Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Real Goal of Weight Loss (Part II)

The real goal of any weight loss program should be to lose as much body fat as you can and not simply weight on the scale. If you are judging the success of your program by simply using how much weight you've lost on the scale, then you are missing out on the health benefits that go along with having a body fat percentage within proper ranges (21-24% for women and 14-17% for men).

There are many ways that you can determine your body fat percentage, and some are more accurate than others. This site gives you all of the different methods that are currently used with a write up on the pros and cons of each one. Personally, I use digital calipers and the free body fat calculator at to determine my body fat percentage. Now, before you rush to the website, let me warn you that the webmaster(s) there has not been keeping the site up to date and many people have reported errors trying to sign up for a free account. I like this calculator because it's the only one I've come across on the web that you have to input approximately 12 measurements to determine your body fat %. So, if you are able to sign up for an account, make sure to have a measuring tape handy. I plan on getting my body fat % tested using Hydrodensitometry Weighing (Underwater Weighing) and DEXA before the year is out. Of course I'll report my results here.

(*Update: is no longer available. Use or

To maximize your body fat loss and minimize losing your lean body mass (i.e., muscle), you need to focus on muscle building exercises and following a diet that causes your body to use more of its stored fat than muscle.

Guys, what I've found to be the ticket as far as muscle building exercises go is to perform compound exercises, which work more than one muscle group at time, using free weights and following a simple workout routine. Unless you are considering participating in the sport of bodybuilding, I suggest you drop all of the isolation exercises like tricep pushdowns or lat pull-downs and replace them with dips and pull-ups. Real men do dips and pull-ups as far as I'm concerned . . .

Learning how to properly bench press, squat, military press, and deadlift will take you a long way to getting the body you've always wanted. Also, I would drop the 3 sets of 10 reps that we've been taught since high school in favor or less reps, more sets (depending on your goals), and using heavier weights. A great book to understand this concept is Pavel's Power to the People.

As far as diet is concerned, there is no better one to follow than a low-carb diet, and no, I'm not talking about Atkins's version either. I follow a paleo-style, low-carb diet, and eat whole foods, not the processed low-carb junk food that many LC diet plans promote. However, I'm not a zealot about following a low-carb lifestyle, nor do I think it is the only diet that someone needs to follow to get lean. In losing and gaining weight, calories count more than the composition of the diet; but, to optimize the weight loss process and to have the majority of your lost weight be body fat, going paleo/low-carb (no more than 100g of carbs daily) is the best way to go. To those who are truly interested in why this is the case, there are three books that I suggest you read:

Ultimate Diet Secrets (Lite Version) by Dr. Gregory Ellis
Neanderthin by Ray Audette
Fat Loss Bible by Anthony Colpo

These three authors have had the greatest impact on my understanding the process of attaining a lean and sculpted body. They all clearly practice what they preach and don't make excuses for it. They are considered controversial, arrogant, and eccentric by many, and I would tend to agree. But, I could care less about that because they all focus on getting results! And that's what my blog is all about--achieving and maintaining results.

Next week, I'll address the often debated issue of what's more important in losing weight, counting calories, carbs, or fat consumed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Real Goal of Weight Loss (Part I)

Last week, I talked about not fearing the scale and not being emotional about the whole process; however, I have to also warn you not to become obsessed with the scale either. Remember it's just one tool amongst many that you will use. Actually, body weight is not the best way to determine if you are on your way to having that svelte physique you've always wanted.

The scale, unfortunately, becomes a trap for many guys because that's the only way they determine if their program is working. "If I'm losing weight on the scale, then it's all good, right?" Well, not necessarily.

The goal of any weight loss program should be to lose as much body fat as possible, while sparing as much lean body mass (i.e., muscle) as you can. If you just go by the scale, then you have no idea if the pounds you're losing are actually fat or muscle. Let me give you a personal example.

Back in 2000, I reached a high of 288lbs. and felt that I needed to do something about my expanding waistline. So, since I live so close to the Mexico-US border, I made a run for it to go and visit a weight loss doctor. After taking all my vitals, and even hooking me up to an EKG machine, the doctor went over my new eating plan--which was a moderate low-carb diet similar to Sugar Busters--and prescribed a three month supply of weight loss pills.

Man, did those pills work. I had energy for days, and the very thought of food made me want to puke. As expected, I lost weight and lost it rather quickly. I would eat one solid meal a day (usually lunch) and had to literally force myself to drink two meal replacement shakes. I really didn't care whether this was healthy or not because the scale was telling me that it was working, and I had the energy to do 45 minutes to an hour on the elliptical machine five days a week. I would play around with the weight machines for 20-25 minutes after my cardio, but my main focus was doing cardio and watching the scale.

I lost more than 40lbs taking what I later found out to be phen-phen, and I was fitting clothes I hadn't been able to in years. However, there was just one problem: my body was extremely soft and pudgy; I also had saggy man boobs to boot! Yes, I was happy that I was lighter and could fit smaller sized clothes, but I hated the fact that without clothes, I felt and looked like a smaller version of Jabba the Hut.

Well, it was 60lbs and a couple of years later that I realized why my body was as soft as a baby's ass. You see, I never worried about whether I was losing muscle or body fat; all I cared about was losing weight on the scale. So, through my starvation diet and tons of cardio, I effectively burned more of my lean body mass than body fat.

Fellas, do not fall into this trap. To be healthy and to have a body that you, as well as others, will admire, you want the majority of your lost weight to be body fat and not muscle.

In part II, I'll explain techniques you can use to maximize fat loss while minimizing muscle loss. I'll also talk about the different ways to go about measuring your body fat percentage. Until then, here's a pix of me after regaining the weight I lost, and the 20+ friends they brought along with them.

Oh, just in case you were wondering, yes that's a chocolate candy bar I have in my hand. Damn, you'd think that I'd at least hide it, huh?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mr. Low Body Fat's story featured @

The good folks at have highlighted my transformation as one of their weight loss success stories. If you need motivation, please visit the other success stories and read just how regular men and women have lost the weight and kept it off. Also, there are many free and beneficial online weight loss tools available at the site for you to use.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Are you scale-phobic?


I want to appeal to a less emotional and more rationale side of you today, OK? So, do me a favor and check your emotions at the door--thanks.

I know that many of you can identify with the idea of being scale-phobic. Surely you've experienced the sweaty palms of anticipation smacking against your belly as you steady yourself on the scale? Society would have us to believe that women are the only ones who dread getting on the scale, but this simply ain't true. Many men, especially those with dunlap disease, deplore the thought of having to be weighed when going for a physical.

Fellas, don't worry about how you've reacted in the past about the scale because today's a new day, and you're going to approach this with a different mind set this time. Yes, the scale can help to feed that negative voice of doubt you hear inside as you start on yet another weight loss journey; however, that's just one way of looking at it. You can also view it as simply one tool you'll use on your journey to determine if you're program is giving you measurable results.

As, I've said, there's no room to be emotional about the scale anymore because you're using your fear of the scale as a crutch to not be accountable to yourself. Listen, I weigh myself everyday; yes, I really do because how else will I get to know how my bodyweight fluctuates on a daily basis? How else will I hold myself accountable for pigging out (read: eating too many calories) on nuts and the ensuing, and inevitable, water weight gain that occurs? The scale, in many respects, keeps you honest and accountable.

Guys, if you don't have one, go out and get yourself a nice digital scale. Also, pick up a simple day planner to record your daily weight as you're on this journey. OK, I know that pen and paper sounds so 80s, so for the computer addicts you may consider using fitday or fittracker, which is an online diet journal with many free tools; however, before you start weighing yourself daily, I have some practical tips for you:

  • your body weight fluctuates 1-5 lbs on a daily basis because of fluid retention. So, if you weigh 285 on Monday and 289 the next day, don't freak out and think that you've gained 4 lbs of fat because you haven't. It's OK, just keep following your program and recording your weight because you'll start to see that that the gaps will start to shift downward.

  • to account for these fluctuations, determine your bodyweight on a weekly basis. Basically, weigh yourself everyday, add up a week's worth, and divide it by seven to get your weekly average. I would calculate my average weight each Saturday after I weighed myself. Do this for every week of the month, and then average the weeks out to get your monthly average.

  • view the scale not as an enemy but as a valuable ally, companion, and tool on your weight loss journey. Along with a tape measure, body fat calipers, your clothes, and bathroom mirror, your scale is but one tool that will help you determine if your program is giving you the results you want.

  • this is a methodical process and not an emotional one. View weighing yourself as emotional as you would watching paint dry on a door. Instead of being emotional, learn from the process. You'll start to get to know how your body reacts to certain nutritional situations (bottomless bowl night at the local Italian restaurant), stressful events (wifey wasn't working late after all), exercising, etc. In addition, you'll begin to see just how much control you actually have over your bodyweight.
No more lying, no more guesstimating, and no more fear! Go, get on the scale and write down the three numbers in your planner, close the planner, and move on with your day without giving how much you weighed a second thought. If you're too large to use a regular scale, go and find a place that would have a freight scale or go to your nearest recycling center. Approach that scale no differently.

Finally, be patient; it's going to take at least two to three months before things really become interesting, as you'll have more numbers to compare and contrast. The less emotional you are, the more enjoyable recording and charting your weight loss will be.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

weight loss is 80% mental

The first steps to any process or meaningful change is usually the hardest, but that's not always the case. I've always felt that many times this first step is difficult, especially when losing weight, because many guys want to lose weight without having a clearly defined plan of action. Fellas, I know many of us are the type who hate maps and don't even try to get us to ask for directions! I'm the same way, to a certain degree, and will drive around town learning from my many wrong turns; nevertheless, do yourself a favor and not make the same macho mistakes when you're trying to lose weight.

OK, so you need to lose weight, right? Well, what's the first thing that you should do?

Get a gym membership?


Buy the latest fat burner you saw on TV?


Pull out your old high school football shorts (which you probably can't wear anymore) and go for a run?

You're joking, right?

Start eating more salads?

Not quite.

Well, what should be the first step?

Go to the bathroom and strip to your birthday suit. Hopefully, you have a full size mirror in there so you can see the majority of your naked body. Look at yourself, analyze where your body stores the majority of your fat and trace your stretch marks with your finger to see where they start and end. I don't know about you, but I love my stretch marks!

Don't be disgusted with what you see because, fat or not, this is the only body you're going to have in this life, and you need to start getting to know it intimately. So, instead of the usual thoughts like "How did I let myself get this big?" or "What was I thinking to eat myself into this body?" look yourself in the eyes and ask yourself if you are ready to make a permanent change. Don't look away and fake it like you really mean it this time; be honest with yourself. You can lie to everyone else around you, but there has to be no more lying to yourself.

If you're not ready for the journey, be man enough to admit it and put your clothes back on. You'll be back in the mirror before you know it; it's just not your time right now. No, I'm not giving you an excuse to remain a fat ass, I'm just being realistic. Fellas, listen, if you're not mentally ready to start a weight loss program, then why waste your time and effort to diet for a little while, just to regain the weight?

When you're ready to make the change, you'll have to be mentally ready for the challenges and lessons ahead. Your body will do what you tell it to, so until you're ready to work that muscle in between your ears, go grab another cold one, plop back down on the couch, and see if Barry Bonds is going to extend his record. Cheers.

Friday, August 3, 2007

OK, so what's up with the pixs?

I think that it's worth explaining why I have so many pixs of me during my weight loss journey in my underwear. Since I had made up my mind that 2003 was going to be the year that I would literally get my weight under control, I figured that I needed more motivation this time. Going up and down with my weight had been a recurring theme for the last couple of years for me, and I felt that I was more than ready to make a sustainable change. So, what do we usually do when we need help fellas? Reach out to your homies, right? Well, I was just the average Joe Couch Potato, and I did just that.

My buddies and brother were more than happy to help me with not only their encouragement, but we would also start an online weight loss club! Since, I've always been more of a wannabe techie, I took on the job of building the website and setting up the forum. Since my cheap ass used a free service (thanks bravenet), it didn't take long to have our club up and running.

Everyone was pretty stoked about starting because we had all put on more weight than we were happy with and knew it was time for a change. There were six of us in the club, and the forums had many interesting conversations about water weight, experiences taking fat burners, which I was very interested in, to trying to get a six-pack. The ideas were being exchanged, and I had motivation that I hadn't felt in sometime. So, I was the first one to recommend that we all post a before shot of ourselves; however, I told them that they should be like men and take it without their shirts.

Hey, I can't throw down the gauntlet like that and not be the first one to upload my pixs even though my girlfriend--at the time--told me not to because "they're going to laugh at you." I knew she was right, but I was over 300lbs., and I needed something to motivate my fat ass to stay the course. So, I hit the send button and sent these pixs:

I was 296lbs when I took these pixs; I didn't have the nerve to send pixs of me when I was part of the 300lb. club. What stands out most in my mind while looking at these pixs is that I really did not think I was that fat. I think that I, like many of you guys, have been so use to being overweight that you really have a distorted view of your body size or just how large you really are. I thought that I was just a Big Boy or a Big Dawg that needed to eat a man's size portion. Hell, I took pride in wearing XXL because I didn't want to be skinny, I would tell myself.

Well fellas, I hate to tell you this, but if you're wearing a size 46+ pants size and/or haven't seen your Willy in a while when you take a leak, then let me assure you, without ever laying eyes on your naked body, that you're fat and you have a lot of body fat to lose. So, stop flexing your man boobs and chunky arms imagining that you're buff because you're not! But, that's OK for right now, just stop kidding yourself and start a more honest relationship with yourself.

I know I did, and it started the minute I uploaded my pixs to the website. Like my girlfriend predicted, I'm sure they laughed at me behind their monitors, thinking, "Shit, there's no way in hell I'm going to do that!". Yeah, and no one else posted a pix to our online club, which, as you can imagine, didn't last too long after I was left hanging.

Nevertheless, what I didn't plan on being a side effect from being dissed by my homies, and even my own brother, is that it made me realize, "Damn dude you're on your own!". Throughout your weight loss journey guys, you are going to be alone, so start to mentally prepare yourself for this.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Are you ready to ride w/ me?

Since I'm sure that many people, especially women, will wonder why am I writing a weight loss blog directed mainly towards men, I thought that I'd briefly explain my reasons in my first post. First, we live in a country that is clearly a male dominated one. Whether that's right or wrong is not my issue here; I'm dealing with the reality of our current situation. Men make more in salary than women; there are more male CEOs of companies than women, and the main movers and shakers of this country are usually male. And, as a result of this, men's likes and dislikes are what is accepted as the norm, especially when it comes to body image.

In our society, women are much more pressured to look a certain way than men are. So, it's normal to see a pretty hot lady walking down the street with a guy who could obviously stand to lose some inches off his waist. Men are usually given a free pass when it comes to being overweight or downright obese. However, women are spending billions of dollars on books, diet pills, and online diet programs to be thin. while their husbands can sit around with a beer belly making the excuse of "it's just more of me to love".

Well, ladies, I'm actually on your side and feel that it's time that guys own up to the fact that they too need to be concerned with their waist line and unhealthy eating habits. According to this NIH affiliate site, there are more men that are overweight or obese in this country than women! And to top it off, there are more healthy women in this country than men. How embarrassing?

Traditional weight loss blogs, as well as programs, are already geared towards overweight women. You name the diet and there are support forums and blogs associated with it, and you'll find that 99% of them are geared towards women. Well, this ain't one of those blogs. While I know that the information I'll share on my blog will help everyone, I'm talking to the fellas in a way that guys can understand: in your face, pull no punches, no BS, not PC, and no excuses allowed!

What I'm seeking to have with my blog is what I experienced in the local Black barbershop in my neighborhood. Those of you who have been to a Black barbershop know exactly what I'm talking about. If you've never been to one, go and rent Barbershop 1 & 2 which will give you an idea, although an Hollywood-esque one, of the straight talk among men that happens there. While women would come through every now and then to get their necklines shaped up, it was usually only men in the shop. And, man, did they shoot straight from the hip in their conversations. It wasn't a place for the easily offended or guys with thin skin, and neither is my blog.

Oh yeah, welcome to Mr. Low Body Fat's Blog . . .