The Best Shape of My Life
Getting into shape and staying in shape only gets harder as you get older. Six weeks ago, I started on a journey to change my lifestyle and set goals to become a healthier person. Over the past six weeks, I have taken a lot of time to reflect on how I was going to get into the best shape of my life and why I wanted to do it.
There are a number of those “why's” that really pushed me to start getting leaner and lighter. I wanted to lose weight for myself because my mentality is starting to transition from the meathead “lift as much weight all the time” mindset to a focus on health and longevity. I’ve realized that I don’t need to push myself to my physical limit as often anymore and my focus should be to maintain my vitality to be the best father, husband, business owner, and coach that I can be.
There are so many areas and parts of my life that need my attention and energy that take precedence over hitting strength goals at almost 40 years old. To understand what my journey has looked like so far and what steps I took to get into the best shape of my life, we need to start with understanding my previous health.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Understanding My Health
Taking a look at my previous health, my current health, and where I want to be in the future all plays a role into what I need to be doing to achieve my fitness goals. This means reflecting on what my lifestyle consists of with food, activity, and recovery. Even taking some lab tests to know specifically where I am from a genetic standpoint.
When I look at my previous health, I can see that there were a number of issues throughout my life that I needed to take into account. My dad had a genetic issue around his heart that has affected him as he got older. If this genetic predisposition to heart issues has been passed onto me, I want to make sure that I am reducing the natural stress on my cardiovascular system.
This is the main reason why losing weight was one of the goals I had for getting into shape. Right now, standing at around 220 lbs body weight is the lightest I have been since about 8th grade. I have always been on the heavier side throughout my life because of throwing and trying to push as much weight in the gym as I could. So with that in mind, it would be very taxing on my heart if I tried to maintain a body weight around 240 - 250 lbs all the time. The weight and fat around my heart is something that I wanted to reduce to improve my quality of life and increase longevity.
Setting Health Goals
After some research and listening to experts talk on different aspects of nutrition, I set some initial goals that I wanted to achieve for myself. Creating and setting goals is a huge part of keeping yourself accountable and having a specific target to work toward. It’s so much harder to achieve something when there is no final goal or target attached to it.
The initial goals were simple. To start, I wanted to lower my cholesterol. Along with lowering my cholesterol, I wanted to improve my cardiovascular health and endurance. My cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health will go hand in hand. Third, I wanted to improve my c-reactive protein. Finally, I just wanted to lose weight. I didn’t have a specific end goal number in mind, but I would see how my body reacted to the lifestyle changes initially and would extend my goal as I hit certain milestones.
Planning Healthy Habits
With my goals in hand, I was able to devise a plan that allowed me to start taking action to get into better shape. The planning took a little bit of time, because I wanted to get some tests on my body done first. That all started with the Let’s Get Checked testing kit.
Using Let’s Get Checked
Like I mentioned, the first step of the plan was using Let’s Get Checked to look at all the baseline levels that I talked about when I was setting my health goals. Using Let’s Get Checked was super simple because it is an at-home testing kit that can be completed in a matter of minutes.
Aside from doing some tests on my natural nutrient and blood levels, I wanted to make plans in terms of nutrition to help me achieve my goals. That first step was to increase my fiber intake. I planned to eat at least 70 grams of fiber every single day. The way I was going to achieve this was by making sure to intake 15 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed.
I also wanted to make sure that I was consuming 6 servings of fermented food per day along with maintaining a higher percentage of carbohydrates in my macro spread. So the specific carbohydrate goal to hit every day was maintaining 300-400 grams per day. Then my fat would be around 70-90 grams per day.
Physical Activity and Sleep
Physical activity was going to be another really big aspect of achieving my goals to get into better shape. Especially if I wanted to lose weight and improve my cardiovascular health at the same time. I wanted to be able to increase my daily calories burned to help lose weight instead of cutting my calories like crazy. Throughout the six week period, I incorporated a lot of jump-base activity and endurance cardio training into my workouts.
To help make sure that my body was recovering and healing properly in my old age, I also wanted to prioritize consistent sleep. Consistently getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night at the same time every day. This meant having a good schedule, night time routine, and focusing on doing everything to improve my sleep quality so my body was recovering properly.
Tips to Lose Weight and Stay Lean
So what are specific action items that YOU can use to lose weight and get into better shape? IT all starts with accountability and staying consistent.
Accountability is a huge part of not just getting into better shape, but achieving any goal in life. Holding yourself accountable through the entire process is not going to be easy, but there are ways you can stay consistent. Consistency is going to rule over motivation any day.
That first tip for accountability is going to be regular weigh-ins or stepping on the scale in the morning. You don’t have to do it every single morning, but it is good to do it on a regular basis. That means checking your body weight at least every 3 - 4 days to make sure you are on track and gradually losing weight.
That second tip is going to be taking pictures of your physique. Same to checking your weight, you don’t have to do this every day, but maybe once a week. Taking pictures will help give you a visual cue of how you are doing and something you can actually look back on to identify progress. Then after 4 weeks of taking a picture once a week, you will be able to see the different levels of progress your body is making. If you can see that progress, then that will push you to continue setting new goals and continue improving your lifestyle.
That third tip is using a testing kit like Let’s Get Checked. Using a testing kit will give you exact results of the state your body is in. There is no guessing with these testing kits, so being able to identify your exact levels will help you track them over time for future tests. As you take future tests and levels are increasing or decreasing you can make adjustments to your approach as needed.
That last tip is using an app like Peak Strength to supplement my activity goals. I used the basketball focused program since I am trying to improve my dunk. Using a programming app like Peak Strength is going to eliminate the guesswork of trying to figure out what to do for exercise every day. It helped me track my rest times, weights, and made sure I got my workouts in a timely manner without putting too much on my body.
Results After 6 Weeks of Changing My Lifestyle
Here is the moment you have all been waiting for. This is the show and tell of my test results and health improvement over the past 6 weeks. I’ll take a dive into what my test results were before the experiment and after the experiment along with my body weight and overall goal progress.
Before the six weeks, my total cholesterol levels were at 283 mg/dL with my LDL cholesterol being at 200 mg/dL.
After the six weeks, my total cholesterol was at 240 mg/dL with my LDL being at 160 mgdL. This means a 15% in total cholesterol and 20% decrease in LDL cholesterol which was the very first goal before I started this experiment.
Before the six weeks, I weighed in at almost 240 lbs.
After the six weeks, I lost 18 lds and weighed in at 222 lbs which is a 7% decrease in body weight in just a six week period.
C-Reactive Protein Tests
Before the six weeks, my C-reactive protein levels were at 1.4 mg/L. If you’re not sure what a C-reactive protein is, it is an inflammatory marker.
After the six weeks, my C-reactive protein was at just 0.4 mg/L for a massive 72% drop over 6 weeks.
Staying in Shape in the Future
After taking a look at what I accomplished in the past 6 weeks and how my body feels, there is a strong inclination to keep moving forward with this lifestyle. At a certain point, I may not have to reduce my calories so much or maybe I will get to a point where I am completely comfortable to just maintain.
The thoughts moving ahead is just to stay consistent. The more that I stay consistent and use different tools to keep myself accountable, the more that I will be able to improve my quality of life and understand how to get into better shape. So what’s next from here? Just keep trying to chip away at my goals and make this a long term change. By looking back and seeing how I felt in the past and where my body is now, it helps me build better habits. Continuously setting new goals and challenging myself to improve in the way that fits my current stage of life is going to help me get in even better shape. Take these tips and my experience to formulate your own plan on how to get into the best shape you can.
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Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
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