Week 12 of 12: What I Did This Summer

October 8, 2013 § 8 Comments

Front before and after

Front before and after

If this was a grade school writing assignment, it might go something like this:  I lifted weights.  I rode my trike.  I made new friends.  It was fun.  The end.  Since grade school was long ago, let me expound a bit.

Darin Steen’s Fat Loss Lifestyle program is based on five areas of health and fitness:

1. Resistance Training – When I started lifting weights again I had a difficult time completing the workout.  I had no stamina.  The weights I used progressively got heavier until I had to join a gym, Impact Fitness in Bradley IL, because my abilities had exceeded my home equipment.

2. Cardiovascular Training – On day one, a 30 minute brisk walk was about all I could manage.  I progressed to riding my recumbent trike and adding sprint intervals to my ride.  The last few weeks I’ve been using an elliptical trainer at the gym.  I like it because it’s low impact on my knees and it really keeps my heart rate up.  I basically do a 5k on that thing in 30 minutes.

3. Nutrition – I’ve said before that nutrition has been the hardest part for me.  It’s also the area I have the least experience with.  I really never paid attention before.  I’m learning a lot and will continue to learn as I progress.

4. Goal Setting – I had three goals when I started.  a. Reduce body fat from 23% to 15% and gain 9 lbs of muscle.  b. Get off of my daily prescription medications. c. Look better in my clothes.  All of these goals were accomplished or exceeded in 12 weeks!  I actually gained 11.5 lbs of muscle, reduced my waist 7 inches from 48-41, and put almost an inch on my arms.  I made a decision when I started and there were real emotional reasons behind that decision.

5. Social Support – I started posting my intentions and progress on this blog specifically to gain some social support.  I gained a few followers who have been very encouraging.  That support made my progress easier because I couldn’t face the embarrassment of failure and I didn’t want to disappoint my new friends.

This isn’t the end.  There are new goals to be set and accomplished.  I truly have a new lifestyle.  I included pictures of mature bodybuilders in my posts because fitness is ageless and bodybuilding is the closest thing I’ve found to the “fountain of youth”.  I believe that we have the ability to extend our useful lives by decades using information that is already available.

Special thanks to Darin Steen, Mike Neumann, and Tammy White for your inspiration.  Thank YOU for reading my blog and providing the support I needed to get this far.  I love your comments.

Back before and after

Back before and after

For more information about the system that I am following go to fatlosslifestyle.com



Week 11 of 12: Appearances

September 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

June 4th, 2013-Before

June 4th, 2013-Before

One of my major goals was to look better in my clothes. Since I have reduced my equator by 15%, I think I have achieved a good portion of that goal.

I’m starting to get comments and compliments that I look different. “Have you lost weight?”, I’m asked. Yes, some. “Are you working out?”, I’ve heard. Yes I am. Thank you for noticing.

I gotta tell you though, I’m starting to crave certain foods that I’ve been avoiding. Things like cheese, bacon, butter, mayonnaise, and ice cream top the list. I’ve reduced fat to about 20% of my calories. That’s not a much fat at all considering how much is in the the foods I am eating like chicken breast and eggs. I’m not complaining really, just looking forward to a change of pace.

Waist down to 41 1/2 inches from 48 at the start. Yes, all the effort is paying off!

September 18th, 2013-Now

September 18th, 2013-Now

For more information about the system that I am following go to fatlosslifestyle.com  www.fatlosslifestyle.com

Week 10: The Knee

September 15, 2013 § 2 Comments

Marshall Johnson @ 53

Marshall Johnson @ 53

My right knee has been bothering me periodically for several years.  I don’t think I ever injured it but when I would do something out of the ordinary, like go bowling, play tennis, or golf, it would get swollen and sore.  Since I’ve been exercising regularly it’s been regularly swollen and sore.  I decided it was time to get it checked out properly.

“Welcome to your late 40’s Mr. Jackson.  You may feel a little discomfort.” if I may paraphrase what the Orthopedic Surgeon had to say.  He examined my x-rays and told me that I’m starting to get some arthritis in my right knee.  He drained some fluid, injected some cortisone, and told me to stay off of it for a few days.  I’ll probably have to have this procedure done a couple of times a year.

I wan’t surprised by the results of our visit.  I’m thankful that my knee wasn’t injured because I plan to increase the weight that I lift substantially over the next few months.  I see no reason not to proceed aggressively.

Speaking of exercise, this blog has been mostly about nutrition because that has been the hardest part of my body transformation.  The exercise has been easy in comparison.  I love lifting weights and I’m learning to love my interval cardio sessions.

Weight training consists of a full body circuit style session of 16 sets in the 10-14 rep range.  I use compound movements specific to the chest, legs, back, shoulders, and arms.  It takes about an hour to get through those 16 sets including a 10 minute warm-up on the treadmill.

I especially like dead-lifts because it works the whole backside of the body at once.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy but there is a real sense of power when you pick up something heavy off the ground!  Awesome!

I can’t do pull-ups yet but I’ve started doing some negatives to build strength.  Negatives are when you jump up to the top of the movement and lower yourself in a controlled manner to the bottom of the movement.  The other day I decided to super-set my pull-up negatives with some dips since I was going to work my triceps that day anyway.  I thought I would have to do negatives for dips too but to my surprise, after controlling my descent, I was able to push myself back up!  Before I knew it, I was able to do 3 sets of 5 dips, unassisted… at 240lbs!  Wow!

Cardiovascular training is conducted interval style.  Intervals are when you give an all out effort for about 60 seconds in the middle of an otherwise low intensity cardio workout.  I try to do more than one interval during a 20-30 minute session.  It depends on how my heart rate responds.

I’ve done interval training several ways.  In the beginning I did it on my recumbent trike by just adding a sprint into my ride.  Other times I would do it by skipping rope in the middle of a walk.  My new favorite is to add a sprint into elliptical training at the gym.  Sorry trike, the elliptical machine is my new mistress.


I knew this week would be tough.  I limited myself to upper body work outs because of the knee situation.  The limitations were precautionary but necessary in my opinion.  Somehow I still managed to shave 1/2 inch off my waist, down to 42 inches from the start of 48.

For more information about the system that I am following go to fatlosslifestyle.com

Fat Loss Lifestyle System by Darin Steen

Week 9 of 12: Mental Toughness and Fun Stuff

September 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

2012 Mr. IllinoisI read a blog post today by Tammy White.  She described how frustrating it is when life gets in the way of training and the mental battles that accompany interruptions.

I’ve had similar concerns lately.  In my last post I had pictures comparing my body at the start of this 12 week program and at the 8 week mark.  I had more mental stress about showing my body to the world in that post than I did on day one, but I did it anyway.  I think the reason is because I’m seeing and feeling changes that the camera just doesn’t capture, which is frustrating.  That, and I have a very specific image in my mind of what my body will look like in the future.  I have to remind myself that I am a work in progress.  Progress takes time.  I have time, so I keep doing the work.

Another mind mess is that my right knee keeps swelling.  I shot my first 18 holes of golf, ever, last May, at the TPC Scottsdale.  I must have twisted the hell out of it because it hasn’t been the same since.  I keep thinking that it’s not that bad and it will heal, but it hasn’t.  I have an appointment to get it checked Monday.  I’m hoping it’s not serious, is easily fixed, and I can keep training.  I’m concerned, it affects my workouts, and it’s stressful.

We all have times of doubt in life.   We reach points in time when we have to decide to stop, backtrack, change direction, or press forward.  Pause, evaluate, adjust, and proceed.

Enough of that!

Two big, and positive events happened for me this last week.  One, I joined a gym!  I decided to join Impact Fitness in Bradley, IL.  Impact is the home of Mr. Natural Illinois, Mike Neumann.  He conducts a group training class there that is highly recommended by Darin Steen, the author of the system I am currently using.fitness-center-bradleyil-impact-fitness-header

I had a chance to talk to Mike recently.  He asked me,”Why did you decide to join our gym?”  We got interrupted and I didn’t really get to answer but I had a very distinct reason.  I joined Impact Fitness because that’s where the bodybuilders are!  There are lots of places in Kankakee to work out but the people who are serious about bodybuilding go to Impact Fitness.  It seems like everyone has a plan for an upcoming bodybuilding show and they talk about it openly.  I enjoy the energy there.  I feed on it!  Hang around people you want to be like, right?

Darin Steen @ Natural Universe

The other big thing that happened was that I attended my first bodybuilding show! (as a spectator of course)  It was the INBA PNBA Natural Universe.  Darin Steen was competing in the Open Mens class against some stiff competition.  He took 4th place and qualifies to compete in the INBA PNBA Natural Olympia in November

It was all very exciting and inspiring!  I was impressed with the way the competitors interacted with each other on stage and off stage.  Everyone was personable and friendly.  They were complimentary, respectful, and kind to each other.  Some people were old friends and other people met for the first time.  It was a pleasant atmosphere of good people doing what they love to do!  I will be going to more shows nearby before the season is over.  My interest is sparked!  If you’ve never been to a bodybuilding show I highly recommend it.  It’s high energy and fun!

This weeks results:

My calorie reduction plan is working well.  In the last two weeks I’ve lost 7 pounds of scale weight.  That seems aggressive to me so I will check my body fat next week and see if I’m losing fat or muscle.  I may have to add some calories.  This isn’t a race.  Also, my waist has reduced by another half inch to 42.5 inches.

For more information about the system that I am following go to fatlosslifestyle.com

 Fat Loss Lifestyle System by Darin Steen

Week 5&6 of 12: Small changes

August 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Andreas Cahling at 60

The results from week five showed no measurable results.  I have the same scale weight as 6 weeks ago and my waist is still 44 inches at the navel.  No more body fat changes either.

I wasn’t too worried about it but when week six was the same I panicked!  I was doing the same things as when I started but my body had stopped changing!  If I had hired a personal trainer I would have figured out the problem right away but I’m not in a position to do that right now.  I had to find out on my own what was going on.

I decided that the answers have to be in the basics.  I looked closely at what I was doing for diet and exercise.  Luckily I have been keeping a journal of what I’m eating and what I’m doing.  What I discovered is that I have not been in a caloric deficit.  I was tracking how much protein I was eating and combining carbohydrate with those proteins but I wasn’t keeping an accurate calorie count.  Fats were adding several hundred calories per day to what I thought I was eating.  An extra egg yolk, a pat of butter, a couple teaspoons of mayonnaise, and a drop of oil add up to quite a few calories.  So, for the first month my body was transforming by building lean body mass and burning fat but now I have reached a point of stasis.  It’s time to cut calories!

Counting calories can be tedious and time consuming.  That’s why everyone hates it!  I needed a tool to simplify the process.

I ran across an article by Tom Venuto on his blog at http://www.burnthefatblog.com/ 

The article described how it is much easier to plan your meals than to track them.  When you TRACK meals, you have to log what you ate and then figure out how many calories it contained and if it had the nutrient balance you need.  When you PLAN meals you figure out what you are going to eat and then all you have to do is eat it!  Much simpler!  He even provided the spreadsheet I was looking for, downloadable, for FREE!  I definitely like FREE!  Here is the link to the article so you can grab the spreadsheet for yourself, http://www.burnthefatblog.com/the-disastrous-diet-diary-mistake.php  Just click on the picture of the spreadsheet and it will automatically download to your computer.

Using some other calculators I found on http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bbinfo.php?page=NutritionCalculators Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation

I estimated how many calories I need to loose weight and settled on 2,200 to 2,300 calories per day with a ratio of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 20% dietary fat.  I’ll check that against future results and adjust as necessary.  I feel good about this!


This is probably a good time to talk about supplements.  I’m only taking a couple that are outside of my normal diet.

Whey protein:  This is really a food source and not a supplement but it’s not food I had eaten in the past.  I use it because it’s a low calorie source of protein and because there are so many health benefits to eating it!  I read a little eBook by Will Brink called Fifty Shades of Whey.  It taught me a lot about this amazing food and as of right now it’s FREE as a Kindle book! http://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Shades-of-Whey-ebook/dp/B008RANHYG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377010569&sr=8-1&keywords=50+shades+of+whey

L-Ornithine: An amino acid that supports the pituitary gland when taken with whey protein.   (see Week 1)

Creatine Monohydrate:  Extensive research proves tremendous health benefits to taking creatine.  It supports muscle growth and helps prevent loss of muscle as we age.  Will Brink has some great videos on YouTube and articles on http://www.brinkzone.com/ about creatine.  

Multi-Vitamin:  Just to fill any gaps in my diet.

That’s it!  Nothing fancy in that list.

Next week I plan to have some sort of measurable result to report.  In the mean time I started a BodySpace account if you want to check it out.  http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/70usd/

For more information about the system that I am following go to fatlosslifestyle.com

 Fat Loss Lifestyle System by Darin Steen

Week 2 of 12: Challenges and Why I Bother

July 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Vince Gironda at 50

Vince Gironda at 50

I gotta tell ya, this week was no picnic! I had a headache for three days, a stye in my eye, a boil on my leg, had a mole removed on my back and did my best to stay hydrated during a full blown heat wave. All of this was exhausting. I missed two of my six workouts. Should I feel guilty about that? Maybe.

This seems like a good point to talk about why I am making these changes in my life, and to my body, in the first place. It’s been a long time coming. Specifically, about a dozen years ago, my health started to catch up with my habits. I started gaining some weight which caused acid re-flux in my sleep, then I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which was a contributing factor to high blood pressure. I decided to quit smoking, and gained a bunch of weight. My heaviest was 285 pounds on my 5’10” frame. Recently I started taking medication for high cholesterol. It’s been a snowball of health problems that are controlled by medication, but I’ve never believed that medication was the real solution to my problems. Deep down I knew that all of these health problems could be controlled with changes to my lifestyle. Specifically, the old cliche, diet and exercise. I knew what to do, generally, but I didn’t know where to start from where I was. More importantly, I hadn’t made the decision to start learning where to start. Once I made that decision, with real emotional meaning behind it, then I could start.

Why do I do it?

I don’t want to be a statistic. American males now have an expected lifespan of 78 years but our quality of life in our later years is declining. I want to be like my grandfather who worked in a physically active job as a farmer into his 80’s with only a couple of years of decline. I want to see my children grow up and have some successes in life. Then I want to play with my grandchildren, and meet my great grandchildren.  There have already had times in my life when I felt like I was slowly dying and I’m way to young for that.  No more!

A full 60% of Americans are obese. It’s frightening to shop at our local Walmart and watch relatively young people riding around in electric carts, or hobbling, waddling, shuffling around because it’s such a burden to move their bodies enough to simply buy food! I’ve been that guy whose feet hurt so bad at the end of a work day that I couldn’t move off of the couch. It was hell! I won’t do it again!

I don’t want to take medication for the rest of my life. The foods I have eaten have not provided enough nourishment for my body to be healthy without medication. Poor food choices have caused me to retain fat around my organs, the most dangerous place to carry fat. It’s unnecessary and I won’t have it!

I want to look good in my clothes. I want to be able to take off my shirt in public and not be embarrassed. It would be nice for someone to say to me, “You’re looking good! Do you work out?”, and be able to say, “Yes, yes I do.”

So, do I feel guilty for missing a couple of workouts? No, not really. Although I am following a specific program for 12 weeks, the changes I am making to my lifestyle are permanent. I also know that recovery is underrated. Sometimes our bodies need more time to heal than at other times. This week was one of those times. I recognized it and got some extra sleep and took some extra quiet time.  At 46 years young I can’t feel too bad about “only” working out four times this week.


My food intake this week was spot on! My capacity to lift weights has greatly improved! All of my lifting exercises have gone up in weight or repetitions across the board! I haven’t taken my acid reflux medicine since July 7th and I haven’t needed it.

And, my waist went from 46″on July 10th to 45 1/2″ on July 17th! I’m gonna call it a good week!!!

45 1/2"

45 1/2″

For more information about the system that I am following go to fatlosslifestyle.com


Week 1of 12: Radical Changes & Results

July 14, 2013 § 9 Comments

Jack Lalanne at 50 years old!

Jack Lalanne at 50 years old!

As stated in my previous post, I started my Fat Loss Lifestyle 12 week program on July 3rd, 2013.  I had started making small changes to my lifestyle three weeks earlier but this program takes things to another level.  The biggest change for me was in the area of nutrition.

I have never paid too much attention to my food.  I suppose, at times, I would consider what I had heard was “healthy” or “not-healthy” when making food choices but it was never planned.  Mostly my choices were based on what looked good or what I knew tasted good to me.  I had also gotten into the habit of searching for a food source when it was time to eat.  This led to convenience and fast food regularly.  The same thing happened when I was thirsty.  Why pay $1.50 for bottled water when a 44oz. Mountain Dew is $0.89, right?

Now I am planning what I am going to eat and when based on my goals.  I’ve switched the foods I eat almost entirely to “whole” foods, most of which comes from the perimeter of the grocery store.  Produce, meats, and some dairy are what I’m talking about.  Exceptions are grains like oats, brown rice, or dense whole grain bread.  This took some adjustment.  In order to get enough calories into my body to support my new athletic lifestyle, I eat six small meals a day.  Each meal includes a source of protein, a fruit or vegetable, and a source of carbohydrate with one or two of the six meals.  I have also discovered whey protein (which I want to discuss in another post) that I find quite yummy!  I assure you, I am not going hungry!

The next biggest change for me was not just exercise but intense exercise!  I lift weights three days a week and cycle three days a week.  It’s a total of 5-6 hours of exercise.  I take Sunday off to recover and refuel.  I haven’t worked out with this kind of regularity since high school!  I wasn’t sure that I could do it but I made it through the first week and I feel strong, energized, and athletic!  It’s fantastic!

So, what are the results of the first week you ask?  To tell you the truth I wasn’t really expecting much.  I mean, how much can happen in the first week, right?  I also stated in my last post that I didn’t want to be a slave to the scale.  The scale only gives one side of the story (like modern news sources,lol) and any plan needs time to work.  A friend suggested that I use my waistline measurement to determine if anything is happening.  That makes good sense to me.

July 3rd, 2013  Waist = 48″

10July13 46in.

July 10th, 2013  Waist = 46″

That’s a full two inches in only 7 days!  WOW!

What do you think it will be next week?

For more information about the system that I am following go to fatlosslifestyle.com

Fat Loss Lifestyle System by Darin Steen

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