Tag Archives: Body fat Percentage

Fitness Journey – Day 58 Progress

28 Feb

Well it’s been a very eventful month in terms of my health and well-being. I have achieved several of my goals and this has left me feeling extremely pleased with myself. So first, the data, then I’ll tick off all of my achievements for the month.

So which goals have I reached?

  • I have permanently reduced my resting heart rate to my first target of 58 beats per minute. This is a huge thing for me, because the lower my heart rate at rest, the less oxygen my body needs and therefore the longer I can potentially stay underwater on a single air tank when I go diving.
  • My waist to hip ratio has passed my first two targets of 0.92 and 0.89. This is a really good indicator that I have lowered my overall risk of cardiac and coronary diseases to a bare minimum. My next target of 0.85 will virtually eliminate any risk (statistically speaking) of a heart attack or stroke as I head into my 50’s and 60’s.
  • I am now permanently off my anti-anxiety medication!!
  • I now no longer crave sweets/desserts, soft drinks, or any foods containing either dairy or grains.
  • I am now exercising to a regular training schedule… mostly

What else have I achieved?

  • In the two months since I started to take measurements, I have reduced my body fat from 28.2% to 19.72%, which is only 1.72% away from my first goal.
  • I am stronger over all
    • lifting greater weight, having tripled my dumbbell weights, doubled my bench press weights, and moved on to my thickest resistance bands in order to get an effective workout.
    • I am now only 2 push-ups from my target of 30 in the 60-second test.
    • I have increased my plank time from 1 minute to 2 minutes and 41 seconds, which is only 19 seconds short of my first 3 minute target.
    • I started measuring a Wall Sit Test, which has increased by 30 seconds to 3 minutes 8 seconds in only 2 weeks.
    • I can push myself in my workouts to perform with greater effort and for a longer period of time, and I no longer give up on my exercise when it gets tough, pushing myself until I am forced due to failure of my muscles to respond.

Where do I need to improve?

  • I am still not strict enough with myself to ensure I spend enough time stretching after my workouts. This is particularly noticeable this month as I have some lower back pain and a tilt in my pelvis due to tightness in the hip flexors on my right hand side. While I am being more careful to do a dynamic warm up and dynamic stretching before workouts, the recovery exercise will ensure I recover much more quickly and with less risk of injury at my next session.
  • My nutrition is so much improved, and yet I have eaten much less fruit this month, and I have not been eating from a wide enough selection of vegetables. I’ve been considering the option of taking a multivitamin, but I’d prefer to avoid needing to do so if I can help it, so I will need to ensure I am eating a wider variety of vegetables with every meal, rather than simply having a single vegetable or two of the same types with most of my meals. Perhaps this means I should plan ahead a little better when I go shopping for the weekly groceries.
  • My workouts have increased well in intensity, but I feel I have been letting myself down a little in terms of duration. While I can see on paper and feel within myself that I am stronger and fitter, I feel as though I should be able to do more, and should be able to increase my HIIT workouts to be greater than only 4-6 minutes. I guess I’m not convinced that I will increase my stamina if I don’t start to incorporate some endurance work as well. While I have made a start more recently by doubling some of my HIIT workouts, I feel as though this is really only a beginning. My warm-up and cool-down can take up almost 25 minutes of my workout time if I wish to ensure I do things “properly”, so I will need to look more carefully at how I stage and plan the workouts themselves. This is an area where I am starting to believe that the CrossFit methodology seems to be a good fit for me, and is something I feel I need to examine more closely.
  • I still can’t complete a pull-up. What I’d like to do is to be able to complete enough of them to use them as part of a serious workout, so I think some targeted training my need to be done in order to do this. This means buying or building a pull-up station for outside the house where I will have the height to do the exercise properly.
  • I need to set a more appropriate training schedule that is both challenging, and yet allows for sufficient recovery and development over time. Clearly my efforts to date have been less than perfect and need to be improved in order to be more effective.
  • A resting heart rate of 56
  • 18% body fat by 31 March 2013
  • 16% body fat by 30 April 2013
  • 0.85 Hip to Waist ratio
  • 0.45 Waist to Height ratio
  • Perform 3 complete pull-ups in a row
  • 30 push-ups in under a minute by 14 March 2013
  • 40 push-ups in under a minute by 31 March 2013
  • 4 minute wall sit by 31 March 2013
  • 3 minute plank by 14 March 2013
  • 4 minute plank by 31 March 2013
  • 7/0 Beep Test on 02 March 2013
  • 7/5 Beep Test by 31 March 2013
  • 8/0 Beep Test by 30 April 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 25 minutes by 31 March 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 22 minutes by 31 May 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 18 minutes by 31 July 2013
  • Dive continuously for 2 hours at 10 meters on a 14 litre tank of air.
  • Reduce Triglyceride count to < 1.5 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Reduce LDL cholesterol count to < 2.5 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Increase HDL cholesterol count to > 1.0 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Commence Personal Training Course on 4 March 2013
  • Complete Personal Training Qualifications by 01 September 2013
  • Design an effective, flexible and randomised training program for minimal equipment to be implemented by 01 April 2013

You may have noticed that some of these goals don’t have dates. This is because I don’t know yet how to achieve those goals in a predictable way, either due to a lack of knowledge, or a lack of understanding relating to specific training. When I have learned more, I’ll be able to set some realistic yet challenging dates for these goals to target. For all of the rest, the dates are my expectations based on everything that I have learned about myself over the past 2 months.

Final Thoughts

I feel as if I’ve had a couple of big wins this month. I’ve managed to mostly take my training in hand, and I am doing all of this by myself and without the help of a trainer or a specific support group. The biggest win for me is that I am no longer medicated to manage anxiety. Diet and exercise have really helped here, and by learning to focus myself mentally to achieve my goals or to do some of the harder workouts, I have been learning to focus myself better mentally for the challenges that I face in the rest of my life. I have learned to embrace my failures and to take valuable lessons away from them, and I have learned that I am capable of anything that I put my mind to, provided I want it enough and my reasons for wanting it are strong enough to be self-motivating. I have seen an experiment in dietary improvement become a life changing lifestyle choice that has become habitual rather than forcing a diet on myself.

I’ve seen myself slowly reach a weight-loss plateau, yet the fat-loss has been consistently linear and I have seen a reciprocal muscle gain which explains the slower weight loss. This is a very good thing, and shows me a real measurable result that is in keeping with the other wins I have had in areas such as increased strength, balance, and endurance. I am as strong, perhaps stronger than I can remember myself ever being, and fitter than I have been in more than 20 years.

Nothing worth having is ever easy. The work has been hard and I’ve certainly had a few hiccups along the way, yet every failure fills me with a desire to do better, and every little win motivates me to reach higher. My self belief is stronger than it has ever been, and I find myself more focussed on what I will do rather than what I might do, because I know that I am capable of far more than I have been able to achieve to date. 2013 is off to a hell of a start for me, and I’m looking forward to every addition challenge that the rest of the year throws my way.

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Don’t aim for thin… get LEAN!

6 Feb

Following the theme from my previous post, I’ve decided to declare today as the beginning of my attempt to take over the world by getting people to stop trying to be skinny. Yes, you heard me. I think that skinny is not a good goal. I’m sorry if I offend any of the skinny people out there but skinny just ain’t sexy, and as a goal for those of us who aren’t genetically suited to looking like the average 16 year old supermodel, skinny is an unrealistic and possibly even dangerous target that is ultimately impossible ever to reach with any real satisfaction. Seriously people, if you’re going to be even remotely serious about being at your physical and emotional best, forget about being thin and focus instead on becoming Lean.

Why Lean?

Yes, Lean is definitely sexy, and it’s not simply about turning yourself into eye-candy either. It’s more about the psychological impact of both the people who see you, and of your own state of mind when you are lean. When you see someone with a lean physique, you are attracted on the surface to the physical appearance of a body in proportion with itself, and subconsciously you respond both to the vitality of a person who clearly makes an effort to maintain an attractive physique, and also to the bearing of a person who radiates confidence, pride, happiness, or any number of other positive emotions that are generally exhibited by people with  healthy bodies and minds.

Now going far beyond the attractiveness of being lean, there is also the benefit of being in the best of physical health. Being lean means you have a minimum amount of body fat without completely depleting your body’s essential fat reserves, and as the science repeatedly tells us, a lean body is statistically unlikely to develop any of the diseases that are commonly attributed to excessive body fat, such as Type II Diabetes, some cancers, gastrointestinal, liver, and other metabolic diseases.

What Lean Is and Isn’t

Michelle Bridges & Daniel Craig. Good examples of Lean.

Being lean means that you present with very little body fat, yet more than just the bare essential amount of fat that the body needs. For the guys, this is a body fat percentage between a fit 14%-17% and an athletic 6%-13%.  For the ladies, you’re looking for a body fat percentage between a fit 21%-24% and an athletic 14%-20%.

A lean physique is one where you present muscle everywhere in proportion, and where no bone shows though the skin, except perhaps for a hint of rib when you bend to the side, and a slight prominence of the collarbone, elbows, knees and ankles. There should be no sign of tendon showing through the skin except perhaps under extreme strain when lifting heavy objects. Lean is a presentation of understated strength, where the muscles show clearly under the skin, and yet lean does not imply being heavily muscled. So what we’re talking about here, is being toned and not necessarily bulky.

Health isn’t about being fashionable

Most of us regular aren’t genetically “fashionable” if you believe all of those heavily photoshopped magazine pictures are showing you what beautiful is meant to be. Normal people could never dream of being able to fit into those tiny sized clothes that can only be found barely covering the ass of your typical Victoria Secret model, and we all should know by now how poorly the magazine represent health and beauty, and how this influences the negative body image that so many people have about themselves.

The thing is, why should you even worry about whether your size or look is comparable to someone else. Instead of aiming to fit into what you think is your idealised size-x clothing or becoming what you think would be your idealised “weight” or body shape, set the even loftier yet ultimately attainable goal of being as fit, strong, and as lean as you can be, and enjoy the health benefits, the satisfaction and the confidence that goes hand in hand with living within a healthy body.

No, lean isn’t fashionable. Lean is attainable, healthy, realistic, strong, beautiful… and is definitely sexy! 😛

Day 30 update = ???

30 Jan

Between the workout I did yesterday, and this evenings fitness tests (Yeah, I couldn’t wait and did it all a day early), my arms and legs are seriously totalled! The effort was entirely worth it though, because now that my numbers are all in, sorted, added up, calculated, and compared, I can now say that operation “Bring my sexy back” has started to get some real results! 😛

My main plan for this month was to make 3 specific changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Drink a nutritionally appropriate amount of water
    • Pace myself and spread it out throughout the day
  2. Change my diet to be nutritionally sound, and simple to follow
    • Go “cold turkey” on the “no” foods, and be strictly Paleo
  3. Do something daily to keep my heart rate slightly elevated
    • Rockin’ the standing desk

Now none of these were actual goals because they aren’t specific enough, so they were more like strategies to attempt to effect permanent changes in my life without making those changes too large or impossible to achieve.

Yes, diet and standing around for hours each day has been responsible for the the results I’ve seen. I’ve had only 3 decent workouts this month so my activity levels have been a lot lower than I’d originally planned, but this has turned out to be a very good thing because it showed me just how effective the little lifestyle changes have been. This has really reinforced my belief that you don’t get great results by jumping into the deep end and trying to do the impossibly difficult things all at once. That’s how I approached things in the past and it never worked out. You get great results from the sum of all of the achievable little things that you do to make positive changes in yourself.

Ok, so I’ve given you lot’s of talk about how great my first month results are, so here they are straight from my little tracking spreadsheet:

TestResults.2013.01.30

Compared to the previous measurements:

  • 7cm (2.8in) off the hip
  • 11.5cm (4.5in) off the waist
  • 3.3kg (7.3lb) overall weight loss
  • 5% body fat reduction (Based on caliper measurements)
  • Waist to Hip ratio is now “Good” (was in the “Unacceptable-Average” range)
  • Waist to Height ratio is now OK as it is below 0.5 (was in the Increase Risk range)

Of course, all of that stuff is just numbers. The real evidence is in the photos I took recently, and in the results of my fitness tests:

  • Fractional improvement in resting heart rate
  • 3 extra push-ups takes me from below average to average
  • Increase plank by 21 seconds indicating a stronger core
  • Extra 5 shuttles (100 m) in the beep test, indicating aerobic improvement

Now, if an ordinary guy like me can do all of that in 30 days without really trying, just think about how much more YOU will achieve if you make a few simple yet effective and permanent changes to improve your own health and fitness!

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