Culture

Starting a 13 Week Experiment in The Old West

When I stepped off the plane, the air hit me like a slap with a wet towel. I hadn’t been in Texas for years, and coming from Erie Colorado’s 63 degrees, San Antonio was a bit of a shock.

Yes, team, I have managed to put myself in San Antonio on the first day of the new experiment. A good friend from graduate school is marrying, and wanted me to dust off my old Universal Life Church ordination and perform a mildly Buddhist wedding. Right now, I’m in a pleasantly old-fashioned motor inn with knotty pine furniture and an air conditioner laboring diligently in the bedroom half of the room, and I’m reflecting on the old saying that life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

In my case, life is what happens when you’re trying to start an experiment. Still, unless I want to develop agoraphobia, I have to come out of my little circumscribed life every so often,

Although sometimes claiming agoraphobia is an interesting option.

So, I’m starting the next 13 week experiment anyway, and here’s my final offer of what I’m going to do. The hypothesis: a somewhat higher-carb diet, along with intermittent fasting, will result in more sustained weight loss without adversely affecting my blood sugar. The measure here, of course, is weight, and I’ll continue measuring that every morning, nude, within 30 minutes after getting up. Okay, I admit it, I care about the weight. I’ll also be taking at least daily blood glucose readings with the Bayer USB glucometer; that records everything.

I’m going to do a modified slow-carb diet based on Tim Ferris’s five rules. This means basically I’m continuing my old diet, but taking in a little more carbs, up to 50 grams a day, by adding beans and lentils.

My second hypothesis: more exercise will make a significant change in my appearance, in my body shape, adding to my muscle mass and reducing fat. As we’ve discussed before, measured body fat with the methods I’ve got available seems to be pretty well useless, so I’m instead going to book tape measurements at the beginning and end of the 13 week experiment. I’ll also get more before and after pictures for your amusement.

I’m going to set a new goal in Fitocracy points of 2500 a week, and I’m doing the 100 pushups in 7 weeks process but taking it a little more slowly, trying to work up to 100 pushups in, you guessed it, 13 weeks. Using the assisted pull-ups machine at the gym, I’m also going to work toward at least one unassisted pull-up. (I’ll just say, that might be pretty aggressive — right now I can do a pull-up only with about 200 pounds assist. Basically, I could do a pull-up on Mars. Maybe.)

This isn’t far from what I’ve been doing, so I’m building up the protocol with a couple of new things:
intermittent fasting: I plan for two 600-kcal days a week. (remember, kcals are the same as Calories, what we’re used to counting the energy content of food in.)  I’ll be monitoring my blood sugar especially carefully on fasting days.
I’ve cut my Metformin to 500 mg/day now.  That’s a significant triumph (I have to keep telling myself this) since it’s down from 2500 mg/day (“And we may have to consider something more aggressive:, my doctor said) at the beginning of the first 26 weeks.
I’m going to try a new experimental protocol of low-dose Victosa, which will mean daily injections.  Details of participating in the experiment are still sorting themselves out; I’ve had a pretty significant chunk of life happening in the last couple weeks.

The rest of the experiment, of course, is that I’ve asked for volunteers. I’ll be sending all the volunteers emails shortly (should have done it this week, sorry). If you haven’t contacted me yet, feel free to jump in.

Here’s the big thing I want to get from the volunteers: feedback. First of all, what’s your hypothesis? Second, what are you measuring? Third, what results are you seeing? Fourth, what problems are you having?

By default, feedback to me will be completely confidential, although if you tell me something interesting, I may ask you to let me quote you.  But I also want to encourage everyone doing an experiment to at least mention it here in comments. There are a lot of supportive people reading these columns — I think you’ll find it helps.