Monday, December 29, 2008

Discipline = Success

I'm taking a big risk with this blog, mainly because two of my least favorite things are failure and public humiliation.  I've had plenty of both and its not fun unless it happens to your neighbor that blows his leaves into your yard.  But its this pain avoidance that I hope will help enforce much needed discipline.  I know that I can be successful because I have done it before.

I am a carbohydrate addict.  There, I said it.  According to rumor I have just won half the battle. But the hard part is still to come.  A few years ago I found the Atkins diet and was at a point that I was very frustrated with my weight.  I was a total beanpole in high school, weighing a buck forty soaking wet.  At a time when some size would have helped my dating life, I couldn't buy a pound at a British foreign exchange counter (sorry, a little currency trader joke).  Then when I graduated, as if by magic, I began my transformation from skinny to fat.  During this time I read every bodybuilding book and publication I could find.  All of them said the way to bulk up with muscle was to eat 5,000 calories a day, most of it from things like pasta.  Well, I did just that, eating cans of tuna mixed with Lipton's Noodles.  My exercise habits were inconsistent at best, consisting mostly of contributing to the college fund of the local gym owner's kids in exchange for 6 workouts a year, most of them occurred the first six days of January. I wanted to look and feel healthy but when crunch time came I caved in (mainly because I HATE crunches).  It was really a battle between desire and discipline, and discipline, or lack thereof, won every time.

OK, back to Atkins.  When I found out that I could eat all the bacon I wanted and lose weight I was like "where is the hidden camera?"  But sure enough, after reading the book I was convinced this was worth trying.  It took about a year, but it worked great.  For the first time in my life I stuck with something and it paid off.  I started the diet at 215 pounds and by the end of the year I was under 160.  My wife actually thought I was too thin!  I was so excited with the progress and was determined to never turn back.

Well, never say never I guess and over time I slowly fell back into my old eating habits.  The problem with low carb eating for a person addicted to carbs is that it only takes a few "hits" of the good stuff to send you spiraling back down.  One day you wake up and you are lying in a corner covered in bread crumbs and spaghetti noodles.  After that the weight starts to come back and soon I was back over 200 pounds.  I was so disgusted with myself that I just kept eating crap...a vicious cycle.  Out of all this, there was one thing I learned, Hooked On Phonics and low carb diets worked for me!

As with many things in my life, the root of my diet and exercise problems is a lack of discipline. I have no idea why this is such a problem for me. My dad was a Marine and is the most disciplined person I know.  When he goes on a diet he does it with style, including graphs and pie charts.  He sticks to it until his goals are met.  Apparently that is not genetic.  So usually my bursts of discipline come when I get to a point that I am so frustrated with the circumstance that my reaction to it overwhelms my natural instinct to do nothing.  That is the point I have reached which prompted this blog.  I needed some external motivation to supplement my questionable internal motivation.  I think I deserve more than mediocrity, and certainly my beautiful wife deserves more.  

OK, now that the public confessional is out of the way, its time for specifics.  Since I know that low carb eating works for me I have decided to return to it.  However, my only complaint during the previous diet was that I didn't have a good exercise plan to go with it and I lost muscle mass as well as fat.  I really did get skinny again.  I don't want to be skinny.  I'm thinking more along the lines of Matthew McConaughey, well, except without the pot smoking.  That means I need to include weight training along with my diet.  This led me to do some intensive research (mainly I Googled 'weight training with low carb diet') and found a book by some guys at Men's Health magazine called "TNT Diet - Targeted Nutrition Tactics".  Its basically a low carb diet combined with targeted weight training designed to help build muscle even while losing weight.  It was just what I was looking for so I got the book and will implement their plan.

Well, this is getting longer than I had anticipated and no one else is reading it except for maybe my wife, and she was probably just looking for some hot 'before' pics.  I will be posting some pics, but be warned they are not for the faint of heart.  Hopefully the 'after' pics will be better.  As a way to enforce some accountability I will be updating this blog with my progress at least once per week, but hopefully more.  I will update the pics once per month in order to track any visible progress.  This is really what motivates me, results.  My goal is to continue this blog for an entire year. If I can do that then I think I will have built some habits that I can turn into lifelong practices.  Its a big step and I hope I don't let the four of you down!