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Posts Tagged ‘New Years Resolutions’

 

Welcome to Part II on “Losing Weight and Getting Into Shape in the New Year.” During Part II, I will cover the exercise component of my program. It will include preliminary information on exercise and losing weight, a sensible cardio program, warm-up exercises, weight training, cool down exercises, and a section on supplementation.

As a reminder I’d highly recommend you obtain your primary care physician’s green light before engaging in an intense program of exercise. First, there are a few preliminary things you need to know about exercise and losing weight.

As we all know life is precious. And, living a long life is highly desirable for all of us. With that thought in mind, it is very important that you realize that research may have found “the fountain of youth” after all!

“The One Thing you can do today to live Longer”[1]

Exercise.

“Yes, there’s that word again. But as you read, more and more research has emerged showing that exercise lengthens life. Consider just one piece of research: a 2012 study in the journal PLOS Medicine showed that 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week (that’s half an hour of brisk walking a day for 5 days) increased life expectancy by 3.5 years. Those in the study upped their exercise intensity increased life expectancy by 4.2 years. Understand that this wasn’t a small group of college students measured over a few weeks. This review looked at data of more than 600,000 people. That’s one thing you can do to extend your life.

Exercise.”

 

First Things First—Those First Few Weeks of Exercise

Many people have different goals when they start to exercise, such as lose weight, look better, or maintain or improve one’s health. Here are some hints to understanding why you should not become disappointed at first when you’ve worked so hard yet that scale of yours doesn’t seem to cooperate. You’ll come to understand the term hydration and its importance. I found an article on the Spark People website (in the section Ask the Experts). This question was asked of the experts: I just started exercising to lose weight, but I’ve gained weight. Why did this happen?

According to Dean Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer, “When you start doing more exercise, your body begins storing more fuel in your muscle cells, where it can be used easily and quickly to fuel your workouts. The process of converting glucose (carbohydrates) into fuel that your muscles actually store and use (glycogen) requires three molecules of water for every molecule of glucose. As your muscles are building up glycogen stores, your body has to retain extra water for this purpose. That’s what causes most of the initial weight gain or lack of weight loss. This is a good thing—not something to worry about.

However, despite what the scale says, you are actually losing fat during this time. The extra water retention will stop once your body has adjusted to the new activity level. At that point, the scale should start moving down. You’ll end up with less fat, and muscles that can handle a larger amount.”

Realistic Expectations about Building Muscle Mass

The following is an article (posted April 7, 2014) online by Wannabebig.com. This article talks about setting realistic goals in your bodybuilding efforts. The essence of the article is that it takes time to build muscle, so please be patient. It may have taken some time to look like you do now, so it will take some time to alter how you look now.

“We all want more muscle, but packing on the weight isn’t as easy as just showing up. Find out how much muscle you can gain!”[2]

by Wannabebig.com Last updated: Apr 07, 2014

“One frequently asked question which always seems to plague gym instructors, Internet message boards, various magazines and books has to do with muscle gain. Many of us have heard or have overheard the local gym guru or the community fitness expert boasting about how much he/she has gained, or how one of their clients has gained 10 pounds in a month.

When someone hears this, a light goes on inside their head and it kicks off a series of thoughts that quickly translate into a set of unrealistic goals. I will say this: that from whichever mouth it comes, whether a highly regarded coach, trainer or a bodybuilder, the fact of the matter is that it’s physiologically impossible to achieve this muscle status! Later on, I’ll explain why.”[3]

 

mAKING Physical changes takes time

“Often, people making this claim have a faulty perception of how the body either works or are just super-optimistic. Of course, it’s not only the gym (freaks) that espouses this myth; it can be traced to numerous ads in a variety of muscle magazines lining the bookstore shelves. The bodybuilding industry, nowadays, thrives on people who are hungry for a quick change.

They are ready to buy into the notion that a change can be accomplished because a certain ad lays claims by way of an incredible cut and paste transformation. Frequently, it’s a beginner who testifies to the astounding feat of gaining 30 pounds over a period of several months.

This is, no doubt, a great achievement but most have been fooled into believing that a large percentage is muscle when most of it is due to an increase in glycogen stores, body fat and water.

It’s not my intention to dash your hopes or crush your dreams. I’d merely like you to know that the body simply cannot adapt at the speed claimed by many.”[4]

For example, Chris Thibaudeau of Iron Magazine Online states: “making physical changes takes time.”[5] This couldn’t be closer to the truth.

“So be forewarned that in your quest to change or morph yourself into the next Ronnie Coleman; the transformation is going to take more than a few months. Our bodies are equipped with systems that need to adapt together over a period. This is what you should bear in mind while working toward the goal of a more muscular physique.”[6]

So How Much Muscle Can You Gain?

“Sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to gaining muscle. Nine times out of ten, most of us fail in the dedication department. What starts out as a carefully planned and calculated program, ends up hitting some bumps along the way.

However, even if we are dedicated (some may call it obsessed) and diligent about our nutrition with proper training and recuperation practices, we still would not be able to add more than one pound of muscle in a week. That’s right, only one pound per week–and this is assuming you’ve had a darn good week both inside and outside the gym! [7]

Hypertrophy

“Hypertrophy is enlargement or overgrowth of a muscle due to the increased size of the constituent cells. Increased training will result in an increase in the size of cells, while the number of cells stays the same.

Often, people believe that if they take in 3,500 more calories during a week that they will be successful at packing on slabs of muscle. However, the old adage that one pound equates to 3,500 calories is right for fat but not muscle. If you want to gain one pound of fat, then you should be taking in an extra 3,500 calories per week. Now there’s one way of putting on some weight!

As I mentioned earlier, the body’s multiple systems are all intricately interconnected: if one system has not undergone the proper adaptation, then the results will show in the form of a failure to produce optimal hypertrophy of the muscle complex. For example, if we were to look at some of the soft tissues involved in the hypertrophy process of the muscle complex, we’d see that muscle would generally adapt to a load within several days.

Unlike the tendons and ligaments, studies have shown that muscle responds by adapting after a period of several weeks or even months of progressive loading (McDough & Davies, 1984). It also should be noted that the protein turnover rate in collagen occurs approximately every 1000 days.

This clearly shows that even if one were to gain in body weight, the body would only be able to accommodate a certain amount in the form of muscle; otherwise, the muscles would fall prey to injury due to the time span in adaptation rates for various other tissues.”[8]

Those who scoff at this and continue to believe they’ve gained super-size over such a short period forget, as suggested earlier, that much of the increased body weight is largely due to increased body fat stores, glycogen and water. [9]

 

“In the muscles, protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 180 days (6 months).[10]

“Hypertrophy of the muscle complex has, so far, been shown to be controlled by what is known as protein turnover (the breakdown of damaged muscle proteins and creation of new and stronger ones). This process takes time. Just as the many living organisms around us in nature require time to grow, so do our muscles. In our enzymes the protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 7-10 minutes. In the liver and plasma, it’s every 10 days.

And in the hemoglobin it’s every 120 days. In the muscles, protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 180 days (6 months). This lends even more support to the observation that the turnover rate limits the natural body (of the non-drug-using athlete, bodybuilder) in building muscle quickly.

The Colgan Institute of Nutritional Sciences (located in San Diego, Calif.) run by Dr. Michael Colgan PH.D., a leading sport nutritionist explains that in his extensive experience, the most muscle gain he or any of his colleagues have recorded over a year was 18 1/4 lbs. Dr. Colgan goes on to state that “because of the limiting rate of turnover in the muscle cells it is impossible to grow more than an ounce of new muscle each day.

In non-complicated, mathematical terms, this would equate to roughly 23 pounds in a year! Keep in mind that high-level athletes are the subjects of these studies.[11]

Putting It All Together

“Now that I’ve put a damper on your expectations you can step back and take a closer look at your training, nutritional practices and recuperation tactics. There’s no need to beat yourself up because you’ve only been able to gain a pound a week for the last 6 weeks. If anything, assuming your body fat levels has been kept at bay, you’re probably on the right track.

When it comes to muscle gain there is no dramatic technique or quick fix that will allow you to pack on more muscle naturally. It’s better to stay focused and realistic by training hard, eating meticulously and spending time to recuperate properly; this will result in you achieving a more muscular physique. Keep in mind that it’s physiologically impossible to gain more than one pound of lean muscle per week.”[12]

“For most weight-gainers, half a pound per week would be an even more realistic goal, because they reach their genetic limit. Remember that gaining muscle is a long-term project and not something that can be simply turned on. If you’re dedicated and diligent in your efforts, you’ll not be disappointed! [13]

 

Proposed Exercise Program for Strength and Fitness

I am proposing an exercise program that will include all the elements of total fitness: Cardio, warm-up exercises, weight training, cool down exercises and supplementation. There are three phases to my program. In Phase I you’ll follow my plan for three months. During Phase II my exercise program will be at a more moderate yet advanced level. During Phase III one will be at the most advanced level. By the time one reaches Phase III one should already be physically fit.

Later on you can tweak my program by experimenting with keeping the program more interesting. You don’t want to get bored; as you gain more knowledge around the gym (bodybuilding sites on the internet can also assist with knowledge building over time) my program will morph into your program. It is my hope that at the advanced levels (either Phase II or III) you will become hooked on bodybuilding, fitness, and good health. Trying new things is one key to keeping you motivated to continue any health or fitness program.

For the first three months in the gym, I want you to work on building muscle slowly (possibly building just ½ pound of muscle mass per week or, more realistically, only ¼ pounds of muscle or 4 ounces per week). After 52 weeks of exercising 3 days a week for 1 hour and 20 minutes your gain in muscle will likely be 4 ounces times 52 weeks or 13.5 lbs. of lean body mass. Combine this with a well-controlled healthy diet and one will look a much trimmer, healthy and better looking person in the mirror.

Do not get worried about what the scale shows as your weight because, at any point in time, it is the sum of you losing visceral fat and gaining lean muscle mass. As the weeks go by one can rest assured if one is looking better in the mirror, your body is definitely losing weight, even if the scale shows only modest weight loss. Combined with Part I’s discussion of dieting, I know you can succeed! Before I go any further, here is the recommended sequence of your program in the gym in Phase I, and at the advanced levels (Phase II and Phase III):

Cardio*

Warm-up Stretching Exercises

Weight Training

Cool Down Stretching Exercises

 

* Some people in the gym should probably do some stretching exercises before they jump on a treadmill, stationary or elliptical bike. However, most athletes in the gym using cardio machines warm up by simply starting at a slow speed (usually for 5 minutes). After five minutes your upper body and legs are warmed up. If one is doing cardio outside the gym, I highly recommend one do stretching exercises before they walk jog or run. Limbering up before any exercise is good for preventing injury or unnecessary strain.

Cardio Exercise, Warm-up and Cool-down Exercises

Good cardio exercises include walking (slow, medium pace, or power walking), using a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical bike. Some people like to jog or run in the outdoors. My preference is to work out in a gym. The most important consideration is how long you exercise rather than the method per se or where you exercise.

“The most important lesson for cardio work is that you have to stay with it: Research shows that exercise-induced cardiac protection is lost once regular exercise is stopped. If you stop exercising, the synthesis of those protective proteins comes to a halt. In under a week, you’ll be back to your pre-exercise level.”[14]

I recommend at least 20-30 minutes of cardio three days per week as a minimum. Others prefer 5 to 7 times per week. However, working out more than 3 days a week can sometimes be counter-productive if you don’t allow enough time for your body to recover from all your exercise. Actual muscle building occurs during rest & recovery, not necessarily in the gym or outside when you are tearing down muscle fibers.

The sequence I use in the gym is to do 20 minutes of cardio first, and then I do my warm-up stretching exercises (5 exercises should do it) for 5 minutes followed by approximately 45-60 minutes of weight training. After weight training, I do stretching exercises for another 5 minutes (again 5 more exercises should do it).

These stretching exercises are critically important. Your muscles need to be warmed up before jumping into weight training. At the end of weight training, there needs to be a cool-down with stretching exercises. For both warm-up and cool-down exercises, I like to include stretching exercises for the legs, waist (abs and oblique’s), and upper body including chest and arms. I work out only 3 days a week at the gym. The days usually are staggered throughout seven days. However, one day at home during my recovery time (as said muscle growth actually occurs on your recovery days where rest and good sleep is necessary) I use a foam roller to improve flexibility in my body. A foam roller is a piece of gym equipment that can be purchased in many sports stores for a reasonable amount of money. Using a foam roller on the floor takes less than 15 minutes of your time. Collectively, all elements of a full body fitness program are covered with my program: strength, balance, flexibility and stamina.

Phase I

Phase I is for beginners. At the beginning of a fitness program you may lack balance, flexibility and physical strength if you haven’t been exercising in the months leading up to your decision to join a gym or to undertake a general exercise program.

Phase I is to be followed for three months. If one doesn’t feel comfortable going to the advanced program, then feel free to continue working out at the Phase I level until you are ready to move on. One of the first things in Phase I you need to know is what muscles are involved in a good weight training program.

What Muscles Are We Talking About?

When it comes to exercising, what muscle or muscle groups are we talking about?

The following is an overview of the important muscles or muscle groups in the human body. Here is a quick overview of the Major Muscle Groups: Legs (Quadriceps and Hamstrings), Glutes, Chest (Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor), Back (Trapezius, Rhomboid, and Latissimus Dorsi), and Shoulders (Deltoid—Anterior, Medial and Posterior).

Here is a quick overview of the Minor Muscle Groups: Biceps, Triceps, Abdominals (Abdominal Rectus and Oblique’s) and Calves (Gastrocnemius and Soleus). There are many websites available to show you the physiology of muscles in the human body. Much will depend upon how deeply you want to become knowledgeable. This type of detailed knowledge is out there; you just need to seek it out.

Initial Weight Training Program

The following is an overview of the Major and Minor Muscle Groups and a sub-listing of exercises one could do (at least 2 sets each as a beginner) as your initial program—primarily directed at beginners although at the advanced level some of these same exercises may apply.

If you do not know what these are specifically, go to any of the bodybuilding sites on the Internet because you’ll not only get a written description of these exercises, but also a video of each exercise being performed. This will make learning proper technique and form much easier to absorb. Don’t expect perfect execution of technique and form the first time. Like they say, “practice makes perfect.” Covering all the major and minor muscle groups will take one approximately 4 workout days to go through one cycle of this beginning program. Then repeat same cycle for 3 months. Good luck!

 

Major and Minor Muscle Groups

 

Major Muscle Groups

Legs

     Quadriceps

Leg Press Machine

     Hamstrings

Lying Leg Curls

Glutes

Barbell Squats

Close Stance Dumbbell Squats

Wide Stance Dumbbell Squats (between the legs)

 

Chest

     Pectoralis Major

 Peck-Deck Machine

Dumbbell Fly’s

Dumbbell Press

Low Cable Chest Fly’s

             Incline: Chest Press (Machine)

 

     Pectoralis Minor

Chest Dips

Barbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

Cable Crossover

    

Back

     Trapezius

Reverse Lats Pull Down

Lat Pull Down

Bent Over Two Arm Long Bar Row

     Rhomboid

 Bent Over One-Arm Long Bar Row

Bent Over Two-Arm Long Bar Row

One Arm Dumbbell Row

Seated One-Arm Cable Pulley Row

Barbell Deadlift

     Latissimus Dorsi

 Lat Pull Back

Lat Pull Down

Shoulders

    

     Deltoids

         Anterior deltoid

Overhead Barbell

Barbell or Dumbbell Upright Row

Incline Barbell Front Raise

Bent-Over Lateral Raise

Reverse Peck-Deck Fly’s
      

     Medial   deltoid

Arnold Presses (dumbbell)

Front Arm Raises (cable)

Upright Row (barbell)

         Posterior deltoid

Rear Deltoid Lateral (Peck Deck)

 

Minor Muscle Groups

 

Biceps

Reverse Grip Rows

Cable Curls

Overhead Cable Curls

Hammer Curls

90 Degree Preacher’s Curls

Triceps

Rope Pull Down

Dips

One Arm Cable Triceps Extension

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Exercises

Barbell Shrugs

Seated Curl Push Down

 

Abdominals

 

     Rectus abdominals + Oblique’s

 Ab Machine

Oblique Cable Crunch

Bell Tower Crunch

Side Bend with Plate

Standing Oblique Dumbbell

 

 

Calves

     Gastrocnemius and Soleus

Seated Calf Raises

Standing Calf Raises

Dumbbell Calf Raises

Common Question

One of your first questions upon arrival to a weight training room or facility will be how much weight should I try to lift. As times goes by you’ll increase your weights, sets and repetitions (lighter weights—more repetitions; heavier weights—fewer repetitions). However, at the beginning individuals will each have a different answer to this question.

Individuals always vary in their natural abilities. No matter whom you are—start with the lighter weights. You’ll have to experiment to get a precise answer. For example, when doing barbell curls should I start with 20 lbs. or 40 lbs.? When I first started to do leg presses I put on only 50 lbs. I found it much too light for my leg muscles. After my first nine months I reached a weight of 405 lbs. doing 5 reps. At one year in the gym I can now do 405 pounds for 20 repetitions (most people in the gym simply call them “reps”).

 

Phase II

The Advanced Program

During Phase I you were exposed to two different ways to exercises your muscles, that is muscles in isolation and/or compound exercises. An example of muscles in isolation would be to work your biceps or triceps. Compound exercise movements involve several muscles or muscle groups exercised at the same time. While most of the exercises in Phase I are single muscles in isolation, most of the exercises in the advanced program found in Phase II are compound exercise movements with some isolation. [Please remember to give yourself approximately 1 minute rest time between every set regardless of whether one is in Phase 1, II, or III].

The most advanced program (Phase III) increases sets and the program’s intensity. But it still involves both isolation and compound movements. There is some disagreement in the bodybuilding community in what I’m about to say: While compound movements are best at developing strength and muscle mass, isolation and the targeting of specific muscles can help to produce better symmetry, tone and definition. Both types of muscle building nevertheless are important and can achieve all of the characteristics above. It all comes down to what your specific goals are i.e., how you want to look. Often these differences are physically reflected among contestants in the Bodybuilding versus Physique contests.

You can advance to this more advanced level if and when you are possessed with good strength, vitality, balance and flexibility. What I mean by this is that you are really physically fit.

 

Phase II

3-Day Compound Movement’s

Program with some Isolation

When you are ready to start the advanced Phase II program, try the following:

 

[5 warm-up exercises]

Day 1(4×8)

Four sets of 8 reps for the following exercises:

Incline Bench Press Barbell

Lat Pull Down

Deadlifts

Shrugs (Dumbbell or Barbell)

Biceps (Bicep curls)

Calves (Use a machine that exercises several muscles on the leg such as calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps at the same time)

[5 cool down exercises]

_____________________________________________________

[5 warm-up exercises]

Day 2 (5×5)

Five sets of 5 reps for the following exercises:

Incline Bench Press—Dumbbell

Bent over Rows

Squats

Upright Barbell Rows

Triceps (Rope pull down)

Abs (Ab Machine)

[5 cool down exercises]

_______________________________________________________

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Five sets of 5 reps for each of the following exercises:

Day 3 (5×5)

Incline or Decline Hammer

Cable Rows

Romanian Deadlift

Military Seated Press (or standing)

Abs (Bell Tower)

[5 cool down exercises]

Phase III

At about one year into my training program one should be ready for my most advanced level (Phase III). I want to make it clear that after Day 2 one might want to experiment with the Day 3 program. In my case I wanted to do more isolation muscle training involving my biceps. Someone else might need to work toward better symmetry with their calves, chest or back muscles. You’ll know by then which way to go. For now here is my advanced Phase III program:

Phase III Advanced Bodybuilding Program

Primarily Compound Movements

There are a total of 415 reps in this 3 day program

Day 1

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Flat Bench Press   4 sets of 8 reps

Squats                       4 sets of 8 reps

Deadlifts                  4 sets of 8 reps

Clean and Press   4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

Day 2

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Military Press       4 sets of 8 reps

Bent Over Rows   4 sets of 8 reps

Upright Rows       4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

Day 3

[5 Warm-up exercises]                 Additional Isolation Exercises

Five Best Bicep Exercises

Barbell Curl                     4 sets of 8 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curl     4 sets of 8 reps

Standing Biceps Cable Curl               4 sets of 8 reps

Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows         4 sets of 8 reps

Concentration Curls                           4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

 

Supplementation

The last part of this program involves supplementation. This can sometimes be a “touchy subject” for health and safety reasons, and for reasons related to alleged effectiveness and additional cost.

Most people are aware of the dangers of steroids and bodybuilding. There are lots of supplements being advertised that are supposed to help you as an athlete, no matter what sport or activity one is involved with. My strongest recommendation is first see if you have any deficiencies. My deficiencies turned out to be iron and vitamin D3. I took steps to remedy the situation. Once you address the issue of deficiencies, some supplements may be very helpful to supporting your body’s ability to handle a vigorous exercise program.

I recommend the following supplements based on recommendations in Dr. Life’s Plan:

  • A multivitamin and mineral supplement daily
  • Getting enough fatty acids in the proper amounts (Omega 3, 6 and 9)
  • A probiotic supplement
  • Vitamin D3
  • CoQ10
  • Saw palmetto
  • Lycopene
  • Milk thistle
  • Calcium
  • Pycnogenol/L-arginine [15]

First however, discuss any and all supplements you currently take, and those you are planning to take, with your primary care physician. There may be reasons in your particular medical profile that requires you not take certain supplements. This might be due to possible adverse reactions with any medicines you are already taking.

Individuals have different medical needs; therefore, what you take in supplements must be done cautiously. That said, I do recommend some supplements for good health and as a kind of insurance policy, but also to aid your body during an intense exercise program.

Summary

There are no guarantees in life. If you don’t eat right and exercise there is also no guarantee of a long life. What I’ve offered is a simple road map to meeting any New Year’s resolutions you may have that involve dieting and getting into shape. Many people have good intentions but never follow through. But this will be your year to succeed. As they say, “better late than never.” Good luck!

[1] Jordan D. Metzl, MD., The Exercise Cure, p. 2

[2] Wannabebig.com, April 7, 2014

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] The Life Plan, p.124

[15] Ibid., p. 297-298

Read Full Post »

 

 

Introduction

 

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:

 

Overview

  • 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).

MEN

  • 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

WOMEN

  • 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:

Fat—15%

Protein—33.3%

Carbohydrates—51.6%

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.

Explanation:

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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