Welcome to Body & Weight Wednesday. I just completed my DexaFit Body Composition Scan after six weeks of doing the Happy Body Program and today I’d like to give you my update on how my body has changed and what it is like doing the program – including my personal adaptations.
First, the program delivered exactly as promised. The creators of the program tell me that for my height, I can expect to gain 0.25 pounds of muscle each week and lose 1.25 pounds of fat. That translates into 1.5 pounds of muscle and 8.5 pounds of fat for six weeks. My actual results were 1.6 pounds muscle added and 9.4 pounds of fat lost. Pretty darn close to expected. I started at 28% body fat and dropped to 23%.
How did I do it? To build muscle I did the happy body exercises each day following the book you can get on Amazon. It was as simple as that.
First let’s talk about the exercises. What are the pros and cons?
Well, the exercises take me about 45 minutes to do each day. Ideally, I’d like to spend just 30 minutes. However, once I get to my ideal lean muscle mass level (which is predicted to be Oct), I can drop some of the reps and it will be a 30 minute workout. And when it comes down to it, since I can do them in my living room with just a few weights, I save time not having to go to a gym or anywhere special. I don’t mind the everyday part, cause in some ways it simplifies things for me. The time is very meditative as well, like restorative yoga. I find each session relaxes and focuses my mind. It truly is a yoga and I have used it to replace some of my meditative practice.
In actuality I am getting more bang for my buck than physical exercise. A lot of people use music or other types of recordings to distract themselves while they exercise. Maybe better than not exercising, but to really be in the present is the way to find true joy. These exercises keep my mind engaged and allow it to release concerns spontaneously. At the same time, since the body is the focus, it allows me to create a better relationship with my body. This isn’t part of the happy body program per se, but the program supports my personal desire to be in rhythm with my body and present in the moment quite well. This is what has evolved since I simplified my spiritual practice on new years (which you can learn more about this in Episode 29 – An Unusual New Year’s Resolution.)
What about the physical demands of the exercises? First off, despite being quite disciplined, I am an inherently lazy person. I won’t do things that are too hard if I can avoid them. I really like these exercises, they are varied enough to keep my mind stimulated and focused for 45 minutes. And I don’t have to strain or feel like I am working hard. They are easy. If you start to do them and they seem hard, you need to back of on the level you are working at or the pounds of you weights.
When it comes down to it, I don’t think I could find a more perfect and simple program. I think the only disadvantage is that if I decided to go someplace like India for a month it may be hard to find weights. However, I have no travel plans outside the US in the next year, so I’ll worry about that later. And once I get stronger, I plan to start playing with more yoga and gymnastics type movements that will use my body as the weight. That would be a good adaptation for travel.
In episode 27, my one month Happy Body update I talk about my gains in flexibility. The weight level I was using was 4 pounds at that time. The creators tell me to go up in weights when they start to feel light. After about ten days at four pounds they didn’t seem to be getting particularly “light” but they didn’t feel heavy either. I decided to see what 5 pounds was like. So right after my update, I went up to five pounds. The five pounds didn’t really feel much heavier than the 4 pounds did. After only four days I figured I’d try six pounds. Then I didn’t even wait a week before moving to 7 pounds. Three days later I was at 8 pounds. The first day it felt easy, but then I noticed they started feeling really heavy. After five days I asked myself if 8 pounds was me working at 70% or was I overdoing it? I finally gave in and went back to seven pounds. 8 pounds really was too much. My shoulders weren’t quite ready for the jump.
I also had been pushing it since I knew I had the scan coming up and I wanted to see if I could put on even more muscle than prescribed. In fact, I even googled “How to increase muscle mass fast”. Everybody said that a quarter pound was a reasonable rate to gain and you can’t really go faster. However, my husband has been talking about the plan in the Four Hour Body book by Tim Ferris. Tim actually tells how to put on muscle fast. I picked up the book and read. Indeed, according to his methods, I could probably gain all the muscle I needed in one month with only a four hour investment. However, his methods involved lifting weights until the muscle fatigue completely. I just don’t like that kind of workout and I had an intuitive sense that my tendons, ligaments and joints might not like that type of acute strain. So, after some consideration, I decided that my slow but sure plan was the way to go. Muscles to last a lifetime.
I still am at 7 pounds. The weights for most of the moves feel light, except the first exercise (1-1) and exercises 2-5 and 3-5. All these exercises involve lifting the seven pound weights over the head. My shoulders are still trying to gain the strength to do these with ease.
The other place of gain has been with the squats. Remember my bad knees? Well in the first sequence squat I could go all the way down, but it was a strain, so I was going as low as thighs parallel to ground, but more often a few inches above that. At five weeks I was able to squat all the way down with ease. I was shocked. I love this progressive development of strength without real effort. Today, after tweeking my knee, either in the yard or picking up that 80 pound box of tile, I am back to the modified squat. However, I know that I’ll be back down low soon.
After getting the results from the Dexafit Scan I asked myself, “Now, what do I do?” and the answer was simple. I simply keep doing the same enjoyable routine every day. The only change is not to try to push to increase the weights too fast. It is working!!! I have 10 more pounds of muscle to gain and at the rate of a pound a month that would be October. However, my next milestone will be in mid April. My target is 2.4 pounds of muscle by then with a % body fat composition of 18%. I’ve never been that lean! I picked April for my next check in because I am on the wait list for my own personal ShapeScale.
A shape scale is a home version of the Fit 3D scale they use at the DexaFit center. It takes a 3D picture of your body and estimates body composition from that. The DexaFit scan is more accurate and expensive to run, but they let you do the 3D scan as a bonus when you come in. What you get , is a picture of your body shape and you can use that to see where you are gaining or losing muscle and fat. It is also excellent for checking out your posture. I still have a little lean forward according to the pictures and you can see how I tense the right side of my body. I am going to use the pictures to verify when I have finally let go of that tension. I’ll post the pictures of my body from the Fit 3D program at PositiveChangeWithDorena.com.
That fit 3D scale runs about $20,000. A little out of my budget. However, I ordered a ShapeScale to be released in April for $650. I think it will motivate me to stay in shape for a lifetime and will be well worth the money. And if I don’t like it, I can send it back. They also offer scale rental programs for people on a tighter budget.
So in April I will get the ShapeScale and run my last Dexafit Scan to compare the results. Since they calculate things differently I expect there to be a difference. The Fit 3D results put me at 3% higher body fat and had me gaining an additional pound of muscle vs the Dexafit. Running both at the same time will allow me to transition off the expensive Dexafit and onto my home ShapeScale.
Now, I have been talking about the exercise part of the Happy Body Program, but let me mention now my experience with the food part of the program. As I mentioned in episode 21 – Choosing a Happy Body, I modified the plan to closer match my current eating. Given my results, the modification seems to not have prevented me from getting into my ideal weight range and making expected progress at becoming lean. However, let me tell you about one of the things I did.
I mentioned in episode 27 that I initially lost weight, but at two week I plateaued. This plateau lasted two weeks. I thought maybe I was eating too much and needed to cut out a little, but after analyzing my food (I was tracking calories, which is not part of the plan, but part of my obsessive scientist nature) I realized that I had really not actually increased my calorie intake from the first two weeks. The other annoying part is that I was constantly hungry. The majority of month I hadn’t been hungry, so I think that might have been a PMS thing. In any case it was bugging me.
I got an idea. Jerzy mentions that overeating can increase metabolism and the four hour body plan is based on six days of food plan eating and one day of overeating. I was sick of being hungry, so I gave it a try. For one day I ate and ate. Actually, I ate a full box of Access Bars, which are bars designed to burn fat. They are chocolate and caramel and it was quite fun. I don’t think they work for fat burning if you just eat them like I did but they make a tasty snack.
The next day the scale said I was still the same weight, however after about 4 days the scale started going down ½ pound a day. And by the end of the week my weight had settled in the ideal range, where it still is.
After I reached the top of my ideal weight range I relaxed more with the food. I stopped watching the clock and added a couple hundred calories more on average. After two weeks I tried another “banquet day”, but didn’t see the same results in weight loss over the next week. I was stable with no loss or gain. We are coming into warmer weather and I expect that I’ll lose the last couple pounds of weight effortlessly as I increase my outside activities.
So what part of the Happy body food plan did I adhere to? The part that I adopted was focusing on each meal being 4-6 ounces of protein and 8 to 12 ounces of vegetables. I do two meals like that and three snacks. I don’t do the 3 hour spacing. Instead I eat for 8 to 9 hours and then “fast” the rest of the day. And even that isn’t too religious. I might cook in the evening when I am “fasting” and I’ll sample the meals to make sure they taste right.
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Cheery Monday by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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