Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Secret behind 33 pairs of jeans

So, I finally bit the bullet and decided to get some new clothes. Well, the decision was kind of made for me. My friend Alison has been trying to get me to 'de-clutter' my house (and my life), a big part of which included downsizing my 'big man' wardrobe. A few weeks ago, I decided to sort through all my clothes.

I took a page out of the home organization tv-shows and got out my big plastic bins. Putting four of them on my bedroom floor, I labelled them: Toss, Tailor, Sell on E-Bay and Give-away. I was pretty relentless and and got rid of everything that either didn't fit, I didn't wear, or had in fact, never worn before (i.e. the clothes still had tags on them). Tossing clothes out of the closet and dresser and into one of the four piles, it took only 20 minutes to downsize a lifetime of fat clothes to the only things left that fit me: 2 golf shirts.

Then it hit me: losing weight is going to be really expensive!!!

So, I haven't totally off-loaded the contents of the four bins, but I have since started shopping for new clothing. Last week, I decided I wanted a new pair of jeans. Again, it was somewhat
necessary given the fact that I could no longer tactfully cinch a belt in order to make a pair of pants that are 16 inches too big fit around my waist. Let's just say that the MC Hammer look isn't so cool.

I went to a store and ruthlessly chose every pair of jeans off the rack that were my size. Quickly I realized that this was not going to be as easy as I thought. All this time, I was looking forward to shopping at a 'normal' store and getting clothes off the rack. Easier said than done. You see, all of this working out has forced the true dimensions of my God-given anatomy to shine through. In other words, my quads are huge. I inherited my Dad's powerful legs, and even though I've lost tons of weight, my quads (which are pretty close to being 95% muscle) still measure close to 26 inches around. Yes, I admit, I have those power-lifter quads that a lot of guys would pay lots of money for. My calves are taking on a naturally sculpted look. And I love the fact that my legs are... well, hot. That said, not being able to squeeze these legs into a discounted pair of Calvin Klein jeans was not was I was hoping for.

About two hours later, I had tried on 33 pairs of jeans. At about the 20th pair, I was sitting in the changing room, almost in tears, on the verge of calling my friend Tony (who works nearby) to come and rescue me. Had I called, he would have come, but I decided to persevere
. And on the 33rd pair, I slid on a pair of Buffalo Jeans by David Bitton, and they fit like a glove. They hugged my legs, cradled my butt, and felt, well... amazing. Thank God they were marked down from $120 to $39 (I was shopping at one of those designer clearance/discount places). And I left the store happy.

But I still don't like shopping.

Since last week though, I've managed to take advantage of a few killer sales, and have filled my closet with shirts, pants, shorts, shoes, etc. that all finally fit. The difficult part is that they're not going to fit again in the next 6 months or so. But it's what I have to do. I have to get used to the fact that my body is going through a tremendous transformation, and that one of the most important parts of getting used to it, and feeling more comfortable in my new skin, is dressing the body that I now have.

And I have to say, I'm enjoying the attention I'm getting...

No longer are people saying to me, "You can really see your weight loss in your face." Now that I'm wearing clothes that actually fit, they can see it everywhere. I stand taller. I walk prouder (yes, I just made up that word). I turn heads more. I enjoy the attention. And enjoying this attention is not something I'm used to. But I'm growing to like it... seriously, I am.

Now that I'm attracting all this new attention, a lot of people are asking me how I've done it. What's my secret? People are asking Sebastien what he's done with me in the past year to get me to this point. In fact, he and I were at dinner last night talking about the very same thing. And I don't know if I can necessarily put it into words. But I'll try...

Sebastien is 'a good person.' And by 'good' I mean that in addition to being a very skilled trainer who knows his 'stuff' about how to help me transform my body, he has a soul and a spirit that are inherently good. He has unconditionally run, walked, and stood by my side over the past year, and helped me find that place in myself where self-determination, focus, and hard work come together to give me amazing results. He has never once judged me for who I was, or what I couldn't do. In many ways, he role modelled for me how to accept and embrace, unconditionally, the person I was and the person I am in the process of becoming. As I wrote in my first blog, in the words of the choreographer Li'l C:
"It's difficult to locate the avenue of gain when you're being chauffeured by loss." Sebastien, in his 'goodness' has helped me overcome "being chaufeured by loss." He's helped me find "the avenue of gain." And there's no real technique to that. I don't think they teach that in "personal trainer school." It's not taught in a textbook anywhere. My results are, in a large part, the product of the serendipity that brought Sebastien and I together in what started as a working relationship and has quickly become a friendship. My consistency in this journey is the result of him being someone to whom I am accountable on a weekly basis. My success, is the outcome of my determination to take control of my life and his unshakeable commitment to helping me to do so. And it's also the result of a lot of hard freakin' work.

Many people ask me what I've done. What's 'my secret'??? So here's a rundown of things I've done to get these results. This is what has worked for me. This is what Sebastien and I have learned, over time, with trial and error, what will give me the success that I've searched for for many years. This is a realistic look at what it really takes to lose nearly 150 pounds in a year and a half... without supplements. Without surgery. Without gimmicks.

This is my secret...

I eat really well. I use the basic principles of nutrition as I learned through Canad's Food Guide. I eat generous portions of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. I start every day with a breakfast full of whole-grains, fiber, and protein. I eat well-balanced meals. I eat lean proteins and healthy fats. And quite simply, I make sure I eat.

I eat decadent things in moderation. I deprive myself of nothing, but don't over-indulge or gorge on anything. One night a week, I eat whatever I want for dinner (it's most often an extra spicy veal sandwich with extra cheese). I treat myself to a creamy, sweet coffee on a Saturday morning. I've learned that deprivation feeds the desire to gorge and binge on crap. So I allow myself the time to eat crap. Crap, my friends, is sometimes good.

I gave up pop. I drink at minimum, 3 liters of water per day. Sometimes I drink up to 5 liters. I end each day with a cup of green tea. So yes, I pee a lot. But my body is well hydrated and healthy. And that's key when you exercise at my pace and intensity.

I lift weights three days per week. On those days, I do a combination of circuited resistance training (weights) using periodization, and some heart-pumping cardio activity. The workouts on these three days take me about 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. That's a lot of time, but it's what I need to do. That's how I burn a minimum of 1200 calories in a workout. Sometimes I burn up to 2200. The general rule I follow is I workout at full intensity, elevate my heart rate up and keep my body moving even between sets of strength work. Building muscle strength and power helps keep my metabolism burning like a furnace.

I do intense cardio work three days per week. Intense = at minimum one hour of a combination of elliptical work, jogging, or time on the stationary bike. On the elliptical, I crank out 20 minutes at level 14. On the treadmill, I run at 6.0 km/hour at minimum. On the bike, I ride at level 13 at minimum. That's what keeps my heart pumping. That my friends, is what burns fat.

One day a week, I do yoga. I do a 30 minute routine on the Biggest Loser Yoga DVD in the privacy of my living room. I grunt. I curse. I sweat. I stretch. I bend. I grow stronger. Yoga, is good.

So there's my secret. I've got...
  • Someone who keeps me motivated (my trainer).
  • A well-balanced diet high in fibre, lean protein, and loaded with fruits and veggies.
  • A well-designed exercise routine that combines cardio and weight training.
  • Lots of opportunity to relax.
  • And also just as important: I talk about it. A lot. I blog, I write, I read, I talk. I share my experience as a way to make meaning of and better understand what I'm going through. And in an unexpected way, it has helped others to do the same.
So, when I think about it, what I'm doing isn't really much of a secret. It's all of the things that I've known for a long time, matched with the dedication and belief that I can actually do it. And I will admit, that was the most difficult part of it all. But, it's also the most incredibly rewarding part of it. There are days when I still well up with tears out of pride, elation and happiness knowing that I not only gave myself the chance to succeed, but that I actually believed that I could do so.

I think that's my true secret. I hope you find yours.

Kia kaha.
Stay strong.