““I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” –Thoreau
Precision, persistence and juicing paid off for Fidel’s health and career.
Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors
As a child, Fidel’s weight fluctuated seasonally, and he recalls gaining weight in winter and then losing it over the summer. Sports and a strenuous after-school job helped keep him slim throughout high school.
That all changed when Fidel got to college. Fidel says his weight crept up slowly at first, but after getting married and becoming a father, he found himself heavier than he liked.
A desk job, coupled with night classes after work – led to excessive sitting, insufficient activity, and poor eating habits. At his heaviest, Fidel weighed 265 pounds. (120.5 kg)
How Being Overweight Impacted Fidel’s Life
The biggest impact of Fidel’s extra weight was on his sleep. When he woke up in the mornings, he was sluggish, tired, and felt like he had not rested. In evenings, he was restless, and deep sleep soon became a distant memory.
Fidel thinks that “lethargic” would be the best description of how he was feeling in general. He describes having difficulty focusing during the day, and how he blamed it – at first – on getting older or even an undiagnosed illness.
Fidel shares that he tried many programs that he saw advertised for health improvement. He says he was following conventional wisdom:
“What I knew was: eat less and exercise a lot more.”
He would cut his calories too severely, get sick, and knew he was experiencing adrenaline fatigue. His pattern became the familiar one of ‘lose 5 pounds, gain back 15.’
“I was working hard at it, but I was working hard at the wrong things.”
The Turning Point
In January of 2011, Fidel’s workplace held its annual weight loss contest and he decided to enter. He weighed 245 pounds (111.4 kg) when the contest started, and he lost 15-20 pounds (6.8-9 kg) in the first month.
He says that he exercised up to 2.5 hours daily and didn’t eat much. Fidel won, as he dropped down 30 pounds in just 2 months, but says he wouldn’t recommend losing weight that fast to anyone, considering the experience he had.
The next January, Fidel entered the contest again and dropped 24 pounds – down to 200. (91 kg) He describes this time being a very different experience where he focused on doing things in a healthier manner.
Fidel recalls getting better results with less work in his second time in the contest. Fidel was beginning to research nutrition and watch health documentaries like “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead” with Joe Cross. Fidel started juicing occasionally, and says he felt healthier through juicing and eating wholesome foods than when he was just dieting to lose weight.
Fidel juiced during the competition, and then took a few months off. In March and April he says he did not feel as well as he had while he was juicing. Fidel also tracked his sales performance during the months he was juicing and the months he was not, and he discovered he had been performing better while he was juicing. In May 2012 he and his wife re-introduced juicing into their daily routine.
Starting The Weight Loss Journey
Fidel says that he only confided in his wife about his weight loss efforts at first. However, he shares that if he were starting right now he would definitely tell someone at the beginning. He felt that …keeping it a secret made it easier to cheat—a soda at work, for example—since no one would really know.keeping it a secret made it easier to cheat—a soda at work, for example—since no one would really know. Now he feels like he doesn’t want to let others down and keeps himself accountable to others who have witnessed his successes.
Fidel encourages people to write in a journal in order to identify patterns in your own life. It doesn’t even need to be each day, but just getting your thoughts down on paper in a totally honest way is important. He says he finds it beneficial to watch for trends in willpower and seeing how food is affected by mood and life situations.
Fidel emphasizes being honest with yourself in your journal because that makes the information more powerful. For example, if you know something will trigger an eating episode for you, then plan to avoid those foods.
Fidel admits that journaling is difficult for him, and that he had to force himself to do it initially. However, it was invaluable when he noticed an outcome and could trace back its cause to events from the day or evening before (going to sleep too late, for example). “It hurts to be honest with yourself on paper,” he says, but that’s the best way to help yourself.
Fidel is enthusiastic about studying habit changes and he explains that when you’re embarking on a new project it’s important to create new routines so that your life can be structured around those and that you don’t fall back as easily into the old (bad) habits.
“The cravings are always there.”
Fidel shares that he and his wife basically stopped eating out, and that now he eats the “same” 3 meals each day—2 juices and a healthy dinner. Fidel says his wife was very supportive from the beginning and helps him cook all their meals.
Having a plan made all the difference for not falling prey to cravings or running out of food for the day. He cooked meals the night before, so that he knew what his next day’s meals would be. Fidel says that “slowly, slowly”, the cravings started to dissipate.
Fidel says that today his food is geared towards allowing him to feel energetic all day and to be able to perform to his optimal level.
“If you know you get hungry at 12:30, eat something at 12.”
Fidel reassures everyone that he is not perfects and says that you are going to fall off the wagon – you just are. More importantly, you have to plan for those slips and know for yourself: what are you going to do after that?
Having a plan for the very next day of how you will act after a slip up is critical to success and gets away from the all or nothing mentality that will let a slip up turn into a multi-day backslide.
When Fidel eats something off-plan, he says he gives himself a day or two of all juices to let his body and taste buds reset.
“It’s almost like a high,” is how Fidel describes to his friends how he feels during the day now. Fidel emphasizes that he loves the “quality of life you get back when you lose the weight.”
What Fidel Learned About Food, Exercise, and Himself
“I’m too young to feel this old.”
This is what Fidel used to tell his wife when he woke up every day, and now he says when he wakes up he feels like he has the energy of a 15 year old. Fidel discusses that when you are focused on losing weight, that needs to be the main priority and a person must get ready to put some other things on the back burner for a while.
Fidel says he wishes he could go back in time and tell himself that “there’s no perfect time to start” a weight loss journey. He stresses that the time is going to pass anyway, so you might as well begin!
“Give yourself some time to only focus on weight loss.”
As he lost weight Fidel says it affected “everything else in his life” so that he has been able to transform many other parts of his life. He paid off some debts and started his own business, both of which he sees as a direct result of weight loss.
Fidel discusses how what he’s learned about health has impacted his role as a parent: he says it’s hard to change the palette of a kid. Fidel watches documentaries with his 2 kids about food—things like “Super Size Me,” “Fed Up,” “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead,” etc. and discusses different health perspectives with the kids. He says his aim is to get them on board with making healthy choices little by little.
Fidel likes to have a schedule to his week, which helps him stay focused. He uses the ‘Miracle Morning’ routine every day and he exercises on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Fidel says he enjoys running, but he doesn’t run too much anymore, as he has studied the benefits of weight training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Now his routine at the gym is to runs for 5 minutes and lift weights for 40 minutes.
If he misses a day at the gym, Fidel doesn’t stress about it, and instead gets right back to his routine the very next day.
“Life’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”
Fidel lost a total of 75 pounds (34.1 kg), and currently has a goal to lose 20 more and reduce his body fat percentage. He strives each day to get his nutrition more specifically on point. Fidel compares and contrasts foods now to see what makes him feel good and work for his body in what Sam calls his “engineering approach.”
“Keep a journal! Keep trying to understand and know yourself.”
Strive to be the best version of yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.
Resources Discussed In This Podcast
Shawn Stevenson—the Model Health Show podcast. Fidel says he learned a lot in Shawn’s class.