At the end of last year, I estimated that my body fat was in the 15-18% range. As a former athlete with a habit of working out, I have always lifted weights, although with varying intensity. Last year, after returning from teaching in Hawaii, I weighed around 162 lbs. and decided to get back into athletic condition. First, by early fall, I bulked up to 179 lbs. to gain more muscle (along with some fat), then lost around 20 lbs. I lifted weights to maintain my muscle gains and went from around a 35 inch waist to 31 right now. Here are five things I found to work along the way.*
24 Hour Fast Once A Week
1) I fast for 24 hours once a week. The first week I did this, I felt a bit light-headed, but that was just my body detoxifying, being cleansed, and perhaps insulin levels adjusting. The 24 hour fast — or Eat Stop Eat– method is great. It’s like a spiritual experience, while knocking out a chunk of calories. It also has a host of other health benefits. My strength did not decrease at all. Also, I drink a lot of water, consuming just under a gallon per day; it aids in the fat burning process. There’s also the 5:2, which has you eating 500 or 600 calories two days a week. I like the full 24 hour water fast, but both can be very effective. Naturally, if you are diabetic, you shouldn’t do this, or if you have another health condition, talk with your health care provider first.
Daily Morning Walk
2) As my first activity of the day, I take a brisk walk, while listening to classic novels, meditation, spiritual practice, the French language, and music on my mp3 player…of course, not all at the same time. Although I started out doing two hours a day, I reduced it to one, but sometimes take another hour long walk in the evening.
Sensible Weight Lifting
3) I don’t overdo the weights, but rather lift four days a week. While bulking up, I made sure that I wasn’t doing more than 18 sets a workout. You have to give your body time to recover. You want to stimulate muscles to grow, not destroy them. Later, when I was in a caloric deficit (reducing calories to lose fat), I switched my volume to 10 sets. The goal of lifting when you are losing weight is to maintain your gains: you’re not building muscle, you are maintaining the muscle mass you already have.
HIIT and Refeed Days
4) I discovered that some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) helped me to lose more fat. I did the exercise bike– two minutes at 80 rpm and then thirty seconds of an all out sprint. You shouldn’t have to do more than twenty minutes of this. Also, if you are under 15% body fat, you might want to do some carb refeed days to raise your leptin levels to boost fat burning once your metabolism slows down. This is only if you are in a caloric deficit. While doing a refeed, keep your fats and sugars low. It’s not a cheat day, it’s a refeed– important to make that distinction!
I Love to Count– HAHAHAHAHA
5) I count my calories. You can start by counting and then once you get to know how many calories are in a certain type of food, you can estimate. For instance, if you are having a sandwich– two pieces of bread (200 cal), two eggs (140 cal), condiments and lettuce, and an apple (around 100 cal), — it’s about 500 cal. If you look up the calories, you will get good at remembering the numbers. You’ll be at lunch with your co-workers and think to yourself, “Man, he just ate 1250 calories and he’s still eating!” You aren’t going to lose fat if you’re eating more calories than you are burning. Also, don’t be afraid of healthy fat in your diet. You don’t want too much saturated fat, but healthy fats– (nuts, avocados)– are good for you- as long as you watch the calories. Keep your sugars low– excess sugar turns to fat!
The body is the temple of the soul. Take care of both…
La vie est belle, profitez de chaque moment
*Disclaimer: Talk to your doctor before starting any fitness routine. This blog is not intended as medical advice.