Tag Archives: body fat

Month 28: The end of numbers

Wade - apple pie pizza

I had a checkup of sorts Tuesday. I went for a Bod Pod assessment, my first since May 2 and starting a maintenance diet.

In the 2-plus years I’ve been on Project Bulk, it’s been trickier and trickier to get the test. Lakeshore Foundation (which now does the pricier and more robust DEXA scans), Samford University and St. Vincent’s One Nineteen no longer offer Bod Pod. The University of Alabama still does at a very reasonable $20, but that’s a 2-hour round trip to Tuscaloosa.

Fortunately, PhysIQ Lifestyle Medicine in Homewood has one for $40. Contact them to get an appointment on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

May marked a successful conclusion to Project Bulk, with a 15.7 percent body fat reading, very healthy for my age and gender.

Today, after 8 months of a slightly looser maintenance diet, I’m at 16.8 percent body fat.

That is very good news. I strongly encourage you to get a Bod Pod or DEXA scan to determine your body fat percentage. I learned from watching the documentary “Fed Up” how even people without weight issues can have serious problems with high body fat.

I’m going to take a big step (for me) in 2015, starting in 24 hours on New Year’s Day.

No more food diary. No more measuring ounces and counting calories.

I will continue my exact same boring workout routine and record my results. I will continue to eat the same slow carb diet 6 days a week and indulge in a cheat day once a week, with a little cheating during the week.

The only change is I won’t have to weigh every meal and calculate the calories and protein. After more than a year, I know how to shop and cook and eat within the plan. It’s super easy.

Besides, my calorie and protein calculations were often estimates. I was winging it all along.

I’m comfortable with the road ahead. Maybe in a year or two I’ll check my body fat percentage again. But I’m going to return to eating like most normal people do, without the fuss of a scale and a calculator.

I call it a big step only because the numbers, even not perfectly accurate, have been reliable and comfortable. If I need to gain or lose pounds, or gain or lose muscle or fat, I could work on the intake numbers. This has been my life since September 2012.

But I have to remember a couple of things. First, I’ve lived most of my life without this obsessive pre-meal measurement. Second, I can always restart the record keeping. I’m not throwing my kitchen scale in the trash.

Step by step, I have dialed back the major time-consuming efforts: daily photos, weekly weigh-ins, protein shakes, daily/weekly/monthly posts. And I haven’t fallen down. I haven’t screwed up.

I’ve become stronger, more confident and comfortable in this lifestyle. It’s now routine.

I hope you’ll try some of the crazy things I did from “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon | iTunes aff. links]. They worked for me most of the time, and I’m happy to help you with advice and answers and encouragement. Just ask.

I hope you’ll simply try. I did, and my life is better in ways I never imagined.

Day 344: Cheat day

Day 344 - front

Day 344 – front

  • Weight: 140.8 lbs.
  • Workout C: 25 minutes, 28 seconds; next: Workout C, Aug. 12
  • Total inches: 125.3
  • Protein: 133g (0g over target)
  • Calories: 2,560

Looking ahead to post-Project Bulk, I’m intrigued by the concept of “cheat day.”

I need to read up on this in “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon | iTunes aff. links].

My days have been spent keeping on the straight and narrow of rigorous calorie counts and protein intake. Without it, I would’ve failed at gaining any weight.

But it can be tiring to monitor every bite, every meal nonstop.

In some of the weight loss chapters, I know author Tim Ferriss talks about cheat days, where once a week anything goes. I believe it’s to add some variety and fun to the diet, but for me, it could be a break from number crunching.

I have some reading to do on cheat days, as well as finding shortcuts to reducing fat. As I’ve mentioned before, while I’m satisfied with my muscular gain, I want to have a healthier body fat percentage. At last check in April, it was at a very unhealthy 26.7 percent.

While I’ve enjoyed the challenge of going a year straight in tracking my food consumption, I wouldn’t mind having Saturdays off in the near future.

Day 343 - side

Day 343 – side

Day 238: Lean out

Day 238 - front

  • Weight: 139.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 30 minutes, 3 seconds; next: Workout C, April 29
  • Total inches: 125.0
  • Protein: 131 g (0 g over target)
  • Calories: 1,940

I have slid backwards in body fat.

My fat went from 25.5 percent at the start of the year to 26.7 percent.

Date Aug. 30 Oct. 1 Nov. 1 Jan. 2 April 19
Body fat % 23.5 24.5 26.8 25.5 26.7

body fat percent

The challenge before me is to figure out where I need to tweak: exercise or diet. For my age and gender, 18.1 percent to 19.6 percent is considered good, while 13.6 percent to 16.3 percent is excellent. I am back in the poor to very poor range.

I already made a big adjustment last week in recalculating my protein intake based on my protein shake epiphany. For now, I stay on this new course, hoping that the next BodPod assessment — maybe in July — yields happier numbers.

Day 238 - side

Day 30: It’s what’s inside that counts

Day 30

  • Weight: 127.4 lbs.
  • No workout today
  • Total inches: 119.9
  • Protein: 150 g (28 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,451

One month down, maybe a month to go.

I know all the external measurements. But the one that comes tomorrow will be critical: body fat percentage.

I started with 23.5 percent on Day 0. I’ve gained 5.6 pounds. Time to find out what’s muscle and what’s fat.

I’m lucky to have Ginny coming along tomorrow morning for moral support. She examined the photos of Days 1 and 30 …

Day 1 vs. Day 30

Comparing Days 1 and 30
[Click image for larger version.] 

She wrote:

“This is amazing! I’m shocked.

“Your face is fuller, your collarbone is softer, your chest is filled out. Look at how much straighter the line of your sides are — no love handles and broader chest.”

I am trusting her judgment, not only because it’s very flattering, but also because I spent 10 minutes in Photoshop examining the pics up close, in transparent layers, any way I could try to detect the hint of change.

This will be a scientific assessment to see if my body fat has increased (unhealthy), decreased (healthy) or stayed the same (which I can live with).

BodPod, here I come again.

Day 18: The skinny

Day 18

  • Weight: 124.6 lbs.
  • No workout today
  • Total inches: 117.1
  • Protein: 139 g (21 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,625

Mike has known me a long time and has been guardedly supportive of this crazy scheme.

“You could stand to add a few pounds,” he says.

I have to remind him that my body fat percentage is already too high. I’m glad I checked, because before Aug. 30, I had no idea.

This is one of the minor annoyances of being skinny: People tell you how you should actually be; they tease thinking it is harmless. (I can only imagine the real pain that overweight people endure day in and day out.)

For me, this is about only one goal: gaining muscle. I’ve never made a concerted effort before, so I’d like to see if this approach works. It might take more than 30 days. It might take 60 days, or 365 days, or 5 years. Who knows?

He had, at one point, even suggested anabolic steroids. To me, that is no more of a solution to me than liposuction or implants or any other artificial shortcut. I simply won’t do it. I want to be healthier, not just more muscular. Muscles will improve my body fat percentage. Working out will improve my strength and stamina.

It is weird to try to explain that my experiment involves only two actions: eating and working out (three, if you count tracking numbers). It is even weirder in a state such as Alabama, one of the fattest states in America. Just today, a new report said that 62.6 percent of adults here would be obese by 2030, double that of 2011.

That breaks my heart. As a champion of local food, real food and balance in life, I want to see me and others live longer, healthier lives.

So gaining 10 pounds of fat within 30 days would be far from triumph for me. How is that so difficult to grasp?