31 January 2009

BF Update and Gorge Weekend

BF Update.
About once a month, I try to take a body fat measurement. Last month the ab/chest/thigh caliper readings were 18/8/4 mm for a BF% of 10.3%. Today they were 15/8/4 for a BF% of 9.3%. So some ab improvement, but that area is stubborn. Shockingly, the Tanita scale was in agreement and said 9.7%. Weight has been hovering around 150 (150.6 today) for at least a month.

Exercise - Saturday
In light of this morning's 15/8/4 measurement, I just had to do the DeVaney EF 15/8/4 protocol (http://www.arthurdevany.com/webstuff/images/RevisedEssay.pdf). However, I modified things a bit by incorporating fast, explosive movement for all exercise. Well fast enough to maintain good form and hit the reps.

No running again today. Good to take a break, but I'll probably go for a run on Sunday.
Deadlifts: 135/155/185
Renegade rows: 20/25/30
Mil press machine: 55/70/85
DB press: 5/10/12.5 - light weight since the right shoulder is still wonky
Curls - didn't look at the weights, but I think the bars were 35/45/55?
Close grip pulldowns: 85/100/115

Really felt great leaving the gym. Probably could have stayed there another hour; had that good amped up mojo going.

Exercise - Friday
I know I did some sprints, and a quick 25 rep/exercise workout, but it was such a hectic day all around with work and guests arriving that I'm drawing a blank....and that's why I try to update this on a regular basis.

Nothing special for breakfast or lunch Friday or Saturday - other than it was Paleo friendly. Brother in law Geoff was good enough to clear out a path to the grill through the snow and ice. Grill hasn't been fired up in about a month, so you know where this is going.

Friday dinner:
- chicken with oil and vinegar. Seared for 30 sec/side then turned down the heat and slow cooked on the grill = Crispy outside, moist and juicy inside.
- also grilled some asparagus, yellow and green squash - all with EVOO and cracked pepper.
- plus a big honkin spinach salad with a bell pepper, tomatoes, pine nuts, slivered almonds and a handful of fresh minced cilantro
Splendid meal overall with a few beers

Saturday dinner (Geoff and Christina helped):
- sirloin beef kabobs with mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, pineapple, marinated in a teriyaki glaze plus fresh ginger
- more grilled asparagus with EVOO, minced ginger, cracked pepper, basil
- grilled eggplant sliced into planks, lengthwise, with a combo of EVOO, flaxseed, and a touch of sesame oil, plus cumin
- roasted cauliflower with garlic, EVOO and cracked pepper
- another big honkin salad with hearts of romaine, tomatoes, pine nuts, and a bell pepper
results = another feast, had two big plate fulls + 1 beer and some dark chocolate after dinner.

Well I've bored the people enough. Tomorrow is another day.

29 January 2009

Various Updates

Several great posts by Jeff (http://ernoj.blogspot.com/2009/01/huge-in-hurry-and-2-very-good-posts.html) and Keith (http://theorytopractice.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/a-fantastic-pair-of-t-nation-articles/) got me thinking about mixing the routine up a bit based on the "Huge in a Hurry" protocol (http://health.msn.com/fitness/mens-fitness/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100220568).

Basic premise is to work the fast twitch muscles all the time and to stop the reps when you lose the snap. Take a brief rest and then pick it up again and crank out some more reps. I did this for a couple of workouts over the weekend and felt it in the following days. Still playing around with the proper weight that is challenging, but can still be moved quickly. I'm officially done with the stronglifts 5x5 routine; some gains, but was getting stale.

So today, I did an intermittent fast and cruised to the gym at lunchtime. At one point, there was only one other person in the gym and she was cruising slowly on some piece of cardio equipment. So I did 25 reps with various sets of:

Deadlifts: 135
Seated rows: 100
Lat pulldowns: 100
DB rows: 45
Mil presses: 50
Dips: unweighted but tried to catch air at the apex

Stopped by the local butcher on the way home and loaded up. Made beef Florentine for dinner. Ran out of pepper, and forgot to add the balsamic vinegar, but it turned out great anyway. Wolfed down three spirals + two servings of broccoli for dinner. One of my favorite dishes. Here's the sequence:

27 January 2009

Tuesday Meals

Breaky: fruit salad, coffee
Lunch: spinach salad, chicken, peppers, broccoli, pine nuts, hard boiled egg
Dinner: spaghetti squash with coconut shrimp (http://paleofood.com/shell.htm)

The shrimp really turned out well. Personally, I prefer shelling the shrimp prior to cooking, but keeping the shell on seems to retain the moisture in them. Coconut milk adds a nice subtle flavor to it.

Cooked the spaghetti squash cut side up with flax seed oil. By cooking it cut side up, the boat that is formed can retain a little bit of oil in the middle that cooks in. Also EVOO can be used for this.

Gym time

Still a little sore after two days at the gym; let's make it three! So I skipped running today and went straight to the weights for my last week of the 5x5 in slow fashion. Some weights are still going up, while others are stalled.

Squats: 195
Bench: 175, only could get 5/5/4/4/2. ugh
Leg press: 360
Calf raises: 360
Inclined DB press: 45

Fair workout overall, but those pesky thoughts of work kept it from being a banner day.

26 January 2009

Great Sisson Post

Here a link to Mark Sisson's site: (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/body-composition-how-diet-and-exercise-affect-muscle-mass-and-body-fat/) where he shows his tranformation from being a cardio machine - Iron Man runner up to paleo stud. Amazing. My words won't do the pictures justice.

Monday Dinner

After an intermittent fast Monday made Green Chicken (http://cavemanfood.blogspot.com/2008/10/green-chicken.html) plus some roasted cauliflower (http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/000933roasted_cauliflower.php) for dinner. Plenty of nuts for desert.

Cauliflower turned out awesome. Didn't spare the garlic or the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). The chicken turned out a little salty due to the seasoning, but it was good also. Had three pieces!

Light Day, Part II

Still a little stiff from last week, so did a condensed, fast, light workout.

Sprints for 1 minute each at 9/10/11/11.5/12 mph

25 reps of:

Deadlifts: 135
Seated rows: 100#
Lat pulldowns: 100#
DB rows: 40#
DB curls: 25#
Mil press: 70#

Must have been out of there in an hour. Doing an IF today, but not really fealing bad at all.

25 January 2009

Weekend Chow

Couple of meals of interest over the last few days.

Wife made bison burgers that we picked up at the A-Market. They were so good, I had 3 out of 4. Really more of a granular taste vs beef - and had more of a sirloin-type flavor.

Made tuna salad for lunch few days with albacore tuna. We must be out of canola mayo, so I used flax seed oil instead - really to keep it moist since it can be dry otherwise. Sprinkled some flaxseeds on top as well for a quick lunch in a pinch.

Made fruit salad for the brunch the other day: 1 pineapple, 1 honeydew, 1 cantelope, 1 box of blueberries. Forgot the strawberries and apples. Had that plus a few frittatas (sp) at the brunch and decided to skip the scones, bundt cake, and sugar castle baked monstrosity.

Had a few Harpoon IPAs at a friend's going away party plus some Sam Adams slow-cooked kielbasa and meatballs. Tasted good, but I think there was a fair amount of sugar lurking in the stews.

Eggs plus apple sausage plus salsa for breakfast today. Who knows dinner tonite, but thinking about an intermittant fast for tomorrow.

Weekend Update

Back was a little sore for a few days after the deadlifts, so I took a few days off from the gym. Returned today and did a snappy mix of the stronglifts 25 rep workout / DeVaney EF protocol after reading through the Theory to Practice discussion: (http://theorytopractice.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/a-fantastic-pair-of-t-nation-articles/)

So, I skipped running and abs and did the following as quickly as I could for 25 reps while maintaining good form (weight, reps), took about 30 seconds between sets:

Bench press: 135#, 15/10
Leg press: 270#:,15/10
Calf raises: 270#, 15/10
Squats: 135#, 10/10/5
Incline DB press: 30#, 15/10
Did some explosive dips - actually getting enough air on the launch where my hands left the bar. But nowhere near enough to clap my hands like this dude:


Anyway, felt a good burn afterwards and was outta there in less than an hour.

21 January 2009

Today's Activities

As suspected, I attacked the fridge last nite following a 24 hour IF. Finished the grass fed beef and asparagus. Then moved on to power down some leftover chicken plus spaghetti squash. Two pieces of 75% dark chocolate plus macadamia nuts and pistachios.

This morning, made some eggs with pico de gallo and had a honeybell (http://www.honeybell.com/). We ordered these around the holiday and they have a unique taste. I'd best describe them as a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. Thin skinned and very juicy. Decided to skip lunch as a mini-IF and hit the gym instead.

Ran 5 interval sprints at 9/10/11/11.5/12 mph.
Deadlifts: 195
Seated Rows: 135
Lats: 130 - but again, didn't feel right. Going to have to back down that weight.
Dumbell Rows: 70
Dumbell Curls: 40, almost got 5x5, more like 5x4
Military presses: 85

Felt great and jacked when I left the gym.

20 January 2009

More 5x5 Plus IF

Wife cooked some grass-fed beef with onions last nite and it was quite tasty. First time we've had it and it definitely has a different taste than grain-fed beef. Had some steamed asparagus also plus some macadamia nuts afterward.

Decided to do an intermittent fast today, so haven't eaten since then. Went to the gym and did:

interval sprints: 9/10/11x7/10 mph
Bench press: 175# - finally got 5 sets of 5
Squat: 185# - first set felt great, but knee was uncooperative for set two so aborted that exercise
Leg press: 340#
Calf raise: 340#
Incline flys: 45#
plus a couple of sets of dips.

Came back to work from the gym and saw some leftover chow in a conference room. People were raiding the cookies and potato chips (ahhh, behold the power of insulin!). I took a pass. Looking forward to raiding the fridge for leftovers tonite! Seems like after an IF, I'm eating for an hour and I'm sure tonite will be no different.

18 January 2009

Tanita Scales

In August, I bought a Tanita digital scale with body fat % capability. The weight is dead on, compared to our other scale, but the body fat % reading has some quirks. You enter gender, age, height, and either default activity level or 'athletic'.

So, if I put in my correct stats and default, it says my body fat is like 13%. If I select 'Active' it says 6%. Neither one correct according to caliper measurements of 10.2% (January, 2009). So, I basically had to iterate on the height input to get something close - which meant entering my true height minus 1. inch for Active or adding 2 inches to my height for default.

I'm really just trying to see the trend vs. time, but it would be nice if the readings were more accurate per my correct height.

New Core Exercises plus Confetti

Shocking, but it is snowing out again. Actually, I don't mind the snow; the change of seasons is great. So before hitting the gym today, I decided it best to snowblow the driveway; we probably got about 9" of snow. Well, from the last few storms, coupled with the fact that it has been must colder than freezing, there is still ice on the driveway. That being said, the snowblower would catch some of the ice frozen onto the driveway and make a hard turn to port or starboard.

So I got a good core workout today by wrangling the snowblower down the driveway and back up again. The thing was steering like a drunken sailor and required constant adjustment. But that's not where the fun began. Down by the mailbox, I'm looking for the Sunday paper. It is nowhere in sight. I figure the delivery lady didn't make it today. See where this is going? So, I make my second pass with the snowblower and the auger comes to a dead stop. No warning, nothing. I look to my left to see a Sunday paper confetti parade blowing out the discharge chute. Paper was quite mangled and wedged up against the main auger. I had to get a crowbar to wrestle the remains out. Needless to say, we didn't read today's paper. Actually, I was quite impressed about how well it shreaded the entire Sunday edition.

Allright. Off to the gym - no sprints today. A few more weeks of 5x5
Deadlifts 195
Seated Rows: 130
Lat pulldowns: 130 - did 5/5/5/-/-, form was really sketchy for these 3 sets, try again next time
DB row: 75lb same reps and comments as above. Couldn't remember if I did 65 or 70 last time, now I know.
Did some quick curls and skipped military presses.

Came home and chipped at the ice on the walkway for an hour. Didn't feel bad about the time except for missing the first quarter of the NFC championship.

Ok - last nite for dinner, cooked some chicken burgers and tried the butternut squash souffle (http://cavemanfood.blogspot.com/). Couldn't find pureed squash in the store, so did it myself which made about 4 cups. So I was a little off on the ingredients, but it came out fine. Tonite, made fried chicken (in coconut oil) with almond meal breading plus steam cauliflower.

On a side note, the Tanita scale said 8.9% body fat this morning. Frankly I think it is a little off, and that the trends are more accurate, but since my calipers on out on loan, I can't verify this number. More later on my opinion of the Tanita scale.

17 January 2009

Better Workout

Felt some kind of cold/headache come on yesterday in the middle of gym time, so I dropped back and punted. Much better today.

Ran 5 interval sprints, 10/10.5/11/11.5/12 mph. A few more weeks on the 5x5. Although I'm making gains in some exercises, some are still hitting limits and I'm starting to get antsy about getting back to the DeVaney protocol, or something different. Anyway, despite the knee complaints (better also today), I did 5 sets with 5 reps unless otherwise noted:

Squats: 180
Bench press: 175 5/5/3/-/-, one more try at this next time
Leg press: 320
Calf press: 320
Incline flys: 40

Plus a few manly planks and a few sets of dips.

Planning on cruising to the A-Market (http://www.amarketnaturalfoods.com/) to pick up some grass fed beef, flax seed oil, almond meal, plus any thing else that strikes us. Place is a bit pricey, but some of these items are not carried supermarkets. Whole foods is not bad, but they are expensive also and seem to cater to a higher tax bracket.

14 January 2009

Today's Workout

Made the mistake of having a breakfast burrito at the cafeteria today. Nontheless, I skipped lunch and headed to the gym.

Did the 10 interval sprints: 9/10/11x6/11.5/10mph followed by manly plank for a minute and 1 minute on each side.

Couple more weeks with the 5x5 stronglifts (http://stronglifts.com/stronglifts-5x5-beginner-strength-training-program/) although I modify the exercises a bit from what they recommend.

Today did:
Deadlifts: 185
Seated Rows: 125
Lats - some reason felt weak there, so skipped them
Dumbell Rows: 60
Military press: 75
DB curls: 40

Then took a tepid shower and headed back to work.

13 January 2009

Low Carb Links

I stumbled across a few interesting links of note. The first one discusses common low-carb myths that are used by opponents of low carb. It also has a low-carb food pyramid - which is refreshing.

Wikipedia has a great description - better than my writing skills:

Discussion of the Atkins diet - I just don't agree with the limitation of fruits and veggies or the structured carb counting :

And finally, the Paleo, or Stone Age Diet:

12 January 2009

Hitting Limits

Kind of a busy weekend, plus another 8" of snow - on top of the 2" of ice that won't come off the walkway despite my primal chipping at it with the shovel. Anyway, was in a training class regarding optomechanics today so I didn't get to the gym til about 6:30.

Whammo - packed indeed. I'm usually a lunchtime or early afternoon patron, so I was shocked at the attendance. Almost every piece of cardio equipment occupied.

Nonetheless, I soldiered on and did 5 interval sprints before heading to the squat rack. Going to stay with the stronglifts 5x5 program til the end of the month and then switch back to the DeVaney EF 15/8/4 protocol. It has been interesting and I feel I've made some gains. It is starting to get tough with today being the first day I fell short of the 5x5.

Did 5x5 squats with 175, but my knee was really killing me toward the end (stupid ski injury), then did 5/5/5/4/1 for bench with 175. Ugh. Have to repeat this. Tried the leg press, but my knee said "no, thank you", so I did some calf work, inclined flies with 40's and some dips.

Spinach salad for lunch with chicken. Chicken plus asparagus for dinner tonite, plus a boat load of pistachios and some dark chocolate.

11 January 2009

Getting Started

I've spoken with several friends and coworkers about nutrition and fitness. Anyway, I've found myself repeating the same thing frequently, so I thought I'd just summarize it here. So, I would recommend the following for anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

1. First off, there are two books I would recommend reading that should open one's eyes - The Paleo Diet (http://www.thepaleodiet.com/) and Good Calories, Bad Calories (http://www.amazon.com/Good-Calories-Bad-Gary-Taubes/dp/1400040787). Both books discuss how the inclination for fat deposition is driven by insulin - which is elevated through the consumption of carbohydrates. The Paleo Diet is more specific regarding the recommended foods and food to avoid.

2. Armed with this knowledge, clean out the kitchen. If you don't have bad foods in the house, you can't eat them. Avoid take-out and learn to cook healthy. It is not easy at first, but after a few weeks, it is real easy avoiding the bad actors. Bottom line: Get rid of the processed crap from the cupboard. Eliminate all pasta, flour, bread, rice, potatoes, and most importantly sugar from the house. Note that this includes sugar substitutes.

3. Plan and cook healthy meals. Weekends are great to decide what to make for the upcoming week, go out and shop for that stuff and have it all available for cooking later in the week. It eliminates the excuse that there is nothing to make for dinner. And leftovers are great. Avoid the temptations at work or elsewhere. This is where it helps to have a friend or spouse on board with the plan; you can hold each other accountable for behaving. The book has some recipes to get started in the back, or try this web site: http://www.paleodiet.com/ - note different source than the book, but the same idea. After a while, it will be natural and you'll know what's good and bad. Several of the links, and blog rolls also discuss recipes, etc.

4. Get active. It is not necessary to join a gym, but that is helpful. I live right off of a main road, plus there is over a foot of snow down on the ground right now, so outdoor activities are limited. The key is short-intenste exercise. Steady state cardio is not helpful. Look at the classic case of the marathoner vs. the sprinter. Which one is the one you want to look like? Art Devaney (http://www.arthurdevany.com/index.php) describes this in his theory of Evolutionary Fitness. In summary, the short, intense exercises develop fast-twitch muscle fibers that use a bunch more energy (and hence burn fat) than slow twitch muscle fibers. This also helps to promote a hormonal response and gene expression (talks for another day).

5. Do some research to see what others are doing. The links show people who have had extreme success with a Paleo lifestyle. Yes, this takes a while to read through the history sometimes, but after a few pages, I think people will see a trend of nutrition and fitness. A summary of some clear examples of success are:

Jeff Erno (http://ernoj.blogspot.com/). Jeff has been following a Paleo Diet for almost a year, has most of his family on it and has driven his body fat down to 8%. Check out the pix from July and you'll see one cut mo-fo.

Keith Norris (http://theorytopractice.wordpress.com/). This guy is ripped also - and extremely knowledgeable regarding nutrition and fitness.

Richard (http://www.freetheanimal.com/root/) who has lost 60 lb of fat and one of the most prolific posters I've seen.

Anyway, that's the crux of getting started. Here's to good health in 2009!

10 January 2009

Peter Schiff on Economics

Don't know if people have seen this post from 10/08, but it is scary in his predictions going back 2 years:

It' s like he's saying the world is round and people are laughing at him like "You fool, everyone knows it is flat!"

Ben Stein: "Merrill Lynch is an astonishing well run company..."

Charles Payne: "Yeah, I like the financials, too...." It goes on and on.

Anyway, here's his view on the upcoming economic outlook from 11/08:

...and for 2009:

08 January 2009

Better Workout

Partial fast today - skipped lunch and cruised to the gym instead. A couple of new faces talking on cell phones and texting, but pretty calm in the early afternoon.

Interval sprints of the usual 9/10/11x7/10 mph for a minute each with a 4 mph 2 min rest in between. Covered 3 miles in 26:47. Then did 1 minute of 'manly planks' plus 1 minute on each side. Legs still stiff from squats yesterday, so it wasn't a complete wash despite the raid on the taco cart.

Continued 5x5 with:
Deadlifts: 175#
Seated Rows: 120#
Lat Pulldowns: 120#
Dumbell Rows: 65#
Military Press: 70#

Getting tougher and feeling it more the following day. The next few weeks will be challenging.

Broken Ketosis

Had every intention to do an IF yesterday. Was cruising along til lunchtime when someone says "hey - someone left the taco cart out in the hallway!". Long story short, I hammered down three soft tacos, 2 chicken, 1 beef - with the only bad actor being the actual flour tortilla.

A couple hours later I went to the gym and felt like a complete slug. Didn't do interval sprints. Pretty quiet workout and didn't feel like superman when I left. Wasn't a complete waste, but not the best workout either.

Still marching on in 5x5 fashion:
Squats, 170#
Leg press, 305#
Calf raises, 305#
Bench press, 170#
Cable flys, 50# - had to substitute these in since the high school kids were preoccupying weights and benches.

One of the kids was benching 215 and had the great form of trying to touch the ceiling with the belly button. His back looked like the St. Louis Arch. I felt like saying something, or recommending a chiropractor, but decided to just mind my own business.

06 January 2009

Biggest Loser

Hmmm, where do I begin with the latest season of the biggest loser? First off, it is impressive to see the weight loss after months of hard work, but they have a tough road ahead. Of course, this is basically their job, plus they are being pushed four hours with motivated trainers and a nutritionally controlled environment.

Some of the contestents of note are:

- Daniel, who's 19 years old, 5'8" and 454# to start. I'd like to speak to his parents some time.
- Ron, 6'0"/430# start. Had gastric bypass surgery and still is over four bills.
- Carla, 380# start. Biggest woman the show has ever had.

Anyway, despite the theatrics and drama that occurs on the show, I'd really be more interested if they would go into greater detail regarding their exact exercise and diet protocols. All they seem to do is show them walking or jogging on the treadmill in between pimping some product like Britta water filters.

Don't know who to pull for yet. Obviously, I wish success and health for all of them, but it is too early for the personalities to shine through yet.

Pitt Hoops

Well, for the first time in school history, the Pittsburgh Panthers are CURRENTLY ranked #1 in college basketball rankings, thanks to both an impressive win over Georgetown and BC upsetting previous #1 UNC.
It is kind of a nice, but the real test comes in March where the Panthers have always had problems despite some great teams.

05 January 2009

Today's Workout

Gym is getting busier than usual. Of the 15-20 people there in mid-afternoon, I only recognized 5 or 6 regulars.

Started off with interval sprints - 2 minutes walking at 4.0 mph the 1 minute at sprint speed 10 times. Sprint speeds of 9, 10, 11 (7x), and 10 mph.

Currently in the middle of the stronglifts program (url currently unavailable). I've been doing this for about a month and the premise is to do 5 reps for 5 sets one day and then increase the weight by 5 lb the next time you are performing that exercise. Weights are getting more difficult by the 5th set of 5, but here we are for today:

  • Deadlifts, 165lb
  • Seated Rows (machine), 115lb
  • Lat pulldowns (machine), 115lb
  • Dumbell row, 65lb
  • Shoulder press (machine), 65lb
  • Dumbell curls, 35lb

Though the workout is more routine, I have noticed some increases in the major exercises.

04 January 2009

Items of Interest

Some items I will be discussing in future posts:
  • Getting started with nutrition
  • Evolutionary fitness
  • Stronglifts
  • Ketosis
  • Homeostasis
  • The obesity epidemic
  • Favorite and helpful links


Welcome to my blog. I've finally decided to start this blog to document my experiences for 2009 regarding fitness and nutrition. Of course, other random topics of interest may turn up now and again but, hey - it's my blog.

While I thought my wife and I were leading a fairly healthy lifestyle; neither of us were overweight or sedintary and no major health problems, we decided in May of 2008 to change our eating habits. After reading Loren Cordain's "The Paleo Diet" (http://www.thepaleodiet.com/) and from discussion with our friend Jeff (http://ernoj.blogspot.com/), we realized that the USDA food pyramid (http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/index.html) may not be the best way to eat.

In short, the USDA recommends a heavy portion of grains and carbohydrates in the Standard American Diet, while de-emphasizing meats. The agricultural staple in our diets came into vogue with the advent of the industrial evolution which allowed for cheap processed carbs. As time has passed, more harmful processed sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup has found its way into many foods readily consumed today. Simple carbohydrates have a detrimental effect on today's nutrition and we elected to eliminate them from our diet.

The results have been outstanding. I'm 5'10" and started out at 167# and close to 20% body fat. Within 3 months of following the Paleo Diet, I dropped 20lb. My weight bottomed out at 145lb (currently 150lb) and my body fat is now 10.5%. I've lost track of how much weight my wife has lost, and she wasn't big to begin with. She's had clothes altered more than once on our journey and some can not be altered anymore.

Anyway, the intent of this blog is to document my progress regarding fitness and nutrion, to discuss items of interest and to help others lead a healthier lifestyle.