Archive for November, 2014





It won’t be long before 2015 is upon us when people tend to make all sorts of resolutions for the New Year. Two popular resolutions are to lose weight and get into shape. Six weeks after the midnight clock turns twelve, most New Year’s resolutions are usually forgotten, or people simply give up making the effort.


Part I of this blog series will include: (1) an honest discussion of why a joint simultaneous program of diet and exercise is needed in order to really succeed at losing weight and get into shape, (2) discussion of the aging process and health, (3) self-evaluation and preparation, and (4) dieting basics.


Part II of this blog series will include: (1) cardio and warm-up exercises, (2) weight-training, (3) flexibility, stretching, and core exercises, (4) cool-down exercises, and (5) supplementation. This will be followed by a summary of the entire program.



     As always please see your primary care physician before undertaking such a program. For your health there may be certain foods or exercises that your doctor may find inappropriate for your particular set of medical circumstances or conditions. Once you get the “green light” from your physician, by all means you are welcome to start a program like mine.



Honest Discussion


Most people fail because of a lack of motivation, or because they do not develop a feasible and workable plan. The purpose of this Blog is to help my cyberspace audience develop a feasible and workable plan. This will include combining an effective diet plan along with a very effective cardio, warm-up, weight-training and cool down program.


Combining diet and exercise together is the only sensible approach to achieving the above goals to lose weight and get into shape. It’s important not to take short cuts or sidestep difficult moments in any endeavor in life, especially where your health is concerned.


A Word about Motivation


     People who become knowledgeable and learn about what’s going on in their environment usually develop the proper motivation and the proper skills to succeed in diet and exercise. Knowledge they say “is power.” I say usually, but not always. Knowledge alone is not enough. That is, our defense mechanisms also come into play as well.


One huge defense mechanism that often works against taking action of any kind—is denial. Denial occurs most often by creating obstacles that will forgo having to do something. What underlies the creation of such obstacles is rationalization (reasons, however plausible they might appear). In simplest language, people often try to avoid doing difficult things because difficulty implies effort and sometimes sacrifice, and even pain.


Can any blog, book, or expert make you do something you really don’t want to do? Probably not! All experts, personal trainers, doctors, and nutritionists can really do is point you in the right direction. You have to be motivated enough to make the required changes to your life.

To follow my plan will require effort and perseverance. Hopefully I can get you on the right path. But first everyone will need to conduct their own personal assessment. I’ll help you with this after the following section.


Everyone can talk about their own personal health in the abstract, but it’s really specificity that lures one to take personal action. When I was looking for motivational help, I didn’t have to look very far. I started by looking at myself in the mirror. I wasn’t a train wreck but certainly was kind of an accident waiting to happen.


Back in November 2013 I joined a gym. I had dieted on and off for many years but this was the turning point for me—combining dieting and exercise to achieve my personal goals; to lose weight, build lean body mass (muscle), and to increase my strength and vitality.


But like all good goal-setting, it needed to be combined with an underlying purpose. That underlying purpose (for me) was to no longer be a Category 1 obese person (in my case 32.5% BMI). I’m 6 feet, three inches tall so, for many years, I was able to hide this obese category 1 from my friends. My underlying purpose was a good reason for shedding the pounds and getting into shape. Old myths about aging die hard. I assumed because I was 70 years old I was “too” old to do bodybuilding. Man, was I wrong! There are men over the age of 90 (and a few over 100) who compete in bodybuilding contests in the United States and throughout the world.


After one year on my program, I am now at 14-16% BMI and have lost 16 lbs. (which is the result of both gaining lean muscle mass and losing non-essential body fat at the same time). The more muscle you build the easier it is to lose non-essential body fat. I started with a 47 inch waist and now it is 42 inches measured across the belly button; don’t measure your waist at the belt line. That type of measurement is two inches below the belly button. If one has got quite a bulge, perhaps one inch above the belly button might be a better way to measure the waist for that individual.


The protective fat that surrounds your bodily organs is known as essential fat—you don’t want to lose that fat. My ultimate goal is to be below 10% body fat. As a former social researcher I’m very data-driven in the way I perceive the world and how I come to make decisions in my life. What has influenced me the most is knowledge that being obese increases your chances of getting heart disease, certain types of cancer, stroke, and type 2 Diabetes?


Here are some important statistics (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) regarding the obesity epidemic in this country:



  • More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. [Read abstract Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) ]
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.


Obesity affects some groups more than others

[Read abstract Journal of American Medicine (JAMA)]

  • Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (47.8%) followed by Hispanics (42.5%), non-Hispanic whites (32.6%), and non-Hispanic Asians (10.8%)
  • Obesity is higher among middle age adults, 40-59 years old (39.5%) than among younger adults, age 20-39 (30.3%) or adults over 60 or above (35.4%) adults.


Obesity and socioeconomic status

[Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief DF-1.07Mb]

  • Among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men, those with higher incomes are more likely to have obesity than those with low income.
  • Higher income women are less likely to have obesity than low-income women.
  • There is no significant relationship between obesity and education among men. Among women, however, there is a trend—those with college degrees are less likely to have obesity compared with less educated women.

The Medical and Social Significance of Obesity

     It is important to know that “whether you are seven or 70 lbs. overweight, those extra pounds of fat can spell trouble for your health and your sex life. First, maintaining a healthy weight now will reduce cognitive decline later on.

A study in the March 2009 issue of Archives of Neurology investigated whether total and/or regional body fat levels influence cognitive decline. Researchers found that in men, worsening cognitive function correlated with the highest levels of all adiposity measures. The fatter you are, the more likely you will experience cognitive decline later in life.”[i]

Another topic related to all this is known as Metabolic Syndrome. According to Dr. Jeffry S. Life, “what’s more, your weight affects every aspect of how your body functions. Obesity is such an enormous epidemic that we’ve created a new name for an old problem: Metabolic Syndrome, also known as Syndrome X. As many as 75 million Americans are now believed to be affected. Simply put, Metabolic Syndrome occurs when excess weight affects your health, particularly your heart, as well as your body’s ability to process sugar, leading to diabetes.

The four components of Metabolic Syndrome are obesity (especially abdominal obesity), diabetes or insulin resistance, elevated triglyceride levels (one of the fats in the blood), high blood pressure, and increased silent inflammation. There can also be other abnormalities as part of this syndrome, including elevated total cholesterol levels, elevated LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels, low levels of HDL (the good cholesterol), and elevated levels of fibrinogen ( a protein that promotes dangerous blood clot formation). Each of these components can also be linked to sexual dysfunction.”[ii]

The Good News

“Now for the good news—Metabolic Syndrome is completely and totally preventable and reversible. Weight loss, exercise, and correcting hormone deficiencies are the keys to preventing this disease. And, if you already have the syndrome, exercise will also correct the abnormalities that characterize the disease by improving receptor sensitivity. The key is to lose body fat—especially abdominal fat.”[iii]

The Aging Process and Health

     According to Dr. Jeffry S. Life (M.D. and Ph.D.), “We are all going to age, but we don’t have to get old. Getting old means the deterioration of health, declining energy levels, loss of sexual function, and loss of your zest for life. I don’t want any part of that, and I’ll bet you don’t either.”[iv]

   Because of the new knowledge that has been generated by research in the last 100+ years, there is now a changing paradigm shift (affecting both the medical community and the individual) in how our medical community thinks about health issues and disease. The traditional way of medicine was to define health as the absence of symptoms or disease. Doctors prescribed medicine and the patient simply played a passive role in his or her own health.

Today that notion of defining health as simply the absence of disease has given way to a new idea that the patient is primarily responsible for his or her own health. Within that idea of responsibility for one’s own health is the concept of prevention. And prevention requires a very pro-active approach to prevention of disease and long term deterioration (Use it or lose it!).

The paradigm shift I’m talking about within medicine itself is a shift that includes not only better technology in the treatment of disease, but now recognizes the vast importance of prevention and lifestyle changes. When I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s I was told the doctor was responsible for my health. That is no longer realistic in today’s world of health and disease.

Today, all of us need to take responsibility for our own health. What does this mean? Taking responsibility for one’s own health means becoming more knowledgeable, taking an active (not passive) role in one’s own health care decisions, and maintaining a normal weight, and exercising. Going to the doctor when you are sick just isn’t enough; you need to take positive, proactive steps to keep yourself healthy.

Lifestyle changes are the key.

At any age it is imperative that you take inventory of your choices: how/what you eat, how much or how little you exercise, drugs and alcohol, stress, and interpersonal relations. If you haven’t thought about these things, you’re probably in good company.

But, now the time has arrived for you to go into second gear where your health is concerned. What follows from this point is a workable plan you can use to help you lose weight and get into shape in the New Year. As said earlier, Part I will cover initial preparation and self- evaluation followed by dieting basics. Part II will cover cardio, warm-up exercises, weight training, flexibility, stretching, and core exercises, cool-down exercises and supplementation.

Initial Preparation and Self Evaluation

     Besides checking with your doctor as to the advisability of starting a new diet and exercise program, you’ll need to do some preparation and a self-evaluation. You can start by taking some initial measurements such as your waist in inches, weight in pounds and your height in inches.

     Use a tape measure and measure your waist circumference. Make sure the taped circumference is measured about I inch above the belly button. Why? It is because that measurement is simply more accurate than where one wears a belt, which is usually two inches below the belly button. Many experts think a person’s circumference should be 40 inches or less.

     However, because 40 inches is a rather arbitrary standard, it won’t apply to all people i.e., some people are short, tall, male, female, skinny, fat, young or old. What is needed is a “Waist to Height Ratio.”

     Although many people use the Body Mass Index (BMI), that measurement doesn’t account for the fact that people with very large muscles (muscles also weigh more than fat) are often miscalculated with BMI to be more (because of body weight) fat than people with less lean body mass but lots of visceral fat.

     The waist to height ratio (expressed as a decimal) is a simple measurement for assessment of lifestyle risk and being overweight. Compared to just measuring waist circumference, waist to height ratio is equally fair for short and tall persons. This calculation is also valid for children and adults. For example, a man with a 42 inch waist and 75 inches tall would have a ratio of .56 (Overweight).


  • Ratio less than .35: Abnormally Slim to Underweight
  • Ratio .35 to .43: Extremely slim
  • Ratio .43 to .46: Slender and Healthy
  • Ratio .46 to .53: Healthy, Normal, Attractive Weight
  • Ratio .54 to .58: Overweight
  • Ratio .59 to .63: Extremely Overweight/Obese
  • Ratio over .63: Highly Obese


  • Ratio less than .35: Abnormally Slim to Underweight
  • Ratio .35 – .42: Extremely Slim
  • Ratio .43 to .46: Slender and Healthy
  • Ratio .47 to .49: Healthy and Attractive
  • Ratio .50 to .54: Overweight
  • Ratio .55 to .58: Seriously Overweight
  • Ratio over .58: Highly Obese


Waist to height ratio ‘more accurate than BMI’

Your waist should be no more than half the length of your height, according to experts who claim that having too large a trouser size can dramatically shorten your lifespan.

According to an article written (May 14, 2013) by Nick Collins, Science Correspondent for The Telegraph, United Kingdom:

“Measuring the ratio of someone’s waist to their height is a better way of predicting their life expectancy than body mass index (BMI), the method widely used by doctors when judging overall health and risk of disease, researchers said. BMI is calculated as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters, but a study found that the simpler measurement of waistline against height produced a more accurate prediction of lifespan. People with the highest waist-to-height ratio, whose waistlines measured 80 per cent of their height, lived 17 years fewer than average. Keeping your waist circumference to less than half of your height can help prevent the onset of conditions like stroke, heart disease and diabetes and add years to life, researchers said. For a 6ft man, this would mean having a waistline smaller than 36in, while a 5ft 4in woman should have a waist size no larger than 32in.”[v]

 Summary of Preparations

It is essential to follow a healthy diet and to exercise. I recommend to write and record what you eat in a daily food diary (plenty of apps on the computer these days (e.g., Lose It! MyFittnessPal, etc.) Regardless of where you fall on the Waist to Height ratio, a healthy diet and regular exercise is still very important to your personal health and your long-term longevity.

   A healthy diet and exercise program can help the skinny man or woman as well as those who are obese. Aging affects everyone, not just the obese.

Dieting Basics

The most important thing about dieting is to keep it simple. Please remember—calories do count. The first thing you need to know is how many calories you normally consume in a single day. If it exceeds your metabolic rate you are going to gain weight; conversely, if it falls below your metabolic rate you are going to lose weight. It’s that simple!

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of keeping a food journal. I know it’s tedious but it also is absolutely essential. You’d be surprised how much guessing we all make about how many calories we are consuming. Our errors tend always to be underestimates.

Getting started

Record every calorie you consume for one week. Then divide by seven to derive your average daily intake. This gives you an approximate idea (your actual biological metabolic rate may vary from this average but, for dieting purposes, is close enough) of how many calories you need on a daily basis to maintain your present weight. “Since your goal is to lose weight, you need to decrease this number by 20 percent. Multiply your current daily average by 20 percent, and then subtract this result from your present daily average to get your new daily calorie limit.”[vi]

In everyone’s diet one always needs three basic macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and protein) every day (Fat—15%, Carbohydrates—50%, Protein—35%). But how do we derive the right amount of calories for each macronutrient each day? Also, one needs to individualize the calculations.

For example, if your new daily calorie limit is 1800 calories a day, your daily calories for each macronutrient group would be:

Fat (15%)-270 calories

Then, divide this number by nine to convert fat calories into grams of fat. That would be 270/9 or 30 grams of fat per day. For carbohydrates and protein one would divide by four.

Then you need to calculate the number of calories of protein you will need to maximize your muscle-building efforts. Simply take in 1 gram per pound of your body weight and multiply this number by four (4 calories per gram of protein), and this will give you the number of protein calories you should need each day. If your body weight is 150 lbs. you’ll need 150 grams of protein per day. So the number of protein calories you need each day is 600.

Add your protein calories (600) to your fat calories (270) and subtract that number from your new daily calorie limit. In this case, the calculation is 1800 – 870 (270+600) or 930 carbohydrate calories per day. To summarize, based on an 1800 calorie per day diet, the number of calories from fat should be 270, protein 600, and 930 from carbohydrates. For this 150 lb. individual the percentage of daily macronutrients equals:




These percentages and the macronutrient calculations will all vary by an individual’s own body weight. Two people, with different body weights, on a diet of 1800 calories a day, will each have different percentages of fat, carbohydrate, or protein needed every day.

Now, I have suggestions on how to eat and what to eat as your diet program. I’ll explain the how first then the what.

How to Eat

It is best to eat 5-6 small meals a day. This approach will help stave off that empty feeling many people experience from a diet with just 3 meals a day. Three of my meals are small snacks of no more than 200 calories each in late morning, late afternoon, and late evening. The other three meals are, of course, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What to Eat (and drink)

When it comes to deciding what to eat, people have very different ideas. What you really need is, first and foremost, a healthy diet. You should stay away, as much as possible, from white breads, white rice, French fries, ice cream, all kinds of sweets, lots of red meat, and all fried foods. Limit your intake of starches, fats, and sugar, and drinking too much alcohol. If something is sold in a can, please be sure to read the label.

I highly recommend each person obtain a master listing of all foods on the glycemic index. What is the glycemic index?  

     The glycemic index measures how fast and how much a food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with higher index values raise blood sugar more rapidly than foods with lower glycemic index values do.


The body breaks down most carbohydrates from the foods we eat and converts them to a type of sugar called glucose. Glucose is the main source of fuel for our cells. After eating, the time it takes for the body to convert carbohydrates and release glucose into the bloodstream varies, depending on the type of carbohydrate and the food that contains it. Some carbohydrate-containing foods cause the blood glucose level to rise rapidly; others have a more gradual effect.     Emphasize using the index to choose fruits and vegetables, beans, grains, lentils, and leaner, better sources of protein.

For almost four years I’ve been a vegan. However, since starting an intense program of exercise in November 2013, I modified my diet to include good sources of protein such as salmon, eggs, tuna, and soy milk. I needed to increase goods sources of Omega3s as well. But the primary reason for wanting more protein is so that I could build more muscle mass in my body. The more muscle mass the more quickly fat can be burned off.

     It is best to use lower glycemic foods in your diet. Once you know what your fat-reducing limit is on the number of calories you should take in daily (2200, 2000, 1800, 1600, etc.). I suggest you prepare your own diet plan based on your own medical situation. I think you should emphasize giving yourself some protein at breakfast, as it will help you feel better throughout the day. Above all, check with your doctor and nutritionist before you launch into dieting. Both the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association (check out their websites) can also be very helpful in developing diet plans, recipes, etc.

Hydration is important for all of us, but especially when one undertakes a vigorous training program and is dieting as well. “Water is your most important nutrient. You can only live three days without it, and it is involved in every metabolic reaction in your body.Yet most of us don’t drink enough liquids during the day. When we are properly hydrated, we feel better, our heart and blood vessels work much better, along with all of our other bodily functions—we think better, our strength and endurance are better, we are healthier, and we live longer.[vii]

     “If you drink 5 glasses of water per day, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that you reduce the chances of a fatal heart attack by 50 percent.[viii]” Extra water means your metabolism will increase and you will burn more fat. Over the course of a year, if you can increase your water consumption to 1.5 liters a day, you will burn an extra 17, 400 calories, for a weight loss of approximately five pounds. [ix]”    

In Part II of this Blog I will describe a sound exercise program you can do to meet and exceed your “getting into shape goals” for the New Year. Don’t wait; start your planning now.


[i] Jeffry S. Life, The Life Plan, (Atria Books, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, May 2011 hardcover edition) p.32

[ii] Ibid, p. 32-33.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid. ,p.15

[v] Nick Collins, Science Correspondent (UK, The Telegraph), May 14, 2013

[vi] Jeffry S. Life, p. 40

[vii] Ibid., p.64

[viii] Ibid., p.65

[ix] Ibid.

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