The last time I saw 187 lb on a scale was in May of 1991, 28 years ago. I remember that weight and date because my wife to be was chastising me about gaining weight before our wedding that month. When I had met her a few years prior to that I weighed 170 lbs, was highly active in triathlons and maybe most importantly for this story at that time I was pursuing an MSc in Exercise Physiology. Despite a life time of developing knowledge and critical appraisal skills (I completed a doctorate and now work as a director for medical research at a large pharma), I had accepted, without question, some long held beliefs around diet and exercise, namely that increasing aerobic exercise and eating a low fat, high whole grain based carb diet was the key to manage a healthy body weight.
From 1991 to 2018 life grew busier with family and career and I fought my weight gains, eventually reaching a peak of more than 230 lbs. I’m 5’9”. By definition that is clearly obese. I blamed my weight gain on my inability to sustain as active a life style as possible and in the periods when I had time, was motivated and not injured, I increased my aerobic exercise levels and had some positive results that reinforced those long held beliefs. Twice I have dipped below 200 lbs over those years. The first time I played on 2 soccer teams at the same time over a summer while resuming running and working out hard in between games …bringing me to a low of 195 lbs at the time. The second occasion I went on a fasting diet through a licensed weight loss centre, which cost me almost $1,000, and through 3 months of struggle to control my will power I saw progress and dropped again to the mid 190 lb range. On a third occasion, as a bucket list item, my wife and I trained for and ran a marathon in 2013. While I didn’t get below 200lbs, the 6 months of incremental training leading up to the marathon saw me drop approx. 20lbs and I ran the marathon at 205lb.
However on all 3 occasions it was only a matter of weeks, or months at best, for my weight to return back to the 220-230 lb range. I blamed my repetitive resurgence of weight gain on my inability to maintain long bouts of aerobic exercise or my lack of will power to restrict my meal or snack portion sizes. Importantly, despite almost 30 years of bouncing around on the scale I never questioned the underlying theory behind conventional or accepted diet and exercise plans.
In 2018 my friend, Michael Patterson, introduced me to the concepts underlying the foundational philosophy of 45 & Thrive; ie reduce carbohydrate intake and convert my exercise regime to (HIIT) high intensity interval training combined with functional strength training.
In 2018 I read more about this approach and realized that I had previously bought into a dogma that wasn’t based upon solid evidence, and which lead to accepted policy and advice that was not working for me. On Jan 1 ,2019 I weighed 222 lb. My New Year’s resolution was to park my long held beliefs and adopt the advice from 45 & Thrive. I didn’t set body weight goals as I was so used to failure; I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. My plan was to start to make changes and see where it ended up. Now, after almost a year I have lost 35lb, feel as strong and functional as I ever have been and most importantly, I am not fighting will power or worrying about regaining the weight.
My hope is that I may yet lose a few more pounds, and I believe that will happen as I find my ‘new’ set point. This isn’t something magical or difficult to do. Reducing the amount of carbs in my diet has controlled the amount I eat, and the timing of my eating. For exercise, while life is still busy, I am not feeling guilty anymore that I either don’t have the time, or the will power, to run for 1-2 hours 3-4 X a week. Now I target a 30-45 min exercise session 3-4 times a week combining a brief period of HIIT followed by 20+ min of weight training.
I am grateful to Mike and 45 &Thrive for this practical primer to change my approach to eating and exercise, which is allowing me to feel in control of my body weight and also my energy and functionality.
Mark Lundie MSc, PhD