What a difference a year makes! This week marks one year since I embarked on a quest to transform my body from an average middle aged flabby man into that of a healthy six-pack-ab-sporting fit guy. I successfully dropped nearly 30 pounds and turned my gut into the kind of washboard stomach you see in fitness magazines. I accomplished that initial weight loss during the 12-week transformation program that ran from March 11 – June 11, 2014, and then I successfully have maintained my fitness level past my 50th birthday in late July and now, a year later, I remain fit, healthy, and I feel better than ever. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I want to share with you a few nuggets of wisdom. Before that, I have to give a huge thank you and man-hug to author and certified nutrition coach JD Griffin for penning the book that outlines his Get Fit, Lean and Keep Your Day Job program.
Lesson #1: Trust This Program and Follow It – Because IT WORKS
I can speak from experience that most people need to follow a distinct, vetted program, and the Get Fit, Lean program delivers. Period. Listen, I thought I knew a lot about fitness and nutrition because I’d been working out off and on since I was 15, and even worked at a health club for a while back in the 1980s. But despite all that supposed knowledge and experience, the fact was that at the age of 49 I was overweight and sporting a moderate sized spare tire around the middle, and I just felt lethargic and run-down. Even though I kind of worked our regularly, and thought I was eating pretty healthy, the fact is that I wasn’t. I was doing things to sabotage my body’s fat-burning and lean-muscle-building processes. The minute I committed to following JD’s nutrition and exercise program, the results were almost instantaneous. The first week I was on the program, I lost 4 pounds. Much of it was probably water due to actually keeping an eye on my sodium consumption, but the bottom line was I was seeing significant results almost immediately. By the 4th week, my gut was significantly less prominent and my clothes were already fitting differently. By the 8th week, I could see significantly improved muscularity in my arms and legs. By week 12 I had a razor sharp six-pack of abs and felt like a new man. After all, I wasn’t hauling around an extra 30 pounds every minute of the day. Believe me, carrying a bunch extra weight is exhausting.
The Get Fit, Lean program does a great job of outlining the nutrition, cardio, and resistance training plans that you need to follow to get great results.
Lesson #2: Just Do It. Don’t Wait Until Some Perfect Time. Just Set a Goal, Commit to Doing It, and GO!
I started on Tuesday March 11, 2014. Which is kind of completely random. My big audacious goal was to do the 12-week program and have ripped, rock hard abs on my 50th birthday in late July, which was actually more like 18 weeks away. So I could have easily put this off for another month and a half, but it was after a weekend of eating too much, maybe drinking a little more than I should, and just feeling like crap on Monday that I said, screw this, I’m starting RIGHT NOW. And I did. I never looked back and from that day on, I was a Get Fit, Lean disciple and I did what was outlined in the book. The results speak for themselves. So don’t put it off, or wait for some supposedly perfect time. The perfect time is right now. Get on it, and Get Fit and Lean!
Lesson #3: Avoid Sugar and Refined Flour
To me this is one of the most valuable, important, and impactful things about the program. It was a huge wake-up call to read JD laying out the biology and science behind how simple processed carbs like sugar and flour increase your blood sugar, spike your insulin, and put your body into fat-storage mode. By adopting the type of high protein, low carb, and moderate healthy fat nutrition plan that he outlines, I stopped sabotaging myself and the results were practically immediate. I can’t stress this point enough. Avoid sugar and refined flour. As soon as I started paying attention to the sugar content of what I thought were healthy foods, I was shocked. It truly taught me something extremely valuable, which correlates to my next Lesson:
Lesson #3.1: Read the Labels on Foods to Avoid Those Sugars and Simple Carbs
I am now trained by habit and motivated to read the labels of everything I want to eat to see if there is added sugar, and to see how many grams of sugar are in the foods I eat. A great example of this is that I like the Muscle Milk Pro-40 ready to drink protein drink. It has 40 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbs, and only 2 grams of sugar. But I can’t always find them, and when I’m traveling, I will often grab a protein drink at the airport so I have a healthy snack on the plane. Well O’Hare airport used to carry Muscle Milk products, but recently they’ve been replaced by Core Power Protein Drinks. So I looked at the Core Power label, and a bottle of Core Power has 26 grams of sugar! Yes, you read that right – 26 insulin-spiking, fat-storage-encouraging grams of sugar! You might was well eat a freaking candy bar! I suppose technically that’s what you’re doing – you’re drinking a candy bar that just has some extra protein. That’s a huge difference compared to the Muscle Milk Pro 40 that has 2 grams of sugar. So the lesson here, is don’t just assume that something is healthy because it says so on the label. The food industry loves to add sugar to things that you’re not expecting sugar to be in, and they still get labeled as “healthy” or “low-fat” but are often loaded with sugar. And that contributes to the obesity epidemic we see all around us. Read the labels and know what you’re putting in your body.
Lesson #4: Once You Complete the Initial 12-week Body Transformation Stage, Maintaining the New You Is Really Pretty Easy
I was a little worried that once I got through my initial, pretty strict, 12-week program that I’d go back to old habits and my body fat would start creeping up. But what I found was that I felt so good, looked so good, and was enjoying the new me so much, it was easy to stick with the program and not regress to my old eating habits. I truly had adopted the Get Fit, Lean plan as a lifestyle, not some temporary thing. I won’t lie, a couple times afterwards I decided to splurge a little and eat something decadent that I hadn’t had for months. And you know what? It literally made me feel physically ill. What that did was underscore that eating crap is like poisoning your body. Eating clean, intact, whole foods truly makes your body run at optimum performance. Having a steady level of energy all day long, and not having those ups and downs caused by eating sugar and carbs, is great motivation to eat right and stick with the program. I feel better than I have in a couple decades and it’s because I’m eating right and exercising. What a concept, right??
Lesson #5: You’re Not Fat Because of Your Genetics, Your Schedule, Your Age, or Your Bad Back. You’re Fat Because You Eat Too Much Crap and Don’t Exercise Enough, and You Believe Your Own Excuses.
Since I’ve gotten in shape, I get a lot of people asking me about what I did and how I did it. And invariably, I hear a lot of reasons why people think they can’t do what I’ve done. I’ve just about heard it all from people who want to make excuses for why they can’t seem to get into shape. I’m too busy. I don’t have time. I’m big boned. My family has always been overweight. My weight gain is just because I’m getting older. I’ve got a bad back/knee/shoulder/hip/spleen/whatever. Well, that’s all a bunch of bullshit excuses. The fact is, eating right and exercising as JD outlines in the Get Fit, Lean book WILL transform your body. And injuries can be worked around.
The Time Excuse Debunked:
Look, 1 hour is 4% of your day. I guarantee that 99% of the people who don’t work out spend an hour doing things that are unproductive like surfing the web, facebooking, or sitting on the couch watching TV. If you took that time and applied it toward your fitness, you’ll be in shape in 12 weeks. And that’s the truth. And if you already spend an hour a day working out but aren’t in decent shape, you’re not doing it right – so use that time effectively: read JD’s book, adopt the program, and start making progress.
The Genetics Excuse Debunked:
Obesity is not in your genes. It’s primarily from your environment, your eating habits, and your activity level. If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. If you exercise you will burn more calories and encourage your body to retain and even build lean muscle, which also burns calories. And if you eat right and avoid the insulin spikes described above you will fuel your body to optimum efficiency. Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can and will get into shape and feel great if they follow the program. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to get into shape. You just have to do it.
The “I’m Too Old; It’s Just a Normal Part of Aging” Excuses Debunked:
You’re never too old to eat right and improve your fitness capacity. The fact is, being overweight and having diabetes or high blood pressure is not a natural and inevitable part of aging. I’m not recommending that 75-year-olds try to weight-lift like 25-year-olds. But 75 year olds can exercise and eat healthy and they will become healthier than their counterparts who do not. There are some inevitable effects to aging that we can’t change or reverse. However, obesity and poor health are not inevitable. Science has proven that regular exercise has many positive effects on aging. It slows it down. It helps maintain mental capacity. It helps stave off the degeneration of body and mind. I started this program at 49 and a year later at 50 I feel fantastic. My dad is about to turn 80 and he rides his bicycle across the US every year - in fact he's doing it in about a month. He exercises regularly and it’s kept him young through his 70s. So don’t give me that “I’m too old” crap. You're not. Stop with the excuses and just do it. If my 80-year-old father can ride a bicycle across the our great nation, you can follow the Get Fit, Lean program and change your life for the better. No excuses.
The Injury Excuse Debunked:
I’ve heard people say they can’t get into shape because of a bad knee, hip, back, shoulder or whatever. Granted, there are some people who are significantly disabled by injury. But chances are you aren’t one of them. Look, I’ve had all sorts of injuries. The key is to figure out what you can do, and do your best to work around them. And I speak from experience:
Fact: I herniated 2 disks in my back 15 years ago. There are certain weight-bearing exercises that I just can’t do. So I don’t do them, and I find other exercises to do instead that don’t stress my lower back. In addition, I can’t run long distances because the pounding irritates the nerves around those disks. So I focus on doing other cardio like biking, elliptical trainers, and rowing – non-impact sorts of things. I also spend a lot of time working the support muscles to help support the weak and injured area. So can you. And on top of that, losing 30 pounds and strengthening my core support muscles has improved my incidence of back pain to almost non-existent. It’s another reason I feel better than I’ve felt in a couple decades.
Fact: I currently have a torn ligament in my shoulder – in fact the top rotator ligament is completely sheared off. It makes certain movements like bench-pressing impossible. So I work around it. I have incorporated other exercises that don’t put the same stresses on my shoulder joint and instead use the parts of my shoulder that are still stable. JD has a number of tips for doing exercises in ways that don't stress the shoulder joint.
My point is, don’t let an injury be your excuse. There are almost always things you can do to work around a limitation. If you have a chronic injury, consult an exercise therapist or physical therapist and find out what you should and shouldn’t do, and take a positive step toward your health and well being. More than likely, becoming more active will actually help you recover. Look, I’m not superman. I’m not a gifted athlete. I don’t have the training staff of a professional sports team helping me overcome my injuries. But I’ve figured out how to work around them, and if I can, you can too. Sure, it might take a little longer to meet your goals, but in the end, losing weight and being healthier might actually reduce the impact of your injury.
The program works, so follow it. Don’t make excuses. Make fitness and good nutrition a priority. Eat clean and do your cardio and resistance training. Lather, rinse, repeat. And in 12 weeks, see what a difference it has made! I want to hear from you and how you’re doing.
About the author:
Steve Welch is a medical publishing professional who Got Fit, Lean and Kept His Day Job at the ripe old age of 50. If he can do it, so can you. So get on it!