I didn’t, I lost 85lbs in about 270 days. But that title wasn’t sexy enough and I recently read “10 reasons why you should click this link” and thought, if so many people actually only read the title, why does it even matter. But now, I that I have your attention, let’s talk.
Halfway through December, I decided that I wanted to get fit, this was for a multitude of reasons.
- I have a rare genetic form of Arthritis called Ankylosing spondylitis. It’s basically a disease that starts freezing up my joints and prevents movement. It’s painful at times where I couldn’t move get up in the morning and had to stay in my bed laying there for a few hours in sheer agony. It’s an auto-immune disease that my father passed down to me which I’ve learned to deal with.
- I’ve been spending the last few years of my life trying to build and grow my business. As fun as that may be, not being able to enjoy the perks of it seems just as scary as not being able to build the business.
- Finally this very blog post. I actually wanted to collect this data to show “How optimizing a site is identical to optimizing a human body” I wanted to write about feedback loops, a/b testing, and conversion goals. The problem was, I ended up finding too many disconnections and had to slightly alter the post. Here’s what you get.
Losing weight isn’t rocket science, but perfecting it is. If you want a simple answer to solve your problems the only one I can tell you is the age-old “diet and exercise” shocker? We’ve all heard that and we turn a deft year towards it. Rather than trying to be another weight loss guru, let me talk about how I did it, the steps that I took and why this time, out of all the times I’ve tried, worked.
Before I start anything, it’s second nature for me to do dig around and do some research. Sometimes to the point where I’m at a point of paralysis by analysis. I’d spend countless days binge-watching fitness youtube videos, reading case studies on nutrition and following bio-hackers all over the world and trying to understand what they do to achieve their goals. I did not take any medical supervision before I embarked on this journey, human guinea-pigging seemed to be an interesting proposition at the time.
I started with my favorite biohacking-tinkerer-extraordinaire, Tim Ferris. I was a fan of the 4 hour work week (even though I don’t follow it) I’ve followed Tim’s journey extensively. I purchased the 4-hour body and started following that. It talks about weight loss in terms of diet exercise and drugs. How you can balance ratios of those 3 to obtain optimal results. It talked about some other things too (those who read it will understand what I’m talking about). But I started seeing some commonalities to basic weight loss.
– Eat less food
– Don’t eat carbs (Try to avoid except carbs like legumes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli)
– Don’t eat sugar (even fruits, just stay away as much as possible)
– Enjoy the meats and fats
– Splurge occasionally (but methodically)
– Try and exercise
I suggest you read that book, completely worth the money. I read through a lot of anti-inflammatory diets, studies, and lectures pointing to carbs being an issue for my auto-immune condition.
The data I gathered was far from conclusive. However, I decided to standardize my diet exercise and plan and follow on with it. Initially, I wanted to eat 1,000 calories per day (not recommended) and I increased it to 1,500 after 2 months as it was unsustainable and I was becoming very angsty. I completely let go of carbs (bread, rice, pasta) and sugars (I ate fruits sometimes though). I basically followed a ketogenic diet, (Do some research on ketosis, it’s a fascinating subject).
A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. This was my religion starting out. Mainly, because it worked. Later on, I realized that it was a bit more complex than that, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Especially if you’re just getting started.
The math dictates that 3,500 calories equal to one pound of fat and that if you can drop that many calories you lose a pound.
The main takeaway is that even inaccurate metrics such as BMI (Body-mass-index) were better than not having any metric at all.
A scale doesn’t define how “Healthy” you are, but when you weigh 116kg you’re not really going to make a point by saying “There are a few KGs of water weight fluctuating every day” and that “Muscle weighs more than fat” because honestly, you’re 116kg and you really just need to lose it. So when you start out, follow common metrics. They will slowly become your enemy, but to start off let them be your most trusted ally, your guiding light if you will.
Now, let’s get to the math,
I’m a 22-year-old male weighing 116.8 Kg. I’m 5 foot 9 inches tall (maybe 8, but for the sake of bad metrics, let’s not worry). According to my BMI, I should weigh somewhere in the 60-75kg range.
The first thing that I understood was that a pound was 3,500 calories. Every time I’d burn off or lose 3,500 calories I’d lose a pound of fat. Seemed simple enough. Turns out that the human body burns calories doing absolutely nothing but keeping your vitals going. The number of calories burnt during any inactive day or resting period is called the “BMR” or Basal Metabolic Rate. There are enough calculators online. If you entered my numbers into the calculator, it spits out a whopping 2,150 calories/day. That means if I do nothing and eat nothing for a month, I’d burn roughly 65,000 calories. (18.5lbs/8.3kgs) of weight. Now, remember the more weight you have the higher your BMR is. So as time goes on, it gets harder and harder to reduce weight as you’re getting skinnier and your body needs less energy to sustain itself.
I decided that I would exercise to burn off 500 calories and eat roughly 800-1000 calories a day (I managed to successfully pull this off for the first two months).
Total calories burnt through exercise – 500×30 (15,000)
Calories burnt during resting – 2,150×30 (64,500)
Calories Ingested – 900×30 (27,000)
Total Calorie deficit – 52,500 Calories (15lbs/6.8kg)
I ended up losing roughly twice as much weight during the first month, but that’s the point. There are so many other variables that go into this whole equation from water weight to hormonal changes. These metrics aren’t hard metrics, and it’s impossible to keep immaculate accuracy. All you can do is try to maintain a certain standard.
For exercise, I’ve used the Samsung Gear S3 and the Apple Watch 2. If I put them on two different hands and run for an hour, they’d give 2 different results. Each varying by about 10% from each other and by x% from the truth.
I used MyFitnessPal to track my meals, I’m certain I was off by about 20-30% on all of those things regardless of how meticulous I was. (The trick is to eat the same thing as many times as you can, record those things well. Also, try water, it’s always 0 calories).
The scale I used was swapped halfway through as it started acting up, so there’s another point of error. I’ve stepped on the scale so many times that I understand how much poop weighs on average and how much water weight I gain based on my salt consumption the night prior.
We all know diet and exercise help lose weight, it’s far more diet than exercise, however. I’d say about 90% diet and 10% exercise. But more importantly, what matters in weight loss is consistency of action (much like anything else in life I presume). I’ve tried losing weight a few times before, to no avail. I’ve always stopped half-way and ended up eventually putting back what little I lost. It’s very hard for me to be accountable as I’m very rarely swayed by the opinion of my peers, parents or physicians (I really should listen to medical professionals more).
As a staunch social media advocate, I did what every narcissistic millennial does. I started posting my activities on Facebook. This time, however, not to show “how good looking I am” or how I “Go to the gym” I shared a less flattering version. I shared graphs, and I talked about what I did. Every month, I’d take a screenshot of my progress app (initially Samsung Health, then MyFitnessPal). It would have my current weight and the date it was posted on Instagram. I spoke about my diet, my activity levels and changes I’ve made. All of these posts are available on my Instagram account so that you may go back and see where it all started.
The sheer fear of failure kept me going, I didn’t want to upload a screenshot of the month after and say “Hey, I lost no weight this month” or even worse, that I’ve gained weight. There were sufficient people following my content that they started asking for updates if I were a few days late to post. That kept me going in the right direction.
Some months were better than others, but the point was that even if they were inches, they were inches in the right direction.
Two things I love in this world, marketing, and economics. I love business and the whole aspect of investing, I love how you can measure the results of advertising campaigns to justify the cost by showing ROI through arbitrage. I wanted to do the same thing for health. I started spending money on what I did. Finding healthy food was a pain in the ass, especially when you don’t have the time to cook or you’re never home. Salads at restaurants also happen to be expensive. I justified that cost by arguing an ROI on that equation.
If I were to eat out generally, I’d spend about $15/day. That’s a lot of money here in Sri Lanka. Multiply that over the 270 day time horizon and you realize that you’ve gone $4,000 deep. Not only that, there were capital expenditures.
Food – $4,050
Bicycle – $800
Samsung Gear S3 – $400
Apple Watch 2 – $400
Cost per kg lost – $147
I take Infliximab, an intravenously administered antibody that helps fight inflammatory diseases. I had a complication with the drug (allergy) and I can only take it in the ICU under strict supervision, which is an absolute nightmare. I don’t want to casually go into cardiac arrest after all. The thing is, the drug is expensive at my starting weight of 116kg I needed 5 vials to make the drug effective. Each vile cost roughly $500, that’s $2,500 per administration. This is all because our government pays for the ICU and subsidizes the cost of the medicine as well, even free healthcare doesn’t cover this drug because of the price.
I used to take this about 4-5 times per year. racking up to about $10,000-12,500 in drug expenses. Now, it’s down to one and due to the loss of body weight, I only need 3 vials per session. So that caps out at $1,500 per year.
Sure, I spent $6,000 on health costs, but if you do the math and argue “hey, some of that food cost would have gone anyway” and you take it down to about half its cost, you realize the ROI is insane.
Just woke up to over a dozen people wanting to join #surgeglobal it’s insane! This is by far the most excitement I’ve had in a while mixed together with adrenaline and vodka! Now to get back into the grind. Lots of content to create and stories to tell. #tedxcolombo2017 #tedtalk #content #contentmarketing
Honestly, this is important but you already know that. I don’t have any tips or tricks that you could use to keep discipline. I’ve cracked a few too many times in this journey. You can see that there are months where the results were less than stellar. I’ve had meetings, dinners, buffets (too many) and flights. All with copious amounts of food and drinks. But remembering not to stop when you fall off the wagon was the main.
I lied when I said I have no tips or tricks, I used a google chrome plugin which was a streak counter. I’d see how many days I’d stay on track and every time I hit 7 I knew it was okay for me to break my streak. Every time I broke it at 2-3 days I felt like shit. But the point is, you can’t quit. Also, clean out junk food from places where you spend a lot of time. If you spend a lot of time in places like McDonald’s, just switch places. Try your best to control the environment around you because it may try to control you. Be it snacks or people, the advice is the same.
If I followed everything based on the numbers that I initially set out with It should have been something similar to this.
First 02 Intense months
2[(64,500)+(15,000)]-(27,000) = 105,000
Following 07 months
7[(1,950×30)+(400×30)] – [1,500×30]
7[(58,500)+(12,000)]-[45,000] = 178,000
If we added these stats together, we’re left with a whopping 283,000 calories. Which should come up to 80 pounds, which is 36kg. I ended up losing 39kg instead, it was basically a 10% margin of error from the initial math, which could be attributed to things like BMR variations, activity levels not being tracked, the human condition, or wine. Like I said, the math was off, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t trying to compete in the Olympics or try to get myself into single digit body fat percentages for bodybuilding competitions. The way you approach that is very different with laser-like precision. I just wanted progress, I knew where I stood and all I wanted to do was move away. Even if it off by 50% in the other direction, you’d still be much better off.
Another thing I did to stay on track was that I made sure there were enough systems in place connecting everything together so that I didn’t have to manually enter everything. eg: Every step I take is recording on my watch, which syncs up with my phone which in-turn syncs up with MyFitnessPal. It has every workout I’ve done, if there is no way to track that workout automatically, I just don’t do it. I started using Endomondo to track my riding which also syncs with my watch and MyFitnessPal. I mean, my scale has Bluetooth. I set up custom meals in MyFitnessPal like my Subway Salad I always get. (All the veggies with an extra chicken breast, no cheese, and no sauces).
Right now, I weigh 77 kgs, I’m almost “healthy” according to my BMI, but I really don’t care anymore. I feel better than I was a few months ago, and I look much better (confirmed via third party sources). I stopped counting calories earlier this month after I weighed myself at 77kgs. I still completely stay away from sweetened beverages and I stay away from sugar. I eat carbs, just less. I’ll probably keep on losing weight till I hit about 70Kgs but I’m in no rush. I’ll let that happen slowly with time. My exercise routine has changed and I do about 30mins every day. My lifestyle has changed a lot (I’m dating a lot more than I thought I would be) but honestly, the best feeling is that I’m no longer in pain.
I still have minor joint pains from time to time, but the intensity and frequency keep on dropping. The funniest part is, I went from taking
Dicloran 100mg (50mg x twice a day)
Omeprazole 40mg (20mg x twice a day)
Sulphasalazine 1500mg (500mg x thrice a day)
that’s 7 pills per day, to 0. “I’ve stopped taking painkillers altogether” as my kidneys chant their victory horn in the background.
I think that alone, was worth it.