Thursday, December 23, 2010

Progress Information

First, background information:

This is my first post to show my progress so far.  I will also explain my plans for the next phase to begin on January 1, 2011.  So far this year, in 2010, I have followed 2 different programs and I have had positive results with both.  They were very different in most ways and produced very different results.

Winter 2009/2010

When I first decided to try something to lose some weight and get in better shape, I ordered the P90X workout program. This was in December of 2009.  In the first round, I only made it to the 60-day mark at the end of January.  I was very much out of shape and I just got worn out.  Also, I did not make very significant changes to my diet, which was full of refined carbohydrates and industrial oils.

Spring 2010

Around March, I tried it again, but also ended at the 60-day mark due to being physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.  This time I did take out many of the bad items from my diet, but I was substituting with meal replacement bars made with soy and many "heart-healthy whole grains" while cutting down on "artery-clogging saturated fat".

I do not mean to say anything bad about the P90X program.  I do believe that it can get you ripped.  However, to really get the most out of it, you need to already be at a decent level of fitness.  I was not very strong at the time and did not have a lot of endurance, so it whipped me like a rented mule.

I had made diet changes according to what seemed to be the most widely-accepted advice, and I did notice that I felt a little better, but I wasn't seeing changes anywhere near like the progress photos advertised for the program.  Now, I am not so naive to believe that the advertised results will be seen by everyone, but I thought I had given it my everything and my results were not as close as I felt they should have been given the amount of work and time I had put in over the 60 days so far.

Summer 2010

In July, I decided to give it another go.  Below are my beginning photos for July 1, 2010.  This is with no real exercise and back to the Standard American Diet since giving up on the second P90X round about 3 months prior.  My approximate weight was 195 lbs.

I tried P90X again and I was seeing similar results as before. This time, after 30 days, I was already feeling like I could not make it through 60 days of it, much less the full 90 days.  I had been following Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness for some time, and I was beginning to implement his suggestions on diet.  I noticed better changes this time, but the workout schedule was still just too brutal for me.

From listening to Sean's radio shows, watching his videos, and reading his blogs, I was introduced to a numerous variety of interesting people with a vast array of knowledge.  I started studying people like Paul Chek, Mark SissonDr. Michael R. EadesChris Masterjohn, Robb Wolfe, Dr. Stephan GuyenetRichard Nikoley, and MANY more.  As I began introducing the advice from these resources, I started feeling much better.

Aug 2010

Now we are up to August 1, 2010.  This was the first time a had real tests and measurements done for a set of beginning data.  Below are my stats and photos:

7/1/2010 8/1/2010

Weight 195 185

Body Fat (Scale) 22.4% 20.8%

Body Fat (Calipers) n/a 17.3%
Exercise Max
Chin Ups 0 4
Pull Ups 0 2
Standard Push Ups 10 25
Diamond Push Ups 4 10
CVS Minute Clinic
Fasting Glucose 69
A1C 5.6%
Total Cholesterol 237
LDL unable to calculate
HDL 45
Triglucerides < 50
TC/HDL Ratio 5.3
Blood Pressure 121/86
Waist 36
Framingham Risk 3%
10-yr Heart Disease Moderate Risk
Lifetime Fitness
Max VO2 36.5
Bicep Strength 89
Sit and Reach 15
Overall Fitness 55.6%
Age 32
BodyAge 30

July                                       Aug

Dec 2010

From August 1st up until today, December 23rd, I have had a transition from eating 50/50 paleo to 80/20 paleo, but still including cheese and eggs (some paleo people don't consider eggs part of paleo).  By around November 1st, I had eliminated all wheat except for my cheat Saturdays.  From Richard Nikoley's blog,, I was introduced to Martin Berkhan, the creator of LeanGains.  Beginning around December 1st, I started following the LeanGains recommendations for 8/16 intermittent fasting.

Now we have arrived to today, December, 23, 2010.  I am feeling better than I have in at least 10 years.  I'm estimating my current body fat percentage is getting close to 15% compared to my previous measurement of 17%.  My strength gains have been noticeably significant but I have not been tracking strength with data.  I plan to start tracking workout and strength data for a better idea of my actual gains.

Next, plans for the next phase:

The next phase will still be based on the Primal Blueprint lifestyle and will continue to take the majority of its nutrient ratios and food items from an evolutionary-based mindset while following an intermittent fasting schedule from LeanGains.  I have found this combination to work very well for me.  It just feels RIGHT.

Some supplements and workouts suggested in The 4-Hour Body will be used from it's sections on gaining strength.  I know people have a wide variety of opinions on Tim Ferriss. After reading his book, I find it to be an interesting collection ideas and personally-tested theories.  I like personally-tested theories.  Most of the information in this book was not new to me, but I did like how it brought many of the different ideas together.

Contrary to Tim's suggestions, strength training workouts will be performed fasted first thing in the morning on weekdays.  I have seen a lot of information on fasted training from a variety of sources that intrigue me, so I want to test it out on myself.  I will take some suggested supplements from both Martin and Tim along with cold water prior to fasted training, but no food and nothing with a significant caloric value.  Meth or crank dope can double your single rep max and has zero calories.  Put COPS on on high volume in the background and triple results can be seen!  Kidding...I will be just using 10g BCAA's, Creatine, and NO-Xplode.


Weekdays:  I will be using his 8/16 intermittent fasting during the weekdays.

Saturday:  Each Saturday will be my feast day followed according to the suggestions from LeanGains and The 4-Hour Body.

Sunday:  My Sundays' meals will consist of only coffee with cream and cinnamon in the morning followed by a reasonable-sized lunch with my parents.  I can easily consume 1000-1500 calories of good quality food from this single meal, so I will not putting myself in any danger of not enough calories for the day.

Sunday will serve as a semi-fasting day of only one meal.  The lack of evening meals on Sunday will give and extended fasting period from Sunday's lunch to Monday's normal breakfast at noon.  I have heard many suggested benefits of weekly 24-hour fasting, one of which being cellular protein cycling via autophagy.  To put it in a simple way, this tells the cells it's trash day and the truck is coming, so set out your waste now for pickup.

Of course, water should be consumed during this 24-hour fast.  Water to be applied as needed;  don't drink X glasses of water a day thinking it is helping to flush out the system.  It seems logical to me that kidneys can only filter out a limited amount of waste so an increase in water only helps until you hit the point where there is more water than the kidneys need.  Also, I would think that the body is pretty good at monitoring this balance level.  So, I will just be drinking if I'm thirsty and not forcing myself to drink any certain amount.

This weekly cycle will be followed from Jan 1, 2011 to April 1, 2011.  I will update with progress stats and photos once per month on the 1st.


I recently ran across a website with a workout plan to get up to 100 consecutive push ups in 6 weeks or less, depending on your starting point.  According to my initial test results, I am supposed to start at week 3.  So, I will start week 3 of the routine on week 1 of my overall program.  This will put me completing week 6 of the 100 push up workout program at the end of my first month.  If all goes well, my push ups count will have increased from 40 to 100 in one month.  That sounds like a huge task, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

Stay tuned for the next progress stats and photos coming Jan 3, 2011!

Update: Progress Update now published here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Young female chimpanzees treat sticks as dolls: Growing evidence of biological basis for gender-specific play in humans

I was referred to this article by @evolvify tweet today.

Young female chimpanzees treat sticks as dolls: Growing evidence of biological basis for gender-specific play in humans

First, I want to say that I think this was a very interesting theory and observations.

A quote at the end of the article sparked a thought:

"One of the things that makes our finding fascinating is that there is little evidence of anything comparable in other chimpanzee communities, which raises the possibility that the chimpanzees are copying a local behavioral tradition. So this may be a lovely case of biological and social influences being intertwined."

So, follow me here for a minute...

They are suggesting that the doll-like activities of young female chimps may not be a chimp thing, but is actually the chimps imitating human behavior.  If that is true, then the question of why it is only the young female and not young male, mature female, or mature male chimps that exhibit this behavior still exists.

In order for this scenario to be true, you would have young female chimps specifically imitating the behavior of young female humans, which brings up some interesting thoughts.

This requires that the chimps understand male/female difference.  Of course, like all animals, this understanding and recognition exists amongst other chimps but this takes that understanding and recognition ability to another level in that they also are able to recognize that difference in other species and determine the sex of a member of another species on observation.  The same goes for an understanding and recognition of age/maturity in other species.

I restate that, for this theory to be true, the young female chimps are specifically imitating their "equal" in the human species.  They are not imitating mature female humans or even young male humans so they have both age/maturity and sex correct.  They would have to see the young female humans as "like them" and choose them as their closest link to another species because of the shared sex and age/maturity (relative age, not exact age of course).

Personally, I do not have any objections to this theory.  It seems very plausible.

Let me know your thoughts...

Friday, December 10, 2010

When taking your health in your own hands goes right

While having my morning coffee, I found an interesting article on CNN.

FAIR WARNING: You may not want to read this while eating if you are sensitive to "icky stuff".

Points I took from this story in no particular order:
  • It amazes me how long people will keep going to doctors for help when they continue to not deliver results.
  • Why do many doctors act like they have ALL the knowledge possible?  Is their ego that strong that they truly believe that if someone has not gone though the same education and training that they went through, then they do not have the ability to perform studies using the scientific method to test their theories?
  • Is this a case of "We didn't think of it so it must be wrong!"?


As a response to "the patient's" story, one of the head honchos of a university said "We don't make medical recommendations based on a single case report."  Der...everyone, meet Captain Obvious.  Wouldn't you want to investigate this case?  I completely agree that you should not jump to conclusions based on a single case, but isn't it worthy of noting the experimental treatment's success?  I would definitely like to see proper studies to test out the possible usage of this treatment as an option.  Option being the key word because it may help in some cases and cause harm in others.  Wouldn't you like to know these things?

Then, Sir Superiority states, "It's ridiculous and incredibly inappropriate."  Hum...A patient goes to doctor after doctor after doctor for years upon end and none of them can give him the slightest bit of help, so he takes matters into his own hands and finds something that not only helps him deal with the symptoms, but actually shows to have reduced the signs of the disease.  Let us visit our good friend Webster for a moment...

Ridiculous:  arousing or deserving ridicule : extremely silly or unreasonable : absurd, preposterous
Inappropriate: not appropriate : unsuitable

So, what Senor Superiority here is saying is that educating yourself and searching for a cure to your disease on your own after doing what your doctor tells you to do does not produce any results is deserving of ridicule, extremely silly and incredibly unsuitable.  Damn, that was harsh!


Having let all that out, I must also make the point that I do not have some all-encompassing distrust or angst against all doctors or researchers.  Many of them have their heart in the right place and have a humble attitude about medicine and treating/healing disease.  The honorable P'ng Loke is a shining example of this lack of ego and open-mindedness that I am alluding to.  It is those with the attitude of Dr. Stephen Hanauer that inhibit the progress of medical research.

If a patient wants to take a chance on an unproven treatment, they should be able to release the doctors of liability and go for it.  I would think that fits under what we mean when we say this is a free country.  You are free to cause harm to yourself by taking an unapproved treatment if you so choose as long as you release all those involved from any liability.

This is another rant for another day, but I'm guessing that one of the reasons this is not possible is some asshole lawyer would attempt to sue one of the people involved if things had unfavorable results in spite of the release of liability.  Even if the lawyer was unsuccessful, just battling the case would cost the accused significant money.  So, many would still be afraid to help the patient out no matter what legal protection was offered to them.

If a lawyer doesn't get them, someone in the press will spew venom at them attempting to make a story for themselves.  I just see many people being afraid to "stand up to the system" and take such a huge gamble with their reputation.  For these people, their reputation is their means of income and that is the last thing that they would risk.  So, they just say, "Sorry, but I'll have to pass on that..."

In conclusion, if you are having problems and being bounced around between different doctors because none can help you with their limited toolbox of approved treatments from their governing authorities, you have found the end of the beaten path.  Now, you can either stop and give up, or you can get out your machete and begin your journey of education and experimentation through the wilderness, but be extremely careful and watch your back.  Don't expect very much help, but be forever gracious to those that do choose to help.

If you are successful, congratulations and best wishes for continued health and happiness.  If you are not, at least you didn't give up and maybe you were able to help someone else out as a result of your journey.

You never know what you will find on the other side of the mountain where no one from your village has ever visited to report back from.  Personally, I would rather take the chance of encountering unfriendlies on the other side and deal with that situation if it arises than give up, sit down, and wait to die.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The 3 Changes That Have Made The Most Difference

Looking back over the past few months and trying to attribute the changes I've seen in myself to specific causes has been very interesting to say the least.

When most people are confronted with the comment/question combination of "Wow, you look great! What have you been doing?", they usually have a simple answer.  Those answers are in the form of: I have been (exercise name) for X minutes per (day/week) or I have been doing the (Diet Name) Diet.

However, those would not be completely honest answers for me.  I have not been following any specific diet plan.  I have not been following any specific workout routine.  Nope.  That's right.  I have lost about 20 lbs and 4 inches of my waist size while re-compositioning from approx 23% body fat to approx 19% over the past 4 months (Aug-Nov) but I have not been following a "diet plan" or workout routine.

So, how did I do this?  Well, that is a good question, and I think I have finally come up with the simplest explanation: I changed my mind.  I changed my mind about A LOT of things.

First, I changed my mind about my thinking that once you are in your 30's, you can loose some fat and gain some muscle, but minor changes are all that you can honestly hope for.  At that time, I just wanted to minimize the yearly waistline expansion because I did not see a major body re-compositioning as a possibility for a 30-something with a full-time job.

What changed my mind on that?  I saw others who had done it.  If they can do it, I can do it.  And that is where my motivation began.

The second major change I made was how I looked at what I was putting into my body.  I like to call this Food vs Nutrition.  For my whole life, I had been "eating food".  Who would think that term could cause any problems?  It does not seem negative.  That is when I discovered that the concepts of "eating food" and "consuming nutrients" are actually extremely different.  Hang with me here...

What comes to mind when you think of "eating food"?  I can guarantee that you are mentally picturing a dish or meal.  You are thinking about how good it looks (presentation on the plate/table).  You are thinking about how good it smells.  You are thinking about how good it tastes.  You are probably actually having a Pavlovian response right now causing your mouth to water just from these mental sights, smells, and tastes.  Are you thinking about the chemical makeup of the meal?  Hell no!  You are thinking about the sensory perceptions involved with the consumption of the meal, not the chemical components of the meal.  Is that a bad thing? No, not necessarily.  But it CAN be.

I decided to change my mind and start educating myself about nutrition and looking at the same act as "consuming nutrients" instead of "eating food".  Everything suddenly shifted from being based on sensory perception to the body's internal chemistry.  As I learned more, it shifted from just thinking about the human body's internal chemistry in general, to MY individual, specific chemistry.  I started paying close attention to how I felt after consuming something.  If it made me feel better, I noted that.  If I made me feel worse, I noted that as well.  I started only consuming things that caused me to feel better after consuming them and stopped eating things that caused me to feel worse after eating them.  This is a very simple concept, but the magic in it was the personal, subjective nature of it.  I was making my own decisions in what is best for me.  And this leads into the next change of mind.

We listen to and take the advise of people who either claim to be experts themselves or claim to be passing on the knowledge of experts.  We trust these people to be looking out for our best interest and to be honest and truthful.  There is one major problem though.  These are still people; they are not computers/machines.  They have bias.  They have flaws.  What would you think if you found out that the research organization that turned out a report linking saturated fat to cardiovascular disease was headed by a politically active vegan?  Do you honestly think that company is capable of putting out a fair, scientific, unbiased study?  Hell no.

I changed my acceptance of press releases and news stories as truth/fact just because they came from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc.  I started researching these things myself.  For some ideas/theories, I find more evidence to support than to contradict, so I consider them "ideas worth looking further into".  For others, I find more contradicting data than supporting data, so I consider these "interesting ideas without significant evidence to support them, YET".  There are many ideas/theories that contradict the currently available data when they are presented, but as time goes on and more data is collected, seem to fit the newer data better than their opposing theories.

I never outright label an idea/theory as "wrong".  How do I KNOW its wrong unless I know the right answer?  It may not seem right, but unless I can PROVE that it is wrong, I don't think of it as so.  I may think of it as far-fetched, illogical, unlikely, ignorant, psychotic, or whatever, but I don't think of it as "wrong".  Maybe an infinitesimally small probability of being correct, but I still leave that possibility that it COULD be correct and that it only seems so unlikely because of the way that I am currently looking at it.  I advise to question everything and everybody and, when in doubt, follow the money to find the full story.

So, in summary, if you want to make major changes in your health you have to change your mind.  You may have different ideas, theories, and perceptions to change than I did, but if you are not having success with your current mindset, some type of change is necessary to find that success.

For me, I had to:
  • believe that it was possible
  • start thinking about consuming nutrients instead of eating food and perform n=1 experiments with my unique body chemistry and use the results to make better choices
  • stop blindly accepting information provided by so-called experts
I have made many other small changes of mind, but I see these 3 as the major shifts that have had the most impact so far.