Spring time is here

Spring time is here again, but I haven’t been outside to take any good pictures to prove it.  I finally got new Lightroom, Photoshop, the whole package installed recently and found this cool-ish picture of a quarry in Chanute, KS that I spent some time at in January.

Spent quarry on a cold day
Vacation and some more free time is coming soon.  Maybe then I will put more pictures up here, or at least on Flickr.

2014 The year of abs

Well maybe.

Goals 2014

It is that time of year for reflection and goals.  My goals for 2013 were not entirely defined well, and I have not had a lot of time for reflection, but I do have some goals for 2014 that I want to work towards.  These cover a wide variety and spectrum of my personal/professional life.  Well my life.

They are as follows, in no particular order.

  • Downpayment for a home
  • Levelup to 10 in French on Duolingo (I’m at 3)
  • Levelup to 5 in German on Duolingo (Haven’t even started)
  • Run up $100 to $5000 in the Pokers
  • Bodyfat down to sub 15% (This is where the abs come in, if I get it lower)
    • Want to keep the lean mass I have now, and maybe even gain some over the year.
  • Publish 120 images on Flickr, Google+ and here over the year.
  • Post an editorial here on my thoughts once a month.

Well that is what I have for now, and I will keep editing this post over the year with new goals, and adding new posts with my strategies.

What are your goals for 2014?

What is your plan to to get there? Let’s hook up on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc (the icons are in the sidebar :) )

[Edit: these are coming off the official list, they have been moving down rapidly in priority and may be added back later]

 

Chocolate R5

I have been working on a ketosis friendly chocolate snack. Chocolate is one of my favorite treats, and just because I am working to stay in ketosis most of the time shouldn’t be a reason not to eat it.

My most current revision, R5, is pretty good.  It is much thicker than I have made in the past, so it is more macroon than chocolate, but it tastes like girl guide mint cookies.

Chocolates R5

Chocolates R5

I am not sure if peppermint/vanilla extract or stevia are paleo, if they are it will be paleo too.

If you are not a fan of non-traditional sweeteners, the stevia could be replaced with honey.

The ingredients:

  • 1/4 c virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 c cocoa (I used ruddy red as it has a higher oil content)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tbsp stevia
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 20 almonds
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • ~30 g low-carb, vanilla, whey protein isolate

Add the almonds and pumpkin seeds to a processor and grind pretty good.

Add the first bunch of ingredients to a double boiler on medium heat and melt. You can melt in the microwave too, but remember that it is very easy to burn chocolate.

Remove from the heat and fold in the ground mixture, then add the protein.

If the mixture is runny add to some mini cups, if it is thicker you can add some balls to a cookie sheet and stick in the fridge to set.  I was able to get ~15 tbsp scoops out of it.

Per Serving (by loseit numbers)

  • Fat 5.2g
  • Carb: 2.8g
  • Fibre: 1.9g
  • Protein: 3.2g

 

BMI is shit

BMI is a stupid number for the general public, but useful in statistical analysis.  For a statistical model it is extremely easy to use, and over a large population it is very useful for determining the body composition of a population.

On an individual level it is useless, unless you match the “normal” in both height and lean mass.  If you are like me, it is probably only a number that makes insurance more expensive. As I write this, I am working on my second 90 days, with a new goal of bringing my body weight down to 225lbs at 15.6% bf; this is a loss of 23.1lbs from my starting weight (I was ~248.1 @24%bf).  Every one of those numbers have a HUGE accuracy problem, getting a body fat percentage from a consumer scale can be off by +/- 5% on any one measurement.  I am using an Aria smart scale from Fitbit (it is awesome).

+/- 5% is huge, but to combat this I always try to follow the same procedure before I weigh myself; wake, drink a coffee, have a shower, dry off and stand on the scale. Then I take the numbers into my spreadsheet and look at the trends.  It is much harder for trends to lie, check out the variability in my last 14day graph below!

Body fat over 14 days

Body fat over 14 days

Each measurement in itself is inaccurate, but over the last 2 week trend I am on target.  Only if I have stalled over this period, or moving upwards would I start to make changes.  It is this huge inaccuracy that makes this measurement poor for statistical analysis of populations.  BMI is easy to calculate with inexpensive tools.

But it is still bad

Let’s use me for an example: why you shouldn’t only use BMI to determine your health.  I am 6’1″ and male.  My current BMI is 32.  I am slightly obese, but with 188lbs of lean mass my I am a 23.5%bf (my average over the last 5 days)

Body Mass Index (BMI) wBMIas developed in the mid-19th century, the equation may not have changed  over this time, but the categories below have been modified over the years.  The chart below is based on the World Health Organization categories.

BMI-wikipedia

BMI Categories

BF% Categories

BF% Categories

Now let’s look at my goal for this 90 days:

  • Body Weight: 225lbs
  • Body Fate %: 15.6

This brings my BMI down to 29.7, finally I am only overweight (but just barely); but my bf% is in the fitness range.  If you run the numbers you will see that my goal is only to lose body fat, so my lean mass stays the same at ~185 – 190lbs.  This is important as most weight loss programs make you lose muscle and fat together; I am extremely aware of this, which is what made me start the spreadsheet in the first place.

Closing thoughts

If you are curious where to stand today, and don’t have any idea where to start, BMI is a good place to go.  However, if you are only worried about health, and not performance, a tape measure around your gut (waist circumference) the best place to start. Aim for something below 35″ for men, and 32″ for women [source].

Let me know your thoughts about this and more through Twitter @jeffmackinnon, GooglePlus, or email jeff @ jeffmackinnon.com

90 days are up

The 90 days were over on September 1, but with all of the craziness around moving from St. John’s to Halifax, I wasn’t able to get to writing this post until now. Here is the instagram proof of the move.



The Results

Well I didn’t make my goal of 33lbs but I still feel awesome.  I tweaked my goals and graphs to me till the end of the year, and I really think that I could have made my -33lb goal if I knew what I know now at the start, and I wasn’t moving in the middle.  To be fair I didn’t really know that we were moving when I made those goals, it happened very fast.

Fullscreen capture 922013 80704 PM

Weight 272.6 -> 248.1lbs; body fat 84.5 -> 59.8lbs

So where did I end up you ask?

I went from a body fat percentage of 31% to 24.1% and gained .25lbs of lean mass. I was using my aria scale to do my measurements, so each point on the graph doesn’t say much on its own, but trends don’t lie.  To try and keep each day as accurate as I could I weight myself at the same time every day, right after my cup of coffee and then a shower.

How I did this, and what I learned will have to wait till a later post.  I have learned a lot about nutrition, fat cells, and food as it is related to body composition and the evidence against conventional wisdom is intriguing.  This month I am hoping I will have more time to write about what I have learned.  I am going to do another 90 days starting in a couple of weeks with new goals.

$50 – $500 Run-it-up Challenge

Along with dietelectrical engineering and photographypoker is another hobby that I spend a bunch of time around.  Not a lot of time playing as I would like, and when I do play it is $5NLH online.  However the mathematics of poker and applying game theory to the game is very interesting.

Poker Hand

Poker is a game of skill and patience, both of which I am working to develop and evole. To help with that I have re-joined at DeucesCracked and watching videos while I travel on planes, or at night in my hotels, brushing up on some of the basics and such.

I have also got a trial version of CardrunnersEV based on a suggestion of one of the videos.  With this I am hoping to understand my hand range, especially pre-flop to see where the HUGE holes are and start tightening up from there.

To motivate myself some what I have decided to play along with Jason Somerville and try to “run up” $50 into $500 (he is going for $10,000 in his youtube series. Below is the last video I watched where he played a $7.77 Sit-n-go (SNG)

Since I am in the US for the next week I don’t have access to my online poker site of choice, so I am working on my stragety and deciding the best way to build my stack.  I don’t think I will be using “proper” bankroll management as it is a challenge and I want it to be challenging for me, and my starting amount is small enough that if I fail miserably it won’t break me.  My starting criteria will likely be as follows:

  1. All buyins will be <10% of my current roll, this is for cash or SNG.
  2. Limit to a max of 2hrs a day for cash, and 1 tournament for SNG per day.  This is to limit the time I play for the most part.
  3. Post progress/setbacks on a weekly basis.

Poker chipsI’m not as much of a winning player as I once was, but with some tweaks and a week of intense work  I can get there. I will post an update as to when the challenge starts officially and will have a strategy then that I will post.

Getting a Trainer

And 30 days into my transformation

Based on my decision to make my 90 day challenge and some observations at the gym last week I decided to heed the sirens call at the desk of the gym when I was leaving and set up an assessment for a personal trainer.

Why I didn’t do this sooner

I’m not a fan of big box personal training.  The marketing is broad, not “personal” and I don’t really need to have a cheerleader every time I go to the gym.  These are most of the reasons why I re-buffed the call from the desk as I was leaving everyday, politly saying, “not today” or “no thank you”.  This day however I was noticing weaknesses in my squat and deadlift and thought I should talk to an expert.

I ended talked to a guy at Goodlife  a couple of days later.  He has a great back story which intrigued me.  Better yet he was direct, intelligent and open to questions.  He gave me my assessment, and it wasn’t good.  I have some major weaknesses that I need to work on before my world domination takes place. But of course I do, how else do you sell me something if there is nothing to fix. So I ask questions, pepper him really and when he answers them I start to actually believe him; the trust grows.  He isn’t selling me, he is just telling me how it is.

I like good stories.

After I am sold on needing their professional assistance, he starts the selling.  I don’t even think he realized it. I am intrigued by  copywriting, the psychology of selling, and when I felt I was getting sold I got defensive.

I wanted the product but I didn’t want to be “sold”, besides the option that he was pushing (which I now believe he really did think was the best option for me) was too much of a commitment for a service that is VERY personal.  If I don’t like the trainer, or they aren’t appreciative of me questioning them or bringing them research that says what they are asking me to do is shit, I don’t want to continue paying.

So I left annoyed and disappointed.  I’m not the superman I thought, I don’t have the knowledge to fix the specific weaknesses on my own, and the service at the gym isn’t what I was hoping.  I decided to sleep on it and go in the next day to let him know what I decided.

I got sold

Before going to sleep I did some quick reading on the Goodlife philosophy (its stupid and sell-y) and fixing the weaknesses in my musculature.  I go in and sit down with Jerome, he was good enough to write down all the plans that he can offer to me and circles the one that is his second choice.

We talk about the gym’s philosphy (he doesn’t 100% agree either), how I felt about being sold, and what the plan will actually look like.  We also talked a lot about living in St. John’s being a come-from-away and I walked out with both a personal trainer and a new drinking buddy.

I paid for my package outright

Goodlife feels they need to charge huge financing interest to allow you to pay them for a bi-weekly package.  Why they don’t sell training by the week, or say 4 weeks and then it is a lease of a training slot is beyond me.

Goodlife, get out of financing, you are a gym not a bank and 14% is ridiculous.  If I had any doubts before we started going through the payment process, I would have dropped the personal training, quit the gym and went elsewhere all the while besmirching the name of Goodlife as a bunch of crooks and more interested in milking more money from their members than melting there members’ fat away.  I would say the smile on the face of your founders book is one of a snake oil salesman.

Luckily I was sold by Jerome, and I have enough cash to pay for my training outright, so I won’t be actively going around saying that stuff above. I don’t know if I spoke to one of the newer, less experience trainers there if this would have been the same tone.

Transformation Metrics

The metrics for success from my first post on this personal challenge are:

  1. Weight: -33 lbs
  2. Body fat%: -6%
  3. Waist: -4 inches

Update:

  1. Weight: -5.93 lbs
  2. Body fat%: -4%
  3. Waist: -1 inches

I am close to being on track but need to be diligent after the hiccup that was the long weekend. On the plus side I have continued to lose fat, but with the carbs on the weekend I am retaining a bit more water.

 

90 day plan for body transformation

On June 3, 2012 I started paying very close attention to what I was eating and when.  I spent a lot of time reading and determining a workout schedule and plan.  Now that I am 3 weeks in, and more motivated than I was starting I am calling this my 90day transformation!

I don't have a before picture so this fit manikin will have to do.

I don’t have a before picture so this fit manikin will have to do.

What I am eating can be considered a cross of paleo and low carb.  I am working to stay below 50g of usable carbs per day, with strict shifting of all carbs to later in the day.  If I feel like a root veggie it will be at supper and not at breakfast.  I have stopped eating a traditional breakfast, and shifted to coffee with a couple tablespoons of heavy cream, and my later breakfast and lunch has been a green shake.

Full Blender Shake (full 72oz)

4 c baby spinach (any greens will do)
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp tumeric
~60g Whey Protein Isolate (very low carb ~3.2g totalover 60g of powder)

Add water to the 72oz mark and BLEND well.

You may need to grind the seeds separately to get a good texture, your body doesn’t get the whole goodness without breaking the seeds apart first, and when buying pre-ground they are typically dry and don’t have all the good oils in them.

How I am going to do it?

My workouts are a variation of StrongLifts 5×5, and I am lifting at least 3 days a week.  I am also carb back-loading no more than 2 of those 3 days to enhance muscle growth and fat loss.  At least 2 more days I am working with interval training or a short run and high rep resistance training. If you are interested in how well I’m staying on track going to the gym I started a fitocracy.com account on suggestion of lrmackin.

I have all kinds of data that I am gathering between Loseit, Fitbit, Garmin Connect, excel charts and my notebook.  I even went to get my VO2/MAX tested last week and should have the results shortly.  With all this data I am hoping to track where I am, and if I stall what I can modify.  I have already found a stall point and realized that it was too many carbs a couple of days and I gained a couple pounds of water weight in a day.  I made a shift and starting to drop it now.

Source: carbbackloading.comStarting today I am going into a prep-phase for Carb Back-loading.  It’s an interesting concept and I have started implementing some of the concepts like shifting calories and carbs later into the day.  The part that I like about the book and the accompanying website (athlete.io) is that they rely on current peer reviewed research, and not headlines in media.

If you’re unsure about it read around the website, and especially the research note dump posts (like this one on soy, or why breakfast is a scam, or this one on why glucagon is important. Each of those posts have 50 references or more, if you are unsure about the conclusions randomly pick a couple of the studies and see if you come to the same conclusions from the research.  I did this for the first 2 months after I read the carb back-loading book and have started to trust the conclusions.

Next Steps for me.

I will update with more posts on progress and changes/tweaks I make along the way.  No protocol/plan/diet will work for everyone and experimenting with everything around it needs to be done to find the optimal mix for you.  Your body, mind, lifestyle, schedule, goals, etc.

I am still working to define the numbers around the goals that I am working to achieve.  My goals for this 90day cycle are:

  1. Weight: -33 lbs
  2. Body fat%: -6%
  3. Waist: -4 inches

[Edit for my goals - July 1, 2013]