Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How I Lost 12 Pounds in 6 Days

I have been training in a martial art called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a little over a year. It is excellent exercise and teaches the practical skill of self-defense.  Through the strenuous 90 minute classes two or three times a week, I have lost 15 pounds, increased my strength and endurance, and mental toughness.  The encouragement and accountability of my teammates at Veritas BJJ in Dalton, GA makes all the difference. They keep me going. I keep them going. We keep each other going.  This article is about how I took off an additional 12 pounds in 6 short days to prepare for my first BJJ competition.  To read about my fight, click here.

I am not a fan of fad diets--especially crash diets. My philosophy is eat healthy and in modetation and exercise hard. There aren't any magic pills or shortcuts.   Do the work and enjoy the results.  However, I found myself weighing 205 pounds one week before my first BJJ competition and I didn't like the weight brackets for my age group.  For a man my age (41), the weight division was set for 200 pounds and up.  What that means is any man older than 35 and over 200 pounds would be in my class.  So I could potentially be fighting guys who were 250, 300, 350 pounds, or even larger. I sometimes roll (or sparr or wrestle) with guys that big in my training class.  It's great training, but a serious and obvious disadvantage in a competition setting.  The next lower weight bracket for my age group was from 180 pounds to 199 pounds.  Man, that was so much more attractive to me.  Couldn't I just loose 5 more pounds and make that weight division?  Thanks to some encouragement from one of my training partners, Vince Caggiano, I decided to go for it.

I got online and researched several weight loss plans and decided on one an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter named George Saint Pierre uses to cut 20-30 pounds in a week before his fight.  I didn't need to lose that much and didn't want to risk my health or deplete my energy, so I decided to modify the plan and make it milder.  Furthermore, I'm a pastor, a husband, and a father and I needed to be able to function normally in the real world.  My modified plan worked for me.  For the full plan and a discussion about how it works and how it affects body performance, click here.

My Plan
My goal was to loose 10 pounds in 6 days without damaging my health or depleting my energy. That was a few more pounds than I actually needed to drop, but the extra pounds would be a buffer in case the official scale was a few pounds off from mine.  I hoped the milder diet plan wouldn't sap my energy too much because I would only have a few hours to rest and rehydrate between weigh in and my first fight.

The idea is to drink a lot of water at the beginning of the week so your body starts flushing fluids.  Then, you start drinking less water toward the end of the week, but your body keeps flushing.  You also limit salt intake, which helps your body let go of more water.  Here were the goals I set for my one week plan.

Sunday
Water intake: 2 gallons
Carbs: less than 50 grams
Protein and Fat: enough to satisfy me in 3 meals
Salt: none

Monday
Water intake: 2 gallons
Carbs: less than 50 grams
Protein and Fat: enough to satisfy me in 3 meals
Salt: none

Tuesday
Water intake: 2 gallons
Carbs: less than 50 grams
Protein and Fat: enough to satisfy me in 3 meals
Salt: none

Wednesday
Water intake: 1 gallon
Carbs: less than 50 grams
Protein and Fat: enough to satisfy me in 3 meals
Salt: none
10-15 minute hot bath with 1 cup of Epsom salt before bed

Thursday
Water intake: 1 gallon
Carbs: less than 50 grams
Protein and Fat: enough to satisfy me in 3 meals
Salt: none
10-15 minute hot bath with 1 cup of Epsom salt before bed

Friday
Water intake: 0.5 gallon
Carbs: less than 50 grams
Protein and Fat: a full satisfying amount for breakfast and lunch and as little food as possible for the rest of the day
Salt: none
10-15 minute hot bath with 1 cup of Epsom salt before bed

Saturday
Before weigh in (8:30 AM) - As little food or water as possible
After weigh in - sip up to 1 liter gateraid or water per hour and eat a satisfying amount without filling up too much to competcomfortably at 1:30 AM.

Reality
It's good to have a plan and they look great on paper, but real life is messier (especially as a pastor).  Here’s what my week actually looked like.

Sunday
I wake up and realize we are having a covered dish luncheon after church today. It's gonna be tough to stick to my plan today.  After my morning shower, I weigh 205.0 pounds.  I fill up my Pleasant Grove UMC water bottle full of 20 onces of water.  I can use this to keep track.  I decided to skip breakfast to limit calories in case I indulge a little at lunch.  Also, I realize almost all my breakfast food is full of carbs.  For lunch, I have a fried chicken breast, green beans, pinto beans, and some broccoli.  I skip all the yummy looking cream corn, bread, and other carby sides.  I do get a small brownie (can't resist).  No sweet tea for me.  It's water only.   I know the fried chicken breading has carbs and there's salt in there too, but I'm not going to be militant about this diet.  I live in the real world.  Besides, this is half as much food as I would normally eat at one of these church feasts, which are both a perk and a curse (for the health) of a Methodist pastor.  The hardest part of the meal were the wondering eyes of my parishioners wondering why I was eating so little or why I didn't get a serving of their famous such and such, but my church folks are gracious people.  For dinner, I had a left over piece of chicken breast they let me take home.  At the end of the day, I came up short on the water.  Two gallons seems like a lot to drink.  I'll have to do better tomorrow.  Other than that, this isn't too hard.  It was interesting to me to note that I would lose 1 to 3 pounds each night while I slept.  I weigh my heaviest at night hefore.bed and lightest in the morning.

Monday
After my morning shower, I weigh 202.6 pounds.  I decide skipping breakfast is easy enough and will save me a few calories. That will be my plan for the week.  I get started right away on my water and have 30 onces down before I even get to work.  I'm gonna make the goal today.   I have lunch at the Engine Room with my mens Emmaus reunion group from church (spiritual accountability).  I have baked chicken, green beans, blacked eyed peas, and broccoli.  For dinner, I skip the lazagna my wife made for the family.  Instead, I cook a boneless chicken breast on a George Foreman grill sprinkled with curry, onion powder, and garlic powder.  No salt added, but it tastes salty so I'm thinking they added salt water to this chicken breast before they froze it.  There's no salt in the spices I added so far as I can tell.  I met my water goal today.  It wasn't that difficult.  I had to miss my BJJ class tonight so I could attend my son's awards ceremony at his school.  Real life here.

Tuesday
After my morning shower, I weigh 199.6 pounds.  (This is the first time I've been below 200 lbs in about 15 years!)  Same plan: No breakfast.  For lunch I have a grilled chicken house salad from Zaxby's. There's probably more salt in there than I'm supposed to have, but at least it's not a hamburger and salty french fries.  I have a funeral to lead today.  They are having a meal for the family afterwards.  The pastor is usually at the meal (perk and curse, remember).  I have a fried chicken wing, 2 deviled eggs, and some grean beans.  No dessert (that was the hardest part).  Folks, church dinners are the best dinners on earth.  Everyone brings their very best so you're eating the best of the best.  If you aren't going to church, do yourself a favor and start today.  Food evangelism.  It's a real thing.  After the funeral, I got called in to do some difficult pastoral counseling at the hospital.  It was a late night.  I stopped by the grocery store and bought a t-bone steak, some cauliflower, and broccoli for dinner.  I put onion powder and garlic powder on the steak and grilled it on the George Forman.  I steamed the broccoli and cauliflower--no salt on anything.  The steak is good, but bland.  The veggies are satisfying.  My appetite has shrunk considerably.  I am full and satisfied after the meal.  My unexpected pastoral care at the hospital required me to miss BJJ class again.  I'm glad to serve, but hated to miss the training time.  I hope this doesn't effect my weight loss or competition performance.

Wednesday
My weight after my morning shower is 198.4.  I skipped breakfast again.  I had yet another Zaxby's grilled chicken house salad for lunch.  I keep thinking of branching out, but I go right past there on the way to do hospital visits and I like them and they fill me up.  We have dinner at church on Wednesday nights and my training partner, Vince, is the cook.  The menu is buffalo wings, pigs in blankets, homemade french fries, celery, and carrots.  I have 5 wings, celery and carrots, and skip the fries and dessert (arrgggg!).  Latter that night, I have a leftover hamburger patty for a snack (no bread).  Drinking the water has been easy.  I easily make over 2 gallons.  I think it may be tough to only drink a gallon tomorrow.  Before bed, I take my first hot, Epsom salt bath.  I'm a little chilly tonight so I'm looking forward to it.  This is supposed to help my body shed extra water.  The water is hot!  I'm just barely able to submerge myself.  After 10 minutes, I'm done and my heart is pounding and I'm hot.  It takes a while to cool down enough to go to bed.  I'm half a pound lighter after the bath.

Thursday
Weight is 196.4.  No breakfast.  You guessed it, Zaxby's salad for lunch.  Home for dinner, I have a hamburger patty and left over steamed broccoli and cauliflower before a 90 minute, no-gi BJJ class (no-gi means we don't wear the traditional martial arts uniform, just shorts and a t-shirt). Today I'm only drinking half a gallon of water, which has been challenging.  My body wants more, especially after the BJJ class, but I am disciplined.  I have another hot bath before bed.  It is not fun.

Friday
Weight is 194.2.  This is my day off work, but I've got house and farm chores to catch up on.  Plus, I'm only supposed to drink 32 onces today.  That's gonna be tough.  I'm thirsty.  The MMA plan suggested the use of a natural diaretic, so I have an idea.  I'm gonna drink a cup of black coffee this morning.  (It's a mild, natural diaretic that encourages your body to shed water.)  I'm not a big fan of coffee (especially black), but that was the best cup of coffee!  It's probably because I was thirsty and it was the first non-water liquid I'd had all week.  I'm still urinating even though I'm thirsty.  I have a late breakfast with my wife of scrambled eggs with onions and cream cheese (no salt).  For the remainder of the day, I will consume only 4 onces of unsalted peanuts.  The limited food is not too hard.  What I really want is to just guzzle water, but I'm only sipping.  I dred my hot bath tonight, but I do it.  I feel weak and dizzy afterwards.  I don't think these hot baths are good for my health.  I think I will omit them if I ever use this diet agian.  I end the night with a cup of iced, black coffee.  It helps cool me off.

Saturday
I take a warm shower and then weigh 192.2.  I am thirsty.  I can't wait for weigh in so I can drink and eat.  Between the time I wake at 6 AM and weigh in at 9:45 AM I will sip through about 12 onces of water and eat a small, 100 calorie granola bar.  I feel a little weak, jittery, and uneasy, but the limited food and water eases me.  At this point, I'm worried if this is going to adversely affect my competition.  After a 2 hour drive, I weigh in at 194.6 pounds wearing a pair of shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops.   Boom! I count it a success! Now, time to drink and eat. I open a 32 once bottle of gateraid.  I need to be careful not to guzzle.  I pace myself as I eat the best peanut butter sandwich of my life, a few salty snacks, and an apple.

Within an hour of my weigh in, I need to pee.  I will go to the bathroom 4 times before my match.  That's a good sign.  It tells me, I am rehydrating.  I feel settled again.  The mild nausea and wooziness from earlier are gone.  I'm a little jittery, but I think it's just pre-competition nerves.  I feel good and strong and in shape to fight.  To read the details of my match, click here.

Conclusion
My six day diet was a success.  It got me into the weight division I wanted without stifling my performance or hurting my health.  Also, it helped me overcome a weight loss plateau I was stuck at For a long time.  I've been wanting to get back below 200.  I am on a week of vacation right now and I don't have a scale.  I suspect I will gain back a significant portion of the weight, if not all of it.  We will see.  I continue to drink a lot of water and eat a little better--more meat and less carbs.  Plus, I am jogging this week to keep burning calories And get ready for an upcoming 5K race.   I will update you in a week to see where my weight is after vacation.  At any rate, I count this as a success because it accomished all my goals for the BJJ competition and I won 1st place in my weight/age/rank division.   To read about my fight, click here.

UPDATE!
As I said in the beginning, I'm not a fan of fad diets.  If you want to lose weight and keep it off, eat right and exercise hard.  There are no short cuts.  I suspected I would put back on most if not all of the weight I lost.  I was right.  After a week of vacation, I weighed in this morning at 201.2 pounds.  I got plenty of exercise during my vacation--jogging 3 miles twice and rising countless miles on a bike.  Also, I didn't eat too badly.  Yet, I still gained 8 lbs.  I am still happy.  I am close to the 200 mark and with a little mindfulness about what I eat and continued hard exercise and BJJ 3 times a week, I may be able to drop and maintain below 200.  I hope so, because it's a good weight for me.