Danced with the Devil and I Got Burned

It’s supposed to be simple. Eat more calories than you “burn” and you gain weight. Eat less and you won’t. We’ve been told this so often that, no matter the evidence to the contrary, we refuse to question it. It’s like religion or politics. People mostly believe what they were raised to believe, and that’s that. Most people simply don’t question core beliefs.

You’d think I would know better. I’ve done self-experiments for years now – from caloric restriction, to high-fat/low-carb, to high-protein, etc. No exercise with diet, exercise with/without diet, 8+ hours sleep per night vs 6 hours, etc. I’ve done it. You’d think I’d know better. It pains me greatly to write that I have fucked up big time and went, in just about a month or two, from noticeably toned to a gut and flab all over. How did I do it? By falling back into the flawed approach of “I can have that small piece of cake, or that light beer with dinner, because I’ll still be eating less than X calories per day.”

2″ more of waistline and just flabzilla all over now as a result. It snuck up on me. Literally.

How It Happened

All this year I’ve been playing around with things like Carb Backloading, CarbNite, etc. Those types of carb refeeds/cycling can work for some people. I’m convinced of that. And I do see a value in a CarbNite like approach for me because I do lift heavy weights and especially now that I’m playing squash a couple of times per week.  I am pretty certain I should do a carb refeed once a week. But it can be a slipper slope. Here’s what happens, in chonological order:

1. Eat a junk food(s) or attend a happy hour and have a few beers, etc.

2. Wake up next day and notice a little extra energy. Feel more energized. Brain says, “Maybe I needed those extra calories. I workout so hard that I must not be eating enough to support it, and so this is my body telling me I need to treat myself more!”

3. Within a couple of days I add some more carbs into my diet, always replacing fat/protein calories with the carb calories, because everyone knows that it’s all about the calories! (bullshit!) Because I worked out extra hard the day before, I fall into the trap of thinking I can get away with it by ‘burning it off.’

4. After a couple of days of it I check the scale and mirror and don’t feel any fatter or weigh any more. I figure, “I got this! I can have my cake and eat it too!”

5. A week or so later I wake up to feel bloated, and notice that seemingly overnight my muscle tone is gone. Gone. I don’t feel as energetic.

That’s how it went. But this time it lasted over the course of a couple of months. Starting yesterday I went back to a pretty strict primal diet approach, limiting carbs to under 50g at least for a few days. I am more active now than ever before as I’ve started playing squash multiple times per week. That’s part of what caused the backslide – I figured I was playing such a grueling sport (and it is quite energy-intensive, trust me), that I could/should eat more to compensate. Maybe so but I now know my body and whether it’s a Snickers bar or too big of a sweet potato its the same effect – fat gain.

Next Steps

I’m on day two of a ‘detox’ (hate that word but you get the idea) from sugar/carbs. I’ll play squash twice per week, walk every day, and continue my fullbody weightlifting routine 2 or 3 times per week. I’ll be back to being pretty toned within a few weeks from now, so it’s not a big deal – it’s just so annoying.

So, as of yesterday, I weigh 198 pounds. I should be about 7 pounds less but even in my lean/toned days I wasn’t under 194. I’ll post back how I do over the next week or two.

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