As I’m sipping a glass of champagne while finishing up some coding for the night (yes, I’m one of those people that don’t think you need a special occasion to drink champagne) an interesting self experiment came to me. I’ve heard of and seen video of people who are put in driving simulators to show the difference between difference levels of blood alcohol levels and the impact on driving performance. I’ve sadly seen the direct effect on people as well. Wouldn’t it be interesting to try to do a direct measurement of this in a safe way?
I’ve written several times about the use of periodic fasting days to counteract our periodic feast days as well as health benefits of fasting from the perspective of supposed cancer fighting and potentially longevity. I’ve also mentioned fasting as a means of accomplishing weight loss too. Now that I’m a couple months into that practice, I figured I’d show what that actually looks like.
While using the Goal Accountability Project as a means of keeping myself honest on where I am with my health it occurred to me that a graphical punch is as important as a daily check in. It’s one thing to look at a table of numbers and see that I haven’t been hitting the marks I want. However it is of far greater impact when you see a picture of it. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
“Getting fit” is often synonymous with “losing weight” in most discussions. Back when I was setting up this blog for a long term eating style experiment I was in pretty good shape. My strength training was a bit of a crap shoot but my cardio was as tuned in for me as it had ever been; I ran my first (and to date only) marathon at the end of that planning period. I therefore didn’t see it as a weight loss experiment but as a fitness and longevity experiment. I therefore sought to quantify my fitness in as concrete a way I could. What I came up with was holding myself to a military fitness standard (link).
Yesterday I had a tongue in cheek conversation with a friend about our resolutions. He asked me what my resolutions were for this year. I stated: “To not exercise, eat continuously, and try to add thirty pounds of fat…I’m trying the reverse psychology thing.” Knowing my penchant for trying new things it isn’t totally ridiculous that he took me literally, but I quickly corrected that notion before I got a call from one of my family members asking what the hell I was thinking about. I used to do resolutions, but I don’t, that doesn’t mean that the roll over of the calendar isn’t a good occasion for me to double down on trying to dial it in.
October 16, 2016, when I got back from my honeymoon, I said I was going to be emphasizing a fitness focus by looking at using a goal accountability report card. Really this is getting the tempo for doing these things more into 2017 and beyond. Work and life took my eye off the ball but it didn’t stop me from actually keeping the report card. What’s the point of an accountability exercise if you only do it when you know you are going to score well? That’s like only going to the doctor when you are healthy. The sobering reality is that right now I’m failing on my five goals, but I didn’t need a report card to actually tell me that.
In the end of 2010 I started tracking all of my nutrition, daily calorie burning, and moods full time. Years of doing it off and on during 12-week fitness challenges, weight loss periods, et cetera prepared me well for this process and made it second nature. Now it’s coming up on the end of 2016 and I have pretty much everything I’ve eaten, my daily calorie burn estimates, and my moods tracked for several years. The problem is that the platform I had tracked it in, FitDay, is all but defunct. How will I resurrect that data?
When starting off on this alternate day fasting experiment, I was expecting fasting days to be brutally difficult. I’m a person that often can’t go more than a couple hours without putting some kind of food in my mouth. It’s like a reflex. When I’m being healthy it may be carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, or other healthy food. When I’m not, it’s mini-candy bars, pretzels, candy, and other sweets. Breaking that cycle was one of the main things I’m trying to accomplish with the alternate day fasting experiment. While there is a longing for indulging those impulses I’m not feeling true hunger, but when was I ever really?
I’ve been fixated on fasting a lot over the past year. This isn’t some starvation diet fixation, although it can be used for losing weight too as I am about to lay out. This is on the potential health benefits of doing moderate fasting, intermittent up to a few days, for things like cutting cancer or diabetes risk. A month ago I ended my “exercise only” diet experiment with good results on changes in body composition and biomarkers. Unfortunately the intervening month I didn’t continue the plan at all so I backtracked a little . Wanting to try to jump start things again I’m looking at doing an experiment that ties in fasting as a regular protocol.
I’ve built up a lot of narrative in the past couple of years about why my body composition estimates went from being spot on to diverging rapidly. I presented the graph of my estimated body weight change against my actual in my 2014 recap.
I have had lots of theories but it seemed to correlate well with my marathon training starting up. I’ve been asking if I had “broken my metabolism” or if there may be something else going on. My weight loss from the 80/10/10 experiment exceeded my projections by several pounds as well. Maybe I had overcome inflammation that I had created. Or something to that effect.
Lots of narrative around the correlation, but was it really causation? This week I was looking at the projections of my weight gain over the past several months, planning for my weight loss tracking for this new experiment. I was pleased to see that I was spot on in my projections. Then it occurred to me, I hadn’t been updating my activity levels in my tracking software since November and I had really only been using my FitBit to track sleep most of the time in the September and October time frame where I had those inputs. So that means that I had taken the FitBit out of the equation and now everything was tracking great again. Could the obvious problem not have been inflammation or broken metabolisms but that the FitBit is chronically overestimating my calorie estimates?
In the summary article I lamented that the middle of 2013 was when the estimates started diverging. Guess when I bought the FitBit? middle of 2013. In the middle of all of that training as well. So was it the training or the FitBit? I’m going to investigate more to find out…