Tag Archives: diet

From Fatness to Fitness, a Journey

It started on November 8th, and today is February 26th. I was sick and tired of my gut and my “snowman body,” which had accumulated over four years. In early November I weighed around 170 with 19% body fat (according to my smart scale, which may not measure body fat with great accuracy but was my gauge all along). My last weigh-in showed 147.4 pounds. I used calipers and found between 8.38% to 10.12% body fat, depending on the method of calculating. I dropped from a 33” to a 30” waist.

Previous to this I had worked hard and effectively to arrive at the same point. However, everything accumulates over time: fatness or fitness. It all depends on what you’re doing, or not doing in the case of decreasing levels of discipline and activity. I didn’t decide to start being unhealthy one day; in fact, I never stopped going to the gym. Everything happened gradually.

I think I did make a decision to gain some weight, but I wanted it to be muscle. However, I broke my clavicle and was unable to perform any bench presses. This is demoralizing for a guy. I continued to work out, but not very hard, and finally averaged only once or twice a week. I continued to eat a fairly healthy diet, and I didn’t overeat. In spite of this, I gained fat and lost muscle mass. Four years ago I weighed 149, so I gained 21 pounds, or five pounds per year. Had I continued on this gradual increase I would have eventually become obese, and likely struggled with type-two diabetes, which runs on my father’s side of the family.

My vanity kicked in when I stared at myself in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. Coinciding with this was my decision to return to teaching karate’. I have been an instructor for over 30 years, but had quit teaching or even practicing. I didn’t realize how out of condition I had become. We deceive ourselves when we get older, thinking that everything is pretty much the same this year as it was last, or five or ten years ago. Unlike young people, who naturally grow, when we hit about the mid-twenties we begin to decline, slowly at first, but everything accumulates over time. If you’ve not chosen a disciplined lifestyle of exercise and healthy eating you may be in your late twenties (even younger) and already show significant signs of decreasing fitness.

The last time I started, it was a more difficult journey out of the slough of fitness despondency in which I had found myself. I am happy I didn’t wait any longer to get back into shape. It could have been significantly more difficult to do at this point if I had not already built a fitness foundation. As we get older we have decreased physical capabilities and increased liabilities. In spite of this, we may not realize how far removed we are from the halcyon days of our youth. The result? I go to the gym and attempt to do what I used to 10 or 20 years ago, and discover I cannot. Disappointment may stop me there, or soreness and injury may slow me to a stop later. Then I quit, become depressed, eat more, care less, and put myself at risk for serious physical problems. I learned to meet myself where I am (as opposed to expecting I will be where I used to), and keep moving forward. This motivational strategy has worked to keep me going each time.

I really like being skinny! I have more energy. I look better in my clothes. Since I’ve been going to the gym regularly I’m stronger. Since I’ve been running my cardio-vascular system is healthier and I have more energy. I have more self-discipline in other areas of my life too. Temptation is tough. I was at a birthday celebration at an Asian buffet two days ago and our room was right next to the dessert section. All those beautiful little cakes, cookies and tiramisus were calling to me. I resisted! Why? I’d just purchased new jeans and pants a few hours earlier with waist sizes between 29 and 30. I’m not going to keep myself from fitting into those new clothes! I want to be lean, look good, feel good, have energy and have no self-consciousness about a pooching belly. Half of that is vain, but it’s honest.

In the end, I’m a Christian and a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus. I’m called to offer my body to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is my reasonable and spiritual offering in worship. God is worth more than a feeble sacrifice. I want to present a clean, healthy body for him to use. If I am going to serve the Lord by teaching karate’, then I need to be in top condition. If I’m going to keep away from sickness, and disease like Alzheimer’s, then I have to discipline myself to exercise, eat healthy, as well as reading and writing regularly. If I’m going to defend myself or my congregation against the attack of some violent individual, then I want to be as trained and fit as possible to do so. My body belongs to God; it is his temple. I want him to be pleased. That’s worship. That’s the best motive of all.


Don’t Give Up

When your expectations aren’t met it’s tempting to give up. When on a fitness program–or most any other plan you make in life–you need to see progress. Or what’s the point, right?

I’ve seen progress, but it hasn’t gone according to my original plan, which was to lose 2lbs per week until January 1, then lose 1lb per week until around Valentine’s Day when I reach my goal. I wrote my target weights on a calendar and met about half of them at the right time. I did the 10 day modified juice fast and hit my goal for January 1 on December 24. Then I proceeded to gain SIX POUNDS. The next week I dropped back down a couple of pounds then fasted for three days and got back to where I had been. That’s where I am currently, and it’s about three pounds off of my original goal.

Still I look at myself in the mirror and it has been a remarkable physical transformation in a two month period. My scale measures body fat, but I’ve determined that it is grossly inaccurate. At my current weight, based on the original body fat calculation, I should be at 10-12%. The scale says 15.6. I’ll need to get calipers and pinch the fat in various places and plug those numbers into a formula that calculates more accurately than my $100 scale from Amazon.

So, although I’ve not met my original numeric goal YET, I have made significant progress. I’m not giving up. In fact, I’m more determined than ever to make my body do what I believe it can and will do: reach 9% body fat with 40% muscle mass by my birthday, which is in 52 days. At middle age this is not as easy as it used to be, but I’m up for the challenge! And I’m looking and feeling great–except for the constant muscle soreness!

Body Fat comp

Addendum: I used calpers. The various formulas for determining body fat lead me to believe my scale is closer than I’d assumed. I’m probably between 14-15% now. So, I adjusted by goal to be at 9% by my birthday, which is 49 days from this addendum.

Fasting to Reset

Many of you are aware that I finished a 10 day juice fast recently. The beginning of the year is a good time to fast. It is a time to push the reset button on our lives, and fasting is a tool that can help you begin again.

 The following are some reasons for fasting.

1. DEDICATION. Fast as an Act of Dedication (Matthew 4:1-2) –  After his baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where he fasted for 40 days to prepare for entry into his ministry. During this time Jesus was tested by the devil. Perhaps fasting gave Jesus clarity as he intensely focused on His Father. The time of testing provided confirmation that He was the Son of God who had come to save the world. You may fast as an act of dedication to the Lord, and to seek confirmation about his calling in your life.

2. DISCIPLINE. Fast as an Exercise of Self-Discipline (Matthew 4:3-4) –  Learn to say no to yourself. All of the temptations Jesus endured were aimed at getting him to act egotistically and expediently. If the Lord had given in it would not have been an exercise of faith, but an effort at overcoming self-doubt with presumption. Our consumer culture is about self-indulgence, not self-discipline. It is about pursuing passion, pleasure and satisfying desire. This is why we’re overweight and in debt. It is important to set limits for our time, money, eating and drinking. Fasting is a good tool to discipline yourself so that you may also say no in areas other than food.

3. DEPENDENCE. Fast as an Affirmation of Dependence upon God-  Learn to rely on the power of God. Jesus’ first statement in response to Satan’s temptation demonstrates this. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3 as quoted in Matthew 4:4, also John 4:34). When I give up something I truly want, I will need God’s help to persevere. The third affirmation of the AA 12 Steps recognizes our need to do this. “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God…” This is essential if I am to overcome a particularly stubborn habit or addiction. “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 12:29). We need a deep faith, which relies entirely upon God, and fasting may help promote such faith.

4. DETERMINATION. Fast to Establish Determination-  Believing is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. Believing genuinely means I am willing to do something about it. Additionally, faith must endure or it’s worthless. Learn to have a tenacious and unshakeable faith. Jesus’ disciples encountered a boy whom they could not help. When Jesus cast out the spirit that afflicted the child, his disciples asked him why they were powerless. Jesus replied, “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29, Matthew 17:21). Not everything happens instantly. In fact, many issues require determination and tenacity to overcome. Remember, although faith is an act of the will, it is not about willpower. It is about trust. I must be determined to continue to trust God, no matter the circumstances. This is fasting for a breakthrough. Nothing is helping. Nothing is changing. I can give up and give in, or I can resolve to focus all my attention on God and persevere in asking and seeking and knocking. Consider Jesus’ parable of the importunate widow: the woman kept coming to the judge for justice until he finally gave her just relief (Luke 18:1-8). In the end I will find it is not God who is withholding my right, but a lack of faith on my part. Fasting helps me to break through.

5. DESPERATION. Fast as an Act of Desperation (Joel 2:17-21) –  Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? I must repent and come to an end of myself if I want to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. I must realize how truly sinful I am, and how depraved I will become without God’s help. I’ve got to take sin seriously. Cry out to God in repentance. “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12 NIV). I need to hear from God at all costs. Our nation and our lives are filled with rebellion, perversion and lawlessness. How many more tragedies must occur until we realize the need to return to the Lord in heart and mind and body?

6. DETOXIFICATION. Fast as a means of Detoxification (Daniel 1:8-16) – Because of constant exposure to an impure environment your body collects all sorts of toxic and destructive substances. Consider Daniel and his friends who would not eat the meat and rich food offered them by their Babylonian overlords. Instead they ate only vegetables and drank only water. They were healthier as a result. They asked to be tested for 10 days. You can do the same test on yourself: Eat only vegetables and drink only water for 10 days and discover a healthier you. A vegan or even vegetarian diet that allows only organic foods is a healthy way to rid your body of toxins. When you abstain from food altogether, drinking only water, especially for longer periods, the digestive system and liver and kidneys can be cleansed of accumulated poison.

The same applies to your mind. When you remove TV, movies, video games, godless music, social media, you give your mind the opportunity to rest. Replace these things with worship and saturation in Scripture.

7. DIET. Fast regularly to Diet- Limiting the amount of food you eat is a means of controlling calorie intake. Most of us eat too much. We take in more calories than we burn, so we gain unneeded fat. Periodic fasting, (ie. one day per week), if done in moderation and balanced with a healthy, calorie controlled diet, is an effective tool in losing fat and maintaining a lean body.

Suggested fasts

A. Fast and pray for a day.

  • Rise before 6 AM and eat a breakfast of fruit and oatmeal (cooked raw oats is best), use honey to sweeten the oats.
  • From 6 AM until 6 PM drink only water. Drink at least 8 oz. every hour.
  • After 6 PM eat a healthy dinner with plenty of vegetables. Go easy on the fatty meats.

B. Daniel Fast for 10 days.

  • Eat only vegetables and a little fruit for 10 days. Focus on leafy greens and cruciferous (broccoli & cauliflower) vegetables, prefer organic.
  • Drink only water for 10 days. No soda, coffee, or tea. Vegetable or fruit juice is acceptable if it is 100% pure.
  • Once the 10 day test is done, you may decide to go to 21 or even 40 days. For longer fasts be sure to include beans, brown rice, pea or other vegan protein sources. Pastor D supplemented using Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein powder in water or almond milk.

C. Juice Fast for anywhere from one to ten days.

  • Do not do this for more than one day until you have done “A” above and prayed.
  • Try it for one day, then break, then three before you go longer.
  • Drink 90% vegetable juices made with a juice extractor ($50 – 100 appliance).
  • Drink juice every two hours and water in the hours between.
  • Again, no coffee or tea, and NO SUGAR or other sweeteners.
  • Organic vegetables are preferred.

Whatever you decide to do, remember the following principles.

•Be consistent. Discipline requires consistency to take hold and be effective.

•Giving up what you shouldn’t be doing to begin with is not fasting, it’s obedience.

•If you make a commitment to God, keep it. Better not to vow than to vow and not keep it.

•It is not a good idea to make promises to God, better to rely on his promises for you. So, you aren’t fasting to get God to do something for you. Trust him to help you through.


Frustrated on a Plateau

Weighed in at the beginning of the week and barely made my goal (as recorded in the previous blog entry). Now it’s Friday, I’ve gained weight and it WILL NOT drop. I am frustrated and angry right now. I’ve confirmed, however, that even a small amount of alcohol consumption will interfere with fat loss. I had a margarita for lunch yesterday and a beer the night before. What to do? Channel the anger into determination. Change course to gain control and thereby eliminate the frustration.

The last time I got to the level of conditioning I am seeking I had to do something drastic to break through at this same weight: Juice Fast. I was introduced to the practice by watching the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, in which a man named Joe Cross drank only juice for 60 days and lost a huge amount of weight and was able to stop taking prescription meds in the process. I did an eight day juice fast and dropped eight pounds. I broke my pateau and stayed beneath it for years.

So, I’m writing this for accountability’s sake. I’ve been tempted to do a juice fast as a fast track to weight loss, but what I do must be sustainable, and one cannot go on a permanent diet of juice, even if that were enjoyable! However, I’ve gotten back on a path of healthy diet and exercise, which I will continue after this juice fast. I’ve got eight more pounds to lose by the end of the year, or roughly 7.5% body fat. I should be able to accomplish that by pulling out the big guns and drinking nothing but juice until, hmmmm, until when? How about Christmas Eve, which is nine days away, so that would be 10 days of juice fasting if you count both today and Christmas Eve day. I’ll eat again after our Christmas Eve candlelight service.

I’ll weigh in (pun intended) on what is happening along the journey, so stay tuned….


Fitness v. Fatness Update

Weighed in today, and I barely made my goal. I ate a brownie last night. This is more difficult during the holidays when almost everyone else is going the opposite direction. I want to lead people in January, so I’ve got to be ahead of the ones I propose to lead.

I started my diet and exercise plan on November 8th (check the blog from that date). I’ve been eating a healthy lower carb diet of around 1700 calories per day. I’ve ramped up my activity level, working out at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week. This is not strenuous, I’m coming back from an injury I sustained several years ago. My muscle mass has increased and my gut has gotten smaller. I’ve now lost 10lbs and 2% body fat according to my smart scale.

I’ve also juice fasted several days in the midst of this. Well, not even a true vegetable juice fast, because I’ve added a protein meal replacement shake each day. However, it’s been part of my regimen. I’m watching and praying and may add regular fasting days, or more juice fasting before the end of the year.

I’ve dropped about 2lbs per week and  have six more pounds to lose to achieve my original end of year goal. I’m on target.


BMR. Want to Lose Some Fat?

  1. Calories. Your body burns energy measured in calories.
  2. Macronutrients contain different numbers of calories.
  • Carbohydrate 1 gram = 4.5 calories
  • Protein 1 gram = 4.5 calories
  • Fat 1 gram = 9 calories
  • Alcohol (not a macronutrient) 1 gram = 7 calories
  1. Count Calories. Each person burns a different number of calories depending upon their metabolism and activity level. Count your calories.
  • Write down everything you eat in a normal day and add up the calories.
  • Go online or get a calorie counting app for your smart phone.
  1. BMR- You can determine the number of calories your body needs each day by determining your Basal Metabolic Rate, then adding or subtracting from that depending upon your goals.
    1. Females:  Multiply your weight by 10, and add your weight. Now subtract 2% for every 10 years of life.
      1. Example of 120 lbs 20 year old woman: 120 x 10 = 1200, 1200 + 120 = 1320, 1320 x .04 = 52.8,  1320 – 52.8 =1267.2
    2. Males:  Multiply your weight by 10, and add twice your weight. Now subtract 2% for every ten years of life.
      1. Example of a 150 lbs 20 year old man-  150 x 10 = 1500, 150 x 2 = 300, 1500 = 300 = 1800, .04 x 1800 = 72, 1800 – 72 =1728
    3. Males and females:  Add 20% – 40% depending upon your activity level.
      1. 20% = couch potato/sedentary job, 30% average, 40% active.
      2. Example of the female above with an average activity level: 1267.2 x .30 = 380.16, 380.16 + 1267.2 = 1647.36
  1. Lose fat.
  • If you want to lose fat, you must burn more calories than you eat!
  • There are 3,500 calories contained in one pound of fat.
  • Once you accumulate 3,500 more calories than you need, you will gain a pound of fat.
  • Eat less! Cut between 250-500 (no more!) calories per day.
  • Exercise more! Do a 30-45 minute workout 3-4 days per week, which will enable you to burn at least 250-350 calories per workout.
  • Eat more often! You should eat 5-6 small, healthy, balanced meals per day equal to your BMR, minus 300-500. This will keep your metabolism from slowing down and storing fat in spite of your calorie cutting efforts. Watch the carbs! No more than 30-40% of your diet should consist of carbohydrates.
  1. Gain muscle.
  • If you want to gain muscle, work out with weights 3-4 times per week and take in more calories than you burn.
  • Add 500 calories to your BMR.
  • Eat an amount of protein equal in grams to your body weight in pounds.
  • Eat every three hours throughout the day to feed your muscles.
  • Consume your largest meal of the day within one hour after a workout, composed mainly of carbohydrates and proteins like: pasta, potatoes, corn, bread, lean meat.
  • Drink a whey protein shake within one hour before and after your weight workout.

These statements have not been evaluated by a physician. Always consult your doctor before  starting a diet or exercise program. 


Push through the Disappointments

It’s been nearly a month since I determined to lose 16 lbs by the end of 2017. I’m happy to say that I am on track. There have been some disappointments along the way, however. On two occasions I was on target mid-week and magically picked up a pound the next day. My body doesn’t want to lose fat. It is not easy to make the transition from burning carbs to burning fat. I’ve cut both calories and carbs. I’ve increased my activity level. I’ve been working out more often. In spite of all that, there were those two disappointments.

If I see progress, it is much easier to stay motivated. When it appears that what I am doing is not helping, I am tempted to go to one of two extremes: quit or eat nothing. Either extreme is unhealthy. Fasting for a short period, even fasting a day or two per week may be healthy. However, fasting slows the metabolism and inhibits muscle growth. Yes, I did try it, and yes I will continue to include it in my regimen. There are spiritual reasons for this as well, which are contained in another article I posted here.

Whatever I do it must be sustainable. If I lose this fat, then go back to old habits, I’ll gain it right back. I know I can do this because I’ve done it before. In 2012 I got down to 7.5% body fat and stayed there for over a year. Even after that I stayed under 10% for two more years. What caused the weight gain? Disappointment. I inujured myself and couldn’t do the intense weight training I was accustomed to, so I gradually gave up. Not completely, but enough to gain 20lbs over 4 years.

I will face disappointments. I will miss a workout. I will have a day where I eat more than my allotted 1750 calories. My body will, inexplicably, gain a pound. I’ll injure myself, or be so sore that I cannot work out. What I have to do–what I have done, and will keep doing–is to persevere. Tenacity is important. I must keep moving forward, even if it appears (or feels) as though I’m not going as fast or as far as I expected or planned.

So, I pressed on toward my goal, and I’m over halfway there. My determination remains strong. I don’t want the things I did before because I have a higher prize in front of me. Saturday was a big temptation. The micro-brewery down the street from me had its anniversary with special beers. I considered taking a cheat day and going in there. However, I was 1.4 lbs away from my weekly goal as of Thursday, so I couldn’t afford to cheat. I resisted temptation. I met my goal this morning.

This all has spiritual application as well. There are many things I’m tempted to do that I resist, not because I’m afraid, but because I am pressing on toward a higher prize: becoming like Jesus in his resurrection. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Keeping my eyes on the ultimate prize keeps me from doing many foolish, worthless and destructive things. It keeps me from believing lies like, “Oh, that’s not so bad.” Or, “Everybody does it.” And the most damaging, “This isn’t really wrong.” Christ’s character and commandments determine what is right and wrong. If I am going to be like him in my character, and follow him in his resurrection, I must have faith first. Then I have to follow that faith with obedience. That will make me different than many people in my culture. That’s ok. A 55 year old man with less than 10% body fat is rare too. I don’t want to be obese, and I don’t want to be un-Christlike or immoral either.

So, I press on…