Month 20: Achievement unlocked

Week 1 vs. Week 87 - front

Week 1 vs. Week 87 – front
[Click image for a larger version.]

Measurement Sept. 1, 2012 May 2, 2014 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 121.6 -0.2
Body fat percentage 23.5 15.7 -7.8 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 19.1 -9.5
Lean weight 93.2 102.5 +9.3
Total inches 113.6 114.8 +1.2

Exercise Start* April 30, 2014 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 62/13 x 60 lbs. +200.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 4.0 x 25 lbs. +900.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 8/7 x 45 lbs. +200.0 percent
Isolateral dumbbell
incline bench press
2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 0.3/0.3 x 40 lbs. +33.3 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 4.3 x 165 lbs. +200.0 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 0.3 x 55 lbs. +120.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

I needed just one number to mark my progress. But that one number proved to be more elusive than usual.

What was my body fat percentage after 20 months of Project Bulk?

Lakeshore Foundation no longer offers Bod Pod assessments, only DEXA scans ($150). Even if they were free, I wouldn’t change measuring tools midway.

Both remaining Bod Pod machines in Birmingham — at Samford and St. Vincent One Nineteen — were broken, with no repair dates in sight. This was getting ridiculous.

I tracked down three more scanners in Alabama: at Auburn University, Alabama State University in Montgomery and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Fortunately, I was headed to Auburn earlier this week on business.

The one at Auburn? For students only. The one in Montgomery (a short detour on the way to Auburn)? The technician retired, and no replacement had been trained or hired. Really?

Early this morning, I drove to Tuscaloosa to last remaining Bod Pod in state available to the public. I desperately wanted to know my number.

It was worth it.

After an unhealthy score of 26.8 percent body fat in September, I’m down to an incredible 15.7 percent.

body fat percentage May 2014

Chart: Body fat percentage – September 2012 to May 2014

That score is in the excellent range for my gender and age group.

Body fat percentage chart

Chart: Body fat percentage ranges for men and women

Over 20 months, I’ve gone up and back down in weight. Today, I’m the same weight as I started, 121.6 lbs.

But I’ve lost 9.5 lbs. of fat and gained 9.3 lbs. of muscle. I’m stronger than ever, and I’m on a diet that’s easy for me to follow and maintain (though I might be a little less strict in the future).

I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I’m no muscled stud, but I am much healthier in strength training and nutrition. I can easily keep this pace, though I do need to shoot for more (empty) calories in maintenance mode.

If someday I choose to bulk up by working out more, I know I can do it. I’ve done some of the hard work already, simply by getting started.

I’ve completed Project Bulk, which means quietly updating my spreadsheets but no more selfies and no more regular posts.

I do hope you’ll check out “The 4-Hour Body”” [Amazon | iTunes aff. links] by Tim Ferriss, the book that showed me the way and gave me ideas, inspiration and options for keeping this fun and manageable.

Good luck on your own self-improvement projects!

I’m going to go celebrate with a bowl of beans.

Week 53 vs. Week 87 - front

Week 53 vs. Week 87 - side

[Click images for larger versions]

April’s average workout time was 25 minutes and 56 seconds.

I averaged 2,200 calories a day in April. I also had 132 g protein a day on average.

The project has cost me $807.30 so far. I spent $41.78 less on food in April compared to previous monthly averages.

You can see all the numbers updated in real time on the Measurements page.

Week 1 vs. Week 87 - side

Week 1 vs. Week 87 – side
[Click image for a larger version.]