One Year of "The New Lifestyle"
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 12:39PM
Matt Volk

A Series of Small Changes

I apologize in advance that this is a whole lot of #humblebrag.


On April 18, 2011 I made some changes in my life.


Prior to that day I thought I'd never be thin again. I had been gaining the 1-2 pounds per year that most people do, and was resigned that it was my fate. I ran some, but I wasn't a fast (or even average) runner and I couldn't run more than 5k.

A few weeks before April 18, I listened to an episode of the Nerdist podcast. The guest was Tim Ferriss, who had written "The Four Hour Work Week" and was promoting his book "The Four Hour Body". All three of the hosts were following the diet promoted in the book to some extent, and one of them had lost 50+ pounds on it.

On a whim I bought the Kindle edition of the book and read through the weight loss section. It seemed much simpler than other diets I had heard of. Basically eat protein and vegetables that are not potatoes. No wheat, corn, rice or dairy and no beer. And you get one cheat day a week where you can eat anything you want.

No beer. That was the worst thing about the plan. At the time I was drinking around two craft beers a day. On April 11, 2011 I decided I was going to give it a shot. That last week was a "greatest hits of food", lots of burgers & fries, Italian beef and pasta.

Since then, I have stuck to the diet. I was pretty militant the first 7 months or so. I've been a little more lax the last 5 months, but its been more like having two semi-cheat days a week instead of the one big cheat day previously. I don't miss any of the food that I can no longer eat every day. I miss drinking beer whenever I want. Now I only drink on bowling night and maybe one other night a week.

I am a lazy person and very prone to procrastination. If I can drop over 15% of my body weight in a year, anyone could do it if they tried.

I am (now) a Runner

Go Fast

The biggest change I've seen is with my running ability. Prior to this diet, I had never run a 5k in less than 29 minutes. I also had never run a race longer than 10k, and that was a while ago. 

Last fall I ran 5k in 25:18 and last night I ran 24:30 on a treadmill. I want to run under 24 minutes this summer. I had no idea I could run this fast. I ran one year of track in high school, and I certainly wasn't a star runner there. Running fast makes me happier than the weight loss itself.


Go Long

As the weight came off over last summer, I looked for a half marathon to run in the winter which could be combined with a vacation. The Miami half marathon fit the bill perfectly so I signed up.

I halfheartedly trained through the early fall. I found out in late October that a half dozen of the guys I hang out with in Vegas every December were running the half marathon there during our yearly gathering. On Halloween night I signed up for the race. The half was in five weeks. I ended up running 45 miles in November getting ready.

The race itself was great, I was happy with my time and running on the Las Vegas strip was a lot of fun. There is no way I could have run that far a year ago.

I ran the Miami half marathon as well. I learned a valuable lesson don't eat Mexican food the day before a long run.


Year Two

At this point, I'm within 10 pounds or so of what I think my long term weight should be. The diet is so easy to do, that I don't see myself straying for more than a day or two when we're not on vacation. The goal over the next year will be more about lowering my body fat % than losing weight.

I would like to gain some upper body strength, because I currently do not have any. May try a personal trainer or find a program online somewhere. A friend convinced me to try rock climbing, so I'm doing that for the first time tomorrow.

My first long run is May 26. It's 10 miles & the race ends on the 50 yard line in Soldier Field.


Things that helped me:

I bought a Withings scale last May. I weigh myself every morning when I get up. It's a daily reminder to stay on track.

I have been using a Fitbit for a few years now. FYI - they don't like being washed. It's a good way to tally how active you are every day. The new Ultra model seems to be more accurate than the original model. According to their site, I've walked 3.8 million steps wearing their device.

For run tracking I have been using Runkeeper for the past year. It works great on the iPhone, it uses the GPS to map runs and gives you pace & distance info through the headphones. You can also manually add other activities to your log. Their "elite" add-on lets people follow your run in real time on their website. This only works when the cell towers aren't overloaded with 1000s of other runners trying to do the same thing.

EAS Myoplex shakes have been my breakfast choice for the past year during the week. They taste good, have a lot of protein, and take care of any sweet food cravings I may have. They are not cheap, but you can get a pretty good deal from Amazon with their subscribe & save plan.


Thank You Jonnell

I never would have been able to keep up with the diet, the running and everything else without the support of my girlfriend Jonnell. She put up with my diet restrictions initially, and has eventually come around to eating like I do (for the most part). She also got up at 4:30AM in Miami to watch me start and finish the half marathon.


One Last Thing

I am going to run the Chicago Marathon in 2013. I am putting together a little running team for the race. Shoot me an email if you want to be in the group.


Weight 4/18/2011 - 181.8 lbs

Weight 4/18/2012 - 152.7 lbs

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