Two days ago, I finished my first three month weight loss/control experiment where I measured some body metrics everyday:

    Weight
    Waist size
    Hip measurement
    Thigh diameter

I’ve touched on my weight loss before as becoming healthier has become my main focus for 2011 and I am totally succeeding! I made it a point to weigh and measure everyday, to the point where I made sure it was an inconvenience to myself to do so I would get it out of the way. I started on 20 June and ended on 20 September and I have very good news for myself to report.

    Starting weight: 207lbs
    Ending weight: 190.5lbs
    Starting waist size: 38.5 inches
    Ending waist size: 34.5 inches (I did drop to 34 a few times)
    Starting hips size: 39 inches
    Ending hips size: 37 inches
    Starting thigh size (right and left): 26 inches and 25.5 inches
    Ending thigh size (right and left): 23.25 inches and 23 inches

So in three months to the day, I lost 16.5 pounds and melted off a total of 11.25 inches in the places where it matters. I feel pretty awesome everyday and I have so much more energy than before. My mid-morning energy slump, hunger headaches, wildly varying blood sugar, and grouchiness have all but disappeared. Now when I wake up, an hour later I am peppy and ready to go all day with lots of free energy; if I get sleepy, it’s usually because I did not get enough sleep the night before. If I miss a meal, it’s no big deal because my body no longer crashes to the point where I am on the verge of passing out from what I believe is hypoglycemia, my body instead feeds on the foods I give it or it goes into a ketogenic stage and feeds on body fat. I routinely eat only once or twice all day now, whereas before I had to make sure I ate at least two meals full of complex carbs just to keep going.

How did I do it? The short answer is by adopting an entirely primal diet, on an 80/20 basis (six days strict, one day binge to eat whatever I want). I also made myself accountable for my eating by photographing everything I eat although I do miss meals sometimes. That way, if I feel extra crappy the next day or my weight shoots up, I can look back and see what I ate to pin point what may have caused it. The long answer is something for another post entirely involving how I made the switch, why I chose primal over other diets, how I learned to stop counting calories, and why I generally ignore everything your doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer, celebrity, and health organizations tell you about what is “healthy”, “unhealthy”, “guaranteed/proven to work”, and what foods to absolutely avoid. The changes have not always been easy or convenient but the results speak for themselves: I can fit into every pair of pants and shorts I own and nearly every shirt fits again.

I owe my results entirely to determination, Angelo Coppola, Robb Wolf, Richard Nikoley, Tim Ferriss, Paul Jaminet, and so many others who have written countless blog posts, journal articles, books, and produced podcasts about paleo and primal eating, evolutionary biology, functional fitness, why conventional wisdom is wrong and so many other topics. Thank you all for your tireless devotion to proving that, as Angelo Coppola says, humans are not broken.

My next three month experiment will involve tracking the same metrics however, I will now be introducing various types of cross training. I am going to start off with TRX suspension training since it is offered at FAU for free during this semester. Once that is done, I will move on to something else, perhaps even the extremely-poor-form-inducing CrossFit that I have until now sworn off, but we will see. I will continue to run and participate in races while trying to bump up my mileage, I intend to run a marathon or ultra-marathon next year, and will compete in some mud and endurance races such as Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash, just to test my training and mettle.

After three months, I feel like a champion. Hopefully in three more months, I can say I feel like a Spartan.

Since I have started my new diet lifestyle change a little over a month ago, I have kept a running log of the metrics I feel are most appropriate for not only measuring change and progress, but ones that also correlate to overall health and well-being and weight loss. Things such as:

    Weight (everyday)
    Food intake (almost every meal)
    Calorie intake (as often as possible)
    Water consumption
    Body measurements (waist, hips, both thighs) (every morning after weighing)
    Cholesterol (LDL, HDL, total, free)
    Testosterone levels (total, free)

And now I’ve added one more thing: body fat percentage and body composition (fat vs. lean mass). I did all of this by hopping inside a BodPod which just looks like a spaceship capsule. I do not pretend to understand how it works entirely besides creating a pressure differential and then doing some other crazy stuff and spitting out my measurements, good or bad. It provides a lot of good data: fat mass, lean mass, weight, estimated RMR, estimated TEE, and estimated caloric intake based on RMR and activity level. Well, here are my test results.

My BodPod results

My BodPod results

So here we see my weight (205.2lbs, which was actually 3lbs heavier than my own scale at home weighed an hour after I took the test), my fat mass of 23.1%, and lean body mass of 76.9%. Except for the weight, which I knew was incorrect, these numbers are slightly higher than I expected them to be. I only predicted I would be in the 18%-20% body fat range but being 3.1% higher than that was not much of a surprise. The weight was surprising since I had weighed 201.5lbs about six hours before and I knew it was not correct because after I got home from the testing center, I weighed myself at 202.5lbs. I did this by taking a 3lb bag of sugar and weighed it on both my food scale (which read 3lb 5oz) and my personal scale (which read 3.5lbs on the nose). Despite this weight discrepancy, my results are just about right — changing the weight would only make a 1% difference or so. So what does this mean for my weight loss now? Am I disappointed in my results despite having lost 17lbs in total? All good questions.

Am I disappointed in the results? No, and why would I be?! I have dropped 17lbs in total since I switched to a primal/paleo diet and I have dropped nearly nine inches in size over the areas I measure (waist, hips, thighs). This includes a three inch reduction in my waist and a one inch reduction in my hips. My thigh measurements are bouncing around the same numbers everyday because I have had fairly large thighs since working out in high school, I simply never lost the bulk but now it is more fat than muscle! Now that I have these results of fat vs. lean mass, what does that mean for my weight loss plan going forward? Well, that is pretty simple. Since I now know my lean body mass, I can calculate how much protein I should be consuming per day to support and stimulate muscle growth and repair. This is one of the most important factors of my current plan because this diet has allowed me to recover more quickly after my running sessions with little to no pain the next day if I have a high protein meal the night of my run. So now I can take my total protein intake and optimize it for consumption over the day, with a focus on adding more to my lunch and bulking it up on dinners after I exercise. Being able to correctly and accurately evaluate my protein needs will then further allow me to optimize my dietary planning overall. I can now say, with more precision, that I need to eat X amount of meat per day and make sure to eat Y amount of vegetables; I like to try and keep a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of vegetables to meats each day. Some days I hit those ratios, some days I do not and trust me, when I do not, I know it the next day.

I will go back in a few months to get another measurement, probably around September or October. This will be perfect since I am getting another blood panel conducted in the next two to four weeks to make sure my other metrics (cholesterol, testosterone, etc) are still within healthy limits and are helping me stay healthy and not putting me further at risk. I hope that, by then, I will reduce my love handles to simply ‘like’ handles or something silly like that but we will see then.

Disclosure: I was not paid by nor contacted by COSMED USA/BodPod to write anything about their product, I have absolutely no connection to them. I used it because it is more accurate than fat calipers and is the standard body measurement tool for the NFL. If football teams trust it, I figure I can as well.

Ah, the weekend is finally here. In just a few days, I have family coming in from out-of-town and we are going to spend next week goofing off until we leave for the Bahamas next Friday. That also means I get to spend most of tomorrow (Saturday) cleaning up and finishing off some chores. So luckily, my running partner helped prepare me for the weekend with a good brisk run yesterday afternoon. We were busy rehashing week 3 day 3 of the Couch 2 5k program that we have both been following and since I was feeling fresh and frisky, I set pace. While I am not a particularly fast runner, especially since my feet are still toughening up, I did not go too terribly fast but our average pace on the four running portions never crept over the 9:00 mark, which I was ecstatic about. Sure this does not mean much considering our whole jaunt was just under the 2.5 mile mark but we were busting out some serious speed on our short run portions. I expect to be returning to those days in the C25k app if/when I do sprint intervals, I definitely liked the speed.

And since it is now the weekend and that means today is Friday, I have to again conduct a little food experiment. After spending a significant part of my free time this week thinking about why my body seems to be holding onto so much weight over the Friday-Saturday time frame, I have come to a few conclusions, none of which I am very sure of:

    1. My body knows it is the weekend and since I have spent the last few years abusing it calorie-wise, it naturally slows down my metabolism in preparation for a night (or two) of beers and greasy food.
    2. Since I sleep more on the weekends, my body’s natural repair mechanisms work more slowly due to the extended periods of sleep. During the week, I clock in around five to six hours of sleep a night but on the weekends, I typically get a “good night’s sleep” of eight or more hours. This is in spite of the fact that I typically go to bed around 1:30am or 2am six nights a week, my body naturally sleeps longer on Saturday and Sunday morning.
    3. The weekends mean one thing to me, drinks-wise: I consume three or four times more coffee per day than during the week and so, my water intake plummets to just a few cups a day. And I am speaking strictly water here, I do not count tea as a cup of water.

Of course, it is more than likely a combination of any of these or none of these, I have no idea. But I do know that something is going on and no matter how much food I eat on a Friday night — or what it is, for that matter — I always weigh in two or three pounds heavier on Saturday morning. Each of the last four Fridays, including tonight, I have eaten a meal that has a rice portion (my only one during the week) and that seems to spike my weight loss for a few days. I hope to end that trend next Friday but since I will be out of the country and beholden to cuisine I have little choice over, I may have to wait my experiment out another week.

But now, I am just glad it is the weekend and I do not have to wake up and go to work tomorrow. While I do have a number of things, sitting in front of a computer all day is not one of them and I will make sure to go outside and generate more natural vitamin D supply. And once Sunday comes, I will get back out there and log some more barefoot miles. I am happy to say that each successive run this week has resulted in two things:

    1. Fewer blisters
    2. Less foot pain/throbbing the day after a run

Is this a sign of padding generation on my foot? Well, it is either that or I am killing all the nerve endings in the soles of my feet. Either way, I am happy with the progress and I do not really miss running in shoes, even though I really like running in my Merrell Trail Gloves. Maybe I will run the Levis 5k in two weeks in my Merrells!