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13 Weeks: Two Weeks in, I See Some Real Results

Lots of progress today: cholesterol, blood sugar, and the beginnings of my body fat and exercise saga.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

February 16, 2013 - 12:00 pm

So, as far as my own progress goes, the last couple weeks were kind of boring: I wasn’t losing any weight, my glucose was coming down, but nothing very dramatic was happening.

Since the last time, though, I’ve done several things: I got “after” pictures taken for the first 13 weeks, I have started tracking bodyfat as well as weight, and best of all, I got my post-13-weeks bloods done.

Those are the most fun, so let’s hit them first.

Glucose. My A1c is now down to 5.9 percent, from a starting A1c of 7.5. That means I’ve lowered my average glucose from roughly 170 mg/dL, or just over 100.

My doc was more or less slack-jawed. I had to talk her into doing the A1c, as she didn’t think it could have changed much since the one I had in January.

I’ve cut my metformin to 1000 mg/day from 2500 when I started this.

Cholesterol. Or more generally, blood lipids. Now, remember that I’m following what is, by traditional medical measures, the perfectly wrong diet for cholesterol — heavy on meats, no grains at all, and with roughly 60 percent of my calories coming from fats.

My total cholesterol is down to 123. That’s the bottom of the normal range; that’s a score that the ultra-low-fat Ornish diet would be happy to reach.

Low-density lipoproteins — LDL, the “bad cholesterol” — is down to 70.

High density lipoproteins — HDL, the “good cholesterol” — is up to 26 (up in this case being the good direction.) Although it’s still low as an absolute number, what’s perhaps more important is the ration of HDL tot total cholesterol. HDL of 26 makes my total cholesterol over HDL ratio about 4.7. This is now well under the boundary the American Heart Association recommends.

In other words, while my HDL could be better, I am now in the “good” to “very good” range.

Body fat. I’ve just started tracking this, so the numbers don’t mean a lot yet, but as you can see from the chart, it is showing a real down trend. I’m somewhere around 30 percent right now, and obviously I hope it’ll drop significantly in this 13 weeks.

My daily bodyfat percentage.

Exercise

So far, I’ve mainly been tracking Fitocracy points, which are a kind of arbitrary measure of various kinds of exercise, but handy because it converts various exercises into one easily-tracked number. (I hope to have an interview with some of the Fitocracy people in the near future; in the meantime, if you want to follow me, you can sign up for Fitocracy here.)

Since this 13 weeks season has started, i’ve accumulated 2800 Fitocracy points.

Of course, David Steinberg is doing his own series on this. I sent him some videos which didn’t work out, but I’ve just taken another set. Have a look at his piece this week, in which he makes some entirely unsubstantiated suppositions about how I’ve managed to practically break every bone in my body over 57 years. It’s pretty funny, and good advice.

Tools

The last thing I wanted to talk about today is the tools I’m using to track my experiments. Right now, I’m primarily using an Excel spreadsheet, which you can download here. The spreadsheet has two data entry pages, for daily and weekly measurements, and several charts of results. It’s kind of a work in progress, so feel free to let me know what else you might like to see.

The real useful tools here are, first of all, just the data. Keeping it filled in is some motivation in itself. More important than the data though, I think, are the cahrts. My weight has plateaued for more than a month, hanging right around 272 pounds most days. Without the chart, I wouldn’t be able to notice that this plateau is, in fact, a slow decline, and that my lowest weight gets lower every time: I’m setting a new low every week or so. In other words, this isn’t a plateau, it’s a slower weight loss.

Another useful tool is a Seinfeld Calendar. Here’s my calendar for doing daily exercise.

My 13 week “Seinfeld calendar” for exercise.

The concept’s really simple: make a calendar and put an X in every day you do whatever you’re tracking. As you see, I had a couple days break last weekend — I was feeling kind of sick and weak and just didn’t do the workout. But knowing I was accumulating blank days really got me motivated to get back on it.

Finally, what I know everyone is waiting for: the before and after pictures.

Me at the start of the first 13 weeks

Me after 13 weeks (well, 14, actually).

Related at PJ Lifestyle:

Charlie Martin, Late-Blooming Athlete: Week 2 – ‘Quality of Life’ and ‘The Un-Calloused Butt Mystery’

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle
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