Monday, April 10, 2017

Eliminating Belly Fat

A few years back when I was still wearing suits every day to work, I found it harder and harder to get my pants buttoned and zipped up.  When I noticed my weight had risen to 205 lbs (for the previous 20 years I had been at about 180 lbs), I decided to do something about it.  I should mention that in college I wasn't above 145 lbs; but after I got married the weight went up to about 172-180 lbs.

A friend had tried the South Beach Diet and said it worked well.  So I bought the books and went on the diet.  The core of that diet seemed to be eating low glycemic index foods, essentially foods that don't cause big insulin swings.  So potatoes, breads and sweets were out.  And the diet worked for me.  I rather easily got back down to my 180 lb weight.

But I have a sweet tooth; I love chocolate, shakes, and pastries.  And my wife and I don't cook much.  We both work, and eat too much fast food.  A year or so later, I was back up to 195 lbs.  I don't know how I heard about it, but I looked into the Paleo diet.  It seemed to be a 'stricter' version of the South Beach diet; with a lot more dietary logic explaining what foods to avoid.

So I went on the Paleo diet.  But complying with that diet is very difficult with a spouse that seems to hate everything the diet stands for.  I bought organic, grass-fed, unpasteurized, etc.  She chewed me out for every extra dime spent.  I avoided grains, beans/legumes, pasta etc.  So I didn't go to the restaurants she liked; and I heard about it forever. 

But the diet worked wonders.  I bought an Aria Fitbit scale, which tells me both my weight and body fat, and watched the weight and fat melt off.  The diet worked so good, I got a bit worried.  My weight dropped to about 157 lbs, and didn't seem to be leveling off.  My body fat got down to about 17.5%.  I started thinking about doing the Appalachian Trail (AT), and I did a couple of week long backpacking trips.

I started adding more carbs back into my diet, and got back up to about 175 lbs before I tried the AT in 2015.  I still lost quite a bit in my month on the trail that year.  But when I got back, I wasn't doing the Paleo diet, and I wasn't fighting my wife's viewpoint on restaurants and food.

When I checked my weight a month and a half out from my 2016 try of the AT, I was back up to 190 lbs.  That meant I had to start the trail in large pants instead of the medium I had worn the year before.  I restarted a 'weak' Paleo diet, for a few weeks and got down to under 180 lbs.  While on the AT in 2016, I shifted down to medium pants, and lost quite a bit of weight again.

But this time when I returned, in addition to not being on the Paleo diet, I had picked up a frequent snacking habit.  And I couldn't quit.  Well I could, but it took me to the end of the year.  In the meantime, I had been doing some more reading.  I had found the book Protein Power by Dr. Eades.

The central tenet of this approach was to make sure you get enough protein at each meal to prevent lean muscle loss when losing weight.  According to the book, I had not been getting enough protein.  The rest of the Protein Power diet appears to be a weakly worded Paleo diet.

Before I quit my frequent snacking, I was back up to 190 pounds.  And what really bothered me was the belly fat and concern for future metabolic syndrome issues.  This time, the weight loss has been slower.  But I'm down to 155 lbs and 19% body fat.  I don't buy grass-fed beef and only some organic vegetables.  I've figured out how to eat at most of my wife's favorite restaurants--though I'm still not able to figure out a good meal at a pizza restaurant.

She doesn't seem to be as unhappy with my behavior as in the past, and I notice she's not eating as much bread at the restaurants as she used to.

Hopefully, I'll be able to transition to a dietary lifestyle that avoids the yo-yo weight of the past.

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