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
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
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
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
||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
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
|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
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
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