Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Biorythms and body fat percentage readings

To smooth out the daily 'noise' in the body fat percentage readings that I get each morning using my bathroom scales (there can be +-2% fluctuations from day to day!) I calculate a 21-day moving average of the body fat and weight readings to better track my overall progress (between getting more accurate DEXA readings of my body fat). For the single DEXA reading I obtained so far, the 21-day average of body fat readings from my bathroom scale was very close to the value provided via DEXA.

Aside from the slight weight increase that occurred due to overeating over the Christmas holiday period, the plot of average weight vs. elapsed days shows a steady decline, with the rate of weight loss increasing since I changed from a 'balanced' caloric restriction diet with intermittent fast days, to adopting a high protein/fat 'keto' diet plan earlier this year. This is to be expected, as you are going to consume (loose) body fat over time if you are ingesting fewer calories than your basal metabolic rate, especially when caloric requirement is also increased by doing additional physical activity such as walking and weight training. Weight training also helps maintain metabolic rate, which might otherwise reduce (hence reducing caloric requirements) in response to sustained caloric restriction. Over a period of 100 days my average weight reduced from around 101 kg to around 86 kg (a weight loss rate of about 1kg/wk)

However, the plot of the 21-day moving average of body fat readings shows a distinct cyclical pattern overlaid on the overall downward trend, with a periodicity of roughly 30-days. It can be quite disconcerting to encounter these 'plateaus' in body fat reduction, as it means I experience several weeks of quite noticeable decreases in body fat (yay!), only to be followed by several weeks of stable (or slightly increasing) body fat readings (d'oh!), despite sticking to my diet and weight training routine.

I used an online 'biorhythm calculator' to plot the three theoretical biorhythms (physical, emotional and intellectual) and compared it to the cyclic fluctuations in my average body fat readings. It appears that there may be a monthly fluctuation in body fat percentage - or at least in the readings produced by the bathroom scale's bioelectric impedance measurements, which are known to be affected by hydration.

I'm currently in the stable/upward part of the cycle in body fat readings, which seems to be 'stuck' around 17% at the moment. This means that my calculation of lean mass and body fat (derived from my weight and body fat percentage) suggests that I'm losing lean mass and not losing any fat at the moment (which doesn't make sense as I'm losing weight at a fairly modest rate and doing weight training to retain lean mass as much as possible). Hopefully this is simply an artifact due to the 'monthly cycle' in hydration that is affecting the body fat readings produced by my bathroom scales, and I should start to see lower readings over the next week or two. The fact that the skin fold thickness over my abs seems to be reducing would also suggest that I am still reducing body fat, regardless of what my bathroom scales are saying! It would be nice to be able to get accurate skin fold thickness measurements to calculate body fat, but the skin-fold calipers I ordered online several months ago never turned up.

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Monday, 17 February 2020

Diet 2020 Wk 7 - week ending 16.FEB.2020

A very mixed week. The first four days I averaged 1,110 kcals/day and stuck to my keto diet aside from a deliberate 'carb loading' snack prior to doing a weight training session at the gym on Wednesday. Then on Friday I had to leave work to collect DS2 from school in the morning (he was sick with the 'flu) so didn't go to the gym on the way home as I'd planned, and I also ended up having a bit of a 'binge eating' day (3,096 kcals) with several unplanned snacks. I then also didn't stick to my standard 'keto' meal plan over the weekend - although I averaged a reasonable 1,800 kcals/day on Sat/Sun, I had quite a lot of carbs on the weekend.

Today I'm back to following my keto meal plan, and I'm actually planning on having a bit less to eat than usual today to offset the excess calories I've had during the past three days. I'll be going to the gym on the way home this afternoon, and will get back into the routine of going to the gym for three weight training sessions every week.

I did have my two hour kendo lesson on Saturday - kendo training is quite a good aerobic workout, and I was quite sore in my left thigh and calf on Saturday afternoon, and was also feeling it a bit in my left foot and shoulders on Sunday, but I was feeling fine again by this morning. I'm finding the kendo training a lot more enjoyable (and causing no injuries) compared my aborted attempt to resume judo a few years ago (I gave that up after the fourth lesson after hurting both shoulders - it obviously wasn't a good idea to do judo when I was still obese - I'll try again later this year when I've been at my optimum body weight for a while). I'll be wearing official kendo clothing (Hakama and Keigoki) to classes from now on (rather than casual cloths), and, as I am enjoying kendo training sessions, I've ordered a set of kendo armour, spare shinei, bags etc. from Japan, as well as ordering a Zekken (embroidered name tag used in competitions/training) and a pair of bokken (wood swords) for kata training.

The equipment I bought for kendo cost about $1,000 in total, and the annual club and association fees and gradings will cost about $500 pa. so kendo is quite a bit cheaper than my target shooting, scuba diving or snow skiiing activities.

Averages for last week were:
Calories:   1,594.0 kcals/day (~1,000 kcals/day less than maintenance)
Fibre:          5.5 g/day
Carbs:         17.7 % of cals
Fat:           43.8 % of cals
Protein:      129.6 g/day
Sodium:     3,242.7 mg/day
Weight:        85.4 kg
BMI:           27.9
Steps:      6,762   steps/day
Sleep:          6.2 hrs/night
Body Fat:      16.9 %
Gym sessions:   1
WT Reps:      257
WT volume: 20,132   kg
Treadmill:    14:01 mins

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Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Covid-19 (1999 nCov) cases outside of China

While the rate of increase in confirmed Covid-19* cases in China appears to have been reduced from exponential to linear (assuming you can rely on Chinese 'official' data sources - but their track record on accurately reporting bad economic data might suggest otherwise), the rate of confirmed cases outside of China still appears to be increasing exponential, its just much lower as it started from a much smaller initial figure.

The international cases are currently at a similar level as was present in China as at SITREP#3, so unless there is much better containment achieved internationally than was the case in China, we could see 40,000 cases outside of China within three weeks. Fingers crossed that doesn't eventuate.

*Apparently Covid-19 is now the 'official' name for 1999 nCov, as adopted by the UN. I wonder how many committee man-hours went into deciding that?

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Annual Salary review and bonus

I was notified yesterday of my annual pay rise (1%!) and bonus (11.24% of base salary). Any pay rise is better than none, and considering that CPI in Australia only rose by about 1.8% during 2019, the 1% 'pay rise' means that my annual salary has only declined by about 1% in real terms during the past year. However, as I've only been receiving 0% or 1% 'increases' in base salary for many years now (and the increase in AWOTE in the 2019 FY alone was 3.1%) I'm certainly seeing my salary slowly decline in real terms over time.

The only saving grace is that when the company I work for was taken over by a multinational company several years ago they migrated our current salaries unchanged, and then phased in their standard 10% bonus scheme over the following three years. Effectively that means I got a one-off pay rise (assuming the bonus is allocated in full each year - which depends on company profitability and personal performance rating) of 10%. So my total salary package (including bonus and SGL) has probably kept pace with inflation over the past decade.

But in the grand scheme of things the quanta of my annual pay rise isn't too important to me these days, as I'm am rapidly approaching retirement age anyhow. So, as long as I don't get retrenched before I'm ready to retire, and earn roughly my current salary, I'll be happy.

Also, an extra 1% pay rise (and even the 10% bonus) is relatively 'small beer' in comparison to changes in my net worth. Once your NW grows beyond 20x salary income, asset allocation and investment returns are of more importance than pay rises or annual salary bonuses. Of course that means that any major investment declines (such as occurred during the GFC) are extremely painful - you can see your NW decline by the equivalent of a year's salary in a single month!

Looking at it another way, my annual bonus was roughly the same as the cost of the ill-fated purchase of an S-type Jaguar last year, and is also about the same as it costs me each year to stay registered as a Financial Planner (the basic admin and software fees to remain an 'authorized representative' of an AFSL holder).

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Tweaking my diet and exercise plan

My weight this morning was 84.6 kg, which is almost down to the best weight I achieved way back in 2001! However, the bathroom scales also gave a body fat reading of 18.2%. While the body fat reading isn't very accurate, I have read that strict ketogenic diets can lead to muscle loss, even when subjects were doing weight training. Given that I'm approaching my target weight of around 80kg, and that I've lost 8kg over the past month (much faster than my target of 0.75-1.5 kg of weight loss per week) while on the 'strict' ketogenic (<35g calorie="" carbs="" d="" decided="" diet="" high="" i="" p="" protein="" restricted="" to="" ve="">a) resume my weight training at the gym three times a week, as of today
b) possible modify my 'strict' keto diet my consuming some carbs (eg. some fruits) after my weight training sessions, as apparently a combination of protein and carbs is better for gaining/preserving muscle mass via weight training

I'll see how I feel after the gym session this afternoon, but at this stage I'm planning on having a peach and some grapes when I get home after the weight training session.

On a side note, I ordered a set of Kendo armour (bogu), sword (shinei), bags and clothing (gi) from Japan last night. The full set costs USD $555 (about A$860) but included 'free' shipping and embroidery of my name (in Kaku gothic  Katakaba script) on the clothing. I had previously bought a cheap set of Kendo clothing in traditional indigo (dark blue) colour before I started the beginner Kendo lessons, so this time I decided to order a black uniform as well as black armour. Most people wear the traditional indigo coloured gi, but I might feel like standing out from the crowd (then again, maybe not - I'm pretty sure my Kendo will remain mediocre for quite a few years). While the Kendo equipment isn't cheap, I figure that it is good exercise, and as I have to take DS2 to his Kendo grading every six months, and to Kendo training every Saturday I may as well also do Kendo training and get graded along with DS2. Assuming DS2 continues doing Kendo for another five years while he is in high school (and I do it for at least the next five years), the annual cost of the Kendo equipment (assuming nothing breaks or wears out, aside from Shinei) is quite reasonable.

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2019 nCoV Fatality Rate Trend

As of the Latest WHO SITREP (#22) the generally cited fatality rate (Current Death Total, which I've called T0, divided by Current Cases Reported, which I've called D0) is trending slightly higher (to 2.3%) and my 'estimate' of the 'true' fatality rate (which won't be known until the final number of total cases and deaths is known at the end of the outbreak) which I've calculated as D0/T-4 (i.e. current known deaths divided by the number of cases known four days previously) is trending down at a reduced rate (stuck at 3.2% for the past two days).

The T0/T-4 rate was decreasing due to the daily rate of increase in known cases declining - peaking at a daily increase in known cases of 50% during the first week of SITREPS, to 'only' 11% daily increase over the past week (and down to 6% day-on-day rate of increase in known cases as at SITREP#22). As the rate of new cases has gone from an exponential rate to close to a linear (constant) rate, the T0/T-4 fatality rate has trended towards a 'steady state' figure that I think is probably getting closer to the 'true' overall fatality rate of 2019 nCov. At the moment it is looking like the 'true' fatality rate is somewhere between 2.5%-3%,

The rate of new cases reported is sitting around 2,500 per day, which would mean that the total cases will be somewhere around 60,000 in another week, and the death toll will be around 1,600-1,700.

One worrying sign is that the number of cases reported outside of China seems to have spiked higher - I haven't been tracking those figures, but I'll add that to my spreadsheet and do a post tomorrow with the latest SITREP figures included.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Diet 2020 Wk 6 - week ending 09.FEB.2020

A mediocre week - overate a bit on the weekend (although still well below maintenance calories), so my weekly average cals was 1,563.6/day. I also didn't go to the gym at all, but will start going again this week as there doesn't appear to be any corona virus transmission occurring within Australia at the moment. My daily stepcount was also lowered than my target, as I didn't do much walking on the weekend (there was a tropical storm lashing Sydney). But I did go to my two hour Kendo lesson on Saturday, so my overall activity level was probably still OK.

This week my average daily cals will probably be considerably lower, as I was sick on Monday and didn't each much (or go to the gym). My focus for the rest of this week will be to achieve my daily step count totals, and to resume going to the gym for weight training from Wednesday onwards.

I got my latest blood test results last week and it is all looking OK (aside from my ridiculously high IgE levels, which the immunologist is trying to get down using Imuran medication). There has been a considerably decrease in my triglycerides level (which used to be well above the 'normal' range, despite my cholesterol levels not being too high) so it is now down within the healthy range. My blood pressure has still been averaging around 105/65 since I've reduced my blood pressure medication by 50%, so I'll probably stop taking the BP medication completely (as suggested by my GP) once I've attained my target weight in a couple of months time. My resting pulse is averaing around 63 BPM, compared to averaging around 70 BPM last November when my weight was around 100 kg and I hadn't started regular gym sessions. So my general fitness and biomarkers certainly seem to have improved.

Averages for last week were:
Fibre:          5.9 g/day
Carbs:          9.9 % of cals
Fat:           48.2 % of cals
Protein:      135.1 g/day
Sodium:     4,323.0 mg/day
Weight:        85.9 kg
BMI:           28.0
Steps:      7,007   steps/day
Sleep:          5.7 hrs/night
Body Fat:      15.9 %
Gym sessions:   0
WT Reps:        0
WT volume:      0 kg
Treadmill:      0 mins

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Sunday, 9 February 2020

Review of my nCoV model

Well, a week after I did my crude 'model' of corona virus case rate and lethality, it looks like the rate of spread has been substantially reduced (by heroic/draconian containment measures in China) from new cases increasing by ~30% each day a week ago, to ~11% increase each day currently (as at WHO SITREP #19). That has meant that the rate of new cases has gone from increasing exponentially to 'only' increasing by around 3,000-4,000 new cases per day for the past 5 days.

The current day deaths/cases ratio has remained constant at around 2%, but due to the delay between new cases being reported and resolution of the outcome (recovery or death), the 'T-4' ratio is probably trending towards the eventual 'true' lethality rate (assuming an accurate number of total cases is ever fully known). The 'T-4' ratio has been steadily decreasing, from around 5% when I did my 'model' a week ago, to 3.5% as at Sitrep 19. So it looks like the final fatality rate may end up being around 3%, which would still 50% higher than the 2% 'current day' calculation that is generally being reported.

If the current rate of new cases remains fairly constant at 3,000 cases/day we would continue to see about 100,000 new cases reported each month in China, which would result in 2,000-3,000 deaths per month. Hopefully the rate of new cases will start to reduce significantly, but the planned end of the industry closures around China tomorrow (Feb 10) might make that more challenging. If closures are extended (again), or the resumption of travel and reopening of offices and factories causes a spike in infections the impact on the Chinese and global economies could be significant. At the moment I'm in a 'wait and see' mode, having started to reduce my allocations to equties for the moment.

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Thursday, 6 February 2020

Going a bit 'risk off''

I'm generally a 'risk tolerant' investor, so have our SMSF money invested in the Vanguard 'High Growth' diversified Index fund, and have some margin loans (funded with a home equity loan) that are invested in ETF funds and some CFS geared equity funds (so, using home equity to fund a margin loan to fund a geared share fund is what would sometimes be termed 'triple geared' !).

Anyhow, an opinion piece in today's SMH about the immediate impact of the nCoV outbreak on China's industry (basically it's shut down until 14 Feb) and longer term outlook (the WHO daily SITREPs on nCoV cases doesn't show any major reduction in the rate of reported spread, and there may be under-reporting issues in Indonesia, and in the Chinese figures themselves) for a prolonged impact on Chinese GDP and therefore global trade and GDP, highlighted to me that aside from being a major health concern, the nCoV pandemic exposes the Chinese and global economies to increased risk. Far from Chinese industry getting 'back to normal' after 14 Feb, the continued increase in nCoV cases suggests that either a) the 'shut down' will be extended, having a major impact on economic expectations and hence share markets, or b) factories re-open as planned, but the spread of nCoV will therefore be harder to control and may have a significant long-term impact on Chinese economic performance and hence the equity markets.

Overall, there seems to be considerable down-side risk and no up-side potential (aside from health stocks such as CSL). Therefore I decided to 'rebalance' my portfolio by reallocating our SMSF from the High Growth option to a mix of Conservative (70%) and Bond (30%) options, and by selling off my geared share fund investments (and use the proceeds to pay off my margin loans and reduce my home equity loan balance). I monitor how things go over the next 3-12 months to decide when to increase my equity weighting again.

Although this will result in some capital gains tax liability, I've learned from the GFC that when its time to reduce investment risk, taxation issues should not be the tail that wags the dog.

Time will tell if this was a prudent investment decision, or an overreaction.

Being invested in 'cash' might also provide an opportunity to make some undeducted contributions into my superannuation, before my total super balance hit the 'cap'.

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Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Diet 2020 Wk 5 - week ending 02.FEB.2020

Had a pretty good week diet-wise, averaging 1,268 kcals/day. It was also ketogenic (averaging 10.0% cals from carbs) and reasonably high protein (averaging 131g/day). My sodium intake was still quite high (averaging 3097 mg Na/day), so this week I'll cut back a bit on eating packaged ham and roast beef as a 'snack' in the afternoon and aim to eat more plain, grilled beef and chicken for dinner instead. My weight during the week dropped from around 89 kg to around 86.8 by the end of the week, and this morning my weigh-in was 85.7kg (the lowest since 2001!) and about 13% body fat. I can feel a 'six pack' in my abs, but I still have about 0.5 cm of layer of subcutaneous fat covering my abs, and the skin is fairly loose, so I certainly don't have a visible 'six pack' as yet. Once I get down to 80kg (and around 10% body fat) I'll slightly increase my daily carb intake (by having porridge for breakfast and having some fruits and more vegetables at dinner time) to achieve a more 'balanced' macro ratio, and my caloric intake to a level suitable to maintain my weight and also accommodate a gradual addition of lean mass via ongoing weight training.

I didn't go to the gym at all last week, as DS1 and I decided to avoid the gym until it is clear that the spread of coronavirus in Australia has likely been well contained (ie. no new cases for a week). Meantime I'm just doing my walking, 5BX in the evening and doing a little bit of weight training at home. There's just been a 13th case confirmed in Australia, but apparently that was someone that came back from a tour of China that visited Wuhan, so there don't seem to be many new cases transmitted person-to-person within Australia, so I'll probably start going back to the gym this coming Friday.

I ended up missing my second Kendo lesson last Saturday as I was stuck in a queue to hand in the registration plates of the unregistered Jaguar I had to sell to a parts dealer last week. I'll have to pay to get new plates made with that rego number if I get another S-type Jaguar some time in the future, but at least I should be able to get the same rego number again. After dropping in the rego plates I drove out to Horsley Park Gun shop to purchase a new .22LR CZ455 rimfire that I'll use for benchrest target shooting at the local 25m range where I currently do 10m air pistol target shooting on the weekend. Once I've completed the series of Saturday morning beginner Kendo lessons I'll switch to attending the Wednesday night Kendo sessions, and do gym on Mon, Fri, Sun instead of Mon, Wed, Fri. That way I'll be able to go more regularly to air pistol on Saturday mornings with DS1 and DS2. I'll start doing benchrest rimfire shooting at another target shooting club that operates on the same 50m range on Sunday mornings.

I didn't do much walking on the weekend, and yesterday didn't reach my 10,000 step target, so I'll have to make sure I get in some extra walking for the rest of this week. I had a routine blood test done last week, so it will be interesting to see how my cholesterol etc. levels have been affected by the months of weight loss and increased activity/exercise.

Averages for last week were:
Fibre:         11.2 g/day
Carbs:         10.0 % of cals
Fat:           45.4 % of cals
Protein:      131.2 g/day
Sodium:     3,096.7 mg/day
Weight:        88.1 kg
BMI:           28.8
Steps:      7,959   steps/day
Sleep:          6.0 hrs/night
Body Fat:      17.4 %
Gym sessions:   0
WT Reps:        0
WT volume:      0 kg
Treadmill:      0 mins

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Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Net Worth: January 2020

My estimated NW increased by $60,194 (2.46%) during January to $2,502,382, due to the strong gains in Australian and global equities markets, which flowed on to the valuation of our SMSF investments. House equity valuation didn't change as there was no updated monthly sales data available when I did my monthly estimate of our house valuation (other reports suggest that the Sydney real estate market continued to improve). My NW hit the $2.5m mark for the first time, which helped mitigate the disappointment that my S-type Jaguar had to be written off as the Jaguar 'specialist' service center couldn't fix the problem with the electrical system (ended up selling the car to a parts dealer for $500, after buying it for $8,000 and spending about $2,500 trying to repair it when it broke down).

This month I had to pay the $42,452 'stamp duty' on the $1m off-the-plan unit that won't be completed until 2023 and I also paid $3,500 for the next uni term of my Masters course (which I paid using my 'portfolio loan'), and I also bought about $1,000 of 'toys' (a cheap $210 kayak to use when I'm at the lake house, some gym clothes and annual gym membership pre-payment, and a $600 .22LR CZ455 rifle to do some benchrest target shooting on the weekends), so I'm more than tapped out in terms of cash flow this month. Seems that I'm asset rich and cashflow poor and will need to clamp down on spending too freely on 'wants' - which is probably good practice for when I retire...

Fortunately I *should* get paid my annual bonus (around 10% of salary) during February, which will help pay this month's credit card bills! If I ever get around to lodging my 2018 and 2019 tax returns I should also get a tax refund (I sold some shares in 2018 and probably made some capital gains (still trying to find all the DRP and purchase details from back in the 1980s!) but I also had quite a few tax deductions, so should get some of my PAYG tax refunded).

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Sunday, 2 February 2020

Coronavirus data sources and my amateur modelling

I found a couple of interesting and reliable sources for anyone interested in tracking the progress of the 1999 nCoV outbreak. The official daily WHO SITREPs can be found here, and I've started using the reported cases and deaths figures from these reports to calculate the daily lethality 'estimate' (around 2.5%) which the media is generally citing, and then also calculate my hypothetical estimates - where the current death total is divided by the case numbers from previous days (1, 2, 3 or 4 days prior) rather than the current number of reported cases. My logic (possibly flawed) is that while deaths (of known coronavirus patients) and generally known immediately, the number of reported cases will always be less than the true current number of infected people, as there is a 1-14 days incubation period before symptoms become apparent. Reported cases may also be less than the true figure, due to misdiagnosis or underreporting - but that would then also understate the deaths figures. So overall I think using current deaths/current reported cases is likely to underestimate the 'true' figure. Initially my rough calculations comparing each days reported death total to the case numbers 4 days prior (T-4) was quite alarming, as it was close to 20% on some days, and was averaging over 12% during the first 10 SITREPS (days). However, the latest daily figures show that this T-4 estimate is now dropping towards 4%-5%. So my current "guess" is that the true fatality rate for this virus may turn out to be around 4%-5%. Only time (and the control of the epidemic eliminating new cases) will provide the correct figure.

Another interesting site to monitor the coronavirus statistics is here. This site is 'live' (updated every few hours) so it provides more current figures that the daily WHO SITREP, but it is harder to use these figures for calculating day-to-day changes in the figures and identify trends in case numbers and fatality rates. The plot looks rather impressive though - a bit like the ones shown in nearly every SF movie about global disasters - but is a little frightening when you realise that this is reality and not a disaster movie! The relative numbers of 'total deaths' vs. 'total recovered' also isn't very reassuring at present (305 deaths, 348 recovered), but hopefully 95%+ of all coronavirus patients will eventually recover.

A link to a WHO introductory 'course' about 1999 nCoV was provided in their latest SITREP, so I did a free registration for an OpenWHO account and went through the 'course' (it's only a short general video and some powerpoint slides).

I did post a comment in the course discussion about lethality rates ("unknown at this time") and how the media is reporting the simplistic deaths/cases figure, and why that is probably too low an estimate. I'm surprised that they don't have an estimate (with error range) for this virus based on time series analysis of the daily figures. While the final 'correct' figure on lethality can't be calculated until it's all over (for example, the reported cases is likely to be lower than the actual number of people infected - but hopefully not too much lower, as that would mean the outbreak is harder to contain), there should be some standard statistical methodology for getting a reasonably accurate prediction based on the daily data series.

My very rough projections done on Friday had estimated the daily case numbers for SITREPS 11 and 12 would be 10,163 and 13,212. The actual numbers turned out to be 9,826 and 11,953. So my 'model' had overestimated by 3.4% and 10.5% respectively. This was because I projected case numbers to continue increasing by 29% per day (the average from the first 10 SITREP figures), while the last two days have seen case numbers increase by 'only' 26% and 22%. The plot of SITREP figures for reported cases and deaths doesn't yet show any downward inflection point that would suggest that the spread of the disease (within China) is being fully contained (as yet):

On a more positive note the international spread of the disease appears to be under reasonable control, provided the initial cases imported from China didn't spread into the general population before adequate quarantine etc. was put into place. Given the incubation period the international figures over the next week or so will show if the effects will be mostly restricted within China, or if it will become a major international pandemic (as was SARS).

Hopefully my 'model' is total unrealistic and I don't know what I'm doing*, as it currently projects reported cases hitting 90,000+ and deaths exceeding 1,800 in a week's time from now... we'll see what the actual figures in SITREP 22 turn out to be.

* As stated in my previous post I have NO medical training or qualifications, and my statistics and data modelling is very rudimentary, and I'm working from a very superficial set of data.

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Thursday, 30 January 2020

How deadly is the coronavirus really?

I'm don't have any medical training (unless you count a first aid certificate), and I'm certainly not a medical expert, but I do have post-grad training in industrial mathematics, and something seems very wrong with the current media (and even medical professional) discussions regarding how lethal the coronavirus actually is.

It is often reported that the death rate is "around 2%", which is, on the face of it, lower than the 6.5% fatality rate for SARS back in 2002-2003 (when there were 348 deaths and 5327 people diagnosed as having SARS).

However, given the incubation period of the new coronavirus is apparently 1-14 days (before symptoms appear), surely the current death toll (as deaths are known/reported almost immediately) needs to be compared to the number of cases that existed when the victims were infected (on average about 7 days ago?). Even allowing for a delay of a couple of days from when symptoms appear to when a case is detected/reported, the current death toll needs to be compared to the number of people that were infected when those that just died were actually infected (ie. not today, but several days previously).

Hence, rather than divide the death toll at any particular date with the reported cases at that same time, the death toll needs to be compared with the number of cases reported several days ago?

Looking at how the death rate changes if you compare figures with the number of cases reported at that time, vs. the number of cases known 1, 2 or 3 days previously seems to suggest that the death rate may be a lot higher than 2%. I suppose we won't know the true figure until the spread of the disease ends and we can get final figures for the total number of people that were infected and how many of them eventually died. That rate may also change over time if the virus mutates (often ease of transmission increases while virulence declines - I'm not sure if there is any theoretical reason for that, or if it is just a 'rule of thumb'?). Fortunately the spread of the disease appears to be linear rather than geometric at this time - possibly due to isolation/containment efforts?

JAN   CASES   DEATHS   T0     T1     T2     T3
24     651      18    2.8%
25     941      26    2.8%   4.0%
26    1438      42    2.9%   4.5%   6.5%
27    2116      56    2.7%   3.9%   6.0%   8.6%
28    2794      80    2.9%   3.8%   5.6%   8.5%
29    4474     107    2.4%   3.8%   5.1%   7.4%

T0 denotes death tally compared to known cases as at that date, T1 denotes deaths compared to the number of cases known as at the previous date etc.

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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Health vs. Fitness - when might it not be such a good idea to go to the gym?

Continuing to work out when you are sick or injured can be counterproductive, but for regular gym goers there is often a temptation to continue to work out even if it isn't really such a good idea. A less common (OK, pretty damn unlikely) situation is when attending the gym might actually be bad for you health.

Having missing Monday's gym session (the gym was closed for the public holiday, and we were out of town anyhow), I decided that DS2 and I would also skip today's planned gym session and also this coming Friday's session. We'll decide whether or not to attend the gym next week over the coming weekend.

Why? My rationale is that gyms are notorious for being a great place to get sick during 'flu season in normal circumstances, so I didn't think it was a great idea to go to the gym when a) there have just been five confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia in the past few days, with four of them living here in Sydney, and b) the gym we attend happens to be located in Chatswood, which has a high Chinese population (according to the 2016 census, 34.1% of Chatswood's population is of Chinese ancestry, with 20.7% of the population born in China). So there's a good chance that some of the passengers on the flights into Sydney from Wuhan last week live in Chatswood.

The chances of someone contagious attending the gym we attend is obviously very low, but not zero, so I've decided to play 'better safe than sorry' for a few days, and see if there are any more cases reported in Sydney. In any case, we have some weights at home, so avoiding the gym for a few days won't make any significant impact on our weight training progress.

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Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Diet 2020 Wk 4 - week ending 26.JAN.2020

I was doing well during the week, and then on the Australia Day long weekend we visited my parents up at the lake house and I had some (slightly) large meals and a small amount of excess carbs, and I didn't do much walking. I did do an hour or so kayaking on Saturday (not as much as I'd intended over the weekend), but didn't much else in terms of exercise. My overall stats for the week still look OK, but as the high cals/low exercise came at the end of the week it will probably mean that this week also won't show much/any progress and will instead be focused on getting back into my keto diet and exercise routine. My weight was a bit higher this morning, probably due mostly to extra fluid retention due to the larger meals eaten over the long weekend.

I did get in my three gym sessions last week and continued to increase volume (reps x wt) slightly, but the rate of increase in progressive overload is starting to slow down a bit. I stick to my current weekly routine for the next couple of months until I reach my target weight, then look at varying my routines to try to add muscle once my caloric intake has increased back to maintenance level (allowing for some extra calories required for the weight training to add some lean mass over time).

As yesterday was a public holiday (and I was driving back to Sydney for 3.5 hours in the evening) I didn't get to the gym, so this week I will only have two gym sessions (but I'll be doing another Kendo training session on Saturday). My weight currently seems 'stuck' around the 88/89kg level and my body fat seems to be hovering around 17.5%. I'll just have to wait for some more progress to become apparent. Doing three sessions of weight training per week and restricting caloric intake to around 1,200 kcals/day *must* eventually result in weight loss (and should be predominantly fat rather than lean mass). I just have to be patient and stick with 'the plan' even when there is no obvious improvement day-to-day.

I have to focus on the fact that I've already got back down to the 'best' weight I've been since 2016, and should soon be down to the lowest I've been this century, and closing in on my target weight *80 kg) within a couple of months.

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Thursday, 23 January 2020

Movie Review: Color out of Space

Somehow I came across this entire movie on Youtube, before it's even been released in Australia and possibly even before it hit cinemas in the US? Anyhow, I watched the first half two days ago (in between waiting for Fortnite matches to begin and watching Athlean-X weight training clips on Youtube), and finished it off last night (the fact that I was quite happy to pause in the middle of watching this movie and only bothered with the ending because there was nothing much on TV the next night says a lot about this movie). Overall, I'd have said this was a poor mashup of 'The Blob'/'The Thing' and 'Altered States' - except that this is based on an century-old H P Lovecraft short story.

Anyhow, the movie is full of disgusting special effects of mutant wildlife, farm animals, and, eventually, the family that is the focus of this movie. All the result of some random piece of space debris (a meteorite?) that crashes to Earth in the family's back yard (conveniently close to the front porch and well). Aside from Nicholas Cage in full manic mode, the movie has little to recommend it IMHO. Overall I'd give it 2/5 stars.

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Monday, 20 January 2020

Diet 2020 Wk 3 - week ending 19.JAN.2020

Stuck to my nutrition and exercise plan 100% last week. Daily calorie intake ranged from 833-1,511 cals/day and averaged 1,120 cals/day. As usual I got in more walking during the week (avg 15,608 steps/day) than during the weekend (avg 7,013 steps/day), but I did two hours of Kendo training on Saturday which probably compensates for this. Continued to increase my reps and total volume in my gym training while keeping to three sessions (Mon/Wed/Fri) per week. Managed to reduce my sodium intake slightly, but still higher than the recommended maximum - while bacon is tasty and packet ham or roast beef a very convenient 'keto' snack, their sodium content means I'll have to watch how much of these I consume!

While I'm very happy with my current rate of weight loss (it might even be a bit too rapid), and I can see the reduction in belly fat, my bathroom scales body fat daily readings seem to have remained scattered around 17.5% for the past week or so. The daily data has quite a lot of 'noise', so hopefully I'll start seeing some lower body fat readings over the next couple of weeks. When I get close to my 80 kg 'target' weight I'll get my second DEXA scan done to get a more accurate reading of body fat and lean mass. The body calipers I ordered a few weeks ago should arrive soon, and then skin fold measurements will give a more accurate estimate of body fat percentage than the "bioelectrical impedance analysis" (BIA) of my cheap bathroom scales.

Apparently this sort of measurement (BIA) isn't really accurate enough to use to track changes in body composition over time, although I found the 21-day moving average corresponded very well with the DEXA reading. The main limitations of BIA estimates of body fat are that they are a) a calculation based on the correlation of body fat measurement to BIA for a specific test group - so the correlation may be different for any particular individual, b) the measurement is affected by hydration status, so a change in body water can be misinterpreted as a change in fat mass, c) my type of scale uses foot pads, so measures the current travelling up one leg and down the other, so is really only measuring how fat my legs are -- probably not the best methodology when most males carry excess fat stores around their belly, d) losing weight via cardiovascular exercise (rather than via weight training alone) can underestimate fat loss and overestimate loss of lean mass due to an increase in plasma volume that is one of the adaptions to cardiovascular training. Overall, BIA readings can apparently be out by up to 8%, so I won't worry too much. In any case, to eliminate to impact of daily reading variations I'm using a 21-day moving average, so the 17.5% estimate is for 11 days ago.

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Saturday, 18 January 2020

Started beginner Kendo lessons today

Because I'd done some Judo when I was a teenager, and my sons are both doing Judo each week, I'd tried taking an adult beginner class in Judo more than a year ago. I only lasted about four weeks before having to give up. Being 50+ years old, weighing more than 100 kg and quite unfit, I found that when acting as the Uke (training partner) during the Ippon Seoinage (One arm shoulder throws) practice I first hurt one shoulder, and then following next week, because I was favouring the injured shoulder, I hurt my other shoulder also. It took more than six months for my shoulder pain to completely go away.

So, this time around I decided to take a beginner course in Kendo (another martial art that my youngest son is taking) and had my first two hour lesson today. Although Kendo involves some unusual movements that I certainly felt in my left calf and shoulders, my only 'injury' was a couple of blisters on my feet. I'm pretty sure that I can survive the 8-week beginner course and will continue on with Kendo training for two hours every week. While today's lesson involved a lot of standing around getting instruction, the practice was enough to generate a sweat.

Done properly (ie. after I've learned the basics and have done a few months of training) Kendo training and competitions apparently rate about 7.5-8.0 METS which is similar to circuit training, jogging or playing casual soccer.

After I've got down to my 'ideal' weight, and done six months more of weight training and Kendo lessons I *might* have another go a doing Judo again.

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Thursday, 16 January 2020

Making good progress with my weight loss and weight training (preserving lean mass)

The new low carb/high protein 'keto' seems to be working out quite well so far. I've not really felt hungry at all, and the diet provides plenty of protein to support my weight training to retain lean mass while reducing my body fat. This morning I was 90 kg exactly on the bathroom scale (which puts me into 'overweight' rather than 'obese' BMI range), and around 17% body fat. That means I'm still carrying about 15kg of fat, and if I can get to my target of 80kg by shedding mostly fat (and not losing much lean mass) I should get down around 10% body fat (or less?).

Weight training has been progressing quite well, as shown in my total 'volume' (wt x reps) for each workout since I started going to the gym a few months ago:

There is a clear increase in volume over time (progressive overload), with the variations along the way being due to doing a low-wt/high-reps workout on Mondays, medium-wt/medium-reps workout on Fridays, and high-wt/low-reps workout on Friday. The low-wt/high reps days tend to have the highest volume, and the high-wt/low-reps days the lowest volume.

Once I achieve my target body weight I'll increase the carbs in my diet (via fruits and rice/potatoes etc.) to match my energy expenditure and provide a more 'balanced' diet over the long term (there are some studies that suggest that 'keto' dieting may increase mortality, although other studies suggest it has health benefits, so I'm not going to stay 'keto' once I achieve my target weight).

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Monday, 13 January 2020

Diet 2020 Wk 2 - week ending 12.JAN.2020

Last week was my first full week of 'keto' dieting. I didn't do any fasting days, but instead managed to stick to between 1,200 and 1,600 cals every day, and kept my carb intake below 30g/day while having between 170 and 210 g of protein each day. My walking during the week was between 12,500 and 17,500 steps/day, but on the weekend I drove 3.5 hrs up to our lake house to drop off my youngest son to stay with my parents for a couple of weeks during the school holidays, and drove back again on Sunday night. So I didn't do much walking on the weekend, but did do a bit of kayaking on Sunday with a cheap, new 'glide' kayak ($210) I bought to use when I'm at the lake house (I have a more expensive 'fishing kayak' at home that I have sitting in the garage and haven't used yet, as putting it on the car roof rack to drive down to middle harbour on the weekend wastes a bit of time). As the lake house is just across the road from the lake foreshore, and the 'glide' kayak is short enough to fit in the back of dad's station wagon, it will be a lot more convenient to go for a kayak whenever I feel like it at the lake house.

I got in three proper gym session last week as there weren't any public holiday closures. My total volume (wt x reps) was also a lot higher, as I've increased some of the weights and I also added a couple of new stations to my routine, and also did a fourth set on some of the stations during my 'heavy' training session on Friday.

My overall macros for the week show my first week of all-keto dieting. Low (<10 carbs="" high="">175 g/day) protein, and a caloric deficit (around 1,400 cals/day compared to my maintenance cals being around 2,800 cals/day). Aside from needing to do more walking on the weekends, and getting a bit more sleep, the other area I need to improve is to reduce the amount of sodium in my diet. The recommended maximum is around 2,300 mg/day!

My average weight for the week dropped considerably, due mostly to it having shot up during the holiday season. I expect my weight loss will be back to the normal rate of 0.7-1.5 kg/wk from now on (if I stick to my diet and exercise plan).

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Friday, 10 January 2020

My 'new' Jag died - such is life

The 1999 S-type Jag I bought in late 2019 stopped working in the middle of last year, after only using it a couple of times. The anti-theft steering lock came on after the second time the battery had mysteriously gone flat when the car wasn't driven for a couple of weeks. After a bit of mucking about (several times) recharging the battery and attempting to disengage the steering lock myself, I had two call-outs for NRMA roadside assistance (battery and then mechanical) that both couldn't get the steering unlocked, and then a visit from a Lubemobile mobile mechanic (no luck either). The local garage was uninterested in even trying to find and rectify the problem, so I got the NRMA to provide a free tow to the nearest specialist Jaguar service garage.

They spent a couple of weeks trying to get their 'diagnostic tool' to 'talk' to my Jag, before deciding that the main control console was faulty and replacing it with a second-hand unit. After that, it turned out that there was a further fault with a rear control module (probably associated with the fault that originally caused the battery problem - a rear light that stays on continuously). At that stage the Jag 'specialist' mechanics also gave up, as there could be a whole series of computer components that had been damaged by whatever the main electrical fault is...

I've now paid around $8,600 for the initial purchase, $150 for the Lubemobile service call, and about $2,500 for work done by the Jag specialist. The car still isn't driveble and is now also out of registration, so my only real option is to sell it to a wreckers for $300. All-in-all a loss of about $11K.

I don't think I'll be buying another second-hand 'luxury' vehicle any time soon...

(ps. My old Mark II Jaguar has also been quite expensive to restore and maintain, but at least when something goes wrong it can be identified and fixed. When a new 'computerised' car develops an electrical fault it can be impossible to even work out what needs to be fixed).

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I paid the $42K stamp duty on my investment property today

Last year the rules regarding payment of 'stamp duty' were changed in relation to 'off-the-plan' apartment purchases - instead of the stamp duty ($42,000 in the case of the $1m apartment I'm buying) being due when the construction is completed (in mid 2023) I had to pay the stamp duty within three months of 'exchange of contracts' (when I paid the $100,000 'deposit'). If the development isn't completed (so 'settlement' never happens) I'll have to get the stamp duty refunded by the state government. But if the development isn't completed I'll have the bigger problem of trying to get my deposit back from the developer...

Hopefully the unit will be completed on schedule, and I can get a mortgage for the balance of the purchase price at that time - which will be a lot easier if property prices rise over the next three years (which will make the LVR lower). Real estate prices in Sydney bottomed out in the early part of 2019, and had started rising again quite strongly again during the second part of 2019, driven by interest rate cuts and pent-up demand (population increase due to immigration). Prices are still below the previous peak and some commentators have predicted a rise of 15% during 2020, followed by a few years of more typical 5% annual growth in Sydney real estate prices. Overall my $1m apartment could be 'worth' up to $1.25m by the time I get it valued for a mortgage application in early 2023. Only time will tell...

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A focus on body recomposition

One of the key points to consider when losing weight is that your goal usually isn't simply to shed kilos, but to shed FAT without losing too much existing muscle (lean mass). When I got my DEXA scan done, the technician mentioned that typically dieting reduces weight in the ratio 1:1 in terms of lean mass vs fat. For example, on a typical weight loss diet I could expect to reduce my weight by 20 kg (from 100 to 80) and that would consist of equal parts fat and muscle (lean mass includes bones, blood etc., but that won't change significantly in a short period of time).

So, under a 'typical' diet regime (caloric restriction) if you started at 25% body fat (25 kg of your 100 kg was fat), you'd expect to end up at 80 kg with 15 kg fat remaining (half the 20 kg weight loss being fat and the rest lean mass). So your new body fat percentage would be 18.75%. This would be a considerable improvement compared to 25% body fat, and accordingly your BMI would have improved.

However, a 'smarter' way to diet is to combine caloric restriction (to reduce fat stores) with additional activity that retains (or builds) lean mass (muscle) ie. weight training. This is known as body recomposition (ie. changing the ration of lean mass to fat). By modifying your calorie restricted diet so that you are still getting adequate amounts of protein you will either retain lean mass, or possibly even add some muscle while shedding fat. For building muscle a typical amount of protein intake would be 1.6 - 2.0 g protein per kg of body weight.

This is one reason that a 'keto' diet can be useful, as you can reduce caloric intake by slashing the amount of carbs being consumed without reducing protein intake.

Anyhow, I've been tracking my daily morning weight as well as the body fat (measured via bioelectrical impedance analysis) since late October, when my weight was 102.4 kg (I'd been tracking my weight but not my body fat reading prior to that). Although both the weight and body fat readings can vary considerably from day to day (depending on hydration, sleep, bowel movements, recent meals and exercise etc.) taking a reading first thing in the morning minimizes the intrinsic variability. Since I already had the data available in my diet spreadsheet, I've used the weight and body fat readings to calculate daily lean mass and fat values, and plotted them:

Combining dieting with regular weight training (2-3 45 minute sessions per week) and increased activity (walking 10K+ steps/day) I've managed to reduce my weight by 10kg with minimal loss of lean mass. The trend lines show that my lean mass has remained almost constant while my fat stores have been depleted. The ratio of fat loss to lean mass loss has been a pleasing 7.75:1

I'll continue with my current (VLCHP - very low carbohyrate, high protein) version of 'keto' dieting and weight training until I achieve my target weight of around 80 kg, by which time my body fat should have reduced to around 10%, which is my initial goal.

After that I'll increase by carb intake slightly (adding more potatoes, pasta, rice, fruit and vegetables) so I'm no longer in caloric deficit, and (hopefully) slowly add bulk (muscle mass) and reduce body fat slightly over the following 12 months. At some point everything will reach equilibrium, with my body weight, body fat percentage, and lean mass remaining fairly constant (as long as I continue with the same caloric and macro nutrient intake levels and amount of weight training).

If I wanted to seriously 'bulk up' I'd eat more than maintenance calories and do additional weight training in order to add muscle, then 'cycle' with periods of reduced caloric intake to 'cut' (ie. remove fat while retaining as much muscle as possible). But I'm too lazy (and old) to put in the hours and effort in the gym that would be required to put on lots more muscle, so I'll see what happens after 1-2 years of 'modest' amounts of weight training.

BTW, when I finished high school I weighed about 78 kg and was a bit 'chubby' so my lean mass back then must have only been around 64-66 kg (15%-18% body fat I'm guessing), so I've actually put on a considerable amount of lean mass over the past forty years, not just fat!

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Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Impact of my weight loss on hypertension control

My mother has high blood pressure and requires medication, so several years ago I bought a cheap sphygmomanometer (self-inflating wrist blood pressure monitor) to keep an eye on my blood pressure readings. As I got older and put on more weight (I was never 'slim') I noticed my blood pressure slowly creep up to often be around 160/85 (isolated systolic hypertension). My GP tried a couple of different medications before it was brought back to 'normal' (~120/80) by taking 300 mg/day of Avapro (Irbesartan) medication (an angiotensin II receptor blocker). After a while my blood pressure was consistently less than 120/80 while taking 300 mg/day, so the dosage was able to be reduced to 150 mg/day.

While losing weight from 112 kg down to 92 kg I've noticed that my blood pressure readings were often lower than 'normal' - for example 95/65 was quite common. Reading up on the 'keto' (low carb) diet I started last week, I found that often blood pressure will decrease by around 8 mmHg after 6-8 weeks on a 'keto' diet regime. So I decided I should check with my GP if it might be OK to reduce my medication dosage.

She confirmed that I can reduce my dosage to 75 mg/day, and, subject to the readings staying 'normal' on the new, lower dose, I might be able to reduce it even further (to half a 75 mg tablet per day) or even stop taking the medication completely when I've stabilised my weight at my target of around 80kg.

While individual blood pressure readings (especially diastolic) are quite variable (affected by time of day, recent activity, stress, etc.) the readings I have recorded show a distinct decline (clearly shown by the linear trend line) in both my diastolic and systolic blood pressure readings as my weight has gone down during the past four months:

(nb. as I've been losing weight the more recent data in on the LHS and the oldest data on the RHS)

I might also try to reduce my sodium intake (eg. minimise bacon and ham etc.), as I suspect I am 'sodium sensitive' - so consuming 3,200 mg/day of sodium on average (over the past four months) is probably also excessive if I want to control my hypertension without medication.

The required 'adequate intake' of sodium is only around 500-1,000 mg/day, and the recommended 'suggested dietary target' for sodium is 1,600 mg/day. So, ideally, I'd like to keep my sodium intake in the 1,000-1,500 mg/day range.

For example, today's meal plan originally consisted of:

4L diet coke spread out during the day  -- 40 calories, 4.0 g carbs, 40 mg Na

400 ml low carb chocolate protein shake -- 198 cals, 2.4 g carbs, 420 mg Na
100 g smoked ham -- 94 cals, 2.5 g carbs, 1,040 mg Na

15g processed cheese -- 44 cals, 0.8 g carbs, 151 mg Na
125g tin smoked salmon in olive oil (drained) -- 135 cals, 0 carbs, 288 mg Na

100 g bacon chop -- 312 cals, 2.8 g carbs, 2,180 mg Na
200 g fillet steak -- 240 cals, 0 carbs, 140 mg Na
1/2 tin green beans -- 32 cals, 6.1 g carbs, 310 mg Na

500 ml diet jelly -- 28 cals, 0.4 g carbs, 116 mg Na

TOTAL: 1,123 cals, 19 g carbs, 4,685 mg Na.

By simply replacing the 100 g of ham and the 100 g bacon chop with two 125g portions of plain grilled chicken breast I can reduce my sodium intake to the recommended level (and also reduce my carbs):

NEW TOTAL: 1,070 cals, 14 g carbs, 1,615 mg Na.

I'll start off by not having the planned bacon chop tonight (instead I'll grill some chicken breast portions), and I'll cut out the morning ham from tomorrow onwards.

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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

The impact of the widespread NSW bushfires on our local Air Quality

Fortunately for us, there haven't been any significant bushfires in the Ku-ring-gai national park that is close to where we live, so our house isn't in danger. But the impact of the massive, unprecedented bushfires raging through many of the national parks in NSW is clearly visible in the data from the Air Quality monitoring station that is closest to us (at Macquarie University). The results come from https://www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/air-quality/search-for-and-download-air-quality-data

The chart shows average hourly reading of visibility (ie. smoke concentration) and small particles (PM2.5) since 1 July. You can see when the first widespread fires started to impact Sydney air quality in October, and how bad air quality has been this season so far.

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Monday, 6 January 2020

Diet 2020 Wk 1 - week ending 05.JAN.2020

Last week went quite well - I stuck to my standard meal plan on Mon and Wed, and did a semi-fast on Tue and Thu. Then I got started with my 'keto' diet from Friday onwards - sticking to around 5%-6% cals from carbs out of a total daily calorie intake of around 1200 cals, mostly by increasing my protein consumption to around 150-175g/day. I also did more than 10K steps/day on the weekdays, and managed to do about 7K steps/day (plus some swimming) on the weekend. My average daily cals for the week was the lowest its been for the past 18 weeks, which helped shed the extra kilos I'd put on during the Christmas break. My average morning weight over the past four days has been 93.0 kg, so I'm happy to be back on track and making good progress with my new 'keto' regime. According to my scales my body fat over the past week has averaged 17%, so I seem to be making progress with shedding fat without losing too much lean mass.

I won't bother doing a daily 'keto' post from now on, as the novelty has worn off already. I'll keep track of my morning ketone levels just so I have some data to compare to the breathalyzer readings (when it arrives), but its been 1.5-4.0 mmol/L for the past  three days and I'll stay in ketosis as long as I'm only consuming about 10 g/day of carbs with my current meal plan. Yesterday afternoon I did notice feeling a bit tired and low energy in the afternoon ('keto flu') and felt a bit light headed (probably due to my BP now being around 100/60) so I'll make an appointment with my GP this week to check if I should lower the dosage of my blood pressure medication. I've enjoyed the lack of hunger while doing 'keto', and I enjoy eating lots of ham, grilled fillet steak and chicken breast, and a few poached eggs. Not too keen on only having broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans with my dinner though. And having eggs and ham for breakfast still seems a bit weird (and takes longer to prepare than porridge or cereal). I tried having some frozen strawberries and avocado for breakfast this morning, but found that I don't really like avocado and the defrosted frozen strawberries were unappetizing. I think I'll just stick with having some ham for breakfast (and maybe a low carb chocolate flavoured protein shake) on the weekdays.

This week's goals are to stick to my high protein 'keto' diet plan (some 'keto' articles suggest that having too much protein can kick you out of ketosis via the conversion of protein to glucose, but other research papers have suggested that protein>glucose production is limited to meet the body's basic requirement for about 120 g of glucose/day, and excess protein intake is NOT converted into glucose. The fact that I've had no trouble getting into ketosis while having about 170 g/day of protein indicates that a high protein 'keto' diet is indeed possible) and to do all three planned gym workouts (Mon/Wed/Fri) this week, as there are no more public holidays (when the gym is closed). I also need to make sure I do my daily walking and 5BX, and will also try to swim some laps every evening.

I'm visiting my parents next weekend and mum will be cooking some non-keto meals, so although I'll keep track of what I eat (and try to not overeat too much) I won't bother trying to stick to a 'keto' diet next weekend.

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Sunday, 5 January 2020

Strict Keto diet day 3

I stuck to my meal plan yesterday, aside from having an extra 150g packet of smoked turkey slices as a snack in the afternoon while walking around the shopping center. This morning my ketostix reading was about 4.0 mmol, showing that I am fully into ketosis. Once the cheap breathalyzer unit arrives I'll see if that registers anything for acetone in my breath.

The low caloric intake should keep me on track with my weight loss goal, and the high protein intake should minimise loss of lean muscle mass as I shed the pounds of excess fat. I didn't do a gym session yesterday (I don't normally workout on the weekends) but did swim 48 laps (about 1/3 of a km) yesterday and walked 6,651 steps (I'd meant to 'top up' my step count to my 10K target with an evening walk, but due to the heat-wave I went for a swim instead), did some Wii Fit in the evening and my daily 5BX workout. So no noticeable lack of energy from being on a low calorie, high protein keto diet.

I haven't had (so far) any of the potential (rare) side-effects of a keto diet, such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, hunger, confusion, anxiety and/or irritability, lightheadedness, sweating or chills, constipation, nausea or vomiting. In fact I've found this 'keto' diet very easy to follow and quite enjoyable (so far), experiencing less hunger than I normally feel at this level of caloric intake. It does seem a bit weird having poached eggs and ham for breakfast though - I'd rather be having my normal cereal or porridge to be honest. Apparently strawberries are reasonably low carb, so I might try having a bowl of strawberries and a low-carb whey protein shake for breakfast some days instead (having 14 eggs a week doesn't seem a great idea, although recently the recommendation to limit eggs to 1-2 per week seems to have been modified to only applying to those with high cholesterol, heart disease or type 2 diabetes).

My weight registered as 92.9 kg this morning (first time below 93kg since I started losing weight six months ago when I was 112 kg), and my body fat reading was about 16% (the readings bounce about from day to day). So I'm quite happy with my progress towards my goals of 80kg and 10% body fat. I've also noticed that I can now do a lot more push-ups and sit-ups during my 5BX sessions than when I started, so my core strength is improving.

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Saturday, 4 January 2020

Sydney Heatwave

Living only a few km from the coast, our suburb doesn't get quite as hot as "out west" (where it got close to 50C (122F), but today was still fairly hot where we live! A plot below shows the temperature range in the adjacent suburb over the past three days:

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Strict Keto diet - day 2

I stuck to my meal plan yesterday, so I only had about 10g of carbs. I also went to the gym on the way home to do my normal Friday 'heavy' (low reps) weight training session, and then swam some laps and did a bit of Wii Fit for fun in the evening.

The exercise combined with the very low carbs probably explains why my Keto diastix reading showed 0 glucose but 1.5 mmol/L of ketones already by this morning. Normally it is supposed to take about 2-4 days of being on the typical 'keto' diet.

While reading up a bit more on ketone levels during ketogenic dieting I found that ketone levels vary considerably during the day, and increase after some types of exercise. So it is best to measure them at the same time each day - one recommendation is first thing in the morning. Once my breathalyser unit arrives from China I'll start doing breath measurements for acetone at regular intervals and see how it correlates with the morning ketostix measurement, and how my ketone levels vary during the day.

I also came across a mention that keto dieting can have side-effects for diabetics (not relevant to me) and to people on blood pressure medication (which I am). It mentioned that losing weight and getting fitter may lower blood pressure enough to require a reduction in medication levels (which I had already noticed - my BP went from 120/70 on medication before I started my diet and exercise regime, to being typically 105/65 recently), and that commencing a keto diet can cause a further drop in BP which may cause dizziness etc. I just checked my BP and it was 97/64, so I'll drop in to my GP some time next week to check if I should reduce my medication dosage a bit.

It's very hot weather today in Sydney, and quite smoky due to all the nearby bushfires, so I'll go to the local Westfield shopping centre to do my walking exercise indoors in air conditioned comfort today. Wandering around outside in 40 C heat and breathing in the air of what is currently the city with the world's worst air quality readings wouldn't be a great idea!

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Friday, 3 January 2020

Trying out a 'ketogenic' meal plan

Having decided I should boost my protein intake a bit (from around 100 g/day to about 175 g/day) to retain maximum lean mass (muscle) while continuing to loose weight, I thought I may as well switch to a proper 'ketogenic' diet for a while (this generally means consuming less than 50g of carbohydrates per day for at least 2-4 days so that your metabolism switches from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat stores). After 2-7 days on a 'low carb' diet the 'ketone' levels should be detectable in urine, blood and breath (from the negligible ketone levels that are normal when you are consuming a diet that includes lots of sugar/carbs).

My version (based on the available low carb foods that I like) of a 'keto' diet plan that I'll be trying out from today is:

Breakfast: 2 eggs (poaches) + 80g of smoked ham

Lunch: 15g processed cheese triangle + 125g tin of smoked salmon slices

Dinner: 200g fillet steak + 200g chicken breast (grilled) + 100g of broccoli and 100 g of cauliflower

Dessert: A plate of diet aeroplane jelly (one sachet in 400 mL, aka 4 'serves').

Adding up the nutritional composition of these items gives a daily total of around:

1,187 kcals
9.9 g carbs (3.7% of total cals)
36.6 g fat (30.8% of total cals)
175.1 g protein (65.5% of total cals)

[I also drink a couple of 2L bottles of diet coke each day, which is low cals/carbs. (Not a great habit, but I've been doing it since uni, so I doubt I'll switch to drinking water now...)]

I'll stick with this for at least a week and see how I feel. The caloric content should mean that I loose around 0.7-1.5 kg/week, depending on how much exercise I do.

This meal plan seems pretty good for achieving a steady rate of weight loss while retaining muscle mass (via weight training three times a week, walking, doing 5BX and swimming some laps). Unfortunately it only provides 10 g/day of dietary fibre, so I might need to also add in a tin of green beans (which are low carb/cals) which would almost double my daily fibre intake. BTW this meal plan seems especially low-carb, as it only provides 10g of carbs/day, which is well below the 50 g/day limit for a 'keto' diet.

Today is "Day 0" for this new meal plan, so I'll monitor my 'ketone' and glucose levels each morning using the keto diastix I bought a few days ago (about $7.50 for a box of 50 test strips). I did a test yesterday morning (while on my normal diet regime) and, as expected, there were negligible (0) levels of glucose and ketones present in my urine, I'll do test this every morning for the next week, and I *should* observe a rise in ketone levels after 2-4 days that will indicate that I've entered 'ketosis'.

As the test strips aren't particularly sensitive (the colour chart only indicates levels of 0, 5, 15, 40, 80 and 160 mg/dl, which corresponds to 0, 0.9, 2.6, 6.9 etc millimolar ketone values. As readings of 1.5-3.0 millimolar are generally considered 'optimal' for a ketogenic diet, only the first two colour graduations are in the 'ideal' range.

Instead of test strips, one can check ketone levels in breath or blood. I don't fancy taking a blood drop sample every time I want to check on my ketone levels, and the normal 'ketone' breath testing units are around $90. However, I've seen some articles suggesting that cheap breathalyzer units that are normally used to check for alcohol in the breath also respond to acetone (ketone), so I bought a cheap ($14) breathalyzer unit from banggood. If it has a chip sensor (rather than the more expensive fuel sensor used in police breathalyzers, than doesn't respond to acetone) it should provide a reading for ketone levels. Once it arrives I'll compare the test strip readings to the breathalyzer readings and see how they compare.

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Thursday, 2 January 2020

Net Worth: December 2019

My estimated NW managed to increase by $28,079 (1.16%) during December. This was despite the stock market weakness that saw my geared stock portfolio decline by -$9,809 (-3.62%), and my superannuation savings drop -$3,814 (-0.33%) despite making the usual monthly SGL and salary sacrifice contributions. The overall increase in NW was due to the local house sales data reflecting the recovery in the Sydney real estate market, hence my half of the estimated valuation for our house increased by $41,458 (5.88%). The increase was unusually large as the local sales data had not been updated last month or two, so this change reflected several months of price adjustment in one hit.

My total estimated NW reached $2.442m, which is a new 'record high' as they like to say when talking about the stock market ;)

In the medium term (5 years) the trajectory of my NW will be largely dependent on how the stock market and Sydney real estate perform, as changes in asset prices will dwarf the impact of my savings. In the longer term a lot will also depend on whether the off-the-plan I've put a deposit on ends up being worth more than the purchase price by the time construction is completed in 2023, and how the Sydney property market performs in the next decade or two. Hopefully this investment unit will be 'positively geared' (i.e. the rental return is sufficient to cover the outgoings - loan interest, strata levy, rates etc.) by the time I retire. The completion of a new 'metro' train station close to the unit is due about the same time, so that should help with rental and vacancy rates. On the down side there is quite a lot of new unit (apartment) development occurring in the area, which might affect prices.

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A free online tool for calculating caloric requirement and target weight loss

A new year, a new resolution. Not.

Same old. Same old... loose weight, get fit, and finish off the whole swag of financial planning postgrad and specialist courses that I'm part-way through (and hopefully also get my first few financial planning clients this year!).

Anyhow, reading an article about the weight loss progress of Jessica Irvine in the SMH, I followed her link to the TDEE calculator and used it to check on my maintenance calorie level. It gives and answer of 2,794 cals/day, which is about what I'd calculated from empirical measurement of my actual weight loss/gain data plotted against average calorie intake.

The tool also used various formulae to suggest my "ideal weight" is in the range 69-73 kg, which is in line with the "ideal" weight calculated using BMI recommendations.

However, the same tool calculates that my "maximum muscular potential" is to be 76 kg with 5% body fat, or a more reasonable 80 kg with 10% body fat. After the DEXA scan results I'd revised my target to 80 kg and 10% body fat, so the "maximum muscular potential" figure for 10% body fat is a much better guide (for me) than a simplistic BMI target.

The tool also suggests a maintenance macronutrient target of 279g protein, 124g fat and 140g carbs for the 'low carb' option. This would result in consuming my maintenance caloric intake of 2,794 cals/day. I'll continue to try IF (or fasting) on Tue and Thu each week, and to reduce my carb intake to that approaching a 'ketogenic diet' level (under 50g of carbs/day).

I tend to have trouble eating almost 300g of protein a day - even with extra whey protein added to my morning porridge, salmon for lunch, and chicken breast or fillet steak for dinner I tend to only get to around 120-140 g of protein. But I also tend to eat more than 50 g of carbs/day, so I suppose I'll just have to substitute some more high carb foods with more protein intake.

In any case, as long as I keep going to the gym, walking 10,000+ steps/day, and aiming to minimise carbs and eat around 1,800 calories on my 'normal' diet days and do some level of fasting on Tuesdays and Thursday I should continue to make progress towards my target of 10% body fat and around 80 kg weight by the middle of this year.

If I can average around 1,800 cals/day each week (my tendency to overate a bit on the weekends offsets the caloric deficit boost of my 'fasting' days) I should loose around 7,000/7,700 = 0.9 kg/week.

Onwards and downwards!

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