I DID THE MATH
Science says I can have the body of Hugh Jackman in 6 months – safely and without gimmicks. As a recovering fat kid, I’m ready to cut that ad from the back of the comic book and mail in my $9.95 with self-addressed stamped envelope. Or, just buy the eBook. Anything to help with this ongoing, lifelong battle with my body. Anything.
I decided to cut through the bullshit when it came to my arch enemy – body fat. How? Hydro-static testing. Reasonably priced, fast, and accurate. We found a guy who has a truck that roams Northern California like a fitness minstrel luring athletes in with a website, appointment book, and the promise of answers. So we booked the appointment and drove to his location to see what we could see.
Once inside the truck, I filled out the necessary Death Waiver, stripped down to my shorts, and got into the shallow tank. Lying face down, I was instructed to put a dainty weight belt on my lower back to keep me from floating up. Then, after a deep breath in, I blew all the air out of my lungs and put my face into the water. Once all of the bubbles were forced out of my body, I waited – for the longest ten seconds ever – to hear three bangs on the side of the tank telling me I was done. That was round one. Two more to go Deep breath, exhale, force out bubbles, nearly drown – deep breath, exhale, force out bubbles, nearly drown – and the test was complete. While I wasn’t getting shot up with Adamantium in a Top Secret Stan Lee experiment, flashes of Wolverine Origins came to mind.
LOOKING AT THE MIRROR AND FINDING THE CRACKS
Then we got to see how fat I really was. This part is most difficult, embarrassing… and avoided by most people. It’s so much easier to stay on the couch eating Cheetos while watching the Giants beat the Dodgers. But I have been in this fight for so long, seen the needle move on these numbers move so little, that I wanted to know more about myself than watch Buster Posey up his average, yet again, covered in cheese dust. I needed this information to cut through the guessing, know for certain what my body was composed of, and hopefully gain some insights as to why I’m not losing weight.
Here is where fat Wolverine is currently.
Body Fat: 65.2 lbs.; 26.3%
Lean Muscle Mass: 182.6 lbs.; 73.7%
The reality is while I have been able to perform better because of the training schedule over the last three months, I was still at 26% body fat. Success in changing my body composition was pretty minor compared to my overall goals: cut fat and improve my performance at GORUCK Toughs.
This brought me to review my key strategies for the last few months. Perhaps this is where I was going wrong and needed to make some adjustments before going in for another dose of submersion theater. Over the past three months I had focused on three objectives:
- Training Schedule: Following the protocol from Military Athlete, I had worked through Humility, Big24, and Fortitude programs, training 4-6 days a week. While life got in the way a few times, my training stayed on course for the most part.
- Macro mix + MFP: Taking from Ben Greenfield’s discussions of a fat-adapted diet, I moved my macronutrient mix to 50% fat, 25% carb, and 25% protein. All intake was logged into MyFitnessPal app (MFP). Many days I was well under my RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate – the number of calories my engine needs to function properly while at rest). I maintained the thought that I was better off with less calories than more and that I didn’t want to break that ceiling, so remained under my RMR regularly.
- Cheat Days: I also took the advice from Military Athlete and others that one day out of the week you should “cheat like a mother.” The idea being this will resolve the cravings you have for what you’ve been missing all week as well as keep the body from adapting hormonally to the clean eating style you keep most days. The logic of it seemed sound, and my inner fat kid was happy to play along with that.
While I cut out a lot of trouble foods most days – anything with wheat flour or added sugar, and most grains, dairy, and legumes – I did not cut back much in alcohol. Study after study talk about the health benefits of 1-2 drinks on a daily basis, so I felt justified in my alcohol intake. Plus, Cheat Days are okay, right?
PLOTTING THE NEW COURSE
Back to the science. With my body fat test I got a realistic RMR. Now I needed to revise my goals, review my strategies, and plot my new course for diet and training.
My new body composition goals? 13% Body Fat at 215 pounds. How to get there? More math: at 1.5 lbs./week lost and 33 pounds of fat to be lost. At that pace, I’ll have my Hugh Jackman body in about six months!
Now I needed to figure out what changes I need to make and why.
First came the math to figure out my caloric sweet spot. One pound of fat equals 3500 calories. That means eating 750 kcals less than I burn each day, while not eating below my RMR. My equation came out like this:
RMR + Workday burn – Weight Loss Deficit = Max Calories/per day
Or 2259 + 968 -750 = 2477 Max kcals/day
When balanced against my RMR, this sets my Caloric Range between 2259-2477 kcals per day. Plus, calories burned during exercise allow more calories for intake if needed. Bonus!
Next came the strategies needed to use this knowledge and meet these goals:
- Eat more calories: I wasn’t getting enough calories to tell my body I’m not in fear of starvation, so it was holding onto what I have just in case. Instead of operating like a Depression-era Grandmother, I need my body to spend calories like a Baby Boomer Grandfather, which it will only do when it’s safe. That means my body needs to know it’s safe from war and famine – which it will with enough calories taken onboard.
- No booze: It’s time to kick it – at least until I reach my goals later this year. Besides, there are so many downsides to alcohol I have a hard time justifying continuing its role in my life. Does that mean you won’t see me enjoying a cocktail in the future? No, but for now I need to put it down.
- Tweaking the Macronutrient mix: As good as I felt with the higher fat intake, I feel even better with a bit more carbohydrate in my diet to fuel recovery and performance. I’m moving it to a 40% fat, 30% protein, and 30% carb mix to see how that effects things. I’m still avoiding processed wheat flour, added sugars, and most grains, I think the slightly added carbohydrate will be better for me.
- No more Cheat Days: While there may be the occasional Cheat Meal, dedicating a whole day to it was too much. Recovery from it, both mentally and physically, only made it tougher through the week. I’d rather enjoy feeling better every day, with every bite, and not give in to the mental/emotional crutch of pastries or beer. Besides, Life presents enough opportunity where I’m so limited on options that I have to go nutritional off-roading.
In all the years I’ve been wrestling with these issues, I have learned that everyone has different genetic, hormonal, and body type makeups, never mind one’s health and performance goals. Some people want to go to Ranger School, while others want to run 10Ks. Or maybe they’re fighting cancer or coping with a death in the family. There are so many factors that one size – or diet – does not fit all. We simply must experiment in order to figure out what works best for us.
A lot of times we all joke about how stupid our hobby is. But it’s all with the target of being a better human being at the end of it. And thanks to math, science, and a mobile test lab, I can have a day where I feel like Wolverine and comeback from years of stress and chaos. Lookout Hugh Jackman. This recovering fat kid is a’coming!
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