I want to make an example of myself for this post. This is me in 2014. I’m guessing I’m a little over 200lbs in the picture below. My height is under 5′. Wearing a tight size 18 womens. Clinically between obese and morbidly obese.
It was not until this year that I thoroughly comprehended how much my obesity was making me sick and leading me down a road of misery back then. Science is now able to explain why my obese body was malfunctioning: visceral fat.
Visceral fat can be found deep within the abdominal area and has been linked to a miriad of health disorders: autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance), high LDL (bad) cholesterol, low HDL (good) cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
Much like an endocrine gland, visceral fat generates excess hormones which affect our bodies’ healthy hormonal balance and function; causing hormonal imbalances and illness. An excess amount of visceral fat also produces cytokines (tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6) which impairs the cardiovascular system.
How do we lower our visceral fat level and reverse the side effects on our cardiovascular and hormonal levels?
– Eat a whole foods diet loaded with complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables (think whole potatoes, apples, bananas, kale, tomatoes, whole oats, etc.)
– Keep highly processed foods like box cereals, chips, pasta, white bread, take out, drive through meals, etc. to a minimum. Try to get as close to the natural food source as possible: an apple should look like an apple (not Apple Jacks).
– Opt for leaner meats.
– Limit oils.
– Watch portion sizes as well. Oftentimes, calories in vs. calories out can be our biggest key to winning the battle.
– Engaging in 30-60 minutes of moderate activity a day is optimal as visceral fat responds to exercise quicker than it’s outside counterpart, subcutaneous fat.
The picture below was taken December 2015. Around 119 pounds. Wearing a size 4 womens.
After implementing a whole food diet with regular exercise the weight dropped really quickly. My health returned just as quick and my energy level sky rocketed and is on par with my late teens (I’m in my mid thirties). In short, If I take care of my body, it takes care of me.
If the thought of implementing a whole food diet seems impossible, feel free to ask me any questions. Or if you are curious to see what a primarily whole food diet looks like day in and day out, you can find my food diary on My Fitness Pal. Feel free to send me a friend request if you like:
I’m here to help any way I can!
For more info on this topic, please visit:
Harvard Health Publications
I have taken a long hard look at genetics and lifestyle choices through the lens of my older family members. To a large extent, we all carry distinct genes, but looking at health trends within our families can be helpful when sifting through diet and lifestyle choices. I have noticed a large amount of older relatives on blood pressure medications. I now have a choice to be reactive or proactive: I can wait and medicate or I can find remedies based on research to prevent this issue from forming in the first place. I chose to be proactive.
The studies and research focusing on healthy blood pressure management recommend a diet primarily based on a wide variety of whole, plant based foods: leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains and a healthy weight. In addition to losing 70+ pounds, I have decided to go 100% plant based. I felt the research was most compelling regarding reversing and preventing heart disease related conditions (and other conditions as well – more posts coming). It is part of my long term goal to prevent lifestyle ailments and avoid subsequent medicating.
When it comes to my health, I have a responsibility to take care of myself. And that means looking honestly at my lifestyle choices and where they will lead me in the next 5 to 50 years. I want to live a healthier life than my predecessors. And, I want to grow old without blood pressure medication, stints in my veins, open heart surgery and a machine to help me breathe at night.
I have to study my relatives’ choices, understand where they lead and be aware of the consequences of their lifestyle choices. I have a better chance at a healthy and happy life as I age if I do not follow in their footsteps and accept cardiovascular failure as an age related illness. Statistically, it is not. It is largely a lifestyle consequence and one which I can prevent by adhering to a plant based diet.
Since last October, my weight training
has been on hold. The radon levels in the basement were double the EPA maximum safe limit. It has taken months to get 3 phases complete and although the radon levels are lower, they are not at an ideal low.
In the interim, I have been doing manual labor: landscaping, chain sawing trees, clearing brush, hauling and stacking fire wood, etc. I’m not in as good of shape as when I was weight training, but it’s a good compromise until the radon levels are satisfactory.
My weight has increased a bit due to indulging on holiday sweets. The colder weather is keeping me indoors more than I would like as well. I’ve been slowly incorporating weighing foods again to facilitate food logging and using my scale as a progress gauge. I’m confident I can get back where I need to be once my weight room is back in business.
Calculate Caloric Intake
Use this calculator to calculate total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
Take TDEE calorie figure and deduct 10 – 15%:
TDEE x .90 = 10% deficit.
TDEE x .85 = 15% deficit.
Set Daily Calories in My Fitness Pal
Input deficit figure into My Fitness Pal (Do not use “Guided Setup”).
Recalculate and update My Fitness Pal every 5 pound loss.
Set up Macros in My Fitness Pal
Protein and fat are essential nutrients.
One gram per body weight is a good place to start for protein intake. A great source of protein is Greek Yogurt. See my post on how to make it delicious here.
I keep my fat ratio at 20% – 30% of my total calories (olive oil and fish are great choices).
I fill the rest of my calorie allowance in with carbohydrates (whole potatoes are a great choice).
I set my fiber goal around 30 grams a day to ensure lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Exercise 3 hours or more a week.
I use a food scale for precise gram weighting of portions.