Monday 30 December 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 52 - week ending 29.12.2019

Well, Christmas went about as badly as I'd feared - I overate and under-exercised, so I ended up putting on a couple of kg in a short period of time. I really should stick to my normal eating patterns during the holiday season and not use it as a excuse to indulge in junk food!

I did a decent gym session on Friday (although the gym closed early), and I also did quite a bit of walking (I went to the shops after the gym session to buy a new swimming costume). But I then did hardly any walking on the weekend, so my average daily step count for the week wasn't high enough. I did jump in the pool and do a few (14) laps on Saturday. But as our pool is only about 8m long, that was only about 110m. I'll try to get in a few laps every evening when I get home. I used to swim about 80-100 laps a day several years ago (during the summers), so I'll try to increase the number of laps each day until I'm back to doing that amount again - at least on my non-gym days and on the weekends.

My sons received a Wii Fit Balance Board as one of their Christmas presents, so they've started doing some of the Wii Fit exercises for fun and I'll also join in for a bit of family fun. On Sunday I did a 16 min session of Wii jogging (on the spot) and did some of the planking and stepping exercises. Every little bit of extra activity helps, especially when you've been eating a bit too much junk food on Christmas Day!

I'll stick to my standard meal plan today, and drop in to the gym this afternoon on my way home to do my 'light' weight training session. Unfortunately the gym will be closed again on Wed (New Years Day) so I'll only get to the gym twice this week (unless I go in for an extra session on the weekend). Last week I upgraded my 'basic' gym membership package (about $11/wk paid fortnightly, plus an annual $40 'admin' charge) to a pre-paid annual package ($599) that includes some 'classes' (which I probably won't use), access to other gyms in the chain (which I probably won't use), and also entitles me to bring one 'guest' into the gym whenever I attend. That is the main benefit I'll use, as it means my eldest son will be able to meet me at the gym on his way home from university and do a proper weight training session (he'd out-grown the capacity of our home weight set). As I intend to keep going to the gym three times a week on a  regular basis from now on, the annual fee will work out to be about the same weekly cost as my old month-by-month membership, so he'll be getting to use a proper gym for essentially no extra cost.

My updated weight chart clearly shows the spike in calorie intake that occurred over the holiday period, and the impact that has had on my weight loss progress. As long as I now get back on track it should only be a temporary set-back.

I got an offer to purchase a 'premium' (ie. paid) subscription to mPort - which runs a chain of 'body pod' scanning devices in some local shopping centers. I had gotten a free scan last October, so I decided to now pay the $25 to be able to do regular scans for the next 12 months to easily keep track of my body measurements. The estimated body fat (based on size measurements alone) doesn't seem very accurate (it gave readings of 34% last October and 33% now), as my home scales give a reading of about 20% (+/- about 2%) now, compared to about 25%-30% when I started dieting last June. The recent DEXA reading was also about 20% body fat, so I think the mPort estimates are not very accurate for my body time, Over time I expect my chest and thigh measurements will stabilize and I'll loose more belly fat, which should improve my waist:hip ratio as I get down towards my target weight. I'll do an mPort scan every month of so to see how things are going.

Latest mPort readings: (apparently accuracy is about +/- 1cm, which isn't great)
Weight: 96.6 kg
Biceps: 38 cm (L) 41 cm (R)
Chest: 111 cm
Waist: 105 cm
Stomach: 114 cm
Hips: 112 cm
Thighs: 49 (L) 47 (R)
Knees: 42 cm (L) 42 cm (R)
Calf: 43 cm (L) 43 cm (R)

Comparison of my results to the average BMI distribution for Australia shows that I need to loose a considerable amount of weight before I'll even be 'average'. However, given that the DEXA scan showed my true body fat reading is currently around 20% and not 34%, I think the mPort body fat chart isn't accurate (due to higher than average muscle mass), and that my body fat will actually be quite low by the time I get my BMI close to an 'average' reading.

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Monday 23 December 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 51 - week ending 22.12

Did my gym sessions as planned during the week and increased my daily walking to a little over 16,000 steps/day on the weekdays (I still struggle to get enough walking done during the weekends), so my exercise last week went 'according to plan'. Unfortunately I ate a little bit more than I'd planned during the week, didn't do any fasting days, and then had bit of a 'binge' of overeating on the weekend, which included a fair amount of 'junk' food. My weight was already crept a bit higher by this morning, but at this stage that will be mostly due to the extra bulk of food and associate fluid in my gut from the weekend's food intake. So, before I continue to excess caloric intake long enough to actually start storing fat, I need to get back onto my 'strict' diet plan today, and make sure I do a fast on Tuesday. I'll have to try to not overeat during Christmas/boxing day, despite having some guests over for a BBQ on Christmas day. The gym will be closed on Wed (Christmas Day) and also close early (7pm) on Friday and Monday. I might be able to still squeeze in gym sessions after work on Friday and Monday, as the office may close a little bit early on those days, but my gym sessions are likely to be slightly less than normal until after the New Year. I'll try to make up for it by starting to swim some laps of our pool during the holiday period.

As long as I get a reasonable amount of walking and weight training done during the holidays, and fit in a few fasting days to offset those days that I overeat a bit for social events (so I don't put on any weight before the New Year) I'll be fairly happy. I'll get back into the full-on diet and exercise regime once the 'festive season' is out of the way.
While the chart shows my weight loss has only just started to 'plateau', the increase in my daily calorie intake during the past couple of weeks is quite obvious, and will result in weight gains if I don't get back 'on the wagon' asap. From now on, whenever I feel like having a 'snack' in the evening or on the weekends I need to substitute it for going for a short walk instead. Hopefully I can make that into a habit asap.

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Tuesday 17 December 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 50 - week ending 15.12

I had a reasonable week last week in terms of exercise, getting in my three planned gym sessions, averaging 10,600 steps/day walking, and only missing one day of doing my daily 5BX. I've modified my gym routine slightly so I use lighter weights and do 3 sets of ~15 reps on each apparatus on Monday, use medium weights (3 sets x 8-10 reps) on Wednesday, and do a heavy session where I can only manage 5-8 reps in each set on Friday (haven't quite worked out exactly what weights to use on each appartus for the heavy session yet). I haven't started swimming laps yet, but we're supposed to be getting several days of 40C weather later this week, so I'll probably start swimming this weekend.

I didn't do any fasting at all last week, but I managed to average about 1,127 cals/day on Mon-Fri, but then I overate a bit (around maintenance cals) on the weekend (again). On Saturday that was due to attending a party for my sister's 40th wedding anniversary, but on Sunday I just ate a bit too much during the day and then topped it off with a tube of Pringles crisps in the evening. That's caused my weight to plateau around 95kg for the past week, and my body fat seems to be stuck around 20%, so I'll try to do proper fasts on Tuesday and Thursday this week and to not overeat next weekend.

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Monday 9 December 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 49 - week ending 08.12

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

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

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

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

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Sunday 8 December 2019

Uni result Semester 4

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

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

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

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Wednesday 4 December 2019

Accurate body fat measurement and revised target weight

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

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

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

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

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

Anyhow, my result showed a couple of interesting things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday 3 December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday 2 December 2019

Net Worth: November 2019

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

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

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

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Diet 2019 Wk 48 - week ending 01.12

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

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

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

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