Continuing on with the lessons I learned in 2016 I would like to talk about preconceived notions and ideas that we develop; not because they are necessarily right or wrong, but because it has become the accepted way of thinking and doing things. It becomes a matter of doing things in certain ways because that is the way it has always be done, not because it is the best way to do it.
After the Nationals, with the idea that I might not really be able to squat again, it did not make much sense for me to continue to carry around the extra 25lbs or so I had gained to move from the 83kg class to the 93kg class. I knew the extra weight wasn't helping my knee or back and the added strength it had provided was not really relevant anymore. Adjusting my weight to suit my current goals or needs is nothing new to me. I have dialed my weight and conditioning up and down like a thermostat dial for over 25 years, ranging from the low 160s to about 215 pounds. Through the many years of bodybuilding competitions it's just what you did. It was no big deal and it was not even really that hard. When you were not competing, you spent your time and effort trying to get bigger, and when the time came to start cutting down, you buckled down and dialed it in. With powerlifting it was more about trying to find your best weight where you would be your strongest compared to that bodyweight.
When I was much younger, I followed the standard advice to get ready for bodybuilding shows. The typical low fat diet, eating 6 times a day, restrict calories as required and do some cardio on a regular basis. Nothing wrong with that. Bodybuilders have been doing this for 60 years for the simple reason that it works. It worked for me too. One problem though, I despised it. I hated the food, I felt like crap all of the time, and it made me grumpier than hell … like even more than usual. After my first bodybuilding show I swore I would never do another one if this is what you had to do. The fact that I won the show did not change how I felt about the process. The misery was not worth the $15 plastic trophy.
Of course that was not my last contest though. A few years later I quite literally stumbled onto Dan Duchaine’s “Body Opus” and then Mauro Di Pasquale’s “Anabolic Diet”. Over the next 13-15 years, I learned by doing, and by making a lot of mistakes. Through these mistakes, I made tweaks and changes and competed over 20 more times. Had I not been willing to branch off from the generally accepted ways of doing things, this would never have happened. I found something that, although different from a very successful and accepted practice, allowed me to have success all the same.
Getting back to 2016 though. It was time to drop some weight that was no longer useful to me; how I was going to do it was not a mystery to me. I had upped my starch intake a lot to increase my weight when I wanted to. To drop back down. I just returned to my preferred high fat low carb diet and continued on. The results were very predictable as they always have been. The weight slowly but steadily began to come off.
I have always been one to do lots of experiments on myself. It was how I came to use the high fat diet in the first place. It certainly was not accepted at the time and I didn’t know anybody that had ever really used it, so I had to try it for myself and see what happened. Through all this time, one thing that had remained constant no matter what strategy I was following or goal I was working toward was that I ate multiple times per day. Usually 4-6. Way back around 2000 I had read about a guy that was only eating 1-2 meals a day and although I thought it was interesting, I didn’t really consider it at the time. Between 2010 and 2012 I played around off and on with limited meals throughout the day but when I decided to jump up a weight class, it was just not a very viable option, so once again it got put away for use at another time.
This time came in early spring 2016. Although this is when I decided to lose weight, this was not the main reason I started looking more seriously at limited eating windows. After all, I had lost significant weight many times eating multiple times through the day, so why change approaches now? The answer was simply out of convenience. With my work schedule, it was not uncommon for me to start at 6 or 7am and work straight through to 5-6pm with few or no breaks. This made eating multiple meals a day a real pain. It could be done if you didn't mind ramming food down your neck in a 5-minute window in between clients, but it was not something I enjoyed and I began to wonder if it was necessary. It also meant eating breakfast at 5 or 6am before work. Since switching back to a high fat diet, it was very noticeable I was not hungry early in the morning. Eating when I wasn't hungry did not particularly make sense to me when I was trying to lose body fat either. But wouldn't I lose muscle and strength if I didn’t eat first thing in the morning? I doubted it, although it seems to be common belief. Let the experimenting begin. After all, why not? I was the guinea pig so no one else is at risk, and if it didn’t work I just went back to the same old same old. No harm no foul.
The strategy and transition was very basic and simple. I just stopped eating breakfast. The rest of the day was about the same initially, so I ate around 11-1-3 and 6. The thing I noticed immediately was I didn’t miss eating breakfast. I actually felt much better. I still drank coffee in the morning and that gave me more satisfaction than eating that early ever did. I had no problem waiting until 11am to eat. So far so good. Then one day I discovered something quite by accident. I was very busy and distracted for reasons I don’t remember and before I knew it it was noon and I had not eaten. It didn’t seem necessary to eat now and then eat again at 1, so I just decided to simply combine those 2 meals. Easy. But then I noticed another thing. Because of the relatively large high fat meal at noon, when 3 o'clock rolled around, I was not hungry again. It did not make much sense to me to eat when I wasn’t hungry so once again I skipped my 3pm meal and just put it together with my 6pm. I had no problem waiting until 6 to eat and another interesting thing became apparent to me: the size of this combined meal was very satisfying. I actually was not able to finish it all and had no desire to eat anything before bed. As an added bonus, I had freed up a significant amount of time by only having to stop to eat once during the day. Maybe I was on to something here.
So that was many months ago now. Just like every other experiment I have done on myself over the years I have tinkered and tweaked it in as many ways as you can imagine. Some with good results, some not so good. The long and short of it is that I now pretty much only eat once per day. I lost all the weight I was trying to and it was relatively easy. It still took probably about the same amount of time as any other approach I have taken, but I had no problems sticking to it. I didn’t wither away and lose all my muscle and strength. In fact I set a national record in the bench press about 4 months into the whole process. I also did not turn into a sumo wrestler as the popular, but incorrect misconception would have you believe.
So what was the lesson I learned? Simply stated, don’t be afraid to try something that you have never tried before. You might just stumble upon something good. Context is everything, only looking at one solution to your current situation may leave you over looking the simplest one. Did I discover something revolutionary? Nope. Pretty sure lots of people have tried similar strategies for many different reasons, most of them having nothing to do with how much they weigh. Is this a solution for everyone? Nope. I would think it probably would be very inappropriate for a lot of people and their current goals and situations. Six months from now it may not be appropriate for me either. Who knows? I do know this though; it's a subject I can talk about. I have earned that right. Every experience, every self-experiment allows you the right to say, “this is what I did, and this is what happened” That is knowledge that you can’t get from a book.