Quick Thought on Weight Loss

I’m trying to stay off twitter, but still want to write (and, apparently, share) my random thoughts. Here’s one:

Since my second kid was born, I’ve put on a little weight. Not a ton, but some. At the height of my running prowess, such as it was, I was about 170 pounds. These days I’m floating around in the low 190s. I’m six feet tall, so twenty five pounds is noticeable, but not life altering. My clothes still fit, but a bit snugger. My face is fuller,  but not pudgy. Horrifically, I can feel some jiggle when I run, but at least I can still run.

This is the current state of things:

Me. circa July 2018

I’m trying to reverse this. But with two kids and a demanding career, it isn’t easy. Most of the change has to happen not through my old stand by – high mileage, but instead through  my biggest challenge — controlling what I eat.

All of this is made even harder by the fact that I’m 43 years old now. Old enough that the metabolism is really starting to slow, and every poor food choice goes right to the gut.

So, I’m doing my best to follow the diet protocol described by Dr. Valter Longo. Its simple, its intuitive, and its showing some modest results.

It’s also leaving me hungry.

And that’s fine. I need to remember that if I’m eating a snack and two meals in a twelve hour window, that’s significantly less than I was eating before. And a body at rest likes to stay at rest. Once you get to 195 pounds, your body wants to stay at 195 pounds. Changes to that are going to be hard. They’re going to require some unpleasant hours when you’re not starving, but you could definitely eat.  I need to get through that, I need to find a new equilibrium. I need to be hungry.

As Dr. Peter Attia said somewhere, if our ancestors couldn’t perform complex tasks while hungry, we wouldn’t be here today. I’m trying to remember that while I write this memo on an empty stomach.

Review: Gay’s Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body


Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Roxanne Gay

A gut punch, a wake up call, a deeply effecting book about race, sexual assault, food, immigration, class, writing, love and America. Really a must read.

I’m someone who cares deeply about health and fitness.  I struggle to make the right food choices, and hit the gym, but my personal issues are put into stark relief as the cloying bullshit problems of a privileged white dude when held against Gays heartrending and inspiring story.

This is a story of growing up the child of immigrants, of suffering horrible sexual assault, and struggling with that, and more. Its about coping with lives horrors with food, both for comfort and protection.

It’s also the story of a powerful writer finding her voice through years of work and struggle and missteps and luck.

It is near perfectly written in Gay’s direct to the jugular style.

I couldn’t put it down.

You might not think of yourself as the kind of person who would read a memoir that is, at least ostensibly, about weight problems, but really it is about so much more. And you are the kind of person who reads important, powerful, books and you should read this one.

Recommended.

Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Fasting Mimicking Diet

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s the actual fasting mimicking diet (FMD).

Day 1. Consume 1,100 calories

  • 500 calories from complex carbs (vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, mushrooms, etc.).
  • 500 calories from healthy fats (nuts, olive oil)
  • 1 multivitamin and mineral supplement
  • 1 omega-3/omega-6 supplement
  • Sugarless tea (up to 3-4 cups per day)
  • 25 grams of plant-based protein (ideally from nuts)
  • Unlimited water

Days 2-5 consume 800 calories

  • 400 calories from complex carbs (vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, mushrooms, etc.).
  • 400 calories from healthy fats (nuts, olive oil)
  • 1 multivitamin and mineral supplement
  • 1 omega-3/omega-6 supplement
  • Sugarless tea (up to 3-4 cups per day)
  • Unlimited water

Day 6 Transition Diet

For 24 hours following the end of the five-day FMD eat a diet based on complex carbs (veggies, cereals, pasta, rice, bread, fruit, etc.) and minimize fish, meat, saturated fats, pastries, cheese, milk, etc.)

It’s worth noting that there are some standard side effects of the FMD, these include:

  • Feeling weak during parts of the fast
  • Light or average intensity headaches
  • Slight back ache

OBVIOUSLY, STOP AND SEE A GODDAMN DOCTOR IF THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL

Most people feel hungry during the first few days of the FMD, but the effect is usually greatly reduced by day 4 or 5.

 

Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Exercise

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s exercise.

  1. Walk fast for an hour everyday. I’m lucky to live in New York City and have begun walking to and from subway stops a bit further from my office and taking at least half an hour out of most days to get outside during the work day. I realize this might be harder in other environments. If you have any tips, leave ‘em in the comments.
  1. Ride, Run or swim thirty to forty minutes every other day plus two hours on the weekend. Longo recommends cycling, which I do, but those who follow this site know running is my passion. I often do significantly more running and cycling than this, which Longo might look askance at. But hey, ya gotta live (and BQ).
  1. Use your muscles. I’ve got a heavy ball in my office with which I do various exercises throughout the day. I also make a habit of pushups and pull ups at least three times a week. When I can, I try to get to the gym in the basement and just fool around. You should do these things too.

Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Diet

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

 

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s diet.

  1. Eat a plant based diet, plus some fish. Keep fish consumption to no more than two or three times per week. Choose fish, crustaceans, and mollusks with high Omega-3, Omega-6 and vitamin b-12 content such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, cod, sea bream, trout, clams, and shrimp. Minimize eating other animals, such as beef, chicken and pork and other animal products such as milk and cheese. (Note that this says minimize. I will on occasion indulge in meat or cheese if it would be rude to do otherwise, or if my wife insists on the duck ragu dish at the local Italian spot.)

 

  1. If you’re under 65, like me, keep your protein intake low. (0.31 to 0.36 grams per pound of body weight). Most of us aren’t going to do these protein calculations on a regular basis, but it’s worth doing once or twice to get a sense. Consume beans and other legumes as main source of protein. Those beyond age 65 should increase protein intake and consider re-introducing some animal protein.

 

  1. Endeavor to get most of your vitamins and minerals from food, but buffer with a multivitamin every 3 days.

 

  1. Based on your weight, age, and abdominal circumference, decide whether to have two or three meals per day. I tend to gain weight very easily so I am eating two meals a day plus two low sugar snacks of less than 100 calories. Longo recommends eating breakfast and either lunch or dinner. That doesn’t work for me, so I’m eating a breakfast snack and then lunch and dinner.

 

  1. Confine all eating to within a twelve-hour window. Don’t eat anything within three or four hours of bedtime. (I do this, mostly, but make exceptions for family events that fall outside the window.)

 

  1. Until age 65-70 depending on weight and frailty, undergo five days of fasting mimicking diet every one to six months, based on your goals and, if possible, medical advice.

NB:

Longo also recommends eating as your ancestors did, which, while it makes sense evolutionarily, (and is nice for Longo himself since he’s Italian) my ancestors lived on a rocky island in the North Atlantic and ate basically potatoes and blood sausage, so nope. Not gonna do that.

Paleo Running?

In the world of training, we are all experiments of one. How much should you run? When should you run? How Fast?  What kind of shoes should you wear? What should you eat? How much should you eat? All these questions get debated endlessly in the running community with few definitive answers ever emerging. Whatever makes you faster is usually the right answer.

I’m not training for anything in particular right now, and I’m feeling like a little experimentation, so here goes. I’m going to try to answer a question I’ve wondered about for some time – can I a relatively big, relatively slow, runner train successfully on a “paleo”, “primal” low carb type diet?

The Paleo/Primal diet thing is based on the concept that our prehistoric ancestors did not eat the type of processed food, nor the amount of grain based products that we eat today and that it would be healthier for humans to return to a diet based on meat and vegetables with little to no carbs or sugar. The science behind all of this is hotly contested, and I am not in a position to judge it. Many people think this is merely a fad, the repackaging of the Atkin’s diet for the crossfit crowd, Maybe it is.

The diet its applicability to the world of endurance sports is still in question. Most of the leading internet promoters of the Paleo diet hate “chronic cardio” and advise against running the kind of distances I run. But, never ones to miss an opportunity to promote the diet, they are willing to make concessions and highlight some athletes, including a triathlete and world class long distance rower, who use the paleo diet with some success. Other corners of the internet more focused on running are generally less impressed with the diet. But then again, that corner of the internet is populated largely by very skinny, very fast people who love beer.

All that said, the diet, broadly defined, has been gaining support in some sectors and has worked for some of my fittest friends. That has made me curious. Would it work for me, A large runner with plenty of fat to burn or would have me bonking on my easy runs? I think it’s time to find out.

So, for the sake of pseudo internet anecdotal “science”, here is the experiment:

What happens when Sean continues to train between 40 and 50 miles per week while maintain a “paleo” style diet? For the sake of this experiment I am going to define the paleo diet as one in which I eat meats, fish, vegetables, fruit and nuts, and do not eat grains, legumes and refined sugar. Dairy, caffeine, and alcohol are debated topics within the world of this diet. I’m going to drink coffee, drink wine (but not beer or spirits), and eat dairy sparsely. I am going to try and maintain the diet for 21 days starting on Monday.

I’ll try to blog here as often as possible describing what I eat and how my runs feel. I am going to make a real effort to go the full 21 days, but if I start to get sick, injured, or otherwise begin to this this is an incredibility stupid ideal I reserve the right to quit. We’ll see how it goes.

November Experiments

November is going to be a big month of experiment for me. With my running limited, but the fear of getting out of shape and putting on the pounds terrifying me, I’m going to be doing some experiments in eating, drinking and working out. Every year I do a race in my hometown on Thanksgiving morning. This year I was hoping to crush my previous time, but this stupid foot injury is limiting my training.  I just won’t be able to get in the miles I would have liked.

So, if training needs to stay constant, what other way is there to get faster? Lose weight.

In November I am going to do two things to try and drop five or so pounds.How am I going to do this? First, I’m not going to drink as much. E and I have wine with dinner most nights, I am going to cut that back to a weekend treat. Second, for the middle two weeks of the month, I am going to give the much ballyhooed paleo diet a try.

I have some friends who are deep in the crossfit world who have had excellent results on the paleo diet. They have lost weight, felt better, blah blah blah. These guys are serious athletes, very strong and very fast at short distances, and this diet has worked really well for them. For me, I don’t think it’ll work long term. Despite all the injuries which have keep me from the marathon, I am (or want to be) a distance runner. That means I need to log big miles, and if I am running a lot, I need carbs. However since I can’t log the big miles right now, I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to experiment with a diet that has been successful for others and see what it is all about. Its only two weeks. If it sucks, It’ll be over quickly; if I like the results, perhaps I can adopt certain aspects to a more carb friendly diet.

So, the November schedule of fun events include:

November 1 – November 26 – cut out weekday booze.

November 9 – November 23 – paleo diet experiment

November 26- December 24th – row 200,000 meters as part of the holiday challenge.

Should be a fun month!

Additionally, I am thinking of using twitter to track some of this. Does anyone else out there use twitter to track their running?