If you’re fat like me, no doubt you’ve tried different diets and/or exercise programs to shed pounds. I have; in fact, in a previous column (Summer 2004) I mentioned that I was going low carb without going overboard ala Atkins Diet.
Well, I stopped following that, went back to my old ways (or is that “weighs?”) and put on more weight. As a matter of fact, as I write this, I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed. A fact I’m not too proud of.
A few years back, I tried out a program that combined exercise and diet, but with a few twists. The program is called “Body for Life.” It’s fully explained in a book by the same name written by fitness guru Bill Phillips.
I had a measure of success with Body for Life until I stopped following it due to a lower back injury (I didn’t hurt it working out, I hurt it bending and reaching for something heavy at home). But I just started it again, for a number of reasons. Like, for example, the fact that I already had the book so I didn’t need to go out and buy a new one.
Seriously, while I was on it, it worked well. Here’s how: you do weight training every other day, and you alternate it with aerobic-type exercise on the other days. In other words, it’s weights one day, aerobic exercise the next, for six days each week. You take a hiatus from the program–and I mean this in a couple of ways, I’ll get to this in a minute–on the seventh day.
The days you exercise, it’s hard to go hungry. Because you’re supposed to eat SIX TIMES A DAY!
Of course, you can substitute energy bars and/or protein shakes for a few of the meals. The basic idea is to eat a small portion of lean protein and starchy carbohydrate at each meal, enough so the two items balance each other out (the same holds true for substituting a meal with an energy bar or shake; make sure you balance protein and carbs in roughly equal proportions). By “small portion,” I mean a portion about the size of your fist (darn it, I have small hands!). Additionally, you should have some non-starchy vegetables at two or more of your meals.
The seventh day is considered a “free” day. What this means is no exercise, plus you can eat ANYTHING YOU WANT! Want to eat two Big Macs? No problem. Pizza? No problem. Cheese danish (or, danishES)? No problem. Anything you want. But ONLY on this day. The next day, back to the exercise and diet routine. And it worked for me before.
The Body for Life plan suggests you do your workouts first thing in the morning (which is when I do them) for two reasons: since you haven’t eaten yet, it forces your body to rely on fat for energy. The other reason is that you’re done before the day (and its attendant problems and headaches) becomes too busy for you to go to the gym.
One important point about the workouts: they’re designed to take only a minimum of time (the weight training workouts can be done in less than 50 minutes, the aerobic workouts can be done in 20), yet produce results. The secret is intensity: the workout plan calls for you to give a maximum, all-out effort at the end of each exercise routine.
Like anything else in life, the plan does have its drawbacks. It is very structured, calling on you to plan workouts and meals in advance (I’ll admit I wing it on most of the meals but I do follow the principles of balancing carbs and lean proteins). The plan was designed as a 12-week program, so you have to keep repeating it if you want to stay on it long term. And then there’s that issue of a warm bed and the snooze button tempting you in the morning…
I’ll be posting updates on my progress on The Humorless Twit blog. I’ll also post “before” and “after” pictures there–but not until I have a few after pictures! If I’m going to show the world how fat I am now, then I also want them to see how well I will have (hopefully) done on this program.
DISCLAIMER: We came up for the idea for this column because we were going to start Body for Life and we were excited about it and wanted to share it with you. It wasn’t until AFTER we had started writing it that it occurred to us we could offer the book for sale, through Amazon.com (we happen to be an Amazon.com affiliate, in fact for some years now). Honest.
We’re not trying to push the book on anyone; it’s up to you to decide to buy it if you choose. Besides, you can get it directly at Amazon.com without going through our website, or at another retailer. Also, if you’re enterprising and motivated enough, you can glean all the basic information you need to start the Body for Life program at the program’s website, http://www.bodyforlife.com, free of charge.