When I got injured (double shoulder dislocation) I took that as an opportunity to fix myself properly. The question as to why I kept getting injured nagged on me like ghost I couldn’t shake. I knew that the rehab was gonna be a long process because clearly something was wrong that got me injured again and again every year. An even bigger question nagged at me, this one fed off of my insecurities: Why the fuck do I keep swinging back to this massive fat gain?
When I got injured I took that as an opportunity to fix myself properly. The question as to why I kept getting injured nagged on me like ghost I couldn’t shake. I knew that the rehab was gonna be a long process because clearly something was wrong that got me injured again and again every year.
An even bigger question nagged at me, this one fed off of my insecurities: Why the fuck do I keep swinging back to this massive fat gain?
I mean, sure I was injured, even though the low volume is a multi-factor parameter: that couldn’t solely explain that uptick in fat and softness. It wasn’t like I was fat, and by all metrics and standards, I wasn’t. But for someone who trains everyday and walks everywhere, that fat gain and softness was eating away at myself little by little everyday. I work as a personal trainer and a coach, the way I look (as much as many might dislike it) is a big part of the “selling” part. If I don’t even look like I take my own shit seriously, why would anyone take me seriously?
Somewhere in the back of my head, as with everyone, there was a voice. It’s not the voice of reason per se, but that voice that knows what’s good for you and what is not. We’re all adept at lying to ourselves cognitively, but that fucker deep down is never fooled. And god, did I try to fool that voice. I’d be remiss to say I was being honest with myself. Maybe I was being half honest, that still leaves half a lie.
Self Deception Override
Here I was softer and higher in fat than I’d been since the beginning of my relationship. I looked at the picture of me resurfacing after a dip in the fjord in the middle of February and I was hit with the great hammer of the reality of the situation. This wasn’t the muscular and lean-ish 4 pack style physique I was used to seeing and that I was still sort of seeing in the mirror. If that room had good light and a delusional motherfucker staring in the mirror.
Like most other people the weekends were my great bane, and not just the weekends: eating what I KNOW I’m intolerant too. But hey: it’s supposedly healthy right? And I should live a little. I should probably also be socially responsible, which means eating and drinking my intolerances. The weight loss started slow, but it happened. I was so desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures. I started experimenting with one meal a day. Nothing like taking a jackhammer as the tool of preference for fat loss. At the same time I was doing a ton of research for my book.
By July I had lost a fair bit of fat and put in some refeed days on the weekend. I kept my carbs for my leg days. In August 2018 my research dept into microbiome took to below sea level depths. A pattern started appearing.
Just like my frequent injuries meant there was a serious mechanical imbalance (imbalances, plural, no joke), it dawned on my that there were serious issues in my gut microbiome. If I didn’t address that I knew it was only a matter of time before I gained fat and softness again.
In August 2018 , my girlfriend and I came back from Palma. I was soft as fuck. Once again I was faced with my own lack of discipline and half heated attempt of “keeping it clean”. You’d think with all this fasting that I was creating a meaningful deficit and losing some fat. No fucking chance. No fasting protocol mitigates introlances and gut damage if you keep eating foods that stoke that intolerance. I realized I’d been lazy with my approach and put all my eggs in the Fasting basket. What I needed was real deficit and no more foods I was intolerant too.
Listening to Legacy
Enter the legend Greg Plitt:
I started following Greg Plitt’s protocol. Which is a 4 hour eating window and the rest is just shakes. So an average day looked like this: 07:00 to 12:00 coffee 12:00 post workout shake 14:00 meal 1 18:00 meal 2 19:00–21:00 second protein shake.
Another tool I used to help mitigate stress, help restore blood flow in injured areas and boost my gut microbiome health is Saunas. So post workout there would always be a sauna session. Sometimes with cold showers to contrast. No more crap in the weekends. Guess what: it worked. Fat started dropping and I kept my Paleo template of meat,fish and veggies.
In September 2018 I ditched the shakes and stuck with the 4 hour eating window, refeed days: a day without time restricted eating window. I moved carbs to one leg day a week. Took probiotics twice a week and kept my sauna routine going. Meditating 20 minutes each morning would help to regulate stress levels in general. I wish I could just blame it all on stress, even when stress has a certain effect on the microbiome, it didn’t and doesn’t account for everything.
The Tricky Part
The wall most people run in and for most the snake in the grass: Time. I figured my rehab would take time as more than a year and half had passed. I acknowledged that the rehab was going to take time, suffering for a long term pay off of fixing everything from the source of all my misery (my hips). As I noticed the improved gut, I pieced the same thought to this process. I finally wasn’t constantly bloated or soft with water retention. Fully healing the gut takes time, discipline, consistency and some goddamn perseverance. This whole process wasn’t about fat loss, it is about deep healing, fixing things physically that fucked with me mentally every day.
I remember Elliot Hulse in a video from 6 years ago say what a real transformation takes: ONE YEAR. Back then, and even in the video, I didn’t really understand why. That video obviously had some power to it that it resurfaced after six full fucking years in my minds eye. Now I see why it had resurfaced, the dots connected.
Your body works with set points on most things: muscle mass, fat mass, reward center settings in the brain.
Changing these set points is what takes time. Losing weight is simple in deficit, even when it’s hard. Those 12 week transformations are a pipe dream for most people as they regain weight or gain some of the weight back. Because they either go back to eating the same way or just generally stop being strict. That’s why I’ve been apprehensive of aggressive deficits. I’ve been in a very low to moderate deficit since August 2018, using my refeed days as a means to combat mental fatigue and central nervous system fatigue.
The other thing is that changing epigentics takes time. They first get activated by the new input from the change in in protocols. Those epigentics just like the body fat level will bounce back to the set point as soon as the corresponding input changes the old input. Add changing the gut microbiome and thus correspondingly rewiring the rewards centers in the brain: you’re in for a long war.
On top of that it turns out I have fungus in my small intestines and some negative gram bacteria overgrowth. Which takes time to get rid of. Even though the gut will be fixed within the next 2 months, depending on level of strictness, my body fat set point will take at the very least until August 2019 to settle down to the body fat levels I was at around that time. Seeing I’m still losing fat, my body is not attuned to being at this percentage, it’s still attuning to the original loss of fat. This is where most people lose interest, that stubborn belly fat only goes when you constantly stay in the protocol.
Asymmetrical and Non Linear
Another thing that tends to “get” people is the non linearity of changing set points, healing injuries, healing gut microbiome and losing body fat. We’re so used to everything being binary: on/off , 1/0, yes/no, etc. You are, as the organism, an organic and chaotic being with multidimensional parameters that dictate and infer each other, totally interconnected. During this whole rehab process there’s been plenty of days that made feel like I was going backwards, that my shoulders got worse. That left me exasperated and fucking demotivated. Same thing with losing body fat, not as many days but at least 5 or so each couple of weeks where I was: “how the fuck do I feel “fatter”, look softer and more flat?!”. As we lose body fat, it redistributes to the survival areas. Which for most people is around their stomachs. Hence the stubborn reputation. Most people don’t stick long enough to their protocols or process to go through these cycles of redistribution, upticks in weight, increase in pain in injuries. Each one of these moments as a little signal of your body that it’s readjusting to the demands imposed on it.
This is why consistency matters. In the day and age of shortcuts, hacks and short term goals that’s not what makes the list.
What I want to convey is this: Do honest digging to the parameters dictating your own process. Form a plan of attack that works with you instead of against you. Then stay consistent until the mission is done. Deep healing and fixing takes time, real old world time, not 21st century 12 week empty promises and broken dreams time.