Monday, 9 December 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 49 - week ending 08.12

I stuck pretty much to my plan last week - I did three good gym sessions (my total wt volume is about 50% higher than when I last did three gym sessions in a week last month, so my strength has improved a bit) and managed to average over 10,000 steps of walking per day. I also did one day of fasting and three other days were 'keto' CR. The only area that still needs improvement is my weekends. On Saturday I managed to walk almost 10K steps (by walking around a local office complex while waiting for DS2 to do his Parkour training session), but on Sunday I only did a little bit of walking (under 2,000 steps) when I went to the local shopping center. I also ate a little bit too much on Saturday, and quite a bit more than planned on Sunday (more than my maintenance kcals!)

I'm going to modify my gym sessions from now on to do low wt/~15 rep sessions on Mondays, med wt/~8-10 rep sets on Wednesdays, and heavier wts/~5-8 rep sets on Fridays. That should (theoretically) help retain/increase musculature while I'm shedding bdy weight/fat. By doing the heavy training on Fridays I'll allow two days for 'recovery', rather than the single day off after the other gym sessions.

Our pool has been refilled but I can't get the pool filter started, so it will need a service call. Once it is working again I'll add in swimming some laps after work on my non-gym, fasting days, and also swim some laps on the weekends.

My long term weight plot shows that I'm now about half-way to my goal (approx. 80 kg and 10% BF). But I've previously lost similar amounts (in 2001 and 2016) only to then stop tracking my eating habits and putting the weight back on again within a year or two. So this time I'll need to make my diet and lifestyle change permanent, so I maintain a healthy weight (and possibly put on a bit more muscle) once I reach my target.

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Sunday, 8 December 2019

Uni result Semester 4

Turned out that my exam result was about as bad as I expected - the Superannuation exam was a whole lot of technical questions about contribution rules and taxation for specific ages, income levels, accumulated balances and so forth. I know the rules in general, but I tend to look up specific values as they keep changing so it's not something I normally memorise. As it was a 'closed book' exam I had expected/hoped it would be more about general rules and strategies. Oh well, my final result was still a Credit, so my overall GPA for 2019 is 6.00 after getting two High Distinctions and two Credits. That will just get me a 'Dean's List' letter of commendation for this year, and overall my GPA is still just on the cut-off for qualifying for a university medal (if I end up in the top 2% of my 'cohort' when I graduate) and for getting the Masters degree 'with Distinction' if I maintain a GPA of at least 6.00. Hopefully I can do a little better with my results next year, as I'd like to only get Distinctions or better.

I've enrolled in five uni subjects for 2020, one per semester in the first three quarters, and two courses in Q4. I'm planning on finishing off my Advanced Diploma subjects during Dec/Jan (before uni recommences next year), and might then do the Level I CFA exam in July. That should mean I have a fairly light study load in Q4 so I can managed a full-time study loan while working full-time and doing my uni studies part-time. We'll see how it works out in reality.

In 2021 I'll finish off the Masters degree (should just have the two 'research' subjects to complete in the first half of 2021), and I'll possibly also be able to complete my CFA and CFP certifications in 2021, and enrol in a PhD in Financial Planning.

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Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Accurate body fat measurement and revised target weight

Having compared my plot of 21-day moving average body fat % readings (currently ~20%) vs BMI (currently about 32) using the daily data from my bathroom scales, it seemed that either my scales were very inaccurate OR my body fat wasn't as high as is 'normal' for someone of my weight/BMI. Indeed the 'normal' range of body fat for someone my height and weight is around 25%-30%, which is why according to my BMI I'm still in the 'obese' range.

Before I continued dieting my way all the way down into the 'healthy' weight range (56.6 kg -76.2 kg) for my height (1.75 cm), based on BMI (which had led me to have an initial 'goal' of getting my weight down to 74-76 kg), I decided I'd better get an accurate reading of what my body fat percentage actually is!

The 'gold standard' for determining body fat percentage accurately is hydrostatic weighing, where you are submersed completely underwater (and breath out as much as possible) in a special tank while they weigh you. As the density of fat mass (fat) and lean mass (muscle, bones, blood etc.) is well known, once your displacement (volume) and weight are known, your body fat percentage can be quite accurately calculated. A more recent version of this displacement method is the 'body pod' which uses Air Displacement Plethysmograph (ADP) to determine body composition (ratio of fatty mass to lean mass) in a similar way. But both these methods are a relatively inconvenient (especially as there isn't one close to where I live or work).

So a more modern alternative that provides comparable (or better) accuracy is the DEXA scan (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry). It uses low-intensity X-rays at two different energy levels that are absorbed differently by different tissues. DEXA scans can provide bone density and body fat measurements.

I went and got a DEXA scan done at lunchtime today, which took about 15 minutes (plus a 15 minutes discussion of the results) and cost me $110. A second scan normally costs $90, so I decided to buy a two scan 'package' for $160 as I will want to do a follow up scan in about 4-6 months to check on progress as I get close to my 'ideal' weight. Getting a package deal meant that this second scan will effectively cost $50 rather than $90.

Anyhow, my result showed a couple of interesting things:

* my weight at the time of the scan was 99.1 kg. This is a bit higher than my morning weigh-in of 95.7 kg, but that difference is probably partly due to having eaten breakfast and drunk a fair amount of fluids during the morning.

* my body fat percentage is currently exactly 20.0%. This suggests that my bathroom scales (on average) give a quite accurate reading, although the precision (day to day fluctuations) mean the precision is only 2-3% using my bathroom scales. But that is good enough for me to use the 21-day moving averages of body fat and weight to track my progress. It also shows that I am relatively muscular, with my fat mass index being 6.48 (normal range is 3-6, and obese is 9-12). So I'm actually (now that I've lost some weight) just 'overweight' rather than 'obese'.

* unfortunately the scan also showed that my visceral fat (Android) is 2.086 kg, whereas my goal should be to get this down to <= 1.000 kg. Fortunately losing weight will reduce my total body fat, and will reduce my visceral fat to a more health level.

* the results also estimated my basal metabolic caloric requirement at 1953 kcals/day, which is close to what I had thought.

The consultant advised that my rate of weight loss (to reduce fat without losing excessive amounts of muscle) should not be more than about 1kg per week (I've been averaging around 0.7 kg per week over the past 20 or so weeks).

Going to the gym 2-3x per week while dieting should result in losing equal amounts of fat:muscle, so if I got down to my original 'target' of 75 kg I'd end up with a body fat percentage of around 10% which would be too lean, and I'd lose excessive amounts of muscle. A better goal is apparently to get down to around 80kg over the next 24 weeks, which should result with a very good body fat of around 12.8%. I'll check on how things are progressing in 4-5 months time (when I'm getting close to my new 'target' of 80kg).

One interesting aside is that the scan results quite clearly show that I'm right handed, and have slightly more/better muscle mass in my right arm. Both arms came in at just over 1.0 kg of fat, but my right arm has a lean mass of 4.4 kg whereas my left arm has a lean mass of only 3.9 kg. (Left arm 20.3% fat, Right arm 19.0% fat).
My left and right Rib measurements were symmetrical (23.4% fat) as were my left and right Leg measurements (19.2% fat). I'm carrying most of my fat around my stomach, and some on my arms and thighs. So I should also look a lot more 'athletic' when I get down to 80kg and a body fat of under 13%.

The scan clearly shows that inside my current fat body is a slim person waiting to escape!

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Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Why BMI is not a good benchmark if you do significant weight training while losing weight

I am fat/obese. But I've always 'carried my weight well" (people were often surprised to find out exactly how heavy I was). In high school my weight was 78 kg and my height was 1.78 m, giving me a BMI of 24.6, which was at the top end of 'healthy' (18.5-25.0). No surprise there, as although I did OK on fitness tests at the time, I didn't play a lot of sports (just a bit of swimming and Judo) and couldn't do a chin-up to save my life.

And by the time I started this current stint of diet/lifestyle change my weight had slowly increased over the decades to reach a personal maximum of 111.8 kg (a BMI of 35.3) - which was just entering the morbid obesity range (if you have any obesity-related health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes). As I'd been on blood pressure medication for several years and my recent blood sugar test results had moved from the high end of 'normal' and into that grey area where type 2 diabetes is a distinct possibility (but can be managed by a combination of regular physical exercise, healthy eating and weight reduction) it was definitely time to do something permanent about my poor diet and lack of exercise...

So, based on the generic BMI guidelines, my initial 'goal' for weight loss was to get down into the 'healthy' range of BMI 18.5-25.0, which for my height would mean a weight between 59 kg (!!) and 79 kg. I had started out assuming I would stick to my CR diet and two days of fasting each week until I got under 80 kg, and then taper off the fasting to stabilize my weight in the 72-76 kg range. However, as my body type seems to be naturally mesomorph (if I lose the excess body fat and do modest amounts of weight training) I suspect that by the time I get down to around 80 kg my body fat will have already reduced to the lower end of what is considered a health body fat percentage (8%-19%) for men.

My home scales purport to give a reading of body fat%, but the reading fluctuates wildly from day to day, so only the 21-day moving average gives a reasonably consistent reading (this doesn't mean that it is very accurate though!). Plotting body fat % vs. BMI gives an interesting result, especially when compared to some published data:

The blue dots are my data points, whereas the black circles are female data and black crosses are male data from a study of Sri Lankan men and women. Admittedly I don't belong to that particular racial group, which may well explain why my data points are outliers (assuming my body fat data is even accurate), but it could also be due to the know inaccuracy of BMI as a predictor of body fat in those that have a muscular build (athletes or body builders for example).

One published formula for estimating body fat percentage from BMI data for caucasians is:

BF% = -38 + 2.2 x BMI (+/-4.8)
(for 50-60 year olds: table 4)

which for my current BMI of 30.3 predicts a BF% = 28.7 +/- 4.8  i.e. 23.9% - 33.5%

This puts my current body fat reading of around 20% well below what is expected from my BMI.

Either my scales are ridiculously inaccurate, or my weight training is making my body fat reduce at a greater rate than would be achieved by calorie restriction alone.

Therefore, as I continue to lose weight and do weight training I'll start tracking body fat using abdominal skin fold measurements (if I can find the calipers I bought several years ago!). There are several different formulae available for converting skin fold measurements to estimated body fat, I'll probably try the various ones available at and see how the results compare. Once I start getting skin fold measurements I'll be able to tell if I'm really shifting my muscle:fat ratio (as I suspect), or if my bathroom scales are just giving me consistently inaccurate body fat readings...

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Monday, 2 December 2019

Net Worth: November 2019

My NW increased by $47,716 (2.02%) during November due to the significant improvement in the international and domestic stock markets. The real estate estimates remained unchanged as there was no new sales data updated yet for November, so I stuck with last month's estimate for our house price. Overall Sydney house prices increased during November (by around 2%) in response to the RBA interest rates cuts, so this may be a conservative valuation.

I wrote off the valuation for the S-type Jag that I bought last year, as the Jag dealer service centre has been unable to repair the electrical/security system fault which locked up the steering, so it is now past the overdue registration renewal deadline. I'll have to hand the rego plates in to the RTA (although I can put the rego number 'on hold' for 12 months, it will then cost me another $150 or so to have the plates remade if I do eventually get the Jag fixed, or else buy a different car to use the rego plates number on).

The stamp duty for my 'off the plan' unit purchase will be due in January and is roughly the same as this month's NW increase. If my NW ends up above $2.5m by the end of next year I'll be quite happy. The $100K deposit for the unit, and the $42K stamp duty, have both been funded with some of my available home equity loan, so I'll try to earn enough 'side income' from doing Uber Eats deliveries on the weekend evenings to cover that additional cash flow expense. As the interest is tax deductible I won't have to worry about any extra tax liability due to the extra income.

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Diet 2019 Wk 48 - week ending 01.12

Last week was another fairly mediocre effort in terms of diet and exercise. I had a uni exam on Monday, so I stayed up until 5am on Sunday night doing some last minute study and had some snacks while studying, so Monday total calorie intake ended up above my 'maintenance' level. I was quite tired Monday night, so I skipped going to the gym after work. And then on Wednesday I had to work a bit late, so I missed that gym session as well. Managed to get in one gym session on Friday after work.

I also didn't have any 'fasting' days last week, only managing to have fairly low calorie days on Thursday and Friday instead. On Saturday I overate a bit, but at least I managed to stick to my diet plan on Sunday. I did do quite a bit of walking on Saturday (14,000 steps) and on Sunday spent a couple of hours bucketing water out of our swimming pool to clean it, so I got a reasonable amount of exercise in on the weekend.

Overall my average daily kcals was a bit too high, but still averaged below my maintenance calorie level, so I continued to maintain a decent rate of weight loss due to getting in some extra exercise despite missing a couple of gym sessions. This week I'll try to get to the gym three times as planned, and also stick to my fast on Tues and Thursday.

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Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Financial Planning 'business' and study update

Still no luck getting my first 'client'. I actually had a couple book a free introductory meeting a few weeks ago, but it turned out that only one of them was keen on the idea of getting financial advice, and their financial position didn't really justify the cost of getting personal financial advice at this time (they had no spare cash flow, living from pay cheque to pay cheque and using an overdraft facility to cover any 'unexpected' expenses, and no significant investments to manage). I ended up just providing them some factual information about budgeting and I'll follow up with them in a few months to see if there are in a position to benefit (and it makes financial sense to pay for) personal financial advice.

I sat the exam for my latest subject (Superannuation) for my Masters degree yesterday - I had got a reasonable 80% on the assignments (worth 50% of the subject total mark), so was hoping to end up with another Distinction overall. Getting an HD would have required an exam mark of at least 90%, and anything over 70% in the exam would be sufficient to get me a D overall. As it turned out the exam was a lot more 'technical' than I'd expected (not much about general principles, strategies or legislation, and lots of very specific case studies about contribution and benefit rule application to specific examples of employee ages and income levels). In practice I'll look up specific rates, caps, thresholds etc. and do my calculations using a spreadsheet, rather than try to rely on 'knowing' the (constantly changing) caps etc. and calculating things on a calculator or 'back of the envelop', so it seemed a bit weird for this subject to have a 'closed book' exam with lots of technical questions, whereas other subjects have been 'open book' exams, even when the exam questions were a lot more general in nature. Go figure.

On the other hand, I doubt the other students will do particularly well on this exam, so if I do OK (scrape through with a Distinction) I'll still get on the "Dean's List" for this year, and remain in the running for a university medal (and a degree 'with Distinction') when I graduate.

Now that my uni studies are over for the year, I need to buckle down and make some serious progress with the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning that I'm also enrolled in for this year. I'd like to get the four courses for that qualification all completed before the next uni semester starts next February.

Once I have completed the ADFP qualification and I've done the taxation course for my Masters degree next semester I'll be able to do the required TASA course (on the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA), and the Code of Professional Conduct) to get my registration as a Tax (Financial) Adviser.

Once I get the ADFP course out of the way I'll be able to decide whether I should try to do two courses each semester in 2020 (to finish off the Masters degree next year), or continue just doing one course each semester. I've recently registered with the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute, so I might be studying to sit the Level I CFA exam next June, in which case it would probably be better to continue just doing one uni course each semester...

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CFD trading update - play money

As most of my investments are long term 'set and forget' style (as I have a long term investment time frame and want to minimize fees, trading costs and 'churn'), I have a CFD trading account with Cityindex that I can use to 'play' at trading whenever I get bored with just tracking my NW each month. Even with that 'trading' account I've slowly gone from taking short term positions (having had very mixed results with my results at 'day trading' - aka "I don't know what the hell I'm doing") to having a couple of long positions that I'll leave open until the current up trend seems to have broken.

I've had a few Berkshire Class B CFDs for quite a while, and recently did some short term trades in Tesla (which I managed to eventually close out without losing money) and Google (which actually made a small profit when my stop loss closed out my long position at a small profit). I waited too long to reopen my position in Google after the price dip, so I've now just bought a few long CFDs in the iShares US Technology ETF.

I probably won't close out these positions (unless there is a market correction or the US looks like heading into a recession) as the margins are small enough to allow for some significant price dips without forcing me to sell, but I'll monitor the daily price movements just to give me something to do. The amounts involved in my CFD account are quite trivial - a balance of around $1,000 and daily movements of a few dollars up or down.

The movements in the Vanguard high growth fund (where we have about $1m invested in our SMSF) are material to my NW, but as I intend to hold that position (and add about $2K each month via super contributions) until retirement and beyond, the monthly tracking of the daily price movements are more of an academic exercise.

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Diet 2019 Wk 47 - week ending 24.11

Last week I didn't do any fasting days, but instead had fairly low cal days Tue-Fri. But I then overate again on the weekend (which tends to be the time I have the most difficulty sticking to my meal plan, and instead 'browse' and snack throughout the weekend). So my weight had started to plateau by the end of the weekend.

I went to the gym twice last week, on Mon and Fri (I was working late on Wed and skipped my planned mid-week session on the way home), but I overdid it a bit on gym treadmill on Friday and had a sore foot on the way home and on the weekend (I have a permanently swollen left foot as a result of some bouts of cellulitis in my legs several years ago, and also have some bone spurs in my left foot which sometimes give me stabbing pains when I walk). So I didn't do as much walking on the weekend as I'd like, but things had settled down again by Monday so I'll get get back to walking at least 10K steps a day this week.

This week didn't get off to a great start as I had a uni exam on Monday morning and stayed up until 5:30am Sunday (to get in some last minute studying) and had a few too many late night snacks and not enough sleep as a result. I'm planning on getting back to my normal  diet and exercise plan for the rest of this week.

The weight and calorie intake chart shows that I'm on track to loose about 1 kg/wk on average, and that the few days of fasting each week are helping to keep my average daily calories (over a 7-day period) down around 1,600 cals/day, despite the occasional day of eating more than my maintenance calorie requirement.

I should be able to reach my target wt/BMI by the middle of next year. One of my goals is to eliminate any days of over-eating (more than 2,400 cals) by cutting out snacks and junk food). Once I get my weight under 76 kg I'll transition to only doing one day of fasting each week to maintain the health effects without losing too much weight once I reach a healthy BMI.

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Monday, 18 November 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 46 - week ending 17.11

Last week was going very well up until Thursday - I'd had low-carb meal plan days on Mon and Wed, and stuck to my fast on Tue/Thu, and had good gym sessions on Mon/Wed and walked about 12,000 steps/day.

Then, on Friday, I had a day off work to stay home and do a uni assignment and didn't get to the gym or walk very much, but did at least stick to my standard meal plan. And over the weekend I went on a bit of an eating binge, having way too many snacks and 'extras'. My weight had got down to 97.1kg on Saturday morning, but was back up to 99.0kg by Monday morning!

So this week I have to be strict about sticking to my meal plans, getting in three gym sessions and doing my daily walking and 5BX without fail! Fortunately with intermittent fasting on Tue/Thu even eating 'ad lib' on a couple of days during the week my overall average daily cals last week wasn't too bad.

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