Having just recapped some of the objective findings from Project JACKED, and acknowledging the outcome data, let’s take a look at the real-life, human experiences of the participants.
There was a bit of tribulation and an abundance of triumph in the personal stories of our JACKEDasauruses. In the end, every participant in the intervention group used JACKED to their benefit. Some struggled a bit here and there but learned some things that will be valuable in their long-term wellness pursuits, and most made leaps and bounds in health and fitness. Let’s take a look at each person’s journey.
Helga achieved a 5% loss in bodyfat and also gained 4 pounds of lean body mass. She had this to offer as a summation of her experience: “I started the program with my husband, and was only “half-JACKED” to participate. We traveled a considerable amount during the program, and it was difficult to keep up with the exercises. Also, for the most part, I wasn’t willing to forego social cocktails. I over-stressed my lower back lifting weights and “powered through” a little longer than I should have, and was unable/unwilling to continue with the exercise program after about 7 weeks. Even so, I had good results and will continue with the diet.”
Harvey is the kind of guy who always has a positive attitude about life, loves his family, starts work early and finishes late. He’s busy in an engaged way, not the hamster-wheel manner, but sometimes goes through the day without paying much attention to his eating and training program. He usually gets a lot of general daily activity, but maybe not quite enough specific exercise. But since he lives with Helga, Harvey ended up dropping 5.2% bodyfat and gaining 4.8 lbs.of lean body mass.
Jibober lost 11 pounds and 3.7% bodyfat. She offers this advice to anyone on a JACKED journey, or LIFE: “Trust the process. Accept the encouragement. Listen to your body and prioritize it. Enjoy the benefits throughout your life. Listen to music and chop vegetables. Cook with your family. Laugh and Dance.”
Lobo Rojo came out of Project JACKED 15.1 pounds lighter with a 5.5% reduction on bodyfat. A guy who loves cooking, dining, and sharing, he found the dietary focus of JACKED to be a natural extension of his lifestyle in which the focus on quality is primary. Quality of relationships, quality of food, and making every experience enriching, whether at the dining room table, or in the gym, got this red wolf great results.
Mighty Buck provides these suggestions for anyone pursuing the state of JACKEDedness: “You really need to test the effects of candy and sugar to believe in the system. The results are amazing. Once your body is off sugar, you really tend to feel great, with steady energy all the time. But just have one indulgence, and you will feel awful. It’s just not worth it to eat junk food and desserts. Feeling amazing is a much better way to go and that’s what I prefer.” Mighty Buck used a lot of avocado and coconut oil and gave his cast iron skillet a workout with veggies almost every day. This, and swearing off most foods that come in a box or bag (with the exception of some packaged vegetables and quality cheeses) got Buck a 1.2% reduction in bodyfat, but perhaps more importantly, he was able to reduce his chronic inflammation and finally recover from a knee injury that had plagued him for nearly a year.
Plumpy probably should have undergone a name change, as a 24 pound weight loss and subsequent 5.9% reduction in bodyfat would make “LeanBoy” or “FittKatt” a better moniker. Plumpy was one of those people who experienced what I call the “Boomerang Effect” with his food intake. Many times a person, in making healthy dietary adjustments, comments that he/she struggles a bit as they go from eating what they felt was a large variety of foods to just a few items like kale, broccoli, salmon, macadamia nuts, and avocado. They will express that this gets boring fairly rapidly and they are not sure it is sustainable. Then, as we begin to share meal plans, recipes, websites, cookbooks, and the “chime-in’s” from other JACKED participants, they soon find themselves enjoying a plethora of delicious, nutritious meals and they never look back. I also often point out that on the standard American diet, what we think is food variety, is just the same three evil ingredients (refined flours and starches, sugars, and seed oils) served up in different ratios, in different packages (shiny foil versus cardboard, etc.) with a few different additives, colorings, and preservatives. On the fitness side, Plumpy vaulted out of JACKED and is now trash-talking and dominating his skiing and biking buddies.
Barefoot Ninja became even more stealthy as he cut 13 pounds and 3.1% bodyfat from his profile. His insights are quite powerful: “Overall, I really enjoyed being part of a program which practices excellence and being around people who want to transform themselves healthwise. I am very satisfied in my weight loss which prepares and gives me confidence to progress to my next stage of fitness goals. I have to admit that I dropped the ball on doing the dumbbell exercises each day. It’s important to know not to beat yourself up about it and just do the best you can. In hindsight, if I had picked the same time each day to do my 30 min workouts, I believe that I would have been much more consistent. I did really enjoy the dumbbell exercises though, and always felt really great after doing the exercises. I plan to go through the 4 month program again on my own just to gain all the benefits of the weight training and this time I am setting a fixed schedule (time) to do the weights. I am so glad to have taken part in this program!”
Janerkay reduced bodyfat by 2.4% and had a phenomenal outcome with one of her health measures, specifically her blood pressure. Starting out the program with a BP of 157/97, both Janerkay and her medical providers were quite concerned and pharmaceutical intervention was being heavily considered. In my coaching role, as I visited with Janerkay, we looked at some of the major drivers of hypertension, such as diet and stress. Janerkay was one of the people in the Project who came into the program quite fit and was already eating a fairly great diet. However, we noted that her stress levels were probably over the top and one of these issues was that she often exercised too intensely, creating more stress on top of the already high load even though she felt she was seeking exercise-induced cathartic effects. We talked about soft-pedaling the workouts for her personal goals, going a little easier on the cardio, and using a few mindfulness, relaxation, and meditation techniques to bring down the sympathetic nervous system output. It only took a few weeks for this to have profound effects and while we can’t pinpoint which intervention may have been most helpful, my instinct is that the life-balancing effect of better stress management, superb nutrition, and optimal training brought this amazing lady’s BP to 118/72 at Project’s end.
Jay is a dude who hung on with The Project despite juggling huge spikes in professional and family demands. High stress levels, travel, and a couple of unfortunate accidents like slipping and falling in the stairway, all led to challenge Jay’s quest to get JACKED. Like the former national-class athlete that he is, Jay persevered and attained a 1.9% reduction in bodyfat despite going through what he describes as one of the rougher patches in his life. Jay’s honest input for others is that even when you have tendencies to self-medicate with food, keeping things JACKED can prevent major collapses in health.
Diamond Jim came into JACKED already fairly lean, but he still managed to drop 3.1% bodyfat while adding 4.9 pounds of muscle to his frame. He had this to say about his JACKED experience: “The Project’s coaching on the multiple legs of health-fitness, diet and sleep are all important. In my case greater improvement in daily energy would surely have increased as other measures did if I had placed as much importance on improving sleep as the other areas. I am quite pleased with how this helped me come out of winter ready to move into summer activities right away.“ Diamond Jim reports that he feels stronger than he has in years and that he no longer requires infusions for his autoimmune condition (which has improved significantly).
Jack jacked up his JACKED status by gaining 8.3 pounds of muscle mass and dropping 4.7% bodyfat. Perhaps more importantly, he was able to use the JACKED system to make excellent progress with food sensitivity and allergic conditions. By going through the process of elimination and then controlled reintroduction with many foods, Jack found that the list of foods he could enjoy was significantly greater at program end than at the beginning. This was confirmed with extensive bloodwork. We discussed this at length and this outcome is consistent with the newest literature that looks at leaky gut as a provocator of a variety of autoimmune reactions. Cleaning up a diet, even one that was already fairly good, with the JACKED principles, allows for gut healing and a powerful rebound of energy and vitality.
Annie O. is a straight shooter. She comments: “I want to mention my hip measurement (bigger :)) was a “restructuring” of my glutes. This is awesome and was an intended goal to have a nicer derrier! Awesome program…Thank You!” What Annie O. is referring to here is that, in the process of dropping 3.5% bodyfat and adding 6.5 pounds of muscle, she sculpted a full, round, backside of excellence. I frequently see that when clients combine the right amount of resistance exercise with nutrition, they often end up looking like they took a bowling ball, sliced it in half on a band saw, and placed a hemisphere on each cheek. There’s your proof. She is not “half-arsed”…she is JACKED-arsed!
El Caballo rocked it with a 19 pound weight loss and a bodyfat drop of 11.7%. He also, like several of his teammates, served as one of the “behind-the-scenes lab rats” of The Project. By sharing extensive data on blood, urine, and DNA testing, this horse was able to tweak and adjust his interventions for impressive effects. You don’t have to be as data-driven as El Caballo to get results, but if you like extra inquiry and analysis, JACKED helps you know what to do and how to do it.
Quinn was the guy, the only participant, whose numbers went the wrong way. He gained 0.4 pounds and saw bodyfat go up by 0.2%. These may not actually achieve statistical significance, but they represent an observation I’ve made. Unlike the control group, whose SAD/Sed habits resulted in rapid decay, being half-JACKED, or slightly less than that in terms of Quinn’s behaviors, still allowed for a virtual break-even. I’m going to work with Quinn on a personal level to help him hit his bodyfat goals. He’s got the diet dialed in with respect to macros, but his meal timing and total calories can be easily adjusted to get his targeted outcome. And we’ll probably upgrade his daily activity quota (not necessarily his exercise, just getting him to move more) so that he benefits from more metabolic idling and less stalling.
Jonathan Hemlock, just like the character played by Clint Eastwood in The Eiger Sanction, is a strapping fellow. A death in the family, job stress, travel demands, and an escalation of basic life aggravators, tried to take him down. But he’s a fighter. And an athlete. His personal story resulted in getting more activity and exercise than most (JACKED training plus competitive sports participation), with probably a little less discipline in the knife/fork/plate department. It’s hard to argue with results that show he lost 1.5% in bodyfat and gained 4.5 pounds of lean body mass, but this happened while several blood markers of inflammation and overall health became less favorable. He’s already fixing the problem. He knows what to do and is doing it and will be sharing some new test data with me in a few months, which I anticipate will be outstanding.
Crosby led the troops with a 27.5 pound weight loss which correlated to a 10.9% reduction in bodyfat. He also got ahead of some problems he had been experiencing with hypoglycemia and a few other aspects of metabolic regulation. He sums up his experience and offers this advice: “The JACKED journey is amazing! I’m to the point where I can tell what works for my body, and I generally don’t desire to eat the SAD any longer. The first couple of weeks were tough for me, as my dependence on carbs, sugars, grains, etc. was pretty severe. But, once I got through that, my energy level was up and I feel better than I have in a long time. Physical exercise that used to tire me for days afterward has become almost effortless. I don’t feel winded, my muscles and body respond, and I just generally feel good. The exercise regimen is easy and very doable, and increased my strength and overall vitality. Go for it and get JACKED!”
Cleopatra and I talked at great length about how her story could potentially be an entire book. However, I’m going to try to capture its essence in one exceptionally long paragraph. Cleopatra came into Project JACKED with a mix of skepticism and optimism. The skepticism came from a lifetime of struggling with weight problems and a large box in her basement that was filled with all the diet books that had not been successful in the past. The optimism revolved around the initial information about JACKED and her willingness to give it a try. If I was asked to describe Cleopatra, I’d say that she is an extremely intelligent, dedicated, and effective person who blends practicality with perseverance (I got your back, Cleo!). That stated, she started the program finding it fairly easy to make the dietary adjustments and hit the activity recommendations. However, after a few weeks, her initial progress slowed to a halt, and I must admit I shared her frustration at this point. A visit to her physician provided the same old line she had heard before…”it’s just a plateau in weight loss you are experiencing, we have no idea why these things happen, and hang in there.” Cleopatra and I put our heads together and got to our homework assignments on PubMed, Google Scholar, and the like. We took a closer look at her medical history which included kidney donation (her remaining kidney was functioning well), hypothyroidism with history of goiter and current medication use, and occasional metabolic symptoms that included changes in energy levels, sweating response, and food cravings. This was clearly a Pandora’s box of possibilities, but we decided to focus on removing the blockers from her body’s desire to restore wellness. First, we recognized that sodium loss tends to increase in the urine as insulin levels are being regulated. So Cleopatra began to consume several additional grams of salt per day. Progress. Energy came up a bit but weight stayed about the same. Then we emphasized the importance of iodine for thyroid function, adding iodine supplementation from kelp sources. Weight began to trickle off, but not as much as we were expecting. We surmised, based on research of her symptoms and the related biochemistry, that Cleopatra was not methylating (an extremely important metabolic process in approximately 200 biological reactions) optimally. The methylation process is dependent upon multiple factors, but it is critical to have adequate levels of folate, or vitamin B9 (this is also why prenatal vitamins emphasize this nutrient). The problem, as we determined (again, appreciate that this was “citizen science” that Cleopatra and I did together), was that the multivitamin she was using (from a big box store who shall not be named) contained, as most low-quality supplements do, synthetic folic acid, which is not the same as methlyfolate. Research indicates that the folic acid can bind with the body’s folate receptors, block folate absorption, and basically create the problem they are intended to treat. This can then impair metabolic function, including fat-burning. Cleopatra stopped taking the vitamin supplement and instead of reaching for another supplement, she double up on her green leafy veggie intake (the natural and preferred source of said nutrient). Weight has been coming off (15 pounds so far), Cleopatra feels better than she has in years, and she and her physician are working together to reduce her prescription medications. The lesson here is to never give up, always dive deeply into the science, and again, never give up.
El Jefe dropped 9 pounds, added 8.1 pounds of lean body mass, and snagged a 9.9% reduction in percent bodyfat. He got shredded! Way more than two cents worth, he offers this: “I am glad to have participated in this program for the following reasons:
- The awareness of all the crap I had been eating was very eye-opening.
- The exercise plan was laid out in such a way as to not provoke injuries.
- The unexpected loss of weight even though I was eating quite a lot.
- The appreciation of how much stronger I am.
- The fact that I don’t hurt anywhere near as much as before.
- And the most important thing is that I really feel good.
Sparky lost 8 pounds and 3.5% bodyfat. Life demands sapped her energy and her exercise consistency was less than desired. However, healthy eating allowed her to make excellent progress toward her wellness goals.
And there you have it…the mini-stories of 19 participants who used Project JACKED to their benefit. As I guided these subjects through the program, it was they who taught me more than the other way around. They taught me how to listen, how to think more objectively, and how to be more compassionate. Together we demonstrated that losing weight is best accomplished when we emphasize body composition, and that this change is merely an effect of improving health. If I use a collective “we” to include myself, these participants, and all readers of Project JACKED, I think WE have a clear mission: To spread the message of JACKED, everywhere and forever.
And this wraps up for me the management of The Project and its writing. Now I move into editing mode and work on preparing the manuscript for publication this summer. I have some other writing endeavors to pursue, and I want to report on some of the fascinating and oh-so-rapidly evolving science in human performance. Thank you for joining me on this journey and as always, I wish you the best.