On Monday I finally knocked out my first try at the USAF physical fitness test. I didn’t go through the trouble of trying to get a licensed administrator. I simply followed the the instructions for administration and tried to stay true to form. First I did push ups, then I did sit-ups/crunches. I followed that by pull ups (my addition) and then a treadmill 1.5 mile run. The results? Not so great, but I technically passed.
I intend to, and have intended to, go over the details of the various blood tests that I’ve been conducting at quarterly intervals for almost a year now. I even have some tests that go back to 2010. The point of the tests are to look at how my body is reacting to the diet/lifestyle that I was previously on. While I will one day go into the gory details of each one, I just received the results of my tests back in December, and the numbers, I thought, were pretty incredible.
It’s a bit of a mixed blessing. I was always curious if diet would dramatically drive my blood tests in a particular direction over such a short period of time. I think I now know the answer to that, and it’s a definitive yes. While I also had the marathon ramp up happening at the same time, I pretty much sat out the rest of the month of December. Therefore any residual of that should have gone away. At the same time some numbers which would have stayed low, such as Testosterone scores, were back up to my pre-ramp up levels. I therefore think that the results are mostly attributable to my incredibly poor diet for the last month and a half of the year.
Again, I’ll be going into detail later, but by far the biggest numbers that changed for the worse were my cholesterol numbers, some liver enzyme tests and my Vitamin-D levels. While my numbers are still within normal levels, the rise is them is unmistakable. For example, while my total cholesterol has been between 125 and 133 for all of last year, for the end of December it was 152. Since 199 is the level people start getting worried about, that’s not completely horrible, but a jump of 30% is pretty clear. My triglycerides score may still be half of the level people start worrying about but it’s also 50% higher than it was for the second half of the year. Lastly, a measure of liver enzymes that is still a bit below the top of the normal range, is a full 100% higher than it was for the rest of the year. I certainly hadn’t done any strenuous exercise for the past few weeks before the test, nor was I sick. That’s therefore me overtaxing my liver compared to other times.
My previous test results were from the end of September. In the beginning of September I had a pretty good heavy eating and drinking (for me anyway) week at the beginning of the month. December was comparable to that but for several weeks in a row. While my numbers from July to October were only slightly worse, definitely in the noise, it is clear that a month and a half of treating your body like this can start a slide. Where would it stop? I’m not looking to find that out. I am looking forward to seeing how they snap back at the end of this Virgin Diet phase however.
After a month of eating cleanly and getting some exercise, but not as much as I would like, my measurements have snapped back to the way they were before the end of year binge. Depending on the measurement they have gone back even as far as before my October holiday binge as well. I knew I had dropped a bunch of weight on this Virgin Diet. That isn’t completely intentional. Since I put on three pounds of excess weight during the holidays, I wanted to shed it over the first three months of the year. It seems that I’ve done that in the first month plus a little more. I hope that levels off some, but unless I’m eating a ton of excess nuts, nut butters or oil it is really hard to bump up the calories enough to avoid more than a nominal calorie deficit eating this way. I was glad to see that what little yoga and calisthenics I did do, which will hopefully ramp up in the next couple of weeks, already showed some gains on my arms. It is amazing how fast things improve when you start from doing nothing at all :-).
|1 Neck (in)||16.25||15.75|
|2 Shoulders (in)||51.1||51.4|
|3 Chest (in)||43||42.75|
|4 Left Bicep (in)||13.25||13.5|
|5 Left Forearm(in)||11.5||11.5|
|6 Right Bicep (in)||13.25||13.5|
|7 Right Forearm (in)||11.6.25||11.625|
|8 Torso (in)||35.1||35|
|9 Waist (in)||36.25||36|
|10 Hip (in)||35.75||35.5|
|11 Left Thigh (in)||23||23.75|
|12 Left Calf (in)||16||16|
|13 Right Thigh (in)||23.375||22.75|
|14 Right Calf (in)||16.375||16.5|
|Skin Fold (mm)||13||11.5|
|Body Fat Percentage||17||16.|
Beginning the month of January my body measurements took a predictably bad turn. Between excessive eating throughout the month as parties, family gatherings and tasty morsels presented themselves throughout the month I picked up a bit of extra weight and girth. I also didn’t do any exercise after my marathon early in the month. All of that trends poorly. Again, I was hoping to not start any of the diet experiment phases with skewed body chemistry and state, but I think the three months of the elimination diet before the core trials begin will make this not a complete tragedy.
Although I just did my “November” measurements back on the 10th, I wanted to get into the beginning of the month tempo to make sure I’m getting literally monthly updates on my body measurements. Because of that I wasn’t expecting too much change in my stats being as there was only two and a half weeks between them. Surprisingly there were some relatively large changes in my body measurements and composition, especially with such little time elapsing.
A few notable things happened over the course of those three weeks. One important thing is that I cleaned up my diet a little bit. That means that I was eating a lot cleaner and more whole foods, but was still indulging from things several times a week. I was far from perfect, but I wasn’t a junk food junkie. Between those dates I also stopped ramping up my distances for my marathon training and was deep into my “taper” period. That means the distance I was running each week was dropping from a peak of 28 miles in a week down to just 6 (the week I did the measurement). Lastly, starting in late September I started taking some herbal supplements to help augment testosterone production since my testosterone levels had dropped between my second and third quarter blood tests. This common problem with endurance training is something I wanted to mitigate, but once I was no longer building up mileage I figured I no longer needed to be taking these supplements. Therefore a few days after my longest long run (20 miles) I stopped taking them. Any one of those things could have caused the changes I’m seeing, but the results are what they are.
As noted in other areas, my weight actually dropped considerably, but it happened over such a short period of time that most of it must be water weight. That is born out by the measurements as well. While all my torso measurements went down by a quarter inch or more, my skin fold measurement came out just slightly less than in the previous measurement. That put my percent body fat down from 17% to 16.5%. That drop is pretty consistent with the drop measured on my scale (which using bioelectric impedance to measure body fat). Unfortunately other “good” measurements seemed to have dropped well. My arms either stayed the same or dropped an eight of an inch (both in forearm and bicep area). My upper legs shrank almost half an inch while my calves stayed the same.
With my marathon training done until next summer I’m going to keep a good running base of 8-12 miles a week. This will give me a lot of time to crank up strength training to see what I can do about my overall body composition and strength (especially upper body). I’m not sure how much of that I will get to crank up with my post-marathon recovery taking a week or so and the holidays taking its toll from a time and nutrition perspective. I can’t wait to see though, since that’s the last set before I head into the experiment.
I’ve been meaning to start doing my body measurements monthly again, but I haven’t been able to get on the band wagon. The last set of measurements I took was at the very end of August, so that would be September 2013. It’s important to track at one month granularity since each of the diet phases is going to be only three months. I therefore need to get cracking with being consistent at measuring at the beginning of each month.
Although I’m banging out lots of miles training for my first marathon, I also had a series of vacations with lots of indulgences. The upshot of all that is that I packed on several pounds over the last two months. It shows up in my percent body fat, my weight and my various measurements. The weight is probably a little higher than it actually is since I ate a ton of sodium yesterday, but it’s not so off that it’s in the wrong direction or indicative of a trend. I’m not interested in cutting weight, but I will say that I’m at the upper end of the scale/percent body fat where I still feel healthy. My peak “this feels great” for me is between 14-16% body fat and about 173-180 pounds. Too much lower than that and I am ravenous. Too much more than that and I start feeling more sluggish. Since I’m training for my first marathon I’m not interested in cutting calories to reach some theoretical ideal weight. I’ll therefore address that after that is done, if I don’t just let it fall into some equilibrium status on its own during the experiment.