The Leo vs. Bellyfat Challenge

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

Those of you who have been following Zen Habits for some time know that I’ve been working on getting fit and healthy for the last couple of years — I’ve done 3 marathons, a couple of short triathlons, and I’ve tried all kinds of workouts, not to mention developing healthier eating habits. But there’s some stubborn bellyfat that just doesn’t want to go away.

Bellyfat, it is on.

Over the next 4-8 weeks (depending on my progress), I will be going head-to-head (so to speak) against my bellyfat. OK, head-to-belly then.

Will I be taking on some dangerous diet? Of course not. You guys know me better than that!

Here’s the plan:

Diet: I’ll be eating pretty much the same diet I’ve been eating for the last coupla months, but measured and calculated so that I’m cutting about 500 calories (or so) from what I’ve calculated to be my maintenance level of calories. See my menu plan here.

This diet is based around foods I enjoy. Because I don’t like to log foods, I’m going to stick with this same menu plan every day except one “cheat meal” a week — on dates with my wife, where I’ll still try to eat healthy. I’ve worked in a few options so that I can have a little variety, but for the most part I’m going to eat the same thing every day. This might sound boring but it doesn’t bother me a bit.

My diet has adequate protein, fiber, healthy fats and other goodly nutrients, according to my calculations. Most of the foods are whole, clean foods, with minor exceptions. It’s also designed to be really easy to prepare, because if it’s difficult I won’t do it. Also, I only drink water (that’s normal for me).

Exercise: I’ve been doing split bodypart weightlifting routines (4 times a week) for a couple of months now, but I’ve just switched to a full-body weight routine 3 times a week. Each of those three weekly sessions starts with a different heavy lift: squat, deadlift and power clean, and then progresses to a bunch of different lifts.

In addition, I run with my sister on the same days, and usually we do 30-45 minute runs, sometimes with hills or intervals.

I also plan to do some kind of light cardio on 3 days a week, with Sundays being complete rest days. This might sound like a lot, but it really isn’t for me — I’ve been working out 6 days a week for a little while now and have built up to it gradually. This is challenging but not exhausting or anything. See my workout plan here (below menu plan).

Goals: I hope to reduce my overall bodyfat, while keeping my muscle. I don’t have a specific bodyfat percentage target, but I was measured with calipers last week and am at about 21%. I’d like to get that down to 18% (and eventually lower) but I don’t know how long that will take. We’ll see — I’ll adjust my plan according to my progress. I’d really just like to lose the mini love handles I have. :)

Accountability: I’ve published my log (at the bottom of my menu) for all to see, and plan to update it regularly. In addition, I’ll be posting updates on Twitter (follow me here). I’ll also post the results when I’m done (again, probably in 4-8 weeks). All of you can motivate me! :)

As you can see from the log, I started a few days ago, and so far the diet is going fine. It’s not difficult at all. I tell myself: “If it’s not on the plan, it doesn’t go in my mouth!”

So far so good. Bellyfat, it is on!