Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last post: Goals accomplished

I have blogged for about 7 months about my freakishly successful experience on a Paleo diet and a high-intensity training (H.I.T.) protocol. There are a few dozen posts in here. My intention has been to be succinct, clear, honest.

And so, summing up,...

Soon after I turned 40, my doctor offered me "metabolic syndrome" literature. There was a visible amount of hopelessness in his demeanor. I was, after all, just one more patient with a long list of incipient maladies (e.g., fatty liver).

I myself did not know what I wanted. The honest truth is that I could not even formulate it properly. I simply felt aged, slow, fragile, heavy, unhealthy.

For these and other reasons, I finally decided to start learning about nutrition and fitness. And so, during two and a half years, I ate a Japanese-style pescetarian diet and labored on high-volume low-intensity fitness routine. It didn't work. Medical exams showed my health continued to worsen while, adding insult to injury, I was getting fatter more consistently than ever before.

The problem was not that I did not "try hard enough".

The problem was that I was still ignorant.

Earlier this year, my research got me around to evolutionary anthropology. I made the necessary changes and, in a matter of days, I was feeling better. Within a few months, I was actually fit. Consider this. Not only I am able to run again for the first time in decades. Nowadays, I can sprint.

This journey, as most worthwhile journeys do, quickly surpassed and superseded original expectations. Today, I think about how trim I want to remain and how strong I want to become. The transformation still shocks me. Results from this year's medical exam could well be those of an altogether different person, a younger person, a fitter person, a healthier person.

That's it. Blog over.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Measurements IV

Results from the annual medical exam arrived last week. I wanted to make sure anything and everything showed up so I requested additional blood work. My doctor and I went over the information a few days ago.

According to the data, my health has become impossibly good. I asked the doctor if I needed to do anything (exercise, supplements, diet, etc) and the answer was: "Nothing. Keep doing whatever you are doing. You've never been healthier since we have records of you and there were times in the past when your numbers had us worried." OK, can do.

More than two months have passed since my previous measurement. I wanted to have the exam results before posting because this will be the last time I do so.

Height 181 cm
12-12-11 9-30-11 Diff.
Weight 78.2 kg 80.3 kg -2.1 kg
Chest 103.5 cm 103 cm +0.5 cm
Arm 34 cm 33 cm +1 cm
Waist 84 cm 86 cm -2 cm
Hips 93 cm 94 cm -1 cm
Thigh 58.5 cm 59 cm -0.5 cm

All measurements have been made at the widest point (where it applies) of cold, relaxed muscles. It should be said that, in my opinion, these measurements can be deceiving. They do show that a substantial change has taken place, of course. This is easy to see.

However, the very specifics can be misleading. For instance, my thigh muscles have developed the most yet the data in the tables show a continue drop in size. This is because I was packing a large amount of fat in that area. Strangely, this was never apparent. My now-gone gut attracted all the attention.

It still surprises me that the weight continues to drop. I do have a little of fat left, but very, very little. I think I could lose perhaps two more kilos (approx. 5 pounds) but this would start to become a bit extreme. I could be 3.5 kilos from paper thin skin. If one factors in that I am putting on weight in the form of muscle, the transformation is even more striking.

Height 181 cm
12-12-11 5-31-11 Diff.
Weight 78.2 kg 86.9 kg -8.7 kg
Chest 103.5 cm 100 cm +3.5 cm
Arm 34 cm 32 cm +2 cm
Waist 84 cm 91 cm -7 cm
Hips 93 cm 102 cm -9 cm
Thigh 58.5 cm 64 cm -5.5 cm

Progress over the last half a year is shown in the table above. It is a remarkable achievement. At my age, I would have never expected to be able to change my physique to this extent and in this short period of time. I weigh less today than I did at 18 years of age while appearing (and being) stronger.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Notes on the Paleo diet

A quick glance over the entries on this blog should provide anyone with sufficient evidence to unequivocally prove that, one, I am following a Paleo diet and, two, I am very satisfied with the results.

It is from this biased position that I will attempt to write a brief review of this diet.

- First, then, a Paleo diet is... what exactly?

It is important to be clear on this because there are as many definitions as there practitioners. It should be noted that this is not necessarily a problem.

To me, anything that is edible in its natural state is Paleo. If it needs boiling, baking, etc, in order to become edible, it is not Paleo. Processed foods are also excluded because, although they could be Paleo, it is impossible (for me) to determine exactly what is in them and whether the manner in which they were processed was questionable.

My exceptions are yogurt, butter, and cocoa powder. All are processed even if the first two derive from milk, which is edible in its natural state. Cocoa seeds are not edible raw, as far as I know.

That said...

- It is a healthy diet.

It cannot be any other way, really. Fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, must be good for human health. It is either this or a denial of the theory of evolution. Foods from other sources, including those that are indigestible/toxic until cooked, could (and may) be questionable. However, the very essentials must be found among those plant and animal products that are edible in their natural state and that were available to our human and primate ancestors.

Although this is "just" a logical common-sense argument, self-experimentation has led me to the same conclusion. I have never been particularly prone to illness but, nonetheless, would be under the weather with minor aches once or twice a month (digestion issues, mild migraines, colds/congestion, muscle/joint soreness, etc). Since I started this diet, my health has become near-bullet proof.

In terms of results, a Paleo diet is remarkably convincing.

- It helps the metabolism to regulate itself.

When I first started this diet, I was keen on losing weight. I no longer worry. The fat seems to disappear almost as a side-effect. The template menu, in all its incarnations, is posted on this blog. I don't eat sparingly. In fact, I eat more than I did last year when I put on 15 kilos.

The most immediate observation I can make based on my experience is that this diet allows the metabolism to address its own concerns without imposing undue stress that would, otherwise, divert its efforts to damage-control. In other words, my metabolism is given sufficient breathing room to get the job done. Since, for example, I have extra weight on, this means that the fat must go and my metabolism processes it away.

Interestingly, my metabolism caters to muscle growth simultaneously. I had been told many times not to expect muscle gains while losing fat. Well, it appears this is not a problem I have. My metabolism is able to handle all its tasks adequately.

- It is forgiving regarding quantities.

Let me first say that, in principle, the "calories in, calories out" paradigm is valid. It must. After all, if there were no relation between the energy our bodies use and the energy food provides our bodies, why eat at all? Where does the energy come from? Well, people, it comes from the food we eat and that is the reason why we eat. Anyone that claims otherwise is, unfortunately, delusional.

It is a fact, however, that not all calories are alike.

Eating too much (or too little) does not seem to be a problem while on a Paleo diet. My metabolism keeps a neat balancing act regardless of the amounts of food I eat, whether a lot or little, provided that it is Paleo. Energy levels are surprisingly constant too. Moderation remains important but I do not even need to pay conscious attention to amounts or servings. It seems to work itself out.

In contrast, when I followed a near-vegan Japanese style diet, any rise above my "recommended" calorie intake quickly led to weight gain (shedding fat was never nearly as easy, though). In order to gain weight, all I had to do was indulge, no matter how little. In order to lose weight, I had to make a deliberate and substantial effort and, then, go hungry for what seemed like an eternity.

- It simplifies and clarifies the relation we have with the sources of nutrition.

Since I did away with processed foods, I see everything I eat. What I mean is that my brain no longer identifies boxes and bags as food. Instead, when I think of food nowadays, mental images of actual carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, pineapples, etc, pop up.

It might seem a trivial change but it is not. Being able to identify your food (and that what you consider to be food actually corresponds to real food) is something that needs to be experienced.

- Beware of Paleo utopia.

Myth: "It is the healthiest diet ever conceived." The truth is that no diet is. If such a thing were ever to exist, it would first need to be customized to the genetic makeup of each specific individual. Then, it would need to be tailored to the needs of that individual for each specific moment of his/her life, come high, come low, and taking into consideration stress, exertion, illness, menstruation, etc. At this point in time, this is science-fiction. Diet wars are absurd.

Myth: "It will cure any and all diseases." Sure, there are anecdotal claims that a Paleo diet will cure from acne to cancer, from cavities to diabetes. Well, I should not need to say this but it is not the case that such a diet exists, Paleo or not. Food cannot take the place of medication any more than medication can take the place of food. Each has a role and a function. No sane person will recommend you feed yourself with drugs. The same applies to food as medicine.

Myth: "It is impossible to gain weight on this diet." Again, it is claimed that, no matter how much you eat, if it is Paleo, you will not put on a pound. This is absurd. Sustained overeating eventually leads to fat accumulation. This is, in fact, healthy. If your metabolism were not able to use its adipose tissue, the only way to avert death from the toxicity brought about by nutrient/energy saturation would be through waste disposal, that is, by overtaxing the organs (just as bad in the long run). Besides, I have put on a few kilos of muscle over the last few months. There is no doubt in my mind that I will also be able to put on fat when and if I want to.

Myth: "It is impossible to lose weight if you eat a non-Paleo diet or foods." Clearly false. Eat nothing but a slice of bread a day and you will wither away, fat and muscle gone, eventually dying. As with the previous myth, the difference (to me) is the ease with which one gains or loses weight. That is it. Non-paleo foods, specially from grain sources, deliver too much energy too quickly. If you are riding the Tour of France, do have your 6,000 calories of pasta a day. Nothing else will do, really. It is either carbs or intravenous feeding (which coaches prefer for health reasons but is not legal). If you are a regular person with a normal level of activity, however, it is irrational to systematically spike your glucose level into toxicity due poor food choices.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Template menu 0.6

There is more food on the menu that I can eat. I am getting rid off the omelet for dinner.

In case there are any doubts, this is what I have been eating, day in day out, for months now. It accounts for 95% of my diet.

  • Homemade bone and vegetable broth with an egg-drop.
  • ~200 grams of plain yogurt with a spoon of cocoa powder.

  • ~200 grams of beef or pork.
  • Salad: Lettuce, 1 carrot, 1 cucumber, 1 onion (sautéed with a tablespoon of butter), and 3 tablespoons of homemade mayonnaise as dressing.

  • Homemade vegetable purée (from pumpkin to exotic mushrooms and every wild thing in between).
  • ~200 grams of fish (pan-fried butter).

The remainder 5% is not posted because I am not regular about it. For instance, I have 1-2 servings of fruit per week, a serving being a pineapple or two large pears or half a dozen kiwis. I also eat 3-4 handfuls of walnuts weekly. And there is coffee, although this is even more infrequent, having from none to at most three cups a month.

Despite efforts to free myself from this kind of commitments, approximately once a week, I have to attend a social event that involves a non-paleo meal. A lunch or dinner, these could include grains/beans/tubers, breads/cake/sweets, and essentially all sorts of food that I would not otherwise eat. I go along and that is that. Ill effects from these meals are generally mild and sort-lived provided they do not occur too frequently.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

X H.I.T. report

I am coming to the end of what I consider to be a sufficiently representative experimental window and it is therefore time to start wrapping up the blog. This is likely to be the last H.I.T. report.

The following are a few of the things that I have done and learned.

Adequate perspective and persistence, among other things, allow us to develop proper exercise performance. This, in turn, makes it possible for us to discover our personal limits regarding the amount of weight we can lift, neither a trivial nor a simple thing to do. It takes time to learn how to deploy our strength properly and fully.

Once we are pushing against our limits, however, we also find that we have hit a brick wall.

Let there be no mistake about this. Just take a look at the stack of weights on exercise machines. If, for instance, your limit on the shoulder press were 54 kilos, it would be near impossible for you to add an additional plate and lift 62 kilos. The difference of 8 kilos (nearly 20 pounds) is a massive ~15% increase. You would only be able to move the larger stack briefly, haltingly, and sacrificing proper form. In other words, you would be gaining nothing while inviting injury.

It is understandable that, once limits are reached, most gym tourists either quit or fall into a rut. Progress appears to be hopelessly out of reach.

After the honeymoon period of the quick early gains has passed, it is natural to ask: What do I need to do in order to move beyond these limits and keep on lifting heavier and heavier? Is my training protocol still appropriate? And, if so, am I implementing it correctly?

I have successfully addressed these concerns as follows:

  1. Protocol: Infrequent, abbreviated, high intensity workouts.

    • Weekly sessions means plenty of time for rest and recovery, that is, time for muscle growth.
    • No more than 5 or 6 well-chosen, large-muscle, compound exercises.
    • A warm-up set (at ~50%, 6 reps) followed by a set to failure (60-90 secs, 6-8 reps) per exercise.

  2. Implementation: Perfectionism.

    • Develop the correct form and stick to it. Change little and only for the better.
    • Always add more weight or reps, not necessarily every workout but relentlessly.
    • Stop immediately if you feel pain or are about to. It makes no sense to injure yourself.

Progression at one's limit is slow and gradual. It would be ideal if it were possible to increase the weight on the stack with plates of half a kilo (or less). Unfortunately, exercise machines are not designed like this. It is one of the reasons why serious trainees eventually move on to free weights. There is no other way to have advanced/sophisticated control over lift loads.

Whatever the equipment, work on perfecting your form patiently and carry on training hard until additional muscle develops. The extra musculature and improved form will make it possible for you to increase your maximum lifts, no matter how slowly.

It is also important to keep a healthy and realistic perspective. If one were able to lift 1 extra kilo a month, that would mean a gain of 12 kilos a year, and a gain of 120 kilos (~270 pounds) in ten years. For an average person, this is would be huge achievement. In reality, this is beyond the capacity for work and dedication of most people.

As of the date of this post, I have followed a H.I.T. protocol for about 6 months. It has been during the last 3 months at the gym when I have progressed the most. Looking at my workout sheet, I have doubled (in some exercises, tripled) the amount of weight I can lift. The "awakening" of existing muscle and the improvement of performance skill probably account for 80-90% of the gains. Muscle growth accounts for the rest.

Let that sink in. I am today 2-3 times stronger than I was when I started.

The effectiveness of this protocol is far superior to anything I have ever done before. My plan is to continue with it and push on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Affection or fondness is a "disposition or rare state of mind or body"

As the winter months approach and the cold gradually settles, it is difficult to stay put without my cat trying to sit on me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Broth and purée recipes

Cooking is not among my hobbies and, as anyone can see from the template menu, I strive for simplicity in the kitchen whenever possible. Here are two recipes that are as straightforward as they come and whose cooking help give each other flavor.

The reason why I am posting these recipes is because I have come across a sort of culinary quandary. The recipes for broth that I find online claim that bones must be boiled for 24~48 hours or even longer. Yet, everyone I have asked about this, from grannies to professional chefs, have told me that they have never heard of a broth recipe (or come across one in a cookbook) that requires such long cooking times. Aromas, I am told, are lost quickly and, in general, the reason to prolong cooking is to reduce the water content.

So, just to be clear, it is not my intention to settle a feud and, even less so, to start a discussion among connoisseurs. I have experimented for a few weeks and this is what I have come up with. It works for me; it might work for you.

Cooking time: ~3 1/2 hours.
Time in the kitchen: 1 hour tops.

Place in a tall pot a pig foot, a few chicken wings, a celery stick or two, some laurel leaves (also called bay leaves), salt to taste, and sufficient water to cover everything. My choice of these specific animal products is determined by what is easily available. If I had other choices (e.g. beef bones, etc), I would probably choose differently. Nonetheless, pig feet are quite gelatinous and the resulting broth is tasty.

Bring to boil, skim the surface a couple of times, and add additional (warm) water if the level drops too much. I leave the pot on the stove for 2 or 3 hours, depending on how convenient it is. If there is a substantial difference in flavor, it is lost on me.

Once boiled to satisfaction, throw away the bones and other solids, then strain the stock through a coffee/oil filter. A friend tells me she uses a paper towel as filter but when I tried, it ripped (my fault, I guess I am clumsy). The broth is not finished yet, though. We are going to get some flavor out of the vegetables for the purée.

Place in a tall pot a variety of mushrooms (maitake, shiitake, etc), pumpkin, spinach, cauliflower, onion, garlic, carrot, and the still-warm bone stock you had just made. Choose the amount of each that suits your fancy. The list of ingredients is also at your mercy. I buy what looks good and throw it in. Sometimes I also add zucchini, cabbage, eggplant, or whatever. In truth, I take advantage of the ingredient mêlée to sneak in some vegetables that I would not eat otherwise.

Boil for about 30 minutes or whatever time it takes for all vegetables to become soft. All paleo foodstuffs can be eaten raw, in any case. If you are in a hurry, cut into smaller pieces in order to speed up the cooking. Limiting the amount of boiling is the best way to preserve nutrients.

Once boiled to satisfaction, put the vegetables aside and strain the stock through a coffee/oil filter one more time. The broth is now finished. Use a blender to purée the vegetables until creamed. Add some broth to smooth the mix if you feel it is too thick.

All done. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

I make batches that last me for 4 to 6 days, a serving of each (broth and purée) a day. I like to do a quick reboil of a cup broth and then drop an egg in it for breakfast. The purée works best with a pat of butter and simply warmed in a microwave.

Hope it helps.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sprinting IV

It has been over three months since I have written a post on sprinting. This, however, does not imply that I have stopped doing sprints. On the contrary. I have continued to enjoy the activity and I have made significant improvements in form, strength, and speed.

Originally, I did sprints once a week (on a few occasions twice) in a set of about a dozen runs. A couple of months back, I decided to increase the amount of walking and to combine it with a sprinting component. The integration of walking and sprinting into one session is a time saver and amounts to a more well-rounded activity.

This is how it has worked out.

I go for a one-hour nature walk at least 3 or 4 times a week and never more than 6 times (weather permitting). As I posted previously (Kicking a ball ~ sprinting), I walk while kicking a ball ahead of me. In addition to being quite enjoyable, the innocent activity of playing with a ball has strengthened my ankles and lower trunk. An unexpected freebie.

My routine, then, is as follows. I warm up by walking for 30 minutes. The sprints consist of 40~50 strides each: 15~20 strides picking up speed, 15-20 strides running all out, and 5~10 strides slowing down to a stop. I walk slowly back. I do this 3 or 4 times depending on how exuberant I feel. Last, I cool off by walking another 30 minutes.

That said, here is a heads-up on strong kicks. This was an extremely fun experience that, I found, was better to give up. As I mentioned before (Kicking a ball ~ sprinting), delivering powerful kicks seems to stimulate muscle fatigue similar to that of sprinting. However, it is an explosive movement that demands a certain sophistication of skill. It is more complex that one would think (which, in turn, makes it quite an interesting exercise). And so, kicking the ball slightly off or throwing your leg carelessly is sufficient to hurt yourself. In my case, the "injuries" had not involved more than pulling a thigh muscle. Nonetheless, once "injured", sprinting was out of the question for a few days. Eventually I came to the decision to give up strong kicks and concentrate on sprinting.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

IX H.I.T. report

It has been, perhaps, 6 or 7 weeks since my last H.I.T. report. I have done a workout a week except in one occasion when I did two. The recovery window remains appropriate and I don't think I should exercise more frequently than weekly.

One of my goals has been to find out my true limits poundage-wise in the "big 5" exercises. This should have taken me about a month but it ended up taking twice as long because the gym went through a complete reform recently. I was somewhat shocked to find out that the new machines, while seemingly identical, threw my numbers out of whack. For instance, I was forced to reduce my leg press weight to 60% and build back from there. All other exercises required tuning although not as much.

As an aside, I have a nagging feeling that the manufacturer of this equipment has cut corners and that the new machines are of inferior quality (comparatively speaking). I am not pleased with the change.

A second goal has been to work on injury-preventing form. I believe that this is coming along well. I am more self-aware and quicker to correct my posture. The intensity of the effort required still blinds me somewhat. I am learning, though, and that is progress.

My intention now is to do a small cycle. I plan on dropping a plate or two on each exercise and work from injure-preventing form to productive form. This means that I want to learn how to deliver more strength. In the process, I also want to further my practical understanding of biomechanics. Lowering the amount of weight will result in an increase in TUL's across the board. I am now doing 6-8 reps per exercise except the leg press where I can go +10 before positive failure. I am expecting to increase these numbers to the 14-20 rep range. Again, the objective is to free effort in order to concentrate on posture, motion, speed, extension, turn around, etc.

Actively engaging the torso while working out has yielded fantastic results in terms of overall strength. Visually, my appearance shows musculature that just two months ago was not there.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Template menu 0.5

Summer has come to an end and temperatures are slowly dropping. It is time to include some warm dishes in the template menu.

Oops, I have just noticed a small error. It has been months since I substituted the tomato in my lunch salad for a carrot.

  • Homemade bone and vegetable broth with an egg-drop.
  • ~200 grams of plain yogurt with a spoon of cocoa powder.

  • ~200 grams of beef or pork.
  • Salad: Lettuce, 1 carrot, 1 cucumber, 1 onion (sautéed with a tablespoon of butter), and 3 tablespoons of homemade mayonnaise as dressing.

  • Homemade vegetable purée (from pumpkin to exotic mushrooms and every wild thing in between).
  • 1 egg omelet.
  • ~200 grams of fish (pan-fried butter).

I mentioned a while back that I was going to do a "liquid diet" of sorts (read below for details, if interested). My intention was to drink nothing but juice once a week for three consecutive weeks. This was not possible due to unrelated circumstances. There were a couple of weeks when I could not get around to it and had to postpone to the following week. In all, it took 5 weeks, I think, to fit in the three juice days.

My liquid diet involved three meals a day. Each meal consisted of a liter of vegetable/fruit juice and a cup of walnuts. It worked better than I had expected and I was not hungry at all. This is interesting and might be related to the 36 hour fast. Also, I lost a little bit of weight and this was surprising considering the amount of fructose involved and high calorie content of walnuts.

So, there. I finished all the juice stored in the pantry and I don't think I will be doing this kind of thing again.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A little bit of perspective

I have no interest in educating the readers of this blog in any overt manner. In fact, I have deliberately avoided doing so. My sole intention is to record an experience, to detail a progress under a certain methodology and to do so with a certain degree of rigor. In sort, this blog is a spatter of breadcrumbs without the pretense of a notion of direction.

This is not to say that I am uninformed or that ignorance is acceptable when embarking on this kind of pursuit. The opposite is true. In my opinion, those wishing to invest time into any activity must acknowledge the responsibility of educating themselves properly. In other words, I am holding back in order to force you to understand that it falls on you to research these subjects.

Please consider the following.

I started studying nutrition and fitness approximately two years ago. I am an academic and I pursued these topics in the same systematic matter I pursue interests in my own field. My education in nutrition and fitness involved extensive reading, from academic papers to popular books. I also took advantage of the informational flotsam scattered in blogs, wikis, etc. Over time, I amassed large amounts of data and processed it as best I could.

About eight months ago, I came to the conclusion that a Paleo diet and a H.I.T. protocol were worth a shot. This was not the first time that I had put my findings into practice and it would not have been the first time results did not match expectations.

As it happens, this has been the most productive approach so far. Nothing that I found in my research ensured this outcome. Eventually, I had to self-experiment. Educating oneself on the subjects of nutrition and fitness is a never-ending process that holds no guarantees. There are no final words, no dogma or hidden truth, waiting to be discovered. These are not topics that can be resolved like a jigsaw puzzle. This is science and its concern is reality. The amount of complexity involved is, literally, astronomical.

Thus, I make no reference to academic papers or books. I offer no leads. I contend that forcing you to do the footwork will be more helpful to you than trying to tell you what to think. I have made one exception by making explicit reference (several times) to Body by Science. It is a good book but so are many others. Why recommend this one alone? There is no particular reason that would be meaningful to anyone but me.

Last, I cannot emphasize enough how important critical reading is. Never, ever, take for granted the (in)validity of a notion on account of its origins. Focus on what is being said, not on who is saying it. If you are unsure as to how to put this into practice, my advice is that you start by clearly distinguishing what you know from what you believe.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Measurements III

It has been two months since my last measurement. I will use tables from now on since they are easier to figure out at a glance. For instance, it is clear (and remarkable) that my height has not changed a bit.

Height 181 cm
9-30-11 7-27-11 Diff.
Weight 80.3 kg 83.4 kg -3.1 kg
Chest 103 cm 101 cm +2 cm
Arm 33 cm 32.5 cm +0.5 cm
Waist 86 cm 86.5 cm -0.5 cm
Hips 94 cm 94 cm n/c
Thigh 59 cm 61 cm -2 cm

As before, the fat loss is likely to be larger than the weight loss since I have put on a certain amount of muscle. I find interesting, even surprising, the lack of change in hips and waist size (these two months) considering the drop in weight. Where did the loss come from? I guess it is an overall issue. I do look thinner. In fact, it is odd that, based on simple BMI calculations, I am supposed to be borderline obese.

Height 181 cm
9-30-11 5-31-11 Diff.
Weight 80.3 kg 86.9 kg -6.6 kg
Chest 103 cm 100 cm +3 cm
Arm 33 cm 32 cm +1 cm
Waist 86 cm 91 cm -5 cm
Hips 94 cm 102 cm -8 cm
Thigh 59 cm 64 cm -5 cm

The table format is much better. No surprises here. For convenience, the numbers over the last 4 months are shown above.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A 36 hour fast

I have just completed a 36 hour fast. It was neither intended nor motivated by a physical or psychological malady. I fell into it by chance. It happened. The experience has been interesting so I thought I would add it to the blog.

First off, though, I have been doing intermittent fasting since June (I think). It was surprisingly easy to get into and maintain. In fact, I can only say positive things about it. I don't foresee any reason why I should abandon this meal schedule. It is effortless and rewarding.

I should also add that, in my opinion, the reason why IF has come easy to me is because I am doing a Paleo diet. This is not to say that only a Paleo diet works (for this), it simply means that it works (for this). I know that I would have not been able to do IF with my near-vegan or any of my other previous diets. It would have required an amount of determination and will-power that I know I cannot sustain. I know this because, over the years, there have always been occasions when, as in anyone's life, I have been forced to skip meals. It was never easy for me.

Which brings me to the 36 hour fast. Like I said, it wasn't planned. I was distracted, busy, otherwise engaged. There was no stress or hurry. It was simply that by the time I remember it was time to eat, I realized that I was not hungry. So I decided to skip a meal. Skipping a meal lead to skipping another and, before I knew it, I had not eaten during the entire day. I went to bed last night thinking about this. Why am I not feeling hunger pangs? Why did I not feel tired and without energy at any time during the day?

These are important questions because as I said before, we have all been in this kind of situations at one point and another. And, yes, I have had abdominal pain due to insufficient food intake. And, yes, I have experienced lack of energy when I have skipped a meal or meals in the past. In fact, I can remember situations when I "survived" from energy bar to energy bar.

So, again, why did I not have any of these symptoms yesterday?

I can only say that it appears that the Paleo diet allows me to manage my metabolism (food-wise) with more freedom than the previous diets that I have had over the years.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Template menu 0.4

I have come to the conclusion that the cocoa at night could be upsetting my sleep. A few days ago, I decided to switch breakfast with dinner. There are no other changes to the template menu.

  • 2 boiled eggs with 3 teaspoons of homemade mayonnaise.
  • ~200 grams of plain yogurt with a spoon of cocoa powder.

  • ~200 grams of beef or pork.
  • Salad: Lettuce, 1 medium tomato, 1 cucumber, 1 medium onion (sautéed with a tablespoon of butter), and 3 tablespoons of homemade mayonnaise as dressing.

  • 1 egg omelet.
  • ~200 grams of fish (pan-fried butter).

I am no longer engaged in the social event that brought about the somewhat insane weekly meal. This means that in a few weeks I should be completely off non-paleo foodstuffs.

On a different subject, I prefer not to throw away food and, well, I have a little dilemma. I have just found 9 liters of juice that will go bad in a few weeks. This is a special juice made from 18 different vegetables and fruits, purportedly 100% natural. During my years-long near-vegan diet, I thought this juice was great because it includes a handful of unusual veggies and fruits (e.g. purple carrots) that I would never be able to purchase fresh.

In any case, the juice is going bad so I have decided to drink it up rather than pitch it. After considering the options, I have finally settled on the following approach. I am going to do an all-day fruit-juice-athon tomorrow. I will, of course, respect the intermittent fasting window. If I survive the fructose overload, I will do this twice more, once a week, over the next two weeks. That should take care of all the juice. We will see what effects this "sugar trauma" will have on my weight as well as strength and stamina levels.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

VIII H.I.T. report

Yesterday I completed my 5th workout in a gym. It has become clear that high intensity training demands specialized equipment. This was not apparent to me before. In fact, it is the case that my home gym was perfectly adequate for my perfectly inadequate old routine.

The gym. Let's see. It is relatively well equipped, relatively uncrowded, relatively inexpensive, relatively nearby. In short, it is not perfect but it will do.

My progress has been impressive. I can now perform all big five exercises properly. My form has improved and so has my confidence regarding injury-free performance. This is crucial because I am already lifting poundage that sometimes frightens me. My leg press is over 300 pounds. There are times I think I am dreaming when I see a huge stack of weights going up and down.

Delusional as it sounds, I can realistically say that there will be a time in the not-too-distant future when I will max out some of the machines.

I am now working on disposition as I feel it is my weakest point. Motivationally, I am solid. However, I know that a change in attitude would improve my physical performance. This is fine tuning, of course. Still, when you are working at the edge of your capacity from the very first rep and when you are going all the way to momentary muscle failure, you need every asset you can muster.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Positive failure

The idea of working a set of repetitions to the point of muscle failure has been around for decades. The claim is that this practice maximizes the rate of muscle growth. The claim is that a lack of sufficient intensity of effort will only tire you and trigger no development.

It should be said that working to failure is anything but easy. For example, I have found that I didn't actually know what it really meant until quite recently. The reason is that, as an unassisted beginner, I first had to overcome deficits in my ability to deliver intensity of effort (form, unknown personal limits, etc). This was in no way apparent to me early on and meant that, although I was working to the point of failure, I was not able to give everything I had even if I wanted to. I had to learn to do so. This is OK but something to expect and look for. Why?

Because gradually I got to the point when I could put more into an exercise but didn't. I had fallen prey to another difficulty of working to failure, the rut. Pushing oneself to the limit every single time is, as someone put it, masochistic and counterintuitive. Here is an example:

Imagine you take a math test and you fail it. The score tells you know some math but not enough. That's OK. You study more and retake the test. The thing is that the test has become harder and you fail it again. The score tells that you know more math than before but still not enough. Imagine this situation going on indefinitely. You will become very, very good at math but you will fail the tests nonetheless.

Working to muscle failure means that, no matter how strong you get, you will never pass the test that you put your body through. In fact, that is precisely the objective. You don't want your metabolism to ever consider that it can handle the "situation" it is faced with. Rather, you want your metabolism to always "think" it needs to grow more muscle in order to match environmental demands.

You fall into a rut when you fail to challenge yourself sufficiently, when the test you put your body through is not demanding enough.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Template menu 0.3

The diet I am following is working well. I don't feel hungry or lack energy.

There have only been small changes, as I expected. I have been keen for a while on replacing the 3 satsuma age with real fish. I have finally been able to do it. I have also eliminated the bacon since I eat meat every day.

  • 1 egg omelet.
  • ~200 grams fish (pan-fried butter).

  • ~200 grams of beef or pork.
  • Salad: Lettuce, 1 medium tomato, 1 cucumber, 1 medium onion (sautéed with a tablespoon of butter), and 3 tablespoons of homemade mayonnaise as dressing.

  • 2 boiled eggs with 3 teaspoons of homemade mayonnaise.
  • ~200 grams of plain yogurt with a spoon of cocoa powder.

The weight loss continues. It is a gradual process and I have ceased to be concerned about it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

VII H.I.T. report

I did my last workout at home yesterday. From next week on, I will be going to a gym. I expect this will allow me to push harder and get greater benefits out of each session. If this is not the case, I will go back to working out at home.

As I was looking at my H.I.T. sheet, I counted 10 workouts in 11 weeks (I traded one WoW for an enduro day). I would be lying if I said that I am not astonished by the progression. I am fitter than I have ever been. It's almost absurd. Ten workouts amount to about 3 hours of exercise for me. Before I started this protocol, I would invest that much time in less than a week and all I accomplished was to wear myself down. Ridiculous.

My performance on yesterday's session was below my expectations. Fortunately, I know the cause of the problem. I did not rest properly. I have been too enthusiastic about sprinting, walks, and strong kicks. I did not give my body enough time to recover. The end result is that I failed to inroad. It is true that I didn't regress, though. My strength is still there. But I was not able to improve on my previous TUL's.

Next time, I will.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Measurements II

Almost two months have passed since I recorded my size (see Measurements).

This is where I am today:
  • Height: 181 cm.
  • Weight: 83.4 kg (-3.5 kg).
  • Chest: 101 cm (+1 cm).
  • Arm: 32.5 cm (+0.5 cm).
  • Waist: 86.5 cm (-4.5 cm).
  • Hips: 94 cm (-8 cm).
  • Thigh: 61 cm (-3 cm).

The fat loss is likely to be larger than the weight loss since I am quite confident I have developed at least a little bit of muscle.

The numbers show a general decline in size as I become leaner. My muscle tone has improved significantly and it would be easy to think I have gained more mass than I actually have. Looks are on my side but deceiving nonetheless.

I am clearly stronger and fitter. Although I still have reservations regarding the health aspects of the paleo diet (I bought more multi-mineral/vitamin and fish oil supplements), I have to give a thumbs up to the HIT protocol as outlined in Body by Science. In these two months I have achieved more than in the previous two years. I'm sold... and I have yet to get to a gym and work with proper equipment.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kicking a ball ~ sprinting

By '~', I mean 'roughly similar'. This has been my experience.

Two, three times a week I go for a one hour walk... or, rather, a stroll. There is a clearing in a nearby forest large enough to fit a stadium in it. The ground has been flattened and covered with fine dirt. It is sufficiently large to be used for games that require fields and some people use it just for that reason. There are no stands or anything blocking the view. The forest makes the edge of the clearing and it is a very pleasant and quiet place to spend a while enjoying nature in peace.

It takes me about 4-5 minutes to slowly walk the clearing long-wise. I choose to come here rather than the hills because it is a location where it is comparatively difficult to injure oneself. Walking over flat, even ground, is quite safe compared to hiking.

To the point.

A month ago, I bought a ball. It is similar to a soccer ball except that it is somewhat smaller and softer. The idea was that it would help me "break my step". By this I mean that I would go about kicking the ball softly and, in this manner, I would be forced to adjust my stride every so often. Think of it as a cheap imitation of walking over uneven terrain.

Now, I have never played soccer before so the first consequence of this addition to my strolling routine was that I would continuously zigzag chasing the ball around. It seemed impossible for me to kick it straight. This, of course, was fine. If instead of 5 minutes, it took me 10 to stroll across the clearing, so what?

After a while, I got better at kicking the ball so that it would roll in front of me if I wanted it to. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I actually hit it hard. I was surprised at the results for two reasons: first, it was a very difficult thing to do well; second, the before-during-after feeling in my leg muscles was very similar to that of sprinting.

I have been practicing my strong kick since then. Unsurprisingly, it is a considerably difficult thing to do adequately. As always, acquiring proper form takes time. However, as my form has improved, so has my ability to kick harder and harder. The feeling of sprinting is also getting stronger and stronger.

So, there. It is clearly anecdotal (n=1, as is fashionable among goofs nowadays) but it is what I am doing for exercise. Thus, it goes into the blog. When I walk, I kick a ball.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cheats and the 80/100 rule

Neither are of my liking.

Cheating implies that one, somehow, would prefer to eat something other than what one is "allowed" but one doesn't, generally, unless the craving is very, very, very strong, in which case, one's willpower momentarily banishes and one cheats by indulging in "forbidden" ambrosias.

It seems to me that the "cheat" menace is what has motivated the formulation of the 80/100 rule which, more or less, claims that if one is on the right path 80% of the time, one gets 100% of the benefit.

Well, like I said, neither concept works for me (they might work for others, of course). Thus, I don't cheat or shoot for 80%. What I have detailed in the blog is exactly what I eat.

There are only two exceptions, both of which I have mentioned in passing before and that I will now elaborate on.

First, I use what I call "crutches" in order to transition into a new set of circumstances. For example, intermittent fasting (IF) was a big unknown, that is, I didn't know what to expect. Therefore, I started IF by breaking the fast with a cup of consommé when I felt the hunger became unhealthy. I only did this three or four times, until my body accepted the new feeding schedule. (Note: together with sprinting, IF has turned out to be the best discovery of this particular journey).

Second, I eat out once a week. This is a kind of social event (therefore, somewhat bizarre by nature) that I am at present engaged in. There will be time when I don't have to do this any more but I must say that, for the entire time that I have been on a paleo diet, I have had this once-a-week peculiar meal.

And the meal is peculiar, indeed. Take note. I can eat as much as I want of the following although I generally eat what is listed below and in the order it is listed:

1. Two servings of fruit gelatin swimming in sweetened heavy cream.
2. Two slices of fresh pineapple.
3. Salad: lettuce, onion, tomato, bacon bits, Parmesan, and a flood of some unknown kind of creamy dressing.
4. Egg drop soup.
5. White bread (~200 grams).
6. A burger patty and an open chicken thigh, both broiled on a fire pit (~250 grams together).
7. Apple pie and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
8. Two slices of fresh pineapple.

It is easily the largest meal of the week (I struggle at times). Also, it has so many ingredients that are not paleo that it would be a waste of time to try to enumerate them.

I believe my entire diet is now "on the record". I will continue to fine-tune the template menu but there should not be any major changes...

Friday, July 8, 2011

VI H.I.T. report

As with sprinting, I have been focusing a lot of my attention on my form. This is essential. While it is true that I am lifting heavy for my current capacity, the time will come when I will be lifting true weight, the kind of weight that can cause a serious injury if I have not learned to control my form. I must, therefore, improve it and I have very consciously been endeavoring to do so.

Consequently, I am now able to go through the exercises with a greater degree of confidence. My muscles are working more efficiently and my movement, particularly the positive motion and turnaround, is cleaner from a biomechanics point of view. This means that my joints are not put under the stress that is the job of the muscles to adsorb and manage. I am gradually becoming less prone to injury.

The downside of this favorable evolution is that I am out-growing my home equipment much faster than I expected. Out of the "big five" exercises, I cannot do three in what I consider satisfactory conditions. These are the leg press, the chess press, and the seated row. For leg presses, I am doing barbell squats. Since everything I do is unassisted, I cannot really push it to positive failure or in weight. For the chess press, I am using the Total Trainer. The problem here is that, even using a minimal incline, my form becomes compromised. I have tried everything I can think of but I cannot see how to fix this. For the seated row, I am also using the TT. The problem here is the opposite. I have the machine on the maximum incline and it is still not enough resistance. I am forced to put additional free weights on the TT but, to be honest, it is a pain to do it for just one exercise. This leaves two of the "big five" exercises, the overhead press and the pulldown, which I can do well. For these two, I use the TT and I can still add more resistance.

I have mentioned before that I round off each session with a few additional exercises. Usually, these are incline chest flies (dumbbells), seated biceps curls (TT), and "shoulder extensions" (TT). I perform these to positive failure but don't jot down the TUL's.

My failure to properly carry out all of the "big five" is a definite problem. I rest for a week to then push myself on a workout session. Yet, when the time comes, I am unable to seriously commit to all exercises. Simply put, the session is a wasted opportunity to the extent that it is inefficient. I am thus forced to trade the convenience of working out at home in exchange for the effectiveness of using adequate equipment at a gym.

I plan to do the transition in August.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sprinting III

I never liked running. I found it painful and boring.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I enjoy sprinting.

I have been doing sprints for about a month now, never more than once or twice a week. Still, the progress has been steady. I first concentrated on my foot work because, believe or not, it was not certain that I wouldn't trip over myself. I then focused on lengthening my stride. This week, I have tried to release tension from my shoulders. The overall package is looking good. I am beginning to feel confident on my feet.

Tonight, I again sprinted a dozen times or so. I was able to push my speed up another notch. It is interesting (to me) that it seems I could always run a little quicker than I actually do. The acquisition of the skill has unleashed a source of strength that I didn't know I had.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Template menu 0.2

My menu is gradually improving. For starters, I have gotten used to eat meat again. I now have a steak, or pork chops, or a hamburger daily. Once a week, I might also eat chicken. I don't eat fruit more than once or twice a week.

Since I started the intermittent fasting, the weight loss has resumed. I am now in the 84s, about 2 kilos below the plateau.

  • 1 egg omelet.
  • 2 slices of bacon.
  • 3 satsuma age (pan-fried with a tablespoon of butter).

  • ~150 grams of beef or pork.
  • Salad: Lettuce, 1 medium tomato, 1 cucumber, 1 medium onion (sautéed with a tablespoon of butter) , salt, extra virgin olive oil, 1 spoon of mashed fresh garlic, 1 spoon of mashed fresh ginger, and parsley.

  • 2 boiled eggs.
  • ~200 grams of plain yogurt with a spoon of cocoa powder.

I should say that there are times when I feel hungry and that there are times when I feel like I'm eating too much. Nonetheless, I am respecting both the menu and the "feeding window".

I am aware that I am consuming a smaller volume of food than I did before. This is to be expected and it is happening naturally.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

V H.I.T. report

I've done a couple of sessions since the last post. I am beginning to feel comfortable with the exercises. This helps a lot, as anyone that has done any kind of training knows. Achieving a degree of familiarity with the movements is always welcome.

It is interesting (to me) that, when I started the blog, I thought it would be helpful to others if I posted how much weight I'm lifting. It has become clear this is not the case. Each person should do as it is within their capacity.

This is the equipment that I have at home and use:

- Two sets of dumbbells and a barbell. I can load these with about 20 different weights that, together, add up to approximately 50 kilos.

- An old Total Trainer model I picked up somewhere over 10 years ago.

That's it.

It has already become evident that this equipment is not the most suitable to be lifting heavy on your own. However, I think it is sufficiently adequate at this point. I am not going to buy any more equipment. If a time comes when I require additional or different equipment, I will see about a gym.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Intermittent fasting

I have been curious about fasting for a long, long time. I cannot say where the interest comes from but I can say that I have never acted on it. Well, I seem to have come to the resolution that the time to fast has come.

First things first, though. My weight continues in the high 86's and low 87's kilos. This has been going on for a couple of weeks and it is a bit of a surprise. Before this, I was losing over a kilo a week and a total of 6 kilos in a month. Looking back at my diet, the most visible change was the addition of meat. I can only guess that this was the factor that put me over my calorie threshold.

It is also the case that there have been days when I felt I could have eaten less. Therefore, I have dropped the mid-afternoon snack (banana-whey smoothie). Also, I have let go of the kiwi after dinner. Regarding meat, I have only 5 servings for this week which means that the last two days of the week I will be eating something else... possibly fruit since it is now out the menu.

Yes. The intermittent fasting. It is all about narrowing the "feeding window". Specifically, I am going to attempt to go on a 16/8 pattern. This means that I will have my first meal of the day at 10am, my main meal at 2pm, and my last meal at 6pm. If I get hungry, I will have a cup of consommé.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

IV H.I.T. report

The fourth report coincides with the fourth session. This may not be the case in the future.

I wish I could say that I feel significantly stronger but I don't. After four H.I.T. sessions (and, therefore, a 3 week period), I have not been able to increase the amount of weight I lift. In fact, I have actually reduced the amount of weight in each exercise in order to be able to focus on form and performing slow motions.

However, it would be a lie to say that I feel worse off than when I exercised two, three times a week for an hour each time. The biggest difference is, perhaps, that I don't feel as tired as I did before. The extended recovery is helping.

It is worth mentioning that I continue to be impatient in regards to results. Of course, I know it is unreasonable to expect noticeable improvements in less than a month no matter the training regime. Besides, I am in my forties. The only miracle left is death.

I need to change my workout day from Tuesday to Friday. This means that this week I will do two H.I.T. sessions. I wonder how this will turn out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sprinting II

A second attempt at sprinting has been rewarding. I didn't stumble. I felt strong on my legs and was able to progress in speed. In fact, this is the fastest I've been on my feet in over two decades. Strange thought.

My first run was careful and deliberate. I wanted to make sure that I had not forgotten the form I had learned in my first sprinting tryout. I discovered that I had not. This allowed me to concentrate on elongating my stride and speeding up in successive tries.

I ran back and forth a dozen and a half times. Although I went faster and faster each time, I did not reach top speed. I will leave this for a time when I feel more confident on my running skills. I know this sounds odd but this is how it is.

I didn't sweat or was out of breath at any point. The reason must be that I don't run for more than 40-50 meters at a time. By the time I reached top speed, I was ready to start slowing down.

There is something else worth reporting. Since a few months ago, I have been suffering from pain in my knee joints. It has been something gradual and has never become an issue that requires even the most innocent medication. I attributed the pain to aging as well as wear from intense cycling in my late teens. Well, the pain is gone at the moment. Since I started sprinting, I have noticed that I am walking slightly different. I seem to put less weight on my joints and rely more on my thigh muscles.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Template menu 0.1

I have updated my diet to include a substantial amount of meat (for me). It is an improvement over my original menu and, I feel, it takes me closer to a true paleo diet.

  • 1 egg omelet.
  • 2 slices of bacon. 
  • 3 satsuma age (pan-fried with a tablespoon of butter).

  • ~100 gram hamburger. 
  • Salad: Lettuce, 1 medium tomato, 1 cucumber, 1 medium onion (sautéed with a tablespoon of butter) , salt, extra virgin olive oil, 1 spoon of mashed fresh garlic, 1 spoon of mashed fresh ginger, and parsley.

  • Blended drink:  1 banana, 2 spoons of whey protein, and ~200 ml of milk.  

  • 2 boiled eggs.
  • 1 sausage.
  • 1 yellow kiwi. 

  • 225 grams of plain yogurt with 2 spoons of pure cocoa.

I should say that I had not lost weight this week. It is the first time this happens since I started the paleo diet. This could be a negative consequence of the evolution of the diet (wrong nutrients) or a positive effect of the H.I.T. protocol (muscle development). Somehow, I doubt both explanations. I will therefore wait another week before making any changes. If the weight loss does not resume, I will make changes to the menu.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Third H.I.T. session

I did my third H.I.T. session today. I then took a shower, ate lunch, and slept a 1 hour nap. After dinner, I went for a 2 hour hike.

I'm still disappointed with my performance and the reasons have not changed (see Second H.I.T. session). I am used to explosive movements and I struggle when I try to slow down the motion. Although I'm improving, my T.U.L. is still very erratic. Last, I feel that the additional exercises that follow the "Big five" are where I make the most gains (if any gains are made at all). Plenty of doubts are creeping in.

Nonetheless, I am going to continue with the H.I.T. protocol. I am not giving up yet. It is important to remember that, for a long time, I did two or three regular workouts a week and I was still out of shape and overweight.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I've decided that I will add sprinting to my fitness routine. The problem is that, at this point, I know I cannot even run.

Fifteen years ago, I tried to jog and nearly tripped over myself. At the time, it had been 10 years since I had finished high-school and as many years since I had last run. The greatest obstacle was not lack of strength or being short of breath. Rather, I found (to my surprise) that I did not have the coordination anymore. Somehow I had forgotten how to run.

With these thoughts in mind, I went to a playground nearby yesterday. I chose an arbitrary 40-50 meters of level ground and carefully broke into a run. It was uncomfortable. I quickly noticed I was doing many things wrong. For instance, I was running on the tips of my toes. Why? I have no idea. At each step, my skeleton seemed to be crashing against the ground. I must have looked quite ridiculous too.

I decided to focus on form before anything else. I would break into a run and return walking. Gradually, my feet were landing correctly, heel first.

I ran back and forth about a dozen times. I never broke into a sweat or was out of breath.

It is progress so I feel I made a good start.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grocery list

With small modifications, the template menu is fairly representative of what I'm eating. I only have to update it to include meat.

I figure it could be informative if I go at it from a different perspective. Here I will list what I bought today at the grocery store. I shop once a week and, therefore, the list below is what I'll eat this week.
  • 2 heads of lettuce.
  • 6 tomatoes.
  • 6 onions.
  • 6 cucumbers. 
  • 6 bananas.
  • 400 grams of butter.
  • 600 grams of ground meat.
  • 100 grams of bacon. 
  • 7 x 225 grams of plain yogurt.
  • 20 eggs.
  • 21 satusma age (see template menu).
  • 2 liters of soy milk.

I think that's all. I will make 6 salads and 6 hamburgers (I eat out once a week). Breakfast, dinner, and snacks are as shown in the template menu.

Although this grocery list matches quite closely what I will eat, it is evident that there are some things I don't buy every week. For instance, I buy olive oil in 5 liter cans and I don't go through that much in a week. Same goes for garlic, ginger, or cocoa powder.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It turns out I reported the wrong measures in this post.

This is what I have to work with:
  • Height: 181 cm.
  • Weight: 86.9 kg.
  • Chest: 100 cm.
  • Arm: 32 cm.
  • Waist: 91 cm.
  • Hips: 102 cm.
  • Thigh: 64 cm.

The weight has dropped at about 100 grams a day, a bit less than before. It appears the rate of loss is slowing down.

It should also point out that I'm not going hungry. The diet part of "Paleo diet" simply refers to the kind of meals that I eat, not to the amount.


I have already mentioned that I add whey protein powder to a banana and soy milk drink. I have a bag of 1 kg.

I also take fish oil and multi vitamin/mineral supplements. I have enough for 5 more weeks.

I do not have plans to continue taking these supplements when I run out of them. I think of them as helping me with the transition to a Paleo diet since, as explained in this post, I do not eat sufficient meat yet.


Eating meat seems to be at the center of the Paleo diet. This is somewhat difficult for me. Since a few years back, I've been eating less and less meat. Nowadays, I only eat meat perhaps once a week. The template menu reflects this.

I have added protein where I can. I eat at least 3 eggs a day, 6 pieces of fish in the form of satsuma age (see template menu), as much butter as I can, and a couple scoops of whey protein every day.

I bought chicken this week but it hasn't worked out. I don't enjoy cooking it.

At this point, I think the best option for me is to buy ground meat and prepare hamburger patties. My goal is to have one serving per day.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Second H.I.T. session

My performance is still disappointing. Slow movements are difficult to execute, specially since I still don't have the weights right.

As last week, I feel like I have not done enough.

As last week, I will nonetheless respect the 7-day rest period. It is difficult but it is the only thing I can do correctly.

It must be said that working alone naturally adds complication. Also, I only have limited equipment at home. I will post which later on.

I did the "Big five" the first session. I recovered quickly. It is likely that the reason was that I was all over the place. My T.U.L. was erratic. In some exercises, I held on for 300 secs while in others I could only manage 20 secs.

For this session, I modified the order of the "Big five" to even things out. I started with the exercises with my shortest T.U.L. and moved on from there. I also did better at guessing the weights. I finished the session by performing a few additional exercises until what I make out to be "positive failure" in each.

Summing up, some improvement but still seriously lacking.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Near the onset of diet and training

This post has been superseded by this one.

This is what I have to work with:
  • Height: 181 cm.
  • Weight: 87.3 kg. I started the Paleo diet at 93~94 kg 4 weeks before this post. My ideal weight should be 78~80 kg.
I don't expect significant muscle gains. However, H.I.T. emphasizes this and claims that shape will be more telling than weight. Therefore, I will use the following to track progress:
  • Chest: 102 cm.
  • Arm: 34 cm.
  • Waist: 98 cm.
  • Hips: 101 cm.
  • Thigh: 64 cm.
The arm and thigh have been measured at their widest point. I have relatively large legs due to cycling 20 years ago. Beyond this, I am not muscular in any way.

Template menu

This post has been superseded by this one.

I can eat the same menu day after day for months… until I get sick of it. The following will serve as my template menu. I will report when I deviate from it.

Breakfast: 1-egg omelet and three satsuma age (pan-fried with a tablespoon of butter).

Lunch: Big salad. Lettuce, 1 medium tomato, 1 cucumber, 1 medium onion (sautéed with a tablespoon of butter) , salt, extra virgin olive oil, and 2 spoons of garlic/ginger/parsley paste (see below).

Snack: A blended drink with a banana, 2 spoons of whey protein, and a small glass of soy milk (enough to liquefy the mix).

Dinner: Two boiled eggs. One raw medium carrot and a dip made of cream cheese (2 spoons), butter (1 spoon), and 1 spoon of garlic/ginger/parsley paste (see below).

Snack: 225 grams of plain yogurt with 1 spoon of pure cocoa and 1 spoon of chocolate drink mix.

I make the garlic/ginger/parsley paste with 3 heads of garlic, 150-200 grams of raw ginger, a bunch of fresh parsley, and extra virgin olive oil. I mix it in a food processor gradually adding olive oil. It lasts for weeks in the refrigerator.