IF, Lifting Heavy and BodyMedia Fit

So it's been almost a month of Leangains/Intermittent Fasting and I think things are going pretty well. I'm down a few pounds, even though I feel like I've been eating a ton of food this month. I wasn't doing an especially good job of tracking my calories and making sure I was at a deficit for the week, but now that I'm used to IF and have figured out some meals that work well for me, it should be a little easier to keep my consumption within the range the cut allows.

February 17 was my first day of heavy lifting, I've now done 5 workouts of the big three. To start I picked up Starting Strength and followed the recommendations. Started with the bar, did 5 reps, added 10 lbs, repeat until form starts to break down. The first couple workouts I kept my weight relatively low, added between 5 and 20 lbs per workout depending how I was feeling and the particular exercise. Starting Strength was a great book to help me with form and get started, but after 3 workouts I decided to switch over to Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT. On Starting Strength (SS) you do warm-ups until you get to your working weight, then do 3 sets of 5 reps (deadlift is only 1 set of 5 reps) - this is great for initial gains and for getting big, but Ripptoe himself (the author) says SS is designed for folks on a calorie surplus. No biggie RPT seems to be a more practical solution, and doesn't have my adding a bunch of weight every workout. With RPT you do your warm-up, then on your working sets you do your heaviest weight first for 6-8 reps, drop weight 10-15% and do 8-10 reps, then drop another 10-15% and do 10 to 12 reps (subtract 2 reps for each range for deadlifts). This method is supposed to be better while on a cut, so hopefully I'll see some results soon.

On Sunday (2/26) I picked up a BodyMedia Fit Core armband. I'd been thinking about it for a while and between my tax refund and finding out what my year end bonus would be, I decided to go for it. For the uninformed, it's a small device on an arm band you wear on your left arm, about mid way up your bicep. The device has a bunch of sensors to measure skin temperature, heat flux and galvanic skin response, plus a 3-axis accelerometer to measure motion and steps taken. Only 2+ days of data collected so far, but I'm already finding it pretty useful. I have a much better, more accurate picture of how many calories I am burning, so hopefully another few weeks of data will make it that much easier to get rid of this bodyfat. Combining the new toy with my Fitbit and Zeo headband gives me tons and tons of data! I wish there was an easy way to consolidate all of these gadgets together and get a really solid picture of how they impact each other.

Muay Thai is on hold until May, and I think that was a really good decision. I've simplified my schedule down to lifting 3 days a week, yoga on Thursday and improv on Saturday. It makes me feel like I have a lot more free time, and I'm hoping the simplified schedule will help me to get (and see) better, faster results. Saturday is new progress pictures - fingers crossed there will be a visible difference from a month ago!


Mixed Bag

If I accomplished anything last week it was destroyed by the time the Super Bowl was over.

Friday it started snowing a lot, so much they closed work early and sent us home. Feeling a little stir crazy I walked over to Qdoba and got way more food than I should have. Then a few hours later I went to Walgreens and got some candy bars and other miscellaneous junk food.

Saturday was improv (which I love, and there's maybe a lot going on around that, but I'll save it) and afterwards we went out to socialize. A couple beers and a chicken sandwich might have been close to my macros, and I'm glad I went with the veggies instead of fries or chips, but I think I was a bit off base on my goals.

Sunday was the Super Bowl. I went to the store in the morning to do a little bit of grocery shopping and also pick up snacks for the game. I failed my 16 hour fast that day and wound up eating some mini-donuts and Zingers, then some Utz cheese balls. I went to my friend's house to kick it for the game and ate more cheeze balls, white cheddar popcorn, M&Ms and pizza. Oh did I regret those decisions on Monday morning.

Granted its only Tuesday, but I think I'm going to be pretty good this week. Yesterday the fast was no problem and I had a bowl of chili for lunch and another bowl before heading out for an improv show. After work, before eating again, I fit in a workout. I'm now on Level 2 of the Rebel Fitness Guide which means some new exercises, which is a nice change. My math is really rough on this chili, but I'm guessing I only ate around 1000 calories yesterday. Today I had chili for lunch and I'll figure out dinner later. After work I need to go grocery shopping; I need a few things to be able to have stir-fry tomorrow, plus stock back up on a couple of other things for the pantry/fridge.

I haven't been great about going to Muay Thai the past few weeks. First I missed a Wednesday class because I fell asleep on my couch. The week after that was rest week and I was just feeling kind of 'blah' so I didn't go. Missing last week was mostly related to a bunch of work to take care of school, but if I'm being honest that's likely combined with not feeling like it and being in the habit of not going. Also having just started the fasting thing - at least that was my excuse. I've been feeling a bit antsy, even with my thrice weekly workouts, so as of right now I'm planning on going tomorrow night (2/8/12).

Tonight is fencing. I've been really having mixed feelings about it. It's fun and I enjoy it, but I'm not sure if I want to keep doing it. Classes are kind of late, and it's relatively more expensive than most of my other activities (classes and gear). Part of me doesn't see a long term benefit. Sure there's precision, planning, thoughtfulness and focus. Certainly there is some level of fitness involved - lots of lunging, and it is a sweaty endeavor (though I suspect most of that is attributable to the gear). But unless I want to compete, go to fencing competitions, I don't know if it makes sense to keep doing this. I absolutely don't feel like I'm learning anything that could be extended to an actual sword; if that were the case I would absolutely keep going. Only three more classes, including tonight. After that we'll see.

What I think I'd like to replace it with is an ASL (American Sign Language) class. I've been wanting to learn ASL for a long time and only recently found a place that offers classes that I can fit into my schedule. The class is on Tuesday's from 5pm to 7pm and, amazingly, starts the Tuesday after my last fencing class. Looks like a sign to me... no pun intended.

I can't forget to mention yoga. We've had two classes so far and I'm really digging it. I'm glad it's on Thursdays; it's a nice way to start to close out the week, it helps me find my center and relax and stop worrying or thinking too much. Six more weeks of yoga, then hopefully they'll keep it going because I'd really like to continue.

That's what's up for now.


Intermittent Fasting and Leangains

After doing a tremendous amount of reading and research, I've started an intermittent fasting protocol. I'm primarily using Leangains as my model, but since I don't have a gym membership and I'm currently not doing any heavy lifting it's sort of a modified version. I just started on Monday 1/30 so too soon for any sorts of results, but we'll see how things go.

Here are the basics. 16 hour fast every day, 8 hour feeding window every day. Work out 3 days a week. On work out days eat more total calories, with more calories from carbohydrates and less from fat. On rest days eat fewer calories, more calories from fat and less from carbs. There's a lot of precedent for working out fasted, so I've been  I've seen a lot of success stories online, so I decided to give it a try.

Some people are really strict about hitting their macros, but I'm just trying to set guidelines for myself and mostly stick to them. I'm using http://www.1percentedge.com/ifcalc/ to help give me a general idea and going from there. I find it's actually kind of difficult to consume all my calories in the window, which means this week I've probably been consuming even fewer calories than the calculator suggests. The fasting window actually isn't so bad. Right now my window is basically 8pm to noon for fasting, then noon to 8pm feeding. I may shift this around (later, if anything) but I'll give this a try for a while longer.

My calculations came out as such (I overestimated some of my inputs):

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - 1844 cals
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) - 2213 cals
  • Lean Body Mass (LBM) - 150.2 lbs
  • Fat body mass - 44.9 lbs
  • Maximum fat metabolism - 1346 cals
  • Minimum recommended calories - 868 cals

For the macro calculator I chose Faster weight loss (-30/-10), protein 1g/lb bodyweight, and for the carb/fat split 20/80-80/20 (rest/work out) on a 7 day cycle and 3 workouts per week. It comes out to:

  • Rest Day
    • 1549 total calories
    • 195 g protein
    • 38.5 g carbs
    • 68.4 g fat
  • Workout Day
    • 1992 total calories
    • 195 g protein
    • 242.3 g carbs
    • 26.9 g fat
  • Summary
    • Week TEE: 15491 cals
    • TDEE: 2213
    • Week Calories: 12172
    • Week over/under: -3320
    • Week change: -0.95 lbs

Keeping in mind a lot of (over) estimation to get to sub-12% body fat I have to lose 28 lbs and it will take approximately 30 weeks.

  • Weight
    • from 195 lbs to 166.7 lbs
    • -28.31 lbs/14.52%
  • LBM
    • from 150.2 lbs to 147.3 lbs
    • -2.83 lbs/1.89%
  • Fat
    • from 44.9 lbs to 19.4 lbs
    • -25.48/56.81%
  • Body fat %
    • from 23% to 11.62%
    • -11.38%/49.47%

30 weeks is a pretty long time to do this continuously, but I'm planning on sticking with it for a month or so, then seeing how things go. More advanced planning has me thinking I'll go 8-12 weeks, then if I notice I'm stalling a bit I'll take a week off and overfeed to jump start things, then get back to it.

Having been doing the primal/paleo thing for so long, it's a bit weird to re-add so many carbs back into my diet. I'm trying to do it in the best way possible with the least negative effects (still trying to avoid gluten) so the primary source this week has been white rice.

Monday I had a bowl of chili around noon, got home and worked out, then ate a huge plate of stir fry - lots of chicken, veggies and a ton of rice. I'm not sure if I hit my macros for the day.

Tuesday was a repeat of chili at noon, I got home and ate a little bit of rotisserie chicken, then for dinner I cooked some bacon, sausage, melted a bunch of butter in the pan and added frozen spinach, then 3 whole eggs and probably 3/4 cup of egg whites and scrambled it all together, topped it off with 2 pieces of American cheese. It was delicious and I was totally stuffed. I'd estimate for the day I was probably pretty close to my calorie figure.

Wednesday (yesterday) I fasted all day, went home and had some BCAAs (Xtend) and worked out. After the workout I had a protein shake, then went to Chipotle. I hadn't been in a while, and recently when I go I get a bowl with no rice, so it was kind of a treat. Tortilla, white rice, black beans, chicken extra chicken, green salsa and a bunch of cheese. In hindsight I probably didn't actually hit my calories for the day, but I estimate my macros to be pretty close in terms of ratio.

It's funny that I'm trying IF now, because I spent a long time trying to get to a point where I would eat breakfast every day. I used to feel sick in the morning if I ate, so I didn't do it. After reading so much about how important it is to eat breakfast, I pushed myself to make the change. It was kind of nice eating breakfast, but there were some downsides. Trying to have my biggest meal of the day first thing often meant I was a bit uncomfortable at work. With the IF protocol, I find I'm rarely hungry during the day. Pangs will hit once in a while, but I'm drinking lots of water and I've been allowing myself a diet Dr. Pepper, so it's not so bad. I actually feel a bit more "with it" in the mornings than I was when I was eating. Whenever I start to feel hungry, I remember the mantra someone posted on the Fitocracy group for Leangains: "If you've eaten in the last 24 hours, you're not hungry." And it works.

There's something pretty awesome about being able to eat, basically, as much food as I could possibly want in the evenings. I have yet to feel like I'm not eating enough, usually feel like I'm TOO full, and I don't think I'm even coming close to eating too much. I feel a lot more flexible now than I did before, too. I'm still trying to do things mostly primal because I just feel better when I'm not eating lots of refined sugar and when I avoid grains with gluten.

This IF thing makes sense to me, too. A lot of my decisions about what and when to eat are based on best guesses about how human beings have been eating for millions of years. It's foolish to think humans ate the same amount or same types of food every day, and it seems especially stupid to think they ate breakfast all the time. Maybe a few nuts, or a piece of fruit if it was around or in season, but fruit is really pretty rare in the grand scheme of things. They probably got up and started hunting and gathering. On days the hunt went well, I'd bet everyone gorged themselves and ate a ton of food, then went to sleep - the next day they might not be so lucky. Other days maybe they ate a lot of plant matter (leafy greens) because they couldnt' catch anything. If they found a grove of trees with a lot of fruit, they probably gorged themselves again. Certainly it's easier for me to plan the same meals over and over again, and I'd prefer not to go days without eating, but this seems to meet similar criteria while being more practical.

We shall see how this goes.



So it's 2012. Doing long form updates hasn't really been easy, I've been keeping myself very busy.

I'm at work Monday through Friday from 6:30am until 3:00pm. Still working on my Master's degree; my current class is Strategic Information Technology.

I started working out regulary and have scheduled workouts Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I'm doing the NerdFitness.com Rebel Fitness guide and coming up is week 4 of the first set of workouts.

Monday and Wednesday I have Muay Thai, and I've been really good about going. Last week I missed Wednesday because I fell asleep on my couch, but that's the first time I've missed this year. There's also a class on Friday, but given how busy I've been keeping myself I haven't made it to that one yet.

Tuesday nights is Fencing class. I had my first lesson last week, and it was really interesting and a ton of fun. Far more difficult and more to think about than I anticipated, and I have a lot to learn, but it's really fun. In our first lesson we learned to advance, retreat and lunge. We even got to spend some time with a foil in hand. The beginner class lasts for 6 weeks, so I need to make some decisions about continuing with classes after the introduction has ended. I think I'll want to do it, but it would make adding Jiu-Jitsu difficult, and Fencing classes are pretty late (they go until 9) which may mess up my schedule a bit, but we'll see.

Thursdays is Yoga starting next week. At work they are offering an 8 week yoga class. They are actually bringing in an instructor from some studio, and it's only $40 for the full 8 weeks so I figured I would give it a shot. That will be on Thursdays right after work for an hour, and this fit perfectly into my schedule. To top it off I was wanting to take a yoga class, so it worked out pretty well.

Last, but absolutely not least, I started taking an improv class on January 7. It's every Saturday for 8 weeks, so yesterday was our 3rd class. It's downtown at an improv theater called Bovine Metropolis. Tons of fun! It helps me to shut off that overthinking part of my brain and just be goofy and silly and have a good time. Last Thursday we had a field trip to see a show which was really insightful. We're mostly doing improv games like mirroring, object work (What are you doing? and Try that on for size!) and yesterday we did some gibberish games. We have another 5 weeks then I'll be thinking about signing up for Level 2. Whether I continue or not will have a lot to do with what day and time the Level 2 classes will be.

I've been keeping track of my workouts and Muay Thai, Fencing, Yoga and meditation, with this awesome website Fitocracy. It is a fantastic motivational tool. It also helped give me a bit of incentive to finally put up some before pics:

April 2011: http://imgur.com/a/kLmsu 
December 2011: http://imgur.com/a/kEom4 

Official Before Pics, Jan 2012: http://imgur.com/a/tkmUu

Since I spent basically all of 2011 making minor changes, testing things and primarly cleaning up my diet I'm considering the Jan 2012 my OFFICIAL before pictures. I'm on a good schedule of exercising, and I'm eating better than ever before, so I'm hoping to get some good results over the next few months. I really need to take measurements as well, but pictures will be good too.


So that's what's up in a nutshell. More minor and frequent updates are happening on Twitter @lifentimesofed and on Tumblr via lifeandtimesofed.me, but I'll try to do some other types of updates as time goes on, especially as I get a bit more serious about diet tracking, and if I decide to track exercise outside of Fitocracy.


Muay Thai

I started Muay Thai boxing. It's really fun, and tough, and I have a lot to learn. I'm still somewhat timid when doing drills with other people - I don't want to hurt anyone which usually means I err too much on the side of caution and stay back to far.

It's an amazing workout. I'm sore all over, but it's a good hurt. The tops of my feet are bruised and a little cut up - kicks are supposed to involve the shins more, so I need to work on my aim a bit.

Every class seems to be the same structure. (1) shadowboxing to help warm up and provide some dynamic stretching (2) jump rope, at least 5 minutes (3) learn a move, drills; learn another move, more drills; maybe a 3rd or 4th move depending on the difficulty and time spent with each drill (4) cardio conditioning - either the Minnesota Shuffle (which I'm a little fuzzy on the details of the drill) or step ups (so kick up to 5 - 1, then 2, then 3, etc - then back down, switch legs, do it again, then knees, then a couple power kicks) I'm wondering if the cardio conditioning will always focus on kicks or if we'll do it with punches.


On off days (Muay Thai is 3 days a week) I've been focusing on pull ups. I may throw push ups and dips into the mix. I probably should. When it comes to pull ups, I can really only do like 1 and a half in a row per set, but I try to do between 8-12 sets. I want to get up to 25 pull ups in a row. Push ups and dips I'm less concerned about a number and more concerned about balancing the muscles in my arms, shoulders and back. We've all seen those guys at the gym doing dozens of bicep curls becaue they want "huge guns" but their functional strength is really limited, and in many cases their arms can wind up looking weird. Triceps, shoulders and back are all very important for the kind of functional strength I want.

I like the idea talked about in reference to the guys from the movie 300 and their workouts - they weren't working out to look good, they were doing it to be strong and have that strength be practical and useful. If looking good was a result of this, all the better, but that wasn't the goal.


As an aside, it's almost been too cold to run lately, and it gets dark so early. I may have to move it inside and use the treadmills at the small gym where I live, but between the Muay Thai and other short workouts that may be sufficient for the time being. I'll have to decide.