10 Years Later...Coming back to BFL - With a Food Question

  • Just started my personal Body For Life Program again after 10 years of "falling off the wagon".  At the bottom of the post is the whole story but for those who can answer a few questions, please help....


    • As I progress, can I up my HIIT aerobic training to say 25 or 30 minutes or more? 
      • Is this the "tweaking" others are talking about?
    • I'm going to try for ripped abs in 84 days.  What are some things that will make this happen?
      • I'm willing to sacrifice
      • I'm willing to work hard
      • Need to know specifically what I need to make this happen...


    • Sometimes when I get home in the afternoon, I've eaten a couple of mid-sized dill pickles to cover me for an hour.  Is this a no-no? 
    • I am a food label reader.  I have an obsession with finding foods with little or no fat on the label.  Is this the right thing to do?
    • Can I eat as much dry salad as I want?  (e.g. iceberg lettuce)
    • I'm purposefully focusing on higher protien than carb content in my meals.  Is this a detriment? 

    • Lastly, I'd like to make my free day from 3pm Saturday to say noon on Sunday.  Since this is for about the same 24 hours, is this okay?

    My story...

    In 1999, I was a 39 year old overweight beer drinker who had never really exercised with any regularity.  A friend of mine told me about the BFL book and I simply went out and bought it.  Don't know why, but something told me to do it.  That weekend, I read the book from cover to cover - twice.  The next weekday, I went out and bought a used set of free weights with a weight bench.  These, I stored in my garage.  Then, came day 1.  Each day, I had to back my truck out of the garage so I'd have room to work out.  I did this before work everyday for 84 days.  I was skeptical but lo and behold, I went from 220 pounds down to a low of 178 pounds; gained muscle definition and felt like I had never felt before.  It was a personal transformation I've never forgotten.  The problem came about 4 weeks into my second personal BFL challenge.  For some reason, I started feeling more and more weak.  I couldn't work out because I had no energy.  It worried me so much that I stopped working out, went to the doctor, and purposefully started gaining weight back.  The doctor said I was depressed and ordered meds for me.  (I didn't believe that was the problem but followed his advice). 

    Since that time, I've done "short-lived" BFL's but have not completed one since 1999.  I finally realized that I was weak because I was literally consuming my own body by not actually eating enough.  (Got too focused).  I stopped taking the meds the doctor has prescribed (immediately felt better) but started "dipping" tobacco.  Over the past 10 years, I've yo-yo ed the weight back to 210 pounds and no strength or endurance left.  (Certainly no body shape).  A couple of months ago my older sister (by 2 years) had a heart attack.  She recovered completely but it was the eye awakening experience I needed.  You see, my father died suddenly of a heart attack at age 52 (same age as my sister is now).   A few days after my sister's recovery, I quit dipping tobacco (snuff) cold turkey and haven't been back to it since.  I also decided to pull out my old hard copy of Bill's BFL book.  I read it twice and started remembering how good I had felt during my original personal challenge.  I went that weekend and bought a tub of whey protien powder, all of my "approved" foods and got ready to get down to business.

    Next year, I turn the big 5-0.  I've challenged myself to get back into my 1999 shape and not make the same mistakes again.  I reread my copy of the BFL book (couple of times).  As of today, I'm on day 4 of my personal BFL challenge.  I get up each morning at 4:30am to do my workouts.  I've since moved into a guest bed room where I do my workouts.  I hurt all over.  I'm sore in every muscle and joint - BUT - I'M GOING TO DO IT!  (Actually, I'm already feeling better that I did last week).

    So, there you have it.  I'm committed to putting an "X" in each and every box of the 84 day calendar. 


  • Welcome!

    Ass far as the Ripped abs go, dont over-do it.  Abs are just like any other muscle.  You can overwork them and not get the results that you want.  Also, I am not sure of the exact %, but i remember reading that even with working out, and a near clean diet, you will still need to drop your Body Fat % somewhere in the range of >10%


    Just remember to work towards your goal, and you will achieve it.

    “Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” - Shel Silverstein

  • RedDawg,

    Welcome back to BFL!!! This forum is a great place to be. There are lots of ideas and support and encouragement here.

    Let me start by saying the best thing you can do is get the original BFL book and follow it to the letter. This book has changed thousands upon thousands of lives. It has changed mine and it will change yours.

    Re HIIT and ripped abs: increasing your cardio will not bring about your 6 pack sooner. There is an article on here called "the cardio trap" search for it, it is a good read. If after 20 minutes of HIIT you still have energy then you didn't run hard enough. A 6 pack is made in the kitchen. You can run and do all the crunches you want but if your eating isn't clean you will never see definition in your abs.

    Re Food: Again follow the BFL book to the letter. Keep it simple. 6 meals a day spaced 2.5 - 3 hours apart. Each meal consists of a portion of protein the size of your palm and a portion of carbs the size of your clenched first. At least two meals need lots of veggies. Also drink at least 2 glasses of water with every meal. Stick to the authorized food list in the book . It is also on this site under the 'Library' tab at the top of the main page.


    There is nothing wrong with reading labels. You should know what you are putting into your body.

    You shouldn't need pickles (which are usually high in sodium anyway) to cover you for a few hours. If you are hungry within 2 hours of eating then your meal was too small. conversly if you are still full 3 hours after eating you ate too much.

    Iceberg letttuce has virtually no nutritional value but this doesnt mean eat all you want. My suggestion is stick to the book. (sorry if I sound repetitive but I am a firm beleiver in the BFL book)

    Each meal should be balanced protein and carb.

    The freeday should be a single day from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed.

    Just my two cents

    All the best with your challenge. Thanks for sharing your story. Don't be a stranger here. Together we are stonger!


  • Hi there,

    I agree with Orrin. Like you, this is my second time. You and I have fallen off the wagon. From your posts, I can see that you -like me- love your food :o). My advice is to eat the six meals as Orrin and BFL book advised but if you must "binge" between meals on some lettuce and pickles, for now, it's OK. At some point in the program -in the future- you will gradually lack the desire to keep binging using low-calorie foods. You will find a new mind-set. But until it comes to you, graze on lettuce or mushrooms, or cucumber. Just try not to overdo it.

    Eat your carbs as planned in the book. Depriving your self of carbs will set you back. Your workouts will not be the full-blown effort they need to be without carbs. I am still unable to stop reading the labels after years of counting calories and measuring weight and calculating fats. Sometimes it is a good thing. You never know what they put in the packages any more. Sometimes there are all these hidden ingredients you don't really want.

    I give it my all in the cardio day and to be honest, the last minute (level ten) makes me feel like I will pass out. There is a line in BFL book where Bill says that his level 10 of the cardio is not a physical challenge but a mental one. I understood that well today. My legs gave way, my chest was exploding, my saliva was shooting out of mouth as I tried to breath, my shins felt they were being ripped apart. I had to go to that place in my mind where I visualized every trick possible to carry on. To say that you want to do more.... I totally agree with Orrin.. you are not doing right. Start with a real half effort, then take it up a challenging notch, then another challenging notch, do you best at level 9, then when level 10 comes do what you never thought you can do.

    Good luck.

    Courage isn't lack of fear. It's our ability to carry on despite our fear

  • Orrin and 15YrShortcut,

    Thanks for the great info.  I re-read several of the chapters you all mentioned in your posts and I will commit to staying with the book for this first challenge.  This morning, I did my LBWO and just like 15yrScut said, I went for the gold on level 10.  Now, my arms feel like rubber and my chest and shoulders are gonna be soooooorrrrre!  ;)  It really felt like a great workout for week one day 5.

    I'm still struggling (mentally) with portions.  I look at my clenched fist and think "Man, that's a lot of oatmeal!"  Or, I look at the size of the palm of my hand and think "That's alot of egg whites or venison hamburger!"  I worry that I'm not finding the balance between feeding the muscles for recovery and overfeeding the body.  After reading the BFL again last night, I read where Bill said, "Take it easy and Don't worry" too much.  If something isn't working, adjust it to make it right.  I took a deep breath when I read that and realized this is an ongoing process.  I'll adjust accordingly as time progresses and I guess I'll find my groove...

    Thanks for all of your help on this!

  • Congratulations on making a committment to your health and wellness. This is your year to be a better you!!

    It is wonderful that you have solid goals. In reference to six-pack abs, this does not happen from doing extra cardio or excessive abdominal exercises. You need to strengthen your ab muscles and lose body fat. The concept is simple, but putting it into action isn't simple. It will take dedication, time and patience to get a six pack but in the end, the effort is well worth it. To get six pack abs you need to do two things: lose fat and Build muscle . You get this by eating clean and exercising. You can have the most toned and muscular abs, but it will not show if there is a layer of fat over them. Please do not fall into the cardio trap!!! I did 20 minutes of cardio three times a week and got a six-pack but I did not waiver from clean eating. EXTRA CARDIO IS NOT THE ANSWER!! Savor your energy for weight training the following day. When your done with 20 minutes you should feel like you put everything into it.

    In reference to eating clean, try to eat foods that will provide you energy and nutritional value. Here is a list of approved foods from B.F.L. Please read Body-For-Life to get an exact idea on the nutritional guidelines.


    Chicken ***

    Turkey ***

    Lean ground turkey


    Orange roughy







    Top round steak

    Top sirloin steak

    Lean ground beef


    Lean ham

    Egg whites or substitutes


    Low-fat cheese

    Low-fat cottage cheese

    Wild-game meat



    Sunflower seeds

    Pumpkin seeds

    Cold-water fish

    Natural peanut butter

    Low-sodium nuts

    Olives and olive oil

    Safflower oil

    Canola oil

    Sunflower oil

    Flax seed oil


    Baked potato

    Sweet potato




    Steamed brown rice

    Steamed wild rice





    Kidney beans






    Fat-free yogurt

    Whole-wheat bread

    High-fiber cereal

    Whole-wheat tortilla

    Whole grains

    Fats to Avoid


    Fried foods



    Whole-fat dairy products







    Green beans

    Green peppers





    Brussels sprouts







    Vegetarian Proteins




    Texturized vegetable


    Soy foods

    Veggie burgers

    Best of luck and welcome!!! Lori

  • Lori

    Thanks for the post.  The info supporting 20 minute cardio is EXACTLY the kind of info I'm looking for.  As I read (and re-read) the BFL book, I just found it hard to believe that 20 minutes is all I have to do.  After reading several posts, I am now realizing what a "10" effort truly is.  As a matter of fact, I had a 9.5+ LBWO this morning.  (And, it was truly a 9.5+).  First week seems to be full of clumsy effort which I'll get going on track.

    I guess I just need to get some "Faith" in the BFL guide and trust it's results.  If you are any indication what BFL can do, then I'm buying in to following the process as described.  Your before and after photos are phenominal!  You should be so very proud of yourself.  What a transformation.

    Thanks again,


  • I had a similar story and am starting the BFL workout Monday.  I went to the gym on Friday and Saturday to start so I could at least walk and get myself off the toilet on Tuesday!  I'll start with Lower body on Monday because the bottom half looks much worse than the top!  Way to go in getting going, one of if not the hardest thing to do!  

  • Red,

    Thank you so much for your compliments. We have all been conditioned to think that cardio is the answer  to weight loss. Im my before picture I was doing cardio 45 minutes a day with no weight training. My after picture reflects the 20 minute HIIT program, and 3 days of lifting. Weight training is the key to shape your body with lean hard muscle. Work hard and your results will be outstanding!! Can't wait to see em!