The Pizza Diet

To be clear, before we begin, weight is just a number. For me, this is about how you feel. This may be less likely to work for you if you feel like you HAVE to lose weight, it’s much easier to keep doing something if it doesn’t require effort. I went from 250 pounds down to my current 195 while eating pretty much all the pizza I wanted, but the only time it ever felt like ‘work’ was when I had to convince myself my hunger was an illusion (which is usually is when we’re surrounded by readily available food).

Sorry for what sounds like a click bait headline, but this is an important lesson. What you eat, overall, is important for your health. Eating broccoli, salad, and less-processed food on a regular basis is really good for you. But if you’re concerned about your health or weight and want to change either, it doesn’t mean you have to stop eating the food you’re more likely to crave (like pizza).

I first started focusing on my overall health back in the summer of 2015. I had slowly put on about 40-50 pounds in the 2-3 years previous, and was considered obese (I weighed ~250 pounds all the way from summer 2014 to 2015, despite playing soccer that summer). No matter how active I was, my weight never went below 245.

It turns out, as I learned in the fall of 2015, the only thing that matters is being aware of how much you eat, and being able to control it (at least, for most people… medical conditions notwithstanding). Through a portion controlled diet, wherein I limited my intake of things like fries, pop, and other typical ‘unhealthy’ foods, I was able to hit 215 pounds by December of 2015, and by the summer of 2016 I was 190, lower than I’d been since middle school.

Keep in mind, while I did ‘limit’ my portions, and stop eating certain foods, I didn’t limit myself in any other way. I ate burgers, pizza, and snacked pretty much the whole time. But at a restaurant, I would get a soup or salad instead of fries, and if I indulged one day or for a weekend, I doubled down on my efforts the next few days after.

By doing this, I didn’t lose weight every day, but I did drop 2-3 pounds a week while I was biking, and continued to lose 1-2 pounds a week once it got too cold for that. I had a strategy that worked for me, and I felt better, looked healthier, and needed to buy a whole lot of new clothes.

Now, in 2017, I’m still biking to work every day I possibly can, and I’m ranging from 192-197 pounds depending on the day of the week (I’m not as strict on weekends). I have been weighing myself every day since July of 2015 (except on vacation), and I’ve still never felt better. I know exactly how much I should eat in a day to maintain my weight, and if I’m enjoying a good meal or snack, I let myself enjoy it!

So, this brings us all the way back to the title of this post. It really isn’t clickbait. I eat pizza around 6 times a week, and it isn’t the reason I weigh more on some days than others. I probably shouldn’t eat pizza as much as I am for my general health, but in terms of keeping my weight where I want, the type of food I eat has almost no bearing on that.

It’s all about being aware of how much you’re eating, and reasonable portions once you figure out how easy it is to overeat. For me, even more than calories in/calories out, it’s much more s matter of grams in/grams out. And it’s been working for over 2 years now.

I’ll have more on how I got to this point in future posts.

Here’s what it actually takes to #BikeToWork

There are lots of great reasons to bike to work. Health, including fresh air, exercise, and heightened mental awareness are just a few of the obvious benefits of the self-powered commute. As Twitter celebrates Bike to Work Day today, a few of the difficulties many people face in actually planning to bike to work every day should be considered.

Riding a bike to work is not something anybody in a professional environment can do on a whim. If you are going to pedal in to work without a real plan, you’re gonna have a bad time. Sweat, wind, dirt, and many other factors complicate this process, and even if you live close to your place of work, there’s a lot to consider.

If you make the decision that you want to ride to work, here is a list of things you should think about before even hitting the road:

  1. Do you have a bike? If yes, is it tuned up? You need to check tire pressure, gear lubrication, brakes, lights, your bell, and any other accoutrements you might need or want.
  2. There’s a lot of bike gear. What about your helmet, bike shorts, layers in case it’s cold in the morning, proper shoes that can get a little beat up, sunglasses for glare and dust protection, gloves (for warmth and bumpy rides), water bottles, and anything else you can think of.
  3. Can you wear your work attire on the bike? If you work in a business with a uniform or dress code, will you be able to ride without getting your work clothes dirty? If not, you’ll need to bring a change of clothes, and preferably not have them get wrinkled.
  4. Does your place of business have bike parking nearby? Is it safe? Do you have a proper lock or bike storage facility?
  5. How long is the ride, and does your place of work have showers or facilities where it would be easy to clean up for work if you’re sweaty on the other end? Can you leave toiletries, a towel, or any clothing at work, in a place where it will stay safe and clean?
  6. Is the weather cooperating with you today? If it’s raining, that’s a whole other consideration, and if you live in a place with unpredictable weather, a flash rainfall while biking can really ruin your morning.

The place you work can be very supportive of biking to work, but it still won’t be easy to just roll out of bed in the morning without lots of planning. If you drive or take the bus to work, you can probably just get ready at home, and the odds of forgetting an essential piece of clothing or accessory are small. When you bike to work, if you forget a shirt, it’s a big problem. There are ways to reduce these risks if you’re forgetful, but it’s still something to think about.

Now that you’ve thought through your plan and everything is ready to go, you have to actually get on your bike and go. When was the last time you rode your bike? Was it last season? Do you remember how to do it? What about hand signals for turning, are you even comfortable taking your hand(s) off the handlebars?

For many amateur cyclists, biking on the street is a daunting proposition, especially during rush hour. While bike friendly cities can do a lot to support their ridership, the odds are good that you’ll have to interact with a car at some point on your commute. If you’ve biked through a city, you’re well aware of problem areas, especially on older roads. Most drivers aren’t too familiar with the one meter strip on the side of most roadways, but it’s not exactly conducive to a smooth ride on many city streets.

#BikeToWorkDay is a really great initiative, and it goes a long way towards highlighting the reasons getting to work by bicycle is fun and exciting. However, it’s one thing for politicians and people who bike to work one day a year to get through that experience, it’s another thing altogether to consider making it a part of your lifestyle.

Consider pulling your bike out of the garage more often if you can, and please try to show some empathy for commuting cyclists as you pass them in your cars today (and every other day). They are just trying to get home safe, like you.