✔ How I became leaner, healthier and stronger? My first 6 months of 2014 in detail: slow carb diet, new eating habits and a lot more regular exercise.

In the last 2 years I managed to get even more in shape by running very regularly. This year I decided to run some more and maybe try to finally lose drastically more weight. In this post I'll show you how I lost ~10% of my bodyweight in the first 2 months of 2014 and in the remaining 4 months lost 2 kg more and became even more fit than before. And all that without starving myself. On the contrary, eating more and healthier.

How I became leaner, healthier and stronger? My first 6 months of 2014 in detail: slow carb diet, new eating habits and a lot more regular exercise.

Brief history of my weight

I'm a short guy. I'm 5'4 (1.68cm). When I was in high school my weight was around 63-65kg. In college it was around 67-69kg. A little more, but still pretty fine. Later my sedentary life caused my weight to go up a little. I was more in the 70-73kg range. Nothing bad, but I felt a little chubby at times. When my first child was born I stopped doing any sports. I just worked or helped my wife with our newborn. This "helped" me reach my record weight of 80kg.

In the last 4 years I tried to get slimmer and managed to go down to 74-76kg range, even 72-73kg at times... but never lower. I just couldn't... and I didn't feel comfortable with my body. There was too much of it. Finally, this January, after the Christmas/New Years break, at 74kg I decided to do something about it. After all, I was about to turn 35, I wanted to be slim again.

Today, my weight is ~66kg. I'm in the best shape of my life. And I'm just getting started. Here's what I did (step by step):

Slow-carb diet for 2 months

I heard about the slow carb diet before but never really paid any attention to it. I was against diets. I tried a 1000-calorie diet once, lost 6kg in 2 months and got 8kg back in the 4 months afterwords. I starved myself to gain more kilos in the long term. Bad idea. I should have known better. I know.

However, after reading the book "How we get fat?" I realized that I didn't have to be hungry. All I had to do was to avoid carbohydrates. I know, it sounds extreme, but I wanted to give it a try. "Slow Carb Diet" basically means you avoid carbohydrates for 6 days a week and eat anything you want on the 7th day. This is exactly what I did.

  • I ate regularly - breakfast around 8-9am, snack around noon, lunch at 3pm and dinner at 6pm. Every day like that... and until today I keep this routine.
  • Lots of eggs, tuna, legumes... but not too much - my favorite Spanish "lentejas" for lunch every other day, breakfast of a 1-egg omelet with tuna, lots of salads, meatloafs without bread and other stuff. Only water to drink. No juices, fruit or milk.
  • Variety finally - because I couldn't eat the "usual suspects" like bread and potatoes, I had to learn new stuff, eat different kinds of fish, meat, legumes... I started to learn about totally new foods. Fun!

I really enjoyed it. Sometimes I had to cheat as I was on a conference in January and had to eat what was given there (I didn't want to feel hungry at any point in time) but other than that, I kept my diet. On my "7th days" I had my beer, ice cream, pizza... but because my body didn't crave for carbohydrates anymore, I didn't feel like I had to "make up for the week" then.

In my frist month of slow carb diet I went with full 6 days without carbs and 1 day of party. In my second month I cheated and went with 5 days carbs free and a whole weekend of anything I wanted. I'm not sure I can recommend this to everyone, but worked for me and my family could enjoy the full weekend with me participating in everyone's meals.

I weighted myself every Monday morning, after the weekend, after the "free day"... to be sure to get the most accurate result. Here's the breakdown:

  • Starting point: 73.9kg
  • Week 1: 71.8kg
  • Week 2: 71.2kg
  • Week 3: 71.4kg
  • Week 4: 71.3kg
  • Week 5: 69.8kg
  • Week 6: 69.2kg
  • Week 7: 68.8kg
  • Week 8: 67.8kg

As you can see, the first 4 weeks are the toughest. At first I lost more than 2kg but then stopped for three weeks... and felt discouraged... but I kept at it and finally started losing more. After 2 months I lost 6kg and reached my target weight of 68kg. Great!

Life after the diet

What happened next? I started eating normal food again. But my habits already changed. I got used to regular meals and not being dependent on carbs. I also didn't need as big a food serving as I used to.

I just started to eat more consciously, choosing less carbs, eating smaller portions, eating regularly, trying to never feel hungry. When I order a plate in the restaurant and they'd give me fries, I'd eat a few, but not all of them. The same for potatoes. Same for bread. A lot less sweets than what I used to.

It works. My weight today is somewhere between 65-66kg, 2 kg less than my target weight right after the diet. 4 months after my diet ended, I'm even slimmer. I think my body got used to this level. I definitely did. I finally feel comfortable with my body.

Exercise: running and biking

As I mentioned in my earlier post, the book "Born to run" changed my life. I wanted to run at least 500km this year in total. Unfortunately starting the diet in January and lowering my carbs intake, wasn't giving me much motivation to exercise. However I slowly started picking up the pace and convinced my running partner to run more regularly together (ideally twice a week). We really hit it off in April. Here's how it went down:

  • January: 22.9km running
  • February: 41.7km running
  • March: 39.9km running
  • April: 83.8km running (wow!)
  • May: 60.1km running, 104.4km biking
  • June (still a week left): 45.5km running, 167.0km biking

First half of the year: 293,9km running. On course to reach my 500km goal this year. Maybe even 600? 700?

In May I did my first triathlon (sprint distance) which encouraged me to bike some more. I bought myself a street bike and this month I'm biking a lot and I'm enjoying this much more than I ever imagined. Next up I need to learn how to swim properly. I already signed up for a Total Immersion course this Summer to take my swimming to a whole new level. My goal is to do an olympic triathlon this October (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run). Nope, I won't be ready for an Ironman this year just yet :-)

How to lose weight? Change eating habits, do regular exercise... and don't get hungry!

Thanks to the two books: "How we get fat?" and "Born to run" - I totally changed my mindset and subsequently changed my life. As you can see, there is no secret here - just keep on keeping on, don't get fooled by diets that make you hungry and slowly, gradually improve. Every day, every week, every month, every year. It took me a few years to get here.

The result? I'm now leaner than I was in college and I'm definitely in a better shape. And I'm addicted to endorphins as I enjoy my early morning runs and bike rides very much. I also know for a fact, that if I keep on doing what I'm doing, I'll be in a great shape just in time for my October triathlon race. I'm so looking forward to it!

Question: Have you tried Slow Carb Diet? Have you started exercising regularly? How's your shape today?

Posted on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 (fitness,diet)

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- Michael Sliwinski