09 August 2010

A Little Background

I've been training on and off since 13. Like Martin Berkhan, I was born with fat boy genes and continue my fight against them to this day. Although I've tried many different ways to diet (like the popular 6-meals-every-3-hours approach), I've found Martin's method the easiest to adhere to, hands down. Tons of other people swear by it as well.

My goal is simply to achieve a six pack. Sounds superficial, but it goes deeper than that. Anyone who's read Bill Phillips' monumental book Body-for-Life can appreciate how much character it takes not to overcome being fat, but to overcome the problems that often accompany it: no motivation, a tendency to get discouraged easily, and the need for instant results, among others.

Arguably my biggest obstacle to getting lean is my lack of consistency.

Martin's intermittent fasting (IF) approach has helped me immensely with my vice. Overall, I find myself in a more improved condition thanks to IF. I also have a greater appreciation for the behavioral aspect of dieting, something I used to never consider but now realize many people, especially other fat boys, struggle with most.


Where I was 4 weeks ago

On July 11, 2010, I was at the leanest I'd ever been (skinny-fat, but still my leanest ever). I was down to 158 lbs from a stable weight of 185 through a combination of IF and alternate-day fasting (ADF). I was beginning to see my second row of abs (sort of) and my strength in the gym didn't drop an ounce. I was guessing that I was in the "stubborn fat" stage, where the last few pounds of fat on my lower stomach, lower back, butt, and thighs would not come off without a drastic change in protocol.

My lifts were as follows*:
Deadlift: 335 lbs (152 kg), 1x6 (all-time high: 405 lbs, 184 kg)
Bench press: 225 lbs (102 kg), 1x5 (all-time high: 300 lbs, 136 kg)
Seated military press: 165 lbs (75 kg), 1x5 (all-time high: 170 lbs, 77 kg)
Power cleans: 205 lbs (93 kg) x 1
DB curls: 42.5 lbs (19 kg), 1x8

*I stopped training legs long ago due to my having bubble butt syndrome (BBS).

I was happy to be where I was at. Unfortunately, the day of July 11 was the day of my cousin's wedding - and the start of my complacence with where I was at.


 Where I Am Now

I've since been taking it easy for the past month and still am sitting at ~175 lbs. My plan is to take myself back to ~160 lbs using a modified IF approach of 20/4 (20-hr fast, 4-hr feeding window). Once I hit that weight, I will reassess and decide whether to continue with general weight loss or switch over to a protocol that will rid me of the last few bits of stubborn fat, if I find myself at that point. I want to achieve a leaner physique than I've ever had before.

This site will serve as my journal outlining my journey back to 160. Site will be updated weekly with a log of the week's meal totals and a miscellaneous topic on diet/training.

Below are the basic diet guidelines I will follow**:
1. 1-2 meals/day, for a total of 1200-1500 calories/day, depending on activity
2. Protein intake/day will be ~150 grams/day, mainly coming from protein shakes
3. Carb and fat intake/day will make up the rest of the day's calories, usually coming from frozen dinners, ice cream, or whatever I'm feeling that day as long as it fits into the totals
4. 6 fish oil capsules every morning, along with a multivitamin/multimineral
5. ~30 grams of fiber/day
6. All-encompassing workout 1x/week
7. No cardio
8. Sunday, I get to eat a little more, ~2200 calories

**Many of the guidelines are similar to those outlined in another individual's post that got him unreal results. The days of traditional "clean and healthy" dieting are over.

Below is a rough outline of the template I will follow:

Training Days (20/4)
6:45 AM: 100 mg caffeine
8:45 AM: 100 mg caffeine
10:45 AM: 100 mg caffeine
12:45 PM: 50 mg caffeine
2 PM: Workout
4 PM: 1st meal
8 PM: 2nd meal

Non-training Days (20/4)
6:45 AM: 100 mg caffeine
8:45 AM: 100 mg caffeine
10:45 AM: 100 mg caffeine
12:45 PM: 100 mg caffeine
3 PM: 1st meal
7 PM: 2nd meal

Some examples of food (and wines) I've had during my last run-through of IF:


  1. good luck man! also, looks like martin berkhan plugged your blog on his twitter!

  2. via MB's twitter haha. I am a weight class under you and doing almost the same thing. Definitely checking up on you down the road. <3 caffeine. Good luck.

  3. I had a similar experience with losing the plot and gaining some weight back. Now I'm back on track. Best of luck!

  4. Yes Martin did... that's how I found your blog. Look forward to reading about your journey :)

  5. Wilmar,
    Thanks bro! I saw the Twitter plug too. What an honor. I sure hope the wedding didn't get to you like it did me. Keep the updates coming!

    Can't go a day without the caffeine myself (plus, it gets the bowel moving in the morning!). Thanks for the well-wishing & likewise with your goals.

    Thanks, & your blog topics caught my eye. I also tend to lose my initial enthusiasm for things, but it hasn't been that way for IF. I think this one's a keeper. I'll be following your page.

    Rae Cattach,
    Now that puts a lot of pressure on me, coming from a figure athlete. Just kidding. :)

    At any rate, I better get my act together & make sure this run-through strikes gold. Six pack or bust! Maybe waking up at 4:30 every morning will help..

  6. I've been doing a lot of reading on IF, and I've been following the Leangains blog for a little bit now.

    My question for you is this: are the images of the food meant to represent the actual portions that you were eating in a day, or even in a single meal?

  7. Sean,
    I was hoping someone wouldn't call me on that. As you say, some of those meals were the ONLY meal I had that day - that would mean an extended fast prior.

    Given every pint of ice cream is a little over 1000 calories, & given my stringent total daily intake, I sometimes wouldn't be left with much else other than getting the rest of my calories from protein shakes to ensure I still hit close to the mark. And the double pint days were not supplemented with extra protein, netting me ~25 total grams of protein that day. But those singular (& rare) days never hurt my performance, so I never sweated it.

  8. Hey man, don't sweat it. I'm impressed that you managed to successfully incorporate all of that into your plan, even if it was the only meal you ate that day.

    I found a little something in your blog that spoke to me, and I hope you don't mind if I quote it here:

    "Arguably my biggest obstacle to getting lean is my lack of self-control. It's caused me to give in to having that bite of taboo food. But that's not what sets me back; it's the subsequent loss of self-control & splurge that does, nearly taking me back to square one."

    The mindset that you have outlined above is one that is very familiar to me, and something I've been wrestling with as I've cleaned up my diet and started lifting weights. It's inspiring to see that someone can struggle with the same issues as me yet still overcome them to achieve impressive results.

    After being skinny for most of my life, but I put on a bit of weight at the start of high school and moved into the "chubby" range. Long story short, by the time I was finishing my senior year of college, I had dropped a massive amount of weight and was looking for a change. I've been looking at putting on weight while minimizing fat gains as much as is possible.

    I've cleaned up my diet, but every once in a while I have that urge to splurge on massive quantities of junk food. Fasting plans have helped me to curb those urges, and I was especially intrigued to see you incorporating some of my favorite foods in a fat loss program (I saw the pints of ice cream and went nuts). I figured, if you can incorporate this into weight loss and still look so good, surely I can achieve something similar with weight gain.

    Forgive my tangent. I just wanted to say how pleased I am that I was linked to this blog, as well as to congratulate you on your progress.

  9. hey martin.

    the wedding was good times. was cool seeing all you guys. and i don't think it set me back too much. just gotta keep training and eating!

    hope you keep up with this blog. i think it's gonna be a good one :)

  10. Sean,
    Sounds like you were naturally lean growing up. I always wish I was born into that end of the spectrum!

    Yes, fasting has helped me to curb my urges as well. For me, the splurges almost always are during refeed days, when I eat plain bagels & potatoes while trying to curb fat intake. These meals don't grant me a whole lot of satisfaction, so I invariably binge.

    I appreciate the compliments, Sean, but my frank self-evaluation is that I don't deserve them - not now at least. Having been in the game this long, I've still never achieved my goal, sadly. I need to be hard on myself to ensure I don't begin to grow complacent.

    I tried to check out your blog, but I'm guessing you either don't have one or it's private?

    Thanks for sharing your story with me. Best of luck with your goals!

  11. Looking forward to the next post/update. This should be a great blog!

  12. Soooooo... how's that day-to-day journal keeping going?! *ahem* ;o)

  13. Bret,
    Thanks for following along!

    Whoops, I said I'd be updating daily in my post, but later announced I'd be updating weekly (& simply including my daily logs in that post).

    Thanks for alerting me to this; I'll edit that part of my post out. A new post will be coming up later this evening. Thanks, Rae.

  14. Wow, man! I'm very impressed with the progress. I'm hoping my current stint can take me that far. I'm currently 3 months into a 'loose' adherence to IF. I'm down to 196.2 (from 214), and am around 13% BF.

    How early did you begin incorporating ADF into your protocol?

    Again, awesome to see the progress!

  15. tedibearassasin,
    Thanks, & great job yourself with the 20-pound loss! Isn't IF so easy to maintain? By the way, you look to be around my same BF%.

    I didn't add in ADF until the week before the wedding - to ensure I looked my best. Toward the end of that week, I actually took it too far & fasted 2 days - with zero hunger.

    I'll check up on you to see how the progress is coming along later.