What I’m Up To Now, May 2015
If you care to compare or read the first article in this series, read What I’m Up To Now, November 2014.
Largely unchanged in terms of food in big picture terms from the last update. Real, whole foods as much as possible. No bread or processed and refined food. Nothing that comes in a bag or a box. I have changed a few specifics about what and how I eat though.
First, I started buying nearly all my meat from a local farm. For the last two years, I have purchased grass-fed beef directly from a farm within 50 miles of my house. I have been living in the Midwest and finding local farmers who will deliver meat to you is pretty easy these days. The rest of the meat we ate though came from the grocery store. My wife made a concerted effort to buy as much hormone free/antibiotic free as possible. I found a new local farm who has all free range beef, pork, chicken and lamb. All hormone free, antibiotic free of course. I have been buying whole chickens from them and eating 1-2 per week myself for lunch. I get chicken organ meat from them as well, mostly for my dog (article forthcoming on “dog food”). I had gotten grass-fed beef shipped in from another local farm as well, but I just found yet another place that does Highland grass-fed beef and picked up some heart, liver, ground beef, and tongue from them. I have been eating the organ meats for a few years now, but this is the first time I have been able to get basically all meat and protein from a local farm. I have been getting eggs there too. Less and less food coming from a grocery store.
Second, I started eating breakfast again. I have had really good success with not eating until lunch for about a year, but I decided to mix it up a little and try some more front-loading of food. I am definitely leaner, but it’s hard to say if it’s this change as the weather has improved drastically and I am outdoors and more active too. A typical day looks like this:
7 AM – 3-5 egg omelet w/cheese, black coffee.
11 AM – Broccoli and chicken
5 PM – Various meat (beef, chicken, pork, fish), vegetable and/or potato/sweet potato
3-5 cups of green tea throughout the day. Once a week free-for-all meal(s), usually Saturday night.
I was surprised how much less hungry I was at dinner with eating something early. I used to pretty much eat the same thing and be the same level of hunger with or without breakfast, which is why I usually just skipped it. If you can’t tell, the rule here is basically no carbs early, little at lunch (only green veggies, maybe a leftover potato), and some at dinner.
I have been taking fish oil and probiotics regularly. I opted to try to eat more fish and eliminate fish oil the last few months. Prescript Assist is still my probiotic of choice. I recommend this be the first supplement you take. If you aren’t getting regular periods of sun exposure, 5000 IU of vitamin D is a good idea too. I take this on days I don’t get outside much.
After reading Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Body, I opted to try his PAGG regimen for fat loss. Basically it is 4 supplements taken strategically to optimize fat loss. I am about a month into it and am still assessing. Again, I am leaner, but is it the PAGG or the increased outdoor activity? Is it the breakfast? Like a good scientist, I should have only changed one variable, but I am not a mouse in a cage, so it isn’t that easy. I am on board with the science of it and I trust Tim so I will give it a shot for another month. I will post if it’s something worth trying. If you want to try it, I can give you the products I used. I bought the ingredients separately and saved 50%. There are a few companies that put it all into one or two pills, which is admittedly easier, but you pay a premium.
Been getting over 7 hours per night average. If I stay on track, 8-9 on the weekend, 7 on the weekdays. I am always surprised I don’t sleep more since I rarely wake up with an alarm (only when we do some craziness like yesterday where I had to be somewhere at 5 AM). Even on a Saturday, I will typically wake up after around 7 hours of sleep on my own, without an alarm. I am more concerned that I feel rested and that I wake up naturally. I can say this happens almost every day.
I am getting well over 10,000 steps per day now. Last week I did 100,000 steps for example. See the below proof direct from Fitbit. Note how I destroyed by brother-in-law, who admittedly did really well with over 70,000 steps himself!
I have integrated Yoga into my weekly workout routine. I have been using a modified short practice for cool-down from higher intensity training and also doing it on days by itself. I really enjoy it and plan on getting into more advanced practices. I have been doing beginner work for about a month.
Since the last update, I got heavily into simplicity and basics in my workouts. I did a 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge and made a concerted effort to make the program I am on more simple. I will post about this in greater details for those of you who care about this. Just to get an idea, right now I have been following this program for a few months and really enjoy it:
Workout A: 100 kettlebell (KB) swings, 10 turkish get-ups, plus strength work (1-5 rep range). I rotate the strength work with squat movements, push movements, pull movements, and core movements. 100 swings can be done in any way. Either I do 10 sets of 10 or two rounds of 5, 10, 15, 20. I do the strength work in between each kettlebell swing set. I take deliberate rest in between all sets. It isn’t mean to be a giant conditioning workout. I vary the weights based on how I feel.
Workout B: Conditioning ladder (1 rep, 2 reps, 3 reps, etc. until 10, then either go 9 to 1, or 1 to 9 again). I usually do two movements. Example would be 1 KB snatch, 1 pull-up, 2/2, 3/3, etc. I really enjoy ladders mentally for some reason. 1 to 10 to 1 is 100 reps conveniently too, so I can control for volume. These are done with very little rest deliberately.
Workout C: Sprints and carries/holds. Sprints are either running, jumping rope, rowing, or stationary cycling. Carries and holds are pretty simply walking around with things on your back, over your head, or in your hands (sandbag, barbell, slam ball). Lot of value in functional useful strength from this. I did a lot of this before but sort of impromptu at the end of a workout. Now it is the focus. I do a sprint, carry/hold some things, then sprint again, then carry again, etc.
Cycle starts over with a different focus for the strength work in A and the ladder in B. Rest as needed.
The thing I am doing is making it uncomplicated and a little less prescriptive. As long as I follow the focus, I call it a success. If I am feeling good, I may do sprints and carries for an hour. Other days, maybe 20 minutes when it comes up. Same with how much weight I use on my strength work, same with how long the ladder goes on conditioning days. Again, longer post to follow on this.
Still at 100% standing desk, home and at work. I have been standing at my desk for so long, it seems ridiculous to think I’d sit at a desk. No question that for most people this would have profound effects. I’d do this before I started to exercise for sure if I were sedentary.
Related to activity, I got some new gym gear. I got a 40kg/88lb kettlebell (Rogue) and a 48kg/106lb kettlebell as well as two steel maces (10lb and 25lb) from Onnit. I will do an updated garage gym post soon. The steel maces are my favorite things right now. I use them for warm-ups and integrate steel mace work into my schedule above. 30 minutes of steel mace conditioning isn’t counted in the above cycle. It is just added in.
Largest and most valuable thing I have done is integrate meditation into my life. I do it more days than not, always first thing in the morning. Still using Calm app to guide me through a mindfulness practice each time. I am sold on it. I usually do 10 minutes at a time. See 4 Steps to Start Meditating for more.
I have been specifically try to be particularly aware of making sure when my stress levels get higher for various reasons, I control the other variables in my life. For example, if works gets crazy or there is something significant going on in my life (like finding a renter for my home in another state) that will change my body’s hormone profile, I make sure to be especially tight on sleep and food quality, don’t do any intermittent fasting, and maybe take some more rest days from training.
I got a new phone, the HTC One M9. I LOVE it. If you are in the Android flagship market, I recommend this over the newly released Samsung Galaxy S6 or LG G4. I did a lot of research here and have had 3 HTC phones in the last. Unreal quality and I am very happy with the software.
Still using the Nexus 7 tablet. Haven’t found the need to get a new tablet just yet. Don’t think I will honestly.
Reading exclusively on a Kindle Voyage. Absolutely love it. Full review here.
No major changes to the computer situation. Running my ZAP-built PC (Intel Core i5 with Asus P8Z77-V LX motherboard with 8 GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 MHx RAM inside an Antec Twleve Hundred case running Windows 8.1 on a solid state hard drive). Looking forward to Windows 10. I have heard great things about it from people who love to hate Microsoft.
I am wearing my Fitbit Charge every day still and it is still my top recommendation for anyone looking for a fitness tracker. Read my review here.
I have a Pebble Time (their version 2.0 watch) coming in the mail this month. I am very excited about it. I have resisted getting an Android Wear watch for a while and I don’t do iProducts, so the Apple Watch was out. Will definitely post a review after I use it for a few months.
I have read some really good books recently and some thoughts on each to share.
- 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Highly recommended book, especially those of you in the “regular” business world. A ton of great ideas in here on how to automate, unplug, say no to time-wasters, and make your time valuable.
- 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. Tim has done extensive research here that shows some very interesting aspects of physical fitness in a useful way. He did a lot of really interesting personal experiments on muscle gain, fat loss, sexual performance, and cognitive performance that you can actually use. Highly recommended as well. I thought this would be way below my level (I’m not a narcissist…), but I learned some things. What amazed me was how Tim was publishing a book 5 years ago on things I just really got into in the last few years.
- Kettlebell Simple & Sinister by Pavel Tsatsouline. Very simple book. I read it in about an hour. It is a good intro into basic strength and kettlebell work though. It got me super motivated to return to basics though and that is why I listed it here. Pavel’s basic concepts have greatly influenced my thoughts on strength and conditioning recently.
- Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. Best book I could recommend for anyone trying to get a message out. Mostly this is for people who are starting a free blog or trying to start selling something. The concepts in this have greatly shaped how I do things related to this blog. I wonder how much worse this site would be without it. Everything from blog post guidelines to social media to web design to branding and logos. I listen and read Michael Hyatt’s stuff every week now (blog and podcast).
- Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Again, I really didn’t think I’d learn anything from this, but I was wrong (noticing a pattern?). Very good look into the mind as it relates to food. If you didn’t spend the last 20 years of your life reading about nutrition, you will get a lot of out of this. Some very good basic strategies that I knew about but didn’t really employ that I integrated into my life. An example is using small plates to eat. I almost never use the “adult” plates anymore, only what would be side-dish ones to most Americans. The mere appearance of the full plate or empty plate affects satiety.
- Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Taleb. Philosophically I love this book. I found it repetitive though after the first few chapters. I heard someone else say this about Taleb’s writing too. I felt like I got the point very quickly and the rest of the book is more of the same. The concepts of dynamic systems, disorder, and how we tend to put external influence to create weak systems which are unable to adapt over time are mind-blowing. Definitely worth your time. This is a strategic, how you look at the world type book.
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown. I am half-way through this now, but I wanted to list it. This is the book I have been most excited about in a while. Of all the books I have read in my life, this is a foundational one to me now. I have been thinking about refining what I do, how I do it, making it more simple, more essential. This book is one everyone should read. Life-changing.
That is all for now. Hope you enjoyed this look into some things I am up to.
Live the life you want to live!
QUESTION: Do you have any things you are doing that we need to know about? Post thoughts to comments.