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Dead Man Walking
Weeks 1-4

By Bill E. Branscum   ©2001

It's been a tough four weeks; I am terribly sorry to report that, although I did everything Bill Phillips said in his book, Body-for-LIFE, exactly the way he said, careful measurement reveals that I didn't get any taller! I guess that was a bit too much to ask.

On the other hand, after just less than four weeks, I weigh 194 pounds - sixteen (16) less than the 210 pounds I started with. While I readily admit that I didn't become "Arnie" in a month, I think it only fair to point out that he didn't either.

My crew has been brutally demanding; Megan, my preschooler and wannabe Drill Sergeant fitness coach cut me no slack whatsoever. Here's what we got done in the month that I will always remember as a "Couch Potato's Nightmare."

My body weight wasn't the only thing that changed. My blood pressure dropped dramatically from 203/143 to 146/115 in a month. I was more concerned about the blood pressure than how I looked; people have had strokes with lower blood pressures than I had. My resting pulse rate remained about the same - whereas it was 75 last month, this month it tested at 77.

I know I am still terribly overweight (no delusions there) but the fact is, it has only been four weeks and the sixteen (16) pounds I lost is sixteen pounds that I am no longer lugging around with me, or forcing my heart to pump blood through. In the last month I have also dropped a little better than two pants sizes, from a much too tight 38" waist, to a comfortable 36." Most importantly, I feel good.

Dook had a birthday in October. The oldest of my little guys, he is now seven years old. Although we have had annual passes to Busch Gardens and their waterpark, Adventure Island, we had never gone to the waterpark. I took the kids this month and we had a great time. Swimming is so much more relaxing when you are not worrying about being harpooned!

Newsweek October 15, 2001

I bought this bike suit last month hoping that I would be able to wear it by the end of the Challenge. Less than a month later, I wore it to my children's football game.

I have a long way to go, but my goal (just last month) was to wear this thing someday without looking ridiculous. To me, this shows how dramatically you can change the way you look using this program.

OK, I weigh sixteen pounds less, but that's not what I was trying to do. The real question is, "How far, and in which direction, are we from our goal to drop twenty pounds of fat in a month?" Although the scale says I weigh 16 pounds less than I did when I started; that doesn't answer the real question, "How much fat did I actually lose?"

Maybe I didn't lose any - the pictures suggest that I did, but perhaps the supplements I have been taking have a diuretic effect and the weight loss is nothing but water I'll gain back when I quit taking them. That's one possibility.

Alternatively, maybe I lost the entire 60 pounds of fat I set out to lose - the pictures don't support that delusion, but it would be possible to lose 60 pounds of fat while showing a net loss of just 16 pounds if I gained 44 pounds of muscle, or water, in the process. Again, that's possible.

My point is, the numbers on the scale aren't determinative of very much - if I had forced down a gallon of water immediately prior to weighing myself, the scale would have showed an 8 pound loss instead of 16 (water weighs 8 lbs per gallon).. To find out how much fat I actually lost, we must go back to the calipers, measure the fat on my body and do a little math.

The calipers reflect that 26.4 percent of my current body weight is fat. I weigh 194 pounds; therefore, I am carrying around 51.2 pounds of fat. I started with 71.6 so I lost 20.4 pounds of fat and, since I show a net loss of 16 pounds, I must have gained 4.4 pounds of muscle along the way.

I don't know what is possible on this program and I certainly don't know what's the best you could do. I can say in all honesty that we all worked hard last month and followed our plan. All the kids contributed, everyone stayed motivated and I did the absolute best that I could do.

Like I said, I have a long way to go yet, but the results are encouraging thus far. As I post this, I think I see the glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel - or maybe I am just having a near death experience from this morning's killer exercise routine!

One thing's clear, the kids are having a lot more fun than I intended!

Tip for Parents: Involve your children - in everything. Always give them something to do. Recognize their efforts and praise their accomplishments.

Ten years ago, I restored a Corvette, I've always loved working on cars. I had a four year old, a real annoying little guy who was always trying to "help." You know him, he's just like yours.

I gave him something to do and you know what - you'd be amazed how long a little guy will work in the presence of praise and encouragement, what those little hands can reach and where those little fingers can go. I invested a lot of time in him over the years, typically spending three or four hours with my "helper" doing jobs I could have done alone in two.

Those many years ago, I had no idea how our lives would turn out. Jeremy is almost fifteen now, and more help to me than anyone could possibly begin to imagine. Last Father's Day, we took the kids to the Outback where he and I had their biggest prime rib and a lobster tail for dinner - we've raised these children together, we've done a good job together, and we celebrate the day together.

Time spent with your children is never wasted - it's invested; trust me when I tell you it is absolutely the smartest investment you are ever going to make in your life.

Jeremy (almost 15) had the responsibility to get me up before school and push me thru our morning workout - he is the one who took the video clips I'll be putting together at the end. The mask is his idea of humor - "Hey walking dead guy, when you fall over and die, can I have the Trans Am?" He not only rags on me, he took it upon himself to take the one and only six-pack I bought last month and pour them down the drain.

Dook and Ryan (7 & 5) are in First Grade and Kindergarten. Dook helps out with various chores so I can focus a little more on exercise. Ryan's job is to put a star on the calendar every day to mark that I did my workouts.

I normally make a real breakfast for the kids everyday (Hollandaise sauce to die for!) but, while I'm doing this Challenge, Dook's serving up PopTarts and milk so I can focus on working out. Thus far, nobody's suffering too bad as far as I can tell.

Ryan keeps track of everything I do recording it on a calendar.
Megan (4) is my personal trainer. She is learning to tell time so she reminds me when it is time for my afternoon ab workout. She counts for me and reports to the crew at dinner verifying I did it. Ryan circles the star on the calendar to keep track of that too. Everyone checks my weight on Mondays.

For motivation, Body-for-LIFE suggests putting your "before" pics on your refrigerator. I suppose it can be motivational to despise how you look, but that's not the vision that troubles me the most. This is what you'll find on my fridge; I find it very motivational!

In addition to unlimited motivation and consistent hard work, we did a couple of things worth mentioning to those who might want to try this.

First, we followed April's advice (the EAS representative assigned to help me) on modifying the program to achieve maximum weight loss. One of the popular carb restriction diets I researched says eat whatever you want, but have no carbs after 4PM. April suggested something along those same lines; consume the Myoplex earlier in the day (25 grams of carbs each) and restrict carbs later. I had one Myoplex midmorning and the other in the early afternoon.

Second, April recommended that I step up the aerobic aspect of my program by doing the specified "Aerobic Solution" three times a week at mid day and adding low intensity aerobic exercises to the program in the evenings before going to bed. I used my treadmill to do that, walking at a comfortably fast walk for a half hour each evening before bed. She had concerns that this might be too much and recommended that I check my body fat every week just to be sure I was not over doing it but it seems to be working OK.

Third, I drank LOTS and LOTS of ICE COLD water - for two reasons. Mainly, because EVERYONE recommends it when dieting as helping to flush the body of waste products and protect the kidneys but also because a food calorie is defined as the amount of energy it takes to raise one thousand grams of water one degree Celsius and warming up all that icewater to body temperature burns calories (but not a lot).

Specifically, let's say 6 liters of water a day (just less than 2 gallons) and let's say the temperature differential is 30 degrees Celsius (F = 9/5 C + 32). The body would use about 180 calories warming up that much ice-water to body temperature.

I also had one other thing that worked to my advantage. I know a secret that everyone who aspires to make this diet work should know. There's nothing magic about it, but it's an Appalachian art that nobody practices any more called home canning. I would think just about anyone reading this could learn how to do it from their grandmother - or great grandmother.

Unlike so many fad diets out there, the Body-for-LIFE approach insists that you eat "real food," although Bill Phillips does acknowledge that it can be difficult to eat real food, properly portioned, so many times a day. He recommends making it up before hand and freezing it.

That may be the best this generation knows, but there's a much better way if you know how to "can." Assuming this all works well enough for me next month that anyone would be interested, I'll cover the canning process then.

This "wing" cupboard holds 120 quarts of food - at a quart a day (a pint for each of two meals), that is more than enough for the entire BfL Challenge. Each is 50% lean meat; food like this is "not available in stores," but you can make it at home.

In sum, I followed the Body-for-LIFE program as their representative (April, #4504) modified it for me specifically. In reading the BfL "Guestbook" where people write in about questions and issues, it seems like a lot of people are overlooking the support staff they provide. It may be that some of the Reps are less "into it" than mine has been, but I have benefited from their help a lot.

I didn't try to "put my own spin" on the program or anything like that. This is a program where the goal in each workout is determined by what you can do - not what someone else can do, or wants you to do. The most it ever asks is your maximum effort, whatever that happens to be. I made a genuine, good faith effort in that regard every day and I feel like it paid off.

Thus far, our results are consistent with what we were hoping to accomplish at four weeks and light years ahead of what I actually expected. Whereas most people lose 2 pounds of fat a week on this program, I apparently managed to lose 5 - now that I am "in the groove" of this thing, I think I'll do even better next month, especially with regard to building muscle mass.

I believe we can all do basic math - if you did just half as well, lets say just ten (10) pounds a month, or the average of eight (8) pounds a month, how many months would it take for you to feel alive again? When would you be willing to be seen in a bathing suit? How long until you could quit being ashamed of how you look? One thing's for sure, if you keep doing as you've always done, you'll never get there! Make the investment, make the time, make the commitment, make the change - enjoy your life and be happy.

Like I said before, for so many of us, obesity, and the tendency to get that way, is the "900 Pound Gorilla" that just won't leave you alone. This monster hangs all over you and makes it impossible to really enjoy your life and feel good about yourself. This was just the first of three rounds but I feel pretty good going into round two and the soreness that plagued me through the first round is gone - over the next eight weeks, I think we are going to whip the overgrown chimp.

We'll see you in another month or (with my best Austrian "Arnie" accent), "I'll be back!"

I sincerely appreciate all you who have taken the time to write the supportive emails I have been getting; when I sign on to find words of encouragement from total strangers, it really helps. I share them with the kids and they really feel like we're doing something worthwhile here. I find myself feeling that if I can do this well enough, some of you may be encouraged to follow.

The Body-forLIFE website is http://www.BodyforLife.com



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