Monday, January 31, 2022

The starting point for this blog.

Rather than try to backfill a bunch of Google Fit data let me just describe where I have been athletically leading up to starting this blog in January of 2022.

It's pretty simple - For 2 or 3 years, I have been somewhat regularly walking outside or on a treadmill at the gym for about 30 minutes to an hour. "Somewhat regularly" means probably a max of 5 days a week, and a min (sometimes for months at a time) of 0.  Maybe the average is 2 or 3 workouts a week.

I have been vegetarian for that time as well, with a year long flirtation with veganism.

I have experimented with intermittent fasting, but never had much luck.  In fact, there is a close correlation to quitting a fasting regimen, and body weight increasing above the baseline months later.

What's different now?

1) This blog.  This really is my own private fitness journal, just shared with the world.  It is a tool for not only logging stuff, but also reasoning about what workouts to do or what to eat.   I should exhort myself not to loose site of the blog in this role, and get too caught up in trying to make a successful web product.

2) As of December of last year, 2 months ago, I have a reliable heart rate monitor.

3) I think I have a general air of distrust for fitness influencers that is new.  When I said that I usually regained weight and more after a fasting routine, it was usually following somebody else's advice, rather than listening to my own body, and using my own head to reason about what is or isn't working.

4) I have a 24 hour gym membership both in Philly and in Long Beach Island.

5) My "pod" kind of disintegrated, so I am largely always responsible for my own meals.  This gives me room to experiment without offending anyone.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

It sucks, but it has to be OK to throw out food.

 "Isn't packing on food calories as excess fat also a waste of the food?" 


Ideally, we would always bring home our leftovers, but there are situations where we might not want or be able to.  Perhaps we are traveling, perhaps we are talking about the last 3 forkfuls of a meal and we are embarrassed to ask for a box...

It has to be OK to throw out food.  

Gary Taubes noted that even the world champion of calorie counting wouldn't be able to count calories with enough precision to make a difference.  We have to rely on, and listen to our own satiety signals.

We shouldn't turn ourselves into Foie gras, perennially trying to stuff that last little bit of the meal down our gullets.  Reflecting, a lot of this behavior is motivated by a discomfort with throwing away food.

I realize this is kind of a dicey thing to write, given starvation in places like Afghanistan (currently in the news.)  What I'm really advocating for is a recalibration between what we take onto our plate, and what we should actually consume.  

It's fine if there is still a discomfort with throwing out food as long as the response is to take less next time, not stuff ourselves.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Recognize the credentials of who you are listening to (including me!)

 There's a qualitative difference between the content and manner of delivery of information in the following two searches on youtube:

"Intermittent fasting"

"Intermittent fasting dietician"

Becoming a registered dietician is an arduous process involving extensive academic work, a long internship, and board certification.  It may not closely correlate to who becomes a fitness influencer on YouTube.   

Friday, January 28, 2022

"My Year of Fasting" Channel on Youtube - Sleep Apnea


"My Year of Fasting" youtuber, "before" picture showing adiposity around kneck.

"My Year of Fasting" just posted his six month Alternate Day Fasting update and is doing quite well.  What jumped off the screen for me was the fat loss around the neck, particularly with respect to my own sleep apnea.

I have a severely deviated septum, and therefor can't wear the nasal CPAP mask.  I have been told multiple times by sleep technicians that the mouth masks don't really work due to leaks.  So this type of progress is exciting.  I do wake up in the night with choking dreams, so I know it's a problem.

Overtraining and Volume

 First evidence of overtraining: I am sore as hell, and have been for weeks.  I have to grab my pant leg in order to cross my leg to put on my shoes.  

Second evidence of overtraining: I am losing motivation to workout, and to workout at the intensity I have been.

Third evidence: I feel like there have been some workouts where my heart rate was lower than what I thought it should have been for the perceived exertion.  It was harder to raise my heart rate.

It's the volume, stupid!


The math here is simple:  If you are hitting it really hard at 100% 3 days a week, and I'm working out at 60-70% 6 days a week, I'm doubling your volume.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Quick first post on satiety signals

 Last night, takeout chana masala, raita, and rice.  Eating, eating, eating... man I'm full, I should put this in the fridge... still eating.

Sound familiar?  

When there is quick access to a refrigerator, there is really no excuse for this type of overeating.  Sure, if you are on the road or at a restaurant, it can feel a little inconvenient to stop eating and get a doggy bag, but if you are at home, WTF?

I don't have the citation for who originally said this, but I think the following is true:  If you are cleaning your plate because of "ethics", ask yourself if packing on fat is more akin to wasting food than not.  At a restaurant, it's best to order conservatively, but if your eyes are bigger than your stomach, and you can't take it with you, then it has to be OK to stop eating with food on the plate, even if it ends up in the bin.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Don't want to go to the gym? Relax around the issue.

 Over and over again, I've experienced the following phenomenon:  I haven't worked out in a couple of days, and I'm internally exhorting myself to get to the gym.  A few more days go by, and I just can't get up the energy of activation and get there.

This week I did the opposite:  I was having some tendinitis pain, and was feeling, at least early in the day, incredibly unmotivated to go to the gym.  That's when I wrote that post "Take a week off, not 8 months."  Something interesting happened though: a few hours after giving myself permission to not feel bad about missing the gym, I suddenly, without exhortation, wanted to go.

It was 9pm, but I just got a Planet Fitness membership, so no problem.

This whole phenomenon reminds me of something that used to happen constantly when I was writing code.  I'd hit a road block, and then one of two things would happen:  I'd sit there banging my head against it, making no progress for hours, _or_ I'd get up, go to a coffee shop or take a shower and relax my head around the problem.  Inevitably the unconscious would solve the problem for me and sitting back down I could code up a solution right away.

That seems like a similar deal to this.  Putting pressure on ourselves to do something might work if we traditionally respond well to authoritarianism or discipline.  However if you, like me, are only motivated to work on stuff when I actually intrinsically want to work on stuff, then relaxing around the issue might be more productive.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Take a week off, not 8 months.

 There is a real tendency to overtrain at the inception of a program.  All of us have experienced hitting it hard in the gym in January, only to sit on the couch for the next 11 months.

Recognizing this, let me propose the following:  One symptom of overtraining is an utter lack of desire to work out.  It may actually be that we need rest.  Rather than have this derail a program for the entire year, consider marking a week off in your workout calendar, and just enjoying it, taking time to recover.

Some of my aches and pains are bordering on injury at this point.

This sentiment comes from the HAES  "just eat it" literature.  HAES practitioners, and psychologists in general recognize that the more mental impetus you put behind forbidding something, the more you rebound into binging on that thing (programs where complete abstinence is called for like drugs and alcohol excluded).  A better approach is to defang it by just indulging on it until you are sick of it.  

So too with workouts. If your body hurts and you don't want to work out, then don't work out, but collect some data at least - in the form of a few X's on a calendar where you were resting.  Most of us let this get out of hand and become 11 months of "rest".

Monday, January 24, 2022

Actually, exercise is incredibly useful for weight management. [Review]

Link: Peter Attia, The Drive #85 – Iñigo San Millán, Ph.D.: Mitochondria, exercise, and metabolic health

“What I have been seeing for 25 years, working with elite athletes, is that [zone 2] is the exercise intensity where I see the biggest improvement in fat burning and the biggest improvement in lactic clearance capacity. Therefore, that means that the mitochondria is where you see the biggest improvement.” —Iñigo  San Millán, Ph.D.

Peter Attia paraphrasing, 'People who believe exercise doesn't work for weight loss are not getting the right combination of intensity, frequency, and duration.' 

Iñigo talks about retiring from cycling and putting on 85 pounds.  Something that I, and some of my old rowing pals, experienced.  He considered a restrictive diet, but being from the Basque region, he decided he valued his chocolate and pasta too much.  

The lever that he did pull was the exercise lever -- starting at 45 minutes of zone 2 training 3-4 times a week he saw a 30 pound weight loss. (lactate zone 2, not heart rate zone 2 -- I'd argue that we are talking about something in the 70-80% max heart rate range, but that's a question for Attia's AMA).  He also mentioned that he focused a bit on just "eating less" although I'm not sure what that means, or if it confounds this line of reasoning.

I highly recommend this podcast, although at points it got a little to nerdy even for me.

Iñigo San Millán, Ph.D putting a face mask on a test subject.

Health at every size (HAES) isn't automatic.

You can make huge inroads to health even before any weight comes off. Not seeing, or not maintaining weight loss shouldn't bounce you off of the treadmill or bike, or send you off eating super sugary meals.

Health at every size doesn't mean that everyone is _automatically_ healthy at whatever size they are.  If you are sedentary, and eating sugary shit (I call this "eating diabetes" -- I was at a hotel the other night and had a breakfast of Starbucks mocha and 2 pop tarts. FML) then...

However - I assert that even at 320, with the amount of cardio I do, and given that I don't smoke or drink, I'm a lot healthier than some skinny-fat-sedentary person.  Or at least as healthy.

That's what HAES means to me - that health can be (although not always is) independent of body shape. 

Training calendar screenshot showing 3-4 workouts per week.