Of Love Handles, Saddle Bags and Doughboy Lifestyles

by Stephen LaBounty (2007-08-01)

It's that time of the year when many persons consume enough food to hold them over through the next Ice Age! Of course I include my self in that most august group, until recently.

Actually, it was about five or six years ago when I weighed in at 295 pounds, which in my mind was due to the demands my body was making on me because of the heavy training I was engaged in. Truth be told, I was just a depressive eater, again justifying that by saying it's better than being a depressive drinker. I could no longer do heavy squats, so that excuse went out the window, I could no longer do heavy bench presses, zip! Another one gone, but boy could I do bag work and lots and lots of Kenpo, groundwork, kickboxing and so on. Trouble is, I couldn't last more than a minute on the ground, maybe two on the bag, and the Kenpo techniques and kickboxing was more slow motion practice than anything.

High blood pressure, terrible blood lipids, very low HDL (good cholesterol), lots and lots of anger however, coupled with depression and a sense of loss.

Enter a serious illness. Being who I am, I dove into the whole holistic nutrition and bodywork arts. I had done some Shiatsu years ago, but didn't really pursue it. The nutrition was then and is now, the key to what ails most of us.

Since those earlier days I've lost between 35 and 40 pounds, depending on my travels, social events and of course, THE HOLIDAYS! I've found that once you lose it, and you do it with nutritional changes, not pharmaceuticals, or ads from cable T.V., or diet gurus, you will build in a natural alarm system that lets your body know that you're going the wrong way.

So after going through books, articles, web sites, talking to athletic trainers both Collegiate and Professional, and doing what every trainer recommended, but few do, going to my physician, who happens to be a Cardiologist, and clearing most of my changes with him, I began the process.


Restricting Calories:

First, you have to figure out how many calories your body needs to function as a Martial Athlete. The old formula is to take your current body weight and multiply it by 11: that is how many calories you need daily to just walk around. From there it differentiates from person to person by age, physical health, gender, and so on. Here's where you need the input of a nutritionist or physician. If you can't, or won't, then you're on your own with trial and error and I suggest you approach it honestly and slowly.

Now, that you've got that figured out, start restricting your "empty" carbohydrates. For me this was almost all pasta (sigh), crackers, French bread, etc. Now carbs are important so you don't want to restrict fiber rich foods, fresh fruits and vegetables and if you need to have bread in your diet, like I do, then the densest whole grain bread you can find. Rye, Spelt, wheat, etc, etc.

Keep your protein up as well. The best sources are lean grass fed beef, lamb, free range chicken, good fresh fish, and nuts---tree nuts are the best, I think. Again, a formula that keeps coming up and has worked for me is to have about one gram of protein per pound of body weight. Whole raw milk is extremely good for protein as well, and considered to be a "self-sufficient" food. It has anti-bacterial properties, encourages good bone density, is full of vitamins A and C, and the B-complex vitamins. If you cannot wrap your brain around "raw" milk, pasteurized is your next choice. Homogenized and skim milk are starting to be looked at as an unhealthy choice for us, but that's for another article.

ELIMINATE all fast food, deep-fried food, hydrogenated oils (which I'll get into next time), and eat several small meals a day of the freshest food you can get. Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water, before the tea, coffee, or sports drink.

So I'll leave with this first piece to think about. Look at your diet starting today, and honestly attempt to evaluate the healthy choices from the unhealthy. To be a good martial athlete whatever the age, you must train for that one time that we've been rehearsing for since the first day in the dojo, school, or studio: the attack from someone who doesn't care about you or your desire to be at peace.