by Ryan Mangipano
Unfortunately, I had a setback following this progress. My digestive system problem from 2011 gave me further problems and I required an outpatient surgery. For a few months, I was unable to tolerate excessive fiber or hard foods. I went mostly off the SSOS nutrition plan and the weight loss abruptly stopped. I avoided vegetables and nuts; they were replaced with starches, applesauce, and banana’s. I was also very busy with a differential equations class and I sometimes choose to eat fast food. I fell into the trap of telling myself, “today is already ruined, I’ll just have a bowl of cheerios, sandwich, or a biscuit”. Of course, after eating one serving of these foods, I was hungrier than before I started. The only good thing is that I was able to frequently use my Blendtec blender to make nutrient dense (but high sugar) fruit shakes. Also during the second half of the year, I reduced my weightlifting and I lost muscle mass. I kept my weekly cardio class during much of the year, but wasn’t able to play much basketball. I’m not advocating cardio; however, one cannot ignore the potential impact of this changing variable on my story.
Nevertheless, I realized that I was gaining some of the weight back. On the other hand, I anticipated recommencing the weight loss effort after life slowed down and I recovered. This renewed effort really didn’t happen until January of 2013 with another new year’s resolution of getting back on track. I became SANE again by dropping all the starches. Surprisingly, when I started working out and eating better again, I gained ten pounds in one month. I’m not sure why, but I suspect some of it might have been lost muscle quickly returning once I started working out hard again. Regrettably, the next few months brought about significant differences in my entire approach. This was due to the fact that I sprained my right knee (as Jonathan warned). This led me to replace cardio with many hours of traditional weightlifting (with some powerlifting mixed in). I questionably shifted my focus away from fat loss and towards muscle gain. During the first half of the year, I ramped up my total fat to 48% and increased my calories to an average of 3793 per day. During a few days, I even raised my calories to almost 6000 following some of my hardest weightlifting workouts. I even caught myself trying to force myself to eat more even when I wasn’t hungry. Worst yet, I went to waffle house for a total of 45 times during the first half of the year. My son got a job at waffle house and we have made a habit of eating there after leaving the gym.
Noteworthy is the fact that I felt like I was eating mostly SANE. Contradictory to this, the data in my phone app suggests that my veggie consumption was significantly less than when I initially started in 2012. Jonathan’s podcast had introduced me to many paleo, weightlifting, and low-carb resources. As a result, I have been following more of a low-carb/high-fat paleo diet. I love the paleo approach; however, I overeat on fats when I eat less vegetables. For me, my weight reduction has maintained a correlation to my non-starchy vegetable consumption. Separately, I have been incorporating new ideas, such as intermittent fasting, into my approach.
Even at these crazy numbers, I continue to gain muscle without the scale going up. I have made further improvements to my body composition; however, you would never know it if you only looked at the scale. The scale does not demonstrating the difference that this change has made in my life. Also, the scale can give the wrong impression. To illustrate this, my weight today was 212. Nevertheless, my size 35 pants feel a bit looser today than 1 year ago when my weight was ten pounds less. If it was just about hitting some number on the scale, I’m sure I could do things today like stop lifting weights, run cardio all day, dehydrate my body, and starve myself. This might allow me to go under 200 quickly. However, this would accomplish nothing positive.
There are other clues that I have improved also. My right bicep measurement started at 17” and was mostly fat. Today, my arms are a lot leaner and measure 17.5” and the skin feels much thinner. However, they will all continue to look small as long as I am sporting a 45” waist. My face, legs, and arms have leaned out significantly. In fact, the further away from my stomach you get, the less fat remains. My chest, back, and thighs all still have a lot to lose. Nevertheless, the excessive visceral fat remains the most stubborn. My waist at its largest diameter has remained at 45” for the last year. While this is much better than the 50” I started with, I still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, I am finding that the more fat I lose, the more effort it requires to continue to make further progress.
Still, I’m extremely happy about what I have been able to achieve. My set point seems to have dropped from around 240 where it stayed for years to around 210 where it sits now. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been starting to play a little basketball (knee is starting to heal), adding more veggies, and cutting back slightly on the fats. Basically, I’m just trying to get back to whatever it seems that I was doing differently last year. At this point, I feel that the non-starchy vegetables are the key for me.
Wish me luck as I continue to tweak my diet, attempt to bring my weight under 200 pounds, and maintain most of the lean muscle that I have gained. I if I can get under 200 before the end of the year without muscle loss, I will be very happy. Perhaps this newly gained muscle will help me to burn off the rest of the fat. I am hoping that I will continue to stay on track, avoid any further setbacks, and gradually lose another 30 pounds or so of fat and some more inches off my waist. As my friend pointed out, it took me years to gain all this extra body fat. Losing it properly will probably take just as long. Who knows what challenges lie ahead. Some of the body fat appears looser. This happened last time before I lost a lot of weight. I wonder if I am about to lose weight again.