The what? Well it’s a book, or is it a lifestyle. Either way, I debated on whether or not I should post on this, since I’m not sure what it has to do with computers but I digress. Basically, it all starts about six months ago. My wife (then fiance) and I decided that we would quit smoking after we got married in December. We both agreed that it was the best decision for both our health and our wallets. So January 7th we arrived back in Phoenix from our honeymoon, with only the cigarettes in our pockets. When they were gone we quit.
Great plan right! Wrong! I like smoking dam it! I like beer and I like smokes! Healthy!? Who needs it? Ok, well the thing is after about two months of no smokes, I had apparently completely detoxified. Health was starting to become important. I found that I enjoy breathing nearly as much as smoking. The down side is I put on about ten to fifteen pounds while quitting. That goes along with an ongoing weight management problem that goes back to my childhood. So I needed to at least do something about the latest fifteen.
So how’d I get to be so fat?! Well, it’s simple really. I eat candy bars from the time I wake up until the time I finally go into a sugar coma and I never ever move because I’m lazy. Well at least that seems to be the opinion of some, but as more and more people are joining the ranks of the overweight and obese I think more people are realizing that if you sit at work it is easy to gain weight. Personally I was a nerd growing up and it’s hard to read while running, swimming, jogging, etc. It also has something to do with genetics.
Everything changed when I was about fourteen years old. Within what seemed like a few months I had grown about a foot and a half taller. At about the same time I started a weight training program. Actually I’m not sure if that is the right term since I basically was just lifting weights, with out much guidance or knowledge of what I was doing. The results were good. I don’t think I lost pounds but I did build muscle. Looking back, by seventeen or so, I was in shape and lets just say I looked good. That’s when my life became totally disrupted.
At seventeen I started college. At first I continued lifting, and doing push ups etc., but then something happened. I kept getting busier. Soon I spent most of my time doing school work, working, and just trying to relax long enough to do it all again the next day. Unfortunately I had never learned that I needed to take time for myself first, or that I couldn’t keep eating like a teenager who was benching more than his weight when my only workout was going from one class to the next and trying not to lose my mind in Phoenix traffic. Net result was my freshman fifteen was more like thirty. I’m sure more accumulated over the next several years. So that brings us to graduation day! Or does it?
Finally, at 25, I graduate! That’s right eight years for a four year degree. Laugh it up chuckles. To be fair if I add up only full time semesters I come up with five years, which works out about right for a engineering degree at 12 credits per semester (more than 12 is possible if you’re one of those dudes that does not work or play – one or the other not both). The other three years were well spent with a two year “midlife crisis” around twenty, and a year of busting ass for a second shot at a college education. Lesson learned. As a bonus I managed to lose thirty pounds during the semester and right after graduation. In three months!
So yes it can be done. How? Well I did the Atkins diet. I can not lie it was not easy. Thinking back on it I can’t understand how any diet that does not allow me to drink my morning glass of OJ can be healthy. But I did lose weight. This was the important thing since I had tried other diets that just did not work. I’d go about three days starving then lose it. On Atkins I was never hungry, but after three months I never wanted to see another egg or salad again. I was even sick of steak. The lesson learned is Atkins is too extreme but it is possible for me to lose weight. Then with a slow job market, I started graduate school.
About 2003 or 2004 I was finally on the path to enlightenment. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I was starting to catch on to the make time for the complete me thing. Still after finally purchasing a significant amount of weight lifting equipment to replace the equipment of my youth, I had a false start. I stuck too it for about half way through my first semester of grad school, then it happened. I’ve got a lot of extra work this week so I’ll just skip my workout. A week turned into two, then soon it was all forgotten.
Ok, so this is getting to be a rather long tail just to review a book. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll see that I learned a few things about weight loss over the last fifteen years or so. First, increases in testosterone and other hormones cause radical physical changes to your body in your early teen years. Add weight training and you get muscles, and significant decreases in fat. Second, extremely low carb intake can lead to rapid weight loss. Were am I now?
As of March I joined Weight Watchers with my wife. I must admit I was skeptical before I started. I’m pretty independent, so I don’t need the whole group bullshit. I’m still skeptical about the diet, but primarily because it is based on the food pyramid (FDA propaganda). There is nothing wrong with the concept of cutting calories. Just grab any nutrition book and you can find a simple formula for calculating how many you need to maintain, eat 500 less than that a day and you’ll lose a pound a week. Simple. This is all fine unless you are a man, and you want to build muscle in addition to losing weight. After a month of meetings I have to say they can be motivating. Basically it boils down to the fact that I am a very competitive person. I’m now engaged in a little competitive weight loss, of course the other competitors don’t necessarily know who they are but I’m kicking ass so far.
Muscle is built from protein, as are your organs. The FDA recommended diet does not include enough protein to build muscle, if you are engaging in a serious weight training program. Sport nutritionist recommend anywhere from 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of body weight up to 1 gram for each pound per day. On a protein deficient diet your body will cannibalize your muscles in order to keep your organs strong, of course eventually you will need dietary protein or you die. This is why vegetarians look like they could get there ass kicked by a stiff wind. So if you are going to lift you need more protein than the FDA recommends, so you need a diet that is not sponsored by AHA or based on the evil pyramid.
So basically it all boils down to this. If you are a geek, you probably need to be more active. You may not have as far to go as I do but the same principles apply. You can spend fifteen years learning from your own mistakes and figuring out how to do what is explained in The Testosterone Advantage Plan : Lose Weight, Gain Muscle, Boost Energy or you can just get the book and read it. Don’t forget after you read it start practicing it. The only thing I don’t like about the book is that they try to sell you on a nine week get fit quick pitch. However, in later chapters the author does fess up that the nine weeks is mainly to sell the book to quick fixers, who probably stopped reading after chapter one anyway. The reality is that you don’t stop exercising, and your diet changes to reflect your goals (weight loss, maintenance, or building muscle). I’ll save you some time though. If you don’t like exercise or some sport then you are not going to stick too anything. Save the money for your heart surgery, don’t buy the book. If you are like me and you enjoy weight lifting but have put it off because you don’t think you have time then you need this book. The exercises are decent and the rest of the book will motivate you to do them. It’s a quick motivating read with plenty of good diet and exercise information all in one spot. The diet is basically Mediterranean, so if you are really motivated you should order a cookbook like Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking so you can learn to cook really great Italian and end up eating way better tasting stuff than when you were not keeping fit. The menus in the book are pretty lame so you will want to figure out alternatives with similar macro-nutrient ratios.
The other missing ingredient in this book is a guide to supplements. If you browse the bodybuilding sites you’ll see there are a ton of them. Most are crap. Most sources I’ve found agree you need a multivitamin, and essential oils. Beyond that a protein shake is great for before or after a workout. Also, a B complex won’t hurt, and most people get a little pick up from it. They also play an important role in metabolism. A basic strategy for weight loss is load up on any of the vitamins and minerals that play important roles in metabolism and are not toxic at high levels. Stay away from diet pills, hormone precursors, and loading up on one particular amino. These are either useless, unproven, unsafe or all of the above. There is a lot of hype about thermogenics, some are really expensive replacements for espresso. The rest are actually dangerous. Anyway seems like maybe I should post again on this topic because I could definitely continue rambling.