It has been over two months since my last update, and exactly 5 months since this whole project began. This is the final update. Read on to find out what happened since and how I'm holding up.
Once I had hit my target weight (on time!) I was able to easily maintain it while reducing the workload and relaxing my diet. For the past two months I've been somewhere between 73kg and 76kg. This is well inside the normal deviation I expected.
To recap, here is the habit-set I started with 5 months ago:
- avoid simple carbs. This includes processed foods, flour, dough, bread, fries, etc.
- skip breakfast.
- avoid processed and added sugars - drinks, candy, cakes, donuts, etc. - fructose from fruits is okay, but fruit drinks are not.
- avoid alcohol.
- avoid coffee.
- lift weights every other day, on the Stronglifts 5x5 program.
- run at least 5k on the days between weights, then do VR Cardio.
- do a total of at least 100 pushups per day
- work at least 4 hours on the treadmill every day
- take a healthy supplement cocktail for a faster recovery: Magnesium Citrate, Glucosamine Sulphate, and Bacopa as a natural nootropic.
- if possible IRT distance and time, walk or bike instead of drive.
12 weeks later, I added another routine:
- A new habit is fasting for 40 hours once per week.
I also added goals:
- my 5k runs are now consistently at a pace below 5 minutes, which means I'm back in my top running form. I need to find time to try running 10k now. The goal is to get to a 5m pace at 10k.
- I can deadlift 130% of my body weight, maybe a bit more, but have decided to deload and work on form more. The goal is to lift 200% with proper form.
- I can bench press 85% of my body weight. The goal is to get to 100%.
- I can squat my own body weight. The goal is to get to 150%.
- My pushups are at 30 per set. The goal is to get to 50 per set.
Where am I now?
I kind of reneged on the goals above and introduced some new changes. For the full plan without explanations, just scroll to the bottom.
Weights and Pushups vs Swim
As I started lifting heavier weights and I myself weighed less and less, the weight workouts became unproductive and extremely long. An A workout often took 2 hours, and the B workout took an hour and a half. It had been weeks since I last succeeded in all sets of a workout.
Every body has a maximum attainable muscle mass before steroids have to be introduced to help growth, and super-endomorphs like me can be "fit" at best, never buff. While I didn't quite reach peak potential, I didn't feel like spending 2 hours per morning chasing that 1-2% gain for the next six months - the motivation and drive weren't there, and it just wasn't worth the time. So I decided to replace weight training with swimming.
I now swim on the days I would usually lift weights. I'm working my way up to 2km (currently at 1700m) in an hour, when I'll start working on speed to squeeze more distance into that hour. I do this because the aim is to never lose more than 1.5 hours (commute included).
In terms of strength, I'm transitioning to functional:
- pullups and chin ups
- Turkish get-up
Admittedly, I dropped the pushup habit rather abruptly but that's restarting with a passion now. Additionally, pullups and chin ups are an excellent long term goal. Similar to the 100 pushups per day plan, the plan now includes 10 pullups and 10 chinups per day, as well as 10 getups on each side and a 1min plank. This takes 30 minutes total, and is spread throughout the day so it's much easier to fit into any schedule. Oh, and the pushups now include a weighted vest of 10kg.
I've left VR Cardio a bit by the wayside, but I intend to revive this habit at least twice a week. A big blocker is having to leave my kid in daycare in the morning, which means that it's often already work time when I'm back. This makes it difficult to squeeze in 30 minutes of VR, but I'll try and reshuffle the schedule a bit to fit.
The treadmill is a huge influence still, and I intend to walk-work until I no longer have to work. Even then, I'll continue to walk. Some two months ago, the ball bearings on the treadmill got pulverized due to too much use, so I had to replace them. Once the new bearings were in, it turned out the treadmill could do incline again (it had been shutting itself off randomly before that), so I upgraded my treadmill intensity. I still try to work at least 4 hours per day on it, but now:
- it's a 12% incline
- I use a 1kg ankle-weight on each leg
- I wear a 10kg weight vest for 2 out of the 4 hours (I would wear it longer but it's REALLY uncomfortable).
My running performance has far exceeded my past peak. In fact, I've specialized the 5k so much that I've managed to win two medals - my first sports medals of any kind - in the last 2 months. Shortly after the last update I won a bronze on a trail run, and just over a week ago I got silver on a charity run.
I am finding it difficult to transition to 10k because that adds another 25-30 minutes onto a run, and I don't particularly enjoy the sport, especially when I know the infinitely more fun VR Cardio option is waiting at home, and that I have a ton of work I need to get to. So the plan with the run is either work on 4 minute pace 5k, or 5 minute pace 10k. Maybe a mix, whenever I can. In any case, the 5k training remains the very minimum, and will continue every other day.
Fasting, Food, and Supplements
My supplements remained the same: magnesium and glucosamine help keep my joints painless and my muscles cramp-less. I dropped Bacopa because I noticed it no longer works - I never really felt the concentration effects to begin with, but I did have vivid dreams in the first few weeks. That stopped after a while, so I chalked it up to built up tolerance and removed it from my diet.
I upgraded my "skip breakfast" rule to "18 hour fast". In other words, I skip breakfast and then some. This means I have a total of ~6 hours to squeeze food in, the rest of the time my body takes to digest, recover, and trigger autophagy.
A little over two months ago I also introduced weekly 40 hour fasting into my diet. I would essentially stop eating on Sunday night, and start eating again around Tuesday noon. This produced some remarkable weight loss results which were particularly funny to visualize on a graph:
That jagged line that looks like a saw is the result of the introduced 40 hour fast. Let me zoom it in a bit.
Notice how the weekend bump (due to less activity and more food) is completely obliterated on Tuesday once the body has had time to process and remove all of that weekend's sins.
I have since stopped the 40 hour fast routine due to worries from my wife (a doctor). All of my family died from cancer, my grandma from bowel cancer at that, so she suggested I stop due to the stress and shock I may be putting on my digestive tract. I agreed to reduce the frequency of these long fasts. That said, if you're considering it, I do recommend a long fast every now and then. You'd actually be surprised how easy it is once you're past that initial 24 hour hump, and it does make you feel very energized for some reason.
In terms of the food I eat, I almost completely relaxed that rule (which was also the original goal!). I ate carbs almost every day of the past month or so, and I occasionally indulge in sweets. I no longer buy a ton of chocolate pastries on my way to the kid's daycare in the morning (a big reason why I got to 90kg in the first place), but I won't shy away from pleasure as much as I used to. When I notice my weight getting out of hand (i.e. approaching 76kg), I'll switch back to low carb and increase activity for that week to normalize.
Other Habits and Habit Tracking
Other habits that I think are highly beneficial include:
- daily weigh-ins. This is not for charting, but for monitoring trends. If I notice my weight getting out of hand two days in a row (say, above 75), I know what I need to do. Much easier to maintain weight that way than just suddenly being surprised by 5 extra kg.
- early bed, early rise. I'm almost always asleep by 11pm, usually by 10pm. I'm usually up at 6am at the latest. If my living situation was such that I could wake up before 6am without disturbing anyone else, I would. The early morning lets you do incredible amounts of work - physical or mental - and I highly recommend getting that head start on other people.
- 2L of water a day. This is automatic on the treadmill - I consume 0.5L per hour, so my daily total is well above 3L.
To track everything, I'm transitioning from Google Sheets to a habit tracking app called HabitNow which supports raw data export. This is kind of what my plan looks like:
New Indefinite Plan
Seeing how all these small-ish efforts compound their effects day after day, even when unnoticeable when looked at up close, has been truly inspiring and motivating.
This is what I do now, and what I intend to keep doing for the foreseeable future
- Fast for 18 hours daily and occassionally fast for 40 hours.
- 5 days a week avoid simple carbs (dough, bread, fries), and avoid processed and added sugars - drinks, candy, cakes, donuts, etc. - fructose from fruits is okay, but fruit drinks are not.
- avoid alcohol and coffee (they are simply not necessary).
- Have a daily sport: 2km+ swim, 5k+ run, 30min+ VR Cardio, or 1hr+ weighted bike ride.
- do a total of at least 10kg weighted 100 pushups per day
- do a total of at least 10 chinups per day
- do a total of at least 10 pullups per day
- do a total of at least 20 Turkish getups per day (10 each side)
- do a 1min plank per day
- work at least 4 hours on an incline treadmill every day, at least 2 hours with a weighted vest, full 4 hours with ankleweights.
- take a healthy supplement cocktail for a faster recovery: Magnesium Citrate, Glucosamine Sulphate.
- if possible IRT distance and time, walk or bike instead of drive.
While I wouldn't recommend anyone else do all this (it's just too much, time and effort wise, and you probably don't need it), I would definitely recommend taking at least one such habit and maintaining it. You'd be amazed at what compound gains can net you after a fair amount of time.