measures

Weighed in today, first time in two weeks. Obviously, the additional carbs in my diet, combined with seriously out of control cheating sessions every weekend for the past three weekends, has resulted in some unintended weight gain. I am about 5 pounds above where I want to be, although most of the gains would appear to be lean mass.

Body Measurements
Weight Observed

Suprailliac Skinfold

Body Fat %

Fat Mass

Lean Mass
188.0 lbs

6 mm +

11.5%

21.6 lbs

166.4 lbs

I should not worry… continuing evidence of progress in the gym and on the street means that I am getting stronger and faster not fatter. Still, I am going to batten down the dietary hatches for the next 4 weeks, and get my weight down below 185 again, where it belongs.

I think it is fascinating that I weighed in at 8.5 lbs more than 3 weeks ago, and that my calipers suggest that the weight is mostly lean. That’s a pretty rapid gain of five pounds of muscle! If that’s what it is.

Cautiously optimistic, I’ll not be upset about these numbers. I’ll simply make sure that I remain as focused as I can.

I’m in training here, for the Carolina Fitness Challenge. 27 days to go. I’d like to be right around 182-183 lbs for the competition, but I would not want to sacrifice even an ounce of lean mass in getting down those 5-6 pounds.

I am going to take the following steps. You read it here first.

  1. Eliminate Cheating. No excuses. (Except for Thanksgiving, folks!) That means: no more sugar! At all. That includes chocolate. No more gluten (beer included). And no more marginal foods (e.g. corn and beans).

  2. Fast 14 hours daily. Returning here to my strict practice of recent weeks. This includes Fridays and Saturdays.
  3. I am going to try one whole week of strict “Zone” dieting, Nov. 15 to 21. That’s super strict “Zone” dieting, BTW, with only 1x fat. The goal is to see how much weight strips off when I reduce calories to classic Zone Rx. I am using 24 blocks as my Rx (that’s 1g protein per lb of lean mass). So, 168g protein per day, 72g of fat, 240g of carbs. This will be consumed in 4-5 meals, but consumed between 8 am and 6 pm. The meals will have to be pretty big, 5-6 block affairs. I will BLOG my food daily to keep this pledge. It’ll be an interesting test of my capacity to limit myself. I will use fruit and starches to reach the carb totals. I am not worried about not being in ketosis because I’m fasting daily and working my tail off in the gym.
  4. After Nov. 21st, one big cheat on Thanksgiving. But otherwise, return to my normal ketogenic, cyclic low carb, 95% paleo, ad libitum diet.
  5. STRICT “never on a school night” living here, except for Thanksgiving day (which is not a school night, BTW). But also! Another rule! No alcohol on the weekend of Dec. 3-4 or on Friday, Dec. 10th. That’ll be tough but my body will thank me come Dec. 11th. (It will also thank me at the Jingle Bell 5k on Dec. 4th).

check in: plan HTFU and body measures

I took Friday off from the WOD, and skipped my 5k sprint work and the WOD on Saturday. I’m damn glad I did. By Thursday morning this past week I was so wrecked from lack of sleep and general central nervous system overload (caused by excessive working out but also by stress from family and work) that I couldn’t help but acknowledge that I really needed more rest. So I took it.

Now, here at the end of the weekend, on Sunday night, after three days without working out, I feel ready to get back to training hard starting tomorrow morning. It’s amazing what a couple of days off can do to fire me up these days.

So, “Plan HTFU” is still in full effect. Taking extra rest days as needed DOES NOT CANCEL the plan. For this upcoming week the training schedule is as follows:

Mon: CFA Strength & WOD + Additional Push-Ups and Pull-Ups; Tue: 5k walk/sprint workout & deadlifts or other strength set at CFA; Wed: CFA Strength & WOD + Additional Push & Pull; Thu: 1 mile run, Back Squat, and Manual Therapy; Fri: CFA Strength & WOD; Sat: Haywood Heroes 5k in Canton, NC.

Just looking at the plan I know I’m going to be wrecked by Saturday AM, but I’ll take an additional rest day or two (e.g. Tue and Fri) the following week.

This Week’s Body Measurements
Weight Observed

Suprailliac Skinfold

Body Fat %

Fat Mass

Lean Mass
182.5

4-6 mm

11.5%

21 lbs

161.5

Depending on your point of view on these things, I managed to maintain weight, or gain weight, this week, weighing in three pounds heavier than last, but at the same BF % as measured by this skinfold technique, which is new to me. At some point I’ll discuss and possibly post pictures illustrating it on myself. Actually the skinfold measure for this week was less than last week (more like 5 mm) but my instrument has marks only at 2, 4 and 6 mm, so, unless I clearly get down to 4mm I will just round it up to 6.

I view this mild weight gain from last week as weight maintenance because I have the long view, and 182.5 is about even with the long term average I am working on. (See my weight chart for details.) I had to eat myself almost sick to get this result, and I had one ridiculously out of control episode of cheating during the week, on Friday night.

What happened on the cheat was this. From Thursday to Friday, I did my usual 14 hour fast, and then started the day with a big breakfast. But then, probably because I skipped the workout on Friday morning, I simply forgot to eat my lunch. That’s kind of an unusual thing for me. I was busy and had meetings straight through the day, but even so, normally I’m so hungry that I would never miss the mid-day meal. But Friday I did. Then, after work, at about 5:30 pm I met up with Yael and the kids at a family friendly Italian place near our home, Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian, on Merrimon. I was ravenous; it had been 8 hours since my last meal. I chose the location, because they have unusually paleo-friendly grill menu items (e.g. grilled chicken breasts w/ spinach and broccoli for sides). Initially, I had no intention to cheat (other than my usual self-indulgence of some booze on a weekend night). But… I had two martinis and ordered the steak with goronzola (so what? a dairy cheat, no big deal right? after all, it was Friday and I was drinking, so why not allow some cheese?). So when we got home I was buzzed and mentally out of the paleo groove and definitely not in my best judgment.

On the stove-top, still sitting on the sheets, there were some crappy home baked Chocolate chip cookies made from industrial processed pre-made cookie dough (a neighborhood kid sold it to my wife as a fundraiser). My wife and daughter had made them during the day. For some reason they were calling out to me. I wanted more calories, and badly. And my normal feeding window was closing fast (it was 7:00 pm, and I intended to be done ingesting calories from food by 7:30 pm). So, anyway, I broke down. I quickly ate several cookies… I am not sure why. But that opened the floodgates. I started raiding the kitchen for sugar and excess calories. I found some Nutella spread and put that between two halves of one cookie; that tasted a lot better than the crappy cookies did on their own. Then I raided some remains of a dark chocolate my wife had left uneaten for weeks; then consumed another fundraising item, a milk chocolate with almonds bar. I topped it all off with a protein shake made with strawberries, honey, whey and coconut milk (in case I didn’t have enough calories?).

Of course, I felt like shit the next day. Partly, this was a sense of guilt… this was a second big cheating episode in as many weekends! But, as my weigh in today showed, I’m none the worse for wear in terms of overall body composition goals. I guess that’s because I continue to follow my 12-14 hour daily fast (in fact, from Saturday to Sunday I did 16 hours, 6:00 pm to 10:00 am) and to emphasize food quality, staying gluten, sugar, and dairy free (except for whey protein) all the time … except when I cheat!

Body Check

I didn’t get a chance to weigh in last week, so this weigh in period covers the past two weeks. In that time, I’ve made a few changes to my plans for recording body metrics.

First, I won’t be reporting a body fat percentage based on my Tanita scale’s Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) method, because it’s not accurate enough for a man of my age, size, activity level, and current level of body composition. Instead, I’ve switched to using a suprailliac skin-fold caliper method (with flattering results, I might add).

Second, I am going to periodically (every 4 weeks, starting today) record measurements for the following body parts: shoulders and chest (girth), bicep, thigh, umbilical waistline.

Body Measurements
Weight Observed

Suprailliac Skinfold

Body Fat %

Fat Mass

Lean Mass

Umbilical

Bicep

Thigh

Shoulder/Chest
179.5 lbs

6 mm

11.5%

20.5 lbs

159 lbs

34 1/4″

12 3/8″

21 5/8″

46 3/16″

Basically, I don’t have data to compare the measurements with, and since my body fat measurement method has changed, all previous data is incommensurate with these numbers. I’ll have to start fresh. What I do know is that I have, against my will, lost about 3-4 pounds in the past two to three weeks. I need to EAT MORE! That’s good news. I will be upping my carb intake over the next few weeks as I try to maintain my weight between 180–183 lbs.

I’d like to see continued improvement in the skinfold measurement numbers, but I don’t expect much change, to be honest. I think perhaps the other body measures might reveal some interesting changes. But I am going to hold off taking those measurements to once a month, since such changes tend to be slow.

Weekend Weigh-In

Weight Measurements Saturday and Sunday Oct. 9-10
Weight Observed Body Fat % Implied Fat Mass Implied Lean Mass Comment
184.5 lbs 15% 28 lbs 156.5 lbs Saturday mid-day, post-sprints, post-hydration, breakfast, etc.
182 lbs 14% 25.5 lbs 156.5 lbs Later on Saturday.
182.5 15% 27.5 155 Sunday mid-day; low activity level.
182 14% 25.5 156.5 Sunday afternoon!
183 14% 26 157 Sunday evening!

There doesn’t seem to have been any significant change in my body composition this week, which is fine by me. I’ve seen the 184.5 @ 15% data point before (two weeks ago), and also the 182 @ 14% (three weeks ago). The latter data point was a welcome sign.

This week I took it a bit easier in the gym — this was for the purpose of injury sef-care but it had the side-benefit of giving me lower stress hormone levels and leaving me with less DOMS and more energy for daily life. I continued to eat a moderate carb “paleo” diet. However, I pigged out on Friday and Saturday. A “re-feed” I called it, although my “re-feed” was much higher fat than the kind usually recommended by the diet gurus.

What is a re-feed, or refeed? Various threads of the alternative-fitness community recommend refeeds as a way to retain leptin sensitivity and otherwise counteract a slowdown in metabolism or unwanted plateaus that occur in long-term carb- or calorie- restricted diets (see, for examples: here, here, or here).

A cheat day is a kind of refeed but, not a good one. Another approach is to stick with quality foods but dramatically up the carb content during refeeds. According to Martin Berkhan and others, a refeed should be largely low-fat and high-carb; I think this work comes ultimately from the anecdotal n=1 and clinical experience of an author named Lyle McDonald (see here for more details).

My 48 hour refeed was basically “paleo”/”primal” plus alcohol. From Thursday night to Saturday night I upped my intake of protein (mostly in the form of lots of chicken), and also ate more starches and carbs, especially in the morning, in the form of potatoes and sweet potatoes. On Thursday night I had a small serving of homemade buttermilk ice-cream at a picnic… my first taste of refined sugar and dairy cream in about 2 months. There was alcohol — including beer — on Friday and Saturday nights. Also, on Saturday after dinner I ate boatloads of fat (prosciutto, coconut, cacao, and almonds), added extra fruit carbs (watermelon and apple), and loaded up on protein (whey, ham, etc).

Even one bite of sugar trips off cravings; that ice-cream on Thursday was a special exception to my sugar ban and three days later I am still jonesing for more.

Second Thoughts on the Tanita

Recently, I have become more aware of how many folks (such as Robb Wolf) really distrust and criticize the accuracy of bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) as a way to measure body fat.

Apparently, because carb-restricted diets have a diuretic effect, and since relative hydration is the main confounding factor in using a BIA scale to measure body fat, the very fact that you might be restricting carbs could mess up the measurement. Then, you also have to consider the fact that the typical BIA scale uses internal tables of correspondence to estimate body fat %, and those tables are not based on the correspondence of impedance measurements and body fat % in athletic individuals who are already lean. The tables might work well to estimate body fat for individuals in the 20-35% range. But for healthy or lean adult males already below 15% body fat, the scales just aren’t accurate; and this effect may be magnified if you are physically active, or on a paleo- or carb-restricted diets.

So I’ve been thinking about investing in some calipers, since I care about this shit. What do you think, dear reader? (see here for an example product).

Sunday Weigh-In

Apparently not a good week for me, body composition wise. It’s very hard to tell, but one thing I notice is that, once again, I wasn’t able to observe a 14% reading. So I have apparently gained a bit of fat in the past two weeks.

Weight Measurements Sunday Oct. 3rd 2010
Weight Observed Body Fat % Implied Fat Mass Implied Lean Mass Comment
182 lbs 16% 29.5 lbs 152.5 lbs Also saw 17% at this weight (in AM); also saw 181 and 180.5 at 16% percent.
182 lbs 15% 27.5 lbs 154.5 lbs Best data point for day, not too bad compared to last week’s data point (which was an outlier).

Although I was well hydrated and rested, and ate light all day, while staying active doing chores and yard work, I could not get a lower BF % reading. Implies a net gain in fat over the past few weeks.

Fat Weekend

Belated weigh-in numbers. They weren’t so hot. This is one week after the Half Marathon, a week of less working out, and the reintroduction of alcohol to my diet.

Weight Measurements Sep. 25-27 2010
Weight Observed Body Fat % Implied Fat Mass Implied Lean Mass Comment
179 lbs 14% 25 lbs 154 lbs Saturday weight; Not a likely result.
184.5 lbs 15% 28 lbs 156.5 lbs Sunday night. Highest amount of lean measured.
183.5 lbs 15% 27.5 lbs 156 lbs Monday AM

Saturday afternoon I was lighter by far (and likely more dehydrated) than I had been the previous week. But after 24 hours of gorging myself on meat and potatoes over Saturday night and all day Sunday, along with the alcohol of Friday and Saturday, it looks like I might indeed have gained a pound or more of fat.

The official weigh-in for the week will be the numbers turned out on Sunday night, when I weighted my bloated, meat-stuffed body before bed.

These numbers are not reliable in any sense, and I think the data point will prove to be an outlier in weeks to come. The reason to choose the number is that it has the highest lean mass associated with it, 1/2 pound more than last week’s weigh in actually. However realistic that may be, I seriously doubt that I gained two pounds of fat over the course of the week. Indeed my observed weight dropped dramatically over the next couple of days.

The Saturday weigh in number has some claim to my attention too; but it suggests a loss of 2.5 lbs of lean and .5 lbs of fat over the week. I could see having lost that much fat, but not that much lean.

The trouble is that I haven’t seen that 14% number since Saturday.

Only time will tell where this is going.

Weight and Comp Check-in

Time for another weigh-in. Looks like I lost a little bit of weight this week, but it will be impossible to tell how much of it was fat for another couple of weeks. Today’s measurements vary wildly because I started out the day with at least 48 oz. of water and a lot of coffee, so I was over hydrated at first.

Weight Measurements Sunday Sep. 12th
Weight Observed Body Fat % Implied Fat Mass Implied Lean Mass Comment
182.5 lbs 16% 29.2 lbs 153.3 lbs After morning fluids and coffee.
180.5 lbs 15% 27.1 lbs 153.4 lbs Mid-morning.
179.5 lbs 14% 25.1 lbs 154.4 lbs Afternoon.
179.0 lbs 14% 25 lbs lbs 154 lbs Before dinner.
181.5 lbs 14% 25.4 lbs 156.1 lbs After dinner.

Weight and Comp

Sunday, Sep. 5th. My goals are: I am trying to maintain my weight at about 180 lbs, while steadily whittling away fat and getting new PRs in the gym. I am finding that I have to eat a LOT of food to stay at this weight. I am probably compromising “fat loss” but I don’t give a rip.

Weight Measurements Sunday Sep. 5th
Weight Observed Body Fat % Implied Fat Mass Implied Lean Mass Comment
180 lbs 15% 27 lbs 153 lbs I felt good not to observe a 16% this week.
180 lbs 14% 25 lbs 155 lbs This weigh-in implies a loss of fat over the past two weeks.

About My Diet

Presently, I am starting week III of “100% Paleo.” What is that? Basically: absolutely no alcohol, grains, legumes, sugars, and processed or over packaged foods; ad libitum green veggies colored veggies — lots of meat and veggies — with a little fruit and some nuts; 3 meals a day, very little snacking, 12 hours of fasting each night; fasted AM training; few to no supplements. I am loving it.

And Your Health?

I do have a bit of a rhinovirus at the moment. Cause, immediately? My 3 year old. And possibly complicated by? Too much stress, too much training, not enough sleep. I am watching it.

Weigh In

Weight Measurements Sunday Aug. 29th
Weight Observed Body Fat % Implied Fat Mass Implied Lean Mass Comment
180 lbs 17% 30.6 lbs 149.4 lbs Post run and breakfast. No way this is accurate.
181 lbs 16% 29 lbs 152 lbs Also an unlikely reading
179.5 lbs 15% 27 lbs 152.5 lbs This is closer to reasonable.
181.0 15% 27 lbs 154 lbs The best weight for the day, slightly less mass in all categories than last week.

I do seem to have lost weight, although I may have been overhydrated or bloated when I weighed in last week at 183 lbs, 15% fat. It’s hard to say for sure (you have to look at the long term trend) but in any case I am going to try to eat more this week, and try to maintain my weight at just above 180, since I am “not trying to lose weight.”

If I did lose weight this week, it seems likely to me that I have actually lost body fat. It seems unlikely that I have lost 1.5 real pounds of lean mass, as the numbers would seem to suggest. I’ve been eating a 100% paleo and pretty low carb diet, with no nighttime eating, while working hard on my training (I put in 3 met-cons, 4 lifting sessions, and one endurance run). On the other hand, my sleep has not been too good, which could cause cortisol elevation, and fat retention, and my nutrient partitioning could have been off, resulting in too much gluconeogenesis.

The issue here is that my scale can measure 1/2 lb changes in mass but only offers body-fat estimates in 1% increments. At my current weight, a 1% change is nearly 2 lbs, so I would have to lose a lot of fat to register a new BF % number. Therefore, we can’t expect the Body Fat % number to shift too far, week to week.

One factor complicating things here may be that it is just difficult to time the weigh-in properly, in order to get the best reading; why is it that I saw a 14% body fat reading several times two weeks ago, but haven’t seen one since? And why I did I see a 17% today? Or has my body composition really been moving in the wrong direction? Given more time, we will know for sure.

Weigh In

Strict paleo for 30 days begins today. No alcohol, limited caffeine, no forbidden foods AT ALL, until Sep. 21st, which is a Tuesday, so, really, I won’t be drinking alcohol until the 24th, which is 33 days.

The numbers today suggest I am pretty much flat for the week, although, I did not see the number 14% show up in either of my two weigh ins — a slightly troubling result.

Weight Measurements Sunday Aug. 22nd
Weight Observed Body Fat % Implied Fat Mass Implied Lean Mass Comment
183.5 lbs 16% 29.5 lbs 154 lbs A lethargic day leads to higher BF% measurements.
183.0 lbs 15% 27.5 lbs 155.5 lbs A slight gain in mass over last week.