So there’s this type of beverage that when you drink it, you want to drink more of it. After a few, you want to eat something – a lot of something – and you become determined to get it.
The beverage I’m referring to is alcohol: beer, spirits or mixed drinks, and the effect I’m talking about is the midnight munchies.
Going into my freshman year of college, I weighed about 150 pounds and had an athletic build from years of being active in sports.
But starting on day one of college, beer pong and power hours became my sport of choice, and my diet consisted of Charley Bigg’s spicy chicken wraps from Wright Quad twice a day and Pizza-X combos on the weekends. However, because I didn’t have a car and averaged at least 4-5 miles a day on foot, my weight stayed about the same.
When I turned 21, craft beer came on like a tidal wave. I was living off campus and had to cook for myself. As a poor college student living off scholarships, cooking wasn’t really what you’d call it. I bought ramen by the case, tuna in bulk, and tons of bone-in chicken thighs…plus a 30-rack of Keystone and a half gallon of McCormicks. With alcohol so accessible now that I was 21, my consumption increased, and so did the quantity of food I ate. Naturally, the number on the scale ticked higher.
During my senior year, I was the only student from my university to go to Hong Kong to study abroad. Two weeks before I left, my grandfather died. I didn’t know what to do with the grief, loneliness, and isolation, so I drank (and ate) even more than I had back home. My weight peaked at 188 pounds.
As the end of the semester came to an end, and I was planning to return to Middle America for the foreseeable future, I didn’t care about myself anymore. I felt worthless, helpless, and hopeless.
I carried those feelings back to Bloomington and sank into a deeper depression fueled by alcohol. I even convinced my father to get me a brewing kit for Christmas and ended up having more beer than I knew what to do with.
Despite all of the alcohol, my weight dropped to 170 pounds once I got into my fifth and final year. I was walking around campus, cycling, and going to the gym. I gained muscle, though it was masked by a layer of subcutaneous fat.
My weight stayed the same once I graduated and began my career. On an average day, I ate three meals and a late night snack and drank most nights while watching Netflix or playing video games.
Then, on March 8, 2015, I quit drinking cold-turkey. Instead of drinking, I went to the gym. I replaced breakfast with multiple glasses of lemon water. I ate more leafy greens, and I started cutting back on milk and dairy after noticing digestive issues.
I started running twice a week, and cycling once or twice as well. After about 4 months, I was under 160 pounds. I stayed around that weight until I moved to San Diego.
My first job in San Diego was working for my cousin-in-law recycling used electronics, batteries and lightbulbs in a warehouse without A/C.
I sweated my ass off, literally. By Christmas 2016, I was under 150 pounds again, and for the first time in my life, I had faint veins in my biceps.
I continued with lemon water or coffee in the morning. Midday I usually ate a huge California burrito. After work, I’d go to the gym or take my pooch running for around an hour.
When I’d finally get home and settled in to eat dinner, it would be sometime between 7-9pm.
Nearly two years later, I still eat burritos (carnitas now), have significantly reduced grains and other carbohydrates, and focus on getting a good deal of fat and protein throughout the day.
But truth be told, I don’t really think too hard about what I eat, however, after our low-carb month, I’ve discovered my suspected lactose intolerance is actually related to carbs and sugar…bummer.
I’ve gotten into a routine of lifting weights and rock climbing, and I recently started swimming again for a triathlon. In addition, Darcie and I usually hike or do something else active on the weekends too.
I’ve settled in around 150 pounds, and within just a couple of weeks, I could probably get down into the 140s if I restricted my calorie intake and/or increased my activity level even more.
A lot of people think dropping so much weight is really hard, and yes, it can be. I see it as a matter of choice. If you want to drink, those calories will affect your ability to lose weight, especially because of how alcohol affects your ability to burn calories. Others are tied to the idea that breakfast is the most important of the day.
For me, cutting out the booze was the catalyst that created the cascading of weight loss. It allowed me to make better use of my time, and I chose to be more active. Because I was putting in the work to increase my fitness level, I also became more particular about what I was putting into my body.
So how did I lose 40 pounds?
- I stopped drinking (45%).
- I became more active (30%).
- I started eating two meals a day instead of three. (20%)
- I cut back on processed sugars and other unnecessary carbs (5%)
None of this happened overnight, but I stuck with it because I liked the results. I felt better overall – mentally and physically – which only made me want to continue down this path.