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Going Keto

Full disclosure – I am attempting a quick crash diet that is intended to get me some quick results, with very little hope for long term sustainability. I’m going on a full ketogenic diet, starting today. I’m going to see what kind of gains/losses I can see in a 6-week period. My goal is to see a relatively dramatic 15-20 lb drop, which will be maintained after 6 weeks with a more sustainable slow-carb diet, larger workout volume, and of course, smaller portion sizes. I’ve experienced yo-yo diets firsthand, and that’s the main hazard that I intend to obliterate head-on after I’ve finished with this short project.

I’m currently sitting at 158.5 lbs. I’ve been fluctuating between 154-159 lbs over the last few months, courtesy of living in Toronto and working from home. I recognize that I’ve been less active, and while I’ve made a point to increase the frequency of my workouts, I want to do something big, to see big gains. Here’s my aggressively immature statement of the day: Go big or go home.

What is a ketogenic diet? 

This is a high-fat, medium-protein, low (or no) carb diet that forces the body to switch from burning carbs to metabolizing fat stores. It differs from the slow-carb diet in the sense that I will be avoiding carbs altogether, other than what can be found in vegetables, avocados, peanut butter (for emergencies) and nuts/seeds.

What is on your limited plate? Aren’t you vegetarian?

Surprisingly, I have a lot of food to choose from, and these can still provide many different combinations. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian, so I don’t eat meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish, any other seafood), but I do eat eggs and cheese. My preferred diet for the next 6 weeks will consist of:

  • Eggs
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Gai Lan
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Coffee (with the coconut oil… really delicious for some reason)
  • Butter and margarine
  • Mushrooms (white, brown, shiitake, oyster, portobello)
  • Tofu (soft, medium, firm, extra firm) cooked in different ways (baked, fried, steamed)
  • TVP (textured vegetable protein) and other “fake meat products” made from soy and wheat gluten
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Seitan (wheat gluten) cooked in different ways (baked, fried, steamed, boiled)
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Soy milk
  • Soy protein powder (for making protein shakes)
  • Whey protein powder (for making protein shakes)
  • Various cheeses (cottage cheese, halloumi, cheddar, edam, blue)

Won’t this be difficult? What difficulties will be faced?

Absolutely difficult. Carbs affect the reward centers of the brain in almost exactly the same way addictive drugs do. I will be depriving myself of these. In fact, my experience with the slow-carb diet really frightened me because of how crazy I felt when I was deprived of simple, fast sugars/carbs. I realized I was going into withdrawal. Given that I am a person who avoids getting drunk because of an overwhelming desire to remain in control of one’s faculties, the notion of being addicted to something is an outrage!

I fully expect to go bonkers for the first week or so. I will have carb cravings all day long, and walk halfway to the kitchen before stopping myself from grabbing a jar of Nutella. My concentration will lapse at work. Generally, I’ll feel like crap. My body will feel like it is starving, since it will be lacking the main source of food that it is used to burning. I will be very, very irritable.

I also expect that my workouts will suffer for the first few weeks. I’m currently running between 5-10 km (3-6 miles), 3 times a week.

That sucks. Any coping mechanisms? Strategies?

1. I’ve eliminated (or hid) most of the things that will drive my cravings, like chocolate bars, pasta, Nutella, bread and other candies. It’s probably not the wisest time to be doing this, right when halloween candy is on sale/clearance everywhere, but there’s no time like the present to start a new project.

2. I’ve ensured that I have all of the “right” food available. The kitchen is stocked with veggies, tofu, eggs, oils, soy milk, nuts, seeds and other things that will keep my cravings to a minimum.

3. Lots of coffee. It’s my only other drug right now.

4. I will have one day a week when I can eat without restrictions. I’ve selected Saturday. This will help to jumpstart my insulin levels and keep my metabolism up.

Any health concerns?

To the layperson, the main concern is cardiovascular health. However, I’ve yet to see any respectable, peer-reviewed paper that definitively concludes that a high fat, medium protein diet (devoid of processed or even unprocessed meat products) is in any way bad for the cardiovascular system. Not all fat is created equal, and I’m the least likely candidate for eating processed fatty meats. I’m not concerned for my heart health. I don’t abuse alcohol, I don’t smoke, I exercise, and I minimize my salt intake to reduce the chances of high blood pressure that runs in my family.

That’s all, folks!  I’ll provide updates on Sunday evening on how my first week goes. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A tip to prevent a monotonous workout

It’s been 8 weeks since I jump-started my balanced workouts. So far it’s been an interesting experiment. But it can be a bit boring from week to week of the same repetitive movements.

This morning’s upper body workout:

  • 100 jumping jacks for warm-up (treadmills were full, and it just snowed 3 inches)
  • 3 sets x 6 reps x 30 lbs dumbbells elevator bicep curls (dumbbells go straight up/down parallel to body)
  • 3 sets x 12 reps diamond push-ups
  • 3 sets x 12 reps clipped (narrow) push-ups
  • 3 sets x 15 reps wide push-ups
  • 3 sets x 6 reps side-to-side push-ups
  • 3 sets x 15 reps x 12 lbs dumbbells standing bicep curls
  • 3 sets x 15 reps x 12 lbs dumbbells shoulder press
  • 3 sets x 8 reps x 12 lbs dumbbells deltoid raises

I reviewed my chart of workouts, and I’m incrementally adding reps, weights and more workouts. However… it’s starting to get more monotonous. It’s the same thing every week. I started to change it up by adding one or two dynamic (recruiting more than one muscle group) exercises to the mix every time. For instance, my morning workout today included side-to-side push-ups, and those absolutely destroyed any semblance of dignity I had when finishing the last few reps of my third set of push-ups. I almost didn’t shampoo my head afterwards because I could barely get my arms over my shoulders. Next week, I’ll add burpees.

Adding a wildcard workout to the daily mix is like having someone bouncing around a basketball in your yoga class. It’ll disrupt the practiced, concentrated ease by which you’re used to doing the bare minimum necessary to complete each step. It mentally upsets you into thinking, “Geez, how am I going to get through this workout? I only have enough juice for my daily sets…”  and then surprises you when you complete everything anyway.

If I get an opportunity at lunch, I’ll go for a run. Earlier this morning I intended to do a 5 km (3.2 mile) run at 12.8 kph (8 mph, or 7:30 min/mile, or 4:41 min/km, whichever you prefer), except that the treadmills were occupied.

I think I’ll get some baseline photos, too. I’m 5’8″, 154 lbs.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Fitness

 
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2014 workouts so far

2014 workouts so far

I’m keeping a running tally of my workouts this year. What gets measured, gets managed.

Additional notes:

The jumping jacks were short warm-ups for days that I wasn’t running but had upper body workouts to do. Also, it looks like I’ve been neglecting my chin-ups and kettlebell swings. The swings are getting easy, so I might step up to the 53 lb bell (24 kg) after my next set of 3×100’s.

The pattern:

Sunday – longer base run
Monday – kettlebells
Tuesday – treadmill short&fast run + upper body workout
Wednesday – rest day (or run day, depending how I feel)
Thursday – treadmill short7fast run + lower body workout
Friday – swim
Saturday – rest day (or hiking, walking, active recovery day)

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Fitness, Running

 

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Resurrection

I stumbled on this blog while clearing out my old passwords list. My last post was in November 2011. Too many things have happened since then, but here’s a brief summary: I did Ironman Calgary 70.2 in 2012, ran my fastest 10 km time that same year (on a hilly trail run in the badlands, no less), attempted a 50 km trail ultramarathon (but only got to 38 km before both my IT bands blew up), and then in 2013 I ran 3 half-marathons.

Of course, I got fat over Christmas 2013. Time for my excuses. 🙂

The tail-end of 2013 brought career upheavals, moving to a new and unfamiliar city (Toronto) and a new home office job. I got distracted from exercising. I gained 20 lbs in the last 3 months, and I stopped working out completely. It wasn’t till January 4th that I took a long look at my current status. I weighed in at a hefty 166 lbs, or roughly 27 lbs heavier than my ideal racing weight. My blood pressure was just a few digits away from hypertensive, and my “t-rex legs” didn’t even exist any longer. I was just a fat man with skinny arms and legs.

This brings me to what I’ve been doing over the last 6 weeks.

I’ve decided to focus on all-around health and strength. I got fed up with being a “t-rex” – virtually having no arm muscles, and only leg strength. I missed having a respectable upper body like I did when I was in the Philippine Air Force reserves. At the same time, I got tired of the 10 kilometer 53 to 55 minute plateau that I’ve found myself in. So far, so good.

Goals:

  1. 10 km run in 45 minutes or less
  2. 100 consecutive push-ups
  3. I want to see my abs again, at least the top 4. It’s been way too long.

I keep a Google Docs/Drive spreadsheet on my workouts, but I’ll be listing them here, too.

Tomorrow morning’s workout (Feb 13, 2014):

  • 5 km interval run – alternating 5:00 mins/km pace and 3:40 mins/km pace (4 min / 1 min)
  • 3 sets x 15 reps – deep squat jumps
  • 3 sets x 20 reps – twist lunges
  • 3 sets x 20 reps – single-leg calf-raises (per leg)
  • 3 sets x 20 reps – side lunges (per leg)
  • 3 sets x 30 reps – squats
 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Fitness, Running

 

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Binge day #5: Following Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body book

Saturday is my binge day. I eat anything I want, as much as I want, and with no restrictions whatsoever. (picture records at bottom)

November 12 breakfast (1,828 kcals):

  • Kaizen Whey Isolate Protein shake blended with organic black Chia seeds (240 kcals)
  • Organic grapefruit juice (75 kcals)
  • Cafe Americano with 1/2 tsp freshly ground organic Cassia cinnamon (13 kcals)
  • One Tim Horton’s Maple Dip donut (210 kcal)
  • Two Tim Horton’s Sour Cream Glazed donuts (540 kcals)
  • One Tim Horton’s Chocolate Glazed donut  (260 kcals)
  • One specialty chocolate and peanut butter glazed donut (490 kcals)
Lunch (1,754 kcals):
  • Organic grapefruit juice (75 kcals)
  • Wide dry noodles (224 kcals)
  • Baby Bok Choy (10 kcals)
  • Carrots (26 kcals)
  • Vegetarian Tom Yam (45 kcals)
  • Green onion (6 kcals)
  • 3 tbsp Canola oil for deep-frying and stir-frying (351 kcals)
  • Braised gluten tidbits (728 kcals)
  • Fish and chips batter mix (250 kcals)
Afternoon snack (1120 kcals):
  • Choc Nut Milk Chocolate (360 kcals)
  • Aero Bubbles (320 kcals)
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures (220 kcals)
  • Nestle Crunch bar (220 kcals)
Dinner (1599 kcals):
  • Organic grapefruit juice (75 kcals)
  • Pizza73 9″ two-topping extra cheese pizza with creamy garlic sauce (800 kcals)
  • Pizza73 cheese wedgies (380 kcals)
  • Sweet chili sauce (84 kcals)
  • One Tim Horton’s Chocolate Glazed donut  (260 kcals)

All in all, I ate a grand total of 6,300 Calories.

Despite this extreme overconsumption every Saturday for the last five weeks, I’ve steadily lost fat and put on muscle, with a total weight loss of 11 pounds. It has been a dramatic endeavor for a 151 pound scrawny guy like myself to lose 7.28% of my overall body weight and see phenomenal increases in my workout performance numbers. I know the drill. Like every other week, I’ll gain 3 pounds over Saturday, but be back to pre-Saturday weight by Monday evening. And from there? My weight loss continues.

How is that even possible? Let’s backtrack to where it all started.

I had hit a major plateau this year. My triathlon and marathon goals turned out the same if not worse than what I had done in 2010. Yes, I was busy finishing my Master’s degree thesis, working 50+ hours full-time, organizing/planning/attending my wedding, and moving to a new condo, but there are no excuses for losing fitness. What was I doing wrong? I was logging 16-18 hours of cycling/running/swimming workouts a week. My weight was bouncing between 148 and 154 pounds (not good when my triathlon idol Simon Whitfield weighs the same as I do, albeit a full 3 inches taller).

Then it hit me – the only thing I have never changed was my diet, which consisted of massive helpings of Nutella, rice, pizza, sugar, soymilk, cheese and loaves of bread.

So, I turned to a book I had been hearing about from a few other health enthusiasts – The 4-Hour Body, by Timothy (Tim) Ferriss. It advocated a minimalist regimen of focused workouts, as well as his creation – the Slow-Carb Diet. It promotes the consumption of low-glycemic index carbohydrates, and a healthy dose of fats and proteins. It is a heavily tested and evolved diet that has similarities to the Zone and South Beach diets, but with a Tim Ferriss touch.

Read it, and enjoy it. Dissecting the complexities of the human body when it comes to weight loss and muscle creation has never been easier.

Pictures:

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Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Fitness

 

Belated introduction – fitness evolution unfolded

In 1999-2000, I was a fresh young junior in a Filipino high school. I was also a military cadet and Taekwondo gold medallist. I weighed a lean 128 lbs, had the wood-carved side abdominals of someone who had a comfortable 6 foot high kick reach (which was quite a lot for a 5 ft 7.5 inch [171.5cm] guy), could do 128 straight push-ups (followed by 22 one-arm push-ups per arm), and run  6 km (3.7 miles) in under 30 minutes with a 10 pound rifle, heavily loaded backpack and steel toed army boots.

However, I grew complacent. I moved to Canada in 2001, and began a regimen of fast food, 18-hour-a-day online multiplayer computer gaming, and no exercise. I gained 20 pounds in the first year, and more weight kept creeping up every month.

In early 2007, I resolved to change my computer gaming habits, couch potato attitude and wheezing walks across the parking lot. I weighed 159 pounds at my heaviest. My waistline had ballooned from 28 inches to 34 inches, and my muscles had all atrophied to jelly. My then girlfriend (now wife) See-Yin suggested we take walks around the block, and it took only one walk for me to realize how far I had fallen. At that point, we decided to start running as a hobby, having been inspired by my dad’s passion for running.

Within 6 months, we accelerated from 3 km (1.8 mile) runs to completing half-marathons. Another 6 months later, I was introduced to the world of triathlon. I was hooked, and I promised myself that I’m never going to stop; I’ve found my lifestyle.

From 2008 until now (2011), my quest has been to slowly move up from half-marathons to full marathons, and from sprint triathlons to a full Ironman triathlon. This blog will contain current activities, flashbacks, revelations, triumphs and mistakes that I’ve made ever since I decided to take my lazy butt off the couch and out the door.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Fitness, Migo and Yin, Running

 

Jasper bike tour summary – August 25-29, 2011

Update (Sept 22, 2011): Here’s a compilation video of the bike tour. Best viewed in full screen and in HD.

See-Yin and I got married in Winnipeg on August 21, 2011. Shortly after that, we were off to Jasper, prepping our bikes at 9:30am on August 25, ready to head out on a multi-day cycling-camping tour through the mountains, from Jasper to Canmore, totaling 311 kilometers.

(Pictures at the bottom)

Overall, we had a beautiful bike tour. The roads were in very good condition (there were maybe 3 shady patches along the entire stretch of 230 kilometers!), the motorists all gave us a wide berth (and cheered for us on occasion), and the scenery was both breathtaking and humbling.  The campgrounds offered, at a bare minimum, clean potable water, clean outhouses, food lockers (for storing food away from bears), bear-proof trash bins and free (if sometimes damp/wet) firewood. Bigger campgrounds even had hot showers and electrical outlets, but we didn’t go to any of those.

At the end of the trip, we finished at Lake Louise, 81 kilometers short of our goal, but we didn’t regret the circumstances. And here’s why.

Day 1: Jasper to Jonas Creek Campground (77 km)

The first day was a gruelling 77 km ride of rolling hills that was predominantly uphill. The mountains towered all around us. Within 1km of leaving Jasper, a black bear ran across the road about 100m in front of us. It was actually a very frightening experience, given that there were no other cars around and we were both on bicycles, without the protection of a car enclosure or having the capability to outrun it. I carried my bear spray strapped to my chest after that.

Getting used to my total bike weight (75-80 lbs) was a big challenge for day 1, but dealing with the hills was entirely in its own league. We climbed 1500 ft overall, but all of the dips and valleys added a lot more to the total amount of elevation that we climbed. Needless to say, we were very tired. We were climbing for most of the day. We stopped every 15-18 kilometers when we would pass a suitable viewpoint/rest-stop, and snack on PowerGels, oranges, Choc-Nut, trail mix/nuts, Toblerone, Skittles or all of the above.

As the afternoon rolled around, we decided to stop at Jonas Creek Campground, a very empty campsite just off the road that offered a completely secluded and dense tree cover. As with most of the campgrounds between Jasper and Banff, it was a first-come-first-served self-registration campground. Pick a site, fill out the registration form, VISA number, drop it in the secure vault, and you’re good to go.

What gave us some discomfort was the fact that the “walk-in campsites” (those that are for hikers and cyclists like us who have no car) have designated campsites at the top of a densely treed plateau, much farther from the road and any other campers. We were far enough in the trees that we could not see anybody through the trees in any direction. In the end, we stuck to the remote campsite because it meant space away from noisy camper-trailers, cars and other campground users. We just had to be vigilant with storing the food and having the bear spray on my person at all times.

It was uncomfortably cold at night. I wasn’t expecting it to get that cold. I was about 8-10 degrees below what I would have considered to be a comfortable sleeping temperature. I made a mental note to pack warm wool clothing the next time we do this trip.

Day 2: Jonas Creek Campground to Rampart Creek Campground (70 km)

The next day, we had breakfast, packed up, and headed out. Day 2 was going to be a big challenge because the uphills were not going to abate for another 35 kilometers. In fact, we were headed towards Sunwapta Pass, climbing an even greater 2,400 ft before reaching the summit. I don’t remember much about this day except for roads that looked like they were headed downhill but were actually uphill. The ride was brutally painful and taxing on the legs, especially after pedaling 77 kilometers the day before. Eventually, we reached the Columbia Icefields and reveled in its beauty. Despite having receded a fair bit in the last two decades, the glaciers still towered over us. We sat there and snacked on Clif Bars, trail mix and sweets, then got ready to head off.

The next 8 kilometers were harrowing and terrifyingly steep descents. Despite having massive (and heavy) panniers attached to our bikes, we descended between 50-70 kph, on skinny little tires as thick as my thumb. We were also hard on the brakes for most of it! We did so much downhill riding that we had to stop halfway down because our hands were cramping up from squeezing the brakes.

I actually had a near-disastrous event about a third of the way down. The shoulder narrowed considerably, and so I did a quick shoulder-check before veering over the white line and on to the road. I did not see a 2 meter crack in the road by the white line, running almost parallel to my wheels. While descending at 65 kph, both wheels fell into the groove and my rear wheel slid out and fishtailed to my left. I caught the slide with my legs, turned into the skid, and quickly but very slightly jerked it back into place, praying that the excess weight would not fishtail it the opposite way and cause me to lose control. It felt like a good 10 seconds of danger, but upon reviewing my GoPro footage, it all happened within a second.

After that, we slowed down to 50 kph. We had nothing to gain from any extra speed, but we sure had a lot to lose if something went wrong.

We must have been really tired after all of the climbing, because we stopped at Rampart Creek Campground, only 70 kilometers away from the previous campground. The bulletin chalkboard had a recent note scribbled on it that said, “Beware, recent sighting of bear in area. Aug 26” and so I checked the date, and sure enough, it was still August 26th. We picked a site close to all of the amenities but away from all of the other campers. This way, we wouldn’t have far to walk to the washrooms, food lockers or water. I kept the bear spray close as always.

That night, it almost dropped below freezing. Our breath was very, very frosty, and we were very cold indeed. See-Yin had the great idea to zip both sleeping bags together, and it worked well to efficiently keep us both warm.

Day 3: Rampart Creek Campground to Lake Louise (83 km)

We had our usual breakfast, which consisted of hard, almost-frozen Clif Bars, Antonio Pueo hot chocolate, and hot tea. We had a big day ahead of us, because our next objective was to ride up Bow Pass, which was 40 km away and 2,600 ft higher than our day’s starting point. The worst part was that the very last bit would jump 800 ft in under 5 kilometers.

I can’t really say that I remember much about this day either, other than shutting off my brain and simply enduring the long hours of pedaling. The scenery was overwhelming, and so that was what I focused on.

In the first 15 kilometers of day 3, I had observed that See-Yin, who had started to get the sniffles the day before, was beginning to struggle on the climbs. The gears she chose were much easier than what she would have chosen for that particular slope the day before. It took a lot of convincing, but I finally managed to get her to offload about 20 lbs of gear and transfer it over to my bike. She seemed to be a bit more comfortable after that, while I managed to keep up the pace with a little bit more effort.

Bow Pass was the stuff of legends. The climb was absolutely daunting, with kilometer after kilometer of continuous uphill, averaging a 7% grade, but then jumping to a 9% grade in the last 400 meters. It took us 45 minutes of relentless pedaling and gritted teeth to make it to the summit. We even passed a car on the side of the road that did not make the climb.

The rest was just pure beauty. We stumbled upon a secluded lodge (Num-Ti-Jah Lodge) at the edge of a serene lake, with massive glaciers framing it in the background.

We made it to Lake Louise by the late afternoon, and decided to conclude our trip there. See-Yin was coming down with a flu, and I did not think she should continue biking an additional 81 kilometers of rolling hills, especially since the scenery would have not been as worthy of the effort. We had a good supper at a local pub/hostel, slept in, and rented a car the next day to get us to Canmore.

In the end, I’m thoroughly addicted to bike touring. There is so much to see, and it allowed me to shut off my mind and push away all of the daily distractions such as internet, work, thesis, cellphone and the busy network of friends. I have many notes on what to do differently, such as what equipment to pack, clothing requirements, and others. In fact, I think next time I’ll take at least a week to do a trip, instead of 3-4 days. Maybe bike out to BC. 😉   Stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Cycling, Migo and Yin, Travel