Between 2009 and 2014, I was solely focused on CrossFit and eating paleo. In 2014 I got my weight to around 185 pounds, up from 155 pounds in 2009. At 185, I was at my goal weight, and had roughly a 5-7% body fat percentage. I could squat 355 pounds and my lifts for other movements were pretty heavy in relationship to my bodyweight I could go about my daily life, bend over, squat, and pick things up with no aches or problems, because functionally my body was strong and fit. In fact, as a chiropractor, being in good functional shape helped me with my very physical job. Adjusting many people throughout the day can be tiring, and getting my body in tip-top condition helped to reduce the soreness and overuse injuries I could feel coming about.
Fast forward to September 27, 2015: I completed Ironman Chattanooga and finished my 18 months of brutal Ironman training. I weighed only 168 pounds. In a short 18-month period – from April 2014 to September 2015 – I lost almost 20 pounds and rediscovered my scrawny pre-2009 body.
During those 18 months, it was tough to watch my muscle melt away and begin to see boney structures – such as a more pronounced ribcage – take its place. I knew right after the race that I would recommit to regaining that 185 pounds.
I did it by focussing on 3 keys strategies. By integrating them, I have now gotten back to 177 pounds and am slowly making my way back to my goal weight.
1) Work out 5-6 Days a Week
My gym schedule has been pretty aggressive, and I plan to keep it this way until March 2016, when I’ll begin to train for Escape From Alcatraz. One of my biggest challenges at the gym is discovering my new one-rep maximums, as I lost roughly 20% of my former Olympic and power-lift abilities. My typical week’s schedule now looks like:
Monday = 7:30 p.m. Workout
Tuesday = 6:30 a.m. Workout
Wednesday = Day Off
Thursday = 5:30 a.m. Workout
Friday = 6:30 a.m. Workout; 9:00 a.m. 3-mile run
Saturday = 3-mile run
Sunday = 8:30 a.m. Workout
People think I’m crazy for all working out so much, but it keeps me functioning at high levels and able to accomplish everything I do in a day.
2) Went From High Carb/Sugar (Crap) —> High Fat/Protein (Paleo)
When I undertook 18 months of Ironman training, my workouts ranged from 90 minutes to 6 hours in length. I was putting in roughly 11-15 hours of endurance work per week and my high-fat, high-protein diet was not working for me. I felt tired and grumpy at the end of the day. I definitely noticed a loss of energy when following the paleo diet during Ironman training. Eventually I gave in, and during long bike rides or runs I began to eat Gu’s, wafers and other high-sugar and artificially sweetened products to keep me balanced. It was tough, because it went against everything I wanted to put in my body – but it helped me survive those long runs and rides.
Literally the day after my race, on September 28, I returned to a paleo diet, in which you avoid dairy, grain, and sugar. In the past month I’ve had pizza twice, two alcoholic beverages, and maybe a little sugar on someone’s birthday, but nothing extreme or on a regular basis.
Two weeks ago, I spoke about how going back to paleo made me lose my cravings for sweets and sugars.
I have not counted calories or written down my food intake in a journal, but I have been very disciplined about eating extremely clean and staying away from grains and sugars.
When my book Eliteness comes out in 2016, I’ll explain more about this diet and protocol – but for blogging purposes, here’s a sample day for me:
Vanilla collagen bar from Bulletproof Inc.
4 – 5 organic eggs or
Steve’s PaleoKrunch (Original) or
Steve’s PaleoCereal (Cinnamon)
Salad or vegetables with pasture-raised chicken or grass-fed beef
Salad or vegetables with pasture-raised chicken or grass-fed beef (I eat greater amounts of beef at dinner)
Throughout the day I may snack on almonds, but only on a limited basis, as eating is pretty hard to for me to do during the day (because we’re busy seeing patients).
3) Supplement Protocol
Ben Greenfield is someone I follow for health advice and hacking my body to reach its potential. Recently I was reading one of his e-books and began to take everything he suggested in terms of a muscle-gaining regime.
The only supplements I took during Ironman training were from Standard Process. They help with joint inflammation, heart regulation, and adrenal fatigue. My training goals were to stay healthy and injury-free, and prevent any long-term damage to my body. I didn’t care about putting on muscle, lifting more weight or becoming a better athlete.
Now that I’ve returned to CrossFit, my workout supplement protocols have changed:
* 3 Millennium CRE-02 Creatine
* 1 Beta Alanine (NOW)
* 1 Carnitine (Thorne Research)
* 3 BCAA’s (MAP)
* 1 scoop Stronger, Faster, Healthier Recovery with coconut water
These are the 3 major lifestyle changes I’ve implemented. I plan to stick to them for a long time. My goal would be to get back to 185 – 190 pounds, and then hover around that weight. I have no desire to gain add much more weight and muscle.