A quick introduction. Like a lot of us here at some point in my life I got ďto busyĒ to exercise and then forgot about my diet. I started drinking 6-7 (sometimes more) Cokes/Mt. Dewís a day and sitting down to watch a television show with a full bag of chips only to get up with the bag empty. I did not start out overly, over weight; I am 5í7Ē and was 150.5 pounds on January 18th when I started. My main problem was health. I had been feeling weak, sickly and always tired. I had spent a few months reading here and there and was trying to find the information and motivation to get started. Like all of us, I came across Johnís site and instantly found the motivation. It is amazing to look at his transformation and I donít think anyone could without becoming motivated to make some changes themselves. Once I found the motivation, I then started looking for the knowledge. That is when it hit me that there is a lot of information out there, some of it even contradictory. No make that a lot of it contradictory! So, I procrastinated. Not because I didnít want to get started, I was overwhelmed and didnít know where to begin. I had posted a few messages on a few message boards and at times would get contradictory answers even then. However, I posted a question on a bodybuilder.com message board and inadvertently got the advice I really needed. I didnít get an instant meal plan, nor did I get an entire exercise and lifting program. What I got was the advice to keep things simple at first and not try to do everything at once. **click** <--light bulb in my head.
So armed with the advice to keep things simple, I planned out my exercise and lifting routine. I had already decided I would join the local YMCA and swim every Monday-Friday and then run on the weekends. I would also do crunches two nights a week. Since I knew I would not be motivated to return to the YMCA (It was already a big adjustment to wake up 2 hours earlier each morning to swim) to lift weights, I went out and bought a few dumbbells to get me started. I spent a little too much money at Christmas this year so I just canít afford a lot of equipment right now. Since I knew I could only devote 2 nights a week to lifting I did a little research (bodybuilding.com is great for this) and setup two basic lifting routines that contain compound lifting exerciseís that work the entire body. I did one for each day I could lift, they just have a little variety so I am not repeating the exact same thing every day that I do weight training. I figured this would get me started on the exercise and should get me through the first 3 Ė 4 weeks and it only took me a few hours to get it planned out.
For the diet, once again I was completely overwhelmed with information. 20/40/40, 20/60/20, 20/50/30, No carbs at all, go Keto!! Get 25g of Soy, too much Soy might be bad, 30g of fiber, but donít over do it. ARRRGGGHHH!! I couldnít (and still canít to some degree) plan out all of my meals. While I had overwhelming amounts of information, my brain didnít want to process it. That or I am just a little dumb. Either way it was causing me to procrastinate. So, once again I decided to keep things simple. I thought about what I was eating and what one thing was probably causing the most damage to my body (and keeping me flabby). For me it was Cola products. I decided that would be the place for me to start. I also decided since I couldnít plan out my meals I would use Johnís meal planning spreadsheet as a meal journal instead. I looked over his list of foods and with other things I had read replaced white bread with sugar free wheat, whole milk with skim milk, added a salad a day to my diet, added more fish and chicken and broke my meals down to six per day. With that, I started on January 18th.
The next day, I started scrutinizing nutrition labels and jotted down the number of calories, fats, sat fats, carbs, sugars, fibers and proteins I ate. For other items that did not have labels I would search for the information on the internet (nutritiondata.com is helpful). I would (still do) carry a little piece of paper and pen around so I can keep track of what I eat when I am away from my computer. Wait, that sounds wrong, I don't actually eat at my computer most of the time.
Probably the biggest thing that logging my food did for me was to make me aware of serving sizes. Now instead of sitting down in front of the television with a whole bag of something, I will count out the serving into a bowl and leave the bag in the cupboard. The amazing thing is I am just as satisfied with the single serving as I was with the whole bag. I only ate things because they were there. The other thing that logging my food did for me was to add a little guilt. When I keep track of what I am eating and actually seeing it, it makes me much more aware of what I am putting into my body. About mid-way through last week I decided to limit my sugar and sat fat intake. I had read some time ago that sugar should be less than 10% of your total carbohydrate intake and that saturated fats should be less than 10% of your total calorie intake per gram, so # cals x .10 divided by 9. Anyhow the amazing thing was, since I had been logging my food and just making a small effort to convert some of my foods to a healthier version, for the most part I had already been doing that. I am telling you, once you really start logging what you are eating and scrutinizing nutrition labels, you automatically start looking for healthier alternatives. For me, I rely a lot on ďfrozen dinnersĒ and Chic-Fil-A for lunch when I am at work, I started replacing my high fat dinners with Healthy Choice dinners (a lot of these have a good ratio of fats, carbs and proteins) and fried versions of chicken sandwiches with char-grilled ones. It has now been just over a week for me and I can already get a feel for what I need to eat in a day to reach my caloric goal. Not only that, it has taught me how to plan my meals. While I still canít do it every day it has given me a very good idea of what to add and what to take away. I think this works because it is a gradual change and not an all or nothing approach. I am already keeping a ratio of about 20 fat, 50 carb and 30 protein. I will adjust this over the next week or two as I add and replace items that I am eating.
This is much longer than I expected so I will cut it short there. Iím not saying this is what everyone should do. With just a little over a week into things, I still have a very long way to go. I will say this though, taking things slowly and keeping them simple has helped me a great deal. I donít feel as though I am on a diet. As a matter of fact, I feel great; better than I have in years (a lot of years). Honestly, I have a lot of energy now and even though it has only been 8 days since I started, I feel as though it was a lifetime ago that I was drinking 6+ cokes a day and eating bags of sugar. I donít miss any of it at all. If you are sitting on the fence and do not know where to start, donít over think it. Just start making slow changes and it will get the ball rolling probably much faster than you expected. You do not have to follow someone elseís diet or their exact workout schedule. You are changing YOUR lifestyle. If you try and duplicate someone elseís you just arenít going to be happy and more than likely will not stick with it.