The One Year Project

A Personal Experiment in Deadline Transition

Week 7: Strength Training, Cardio and Fat Loss

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Body Fat Analyzer

Body Fat Analyzer

All aspects of Week 7 were a success except one.  Monday through Friday included light cardio.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday were weightlifting days.  I ate clean every day between 1800 and 2100 calories.

When I jumped on the scales yesterday, I weighed in at a surprising 244lbs.  Three pounds more than last week.  I don’t necessarily consider this a bad thing, though, as I could be gaining muscle (and I’m sure I’ve gained a bit of muscle in the last two weeks), but I’ve had to analyze the last week to see if I can pick out any bad habits.  I’ve narrowed down a list that I think explains it.

  1. Too Little Cardio/Too Little Variety

    Since the beginning I’ve been doing 10 minutes of light cardio based on this video at SparkPeople.com.  And in the beginning the workout totally tore me up.  I think it’s one of the reasons I lost weight so quickly and so well in the first couple weeks.  Now, however, I barely break a sweat on this video.  My body has gotten so used to doing it that it’s almost second nature.  So, ten minutes is as good as doing no cardio in this case.  Plus since my body is so used to it, it’d likely be very ineffective even if I bumped it up to 30 minutes.

    Solution: I’ve chosen two other videos that I’ll cycle through either week-to-week or day-to-day to prevent my body from getting used to any cardio routine.  I’ve also already taken the initial steps to begin running when the weather warms up (or at the earliest, when the snow melts).  Starting today I’ve bumped my cardio up to 30 minutes per day.

  2. Eating Carbs Before Cardio

    All last week I ate a bowl of bran flakes topped with a little honey and covered in milk for breakfast *right before* my cardio workout.  From what I’ve read, this seems to have been a truly awful move on my part.  From what I understand (and correct me if I’m wrong), carbs are converted to glycogen when they are eaten and hang around a bit in glycogen stores before they are converted to fat.  When you expend energy, your body goes for the glycogen first and *then* the fat, so by eating carbs before exercising I ended up burning zero fat.

    Solution: I’ve read that eating pre-workout isn’t necessary for moderate-intensity, steady state exercises like the type I do.  So, this morning I drank some water and jumped right into the cardio before I ate anything.  Post workout I drank a couple protein drinks for 52g of protein and 32g of carbs.  I’ll continue to do this every day this week and hopefully I’ll see some results.

  3. Entering “Starvation Mode”

    I found out that in as little as 4 hours of not eating the body can go into “starvation mode” where more fat is stored.  I have been aware of “starvation mode” for a long time but had I known that it could get started in 4 hours I’d have been eating more strictly.  I’m fairly certain that in this week I’ve waited more then 4 hours to eat.

    Solution: Starting today I’ve timed 6 meals/snacks two hours apart.  I’ll eat at 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm, or if I get a late start (like I did today), 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm.  This will ensure that my metabolism stays working and that I never enter starvation mode.

  4. Inaccurate Measurements

    I’ve known this was an issue from the beginning but in the beginning I hadn’t planned on lifting weights so it didn’t seem like such a big deal.  Lifting weights means I may lose fat, but gain muscle.  So I’d be in better shape but the scales would lie and possibly discourage me.

    Solution: Wednesday, when I noticed something was up this week, I bought a body fat analyzer.  This analyzer gives me a reasonably accurate measurement of body fat percentage.  I’m not so much concerned with the accuracy because the device is *very* consistent.  From week to week I’ll measure the reduction in my percentage of body fat.  I’ll also add another widget to the side of the page to track body fat percentage and BMI.  I may eventually start measuring my arms/chest/waist/etc., too.  This week my body fat percentage was 28.0%.

So with all these changes in place, I’m looking forward to an awesome Week 8!  Almost two months!

Written by J. Bentley

February 2, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Losing Weight

Weight Loss: Week 5 and Week 6

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No, I’m not dead.  No, I haven’t given up!

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted.  I apologize!  I’ll try not to make a habit of it.  So, down to business!

Week 5

Photo by whyld

Photo by whyld

But Friday morning came and I picked up like I had never stopped.  I jumped straight into some weight training and made sure to make a trip to the grocery store.  I was more than happy to see that, by the time Sunday rolled around, I only gained one pound that week.  Feeling as fat and awful as I did, I was sure I had gained nine pounds.  Not so!  This encouraged me so much more for Week 6.

Week 6 – Down 2lbs!

Week 6 ended today and I dropped from 243 to 241.  This week has involved quite a few changes.

I had finished reading The Abs Diet at the end of week 5 and decided to put its principles to work.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I did strength training.  I only did cardio once or twice this week because the Abs Diet doesn’t emphasize cardio so much.  However, while I realize I’d probably keep losing weight just eating healthy and lifting weights, in Week 7 I’ll be bumping cardio up to 6 days a week.  Having lost two pounds this week with just strength training, I see no reason why that number couldn’t be 3 – 5 pounds per week.

This week I also expanded my food options (restriction = bad + destined for failure).  I’ve bought whole grain breads and cereals, skim milk, eggs, more turkey burger (which I love), string cheese and ketchup (which makes me love the burgers more).  My one real problem was with Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi.  For some reason it seems to make my weight loss stall (I’ve observed the same results twice.)  I’m staying away from that from now on.

For the first time ever I have bought some kind of health supplement.  I picked up a 2lb tub of Whey Protein yesterday morning in preparation for this week.  I’ve had a couple cups of milk with it and made a smoothie, but I’m really wanting to try it out post-workout and see if it amplifies my results.

I’m really looking forward to Week 7!  Wow, Week 7.  Kinda hard to believe it’s almost been two months since I started and I’m 14lbs down.  While I’m happy with my progress, I do believe that if I take it a bit more seriously and stay determined not to fail on any week that I can up my weight loss rate.

So here’s to Week 7!  I think I’ll set the goal of 5 pounds for this week.  This time next week I hope to be 5 pounds lighter.

Written by J. Bentley

January 25, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Losing Weight

Weight Loss – Week 4: One Month Later and 13 Pounds Lighter!

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Photo by justabiggeek

Photo by justabiggeek

This has been a fairly awful week.  I’ve been sick since Monday.  Headaches and backaches and, more terrible than anything, coughing!  I’ve felt completely and totally healthy except for these nasty sounding coughs that have lasted since about Tuesday.

There were a couple days this week I didn’t exercise.  I just didn’t feel well enough.  For anyone following my calories, you might have noticed I stopped tracking.  For good reason!  I haven’t felt like eating much since I’ve gotten sick.  It’s mostly been apples and milk and occasionally vegetables.

But, at the end of the week, here I am at 242lbs! Four pounds down this week!  I can’t wait to get in the 230s.  I really can’t wait to get to 225.

In November of 2007, a job at the hospital that involved lots of running and walking and a brief session of Nutrisystem had gotten me down to my all time low of 225.  So, right now weight loss doesn’t feel as good as it could.  I feel like I’m just relosing weight I should have kept off.  This is weight I’ve probably lost 3 times before.

When I get down to 225, then every pound I lose will feel awesome.  I can imagine saying every week, “222! I’ve never weighed 222 before!”… “218! I’ve never weighed 218 before!”… “215! I’ve never weighed 215 before!”  So I’m really looking forward to that number.

In my laying-around-and-doing-nothingness I was able to finish reading the Abs Diet.  The eating plan isn’t too different from what I’m doing, so I wasn’t really concerned with that.  What really drew me to it was the workout program.  It’s the kind of program that will build muscle and help me lose weight while I’m *not* exercising, which is really important.

I’ll start on that tomorrow morning!  Monday, Wednesday and Friday I’ll do strength exercises.  Tuesday and Thursday some light cardio (maybe 30 minutes).  I might do the cardio Monday, Wednesday and Friday, too.  It depends on how it works out the first week.  If I’m happy with the results at just Tuesday and Thursday, I’ll leave it.

I’ll post quite a bit more in the next week than I did this week.  I’ve just been too sick to care about posting.

So, on to week 5!  And I’m happy to say that because as I think I’ve said before, my health kicks have only ever made it to week 4.  Once week 5 is completed and successful it really represents a new chapter in my life!

Written by J. Bentley

January 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Losing Weight

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Weight Loss – Week 3: How to Analyze and Overcome a “Bad” Week

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Photo by capn madd matt

Photo by capn madd matt

This week started out great.  I was down to 244.  Then something happened.  When I stepped on the scale this morning I was 246lbs.  That’s right!

One pound gained from last Sunday!

My immediate response was depression and withdrawal, feeling like giving up (naturally).  But this time I’m determined to get in shape so I knew I couldn’t let these emotions control me.  Here are a few things I did to get back in the “weight loss” mood!

Get Motivated!

The first thing I set out to do was get re-motivated.  I spent literally hours scouring blogs and websites for success stories and for people like me who’ve gotten quite a bit farther along.  I became hooked on many of them a literally read about every post.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. The Anti-Jared – http://theantijared.blogspot.com
    This guy had some massive weight loss.  After ballooning to a whopping 420lbs, he set out in February 2008 to finally change his life (like he had set out to do many times before, so not even his wife expected anything to happen.)  But this time was different!  Now, ten months later, he’s down 200 pounds and has control of his life!  Recently, he’s decided to give back!  Now for every comment he gets he’ll donate something like 10 cents to a charity.  So GO! Be inspired.  Comment!  Great motivation.
  2. Run4Change – http://run4change.wordpress.com/
    This guy has commented on this blog a few times and I’m really glad he did!  His journey was similar to what my journey is now.  He had been overweight since he was a child and wanted to change his life, so on December 13, 2006 (I started December 14, 2008!) he began a year long journey (sound familiar?) that would leave him 133lbs down!  Nowadays he continues to write about the ongoing work of maintaining his weight and also does Q&A posts.  His before and after pictures are VERY inspiring.
  3. Men’s Health Belly Off! 2009 Profiles – http://www.menshealth.com
    The guys on here have gotten some awesome results and they are all at different stages of the process.  It’s always encouraging to see what other people are doing.  Not only can you see their progress but many mention exactly what they are doing, how they are doing it, when they are doing it.  The profiles had the most significant effect on my motivation, but the Men’s Health site was motivating all around.

Compare the “Bad” Week Against Previous Weeks and Make Changes

After I had gotten inspired by how things had turned out for these other guys, I developed an “I can do it” attitude and set out to see why it was I was gaining weight.  I had assumed I was doing everything in the third week exactly the same way I had been doing it in the first and second week.  Boy, was I wrong!

I had gradually been making changes to my process without really noticing.  I found out that I had cut my calories from ~2000 in the first week to ~1800 in the third week.  Combined with the intensity of my exercise (which isn’t much), this may have been enough of a change to put me in a deficit, the kind that tells your body you are “starving” and to store more fat.  There is also a possibility that that the weight I gained was the result of some muscle gained.  If that is the case Week 4 ought to be a great one!

I think it is also worth noting that the scale isn’t necessarily the best way to measure progress.  I’m one pound heavier, but I look better in the mirror already and I have a much easier time with the workouts than I did on day one.

But I’d definitely recommend comparing your bad week against previous successful weeks.  Retrace your steps, look at any logs you had made from week one or two and just see if your habits had evolved in an inefficient way.  It will definitely help and, personally, it led me to the next item…

Start a New Eating and Workout Plan

After having seen the progress of some guys on the Men’s Health site I decided to look into The Abs Diet.  I immediately got the book and started reading.  It is brilliant.  When the author revealed his reluctance to call it a “diet” I was hooked.  You see, The Abs Diet isn’t a diet in the pop-culture sense, but in the scientific sense.  It’s a way of eating.  There are a list of healthy foods to eat but absolutely no food is restricted.  It’s a sensible approach to nutrition that encourages good decision making and promotes foods that help build muscle and burn fat.

It’s not much different than what I have been doing.  All the foods recommended have a low glycemic load.  The Abs Diet is just an expanded and more elaborate version that takes into consideration muscle building.  It is also much less restrictive (i.e., MORE REALISTIC).  It seems to me to be a decision making philosophy more than a “diet”, and I can’t wait to try the workout plan either.

Once I’ve finished the book, I’ll be transitioning into The Abs Diet.

So then, I’ve successfully overcome my first hurdle!  On to Week 4!  (By the way, I’ve only lasted as much as 4 weeks eating healthy and exercising.  Week 5 will be a milestone week for me!)

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Written by J. Bentley

January 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Accountability and Calorie Counting for the Tech Savvy

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Photo by teamperks

Photo by teamperks

I’ve been at it for three weeks now consistently losing weight.  I’ve done this by eating healthy, exercising, and, you guessed it, counting calories.  Now, up until this point I had been using the Mac’s calculator widget.  Every time I ate I’d press the dashboard key and punch in the calories.

This works, to be sure, but it’s not very safe or convenient and it’s not as useful as it could be.  More than once I’ve had to restart the computer, losing all the calories and having to redo the whole mess.  Not to mention the fact that I am consistently calling on the calculator only to remember when I see it that the calories are there and the calculator can’t be used.  Plus what if I mess up, what if I lie or what if I forget something.  There’s no way to track the foods and there’s no way to be held accountable.

I’m a web designer so needless to say most of my time is spent at a computer.  I need a quick entry system for calories that’s preferably easy to learn and works well with my computer.  The best solution for me, hands down?  Well…

Tweet What You Eat

I’m a Twitter addict.  I update a few times per day promoting new posts, asking questions, responding to other tweets.  I use Firefox and, having tried Twitterific and Tweetdeck and the like, I’ve found the Firefox extension Twitterfox to be the greatest tool ever for keeping track of who I follow since most of my time is spent in a browser.  Twitterfox is almost always open (and when it’s not, it just takes a single click) so it makes quick entry very easy.

Well, some geniuses had the bright idea to turn your tweets into a food diary!  TweetWhatYouEat.com is a very minimalistic approach to calorie counting that is incredibly convenient and also offers the potential for accountability.  Go to their site for more detailed instructions on how to sign up and get started.  Basically, though, you follow the Twitter user ‘twye’.  Once you follow them, you can track what you eat via the web or a mobile device (however you can tweet things, you can update your calories.)

To add a new food to your log, send a direct message to ‘twye’.  For example, if you have a taco with 120 calories you just send the tweet ‘d twye Taco:120′ and it will be added to your log.  You don’t have to put calories if  you want and you’re free to log in to you diary page at a later time and add it.  They also provide a crowd sourced calorie look up that will feel in the calories of unknown foods automatically if you set your account up for it.

Anyway, the best best thing about it is this diary page you get.  Mine is found here.  All your tweets are organized into an easy to read chart and also shows a total of the calories you’ve eaten.  But in the top right corner by your username is the best part.

An RSS feed!

Copy the link of this feed and you can set yourself up for some accountability.  For example, I copied the feed and added it to my sidebar!  Take a look to your right.  You’ll see a listing of what I’ve been eating.  This will no doubt shame me away from any bad foods (like cookies or cakes).  In order to fail I’ll have to tell everyone I failed.  It definitely keeps me in check!

So, this is how I’ll be counting calories from now on.  Oh yeah, and feel free to follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/jdbentley.

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Written by J. Bentley

January 2, 2009 at 8:00 am

Posted in Losing Weight, Tools

The Year I’ll Get Everything I Ever Wanted

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Photo by andreakw

Photo by andreakw

Man…  Unbelievable.

I’ve been freelancing for over a year now.  It doesn’t seem like too long ago that I was slaving through 9-to-5 drudgery, hating life working at the hospital.  I’m in a transition phase of my life so I’m having year after year of huge changes (and I kind of hope that doesn’t stop.)  2008 left me with a legitimate web design business (http://www.jdbentley.com if you’re interested), a system of organization for getting things done, my first legally owned copy of Photoshop (to know you make enough money to buy the pirated software you use is quite a good feeling), a brand new aluminum MacBook, a Canon Rebel and two Moleskines.  It’s a short list, but this is literally all the material things I’ve ever wanted.  It enables me to make money and art.  If 2008 was the year of acquiring material necessities, 2009 is the year of getting everything else, namely those things which can’t be bought:

  • Financial Stability (Okay, maybe that one sort of can be bought.)
  • A Successful Business
  • A Thin and Healthy Me
  • The Ability to Travel Freely

I’ve listed the goals in more detail  in the earlier post defining this little experiment of mine, but this pretty much sums everything up.

2008 was a great year of personal and professional development for me.  As someone who used to be crippled by shyness, I found myself routinely calling clients and potential clients on the phone.  I started earning money on my absolute own with no employer, however modest my income was.  I developed even more skills to make even more money.  I completed a business plan and registered both a Doing-Business-As name with the state and more recently a full-blown LLC (More about that in a later post).

On the opposite side, 2008 saw an unusually high rate of deaths among family and friends.  I felt almost guilty that while all these horrible things were happening I was doing so well personally.  It also served as a huge motivator.  I felt like with each bit of bad news I was knocked a little further up the line.  Faced with your own mortality, you begin to see what matters and what doesn’t and you start doing what you need to do.

I’ve listed all my personal goals this year.  But what about goals for the blog?

By the end of this year I’d like to have 100 subscribers.

100 subscribers is unreasonable enough to make this a very worthwhile goal.  So help me out!  Click here to subscribe or click here to subscribe by email!

Today is a beautiful day.  The sun is shining so bright, the frost on the grass sparkled like specks of glass in the sunlight.  2009 will be a great year!

Here’s to the last year I’ll ever be fat and broke!

Written by J. Bentley

January 1, 2009 at 11:35 am

5 Awesome Low Glycemic Sweet Treats

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Shortly into week one it became painfully obvious that I have a major sweet tooth.  Not even a reasonable sweet tooth, either.  It’s more of a “Please funnel molten chocolate down my throat” sweet tooth.  So a couple weeks ago I had to stop by the grocery store and while I was there I decided to check out what my options were.

I soon found out that just because you’re on a low glycemic diet, doesn’t mean you can’t satisfy a craving for something sugary every once in a while.  Keep in mind that these things are lower glycemic but shouldn’t be eaten in large amounts at one time.  You should use them sparingly as a reward or an occasional dessert and even at that you should take your time and enjoy them slowly.

Besides, as I found out the hard way, many low glycemic, sugar-free treats contain sugar substitutes that act as laxatives.  So don’t gorge!  Here are my favorite sweet treats from the last couple weeks:

  1. Fudge Chocolate ChipVoortman Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies
    I love these things!  These are the first batch of sugar-free cookies I ever tried and I must say they exceeded my expectations.  They are sweet enough that two cookies are all it takes for me to be in chocolate heaven.  These also have 0 trans fats!  The problem with sugar-free anything (and healthy food in general) is that it tends to cost more money than junk food.  Not so much with these.  They were only $2.50 for half a pound!  Not as cheap as the $1 generic sugary brand, but certainly not going to break the bank.
  2. Chocolate ChipVoortman Chocolate Chip Cookies
    I’m really starting to like this Voortman brand.  I liked their sugar-free Fudge Chocolate Chip so much that I decided to try a few other flavors.  The chocolate chip cookies are more “cookie” than “chocolate” but that’s not to say they aren’t as good.  It’s amazing.  In this particular batch I got, the chocolate chips were huge and so delicious.  They also have 0 trans fat (and I think all Voortman products do, but I wouldn’t swear to it.)  They were also $2.50 where I bought them, but you might be able to find them cheaper depending on where you shop.  Highly recommended!
  3. Iced Oatmeal CookiesVoortman Iced Oatmeal Cookies
    Again with the Voortmans!  I’m practically an addict by now.  The Iced Oatmeal cookies are great.  They are smaller than the other cookies.  Still sugar-free with 0 trans fat.  But, unlike the others, these are whole grain!  They also come in a bag instead of a tray.  Great for caring around wherever you go as a little harmless snack.  These are also the little guys that showed me what powerful laxative effect Maltitol (a sugar alcohol) can have on the human bowel.  Be careful with these things or you’ll have your stomach bubbling.
  4. Yellow AppleApples
    Apples are great if you’re in the mood for something fruity.  They have a low 38 on the Glycemic Index and are great desserts.  In my experience, they can get a bit addicting.  I’d typically eat 3 after a meal.  The small-mediumish apples are just about 90 calories each.  Not sure about the sugar, but the week I ate them the most I lost 6lbs.  Not saying there is a correlation between losing weight and eating apples, just that it didn’t seem to effect me at all that week despite the number of them I ate.
  5. Diet PepsiCaffeine-Free Diet Pepsi
    I’ve been drinking nothing but water for the past couple weeks and I’ll continue to drink mostly water, but it’s really nice to have some Caffeine-Free, Guilt-Free Diet Pepsi around the house.  I say caffeine-free because the consumption of caffeine can affect your metabolism and hinder weight loss.  One of these per day has been plenty for me.  Sweet AND satisfying!

Written by J. Bentley

December 31, 2008 at 8:00 am

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