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COLD HEAT NEWS » Featured Article, Health & Beauty, People » My Healing Transformation: Diet and Exercise Program

My Healing Transformation: Diet and Exercise Program

The main reason for this blog is to document my story and my desire to transform and inspire people who face the same challenges in their health in all aspects. I am just one of many people who have decided to take back their lives and be on the path to their true selves.

To lose all that weight the right way I knew would take a while in order to make it truly effective. There is that temptation to go for the quick fix and we tend to fall into that instant gratification conditioning. My program I carefully crafted from over 20 plus years of experience in diet, nutrition, and fitness that I did not apply to myself in the last decade. No, the key to success would lie in proper preparation.

You also need to make that internal decision to stick to the program no matter what. For me it was a matter of survival and wanting to live a productive and happier life free of pain, lack of energy, and mental malaise.

Now before anyone sets forth to start on any exercise program consult a medical professional to determine your capacity and ability to do so. This is even more important especially if you have existing medical conditions and under medication. In my case I was a type 2 Diabetic with hypertension and high cholesterol and triglycerides. For my program I had to start with the following 10 major dietary changes below.


  1. Reduction or elimination of white rice, enriched white flour, pasta, fruit juices, sodas, diet sodas, and pretty much anything with a high glycemic index.
  2. Introduce more low to medium glycemic foods with high fiber content like yams, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, avocados, quinoa, steel cut oatmeal, brown rice, agave nectar, coconut sugar, and cruciferous vegetables.
  3. Make sure to drink at least ten 8 oz. glasses of water daily. Rule of thumb for me was to drink 16 ounces of pure fresh clean water upon first getting up in the morning.
  4. Do not skip breakfast. Make breakfast your heaviest meal of the day and let that fuel you properly. Typical breakfast for me would be a bowl of oatmeal with a splash of almond or coconut milk with half a banana plus a 4 egg white omelette of mushrooms and minced garlic. I would wash that down with 1 scoop of whey protein isolate powder blended with 8 oz. of water and crushed ice.
  5. Reduction towards gradual elimination of processed foods and fast food. Yep, if you want to do it right no more McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and KFC on a regular basis. You can have your one cheat meal or cheat day of the week of your choice to keep your sanity. But if you have the willpower to keep it to one cheat meal that would be even better. One thing you will notice is when you reduce this aspect of your diet over time your body will not like it being reintroduced later on. For me a cheat meal from any of those fast foods would induce a nasty stomach ache and made me lethargic. For me I’d say that the percentage of these meals for the entire year was about 5% overall. The last part of the year I had weaned myself of them.
  6. I made sure to eat 5 to 6 smaller meals during the day and that my dinner was the lightest one and very minimal carbs after 7 pm! By feeding your body smaller portions throughout the day you will fire up your metabolic furnace over a longer period of time.
  7. My ideal protein choices were organic free range eggs, lean beef cuts, turkey breast, skinless chicken breast or thighs, fresh wild caught salmon, red snapper, sole, mahi mahi, tuna, and sardines. My cooking oils of choice were extra virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil. I made sure that I would eat 3 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil daily. My doctor was not a big fan of it and kept saying saturated fat was bad. To me that was a bunch of hooey. Get yourself a book about virgin coconut oil by Dr. Barry Fife and read up on what it’s really all about.
  8. Before going to bed I would blend 1 scoop of whey protein powder, 3 teaspoons of greens plus, and 6 oz. of unsweetened almond or coconut milk and crushed ice a half hour before going to bed.
  9. Check your food labels and avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup, anything with the word hydrogenated, corn, soybean, canola oils, any margarines aside from Smart Balance, white sugar, aspartame, acesulfame, and saccharin. There’s a bigger list you will learn to avoid but for now start with these.
  10. Since I was lactose intolerant I avoided as much dairy products as I could. I love cheese but I had to cut that down too. The kind of saturated fats in dairy products are the ones that clog up your arteries and give you that fatty belly.
  11. Exercise program:

Nothing fancy for the first 3 months for me. I knew that at my starting weight of 280 pounds the stress on my joints and cardiovascular system would be dramatic. So I started the first month like this:


Month 1: 10 minutes on the stationary bike to warm up then move on to the treadmill for 10 minutes at a pace of 2.0 and zero incline. I would finish off with 10 minutes on the Apex elliptical. Have your gym help you figure out the best comfortable pace for you. Make sure to stretch 10 minutes each before and after your session. I would do wrist circles, arm circles forward and backward, ankle circles, knee bends, side bends, and neck circles. I would do this for 5 days a week. If you can’t do it 5 days straight don’t force yourself. Get in a day of rest after the first 3 days so your body recuperates.


Months 2 and 3: After the first month I was able to begin on a more moderate approach. I would start with 10 minutes on the stationary bike using the weight loss setting. Then it was on to the treadmill for 15 minutes using the weight loss setting and finally another 20 minutes on the Apex elliptical using you guessed it the weight loss setting. Not too many people are aware or familiar with the different settings on these machines but it takes the guesswork about when you ease up or kick it up a notch. It follows the principles of H.I.I.T. or High Intensity Interval Training. What that type of training does is kick up your metabolism and keep your body burning fat longer over a 14 hour time period.


Months 4 to 6: Now I was ready to bring more fuel to the fire and so I did. After warm ups I would get on the Apex elliptical for 45 minutes and just crank it. I love this machine because it did not place any stress on my knees . Weight loss setting on level 2 was the ticket for me. For my concentration and visualization I had my iPod shuffle cranking my favorite workout music. For me I loved playing the music from all the Rocky movies and added my favorite 80s mixes. It’s really up to you how you want to move but I found that music allowed me to enter into azone of visualization and concentration.

Months 7 to 12 and onwards: By now I was in pretty decent shape and down to 235 lbs. and now was the time to sculpt. This meant introducing weight training to the equation. After a decade of not touching a barbell or dumbbell I knew my strength and endurance levels would be compromised and I was right. To adjust to this I made a basic program of relearning all the compound multi-joint movements and revive muscle memory. I would work different body parts based on major and minor muscles and split them up over 5 days. I would highly recommend you find a good personal or fitness trainer to guide you especially if you have not done anything like this at all.

For me it was a matter of applying my knowledge from the different training programs I learned in different sports like baseball, basketball, swimming, and of course weight training. I may not be a certified trainer but I learned all these principles way before fitness trainers became really fashionable and a great career choice.

Your program may have to accommodate your own particular individual knowledge and experiences so be open to learning new things.

Here’s my Phase 1 program:

Mondays- Leg day- since our legs are our largest muscle groups you have to devote it to this and focus on your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. I worked calves separately because after you go expend everything on legs you may have to crawl your way out of the gym. But as they say no pain and no gain.

3 sets and 3 different exercises for quads, glutes, and hamstrings with a rep count between 8 to 12 only.

My exercises would be leg presses, leg extensions, romanian deadlifts, lunges, squats, side lunges, lstanding leg curls, lying leg curls and deadlifts.

Tuesdays and Saturdays- Chest, biceps, abs

3 sets of Nautilus or Machine Bench press- 8 to 12 reps

3 sets Dumbbell Incline presses- 8 to 12 reps

3 sets Pec Dec flyes- 8 to 12 reps

3 sets of Crunches- 25 reps each

3 sets of Leg raises- 15 reps each

3 sets of Reverse crunches- 25 reps each

3 sets EZ Barbell curls- 8 to 12 reps

3 sets seated Incline curls- 8 to 12 reps

3 sets Preacher machine curls- 8 to 12 reps

Wednesday- Rest day from weights. Cardio for 30-45 minutes if I felt like it.

Thursdays- Back, Triceps, Traps

3 sets each for 8 to 12 reps

Lat Pulldowns

Pulley Rows

One armed dumbbell rows

Bent over barbell rows

Barbell Shrugs

Upright Rows

Triceps Pressdowns

Reverse Cable Pressdowns

Overhead dumbbell extensions

Fridays- Shoulders

3 sets each of 8 to 12 reps

Standing Military Barbell Press

Dumbbell Overhead Press

Dumbbell Front raises

Side Lateral Raises

Bent over Rear Lateral Raises

Overhead Bench Presses

So there you have my Phase 1 Transformation Program. It took a year to do it but its the best gift I ever gave myself. Now in Phase 2 you will see and learn an even more dramatic transformation. Chase your dreams and keep moving forward.

Written by

Mike Pestano is an entrepreneur, Business Development, Internet and Social Media consultant, health educator, blogger, and business coach. He has held various managerial and regional director positions including corporate sales trainer for GNC Canada, GNC USA, and Carmax West Coast. As a Social Media Consultant he specializes in social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.. Mike is also a health industry consultant specializing in the nutritional supplements sector since 2007 for several investment firms. He was also a member of the product formulation team for GNC Canada that developed a complete line of supplements unique to the Canadian market. His expertise encompasses organics, manufacturing processes, operations, distribution, and market development. He has a background in management, marketing, finance, and information administration technology from Brookhaven College in Dallas, Texas, Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, and Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. He has also completed the Dale Carnegie Course in Public Speaking as well as the Canadian Securities Course, Canadian Investment Funds Course, Life Underwriter’s Association courses, and the Caltex Philippines and Chevron Canada Service Station Management Programs. Here in the United States he is the Vice President of the Ateneo de Manila Alumni Association of California. He is the current President-Elect of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County and the Treasurer of the Council on Trade and Investments for Filipino Americans. Outside of work Mike’s hobbies and passions are cooking, baking, writing, drawing, and reading. A former swimmer, basketball, and baseball player he has now transitioned into the fitness arena and aspires to compete sometime in the near future in physique competitions.

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