Monday, January 9, 2012

something's got to give...

In January 2011 I felt hopeless...

I was probably the biggest I had been and needed help. If you have ever struggled with your weight you know this feeling! Maybe you are like me and you could look back on areas of your past and see victories, things which through Christ you were able to overcome. Possibly, even major addictions that had you bound and you experienced freedom, but food and weight seemed like such a hopeless situation!

I had tried many "fad diets" and even lost weight on some of them in the past, but now I found myself facing some of the most difficult questions: "where do I begin??," "how do I begin??" and even worse, "do I really want to begin something knowing that I am just going to fail???" Talk about setting yourself up for failure...attempting to start something with the lie planted in your mind, that you are probably just going to fail!!! On top of all that, I had the internal pressure of "I'm a pastor and I don't have self-control in this area!"

At the beginning of February of 2011 I had a thought. Knowing I needed to lose weight and that I was in need of some motivation, I talked to about 5 guys from church about doing a little contest. The goal was to lose 50 lbs in 3 months. This meant about 3.85 lbs a week. Watching shows like, "The Biggest Loser," made this seem attainable to me. I had an arsenal of weight loss strategies which had helped me drop some weight in the past and the biggest winner of the bunch was always the low-carb approach. However, this time I wanted to attempt something a little different, so I thought about counting calories. I began on February 28th and was pretty determined to do it. I gave myself 1,500 calories a day and went forward! I came up with this number by assuming that 2,000 was probably where I should be, but I was extreme, so I would roll with 1,500!

I lost a little bit of weight initially and was doing ok, but as time went on some of the guys made the decision to pull out of the contest until I was one of the few still trying to make this happen. At this point something clicked in me...if I was on Oprah back in the day, it would have been called my "ah ha moment"... that moment of clarity where God directs you to the tools needed to complete your journey. What began as a desire to just lose some weight, became a spiritual experience through which God was teaching me stewardship and discipline. I remember talking to one of my great friends at a dinner table and saying, "Bro, I wish that God would just give me a mind like Jillian Michaels," a well known trainer from The Biggest Loser, "to where I'd see food like she sees it...I don't think she ever wants to crush a bunch of Long John Silver's fish!!" We both laughed about it, but in reality God was starting this process in me. I started to study calories, nutrition and just how to really lose weight and KEEP IT OFF! I went from someone who was obsessed with a DIET to someone looking to find a lifestyle that I could keep consistently forever! I also went from being someone who just wanted to take the weight off to instead desiring to be a healthy person and be around for my beautiful wife and incredible daughter as long as I possibly can.

Through research, study, and at times obsession, God was leading me to the revelations that I believe are very important things many need to really overcoming their weight issues and to ultimately change their lives forever!

Here are some of them and I hope to flesh them out in more detail in other posts...
  1. There is VERY simple math connected to weight loss ("Calories in vs. Calories out" is totally legit)
  2. Diets work, but you can't live forever doing a diet
  3. If you monitor your calories correctly you can eat WHATEVER you want in moderation. (There are no bad foods just bad amounts)
  4. The time of the day in which you eat doesn't do anything to stop you from losing weight. You CAN eat before you go to bed if you want!
  5. You never need to plateau in your weight loss!
  6. Exercise alone doesn't make you lose weight, HOWEVER exercise and an active lifestyle can help you feel great and EAT A TON MORE!
Since this is such a huge revelation in my life I struggle with this "blog" times I feel like I want to write a book, because I have so much to say, but I will restrain myself and instead of going through every one of these right away I will just begin with #1...

Here is the simple math...There are tons of strategies, but all of them basically come down to ONE consistent principle: your body burns a certain amount of calories in a day and if you burn more than you consume you WILL lose weight. I had heard this for years, but the math behind it was really the thing that made it clear for me...

Here are the facts...
  • In order to lose one pound of body fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in over a period of time! This is a fact! It can be over a period of days, weeks or months, but eventually this is what needs to happen. So, in order to lose one true pound of body fat in a week you need to burn 500 more calories in a day...2 pounds? 1,000 per day or 7,000 in a week. There is no getting around this... If you are on a diet like Weight Watchers, they are using this math to cause you to lose...Slim Fast? Same math!
You can't escape this! You can't "fad diet" this fact away. It's either something you avoid and just hope that it balances out or decide to go on a diet for a season, which already factors this math in, but this is a FACT! For me, instead of avoiding it, I determined to make this math work for me. I wanted a true 750-1,000 calorie deficit to lose 2lbs a week. Once I had settled the fact that this was going to be a "lifestyle," 2 lbs was attainable and something that I knew I could keep consistent. Anything over the 1,000 calorie deficit a day is not only unhealthy for you (you are going to burn muscle), but something even more important is that it's NOT something you can keep consistent for a long period of time! Most people start with an extreme calorie deficit and then hop off and on, off and on, etc, etc. Instead, set yourself up with something attainable, then you can let the compound loss work for you, and in the long run lose tons more!!! I would rather lose a 1/4 lb a week and allow that to compound over time than lose a ton quickly and not be able to sustain it.

Now that we know this, it brings us to the second part of the math- How much do I actually burn?

  • Everyone of us has something called a BMR (not to be mistaken with BMI). This is your Basal Metabolic Rate. It is what your body burns determined by your height and weight to perform what's necessary: the functioning of each of your organs, digestion, etc. This is what you are burning while sleeping, sitting down at work, watching TV, etc. You can figure yours out here. This makes up 80%-90% of your daily calorie burn, depending on activity level during the day and not factoring in exercise.
For me, being a pastor can be mentally exhausting, but unfortunately, not very physically exhausting; tons of sitting in meetings, counseling appointments, sermon preparation, leadership development, etc. What I didn't understand was that I was actually only burning a very very small amount of calories in a day. Even at my largest I was only guaranteed to burn 3,000.

Now you might not think this is a big deal, but for me it was huge. For the first time in my life I came face to face with my true numbers! What I ACTUALLY had to work with. I think sometimes it's easier for us to live in a fantasy land and just assume that things will balance out. We try to make a few good decisions and that should make up for the bad. The reality I was faced with was that on most days I burned 3,000 calories (without exercise and without an active lifestyle, which we will get into later) and if I ate more than that, I was actually CHOOSING to get fat! Man...Choosing! It hit me so hard in that moment, and still impacts me in a crazy way to this day! It wasn't that my desire for Five Guys' burgers and a bag full of fries, which I loved, faded magically away, it was that I came to the realization that I didn't have the calories to eat it!!! Not because I am on a diet...I just don't burn enough calories in a day to eat 4,000 calories of burgers and fries, PERIOD! By choosing to eat it, I was now making the conscious decision to get FAT! Up until this point I sorta looked at getting fat as something that just happened, but now it was a choice. Not only was this convicting, but at the same time, incredibly freeing. If I could choose to get fat I could CHOOSE to get skinny! I just had to use the above math (3,500 calorie deficit over time will cause me to lose 1 lb of fat). This was the start of the process for me...

I guess the pastor's heart in me wants to leave you with a challenge...Would you ever really want to choose to get fat? Are you assuming the math will just work out somehow or are you actually desiring to have the math work for you? Do you want to make the conscious decision to get skinny? With God's strength you can do this!!! You are worth it!!

Since launching this site, I have received many emails from people struggling in this area and I want to toss out the option to you that if you need more help, I would love to help and will be praying for you! Message me...


  1. PS- I am so glad you are doing this! You two look amazing and you will surely inspire many others to get healthy. Love you guys.

  2. Good intro to a book. Keep writing bro and keep hitting that gym. You are an inspiration!