Monday, November 01, 2010

The Big Push

Well, Winter is well and truly over and now it is time for the big push to get fit for Christmas. Today is November 1st , fifty odd days until Christmas and time to seriously get into the training and healthy eating.

I’ll admit I have been a bit slack lately with my eating habits. The one lesson I repeatedly fail to learn is that I really have no self control when it comes to chocolate. I see it on special in the supermarket and think I can limit myself to a 100 calorie portion a day but noooo….. So no more chocolate will be purchased until after Christmas. The same goes for wine. I have four bottles in the larder - it will have to last until Christmas.

Exercise will be intense with an emphasis on the upper body and gaining muscle definition. A two pronged attack – reduce fat, gain definition.

I upped my weights the other day by 2KG and I felt it. It is amazing how the body adapts to certain exercises that you do regularly. Change a feature of those exercises, like a very modest addition of two one kg weights and your body complains. Complaints are good though as long as no injury is experienced.

I’m fighting a battle against muscle loss as a result of aging so I’m not expecting things to be easy.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Hollywood Look

The other day I was paid a very good compliment and that was that I looked like a 1960’s movie star. I was wearing tight Levis, a slim fitting black T shirt and hauling around some desktop computers earning some extra money in the evening. Only moments before, while I was waiting for my work mates to come down the lift, I was admiring myself in the reflection of the lift doors. I looked good I thought to myself. The upper body work is really starting to pay off with a thin waist, defined arm muscles, flat tummy and visible pecs. Nothing super fantastic but reminiscent of that early Paul Newman or Patrick Swayze look.

I was probably doing myself a favour and standing in a body enhancing way after posing in the reflection of the doors. Also lugging the workstations around probably pumped me up a bit. Wearing a black T shirt helps as well.

But still…hoorah success! This is exactly the look I want to achieve. All that pain, all that denial at the dinner table – well worth it.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Analysing My Own Blood Test Results

The Internet is a wonderful thing because, now, anyone can be a doctor. Finally, after being constantly nagged by my wife to get a blood test done to confirm that my high fat diet isn’t ruining my health, I have fronted up and had my blood tested.

Here are the Blood Lipid or Cholesterol test scores:

Fasting Status Fasting
Cholesterol 5.6
Triglyceride 0.6
HDL 1.81
LDL 3.5
Chol/HDL Ratio 3.1

Now at first glance my detractors are all jumping up in the air with glee at seeing a high total cholesterol score of 5.6 and I must admit I was dismayed thinking about all the hassle I would be getting from my wife when I next tuck into a fatty steak. But delving deeper into the figures resulted in vindication – well at least in my own mind.

The three most important numbers are the Triglyceride, HDL and the ratio ones. All three are great results. The Triglyceride, which is basically fat, serum level is very, very low. I beat my wife (0.7) and my sister (0.8). The HDL, otherwise known as ‘good’ cholesterol is well above 1.0 giving me a good/bad ratio that is deemed by the medical orthodoxy as putting me in the very low risk group for cardio problems. The total score of 5.6 is great, if all else is working well, as that means that excess in the blood is being cleared up and that my body is getting ample essential cholesterol for brain and cell function. These are figures you would expect from a healthy individual eating a lot of meat, eggs and cream and working out regularly.

Now Renal Function tests.

Sodium 140
Potassium 4.3
Creatinine 103
eGFR 66

At first this looks slightly alarming for kidney function. The eGFR is a bit low as it should be greater than 90. But then I find out that it is really determined by calculating the level of Creatinine which is getting close to being too high. Now creatinine is a waste product from muscle breakdown and high levels can indicate that the kidneys are not processing it out of the blood properly…unless you are working out fairly intensely doing sprints and lifting weights combined with a high protein diet. Phew, nothing to worry about there. I see this level as indicating that I am training hard enough. The level is highish but below a figure that would cause alarm. Real body builders would have a level much higher than this. Also an older person has naturally higher levels. Probably due to natural muscle wastage as the body ages – something I am actively trying to reverse.

The other high figure I had was with the blood liver test that showed ALT at 46 IU/L. New Zealand tests reckon this should be below 45 although Wikipedia say it should be between 7 and 56. This can be elevated due to muscle damage from exercise as well or drinking a little too much wine. I think I will cut back a bit on alcohol as I think it might be sabotaging my attempt to get a body fat percentage of less than 10% anyway just to be on the safe side.

Everything else shows as normal. No sign of inflammation or prostate problems. Rather strangely, they didn’t do blood glucose level although my own tests show that as normal.

So, full steam ahead with the high fat, high protein diet with a reduction in alcohol consumption and an increase in hydration just to be a bit careful with kidney and liver health. Oh, and probably a blood test yearly from now on as this was kind of fun.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


I had this theory that obese people underneath are in good muscular shape. After all every moving moment was a weight lifting exercise wasn't it? How terribly wrong I was. Below are excerpts from an article by Doug McGuff, MD who is the co-author of the book Body by Science (12 minute per week workout).

These elevated insulin levels cause a 30-fold increased rate of transport of glucose into the fat cells where it is converted to triacylglycerol (fat). Also, in the presence of high insulin the liver also coverts glucose to fat but attaches it to a protein-coated package for transport to the fat cells (VLDL or very low density lipoprotein). In the chronically overfed state, the body protects itself by decreasing the sensitivity of insulin receptors on the muscle cells and preserving (actually increasing) insulin sensitivity on the fat cells.....

I began to notice things about my obese ER patients that I had failed to notice in my 19 years of practice. I began to pay attention to CT scans of patients. The images of CT scans represent transverse slices through the body, much like the slices of a spiral-cut ham. On abdominal CT scans I could really notice the consequences of the metabolic processes described above. The most readily obvious finding is the bizarre appearance of a normal size person entrapped in a fatty prison. In many cases, the cumulative width of the pannus of fat on either side, exceeded the width of the normal person trapped inside. The fat was not just on the surface, though. There was fat in the intra-abdominal cavity, layered on the mesentery between the intestines, and it was marbled throughout the liver, and it was packed around the kidneys. This layering of intra-abdominal fat made CT interpretation easier, as it spread out the organs of interest, and inflammation in the surrounding fat was easy to visualize. Even more astounding than the abundance of fat, was the lack of muscle. The atrophy was truly profound. The rectus abdominus, the internal and external obliques, and transversus abdominus muscles, which are normally 1-2 cm thick were only millimeters in thickness. The lumbar extensor muscles, were so atrophied that open spaces were evident between the cord-like bundles and the muscle did not extend above the spinous processes, or beyond the transverse processes of the vertebra. What, in the well-developed state was as thick as the barrel of a baseball bat, was now smaller than a paper towel tube.....

These hernias were occurring because the very thin abdominal muscles were being stretched beyond their capacity by the accumulation of intra-abdominal fat....

Makes me want to fast all day and go out and do some high intensity interval training right now! The fat is not just stuck to the outside people, its on the inside pushing out and squashing all the organs.

This Guy is Good at Chin-Ups

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

21st Century Lacto-Paleo

There has been a bit of discussion on the web lately about paleolithic diet purism and such. I subscribe to the school of thought that says its is best to to pick the best features from the Paleolithic and Neolithic worlds to create an optimal diet and exercise regime. This means that certain Neolithic foods can be consumed like the fats extracted from milk products such as butter and cream. These represent cheap sources of fat that can be used to make other foods more palatable and of course are excellent foods in their own right.

I consider myself to be thoroughly modern even though my body is mostly an old design. Optimal fuel and training are obviously desirable but it doesn't necessarily follow that only paleolithic agents should be used. I believe there has been considerable evolutionary development in humans over the last 40,000 years. We have seen it in insects and rodents over the last 100 years. Rats have become resistant to warfarin for example. The human body has changed over this time producing the distinct racial differences we see today.

You can't go too far wrong if you follow all the principles found at the following blog:

Reading through the latest comments there I realized something about vegetables a s a food source that is quite interesting. No vegetable is a pure food like butter or eggs or meat for that matter in that all vegetables have a degree of secondary compounds that the plant uses as a defense mechanism. Some are so high in these compounds that they are totally inedible - indeed most plants are totally inedible yet we have become resistant to some of the poisonous plant compounds, much like those warfarin resistant rats, and can eat a variety of plants. They give us some sustenance but it is of a poor quality compared to the 'pure' foods. What distinguishes an edible plant from a poisonous one is the level of these secondary compounds. No studies and experiments have been done that prove that eating vegetables is good for you - it's just assumed for some reason. Possibly because of sailors experience with scurvy or the poor health of people who have lived on limited diets in the past. Yet those people tended to live on high starch diets such as corn or potatoes or ships biscuits. No one has suffered greatly living on a fresh high fat/protein diet.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Lonely Figure

Yesterday I noticed a significant improvement in my six foot bar muscle-ups. I did a fairly major workout involving cycling, running, wall climbing, rock lifting, hill climbing, push ups, crawling, jumping, sprinting and bar work over about an hour and a quarter. The faux-muscle-ups seemed easier. I’m wary of over-doing it as I really want to avoid any over-use or traumatic injury that will impede my progress. One thing I did notice, that was different to last time, was that I didn’t feel so broken afterwards. Last time the main bone in my left arm felt damaged. Not the joint but the main straight bit which was a bit odd yet after yesterdays workout I felt a little sore but in a good way and now this morning I’m feeling really good with no significant aches and pains. I’m having a rest day even though I really want to do some working out – maybe I’ll do some planks, something different and not intense. I also made sure I drank a lot of water and ate well yesterday consuming rice bread, sardines, almost half a chicken, fatty pork, a pear, cream in coffee, a corn cob drenched in butter, green vegetables, egg and some cream cheese – oh and some whiskey after two days rest from alcohol (did you know that alcohol has zero GI?). This was my muscle building diet day but writing it down it doesn’t sound like a huge amount. Some may question the corn cob but I have found that a corn cob a day makes you nice and regular and keeps things moving a long fast and smoothly. I don’t eat more than one and I think it is better than any processed corn product. I wonder though whether its laxative effect is due to the body wanting to expel it at soon as possible - hmm.

I’m also taking a 1500mg fish oil tablet whenever I eat some meat. This converts your land-based meat into fish or at least balances the omega 3/6 ratio. Consciously cutting fruit consumption down to the barest minimum of one or two pieces a day. And using all my will power to avoid the chocolate temptation which along with red wine is a bit of a weakness. It is red wine and chocolate that is stopping me from achieving my six- pack-ab goal I believe.

My wife was telling me that one of her friend’s husbands was joining the gym. I had noticed that for a man in his early forties he had a lot of fat accumulating around the middle. Skinny-ish arms and legs, no muscle definition, but a fat middle – it’s a terrible look imho. It’s just a result of no physical discipline and poor food choices leading to metabolic syndrome. He needs to do something. Her friend said that I was skinny and little – can you believe that? I have very little fat because my body is a fat burning furnace. My muscles have definition, if I was bigger it would just be layers of fat stuck to my body – why would I want that? People must think I am naturally this way yet it is the result of eight years of diet control and exercising focused on building the perfect body for my age.

Anyway, it occurs to me that no one close to me follows a regime of high fat, high protein eating and parkour-like physical training. Yet my success is obvious to behold. They think I am mad having cream in my coffee and four boiled eggs for lunch while they eat bread and fried rice dishes or pastries washed down with coke, fruit juice or Red Bull. The resistance to saturated fat eating and the core belief that grains are good for you is entrenched into the main stream belief system and I strike a lonely figure. I’m an eccentric, prone to obsessive-compulsive behaviour, I will admit but it would be nice to win over a convert or two and see if my success can be replicated. Thank goodness for the Internet from which I have gleaned most of my information and advice.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Paleolithic Mind at Work

I spotted this Paleolithic intrusion into the 21st Century the other day. I wonder what sort of people do this sort of thing? - students I suppose. Nevertheless I'm glad I managed to capture it digitally for posterity.
Yet look closely at the top picture. Why there are two phalluses in the picture!

Some New Gear

First new gloves. These are Ironclad WorkCrew high dexterity work gloves which make perfect Parkour gloves. My old gloves had my fingers poking through and I must say these gloves are very nice for wall climbing and crawling. At $38 they are quite expensive for work gloves but they are worth every cent. Very strong, light and good looking gloves.

I bought some new shows today, Nike Free 5.0 free running shoes. These shoes are supposed to simulate running in bare feet while continuing to provide protection. I am getting more and more interested in Parkour training and I want a lightweight shoe that I can use for cat leaping, precision jumping, crawling and wall climbing. These shoes will also be better for bar work like chin-ups, toes to the bar and muscle-ups. Can't wait to try them out. I'm a bit worried that they might get a bit damaged with my wall climbing. They cost $179 whch is not cheap and I rather like the idea of wearing them as a casual shoe as well. You never know when you might just want to do a sprint or leap off some wall while walking around the city so it would be nice to keep them from getting to damaged. My Asics running shoes have had the rubber bits on the toes torn off them already.
You can see I am getting quite serious about things now. I plan on spending more on gear this year than ever before. I don't have a gym membership so the money that might have been spent on that can go towards gear like this.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Everything is Trying to Kill You

A common objection people have to eating loads of meat is that it sits around in your gut festering away. Personally I haven’t experienced this and have noted that meat completely passes through my system often in less than 24 hours. Unless vegetable matter somehow manages to pass the meat in the digestive tract – maybe there are road rules in there, fast lane for vegetables, slow lane for meat. I have noticed that sustained meat consumption can lead to more solid stools unlike the runs that can result from a high fruit/vegetable diet. It is possible that fruit likes to pass quickly through your system in an attempt to stop its seeds from being digested. No plant wants its seeds to be digested so a strategy that causes convulsions in an animal’s gut and explosive stools will be good news for a plant but not necessarily good news for you.

Remember that your body is always trying to keep you alive and everything else is trying to kill you. This should be a guiding principle. The body can put up with a lot of insult although not necessarily optimally. When you eat something it would be wise to ensure that its defences have been neutralized. This is easy with animal products but not quite so clear cut with vegetable products, they’re much sneakier and meaner.

Update on muscle ups: Today my body is sore and damaged. It’s amazing how changing your exercises can so easily result in sore muscles and joints. You think you are exercising everything but it is actually very hard to do. I’m thinking about a routine of exercises that can exercise every muscle in the body to be done at least once a week - basically a ton of different exercise but not done to excess, maybe just five times of each movement to keep the body accustomed.
Anyway I have sore shoulders and legs. Shoulders from concentrating on dips and slow descents from the bar, legs, I think from doing cat leaps because I want to improve my explosive leaping ability. Anyway it’s all good, very good as no major harm done and today I can take a rest.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Progress Report on Muscle-Up Plan

It looks like I need to concentrate on several things:

Explosive chin-ups – to get more of my body above the bar. Cheating a bit but hey.

Better dip ability – For the final stage of the muscle-up

Slower descent – not just falling down but using muscles to descend from the dip as slowly as possible – done to increase strength

Stronger hands/wrists – transitioning from chin up to dip, although technique plays a large role here.

More exercise equipment required as I don’t have any parallel bars at home. There are some a few minutes away by bike but it is getting dark in the mornings now that summer is ending. I could buy a portable camping type lamp that I could hang near the bars. I could build something for spontaneous use at home.

Chin-up bars at the park are at 6, 7 and 8 feet. I can easily do a muscle-up on the 6 foot bar but not the 7 foot one and certainly not the 8 foot one where I have to jump up to the bar and can hang fully stretched out. This is the bar that I want to be able to muscle-up on in three months time. What I really could do with is a 6.5 foot bar or slightly less. I could achieve this by building my own adjustable height bars at home or by making a small platform that I could stand on to bring me a bit closer to the bar for use in the park.

I need to practise getting more of my hand over the bar in a sort of false grip to make it easier to transition from chin-up to dip.

Muscle recovery. As I type this I really want to go out and do some exercise yet I feel I should take a rest day and let my joints and muscles recuperate. The last thing I need is an injury. Hopefully it will be a case of less is more. Yet I wonder if they have rest days in the French Foreign Legion?

Nutrition. Need to eat well for strength although large arm muscles are apparently detrimental to good muscle-up form. Not much danger of that occurring with me though sadly. My arms are bigger than they ever have been but still pretty weedy I reckon. The photo above is of me taken today - not too bad for a 50 year old on a high fat diet.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A New Direction

Video made by Dawali

The three year plan is now well over and it is time to reassess the situation. My first idea was to create a new plan, the ten year plan. This would have as its main objective maintaining health and strength as it is now with a focus on avoiding injury and illness. To get from 50 to 60 without any major medical intervention and to not lose any strength over this period. Yet at fifty I find myself in quite good condition without any health problems and a fitness level that must be significantly higher than most of my contemporaries. Why should I just maintain this level of fitness? Why not progress? One thing that occurs to me is that it is a bit dangerous to merely maintain a level of fitness. I suspect that if you are not moving forward you are moving backwards. The struggle has to be maintained in the forward direction and at some point there may well be a moving backwards even though you are making every effort to progress. Yet that time is, hopefully, some way off. With the new ideas about diet and the casting away of the carbohydrate is essential myth it looks quite possible, if you truly focus on it, that you can remain fit and vibrant up to ninety or more. A diet that comprises mostly animal protein and fat and that eschews the processed and even natural carbohydrates combined with intermittent fasting will preserve the body into old age. Well that’s the gamble anyway. We know that the standard diet and frequency of eating have a bad track record so there is not much to lose and a lot to gain. Well, I guess you might lose out on a lot of enjoyable eating moments yet eating bad stuff has long since ceased to be enjoyable for me and I rather enjoy a mostly carnivorous diet and the way my body looks because of it.

So the new direction? I must get stronger or fail trying. The new plan is a three month plan. Over three months I will concentrate on upper body strength. At the end of three months I want to have noticeably stronger abilities and be able to get a medical done that shows outstanding blood quality. How to measure strength? This is quite easy as I want to be able to do something that I cannot do now and that is a genuine muscle up. I can do a muscle up by jumping at a bar that is not too high but I can’t do one from a hanging position and this I would dearly love to do. It has practical applications for parkour as well as quite high walls can be scaled in what looks to be one graceful movement if you can easily do a muscle up.

To begin to train to do a genuine muscle up you need to be able to do 15 genuine chin ups and 15 dips in one set. The video above says 20/20. Presently I can only do 14 chin ups and I haven’t really done much dip training. This morning I was able to do 10. So now I need to concentrate on getting these numbers up. At the end of three months I expect to be able to do 20 chin ups and 20 dips as well as several muscle ups from a hanging, legs dangling position. This is not too ambitious but I will need to work at it, at times to the detriment of other things maybe although I suspect not. Overall fitness will still be required and a light frame will only help matters.

I will plot progress on this blog as I make my attempt. I thought I might spend less time commenting about theory and stuff and actually focus on this practical attempt at something that should be quite achievable. I want to concentrate on developing practical and functional strength.