Monday, August 20, 2012
So as many of my long-term spark buds know, I am a geek when it comes to data collecting and number crunching. If it were up to me, I would goob out with constant monitoring and uploading of all sorts of things; blood pressure, heart rate, lipids, VO2 max, glucose, insulin levels......all the news that's fit to print and track in the cloud.
Since the nanobot industry hasn't kept pace with my expectations, I have to make due with less frequent measurements and cruder tools.
Enter the Bodpod!
(for the mechanics of it, see my last Bodpod blog at www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
Today I ducked out at lunchtime and got another reading.
23% bodyfat, down from 27% in Feb....on top of that, I weigh 180 lbs today and was 186 then.
Once you crunch all the numbers it turns out I've lost about 10 lbs of fat, while adding about 4 lbs of muscle.....not bad for a guy with a day job
Still slower than I would like, but steady, relentless progress (I am truly without relent!)
I sat down with the nutritionist for a few minutes afterwards.....luckily this wasn't the same one I had to do a group session with last time.
I told her about my recent detour on to the low carb highway. Surprisingly, she was fairly knowledgeable and asked me a few pointed questions;
"Are you doing Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, or something else?"
"None of the above, I'm just keeping my carbs below 50 gms"
"Have you taken any blood glucose measurements?"
"Well you may want to see how your glucose and ketone levels are doing. How about blood lipids?
"No, but I'm scheduling my annual physical for Oct or Nov"
"OK, are you taking any multi-vitamins?"
"Yes!" I beamed
"How much calcium is in it?"
"I have no idea," I said looking down at my shoes
"Well you may want to supplement it, unless you're eating a lot of cheese. So where do you want to get to body fat and weight-wise?"
I felt like I had finally found my guru of the mountain, one who knew exactly the right questions to ask to spark my inner enlightenment, steering me on to the path of a lean-living Nirvana.
"I don't know," I confessed. "For a long time, I thought that getting below 180 would be nice. I'm pretty happy where I'm at. Sure I'd like to drive the bodyfat below 20%, maybe get the weight down to 175 or 170, but I could just as easily be pretty happy right where I'm at. I workout 4-6 days a week and feel like I finally have my eating under control"
I felt like the weight of the world had just been lifted off my shoulders. Here I was confessing to a total stranger that yes, I could indeed be happy right where I'm at today
"Well," she said, "You know these are just numbers, right?"
"Just numbers?" I thought....was this she-guru in fact just a demon-spawn trickster, lulling me into a mind-numbing comfort, before sending me into the torture-pit?
"The numbers are guidelines," she continued. "You're 52 and while you're making great progress and heading in the right direction, your progress is going to be slower than a 20-something. There is no final goal to shoot for. Look at this chart"
She shoved a poster in front of me that had pictures of all sorts of dudes (there was an equivalent one for women) of varying bodyfat percentages & weights. It was pretty cool.
"Bodyfat is just a measure, but there are many more factors at play. This guy at 22% bodyfat looks better than this guy at 15% doesn't he?"
I would have preferred staring at the chart with the women on it, but sure as hell, I had to admit that the scrawny, 15% bodyfat ectomorph with no chest and thin arms looked worse than the dude that was bigger & more buff....with 7% more bodyfat.
"Well OK, that's good info," I said. "I'm not sure I'm ready to stop pushing. I like working out and I want to see where this low carb road takes me"
"Sure, no problem. The numbers are good indicators, and in the end, you want the trend line to be steadily downward like it has been for you. Why don't you come back in December and we'll see where you're at for a tune-up?"
My God, such people really exist! I forgave her heretical defamation against the data Gods....she must pray at another temple, and took her up on the offer. Came back to the office and told my secretary to lock me in for another Bodpod session just before Christmas!
That's all for tonight Spark friends....have a great night!
Saturday, August 18, 2012
So how would our lives change if our bodies didn't store fat?
I'm going to pull the thread on that one in just a little bit, but it begs the question, "how and why do our bodies store fat?"
Well I'm certainly not a biologist, a nutritionist, a biochemist, or anything else that requires knowledge of organic chemistry (although I was an astronomer in a previous life), but I'm a good enough of a problem solver to know how to ask the right questions, frame the problem, gather the facts and make a fairly well informed decision.
For years (decades actually) my weltanschauung was much like everyone elses; fat loss & gain were reducible to a simple math problem; calories in must be less than calories out in order to lose weight.
Pretty freaking simple right? Burn more calories than you eat and the weight should just melt off. Keep accurate count of your caloric intake, burn more than you take in, watch the scale slide inexorably downward.
Then WTF is going on with my weight & body composition not responding to this simple math problem? Why have I run thousands of miles and stayed at about the same weight (truth be told, I did add muscle and lose fat), why do (did) I have the same love handles that should have melted away after my third marathon? Inquiring minds want to know.
So for the last 3 months I have read as much as I can about nutrition, carbs, fats, proteins, biochemical pathways, yadda-yadda-yadda. I dove in pretty deep into how & why our bodies store fat.
I'm not sure it's a simple math problem....I think there's chemistry involved, and that takes it beyond high school math and into college labwork. I'm not going into the whole mechanism here, but suffice to say, that it's not so much that our bodies measure the calories in against the calories burnt, storing the difference as fat or reaching into our fat stores to burn it away....it's a little more complicated and involves a whole slew of chemical processes that call upon hormones (insulin, glucagon, etc.) and adaptations of our bodies to what we burn for fuel (glucose, ketones). Bottom line, the best books I've seen about the subject are;
"Why We Get Fat" - Gary Taubes
"The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living" - Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek
"The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance" - Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek
"Wheat Belly" - William Davis
"Fathead: The Movie" - Tom Naughton
There are more, but these are my favorites so far.
So what if the issue isn't, "Why is it so hard to lose weight", but "How do I get my body to stop storing fat".....well that takes you down a whole different path.....at least it has for me, and so I've embarked on my own little experiment to see how my body responds to a low carbohydrate lifestyle, one that really reduces my body's propensity to store fat.
And my body has responded very well!
So let's say I eat the right balance of foods that stalls the mechanism where my body has to store food as fat, what happens (or more accurately, what has happened to me).
Well, if I don't store food as fat, then the food I eat goes in to making more muscle & bone.....and my body flushes out the excess nutrients
If I don't store food as fat, then, when I burn off some fat due to exercise......it doesn't go back and replace what I just burnt off.....and I get a little less "jiggly" over time.
If I don't store food as fat, I can eat more than I think I can in the calories in/calories out model.....and not go around hungry all the time with cravings for food that I feel deprived of, because I'm eating plenty.
If I don't store food as fat, my weight just doesn't seem to increase.....even when I eat way more than I have in the last 2 years.
So is this a clinical trial with all sorts of variables held in check with accurate measurements of everything going on with me.....of course not. I'm barely 3 months in to a lifestyle change that may take a year or more to get me where I want to be (and I'm still not exactly sure where that should be, but that's another blog), but here's what I can safely say has been the pay off so far;
- I feel like I have conquered food cravings.....I eat as much of the things I like as I want (just no carbs) and I do not feel hunger anxieties much at all. This is probably the most incredible part of it, I don't feel compelled to eat a dozen cookies at a pop, or spoonfuls of peanut butter, plates and plates of spaghetti, breads, potatoes, you name it. Yet I just came back from a 7-day cruise where I ate like Fred Flintstone all day, every day.....and I dropped 1.5 lbs!
- I don't "see" it myself, but everyone around me is telling me I look leaner and that I look great....friends, families, co-workers, even strangers in stores or at the gym.
- I do "feel" leaner.....belly bulge & love handles appear to be shrinking, muscles are popping out around shoulders, legs, & arms.
- My weight is very comfortably going down, albeit at a slow rate, but I'm OK with that. I'm working out a lot, lifting weights & doing cardio....I'm at 179 lbs, and truth be told, I'm not sure where I want to level out at.....175, 170, I don't really know. I feel pretty darn good and like what I see in the mirror.
- My BP has gone down to textbook normal numbers.....a very interesting side-effect, especially since I have a family history of high BP, diabetes, heart disease and all sorts of other metabolic syndromes.
So this is where my current research has taken me, all I can do is to to vouch for what I see working so far, but I'm very pleasantly surprised.....still a long way to go, but asking and answering questions like these have definitely made a difference where previous paradigms had stalled me out.
Have a great day Spark friends!
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Well I spent most of yesterday planning September.....then spent today relaxing and reading.
September is looking to be pretty busy....from the looks of it, after Labor Day, I'll only be home on the weekends till the end of the month. I've got 2 separate week long conferences to go to with my boss, then my nephew is getting married....overseas! He's my sister's oldest kid and lives in Istanbul, Turkey.
SWMBO and I talked....she's going to one of the conferences with me. Between all day meetings and nightly social functions, these usually keep her busy day and night. She's not up for back to back trips so she opted out of the Istanbul trip. But she also says I'd be a deadman if I don't go to my my nephews' wedding (my mom and sister have already started dropping guilt-bombs). So I spent most of yesterday looking at and booking flights & hotel. Luckily I have enough miles to pay for both.
And where does my mind go? "Damn, another whole month on the road, just when you were really getting back up to speed on the ST....got to find a hotel with a good gym!" So I found a Marriott Renaissance with what looks like a pretty decent compliment of cardio and weights.
To celebrate, last night I took #2 son to see the Dark Knight movie (not too bad....a little long at 2h 45m, but a very interesting take on Catwoman). Then today I spent the whole day reading. On last week's trip to Vegas, I decided to try the first book in George Martin's Game of Thrones series....I pretty much got hooked, so today I devoured almost the rest of it, but I may have to wait till next weekend to finish it.....and then there are at least 3 more books in the series....plenty of reading for a month on the road!
The more I read, the more familiar the story line seemed, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then in a blinding glimpse of the obvious it hit me....this is the War of the Roses! It's one of my favorite periods of English history, not to mention one of my favorite characters, Richard III.
So for a few weeks I'll have to put all my other reading aside, which will include a few tomes of low carb books I've culled off of Amazon....research will have to give way to practice!
More to follow.....have a great night Spark friends!
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
I know, once again, why it is that I hate shopping, and why I am so very thankful to live in the internet age where I can just go to Amazon or some other website and get just about anything I need in the world delivered to my door step.
So my boss and I gave our presentations today and they were spectacular! Everything went great, we answered every and all questions and were extremely happy with how it went.
We finished around noon. I checked to see if I could get a flight back to FL in the afternoon....no dice, so I hit the gym for an early afternoon spin class (instructor was a freaking maniac....he kept doing hill climbs, one after a friggin' other)
Then I found myself with a whole afternoon free in Las Vegas, NV....hmmmm what to do?!?!
I was going to go hit the tables, but I remembered that I was in sore need of a new sportcoat or 2, so I decided to hit a few of the various shops in town to see what I could find.
I started off at Nordstrom and found a few that looked and felt OK, mostly silk/wool blends. Then off to Saks, then Nieman Marcus, then over to Caesar's to a few of the specialty shops.
Now I freely admit, I'm a pain in the ass when it comes to finding something that I like. I critique the color, the drape, the tightness in the shoulders, because I know that if I end up not liking it, it'll just stay in my closet and not get worn (I have way too many like that), so I've learned to not buy anything I don't really, really like.
So I'm in Nieman-Marcus and I spy this very cool dark copper colored sport-coat, with black herringbone pattern. "This I can wear!" I tell myself.
It fits like a glove (as a matter of fact, most everything fit great....even the "sport cut" lines.....I'm digging my V-shape), it hangs just right, looks great up close and far away....and the cashmere feels like something SWMBO would just love to cozy up to.
And it's $5,000!!
God freaking dammit! Did virgin Mongolian maidens hand-pick every fiber off their herd of goats to make this jacket! It better damn well come with a free weekend stay at the Bellagio!
I refuse to take it off though.....I'm walking around the store getting the clerk to show me what else they've got, some matching pants and shirts.....and a few other jackets because I know I'm not getting this one. Man it felt good.
And that's the way the rest of my night went. I hit the Zegna store in Caesar's forums and found a real nice travel jacket in mostly wool, with just a hint of stretchy material in there that felt great when I moved my arms. The clerk starts selling it to me with ,"yes sir, you can fly all night long and this jacket will drape like it was new!" $2995!
I find a nice light navy thing at Saks with a few lines of deep royal Blue in there....fits like a glove....$3495!
What the hell! I gave up and went in to the Apple store and almost talked myself into buying a Macbook Air.....fully loaded it would have only cost me $1300!
Needless to say, I came back to my hotel empty handed....I hate being rushed and any jacket I bought would have needed alterations (oh they were all happy to measure me up right there and ship the jacket when it was done!)
I'll stay on the lookout....I've got a few more trips out here and other parts of the country, so I'll either tone down my tastes.....or check to see what Amazon has in their men's dept!
God....do I really have to go through this again! ARRGGHHHHHH!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, August 06, 2012
Well it's pretty darn hot in Vegas! Go figure....it's August, it's the desert, and a few miles from all those dancing fountains in front of the Bellagio......it's dry & dusty!
Which is why I stay indoors a lot when I visit.
So my boss had a meeting I needed to be here for, and today we went over a bunch of details for a big presentation we're giving tomorrow. In the afternoon, I visited my guys that work out here to see how they're doing and to make the rounds. I like the new guy I hired to run this division.....way better than the last guy I had to fire back in April.
Got all that done with plenty of daylight left to go hit the gym (it doesn't get dark here till after 8:00PM), where I got in a great upper body routine in a magnificent gym, followed with 4x two-minute plank intervals (hold the plank for 2 minutes....take a 1 minute break). Some people call planks boring.....I don't know how the hell anything can be boring when your entire core is screaming for relief!
Then I went and had me some Memphis BBQ baby back ribs...no bun, no biscuit, no fries, no cole slaw, even picked the croutons out of the salad (I did order 2 side salads!)
It might get redundant hearing me say it so much, but I continue to be amazed at the differences I'm seeing by ditching the carbs. Yeah, my weight is decreasing slowly (that's the one thing that pisses me off about the low carb mafia.....there's a lot of hype about how fast you can lose weight), but I am doing enough ST to see and know that I'm adding lean muscle and losing body fat, so that does make a difference. But I almost have to puff out my belly to see a bulge these days!
Which is really amazing considering I feel like the protagonist in a Robert Ludlum or Dan Brown novel who has unearthed a worldwide underground conspiracy that is too wild to be true, something that if exposed would alter the course of history, something for which you'd be hunted down and shot if you go public. Yet the facts are undeniable; cutting down carbs has given me results that thousands of miles of running, thousands of miles of biking, thousands of lbs of weights lifted, and meticulous logging of thousands of calories hasn't....a slim me!
I've got a theory brewing on how this all works....at least from my personal experiment of N=1, so more to follow....till then....
Have a great night Spark friends!
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