I recently lost 20 lbs.: The How and the Why
I am going to write a blog I thought I would never have to write! Its about how I recently lost 20 lbs.! Our culture is obsessed with weight loss and looking skinny + fabulous, and I tend to steer far away from the herds. However, in January I was faced with several health challenges that required a wake up. I’ll write about this in more detail in my next blog, but for now I want to touch on weight loss, eating, and feeling whole again.
Weight loss is a loaded, challenging, and difficult topic. It is fraught with opinion, fraudulent products, pseudo-scientific garbage, and FAILURE. 90-90% of all diets will fail, and 90-90% of people regain the weight they lose. The way our health care deals with body image and weight is, in my humble opinion, WAY off the mark. Having said that, I’d like to chime in with my personal experience from two perspectives – the internal (headspace) and external (the right things to do).
In January, I visited a type of body worker (not a chiropractor or acupuncturist). After the visit with this person I began to experience profound pain in my arm – like some of the worst pain I have EVER experienced. Now, I do not believe the therapist did anything wrong and was practicing in his/her best intention. However, one procedure did NOT work with me, and well, what happened next was what I needed to get a wake up call. I’ll also claim that the reason I was “injured” had a whole lot less to do with the therapy and whole lot to do with the fact that I needed a wake up call and had become deconditioned, was in a lot of global inflammation, and had been taking care of everyone else except myself. That, for the record, is a lousy way to do things and if I am a healer, I have to take care of myself first. I take 100% responsibility for what I experienced at that point.
I was at a crossroads. Changes had to be made and I simply could not avoid them. The fastest way to get my attention to is physical pain and my body in its amazing wisdom knew that I was not listening to the other cues. “OK, body wisdom, I hear you now. What do I need to do?” I asked. I had to get clear inside, get congruent inside, and then make changes and take action externally.
We are driven by 6 human needs – Certainty, Variety, Significance, Love/Connection, Growth, Contribution. The first 4 are the needs of the personality; the last 2 are the needs of the soul. All of them need to be fulfilled to live a fulfilled life, but deep happiness comes from love/connection, growth as a human being, and giving to something greater than our selves. We can become “addicted” to anything that fills 3 or 4 of these needs. There can be positive addiction and negative addiction. In a time of personal uncertainty, I was going to food to help me feel certain, to feel some variety, to feel significant, and to feel love and connection. Yes, food can meet all of those needs. And when we do something that meets our needs, even if in a negative way, we can get hooked. I started eating more and more. I started getting addicted to carbohydrates (They are EXTREMELY addictive). I think I have done this many times in my life, and food has been a source of comfort for me throughout my life. I have typically been VERY active, so I would not gain weight (although it would negatively impact my health and well-being). The negative fulfillment of the human needs to avoid pain always ends in some breakdown or pain. Always.
In February I started getting entrained a lot more myself and I spent time with Tony Robbins at a breakthrough program. On top of that, I was so sick and tired of the game I was playing with food and totally sick of how I was feeling (and looking). The beautiful thing about pain is that it can serve as an amazing leverage to make change VERY fast. I made a decision that the gig was up and that I would get healthy – really healthy- again, no matter what. When you focus your energy like that and made a decision, look out stuff will change. I also had a bunch of very powerful reasons to make the change – I needed to step up so that I can be more for my family, more for the God of my understanding, and more for this world and to fulfill my destiny as a servant. If my body is a broken down hunk of bones, well, I can’t do much to help anyone. Plus, its not really authentic leadership for me to be spouting about wellness when I am 20 pounds overweight. That hurt, and I am so glad it did. Get a target, get a compelling reason to change, get a strategy, and take MASSIVE action. You’ll get there.
So, the rest of this article will be about the strategy. I’ll follow up with some other stuff about headspace and psychology, but for now, let’s cut to the chase. I am not going to comment on any diet related questions here and will only discuss specifics on how to make this work personally with my clients. There is SO much noise in the field of food and nutrition that is often wildly contradictory. Here is straight, simple, and pure knowledge that generally works for 90% of people.
I had become addicted to carbohydrates, and as a result was experiencing carbohydrate intolerance. Here are the signs of that: food cravings, sugar cravings, physical fatigue, morning tiredness, afternoon lulls, addiction to “5-hour energy” and the like, mental fatigue, ADD, ADHD, brain fog, poor memory, tiredness after meals, poor concentration before or after meals, blood sugar problems, shakiness, jittery agitation, craving caffeine, intestinal bloating, acid reflux, increased body fat, increased triglycerides and cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression. Long term, this is a serious, serious precursor to Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, polycystic ovaries, stroke, breast cancer, heart disease, and cholesterol issues. For me, I had gone from feeling high energy and feeling great about my body to wondering who the dude with cellulite and the fat face was! I was nowhere near the energy I had felt even 6 months prior. There is a lot more to the story, but we are keeping it simple for now.
Here is what I did, and I recommend this for ANYONE. It’s called the Carbohydrate Test. A great book on the subject is Dr. Phil Maffetone’s Eating for Endurance or his Big Bok of Endurance Training and Racing. Here are the steps:
1) Take an inventory of the above “symptoms” and ask yourself or your health care provider about them.
2) Weight yourself before starting the test. I was 189 pounds. Some folks will lose a lot of weight on the test, some a little, some none. Weight yourself. Don’t get obsessive about the numbers. Do not, for goodness sakes, make that your focus. Your focus needs to be on how you feel and your overall goals. Numbers help us measure and make changes, but they are not the main outcome measure.
3) I worked with my own coaching techniques to set a target, get a plan, and take massive action. I did deep personal “work” to look at my limiting beliefs and untrue thoughts about my body and food.
4) Plan what you will eat (I will not offer any specifics on that here or n person due to the limits on my time and the complexity of that) and shop accordingly.
5) Clean out the crap from your cupboards (more on that to follow).
6) Do not get hungry during the two-week test. Eat every two hours if you need to.
7) Give the test the full two weeks.
8) Here is what you can eat during test:
- Organic and local Eggs, real and unprocessed cheeses, and local and organic creams, Ghee
- GREENS GREENS GREENS!!! Eats LOTS of greens – kale, mustard greens, Romaine lettuce, spinach, you name it. Greens are AWESOME. I started eating WHOLE HEAD of Romaine every day most days. Yep, I am keeping the Romaine farmers in business.
- Unprocessed means – beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, shellfish, and others
- Raw and unprocessed vegetable juices
- Lots of water
- Steamed or raw veggies EXCEPT potatoes and corn
- Nuts, seeds, and butters
- Olive oil (extra virgin), Coconut oil
- Organic salsas, Apple Cider Vinegar, real mayonnaise, whatever spices you like
- Sea salt (unless you are sodium sensitive)
- Coffee and tea if you drink them
- Protein smoothies with Sun Warrior protein
9) Foods you must avoid
- Bread, rolls, past, pancakes, cereal, muffins, chips, crackers, rice cakes, white rice and anything similar to these. Quinoa in very small quantities is OK.
- Sweets and ANYTHING with added sugar such as ketchup. Avoid honey, agave, and any “sweeteners”. Read labels. Things you have NO idea have sugar have lots of sugar.
- Fruits and fruit juices.
- Processed meats and cold cuts
- Potatoes, corn, rice, beans
- Milk, half and half, yogurt
- Energy bars and energy drinks
- ALL SODA and all sweetened ice tea. DIET SODAS ARE NOT HEALTHY – they are extremely toxic so they must go.
- Alcohol – especially beer and wine.
So there you have it. For recipe ideas, see Phil Maffetone’s book Eating for Endurance or his Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing.
After your two-week test, you reevaluate and slowly bring some carbohydrates back. I started to feel so awesome doing this, I have basically stuck with it. All of my crappy carbs have been replaced with vegetables, organic quinoa, and sprouted grain breads in very small quantities. And 20 pounds later, I feel AWESOME. I just love the feeling and lifestyle of a 70% paleo diet (minus a few changes I make to support my unique physiology). I do a ton of raw vegetable juices from Viva raw and eat lots of living smoothies using my Sun Warrior protein and other good stuff.
The reason this worked so well and so fast is not just following the above food suggestions. Its key you get this. Here are the components that must be there:
1) Your nervous system must be in a healing mode and if it’s stressed, it cannot reorganize. Very simple. Our work at NWCC is amazing for this. And I have been driving 5 hours round trip 2-3x per month to get my own care BECAUSE IT IS THAT IMPORTANT AND HELPFUL to my whole life. Your body can’t heal and be stressed at the same time. You’ll backtrack very quickly or things won’t work. Get humble and get help. I did and it works.
2) Make a decision. To make a decision is throw out all other options. I threw out my other options.
3) Shift your focus. I talked about addiction and the 6 human needs. Instead of getting needs met through food, I focused on giving more love, growing as a person, and giving to others. A magical focus change creates magical results.
4) Get accountable and get a coach or a great health care practitioner who will see you as you are AND see you better than you are. We have a LOT of free workshops right now. I have 1 “platinum” coaching spot available, however for most people they cannot afford that level of coaching and it’s really geared at supporting leaders with a lot of responsibility. Being an NWCC client is usually enough.
5) HAVE FUN!
6) Exercise. My strategy was to go to what works great for me – easy aerobic training. Get a cheap great heart rate monitor and train at a level that is 180 minus your age. If you are injured or out of shape subtract 10 more. DON’T go over that level. I just added in 4-5 aerobic workouts – running, elliptical trainer, hiking (there are so many ways to do this) that were 30-60 minutes a pop. See Phil Maffetone’s book for specifics.