My Major Overhaul: The 2013 Spring Life Time Training 90-Day Challenge
By Bryan Szweda
On January 30th, 2013 it became apparent my lifestyle didn’t just need a tune up, it needed a major overhaul! Calculating the numbers that glared back at me from the scale, I realized with a body fat count of 17%, that 40 pounds of the 236 pounds I was weighing was just fat! Clearly, I was spinning my wheels, over training, and not eating the correct foods. When I heard about the 2013 Spring Life Time Training 90-Day Challenge, I knew the opportunity to make a healthy transformation had come knocking. It was time to open the door and make a much needed lifestyle change, while learning as much as I could from individuals who were already making the kind of changes I wanted to see in myself. It was also the perfect time to enter a natural bodybuilding competition. Motivated by the dual challenges, my goal was to take my physique from its current state of gut rut to fab abs in just ninety days.
To get my engine revving properly, my overall diet needed a full review. I believe an individual can see amazing results just by changing their dietary plan. I also believe it is the toughest change to make; it was for me. Research has demonstrated that a reduction of processed starches and sugars and a slight increase in healthy fats, produce more fat loss and better health. So for this 90 day challenge, I reduced my calories by eliminating processed and refined starches and sugars. They are considered “high-glycemic”, which means they convert easily and quickly to glucose. This results in the increase of insulin and therefore fat storage. Since processed and refined starches and sugars cause the body to produce more insulin, they trigger the yo-yo effect of insulin production and fat storage which in turn causes more fatigue. Next I balanced my intake of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I started looking for my carbohydrate contributions from vegetables with fiber to slow the process of digestion and absorption. I ate legumes and whole grains like rice, quinoa, and sprout bread with full oat oatmeal. I too discovered dietary fats are much less of a problem in terms of body fat, so I got my fat intake from good, healthy fat sources such as avocadoes, nuts, and olive oil. For protein, I chose mainly clean, low fat animal proteins, such as chicken, fish, and very lean red meat like bison, venison, or elk. Every once in a while I would have a high omega-3 fat meal like salmon. I kept my proteins high so that I could maximize lean muscle retention during my overhaul. Proteins contain amino acids, which are essential for the growth, building, contraction and retention of lean muscle mass. To make sure I wasn’t deficient on any essential vitamins or nutrition, a multi vitamin was also incorporated in to my diet. Finally, I ate smaller meals five to seven times a day every two or three hours.
The Exercise Program:
With the engine fired up and ready to go, I needed a well-researched exercise plan to ensure total body transformation. I found the best approach was a combination of aerobic and resistance training. Both types of exercises have a different fat loss effect. Resistance training is vital for everyone; it makes your muscles more metabolically active, meaning that they burn more calories all day long. If people only incorporate aerobic exercise, they tend to become more efficient at it, meaning their bodies eventually learn to conserve fuel while doing aerobic exercise, which would equal less fat loss. Those who combine weight/resistance training with aerobic exercise have a much better rate of fat loss. There are different phases of weight/resistance training depending upon the goals of an individual. If an individual wants to put on size or mass, then that individual would use a technique known as Mechanical Tension and Time Under Tension. Using this technique an individual performs the maximum amounts of reps in the specified time, with maximum intensity. Speed is not the goal. The individual would be using heavier weights, because the more a muscle is stretched while under tension, the more that muscle is stimulated and stressed. This means the muscle will grow and become stronger. Armed with a well-researched plan, I was ready for action. I decided to test my limits and see how far a consistent workout plan of cardio and weight training would transform my body.
To be successful with the challenges, I took many steps to ensure my workouts were going to be efficient and maximize my fat loss. First, I took the Lifetime Fitness metabolic test to get my maximal fat burning heart rate zone and went over my resistance workout plan with a Lifetime Fitness Trainer. My cardio/aerobic training was pretty straight forward and simple. It started at 5:30 am Monday- Friday for 30 minutes in my fat burning zone before eating a balanced breakfast. Then I switched to a fat burning lean muscle phase. My workouts were about an hour long, but Time under Tension in this phase was still very vital along with intensity. I learned the weight should be “heavy”. However, it must be a weight that you can control and use proper form to isolate the muscle group targeted. It’s not the weight itself that matters, but that the exercise becomes effective and targets the intended muscle group. The weights and number of reps I completed changed from 6-8 reps to 15-25 reps depending on the exercise. I also made sure that I had proper recovery time with a minimum of 1-2 days off a week to allow full recovery. Finally, I met with a Lifetime Fitness Trainer during this challenge to help me keep track of my body fat and measurements. Having the data to really see the results of my hard work, along with the trainers’ ongoing encouragement, made me work even harder to win both the 90 day challenge and the natural bodybuilding competition.
As of today May 9th, 2013, I am beyond happy with my overhaul. Taking on this 90 day challenge has not only gotten me ready for the natural bodybuilding competition, but has changed my life. Now the numbers beaming back at me from the scale are 203.9 pounds with 6.3% body fat. That’s a 32.1 pound loss and 10.7% reduction in body fat! Even more rewarding than the numbers is the positive influence this challenge has had on my family members, who are also making healthy changes in their lifestyles. My lovely wife is losing weight despite a back injury and my 15 year old son is now working out with me. He is taking what he learns to compete at the next level in his high school sports. We have already seen a big difference in his strength, endurance, and most of all his confidence. My family was always growing together, but now we are growing healthier and stronger together too. As a result of this challenge, I am a true believer in being able to change lives with small changes in nutrition, more efficient workouts, and the support of my family and friends. LifeTime Fitness, you have my gratitude.
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