Tag: diet plan

Just call me KETOshua from now on …

I don’t know how these formal announcements go. But, I guess there’s no other way to put it. I am going to be doing the Keto Diet.

I’m not sure how this is going to affect my life? I won’t lie, I’m not exactly sure what I am doing? I just know that I want to do it and from those I know (and trust) they had nothing but good things to say about a Keto based diet.

The past 3-4 months have kinda sucked for me. And, I’m just not where I wanted or planned to be physically — and subsequently emotionally — with my training. I was really planning on some great training, but after my sprained ankle those plans were really derailed. My weight-loss stalled and even following a clean gluten-free diet — didn’t do much for me.

And, honestly, the past couple of weeks it’s put me in a funk. So, I’m looking to shake things up for a number of reasons. Let me list the ways …

1) I want to lose 20-30 lbs. before November 15 (that’s when I am heading to Greece)
2) My ankle is healing nicely and I am starting to get back into a workout rhythm. 
3) I need a challenge — something hard that I can work towards.

So, yeah.

I’m tackling this in a few ways. First off, I am not starting now. As much as I want to, I am starting it on August 16th, which will be 90 days before I leave for Greece. I like working on 30 day fitness cycles.

Secondly, August 15th is my birthday. Who in their right mind wants to start a diet ON or BEFORE their birthday? Especially a diet that pretty much eliminates carbs? A birthday cake-less birthday is almost as depressing as pretty much any Sarah McLachlan commercial.

Though the thought of a bacon birthday cake does interest me.

And, thirdly, I never start a diet on a Monday or first day of the month. It’s stupid. And, if you want to fall into perpetual dieting all you have to do is wait until next week or month. But, that’s a post for another day. And, probably something I should put in my book.

Anyways, as I said, I have NO idea what I am doing. But, luckily for me, I have the internet. So, I’ve been Googling lots about the Keto Diet. I’ve found some good stuff here, here, here, here and of course you can’t reference anything from the internet without referencing Wikipedia. I’m pouring over this stuff this weekend and probably for the next couple of weeks until I get the hang of the diet.

Do I think this is a cure all to my problems? Of course not. But, in dealing with my Hashimoto’s Disease I love how compatible it is with my diet restrictions. And, I feel like there isn’t MUCH to change from my current diet other than monitoring my ketogenic levels.

In addition to all this prepping I decided to rename my fitness Instagram account @fight4phat to @ketoshua (it kinda makes me sound Asian, huh?). It’s just a play on words of my name and Keto. Cute, I know. But, I have started networking and following a number of keto accounts in hope for support and meal inspiration.

So, I guess you can I am all in, eh?

Make sure to follow me on Instagram. I’ll post some on PhatJosh over on the Facebook. And, I plan on checking in here on the bloggy blog as well.

But, I am planning on having a few “free” meals before starting the diet. I feel like I need to have another “Farewell to Carbs Tour” with some nachos, popcorn and of course my birthday cake on Tuesday.

So, if you’ve had any success on a keto diet — or non-success — I’d love to hear what you have to say about it. Drop a line in the comments below.

Oh, yeah, and follow me over on the Instagram as well …

The Hashimoto’s 33 Diet

The Hashimoto’s 33 Diet is a diet based a number of Hashimoto’s and autoimmune diets research online (you can find some here, here, here and here). From these diet plans I carefully constructed a list of 33 foods that would benefit my condition, promote weight-loss and increase my energy levels.

This is a minimalist approach to my diet. And, the idea comes from a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago. We were talking about the Project 333 minimalist fashion challenge and wondered if that same concept could be adapted to our diet.

This is the byproduct of that conversation.

There’s no scientific claim that these 33 foods alone will fix or cure my Hashimoto’s Disease. The diet works with a mentality that works best for me. If the food is not on the list – I don’t eat it. I’ve found in the past that work well with absolutes when it comes to constructing diet plans. I like a black and white approach.

Besides being a clear cut approach, this list hopefully promotes creativity in my cooking and use of the foods on my list. I chose foods that could pair well with other foods — or be eaten by itself (for the most part). I want to be able to cook something nutritious with little to no effort — with the ability to also make dishes that are elaborate and with much effort.

About 95% or so of the items on this list are all gluten-free, diary-free and non-processed foods with a strong preference toward organic items. These attributes are recommended in most autoimmune and Hashimoto’s protocol diets.

Of these exceptions — two are processed. They include my Isagenix IsaLean Shakes. A non-gluten, non-dairy shake I usually start my morning off with that has helped a lot with my energy levels, etc. — and Larabar Bites.

Also it should be noted that I kept rice on this list though it’s not entirely recommended on all Hashimoto’s lists. Yes, it is a grain, but it is also gluten-free — and with all the running I am doing from now until April I wanted to keep this on my list as a pre-race food, because I do better with some good carbs in me before a race. I just don’t anticipate eating it that much — and who knows … I might not use it at all? But, it’s on the list.

Anyways — like the Project 333, I plan on keeping this list for a minimum of three months. Then in April I’ll make another list of 33 foods. Whether it’s similar or different depends on how my body reacts to this diet protocol.

This might seem like an odd approach. Which I agree — it kinda is. But, for me — it works. I don’t see it as any different to the many autoimmune and Hashimoto’s Diet plans out there. I like this approach because it minimizes on the shopping and calls for fairly simple foods — sure the coconut oil and milk is a but out there. And, then of course the Kombucha.

But, it’s fairly budget friendly.

I am excited to see how this effects me. I am excited to see how it effects my energy levels, stamina and running. By keeping the foods simple and mostly unprocessed — I know I’ll see improvements.

Anyways — here is my list of 33 …

Meat, Poultry & Fish

Beef (1)

Chicken (2)

Pork (3)

Leafy Green Vegetables

Lettuce (4)

Spinach (5)

Cruciferous Vegetables

Broccoli (6)

Cabbage (7)

Root Vegetables

Sweet Potatoes (8)

Yams (9)

Squash (10)

Carrots (11)

Fruit

Grapefruit (12)

Oranges (13)

Lemons (14)

Peaches (15)

Apples (16)

Berries

Grapes (17)

Strawberries (18)

Blueberries (19)

Olives & High-Fat Fruits

Avocados (20)

Green Olives (21)

Fermented Foods

Sauerkraut (22)

Kimchi (23)

Rice & Grains

White Rice (24)

Herbs & Spices

Salt (25)

Pepper (26)

Fats & Oils

Coconut Oil (27)

Olive Oil (28)

Liquids & Drinks

Coconut Milk (29)

Kombucha (30)

Water (31)

Processed Foods

Isagenix IsaLean Shakes (32)

Larabar Bites (33)

Medications, Vitamins & Supplements

I am not counting my medications and supplements on my list of 33, but I feel like it’s important to share with you to help understand the whole picture.

90mg, Armour Thyroid
Zhou Thyroid Support
Vitamin D

Again, the goal for this diet is three-fold —

  1. Help temper my Hashimoto’s Disease and promote a healthy thyroid.
  2. Promote Weight-Loss and overall health.
  3. Promote creativity and ingenuity in my cooking.

I might tweak it a bit before Monday, But, I will periodically chime in throughout the process. Most likely weekly. I will be starting this officially on Monday, January 29th and go until Saturday, April 29th — which is three months. I will then assess the outcome, make a new list of 33 foods and go from there for another three months

Simple enough, right?

I’ll be posting more about this diet and outline soon. Stay tuned.

#Fight4Phat: The Bulletproof Diet

I’ve been a little quiet about the progress of my diet the past month and for good reason. I haven’t really been following one the past month. As has been heavily chronicled the past 4-5 months, I had been following the Whole30 to success of a 35lbs. weight-loss. Not bad.

This past month my plan was to follow a bastardized version of the Whole30 — or basically a Paleo 80/20 diet plan. But, I learned two things this past month — one, the body needs a rest from aggressive weight-loss and, two, it’s hard to follow a diet when you’re sick. Especially when it last 2-3 weeks.

This that an excuse? Yeah, probably. I won’t deny that. But, it’s also a learned lesson about my body that I need to remember and honor. Physically, my body just can’t be expected to go through more than three months of aggressive weight-loss. But, I think that probably applies to pretty much anyone.

But, it wasn’t that I gave up after one roadblock. About three weeks ago I got a pretty nasty cold and it’s just lingered for waaaaaay too long. It’s hard to stay on a specific diet (at least for me) when I am sick. Mainly because all I want to do is drink gallons of Powerade, hype up on vitamin C and eat nothing but soup and sandwiches.

I am kind of surprised that during the past three weeks I managed to run a couple of marathons while keeping my weekly workout regime. Probably not the “smartest” thing in the world to do, but — hey, I didn’t die — so no harm, no foul. Right? Right.

So about two weeks ago I just made the decision to maintain my diet. I didn’t want to worry too much about my diet, just maintain my workout regime and running plan. This was made not just because of my lingering cold, but also the realization I just had to give my body a rest. So I decided to pick up where I left off with a “month break.”

In addition to that, I also gave my body off a week from running after the Huntsville Marathon. My cold was still lingering with a nasty sore throat that wouldn’t go away. I just needed the rest — so I just focused on my strength training, gave my legs and cardio a rest and decided to get back at it this week — which I have.

So, here I am.

Instead of rebooting the Paleo 80/20 — I decided to follow another diet plan. It’s similar to the Whole30 in many aspects, but with a few different factors. It’s called the Bulletproof Diet. It’s nothing new, it’s been around for a while, but the first I heard about it was from my cousin who’s been following it for a quite a while with some pretty great results. And, with about 20lbs. left of what I want to rid myself of, why not give it a try?

I’ll give a brief synopsis of it below. But, for the most part you can read about here, here and here. Like I said, it’s very similar to Whole30’s approach, except for the rigidity of the diet. And, the biggest thing for me — is the emphasis of not eating a lot of fruit. Especially with my love for bananas and grapes that helped me through the Whole30.

Don’t worry though — I am sure I’ll eat my share of bananas during and around my races. But, I’ll share more about that later as I get a firmer grasp on the diet.

But, if I learned anything from the Whole30 during the summer it’s that — I can do it. And, mentally, this past month has been a good break from that mentality. It’s made jumping into Bulletproof a lot easier.

Anyways — I’ve jumped into the diet today with the goal of mapping my progress on the 24th of each of the next three months. So, October 24th, November 24th and December 24th with a free day on the 24th before starting again on the 25th. Basically in November and December that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas. And, if you have to ask — yes, I’ll be having pumpkin and mincemeat pie both holidays.

I am going to reassess the diet after each of those 30 days as well, just to make sure my body is handling it well and I have the strength to do it. I am a little hesitant to do it three months until Christmas, but that’s all going to depend on how I feel come November. I think the important thing here is listening to my body.

So what is the Bulletproof Diet all about? Some describe it as a Paleo 2.0 diet, which can be argued is valid. A lot of the diet’s emphasis is on grass fed proteins and wild caught foods, This isn’t much of a problem for me since I only eat grass fed beef and have chickens (that last sentence sounded like I exclusively shop at Whole Foods … forgive me). And, there is a lot of emphasis on how you prepare your foods as well.

But, I’ll outline most of it below, but you can read a lot about it here, here, here, here, here and here. There are also a number of critiques about the diet out there too, which is important to consider — you can read some here, here and here. Like any new diet or routine, I think it’s important to see both sides of the story. It’s also further proof that everyone is different when it comes to fitness.

One aspect of the Bulletproof Diet that I am not planning on — at least right now — is the Intermittent Fasting. Mainly because that involves consuming the Bulletproof Coffee. Being Mormon there’s obvious reasons for that. I’d like to do a week of it intermittent fasting in some kind of way. But, until then — intermittent fasting is a no.

But, that’s about all I’m not planning on doing. I’m excited to get it started and see what it does for my health and energy levels.

14 STEPS OF THE BULLETPROOF DIET

Okay, so there are 14 steps to the Bulletproof Diet, they’re fairly simple, but important to follow, They are …

1. Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS, honey, and agave) .

2. Replace the sugar calories with healthy fats from the Bulletproof Diet such as grass-fed butter, ghee, Brain Octane™,  Upgraded™ XCT oil, or coconut oil.

3. Eliminate gluten in any shape or form.  This includes bread, cereal, and pasta.  Do not make the mistake of resorting to gluten free junk food, which can be almost as bad.

4. Remove grains, grain derived oils, and vegetable oils such as corn, soy, and canola.  Also remove unstable polyunsaturated oils such as walnut, flax, and peanut oil.

5. Eliminate all synthetic additives, colorings, and flavorings.  This includes aspartame, MSG, dyes, and artificial flavorings.

6. Eat significant amounts of pastured, grass-fed meat from big ruminant animals such as beef, lamb, and bison.  Pair this with fish, eggs, and shellfish.

7. Eliminate legumes such as peanuts, beans, and lentils.  If you must have your beans, soak, sprout (or ferment), and cook them.1

8. Remove all processed, homogenized, and pasteurized dairy.  High fat items can be pasteurized, but they should be grass-fed.  Full fat, raw, whole dairy from grass-fed cows is okay for most people.

9. Switch to grass-fed meat and wild caught seafood.  Eat pastured eggs and some pork, chickens, turkeys, and ducks.

10. Switch to organic fruits and vegetables.  This is more important for some plants than others.  See this site for details.

11. Cook your food gently, if at all.  Incorporate water into your cooking whenever possible and use low temperatures.  Do not use a microwave or fry.

12. Limit fruit consumption to 1-2 servings per day.  Favor low fructose containing fruits like berries and lemons over watermelon and apples.

13. Add spices and other flavorings from the Bulletproof Diet.  Favor herb based spices such as thyme and rosemary over powders. Use high quality ones, recently opened.

14. Enjoy your food.

(source)

SO WHY BULLETPROOF?

I’ve had a couple friends and family ask me why I am switching up my diet — and specifically to Bulletproof. Especially when it’s so similar to the Whole30 which I did from May to August. All good valid questions. So I thought I would sum it up here.

When I started my weight-loss journey I started with literal baby steps. I didn’t jump right into a diet. I just watched what I ate and progressed from there. Eventually, I hired a trainer and got a diet plan set up that helped me lose a lot of my weight.

One thing I learned about my body — it hates routine when it’s trying to lose weight. Meaning, eventually within 6-8 weeks — my body will plateau if I stick to something too long. I realized this early enough in my journey that I made the conscious effort to continually change my diet every 6-8 weeks. And, for the most part it’s worked.

This change is pretty much in the same vein of mentality. I knew Whole30 wasn’t a longterm solution for my weight-loss goals. And, that showed when I lost something like 5-6lbs. during my last round. Honestly, it was a round too many.

Now that doesn’t mean I am completely done with Whole30 or a paleo diet. Bulletproof is very much a paleo diet. I believe in paleo diets. And, when I ready to maintain my weight I want to do so on a paleo diet. But, my body right now just needs to change things up.

So why Bulletproof? Well, there were a couple of things that persuaded me. My cousin has been following it for a while and strongly suggested I give it a try. And, the more I read up on it, the more I liked what I saw. I love the emphasis on grass fed and wild caught proteins and organic fruits and veggies. That’s something I’ve been trying to make sure to consume. Having chickens helps this. I hate store bought eggs. Hate. But, that’s a story for another day.

I was also intrigued by the notion to limit consumption of fruit. I won’t lie — on Whole30 fruit was my savior. Bananas, watermelon, grapes, berries and melon were go to foods when I wanted to down a birthday cake. So, limiting those — especially bananas — will be a will of testament at first. But, I’d like to see what happens with the restriction.

With marathons, half marathons and my 50 miler still planned during this time I fully plan on fueling more with fruit than anything else, much like Whole30. So there will be the exception to that. But, I have also taught my body to fuel off of sweet potatoes — so reliance on bananas and other fruit shouldn’t be too neccessary.

The next 30 days should be an adventure, especially considering that my 50 miler is less than a month away as well. That will be the big test, but I am honestly not too worried about it.

Here goes nothing, right?


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The Whole30 Diet: My Whole30 Experience

I’ve been debating when I wanted to share my experience and thoughts on Whole30 for quite some time. I wanted to share it in detail mid-way through my first 30 days, then after my first 30 days.

I could have easily shared my thoughts after my first 30 days. But, knowing I was going to do at least another 30 days — I wanted to wait. If I was going to share my thoughts on Whole30 I felt it would be more beneficial to share them more from an experienced point of view then a beginners. It’d be like going to get running experience from someone who just barely ran their first race.

Now, with that said — I wouldn’t consider myself an expert at Whole30. Like at all. There others much more dedicated and knowledgeable than me. Experts you’ll find throughout the Whole30 community and even amongst my friends. So, I am really speaking from my own experience.

A photo posted by @fight4phat on

But, I wanted to share my thoughts on this journey, because a number of friends have asked me about Whole30. And, I guess more than anything this post is a resource for them that I can point them towards.

When I started my first round of Whole30 I weighed 281.2lbs. I had been stuck between 270-280(ish) for about a year and a half or less. I couldn’t get less than 270 and thankfully I never went heavier than 285lbs. I was depressing enough gaining that weight.

It’s been difficult, because having lost so much weight and consistently sitting around 225-235 for a number of years — you fear going back to “Fat Josh.” It’s a mentality I hear is fairly common for individuals who’ve lost gobs of weight. Some of my most depressing nightmares would confirm that.

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A lot of the issues around my gain were due to my thyroid. I couldn’t get it balanced like I was able to for a number of years. Part of that is due to age. But, I hate that excuse. Just because I am in my mid-thirties doesn’t mean I should give up. So, it’s been a fight in the gym, road and even doctor’s office. Pretty much to no avail — or very little success.

I had to fight hard to just maintain and not gain. That’s the curse of dealing with thyroids. You can be trying everything and working out like a beast — but, all be damned if you don’t gain 10lbs. with little no effort. Hypothyroidism is no joke. I hate it.

Anyways — I don’t want to digress too far down that road. But, after going to about 3-4 different doctors — I just kinda decided to go about finding a solution myself. The medical side of things weren’t working in finding a solution. And, I felt like I just had to take back the responsibility for my health problems. I could no problem solely rely on pill bottles and stethoscopes.

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After trying a number of diet plans with some success, the yo-yoing continue more than I liked. So, I just kept looking for a solution. And, that’s kinda how I stumbled upon Whole30.

A number of my friends online had done it — some once, some a number of times. And, a few posted their results. That caught my attention, because the more I looked into the more successful results I saw.

I think when you see these kind of results and cult follows you become somewhat skeptical. I’ve done enough diets to understand that not all diets are created equal. You might have lost 20lbs. this month, but in a couple a months you might find that 20lbs. again — but, it’s identical twin.

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But, there was something different about Whole30 that I liked. Yes, it was extreme, but I saw the wisdom in it. And, I saw components that I liked that I could adopt long term. Plus, it relied heavily on gluten free foods and having issues with my thyroid, I knew I needed to go gluten free for a while to see if that would have an effect on my health and weight.

Which it did.

So after a couple of months of watching others on Whole30 and reading up on it, I decided to take a stab at it. I knew I could do at least a month and go from there. If it didn’t work or benefit me — after 30 days I could walk away from it. But, I was going to give my best for those 30 days.

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And, after those 30 days — I lost nearly 18lbs. Something that hadn’t happen for quite a while. The one aspect of Whole30 that I really like is that you don’t weigh or measure yourself during those 30 days. So when I jumped on the scale I felt like I was weighing in on The Biggest Loser (sans the beeping and commerical break).

But, I knew I had lost a big number even before I jumped on the scale. I had been feeling the change throughout the previous month. Not to mention I could see the difference in the mirror. I was actually losing weight. I was actually not dragging throughout the day. I had energy! Something I longed for, for too long.

Then this past Saturday I finished my second round of Whole30 and weighed in. It was nowhere near my 18lbs. loss from the month before, but I was still down quite a bit and going in the right direction. Not to mention, I was starting to be able to fit back more comfortably in my XL shirts. When you have successes like that — numbers really don’t mean much in the scheme of things.

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I am doing one more month of Whole30 that will take me to my birthday. It wasn’t really planned that way it’s just how it happened when I started in May. But, I love the symbolism behind it — what better birthday gift to give myself, huh?

I’ll get more into what’s after my third round of Whole30 in August later. I may do a fourth round, but odds are I will adapt it some. Probably bring in some whole grains and add some of my Isagenix shakes to the mix. But, we’ll see. Stay tuned into that later.

Anyways, I wanted to share a few tips, thoughts and feelings on certain aspects about the Whole30 diet that would help you decide whether or not it’s something that is right for you. Again, I am not speaking from an authoritative role, just from experience. So please keep that in mind.

It’s not easy, but it’s simple

When describing my experience to others, I’ve kinda adopted this as my motto. The Whole30 isn’t easy. It’s not. It’s hard to give up bread, cheese and other delicious dairy products (I’m looking at you yogurt and ice cream). Then there’s the whole sugar thing. The first couple of days being off the added sugar nearly killed me. It wasn’t fun.

But, it can be done, because it’s simple. Very simple. If you follow the guidelines and rules — you’ll find success. Your own success I should say, because no one is going to have the same experience. The simplicity is what drew me to the diet. I like simplicity. I value simplicity. Especially when you can easily equate — this + this – this = this result.

Simple, simple, simple. But, it will take some initial willpower to begin and determination to continue it throughout the whole 30 days. Especially if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have total control of the food offered.

Find support in others, don’t go about it alone

When I started my weight-loss journey, I started it alone, but I didn’t go it alone. One of the first things I did was build a support team around me. This included family members and close friends. Some were there as cheerleaders, others as examples and others to keep me accountable. It took a village to get me where I am now.

The Whole30 journey is no different. Build yourself a support system that can help you succeed. There are a number of Whole30 forums online and on Facebook that are great resources for accountability. But, look closer to home as well. If you can — find a family member or friend that will do the program with you. Your odds of success are much greater when you have a partner in crime alongside you.

That’s not to say it can’t be done going solo, but there’s really no reason to when you have amazing support systems all around you.

Do your homework before diving

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t understand the Whole30 completely when I dove into it in mid-May. I was drinking my black Postum for the first couple of days. Postum has barley — which is not Whole30 compliant. Oops.

That kind of speaks to the complexity of the diet, but also the need to do your homework about what the Whole30 is. It can be overwhelming for some (or all). But, if you do your homework and read up on it — it really simplifies the whole thing. At least for me.

You don’t need to buy the book to do the Whole30 (though I highly recommend it) or get two friends to get two friends so you can get free product. The Whole30 is very much a culture welcoming of anyone and everyone who wants to do it. It’s essentially “free” (I put free in quotation marks, because we all know nothing is absolutely free. I mean you have to buy or grow your food, right? That’s definitely not free) to join or do.

But, if you’re going to succeed you gotta know what you’re doing. Here are a few resources that I leaned on for help, especially during the first half of my first 30 days.

The Whole30: The 30-day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom (the book!)
Welcome to the Whole30 Program (always a good place to start, eh?)
Whole30 Program Rules
 (great resource — study and memorize these)
Whole30 Program Downloads (seriously a great resource — it’s all there!)
Nom Nom Paleo (they have some AWESOME recipe ideas)
The Nourishing Home (another site for great recipe ideas)
Good Cheap Eats (yet another great site for recipes — there are BUNCH of good sites FYI)
Of course there are LOTS of Whole30 Pinterest boards.
Blogger Testimonials — you can read some here, here, here and here. There are tons more all over the internet.

Don’t let the information overwhelm you. Just do it. And, continue to learn as you are doing it. The goal isn’t to just change your eating habits for 30 days — it’s a changing your eating habits for a lifetime.

Plan and prepare ahead — make it a routine

In the past most diets I’ve followed could be adapted on the go. It’s harder on Whole30 to do that, because you need more control than most diets to assure what’s going into your body is compliant to the diet. Like for instance, if I was road tripping with family and we stopped at McDonald’s for lunch, I knew what I could and couldn’t eat according to that diet. But, with Whole30 — I’m pretty sure the only thing I could eat is — ummm — ice water.

I did Ragnar when I was in the middle of doing Whole30 and I had to adapt and prepare. I brought along a lot of sweet potatoes, grapes, bananas, apples and oranges along with a good stash of Larabars. It was tough, because it would have been easier if I relied more on a Subway or gas station for food. But, I made it work by simply preparing ahead.

The same principle is true in the day to day aspects of Whole30. Planning and cooking ahead will save you from temptation. But, even beyond that — getting yourself into a routine is even better.

I am a creature of habit so eating basically the same thing every day doesn’t bore me like others. I’d boil some hardboiled eggs on Sunday for the week and pack a couple for a meal along with a few bananas, grapes and whatever other fruit and veggies I found in the fridge — usually an apple, orange or green peppers. Then I basically ate the same thing for lunch every day between a salad or steak and a sweet potato. The same thing went for breakfast and lunch — with the addition to the occasional omelet or scramble.

The predictability helps a lot. I can cook my meats ahead of time or cook double for lunch the next day. And preparing enough meals throughout the day protects me from temptation of snacking or getting a Slurpee.

Fueling for workouts and runs is fairly easy

One of the biggest worries I had going into Whole30 was fueling for races. Especially for during races, since Clif Shots and GUs are non-complaint to the diet. And, after running seven races over 13.1 miles and numerous 3-5 miles since beginning my journey I can say affirmatively — it was a non-issue.

First off — pre-race carbs loading for most runners is kinda a sham. If you’re eating a balanced diet of good whole foods you don’t have a need to carb load. Sure that’s not fun, especially looking forward to pasta night at the Olive Garden before the big race. But, it’s just not needed.

One thing I have done though is to make sure I am fueled properly before a race. My pre-race meal usually consists of a sweet potato and some steak. And, then in the morning I’ll eat my usual banana and maybe a half sweet potato if needed. Of course alongside my usual water.

During the race, I’ll carry some raisins and almonds in my pocket in case I need some quick energy mid-run. I’ll also carry a banana if I know the race won’t have them at aid stations. I’ll usually eat this about halfway through my run (6.5 miles during the half). I found that I really don’t need much while I’m running, but I do need energy perks at certain points of my run to keep from bonking.

After my race or long run is complete I then usually eat another banana and the other half of my sweet potato that I stash in my drop bag or car. Then, just drink lots of water. I do find that I still can mindless wander around the kitchen after a run looking for food — so I make sure to be around plenty of bananas, grapes, watermelon and apples (all favorites for me after a summer run).

Really though — the key is fueling is more in the timing than it is in what you’re fueling with. Well, that is important too, but my point is that you don’t need energy drinks, sports drinks and other gels to fuel properly — it can be done simply. Just make with a bit more effort on the when and how.

Sugar is in pretty much everything we eat

One of the biggest things about Whole30 is the elimination of added sugar. That’s why you’re eating whole foods and not processed foods that sit on the store shelves for months. Because those processed foods are (more than likely) full of sugar — whether it’s white sugar or “natural” sugar like honey. Whatever the source — sugar is sugar.

Now, I could write 8-10 paragraphs about sugar and how it’s the leading cause of the obesity epidemic in our country. But, I’ll pass on that here. If you really want to know the stranglehold the sugar industry has on this country all you have to do is turn on Netflix and watch documentaries like — Fed Up, Sugar Coated or That Sugar Film — to name a few.

I will refrain from further comment, because I could seriously go on a whole 8-10 paragraph spiel about sugar.

Read your labels religiously

I’ve had a few people ask me for tips to the Whole30 diet. And, my response is usually — “read your labels.” Seriously, that will save you more than anything. If you can’t pronounce what’s in your food — don’t eat it. And, odds are it’s just a substitute for sugar anyways.

But, I found that the more I read labels the more I didn’t eat boxed or labeled foods. I started leaning towards more fresh food — fruits, veggies and meats. Not only was it easier for me to keep thing simple, but I knew exactly what I was eating — because I was eating exactly what I was looking at.

The more I read labels I also knew which processed foods I could eat — there were plenty of times that Larabars saved my life. Especially during long runs. Most Larabars are Whole30 compliant — so I knew right away what I could and could eat.

Reading your labels should be a practice we ALL do. Not just because we’re doing Whole30, but it really is eye opening to discover what is going on with our food. You’d be surprised what food companies are throwing in seemingly healthy foods. Whether it’s hidden sugar or substituted chemicals and additives — why do our bodies need crap like that?

They don’t.

Read your labels.

It’s okay to have a sweet tooth

Okay, that header is a BIT misleading, but not really. Of course you’re not going to be downing Cinnabons and chocolate cake while following the Whole30 plan. But, if you’re like me and have a wicked sweet tooth — it can be cured.

When I am craving something sweet I indulge myself — like a banana (naturally), a cup of strawberries, maybe some watermelon or my ultimate favorite the past couple of months — grapes. I can’t tell you how much I love grapes. I eat them like I’m pregnant with twins.

But, the body craves certain nutrition for many reasons. And, it’s important to listen to that. And, usually when we’re craving something sweet, it’s usually because our blood sugar has dropped and we need a pick me up — or simply habit.

You don’t have to answer that craving with cookies and milkshakes — when all it needs is a little boost via some nutritious whole food.

But, boy oh boy — I’m craving some grapes right now just writing about them.

Little changes, make big differences

This is true with pretty much any diet — but, there are certain aspects of the Whole30 that I found successful. And, really, it was because of small simple changes. Changes both physically and mentally.

For one, I love that you don’t weigh or measure your progress during the 30 days. You go off of your success during the diet by feel and look. You can tell how you’re feeling. You can see it in the mirror and feel it as a whole. For being someone who’s lost 150+lbs. — I needed this reprieve from the scale. It’s too easy to be held captive by it while losing weight.

Why?

Not only does it enslave you. But, it can also stress you out. Which — well — for most of us means we’d end up eating our stress. I mean, I would. Nothing tastes better than a stack of stress pancakes … well except for how skinny tastes. I really love that Whole30 focuses to eliminate as much stress as possible so that you can focus on you. And, that’s the whole reason you’re doing all this, right?

Secondly, making small changes to your eating habits will bring about big differences. Again — this is true for any diet. But, learning to obsessively read your labels will help you make good food choices. Simply resolving to cook your own meals, will keep you from the pitfalls of eating out. And, eating small meals throughout the day will keep your energy levels up and away from non-compliant foods.

Small and simple changes, small and simple changes — that’s all it takes.

Make up your mind that you’ll succeed

There are a lot of rules to the Whole30 diet. So much so that it can be somewhat daunting for some people. And, I get that. I was one of them. It took me a while to finally commit to doing it, because I was somewhat overwhelmed with everything I’d have to do.

But, I made up my mind that I’d do it. I saw my other friends’ success and I felt if I gave it my all, I’d reach that kind of success. Besides, I had nothing to lose. Nothing else had worked for to that point in trying to regulate my thyroid. So why not?

I didn’t go into the Whole30 blindly, I read everything online and understood this isn’t the diet for everyone. There were some people who didn’t seen a lot (or any) success during their 30 days. And, I get that. Totally get that. Because, that’s been me with my thyroid the past couple of years.

So, I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t see those results. But, I was still going to give the diet at least 30 days to see what happens. Even if I “failed” (I hate using that term) I knew I could still come away from the experience with something. Whether that’s a new perspective, direction or insight. You really have to learn how to accept failure and how to use it for your benefit in order to truly succeed.

Geez, I feel like Tony Robbins right now.

But, seriously, decide now that you’ll see success — in whatever shape or form. And, you will.

Just do it

There’s power in doing, right? So, just do it. Learn as much as you can about the diet and practice what you learn. One thing I found worked for me, especially during the first couple weeks of the diet was to constantly read Whole30 blogs, forums and articles — so I could immerse myself in the mentality and culture. And, it helped.

It might be hard for the first few weeks, but just keep doing it. Keep following it and by the time you realize it — you’ve created a habit. The lifestyle has become who you are and it’s easier to resists temptations, because (at least for me) sugar cravings aren’t as intense. And, can easily be satisfied with a banana or a cup of grapes.

As I said before — there’s a power in doing. It’s really that simple.

There is probably a lot more that I could add about my experience with Whole30. I have nothing to complain about. Well, maybe except my lack of nacho consumption the past couple of months. But, really — it’s not been that bad. I will say this though — I used to eat a lot of cheese. Being lactose intolerant that was kinda stupid. But, that’s a post for another day.

I’ve mentioned this above, throughout this post and throughout my experience. The goal of Whole30 isn’t to just crash diet and change your eating habits for JUST 30 days. It’s about resetting your health. It’s about creating new healthy habits. It’s about weaning yourself off sugar. And, helping you recognize what you’re putting into your body.

Your health is your responsibility. Nobody else’s. Nobody forces you to eat anything — besides yourself. What goes into your body is really up to you. And, I think this concept really resonated with me, because I’ve had so many issues the past couple of years with my thyroid.

I looking to doctors for a solution, when really I just needed to take back that responsibility and change how I was fueling myself. My thyroid has responded positively. A lot of that I believe is because my body reacts negatively to gluten (typical thyroid reaction). So, when I finished with my third round of Whole30 — I’ll continue that aspect in my diet.

But, don’t be afraid to do it. Especially if you are seriously about changing your health or righting a ship that’s gone wayward. It will make a difference. It might not be THE difference, but it will make a difference.

Feel free to contact me with any questions about my experience. I also Instagram some of workouts and meals on @fight4phat — and sometimes on @josherwalla. So feel free to check them out if you wish.

PEACE OUT.



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Whole30: Round Two — Progress & Weigh-in

It’s kinda hard to believe that I’ve been doing Whole30 since May. The summer months are just FLYING by. But, this past Friday was my last day of my second round of Whole30. And, I won’t lie — I was a bit nervous stepping on the scale.

Not because I didn’t put in the work, but because I didn’t want to disappoint myself or feel disappointed in the number. If you aren’t aware of the Whole30 or some of the rules — one of the BIG ones is that you don’t step on the scale during your 30 days. At all. And, if you do, you start over.

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As extreme as that is — I actually kinda like it. Because for someone whose weight has yo-yo’d over the years — I’ve become somewhat of a slave to the scale. I know I am not alone on this. It happens to all of us — skinny, fat, fit or slightly chunky.

But, I stepped on it Saturday morning and found that I had another 10.8lbs — that in addition to the 17.8lbs. I lost during my first round. So that’s a total of 28.6lbs. in the past two months. That’s a huge loss for me! Especially after struggling just to maintain my weight for the past couple of years.

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I am not going to go too much into the Whole30 — I am in the progress of writing some of my thoughts more in depth for later this week. But, I’ve been very pleased, excited and happy about the results. Emotionally it’s been a tough couple of years and to find something that works for me is a blessing. It’s been tough working hard and seeing nothing — usually just more weight gain.

I am now starting my third round of Whole30 — this will take me to my birthday (August 15). After that I am planning on adapting principles of the Whole30 along with some other dieting principles that I found worked for me for long term success. I am still working on that — but, I am sure I’ll blog about it in more depth in the upcoming month.

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But, odds are it’ll be a combination of the Whole30, paleo diet, 80/20 dieting rule and Isagenix. But, we’ll see how that all works out. Like I said — it’s a work in progress.

The focus between now and my birthday is just giving it my all. I really want to reach 239.9. So a loss of 12.7lbs. Can it be done? Of course. It’s just going to take a new and more dedicated approach, because the closer you get to a goal the harder it is to get there.

A photo posted by Josher (@josherwalla) on

But, I am planning on working more on strength and circuit training and then focusing on running 2-3 times during the week — with one double run day (two miles in the AM and three in the PM or higher). I just want to work on strengthening my core and get me some definition in the arms. Plus, the muscle gain will help burn some of that stubborn fat.

Anyways — I’m rambling.

Here are the numbers and results from my Whole30 the past 30 days and from the beginning … YEAH WEIGHT LOSS!


BEFORE ROUND ONE (MAY 15)

WEIGHT: 281.2 LBS.
BODY FAT%: 25.2%
BMI: 31.4
WAIST: 45.0″
ARMS: 16″
THIGHS: 27″

AFTER ROUND ONE (JUNE 16)

WEIGHT: 263.4 LBS.
BODY FAT%: 22.9%
BMI: 29.3
WAIST: 41.8″
ARMS: 15.25″
THIGHS: 26.25″

AFTER ROUND TWO (JULY 16)

WEIGHT: 252.6 LBS.
BODY FAT%: 21.8%
BMI: 28.1
WAIST: 40.2″
ARMS: 15.0″
THIGHS: 26.1″


DIFFERENCE FROM BEGINNING (MAY 15)

WEIGHT: – 28.6 LBS.
BODY FAT%: – 3.4%
BMI: – 3.3
WAIST: – 4.8″
ARMS: – 1.0″
THIGHS: – 0.9″

DIFFERENCE FROM LAST ROUND (JUNE 16)

WEIGHT: – 10.6 LBS.
BODY FAT%: – 1.1%
BMI: – 1.2
WAIST: – 1.6″
ARMS: – 0.25″
THIGHS: – 0.15″


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Hump Day Happenings — The Abolitionists, Knee Surgery Update & Whole30 Diet.

I have an ‘exclamation complex.’ If it was update to me every sentence I write would end like this!!!! But, over the years through my vast communication education and blogging I’ve learned how annoying the exclamation point can be to the reader.

No, I don’t write like a 14 year old girl with bundles of excitement and energy after every word. But, man on man — sometimes — I just want to let those exclamation points rip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Excuse the odd rant — I started thinking about my complex I was writing the title of this post. I really wanted to lay on the exclamation points, but I restrained myself (and used a period instead). Mostly, because I wasn’t THAT excited and I secretly hated myself for wanting to do so.

Okay, seriously, the rant is over — if you’re still with me, congratulations! (that exclamation point was warranted)

Seriously.

I’m done.

Promise.

Lots going on this week — and have gone on this week. Namely, three things of main focus right now (if you haven’t read the title of this post already the next three things will be a surprise to you) — 1) Hosted a viewing of The Abolitionists last night, 2) My Dad is recovering from knee surgery and 3) I started the Whole30 Diet today.

Here, let me compartmentalize the three for you …


THE ABOLITIONISTS

Last night — Jorge and I — hosted (along with RACE) a showing of The Abolitionists at Jordan Commons here in SLC. Just a few thoughts about the evening — I was OVERWHELMED with the support. It was so great seeing many old and new faces in the theater. This is a cause near and dear to my heart and it’s great seeing others impacted by it as well.

This was also my second time seeing the documentary — and it was just as difficult as the first. Probably worse. There were many times I wanted to simply get up and leave, because I knew what was coming up. I knew what was next. And, emotionally — I didn’t want to go through that again.

But, it hit me pretty hard while sitting in the theater watching it — those kids can’t simply walk away when it gets hard. Quite the opposite. Plus, my discomfort and uneasiness PALES in comparison to the hell these children have gone through.

I also dedicating my miles that I am running this weekend at the Ogden Half to the pedometer of #run2m that RACE has set forth. We are pledging to run two million miles for these kids — and we’ll get there! We’ll be posting more information about that a bit later this week.

But, if you haven’t seen the movie yet — DO SO! The Larry H. Miller Group has donated theaters from Friday to Friday (May 20-27) for its’ viewing. The proceeds from the ticket sales go to The Abolitionists and OUR in their fight against child sex slavery.

Plus, the more we PACK the theaters here — the more theaters nationwide and internationally will pick up the movie. Human trafficking is a worldwide issue — even here in the US and little ‘ol Utah. So please — grab your family, friends, co-workers … whoever! And, go see the movie this weekend or next week. It’s important that we get this message out!


MY DAD’S SURGERY

Yesterday my Dad has his last knee surgery — well, hopefully his last — since he had to have his knee replacement replaced back in January. After that surgery he had to spend a couple of months a rehab center before allowed to go home.

He got the go ahead for the surgery last week and the doctor was optimistic that everything would be good for a quicker recovery. He wouldn’t need a rehab center stay nor a week long stay in the hospital post-surgery.

In fact he thought he could have done the surgery much earlier — which is good. My parents just waited mainly because they thought the recovery period would be about the same — so they wanted to wait until after my brother’s wedding in June.

Luckily — they didn’t need to wait longer.

My Dad will be coming home on Friday — and while there are many difficult (and painful) days ahead for him with recovery — it won’t be as bad as his last surgery. All of the permanent parts are in and hopefully within time — he’ll be able to walk more pain free and without the aid of his walker.

But, thank you so much for all the prayers, thoughts and well wishes — they’ve meant a lot to him and our family. I know he’s just eager for a sense of normalcy to return to his every day life — and it will.


WHOLE 30 DIET

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So, I’ve been talking some this past week about the Whole30 Diet I am undertaking. Well, today is day one. And, so far — I am still alive. No big cravings — I am a bit more thirsty which is good. But, I also had quite a bit of sodium yesterday.

Either way, I am just excited about doing this — I am hoping it helps me pin-point food triggers that are slowing down my thyroid and metabolism. I don’t think I have a gluten intolerance — but, I know I have a lactose intolerance. So that won’t be a problem giving up.

Well, okay, I lied — it will. I’ll miss ice cream. I had a last milkshake yesterday in preparation for the diet — partly a farewell to dairy and sugar and partly as a fat load. I’ve found when I change my diet — if I eat more than usual more fat the day before I don’t encounter the hunger pains as bad the first couple of days.

I usually do that with guacamole or other more natural fats — but, I treated myself to some ice cream because of the specs of this diet plan. It was perfect too — an In n’ Out neapolitan shake.

Anyways — I’m still reading up on the diet. I know most of the ‘nos,’ but I am working now on the ‘shoulds.’ I am glad that I am doing this alongside my sister — we’re both eager to right our thyroids and lose some weight as well.

If you want to keep up to date with my Whole 30 diet plan — I am posting most of my food, exercise and thoughts over on my Fight4Phat Instagram page. I’ll post some here and some on my PhatJosh Facebook page as well. Oh, and I am keeping a daily journal I’ll share after the 30 days are up.

But, so far, so good — my morning Postum was a little hard to get down sans Splenda, sugar, dairy or creamer — but, I can do this, because I am doing this!


119 - Ogden Half

Another focus of mine this week is the Ogden Half Marathon. I am excited for this race for a number of reasons —

  1. It’s a race!
  2. I love the Ogden Marathon.
  3. The forecast calls for ONLY a 20% chance of rain (it’s Ogden — there’s a 100% chance it will rain).
  4. I am aiming to build on my 2:55 finish from Provo City.
  5. I am running with Jill!

Seriously, this is one of my favorite races. I’ve done the race five times — once the marathon, the other four the half. It’s well organized, beautiful and just a fun energy from the crowd of runners. I’ve planned other races in the past on Ogden Marathon weekend — but, more often than not — I find myself in Ogden running.

I can’t complain about that, right?

Anyways — the focus is to build on my Provo City time, but also to fuel myself on my Whole30 diet. I’ve been reading online for tips — and mainly — eat lots of bananas, sweet potatoes and no-sugar added applesauce. I can definitely get behind bananas.

I just want to make sure I have the energy to at least beat my Provo City time — I already told Jill that’s our goal — so now it’s just a matter of doing it, right?

OGDEN OR BUST!


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HEALTH MATTERS: Creating a Happy Thyroid & Testosterone

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Finding a solution to health problems can be frustrating — very frustrating. Especially, when you’ve dealt with that problem for years with almost no solution. And, when you go to a doctor who should know a thing or two about that issue — they’re no help.

That’s the time you take a self analysis of the situation and basically say — “screw it, I’m doing this my way!”

Well, that’s where I am at with my thyroid and testosterone right now in my life.

I was officially diagnosed with a hypothyroid back in 2008-2009 while I was still in college. It accounted for the dramatic weight gain the two years prior — and the lack of engagement, depression and heightened anxiety I felt up to that point.

I got regulated and this spurred my weight-loss journey between 2009-2012. Over the past 6-7 years I’ve had to regulate my thyroid yearly. It hasn’t been much of a problem until about two years ago. For some reason — it just tanked.

After regulating the medication — with hardly any results — and further tests, it was found that I had abnormally low testosterone levels for a man my age. Sure, after 30 it’s kind of expected for it to drop — but, it was pretty low. So, I was put on testosterone replacement meds.

I kinda wish I didn’t do that, because that messed with my thyroid medication and it’s been an up and down battle trying to figure out how to balance the two.

One will be in the normal range, while the other will be low — and vice versa.

It doesn’t help that I come from a family that has both issues. My Mom’s side pretty much all has thyroid issues. In fact my great grandmother died from an unchecked thyroid. Then on my Dad’s side — I get the testosterone issues. It’s something my Dad and all my brothers deal with. Well, not my youngest brother — but, I am sure his day will come.

So, here I am — the great science project that my parents created. Sure, a lot of my problems are hereditary — but, that doesn’t make any less frustrating looking for a solution. Especially when you’re an athlete and know the level you can compete at.

The last two years of my running have been frustrating to say the least. I will always love running and have had some AMAZING moments — but — I feel slower. I know I am slower. The clock doesn’t lie.

I put my miles in — I workout — and — well — here I am. About 40lbs. off of where I want to be with not much stamina to run through even a 5K or 10K race. Being an ultra marathoner and regular half marathon runner — that’s though.

This is one reason why I am not racing much the first part of the year — so I can build up that stamina. Or at least try to, while I am tackling my body as a whole.

My focus as of late has actually been three-fold when it comes to finding that balance —

  1. Finding better doctors (Endocrinologist & Family Medicine)
  2. Being consistent and deliberate with my workouts
  3. Fueling my body with foods that will optimally aid my thyroid and testosterone.

Fairly simple goals, right?

Too bad the simple goals come with a complex equation first in order to get to the best outcome.

But, that’s life — I am not crying about (already did that). I’ve just come to the realization that I just need to fight for it. I’ve got to be relentless, tenacious and determined — because it won’t just come to me.

So this post — is kind of an outcome of that. It’s an outcome of my homework over the past couple weeks. This list final? Probably not. If there’s anything I’ve learned about my thyroid and testosterone — the variable always changes. That’s the joy — well curse — of it all.

Plus, thyroids and testosterones are also personal little buggars. Meaning, what works for me — probably won’t work for you or even works better for you than for me. So, really, these are good guidelines to start testing with your body. I wish it was easier than that. Oh, how I wish.

Either way — here are a few things I’ve learned from doing my homework on thyroids and testosterone.


HYPOTHYROID & FOOD

Like with any diet — it’s not exactly what you do in the gym that gains the biggest results — it’s what you do in the kitchen that counts. And, with a faulty thyroid — it’s never more true than that.

I’ve poured over hundreds of articles on hypothyroidism and food — good foods, bad foods, diet plans and the like. Here are a few things I learned (and I am keeping it simple on purpose) —

GOOD FOODS
  • Clean Water — Kind of a duh — but, really, how often do we really just simply drink clean cold water? This means — without anything else in it? No lemon, no lime and especially no Crystal Light. Not only does it promote a healthy metabolism, but it helps fight fatigue, constipation and sugar cravings. And, like it shouldn’t be said, but should — drink about 8oz. of cold water every two hours. This is one reason why I have a water bottle with me throughout the day at work. Gotta keep it flowing.
  • Fish — There are a couple benefits for adding fish to your diet. First, the Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease — which an under managed thyroid can increase. And, secondly, it’s a good source of selenium — which is mostly concentrated in the thyroid and helps decrease inflammation. So throw in some salmon, tuna, trout and sardines to the ‘ol diet plan.
  • Nuts — Another selenium rich food that aids the thyroid. Especially Brazil, macadamia and hazelnuts. Like any nuts, watch your portion size since they all tend to be somewhat fatty.
  • Whole Grains — A lot of thyroid sufferers will actually avoid whole grains because fiber tends to interfere with the thyroid hormone replacement. But, if you wait 30-60 minutes after taking your medication you’ll generally be okay. Just watch your portion size and stick to the whole grain pastas, breads and rice — the less processed the better.
  • Fruits & Vegetables — This is pretty much a given in many or most diet plans. But, foods like blueberries, cherries, sweet potatoes and green peppers are high in antioxidants and can aid in lowering your risk for heart disease. But, make sure to avoid consuming too much cruciferous vegetables (see below in foods to avoid) because they can counter the effectiveness of your thyroid.
  • Seaweed — Kind of a surprising food to see on this list, but the biggest benefit of seaweed is the iodine. If you don’t have enough iodine in your diet — the thyroid won’t get the jump it needs. Plus, it’s high in fiber, calcium and a plethora of vitamins.
  • Dairy — Kinda surprised to see this on the list, probably more than seaweed. But, there is a link between Vitamin D deficiency and Hashimoto’s disease — so the more the better. Plus, Vitamin D enriched milk and dairy brings with it an increase in calcium, protein and iodine. And, if you’re not much of a dairy fan — there are always Vitamin D supplements.
  • Beans — Not only are beans a great source of fiber, but for hypothyroid sufferers they are a great source of sustained energy. Especially if your energy levels are left low and drained throughout the day. Beans are loaded with complex carbs, antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals — that have more benefits most things on this list. I for one — will be adding a few more beans to my diet.
  • Coconut Oil — The fatty acids in coconut oil help promote a healthy thyroid, fight fatigue and provide more energy — a MUST for all thyroid sufferers. Well, at least for me. Not only is coconut oil easy to digest, but it also contains antioxidants that aid in keeping your blood sugar level. So if you’re going to replace butter with anything — this would be it.
  • Sprouted Seeds — Most notably — hemp, flax and chia seeds — are the best sprouted seeds to add to your diet. Not only do they provide awesome Omega-3 fats, but they will help lower inflammation, stabilize blood sugar and your mood. These are great additions to a smoothie or protein shake.
FOODS TO AVOID
  • Soy — Researchers believe it can heighten one’s risk of hypothyroidism because it is loaded with phytoestrogen. The estrogen can interfere with a healthy thyroid.
  • Cruciferous vegetables — Sadly this includes broccoli (my favorite vegetable) along with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, turnips and boy choy. Eating too much of these kinds of vegetables can block the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine. So if you have an iodine deficiency along with a tanked thyroid — probably best to avoid this list.
  • Gluten — I saw various opinions on this. Avoiding gluten is somewhat of a fad in today’s health consciousness. Gluten CAN hamper the absorption of thyroid replacement medication, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. I also read that if you do choose to eat gluten products to focus on whole-grain breads, pastas and rice with high fiber. Also, of note — if you’re going to eat those — you should avoid taking your medication with them, because fiber can interfere with its’ absorption effectiveness. Interesting.
  • Fatty Foods — This includes fried foods (good to cut from any diet), butter, mayonnaise and fatty cuts of meat. Fats have been found to interfere with the thyroid’s ability to both absorb your medication and to produce hormone. I loathe this knowledge, because I love mayonnaise on my sandwich. But … if it must be so .. let it be so …
  • Sugary Foods — If you haven’t seen the documentary Fed Up it’s a must for anyone whether or not you have a faulty thyroid or not. Sugar slows down the metabolism and makes it extremely easy to gain weight. Sugar is the stuff that makes you fat — not necessarily fatty foods. Most of what I read recommended that you cut sugar significantly or completely out of your diet. Which sounds much easier than it is — not only are we all most likely all addicted to sugar, it doesn’t help that nearly EVERYTHING in the grocery store contains sugar in it. And, you wonder why America is fat? This is a rant for another day …
  • Overly Processed Foods — Not only do most processed foods come with a high fat and/or sugary intake — but, they are usually high in sodium. And, with an underactive thyroid — extra sodium should be avoided, because it increases the thyroid sufferer’s chances of high blood pressure. No beuno. Plus, processed foods are kinda nasty — let’s be honest.
  • Coffee — Being Mormon this doesn’t really affect me, but should be stated nonetheless. Researchers found that people who took coffee with their medications had uncontrollable thyroid levels. Interesting. I am not sure however if this is because of the coffee — or caffeine content? Either way — if you’re a coffee drinker wait about 30 minutes after taking your meds with water to get your cup.
  • Alcohol — Again, one of those things I don’t really have to worry about being Mormon and all. But, it should be said. People with hypothyroidism should avoid alcohol or extremely minimize it’s consumption. Alcohol has shown to have a toxic effect on the thyroid gland and suppresses the body’s ability to use the thyroid hormone. Makes sense.
  • Iron and calcium supplements — Surprisingly, but not really — iron and calcium supplements can interfere with the absorption of your thyroid medications. So, if you are going to take a supplement (or food with increased iron and/or calcium) you should stagger it throughout the day. Wait 30-60 minutes before you take it. Personally, I wait longer than that — about two hours.

HYPOTHYROID & FITNESS

  • Get plenty of sleep — Most adults think they can get by with 4-6 hours of sleep. To get the optimal amount of sleep one should get on average 8 hours of sleep a night. Not only does this promote healing within your body overnight, but it also helps minimize stress — the common enemy to a healthy lifestyle, especially weight-loss.
  • Strength Training — I found a number of training plans and suggestions for hypothyroid sufferers, so I am listing the three main ones I found. Strength training is ideal for hypothyroid athletes for a couple of reasons — one, it helps strengthen the joints, tendons and ligaments — which most hypothyroid sufferers find painful. And, it also helps boost your metabolism and burn the most fat over time  than any other exercise. Some suggested workouts include squats, push-ups and leg raises (these help strengthen those joints I just mentioned).
  • Aerobic Interval Training — Pick any kind of aerobic exercise — running, biking, swimming, jump roping, climbing stairs — really whatever gets your blood pumping and do a 20 minute interval of that exercise. Meaning every couple of minutes or so you’d change the effort of that exercise according to your plan. For runners this would basically be called ‘fartleks.’ Here’s a sample of what a typical interval would look like — just chose your exercise and do it.
  • Aerobic Training — Aerobic training is two fold, not only does it get the blood pumping and going, but it also helps elevate the mood and is a natural antidepressant. If there is one thing any thyroid sufferer understands is it’s affect on your mood — depression, anxiety, the works. Kind of like interval training just choose something you like to do — walking, running, swimming, biking — whatever. The biggest difference between this kind of exercise is the intensity of the workout. Use the aerobic interval training as weekly training for your aerobic workouts which would be a sustained level throughout the workout. This is why I love running — it provides that needed balance between the two kinds of exercise.
  • Yoga — I won’t lie, I’ve never done yoga. Well, I should say I’ve never done a Downward Dog on purpose. But, there are some real benefits for yoga and hypothyroid sufferers. Not only does yoga provide excellent joint strengthening, but it can also be help destress you — a common enemy to overall health.

LOW TESTOSTERONE & FOOD

GOOD FOODS
  • Bananas — I am so happy to see bananas on this list. Bananas contain the enzyme bromelain, which some studies have found boosts a man’s libido. They are also rich in B vitamins, such as riboflavin, which are essential for the manufacturing of testosterone. So, yeah — I’m not slowing down on eating yellow fingers.
  • Fish — Fish, especially tuna, is high in Vitamin D. A serving of tuna contains your needed serving of Vitamin D. But, other fish like — trout, salmon and sardines are just as good. This is one food I can actually eat and benefit both my testosterone and thyroid! WOOHOO! Good thing I love tuna.
  • Shellfish — Kind of in the same boat (pun intended) with fish. Great source of Vitamin D, a very good lean protein and well — in my opinion — also great tasting! So load up on the crab, shrimp and lobster and raise your testosterone levels.
  • Vitamin D supplement — By increasing your Vitamin D intake you’re helping to strengthen your bones, immune system and other functions of your body. Plus, it helps that researchers have found that Vitamin D is linked to a longer life and better testosterone production.
  • Vitamin D fortified dairy — Kind of goes without saying after reading above, but if you can find skim or non-fat milk that is fortified with Vitamin D the better. Not only does it provide the nutrient punch that you need, but without the added fat or sugar.
  • Egg Yolks — Another great source of Vitamin D. The only thing you should be careful of here is if you have any cholesterol problems. If you do, you’d definitely want to avoid too many eggs.
  • Oysters — I won’t lie — I’ve never had oysters before. And, I don’t know if I really plan on eating them any time soon. But, they do have some good benefits for people suffering from low testosterone. Namely, added zinc.
  • Beef — There are a number of health risks for over consuming read meat (ie-colon cancer, more fat, etc). But, there are also certain cuts of beef that can also be advantageous to your testosterone — namely the beef liver (high in Vitamin D) and ground beef and chuck roast (high in zinc). Obviously, choose leaner cuts and eat sparingly.
  • Beans — Another food that’s great to add to the diet that will benefit both the thyroid and testosterone. For stronger testosterone levels white, black and kidney beans are all considered a great source of Vitamin D and zinc. Apparently baked beans are as well, but really don’t offer much nutritional value. Makes sense — I actually despise baked beans with a passion.
  • Pumpkin seeds — Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc and it’s easy to slip them in your daily yogurt, salad, oatmeal or even smoothies. Heck, even just eating a handful mid-afternoon is a great way to eat them.
  • Wheat Bran — There was a study in Turkey that showed those that ate wheat bran in their diet had increased testosterone. But, this was only if the subjects also paired it with high-intensity workouts. Not sure why? But, this is duly noted.
  • Strawberries — Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants that help lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is shown to adversely affect your testosterone levels, because after a lot of stress on the body (ie-workouts, etc) the cortisol can crowd out the testosterone and it’s usefulness.
  • Spinach — Popeye is the poster child of this vegetable, right? Spinach is pack full of magnesium which has been shown to impact the testosterone more than any other nutrient. Sure there are plenty of other magnesium rice foods, but it’s also VERY easy to blend up a bunch of spinach in your morning smoothie or protein shake.
FOODS TO AVOID
  • Soda — This is just a good practice in general. But, most sodas are loaded with sugar and empty calories. Even diet soda drinkers aren’t immune to it’s effects on the testosterone and body’s overall health. Diet sodas have been linked to coronary heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes. This is why I haven’t drank soda in over three years now. No thank you!
  • Soy — Much for the same reasons that it affects your body with hypothyroidism, soy affects testosterone levels because it promotes the increase of estrogen in your body. Why are we even drinking or eating soy then? I will say tofu that is cooked right can taste rather delicious, but still … the benefits should out weigh the risks.
  • Processed Beef — Yes, there are good qualities to beef consumption as listed above, but avoid the processed beef that you’ll find in fast food restaurants namely burgers and hot dogs. The nutritional value of them is pretty much zapped out and there are added chemicals that can adversely affect your testosterone levels. Just best to stay clear.
  • Alcohol — Alcohol can turn testosterone into estrogen, especially if you go overboard. Interesting tidbit, eh? The recommended intake for men is two drinks a day — or basically a glass of wine. And, the recommended intake for me? None (psst … because I’m a Mormon).
  • Flaxseeds — I’ve seen some things about the impact flaxseed to one’s testosterone levels … and I am not sure exactly what to believe? Because some diet plans don’t seem too concerned with it? But, apparently, flaxseed is rich in the compound lignan — which is highly estrogenic. It can also reduce the free testosterone levels in men.
  • Licorice — Apparently licorice contains something called — glycyrrhizic acid, which can suppress testosterone production. This is really sad for me considering my love of black licorice, Good n’ Plentys and any product that Red Vines throws in front of me. And, according to researchers even a small amount of glycyrrhizic acid can dramatically affect your testosterone levels. Sad day for me, eh?
  • Mint, Spearmint, Peppermint — All of these come from the “mentha” family which are known to have testosterone lowering effects on the body (I am literally chewing on spearmint gum as I am writing this). Researchers believe that mint induces stress levels and negatively affects the level of testosterone in the body. But, the good thing is, this theory is probably more debated than the affects of flaxseed on the body — sooooooo — I’m still chewing my gum.

LOW TESTOSTERONE & FITNESS

  • Sleep — Simply put — sleep is essential for a healthy balanced life. The more sleep deprived you are — the more cortisol your body produces (from the stress of a fatigued body), which naturally lowers your testosterone levels. So the two really go hand in hand — so if you want to boost your testosterone levels, make sure to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Destress — Stress, like with the thyroid, is an enemy to a health level of testosterone. The more stressed you are — the greater effect it will have on your testosterone levels. Meaning — it can nose dive the levels. This is why taking time out to destress in the gym, a brisk run or walk or on a yoga pad is important. Don’t forget your sleep either — low amounts of sleep combined will make you more prone to higher stress levels.
  • Interval Training — By regularly exercising, especially through interval training, you’re helping your body build muscle mass that also helps release more testosterone from protein. Makes sense, right? The more you move and build, the more testosterone you’ll produce.
  • Watch your BPA Levels — There’s a link between BPA (found in a lot of plastics, including plastic bottles) and lower testosterone levels, because BPA is found to act like estrogen in the male body. So avoid cooking your foods in plastic containers along with plastic bottles and cups that aren’t BPA free. The best way to drink your water — in a glass.
  • Sprinting — I found this interesting. A study showed that people who did short six second sprints increased their testosterone levels naturally — even after they fully recovered from their workout. I don’t know exactly why this is — but this is good to put into my
  • Lift Heavy — Full body, heavy exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and Olympic lifts are ideal workouts for heavy lifts, at 85-95% of your 1RM (or one repetition maximum). You need to do 2-3 full body weight lifting workouts per week to get good testosterone-boosting results.

MY FITNESS PLAN

Okay, after processing all of that — I made myself a fitness plan. This is putting into consideration both my hypothyroidism and low testosterone levels. The diet is pretty specific and basic — which is by design. Make something overly complicated, right? It’s just not in my nature — gotta keep it simple.

Just a few things of note I didn’t put on my plan — my sandwiches are all on whole grain bread and includes the meat, a fat and veggies. Pretty simple.

You’ll also notice a few lines a bit off on the graphic — this might not bug you, but it’s kinda bugging the hell out of me. So, don’t be surprised if my OCD gets the best of me and I try to fix that. It’s just a matter of getting the motivation to do it.

But, I digress.

Anyways, feel free to use this fitness plan. It’s kind of tailored towards my needs and fitness goals for the next 6-8 weeks. If it works well — I’ll probably keep and tweak it a tad (to prevent boredom).

And, like always — I’m not a nutritionist, doctor or trainer — I’ve consulted mine for advice on this and you should too if you’re planning on changing your diet plan … blah, blah, blah.

Anyways here’s the plan in a neat little graph I made …

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Fight4Phat


THE FINAL WORD

This has really turned into one looooooong post. Probably the longest post I’ve ever written? I know it’s one of the most researched posts I’ve done … and that’s all by design.

Because I want to tackle this — I have to tackle this. It’s worn on me the past couple of years without much help from doctors. And, I’ve realized that shouldn’t be my sole source of answers — I’m a smart person. I have a college degree. I know how to use Google. I can do my own research, my own trail run and find my own solutions.

This obviously doesn’t minimize the need of a doctor — I still need someone to draw my blood and test my levels and help medicate accordingly. But, I am done with looking for absolute answers with their sole help. This is MY health, so it really should be MY responsibility.

So, here I am.

And, if you’re finding yourself reading this, relating to a lot of my same struggles — just remember — you’re not alone in this. An estimated 20 million Americans have issues with their thyroid — whether that’s hypo-, hyper, Hashimoto’s or even thyroid cancer.

That’s a lot of people.

I would just encourage everyone to crave their own journey and do what’s best for you. Maybe this struggle has been longer than mine, maybe you just found out about your thyroid issues? Whatever the case may be — this is your journey, take control of it and don’t rely solely on a doctor’s check list response.

Because, as hard as this has been over the years — I know this fix is a lot more complicated than by joining Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to control my weight.

Anyways — I hope you find value in this post and let me know what you think. But, more than that, I want to know what has worked best for you! Feel free to email me or leave a message. The more we connect the better, right?

Oh, and you can also join a support group I started on Facebook last week — ThyroidRunners. The best thing we can do in journeys like this, is do it with others, right?

Happy Trails!