250-733-0087 rachel@kelownafit.ca

Gym Workout? Outdoor Fitness? Diet? How to Lose Pandemic Weight in the New Year…



 Hit the Gym or Dial in Your Diet?

The pandemic has been hard on all of us. It has been especially difficult for me since I have not been teaching outdoor boot camps on a regular basis. Going from burning 3,400+ calories a day to 1800 or so has caused me to gain an incredible amount of fat since the pandemic began. I went up to 221lbs from my fit 195 and was at the tipping point of being considered obese. When we got our chance to go to Shuswap this year and the shirts came off, I wasn’t happy with the result of pandemic living in 2021.

The excessive heat, fires and smoke kept me from getting outdoors and hitting Knox Mountain like I planned this past summer. With the Delta Variant raging the gym wasn’t an option for me either. Instead I found myself cooking and eating more than I would normally and working out much less. My fitness took a turn for the worse. 

All of these changes to my normal workout and diet routine led to a dramatic increase in body fat and a reduction in my lean muscle mass leaving me with a body composition that was on the edge of obese based on circumference measurements. Being a fitness professional for the last 26 years, my actual gut was telling me I needed a diet and fitness overhall.

In preperation for the new year, Rachel got to work recreating her Transform nutrition program that was a big success with her clients back in San Diego. I went to storage to find my old sand bags and fill them up. I knew it was going to take diet and exercise to reach my goals in the program timeframe of 21 days. I was up for the challenge and ready to get started!

Starting Body Composition ~ Day 1

Utilizing ACSM’s Fitness Categories for Body Composition

  • Pre Transformation Body Fat (Very Poor) 27.7% 27.7%
  • Target Body Fat (Excellent) 17.5% 17.5%
  • Current Lean Mass 72.2% 72.2%
  • Target Lean Mass 83% 83%
  • Target % Body Fat to Lose 10.2% 10.2%
  • Target % Body Fat Lost 0% 0%

The Nutrition Program!

I was excited to support my wife and do her program the first time she offered it here in Kelowna. I have done it in the past with great results and a with my renewed motivation to get in better shape, I was ready to fully commit to the 21 day program. 

Kelowna is a great community for fitness and nutrition, so rachel had the opportunity to make some really good updates to her nutrition recommendations. Based on results with clients over the years, Rachel decided to add a pre-fast guide to the Transform program. The guide transitions you over the course of 7 days into the juice fast. You can follow it rather loosely in regards to the calories. I didn’t count calories but I did reduce how much I ate at each meal and I cut out my evening popcorn that I usually make. I followed the schedule of cutting out animal protein and fat, wheat, dairy, alcohol, salt and caffeine. It wasn’t tough during the prefast and I ended up dropping about 2lbs the day before I started the juice fast. I wasn’t exercising and my measurements didn’t change so it was likely fluid related.

The pre-fast made the reduced calories of the juice fast more achievable. I didn’t feel hungry although I did think about food during times when I wasn’t occupied with work, my daughter or general life responsibilities.  I had a mild headache throughout the 3 day fast, probably due to caffeine withdrawal but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t cope with. Easy walks seemed to make it better but it came back when I was done with the walk. I was lethargic the first two days but became very energized the 3rd day. At the end of the juice fast my stomach was visibly smaller and I felt leaner. I was down 9lbs from my starting weight. 

Post Juice Fast Body Composition ~ Day 4

  • Post Juice Fast Body Fat (Poor) 26.3% 26.3%
  • Target Body Fat (Excellent) 17.5% 17.5%
  • Current Lean Mass 73.7% 73.7%
  • Target Lean Mass 83% 83%
  • Target % Body Fat to Lose 8.6% 8.6%
  • Target % Body Fat Lost 1.4% 1.4%

Going into Optimize

In “Optimize” Rachel has teamed up with BLK BOX meal prep so that the meals are perfectly designed to benefit from the fast and improve liver function and health. It is great to pick everything up and not have to worry about cooking for the next few days. The meals have a breakfast oatmeal and two other main courses that can be interchangeable for lunch and dinner.

Since I usually follow an intermittent fasting (IF) schedule of 16:8. I combined the oatmeal with the mango black bean salad for lunch. I didn’t follow this schedule during the juice fast as it was not necessary and might have been detrimental to my goals. The first day of Optimize, I ate according to the program schedule, starting with the wild blueberry oatmeal for breakfast. However, I found that I was very hungry before lunch. When I follow the intermittent fasting schedule, I often find that I don’t feel hungry until 11 or 11:30, so I switched back to the 16:8 schedule for the 3 remaining days of Optimize and felt like I had enough food. I was concerned however, how to fit my workouts in with reduced calories and an IF schedule and not lose muscle.

It turns out that our bodies are intended to retain muscle function and lean body mass during short periods of restrictive calories. 200 years ago, after the first snow fall, it may have taken a week or more of hard work on very few calories before the first kill or storage of food was built up, we wouldn’t have survived as a species if we couldn’t function with low caloric intake. So I tapped into my evolutionary biology and started doing some very intense sand back workouts on Knox Mountain.

Interestingly, I found I had more energy if I trained before I ate rather than after. It really mattered what I had for dinner the night before more than what I had for lunch. That may be just me but from now on I am going to try to get my endurance training done before I have my first meal. 

Post Optimize Body Composition ~ Day 8

  • Post Optimize Body Fat (Poor) 24.92% 24.92%
  • Target Body Fat (Excellent) 17.5% 17.5%
  • Current Lean Mass 75.08% 75.08%
  • Target Lean Mass 83% 83%
  • Target % Body Fat to Lose 7.22% 7.22%
  • Target % Body Fat Lost 2.78% 2.78%

Discovering my Diet and Workouts.

After starting the Discover phase, I increased my workout intensity and added resistance training every other day to my daily walking/hiking schedule. I use a fitness tracker called Whoop that measures daily strain on a scale from 1 to 21. During the juice fast I had a daily strain of around 7. When I started Optimize my strain  increased to 13.6. This indicates two important things, one, it is unlikely that I am losing lean muscle mass while I am able to increase the intensity of my workouts and two, I am burning fat at a fast rate. My caloric intake is far below my caloric expenditure so I’m either burning muscle or fat and based on my increased energy levels, it is likely I have been slipping into a state of ketogenesis (converting stored fat into energy) as muscle catabolism would cause fatigue and weakness (sorry, my techincal trainer side is coming out).  

The first 4 days of the Discover phase were very interesting and educational. I added animal protein back into my diet during the first two days of Discover. The first day I felt very energetic and had a great strength/endurance workout. The second day, which is just a long hiking day, I felt tired and heavy starting out but gained energy throughout the 90 minute hike and ultimately finished feeling strong. This is very different from the feeling I had during Optimize, however, my workout intensities continued to go up but my weight leveled off at 195lbs.

During Discovery you add a food group back in then take it out.When I went off animal protein and added dairy back in, it caused some bloating but the weight loss returned and I dropped more than 2lbs and went down to 193.1 lbs 3 days before I hoped to hit my post discovery goal weight of 192lbs. I have to assume that the leveling off of my weight during these two days  is essentially due to  animal proteins taking longer to digest than plant based foods. The fat weight was still coming off but I was slow to digest the two days of animal protein. 

Post Discovery Body Composition Day ~15

  • Current Body Fat (Fair) 22.61% 22.61%
  • Target Body Fat (Excellent) 17.5% 17.5%
  • Current Lean Mass 77.39% 77.39%
  • Target Lean Mass 83% 83%
  • Target % Body Fat to Lose 4.91% 4.91%
  • Target % Body Fat Lost 5.09% 5.09%

The Final Push to Day 21!

Alhtough my results had been fantastic up to day 15, it really seemed like a stretch getting to my goal weight of 185 in the next 7 days.  I continued to increase the intensity of my High Inensity Interval Training days, one day almost completing a 1000 calorie workout in 1 hour (973 calories in 63 mintues). 

Some significant changes in my health had occured by this time. My seasonal allergies seemed to have gone away completely, the excema on my left arm stopped itching entirely and the ankle pain/plantar fasciitis that was common after long hikes no longer presented itself no matter the intensity or weight I carried during the hike. 

Final Body Composition Day ~21

  • Current Body Fat (Good) 20.3% 20.3%
  • Target Body Fat (Excellent) 17.5% 17.5%
  • Current Lean Mass 79.7% 79.7%
  • Target Lean Mass 83% 83%
  • Target % Body Fat to Lose 2.31% 2.31%
  • Target % Body Fat Lost 7.69% 7.69%

I have an aggressive goal of losing 20lbs of body fat in 21 days. That is a loss of 10% body fat and going from a body compostion that is considered obese to fit in less than a month. Can it be done? I am going to prove it.

Justin Fassio

During the 4 day optimize phase I stuck to my Intermittent Fasting schedule. My workouts increased in intensity everyday since adding solid food back in despite low calories and low protein consumption.

Justin Fassio

I feel lean and motivated to work out more intensly than the day before, everyday. Simple, healthy meals taste great and I don’t crave bad foods anymore.

-Justin Fassio: Day 10 of 21 Day Transformation

From Fat to Fit in 21 Days

Healthy Macro Ratio

  • Fat 20% 20%
  • Protein 30% 30%
  • Carbohydrate 50% 50%

How I Capitalized on Ketosis!

You really want to be in a state of ketosis after the appropriate biochemical process has occured due to either caloric restriction or physical exertion that exceeds caloric intake.

Our evolutionary biology has streamlined us to be able to survive short periods of time without food at all, much like when bears hibernate, our bodies switch to a pathway called beta oxidation and burn stored energy (fat) while actually activating repairative enzymes to restore cellular health and preserve muscle mass and function.

Intermittent fasting, when done properly, will put you into short periods of ketosis and help you burn excess body fat, helping you maintain or achieve a healthy body composition.

The western diet typically consists of adding stored energy onto stored energy due to a continuous stream of caloric excess. It may take days or a full week of restrictive caloric intake to reach the proper state of ketosis. Or you can jump start it with a 3 day juice fast, followed by a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan. Over time intermittent fasting results in reaching ketosis just 12 hours after your last meal.

The science is pretty overwhelming that tapping your energy reserves through natural ketosis is not just a healthy practice but can have huge health benefits. On the other hand, long term “keto diets” demonstrate extremely poor effects to overall health and performance.

We have found that a 3 Day Juice Fast, combined with a pre fast prep and post fast plan that includes intermittent fasting, has the most beneficial effect on weight, body composition and overall health. Plus it has the added benefit of science to support those claims.

What Does Really Work?

There are a lot of diets that do have a long term health effect and there is no one silver bullet diet that works for everyone. We do have a couple that we recommend from years of advising clients and seeing what people stick to and find better health benefits with.

We have found that the Mediterranean diet is the easiest to adopt and maintain, emphasizing the Blue Zone diet as maybe the best version of this style of eating.

Intermittent fasting is a great lifestyle change diet that takes time to adapt to but once you are living it, for most people, the 16:8 ratio keeps you from building up excess fat over the years and will help you bring you down to a healthy weight if you are currently overweight.

Balanced nutrition should be health promoting, not just a means to a fairytale end via savvy marketing. Advocating the elimination of a macronutrient will always lead your body into a severe imbalance.

Eliminating refined sugars, saturated fats or highly processed foods will go a long way to improving health and body composition. Try to avoid any diet that is extreme in the long term. 2-3 day fasts can be very healthy when administered by the right dietitian or healthcare practitioner. Low calorie diets that gradually increase in intake can be great for tapping into those fat reserves and burning visceral body fat to improve key health indicators as well.

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