Other Food Philosophies
I began juicing vegetables and fruit, food combining, macrobiotics, fasting and then re-feeding to increase my metabolism. If I read about it, I tried it. I put it into practice. Juicing became my first priority of the day and at some points, I would even go days or weeks drinking nothing but juice and eating only fruits and raw vegetables.
Fasting and Cleansing
I then learned about fasting as a method to cleanse the body. The longest I went was 42 days without food, just drinking water. I would never ever do this again and I do not recommend it. Starving your body is doing it a dis-service. During this time, I had wicked blood sugar irregularities. I would get up off the couch, turn the corner to go to the kitchen for some water and blacked out. I must repeat that I do not recommend this.
When fasting or cleansing, one or two days per week is very good, but no need for anything longer.
Since 1991, I’ve used Sunrider foods as my nutritional foundation. Sunrider manufactures system specific whole food formula’s not based on what foods are, but rather what foods do!
I drink Sunrider Calli Tea daily which I find keeps my mind sharp, my skin clear, my elimination system working at full speed and helps me build muscle more efficiently.
So now, instead of thinking about “cleansing”, I think “nourish the cleansing system – and let it work more efficiently – day in, day out”. I get to eat my way to a cleaner body.
Stoking The Metabolism
I realized that with times of fasting and a vegetable based diet, I’d be eating very little food and eventually plateau in my weight loss. I quickly learned that I must eat more food to keep my metabolism up and to continue to burn fat. I was simply eating too little food and it was when I began to add in oatmeal and brown rice that things began to change again. I took a course on “whole foods” where I told people that I had a “near God experience”. I responded very well to oatmeal. I bought Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut oats which are a whole food and take 30 minutes to prepare. I would put the pot on the stove to cook and then go out for a walk while it was cooking. I began to stabilize my blood sugar levels, felt more balanced and began to put on more muscle. The same thing occurred with Brown Rice. I began to eat it with every meal along with steamed vegetables with the same results.
Eliminating The Coffee, Alcohol and Drugs
I quit smoking and drinking alcohol. I quit drinking coffee and soda pop and replaced them with water, fresh fruit juices and the Sunrider herbal tea Calli I mentioned earlier. Where I once craved a beer, I began to crave Calli tea. I realized that if my body was craving this new “whole food beverage” then I should listen. I remember a time when I had ordered some beers at a local pub and when I was into my third one, I began to crave Calli. I paid my tab, ran home and made a pot of tea.
Soon I added more Sunrider foods to my diet and things began to rapidly improve. My skin tone began to change, my skin tightened up and my stretch marks began to heal. My fingernails began to become harder and I began to heal much much faster. I had been addicted to drugs for about 4 years and a short 3 months after starting on Sunrider, my stress levels were lowered so much that I stopped smoking pot cold turkey. I began to sleep better and had an even better outlook on life.
I went from being addicted to alcohol and drugs to being sober and drug free.
I learned about fats – good fats and bad fats. I realized that our body needs essential fats for many metabolic functions and good health, so I added Essential Fatty Acids to my diet rather than following a no-fat diet. To this day, I use coconut oil for cooking and consume Udo’s Oil as my primary EFA.
Each time I learned a new principle and applied it, I took my weight loss another step further and my health continued to improve.
At a weight of nearly 400 pounds, I began walking daily, at least 20 minutes, and more if I felt inspired. I realized that I was not able to do pushups at that body weight and body size, but I could use the stairs in my house to do incline pushups, so that’s exactly what I did.
When I reached my lowest weight of 187 pounds, I traded my drug addiction for bodybuilding. One reason was because I didn’t want to be skinny. But I also realized that when you give up a negative habit, that leaves a vacuum that must be filled with a new positive habit, or else the old habit may easily return. So I started weight lifting and became addicted to the bodybuilding lifestyle!
I could only do three or four sit ups, but I realized that if I did only three sit ups per day, at some point I’d become stronger and I would then be able to do six, and then twelve, and then twenty or more – so that’s exactly what I did. I was nowhere near able to see my abs at that point, but I knew that given time, the abs would be there when I dropped enough of the fat that was covering them.
I started from scratch, but I had read Muscle and Fitness magazine when I was in junior high school and dabbled in some basic training back then, so I knew a little on the subject when I took it up seriously later in life.
I began working out with weights three times a week in addition to my walking, which continued for many more years. When I started, I could only bench press 40 pounds and squat only 80 pounds. But the amount was not important to me, because it was a start. What was important to me was the act of exercise for the sake of exercise.
I was so enthusiastic, my workouts grew to almost two hours in length, including 30 minutes just for abdominal training. Since those humble beginnings, I’ve learned the power of periodization and I began to change my weight training programs every few months. Today, each training program lasts me no longer than six weeks at most. I realize that my body will adapt and I will hit a plateau if I don’t change routines frequently.
Today I train no longer than 45 minutes and treat my abdominals no differently than any other body part. I hit them with intensity, with low reps and focus more on core training than abdominal training. I split my abdominals between workouts, doing upper abs one day, lower abs another, and obliques on yet another day.
In the years that followed, I applied these new philosophies on a daily basis and my new habits became a lifestyle that I enjoy to this day still.
In the photo series to the right, you can see how following a program of natural whole foods along with Sunrider and daily exercise can transform a man from 475 pounds to lean and muscular.
The Power of Protein
Even when I was on a vegetarian diet, I began to put on muscle, but it was a full 12 years after I started, that I learned the power of protein to take my bodybuilding results to the next level.
I had been weight training as a vegetarian for years – with very good results – but wanted to know what effect protein would have on my physique and muscularity. My philosophy has always been to experiment with new ideas, test them and see what results I got before judging. After being vegetarian for so many years and for so many reasons, it was not easy! It took me two years of thinking about it before I made the decision to eat fish, chicken and eggs again.
I started with a whey protein powder, but it wasn’t long until I felt a calling to start using animal protein. When I did, I felt a surge of energy course through my body from the very first day of eating meat and I loved it.
I began to lose even more fat, break even more fat loss plateaus, and pack on even more muscle. I also noticed that my body temperature increased (from the thermogenic effect) and I even slept better.
Today, my training days consist of two parts, a morning cardio session, where I do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in a fasted state and then another session in the afternoon. I found that these frequent training sessions kept my metabolism burning all day long and I burn more fat.
When I was at my highest bodyweight of 475, I had a 55 inch waist. At my lowest weight of 187, I was a size 38 waist. Now at 240 pounds, I still have a size 38 waist – but I have much more muscle, rock hard abs and a well-conditioned core.
I’ve found that with the increase in muscle and with twice the daily energy output, I require more calories than I used to. Every pound of muscle that I gained requires more food to sustain it, so over the years I’ve had to constantly “tweak” and update my food program.
Even though I’ve lost hundreds of pounds and kept if off for years, I feel my best when I continue to exercise on a regular basis and eat only whole, natural foods. I keep my metabolism up with exercise and by following simple bodybuilding nutrition principles.
At 40 years of age, I am in the best shape of my life, but I know I have much more I can accomplish with my physique. New goals continue to keep me motivated, but along with setting goals such as reaching a specific body fat percentage, my goals today are more about the journey than the destination. My biggest goal today is to continue to train week in, week out – for life – and to continue to strive for peak performance in every area of my life.
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