May 9, 2019

31. Bodyweight

This episode came from an off-the-cuff conversation between Pricey and Grego on controlling bodyweight.

Pricey began by asking just why this topic had so much passion for Greg. (Greg is a relatively fit, father of three and Pricey, while relatively lean, is nudging retirement.)

“Well, I think as I’ve got older I’ve found it harder to maintain a normal decent weight without being a fat bugger. A couple of times I’ve started to put on a few kilos and I don’t like it.

“I like to be nice and lean if I can be. I also think it’s one of the most misunderstood topics, how to stay at a good fighting weight, so to speak, just to maintain that. There’s so much misinformation out there. It was interesting, I have an annual gathering with a whole bunch of my best mates, it’s called the Gentleman of Fine Standing. We meet at the German club every December and have a beer. I was there last December listening away with a beautiful big German stein in my hand. I looked down the table, and what was remarkable to me, there was about 15 guys there, I’d think to a man they were all looking fit and healthy. Bodyweight is obviously much more important to this generation than previous.

“Perhaps it’s a generational thing too. In times past, a lot of fellas just put on another kilo or two every year, and then by the time they were in older age they were quite overweight. It doesn’t appear to be the trend anymore, but still, a lot of us struggle with it.”

But surely, isn’t it just a matter of food? Surely it’s purely a matter of, “I eat more, I put on weight. I eat less, I’m not going to put on weight.”

“In some ways that is true, but it’s also completely wrong in some ways because it’s all about your choice of food. Also the greatest misinformation is that the gym and exercise is more important that diet. In general, in all that we read says that weight control, as far as we want to put on muscle and put on fat or take it off, is probably 80% diet and 20% gym or exercise.

“One analogy we like to make when it comes to body shape is that diet is the shape of the cake, and the gym is the icing. So, if you want the good guns to go on the top, then you really do have to go to the gym. You can’t get guns through just eating protein. You have to do some hard work. But if you just want a basic nice, lean body shape, really it’s mostly diet.

“There’s only a few key principles with this. There’s three big ones that probably play most of the role in putting on weight ie. putting on fat!

“Sugar: It appears that sugar is the new fat. The new evil. The more unrefined or refined sugar you have in your diet, the more that’s going to spike your glycemic index and have an effect on your body, and you’ll put on weight. So, if you can cut sugar out it will be vital. The average diet is somewhere in the vicinity of 24 to 30 teaspoons of sugar per day.

“There’s a great movie called, “That Sugar Movie.” In fact, the actor, he’s a famous Australian actor that did it, and he put together a breakfast one day and counted the number of teaspoons of sugar in that. The breakfast was some milk and some yoghurt, muesli and maybe a piece of fruit, and there was over 20 teaspoons of sugar in that already. So, when you add things up, and you know a 600ml bottle of coke has a similar number? It’s ridiculous. It does have actually nearly 50 grammes of sugar in it alone.

“I was recently downing into a whole pile of fruit, and someone said, “You know that that’s rich in sugar?” That’s also something to be very careful of. Fruit is good for you, and it has different kinds of sugars in it too. So, don’t avoid fruit. One of the things, if you’re having fruit whole, like as in an apple that’s not juiced, you’re only having one apple. The problem is you go to a boost juice or something, and they use a great example of this in that movie, you put in 15 pieces of fruit in one glass of juice, so you get all the sugar from all that, but you get none of the fibre, and nothing that fills you up. But you couldn’t possibly eat 15 apples if you tried.

“So, be mindful. I think fruit should just be eaten whole, in general. You have your juice, we’re not anti that and it’s good for you. Just be careful. Learn to understand the wrong sugar players, because it can be a really, really bad thing for your weight.

Alcohol: The second one is alcohol. Now, Greg had a mate who came over just very recently, and he’s a really big frame of a guy. In recent years he has lost a lot of kilos. Greg said, “Gee man, you’re looking lean. What have you done?” He said, “Mate, nothing different, I just don’t drink beer as much. I have a little bit on the weekend and that’s it. I don’t drink during the week anymore.” I said, “There’s no other changes?”. “No, nothing else.” This is a big boned guy.

“So, if you monitor your sugar, get it down to some good levels, pay attention to what’s on the label of the stuff you buy, hit at much whole food kind of stuff as you can. Get rid of the beer and the wine Sunday night to Friday night. You can have a couple of drinks on a Friday and a Saturday. Don’t drink during the week if you can afford it you will notice a world of difference.”

Intermittent Fasting: Then the last one is, and this is the one that made a big difference for Greg, was intermittent fasting. So what Greg does is to have dinner on a Sunday night early ish, six or seven, and then his next meal is around 1pm on Monday. So, he has about 18, 19, sometimes up to 20 hours of fasting.

“What happens is somewhere around eight o’clock on Monday morning, my body goes into ketosis. That is essentially where it goes into a different phase. It’s almost like it’s eating its own fat reserves. That’s probably the wrong terminology. But it’s no longer eating off the sugar reserves that you’ve got in your body for the food. It’s going into reserve.

“It also goes through a process of cleansing our your body. Actually, it’s a wonderful way of even releasing antioxidants into the body. So. It’s a process of cleansing the body. The other thing is you start to feel by 12 o’clock, you go through a process of feeling hungry in the morning, but that disappears.”

If you do that twice a week, personally Greg finds that his body almost resets itself. It gets right in front of the game when you stay lean.

“If we just do those three things every week, that’s just a simple process, the results will be clear. A couple of fasts, and all you’re doing when you’re fasting is missing one breakfast. That’s it. So often you don’t even need the breakfast, you’re not even hungry. You just do it because that’s your habit.”

Other tips: We want to give you some other tips that work as well. We’re not nutritionists nor personal trainers but simply talking from personal experience and chatting to a lot of guys that have overcome these sorts of weight loss challenges.

“Understand the power of protein. If you are the kind of person that gets really hungry in the afternoon or something and you need to have a snack, and you said, “I’ll go downstairs, I’ll get myself a muffin or a croissant or something to get me through.” Wrong move. There’s your carbohydrates, there’s your sugars. The answer actually is to get yourself a nice low sugar protein bar, a small one. You can have that, you won’t even feel hungry for dinner. Protein fills you up, or even some almonds, so something with high natural fats. Almonds, just a couple of those. It’s a way, way, way better move than going and getting another sandwich or something like that.”

So, the power of that is to make you feel full. The other one is stopping the yo-yo effect. This is when you’re really good at losing weight, and then you gain it again, and then you lose it and then you gain it again. One of the guys that Greg learnt hypnosis from, not the original guy, the guy was called Milton Harrison, but he learnt from the guy that learnt off him.

“Milton tells a wonderful story about a woman whom he taught how to stop gaining weight. She came to him and she was 30, 40 kilos overweight. She wanted to lose about 30 kilos, and he said, “I’ll help you lose weight if you do one thing for me, but you have to promise me right now before I even tell you what it is, you have to promise me you will do it. Under no circumstances, if we agree to this, you have to do it.” She goes, “Okay, I’m in. I really want to lose this weight.” He said, “Okay. I need you to go and gain 20 kilos.”

That’s not the answer any of us was expecting.

“Exactly. So, what she knew how to do, she knew how to lose weight. All right? So, her pattern was lose weight, gain weight. Down, up, down, up, down, up. What did he do? He broke the pattern.

“He taught her by the process of learning to gain weight, she became very consciously aware of the mistakes she was making to gain weight. She begged him to stop. She goes, “No, no, no. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this.” He goes, “You do it.” At 10 kilos that she put on, she came and said, “I put on 10 kilos. Can I go down?” He goes, “No, no, no. You have to get there.” 18 kilos she comes back, he goes, “Get to 20, you’re not giving up.” At 20 kilos she comes in, “I’ve got there, I’ve got there.” He goes, “Okay, now lose as much weight as you want.” She lost 50 kilos. She never put it back on again.

“So, it’s a little bit of reverse psychology on yourself. Break the pattern. Then here is tip number three, start with a shopping cart. If it’s in the cupboard, this isn’t news to anyone, if it’s in the cupboard you’re going to eat it. We all like that, many of us have got a sweet tooth. If there’s chocolate in there, if there’s ice cream in the freezer, that is going to be gone no matter what. Okay? So, many of us don’t trust ourselves a lot of the time. Okay? We’ve got to get strong, and we’ve got a sweet tooth. So, always start with a shopping cart and make sure at the very beginning the bad stuff does not get in the door. Right? Because if it’s in the door, it’s gone.”

Now, the next point is the one Greg loves! It’s cheat day.

“A cheat day. Now, this comes from Tim Ferris when he talks about all these different kinds of physical fitness and weight loss techniques. So, cheat days, if you’re being quite disciplined, five, six, seven days a week, so five or six days a week, you damn well deserve a cheat day, because mentally or psychologically you’ve run out of steam. Discipline is hard, but if you get a day off or two, but what he says to do is on those days, is don’t just indulge. He goes, “Indulge.” Have everything on the menu. Right? If you’ve been eating really well all week, get the pancakes, put the ice cream on it, get the golden syrups and the smarties and the bananas, go nuts, plus have a milkshake with it. Have a coffee with three sugars. Overindulge so you’re sick of it.

“Because you’ve probably been on a low GI diet, a low glycemic diet all week, when you get to the weekend you have a bit of a cheat day, it’s a bit of a reset for you as well. For those of us who have tried that it does work. It’s fantastic. So, have a cheat day every now and then. Right? If you’re going to be disciplined, have a cheat day.

“In the Layton house, we’re pretty good from Sunday night through to Friday evening. We rarely have any alcohol, we eat pretty well. We just have meat and three veg or something for dinner. We’re good. We’re not perfect, but we follow some basic principles pretty close to the mark. Friday night we have a beer, we have a wine, we indulge a bit, we have a bit of dessert. It’s fantastic. Both do the same Saturday night, and then we’re back on the bandwagon again.”

So, the fifth point, it was a really important one for Greg, is that we eat habitually.

“It’s what we do. We get up and we eat. We have lunch at 12:30 or 12 o’clock, whatever you do. We have dinner at seven, whatever your pattern is. But are you even hungry? Sometimes you have a massive lunch, you go out and have a huge lunch somewhere, or you have a huge dinner and the next morning you’re not even hungry. What do you do? You still sit down to breakfast. Why? Listen to your body. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. Right!”

The sixth one is basic swaps.

“If you’re out and you’re at a pub lunch and you’re really on the bandwagon here and you’re trying to lose weight, don’t get the steak burger and the beer with all the extra chips and the tomato sauce. Sorry, get the salad mate. We know you don’t make friends with salad, but get the salad and put some protein in it. Make sure, if you get the salad, make sure you put some chicken or some fish or something in it to fill you up, otherwise, you’ll be no good. The thing is if you have that big lunch anyway, you’re going to have the after indulgence. So try and eat a small lunch if you can.

“Then the last thing is just if you’ve got the sweet tooth you’ve got to give yourself the treat every now and then. Indulge a bit. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Be nice to yourself. But four or five nights a week have nothing, and then have that treat on your cheat night!

“With fasting too – it is much more difficult if your fasting goes against the pattern of the household; you’re fasting and the rest of the household are piling on the food. That is why breakfast is a much easier meal to ‘fast’ with – there is not as much pressure and the effect is the same.

“Just skip the brekky because skipping brekky is easy. It’s just don’t pick up the cereal bowl or the toast or whatever, you just go without. You just walk out the door without breakfast. Right? The other key thing there, a real danger is that you then go and have milky coffees all morning, because that’s a source of nutrition. So, if you just go back to having black coffees or black teas, otherwise you’re putting more energy into the body and the body won’t go into ketosis.”

While Pricey does not work out as much as Greg nor is as disciplined in his eating, he walks a lot. But as we’ve said we’re not the gurus on this topic. This is just what we have learnt over the years and it has worked and continues to work.

There’s a million books on these topics out there, but do some decent research on this. If you just did those three things, get the sugar down, get the booze and beer out and do some regular fasting, if you do those three things alone, we guarantee you it’s, first of all, pretty damn easy, low stress, sustainable, and makes a difference.

Wait for that moment when one of your mates says, “What’s going on friend – you’re looking great!” Enjoy that moment!

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