Here I am, day 1 of the 28 day challenge. The hypothesis: is it possible to make small changes to my diet, and nothing else, over 28 days and see a change in my physical fitness and instill longer-term change? This will be measured quantitatively (will I lose weight, improve my BMI, and lower my body fat percentage), and qualitatively (do I look/feel better).
Starting weight/body fat %/BMI: 169.8 lbs / 22.3% / 25.1
This is the heaviest I’ve been, ever, and I need to turn this around. I have a history of heart disease in my family, and as I turn 40 in a year, I need to establish a better, healthier lifestyle in order to build a foundation for the years to come.
A little bit about my philosophy on this meal schedule:
- I am a creature of dichotomies: I crave both routine and variety. So while I don’t necessarily want to eat the same thing for lunch every day, I need the “schedule” of preparing meals for myself, otherwise I get out of the habit very quickly and fall into bad habits (read: I go to Wawa a lot). I attempted to build in some variety with my meals, while still allowing for me to prepare them at once and thus save time during the week.
- I need this to fit into a “regular person” schedule. By this I mean that I don’t always have the time or energy to prepare meals (I have a full time job in addition to running Saint Brian’s), so that means that there are days that I go out to eat. I feel that most normal people do this, so I’m attempting to build this with that in mind.
- You’ll notice that several times during the week, I’m eating a banana and chocolate milk for “dinner”. These are my jiu jitsu nights, so I tend to eat light before practice (8:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Semper Fi MMA Academy). I’ll make sure that I’m getting enough calories earlier in the day to fuel the workout.
My usual routine, as it has been for a few months now is this (and I follow with what I’m attempting to do differently):
- Wake up at 6:00 am, feed and walk the dogs
- Make breakfast: this is usually Frosted Mini Wheats and 2% milk. The change: attempt to incorporate more protein, such as eggs. The challenge: time.
- Stop at Starbucks for a venti no water vanilla Chai latte, and if I skipped breakfast or was running late, I’ll get either their oatmeal or chorizo breakfast sandwich. The change: no more lattes, and no chorizo sandwiches. If I stop there, it will be for normal tea to get my caffeine fix, and the oatmeal is OK. The challenge: the Chai lattes are delicious. And, you know, chorizo.
- Work from 8 until noon, no snacks, and then get lunch. This is a rotation between Wawa (either an Italian hoagie or a chicken sandwich with chipotle sauce and bacon, Shorti for both) and Chipotle for a burrito. On Fridays, we all at the office get lunch together somewhere. The change: stop going out for lunch, and bring my own prepared lunch, or limit myself to SaladWorks (I get a Tivoli with no dressing and extra spinach). I’ll still get lunch with the team on Fridays, but will either alter the meals the rest of the day or find a healthier option wherever we are eating. I’ll also be adding a mid-morning snack, so this should help cut down on the appetite at lunch. The challenge: I have no discipline when I get ravenous. And I love burritos.
- Work through the afternoon, no snacks, until 5ish. Get home, feed and walk the dogs, veg on the couch for a bit. Typical fare for dinner (on non-training nights): pasta drizzled in olive oil, or popcorn, or pizza. So, yeah, I still eat like a college student. The change: eating actual adult food with meat and vegetables. Adding an afternoon snack. The challenge: time and energy to make the food.
- Tuesday and Thursday nights at 8:30, and Saturdays at noon, I have jiu jitsu practice, so I’ll go light on meals leading into class. I don’t want o cramp up or vomit all over my training partner. That is frowned upon (though not expressly forbidden).
- Dessert any time between 7:30 and 9:30 pm. This usually will be several Oreos (one row is a serving, right?), or ice cream, or whatever sweets are around. The change: I’m not getting rid of dessert, I just need to moderate it to being the actual suggested serving size. The challenge: will power. And that fact that Ben and Jerry’s puts all of their ice cream in single serving pint containers.
- Sleep by 10:30 or 11.
One additional, qualitative benefit to this experiment will be looking at my sleep. I have every intention every night of being in bed by 10 or 10:30 so I can get 7.5-8 hours of sleep, but it’s rare that this happens. So an additional, secondary question here would be: will altering my diet improve the quality of my sleep?
For those playing along at home, I’ll include links to any of the recipes that I use. I’m preparing my meals later today, but for now, you can view this week’s meal schedule here. It’s a work in progress and not set in stone. I’ll likely make changes throughout the week, and if/when I do, I’ll post an update.