Don of the Day

Don of the Day


Adventures in software development with Xamarin and the Web

Software developer, building things with code in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.

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I lost 63 Pounds: Here's How

Don FitzsimmonsDon Fitzsimmons

UPDATE: As of early November, I lost the full 70 pounds, well, actually 71 pounds. I'm down to 179 from 250.

(I have included a few links to more information at the bottom of this post)

It was a lazy summer weekend in the Arizona high country. Spending time with family in the cool weather among the trees, eating lot's of food, drinking beers and sitting on the porch all day long. It was the 4th of July 2014. When the weekend was over we headed home. The next morning, I stood on the scale and I saw a number that freaked me out. I knew it was coming. That number had been slowly creeping up for years. But, the scale never quite tipped this high in the past. 250 pounds. My all time heaviest weigh-in. At 6'2", that put me well into the obese category if you lend any credibility to the whole BMI standard. Something had to change.

For me, that moment on the scale was a turning point. I want to live. Not only that, but I want to feel good while I'm alive. I want to be around for my wife and 2 kids. I don't want to be a burden to them. That's my motivation. That's why I decided to turn things around, by God's grace. When I see something that I want to eat, but I know I shouldn't, that's why I don't do it, because deep down, I know I have a goal, I know that it's a trade off and I'd rather live than enjoy the fleeting olfactory pleasure that benefits my well being in no way at all for just a moment. That moment and that temptation can f@#$k itself. I have my motivation and it drives me.

Losing 63 pounds (and still counting down) is a pretty dramatic physical change and people notice (I'm down to 187 and lost several pant sizes). Of course, everyone wants to know how I did it. The answer is simple. I stopped eating the stuff that makes me fat. I didn't starve myself. I didn't count calories. I didn't start a rigorous workout regimen. I didn't turn to a diet guru or drink kale smoothies. All of those things might help you loose weight, but they aren't sustainable solutions. Not to mention, calories and inactivity aren't what's making us fat. Calories only measure how much you eat. They don't say anything about the quality of what you eat.

I started to discover what's making me fat when I came across a documentary on the internet. The movie is called Fathead. It's an interesting look at our missconceptions about diet and weight loss. That movie lead to me to an author and medical journalist named Gary Taubes who wrote a book called Why We Get Fat and What to do About It. Although not a diet book, it explains why we get fat and the answer has little to do with calories or working out and much to do with hormones. After reading that book, I watched many YouTube videos that discussed similar ideas and what these people where saying just made sense. I had to try it myself.

Here's an extremely simplified explanation of what makes us fat: It's what we eat that does it, not necessarily how much. Consuming carbohydrates causes our blood sugar levels to rise because those carbs break down as sugars in our body. When that happens, our body fires up the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin, countering all of the sugar we ate. What doesn't get used ends up being stored as fat. Loosing weight is quite simple: stop consuming sugars, carbs and starches. That's really it. Once you cut carbs to a very low level, your body makes a fundamental change and it not only stops storing fat, it begins to run on its own fat stores (and burns it).

Our bodies can run on 1 of 2 things: glucose or fat. Most of us run on glucose, but your body is fully capable of running on fat instead. When you restrict carbs, your body goes into a state known as ketosis, which means your primary fuel source is fat. This is the state I have been in for several months now. By restricting carbs and eating a high fat diet, my body has become really good at burning its own fat. So the diet that I'm on is called a ketogenic diet or keto for short. It's very low carb (20 grams max per day), high fat. Yes, I said high fat. Contrary to what we've been told for decades, fat is not bad for us. In fact, it's quite good for us. I was skeptical, but after being on this diet for months and reading up on nutritional research regarding fat, I decided to see for myself and had a blood panel done. My numbers are near perfect (they weren't before I started).

The other thing people want to know: What do I eat? I eat a lot of things that are tasty. Bacon, eggs, all kinds of meats, cheeses and leafy green vegetables. For instance, if I go to Chipotle, I get a burrito bowl, no rice, no beans, steak, medium salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and lettuce. Or, one of my favorites, In-n-Out Burger. I get a 3X3 (3 thin patties) with cheese, onions and mustard (no carbs in mustard) wrapped in lettuce. The real trick to sticking to a keto diet is avoiding hidden carbs. 20 grams of carbs per day will add up fast. And I don't eat most fruit. It's full of sugar.

There are many benefits to a ketogenic diet. I no longer have ups and downs throughout the day. You know, eat lunch, then want to crash afterwards. My allergies are gone and I don't need to eat much anymore. I just eat a lot less. But a diet that can't be sustained isn't going to do a lot of good. This, at least for me, is sustainable. I don't plan to go back to eating large amounts of carbs and I don't find it that difficult. And really, why would I? Carbs make me feel like crap and they make me fat. I'm skinny again and it feels good.

Here are a few links if you want to learn more:

Software developer, building things with code in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.

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