Where I Started
Right now, I am 6’4″ and 270 lbs. When I started working out, I weighed over 400+ pounds.
But I wasn’t always 400 lbs. After moving to a new city in 2003, I let my fitness habits slip…and the weight slowly started to creep UP! Before i started gaining weight, i was a strong 230 lbs. I worked out & played basketball at least 2-3 times a week.
Why I Decided To Change…
I was embarrassed, I didn’t recognize myself & I was pissed. Bottom line. I knew I was stronger than this; more disciplined than this! But it took me a while to realize & remember that. As I started gaining weight, i just shook it off, blamed it on all the food choices in Houston.. and kept buying bigger clothes.
I had family & friends who tried to “remind me” about my weight gain & tell me i was getting fat as hell! But, i was stubborn & I didn’t listen. I just kept rationalizing it and making excuses. My shirt sizes kept getting larger, the airplane seats kept getting “smaller“, my seat belt kept getting “tighter“… and in 2011, I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life.
I remember the day i finally realized how bad it really was. I woke up that morning and, for the first time in years, saw a “sideview” of myself in the mirror. My “front-to-back” girth was ridiculous!???? I didn’t recognize myself at all! I generally have a positive “cool, big dude” image of myself in my head…. but THIS fat a$$ in the mirror was NOT IT!! ????????
That’s when I realized:
- I was lying to myself
- I was in terrible shape…
- and it was time to change. Period.
How I Lost The Weight…
Flexible Dieting & Working Out. Period. No Magic.
Just Movement & Math. It took me a while to cut through all the bullsh*t info + product gimmicks and figure out what really worked. After starting to walk/run outside (but still eating terrible), I spoke to a Houston Fitness Trainer, who gave me some insight on macros and my calorie limits. Soon after, I joined a local gym, found a workout program online… and went from there. I definitely didn’t start out great. It was downright comical at times lol… but I was determined. As I learned more, I lost more and slowly started to get the hang of tracking macros & working out consistently.
Remember… It’s not Magic. It’s Math. Eat Less + Burn More = Lose Weight.
What I’ve Learned So Far…
1. It’s more about BODY COMPOSITION, Less about WEIGHT.
- Decrease BODY FAT
- Increase LEAN MASS & MUSCLE
Decreasing your Body Fat will make your clothes fit better, shrink your waist and may lower your weight on the scale. Increasing your Lean Mass will tone your body, get those muscles stronger, increase your metabolism (which burns more fat) and may actually raise your weight on the scale.
- Track your changes in body fat (with a digital scale or caliper)
- Take progress pics for yourself
- Keep track of how your current clothes fit
2. Get TWO Test Shirts
One of the most motivating things you can do is fit perfectly into a #TestPolo (shirt) that absolutely didn’t fit a few months ago. It’s a real-life, visual representation of your fitness progress. It charged me up MUCH MORE to watch myself go from a 5X to an XL in #TestPolos… than it did to hover over a scale, hoping for an arbitrary low number. (I swore my scale was broken for a month)
So hit your closet or hit the store and get TWO TEST SHIRTS or OUTFITS:
- A BEFORE Shirt (at the size you wear now)
- A GOAL Shirt (at the size you want to get to)
The more “impossible” the Goal Shirt, the better. ???????? If you have a lot of weight to lose (over 50lbs)… buy a Goal Shirt that’s about 2 sizes down and just repeat the process in milestones until you get there!
3. Eating is Key
Fitness is an 80/20 Process. 80% Nutrition. 20% Workouts. I wish I would have listened to that simple formula earlier in the process. I literally wasted 6 months KILLING MYSELF in the gym …and being proud of it, only to come home and eat back all the calories on the weekends. It was sabotage. Don’t do it! lol
Weight Loss success ALL starts with:
- Calculating Your MACROS and Sticking to Your Eating Plan
- Working out to get stronger & burn more fat, faster.
4. Track Your Food, No Matter What!
I use the mobile app, MyFitnessPal, to track my daily food intake and macro count.
Some days are great. I hit my macros, I stay under my calories & I’m on track to hit my goals.
Other days are not so great. I go a little over my calories and eat WAY to many carbs.
And… other days are pretty much terrible. I eat a huge meal & dessert at restaurant… eat Frosted Mini-wheats all day…. or just eat a whole bunch of crap that takes me WAY OVER my calorie limit. (6000+ Calories for Lisa‘s last birthday lol)
The ONE thing I’ve learned from tracking food on daily a basis: ENTER THE FOOD, NO MATTER WHAT. No matter what you eat. It’s always good to see the “Alverez stayed under his calorie goal” message in the app’s newsfeed. But if you didn’t…so what! ENTER THE FOOD!!! Chalk it up as a loss, admit you ate more than you should have… and get ready to win again tomorrow. This process is about Growth… not Perfection.
The idea is to set a healthy trend for yourself. One bad day of eating won’t completely kill your goals. But a series of consistent bad eating days will. Your brain NEEDS to see those “RED NUMBERS”! Seeing a few days of red “over limit” numbers always got me back on track.
MyFitnessPal is a nutrition tracking system built to help YOU reach YOUR fitness goals. If you hide food from yourself & the system:
- You can’t accurately hold yourself accountable and…
- You won’t get the results you expect from this process.
Don’t sabotage yourself. Track Your Food, No Matter What.
How I Eat Now
Flexible Dieting / IIFYM
Flexible Dieting or “If It Fits Your Macros” is basically just eating the “right” amount of calories and macronutrients to fit your body’s needs and fitness goals. Along with staying in a “calorie deficit” when you’re losing weight, it’s also important keep track of what makes up those calories. The calories we eat in food are primarily made up of 3 Macronutrients (ie. MACROS):
By focusing more on the content of the calories we consume, Flexible Dieting plans help us eat an optimal percentage for of Protein, Carbs & Fat on a daily basis. It’s a little different than “Clean Eating” in that there is a slight allowance (10%-15%) for “junk” calories…. as long as you hit your main macro numbers. It’s still a good idea to stick to mainly “whole foods” and eat as clean as possible for best results.
Watch Video: What Are Macros?
Watch Video: Clean Eating vs. Flexible Dieting
You actually end up eating more than you would think on a normal diet plan, because optimal nutrition is not really about starving your body (which shrinks your metabolism)..as much as it is about feeding it the right fuel to help burn fat & build muscle.
Here are a few links that explain A LOT more than I can about flexible dieting and how to calculate your macro percentages:
- What is Flexible Dieting? Here’s How to Get Started
- Flexible Dieting: How to Calculate Your Macros
- Use This Flexible Dieting Macro Calculator (Use this to find your Calorie and Macro Intake)
If you REALLY want to learn more about Flexible Dieting in-depth, I really suggest getting a copy of this book, “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” by Tom Venuto. I ran across this book randomly at Barnes & Noble and it changed my understanding of fat loss completely! It’s not magic. Its math.
How to Track Your Macros & Food Intake
I use the MyFitness Pal app to track my macros & daily food intake. It’s FREE and it has an extensive food database that allows you to find foods you eat, scan foods you eat (with a barcode) or manually enter foods you eat. After you login and view the app… Get accustomed to the “Diary”, “Goals” and “Nutrients” tabs:
- Diary – This is where you enter your food on a daily basis
- Goals – This is where you go to enter your daily calorie amount & the macro nutrient percentages you got from the Calculator (above)
- Nutrients (at bottom of Diary section) – Click this button to view the your macronutrient percentages on a daily basis (Carbs Vs Proteins vs Fat)
Watch Video: How to Track Your Macros
Watch Video: How to Track Eating in MyFitnessPal
What Should I Eat? / How to Find a Meal Plan
When I started, I got great advice from a local personal trainer to simply start with eating: Chicken, Rice & Broccoli. Every meal. Every day. (with the exception of breakfast) One of the main reason’s this works well is all of these foods are easy to measure on the scale, and the macros don’t really overlap (ie. Chicken is mainly protein, Rice is a starchy carb, Broccoli is a fibrous carb).
If you can stand it… for the first two weeks: eat Oatmeal, Eggs & Fruit for Breakfast… and Chicken, Rice & Broccoli for 4-5 even meals throughout the day. It helps to build your initial discipline, its a simple way to start meal prepping and it will help you kickstart your flexible dieting plan!
Example Meal Plans
Here’s an example daily meal plain from the book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle:
Watch Video: Build Your Own Meal Plan
Workout-Based Meal Plans
Here are a few other great meal plan ideas that came from the workout plans (below). Most of the meal plans also come with full calorie and macronutrient calculations. But keep in mind, these plans will have a higher calorie count because they assume you will also be working out hard. So… you HAVE to workout!
- Trainer, Ashley Conrad Eating Plan
- Trainer, Jim Stoppani Eating Plan
- Trainer, Craig Capurso Meal Plan & Calculator
How I Workout Now
Here are 4 workout plans / techniques that have worked well for me so far. I still incorporate elements from these plans in my workouts today. I couldn’t BELIEVE you could find workout plans AND meal plans like this online for FREE! Plus you can track all of your exercises, lifts & workout progress on the Free JEFIT app or BODYSPACE App on your phone.
This is good one to get started. It’s easy to do and it focuses on dropping the body fat FIRST… with lots of circuit training & HIIT cardio. Plus.. its only 3 weeks. The sprints will have you gassed!
This workout series is real intense & the eating plan can get slightly complicated. But Jim Stoppani does a great job of providing videos and explanations to walk you through every workout and nutrition detail. I didn’t follow the eating plan at first… so i ended up dropping some pounds, and getting stronger, but not as much as i could have. This is probably one of my favorite workout programs though. The Cardio Acceleration is KILLER!
This is a good all-around workout program that can help you attack REAL strength training, High Intensity Interval Training (Tabata) and Steady State Cardio all in the same workout. I still do modified, adapted versions of this workout in my current workout plan.
Straight Up… BodyBuilding.com has some of the of best free workout plans for men & women which also include meal/nutrition plans, macro calculations & helpful explanation videos to map out every step.
I started incorporating HIIT with decreasing rest intervals into my workout. A great example of a metabolic conditioning workout like this is the Metaconda Circuit by Men’s Health. Basically, you choose any 6 or 7 strength, body weight or cardio exercises and combine them into a circuit. Then:
- Do 1st Exercise (12-15 reps or 30 seconds)
- Rest for 30 sec
- Repeat the same cycle for 2nd exercise.
- Complete all 6 or 7 exercises and That’s 1st round.
Now.. for the 2nd round, repeat same exercises but decrease the Rest time by 5 sec
- So… Do 1st Exercise Again (12-15 reps or 30 seconds)
- Rest for 25 sec
- Complete all 6 or 7 exercises and That’s 2nd round.
Then keep going back through the rounds, decreasing your rest time by 5 seconds each round… until (1) you die… or (2) you get down to the last round with NO REST in between the moves.
How I Track My Fitness Progress
Its important to track & monitor your progress indicators throughout your fitness journey.
1) Track Your Calories, Macros & Food Intake
Download the MyFitnessPal app on your phone and enter in all of the food you eat… no matter what! Even if you go over your calories or mess up… you NEED to see those red numbers & make sure you do better.
Also… make sure you have a digital food scale & measuring cups/spoons to get used to accurately measuring your food portions when you first get started. For in-depth instructions, read the link >> Using the MyFitnessPal app to track your flexible dieting plan.
2) Track Your Workouts & Fitness Progress
Workout tracking apps allow you to keep track of the weight, sets & reps you do while working out in the gym. It’s important because you want to make sure you’re consistently pushing yourself to get stronger and go harder for the best fitness results.
There are tons of FREE workout tracking apps out there. The two apps that have worked best for me are the Jefit App and the BodySpace App. Both come preloaded with workout plans you can choose from… or you can build/customize your own plan. The BodySpace app also lets you automatically track any workout plans you choose from BodyBuilding.com
3) Track Your Weight / Body Fat
Get a digital scale that also measures your body fat %. It’s not 100% accurate, but it can help you track gradual changes in body fat & lean mass.
4) Track Your Body Fat (More Accurately)
Get a skin fold caliper for more accurate body fat measurements. It’s pretty simple to use & comes with instructions.
5) Track Your Measurements
6) Track Your REAL PROGRESS
Get your smartphone camera, get your “TEST SHIRTS” and track your “before, after and progress” shots. Make sure you take pics without clothes as well. Even if you don’t share them publicly, you need to see them for yourself.
This fitness process is mainly a mind game… so you need to stay real with yourself, remember how far you’ve come & stay driven to never go back!
Great Book to Read
Hopefully, this info was helpful.
If you have any questions or comments, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re in Houston… and have specific workout, training or nutrition questions, I may be able to refer you to a few professional trainers or gyms in the area