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Monday, 28 October 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 43 - week ending 27.10

I had a good diet and exercise week up until Sunday. I had gone to the gym as planned on Mon, Wed and Fri for some light weight training, and did one session on 5BX on a non-gym day. I also managed to reach my target of at least 10,000 steps/day, including on Saturday. But I didn't do my 5BX on Saturday evening, and on Sunday we went to the movie theatre and I ate some junk food and confectionery while we were out. Then on Sunday evening I also had some extra snacks after dinner, so my daily calories were way too high on Sunday. I also didn't walk very far on Sunday either.


For Mon-Sat I averaged 1,270 kcals/day which was close to the previous weeks daily average. But on Sunday I had 3,586 kcals, which blew out my daily average for the week to 1,601 cals/day. Still OK as a long term daily average, but my weight had ticked up quite a bit this morning (to 102.8kg) simply due to the extra bulk of food and corresponding water retention.

Today I'll stick to my 'standard' diet plan and go to the gym on the way home. I did a 30 min circuit of weight machines with 3 sets of 8-15 reps at each station last Friday, and I'll try to do the same in each gym session from now on and slowly increase the weights. Initially I'll use weights that I can manage 15 reps with, as I want to build up a bit of strength and avoid injury rather than build muscle mass (it would also be difficult to training for increased muscle mass when simultaneously dieting).

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Thursday, 24 October 2019

Overview of my 'healthy eating and exercise' plan

I thought I'd post an overview of my diet and exercise plan for the next 6-12 months. The week-to-week reality may differ somewhat from 'the plan', but this is what I am aiming for. Having a written plan is a good first step towards achieving any goal. And I find that recording what I've eaten each day helps me stick to my plan (most of the time).

My current eating plan is to stick to a 'standard diet' meal plan five days each week, and to fast two days each week.

My 'standard diet' consists of a healthy breakfast of honey-flavoured porridge with lite milk (and a scoop of added whey protein - "Vital Strength hydroxy ripped  thermogenic protein" is what the marketing department called the product I happened to buy on sale (50% off) in my local supermarket, but any whey protein will do once I've use this batch up) and a glass of grapefruit juice (I also take a daily multivitamin, 1000mg of Vit C, some Vit D and prescription BP medication). Then my weekday lunch consists of a 125g tin of smoked salmon slices and a 300g tin of baked beans. And dinner consists of some grilled animal protein (e.g. 120g of fillet steak, chicken breast, or pork fillet) and a serve or two of vegetables (usually frozen or tinned peas, carrots and green beans), or a gluten-free soup and pita bread. And then some fruit (eg. an apple and mandarin) and a jelly for dessert. On the weekend I'll have the same breakfast, but might have scrambled eggs on toasted gluten-free Pita bread for lunch (with a small amount of 'proactive' cholesterol reducing margarine), and I often make a pot roast and some roast potatoes for the family to have for evening meals during the weekend.

I eat my breakfast around 8am, and have usually finished my dinner by about 7pm (and avoid having any snacks after dinner - snacking after dinner was a major reason why I put on weight over the years). This is basically a 13:11 diet regime coupled with CRAN (the total cals are around 1,600 compared to my basic metabolic requirement of around 2,150-2,350 cals (depending on how active I am), so this meal plan represents 25%-30% CR and I've checked the overall fat:carb:protein ratios and vitamin and mineral content using a spreadsheet). Sticking to basically the same meal plan (with minor variations) each day makes it easy to do the weekly shop, and it also avoids have to recheck the nutritional values are adequate with a CR diet that changed day-to-day.

So far I'm finding it quite easy to have a fast on two days each week (TUE and THU, which are the weekdays that I'm not going to the gym). Actually, from when I stop eating around 8pm on Monday night to breakfast on Wednesday morning is approx. 36 hrs, so it is really 1.5 days of fasting (or 36:12 as I've seen it called in some articles about IF).

Overall, that means my total weekly calorie intake (if I stick to my plan) totals around 5x1650 cals each week = 8,250 cals (or an average of  about 1,200 cals/day). Which compared to 7x2,350 = 16,450 cals/wk if I was eating 'maintenance' calories (~2,250 cals) each day is a quite substantial CR of 50%. This should result in quite a rapid rate of weight loss, which is probably a good idea given my BMI started off in the 'obese' range, and I've been meaning to get down to my 'ideal weight' since the 1980s!

Once I get down towards my 'ideal' BMI I'll cut back to only one day of fasting each week (some amount of ongoing Intermittent Fasting is supposed to be good for your health) and increase my standard daily calories slightly to my new maintenance level (which will be lower once I achieve a lower BMI). The exact level of maintenance calories required will depend on how active I am.

In terms of exercise, my plan is to do 5BX in the evenings and to walk 10K steps each day, and to go to the gym and do some weight training on my non-fasting weekdays each week (i.e. Mon, Wed and Fri). I might skip the 5BX on days when I've already had a gym session (although it is probably good to do the stretching involved in 5BX after a session of weight training).

I'm hoping that I won't end up with too much 'loose skin' by the time I get to my ideal BMI. Apparently the amount of excess skin one has after weight loss tends to be genetic to some extent. Generally anyone that looses 100lbs or more (45 kg) seems almost certain to end up with excess loose skin, and some people who have only lost half that amount end up with excess skin after losing weight. My planned weight loss is to go from my 111 kg starting weight to get down to about 74 kg (and stay there) - which will be a reduction of 37kg (or 81 lbs). So its quite likely that I'll have some loose skin after the weight loss. Replacing some of that fat loss with muscle gain should help reduce the amount of loose skin to some extent. And having jelly (full of collagen) *might* also help improve skin elasticity and maximize the chance that my skin will shrink to suit my reduced body size as I loose weight. In any event, having a bit of excess skin is a lot better than killing myself slowly by having excess weight.

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Monday, 21 October 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 42 - week ending 20.10

Had a solid week of sticking to my diet plan and also did a day of fasting on Tuesday, and went to the Gym on Monday. I also did 5BX sessions on five of the six days I didn't go to the gym, and increased my daily step count a bit closer towards my 10,000 steps/day target.

This week I plan on going to the Gym on Mon/Wed/Fri and do 5BX on the other days (and a bit of dumbell weight training at home on those days), as well as stick to my diet plan and fast on Tue/Thu. Hopefully this will become my normal routine after a couple of weeks. I also need to try to get to bed a little bit earlier, as ideally I should be averaging around 7 hrs sleep each night if I want to maintain muscle mass and lose mostly fat as I diet and exercise.

Daily averages for the last two weeks:

As my protein intake is probably a little bit too low for muscle gain/preservation while dieting, I've added a scoop of whey protein to my morning breakfast of porridge. I might also get some creatine powder to have with my morning grapefruit juice if I'm going regularly to the gym three times a week for weight training.

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Diet 2019 Wks 40 & 41 - weeks ending 06.10 and 13.10

I had two weeks of eating 'ad libitum' due to a combination of having a lingering cough (so I didn't want to fast or diet while still recovering from the 'flu) and weekend visits to my parents up at our hobby farm/lake house weekender (which involves several large home-cooked meals a day, plus snacking). I therefore put back on most of the weight I'd lost during the previous three weeks of dieting.

Anyhow, last week my cough had finally cleared up, so I got back onto my standard eating plan and eliminated snacks/junk food. I didn't have any fast days, but did eat a bit less than my standard diet plan on Tue-Fri. I also went to the Gym for the first time in ages and did a bit of weight training.

This week I've resumed fasting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and will go to the gym for half an hour of easy weight training on Mondays and Wednesdays on the way home from work. On the days I don't go to the gym I've started doing 11 mins of 5BX in the evenings. I'm also trying to do some extra walking around the office and in the evenings to get my daily step count up to my target of at least 10,000 steps/day.


My chart of daily calorie intake and weight shows the effect of two weeks of eating too much. Next time I get sick I need to take it easy and get plenty of sleep, but avoid overeating, and especially avoid 'snacking' when I'm not being very active.


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Sunday, 13 October 2019

How much tax does superannuation really cost the government?

An article in today's SMH reports that $800b is now in the superannuation accounts of those of retirement age (over 65), which has meant a reduction in reliance of the age pension. Instead of the cost of the age pension rising from 2.9% of GDP in 2001 to a projected 4.6% by 2040, it is now projected to actually fall to only 2.5% by 2038. However, it is also reported that the cost of the concessional tax rates applied to superannuation means that it is costing 1.9% of GDP, which according to the Grattan Institute will rise to 3% of GDP by 2060.

However, while the age pension is a real cost to government, the cost of the concessional tax rate applied to superannuation is not as high as generally reported. Why? Because calculations of the 'cost' of superannuation assumes 'all other things being equal' ie. If someone with taxable income in the top (45%) marginal tax rate has SGL and salary sacrifice contributions into super taxed at 'only' 15%, this is costing the government 30% in tax concessions. However, the reality is that if superannuation wasn't available, those in the higher tax brackets would simply use other means to reduce their tax liability. The projected 'cost' also does not take into account planned changes to the higher tax brackets in 2024-25.

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Thursday, 3 October 2019

Diet week ending 29.09.19

Last week my cough persisted (it is only clearing up now) so I didn't do any fasting days, and indeed I didn't even follow my standard meal plan and I snacked quite a lot on confectionery and chocolates when I wasn't feeling well. So my average daily calorie intake for last week was quite high and I put back on most of the weight I had managed to shed.

This current week (so far) has also not been very good, diet-wise, and I've only got back onto my standard meal plan today (so no fasting days again this week). I'm also going back up to the lake house this weekend to visit my parents and collect DS2 (who was staying with them for the first week of the school holidays), so the coming weekend will involve several large home-cooked meals. But I'll do my best to avoid any more junk food/snacking during the weekend.

Next week I'll get back to following my standard diet plan, and also have a couple of fasting days  provided my cough has cleared up completely and I'm feeling 100%.


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Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Where to with regard home loan interest rates?

Recent interest rate cuts to 'historic lows' in Australia, combined with high property prices (especially in Sydney and Melbourne) have lead to a lot of speculation about how low interest rates will drop (after yesterday's 0.25% cut I've seen some pundits predict a further two cuts by the middle of next year), and when/if rates will increase again -- and by how much.

This is an especially hot topic amongst comments regarding property prices and loan affordability. Many comments are along the lines of 'prices are too high, and will drop 40% or more' -- which reminds me a lot of Dr Keen's prediction about a '40% fall in property prices) back in 2008. Many of the comments also assume that the current low interest rates are an aberration, and that home loan mortgages *must* rise substantially -- which will lead to mortgage stress and potentially a significant rise in mortgage defaults.

While home loan interest rates are certainly very low and can't fall much further (given that RBA cuts below 0% would be ineffective, so the focus would shift to QE instead. and that banks set home loan rates which also reflect non-zero deposit rates and their admin/overhead costs), this doesn't mean that home loan interest rates must rebound. After all,taking a really long view, current home loan interest rates are back down to what was considered 'normal' prior to WWII.

I've cobbled together a couple of historic charts of Australian average 30-year home loan interest rates below, and extended it to include recent rate changes. This chart shows that the current home loan interest rates might actually be 'normal' for an economy with low growth rates and inflation, and little prospect of major rises in productivity (unless AI turns out to have as big an impact as computerisation and robotics had in the 1970s-2000s).



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Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Net Worth: September 2019

My NW increased by $33.6K during September (1.45%) mostly due to the gains in the local and global stock markets flowing through to my geared share portfolio and also our SMSF investment. Our house valuation was slightly lower, based on sales data for our suburb, whereas the overall Sydney market has shown a rebound in property values (likely due to the two interest rate cuts by the RBA in recent months).

My NW data for this month includes a $1m increase in 'other real estate' as an asset, and a corresponding increased liability of approx. $1m in 'other mortgages' - this is due to my purchase 'off-the-plan' of a one bedroom apartment in a high rise apartment development (88byJQZ) in St Leonards. I paid the initial $5K 'holding deposit' using my 'portfolio loan', so that debt has actually been reflected in the net value of my 'Stocks' position, leaving $995K liability. When the balance of the 10% deposit gets paid when I exchange contracts this month, the 'other mortgages' figure will reduce to $900K (that balance will fall due when the apartment construction is completed and 'settlement' occurs - currently scheduled for Q1 2023), and the full $100K deposit amount will be reflected in my 'portfolio loan' balance as I am using that to pay the deposit. This will reduce the net value of my 'Stocks'  portfolio by $100K, which is a bit misleading, so I may do an ongoing adjustment to the portfolio loan figure and include the $100K 'deposit' amount as part of the 'other mortgages' figure.

I'll probably also add the stamp duty (payable 3 months after exchange of contracts) as part of the 'valuation' of my apartment, as this will probably be similar to the price differential for a completed unit compared to 'off-the-plan' pricing. In the unlikely event that the apartment development does not complete, I should get my deposit refunded and also be able to claim back the stamp duty payment.

Hopefully the property market 'correction' in Sydney is indeed over, and between now and settlement in 2023 the valuation of my apartment will have risen (so it shouldn't be a problem getting a mortgage for the balance due on settlement - I will have paid a 10% deposit, and banks usually prefer to only lend 80% of valuation).
As with all geared investments there are several risks in making this investment, including:
* property prices may not appreciate, or may decline (as was the case during the recent property slump) - but historically St Leonards has enjoyed an average gain around 6% pa. I've calculated that I would make some gain as long as prices appreciate by at least 2%pa during my holding period (10-15+ years).
* I may not be able to arrange finance (a mortgage) when the development is completed in 2023 and I need to 'settle' the balance. This seems unlikely as I have another unencumbered property that could be used as collateral for the loan. But if I am no longer employed it may be more difficult to obtain a mortgage.
* Interest rates may increase substantially - currently investor mortgage rates are around 3.5%-4.0%, and interest rates are currently being reduced. On the other hand, interest rates are at historic lows, so a substantial rise in interest rates is a distinct possibility in the medium-long term.
* I may not be able to achieve typical rental returns ($560/wk for a one bedroom apartment), or may experience high vacancy rates. However, as a new, 'luxury' apartment on the 39th floor with views towards the city, harbour, and harbour bridge it should be relatively easy to rent out and obtain above average rent.

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