Life is an iterative process. An iteration is a repeated process attempting to get to a solution. There is an iterative process in everything we do. I can examine all aspects of life and find the iterations. Relationships, mental health, physical health, diet, career, daily tasks, etc. The list continues…
I could break down all parts of my life and examine all of the iterations of what problems I am trying to solve.
Here’s a deep dive into the iterations of my diet that led me to lose over 50 lbs. in a few months by not even trying to lose weight.
I never considered what I ate until I was in college. Prior to college, I ate whatever I wanted and always remained super lean. At 19 years old as a college sophomore, I was introduced to lifting weights. My diet of eating whatever soon took a narrow focus, loads of protein. I didn’t think about any other macronutrient other than how I could get loads of protein in my system at a cheap price. I scavenged the local GNC for the cheapest protein powder per serving as well as dug through the cases of meat at the local grocery store for the cheapest pork chops or other meats. The George Foreman Grill was my best friend.
It’s what I thought I had to do. Protein and creatine. Anything else was extra. In the early 2000s, the internet started to provide some resources for eating, but I must have had blinders on. I only cared about protein. I probably ate other stuff as well, but I don’t really remember. I remember the obsession with protein.
The iteration of muscle-building continued as I left college and I stumbled upon the book “Body For Life” by Bill Phillips. This introduced me to thinking a little more about macronutrients. It also made me think about eating 6 times a day with even MORE protein. This iteration of dieting made me consider the bigger picture of other possible food sources. I was still young and relatively lean with decent muscle mass for a 25-year-old, but I wasn’t going onto the bodybuilding stage any time soon as fat stores were slowly building on my body.
As I added more food sources, I never counted calories or even considered how much fat or carbohydrates I was eating. Although I ate different food sources, protein was still king.
As the internet grew larger, more and more sources were available. Also, Youtube had fitness influencers that were making some great videos of how they lift and eat. I was hooked on watching the training videos and how these fitness “gurus” ate after. My training transitioned from bodybuilding-style workouts to pure strength training. It was all about progressive overload in the gym and fueling that progressive overload appropriately with lots of meat, rice, potatoes, frozen veggies, and protein shakes.
My lifting goal was to bench press 300 lbs., squat 400 lbs., and deadlift 500 lbs. For a skinny kid growing up, these were tough but attainable numbers to hit as I weighed around 195 lbs. at 6 foot tall.
I almost hit all these numbers in 2014. To get to my goal bench, dead, and squat numbers, I ate more and more. Ultimately I never reached my goal.
In February 2015, I suffered my first heart attack. The next iteration of eating had begun. I was still focused on protein, but I also monitored fat intake and carbs. I began to count my calories. I stayed strict since weight management was now my focus. For the first 5-6 months after my heart attack, I worried about counting calories and staying in a caloric deficit. I consumed a lot of lean meats but as long as I stayed within my macronutrient ranges (IIFYM) I didn’t exclude any foods.
I found counting my calories, following an If It Fits Your Macros diet regimen as well as focusing more on walking and bodyweight workouts, that I was well on my way to staying fit and healthy.
I had the physical side down. But I was really struggling on the mental side of suffering a traumatic experience. I let anxiety and depression drive me into a deep, dark place and with it, my physical health suffered.
Following my heart attack, I lost 25 lbs. I was very lean. But poor eating and drinking habits soon sabotaged my physical health, as well as my mental health.
I went through years of yo-yo dieting. Since I put weight on in the years following my heart attack, I was now in a new iteration of my dieting journey and that was quick-fix weight loss. I would try to eat a strict Carnivore Diet that I couldn’t sustain. I would try and eat a Ketogenic Diet that promised quick weight loss. I never considered the impact on my overall health with any new diet trick I tried. I only cared about trying to lose weight fast since I was quickly gaining weight.
A few weeks at a time for each diet, and I found myself with more weight on than off. I even tried eating vegan for a while. But the quick weight loss wasn’t happening and I craved certain foods. Short quick weight loss solutions do not work long term. When it was all said and done, I was hovering at 225 lbs. This led to my second heart attack.
I suffered my second heart attack on May 7, 2021. This ended the iterative process of constant weight loss through dieting. It changed my whole focus on what I was eating. I no longer desired weight loss. My standards and principles of living had to change. I now eat, work out, and live for longevity. The newest iteration was focused on how to become heart attack-proof. All research and science led to eating a whole foods plant-based diet.
Every diet decision I made prior to May 7, 2021, was short-term, narrow-minded thinking. From May 7, 2021, onward, I only consume what will help me live for as long as I possibly can. But here is the funny thing…
As I focused on longevity, I noticed extreme changes in my physical and mental health. Physically, I felt better. In a few months, I had dropped over 50 lbs. of weight. I have kept that weight off as well. My mental health dramatically improved as well. After suffering my second heart attack, my family was worried that I would surely spiral downward with my depression and anxiety. But living and eating with a purpose has completely changed my life. I can say my depression is completely gone. Any anxiety I have now is mild compared to what I suffered after my first heart attack.
The iterative process of eating for longevity does continue. Trying to find the right balance of food on a daily and weekly basis can be a challenge especially when traveling and living a busy schedule. This part of the journey has been the easiest since I am using one guiding principle, does what I consume add to living a long healthy life?
We can analyze anything in our lives as an iterative process. The important question I ask now but never did before is: How does this support my long-term goals in life? Health, wellness, finance, family, relationships, etc. can all be looked at through an iterative lens. I have begun to ask this question with everything in life: How does this decision support my long-term health and happiness? It’s okay to start fresh and adjust as you go. That is why life is one big iterative process.
If you are interested in reading about my entire journey, you can read about it here. I detail everything I went through and detail 7 principles that guide my life every day!