"Secrets" of Weight Loss: Part 10: Realities

September 27, 2023

Secrets of Weight Loss title image

The Secret

This “secret” is both a clarification and a deepening of your understanding of the Joe Dillon Difference Lifestyle. The standards that I am encouraging you to pursue are not arbitrary. The empirical, evidenced- based standards that I support are based on, among other sources, decades of exercise physiology research. I have advocated these standards since I began my company in 1979.

The body composition goals for optimal health are 15% body fat or less for men and 22% body fat or less for women. Let me put these standards in perspective.

Body Fat as a Metric

As I mentioned, I started my company in 1979. We did mobile testing for per cent body fat at over 400 health clubs throughout the state of California as well as testing companies, police departments and athletic teams. Over 8 years I personally tested thousands of people. Southern California is one of the leanest, healthiest places in America. We frequently tested at one particular club in Newport Beach – Nautilus Plus – a health club with hundreds of members and one of the first clubs to offer aerobic classes in the United States. This club had more young, attractive members than nearly any club where we did testing. On this particular afternoon and evening, we tested about 100 members. Not one of the people tested achieved 15% or 22%. Nearly all of them were attractive. 

Male body fat percentages

I share this story to illustrate that the standard I am encouraging you to strive for is demanding and will put you in the top 10% of the country in terms of both health and fitness. Achieving 15% or 22% respectively will get you an “A”. One, this is worth working for. Two, now maybe you can better appreciate why it is so difficult to attain it. As was said by the central character in the movie “American Beauty” when asked what was his fitness goal, he said “I want to look good naked.” At 15% or less or 22% or less, you will look good naked.

Female body fat percentages

Look and Feel Awesome

15% or 22% respectively is a key component of optimal health. What’s recommended by exercise physiology for competitive athletes is 6-12% body fat for men and 12-18% body fat for women. This will give you elite health and put you in the top 1% of the country in terms of both health and fitness. You will also look awesome.

Measuring body fat with a caliper

Now let’s talk about the reality of what it takes. This isn’t really a secret. It is just that most (95%) people don’t really grasp the price that must be paid to attain certain goals. Wishful thinking or a half-hearted effort just won’t cut it. This is why I often get feedback about how hard and/or boring adherence to this Lifestyle I advocate is. It’s like college. Were you an A student, a B student or a C student in college? Obviously, it was your choice. If you go to a first tier university, everyone is smart. If you want to get all A’s and B’s, you will have to put in the work.

To oversimplify it, I will divide it into 2 lifestyles: Keith Richards and Mr. Clean. The Keith Richards lifestyle is about tempting Fate: what can you get away with? Keith drinks, smokes, and does heroin. For every Keith Richards there are Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix dead before they were 30. Keith plays Russian Roulette.

Mr. Clean does not smoke or drink ever. He drives safely. He gets his rest. He eats a high quality, nutrient-rich diet and takes his supplements every day. He works out at least 3 to 5 times a week. Mr. Clean is responsible, methodical and conscientious. He works the odds in his favor as much as he can.  

Joe Dillon being hydrostatically weighed, 1982

Obviously, I am a Mr. Clean. In fact, that was my nickname in high school when I swam and shaved my head. I maintained 7% body fat for decades despite traveling over 200,000 miles a year. I get my blood tested every 3 months. I get my teeth cleaned every 3 months. I am fair skinned but taught swimming and life guarded in high school and junior college before the Marine Corps. I served a combat tour in jungles of Vietnam with temperatures of 100-110 degrees and humidity consistently over 80%. I got fried. As a result, I have had skin cancer issues since my mid to late 20’s. I see my dermatologist every 3 months. My triglycerides are 29. My HDL (good cholesterol) is 111. My fasting insulin is 2.0. My diet is squeaky clean. I start every single day with a JDD shake. I do a JDD shake immediately after every workout. I do a 50 minute Heavy Hands walk 3 days a week. On the alternate 3 days I do an hour and half walk that includes 800 to 1,000 stairs. I take every Monday off. I will be 80 in less than a year. I love and invest in my future self. I walk my talk the best I can. I mindfully listen to my body. I never eat junk food.

Define Fun for Yourself

Common questions: Don’t you get bored with this lifestyle? Do you ever have any fun? I love to read and read at least 2 hours every day, 7 days a week. I love movies and have seen a couple of thousand. I love to travel and have seen a lot of the world including touring West Europe for 4 ½ months in 1971 and scuba diving in Fiji and Tahiti in 2002. I have spoken in every single state except Maine and Alaska. In 1966, as part of a 2,000 Combat Marine Battalion Landing Team, I traveled to Vietnam on an LPH – an aircraft carrier for helicopters. On the way, we trained in Hawaii, Okinawa, and the mangrove swamps of the Philippines. In July 1967 on my way to Hawaii for a one week R&R, I saw an Arc Light take off from Guam – that’s 12 to 15 B-52’s – each plane carrying 60,000 to 70,000 of bombs on their way to Vietnam to bomb the enemy. September 6, 1967 I was shot through my right thigh by an AK-47 at a place called Con Thien – one of the bigger battles of the war, was pinned down for 6 hours, was finally med-evaced out by helicopter to an LPH, the Iwo Jima, in the South China Sea. The hangar deck was covered with hundreds of wounded Marines. The surgeons took the bullet out of my right thigh about 2 am. At 6 am I was flown by helicopter to the Hospital Ship Repose. A week later I turned 23. I have a different sense of fun.

This process you are engaged in will continue to get deeper, more interesting and more rewarding.  

Thank you for listening.

As always, I wish you and your family the very best of health.