The Diet Plan That Really Worked

by beagooddad on February 6, 2008

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Right before Christmas, BeAGoodMom was cleared by the doctors to start working out again. Knowing we would be busy over Christmas, we decided to start right at New Year’s just like the rest of America. But it wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution!

My 3 Reasons for Getting Back to the Gym

  1. I keep gaining 5-15 pounds a year. Fortunately, I started off very skinny (6′ 2″ and 155 pounds back in 1999). Unfortunately, that was quite a few years ago and on January 1st, 2008 I weighed 214. The added weight has started causing some discomfort in my knees and back every once in a while.
  2. I had some blood work done in early December and received the results just right at the end of the month. My cholesterol was a few points higher than it should be.
  3. I want to make sure that my kids can never use the excuse that they are lazy couch slugs because their dad was never a good role model.

With these motivations in mind, it was time to mindlessly hit the gym and flail about.

But wait, BeAGoodMom already had a plan. With her own motivations in mind, she Amazoned and found a book called 28-Day Body Shapeover by Brad Schoenfeld. She asked me to go through the plan with her since everybody knows it is easier to make it through the rough days when you have a partner.

Book in hand, we reactivated our membership to the gym (we put it on hold late in the pregnancy) and dug around for some workout clothes that still fit.

The book really focuses on two things; getting your butt in gear and carefully monitoring what you put into your body (with no mention of completely cutting out carbs or sugars or fats or whatever).

The Workout

The book would prefer that you do the cardio exercises on one day and the weights on the other. We don’t have the time for each of us to get to the gym everyday so we do them both on the same day 3 times a week. Each combined workout takes us about 1:15.

  1. Cardio – The cardio consists of treadmill, stationary bike, and stair machine. BeAGoodMom spent most of her time on the elliptical instead because she likes it better. The plan calls for alternating between busting your butt for a minute and recovering with an easier pace for a minute or so. The descriptions in the book are tough to follow at the gym so I made little spreadsheets that show the start minute, stop minute, and exertion level on each row and in a bigger font.
  2. Weights - Each day you target a different body area by doing 8-10 different exercises. For most exercises, an alternate is shown which is nice when your gym doesn’t have a certain machine or there is a crowd on the machine that you need next. The program uses both free weights and machines.

Each week, the workouts change. In the cardio, you get shorter easy breaks between each hard effort as the weeks go by. In the weights, you change the number of reps or group more than one machine together. The variety from day to day and week to week definitely keeps you on your toes and prevents burnout.


  1. The book lays out what you “should” eat each and every day. The menu is a recommendation and things can be swapped as needed. For example, I can’t eat chicken, so I always subbed chicken for fish or pork. There are five meals listed each day. The main 3 and 2 snacks. That ends up accounting for 1200-1500 calories if my memory serves me correctly. The author explains how many calories you should be eating based on your target weight and you are just supposed to increase portion size as necessary. I would estimate that I spent most of the month around 1800 calories or so.
  2. The main change we made to the menu was adding a 6th meal. Before bed, BeAGoodMom normally ate these chocolate ice cream bars that she loves and I normally ate an English muffin. It helped add the calories that we needed plus since we worked out in the evening it helped stop our bellies from rumbling overnight. The other big change that we made was during birthday parties. We had about 4 days that we didn’t follow the food plan because of parties. Rather than worry about it, we just ate what we wanted and got back on the plan the next day.
  3. We are doing a second month of the book this month and loosening up the diet a little more to add some more variety. The diet is very heavy on a small piece of meat and a salad for lunches and dinners. We are still probably following about 75% of the advice and then mixing up dinner a little bit.


  1. My back and knees already feel quite a bit better. I haven’t really noticed any problems in the last week or so which is really amazing.
  2. Except for the couple days that I missed workouts, my general mood has been much better.
  3. I have no idea what has happened with the cholesterol because I haven’t checked it since December. I probably will not get it checked again until my next annual checkup next December.
  4. Finally, in case anybody is interested in how much weight we lost. I started the month at 214 and weighed 204 on February 1st. 10 pounds! BeAGoodMom dropped between 7-8 pounds.

I don’t think this book is a magic fix all pill. Getting in shape and losing weight takes real work. The 28-Day Body Shapeover by Brad Schoenfeld can help point you in a direction and give you some confidence that your trip to the gym and grocery store is going to be worthwhile.

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