6 Month Weigh-in and Pictures

Six months ago I decided to make some big changes in my life. I was 34 years old and decided I needed to make some adjustments in both my eating habits as well as my exercise plan (or lack thereof) in order to be more healthy. I kicked off this year by completing the 12 week Body-for-LIFE program. I’ve maintained since then for about another 12 weeks and am now 6 months out from the start. Let’s take a look at where I started at:

After completing the 12 week Body-for-LIFE program, I definitely saw results.

I’ve continued to eat healthy and exercise since then. It’s been 3 months post BFL and 6 months since I did the Body-for-LIFE challenge. Here is what I look like today:

A few flexing shots:

In this next one, you can really see my side back and tricep muscles that I’ve built:

Before and after photos, side-by-side:

How have I done it? During the 12-week Body-for-LIFE challenge I would eat smaller portions 6 times a day. Each meal would contain a protein and a carb. Good carbs, though, none of the processed, enriched white flour. Stuff like whole grains, vegetables, beans. One day a week was my “cheat” day where I could eat whatever I wanted, and I literally ate whatever I wanted.

For exercise I went to the gym 6 times a week – 3 times cardio, 3 times weight. Total amount of gym time was between 3 and 4 hours a week. I was extremely consistent with the food and exercise during the 12-week challenge. Since then I’ve relaxed a little bit. I still try to eat healthy and eat 6 times a day. Instead of one day a week off, though, I’ve settled into 3 or 4 meals a week off. The rest of the week I eat smaller portions and still try to eat 6 times a day. It has become a habit, and one that I really, really enjoy. Gorging myself on large meals always makes me feel “blah” afterwards. Here are a few of the foods I regularly stock and eat:

Also, I avoid any sugar sodas. I do drink some diet sodas, but plan on dropping them at some point since they’re not the greatest for you…but I’m not quite there yet. In addition, I drink lots of water. It is crucial to keep your body hydrated. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you really just need some water. Also, keeping your body hydrated helps with muscle growth.

Since I finished Body-for-LIFE, I’ve continued to run 2-3 times a week and do weights 2-3 times per week. On average I’m exercising 4-6 times per week still. I always feel so good after either a good run or workout.

Now, for my 6-month weigh-in. I weighed in this morning at 154.

I’m down 16 pounds down from where I started this year at 170. It’s hard to tell really how much I’ve lost/gained since a lot of the loss has been fat which has been replaced by muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. Well, actually they weigh the same, but for the same size of mass, the fat will weigh more than the muscle – see my post here for more about that. I’m continuing to increase weights at the gym, which for me is a good indicator that I’m continuing to gain muscle. Going forward I will be doing checkins every 3 months with pictures and a weigh-in. The next one will be at 9 months in October, followed by my one year checking the beginning of January 2013. In the meantime I will continue to blog about my story, healthy tips, and how I am able to keep a healthy lifestyle up while behind the desk on a computer every day.

Adding nuts to your diet

One thing I’ve added more to my diet recently is nuts. I read an article on how nuts are a good way to gain healthy weight if you’re looking to increase your calorie intake. Yes, they are hight in fat, but you generally want your fats to come from plants and not from animals (i.e. nuts, avacodas, beans, etc. as opposed to beef, pork, dairy, or other fats that come from animals). If you’re trying to lose weight, they’re good too because they keep you full for a while.

I’ve tried a bunch of different kinds of nuts from the store and have settled on the Emerald brand. Of all the nuts at our grocery store, they seem to taste the freshest. Of course, nothing beats buying nuts fresh in bulk from some place like Sprouts or Whole Foods, but I don’t always get there as often as I would like.

The new Sweet & Salty flavors have a little sugar in them, but they’re not too bad. They are more of a treat for me as opposed to my daily consumption. The one flavor that we can’t seem to find here in Texas is the Cinnamon Roast – they’re really good. We were in Atlanta a few weeks ago while my wife attended a blogging conference and found the Cinnamon Roast at the grocery store there. We stocked up on some, since who knows how long it will be until they make it here to Texas. I put in a request at our grocery store to carry them…we’ll see when they arrive here.

The Cocoa Roast came out around the same time as the Cinnamon Roast. They are delicious too.

We first saw these two varieties on shelves when we were living out in LA. Both the Cocoa and Cinnamon Roast have only 1g of sugar in a 1/4 cup serving. They are a great way to add variety to your nut intake without adding a bunch of sugar.

I’m excited for my 6 month weigh-in and pictures. It’s been almost a half a year since I started Body-for-LIFE and almost 3 months since I finished the program. I’m interested to see my pictures and how far I’ve come the last 6 months. Check back this weekend for my 6 month weigh-in and pictures!

Day 73: Protein Powder

The last several weeks I’ve really been concentrating on what I need to do to get bigger. I’ve increased the amount of each meal a little bit, which has resulted in a total of 3 pounds gained in the last 3 weeks, which is good. But what do I need to do to really gain more muscle?

The other night I was laying in bed and couldn’t sleep. I got up and shuffled upstairs to my office and sat down in front of my beloved iMac. Staring at a blank Google page, I started searching to see if there is anything else that I need to do in order to gain more muscle. As I mentioned on Day 43, it is important to get protein immediately in your body following a workout. Since then I have been taking a protein bar with me to the gym and consuming right after my workout is complete. As I continued to read, the protein is definitely important, but I also learned that you want a protein that is absorbed quickly right after a workout, namely Whey Protein. I’ve decided to switch to a protein shake right after a workout and not count it as one of my 6 meals. What kind of protein should I buy? There are so many options out there. I used to workout with a friend in LA several years ago and he had recommended Gold Standard. I did a search on some of the top protein powders and one website had it listed in the top 5. The others were more expensive, but Gold Standard was quite reasonably priced – so I decided to go with it. I ordered it on Amazon and was excited when it arrived today.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I have two tubs of protein powder. The larger one is what I will be drinking right after a workout. The smaller one is Casein protein. I’m going to start drinking a casein protein shake right before bed. Casein is a protein which is harder for your body to break down, so your body works longer on it. You’re supposed to have some before bed and it helps to continue the building of muscle throughout the night with it’s slow release formula. The regular stuff you want immediately following a workout because it is absorbed quickly. I think I’m going to make this change for a while and see how it works out. Each protein powder has 24g of protein and 120 calories. I picked them up on Amazon – below are the links to them on Amazon for your reference. They both have a bunch of flavors. I got the 5 pound tub for the post-workout powder and the 2 pound tub for the before bed shakes.

Gold Standard Whey Protein at Amazon

Gold Standard Casein Protein at Amazon

Mixing up the powder is super easy if you have a shaker bottle with a round wire thingy in it. I tried it today and put the powder into the bottle, dropped the wire mixer in, and carried it with me to the gym dry. After working out I added cold water from the water fountain at the gym and shook it up. The wire ball does an amazing job of mixing it up. It eliminates 100% of all clumps. Literally, there were zero. I picked up this mixer a few years ago at GNC and love, love, love it.

So the next question I had was how much should I consume? Some websites say 20g of protein, others 20-30, and some say 30-40. I decided to do 1.5 scoops of the Whey protein after a workout, which clocks in at 36g of protein post workout. At night, I will just do one scoop of the Casein protein before bed – another 24g or protein.

Now, my diet is not switching to just protein powders. From everything else I read it is important for your other meals to eat regular healthy foods like chicken, fish, lean meat, and vegetables. You shouldn’t rely on the powder for the main source of nutrition, but rather as a supplement to help encourage muscle growth. I’ll be keeping you updated as I journey through this adventure. I’ve really only got about 2 weeks left in my 90 days – wow! Time sure flies.

UPDATE: Thanks to Suki for pointing out that Gold Standard makes a natural protein powder without any artificial sweeteners in it. You can get the natural gold standard on amazon here. Next time I restock I’ll definitely pick up the natural.

Day 64: Packing to Eat Healthy While Out of Town

While preparing to take a business trip, I went to the grocery store and picked up a few items to pack with me in my suitcase. This will help make it easier to eat healthy while on the road.

If you haven’t tried the Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds, they are excellent. Next – a couple of apples – packed in a tupperware dish to keep them from getting bruised.

And two pears – also packed in tupperware to prevent them from getting smashed. But, a mushy pear is better than a mushy apple. Apples need to be crips. Mushy apple = yuck. In any case, I’d rather neither of them get smushed 😉

Day 60: Updated Healthy Turkey Chili

I’m 2/3 the way through Body For Life. Man, time sure flies. A while back I did a post with a recipe for healthy turkey chili. I was at the grocery store the other day and noticed that they started carrying an even leaner cut of ground turkey – 99/1!

Last time I used 93/7 ground turkey. I had to try out the new 99/1 ground turkey, which has only 1% fat. Instead of 8g of fat per serving, it only has 1.5g of fat. On a side note, if you get the extra lean hamburger – either 96/4 or 97/3, it will have around 4 or 5g of fat. My dad made the chili with that and said it was really good. If you prefer the taste of hamburger, that is a great option as well.

So, how was the 99/1 turkey chili? Allison said she liked it even better than the first batch I made with the 93/7 meat. The leaner cut of meat was quite good. I followed the recipe the same as before, but bought 2 of the 20 oz packages of ground turkey (that’s all they came in). So, instead of 3 pounds of meat in the pot, it was 2.5. It still was plenty for the batch. 1 cup of chili went from 272 calories and just under 6.85g of fat to 208 calories and, as Barney would say…wait for it…only 1.2g of fat! And, Allison and I agree the leaner cut of meat tastes better. Winning!

Now, for some pictures of the chili.

Nutritional Information for the 99/1 Ground Turkey: