For 2011, I have a very simple New Year’s Resolution: through a new exercise and diet program I am going to age in reverse.

OK maybe it’s not that simple. What it means is that I am embarking on a fitness program designed to drastically restore my body’s overall health and metabolic rate to that of a person younger than I really am. In short, my goal this year is not to age but become younger. And I am going to document the whole process in this blog.

Here’s how it’s going to work and how I will be measuring my progress.

I. Exercise

First, let me say that I do not consider myself an athlete. I am a 42-year old male of average health. I get a moderate amount of exercise through swimming and Kali martial arts classes. The program will not require me to become a traithlete or marathon runner, running several kilometers a week. (Thanks to a recently diagnosed case of plantar fasciitis, that’s not an option even if I wanted to. At least until my foot completely heals.) Neither will the program require membership in an expensive gym, weight-loss spa, nor the services of a professional trainer.

All I am going to do is maintain (albeit with slightly more discipline) the exercises I am already doing today:

  • Attending to my Kali classes three times a week
  • Swimming for at least 30 minutes on the days in between
  • A series of simple, daily exercises. These are exercises I do at home and do not require gym equipment or weights, only the mass of my own body (i.e. really basic exercises like push-ups, crunches, squats, chin-ups, etc).

II. Diet

Here’s the killer. I am switching to a full vegetarian diet.

To be clear: “vegetarian” means only fruits and vegetables. No meat, chicken or even fish. It also means avoiding (though not totally omitting) eggs and dairy products. No more foie gras, KFC, Oreo McFlurries, cakes & pastries and all the other foods I love. It will mean learning new recipes and testing my creativity in the kitchen. A vegetarian diet and the regular intake of dietary supplements are the pillars of this program.

Through extensive reading as well as anecdotal information, I am convinced that a plant-based diet (as opposed to an animal-based diet) is the key to good health and longevity. There are many skeptics to this dietary philosophy (mostly made up of people who have conceded that the taste of bacon is more powerful than their own willpower).

Proving the benefits of a vegetarian diet is one of the motivations behind this program. For those of you who are curious (and open-minded) about going vegetarian, this blog will allow you to follow the effects of this program on my body regularly and see the evidence for yourselves.

III. Measurement

Using the Omron Karada Scan Model #HBF-362 I will be measuring the following:

Weight – There are many ways to compute your ideal body weight. (According to this online tool, according to my height my ideal weight is between 61-67 kilos.)

Body Mass IndexBMI is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person’s height, assuming an average body composition.

Basal Metabolic Rate – BMR is the amount of daily energy expended while at rest. Simply put, the higher your BMR, the more calories you burn even while lying on the couch watching TV.

Fat (as a percentage of body weight) – Naturally, the lower the better.

Muscle (as a percentage of body weight) – More muscle mass increases BMR.

Visceral Fat – Obesity or being overweight in humans does not depend on body weight but on the amount of body fat—to be specific, adipose tissue or visceral fat.

Body Age – Your body age or metabolic age depends not on the calendar but on your metabolism or overall chemical processes of the body, which is based on your health. If your metabolic age is lower than your calendar age, you are fitter or in better health than average. My goal is to get this number 5 years under my calendar age or more.

In short I will be using empirical data, in addition to my own personal observations, about how exercise and the switch to a vegetarian diet is affecting my body. I will also be sharing tips and, occasionally, vegetarian recipes as I discover them.

Tomorrow’s post (the first day of 2011) will publish my measurements, which will serve as a baseline for the following 12 months.  I hope you’ll stick around!

Advertisements