Dieting alone won’t solve anyone’s weight loss woes. While initially some pounds will be shed, most of the time, the calories come back big time once the dieter slips back to his or her old habits. In some cases too, important nutrients that aid the immune system of the body are depleted and the body becomes haggard and weak as some food sources, at times mistaken as non-essential, are cut off.
Hence, a holistic approach is always the best track to follow. It entails eating the right kinds of food in moderation and exercising to keep the body active, strong, and fit.
This is basically what the book Body for Life, authored by Bill Philipps emphasizes – in transforming ourselves for the better, we can’t make any shortcuts. It means combining all elements to reach our desired goal and preparing to stay on the course even if would mean sacrificing some comforts.
The book, which came out in 1999, was a national bestseller for seven years. Does it deserve all the accolades that it has received all these years then?
The Man Behind the Book: Bill Philipps
Who is Bill Phillips? Before he became a book author, William Bill Phillips was a bodybuilder and started a bodybuilding contest which shares the same name as that of the book.
He moved to Colorado in the late 1980s and enrolled in a study program which focused on sports nutrition and physiology. He is considered one of the pioneers of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) – combining intense aerobic exercises with strength training for total body fitness. Aside from writing Body for Life, he also founded Muscle Magazine.
The Essence of Body for Life
The book Body for Life has gained widespread popularity and was voted as one of country’s 15 all-time bestsellers in 2004. It has also gained several criticisms for its simplicity, rigorous fitness activity, emphasis on the consumption of protein and insufficient scientific analysis.
So what really is the Body for Life? Does it really promise on transforming one’s body and health for the better?
The book promises, if one is willing to commit, to change the body in 12 weeks by following Billy Phillips recommended meal plan and exercises which combines both intensive cardio activities and strength training.
The aim is for users to get lean and fit by practicing portion control yet focusing on specific protein and, achieving their body’s optimal strength not only by using cardio exercises but also weight lifting – a core part of strength training. It not only promises to get one to lose weight and trim but to make them stronger.
In the recommended meal plan, users are encouraged to ditch the usual three big meals a day and instead proposes on having six smalls meals a day. These six meals consist heavily of around 40 percent of lean protein and mixing them with vegetables and healthy grains. The proportion of the serving, however, differs with the usual meals as the measurement should be based on the size of the fist for portion control.
Thus the elements at play with Body for Life is that you burn more calories with the combination of workouts and reduction on the fat build up due to fewer calories consumed. The book clearly overemphasizes the value of having a balanced approach – the quality and amount of food and the intensity of the workout are in equal footing.
Dissecting the Type of Food and Exercises
In the book, preference is on consuming lean protein without fats, which makes up about 40 percent of the diet. The rest are on carbohydrates and vegetables – roughly 50 percent. This is done continuously for six days – the seventh is considered cheat day. Eating processed food, sugary sweets, fatty foods like bacon and sausages and, other starchy foods are, however strictly prohibited during non-cheat days.
The book also puts high premium in drinking water hence, 10 glasses of water are the ideal. Other supplements and shakes are also included, to compensate and enhance energy for the reduced intake of calories.
As for the workout, the exercises are short but highly intensive. As one of the first believers of HIIT, Bill Phillips incorporated this for maximum impact. For four hours per week, the sessions are divided into two: intense cardio for 20 minutes (for three sessions) and 45 minutes for lifting weights as part of strength training. This lasts for three sessions, alternating between upper and lower body to firm and build muscle mass.
Benefits of Body for Life
1. Meal Plan
While some remain skeptical of the rigid regimen espoused on the book, it cannot be denied that so many health benefits can be derived from both the workout and meal plan. The elimination of processed foods, fatty meats, and sugary sweets can decrease the possibility of fat build up on the artery walls like too much consumption can wreak havoc not only on our weight but also puts so much risk on cardiovascular health. His suggestion too of eating healthy foods with high nutritional value and exercising restraint by limiting the intakes makes proper sense. Portion control to has its merits as it is good for those who either want to lose weight or maintain their size – one of the most difficult phases when embarking on a fitness journey.
2. Exercise Plan
The intense workout recommended in Body for Life may come out too strong for beginners as strength training which means doing more lifts than cardio can temporarily stress the unprepared body. However, strength training makes the muscles more lean and stronger and contrary to what others think, you also lose a lot of calories in strength training.
Having an intensive workout too, just like what the book recommends enhances the following: lowers the heart rate, enhances the flow of oxygen, strengthens the immunity system of the body, stabilizes the blood pressure and promotes better sleep – very important for cell renewal and repair.
Criticisms, Weaknesses, and Commitment
Of course, not all health and fitness regimes are perfect. Like other diets and workouts, the Body for Life has its fair share of weaknesses too. For example, the portioning of about 40 percent of the diet in consuming protein and other protein shakes does not promote balance as more healthy plant-based proteins should be incorporated. Eating that amount of protein too can also affect the liver and kidneys, especially those with pre-existing conditions. The cholesterol level too could go up.
Aside from this, the rigorous, intensive exercise may be difficult to sustain, especially for those who are starting. The intense workout could also weaken first timers due also to the reduced number of calories consumed.
To cap, while the recommended fitness plan has its weaknesses, Body for Life has shown so many benefits in muscle strengthening and managing weight by exercising discipline in what types of food to consume and how much to eat. Nothing in this world is easy, especially when it comes to transforming ourselves for the better. The key challenges only are, how committed you are in achieving your goal.