“I LOVE IT!” says a new friend of mine, Mike, in my gym, referring to exercise. And he really does. He is turning 60 soon and has a Body Fat Index of 14%.  WOW!  His doctor told him two years ago, you’re 228lbs and you need to lose 20 lbs.  Now, 2 years later he is 165lbs.  He actually started about a month after me and has trained all this time.  He’s RIPPED!

I never really understood when people said this to me, “I love to exercise.”  It actually took about two years of going to the gym for it to kick in with me.  I was at a relatives house after Christmas. I woke up and looked down at my body and the first thing that popped in to my head was, “I wish was in the gym now.”  Who is this person and has he been replaced with an impostor.

I started working out in December of 2009 after a terrible year.  My father had passed away in the summer and I other stress factors at work finally pushed me to start exercising again.  The last time I was working out consistently was in 1998 and I actually lost about 30 pounds in 3 months, not too bad.  That ended after a another major stress incident at work and I fell off the exercise wagon.  In the last 12 years, I had put on a lot more weight, and I knew I wanted to change.  Especially since their was a member of the opposite sex who I was interested in and I knew I had to get myself to a point where I might have a chance.

So in the beginning of December 2009 I started swimming 4-5 days a week (my daily Zen) and was going to swim the first month to get my body ready for what was coming.  Then in January 2010 I committed myself to working out for at least an entire year and began my routine.  I went to a local Golds gym.  I find it very hard to workout at home; too many distractions and temptations.  I started with weight training and doing about 15 minutes of cardio, and then finish up with swimming 30 laps.

Well after 9 months, nothing.  I mean I didn’t lose a pound.  Frustrating and discouraging.  I kept thinking that the scale is broken, but no, it was relatively accurate.  I couldn’t understand what was going on.  So I continued to workout in to 2010.  5 days a week, with Thursday just being a swimming day due to scheduling reasons.  I would even workout on the weekends to make up for a day I didn’t exercise.  My trainer recommends that I do 30 minutes of cardio to get my heart rate up.  No problem.  I switch to doing more weight training, and drop to 15 laps in the pool due to time constraints.  Plus, about 20 minutes of abdominal exercises.

In to the summer of 2011, around July, and I go for a checkup with my doctor.  I’M DOWN 30 lbs!  Whoo Hoo!  Finally.  I thought I was getting somewhere.  Well, as the year progresses and I go to a nutritionist in December, and I am literally right back to my original weight that I started at back in 2010.  Exactly.  I put it back on.  What a nightmare!  She also checks my other body factors and tells me my Body Fat Index is 44.  Too high!  Below 22 is a healthy range.

Come January 2012 and another stress event and I become even more determined to change my body.  I just can’t figure out why I cannot lose weight.

I work in tech and so vendors come calling to schmooze us.  In late January a salesperson comes to my office and takes us to lunch at TGI Fridays.  I order a 10 oz. sirloin steak with steamed broccoli and a seltzer.  Seems pretty healthy, and yes I know about red meat.  Later that night I go to an exercise equipment store looking for a machine to use for chin-ups in P90X.  While I’m talking to the sales rep, he mentions to me how much sodium is in chain restaurant food.  I didn’t really think about it until now.  I figured I had cut back and was eating better, but I was wrong.

I go back to the office and look up their menu online and “Oh MAN!” I was in for a shock.  Everything in chain restaurants is packed with sodium as a flavor enhancer.  It used to be, and still sometimes is MSG, but usually just marinated in saline or a salt solution.  Everything is, including the broccoli and other vegetables.  They want everything to taste good because the underlying foods are really low-grade, and the American palate is so warped and screwed up, they have to do this to make things taste the way we think they should, but really don’t.

Check it out yourself, and look at any menu from any chain: Chili’s, Applebees, Houlihans, etc., and any of the other 100 chains.  It’s all the same.  TONS OF SALT, SUGAR, AND BAD FAT!!!

10 oz. Sirloin Steak:

  • 600 Calories (not bad) BUT!
  • 1950 mg SODIUM = HOLY SMOKES
  • Saturated Fat = 16g = not too bad

Broccoli Side:

  • 50 Calories – Good
  • 370 mg SODIUM = WHOA!

Wake-up call number one.

In one meal, I had the equivalent of an entire days recommended sodium intake.  Not including breakfast and dinner.  2300-2400 mg is what is suggested for a whole day.

Wake-up call number two comes later the next week.  I decided to try the Ketogenic diet after finally asking my friend at work how he lost 191 lbs.  I spent the two weeks before beginning mentally preparing myself.  Cleaning out the refrigerator and removing all the goodies from the house.  I even gave my Chobani yogurts away at work; great yogurt, but too much sugar.

I have gone to Chili’s on Thursday night after a weekly appointment I had.  This was for several years.  I would get a cheap appetizers, I like buffalo wings, my comfort food, and then get an entrée and a couple of tall beers.  Well, I think I was in serious denial about what I was eating because I figured I could exercise like I was 28 again and just drop the weight, but now in my forties, I was deluding myself.  I was deluding myself in my 20’s too, like so many others I know, including people in their 20’s who think they can eat whatever with no consequences.

The Thursday before I started my diet shift, February 6th, I was going to have my “Last Meal” before I began a major change in my eating habits.  A “Shock to the System” as a friend described it.  And it is right since my body was going to freak out.  I went to Chili’s and asked to see the nutrition guide.  Just remember that what is in the restaurants nutrition guide is very different from what you see online. (THE CALORIES ONLINE ARE BS!!!  GO TO THE RESTAURANT TO SEE THE REAL NUTRITION AMOUNTS.  IT’S MUCH WORSE!)

My ritual at Chili’s:

Wings over Buffalo: (Extra blue cheese, c’mon it’s wings)

  • 910 Calories
  • 2920 mg SODIUM – ARG!!!

Southern Smokehouse Burger: My Favorite and sometimes with more bacon added.

  • 2200 Calories
  • 6500 mg SODIUM, yes 6500 mg in one burger

3 Tall 16 oz. beers: (Sam Adams all the time)

  • 300 Calories /PER BEER

So in one sitting, I would consume more than 4000 calories and close to 10,000 mg of SODIUM!!!  And since it was later in the evening, usually around 11-11:30pm, I would then go home and go to bed.


As my friend Dan (the one who lost 191 pounds in 2 years) likes to repeat to me,

“You Cannot Out-Train a Bad Diet.”

Exercise is extremely important for the someones long-term health, both physical and mental.  Without it, a diet will go somewhere, but not where it should go. Conversely, exercise without a correct diet for the long-term, will be like running in quicksand.