Wednesday, October 31, 2007

For Guys Who Need To Lose 100lbs

You know, it's pretty funny. I never thought that I would be writing a post for guys who need to travel the same road that I have. When I started my weight loss journey back in 2003, I didn't do it with the thought of losing more than 100lbs. There's no way I could have continued through the many setbacks and mis-steps I have experienced if I started off saying to myself that I'm going to set out to lose 100lbs. Setting realistic and attainable goals really worked for me even when I was experiencing a plateau.

This lead me to think about the countless number of guys out there who are standing in my former wide width shoes. (Hey, you gotta love New Balance and the many wide widths they come in.) So, I decided to pass on a couple of pointers that are targeted specifically towards all my Big Dawgs, which are those guys who need to shed 100 or more lbs. In true MLBF style, I've decided to give you some bullet points that I feel are crucial to you achieving your goal(s):

  • Set small and reachable goals
    This may seem obvious, but it's really not, especially when you have a lot of weight to lose. What most non-obese (including those considered overweight) don't understand is the feeling of being trapped in a morbidly fat body. This stifling feeling is something that you have to experience to fully appreciate what I'm talking about. Since we feel trapped, the only thing we really care about is losing the damn weight, and, unfortunately, many of us could care less how we do it. This desperation is one of the reasons the weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business. Yes, I know that you have a lot of weight to lose and, if you could, you'd like to snap your fingers and have that gut disappear, right? Of course you would. Hell, I had many tearful nights sitting at my computer wishing that I could simply chop off all of the mounds of flesh (and fat) that rested in my lap.

    Listen fellas, snap out of it, OK? There is no magic pill, operation, or even diet that will cause you to lose weight as fast as you would like to, so forget about it. Make up in your mind that you want to average losing no more than 1-2 lbs a week and remember that it's not all about the journey, but what you learn while you're on it.

  • Stop Dieting and Make a Life-style Change
    If you are serious about losing the weight and keeping it off, then you are going to have to be serious about the life-style change that you are going to have to make. Most folks go on a diet and think that once they reach their goal weight, then they can go back and eat whatever they want. Man, how foolish this type of thinking is. This is the mentality that must die! There's one important thing that I want you to etch into your weight loss psyche: Once you start to lose weight, you will never be able to eat the same amount of food that you did prior to losing weight. If you do, you will regain the lost weight. That's right, I want you to have a hard look at the amount of food you need to consume to stay at your current size. Take a mental picture and kiss it goodbye because to lose weight and keep it off, you'll never be able to consume that amount again. Oh, and a true life-style change is one that happens over time (i.e., months, years) and not something that you can master in a couple of weeks.

  • Stop Living in the Past
    Yes, yes, I know that you use to play football in high school or college, and you were the man on the basketball courts back in the day. I'm sure that you also had a nice bod at that time too. Well, those days are gone my friend, so let 'em go. Stop looking at your current self with nostalgic thoughts of how you use to be able to do a hundred reps of (fill in the exercise here) before you let yourself go, yadda-yadda-yadda. Bredren, please let it go. You'll never reclaim the years of your youth, no matter how badly you reminisce about them. Hey, I was just as guilty as many of you. I would often tell people how I could actually dunk a basketball (on the shorter, outdoor courts) back when I was a freshman in college, and then go on to tell them about how active and athletic I was (was being the key word here). There's no need to live in the past guys when you can create a healthier and stronger you NOW!

    Man, I would love to meet my former self now. That 18 year-old punk couldn't hang with me in any activity you name. I can do more pushups, pullups, dips, lift heavier weights, run faster, farther, etc. now than I could when I was just starting college. Basically, I would kick my young ass. Guys, get to the point where you feel, as I do, that not only is youth wasted on the young but it's grossly overrated . . .

  • Only Compete Against Yourself
    OK, I know that we men are usually competitive creatures by nature; however, you need to redirect and focus your competitive spirit towards yourself. If you workout in a gym, don't gaze in amazement at the guy who looks like he's going to be on the next cover of Men's Health (one of my goals). There's no need to put anyone on a pedestal or make yourself feel as though you are less than they are because you have so much weight to lose. Hey, you had absolutely nothing to do with that guy getting buff, just as he had nothing with you becoming obese. So, why even compare or even try to compete with him. He's not your opponent--your soon to be former fat self is.
    You are striving to be the best (fill in your name here) there can be, and only one person can determine that: you!

  • Don't Drink From the Goblet of Haterade
    My friends get a kick out me talking about drinking from the Goblet of Haterade. OK, for those of you not keeping up with the current Urban American slang of the day, let me explain what I mean by this. First, when someone is extremely envious of another person, you can say that s/he is "hating" (i.e., jealous) on the other person. And, Haterade is simply a play on combining the words "hate" with the sports drink "Gatorade". OK, I think you get the picture now.

    Just as you don't compete with anyone else, don't envy or "hate" on them either. This is a trap that most fat guys get caught in. Being jealous of someone because they've lost weight or are losing more weight than you is simply juvenile. Instead of hatin' on someone, use that energy to be motivated by them instead. Download their pictures and use them for motivation and not an invitation to sip from the goblet. Right now, I'm using D'Angelo's music video Untitled as pure motivation to get lean!

  • Stop Worrying About Loose Skin
    Yes, you are going to have loose skin, especially if you've been obese for some time. Start explaining this to yourself now, so that when it becomes more noticeable, you won't completely freak out. However, the good news is that your skin is a living organ that sheds and rebuilds itself. So, how much your skin comes back after weight loss depends on your diet composition, age, how long you've been obese, and your genes. It's also important to keep your skin hydrated by using lotion or body creme after bathing. I've found that drinking lots of water does wonders for your skin too. Finally, realize that your skin is very thin and what most people call loose skin is actually loose skin that still has fat under it. To get an idea of how thin your skin is, pinch the back of your hand. I'm currently battling with the last bit of fat on my belly, and I can tell you that it's not an easy task. Now, I can fully understand why people get tummy tucks or lipo after losing a lot of weight since you have to fight against your bodies metabolic adaptations to your new, and improved, active life-style change.

  • It Ain't Easy
    Losing weight is not an easy task; the failure rate of people to maintain the lost weight in this country proves this point. However, it is not an impossible task and it does not take the strength of Hercules either. The problem with many of us is that we get caught up in the all or nothing mentality. Either we are 100% on a diet or we are 100% a failure and decide to go back to our unhealthy ways of eating. Guys, stop swinging from one end of the pole to the next. What you are embarking upon is a life-style change that you will continue to refine for as long as you live! If you are serious about losing and keeping the weight off this time, then you need to realize that this is a process that you will have to not only be an active participant, but you will need to take the leading role. Yes, you are going to have to take charge of your health and be willing to admit that either you don't understand how to lose weight, which my last bullet addresses, or you understand the theory side and are having problems putting it into practice. Either way, the road to weight loss is full of ups and downs, which is no different from the life you're living right now. So, keep telling yourself that you can handle it.

  • Feed Your Brain to Lose the Weight
    I love having this phrase as the signature for my email and forum posts. Oh, I have to give credit to my brother Elgin for coining this catchy phrase that pretty much embodies the message that I'm trying to bring to my readers. If you don't have a good and working understanding of how the body loses and gains weight and how diet composition is factored into the equation, then you are bound to following someone else's plan. And, following someone else's plan is like trying to live someone else's life. You need to become the authority of your body and health. Stop sitting on the sideline of your life as a passive observer, simply giving the reigns of your health over to your doctors. As I've said before, there's more than enough information on the internet and in the books that I've suggested on my blog for you to make very intelligent decisions about your health, diet, and exercise. Look, your brain is a large muscle and learning new information, in addition to meditating, is a great mental workout.
While on my journey, I've come across very inspiring websites. However, I think that you'll find the two following weight loss stories and pictures very inspiring. Be sure to drop them a line:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nike Hill: A Hidden Cardio Treasure!

For the last month or so, all I've been doing is raving about Nike Hill and how it's done wonders for my conditioning, especially cardio. Well, I think that it's time that I reveal this hidden cardio treasure to my readers. Fellas, I can't begin to tell you how challenging and mentally trying hiking up this hill is, so I've decided to take you on a hike with me. But, before we go on our walk, I think you need a little more information about my latest workout gem.

During the Cold War, the US military built many Nike Missile installations to protect key cities as a last line of defense against air attacks. These now decommissioned missile launch sites surround LA, as shown on this map. I just think that it's really ironic that one of these sites would later become part of my college.

I've heard about this infamous hill since I've been working here because many of my students would tell me about the killer hike they had to do for the final exam in their walking class. I had one student tell me that many of his classmates couldn't make it to the top of this 2.5 mile zig-zagging road that continued to climb until you reach the very top.

A little more than a month ago, I was reminded about Nike Hill from a co-worker, and I set out to conquer this hill. My first experience with Nike Hill was brutal. I had no idea the types of inclines I was going to be dealing with, so I had my 20lb weighted vest strapped on for the ride. Little did I know that I would barely make it to the top. The next day, I was completely wiped out, but couldn't wait until I was ready to try and climb the hill again.

Since then, I've dropped the weighted vest (for now) and hike up the hill and jog down. Each trip I take up the hill, the stronger I can feel my legs getting; however, to reach the very top is still a heart-pounding event and one that I look forward to every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday!

I keep trying to explain to folks how steep these hills are, but it's hard to imagine unless you've walked the trail. So, I thought that I would do the next best thing: present a slide show. I hope that the captions and pictures are enough to give you an idea of the kick ass workout I get hiking this trail four days a week.

Hey, if you pay close attention to the shots right before I get to the top, you just might hear me grunting as I slowly jog up the last hill. ;)

Click on the image to be taken to a full-size slideshow.

View Larger Map

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Weight Loss Tips Interview is LIVE!

Hey, I just received an email from Lizza at Weight Loss Tips, and my online interview is now live. Feel free to check it out when you get the chance.

Also, I just joined an awesome forum for those following a LC WOE (way of eating) and are serious about working out and sculpting their physique:

Friday, October 12, 2007

MLBF in the News

Hey fellas,

I thought I would write a quick post about a few new places that have highlighted my weight loss transformation. I've already blogged about my story being featured at; now, pictures of me have been posted to CNN's Fitnation website (click on #5 for my pictures), and they are planning on interviewing me for a feature piece at the beginning of the year. The only problem I have with the CNN piece is that they used an old after photo of me because my current one doesn't show my face. While I understand why they did this, the picture that they did use shows me at least 30 lbs heavier than I am now! But, that's cool because I'm going to be taking professional photos next month, so no more taking pictures of myself in the mirror for me.

Also, my school newspaper was kind enough to interview me about my weight loss story. You can check out the story and a current picture of me here. I know that I look pretty thin in this picture, but don't worry because there is a beast of a body being developed underneath the XL polo shirt I'm wearing!

And, finally, I was contacted by the good folks at Weight Loss Tips to do an online interview. I've responded to their questions, and I'm just waiting for my story to be posted. Once it's up, I'll let you guys know.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bringing the Low-Carb Community Closer: Good Calories, Bad Calories

Wednesday before last, I left work early because I wasn't feeling very well. On the way home, I remembered that Gary Taubes's new book, Good Calories, Bad Calories (GCBC), had come out the day before. Well, fortunately for me, I live less than five minutes away from a Borders bookstore, so I was able to shuttle in and out with my book in less than 10 minutes. It was good to see Taubes's book on the "New Arrivals" table in the middle of the store as you walk in.

When I woke up the next morning, I had already read the first section of his 400+ page work; however, I wasn't feeling any better. So, I decided that I should stay home and in the bed for the day. Since I don't have a TV in my bedroom, I figured that I should continue to plow through his book, which I gladly did.

Now, before I go into my review of GCBC, I have to warn any potential readers that this is not, I repeat, is not a diet book. You won't find any low-carb recipes or any personal stories about how the author has lost weight following a low-carb (LC) way of eating (WOE). Also, if you are not familiar with reading works that examines dietary theories and medical research, then you may be intimidated with the vocabulary and the argument that is being presented. However, this is not to say that you have to have a degree in biochemistry to understand what the author is discussing; nevertheless, you do need a background in how the various macronutrients (i.e., protien, fat, carbs) are metabolized or used by the body. For more of a layman's discussion of these processes, I suggest that you read Dr. Gregory Ellis's Ultimate Diet Secrets (lite) and Protein Power by Drs. Eades; Dr. Eades also has a great blog that you may want to check out also for more background information that will help you understand Taubes's arguments better.

OK, now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, let's jump in shall we?

Since I've had more than a week to digest what I've read and to contemplate this review, I have to admit that my initial thoughts about the book has changed. At first, I thought that this would be the book that would finally cause a lot of low-fat dieters to start questioning their dietary protocol. I saw this book causing an uproar to the so-called "healthy diet" that is being promoted today; however, I don't feel that way anymore. As a matter of fact, I now believe that this book was written more for the LC community than anyone else.

GCBC, I believe, can serve as a book that can bring the LC community closer because it settles a lot of the debates within the LC community, which I'll discuss in a bit. By addressing and settling, IMO, these differences, it gives the community the ability to move forward and continue to spread the message that there is another viable dietary approach available to people who want to not only lose body fat (not body weight) but live a healthy life too.

Taubes has presented us with a 60 page bibliography, as well as 40 pages worth of chapters' notes for further research on the hypotheses he presents in his work. While many of the arguments he makes in GCBC I have read in other works by other authors, such as Ellis, Colpo, Uffe, Kendricks, etc., I appreciate the repository feel that this work has. Whether you are a lay person, medical student, nutritionists, or scientists, Taubes presents his arguments in such a way that will appeal to all. However, I will admit that it is far from an easy read, especially if you are knew to the science behind why LC eating is our optimal and, as some have argued, ancestral diet.

If you want the 11 critical conclusions of GCBC, then click here and read the review at, as I will only be discussing three points in my review that I feel gives the LC community an opportunity to come closer together as a cohesive community.

So, without further ado, here are the points that I've pulled from this text that I believe we in the LC community can capitalize on to fortify our ranks.

Point #1: The energy balance equation is not refuted by eating LC, especially when you look at the 2nd law of thermodynamics from a different perspective. In the LC community there has always been a heated debate about the role of calories in weight loss. Those who follow certain LC authors that advocate calories don't count have always butted heads with those who believe that this violates the law of energy conservation. Those who read my blog know exactly where I stand on this issue; however, I have to credit Taubes with causing me to view this debate from a different perspective. He argues that eating too many calories and having a sedentary life-style is not the cause of obesity, but they are side effects caused by our bodies not properly metabolizing fat as a result of high insulin levels in the blood. What I appreciate about this approach is that even though it places the cause of obesity on our metabolism running at less than optimal levels, it shows that once we switch to a LC eating style, more than any sort of metabolic advantage, there is what I've termed a metabolic restorative process that happens that reverses the metabolic imbalance that eating a high-carb diet causes. And, this restorative process causes one to lose body fat, have increased energy, and eat less. Taubes's argues that while one is in this restorative process, the body uses fat as fuel, especially stored fat, and the pathway to making fat from carbs is greatly reduced since the fat-storage hormone insulin is kept at normal levels. In turn, the body's active tissues (i.e., muscles, organs, etc.) are constantly nourished.

Point #2: GCBC serves as a primer for us to understand how, from a cellular level, why and how the low-carb eating works. If you weren't thrilled about being in your biology classes in high school, then this information is going to be a bit tedious and dry; however, get over it! Here you are presented with a clear cut explanation of the hormonal and enzymatic functions as it relates to how the body gains and loses weight. The only other author that I know of that has discussed low-carb WOE from this perspective is Dr. Ellis in Ultimate Diet Secrets; nevertheless, this is information is vital in explaining exactly why a low-carb WOE is the most healthy and nutrient packed known to humans. Citing examples from studies done by low-carb authors is not enough evidence for our cause. Even though folks like Dr. Ornish do this all the time, we must not fall in this same over-zealous trap. It has been well established in the scientific community of the ill effects of consuming sugar and carbs, as they relate to chronic diseases, for some time now. Now that GCBC brings to life many of these forgotten studies, it's the LC community's responsibility to never let these works be forgotten or easily dismissed. And the only way to make sure that this never happens again is for us to read, re-read, and digest the vast amount of information that's presented in Taubes's book.

Point #3: The Carbohydrate Hypothesis for chronic diseases is finally laid out for the world to see. Those of us following a LC lifestyle usually has an idea of the ills consuming too many carbs causes, but these are usually from the various books, websites, and forum posts that we've read. Very few of us have access to the studies and other research that points to a causation for many of these so-called diseases of civilization. What's important about GCBC is that Taubes readily explains the different hypotheses that fully implicate sugar and high insulin levels as being the culprit for not only obesity, but also diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc. And, to top it off, he gives you the sources to do the research for yourself. No one has to take Taubes's word for any hypothesis he posits in his book because it's fully referenced. As a result, it gives us in the LC community the ability to learn and memorize these hypotheses. Yes, we need to learn them because the onus is on us to break down these complex hypotheses into more manageable parts for the joe and joann dieter to understand. While I think a discussion of glucagon and how it interacts with insulin is fascinating, I know that most people don't. I can't accept that they are damned because they aren't into scientific jargon like I am, so we have to take the information learned in GCBC and figure out ways to present the LC case in easy to understand terms. At lowcarb discussion forum, they are going to start a chapter by chapter thread for GCBC, and I encourage all LC forums to start a similar thread. To promote a WOE, we must first fully understand it.

There will be disagreements with approaches and I know that the metabolic advantage debates won't die out right away; however, I strongly believe that GCBC can serve as a catalyst to bring the LC community much closer than it currently is. I hope I'm right and this time next year, I'll be blogging about the many LC programs that are geared towards teaching children how healthy it actually is to eat LC.