What I’m Up To Now, September 2017
Bottom Line Up Front: 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.
I have been eating what most people would call a Paleo diet for about 5 years. That means no bread, no grains, no processed food, etc., with a heavy reliance on meat and veggies. I do eat a lot of dairy and some Paleo-purists would not like this but I tolerate it well.
However, for the last few months I have been doing no carbs (or no direct carbs) at all. Under 100 per day definitely, more like under 50 grams per day. I was hesitant to do this because some people where eating low carb demonstrated a performance issue when doing high intensity exercise. I can report this has not happened to me at all. It has made my appetite go down a lot. Prior, I was eating better than 99% of the population, but I still got really hungry at times and would overeat a few times per week. It is pretty crazy but it doesn’t happen to me anymore. I have dropped at least a few percent bodyfat and am at my lowest weight ever without trying to maintain it or being on a temporary “diet”.
So this is what a day of eating looks like:
- If I did heavy weight training or conditioning workouts, I drink a post-workout whey protein shake. I take a scoop of whey protein with skim milk and some fruit. This puts 30-40g of protein and 30-40g of carbs into my system quick to help with recovery and future growth. This fruit is currently the only direct carbohydrate I am eating. I am interested in the blood glucose spike post-workout and to assist in amino acid uptake/utilization in the body.
- If I did some cardiovascular work (long slow, or interval sprints) or if I did no exercise, I will eat no carbs or fast (no food). The point of this is to maintain the body’s fat burning from already being in a fasted state overnight and then throwing at it some further fat burning stimulation through exercise. I am not interested in taking in nutrients to help with recovery or increase muscle growth after this type of exercise either. That’s why I eat post-workout sometimes and sometimes not based on what I did.
- If I eat, it is something like 3 eggs over easy in butter.
1300: Meats, nuts, cheese, or fish. Last week, for example, I ate a can of sardines and an Epic bison bar. Some cheddar cheese and pistachios is another example. This is a high fat, moderate protein, low to zero carb meal.
1800: Large salad with some meat. My wife makes a main meat dish and then vegetables and a starch for the kids. I just eat the meat and veggies with a giant salad, which has cheese and oil & vinegar dressing, sometimes an avocado.
- Many days I completely fast (not eat at all) until dinner. I would say 1-2 times per week I don’t eat anything until lunch. 1-2 more I don’t eat anything until dinner. I have covered the benefits of fasting repeatedly on this site and am at the point where I can not eat for the whole day and I have zero effects on my mood or energy levels.
- I drink 1-2 cups of coffee every day, always black and always in the morning. I also drink one large glass of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar mixed with some stevia. I heard too many people talk about the benefits so I had to try it. Been drinking it regularly for a few years.
- I don’t weigh and measure food. I have found I can keep my weight/bodyfat at what I can tolerate (who doesn’t want lower bodyfat???) by eating with these guidelines and not having to weigh/measure/count calories. I know that if I truly want to be at sub-10% bodyfat levels, I will have to do this. I just don’t want to now.
- I have stuck to not eating after dinner completely for a long time. I find it helps me sleep better to separate food from sleep by 3 hours or more.
- I don’t do a full on treat meal anymore. I used to do one meal, usually Friday or Saturday dinner, that I would eat anything and have dessert. I have stopped this for the past few months and don’t miss it. My real indulgence lately has been a can of Halo Top ice cream. 300-400 calories, very few ingredients. Very low sugar for ice cream. I have this when my family does their treat meal. I sat and had salad and buffalo wings while my family ate pizza with no problems last night. This would have been hard for me a year ago. Honestly, the 15 minutes of mouth pleasure do not offset the discomfort and unnecessary physical hit. I think I could honestly eat the pizza and real dessert once per week without much of a hit to my health and appearance. I have just been mentally fine without it, so I am rolling with it. I would recommend you do a treat meal/treat day if it will keep you honest the rest of the week. I did this for 5 years and it works.
- I have had no issues maintaining this eating out either. Every restaurant I have been to has a lot giant salad options and obviously a lot of meat and veggie choices.
- I have resisted going full keto (actually getting into ketosis) only because it is harder and I am getting good results on low carb while not being in full nutritional ketosis, probably due to too much protein. I am not sure it’s better to go full keto, but I think I will end up trying it because it isn’t a far departure from where I am now.
I take 4 things every day and have been for about the last year because I am a strong believer in them and they are basic, nothing fancy. All of them are from DeFranco’s Nutritional Supplements because I trust Joe D. and Dr. Tom Bilella. I am not paid for referrals to their site and in no way profit financially from the sales (in case you were wondering).
I take the first 3 during the day with food either in my post-workout shake or after dinner. ZMA is taken before bed. The quick and dirty is the multi, omegas, and probiotic are basic health supplements anyone could/should take. ZMA is slightly outside of this category but not too much. ZMA is a recovery and sleep enhancer. I probably wouldn’t put my inactive friends on ZMA but would the top 3 budget permitting. This runs me about $125 per month. They are listed already in order of importance in my opinion if you are on the fence or under a budget constraint. You can also get cheaper brands too for a similar effect.
*Protein shake as outlined above is supplement-ish. Wanted to mention it there with the nutrition section. It is also from DeFranco.
7-8 hours per night avoiding electronics before bed in a cool room religiously. I protect my sleep as much as any other element of fitness. I use a good sleep mask to assist with some 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 almost 5 years now and it has shown in my health, appearance, and performance.
I am currently doing anything actively to mitigate stress, i.e. meditation or anything else. I now have more time than I used to due to my current job, so I am inching closer to meditating for a short time each morning as I did 3-4 years ago. My self-perceived stress levels are healthy, so I don’t feel the urgency although I am a believer in its value and would recommend anyone who can does meditate. So, how am I not doing it? Just simply not part of my routine I would say is the major reason. It’s just behavior modification at this point.
I am not actively focusing on getting a certain number of steps per day, but I get 5-8,000 on average.
I walk my dog nearly every morning (5-6 times per week) wearing a 45lb GoRuck Rucker pack (30lb ruck plate plus a sandbag). I have worn a weight vest or ruck every time I have walked my dog since 2014. I cannot recommend highly enough the utility and health benefits of this. I try to do 20 minutes minimum up to an hour on some days.
I have a standing desk that I use almost all the time and have since 2014 – at home and at work. Sometimes I sit to read or type, but it’s sparingly. Here is the one I got for the house to do on top of my desk. It’s pretty good so far after 3 months use. I have the Topo mat with it. Highly recommended still after 2 years use.
For exercise, I have been following this template for the past 6 months and it has been going well. I get through one of these cycles per week, usually through 5 sessions.
- Workout A: Strength
- 3-8 sets of 1-5 reps (15-25 total reps) using major movements for the squat, push, and pull.
- 5 sets of 3 back squat, floor press, and weighted pull-up.
- I don’t do any heavy deadlift/hinge work any more due to occasional lower back muscle injuries I just couldn’t prevent somehow. I get a lot of hinge work swinging kettlebells which I do a lot. My deadlift strength has stayed really good this way, so I am sticking with it.
- Workout B: Cardiovascular Endurance
- 20-40 minutes of either long duration, steady heart rate running or rowing OR 20-40 minutes of sprints with peaks and valleys for heart rate.
- Example: Row 500m, rest 1 minute, row 400m, rest 1 min, row 300m, rest 1 min, row 200m, rest 1 min, row 100m. Today I did the same thing with double-unders. Sets of 50-100, rest in between until heart rate returns to 120 beats per minute. I usually get to a high heart rate of 160-165 beats per minute (this is around 90% for me through basic estimation techniques). I find I have been doing intervals much more than long, slow work, which I hate.
- Workout C: Hypertrophy
- 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for chest, back, shoulders, and arms. I typically do one chest press, one row, one shoulder raise, one curl and one Triceps pressdown.
- This is something I haven’t done for almost a decade. I am really enjoying it.
- Intent is just to get bigger muscles for appearance. I do no direct leg work as my legs are already big enough and I work them hard on the other 3 days. I am more interested in lower body performance than appearance and do not want to put on any more weight honestly in my lower body.
- Workout D: Muscular Endurance
- 25-30 minutes of movements designed to cause the burning, aching sensation in muscles with the intent of improving their ability to do repeated contractions under fatigue. This differs from cardio endurance in that during the cardio sessions, I am trying to stress the body’s ability to delivery oxygen to the muscles with movements that do not fatigue the muscles. On muscular endurance days, I am trying not to have the heart be the limiting factor but the muscles themselves.
- Example: 100 push-ups, rest 2 minutes, 100 weighted lunges, rest 2 minutes, 100 TRX rows, rest 2 minutes, 100 kettlebell swings.
- I have been doing these giant sets of 100 for some reason lately and really enjoying it.
If you want to read more about this and related training programs, I recommend this post on the Framework concept and this one on a previous training strategy.
Phone = Google Pixel XL
Tablet = Google Nexus 7
Watch = Garmin Fenix 3. This serves as an activity tracker, sleep tracker, and outdoor navigation tool. Awesome watch. I get almost a month of battery life on it too. You can use it to track runs with distance, heart rate, pace, etc. Bit pricey but it replaces like 5 things.
Computer = Microsoft Surface Pro 4
I retired my big a$$ computer tower in favor of a Surface with the associated Surface dock to make it into a full PC with the keyboard, mouse, monitor, and speakers. This has been a huge win for me. I was hesitant to get rid of the big PC for many years, but I found a Surface Pro 4 on sale around the holidays last year that I had to buy based on principle due to the price. I previously had not had a laptop for almost a decade really. I then found after getting the Surface I was using it in place of my big PC, so I finally got the dock which just turns the Surface into the tower basically and I can pick up where I left off when it was disconnected like a traditional laptop or tablet.
I can’t recommend the Surface line enough. Everyone I know that has one absolutely loves it. You can get the Surface Pro 4 for a great price now that the new 2017 Surfaces are out. They didn’t make huge changes so I recommend you do so at this point in time.
Hope you enjoyed this year’s update. As always, post thoughts/questions to the comments below