Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength

By Bill Philips
Publisher: HarperCollins; (June 10, 1999)

Body For Life is unique because it is a complete mind and body workout. How many diets on the bestseller lists can say that? The 12-week plan, developed by Bill Phillips, covers full body improvement – physical and mental. It encompasses positive thinking, a balanced eating plan, and a cardio and weight training program. Don’t let the weights turn you off – Bill explains in full detail the importance of increasing muscle tone for a healthier body. You don’t have to be bulky to have muscle tone. The point of this plan is to lose fat, not muscle. In the book, Bill says that in a typical diet, half of the weight lost is muscle tissue. By lifting weights, the muscle tone is saved and developed, which boosts the metabolism, which means more pure fat is lost.

Straight from the start of the book, you will be motivated to change your life. We start with reading Bill’s first client success story, and his before and after pictures from the 12 week plan are enough to perk anyone’s ears. There are also several more success stories, each as inspiring as the one before. Bill urges us through the book to focus on what we CAN control, and he does an excellent job at it. He teaches us this through instruction and example.

How many times have you started a plan and then quickly given up? Bill tackles this problem with goal setting exercises and advice on how to commit and stick to this plan. He calls this Crossing the Abyss. These exercises are all about making life changing goals and leaning how to stick to them.

After you’re in a positive thinking mode, it’s time to look at the rest of the plan. He goes through this in an easy to read Myth versus Fact format. It explains the myths of weight training for weight loss, proper eating habits and good exercise practices.

His Training For Life section of the book covers the exercise plan that he recommends for cardio and weight training. He recommends 20 minutes of cardio, 3 times a week, and on alternating days, 45 minutes of weight training. That’s it. He also teaches you the exercises you need to do in order to tone each part of your body. There is a very clear photo illustration for each of the weight exercises.

In the Eating For Life section, he covers the easy to follow eating plan. The basic idea of the plan is 6 meals a day, and in those meals you have equal portions of carbs and protein. Also, you need to have 2 servings of vegetables a day in addition to the carb/protein meal. The diet is based on low fat, so the portions are 40/40/20. That is 40% each of carbs and protein, and 20% fat. Most meals can be eaten with measuring a fist sized portion of carbs, a palm sized portion of protein, and cooked in a low fat method. There is no calorie counting. In the book there are many examples of what you can eat on the plan. Also, a newer book called Eating For Life is available, which is packed with recipes and more food ideas.This book isn’t necessary to follow this plan, but it does add a lot of choices. One day a week you have a ‘free day’ and on this day you don’t diet or exercise.

Of course this can be stretched into any combination of meals. Most any meat that is low fat and cooked in a low fat manner can be eaten with a portion of potato, brown rice, corn, or any other carb of your choice (in addition to the two servings of veggies a day). The key is balanced meals, with smaller, more frequent portions.

Sounds easy, right? Like any diet, this plan does take commitment. However, there are many tools with this plan to help you stay on track. Along with the goal setting, Bill provides examples of Daily Progress Reports to list your food plan versus actual, plus similar progress reports to complare plan versus actual on weight training and cardio. These forms can be photocopied, downloaded from his website, or bought as a hardcover daily journal. The smaller, more frequent meals keep you from being hungry, and the food is very easy to choose. Very few foods are ‘taboo’ and if they are, they can be saved for Free Day. This is a very livable exercise program with a sound eating plan that should not be overlooked.


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