This will be the last year that this column will be called Twentysomething. As of this writing, I’m 29 years old today and have been writing a column in this publication on a weekly basis since I was 17 years old.
This year, more than any other year of my life, I’ve become obsessed with my health. I’ve been going to the gym on a daily basis, have a ridiculous amount of attention paid to my diet and no longer drink caffeine for energy. After implementing my own techniques, I’ve since lost 20 pounds, have been able to double my weightlifting strength, and have more energy that I did in my mid-twenties, so I figured I’d share with you how I go about it because a lot of people keep asking me how I’ve done it.
To be honest, I really thought that it was going to be impossible to get out of my unhealthy rut. I’d see pictures of myself and notice that I had gained weight and I also noticed it on the scale, but I felt like I was working out and I felt like I was eating right, but I wasn’t.
First off, the absolute first thing you should do is accept that nobody knows anything about health and there are so many lies about it, it’s ridiculous. I was reading articles about how I needed to eat more protein, more whole wheat and grains, more fish and more fruits and vegetables. I’d also read about how I needed to do more cardio to lose weight and do less weight lifting. And I also read about how if you are tired, you can eat energy pills loaded with vitamins and caffeine to give you energy.
Everything that you just read above is completely wrong. I’ll start with my diet.
First of all, the human body does not need an endless amount of protein to feed itself, or an endless amount of whole wheat and fruits and vegetables. If you increase your intake in any of these categories, you will gain weight. Your current intake of food needs to be reduced if you want to lose weight, so any brain signal or hunger signal telling you that you need to eat three chicken breasts instead of white bread is wrong. You’re overall intake of food needs to be reduced. I’ve found that the easiest way to accomplish this is to eat light all day long. Very small meals, whenever you get hungry is a great way to prevent yourself from overeating. Focus on eating easy-to-get fruits, like an apple or a banana when you get hungry. Carrots and hummus are also a good trick. Also, for protein, Greek yogurt is extremely good. When you get home, for dinner, eat a salad, a piece of fruit (like an apple) to fill you up, and then do everything you can to have just a small piece of meat. BUT THAT’S IT. If you pig out at night, no matter how hard you work out, you will have ruined the progress you have made for a whole week.
Cut out all forms of stimulants, including coffee. Switch to decaf, and no, you don’t need that caffeine, you just think you do. I mean think about when you drink a cup of coffee, do you honestly feel more energy? Personally, I don’t feel a damn thing, but I do end up feeling like crap about an hour later after coffee. No caffeine will even you out quickly, and you can judge your energy level on your actual health, not on the last time you had caffeine. I drink decaf, because I love the taste of coffee. I do not know why caffeine has become so important to all of us, but your energy level is a great way to gauge how healthy you are, and caffeine completely screws that up. Also, the crashes you get from caffeine are unbearable. I was able to withdraw from caffeine in one day. It was extremely easy to do, and I used to drink a lot of caffeine.
Finally, no matter who you are, incorporate weightlifting into your exercise routine. I was killing myself on cardio machines, trying to get thinner, with few results. Literally the SECOND I started seriously weightlifting and doing less cardio, I noticed an increase in strength, health and weight loss. Those of you who think that lifting weights somehow adds fat to your body are completely misinformed. Weightlifting burns fat, and muscle doesn’t build on you so fast that it makes you weigh more over night. The amount of fat you burn versus the muscle you gain means a lot of weight loss. Too many people think weightlifting isn’t important. The opposite is true. And think about everybody you know that weightlifts, THEY ARE ALL IN SHAPE! And they aren’t killing themselves on cardio machines. This is especially true for women.
I could go on about this forever. So I’ll end it right here. Keep up the fitness fight!