(HINT: This is how I dropped 11% bodyfat in less than 3 months)
A few months back, I sent an email to several of my buddies from college that are pretty avid golfers, asking them a few questions to find out what kind of content they would like to see on a “golf fitness” blog.
Several of these guys were on my soccer team back in the day. Even the ones that were not soccer players had some sort of higher-level athletic background, and in present time, all of them would be considered by the general public to still be pretty fit guys, despite the fact that they are all in their mid to late 30’s.
But I noticed a common theme in all of their answers when it came to this question . . .
What would you like to accomplish regarding your fitness level in the next year (ie. Body fat %, lose weight, gain lean muscle, feel better, get stronger, etc)?
Most of the answers were pretty similar to this one from my buddy TJ . . .
“For the first time in my life, I have some belly fat. It’s got to go. If I run, hit the gym and don’t eat like a pig, it won’t be a problem. But for the first time, I have to watch that stuff. I also have to work out to feel good – physical and mentally.”
And what I found to be even more interesting was, if I had been asking myself the same question, it too, would have been along those lines. Most guys over the age of 30 seem to have a little extra layer around the mid section compared to a few years back. I don’t think you’ll find too many of my buddies that would be all that excited if they had to play a game of shirts and skins these days.
But by the end of this post, I am going to share with you a few of the tricks that I used to make sure this whole body fat thing didn’t get the best of me.
At the end of 2013, after having our 3rd kid, I had let it go a little bit and decided to draw a line in the sand; dropping from almost 22%* bodyfat to 11% in just 3 months.
*For the record, I’m pretty embarrassed to publicly announce that as a fitness professional, I made it past the 20% mark. I’ve got plenty of excuses as to how I got there, but honestly, none of them are that good! (But if you want to hear them, I’d be happy to give them).
As a reference, here is a good visual body fat chart that I got from builtlean.com.
GETTING OLD SUCKS AND YOUR BODY LETS YOU KNOW
I don’t know about you, but I never thought it would happen to me. I’m 36 years old, and for the past several years, it has become more and more of a battle to stay fit, strong, and especially lean.
Working with a lot of guys in this demographic, I know that it wasn’t just me. There are a lot of factors in a guy’s life at this age that make it hard to eat the right things and get in a good workout, such as . . .
- The metabolism isn’t what it used to be
- More time spent at the office
- Less time to get to the gym
- Shuffling kids to sports
- Social events
- Projects at the house
- Playing golf
The good news is, with a little diligence, a little guidance, and the proper PLAN, you don’t have to look and feel like the average 30, 40, 50 year old or beyond.
THE 5 CRUCIAL FACTORS THAT HELPED ME (good news, CARDIO was not one of them!)
If I had to boil it down to the most important things that made this experiment a success, they may sound pretty simple. But they worked. Here they are . . .
1. I had a coach
2. I had a workout partner
3. I ate a low carb, high fat diet (yes, high fat!)
4. I planned my meals and workouts
5. I cheated
Let me explain in a little more detail.
1. I HAD A COACH
When I say I had a coach, I basically mean I had a trusted advisor, which was a good friend of mine, Tony, who is strength coach at our facility, Elevated Performance.
Tony has a lot of experience working with athletes, body builders, fitness competitors, etc. He also is one of the smartest guys that I know when it comes to nutrition, hormone imbalances and supplements.
But to be honest, as a “coach” I pretty much used Tony to bounce questions off of and to give me a little guidance here and there. It’s not like you have to have some formal “coaching program” or big expert. Just someone that can steer you in the right direction.
2. I HAD A WORKOUT PARTNER
This one was HUGE. In fact, I could change the title of this section to “ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER” instead of workout partner, because that’s what it really boiled down to.
Tony was also my workout partner. And he won’t mind me saying that this was great for both of us, because we were both “fatter” than we cared to be and knew it was time to “pay the fiddler” as we liked to say.
The reason this works so well is that when you don’t want to workout, you know you’re letting your partner down, so you are less likely to bail. Also, we are dudes, so it can be a little competitive, which made me work harder than I probably would have on my own.
Even though Tony is way stronger and bigger than me, it made me feel better when I pushed myself so he was only adding an extra 25lb. plate to each side of the bar as opposed to a 45lb. when it was his turn to squat.
3. I ATE A HIGH PROTEIN, LOW CARB, And HIGH FAT DIET.
Based on my bodyfat measurements, we determined that my weaknesses were mainly around carbs, too many fruits, and frosty cold beverages (I’ll admit it, I’m a beer guy).
All of these led to extra fat storage in the love handles, limbs, stomach and back.
So, I completely cut out all starchy carbs (beer, bread, pasta, rice, etc.). Yes, completely with the exception of maybe one cheat meal per week.
My diet basically consisted of lean meats, fish, egss (lots and lots of eggs), a few nuts, avocados, and as many veggies as I could get, especially green ones like spinach, broccoli, and kale.
I also wasn’t afraid of eating some things that were higher in fat, because the main goal was getting rid of the carbs. So on occasion, I would have things like chicken sausages, salami, ham, etc as other sources of protein, just so things wouldn’t get too boring.
I’ll have some more info to come in the future as to some of the benefits of adding fat into your diet (“fat” is not a bad word, like most people think it is).
4. I PLANNED MY MEALS AND WORKOUTS
I basically knew what I was going to eat all week long. With my schedule working with clients, it’s easy to miss meals or just grab something quick like a protein shake, or junk, but I knew that neither of those would work in the long run.
Usually on Saturday or Sunday, I would grill some chicken or cook up some form of protein that would last me through the week. Then I always made sure we had veggies ready and available.
As for my workouts, I had a written program for either 4 or 5 days a week, which was mainly strength training, not cardio. We changed up the workout program every 4 weeks.
As for the lack of cardio, I think many people put too much stock in it when trying to lose fat, and don’t put enough emphasis on strength training. So I almost purposefully avoided it as a bit of a personal experiment.
5. I CHEATED
Every week, I allowed myself to cheat. Once. This meant I could have a bad meal. Whatever I wanted, and not feel guilty about it. I could even have a glass of wine, or a drink, although I tried to refrain from beer, even on my cheats.
The funny thing was that in many cases, I opted not to have a drink because it just felt like it was a waste. I’m not a cocktail guy and with all of the hard work I was putting in, the reward didn’t really outweigh the effort I was putting in.
Just knowing that I had a cheat meal available really made me think about what I was eating everyday and what I wanted to save for my cheat meal. But it also kept me sane, knowing that I had a splurge meal coming up. It almost became a game.
What I learned in this process, and hopefully you can see from the steps above is that even though the metabolism may not be working like it used to and you might not be as strong as you used to; if you are willing to really make a commitment to change, it can be done.
The five steps above are not rocket science and don’t take any special fads, gimmicks, or crazy workouts. Just a simple diligence in the diet and workouts, surrounded by support of a coach and training partner.
So if you are like I was (as well as several of my buddies) and are noticing that you’ve gained a little extra padding around the middle, and your body/joints just don’t feel as limber and powerful as they used to, why not make some changes.
If you do, you’ll not only see the difference in the mirror, you’ll see it in your strength, and even in your golf game. The more fit and agile your body is, the easier it is to execute your swing.
I CHALLENGE YOU . . .
My goal on this blog is that after every article you read, you can come away with something that actually helps you. Something that is actionable to help your game, your fitness, or just your life in general.
I can’t think of a better way to make a change than throw out a challenge. So here is it is . . .
Try your own version of this for a month. Take some pics of yourself before you start and take some at the end. I guarantee you’ll look and feel better at the end.
Remember, the 5 keys are:
- Use a coach
- Find a workout partner
- Eat a low carb, high protein, and high fat diet
- Plan your meals and workouts
And if you’re willing to share your success with us (and maybe your photos), I’ll highlight it on the blog. What’s stopping you? Stop telling yourself that you are going to get in better shape and actually commit to it.
Any questions? Just put them in the comment section below. No question is a bad question. Remember, I do this stuff for a living and I struggled with the same stuff, so I don’t expect you to do this on your own. Let me know how I can help.
And of course, we always appreciate “likes,” “shares,” and “+1’s”, so if this was helpful, please pass it along!