Our third installment of ‘The Men of Steep” comes from a fraternity brother and friend of my husband (alright, and me too!) Heck, he even came on our Honeymoon!
Al and I at Oktoberfest (my Beermoon) Munich 2013
When I say that his transformation has been incredible, I mean it’s jaw dropping. But what I think is so important about Al’s story is that it is very relate-able. We all have that one friend we can count on for a good time, a drink, and inappropriate jokes. When he tells you he is making a change you are more prone be like, “Yea, yea, believe it when I see it.” Well, we all believe it. His change was gradual, the way it’s suppose to be, and in the meantime his whole perspective changed. It’s rare to watch someone come out the other side of a weight loss and be happy to be in what he now calls “maintenance.”
Or maybe meeting the love of his life helped. It sure didn’t hurt! Together they have lost 112 pounds(!)- having an accountability partner has huge advantages. What’s great is that they cook together and follow the same program, he will explain. At the end of the day no body can do it for you. You have to want it. And Al did. I still get a kick out of seeing him.
Let get to Al’s story. He has offered so many usable tips and some fav recipes. I know I am going to try some!
Tell us about your journey to where you are today
I’ve been at some level of overweight nearly my whole adult life. In high school, I played sports, worked manual labor (construction and on the farm), ate whatever I wanted, and that was my last time at a weight in the “normal” range, until now. I was about 30 lbs (210) overweight at the end of college, and over the years yo-yoed between there and as high as about 250 (70 lbs overweight).
It usually built up so gradually that it was hard to notice before it got too far.
I read many books, tried quite a few things, but for the most part didn’t find enough new good habits that would last. Eventually I found some books that really resonated with me, as they advance the science and debunk old ideas.
Here are my favorites:
1. Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
2. The Big Fat Surprise by Natalie Teicholz
3. Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis
4. The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf
What changed this time?
I had enough of hauling around those extra pounds and all the associated side effects.
I went to the doctor for some recurring joint pain, to which he couldn’t definitively diagnose (some signs, but not all pointed to gout) or offer any help for; he instead simply addressed my health items he could measure, and prescribed medication for both high blood pressure and cholesterol.
The idea of taking medication the rest of my life didn’t sit too well with me, no matter how safe they may claim they are.
At the same time, I didn’t want to ignore those high levels and associated risk factors for disease. Ultimately what stuck for me was a system, backed up with recipes and practical eating-out advice that really worked. The staff over at the Medical Weight Loss Clinic provided great support, and the weekly appointments helped keep me accountable and positive. (Al and his fiance do this together.)
I’ve been at the goal weight for about 4 months. Today I’m at 175 lbs, putting me in the ‘normal’ BMI range (the BMI is far from being a perfect scale, but it’s the most common benchmark around). Joint pain is virtually gone.
No longer taking any medication, and both my cholesterol and blood pressure are good. (WOW!)
I’m learning how to bring more carbs back into my diet, and find the balance of how much works for me.
What are your food beliefs?
• There are no essential carbohydrates.
• Sugar substitutes are a poor choice.
• Whole grains aren’t the magic so many sources make them sound. A few more vitamins versus their bleached white cousins are little consolation when these complex carbs raise your insulin level and put you into fat storage mode. Humans are poorly suited to digest such large amounts of grain.
• Calories in do not equal calories out. Our body’s systems are far more complex than this simplistic notion.
• Eating fats is just fine. (or eating fat doesn’t make you fat; fat you eat doesn’t get stored in your fat cells; fat = fuel, etc.)
• The government is the worst source of dietary advice and standards. All policies to date are driven by someone out for profit or fame, and data frequently manipulated to fit a narrative, while masquerading as science.
• You can lose weight without having to starve.
• You can lose weight while eating plenty of very good tasting things.
• You can lose weight without exercise.
- Weight Loss Clinic Pintrest page
- Amazing Cheese Crust Pizza
- Zucchini lasagna. I’m not positive which exact one I had used, there are many out there online. Basically swap noodles for strips of zucchini that is sliced and baked, and use a marinara sauce that is low in sugar/carbs with no sugar added.
- Zucchini pasta using the Spiralizer with any meat dish. I was skeptical at first, but it tastes very good, and is very simple.
- Cheddar tacos. Make circles of approximately 6” diameter each of shredded cheddar, on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook at 400°F for 8 minutes. Hang them over anything round, like a wooden spoon, then they will cool and form the taco shell shape. Fill with meat, salsa, etc. like a normal taco.
Eat Out Tips
- Read the whole menu, there probably are a few good options that require no substitutions. Plenty of dishes out there that have just meat with vegetables.
- Unsweetened Ice Tea is a good sugar free drink. Almost everywhere has it.
- Order a burger (or other sandwich) without the bread/bun. It’s a pretty common thing to do these days, no one will think you’re weird for doing so.
- Ask if they can do substitutions if the menu doesn’t say so. For example, you often can get broccoli or mixed vegetables instead of fries. Or a side salad.
- Make the better choice, if the “best” choice isn’t an option. Don’t let the lack of the perfect option be an excuse to give up and eat junk.
- If you were raised to clean your plate like I was, be aware of this behavior in yourself. I find it hard to only eat a few of the fries or other items. It can be easier to just say no up front. If the only choices are fries or chips, you can always say neither.
What is lighting you up at the moment?
• The NBA playoffs – go Bucks!
• Random videos that YouTube suggests. Some channels I frequently check out lately are: Numberphile, Langfocus, SciShow, The 8-Bit Guy, Mathologer, Arlo, & RonPaulLibertyReport.
What is your morning routine?
• Feed the cats
Al even proposed with his cat!
• Fill up my water bottle
• Take my vitamins
• A small breakfast – either a couple breakfast sausages or a cheese stick
• Off to work, where the coffee is free!
Today I am grateful for…
My fiancé. I’m so happy I finally met the right person to spend my life with.
Thank you Al!
Isn’t it incredible he got himself off his medications!?! I love that – it’s empowering. And I loved his point of making the better choice if the ‘best’ isn’t available.
What we put on our plate matters.
Something I wanted to point out is that ALL three of “The Men of Steep” believe in drinking water, vegetables, and well, that the government does not have our back. You really have to be your own advocate. People have their own genetics, intolerances, allergies, body compositions… we are all different. YOU have to be a detective and take charge of your own health.
I HAD to include this one of Al this past fall back in Munich for Oktoberbest 2016. Cheers AL!
Steeping in mind/body transformations,