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My 30 Day Exercise and Nutrition Challenge

Will I be able to stick to an exercise program for 30 days?

And if I can, will it really make a difference to my weight?

How much weight can a person lose if they commit to a month-long program?

These are the questions I’m asking myself as I go into this challenge. For the next 30 days, I’m publicly committing myself to follow an exercise program for two very important reasons.

1. To show that it is possible for a middle age former soccer player to get back into shape in a short period of time.

2. To prove to myself that I can discipline my mind and do the right things to get what I want. (This is a real challenge for me – and the big reason I’m writing about it rather than attempting to do it without accountability. I simply would stop working out when I didn’t feel like it any more!) (Maybe you’re the same way?)

As I go along, I’ll fill in the framework of the program. What exercises I do, what I eat. How it’s different than my present habits. Like most of you, I’m a pretty ordinary person. At age 51, I’m seeing things about myself I don’t like. Too much fat around the belly. Flabby muscles in my legs and arms. And a lack of drive to do anything about it.

If you find this helpful, please leave a comment below.

Day 1:

I started the day by taking the following measurements (based on a program by Mark Joyner called “Lose a Pound a Day”) I’ll report these stats every day…

Weight: 196.6 lbs

Body Fat %: 24.6%

Body Water %: 57.5%

Morning Workout (before breakfast)

5 sets consisting of…

pushups, hip bridges, side planks and one-legged squats

Followed by an energy/protein shake designed to rev up the metabolism

Followed by 30 minutes of cardio. Today I chose the stationary bike. I’ll mix it up between biking, pole walking or other cardio programs that I can comfortably do for 30 minutes minimum.

Also I plan to triple my water intake each day. From what I’ve read, most of us are chronically dehydrated. That causes our bodies to store fat. And one program said that if you do nothing else but drink more water, you’ll be able to drop pounds from your body. It’s certainly worth a try.

More later…

Day 2:

Woke up a little sore this morning. Especially in the pecs, and for some reason, my calves. (Probably from riding the bike.) Already going into that “don’t want to do this” mode. So I made myself do the same routine as yesterday. With one minor exception. Instead of the side planks, I replaced them with a front plank. Oh, and I only did four sets instead of 5.

But, the scale said I was down 2.8 pounds! Problem is I don’t trust this scale. I’ve noticed that if I don’t stand in the exact same spot with my weight distributed the exact same way, I can get some pretty wild variations. I did double check it and it seemed right. I guess I’ll know for sure if the measurement stays consistent over the next few days.

If it is true, I’m crediting it to 2 things:

1. I drank a LOT more water yesterday. (Probably still not enough, but way more than usual.)

2. I almost eliminated simple carbs from my eating yesterday. (Except for one bowl of cereal late in the afternoon when it looked like supper would still be hours away…)

Anyway, I still have to do the cardio. It’s nice enough out today to go for a walk. I’ll grab my poles, throw on an mp3 and put in about 45 minutes before the day is out. I also want to add a little jumping rope to the day. Probably only a couple of 2 minute stints when I need a break from the computer.

I’ll let you know how it went tomorrow…

Day 3:

So… here’s where it usually stops for me. I wake up and don’t feel like doing the exercises. My pecs are sore. I have a headache from sleeping wrong – and I have a huge project due today. The last thing I want to do is waste half an hour exercising to start my day.

Then I remembered my commitment to write about my experiences.

(Incidentally, I never did get the cardio done yesterday. Turns out if I don’t do it right after bodyweight training, I’m probably not gonna do it!)

I started the exercises anyway this morning.

I managed to do the warmup exercises. That didn’t make my head pound too badly. But I didn’t do the bodyweight stuff.  I figured it was a good day to rest my sore muscles.

Then I dove into my project with a slightly clearer head. (Which worked out well – I made my deadline and I think it’s pretty good. I’ll wait and see what the feedback is though.)

After my project was complete, I did what I didn’t manage to do yesterday. That’s do my cardio. Now, I wanted to get outside and walk for 30 minutes. With the poles, it’s equivalent to doing 45- 50 minutes of cardio. But there were two meetings to attend later, so I did 30 on the bike.

That helped the headache!

To recap: Warm ups, cardio but no weight training. Something’s better than nothing, right? At least that’s the way I see it. It’s a small victory – but a victory nonetheless. And that’s good enough for me.

I just need to remind myself to not succumb to my short term desire for comfort and focus on my long term goal of looking good and feeling better!

See you tomorrow…

Day 4:

Was all about shoveling snow for my cardio workout. Got about 4 inches. Enough to get my heart running. I took care of my own driveway as well as the neighbor’s. Believe it or not, that’s a pretty good workout. Took me more than half an hour so I felt pretty good when I was done.

The rest of the day wasn’t so great. Was New Year’s Eve, so we splurged on some Tempura and Sushi. (Yum!) As well as a bottle of wine. Probably didn’t do anything for my fat loss program. But it was fun. And as long as I don’t do it every day, I figure I can get away with it once in a while.

I’ll just consider it my “cheat” day and carry on without guilt. What happens the next day will prove out my character…

Day 5:

Was a lazy day today…

Got up. Didn’t weigh myself. Ate cereal instead of protein for breakfast. It was New Years Day after all. Not that I was hungover or anything. In fact, went to bed early and got a full 10 hours sleep. Simply chose to take the day off. Again…

That’s 2 days in a row. Not good when you’re trying to meet a goal. But this is good information for me. By having to write about it, I can see the beginning of a pattern. Must change it. Or I’ll very quickly stop doing the exercises altogether. And end up beating myself up about it.

When it would be just as easy to spend a little time just doing the work!

Day 6: Well, even with skipping a couple days, my weight is down a couple pounds. Here’s the current stats:

Weight: 196.0

Body Fat %: 23.8%

Water Weight%: 56.8%

Not huge improvements, but forward motion.

After I wrote yesterday’s post, I realized I hadn’t done any exercise yet again. Before I went to bed, I did a couple sets of the “moderate” day workout so I wouldn’t feel guilty. It was getting pretty close to bedtime so I didn’t want to get myself too over-revved. Just enough to warm my muscles up then give myself a good stretch.

I think I slept better – probably because I eased my guilt by doing something – even if it was last minute.

That’s the funny part about this whole thing… I know I WANT to lose fat, get in better shape and be able to have the ability to play competitive sports again. I’m even holding myself accountable by posting to this every day.

But it’s still pretty easy to make excuses and put of exercising.

I hope by doing this, someone else can overcome their own inertia and move to momentum!

More tomorrow…

Day 7:

Woke up this morning, had a quick protein shake and met my walking buddy. Every Sunday morning we meet, go for a long walk then have coffee.

These aren’t typical walks. These are hard core 2+ hours using Nordic poles. In case you’re not aware of these poles, they put upper body movement into your walks. They say you can burn about 40% more calories than straight walking. I believe it. No matter what the temperature, within 15 minutes I’ve worked up a good sweat. By the time we’re done I’ve soaked through two layers of clothes and my winter jacket is damp. (It was about -2 degrees Celsius so I was dressed fairly warmly.)

We pick challenging routes with lots of hills and some off pavement stuff. Walking through snow is a tremendous workout. Usually, I’m done for the day after one of our walks.

The surprising thing was I felt pretty good today. Not as exhausted as usual.

Let’s recap my first week:

Started good. Did the exercises. Then started to miss days. Then felt guilty so did them last thing at night. And topped off the week with a 2 hour hike. Pretty good.

Not much for weight or fat loss over that time. I guess I need to stick with it longer to see any results.

Just have to keep going…

Day 8:

Here’s the stats for the day… Kind of discouraging.

Weight: 198.2 lbs

Body Fat %: 24.7%

Water Weight %: 56.o

Guess that’s what happens when you don’t do anything!

Had to get up extra early today. Maybe the numbers are different because I took the measurements about 3 hours earlier than normal. Or maybe they’re an indication of my lack of discipline!

The day was a write off. Got home from my early chore and needed a little nap. I didn’t actually get started on anything until noon. Then it was work work work to catch up on my morning of snoozing. I managed to stretch before bedtime – which I think helped me get a better sleep. But that was it for exercise.

On the upside – I was REALLY good about what I ate. A high amount of protein, low on the simple carbs and plenty of fruits and veggies. I’m happy about that.

Tomorrow, I better start over on the whole fitness thing if I want to meet my targets.

My target weight for this 30 day challenge is 185 lbs. I want to get down to 20% (or lower) body fat by that time. So far, I’m not even close.

But I know IF I follow the plan, it’s possible. So here’s to following the plan…

Day 9:

Today was a better day. I got back to basics. Got up, weighed myself and – because of this new project I’m working on – got right to work.

On my first break, I followed the exercise program for the day from the Bodyweight Blueprint for Fat Loss system I mention on the Review page. It’s quite strenuous – even on the “rest” days. I like it because it focuses on limbering up joints before starting the work phase. And all the exercises include a unique way of working out the entire body. Not just back and forth – but adding a circular dimension to them.

After the workout (ok, it was the ‘rest’ day) I was able to work through the entire day and stay focused. I even had the energy to work on another project until late into the evening.

As far as nutrition goes, I’m eating more fruits and veggies and less red meat. The last couple evenings I’ve had some interesting egg dishes for dinner.

And I’m seeing ever so slight results. My weight has dropped 3 lbs over the 9 days. That’s nowhere close to the 20 more I am working on, but it is a measurable result.

More tomorrow…

NOT Day 10:  🙁

I have a confession to make…

I haven’t done anything in the realm or exercise for the last week. It was about a week ago we had a heavy, wet snowfall and I went out and did something to my shoulder while pushing snow around.

So, I’ve been feeling guilty about not doing anything – and not posting anything. It’s getting better. Some sort of strain that’s just gonna take some time to heal. Still hurts when I wake up in the morning, but seems to ease off later in the day.

I guess I could have done some cardio stuff like riding the bike. But I didn’t.

I think it’s going to take a few more days for this shoulder to heal enough to go back to strength training. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can fit some bike riding or walking into my day so it’s not the total loss it’s been up to now.

Later

HAHA – Here I Am – Starting This WHOLE THING OVER AGAIN – Only 20 Months Later!

Day 1 – August 15 – 2011

Well, looks like I have some ‘splainin’ to do…

Yeah, I quit the last time. Now I’m two years older and still as flabby as I was. Rather than go into a big long excuse rant, I’m just humbly going to start over. My stats as of today:

201.6 lbs – 25.4% body fat. OUCH!

Here is my new plan…

Phase one is all about getting used to exercise again – not trying to crush it so hard I give up easy. The routine is pretty easy: 30 minutes cardio, 6 to 10 minutes high intensity, then a couple supersets of basic bodyweight exercises.

Today:

  • 30 mins on the stationary bike – interspersed with 6 minutes of “up on the pedals” high intensity training
  • 2 supersets – each consisting of 10 pushups and 15 prisoner squats.
That will get my metabolism started. That’s all I’m hoping for right now. And to make it a HABIT that I WANT to do every day.
I’ll work on the food thingy too. Working to avoid sugar and other white carbs – but sugar especially. Oh yeah, and drink a lot of water!
We’ll see how it goes…
Day 2
Got up this morning and was a little sore. Not real bad, just a sort of pulled groin feeling in my right leg. Thought the best thing to do would be to walk it out rather than get back on the stationary bike. Besides, it’s a spectacular Okanagan summer morning – clear and not too hot.
My house is at the bottom of a hill. If I turn right, I can go up the hill for miles and miles. If I turn left, I can walk on sidewalks through town. This morning I chose town. To start with. I just wasn’t awake enough to start by trudging up a hill to get my heart going – more wanted to ease into it.
I want to talk about commitment and willpower for a minute. Neither of these have been my strong suit which I guess explains how I got to 20o lbs. Anyway, my commitment to myself is to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio every morning. So I walk along this little route and end up back near my house at the 24 minute mark.
The old me would have said, “Good enough,” and gone in to get breakfast. The new, committed me said, “Gee, if I go up the hill once, that should take care of those 6 minutes,” and made that turn. Only now that I was warmed up, it wasn’t so hard on my body. Interesting observation.
Anyway, here’s my stats from today – so far:
197. 6 lbs (don’t know if that’s dependable, but I’ll go with it!) That’s down 4 lbs.
24.6% body fat (this is the number I care about most!) and that’s a drop of .8%
Cardio: Walk for 35 minutes
Bodyweight: 3 “Supersets” of squats and pushups (one more than yesterday)
Still need to do the interval training – might be skipping rope or back on the bike. Either or, I’ll get’r’done before the day’s over.
Only then will I feel that I’ve completed my minimum daily commitment.

The Myth of Strong Abs

Funny…

It turns out you can have strong abs but still have a layer of fat that hides them from the rest of the world. That’s why all the ab exercises in the world by themselves won’t shrink your fat belly.

What you need is a complete fat loss program. That means eating fewer calories – but more of the right kinds of foods.

And working out.

It’s a simple combination, really.

Eat less – exercise more.

But the diet industry doesn’t want you to know that. And food manufacturers, restaurants and grocery stores have convinced us that large portions are the normal.

Know what else is “normal?”

Take a look around at people next time you’re in the mall. Or your favorite hang out. Check out what the new “normal” body size seems to be. Yup… fat!

That’s why you’re here. You don’t want to be part of that new normal. You want to be admired and respected for the way you take care of yourself. And that’s what it’s really all about. How you take care of yourself.

Think about it…

If you see two people side by side and one is beyond overweight while the other seems fit and trim, which one do you admire more?

(I know that body isn’t the only measure of a person, but it’s a visual clue as to how they live their lives. No need for nasty email!)

So taking care of yourself leads to more esteem. Both from yourself and from other people. That’s why we’re on this journey together. To deal with that fat belly once and for all and build your self esteem to a higher level.

Til next time!

Nutrition

One of the most important components to shedding belly fat is nutrition. Not too long ago, I had some time available and went to the library. I checked out 11 different diet books. I wanted to get to the bottom of the whole nutrition thing.

Let’s face it, every author of a diet book has to put a different spin on the same topic. So you get all these crazy diet plans. Everything from your blood type to the zone. From the South Beach to the Mediterranean diet. From Atkins to Pritikin. From Dr. Oz to Dr. Perricone.

It all looks a little confusing. Here is what I did to help sort out all the science from all the nonsense.

I built a spreadsheet. I looked at all the different diet and nutrition books. I took all the common factors. It came down to this:

There are 3 macronutrients. (And hundreds of micronutrients, but that’s for a different day…)
They are FAT, PROTEIN and CARBOHYDRATES.
That’s it. After this semi-exhaustive search, and my amazing abilities to put things in the proper place in a spreadsheet I drew two conclusions:

1. Eat less calories than you expend.

2. Balance the 3 macro nutrients.

It really is that simple. Where it gets complicated is that each of the books had a slightly different outlook on what the optimal balance is. One book said 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein. Another book had 40% protein, 25% fat and 35% carbs. Yet another book had a different balance.

I think it depends on your physical make up. Some guys will do better with more protein, some with more carbs. Ultimately, I think as long as you stay within the guidelines and keep your fat consumption under 30% and try to eat healthy fats rather than saturated fats you’ll drop the pounds.

I know it’s working for me. By taking this uncomplicated approach, and adding walking to my daily routine, I’ve dropped 6 pounds in the last three weeks!

Try it. It will work for you as well.

Why Guys Need to Worry About Burning Fat

Shrink my fat belly. LOL

If you’re like most guys who hit middle age, you notice things about yourself. Maybe you’re like me and spent many years playing competitive sports. But now that I’ve stopped (thanks to the JERK who took out my knees cause he couldn’t stand someone twice his age getting past him!) I find my body looking different.

It’s about muscle tone. And how I look in the mirror. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in a window or something and think, “What’s my Dad doing there??”

I’m sure you’ve had the same thought.

Let’s face it, getting older has its drawbacks. Especially in the physical department. But there’s something even deeper than just how you look. It’s about how you feel about yourself. You begin to question your ability. You wonder what would happen if you had to defend your family. You just don’t know if you can trust yourself to get’r’done any more.

That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to reduce your fat and increase your muscle mass.

You’ve come to the right place! Along the way I’ll share my efforts. My successes and my failures. You’ll see just how an ordinary guy like me takes all that confusing information that’s out there and turns it into a PLAN to get you into the best shape of your life – no matter where you’re starting now.

Come along for the ride. It may well be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself — and your family!

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