What I’m Up To Now, January 2019

This post and the entire series highlight what I am doing/using/thinking as of right now in the areas of fitness & technology. If you care to compare or read the other posts in this series, refer to the category What I’m Up To Now.

Nutrition

For the four months, I have been following a very strict 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol, which means 16 hours of fasting (no food but coffee, tea, or water) and an eight-hour eating window. I did have done this every day, without exception including over the holidays. In this time I have fasted longer but never less. My eating window has not exceeded eight hours. This usually means I eat my first meal at 11 AM and then no food after 7 PM, but usually I do not eat after 5 PM, which means it’s more like an 18/6. I have done periodic (2-3x per week 16/8s) for many years, but this is the first time I have done it for so long and made it the default.

The results of this have been excellent. I dropped 3-4 pounds and a few percent bodyfat. I can visibly tell the difference in my appearance. I would venture to guess that I ate as much as anyone over the holidays and this fasting protocol, combined with some strategic exercise, allowed me to lose 0.2 pounds over the holiday.

I have read a lot about fasting and there was some very intriguing research such as this and this, which basically say that just by controlling your eating window without deliberately attempting to reduce or control food, you may eat less and/or let your body operate in such a fashion that you can eat the same amount of food and have better outcomes than those who don’t follow a prescribed eating window.

For the times I do eat, it is pretty much the same:

11 AM – Cottage cheese, pistachios, carrots

4 PM – Meat, veggies, occasionally fruit

Comments

  • I don’t count calories or macros. I estimate I am eating 2000 cals/day on the low end to 3000 on the high end (minus treat meals).
  • I still do the once weekly treat meal and dessert, which can be anything (the gloves are off). I still stick to the 16/8 window though.
  • This diet is very low in carbohydrates all day with the only direct source of significance being at dinner and this usually comes in the form of fruit as a dessert.
  • I always allow hours from my last meal until I go to sleep for restfulness purposes.
  • I have not gone to a full ketogenic diet (low carb isn’t keto, boys and girls) but have had good results with carbs under 100g per day.
  • Doing one large cup of black coffee first thing in the morning, sometimes two on weekends
  • I also drink two large glasses of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar mixed with lemon juice some stevia. Been drinking it regularly for a few years.

Supplements

I have been on and off supplements for this past year. I moved away from a few I had taken regularly for a long time (probiotic and omega 3), believing instead I didn’t need them if I ate well.

I am currently taking the following:

  1. Multi-vitamin/mineral/anti-oxidant/phytonutrient formula (daily)
  2. Vitamin D (5000 IU 3-5x per week)
  3. Magnesium (300 mg/day)
  4. Pregnenolone (25 mg/day)
  5. DHEA (25-50 mg/day)

The first three are staples for everyone. The last two are better for those of us over 40 to maximize hormone release. I will likely stick with the multi, vitamin D, and the magnesium but will give the pregnenolone and DHEA a go for a few months and evaluate.

I have been getting most of my supplements from Joe Defranco’s line for a few years now. I would recommend you try this brand if you have not. There are some other supplements out there I may try this year from Origin and Kion. Onnit has good ones as well. These are all reputable brands.

Sleep

Regularly getting seven to eight hours per night in a cool dark room avoiding electronics before bed religiously. I protect my sleep as much as any other element of fitness. I use a good sleep mask to assist with some residual room light. Well worth the money. There isn’t much to say about this except I prioritize this highly. I have made this important for many years now and it has shown in my health, appearance, and performance.

Stress

I haven’t been doing anything actively to mitigate stress, i.e. meditation, for a few years now. My self-perceived stress levels were healthy, so after I fell out of the habit of doing it in the mornings when I changed jobs, I didn’t feel the urgency to resume it although I am a strong believer in its value and would recommend anyone who can meditate does so. I just started Sam Harris’ Waking Up meditation program this year to try to reintegrate this into my regimen though because I really didn’t have a good reason not to be meditating.

Activity

I have been keeping up with around 10,000 steps per day on average. I get this done typically through one long daily walk in the mornings, long walk into and out of the office to my car, and then another short evening walk. I wore a 35lb pack for most of my morning walks in 2018, but I have switched to no added weight for most and then a 65lb ruck a few times per week.

I have a been using a standing desk since 2014 both at home and at work. Sometimes I sit to read or type, but it’s sparingly. Here is the one I use for work to put on top of my desk. It’s pretty good so far after a year’s use for a small price compared to higher end models. I have the Topo mat with it as well. Also highly recommended still after three years of use.

At home I have a better set-up. I have the FlexiSpot 48″ crank adjustable frame and I repurposed my old desk’s top to go on top of it. Now the entire platform is raised up and it’s much better than a desktop solution like I have for the office. I use a basic anti-fatigue mat to stand on as well. This is the preferred way to do the standing desk. It can be easily lowered if you want to sit and it’s much easier to stand at a stable platform like this as well. It’s kind of like being at a bar (minus the alcohol and fun).

For exercise, I am currently following a pretty simple framework:

Day A: Upper body strength and hypertrophy
Day B: Cardiovascular endurance
Day C: Lower body strength and hypertrophy
Day D: Muscular endurance

I had been following slightly modified versions for the past year such as this.

My goal right now is to be healthy, look good, and maintain my physical fitness across all domains. I follow a GPP (general physical preparedness) program that keeps me able to do a diverse set of physical tasks. GPP is defined in greater detail in this post.

The framework concept in this instance means I can do whatever I want for each training session as long as it follows the objective for the day. I end up doing something generally similar, but it is never the same session from one to the next. I have been training like this for a few years and really enjoy the freedom while maintaining the baseline structure to ensure I am working on all the major physical fitness components I want to. Here is typically how these workouts play out:

Upper body strength and hypertrophy

  • 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps of Resistance band flyes (pectoral isolation)
  • 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps of KB floor press
  • 3-5 sets of 1-8 reps of Pull-ups (sometimes weighted/sometimes not)
  • 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps of a rowing movement
  • 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps of Overhead press (KB or barbell)
  • 3 sets of 8-12 reps a biceps movement
  • 3 sets of 8-21 reps of a triceps movement

Cardiovascular endurance

  • 20-30 minutes of row sprint intervals coupled with box step-ups, burpees, jump rope, or KB swings
  • Goal is to keep heart rate elevated the whole time above 120 BPM with surges above 140 BPM
  • I get bored doing steady state cardio, so I usually do short high intensity row sprints (20 seconds) and then right into jump rope or burpees for a few minutes to keep the heart rate up, then do another set of sprints.

Lower body strength and hypertrophy

  • 3-5 sets of 3-8 reps of a squat variation
  • 3-5 sets of 3-8 reps of a lunge variation
  • 3-5 sets of 3-8 reps of a deadlift variation
  • 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps of KB swings (heavy KBs, 88lbs or 103lbs)
  • 3-5 sets of varied reps of abdominal/core work (I call this “chassis” work)

Muscular Endurance

  • 50-100 repetitions of the following movements:
    • squat or lunge
    • overhead press
    • band pull-down or pull-aparts
    • horizontal press (usually do a push-up variation)
    • chassis movement (ex. ab wheel roll-outs, weighted sit-ups, band rotations)
  • I do all 50 to 100 reps in a row for each movement, take a short rest, then move on to another movement

Tech

Phone = Google Pixel 2. Wasn’t impressed enough with the Pixel 3 or any other phone to upgrade this year. First time I haven’t bought a new phone in a year since 2000. Happy with the Pixel line though.

Computer = Microsoft Surface Book 2. Love it, highly recommended. Very powerful, great battery life, love the detachable monitor to use as a tablet.

Watch = Garmin Instinct. Had this for a month and so far, I am very pleased with it. In 2018 I wore the Garmin Fenix 3 (sold it after two years), then the Garmin Vivoactive 3 (returned it), then the Fitbit Ionic (sold it after 6 months), then a non-smart G-Shock (still have it), then the Fitbit Charge 3 (still have it), and ended up with the Instinct.

Explanation: I was sick of the weight of the Fenix although I loved the performance of it. Tried to get the same sort of features in a smaller, newer package but was disappointed with the Vivoactive 3. Got the Ionic to fill the same void. Loved it but the battery life and lack of a constantly on screen turned me off. Got a regular G Shock watch but missed the activity and sleep tracking as well as the outdoor (barometer, altimeter, compass) features of the Fenix. Ended up with the Instinct, which was basically like Garmin took my last year of watches and combined them! Detailed review will come, but I highly recommend this watch for active individuals.

Hope you got a little insight into what I am doing that may be beneficial to you. Post thoughts/questions to the comments below.