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Body for Life

So, I mentioned I’m trying to follow a Body for Life eating program. I think I would actually call it more of a “lifestyle” than a diet or program. That’s because I think it’s a pretty realistic way to eat for the rest of your life, not just for a few weeks.

The book starts out by going through several people’s success stories. It’s always motivating to see how far real people have come. There’s definitely that feeling of, “well if they can do it, why can’t I?” I usually just assume I can’t because I don’t have as much self control. Then, when I really think about it, I’m not sure why I assume that. I’ve ran marathons before right? I trained successfully, set a goal, and accomplished it, so why am I unable to do the same thing in other aspects of my life? That, of course, could also apply to my professional goals…why can’t I achieve those? The only person stopping me, is me-but that’s another story for another post. Back to the book!

After the first few chapters essentially on motivation, it goes over a couple “facts versus myths” of weight training and eating healthy. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Fact: Resistance training helps women become long, lean, and toned. NOT bulky (the myth part)!. I think by now, most women know this. Lifting weights will not make you look like a body builder. You actually have to go out of your way to want to look like a body builder; It’s a lot of work! You will become stronger and more defined which I’m sure most women do like. Another important aspect of weight lifting is that it keeps your bones strong! Even if you’re young, at some point you could face potentially developing osteoporosis (usually after menopause) so keeping those bones strong is a must for women!
  • Fact: Too much exercise prevents results. I’ve heard this before: your body needs time to rest and heal from exercise. I have a hard time with this. I think that’s because I could potentially be addicted to working out (hah maybe?), I’m not sure. It’s hard for me to take breaks. That guilt hangs over my head for some reason. But it’s something I’ll try to work on. Then again, this program has 6 days of working out…so maybe I’m not the only one…
  • Fact: High intensity effort produces the best results. I don’t know for sure (I’m not a doctor), but I do agree that high intensity workouts are the most efficient way to burn fat/calories. Just from experience, I’ve noticed that shorter workouts that involve plyometrics, increased weight, etc. always leave me feeling worked out. That’s because my muscle’s are literally on the verge of failure…which is good in this case!
  • Fact: Eating six, nutritious meals a day is the way to go. I am definitely a grazer, so this kind of meal plan works really well for me. I think keeping your body from going near that starvation mode is key. Never being “starved” means you’ll never binge like crazy on food. You’re never at that point where you lose control or don’t care what you eat because you’re so hungry. Obviously sometimes this happens..when it does, I try to tell myself, “you will eat again. You’re not going to starve haha so relax!”

I’m still very new to this program so I’m trying to find what’s right for me. I’m working with portion size more in order to figure out how much food throughout the day will keep me satisfied. The first day I tried this approach, I felt hungry so I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat enough. Yesterday wasn’t quite as bad. Body for Life is more about portion size instead of calorie counting. I’ve actually been trying to count my calories the last few days because I’m curious if I’m eating enough. It is time consuming…but also interesting to see how much you’re really eating.

The portion he recommends is basically your palm size or a closed fist. A palm size worth of lean protein and a palm size of carbohydrate (no white flours, sugars, etc). He also recommends adding at least 2 servings of vegetables to your meals. I’ve just been trying to eat as many veggies as I can fitting them in anywhere including shakes.

Here’s a basic rundown of the “diet”:

  • Eat 6 small meals a day, every 2 to 3 hours
  • Eat a portion (palm size) of protein and carb at every meal
  • Drink at least 10 cups of water a day
  • Add a portion of veggies to at least 2 meals
  • Have 1 tbsp of unsaturated oil daily
  • One day a week is a free day

Nutrition shakes are highly recommended on this plan.He recommends using Myoplex protein shakes and powders, but I just use the one I have.

Okay, now onto the workouts!

I haven’t followed the workout guidelines quite yet. I just feel like I’m okay at working out and pushing myself, but I think I might try this method. I’ve been concentrating more on CrossFit style or HIIT workouts. Body for Life encourages more muscle failure type of workouts as well as the high intensity cardio. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Weight train pretty intensely 3 days a week for no more than 46 minutes. Do 20 minutes of cardio 3 times a week-not on the same day you weight train.
  • Alternate training major muscles of upper and lower body. For example, train upper body on Monday, lower on Wed., upper on Friday. The next week start with lower body.
  • Do 2 exercises for each major muscle group in the upper and lower body. Do ab exercises on lower body day’s.
  • Here’s the serious part: Starting with 1 exercise for 1 muscle group, conduct 5 sets-start with 12 reps then increase the weight and do 10 reps, increase the weight and do 8 reps, increase the weight again but do 6 reps. Then, reduce the weight, do 12 more reps, then move onto the next exercise for the same muscle doing 12 reps.

So, at the end of your weight lifting session, your muscles should feel extremely fatigued! The cardio workouts are done in a similar fashion:

  • 20 minutes of high intensity cardio. Start with a 2 minutes warmup at your level 5 (that could be walking…could be jogging). Next, go up to a level 6 for 1 minute, then a level 7, and so on until you’re at a level 9. Then, go back down to level 6 and start over again. You repeat this cycle 3 times but on the last cycle, try to go for a level 10, then down to 5 for a cool down.

This kind of cardio method will definitely kick your butt. This doesn’t just mean speed, it could also be increasing your incline. I know it’s tough for me to run at a slow pace on a steep incline. That’s also a great cardio workout.

 

So, that’s Body for Life in a nutshell…at least what I got from the book. I appreciate that it’s not another super strict, crazy diet. There are plenty of those out there. I feel like it promotes a healthier lifestyle and relationship with food. One that can actually be carried on throughout your life. So many “diets” are just completely unrealistic. They might work for a few weeks…but will you or do you really want to be that strict for the rest of your life? Probably not.

I’m sure I won’t stick to this like crazy because some days, I might not want to. But I do feel like I am more aware of what I’m eating and how much of it I eat. That’s really all I wanted to do was gain control of what foods I eat and how much. It’s easy sometimes to have the mindset that, ” I work out, so it’s not a big deal what I eat,” but it definitely is. I feel like garbage when I eat like garbage…on the other hand, I feel good when I’ve given my body the foods and nutrients it needs.

Do you follow a diet?

3 comments to Body for Life

  • Great great tips. I don’t follow a diet but I do try to keep track of what I eat. I try to be active everyday – even if it is just going for a walk. It makes all the difference in the world to me!

  • Great book review. I feel like I could follow the diet but not the workouts since I usually just do what I feel, like I just need to run sometimes. The diet I follow is just one that is mostly fruits and veggies, some whole grains, natural fats and protein but also I don’t want to restrict so if I feel like something ‘naughty’ like candy, I’ll go for it. But I know that eating that makes me feel tired/headachy after.

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