body for life: a summary

body for life is a program written by a man named bill phillips.  often imitated, but never duplicated, bill’s plan is a surefire way to get healthy, skinny, toned, in shape and more importantly, stay that way.

body for life consists of a 12 week program referred to as “a challenge”.  you can officially enter a contest and have your challenge judged and you can potentially win a lot of cool stuff.. but most people just do the challenge for themselves.

here are the basics:

  • eat six small meals a day, 2 to 3 hours apart
  • balance each meal with a carb, protein and healthy fat
  • your portions should be about the size of your palm or fist. eyeballing is key in body for life. calorie counting is not necessary.
  • i follow the rule of thumb: eat as many grams of carbs and protein each day for every pound you weigh. so, 120 lbs=120 grams carbs, 120 grams protein…divided by 6 meals= about 20 grams of each per meal.
  • your ratios for where your calories come from at the end of the day should be 40% carbs, 40% protein and 20% fat
  • no white bread, white rice, white sugar, white pasta, super processed foods, high fat foods, super refined carbs, soda, sugary desserts, etc etc etc!
  • every other day, you do a 20 min high-intensity interval cardio work out.  there is a specific 20 minute structure based on RPE (rate of perceived exertion).
  • every other day, you do a 45 minute weight training session. you alternate between upper and lower body work outs.  there is a specific structure based on RPE to decide how much weight to use and how many reps you do for each muscle.
  • drink a crapload of water. you may as well get a catheter because you will be urinating so much due to all the water consumption.
  • one day a week, all these rules are thrown out the window and you do whatever you want. free day :)

okay so there is probably a lot more to know than that, but those are the basics.. if you do want to know more about body for life, read the book or ask me about it.  i love body for life.  i have a lot of resources for learning more about body for life and how to get started on it and how to stay on track.

the best part about body for life is it is free!  the only thing it takes is motivation.  and another bonus, it is a plan that is structured to be so manageable that you CAN do it for life.  it is not just a 12 week thing.  if you stop the program after just 12 weeks, you will end up where you started.  but it teaches you habits that can be stuck to for ever and ever.. and you will never have to go back to being miserable and unhealthy and overweight!

i heart you, body for life.

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Leah May 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I absolutely love this and I am looking into it more because of you!

Tina June 11, 2009 at 9:57 am

Ok, Janetha, now you’ve done it… you’ve inspired me! After taking the time to read through your blog thoroughly I have concluded that you are even more amazing than I thought! I really want to get fit and healthy now!
This is a very happy/irritated moment for me… You’re thinking: “What?” ok, let me explain, I am very easily inspired, but at the same time, when I get inspired I get hit by a wave of confusion a.k.a. the “Where do I start” problem… then I speed into “OMG, this is just too much for me to do” which inevitably leads to “I’m never going to be able to do this, I fail”….

Instead of freaking out as per usual, I decided to do something different this time: ask for help! :P

Ok, it might be stupid, because I don’t think I have any actual questions right now (just in the post-inspiration glow here..). But if I have questions about the way you break down your meals, exercise or what Body for Life means, could I maybe mail you?



P.S. You totally have to tell me how “the vegans” (as you so lovingly refer to them) get their protein! xD That veggie loaf looks mysterious but its protein package.. is amazing to say the least (what freak veggies did they put in there for god’s sake?!)

Debbie Gore January 17, 2010 at 9:46 am

Janetha-love like minds! Hey to Tin from June–Vegans can definately eat quinoa for protein. Have a great recipe for it here-Enjoy!

jessica February 10, 2010 at 6:50 am

I decided I want to try Body-For-Life! Do you have any good resources on meal planning? What were your meals like?

Serena February 10, 2010 at 9:16 am

This sounds amazing :)

Whole Body Love March 20, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I am so excited to start!!

Healthy Coconut August 1, 2010 at 9:08 am

Thank you for posting this. I am curious and want to read more on it. I’ve seen this book online before but I think you explained it best and more importantly, in simple words.

IUD Side Effects November 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm

books online are great, wether they are e-books or conventional hardbound and paperback books “*”

enjoyingthechaos December 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

I am serioulsy considering doing body for life. I am 35, the mother of 3 children (16, 6, 4) and am sick of being told that I look good for a 35 mother of 3. I do not like what I see in the mirror..forget about what I see when I step on the scale. I sit at a desk 10 hours a day 4 days a week surrounded by people who make bad food choices and order loads and loads of take out every week…I need serious help and after reading all the results and the website I think this is what I need. Did you find it difficult to keep up will all of the meals? Did you use the EAS supplements?

Erica February 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Hi Janetha!

Did you follow Bills’ book or the one for women?

janetha February 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

BFL by Bill Phillips. I don’t like the BFL for Women–I don’t think it is as well written and the guidelines are not exactly what works for me. I think the BFL book by Bill Phillips is amazing! And the Women one is just the opposite. Hope that helps!

Susan March 8, 2011 at 10:07 am

I’m really interested in doing this program. Your pics are SO inspiring girl! :) When I looked more into the program – I noticed that Myoplex nutrition bars/shakes are required for the meal plan. I’m just wondering if it’s worth dishing out the bucks and if you used them?

janetha March 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

Hey Susan! I didn’t use the Myoplex stuff. I focused on using real, whole foods for the challenge. I did use EAS protein powder, but that is only because I like the flavor. I now preefr Tera’s Whey protein powder because it is organic! Hope this helps :)

Susan March 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Thank you!! That’s the response I was hoping for – and so quick too!! Love your blog. Amazing – XO!

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Betty August 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

how would you compare insanity to bfl? im wondering if i can get the same kind of results doing that.. eating 5-6 meals a day. right now im trying to be a support system for my gf’s mom who is having a weight loss surgery so shes cutting down her meals and eating healthier before hand. so thats where im at now..

janetha @ meals & moves August 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm

The eating plan for BFL and Insanity is pretty similar.. but the workouts are like night and day. Insanity, as you know, is all cardio and BFL focuses on muscle gain. This is because when you possess more muscle, you burn more calories even when in a resting state. BFL throws three, 20 minute cardio sessions in a week to get things revved, but diet is the main factor to success! <3

Amberlyn August 10, 2011 at 6:00 am

You are amazing! Very knowlegable! I have started the program 2 times and stopped because of stress with school and work. (excuses, excuses!) But now everything is fine- I am exactly in the same boat as you ! I am between138 – 135.. I am doing the bfl and not giving up this time. I run all the time and eat very healthy. I cheat here and there on date nights. Your blog is my home page now ! I did what Emily suggests, a board on the wall with all your goals ! Love that idea! My biggest problem is if I dont have time to cook , I don’t eat at all. Do you have any suggestions that could help ? Thanks again !

Janetha August 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I do have suggestions! I am waiting for my mom to get an email back to me. Sorry, that is what the hold up is :)

Jenn August 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

Hi Janetha,
Was looking into doing BFL, but was wondering if it was possible as a vegetarian. I do eat eggs, seafood and cheese but no poultry or red meat. Could I just use veggie proteins (ie tofu, tempeh) in those recipes instead? I havent read the BFL book yet, but to be honest didn’t wanna invest in it if I can’t follow the meal plans.

Janetha August 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Yes! Mama Pea @ Peas and Thank You did it vegan. Doing it vegetarian is simple because you can use the protein items you mentioned along with protein powder, cottage cheese, eggs and greek yogurt!

Bethany August 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Okay, so I’ve just recently started reading your blog and I am super excited to try BFL! I have been doing some of the other BeachBody products similar to Insanity, but the hardest thing for me is still nutrition, mainly having time to cook. Any suggestions?

Bill Rhodes September 9, 2011 at 10:10 am

My wife and I have been on Body for Life for 3 years now. She lost 60lbs and I lost 35lbs. We have kept it off. It is a great program. I pack 4 meals for work every day. If I am on road, at times I will substitute meals with EAS or Zone bars

Thanks for the great summary and good luck to all.


Janetha September 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Bill, that is awesome and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your success. Keep up the good work!

Crystal January 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I noticed that you said to eat as many grams of carbs and protein as you weigh…what if someone is overweight? Should they base it off their ideal body weight?

A bunch of people at my work are doing a weight loss challenge and several of them are doing BFL–they are already seeing results!

sheila fanning February 13, 2012 at 10:55 am

any suggestions on what weight to start with for upper and lower??

Janetha February 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm

It’s all about what you can do personally.. base it off your RPE scale. Here is a post about RPE:

Jenaé (@YogaEatRun) February 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Wow, I seriously want to try this now!! Thanks for sharing!

Rochelle February 15, 2012 at 12:28 am

Hi Janetha, I did BFL a few years ago and had great results. Some weight has slowly crept back on and I want to do something about that. I see you have been doing Jamie Eason’s programme but you did not follow her nutrition plan. Did you therefore follow the BFL nutrition basics? You had fabulous results which I hope to replicate (?!!!!) So I’m wondering what your nutrition plan was ie: no carbs (at all/after lunch etc) protein shakes? Also did you have a free day? I’d appreciate any advice you can give with regards to your nutrition/supplements to attain such fabulous results. Thanks!

Lindsey March 22, 2012 at 7:22 am

Hello, I stumbled across your blog and I am very interested in body for life. I noticed on their website they push mypoplex drinks/bars a lot to make up for a couple meals. Did you use these supplements or just do our own thing? My body doesn’t digest protein, especially whey, very well so I don’t think I would be able to use the drinks and bars.

Janetha March 22, 2012 at 11:34 am

No, you definitely don’t have to use their brand of supplements or any supplements at all! You can do the program eating 100% whole foods, or supplement with an all natural, organic, plant-based protein powder. I will say that protein does play a big role in the program, and getting your calories 40% from carbs, 40% from protein, and 20% from fat plays a HUGE part in why the program works. Best of luck!

Kristin @ FoodFash April 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I have been clicking on link after link after link through your blog. Your progress is so amazing/inspiring/motivational/all those words that come in super handy when you’re trying to reach a goal. I’ll definitely be checking out body for life!

Janetha April 5, 2012 at 11:33 am

Thank you for reading!

Nicki June 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Janetha, I just wanted to thank you for your inspiration! I just ordered the book off of eBay and I am ready to start my challenge. Love your blog and plan on starting my own as soon as I begin my lifestyle change.

Janetha June 25, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thank you so much for your comment, Nicki! Let me know how it goes!!!

Sue July 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

I just ordered mine too! Should be getting it today :)

Sara July 3, 2012 at 7:10 am

Hi Janetha! I love your blog and have been reading for quite some time. I started Body for Life this week and am really excited about it. I was wondering if you have ever done a post detaling a day of body for life eats? If so, can you please point me to it? I want to make sure I am eating correctly and I keep confusing myself because I read both the book for women and the Bill Phillips one, but I definitely want to follow the Bill Phillips one. Thanks so much!!

Janetha July 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hey! Congrats to you! I didn’t have this blog when I did BFL, but I did have a lame journal for my second try at it:

Also, if you read my earlier posts in 2009, I used to post my full day of eats on a regular basis and it was all BFL-style eating for the most part!

Sara July 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thanks so much, Janetha! It is going to be very helpful to be able to look at some of your old posts to get meal ideas! One last question for you…what are your thoughts about the importance of having a meal 6? My meal 6 falls at 10pm, but I am always hesitant to have it 1). Because I go to bed at 10:30 p.m. and 2). I am never really hungry for it. Do you think I should just have it and not worry about the time/my hunger level or do you think it’s best to skip it? Thanks so much!!

Janetha July 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I don’t think meal 6 is a big deal. If you can’t fit it in, no sweat. I usually did 5 meals.

Chantalle September 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Hey Janetha!
I was searching the Body for Life book by Bill Phillips and one book comes up and it’s called Transformation. Is this the correct book? I found a book called Body for Life:12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Stength but it’s by Michael D’Orso. L if you could let me know which is the correct book I’d really appreciate it. Oh! I’m searching on my Kindle. ;)
Thank you! Chantalle

Janetha September 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Nope that is the wrong book. It is the original Body for Life by Bill Phillips that you want!

Trisha December 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Just started following your blog! love it! I’m starting phase 3 of Jamie Eason’s program.. love it!!! i may redo phase 2.. but i’m not following nutrition plan , and have gained 7 pounds (sadly not all muscle). So i’m looking into BFL to maybe shake things up a little more balanced, less restrictive.. Do Jamie’s program with BFL eating.

anyhoo, my question… Are the veggies on BFL weighed and measured and counted as carbs macro for the day, or are they a freebie?

Janetha December 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Freebie, for the most part! I counted higher carb veggies like carrots, corn, peas, etc. But greens and lower carb veggies I didn’t count! Good luck, I am sure you will love to relaxed way of BFL eating.

Josefina February 3, 2013 at 9:05 am

Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

Nancy Apple February 14, 2013 at 10:39 am

I have been living the Body For Life Lifestyle for 11 years and LOVE it. You do need to change up your workouts so that you do not get bored. I do this every few months. I drink the shakes and eat the bars too. I am 48 and feel great. This program will work if you stick to it. The free days are a bonus and you will find yourself eating better on your free days as time goes by.

Tycee February 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hi Janetha!

I just stumbled upon your blog and I must say that I LOVE it so far! You are too funny and so inspiring.

I’ve been pretty active most of my life-worked out with various trainers on several different occasions-but in the last 6 months haven’t been as diligent with exercise. I got engaged in September, married in November and I feel like we’re still trying to figure out life as newlyweds and have “balance” in all areas.

I’m pretty knowledgeable about most things health and fitness but hadn’t heard about BFL. I’m super intrigued by the simplicity of it.

I’m going on a trip in June and really want to look and feel better. What would you say would be the best way to start looking into BFL? Buy the book? Do you need the book to be successful? I guess I’m just wondering what you did the time when you were successful when you were first getting started. I really think this program could work for me but always feel overwhelmed in the beginning when starting something new. Anyways….that was incredibly long, but any pointers would be so helpful! Thank you!

PS: I also live in Utah, LOVE dogs and have a somewhat unique name as well! ;)

Janetha February 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Hey Tycee! Love your name! You should definitely buy the book. It’s all you need! I think it is very helpful in understanding and getting started. Thanks for the comment :)

Kayla Perez February 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Hello Janetha,

I am really interested in trying this out but incorporating my own foods into the program my question for you is how does the 40/40/20 work?? how do I know if each meal will have the right amount of carbs vs proteins and fats??? I workout on a daily basis I wanna start eating protein pancakes waffles but not sure how to do so any help would be great!
Thank you

Janetha February 10, 2014 at 9:32 pm

hi! you just use the fist/palm method. the book explains it all!

Lindsey July 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Hey Janetha! Just found your blog today and I’m very glad I did! I know this is an old post but I am starting the challenge next week! Thank you for posting about it! I am even more excited to buckle down and take the plunge. I have been stalking your blog today and I have enjoyed it very much! Thanks and congrats on the little one! How exciting!

Janetha July 22, 2014 at 1:39 pm

awww thanks for commenting :) keep me posted and best of luck! xoxo

rob August 28, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Awesome transformation! A friend of mine had really good success on BFL. Im a type a personality and have to know all the details lol. So my questions are as follows:
1. Do you take grams of carbs/protien for your diet from your presents scale weight or lean body mass?
2. As you loose weight you obviously lower your carb/protien amounts to fit that new body weight correct?
3. Did you have free days or free meals?

Thank you so much for your help:)))

Janetha August 31, 2014 at 10:43 am

Hi! 1. I do 125 grams.. which is right in between the two and works out because I like to eat 5x a day and 25 grams each meal is easy math. Don’t overthink it. :) 2. I didn’t, because I was gaining muscle and needed calories to sustain the muscle. If you lose a substantial amount of fat, you probably would want to. Or just start out by eating at the level of your goal weight. 3. Yes, a full free day every week!

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