My Dieting and Nutrition History

by Kilo on July 15, 2010

diet failureWhen I turned 16, I weighed between 150 and 160 pounds, but my driver’s license says 250. Unequivocally. That 10 pound difference isn’t the point. The point is that I was 6’7″ tall. A big skeleton with long red hair.

I didn’t care about metabolism, and certainly knew nothing about metabolism typing.  Not at all. Without a dictionary I couldn’t have defined the word metabolic to save my life. I heard it a lot, though. My parents went through just about every diet that made it onto the bestseller list. They were big fans of Atkins, for a while.

There were others. A diet with lots of lemon juice in it. A diet with lots of cinnamon in it. And after a few gung-ho weeks of hardcore intermittent fasting, they would always devolve back to their old selves. Their old selves were quite fond of diets which included lots of snacks.

I couldn’t blame them

That’s how I ate, too. I could afford to. I could eat whatever I wanted and not put on weight, even though I wanted to bulk up. Well, I said I wanted to get bigger, but I really just wanted to build lean muscle without working for it. I’m not talking about “The universe lets me eat whatever I want” a la Fat Loss Tips from The Secret. Only that there were no noticeable physical changes from anything I ate.

Metabolism shmetabolism.

Pills

After my Tourette’s got so wacky, I started down a long road of zillions of different pills. This was the first time I’d ever really ballooned up in weight. I had only grown an inch in the last five years since my 16th birthday, but I plumped up to a nice soft 260, courtesy of an anti-psychotic drug called Zyprexa.

Talk about a metabolic free for all. I had so many chemicals coursing through my brain that I probably could have deserved my own chapter in The Metabolic Typing Diet.

I was big, just like I’d always wanted, but I was no hardbody. I was about solid as a giant marshmallow Peep.

It was around that time that I went back to the gym.

On again, off again

I lifted and trained in spurts, vacillating between balls-to-the-walls hardcore ten-times-a-day guy and “Oh, I think I’ll go lift every other week.” Sometimes I saw results, most of the time I just sat around wishing. Even when I had my training routines dialed in for great habits, the one thing I still never paid attention to was my diet.

Even when I finally said enough and quit taking the pills, my metabolism–and how to make it work for my goals–wasn’t my priority. I don’t know why. Or maybe I do. Like most people I know, back then I was more interested in talking about what I wanted than going and getting what I wanted.

Kettlebells and fat loss

When I started training with kettlebells, for the first time I really started paying attention to what I was eating. Suddenly I was starved. I could not get enough to eat. For the first time I wondered whether my metabolic rate might actually matter–whether I should actually study some nutrition.

What was making me so freaking hungry?

The reason this was so noteworthy in my training progression was because until that point, my relationship with food had always been very laid back. Essentially, I ate so I didn’t die. I wasn’t a comfort eater. I had no interest in the latest fad diet, or in the muscle-building nutrition programs from all the magazines.

I wasn’t interested in eating more, or less, or in eating as any sort of pleasurable activity, although of course I enjoyed my treats. The whole process was about surviving, not glorying in the senses and definitely not about mastering my metabolism.

So I started learning. I studied. I watched myself and my habits, always trying to reconcile them with the changes I saw in my body.

2009

I put on about 30 lbs of muscle…fast. What was the trick? It wasn’t supplements. It wasn’t following any specific lifting protocol. It wasn’t steroids and it certainly wasn’t because I cleaned up my diet and started eating the right foods.

It was when I started lifting heavy. My interest in power and moving big stacks of plates was a logical extension of my kettlebell training. They say that they have great carryover to the big lifts. Well, I wanted to find out if that was true, so I started deadlifting all the time.

That was that. Suddenly I was eating all day, every day. I moved tens of thousands of pounds during my workouts and I would go home and stuff my face. And suddenly salads tasted good. So did everything else, of course.

I had learned that while I had always considered myself a hardgainer, I no longer believed that there was such a thing–only people who didn’t eat enough. Would I have been able to reproduce the same results if I had started lifting heavier the year before I got my driver’s license?

Who knows?

Metabolic flexibility

This is a term that’s getting brought up a lot on Mike Nelson’s blog, Extreme Human performance. The concept intrigues me, and I’d recommend that you go take a look. He speaks a lot more knowledgeably about it than I can.

I doubt that nutrition is ever going to be at the forefront of my thoughts. I’m 32 and when I abstain from the foods I love, I rarely feel like it was a victory. I’m not desperate for metabolic weight loss, and I’ve learned that if I continue the training path I am on, I’ll be able to put on as much good weight as I want.

I can easily see myself weighing a lean 270 in the next year and a half. What’s the answer? Lift heavy, eat lots.

As I wrote this, I just kept thinking Wow, I don’t have a whole lot to say about nutrition. That’s either a statement about my priorities or gaining muscle isn’t as complicated as a lot of these books say it is.

What is your relationship with food like? How much have you educated yourself about nutrition? How much of that education do you feel like actually benefits you in your physical goals?

Kilo

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather July 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm

I’ve been reading lots of Tosca Reno’s stuff about eating clean (whole, non-processed foods, which means absolutely NO junk). It’s a darned hard thing to do until you get used to it. It takes about a full month (30 days) to get the processed, toxic ick out of your system. But I’ve since found that I don’t crave chocolate as much. I don’t crave potato chips as much, either. I mostly want stuff covered in garlic. I’m also an idiot for broccoli, carrots, and chicken. Apples, too. In fact, any fruit I’m pretty much cool with. I’ve gotten to be a big believer in ground flaxseed, too. Just my observation of what I’m doing and how it has worked thus far. That flaxseed stuff is GREAT! WATER! Lots and lots and lots of WATER too! And SALSA! You get to eat salsa and hummus and other cool stuff like that, and natural peanut butter, which I now devour A LOT.

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Kilo July 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm

“I’m an idiot for broccoli.” That sounds like the one to build your t-shirt empire on.

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Amy July 15, 2010 at 7:38 pm

My relationship with food is pretty awesome. I love it, it loves me and it’s been that way my whole life. I’m not one to deprive myself of any foods though. Well, right now I’m not eating dairy, but that’s only because I’m still nursing our almost 16 month old and he’s allergic. When he’s done I’ll be right back at it.

I’ve taken several courses in nutrition and sports nutrition at the undergraduate and graduate levels. When I was an instructor at the local University I taught two sections of a course on Nutrition & Exercise. I think it’s been very beneficial to me to have the knowledge that I do about nutrition and how it can effect physical activity.

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Kilo July 15, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Amy, would you like to write a nutrition guest post? I’d love to host you!

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Amy July 15, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I’d love to Josh! Right now I’m working on getting Lane’s school year planned out, we homeschool. I could do something in August sometime. If you have anything specific just let me know.

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Kilo July 16, 2010 at 7:02 am

Whenever you’ve got it, you know where I am! How’s he doing?

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Amy July 16, 2010 at 9:43 am

He’s doing good. He been at one of his aunt’s for swimming lessons the past two weeks, he says he hasn’t noticed any physical tics since he started swimming daily. He’s had vocal ones but he said they don’t come as often. He knows that they could start back up or get worse at anytime, but for now he thinks that swimming is helping him and wants to stay another 2 weeks for more lessons.

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Kilo July 16, 2010 at 11:03 am

Awesome. Tell him I say hi.

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Kris Wragg July 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Cutting out junk food is the best thing I have done, its made a big difference to how I feel day to day.

Sure I still go out and have the odd greasy mega burger or something but most of the time I eat tons of meat, fruit and veg and it makes my belly happy :)

I think the best thing for most people would be to just stop buying packet food and make everything from scratch with their own ingredients and they would notice a big difference in what they eat and how much.

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Joseph Reynolds July 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I think it’s bizarre that we are the only species on Earth that needs to be told what to eat! I follow my instincts and I’m “feelin’ my oats.” I stay away from anything “newfangled” and anything my great grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food. I eat as locally/seasonally as possible. Great post!

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Mike T Nelson July 22, 2010 at 11:44 am

Thanks for the shout out Kilo.

Anything I can do to help anyone here, please let me know!

The concept of Metabolic Flexibility is that you should train your body to use virtually anything for fuel, with few “side effects”

How much “bad’ food you can eat will vary, but the end goal is to eat as much “bad” food as possible not see how hardcore you can be and eat “clean” food 99.95% of the time.

Rock on
Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

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