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10% bodyfat or bust…


Dropping body fat isn’t really all that difficult. Especially if you’re already pretty overfat. Some extra exercise. Less sugary drinks. A bit more protein and healthy fats. You know the drill. However, dropping your body fat to 10% or less is something else entirely.

That’s right, achieving a sub 10% body fat reading takes purpose, knowledge, and effort. It doesn’t just happen by scaling back on the toast and jam. Fortunately, Precision Nutrition forum member, Nicruzer, has figured out how to achieve this perfect balance of purpose, knowledge, and effort. And today, in this success interview, you’ll learn all about:

  • How close he was to developing diabetes
  • What he does to stick to his nutrition plan in the face of obstacles.
  • How everything comes down to simply “making the decision”
  • That sometimes you have to talk to yourself
  • Strategies for enjoying the fitness journey, not just the destination
  • How to prioritize health and fitness on a daily basis
  • The similarities between the Ten Commandments and the Precision Nutrition Commandments

Success profile

Name on PN forums: Nicruzer
Real name: Noel
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Height: 5 feet 10 ½ inches (179 cm)
Weight: 166 lbs (75.5 kg)
Body fat %: 7.8%

How/why/when did you get into the healthy lifestyle thing?
I started my healthy lifestyle journey on April 16th, 2006. Two days prior to that I had a checkup with my physician and learned that my blood work was “borderline” in several areas, including my cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar. The only reason I scheduled the appointment with my doctor was out of concern for getting diabetes.

You see, my Dad is now in a wheelchair as a direct result of his diabetes. He has total kidney failure and is on dialysis three times per week. He has spent quite a bit of time in the hospital because of it, and his life has completely changed, including the loss of his job.

Both of my brothers also have diabetes. So, my family history was telling me that if I didn’t do anything now to control my health, I may be forced to do something about it later. I figured that if I’m going to be forced to eat right and exercise, I may as well begin practicing now.

My weight had ballooned up to 216 pounds, and I am 5 feet 10 and a half inches – a pretty classic endo-mesomorph. It was time to make a change.

As a very passionate man, someone who does everything with excellence (as long as it’s within my power), I researched everything and got my hands on every piece of information I could about health and fitness. I started exercising the very day I decided to do something about my weight and health — and I have never looked back.

It’s amazing to see yet another example of this behavior – it truly is the best way to make the healthy lifestyle change. Make the decision on day one and don’t look back! And, judging from your pics, it works! Here’s another question…what are your 3 keys to success?
FIRST – keep health and fitness on the forefront of my mind….every day! I have a tendency to act on information, and I need to keep that information fresh in my mind at all times. I actually try to read a new health article, research study or exercise routine every day. It’s what I use to keep myself motivated.

NEXT – I talk to myself. Really! Ultimately, I am responsible for my own outcome, and if I fail, I have no one else to blame but myself. If I spend time listening to the neigh sayers and believing them, I will never reach my goals. Instead, when I exercise or eat right in the midst of the temptations of those around me, I often have to tell myself, “I can do this! I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again!” I may not see results today, but if I keep at it, I will reap the benefits in the long run.

FINALLY – Plan. Execute. Record. Measure. Assess. Repeat. Health and fitness for me is as much about the journey as it is the destination. Yes, I want to look good naked. Yes, I want the elusive six-pack. Yes, I want great blood work results and extremely good fitness. Those are great goals, and they are all part of what I want. However, I won’t ever “arrive” at my destination if I don’t also pay attention to the journey.

It’s much like planning a flight. If the pilot veers off course even by one degree, he may end up landing in a completely different country in the long run. That’s why he has instruments to guide him along the way and make mid-course corrections as needed. My greatest weapon in this battle has been my progress logs (which I keep right here on the PN forums). I use them to assess my progress and to measure each and every workout and/or meal.

If I’m not improving with every workout, I’ve wasted my time. Every feeding opportunity and workout is a new chance to succeed. I make sure I succeed much more often than I fail, and I don’t allow my failures to spill over into the new opportunities. Without a record of what I’ve done, I could never know if I’m succeeding or failing!

Awesome tips – some of the best I’ve heard! You’d make a great health and fitness coach! Ok, what about this – which are your 3 favorite forms of exercise?
Really, my favorite forms of exercise are the ones that work! I’m not a big fan of wasted time, so I tend toward exercises that give me a huge return on my time investment. The three forms of exercise I choose most often are:

1. Compound lifts
(Weight training – squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pullups, pushups, etc.)

2. Really intense high intensity interval training
(Like the V-Max/T-Max training recommended by Dr. Berardi)

3. Bodyweight circuit training
(This counts as more high intensity interval work – as recommended by Craig Ballantyne)

Interesting…no regular cardio or endurance exercise. Just high intensity work and weights. Exactly what we’ve been saying all along. And what the general population needs to learn…soon! What about food…what are your favorite foods?

1. I never grow tired of my daily morning “anytime meal” consisting of an omelet (stuffed with veggies, low-fat cheese, and lean ham or turkey).

2. I also have cottage cheese in many different forms and it’s a favorite when made just right.

3. My other daily staple food is any kind of apple. Toss in some almonds with that apple, and you’ve got a great pre-workout snack!

Interesting…that’s the first time I’ve heard anyone list cottage cheese as a favorite food. However, I imagine you’ve discovered the power of cottage cheese + protein powder + fruit and/or natural peanut butter. Cottage cheese alone – blech…Cottage cheese with the goodies mentioned above – delicious! Moving on, you always hear how important sleep really is for health and performance. So, how much sleep do you usually get?
This is one area where I need to improve quite a bit. During the weekdays, I average 5-6 hours per night. That usually goes up to 8 hours per evening on the weekends with one or two afternoon naps for good measure.

Yep, you could improve. But we’re not going to beat you up too terribly on this point. After all, you’ve lost a ton of fat and are sitting at about 7% body fat! With the 5-6 hours of sleep thing, I’m interested in your schedule. So, what’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day is quite boring and routine, which works wonders for me. The less I have to think about it, the better.

  • I wake up at 3:51 am to get ready for work.
  • A weigh-in on the scale (yes, I weigh every day….it works for me!)
  • I get to the kitchen to put together my omelet. It’s so routine anymore that I can finish it in a matter of just a few minutes, especially if my veggies are cut up and ready to go.
  • I then put together my lunch box, which is also very routine, so much so that my coworkers ask if I eat anything other than what I typically bring to work!
  • When at work, I’m on autopilot for my feeding times – 7:30ish, 11:00, and 2:00. At the 2:00 pm feeding, my coworkers ask if I’ve had my “second lunch” yet with my apple!
  • Just before my 2:00 pm feeding, I usually get in a brisk walk. (I typically lunch at my desk, so my walk counts as my “break” away from the desk for the day.)
  • Once I get home, if I’m going back out to the gym, I’ll prepare my workout nutrition, which is a smoothie made with protein powder, yogurt, milk, and berries or a banana.
  • After my workout, I have dinner with the family.
  • Then, I’ll get the kids to bed, prepare my evening snack, and kick back to relax with a book or in front of the TV.
  • Off to bed I go to start the whole thing over again the next day….

So, you, like, have a job, a family, and all that stuff. And, gasp, you can still find time for fitness. Most people think it’s all fine and good that others focus on fitness but they’re just too busy to do it themselves. You just exploded a few lame excuses there!A few more questions…my favorite supplement is…
Protein powder…I have at least one scoop per day. It doesn’t matter what brand I’m using at the time….I just love that I can enjoy chocolate this way!

Precision Nutrition is…
A wonderful way of life! I thoroughly enjoy the freedom and the simplicity of Precision Nutrition (PN).I can live by this system without a lot of complex effort. Ten rules? Yeah…that’s it!  Someone came up with ten good rules to live by a long time ago on a couple of stones (the Ten Commandments, folks!), and it still works for today’s generation! That kind of simplicity is beautiful and effective!!!

The biggest struggle with managing my body fat percentage is…
Oreos and lack of support from close family (my wife) and friends. Really.When I sit down to “just eat one Oreo,” ten Oreos later I wonder why I haven’t yet stopped!! Sheesh! However, I count that as my major 10% “meal” for the week (month?) and move onward!

My greater struggle comes when my friends and family make underhanded comments and attempt to sabotage my efforts. I like to be liked, but I’ve found that if I’m not around to be liked (because I’m dead from some horrible disease), it’s a waste of time, right?

I’ve just learned to accept the differences and focus on other common ground. If my friends choose to leave because of it, then I have to question whether or not that relationship was worthwhile.

And, of course, even if your friends aren’t 100% supportive, you always have us here on the PN forums. Over 26,000 of us are pulling for ya! Couple more questions…I usually shop for my food at…
At the local grocery store called Rainbow foods. My shopping list is simple, veggies and protein. Anything else is a bonus!

I usually do my exercise at…
The gym, when my schedule allows, giving consideration to my family schedule as well. The rest of the time, I workout at home with my treadmill and/or dumbbells. I also have a machine at home that I use in a pinch.

Well, Noel, thanks for the interview! I can certainly say that it’s been enlightening. And I thank you for painting an inspiring and motivating picture for all of those aspiring to optimal health, fitness, and body comp!

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