April 07, 2010

First half-week of sporadic IF

194 lb, 26.8% body fat this morning.  So far it's just been one 25 hour fast, from lunch Thursday to dinner Friday, but I did manage a full, heavy leg workout 23 hours into it, which was a surprise to me.  I'm fasting again today, but it will be shorter.  I had a late dinner yesterday (7pm), so I'll probably only go 23 hours this time.  I do have another workout scheduled, but this is my first week of "maintain the muscle" rather than "build some muscle", so it won't be quite as heavy as last week.

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March 31, 2010

Then again, maybe not

195 lb, 27.6% body fat today. I stuck to my plan not to exercise last week, and had only one serious dietary divergence (pizza on Wednesday night, I blame demonic possession). I'm lifting again this week, with the same pattern as the prior cycle, and even did some cardio yesterday. I'm considering trying something different for next week and those following. My prior 6-week cycle, I'd been trying merely to re-establish a foundation of strength, adding muscle if possible, and to rebuild the habit of gym-going. Considering the stall to my weight loss, it's probably time to reformulate, at least for this cycle.

My plan is to finish this week with the same split, then switch routines next week. The intention will be to preserve muscle while I do some serious cutting of calories. I haven't seriously tracked my calories, though I have been trying to make sure I get between 150 and 200g of protein a day, which is remarkably easy to do when you eat 2lb of meat. I've tried to keep carbohydrates to less than 30g a day, and I do quite well at that. Other than that, though, I've paid zero attention to calories.

It's worth noting that I've paid no attention to calories since starting this process, and that worked for the first 30lb. Near as I can figure based on my usual intake, I'm consuming somewhere between 2200 and 3000 kilocalories a day. 2200 is probably okay, but my 3000 kc days (which, unsurprisingly, correlate strongly with the days I lift) might be slowing me down. Caloric restriction, though, is hard. Your mind resists it, your body resists it. There is some evidence suggesting that it's easier to do on a low carbohydrate diet than it would be on a standard one, but I'm not looking forward to it. I may go with intermittent fasting as a way to cut calories instead, taking 3 days a week off from eating, which is a lot less crazy than it sounds.  That would allow me to eat comfortably on lifting days, and "rest" on non-lifting days.  It'll take some experimentation to determine which method of restriction will work better for me.

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March 24, 2010

Stop exercising, lose weight?

194 lb, 27% body fat today, so down 2 lb with body fat basically steady.  My waist measurement is down to 35".  This is my off week after 6 weeks at the gym doing a triple-split routine*.  My last workout was Friday, so this is about 5 days out from that.  I stopped losing weight the week I started working out regularly, so this is the first time I've actually gone down since then.  I built about 4 lb of muscle overall in those 6 weeks if my scale's body-fat measure is to be believed.

*Monday "Chest": pectorals, serratus, anterior and lateral deltoids, triceps.
  Wednesday "Back": latissimus, trapezius, posterior deltoid, biceps, brachialis
  Friday "Leg": quadriceps, biceps femoris (hamstring), soleus and gastrocnemius

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March 17, 2010

Weight up, fat down

196 lb, 26.7% fat this morning, so I'm up a pound, but it looks like it was all muscle, at least per my scale.  Lean body mass, again:

Last week: 140.79 lb
This week: 143.67 lb
Net change: 2.88 lb

Which seems like -- and is -- a very big muscle gain for one week.  Every real-number measurement's got error bars around it, though, even if you don't know what they are.  If last week's measurement was a little low and this week's is a little high, that might be enough.

I like the trend, though, and the trend looks real.

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March 10, 2010

Weight steady, fat down, again

195 lb, 27.4% body fat.  In terms of lean body mass:

Last week: 140.79 lb
This week: 141.57 lb
Net change: 0.78 lb

So I've gained about 3/4 of a pound of muscle and lost an equal amount of body fat.  My pants feel pretty loose these days even on my tightest belt hole, so it's progress, even if it wouldn't show up on a normal, weight-only scale.  I've been lifting heavily and regularly, and eating plenty of protein, so an increase in muscle is welcome and expected.

Also, I've added a few things back into the diet.  I'm eating vegetables again, some nuts, and very low-sugar fruits (i.e. blueberries), along with small amounts of dairy (mostly full-fat Greek yogurt).  Primarily, I worried about micronutrient deficiences, and I wanted a bit more variety.  I'm still not touching any grain-based food whatsoever, no starches of any kind.  Basically, Neanderthin with a little bit of dairy.

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March 03, 2010

I doubt the accuracy of my instruments

195 lb, 27.8% fat according to the health-o-meter. I'll buy that I've lost a pound, but the fat % change is in the noise, and I don't have a clue what the ± for that measure is. The Mrs tells me that it depends strongly on how hydrated you are, and if you aren't consistently hydrated measure-to-measure, the body fat measure will be less reliable. My hydration % is nearly always about 51, but I honestly haven't paid that close of attention to it, and I really don't want to track another number.

Waist measurement to be added to this post tomorrow. Book post coming soon.

Update 3-4-2010: Waist measurement of 36" the following day. I've been eating cheese here and there, and I suspect it's slowing me down through inflammation or water retention (salty stuff, cheese). I'll take it back off the menu as soon as I finish the block of cheddar I have left. I'm considering adding vegetables, nuts, and possibly small amounts of low-sugar fruits (e.g. blueberries) back to the menu, but that won't be for a little while yet.

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February 24, 2010

Weight steady, fat down

196 lb, 27.7% body fat this morning, meaning something like 0.784 lb of fat went away and was replaced by an equal amount of muscle.

It's not awesome, but I'll take it.  I was seriously worried this was going to be a stall week.

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February 17, 2010

New Scale, New Goals, New Numbers

196 lb, 28.1% body fat according to my home scale.  The weight matches with what they determined at the gym last week, but that's 2.4% less body fat than their instrument found with the same method.  This would imply that at a constant weight, I lost 4.7 lb of fat and gained 4.7 pounds of muscle in 7 days.  Extremely unlikely.  OTOH, the home scale is free for me to use, and getting it tested at the gym again will cost money, so I'll be able to keep up the home scale measurements each week without any trouble.

The question is how to treat those numbers.  Do I assume a linear variation, where the home scale gives what the gym's scale would -2.4%?  Since I only have two data points, even though they were at least some time apart, a linear approximation is all I can really do.  So, without further data, I'll have to shoot for about 11.7% body fat on the home scale, which still means I need to lose just over 32 more lb in the absence of any muscle gains.

In case the reader thinks I might be putting too much emphasis on numbers, well, you might be right.  I'm human though, and as prone to cognitive bias as anyone, and raw data is the only objective thing I can track that will help keep me (almost) fully honest with myself.  I have to know if what I'm doing is actually working or if I just feel like it is.

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February 10, 2010

I'm 45.

At least according to my fitness test at Powerhouse (In case you missed the earlier post, I'm 34 by the calendar).

Rest Pulse: 74 "high normal", it was 42 when I was 20.
Blood pressure: 136/87  "Prehypertensive"
VO2 Max: 33.6 "Low"
Bicep Strength: 61 lb. "Fair"
Flexibility (Sit and Reach): 14.1 inches "Average"
Body Fat % (Electrical impedence testing): 30.5 on the border of "High" and "Very High"

All of which means I'm an older man with a younger guy's driver's license, by some much fuzzier notion of "biological age".  Now, I've had "high-normal" blood pressure every time I've had it checked while overweight.  Assuming the 29 lb I've dropped so far was maybe 10lb of water and 19 lb of fat, that means my initial body fat percentage was ~35% at the start of this adventure.  It also means I have lean body mass of of ~136, based on my weight at the gym of 196 (two meals, a bunch of iced tea, and a pair of shoes might explain the difference with the home scale, that and no two scales are the same).

The most important number here is body fat percentage.  Blood pressure, VO2 Max, and resting heart rate will all go along with a reduction in body fat.  Assuming no change to my LBM, 14% bodyfat (considered "healthy" for a male) would put me at about 160 lb, 20 lb. above the goal I set for myself (which would apparently require an unrealistic 3% body fat unless I gave up a lot of lean muscle).  On the other hand, it's only 31 lb down from here.  I've started lifting seriously again, having joined a gym, and I'm obviously eating plenty of protein, so it's possible if not probable that I'll put on some muscle in the coming weeks and months.  This means my original goal is probably unrealistic, if not dangerous.

All of this taken together means I need a better goal.  140 lb would mean losing muscle, and muscle is youth, when you get right down to it.  I'm keeping the category title for the sake of honesty and indexing, but I think changing the goal is reasonable.  New goal: 14% body fat.  I have an electrical impedance scale, but haven't been using it, preferring my spring-powered scale, so I'll see how it compares to the gym's value and include that value in my updates from now on.  Ideally, I'd like to add as much LBM as possible, but adding muscle is hard work, and I'd be happy just to maintain it as I lose fat.

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Slow, but steady

191 lb this morning. That makes 29 lb in 112 days / 3 months, 20 days.  Not as good as I'd like, but not bad either.

Also, I'm lazy, and used this site to do the latter calculation.  I was pondering the problem of counting the days between a pair of dates and realized that it might make for a handy widget... and realized someone else had likely already done it.  Bing confirmed it for me.

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February 03, 2010

Don't drink and diet

194 lb this morning. I can likely blame Sunday night's cocktails. I'd love to believe that I added a pound of muscle and just didn't lose any fat, but such self-delusion is better suited to the well-paid buffoons at the top of the Executive branch. I had been down to somewhere around 192 on Saturday, and I think I got overconfident enough to think that a few drinks wouldn't hurt me.

It is always best to keep in mind the great wisdom of the Solo:

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January 27, 2010

Playing catch-up

193 lb this morning, and my waist is now 37".  I'm eating about 1.75 lb of meat per day, mostly beef, and I'm only drinking water and tea.  My exercise is minimal but steady: pull ups and dips 1 day a week, and 30-45 minutes of cardio two other days, widely spaced.  I'm behind on my goal for this month, but I'm losing steadily at this point, so I'm hoping to be caught up by February or March.

Sunday, I was treated to a meal out at a nice Japanese restaurant, so I had some divergence for the salad and miso soup I was given.  Unfortunately, the ribeye was served covered in a sweet sauce I really could have done without.  I'm starting to really appreciate the subtle flavors of beef, and all I could taste was something that made me think of candy.  It's entirely possible that there was relatively little sugar in the sauce, but in eliminating it from my regular diet, I've likely become overly sensitive to it.  In any event, it doesn't appear to have slowed my weight loss.  I'm going to try and make it through the next week with stricter adherence and see how that goes.  I'm also going to have to be more careful at restaurants.  "Just bring me the meat.  Cook it -- a little -- put on a plate, do nothing else, and bring it to me."

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January 20, 2010

3 months, 30 lbs?

195 lb this morning, so no.  That puts me about 5 lb behind the pace I was hoping to set.  Given Christmas 1, 2, and 3, though, 5 lb behind at this point isn't too bad.  I've also still got 5 more months to catch up.  Waist size is unchanged at 38".

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January 13, 2010

Under 200

198 lb this morning. On a hunch, I've been keeping to a more-or-less zero carbohydrate diet for the past couple of weeks. I'm eating about 1.5 to 2 lb of meat a day, and pretty much nothing else, and the weight loss is steady. Anyone who remembers my Meat Week experiment, which dismally failed on day 5, might wonder how I'm managing this time around. I'm actually doing much better. I'm not craving sweets or breads, no headaches or nausea, I actually feel excellent. The difference this time might simply be that I took my time getting down to this level of carbohydrate intake, getting past the withdrawal from bread and milk opioids well before I went fully carnivorous*.  The idea that I can lose weight while eating 2 lb of beef every day sounds ludicrous, but it's working.  I'm also not sure if cutting back seriously on intake would improve matters, but I'll experiment a bit this week.

Why experiment?  Well, 2 lb of beef a day is somewhat expensive, minimally $4.50 a day if all I eat is ground chuck, $8-10 a day if I have my preferred steak for dinner (I basically don't eat lunch any more, I'm not hungry enough to bother).  Further, if I can lose faster by eating 1 or 1.5 lb a day, while simultaneously saving some cash, I probably should.  I'm concerned I may simply end up hungry a lot of the time, and part of what's made this so easy is that I haven't felt deprived at all.  If I keep losing 2 lb/week, that's probably fine.  Slightly less than I'd hoped to average, but I'll take it if it stays effortless.

*Side note, so long as I'm eating this way, I'm technically a hypercarnivore, which sounds cool enough to inspire a t-shirt.

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January 06, 2010

"Christmas", surprisingly, was not a setback

200 lb this morning.  Both halves of my extended family celebrated Christmas over the Jan 2-3 weekend, so there were a number of indulgences -- baked by beloved family members, I might add -- from which I just couldn't completely abstain.  Fortunately, it looks like going to zero carbohydrates in the days since has corrected any damage.  Yeah, zero.  Just meat and some heavy whipping cream in my coffee for this Monday and Tuesday.

I didn't weigh myself at all in the week between, but my belt notch fluctuated up and then back down.  I don't know if I'm back on track soon enough to hit 190 by Jan 21, but since I have no more holiday celebrations to contend with, it's at least possible.

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December 30, 2009

Weight up, waist down

202 lb this morning, so it looks like Christmas indulgence set me back a week and cost me a week's progress, meaning to hit 10 more lb for month 3 I'd need to lose 12 lb by January 21.  That may be unrealistic as it's 3 lb per week, and I've been averaging about 2 lb per week.  On the other hand, my waist is down to 38", a 2" loss since this same time in November.  I'm having a lot less trouble staying consistent lately (other than Christmas), but I've got 3 more holiday get-togethers to contend with between now and next Wednesday.  I'm not sure I'd bet on me making my interim monthly goal right now.

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December 23, 2009

2 months, 20 pounds

200 lb this morning, so I'm keeping up with my planned 10 lb/month, but only just.  I had dipped to 199 during the week between, but I had a couple of slightly-higher-carb days that seem to have pushed me back up a bit, along with some seriously low-activity days.  Cold temps provoke the latter for me, I get an instinctive urge to hunker down inside and wait it out.  I'll have to fight that urge after Christmas.

Also, in case I don't post again before then, Merry Christmas to all, Happy Christmas to the UK, Ireland, and Australia, and Joyeux Noel to France.

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December 16, 2009

Oddities of the scale

203 lb this morning, something of a shock since I was 201 yesterday, didn't eat any more than usual in between.  I may have eaten less than usual.  What I did not do was get a good night's sleep.  I stayed up far too late and got barely 5 hours.  Whatever the reason, I'm slightly up today.

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December 09, 2009

Plateau broken, but not by much

202 lb this morning, weigh-in for week 7. I managed to break the plateau at 205, but it wasn't without some trickery. I did a modified fat fast on 3 of the 7 days since my last weigh-in, meaning 800 calories of 90% fat, spread into 4 snack-sized meals between 8am and 4pm, followed by a normal low-carbohydrate dinner.  I am yet to try a full-on fat fast, which would mean going to 1000 calories at 90% fat and removing the dinner.  I'm saving that for a more difficult plateau sure to come later on.

Sadly, I've also become fairly certain that aspartame is a no-no for me, which isn't a huge shock, but it's disappointing.  It's not uncommon for an insulin response to accompany a sugarless sweetener, even if no actual carbohydrates are eaten.  Supposedly, saccharine doesn't do this to most people, but it's still saccharine.  No thanks.  I'm not sure I want to bother seriously experimenting with sucralose/Splenda.  I might try stevia extract, but it seems easier to just avoid sweet things altogether, since they mess with my palate and cause me to crave starches.

In any event, this puts me down 18 lb in 7 weeks.  If I can lose another 2 lb by next weigh-in, I'll be slightly ahead of my goal of 10 lb per month, since 2 months proper will be Dec 21.

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December 02, 2009

Still stalled in week 6

205 lb again today.  I have been stuck at this weight before, and it might well be that this is a rigid plateau for me.  Since it's persisted for 3 weeks now, I suspect that's the case.  To keep pace with my goal, I basically have to break the plateau and lose 5 lb in the next two weeks.  This will not be easy.

It's also possible that I've just done this too many times now (lost weight and then regained it), and my metabolism has become particularly resistant to changes in weight (up or down; I've never managed to go above 220 either, no matter how bad my diet has been, and I usually stop at 205 on the way down and get frustrated).  The only cure for that is patience and consistency.

There are some other tricks I might employ, but I'm waiting to be sure those are absolutely necessary before using them to break the plateau.

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