Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Diet & Exercise update - Week 8

Last week I finally did one session of 5BX, but I still need to do it every day so it becomes a habit. Over the ANZAC day long weekend I did go for a couple of long (~6km walks) on Sunday and Monday, as a gentle start to my preparation for walking the 14km City2Surf 'fun run' course in August. I played an hour of gentle squash with DS1 on Sunday and some street badminton with DS2 on Saturday. Overall a good week in terms of activity, but I still bought and ate some confectionary every day - a bad habit I've been trying to break for the past 30 years. I fell just short of my target 10,000 steps/day of walking during the week, but the City2Suf registration definitely improved my motivation.

.             Fibre      Carbs    Fat     Protein    kCals     Wt       Steps
Week 1 (FMD)  25.7 g/dy  65.6%    22.2%   47.3 g/dy  1568 /dy  96.7 kg  8,511 /dy
Week 2 (STD)  31.3       62.4     17.8    129.3      2747      96.6     5,426
Week 3 (STD)  35.7       68.5     15.5    99.0       2616      97.0     4,857
Week 4 (STD)  37.5       68.3     16.3    121.9      3241      95.5     6,450
Week 5 (STD)  34.0       60.0     23.4    104.1      3011      96.2     4,036
Week 6 (STD)  36.6       70.6     14.1    115.4      3252      96.7     5,269
Week 7 (STD)  28.9       67.2     16.4    108.5      3121      96.3     3,973
Week 8 (STD)  32.1       65.2     16.0    128.4      2884      96.3     8,378

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Diet & Exercise: City2Surf 2016

Entries for the 2016 'City2Surf" open tomorrow, and I think I'll enter (again) this year. The trick will be to actually train regularly for it, and be fit enough to do the 14km 'race' on 14 August. I've entered the City2Surf twice before, but both times I changed my mind and didn't actually go. The first time I came down with the 'flu a few days before the race date and I wasn't feeling well enough to race (the organizers recommend not racing if you've been sick or had a viral infection within two weeks of the race day), and the second time it was raining and I just didn't feel like getting up at 6am to spend two hours in the rain.

'Early bird' entry costs $65 for adults (anyone over 15), and a 'family' entry costs $130 - which includes two adults and one child. Since DS1 is turning 16 in May, I'll probably pay for a family entry as DS2 may wish to also come along. I'll probably walk most of the 14 km course, which shouldn't take much more than a couple of hours even with drink stops along the way. Only 1,500 family packages are available, so I'll have to register fairly soon.

The better runners (that have met a particular qualification time) start the race around 8 am, but we'll probably choose the Orange 'back of the pack' group that starts the race at a much more civilized time (9:30 am).

** update: I entered the family as soon as registrations opened on 20/4. Cost including the 1.5% surcharge for CC payment was $131.95. Considering Westpac is a sponsor I find it hard to believe the actual merchant fee being charged to City2Surf is much above 0.7%. It also seems off that there is no surcharge if you pay via Paypal, as the merchant has to pay a fee to receive payments via Paypal. Oh well, I suppose it is another way to raise some funds for charity... Since it was an 'early bird' entry, the race bibs should be mailed out to us, which is good as I didn't fancy having to drive out to the Fitness Expo and queue up a few days before the race to collect our race bibs. Next step will be to plot a local walking/jogging route that is about 7km long (half the race distance). I'll try to ramp up my daily walking to meet my current 10,000 steps/day target, and add in a weekend 7km walk/jog session. Closer to the race day we can start doing the full 14km race distance once a week by doing two 'laps' of this training circuit.

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Monday, 18 April 2016

Book Review: 'Global Asset Allocation' by Mebane Faber

Global Asset Allocation: A Survey of the World's Top Asset Allocation Strategies

A while ago I saw an offer for a free copy of this book (in exchange for doing a review), so as a personal finance maven I promptly emailed Meb to get a copy for review. In response I got an amazon.com coupon worth the cost of the online eBook version, and eventually* I worked out how to use it ;)

The book is a nice overview of a selection of well-known asset allocation models, such as the '60/40' (50% US S&P500 and 40% US Government Bonds), 'Risk Parity', 'All Seasons', 'Permanent', 'Rob Arnott', 'Marc Faber', and 'Warren Buffet'.

The numerous graphs provide a ready comparison of the relative performance of the various asset allocation models, often including 'back-calculated' results for times before the particular allocation model came into use. The tabulated results also include a useful 'maximum draw-down' percentage, which I feel is a better yardstick for determining if a particular asset allocation model would suit ones personal risk tolerance than the more frequently quoted standard deviation. After all, it isn't likely to be the "average" risk (variability) that will make you loose your nerve and switch investments, but then "worst case" situation that suddenly arises and induces you to sell out of the market at the bottom and crystallize losses.

The graphs overall show that as a general rule any 'diversified' asset allocation can provide a particular rate of average return for less volatility or maximum draw-down than an undiversified portfolio. Perhaps the only example of a 'free lunch' available in investing. The graphs also appear to show that in the long term (assuming you remain invested over the long term) almost any asset allocation that includes growth assets (real estate, shares) will outperform cash by a considerable margin. However, the use of log-linear axes in the graphs, although useful for showing the consistency of long term growth, tends to make it appear that many asset allocation models have almost identical long term performance. In reality, a fairly minor difference in the 'slope' of a log-linear plot can mean a huge difference in the final dollar value of an investment. Just compare the end result of investing $10,000 for 25 years at an average rate of return of 11% vs. 10% -- while the slopes of a log-linear plot would look very similar, the end result would differ by 25% in dollar terms.

On the other hand, while a small difference in average annual return would have a large impact on the final value of your investment portfolio, the graphs also show that the different asset allocation models have performed very differently in different economic conditions. So the 'ten year average' return for a particular asset allocation will vary a lot, depending on what date range you look at. Given we don't have a crystal ball to foresee economic conditions over the next 10, 20 or more years, it becomes a somewhat moot point whether model 'A' or model 'B' has had superior performance over any historical time period. One therefor comes back to reflecting upon one's risk tolerance -- do you want an asset allocation that has slightly lower average return, but has less 'risk' (volatility) and a much lower 'maximum draw down', or do you opt for an asset allocation that might produce significantly superior returns over the long term, but *might* perform rather badly over your personal investment timeframe, even if that is 30 or 50 years?

Overall, the book is a quick and enjoyable read and provides a ready reference to the performance and risk characteristics of various asset allocation models over the period 1973-2013, and for each decade (70s, 80s, 90s, etc.). And well worth the US$3 price for the eBook version compared to the extra time it would require to gather and summarize this performance data for yourself.

You can get the Kindle version from Amazon here: Global Asset Allocation: A Survey of the World's Top Asset Allocation Strategies

* [initially I had issues ordering the eBook for my tablet, resolved by ordering the version for the 'cloud reader'. And then  I had a second minor issue where the amount of the $3,00 'gift coupon' somehow ending up as only a $2.99 credit at checkout, while the $3.00 cost of the eBook ending up as $3.01 a the checkout. When I eventually noticed this and worked out why the sale wasn't going through, I eventually completed the purchase by charging 2c to my credit card! So, it wasn't a completely 'free' after all]

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Diet & Exercise update - Week 7

Same (unfortunately) as last week - too much snack food, not enough exercise (I did hardly anything on Saturday as it was raining), I didn't resume my 5BX routine, and my shoulder still hurts (although there were a couple of pain-free days, so it *might* be improving). The only bright spots were that I played an hour of squash with the boys on Sunday, as planned, and I've booked in for next week, so that at least seems to be an enjoyable, and sustainable, fitness routine. This week I'll try to a) walk more, b) avoid buying and eating confectionary, and c) start doing 5BX in the evenings.

.             Fibre      Carbs    Fat     Protein    kCals     Wt       Steps
Week 1 (FMD)  25.7 g/dy  65.6%    22.2%   47.3 g/dy  1568 /dy  96.7 kg  8,511 /dy
Week 2 (STD)  31.3       62.4     17.8    129.3      2747      96.6     5,426
Week 3 (STD)  35.7       68.5     15.5    99.0       2616      97.0     4,857
Week 4 (STD)  37.5       68.3     16.3    121.9      3241      95.5     6,450
Week 5 (STD)  34.0       60.0     23.4    104.1      3011      96.2     4,036
Week 6 (STD)  36.6       70.6     14.1    115.4      3252      96.7     5,269
Week 7 (STD)  28.9       67.2     16.4    108.5      3121      96.3     3,973

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Monday, 11 April 2016

Diet & Exercise update - Week 6

Another mediocre week where I didn't do enough exercise (walking) and ate way too much confectionery and snacks in the evenings (my basic diet was OK, it was just the 'extras' that ruined my plan). So my weight has started to creep back up again, so it's time (again) to try and 'stick' to my diet plan and go for a walk in the evening when I feel like just slouching in front of the TV eating snacks...

I did manage to play an hour of squash with DS2 on Sunday (although at our skill level its mostly walking to retrieve the ball and serve again, rather than running around for long rallies), which worked up a good sweat. My neck/shoulder pain seems to be getting slightly better, but is taking a long time to improve. I've added a daily glucosamine tablet to my daily vitamin supplements, so if the shoulder pain is arthritic it might help (xrays of my back and feet previously have shown signs of arthritis in my spine and feet - so it's not surprising to start experiencing arthritic pains as I get older, but its *really* annoying). A lifetime of steroidal creams and medications for my chronic eczema certainly won't have helped.

.             Fibre      Carbs    Fat     Protein    kCals     Wt       Steps
Week 1 (FMD)  25.7 g/dy  65.6%    22.2%   47.3 g/dy  1568 /dy  96.7 kg  8,511 /dy
Week 2 (STD)  31.3       62.4     17.8    129.3      2747      96.6     5,426
Week 3 (STD)  35.7       68.5     15.5    99.0       2616      97.0     4,857
Week 4 (STD)  37.5       68.3     16.3    121.9      3241      95.5     6,450
Week 5 (STD)  34.0       60.0     23.4    104.1      3011      96.2     4,036
Week 6 (STD)  36.6       70.6     14.1    115.4      3252      96.7     5,269

I still haven't started doing daily 5BX yet - another thing on my 'to do' list.

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Diet & Exercise update - Week 5

My plan to do five days of 'Fasting Mimicking Diet' during the past week didn't come to pass. I've had a sore shoulder blade/stiff neck for the past two weeks and just didn't feel in the mood for being highly disciplined about what I was eating over the weekend. My youngest son was also spending his first night sleeping away from home at the school 'music camp', and I spent a lot of time shuttling back and forth between home and the camp about 20 minutes drive away. Aside from an extra round trip on Saturday to spend three hours there as a 'parent helper', I also had to make an extra trip to pick up some tools and spare reeds to make some urgent repairs to his clarinet.

My sore back/neck has been rather odd - instead of the usual stiff neck that passes after a couple of days, and for which there is usually one or more 'comfortable' positions available when resting/sleeping, this time my shoulder was hurting all night regardless of what position I tried to sleep in. After two weeks of constant mild pain and disturbed sleep I finally had a night without too much discomfort last night so hopefully it is now on the mend.

I only managed to get in half an hour of squash with DS1 last Sunday as we were running late after collecting DS2 from music camp. But I then played a bit of badminton with DS2 when we got home from squash, so overall I still got about an hour of moderate exercise on Sunday. My daily average step count for the week was very low, as I wasn't feeling like taking long walks in the evenings. I've made a slightly better start to this week, but still have a way to go to reach my target of 10,000 steps/day.

.             Fibre      Carbs    Fat     Protein    kCals     Wt       Steps
Week 1 (FMD)  25.7 g/dy  65.6%    22.2%   47.3 g/dy  1568 /dy  96.7 kg  8,511 /dy
Week 2 (STD)  31.3       62.4     17.8    129.3      2747      96.6     5,426
Week 3 (STD)  35.7       68.5     15.5    99.0       2616      97.0     4,857
Week 4 (STD)  37.5       68.3     16.3    121.9      3241      95.5     6,450
Week 5 (STD)  34.0       60.0     23.4    104.1      3011      96.2     4,036

I haven't started doing daily 5BX - yet another thing on my 'to do' list.

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Friday, 1 April 2016

Net Worth: Mar 2016

A slight recovery in the stock market, and two months of contributions hitting my retirement savings account resulted in a positive overall performance for the month. Overall my estimated net worth increased by almost $50k during March, although it still below the previous high. If the Australian stock market ever recovers to its pre-GFC level (the ASX200 was around 6800 in late 2007, compared to currently sitting around 5000 after almost a decade!) my net worth would get a healthy boost. I'm not holding my breath for a return to strong economic growth though, as mediocre 'below trend' growth seems to be the 'new normal' for Australia.

A report out today regarding global migration of 'millionaires' (HNWI - individuals with more than USD$1m in assets, excluding their primary residence) listed Sydney as the best performing city, in terms of net increase in the number of millionaires due to migration. This probably helps explain the continuation of the property boom in Sydney.


Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Diet & Exercise update - Week 4

A strange week. Despite having consumed more calories per day on average I actually lost some weight, possibly due to a slightly higher level of activity (walking) despite there being no squash session due to the Easter weekend.

The current week will include five days of FMD, so despite not getting off to a good start (the first two days I've eaten some junk food and not reached my daily step count goals) this week should be OK overall. I've been referred to an immunologist by my GP as my eczema has been pretty bad for the past few months. Hopefully if I can get my skin a bit better I'll add some weekend kayaking into my activity mix once the cooler Autumn weather arrives (it's still a bit warm and humid in Sydney at the moment).

.             Fibre      Carbs    Fat     Protein    kCals     Wt       Steps
Week 1 (FMD)  25.7 g/dy  65.6%    22.2%   47.3 g/dy  1568 /dy  96.7 kg  8,511 /dy
Week 2 (STD)  31.3       62.4     17.8    129.3      2747      96.6     5,426
Week 3 (STD)  35.7       68.5     15.5    99.0       2616      97.0     4,857

Week 3 (STD)  37.5       68.3     16.3    121.9      3241      95.5     6,450

I've noted whether each week was my 'standard' diet plan (STD), or contained five days of Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD)

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Diet & Exercise update - Week 3

Not a very good week. Had to take a couple of days of sick leave off work, and didn't manage to reach my 10,000 daily step count on ANY day, or to do any of my planned 5BX exercise sessions. I only stuck to my diet plan on two days during the week, and I even exceeded my maintenance calories intake on a couple of days! Which explains the slight increase in average weight for the week. On a positive note I still played squash despite not feeling 100%.

Goals for this week are therefore to stick to my planned diet, walk 10,000+ steps/day, and start doing my 5BX exercises regularly. There's no squash this week as the gym will be closed on Easter Sunday.

.             Fibre      Carbs    Fat     Protein    kCals     Wt       Steps
Week 1 (FMD)  25.7 g/dy  65.6%    22.2%   47.3 g/dy  1568 /dy  96.7 kg  8,511 /dy
Week 2 (STD)  31.3       62.4     17.8    129.3      2747      96.6     5,426
Week 3 (STD)  35.7       68.5     15.5    99.0       2616      97.0     4,857

 I've noted whether each week was my 'standard' diet plan (STD), or contained five days of Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD)

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Diet and Exercise - the battle to live forever, or die trying...

My perennial battle to lose weight and get fit was going very badly towards the end of last year. I'd given up on my adult beginner Judo lessons early in the year, after developing sore shoulders from trying to do break falls when my BMI was still around 33. I'll probably only try Judo lessons again when I eventually get my weight down to my 'ideal' BMI range of 22.5-25. I'd also cancelled my membership of the local discount 'Crunch Fitness' gym ($8/wk), as I simply wasn't using it often enough, and was instead going to try to do '5BX' exercises at home...

By the end of 2015 my weight had hit 106 kg for the first time ever, with my BMI approaching 35! I was also noticing that I was getting quite unfit -- getting slightly puffed just walking up three flights of stairs in the office every morning. So in early December I decided to get a head start on my New Year's resolution and take a deep breath and 'reboot' my diet and exercise regime.

I have a 'standard' diet plan that I've checked provides suitable amounts of nutrients, doesn't leave me feeling particularly hungry, and which provides a modest amount of 'caloric restriction' (CR) of around 35%. IF I managed to stick to this diet plan every day I would lose around 1kg per week, but in reality I 'sort of' stick to my diet 'most days', and I've been losing weight over the past four months at a reasonable rate of around 0.5 kg per week.

Some recent research has suggested that the 'Fit Fat' have similar mortality rates as healthy, lean individuals (although I suspect it may be easier in the long run for normal weight individuals to maintain high fitness levels compared to overweight or obese 'fit' individuals trying to do so). So in addition to aiming to walk 10,000 steps per day, I've joined the local gym ('low use' membership at $12/week for one visit/week) so I can hire one of their squash courts for the member's rate of $5/hour (the normal court hire rate is $38/hour!). Every Sunday afternoon I now take the boys along to the squash court and they take turns hitting the ball around the court with me for an hour (quite 'low intensity' squash, but still enough to keep me out of breath and sweating for an hour!).

I'm also trying to get back into the habit of doing 11 minutes/day of '5BX' exercises every evening, but so far I haven't quite made that into a habit...

Overall, my 'standard' diet plan is 1750 kcals/day which would contain 40.5 g fibre, 69% carbs, 11% fat and 20% protein. In addition, during the first week of March I tried a five-day 'Fasting Mimicking Diet', which some research suggests can be very  beneficially if done once every 1-3 months. I didn't have any trouble sticking to this fairly restrictive diet for five days this month, so I plan on trying to do five days of FMD at the start of every month from now on. Hopefully by the end of 2016 I'll be a LOT fitter, get within my healthy weight range, and my next annual blood test will hopefully show improvements in my cholesterol and HDL/LDL levels...

To keep me 'honest' I'll start doing a post of my daily averages for each week. To kick it off, here are the figures since the start of March. I've noted whether each week was my 'standard' diet plan (STD), or contained five days of Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD):

.             Fibre      Carbs    Fat     Protein    kCals     Wt       Steps
Week 1 (FMD)  25.7 g/dy  65.6%    22.2%   47.3 g/dy  1568 /dy  96.7 kg  8,511 /dy
Week 2 (STD)  31.3       62.4     17.8    129.3      2747      96.6     5,426

Subscribe to Enough Wealth. Copyright 2006-2016