Being an immigrant can be tough.
One of the side effects of being an immigrant is that you must deal with Visas and all the associated headaches. Initially, I was able to work in the USA on a student visa extension called OPT or ‘optional practical training’.
Unfortunately, OPT has a hard expiration date. Once it expires, I won’t be able to work, travel or drive again until I receive a ‘Work/travel authorization’ as part of my Green-card application. This is projected to come in around 3 weeks after the expiration date of my OPT.
You may be thinking: 'Alex, what has this got to do with a transformation?'
Well, given that I work as a personal trainer, and many of my clients want to go through their own transformation, I thought it prudent to put myself in their shoes.
Therefore, for the next 3 weeks I will be a client.
To get the full experience, I 've hired a coach. I couldn't hire a personal trainer because the gyms within walking distance didn't offer that service. However, I have hired a Nutrition coach - Ed Whittaker of No Nonsense Nutrition.
Ed and I used to be Camp counselors at the same summer Camp in Massachusetts. I know that Ed knows his stuff because we have done the same Nutrition Certification and I've been following his stuff for a while.
'But, Alex, if you did the same certification then why are you hiring him?'
Great question, I need the accountability. I know how to do the training, I know what to eat/not to eat, but I need someone pushing me. As a trainer I know the explicit value that comes with accountability.
So, during my 3 weeks off I will answer the following question: How lean can I get in 3 weeks when I have no work commitments?
A few things to consider:
Ed wants an accurate assessment of my baseline eating habits. Therefore, for the next 7 days I will be tracking everything I eat and drink, as well as my steps, sleep, and workout habits.
My Diary12 days away from start of plan (and when I stop working)
First day of my food diary, and it’s both better and worse than expected. I’ve done them before, so I know what to do, and what to expect. Ed wants to see my Macros (the % of Protein, Fat, and CarbsI'm eating), so I’m using a spreadsheet from the nutrition course we did.
During the day it was easy as everything that I ate was single ingredient (e.g. apple/banana) or had easy to access labels (e.g. protein bar). Evening was more challenging as we meal prep and I didn’t weigh anything out ahead of time – so there was a little guess work going on. However, I overestimated to be on the safe side.
Doing a food diary also changes how you eat, instead of combining a bunch of ingredients for an evening snack I just ate some leftover pulled pork.
11 days away from start of plan
Second day of food diary. Today was my ‘long day’ at work (8-7pm) and that meant more time away from the kitchen and scales. So again, I had to guesstimate a little with the pre-prepared meals but otherwise it was very easy.
The fact I am very consistent with what I eat makes it a lot easier. I didn’t work out today due to tiredness and soreness – my hamstrings were wrecked.
8 days away from start of plan
It’s been a high Calorie weekend. Friday night we had date night and I was viciously hungry. We went to Chili’s and I had the biggest burger on the menu with an extra patty. Before that we shared chips and queso, and I had a margarita to boot. Honestly, I was surprised when the Calorie tracker said ‘only’ 4200 Kcals for the day.
Saturday started well, I was very much in damage limitation mode. So from waking up until 6pm all I had consumed was a protein shake and coffee (total of 300Kcals). It wasn’t too hard as I’ve done this routine before. The idea is that if you over-consume one night you limit your intake the next morning and afternoon. Saturday evening was a social event for the personal training team at Cowboys Fit, with free food (always a killer for me) and general alcohol consumption. Considering the evening, I was actually happy with a Calorie total of 3200. I always knew that the weekend was going to be higher in Calories than my weekdays, I just didn’t realize by how much!
Regarding tracking, restaurants can be hit and miss – sometimes they show their nutrition information it can be very easy to track, however, if they don’t you have to start playing detective and find comparable options in Myfitnesspal or using google.
6 days away from start of plan
I got fed-up with my spreadsheet and payed for premium on MyFitnessPal, it was actually only $10/month which is cheaper than expected. Tracking on MFP has become much easier now that I’m thinking ahead. Chloe told me that a neighbor dropped off cake, I had saved enough Calories that I was able to have cake guilt-free in terms of Calories. It screwed up my Macros but I’ll live with it.
Now that my baseline period is over I've submitted all of my data to Ed and he will create a plan based on what he sees. Given my request for as much change as possible in 21 days I'm a little nervous but also excited because I'm a scientist at heart and I want to see what will happen.
Since my baseline tracking period is over I'll not be tracking and just eat 'normally'. Tracking can change the way you eat so I thought this would be best so the start of the challenge is more reflective of real life.
The details of my plan are as follows:
I’m thinking I will try to get a lot of my exercise and physical activity commitments out of the way early in the day and do studying/work later in the day.
I took my 'before' photos. I'll be taking photos every week so you can follow my progress along with me.