Getting in Shape

A few years ago, I posted my process to get to single digit body fat. My post was entitled My Top Five Suggestions for Getting to Single Digit Body Fat. Well, when I started working full-time as a remote software developer I bulked back up, adding an extra 15 pounds or so. Having the kitchen next to your office can do that.

So Thanksgiving and all the great food is over! I’m starting a new career path and am revisiting my old post with renewed enthusiasm. I will keep you informed on how the fat shedding goes. My goal is to reach around 10% body fat by spring.

My Top Five Suggestions for Getting to Single Digit Body Fat

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.

Road Safety for Walkers and Joggers

I have always walked a lot. Every morning, I walk for two hours before breakfast. Sometimes it’s light, and sometimes it is pitch BLACK with only a few street lights guiding my way to 10% body fat.

When I lived in France, my friend said, “This guy walks like a soldier. He walks everywhere.” Because I walked a lot and was sociable, another friend called me “The Mayor of Angers (ahn-zhay),” where I lived for two years. One benefit of walking is that you get to cross paths with people on the street and say hello. Anyway, as walking became a daily part of my life (like brushing my teeth or taking a shower– I get out of bed and I walk), I became increasingly conscious of road safety, especially in the areas where the sidewalk ends, and there is limited area between me and the road. I think I became an even more defensive walker– looking both ways etc.– having spent the first half of this year working in Hilo, Hawaii– land of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen in my life! You can read about that in my post “Life in Hilo- Drivers.” Still, being a defensive walker or jogger is not enough to fully protect yourself on the road in dark conditions.

So how can you best protect yourself as a walker or jogger? I have examined all the options. Out on the road, you see different types of gear: crossing guard vests, neon gloves, arm bands, wrist bands, shoelaces, jackets, flourescent hats, tee-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, flashing lights, and thermal bodywear. I have nothing against the crossing guard vests; they do the job. I just prefer not to look like a crossing guard when I’m walking. Flashing lights seem quite effective, but I don’t want to look like a walking street light either. I was about to get flourescent bicycle rain gear but it was pretty expensive for just being essentially a piece of plastic. I seriously considered arm bands which are carried by Big Five Sporting Goods, but suddenly I found the brightest flourescent sweatshirt online– for an outstandingly great deal at Sierra Trading Post, and it was one of my Christmas gifts. This sweatshirt is sooo bright, that I feel like I’m about to light up half of Oregon! The electrical company should think about sending me a check! The cool thing is that I can wear a jacket and the hood itself will do the trick. Here is a picture of me trying on my new sweatshirt.

Road Safety Sweatshirt Christmas 2014

As motorists, we know what it’s like to suddenly see a pedestrian appear at night with dark clothes on. It’s like seeing a shadow. So as a walker or jogger, protect yourself and be visible– whether it’s the crossing guard vest, the flashing lights, arm bands, or a bright, flourescent sweatshirt like mine! Be safe!

La vie est belle, profitez de chaque moment

My New Year’s Resolutions

Most of us have New Year’s resolutions. Here are mine!!!

♦ Make a career change into IT in the Pacific Northwest. With the academic jobs spread out all over the map– I’m not wanting to go just anywhere to teach classes. Oregon suits me just fine. I love living in Oregon and traveling from this my home base. Who wouldn’t love Oregon? — trees, mountains, rivers, lakes, ocean, desert, cities, small towns, pretty girls, and a lot of nice people!

♦ Make extended visits to France and Quebec.

♦ Get reinvolved in Oregon politics.

♦  Continue to hit the weights hard, and in the words of the HodgeTwins, “make all kinds of gains. All kindzzz.”

♦ Reduce my body fat to around 10%. I walk every morning for about two hours before breakfast. It’s a slow cut. I’m at about 15% body fat right now. So I plan on being ripped around May, right in time for the summer.

♦ Do some independent journalism and send out some articles.

♦ Add all kindzzz of great content to this blog…all kindzzz.

♦ Start my next book. My first book, here’s a plug for it– Smokescreen, is available where books are sold (Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Tower, FNAC -France etc) or you can check it out from a library near you.

La vie est belle, profitez de chaque moment