below my goal of 153). The irony about getting down to 147 was that I didn't really look any different, just smaller. Same gut, same flab. Not unlike a melted snowman. I also noticed this to be true of all of the "lifetime members" at Weight Watchers. Nobody looked fit. At all.
In 2004, I had some major life changes which produced a ton of stress. And guess what? I put weight back on. Now unlike most yo-yo dieters, I did not go over my former weight. As a matter of fact, I have stayed under that weight. Currently, at my heaviest since 2004, I weigh around 192 pounds. Now granted since then I have started strength training and have put on a significant amount of muscle. I'm what you would call "overweight" with 29% body fat.
Burn metabolism, burn
A month or so ago I came across a blog titled 180 Degree Health. I honestly couldn't tell you how I found it but I'm guessing it was referenced from another blog. I know that Zen to Fitness has 180 Degree Health on their "what I read" list.
Anyway, I checked out the blog and found much of what Matt Stone, the owner, had to say about health and fitness.
So I read Matt Stone's free e-book as well as his 180 Degree Metabolism and even picked up Jon Gabriel's The Gabriel Method which, new-age visualize-a-stream crap aside, was a fantastic read. I feel that these author/researchers are really on to something and I have to say, I feel a bit hang-dog about the way I've been treating my body. So, per Stone and Gabriel's recommendations, I have decided to take some action.
So what are they saying? Well, since I've been spending my adult life either dieting or eating crap, my metabolism isn't running as efficiently as it should. This is easily testable by taking your morning temperature. Ideally, your waking temp should be around 98.2 although I am going to guess that if you are anywhere close to 98, you're doing okay.
Fix your metabolism. So how is this done? Well, strangely enough, nobody is 100% sure. Out of all of the mysteries science has solved, how our metabolism functions is one that eludes us. But studies point to several culprits for slowing down the metabolism: refined carbs, increased Omega-6 fatty acids (i.e., vegetable oils), super-sweet substances (high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners), over exercise, stress, lack of sleep and CALORIC DEFICITS. So basically, the American lifestyle.
So for the past couple of weeks I have been taking some steps to try and fix some of the damage I have done over the years.
- No more dieting. I am eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not. My focus has been on whole foods with nothing artificial. No margarine or vegetable oil (coconut oil seems to be the huge exception); no sodas; no alcohol; no refined carbohydrates. Now by "no" I mean they aren't a part of my daily food routine. I've had ice cream, because I wanted ice cream. Deprivation is stupid. If I want it, I'm going to eat it. But when I am neutral on what I want, which is the case 90% of the time, I'm eat whole foods with a ton of nutrients.
- Easy on the exercise. This is another "don't force" issue. Personally, I love lifting weights so I have been continuing with the strength training. But other than that, I'm taking it easy. If I do any type of cardio, it's high-intensity interval training which has been shown in studies to help increase the metabolism.
- Sleep. I'm not a huge sleeper. Leave me to wake up on my own and I'll sleep maybe eight hours but am fully functional at five. But I really need to make sure I'm getting plenty of sleep. This has been the hardest step for me since my wife likes to stay up pretty late and enjoys my company.
- Meditation. This covers the stress part. I've actually had a meditation routine for several years but I'm not as steady with my practice as I should be.
- Track my body temperature. I want it to be around 98 degrees in the morning. So far it has gone from 96.1 to 96.6.