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.

You are Responsible for What You Eat

I was thinking about the post I wrote the other day in response to the role of good food in a relationship. In my answer, I wrote, “They say that married men are healthier than bachelors, which is probably due in large part to their eating home-cooked meals instead of restaurant food, fast food, or processed microwavable dinners.”

I reflected on some of the married couples I see when walking around town, a lot of men with huge beer bellies who can be easily categorized as obese. Some of the women they are with are in relatively decent shape. So what does this mean? Ideally, it is great if two people in a relationship are on the same page when it comes to healthy eating and exercise and, therefore, support each other in maintaining that lifestyle. But in the end, it is nobody else’s responsibility to ensure you eat healthily and exercise; the responsibility rests squarely on your own shoulders. Having negative influences around you is not an excuse. If your girlfriend happens to consume pies and Twinkies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it is your responsibility to spread out the tuna salad, fresh fruit, and water. If your boyfriend is a slob and eats buckets of KFC and donuts every day; it is your responsibility to eat a salad and a healthy sandwich. Yes, studies conclude that married men live longer, but that doesn’t mean that just because someone ties the knot they will reflect that statistic. It is up to each person to make wise choices, especially if one’s significant other does not.

99% of hazelnuts in the US are grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

photo source:

Oregon Hazelnut Facts from

Celebrate Oregon Hazelnuts

The Hazelnut, also known as the Filbert, is the official Oregon state nut. Folks often ask: is it a Filbert or a Hazelnut? There’s truly no wrong answer. “Filbert” is the correct name for both the tree and the nut. The name is of French origin, and early French settlers likely introduced filbert trees into Oregon. “Hazelnut” is the name coined by the English and applied to the native species by early settlers. In 1981, the Oregon Filbert Commission decided to conform to the common standard and began emphasizing “hazelnut.”

Did you know?

1. 99% of hazelnuts in the U.S. are grown in the Willamette Valley, which has a perfect combination of soils and climate found in few other places on the planet.

2. The first hazelnut orchard was planted in the Willamette valley 108 years ago and is still there.

3. Hazelnuts are a healthy option for you and your kids. Hazelnuts are rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, iron, calcium and vitamin E. They are very low in sodium and sugar. Plus, Hazelnuts, like other tree nuts, contain no cholesterol. Over 80% of the total fat in hazelnuts is mono-unsaturated.

4. The hazelnut became Oregon’s official State Nut in 1989.

5. About 675 farm families grow hazelnuts on 40,000 acres in Oregon.

source: Celebrate Oregon Hazelnuts

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.