It has been said that there are two types of people in this world, those who “eat to live” and those who “live to eat.” I am definitely in the latter group! I like to eat…a lot. My diet can be summed up in four food groups: fats, sweets, carbs and beer. I ask, is it really food if it isn’t deep-fried and dipped in queso, ranch dressing or hot fudge? I didn’t think so either. Food temptation is constant at home, work and socially. I work for a company that keeps a whole wall of unhealthy snacks stocked – chips, candy, and high-calorie drinks. They even have a beer fridge and an ice cream freezer stocked full every day to keep us happy. With such an unhealthy diet and constant temptation, it really isn’t a surprise that I was overweight. I’ve been a Life Time member for a few years now and have seen the 90-Day Challenge numerous times and thought about joining, but always had some excuse not to. Not this time. I didn’t like how I looked or how I felt. Now was the perfect time for me to make a change!
Plus, I had the perfect plan that couldn’t fail – diet AND exercise! I know, genius right? Well, turns out I’m not the first to come up with this plan…. If you Google “diet and exercise,” you get 1,970,000 results. Apparently, the hard part isn’t figuring out what to do. It is actually doing it. I knew with the right plan I could achieve some pretty dramatic results. I just needed to be realistic and let my inner-competitive spirit drive me. When I told my wife I entered the 90-Day Challenge, she asked what I’d win. I said, “$10,000.” She said what do you get for second place, and I said, “I don’t know, I’m not planning on getting second place!”
For diet, I needed a complete overhaul.I wanted to be healthy and realistic – no starving! I needed to limit calories, processed carbs, starches, fat, sugars and alcohol. I didn’t want to be a hard-core calorie counter, and I didn’t want to feel drained of energy. A typical breakfast was a large protein shake made with spinach, Greek yogurt, flaxseed and fruits. It was surprising how filling it was and packed with nutrients for the day! For lunch and dinner I’d usually have some sort of lean protein with vegetables or a salad. I tried to limit my portion sizes and drink lots of fluids, black coffee and water, no sodas. If I felt like I needed a snack, I ate a piece of fruit, a few carrots or something healthy. I limited alcohol to special occasions and only had 1 or 2 drinks – always to be offset by extra exercise the next day: 1 beer = +1 mile. I took a multi-vitamin and fish oil as supplements. The first few days were hard as I worked through my unhealthy cravings. Healthy food then started to taste better, and I soon didn’t crave the unhealthy foods. Avoiding the temptations became easier.
Routine exercise was not part of my daily regimen, so I had to make it routine. I wanted to focus on cardio to help with the weight loss, but I didn’t want to look emaciated when I was done, so I needed a plan for strength training also. I didn’t want to bulk up, so I did lower-weight, higher-rep strength workouts 3-times a week on the major muscle groups to tone up. I ran 5 or 6 days a week without fail. There were days when I felt like Forrest Gump – “Run Chris, Run!” I could barely run a single 10-minute mile when I started so I’d walk, but in the third month of the contest I ran a 10K, 10-Mile and Half Marathon race! I prefer to run outside, but I loved the new treadmills at Life Time…where else could I run a course in New Zealand, Germany or the Grand Canyon without having to worry about wind or rain? And Life Time is always open, 24-hours/day! I also enjoyed using the sauna and whirlpool at the end of my workouts.
Finally, it wouldn’t have been possible without a great support network. My wife and kids were very supportive about my diet and workout needs. My sister-in-law was my running partner and helped push me farther and faster. The rest of my family and friends were also very supportive - they’d always ask, “have you won yet?” instead of “are you done yet?” I liked the vote of confidence.
I like how I look, how my clothes fit, and how I feel. I’m optimistic this 90-Day start will lead to a change for the rest of my “Lifetime”!