Monday, September 12, 2016

Inches Not Pounds

August 2016
Looking at this recent photo (August, 2016) taken of me, it appears that I am definitely getting closer to my destination of being lean and fit.  Recently, I decided to increase the length of time between my last meal in the evening and my first meal of the day.  Gradually, over the course of the last year, I had gone from a fasted state of 12 hours to one of 16 hours.  The thinking behind such a change is to increase the time in which my insulin levels are low and my body switches into fat burning mode.

Looking at another photo below taken last year (September 2015) with my friend Richard, who looks very good, maintaining an ideal weight that allows him to eat what he wants, when he wants, because his hormones are in balance, you can see that my strategy of extending my fasted state has made a big difference.  In fact, last year's photo was taken when I was stuck on a weight loss plateau that I could not get off no matter how much exercise I packed into my daily routine.  For instance, in 2014 I hiked and biked more than 5000 kilometers, and in 2015 I completed the equivalent of a walk across Canada by walking on average 13 kilometers a day.  Moreover, when last year's photo was taken, I had just finished two months of eating clean and I still was stuck on a plateau.

September 2015
Before going on the 16 hour intermittent fasts, I did drop about 25 pounds between September 2015 and May 2016 while having a 12 to 14 hour break between meals over night.  However, when this year's photo was taken, I had moved to another plateau and I thought that increasing the length of my fasted state would get me off the new plateau.  That did not happen.  However, this time around I decided to measure my waist before and after two months of 16 hour fasts.  To my surprise, although I did not lose any appreciable weight, I did manage to take 10 centimeters or 4 inches of my waist, which tells me that my body definitely started to burn more of my visceral fat.

It shows in the two photos. In the lower photo, I am wearing an extra large shirt and my belly is protruding.  In the photo above, I am wearing a large shirt, one size smaller, and my belly appears to be flatter.  Moreover, my torso is smaller.

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My take away message is once again we should not become overly focused on scale weight.  It measures the total weight of lean muscle mass, bone, organs, visceral and subcutaneous fat and water, which means that scale weight will not capture any significant changes of body composition when the body weight remains relatively stable.  For example, you may lose 10 pounds of body fat while gaining 10 pounds of lean muscle.  Over all, this would be a very positive change for your health that would not at all be reflected by your scale weight.

The moral of my story is focus on fat loss, in particular, the fat around your waist.  Indeed, waist size is a much better health indicator than body weight or body mass.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

It's Not All About The Scale Weight

While I have been working on my eBook, Climbing Out of the Fat Trap One Step at a Time, I have noticed that over time, I too have become too focused on my scale weight.  After having lost 56 lbs over two years, approximately 20% of my body mass, I feel frustration that my weight loss has slowed.

I began the year at 234 lbs. and weighed in this morning at 227 lbs.  At about the half way point of the year, I think I stand to lose between 10 and 15 lbs this year if all goes well.  In my head, I set a body weight of 220 lbs for the year and I have my doubts if I can make it.  Not to worry.  One of the biggest challenges of weight loss is keeping it off and, so far with regard to that goal, the year is turning out very well.

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Unfortunately, I have hit a second weight plateau (228-232 lbs.).  To try to get off it, I tried to cycle between eating clean and doing a carb refeed of 3-4 days after a period of 10 days eating clean.  Not much in the way of results, simply moving a bit up or down within a narrow weight range.  Chalk it up to experience.  This is not the first time a new strategy has not panned out.

Lately, for the last 20 days, I have changed my intermittent fasting schedule moving from a 13-14 hour daily fast to a 16-18 hour fast, more or less the 16/8 hour schedule that some people find to be very effective.  I really don't know if this is going to result in any further sustainable weight loss, but I need to get off the page of focusing narrowly on my weight.

All in all my efforts have really improved my other health indicators.  When I began this journey, my Body Mass Index (BMI) was 38.3, which placed me in the morbidly obese category.  As of today, I calculated my BMI to find out that I am no longer obese: since at 29.9 BMI, I am now officially in the overweight category.  Yahoo!  Just keep in mind that those in the overweight category of 25-30 BMI actually live longer than those in the so-called normal weight category of 18-25 BMI.

In a similar vein, I have lost 9 inches of my waist, moving from 49 to 40 inches and my body fat percentage has dropped from 34% to 23%, which for a man of my age puts me in the ideal category according to the charts I consulted on the Internet.  More importantly, my resting blood pressure has dropped from 136/92 to 100/72 which significantly reduces my risk of heart attack or stroke.

At the end of the year, I am going to get my blood tested for cholesterol, fasting glucose and insulin, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein.  Afterwards, I will have a very clear picture of my health profile and will compare it to my blood test results of three years earlier.

Enjoy the summer.

Hasta luego.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Taking It Up A Notch

Three months into the New Year and I can see that there will be new challenges as time moves on.  Happy to have broken through a previous weight loss plateau that lasted about 18 moths and ended in September 2015, I can see that the momentum gained by going on a feed and fast cycle has slowed down.

In short, fasting for 12 to 14 hours after my last meal of the day enabled me to lose another 25 pounds in about 6 months, but now I seemed to be stuck on another plateau, tipping the scale at 229 lbs.  That's a long way from the 290 lbs that I used to weigh, but still a way off from what I think would be my natural healthy weight.

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What that is I don't really know.  Eventually, a new body set weight gets established after substantial weight loss and further weight loss becomes extraordinarily difficult, but to know beforehand where the new set point will settle is anybody's guess.  So far this year, I have dropped five pounds, which isn't so bad because I was on vacation for two weeks and missed almost a month in the gym while trying to get over a bout of the flu.  Nevertheless, I am thinking that I am going to have to change things up if I want to reach the 25 pound weight loss for 2016.

That doesn't mean that I will alter any of the previous changes I have made.  I will continue the three workouts per week at the gym, four or more hours of salsa classes and social dancing, using my stand up desk at work, taking walks and the stairs whenever I can, eating clean 95% of the time, limiting my alcohol consumption, and sticking with my feed and fast cycle.  But, I am running out of new habits to adopt.  The low hanging fruit has already been picked.

In fact, I think I'm going to give cycling to work one last try, but this time something different.  Seeing that I am breaking new ground, I thought that I would give cycling to work in a fasted state a try.  In the morning, I'll hop on my bike after waking up and ride one hour to work before breaking my fast.  That way, my body, having already exhausted its access to my glycogen stores in my liver and muscles, will be forced to burn my body fat as a fuel during my morning commute.  Will that change result in a lowering of my basal metabolic rate throughout the rest of the day in order to compensate for the fat loss?  I really don't know.  Only one way to find out.

At the moment, I am chomping at the bit to give this new strategy a try.  My bike is ready to go and the only thing holding me back is the weather.  Last night, we had about 10 centimeters of snow dumped on us, and the temperature at 6:00 a.m. this morning was -9 degrees Celsius, a little out of my comfort zone.  Hopefully, things will warm up next week and I can begin with my latest experiment in trying to become lean and fit.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

This Year Will Be My Breakout Year

I'm back from an excellent two week vacation in Ecuador that really recharged my batteries.  I spent most of my waking hours outside in the sun and fresh air.  The quality of the food there is spectacular: fruit, vegetables, meat, and seafood are all as fresh as fresh can be.  Talking about free range chickens, a couple of them wandered into the restaurant where I was having breakfast.  No GMOs here.

As well, even though I went off the food regime that I follow, (I ate a lot of rice, potatoes, some dessert, and drank more than a few beers) I didn't gain a single pound, probably because I stuck to my feed/fast cycle, nothing to eat until twelve hours after the evening meal.

After my return, I dropped another five pounds in the first two weeks of getting back to my normal food, activity, and exercise routine.  This is great news because I now know that if I hit another weight loss plateau, a carb reefed of two weeks can do the trick of getting me off the new plateau.

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Moreover, as the year rolls out, I am interested in experimenting with regular carb feeds of varying lengths.  But for now, I seem to be in the fat burning zone.  Since I went on a feed and fast cycle last September, I have dropped 27 pounds.  Not too shabby, especially since I had been stuck on a plateau where my weight hovered up and down around a body set weight for 19 months despite the vast amount of aerobic activity I was putting in, the equivalent of walking across Canada in less than a calendar year.

The other thing of note is that I have now lost 61 pounds since I set out on my journey to transform my body from one that was very big and strong to one that is lean and fit.  I'm on a roll.  I have momentum on my side.

The other thing to note is that I am following through on my promise to myself that I would complete an eBook, Climbing Out of the Fat Trap, One Step at a Time, before the end of the calendar year.  So far, using the tricks I learned about forming and keeping good habits, I am working on the project each and every day.

As far as this year's SMART goals, I only have two: lose 25 pounds and drop another pant size.  At the moment, I am feeling very confident about reaching both.  Writing the book is giving me extra motivation.

Looking forward to sharing the before and after photos.

Hasta luego.