My 100-days life changer
I’m sitting here sipping on my Protein shake (tonight I chose Quest’s Cookies and Cream, out of the 17 different options in my drawer), and it’s been 10 days since I completed my 100 days challenge. At first I meant to write a long blog post for the world to see, to learn, to experience what I experienced. But along the past several days I’ve come to a realization — this post isn’t for the world, it’s for me. The world has seen my transformation, some were even inspired by it, but only I know how meaningful it was. How deeply meaningful it was to me. This challenge wasn’t about getting the six-pack abs (although I’m definitely not complaining about them). It was about a life-style, learning about my body and my mind. Understanding the importance of what we eat, what we consume on a daily basis. Understanding the effects of food on our minds and on our physiological state. My two grandparents are deeply sick because of the food they ate, and they are struggling on a daily basis with their diabetes and dementia. I see how food has taken over the lives of everyone around me — almost as if our sole purpose is to go from one meal to the next, planning what food we will eat.
Sure, food is one of life’s greatest pleasures — but you need to know how to enjoy it appropriately, how to be in control of it instead of letting it control you. I didn’t understand this when I entered the challenge.
I walked into Nir’s office, after a brief phone call expressing my interest in nutritional counsel. I expected to get a brief summary of the types of food I should be eating, and I’ll be on my way. Instead I found myself with a strict diet that’s limiting almost everything I enjoyed eating (or I thought I enjoyed eating). But the initial shocked passed and I started training with Tomer, keeping with the diet.
Quickly I learned that this challenge will be a bit tougher than I thought. It wasn’t long before it consumed every waking minute of my day, forcing me to rigorously think about my daily habits, priorities and patterns. I made many sacrifices, relationships with friends and family, work, and other projects. I traveled abroad 4 times within these 100 days, went on numerous trips and was forced to make some very difficult choices. In one of the hardest moments, I ordered the cucumber salad at the Gourmet Italian restaurant and didn’t even get a taste of pasta, one of my favorite foods, while I was there.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t allowed a single bite of pasta. It was the mentality that I am in a challenge, I’m trying to experience something greater than what’s seen. I’m not letting food take control over me, I’m taking control over it. I’m not letting my cravings control my behavior, I’m rationally thinking about what I do and how I act, and I make responsible choices.
So here we are, mid-March and I’m getting ready.
I performed several tests to get started. These were the ordinary AKG and blood tests, to see my starting point. Although I had a nice belly, I was in pretty good shape. My blood tests turned out good as well.
I met with Nir Schneider, the nutritionist and received my first diet. It was around 2000 calories, much less than what I was used to. To my surprise, not schnitzel, no frying, no hamburgers(!).
I had no idea I’d be missing this plan very much. Quickly we’ll go down to 1800 and then 1500 calories.
I was late to my first workout, of course. I recall making up some excuse about my car breaking down. This is the last excuse I’d be making for those 100 days, because I quickly realized that my results will only be as good as my excuses. But it was a great workout.
I decided to take a picture every day. At the end, I’ll make a video of my entire 100 days!
I was going all out on this. I recorded almost every single movement that had to do with my diet and exercise. I took pride in my preparations, cooking, ability to handle my diet wherever I went.
Cooking became the single most import factor for this to work. I needed to be able to create my own meals (no more eating out at restaurants), and make it tasty! It took time. At first, I didn’t even know how to make an omelet (maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit). First I learned how to make chicken breast.
Of course, it had to come with some carb. So my friend taught me how to make rice.
I can’t believe I used white rice! What a rookie :D
Apparently waking up to Day 2 wasn’t that easy
It happened to be the 8200 race (8.2km) on my second day. I’m a pretty natural runner so I decided to run the race, and try to do it at a pretty good time. It was fantastic, and felt very rewarding.
As you can see from the video above, my Day 3 with Tomer was getting serious. As the days went on, the exercises became more and more advanced.
Let’s dive into my training. We decided that we’ll try to lose body fat while building lean muscle mass, all the while being at a caloric deficit. I had no idea what any of this meant, I just played along.
I met with Tomer twice a week to do a full-body workout with TRX, and spent about 1.5 hours every day at the gym doing my strength training. It was an AB program as follows:
A: Chest, Bicep
B: Back, Shoulders, Tricep
We met at the gym and he gave me my program. I agreed to everything and began working.
I took my training very seriously, sometimes too seriously…
It wasn’t long before my body began feeling the heat of the intense workouts. I was working out 9–10 times a week! No rest days. Today I understand the importance of rest, both physically and mentally, but back then I didn’t.
Of course, rest is crucial when trying to build lean muscle mass. What I was doing was essentially setting my muscles up for building at the gym, and then breaking them apart at the aerobic exercises. This went on for the first 5o days, not so great. BUT I lost a lot of weight, so yay!
My breaking point was in Italy. I cut a lot of my carbs out of fear that I was eating poorly (being surrounded with pasta), and I went on some very long runs. It was days 29–32, and on day 32 I just crashed. Completely out of energy, couldn’t bring myself to exercise. I spoke to my trainer Tomer and he advised that I rest. Psychologically, it was very hard for me to sit around and not do some TRX. It was almost as if I was giving up on my body. It took several weeks, and several difficult rest days to get me to understand their importance of rebuilding.
In Italy I was already buying pants 2 sizes down what I usually wear. Awesome! Enough with the pictures for now, I’ll save them for my big video :D
After day 50 I started taking much more of an interest in the bodybuilding process, and with Nir decided that I will only train for 6 days a week, with a day rest in between the periods. As I mentioned before, it was difficult at first but I got used to it.
I got stronger, able to lift heavier weights. My record was at around day 50, when we cut my carbs a lot and my overall calorie intake to about 1500. This meant that I was losing over a kilogram of mass every week. Unfortunately, that turned out to be true also for my muscles, and I was struggling to lift the same weights as I was used to. My body was shedding fat, and the muscle with it.
Nevertheless, I continued training hard. I want to get lean, and I understand that losing muscle is a part of it. Everywhere we travelled, I continued maintaining my training. In Greece I the resort we were in had a great gym, in Croatia I found a gym 15min walking distance from our AirBnB, Slovenia’s hotel had a nice gym, and in NY I spent 1.5 hours every day at the 96th NY Sports and Fitness gym.
On day 100 I wasn’t as strong as I was on day 50, but I was lean. And I was still able to maintain some of my muscle.
I love cooking! I didn’t think I’d ever say those words, but they are true. After having cooked 4–5 meals a day for 100 days (about 450 meals total), I’m in love. I feel like an artist, taking a bunch of raw ingredients and changing them around so that they will deliciously enter my body and give me the nutrients I need.
It started with simple chicken and rice, but continued to fish and different carbs like quinoa, buckwheat, burgul, etc.
I am now on a mini-challenge with the Jerusalem cooking book, and I am successfully managing some of the more serious recipes!
I now cook for my family, and my parents often come to take prepared food for their own diet!
The Glorious Cheat Meal
Obsession with Supplements
Friends, Family and Relationships
This of course took a big toll on all of my relationships. No more eating out at restaurants (my #1 pleasure with friends prior to the challenge). I stopped spending time with them in general. Always thinking about my workout and my diet, I was so self obsessed.
With some I didn’t speak for the entire 10o days. Didn’t take an interest in their lives. With family it was very similar. Dinners were spent calculating every calorie that I can/should/shouldn’t eat, instead of talking with my family and bonding.
My Injury — Day 90
This is perhaps the single most important lesson I learned from these 100 days.
Final Thoughts — my takeaways
- When you set your mind on something, go all the way
- The best motivation is when someone doesn’t believe you can do something
- Share your challenge with those around you, creating a social contract
- Be engaged with what you do. Don’t take orders and complete as a robot
- Never stop questioning the process. You can never be perfect and there’s always room to improve
- Inspire others to be better. This way you will inspire yourself
- Enjoy what you eat and how you exercise. Only then you’ll be able to do it more
- Listen to your body and be dynamic. You are not a robot, you are a thinking individual
- First you feel like dying, then you feel reborn
- A healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint