Weight and Body Fat
In the mid of 2011 I decided to lose weight and get my cholesterol levels down (without taking drugs to do it). A lot’s changed since then and I thought I’d quickly share some metrics. First my weight. I view this as going through two — maybe three — stages:
- Initial Losses. The first stage started around a year ago where I was paying attention to my weight and it was slowly starting to come down
- Dramatic Decreases. By August of 2011 I was in full swing of weight loss and the pounds were just falling off. I attribute this to an increased amount of running and better diet (in particular a strong routine and controls around breakfast and lunch … dinner has always been my “do what you want” meal). This period was also the beneficiary of both my new work focus (aka, I was only 1/2 time at Sapient and starting to start my startup) and also a big increase in using FitBit, RunKeeper, Zeo, Withings, and other devices to track my personal metrics.
- End of the “big easy”. By January of this year my running routine was pretty strongly in place (more graphs on that in a moment) but the easy pounds were no gone. That was fine as I don’t really need to lose any more “pounds” anymore. In fact, at my lowest reading recently I weighed less than when I went to University 25 years ago! That said, I need to be honest and admit that these last few months I’ve been drinking a decent amount of wine and my uptick in chocolate (something I never really craved before) is through the roof!
What’s the next phase? Well for one thing, it needs to be more focused on body fat than on weight. Right now my body fat is around 16.5 to 17% (down from 24-25% at it’s peak). I’d like to get this down to 13-14% which in my mind is really good (big time cyclists would probably disagree). The way I see it, outside of genetic predisposition toward skinniness (which I’m not blessed with) getting below 12% is a huge investment of time and probably more than I can commit to right now. Still 13-14% and 16.5% are pretty different. I’m going to do three things to bridge that gap:
- Increase running mileage. I’m running a marathon in October so this should help to keep the focus on the one part of my exercise routine that’s been pretty constant.
- Increase other exercise. I’m now building good strength at the gym but this is just at its infancy and I’m no where close to where I used to be strength wise. I’m also playing tennis about 1/week but I’d like to get that back to twice a week on average. I might also try to get cycling back into my routine.
- Cut down on chocolate and wine. I’m not giving up on chocolate or wine but the amount I’ve been having is a bit off and a small adjustment will have an immediate impact on body fat percentage.
As for using tracking to achieve my goals … I’m already actively tracking running, and cycling (on the rare case that I do it). In order to make the above goals more quantifiable I feel I need to at least track the first two items. The third one is more difficult so what I think I’ll do is try and find a week or two as a “detox” period and then track for a week or two afterward to be more conscious of my behaviour but sustained dietary tracking isn’t something I’m likely to do. Here’s my total distance run on a monthly basis between Aug 2011 and April 2012:
I think there’ll be a slight downturn in running in May (relative to April) but April was a pretty strong month. Aim will be to beat my month record in June and July as I get closer to the Marathon deadline.
So what about my other goal of cholesterol reduction? Good news from a trend perspective but not as good from a static measurement perspective. Here’s a chart of my markers over time:
I’m due for another test soon but my current levels for Triglycerides are very good (they had been horrible in April of 2011). My LDL is still not quite as low as it ideally would be but it’s moved in the right direction from the high-water mark of April 2011. And my HDL % of overall cholesterol is also comfortably healthy although recent research around HDL may put the value of this marker in doubt. I continue to debate whether getting an at-home testing kit would be worth doing. The main thing I’m interested in with that would be to better understand the volatility of these measures. For instance, was April 2011 a statistical fluke? Personally I don’t think it was but I don’t have enough data to know how much “noise” there is related to just daily movement. I actually asked my doctor about general averages in the population but he didn’t know. Jeez.
Having recently read “The End of Illness” along with various conversations and online material I’m actually changing my view on Statins and starting to think they’re probably a good thing. That said, I’d like to do as much as possible before I switch onto them to move my markers into healthier ranges. I’ll have at least one more text pre-statins and likely two tests (I’m not in a rush to jump on the statin wagon).