Tag Archives: weight loss

You Can Be Less Fat & More Fit

Fitness is more than how thin you are, but I believe a good start (probably the best place to begin) is with a change in your diet, which results in a leaner body. A lean body is better for many reasons: less prone to heart disease, increased longevity, avoidance of type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, joint problems and a host of other complications which result from hauling around too much body fat every day.

It’s not popular to say this, but neither is it a secret: many people are simply carrying too much body fat. Perhaps you are one of them. Notice, I didn’t say “too heavy.” It’s not about weight; it’s about body fat percentage. The average American carries between 28-40% body fat (and it may be worse today, since that stat is from a study done 15-20 years ago!). That is not healthy. Not at all.

One year ago my body fat was around 23% at a weight of just over 170 lbs. I’m around 71 inches tall. I wasn’t terribly unhealthy, but I was getting there gradually. You see, everything accumulates over time, whether fitness or fatness. In 2012 I had gotten down to 7% body fat, was lifting weights and running regularly. I felt great! Then I broke my clavicle doing incline presses and that slowed the weights down considerably. I was discouraged. I stopped running. My diet gradually got less healthy. I still went to the gym a couple of times per week, but my workouts weren’t enough to burn off the additional calories.

The difference over a five year span was a gain of 16% body fat, which translates to around 20 lbs on my frame. That’s an annual gain of a little over three percent fat, or a mere four pounds each year. Consider, if I had gone another decade I could have been carrying around the high average of 40% body fat. NO THANKS!

I took a look at myself in the mirror at 23% and didn’t like what I saw. I looked like a round, slightly lumpy snowman. I knew what I could look like when healthy and fit. I knew it was going to take some work to get back. It did! I’ve journaled about that process here, so you can look back at those blogs if you’d like. The picture I’ve included in this entry is a screenshot I took this morning from a body fat calculator on my mobile device. To use the app you still need body fat calipers, and, yes, you need to weigh yourself. Currently I weight around 145 and am carrying about 5.5% body fat. Did I mention I’m 56 years old…

If your sex is male, and you’re not an elite athlete, then you should aim for 10-15% body fat. If your sex is female and not competing in some sport, aim for 20-25%. If you need to be leaner for a sport (I am a martial arts instructor), then you may seek to go lower. However, men shouldn’t get below 4% or women below about 9%. You do need some body fat. I am keeping mine between 5-7% because I want to stay at that level of fitness to teach my karate’ class. That, and I like how I look and feel when I’m this lean.

So, what’s the secret? Did I do Keto? Count calories? Fasting? Run an hour a day? Overall friends, although it’s hard at first to apply the self-control, the concept is really very simple: you get fatter when you eat more, and you get thinner when you eat less. You also get fatter when you’re less active, while still eating the same, and you get leaner when you’re more active without increasing the amount you eat. Everything accumulates over time, fitness or fatness.

Duh? Well, why do we read so much disinformation when it comes to this? People want to believe, “You can eat whatever you want and lose the weight!” No, you can’t. Don’t buy it (metaphorically or literally). There are many paths to the goal of losing fat, and there are variables, but the truth is your body carries more fat when it doesn’t burn the excess (yes, I’m going to use a bad word here) CALORIES you’re consuming.

So, do you want to get fit? Start with your diet. You need to establish a healthy diet. If you want less fat, then you need to eat fewer calories. You need to cut out the sugar and starch. You need to schedule your eating.

Next, you need to move more. Find a form of exercise you will do regularly: walk, swim, bike, lift weights, get into an aerobics class, learn and practice a sport like basketball or an art like karate’ or yoga. Aim for 30-40 minutes of vigorous activity five or six days per week.

Do you want help? Coaching? I’m considering doing that for people in the near future, so stay tuned…

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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.

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. 

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, low fat 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.
  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.