Hello, My Name is Tshaka. And I’m Fat Ass.


“Zounds and gadzooks! Say it ain’t so?!?!” I know, that’s exactly what you were thinking. But I am. Now I don’t advocate calling people names, but I also am a huge proponent of being honest with yourself. Brutally honest. Don’t sugar coat your situation but deal with the cold, hard, facts. And while I may not be Biggest Loser big, I am still the biggest loser in my home right now. Why? Well, thanks to a sedentary job and life in general, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been at 250lbs. For my frame, I should be about 210lbs. with muscle or a svelte 190-200lbs. More importantly though is my percentage of body fat… 38%. I know right now you may be thinking, “but those things don’t make you the biggest loser in your home,” but there’s more to it. With the weight gain, I’ve picked up a new skill, snoring. Not a light snore either. I’ve had Fish and Game called on me twice because the neighbors thought a blood thirsty, rogue Grizzly had broken into our home (ok, maybe not, but you get the idea)! I wake up tired from the snoring and from sleeping on the couch; by choice. It breaks my heart when my wife wakes up tired because I’ve been snoring so loud -I usually start around 3AM according to her- that I’ve disturbed her sleep so I’ve taken to sleeping on the couch so she and my daughter, who sleeps across the hall from us and frequently would wake up in the middle of the night and close our bedroom door because my snoring would wake her up as well, could have a restful night.

I have to look at this and myself and ask, “What kind of example am I setting for my children?” I know my portions have grown out of control when I eat at home or when we go to a restaurant. We hit the buffet and all bets are off! And it doesn’t matter which kind… American fare, Asian, I’m piling my plate higher than the Tower of Babble. The sad part in all of this is that I used to be in phenomenal shape as a practicing martial artist for many years. But now, I get shin splints when I run due to my extra girth I’m sure, even having to have purchased orthotics a few years back to support my feeble attempts at getting back in shape. So, there you have it! The brain dump of where I was at about two weeks ago.


Fast forward to present day (as a comic geek, writing those words just made my day): I woke up about two weeks ago, sick and tired of looking at my monstrous gut and man boobs in the mirror. Sick of sleeping on the couch and sick of how I feel. Sick of being a poor example to my children. Sick of shin splints and a terrible deficit of energy. I have a lot I’m trying to accomplish and my low energy due to my current physical state ain’t helping. Eating too much then going to bed on a distended stomach sucks but eating the food with no restraint was so much “fun.” Not anymore. A friend of mine used to say that “when your pain becomes greater than your change, you will.” And it has. So it was time for a plan!


Fortunately for me, a trainer isn’t needed. I’m a huge geek and have been quite active for many years (which makes my current state worse… I know better), so I know my body and I actually have a pretty good grasp of physiology and kinesiology, as well as diet and supplementation. Add to that, I’m always reading and looking out for studies and new information (not fads, but real research) on fitness/human technology and I’m good to go. So, here it is:


  1. Cardio, cardio, cardio. I need to run. My goal is to get back to a fitness level similar to that of when I was a serious martial artist… and I will. The key to that is increasing my cardiovascular fitness. After all, the heart is probably the most important muscle in your body. You can be a bulky, well chiseled body builder, but all of that bulk means little if you’re not working your heart, imo. I needed a change though. I didn’t want to have to buy another pair of orthotics ($300), and I’ve grown weary of shin splints so I thought I’d give something a try that I’ve been following for about two years now, barefoot running. Or, in my case, running with shoes by Vibram Five Fingers -or as the wife and I call them, our monkey feet. The research on barefoot running is compelling and makes quite a bit of sense so I picked up a pair and gave it a shot and two weeks later, I’ve been running with NO ARCH SUPPORT, a new stride – no more heel to toe, it’s all about a forefoot/midfoot strike now, and no pain whatsoever! Sure my calves have been nice and sore as they adjust to the new style of running but it’s been a good sore and I can feel muscles in my calves developing that weren’t getting a workout before. I’m going to be writing a review of the shoes I purchased and my experience with them so look out for that. If you’re heavy and flat footed, I recommend them. If you have high arches, I recommend them. If you have feet… yeah, I recommend them.


  3. All the cardio in the world will do me no good if I don’t have the diet to match. I want to be clear here that I’m talking about diet as in “what you eat daily- your eating habits.” Not diet as in “fad, loose weight quick, starve yourself, drink some weird concoction for 30 days.” Though some of that may have a place in certain, very specific circumstances, what I’m talking about is a lifestyle change. Even when I was serious into my martial arts studies/practice I never really ate the way I should. I have an affinity for chili fries and roast beef that needed sating after all. This go ’round I’m eating 5 small meals a day as often as possible and have already cut out the evil high fructose corn sugar, processed foods and potatoes and replaced that with more fruits, veggies and boatloads of water. The only downside is that I’ve had some serious sugar withdrawals as a result of the fact that I work late hours and was downing 16oz sodas in the evenings to help me stay on task. That was easily fixed by eating a piece of sugary fruit as soon as I felt the headache coming on. Navel Oranges from the Farmer’s Market did the job quite nicely as the headaches would go away within seconds of eating the orange. The way to win when going cold turkey is not to go cold turkey, but rather replace an unhealthy thing with its healthy alternative like I did with the sodas and oranges. You just have to find what works for you. The only downside to decreasing portions and running/weight training has been that I’m always hungry. I’ve been through that before and it eventually passes as your body gets used to not having a distended stomach from overeating. One way I’ve combatted this around bedtime is by tricking my stomach and brain with a healthy, fatty food that makes me feel like I’m no longer hungry… Almond Butter. It’s high in “good for you” fat so it tricks your tummy and brain in to thinking that you’re no longer hungry and you’re able to stave off those late night/before bed munchies. I have a cup of water with two tablespoons of almond butter and it’s off to bed feeling satisfied (although I still wake up famished).


  5. Chili Fries are not evil! Well, at least not if I cut the portions I used to eat in half. I don’t do “cheat days,” or at least I don’t look at it that way. There are days here and there, usually once a week, where I will eat something I really love like those chili fries and a chili burger but now I split one order with my kids who also love chili fries (well, my sons mostly) so everybody wins. We all get to eat something we love and in smaller portions. The old adage, “good things in moderation” applies here. It also applies to all the things you like to eat that may be fatty. Life is meant to be enjoyed and so is food and unless you’re a fitness model who needs to have 13% body fat so you can look shredded for photos, enjoy good food. Just do it a little less and with much smaller portions, or do what I do and share those meals with people who also like the same food.


  7. Make room for mistakes. You may have a day when the world flips you a big ‘ol bird and that causes you to eat a gallon of ice cream or whatever comfort food fits your fancy. It’s going to happen. The best thing you can do is figure out what triggers your emotional eating and then mitigate those hot button situations. I have those days myself and I deal with it by choosing the best of the worst. My guilty pleasure (fortunately I’m not a big candy/ice cream person) is key lime pie and curry -not at the same time. Japanese, Caribbean, Thai, Indian, I love all curry! When I order it, I just health it up by asking my favorite local Japanese curry house to give me the light eaters portion, hold the potatoes and add spinach.


  9. Resistance training. I can’t afford martial arts instruction right now, but I have enough of my own that I can actually teach so I make due with what I have now. Work the core principles and train. In addition to this, I’ll be hitting the free weights but using body weight to exercise as much as possible. I’ll be following the Crossfit.com WOD or “Workout of the Day” to aid me in my resistance training regimen because their tenets fall in line with my own years of experience. They use a lot of circuits which combine Olympic-style movements, gymnastics training style movements and body weight exercises. The goal here is to build solid lean muscle mass which will actually aid me in keeping my body fat lower (once I get there).

In my next post on this topic I’m going to share with you some APPS that are helping me reach my goal. And there you have it. I’m going to get my glow back like Bruce LeRoy and adopting the Yoda mantra, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Have you decided to drop some weight? If so, share with us here how you’re doing it.


photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thepuzzler/5440003936/

About Tshaka Armstrong

Tshaka Armstrong is the husband to one awesome wife, dad to three awesome children. On any given day you may find him posting internet & tech family safety info here and on his personal blog www.digitalshepherds.com, or chatting with his tweeps when he's not dadvocating here. Join in the conversation, drop a line, share a joke and join him in encouraging each other to be awesome!