Let’s Talk About Losing 145 Pounds!!!

Meet Andrew.

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Yep, that’s him. That’s his before and after picture. Andrew has lost 145 pounds. No, you didn’t read that wrong. Andrew has lost 145 lbs !!! Or as one of my clients said when I told her about Andrew’s incredible body transformation. “It’s like he lost a whole human.”
Andrew is not a client of mine. I repeat, he is not a client of mine. He is just someone I know through my wife’s work. I train a group of ladies twice per week where my wife works (UCG in Gaithersburg, MD), and I had seen Andrew working out in the same facility where I train the UCG group.
First thing I noticed about Andrew is that he is a big dude. He’s not eff-ay-tee, he’s just a big dude. He’s 6’3’ and weighs in at 215 lbs, and that’s 215lbs of muscle! I am 5’11’, and 185 lbs, so he really looks big to me.

 
Andrew works out hard. He does weights, cardio conditioning, and is involved in UFC type training. Ok, he’s somewhat of a beast. What impresses me about Andrew the most is his weight loss. Because anyone can workout intensely, but if the diet’s not right, weight loss will be tough. I am so impressed with his weight loss that I asked him if I can interview him so I can share his story with anyone who reads my blog, and he obliged.

 
Andrew, what’s the most you ever weighed? “360lbs. I never weighed myself after that. I don’t think I went any higher.”

 
How old are you? “I am 31.”

 
How much weight have you lost? “145 lbs” WOW!!!

 
How were you built/shaped as a kid? “I wasn’t thin, but I wasn’t fat either. I was just a big kid. I would say I was thick.”

 
You played sports growing up? “Yep. I played basketball, wrestling, football, and soccer. Soccer was my favorite. I was really good at soccer, up until 7th grade, and then the kids started to outrun me because I got too big. So in high school I started playing football. I played tackle on both sides of the ball, and I wrestled in high school too.”

 
How much did you weigh in high school? “As a freshman I already weighed 275. I would say I was overweight, but I carried it well because I was an athlete. And I was always self-conscious about my weight. There was a big joke in my family because I was always breaking chairs. I broke so many plastic lawn chairs.” Thanks for the honesty Andrew.

 
How big were your friends compared to you? “My friends were always small guys. My best friend on the wrestling team weighed 115 lbs.” That’s funny.

 
Did you get teased about your weight? “I got teased and picked on. I even got into altercations. People tried to bully me so they could say they beat up the big guy. But me and my friends were usually pretty good in these altercations.”

 
Then you played football in college for JMU? “Yes, I played guard in college. I was a walk on. I played at around 325 lbs, and I was clocking about a 5.2 sec 40 yard dash. And I was the slowest lineman, for sure.” As a Hector side note. Most people have absolutely no idea how fast a college lineman, or an NFL lineman is. Those dudes are heavy, but they can haul ass! Literally.

 
How long did you play? “Sophomore year they found two tumors in my lower back, each the size of my fist, I had back surgery, and never played after that. And after that is when I went up to 360 lbs.”

 
So, Andrew, I have always had the belief that if someone doesn’t have a very strong reason, something they can hang on to, to lose weight, chances are they won’t lose weight. What was your reason to lose weight? “I was a very good athlete, but I knew my college football career ended abruptly, and I always regretted that. I always had that itch to compete, and I knew I wasn’t finished, and that led me to MMA (mixed martial arts). So I started to get in shape for MMA. Also, I wanted to be healthier, because being overweight is just uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be overweight anymore. It’s depressing. I had enough of being big all my life. It was either now or never.”

 
So how long ago did you start losing weight? “It’s been about a five-year process all together. I started going to the gym, and a big change for me was I started drinking only water. That was one of the first things I did.” Anyone who has trained with me, or asked my advice about weight loss knows that I strongly recommend to “drink water only”. If you’re trying to lose weight, put down the liquid calories. Andrew continued with the drinking water only topic. “Because for someone who weighs 360, to drink a can of soda is so easy. It’s not satisfying. I used to drink Gatorade, which is horrible. Once I switched to water only, just that alone was enough for me to start dropping weight.”

 
How much/many liquid calories were you drinking before your switch to water only? “Do you remember the Gatorade that used to come in the gallon jug? I would drink one of those a day when I was training  for football. Instead of drinking water, I was drinking Gatorade. I was basically replacing the calories I was burning. And I would probably drink a soda or two a day too. I wasn’t a beer drinker, but I did drink vodka. I think the college lifestyle played a part in my liquid calorie consumption.”

 
How was your diet when you were overweight? “In college I didn’t eat a lot of fast foods (fast food establishments), but I did eat subs and pasta, and way over-proportioned. A lot of cafeteria food. Burgers, fries, pizza, and cookies. Stuff like that. I would say I was easily consuming 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day.”

 
How many calories do you consume a day now, and how much do you weigh? “About 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day. And I weigh about 215, with about 11% body fat.”

 
How often do you workout? “I train about twice a day. I don’t think people need to do that to lose weight. That’s just what I do.”

 
What’s your goal weight? “I’m at the point now where I don’t look at the scale much. It’s more about how I look. I want to tighten up my core and stuff.”

 
What does your diet consist of? “I eat very similar every day. I wake up and have a protein shake. I eat a lot of egg whites. I use egg whites as snacks. I meal prep about 95% of my meals.”

 
So, 95% of the food you eat, you know exactly what you’re eating? Is that safe to say? “Yes. For sure. And If I do eat at a restaurant, it’s something like spinach and grilled fish, and I tell them specifically how to cook it.”

 
Do you eat fruit? “Yes, I eat fruit.”

 
Do you count carbs or calories? “I do more portion control than anything else. And I try to balance my macronutrients. I eat fruits and vegetables, and for my meats I do lean fish, lean turkey, and lean chicken. I eat a lot of vegetables. That’s about it.”

 
What has been the most difficult part of your diet? “I would say the meal prep. It takes a lot of planning and work. I dedicate much of my Sundays to cooking pretty much all my meals for the week, because I don’t have time during the week.” Below is his actual meal prep.

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So the meal prep is the time management part, how about the psychological aspect of the diet? “I think at first, it was a mental thing to learn to be hungry, but then when you start seeing the results, things fall into place. The hardest part was probably the first few weeks, but now I really don’t get that hungry. And sometimes, because I’m so busy, I have to remind myself to eat to keep the metabolism going.”

 
How about your self-esteem? How do you feel now compared to when you were overweight? “Believe it or not, I still have a fat-man complex (He shouldn’t, because he’s not overweight anymore and looks great), and I find myself sitting very gently in chairs sometimes. I’m still afraid I’m going to break a chair. But to have women approach me now when I’m out with friends, which never really happened before, is pretty cool (ladies, he’s single, tall, with muscles, educated, and employed!!). And physically I feel good when I run. And I tell you what else has changed. My back bothers me way less now. It may act up, but it has been night and day getting that weight off. It was the best cure ever for my back.”

 
Is there anything you would do when you plateaued during your weight loss journey to keep you going? “Yes. I remember that sometimes I would get frustrated because I had only lost 40 lbs and I had so much more to go. So I would pick up two 20 pound dumbbells and do stuff with them. Like walk up steps, or get on the treadmill, to remind myself of how much extra weight I was walking around with. It was a good visualization for me, to remember how far I had come. And for me, a lot of my weight gain was in the stomach area, so it would put direct pressure on my lower back.” Andrew continued “I just feel like a brand new person. Especially with shopping for clothes. I can shop in the regular section now. So like this shirt I am wearing, it’s just a regular Polo large. My biggest shirt ever was a 6X. That was a big and tall 6X.”

 
Do you allow yourself cheat meals? “Yes, I will have a cheat meal, like a burger or something. But I think a cheat day is too much. You have to be very careful because it can easily get out of control. And if I do have a really bad day, and eat poorly, I just get over it and get back on track.”

 
If you had someone sitting in front of you who wants to lose weight, and they have been through a lot, maybe physically and psychologically, what advice would you give them? “I would first and foremost say, start with just drinking water. I’m adamant about that. If they have been overweight their whole lives I would advise them to forgive themselves and get over it, find a reason to lose weight, and just take it day by day. Don’t look at the whole thing (weight loss goals), just take it meal by meal. Every workout, every meal, you’re progressing. Just take it a day at time.”

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That’s a great motto. What’s a motto? I don’t know. What’s a motto with you.

 

Thanks Andrew. You have officially gone from FEAST MODE, to BEAST MODE!!

Answers to Some Common Weight Loss, Food, and Exercise Questions

1. What’s better for us, walking on a treadmill or walking outside?

Anyone I have trained is probably tired of me begging them, I mean, advising them to walk outside. Walking outdoors is good for you, you get fresh air, you burn calories, you might see something interesting, and you can’t press stop, and stop walking like you can a treadmill. But the biggest difference that I see between walking outdoors and walking on a treadmill is that the treadmill band moves for you, and the ground outdoors does not move for you. Because the treadmill band moves, it moves your legs for you quite a bit, so the amount of leg force used to walk 3 mph on a treadmill is not the same as walking 3 mph outdoors on flat non-moving ground.

Treadmills are a great option for bad weather and to create inclines/hills, but whenever possible, walk outside.

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2. Do protein shakes aid weight loss?

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Protein shakes only help weight loss if they REPLACE a meal, but many people consume them in addition to what they already eat. It takes discipline to say “I am only having a protein shake for lunch”, and it takes even more discipline to actually do it.

3. Healthy Homeboy, were you overweight as a child, or ever, and if not, how did you learn to be lean and in shape?

This is a very common and fair question that I get from friends and clients that have battled their weight for much of their lives. I have always been lean, always. I started having visible abs, yes like a six-pack, in my teens, and even at my current age of 41, my ab muscles are visible. My mother, bless her heart and may she rest in peace, was very strict about food with my siblings and me.

My mother was a house keeper/cleaning lady for wealthy people in Los Angeles for at least 30 years. Because she did some of the grocery shopping and cooking for them, she saw how their children ate. So when I was very young, my mother naturally thought “If it’s good enough for a doctor’s or lawyer’s son or daughter, it’s good enough for my children”, and she fed my brother, sister, and me similar foods she saw upper class children eat. So from a young age I was eating oatmeal (like real oatmeal, not the 1 minute type), eggs, chicken, fish, shrimp, fruits as snacks and dessert, rice, and vegetables. I hated vegetables. My mother and father worked hard to feed my siblings and I healthy. I was even eating multi grain bread back in the late 70’s! Gluten intolerance be damned!!

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Just as important as what I ate as a child, are the things I didn’t eat. We rarely, if ever had soda in the house. My mother was very strict about that. I am not sure how she knew that soda and sugar laden foods weren’t the best things for a growing child, but she knew. Fast food was a rarity in our house, but once in while we did have pizza (Like 2 times per year. Seriously!). I was allowed 3 small ass cookies a day, and if I went over my cookie allotment, that was my ass! Unless it was a special occasion, like birthday parties or some holiday, we rarely had ice cream or cake.

My mother worked more than full-time, and somehow found energy to cook for 3 children at the end of the day. WTF! Oh yeah, my brother, sister, and I couldn’t sit still and we were always on the move playing inside and outdoors when we could, so that helped us all stay lean.

So I guess that growing up, I didn’t eat crap or drink crap, and I was active. And decades later, that “stay lean” formula still works.

4. Is it necessary to workout to lose weight? No it is not. Yes, you read that correctly. Now let me be clear. Working out with weights and doing cardio will accelerate weight loss and has a bunch of health benefits like strengthening your heart, bones, and muscles. But if someone doesn’t want to workout out at all and wants to lose weight, it can be done by restricting calorie intake to 1,500 to 2,00o per day. I would guess that the average amount of calories consumed by an American adult battling weight issues is somewhere in the 3,000 range, if not more. But yes, you can lose weight without exercise. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

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5. We all know eating healthy is important, but is there any other “tricks of the trade” you have for helping people lose weight? Yes I do have some extra ammo for your weight loss efforts. For dinner try to have vegetables, a protein, and water. That’s it! You can’t eat more. Your insulin levels will thank you. The calories will be low, and you won’t wake up burping last nights gargantuan meal. If you have ever woke up, and you were still stuffed from the meal you had the previous night, YOU ATE WAY TOO MUCH!

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Here are some more helpful weight-loss tidbits.

Ladies, don’t eat like a man, unless you want to weigh what a man weighs.

Ladies, don’t drink like a man, unless you want to weigh what a man weighs.

Just because you can stomach something, doesn’t mean you should be drinking or eating it.

Your stomach is not a trash can.

Don’t treat your pet’s health better than you treat your own.

When an overweight dog loses weight, they almost always feel better and have more energy. The same goes for humans.

Humans were born to move. Why do you think we have so many muscles on our bodies?

Food is energy. Fat on the body is just excess stored energy that we consumed, and it’s waiting to be burned off.

If you’re a friend or client trying to lose weight, and I ever catch you entering a buffet, I will stop you. If I ever see you exiting a buffet, I will ask you what you just ate, and then ask you to tell me the truth, and then I will make you walk home to burn off all those calories. lol. You know I wouldn’t do that, but I would be disappointed.

And the last bit of advice I have is to please take control of your food intake and try not to be the 50% of Americans that are projected to be pre-diabetic or diabetic by the year 2020! You read that right, and that is scary. That’s only 6 years away. The harsh reality is that in many instances becoming diabetic or pre-diabetic is strictly a result of a lifetime of consuming too much food. Imagine that, getting a disease, and a bunch of symptoms as a result of too much food. WTF!

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Now that I gave you all this advice and harsh restrictions, I will tell you the same thing my mother told me when I asked her why she was so strict with me and my food. “I do it because I care, but more importantly, because it’s the best thing for you”.

Thanks mom.

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Exercise and Fitness Mythbuster Alert!

Hello everyone. Today, let’s do some myth busting in regards to weight loss and fitness.

Myth #1: Women shouldn’t lift weights because they will get bulky or musclebound. This is false.

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The truth is that women should lift weights because it boosts metabolism which will aid fat loss, obviously strengthens muscles, burns calories, strengthens bones by increasing their density, helps depression, helps coordination, and helps adds muscle tone.

Ladies, do you have any idea how hard it is to gain muscle by weight lifting? It is very, very difficult. If becoming musclebound was just as simple as going to the gym and pumping some iron, there would be buff men everywhere. Look around ladies, buff men that look like real life action figures is not the norm, at least not where I live.

The main reason that men are physically stronger than women is testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone that has many functions. One of those functions is building muscle, and that is why every year male professional athletes get busted for illegal testosterone use. The average man naturally has 10 to 20 times the testosterone levels of the average woman. Ladies, if you start taking testosterone to equal or exceed the testosterone levels found naturally in men, aka anabolic steroids, and lifting heavy weights and eating like a professional wrestler, you might look like this:

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Or this…

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I do not have any proof that the ladies above took any testosterone, but it’s even difficult for a man to be as muscular and vascular as these ladies are.

Ladies, do not be afraid to lift weights. I promise you, you will not get buff.

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Myth #2: If you stop lifting weights, the muscle you gained will turn into fat. This is a popular myth spread by those gym goers who stay in the cardio section and are allergic to weights. It is 100% false.

Just like gold cannot turn into silver, and steel can’t turn into cotton, muscle absolutely cannot turn into fat. And for those men out there who like to “bulk up” and gain fat because they swear they are going to turn the fat into muscle by summer time, that is impossible too.

Muscles on the human body are a group of tissues that require energy in the form of glucose to work, for the most part, and protein to rebuild. Muscles are very active on the human body, even when you are not moving.

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Fat is stored energy on the human body that is ready to be used by the body. Fat is very inactive on the human body.

Myth #3: Sit-ups, crunches, and all other types of abdominal exercises will trim the waistline. This is false.

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This does not mean that abdominal exercises won’t make your core stronger, if done correctly, they will. But the main way to trim your waistline is by losing fat, which equals losing weight.

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The young lady above lost mucho weight, and as a result her waist shrank a great deal.

The inverse is also true. If a man has six-pack abs and he starts drinking beer and eating fast food almost every night, he will gain weight. The weight will be gained in the form of fat and increase his waistline size in the process, even if he does tons of ab exercises.

There you have it. Three myths blown up by Healthy Homeboy.

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Protein Shakes and Weight Loss

Weight loss, weight loss, weight loss. If you are reading this, chances are you have tried to lose weight, are trying to lose weight, or are planning to lose weight. Either way, weight loss has been a part of your life at some point, or will be.

In my previous posts I have talked about consuming healthy food and in the right quantities.

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I have talked about movement.

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I have talked about lifting weights.

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But today, I was asked “Where do protein shakes, and other meal replacement shakes fit in the weight loss formula, and do they work?” I realized I have not addressed that, so Let’s talk about shakes baby. (The previous sentence should be said to the rhythm of Salt-n-Pepa’s 1991 hit song “Let’s Talk About Sex”. I know I just dated myself, so what. Time waits for no one.  And for you youngstas who don’t know what song I’m talking about, YouTube it.)

Do Meal Replacement shakes work? If used correctly, yes they do work.

They work under 3 conditions.

#1. If it is a pre-made shake, it cannot contain over 300 calories.

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#2. If it is a shake that you make yourself, it cannot contain more than 300 hundred calories either. When I say shake you make yourself, I am talking about the “magic weight loss powder” from “pick any company selling you weight loss products” that you mix with fruit, ice, and water in a blender. They all work the same.

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#3. The shake, or shakes, must be used as MEAL REPLACEMENT SHAKES. This is where most people who use these shakes for weight loss, and don’t lose weight, go wrong.

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Most people end up using weight loss shakes as diet supplements. They are basically supplementing, or adding to what they already eat, diet shakes. It goes like this.

You’re trying to lose weight for a wedding, vacation, family reunion, or more importantly and best of all, you. You go to the gym and do cardio and some weights, and work up a serious sweat. Or if you are really lucky, you get Personal Training by me (VIA-Wellness). As you are leaving the gym, you begin to get hungry, and you notice those pre-made protein shakes that gyms sell, sitting nice and chilly behind a glass enclosed cooler/mini-fridge by the front desk. You ask the gym receptionist “Excuse me, how much are those weight loss protein shakes?”. Receptionist responds “Three dollars and fifty cents each”. For a second you think “That’s pretty expensive, but what the hell, it must work. The shake even says ‘Lite’ on it.” So you buy it. So far so good.

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Here is the mistake. Most people buy the shake, consume it in the car, or some don’t even get that far, and consume it in the parking lot before they get to the car. Then they get home, and what do they do? They eat, again. The protein shake they just had was supposed to be a meal replacement, remember. After they had the shake at the gym, in the parking lot, or in the car, they should have waited at least 3 hours to eat again, just like they would with a regular meal. Protein shakes only work for weight loss if they REPLACE meals, and not add to them.

If a shake is meant to replace dinner, then that is what it should do. You can’t have a shake, and dinner, and expect to lose weight. Calories added to calories is not the weight loss formula. How do I know? Einstein told me so. His formula looks like this: C+C=WG. Calories plus calories equals weight gain. Thanks Albert, you are brilliant.

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I was watching a movie once. It was a mobster comedy like “Analyze This” or something. In one of the scenes, one of the characters gets up and says “Hey, I’m getting hungry. I’m going to get a sandwich. You want anything?” The other guy responds “I’m trying to lose some weight. What’s not that fattening?” The first guy responds “I don’t know, half a sandwich?”. Exactly.

Weight loss works when you eat less and move more. The theory behind Meal Replacement Shakes was that people would replace a meal with a shake. That does not always happen, but when it does, weight loss shows its happy face.

You can test it yourself. For the next 100 days, weekends included, if all you have for dinner is a protein shake, and you go to bed hungry, don’t worry, you won’t die, you will lose weight.