INTERMITTENT FASTING + P90X RESULTS – 4 YEARS LATER
“Papi, Mami said she got the marks on her stomach because she had me in her belly…why do you have those lines on your side?” asked Alejandro nearly 3 years ago. The “marks,” or “lines,” he was referring to, “lines” and “marks” that I will have with me the rest of my life, are the stretch marks I have on my back (running right down my love handles)…lines no matter how much weight I lose, nor how much I change my body, will always be there. “Well, Papo those ‘lines’ are called stretch marks and those stretch marks are there because Papi got too big and my skin literally stretched out to accommodate my new size…and thank you so much for bringing them to my attention.”
At the moment this conversation occurred, I had just finished my weight loss journey (dropping down from 240 pounds to under 165 pounds), but, more importantly, my doctor had just given me a clean bill of health, so Papo’s comment pulled me right back off my high horse. After losing nearly 80 pounds I was informed that I no longer needed to start my hypertension medication because my chronic hypertension and metabolic syndrome had been reversed…and, nonetheless, I still had those damn stretch marks. That, my friends, is life – no matter how healthy and fit we may be, we’ll never be perfect…BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN WE HAVE TO STOP TRYING!
The truth of the matter is that earning those stretch marks was easy, losing the weight not so much, but KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF…THAT’S WHERE THE “FUN” BEGAN.
To succeed in the game of health and fitness we need to commit our life to the game – there’s just no way around it. If we want to live a long productive life we all need to commit to health and fitness, and, sadly, the “bigger” boys and girls will need to work a lot harder at the game than those “slimmer” individuals. The truth of the matter is that nearly everyone who loses weight, especially more than 20 or so pounds, seems to gain it all back within 3 years…and most seem to gain the weight back and then some!
BUT NEARLY EVERYONE IS NOT EVERYONE…SO DON’T BE EVERYONE!!!
NOT BEING EVERYONE
When I went through the trouble of losing 1/3 of myself 4 years ago I promised myself to never get that big again – a promise in which I knew the odds were stacked heavily against me. Nonetheless, 4 years later, I have kept the weight off. As with everything in life, there have been ups and downs and a number of setbacks and injuries that could have made me another statistic. There were setbacks and injuries that could have made me just like everyone else….but I knew that wouldn’t happen to me.
No matter how hard it got, no matter how much weight I gained back, no matter how many plateaus I hit, no matter how bad an injury was, no matter how unmotivated I became, I knew there was one thing that set me apart from the rest – one thing that would save me from becoming yet another number in “their” stats, and that one thing was habit!
Yes, I have talked about habit a number of times on this site, BUT THE TRUTH IS HABIT IS A GAME CHANGER!
2012-2013 VS. 2016
If we can make fitness and health a habit it will become part of our life, and when it becomes part of our life, health and fitness become part of our lifestyle, and, last time I checked, our lifestyle is pretty much the way we live our life. Now, it goes without saying, though I will go ahead and say it, that if one engraves health and fitness into one’s life, no matter what setbacks come your way, HEALTH AND FITNESS WILL EVENTUALLY WIN OUT…and that, my friends, is exactly why I have kept off the 80 pounds for over 4 years now.
HEALTH AND FITNESS LIFESTYLE
So, what’s it mean to make health and fitness part of your lifestyle?
Well, it means allowing yourself the selfishness of making your own happiness, health, and productive life just as important as your work and family life. The fact of the matter is that almost everyone out there has an excuse for not working out and/or eating healthy, but we don’t want to be everyone else.
Making health and fitness a part of your lifestyle WILL make the rest of your life better – END OF STORY!
Too many people have too many excuses and that’s why health and fitness never become part of their lifestyle, but what if they took those excuses they apply to getting out of a healthy lifestyle and started using them as an aid to get them into a healthy lifestyle…?
So, when you’re at that next business meeting and everyone orders drinks, it’s okay to order water! When you’re at work and they bring in cake and beer to celebrate the next co-worker’s birthday party, it’s okay to say “No thanks.” When you’re thinking about staying out late but the only time you have to workout tomorrow is first thing in the morning (and you’ve already stayed out late a few times that week anyways) it’s okay to call it quits early.
The most common complaint/excuse is that we don’t have enough time. Well, put simply, that is bullshit! Everyone has 25 minutes to make it happen…hell, the right 20 minutes of exercise can change your health and fitness level…and coupled with the right eating approach, WE CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES in less time then it take you to watch your daily half-hour sitcom.
It may sound like a challenge and a bit of work to make health and fitness a daily part of your life, but isn’t anything worth doing this way?
The fact of the matter is that your mind and body won’t change unless you do!
If we truly change, if we make health and fitness a habit, if we make health and fitness a part of our lifestyle, THEN WE WILL NEVER FAIL, because, as the great Tony Horton says “It’s about the journey.”
You see, health and fitness is a journey and, as long as we stay on that journey, no amount of setbacks will keep us from moving toward our goals because, on this journey of health and fitness, all we have to do is keep moving forward…no matter how many steps back we may take from time to time as long as you keep moving forward we will stay on the journey…and that is the whole point!
WHAT I’VE LEARNED OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS OF MY JOURNEY
I am not going to lie, keeping the weight off over the last four years has not been sunshine and rainbows. There have been light showers, heavy rain, and thunderstorms, but, like noted above, health and fitness are part of my life, part of my lifestyle, and as long as I stay committed to the journey I’ll always get somewhere new.
Over the last four years I have learned many things about myself. I have learned what works and doesn’t work for me when it comes to keeping the weight off, putting some weight on, sleeping better, sleeping worse, feeling better, faster or stronger, and feeling worse, slower, or weaker and I wish I could say that what works for me will work for everyone, but I can’t. I can’t say that I have found the magic bullet for everyone because it simply does not exist – there is no magic bullet for anyone let alone everyone.
BUT, what I can do is share what I have learned over these last 4 years, as well as what I did this past year, to stay the leanest I have ever been for the longest amount of time over a one year period – things I am sure everyone can incorporate into their health and fitness journey.
WHAT WORKS FOR ME AND COULD FOR YOU!
THIS YEAR’S 6 TIPS TO HEALTH AND FITNESS SUCCESS
This past year I really started focusing more on sleep. From my sleep quality to the duration of my sleep, I really stayed mindful of trying to get better and longer sleep. I went from sleeping an average of 5 – 5.5 hours a night to sleeping 6.5 – 7 hours a night…and I must say I started feeling much better! A mere hour to hour and half more and I started noticing quicker recovery times but more importantly, and most crucially being that I workout first thing in the morning, I noticed I felt much more energized at the start of my workouts. In other words, instead of feeling “warmed up” 10-15 minutes into the workout I was ready to go from the moment the workout started.
I know we all know what a big deal sleep is, BUT I ALSO KNOW IT’S THE LAST THING WE PLAN FOR…and this can be the difference between reaching our health and fitness goals or not.
The truth is that our body and mind heal, repair, and replenish themselves while we sleep. So, simply put, IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR GREATER CHANGE/GAINS, THEN YOU BETTER START GETTING LONGER AND BETTER SLEEP!
2. PROACTIVE RECOVERY, FLEXIBILITY, AND MOBILITY
Now, this plays into, or from, sleep BUT recovery, flexibility, and mobility are all right behind good sleep when it comes to making progress – especially as we get older in life (and by older I mean 27 and above).
Like sleep, recovery, flexibility, and mobility are crucial aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
Everyone knows this right? Yeah, they do, but just like with sleep, no one seems to actively work recovery, flexibility, or mobility into their daily life…and if you’re leaving these guys out, you are most certainly leaving progress and gains on the table.
I’ve talked a number of times about active recovery, working on flexibility, and focusing on mobility, on this site before, so I won’t spend time recapping their importance here, BUT it should suffice to say that we all need to be proactive when it comes to working recovery, flexibility, and mobility into our workout routine.
This past year, the leanest year of my life, I went from doing yoga only once a week to doing it twice a week, foam rolling at least 5 nights a week, and making sure I worked on mobility at least 3 times a week.
The thing with flexibility and mobility is that they should already be worked into your workout routine, BUT, if they are not, then we can all take the 10-15 minutes we utilize every evening sitting in front of our favorite TV show to work on flexibility and mobility as we watch our favorite TV show.
In terms of active recovery, we need to be doing just that – actively recovering. Be it a walk after dinner, or a pleasant stroll to the park with the kids, or setting time aside to meditate, the point is we need to actively be doing the things that relax us so that we can start to recover both our mind and bodies and, in doing so, pave the way for greater gains/results!
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE…YOUR DIET
In this journey of health and fitness we will come across bumps, mountains, and plateaus, and, when we do, the only way to get past them is to change. Yes, change! A lot of people don’t like to even think about the word, but being able to change is the only way to change…right?
So, unless we’re okay just spinning our wheels or regressing, we’d better be open and willing to change!
If we want to stay on this journey of health and fitness then we need to be ready to change everything from our state of mind, our preconceived notions and beliefs, our diet, and our workout routine, because if we are not ready and willing to change, we might as well stop trying to do so!
Over the last year I revisited an eating approach that used to work for me years ago. The approach, like most things in life, worked for me until it didn’t. The approach was the Atkin’s Diet. I had done the Atkin’s Diet with great success a few times in high school and early on in college, but as I got older in life and was at my biggest (240 pounds) the Atkin’s Diet did nothing for me…and I never quite knew why…until this time last year.
While reading a few recent studies on the Low Carb High Fat eating approach I realized something huge. The reason the Atkin’s Diet approach didn’t work for me the last few times I attempted it – protein! I was eating way too much protein – a fact I would have never come across if not for my willingness and open-mindedness towards fitness and health. You see, if I would have been unwilling to change my mind on the Ketosis approach to eating I would have skipped right past that article, BUT, knowing that health and fitness (and science) are constantly evolving, and that there’s something to gain from learning about others’ experiences, I decided to read the article anyways.
Well, by the end of the article, I was sold – “I think I’ll give this another go,” I remember stating out loud…to myself. So, the very next week I went back to the Atkin’s once again BUT this time I would watch my protein intake to make sure I was following the new Low Carb High Fat / Keto approach correctly…and, two weeks later, my life was forever changed!
I spent almost the entire past year following the Low Carb High Fat eating approach and, I must say, coupled with intermittent fasting, it was the closest thing to a magic bullet I’ve ever found!
Not only did I feel amazing (NO BLOATING, NO KNEE PAIN, LESS SHOULDER PAIN, AND NEXT TO NO HUNGER) but I also never looked leaner while maintaining as much mass in my arms as I did this year…and all this because I kept an open mind and was willing to change my approach to health and fitness (i.e., there’s always room for improvement)!
4. KEEP FITNESS CHALLENGING, INTERESTING, AND SPONTANEOUS
As many of you may already know, I have spent the last 4 years working out daily with one Mr. Tony Horton of the P90X programs (X-GAIN itself gets its title from the P90X workout program and the LEANGAINS approach to eating – both of which changed my life), but that doesn’t mean I don’t try out new workout regimens.
THE MASTER’S HAMMER & CHISEL 60-DAY RESULTS/TRANSFORMATION
Yes, the current core of my fitness routine is P90X3, but I do a number of other programs/routines as well. This year, when I found myself creeping back up on the scale and with less and less time to workout, I first turned to The Master’s Hammer & Chisel.
The Master’s Hammer and Chisel is a 60-Day workout program that got me quite possibly in the best shape of my life…so much so that Beachbody themselves flew me out to LA for The Master’s Hammer & Chisel infomercial.
After finishing Hammer & Chisel I returned to my old friend Tony Horton, but this time it wasn’t even 30 minutes…this time all Tony needed was 22 minutes of my time. In just 22 minutes a day, while following the low carb high fat / keto approach to eating, I was able to maintain impressive results with 22 Minute Hard Corps…and if that didn’t sound like an infomercial I don’t know what would.
All joking aside, the point here is that my mind, body, and fitness level changed for the better with every new program that I did this year, and so too can your mind, body, and fitness change if you’re willing to keep challenging yourself.
One of the major keys to staying on this fitness and health journey is keeping the journey interesting!
Be it changing your workout routine, changing your workout program, buying new gear, or just being spontaneous with your workouts, do whatever you have to do to keep yourself motivated to go hit the weights, the mat, the pavement, the bag, or whatever it is you hit when it’s time to get moving!
5. INTERMITTENT FASTING IS KEY!!!
“Intermittent fasting is not a sustainable approach to eating,” said everyone I’ve ever told that I intermittent fast on a daily basis.
Well everyone, it has been 4 years and guess what, I AM STILL INTERMITTENT FASTING on a daily basis.
Four years later, here I am, continuing to follow the 18/6 intermittent fasting protocol (eating from 3pm – 9pm and fasting from 9 pm – 3 pm) with great results and success. Yes, my eating style (diet approach) may change throughout the year (be it If It Fits Your Macros to Low Carb High Fat to true Ketosis), but every approach happens within my 6-hour feeding window.
“Do you really think it actually works? When will you stop doing it?”
Yes, I do think it really works, so much so I’d bet my life on it. I have never felt better (even before my shoulder and knee injuries) and I NO LONGER HAVE METABOLIC SYNDROME. I can lose weight when I need to, maintain weight if I want to, and gain weight at whim all while following the same 18/6 intermittent fasting protocol…so why would I ever stop intermittent fasting?
6. SHAKEOLOGY + BCAA’S + EGGS EVERY NIGHT BEFORE BED
I have written about Shakeology a few times before (check out the articles here) so I want get too much into why I drink it, BUT I TRULY BELIEVE IT’S MADE A DIFFERENCE….especially when adding some BCAA’s and eating 3-5 eggs right before going to bed.
Though Shakeology contains 17 grams of protein IT IS NOT A PROTEIN SHAKE nor do I use it as such.
I started drinking Shakeology daily nearly 2 years ago because my diet was lacking nutrients due to my lack of eating veggies, and, though I eat a lot more veggies nowadays, I still drink Shakeology daily because I am certain I still don’t get enough veggies…not to mention all the other goodies power-packed in Shakeology. BUT this past year I did a little experimenting with my nightly meal and decided to add some BCAA’s to the shake. On top of adding the BCAA’s to my nightly Shakeology, I decided to throw some eggs in the mix as well (not in the shake itself but scrambled and cooked on a plate)…and…the result…was more lean mass retention at a lower body weight (i.e., more muscle, less fat on my frame)…
…enough so that I would strongly recommend anyone looking to gain a bit of lean mass, and/or retain some lean mass while on a cut, consume a scoop of BCAA’s and 3-5 eggs right before going to bed every night.
So, there you have it – the top 6 things I’ve come to realize over the last 4 years are most important for my continual improvement in this health and fitness journey we call life.
Hope this helps you stay on track and striving for continuous self improvement, be it mentally, spiritually, and/or physically.
Here’s to the next 4 years!