Physical Health – S01E15

This week’s episode is about physical health.

Original Script of the Video (not a direct transcript)

Hello, everyone, welcome to this week’s episode of Watch Me Shine. My name is Brian and I’d like to thank you for joining me again. This week, we’re going to talk about physical health, but kind of like I said last week, I’m not a health professional, so if you have specific concerns or needs, be sure to talk to your health professional about them. However, this is a topic that I’ve had a lot of experience with. If you remember my history, for much of my life I was an overweight, pack-a-day smoking, alcoholic. I have since turned that around and I’d like to tell you how I did it. 

But, first, let’s look at the tasks from last week and go over them real quick.

  1. Pick something to learn.
  2. Figure out a way to expand your exposure to something new.
  3. Use your mind to expand that knowledge.

Again, comment if you like and I’ll help you out if I can. No pressure.

When I was a kid, my parents always tried to provide my brother and I with healthy, nourishing food as best they could. They subscribed to the food pyramid. If you’ve never seen that, it says you should eat three meals a day representing all the food groups in proper proportions. A certain number of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, etc. This, if followed properly, is quite healthy. However, as we can see by the state of people today, it typically isn’t. There are various reasons for this, but the individual reasons don’t matter. What matters is that we take a look at what we, as individuals, are doing and choose to do it differently if it’s not working for us.

When I got into university I started eating whatever I wanted. I was snacking all the time. I was eating things out of boxes and cans. And I was drinking way too much for one person. I’m not sure if you know this, but look at the calorie count on alcohol, specifically beer. Add into that by knowing the fact that your body, in order to process alcohol you consume, turns it directly into sugar, which your body stores as fat. Between the food I was eating for meals, the snacks I was eating between them, and the alcohol I was consuming, I was probably eating 5,000 calories a day. Now, for someone of my body size, that could feed three people. This was the reason I was overweight. And I woke up every morning feeling like crap. I was hurting, not just from the alcohol, but my body just hated me.

Another presenter I like is Tim Ferriss. He wrote the 4-Hour Work Week and another book, the 4-Hour Body. In the second one he talks about physical health. I’ll get into some more that he talks about in a little bit, but I wanted to use a phrase he uses in that book to illustrate a point. He tells a story about how he was in Tokyo with some friends and they all decided to go and do something and he didn’t want to because he was overweight. It was at that moment that he decided to change that about himself. He calls it his “Harajuku Moment”. Harajuku is a district of Tokyo and that was the area he was in when he had his moment. The point is that we all come to a certain moment during which we decide to change.

What is your Harajuku Moment? Mine was when my daughter was two-years old. We were having a Halloween party and inviting over a lot of people. During this party, my wife took a picture of me holding my daughter. She was leaned over in my arms reaching for something and I was bent backwards trying to keep her in the frame of the picture. There were three things about that picture that bothered me. First was, the arch of my back made my beer gut stick out and I could see it for what it was. Second was remembering that while I was getting ready one recent morning I had buckled my belt and pinched my stomach doing so. Third, seeing the picture and doing the math, the excess body fat that I was carrying weighed as much as my two-year-old daughter. I was carrying a second, smaller person around with me everywhere I went. I had experienced my Harajuku Moment.

The problem was that I didn’t decide to do anything about it for probably five more years. You see, just because we know it doesn’t mean we decide to do anything about it. It took something else to get me started and that was having a goal. My goal, as I said in an earlier video, was to run a Tough Mudder. I knew that I would have to stop drinking, stop smoking, lose weight, and start exercising to be able to attain that goal.

When I first started to lose weight, I read that book, the 4-Hour Body, by Tim Ferriss. In that book he talks about using himself as a human guinea pig and knowing that the things he explains in that book work. If it worked for him, it would work for me, right? So, I started with the diet that he lays out in that book: the slow carb diet. It did work for me, but I hated it. And that’s the point I want to make to you now. Listen to me, because this is the best possible advice I can give on the subject of diet:

The best possible plan to lose weight is one you can stick to. A fad diet is just a distraction, it’s a set of rules that distracts you by forcing you to pay attention to the rules and not focus on the fact that you’re eating less. The only rules that you should pay attention to are to eat less than your body burns and don’t cheat yourself. And diet doesn’t mean a plan you use to lose weight only to go back to what you were doing before. It needs to be a lifestyle change. Diet means what you habitually put in your body for fuel. If you go on a diet and lose weight and then go off it again, you’re going right back to where you were before.

Think about it like a gas tank in your car. When you pull up to the pump, you fuel your car in about five minutes. But when you start driving around, it takes hours, days, or even a week or more to burn it off. You should only put in what you need to put in to fill it. If you overfill it, you’re going to make a mess. Of course, you can fill extra gas cans and put them in the back of your car, but your car will then be overweight, carrying around more fuel than you need. Only put in what you need to put in.

When I had my Harajuku Moment and started doing what Tim Ferriss suggested, the slow carb diet, I found that I got some results, but they really weren’t working as well as I’d hoped. Cutting back on soda and replacing it with water was great. Eating the way his diet suggested was working, but not fast enough. I wasn’t losing weight fast enough for the trouble I was putting myself through. I knew that if it didn’t start to work better, I was going to quit. What I decided was to do more research and that’s when I found some things that worked better for me.

First, I did what I did with any goal, as I’ve described in previous videos. I wrote down what I wanted, a specific measurable goal that I could shoot for. I started writing down disciplines that I could incorporate into my life in order to advance me towards that goal. Practicing these disciplines, or turning them into habits, were smaller goals that I could work towards. Again, every Sunday night I would pick one to attempt for a month, see if it worked or if it was too hard, and then reevaluate after a month. I found that the more positive things I could do to reach my goal brought me closer to it every day.

The list of things was long. It was things like, cut out soda and replace it with water. Skip breakfast, eat a light lunch, and then fill up at dinner. Stop eating a snack in the afternoon. Things like that. But this turned into a lifestyle for me. I began to live this plan, this list of things that I incorporated into my life and just never quit doing. To this day, I’m down 40 pounds from my highest weight and I’ve kept it off for going on eight years now. By now, if you’re still watching, I’m sure you want to know more details of that plan, so I’ll tell you where I started.

I incorporated two things into my life:

  1. I started paying attention to two numbers: calorie count and carb count.

    Now, you can pay attention to all of your numbers or even just the macros: protein, fat, carbs. But I found that it was too much hassle, so I only started paying attention to two numbers: carbs and calories. I knew my goal calorie count because I found a calculator on the Internet. I knew that, if I wanted to lose weight, I had to stay 10 to 30 percent below my BMR, which is the base rate at which your body burns calories just to stay alive. I found a number that worked for me and I stayed below that number. Then, I reduced the amount of carbs I took in to less than 100 grams of carbs. That’s it. No excuses. And I tracked those numbers religiously. I got this from the Keto diet.

  2. I started intermittent fasting.

    I found that when I woke up in the morning, I usually wasn’t hungry. And I found that if I ate anyway, I would be hungry off and on the rest of the day. So, what I did was to not eat until I was actually, really hungry. And the way you can tell this is if you feel a bit of hunger, drink some water. If you’re still hungry 15 minutes later, then eat something. But only eat until the sense of hunger goes away. Don’t fill up. Staying a bit hungry forces your body to eat some reserves to keep going. Those reserves are body fat. Forcing your body to eat body fat will help you lose weight.

That’s honestly all I did and that’s what I do to this day. It’s harder to maintain over the winter for me and I tend to fall off track, but as soon as spring starts to arrive, I’m back on it in full force. This keeps me from gaining back all the weight I lost and my winter weight goes away pretty fast. I’m a 42 year-old man with visible abs again. I don’t have a six-pack, but I certainly don’t have a problem buckling my belt anymore. And I’ve maintained this for going on eight years now. And every year, it improves. I think this fall I was holding at around 13 percent body fat. That’s not where I’d really like to be, but it’s comfortable to me and I’m not ashamed to go swimming without a t-shirt on.

And I did all this without doing any exercise. I did eventually exercise, but losing weight has nothing to do with exercise. Anyone that tells you that it does is trying to sell you a gym membership. Changing your diet makes you look good in clothes. Exercising is what you do with what’s left to look good naked. They’re two different goals, so don’t confuse them.

When I did decide to exercise, I started doing bodyweight training and you can do that without buying any equipment at all. When I first started, the only thing I bought was a chin-up bar that I could put in a door frame to do pull-ups. I stuck to four exercises: push-ups, pull-ups, leg lifts, and squats. I recommend finding some progressions so you can start out easy and then work up to harder exercises. I started out using a workout called Convict Conditioning. And then I added in running later, after losing more weight and getting my muscles ready with bodyweight training.

Four exercises plus cardio. That’s all you really need. Anything else starts to target specific muscle areas and can help you improve those. Since starting I’ve added a bench to do some extensions, some bands, a ball, and a couple other things. I got them because I’ve switched to the Reddit Bodyweight Fitness recommended routine. You can find the details to that in that subreddit. But I recommend you just get started with the things I listed above. The four exercises plus a cardio. But, again, you don’t need to do this at all until you get to a goal weight that will allow you to exercise without hurting yourself.

And, once you start exercising, I recommend you set a goal. Do you want to run a marathon? Do you want to run a mud/obstacle course like I did? Knowing that there was a goal to reach helped me do the things I needed to do to achieve that goal. Full disclosure, I never did run a Tough Mudder. They were all too expensive and too far away and I wasn’t sure I could do 13 miles. However, I did run some 5K runs and worked my way up to 10K runs. I tried every obstacle I encountered and managed to overcome all of them except a handful. I ran them with friends who encouraged me, just as I encouraged them. After about a dozen or so, I started just running for relaxation and health reasons. Again, full disclosure, I’ve fallen off the wagon here, but it is on my list to start again. But it should be noted that I’ve kept the weight off even when not running for a couple years because I mostly maintain my diet.

I believe that you can do this as well. If you’re interested and you want help, let me know. Or, you can check out the specific subreddits on Reddit that I mentioned: Keto, Intermittent Fasting, and Bodyweight Fitness. They are full of people that just want to help you. And if you want to show off how far it takes you, there’s always LoseIt and ProgressPics. These are also great, supportive subreddits.

So, if this is something you want to explore, here are some tasks for next week. If you’re already where you want to be diet and health-wise, you get the week off.

  1. Make a list of things you can do to improve your diet. Don’t just go on a diet. Think of how you can change your diet to be better in the long run.
  2. Start doing those things, one at a time, until they become habit, until they become your diet.
  3. Start doing research into exercise. Figure out if you want to go to the gym or just work out at home like I did. Either way, start to do the research.
  4. Start doing those things, one at a time, but only if you’re in a place weight-wise that will allow you to work out without injuring yourself. If you’re not, just focus on diet until you are.

Remember, a diet should be a lifestyle change. It’s what makes you look good in clothes. Exercise is what you do with what’s left. It’s what makes you look good naked. Keep those goals separate and do them in an order that benefits you without overloading you.

I believe in you. And, until next week… Watch me shine.

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