It’s All About The Inputs

When I picked up my last pair of running shoes, the clerk went through the usual song and dance of trying to find a shoe just for me. It reminded me of a car salesman trying to get me to choose that one special car on the lot. It’s almost like magic.

I’ve come to the same running store for years. I’m not Norm from Cheers. They don’t shout my name when I walk through the door, nothing like that. I started wearing Asics Gel Kayano version 12 and stayed true for years. I’m on a Saucony run now. Asics made changes to the 18, which put me off. Three Saucony pairs in a row! But, in general, I’m a creature of habit. If it ain’t broken, well, you know the rest.

On this day, I was in a good mood. I didn’t cut the clerk off and ask him to look up the make/model of my last pair. No. I had manners. I let the clerk finish his pitch. When he asked what race I’m training for, I replied, “No race. I run so I can eat what I want.”

This has been my diet philosophy for years. A couple of years out of college I looked at the scale, and 241 stared back at me. It’s scary how it happens. Almost sneaks up on you. I guess I’ve been running from 241 for years. Through a tortuous process, I dropped 60+ pounds. It took years.

I used to hate running. Despised it, actually. And then, I grew to love it. I’m not sure if long-distance running is good for you, that’s up to debate. However, I’ll always be grateful for what those tennis shoes did for me. Nothing gets your heart rate going faster than a good run.

Recently on an early morning run, I was crossing a street, and a car ran through a stop sign. A blue Toyota turned right into me. I jumped out of the way, somehow kicked off the fender, but was still tossed to the sidewalk. Don’t worry, I’m fine. Mom, no reason to panic. Although I’m still a bit pissed that the driver sped away. Buddy, whoever you are, I hope karma comes calling.

This set me back about a week. When I finally laced the sneakers back up (I was itching to get moving), I turned my ankle about three miles out. I was listening to this guy on a podcast talk about how he auctioned his name off on eBay, and I either caught a rock sideways or slipped on the ice. It still amazes me this guy changed his name to Johnny for about 40 large. Crazy but true. I’m still mad because Mr. made my ankle swell up like a basketball. Hey, you gotta blame someone for stupid stuff. It might as well be him.

As my weight started to creep up, something had to be done. I posted a few months back about the marginal difference in calorie burn between running and walking. I decided to modify a few approaches from several great books. We are all very different. With seven billion plus people on the planet, I’m sure there is someone out there who eats nothing but avocados and can run 50 miles without breaking a sweat. Experimentation is key.

In the last week or so, here are the rules I followed on my quest/experiment.

(1) Keep a food diary. Before you eat anything, write it down. This made me stop and think before eating tootsie rolls all day. I eat a lot of tootsie rolls. Stress can do that to a guy. For my diary, I use an app called MyFitnessPal. If you eat a bag of peanuts, scan the bar code and all the dietary information comes along for the ride. There are other apps out there, but this works for me. It also integrates work out information from multiple devices.

(2) Set your food composition in the app with this basic philosophy in mind. Fifty percent of your diet comes from fat and split the difference between carbohydrates and protein. If you want to tip the balance, take ten percent from carbs and split it between protein and fat. No, this doesn’t follow the food pyramid. I’m convinced the Pyramid of Bureaucracy was created by a bunch of food companies lobbying the government to push their product and poison us anyway. Why is fat so important?

As the theory goes, your body is built to consume fat. It’s what our brains run on. And your body can’t change fat into sugar. Your body can biochemically change carbs and protein into sugar. So, if you just cut the carbs and shift it to protein your body will find a means to make sugar. At a high level, this is where Atkins breaks down.

(3) Eat or drink nothing white. This goes for potatoes (The Lord knows how much I miss french fries), anything fried or made of corn, milk, and most of all sugar or any substance that tries to be sugar. I mean nothing. No diet soda. No real soda. There are other foods to think about too. No Cheetos with cheddar pixie dust. No bread. No sugar in your coffee; drink it black. God meant you to drink it black anyway.

(4) Go crazy with the green stuff. Remember the opening song to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Yes, anything goes. As long as it’s green, you’re good to go.

(5) Protein is your friend. Chicken, steak, pork, etc., eat all you want.

(6) If you get a craving for the Starbuck Peppermint Hot Chocolate, write it down. If you’re a smartphone user, put it in Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, or Notability. When Saturday rolls around, go crazy. Eat whatever you want. Your body needs a change of pace once in a while. If you do the same workout week after week, what happens? The benefits gradually decrease. It’s good to mix it up. The same goes for food, at least in theory.

I did this for one week and lost 6.3 pounds. I didn’t track calories. I found you can eat a ton of chicken and greens, and it can still be daunting to get to 2500 calories. I also did zero workouts. My ankle was the size of a black balloon. There wasn’t much I could do.

I will say this worked for me but everyone is different. Also, it’s good to talk to a nutritionist or doctor before making drastic changes to the diet. I’m not qualified to practice in either profession. But in the end, it doesn’t matter how much you exercise. Truly, I don’t think exercising contributes to weight loss. Yes, there are other benefits and I’ll still lace up my tennis shoes. But in the end, it’s all about the inputs.

Other Notes: