Body Experimentation and Weight Training

Julie and I have been doing quite a bit of diet experimentation over the past 4 months. After spending last summer at Keuka Lake followed by 6 weeks in Ireland, we learned that ignoring what we eat and drink could have long term consequences. This goes beyond weight gain – we were drinking too much alcohol (Ireland, Guiness, and Jameson inspire that somehow) and started to get concerned about tangential effects and even body fat composition.

Independently we both decided that going paleo or something close to that might be a good idea. It came to my attention as I was mixing up my strength training routine by exploring Nerd Fitness. I think Julie landed on the idea after a discussion with our (very fit) close friend Karen.

I had already been losing my Ireland weight gain, dropping from about 185 to 175 from November to February. I did this the same way I've been doing it over the years: calorie counting combined with plenty of running. If I limit to 2,000 calories a day and workout routinely, I'll gradually lose weight at the rate of about 1-2 pounds a week.

The paleo idea intrigued me for two reasons:

  • It doesn't rely on calorie counting.
  • It involves eating foods I generally already like to eat. A typical meal for Julie and me, now empty nesters, is to cook some meat and eat it alongside a salad or roasted / sautéed veggies.

I'd have to give up breakfast cereal, bread, sweet desserts, dairy, beans and legumes. And alcohol.

We went paleo for about a month, and limited alcohol to the occasional glass of red wine or a light beer. I continued to lose weight and landed at about 173. We were understandably concerned about compliance. The harsh limits on alcohol, no beans, and other constraints seemed like it might be too much for us to stick to in the long run. And this is a key point: we weren't trying to diet to lose weight at this point. By March Julie and I were easily within our target weight range. What we were looking for was a lifestyle diet habit that we could sustain easily, even with all of our travel.

Julie and I both regularly listen to the Tim Ferriss podcast, so we were at least partially aware of his slow carb diet approach. This changes up the paleo diet a bit (worth noting there are plenty of critics of slow carb), in ways that Julie and I think will be easier to comply with. It allows beans. It has a weekly cheat day (or cheat meal if you prefer). As of mid March or so, this has been our diet approach. We allow fruit (mainly bananas, apples, some strawberries) and it doesn't seem to hurt us.

My Experiment

Around mid March I decided to try something just a bit crazy. I haven't been thrilled with my body fat composition (I'm likely about 17-18%) and have wanted to try putting on more muscle mass for a while. A target of 15% body fat seems achievable and beneficial. Enter another Tim Ferriss program: Occam's Protocol. There are plenty of naysayers out there, but I didn't really care. I was at a good weight and had the time to experiment. So I spent six weeks consuming about 5,000 calories a day, drinking protein shakes, mac & cheese with turkey chili, and a small cocktail of supplements (ALA, Creatine, L-Glutamine).

I got very tired of eating. But I loved the workouts. They were short but intense, and got me thinking more about how I train and being more well rounded in my weight training.

Six weeks later I added about 13 points, most of it muscle mass. I very slightly decreased my body fat composition, but that was marginal and probably within the error band of my Withings scale. Visibly, I think much of the muscle gain was in my legs. That seems to be how I roll – I have a much harder time putting on upper body muscle mass. Or maybe I just need to hire a personal trainer.

As of early May and back on slow carb, and mixing in my running routine alternating days of weight workouts. I'm at Keuka Lake at the summer, so my weight training will consist of:

  • push ups
  • pull ups (at least I hope this becomes plural within a few weeks)
  • kettle bell work. Jacob and I are learning technique from Pavel's Kettlebell Simple & Sinister.
  • Jefferson curls and related stretching-type exercises

The hardest habit to change out here at the lake is the association of spending a day working (computer work and manual labor) with the end-of-day reward of a beer or three. The alcohol can undo all of the other benefits. I'll keep working on this.

Professional Update

I don’t write much here any more – too much time writing on other places on the Internet. I at least used to be frequent about travel writing here, but Julie does most of that now over on Plan, Pack, Go.

The Wing-T football work is still fun and growing. It isn’t a supporting income by any stretch, but I love writing and talking about football so making some money helping other coaches is a nice small payoff. And I’m very excited to be coaching again this coming season: 8th grade with the Lincoln Youth Football organization in Portland. Blending the nerdy and tech world, I’ve got over 70 coaches using Slack each week to collaborate on improving their Wing-T football coaching skills.

I’ve started another business, this one focused on technology leadership development. The site is named Tech Leader Level Up, and is also where I’m hanging my shingle out for interim Chief Technology Officer / VP of Engineering work and related consulting. I’ll be writing articles over there frequently so if you are interested in that sort of thing, subscribe to the feed and consider signing up for my newsletter.

For now I’m delivering my technology leadership training in person (to two different companies so far), but my long-term goal is to feature it primarily as an online delivery. Julie and I don’t mind traveling on-site, but eventually the scale and time requirements will limit the amount of students I can reach.

On the interim leadership front, I’m a part-time CTO over at Groupees, an online marketplace for digital entertainment products run by a friend and former Corillian co-worker. It is a fairly simple site but with solid growth and a very loyal following.

Side note – I have a Now page (part of the nownownow project) where you can keep tabs of what I’m working on now. I updated it frequently.

Five and Dime List for 2015

Advanced-Squad-Leader.jpg

I first started doing “five and dime” reports 13 years ago. This is a summary of games I played at least 5 or 10 times in the prior year. For many years Mark Jackson was the keeper of the aggregated Five and Dime list, and it is a fun distraction to go travel through that wormhole and see what the hotness was five to ten years ago.

Churchill.jpg

I played 212 times in 2015 with a noticeable break while Julie and I traveled in Ireland. I was surprised about a few games that didn’t show up on the list, but those had four plays: Jaipur, Churchill, and Viticulture.

Still, things are picking up and I’m playing more games. Julie and I are much more likely to pull out a quickie game at night now (hence our new fascination with Five Crowns, which actually doesn’t suck).

Here is the list:

  • Five Crowns – mainstream rummy like
  • Magic: The Gathering – Isn’t it amazing that 13 years ago I was mentioning that I still pull out decks made 8 years ago? Still playing with those decks today that are almost as old as my 21 year old son.
  • Advanced Squad Leader – My new obsession with gaming partner Doug.
  • Airborne Commander – I think I got in all five plays over a three day period. The game is tough, but fun, and I’ll be playing again soon.
  • Codenames – Favorite party game from 2015 and it was a hit over the holidays.
  • Forbidden Desert – We still haven’t figured out how to win this game yet, which is a good sign for a cooperative game (if you like dying of thirst in a sandstorm, that is). I want to keep trying to crack this one though some in my family are less enthused.
  • Hanabi – This was “new to me” in 2015 and is one of the more creative games I’ve played lately. This is a four player puzzle game (I guess you can play with two or three but I like four) where the group needs to come up with communication conventions to share hidden information. I suspect it becomes solvable for groups that play a lot, but I enjoy introducing this to new people.