"I tried so hard, and got so far..."
(...cue Linkin Park song)
11,000 calories in one day is no easy task. In my valiant attempt last week, I only made it to 8509.
The challenge arose from two primary factors:
1. To physically and mentally challenge myself.
2. To show how one day of bad eating won't instantly make you overweight.
When you're undergoing any challenge, your mind begins to wander. Most of the time it thinks,
"Why am I even doing this?"
But, occasionally, other (more profound) thoughts pop into your head.
Here are 12 of the things I realised trying to eat 11,000 calories in a single day.
1. What you eat heavily affects your mood.
I was insanely grumpy all day. I'm talking straight sourpuss, which is the complete opposite of how I usually am. I actually felt the need to apologise to my family the next day for being so miserable.
With such an influx of calories, my hormones were going wild. Especially since the calories were from such nutritionally poor sources. There was a noticeable difference between 5-minutes before a meal and 30-minutes after. Eating my normal meals, I don't get that mood swing. In fact, I usually feel more vibrant and energetic.
If you feel worse after a meal, you should be second-guessing the food choices in that meal.
2. I never want to eat a Tim Tam again...
The Tim Tams mark the turning point in which I realised eating 11,000 calories would be harder than I first thought.
No more please! Especially these chewy caramel ones. No thank you.
3. Your body can handle tonnes of stress.
8,500 calories is about 3 days of food for me.
My body had to digest a humungous volume of food. Something it was not used to after travelling around Asia and suffering their small portion sizes.
Your body is an adaptive machine. You place a stress on it, and it reacts to minimise the damage. Which, in hindsight, was lucky for me.
The day after, I felt absolutely fine. There wasn't an ounce of hunger all day (which was expected), but everything else was back to baseline.
(two days later)
4. Aim for the stars and you'll get to the moon.
I originally aimed for 11,000 calories. Why did I choose this number?
Everyone who I've previously seen take on the challenge has aimed for 10,000 calories. So it makes sense that I aimed higher.
It's an approach which can serve well in any goal setting scene. It follows the philosophy of Grant Cardone's 10X rule (although not on such a scale).
Have an income goal? Double it.
Have a bench press goal? Add another 10kgs to it.
Want to expand your business? Half the time frame.
Set your goals higher than you have to, so if you do fail, you still achieve a great result.
5. I now have massive respect for competitive eaters.
After 4000 calories, it hit me. I'm definitely not a professional eater and never will be. The guys who do this kind of thing competitively have gained my respect.
To put their bodies through the turmoil of force-feeding is a horrendous feeling.
6. Your food choices affect your productivity.
As a follow-on to my day-long depressive state, it destroyed the day's productivity.
I had a bunch of stuff on the to-do list, but just couldn't. It felt as though there was fog in my brain. Most of the day was spent laying down in a daze. It's safe to say that I was not productive.
For people consuming a poor diet regularly, this must feel like the norm. Everything moves a little slower. Each decision simmers in the mind for a second longer than it has to. And motivation? Forget about it.
7. You will not get fat after one terrible day of eating. The same as with one day of fasting, you won't instantly be skinny.
The body likes to stay at it's set point. It's like a thermostat. Any fluctuations up or down will be countered so the temperature stays roughly the same.
It takes a long time for that set point to change. Nothing happens overnight. It happens over months and years. Through consistency and sustained effort.
If the goal is a better physique, always think long-term.
(Morning of and morning after shots)
8. You have to know when to call it quits.
Sitting on my bed, at 3:42 pm, in a self-induced food coma, a revelation hit me. I realised, for my health and sanity, that it wasn't going to happen.
At that point, I was 6317 calories deep. Just over halfway. I knew that 11,000 was not within reach.
9. You have to know when to keep going.
I didn't completely give up. Even on a silly food challenge with no consequences, it's a mindset. Never give up.
At 3:43 pm, I re-evaluated my goal and set a new target of 8,500.
Giving up is never an option. There is always something to be done. React to whatever the situation and keep moving forward.
10. Think about how food actually makes you feel.
While eating all that 'junk' food, I realised it didn't make me feel good. There was the initial pleasure of having my tastebuds go to the circus, but after a minute that wore off. There were no more positives other than some initial satisfying pleasure.
Have you ever heard of the 'KFC blues'? The moment when you realise that the KFC you just ate really wasn't very good, and definitely not worth that many calories.
Imagine that but on a much bigger scale.
The worst part is, I had zero energy, even though I was consuming a ridiculous number of calories. When comparing it with my normal diet, I feel so much better after a large chicken salad.
If you want to feel good, eat mostly healthy stuff high in nutrients. They provide everything your body needs. Then, eat junk food in little amounts to fill in the gaps and keep you happy.
What you eat makes such an impact on everyday life. Don't ignore it.
11. Sometimes what looks like a good idea is actually a horrible idea.
Exactly that. It looked amazing on paper. Muffins for breakfast, KFC for lunch, a whole tub of ice cream for dinner and eating as much as I could. Sounds incredible!
In the end, it was a horrible idea.
Take a step back sometimes and re-evaluate your ideas and decisions. Is this really a good idea?
12. Food deserves your complete attention.
It affects everything about you. Your mood, mental state, work performance, decision-making, body composition, happiness... absolutely everything.
And it's such a controllable factor!
If I said, "click this red button once a day and you will be lean in 6 months."
Would you click it? Hell yes!
Then, if I said, "eat healthy food and count your calories every day for 6 months and you will be lean"
Would you do it? Most wouldn't.
There's not much difference between the two, only a little bit of effort.
Give food the attention it deserves. You are completely in charge of what goes into your body. No-one can force feed a pizza down your throat. It's your responsibility.
"...But in the end, it doesn't even matter."
(again with the Linkin Park)
It's true. In the end, it didn't matter whether I failed or not. I had fun, learned some things and entertained a few people in the process.
Most importantly, I learned how food affects me on an emotional and mental level. A factor most people ignore in their pursuit of a 'better' body.