Monthly Archives: May 2009

Day 17, Test results are back — Very interesting results

Today was Day 17 of my Fast Food Fighter experiment where I eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days while following my MMA/Muai Thai workout schedule. I started this just to see what would happen, to present a contrast to the one-sided, anti-establishment advocacy position that Morgan Spurlock presented in his (very well made) docuganda movie, Super Size Me. Throughout my time in various military and para-military organizations I had observed that exercise tended to trump diet in some respects. This led me to maintain the idea that the real enemy of public health is not primarily our eating habits, but our lack of athletic lifestyle as a culture that has led us in the 1st World to become unhealthy, soft and fat.

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Doing the morning run. Not such a bad way to start the day, really…

I received my mid-term blood test results today and had my second consultation with the doctor and his staff, and the results were stunning. But before I get to that, let’s review how the day went.

I had to get running a little earlier than usual today so I could make my appointment with the doctor. I wound up really feeling my shin splits again despite having been careful about my running technique. My route was the same 4km hill route I normal run and I put in another very normal time of 20:22. Some stretching and walking around after the run reduced the shin splint pain within a minute or two and I felt fine afterwards.

Running early meant I had to eat from the McDonald’s breakfast menu, which I still have not been able to develop a taste for. I tried a McGriddle for the first time, and, well, this is how things went…

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RAAR! Nom! … ?? wtf is inside this thing?

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Mo RAAR! Mo Nom! … bleh… that’s just not my favorite thing… (q.q)

After my not-so-satisfying breakfast I headed to the doctor to see what would come of my blood tests. I was really anxious to find out what was happening inside my body. As I wrote on Day 14 when I had my tests drawn I was full of questions about how things were going. For one thing, I wasn’t eating a particularly healthy way at McDonald’s. I had been eating my fair share of fries, double cheeseburgers and Big Macs so there shouldn’t be any real reason I would get different results from Morgan Spurlock’s tests if he was being honest (and fasting prior to the tests to not sabotage the results on purpose) and if exercise was not the more important of the factors involved in the outcome.

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My doctor and I looking over my blood test results, comparing them to Day 0

I had a sit down with my doctor and we both had an interesting surprise that blew both of us away… my blood test results were completely normal. Not just completely normal, but exhibited only minor variations from my initial blood test drawn on Day 0! How could that be?

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My initial blood test from Day 0, the 9th of May 2009

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My mid-term blood test drawn on Day 14, 23rd of May 2009

In both tests my creatinine was a little higher than normal, 1.2 on Day 0 and 1.1 on Day 14 — the doctor explained to me that this is a normal occurrence in people who have a significantly larger percentage of bodyweight due to muscle and is nothing to worry about. It should be noted here also that I have never supplemented with creatine in my diet, ever. The amount of variance here, 0.09 mg/dl, is what could be normally observed between blood tests in ordinary adults. My uric acid was a little high in both tests as well, 7.1 on Day 0 and 7.7 on Day 14. The doctor explained that this is also likely due to the level of exercise and sweat I put out throughout the week, as it causes me to void less of the water I consume than I normally would — in other words, I am slightly dehydrated by some measures. This is also nothing to be alarmed about and is normal considering my routine, at least according to this doctor.

My cholesterol levels is where the real shock came in. On Day 0 my LDL — the “bad” cholesterol — was only 64 which is 6 points lower than the usual adult male average. On Day 14 my LDL level was 75, an 11 point increase, but still on the very low end of the adult male LDL index. These results fall directly in line with my last 8 years of blood testing conducted by the military. My medical records show my LDL levels typically range from the high 60’s to the low 90’s across the last 8 years. So both tests are within normal limits for me, McDonald’s diet or not.

My AST and ALT levels both elevated somewhat, with AST elevating the most significantly. These are two liver enzymes (AST = Aspartate transaminase, ALT = Alanine transaminase) that facilitate a large number of repair functions throughout the body. Their function is a bit too complex to get into here but feel free to educate yourself by following the links. The doctor explained to me that the level of elevation in my particular case is most likely a normal reaction to the increased cellular damage and stress I am placing on my cardiovascular system through all of the exercise I am engaging in. Once again, the doctor’s opinion was that my body is responding in a fairly normal and otherwise predictable way to the exercise I am engaging in and it appears that the McDonald’s diet — despite being absolutely against his recommendations as a doctor — is not having any noticable effect on me.

The real way to test this idea would be to have a large group of people following my exact exercise routine and eating my exact diet while another control group eats a normal diet and engages in the exact same exercise routine as the experimental McDonald’s group.

Unfortunately we only have the data of one man — me — to go on here because convincing a large number of people to follow this particular exercise routine at this intensity is highly unlikely. Add to that the the type of people who would be willing to follow my workouts would most likely be absolutely against the idea of eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month and you can see why this sort of test data is difficult to come by… not to mention the difficulty in ensuring that everyone was really putting out at the same level and that everyone was sticking to their diet plans as strictly as I am.

I can state conclusively at this moment, however, that an exclusive diet of McDonald’s has not caused any ill effects, any noticable loss in energy level and has not messed with my blood work at all. In fact my blood work exhibits the signs of a healthy body reacting normally to a high level of athletic stress and my body measurements (posted on the Day 14 blog entry) have improved with a loss in bodyfat % and a 3.3cm reduction in my waistline in two weeks. All this while eating over 4,000 calories per day from McDonald’s!

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My afternoon meal: definitely not what the doctor ordered

I sent these results off to an American dietician and geneticist to get her opinion on what is going on. I am anxiously awaiting her response. To give her more data to work with I need to tally up everything I have eaten and present her with a breakdown. Its a good thing I have saved every receipt since I started this so I can work the totals out to send her! I am almost afraid to add up the totals of fat, saturated fat, sugar, salt, etc. that I have consumed so far. I’m sure it is a pretty frightening number.

My doctor made me agree as a condition of his participation in this experiment that I would follow his advice and stop this experiment after mid-term testing if the results were horrible. I asked him if he was going to recommend that I stop this experiment and his response was pretty funny.

He said (roughly translated): “No, I am not telling you to stop, but as a physician I cannot in good conscience recommend that you continue this.”

He said quite a few other things that were pretty funny to me but they will have to wait until I release the video series.

With my medical consult out of the way I headed off to the gym to get some weight training in for the day but I ran into a snag. It was the 4th Tuesday of the month and as I had found earlier every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month the gym is closed for maintenance. I still have access to the bases around here and headed over to the nearby US Air Force base to ask if I could film in the gym. Unfortunately they gave me the correct answer, which was to consult the Public Affairs Office to get permission. Even though that was a slightly frustrating answer the NCOIC of the gym was correct in telling me that. Since 9/11 the military has to be more careful about who it lets take pictures where and for what reason. Most likely if I went to the PAO and asked for permission and explained what I was up to they would say “yes!” The military is actually very accomodating with anything anyone wants to do so long as it doesn’t hurt the military, and most likely the post commander would find my project interesting enough to put his support behind it.

However, that sort of thing takes more than a day to coordinate and I had not thought to plan that in advance. That is my mistake and my payment for that mistake is to miss another chest workout day. I did drive across town looking for another gym that would let me film but unfortunately the only one that would was a gym that only had a mechanical weight set with machines that looked like they were from the 15th century, could not be adjusted to my size (the pins were rusted tight in place), and only had a maximum weight of 50kgs on the chest machine anyway.

So after spending all afternoon running around trying to find a place to workout, soaked with rain because the sky had decided to open up on me as I ran between buildings, I finally gave up and called it a no-weights day.

I headed in to box and had a nice, hard workout. It was a great time.

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Worn out, talking with Farrap

Boxing:

Jumprope, 2R
Knees (heavy bag), 2R
Front kick (heavy bag), 2R
Shadow (punches), 2R
Shadow (punches and kicks), 1R
Heavy bag, 4R
Heavy mitts, 3R
Light mitts, 1R

Once again I did not take any breaks and had a great workout. I did not feel low on energy at any point but once again I did get pretty winded. I was training with Farrap today, not Ell. Farrap has a very different way of making me exhausted: encouraging me to put every bit of power I have in every punch and kick. Its fun to hit hard but it gets pretty tiring in a different way than Ell’s faster paced speed workouts.

So that was Day 17, the climax of my anticipation over how my blood tests would turn out. I had a good workout, got a clean bill of health from the doctor and so far it seems that McDonald’s isn’t the Devil after all.

Day 16, High-intensity day, feeling great

Its Day 16 of my Fast Food Fighter McDonald’s experiment. Over the weekend I gave my mid-term blood samples, got my body measurements and am still waiting for results of the blood tests. My body measurements, energy level and general sense of well-being so far all indicate that Super Size Me may, in fact, be a bunch of advocacy silliness instead of serious documentary work. I am very anxious to know the results of the blood tests, though. That is the final piece of the puzzle that will tell me what is really going on inside my body and whether or not all this exercise is actually just covering up negative things that may be occurring inside of me due to this extremely high fat diet.

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Running these downhills was more difficult than climbing with this new running style

Today I started off with what I felt was a nice, light run. I ran the same 4km hill course I have been running lately and went about the same pace I have been going lately. Today’s time was 19:55, not such a big difference over last week — but then again, the idea here is not to be fast, but to be a decent workout for my legs and give my heart a solid middle level of stress.

I did change one thing over last week, however. Because I have started to develop shin splints (which is a minor condition, despite being occasionally extremely uncomfortable) I reviewed some video of myself running. I’ve never seen myself run before, so this was a unique experience. I seem run pretty rough and it looks like I have been moving up and down too much, jogging myself and maybe shocking my feet too much. I decided to try pushing my hips forward a bit and smooth my stride out the way I see the real runners do it. The first mile or so was actually pretty uncomfortable, but not because of the normal lower-leg stress and shock I am used to feeling — it was very tiring to my leg mucles. It made breathing easier and I generally felt better running this way, but my legs really started to ache. Running this way makes climbing hills easier, but going downhill is very stressful to my quads. At the end of the run my hamstrings were killing me, though. Pretty shocking difference.

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19:55? With a new running technique? I was pretty surprised, actually.

I’ll keep trying this running method over the week and see how things turn out. If I can get accustomed to it I’m sure it would be better for me over time. Today I did not have any lower-leg pain, and that was a great thing.

After my run it was time to eat and then head to the gym for my back workout. I had a typically detailed back workout planned starting with pullups, then moving on to seated row, bent-over row, pull-downs and finishing up with dumbbell see-saws. Unfortunately I went at exactly the wrong time of day and the gym was packed with people who all seemed to be obsessed with doing back workouts. In fact, one guy in particular hogged both cable pulls I wanted at the same time for over an hour! We also had some camera issues today which held me up and made us miss getting a few sets on video. I got very frustrated waiting during all of that so I did extra pullups and just moved over to the dumbbells for heavy see-saws and skipped everything else. I had already wasted most of my workout time waiting so I just needed to get something done and leave.

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Pullups: a great exercise that I don’t like much — because I still suck at them

Pullups:

10 reps, 4 sets
3 reps (very slow, very high), 3 sets

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Why can’t this gym have something bigger than 20kgs but smaller than 45kgs? These things are huge…

See-saws (dumbbells)

8 reps @ 45kgs, 4 sets
15 reps @ 20kgs, 2 sets

Not much of a weight workout, but whatever. I got something done and those huge 45kgs dumbbells had an immediate impact on my back muscles. Those things wore me out. It wasn’t as clean of a workout feeling as I have doing a little lighter weight a little more properly, but it was my only available option this day.

I went to grab something to eat after lifting and headed to the boxing gym for a very hard session.

Boxing:

Jumprope, 2R
Knees (heavy bag), 2R
Front kick (heavy bag), 2R
Shadow (punches), 2R
Shadow (punches and kicks), 2R
Heavy bag, 4R
Heavy mitts, 3R
Paddles, 1R

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Jumprope: The ultimate in toenail smashing technology

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Practising those hard, low shots to the body

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I’m — making — angry face!

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El wasn’t giving me many breaks today and kept fast kicks coming throughout my mitt workouts

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My tired face says it all… I was exhausted, but happy

That workout had me exhausted, but I was happy and had a really good time throughout it. Everything felt good and I never once felt low on energy, though I certainly felt out of breath a few times at the end. I did not take any rest periods at all, so that 18 round workout consisted of a solid 18 3-minute work periods with intervening 1-minute breaks between each round. It was rough, and I felt tired, but it was worth it. I really felt like I was making some progress not only with my fitness level but with being able to apply clean boxing techniques in series, which is really my main focus here as a beginning boxer.

I did have one problem, though… the jumprope. I use a very thick, heavy-weight jumprope and do not wear shoes while I’m jumping. For some reason today my timing was screwed up and I smashed the crap out of my toes about four times with that thing. Ouch! That’s a pretty painful and traumatic lesson. It feels like my toenails are going to get ripped off or smushed into obvlivion. Hopefully tomorrow I will not have the same problem. Yeouch!

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My perplexed face. Not very happy with smashing the crap out of my toes.

Day 15, Rest day, waiting for test results

Sunday passed slowly and quickly. That is how rest days are for me. I was not busy doing a lot of physical activity, so I feel bored in a way, but I was busy catching up on other things such as my social life, family goings on, current events (a huge hobby of mine, obviously), etc. Rest days are nice in a way and feel like they end too soon, but on the other hand they can make me restless if I take too many of them.

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My main focus today: eating more McDonald’s and chilling out.

Really only one thing was on my mind all day: wondering how my blood test results will turn out. I wrote about that a bit yesterday so I won’t go over it all again here, but those results are going to really tell me a lot about how actually bad this McDonald’s diet is or isn’t. It will also give me a lot more information about what is going on within my own body. So far I really feel just fine and normal. I have plenty of energy going into my workouts, I’m not having trouble sleeping, I don’t feel like I’m oozing fat and oil, I don’t feel bad at all, actually. Even the sexual dysfunction that Morgan Spurlock mentioned in his experiment has absolutely not turned up in my own experience — if anything I am more energetic now than before I started this experiment. An increased libido is a normal effect of observing a strong exercise routine for me. All of this points to me seeming to be unaffected by this highly unusual McDonald’s diet.

Even I didn’t think that I would be this unaffected.

I had assumed that I would at least feel fatigued, hit low-energy points througout the day and especially during workouts. I figured that I would feel fat or weird or something. I didn’t know what to expect but I certainly wasn’t expecting this overwhelmingly normal sense of wellbeing. I thought this would be more of a challenge, really. So far the only effect has been to give me an overwhelming desire to eat anything as long as it is not from McDonald’s. I am absolutely sick of this food at this point. It doesn’t taste bad, it doesn’t feel bad, its just the same thing every day. I love sushi, but I’m sure I would get sick of it if I had to eat only that for a month straight also. There’s just no variety. This is a highly unnatural diet from an emotional perspective, even if it isn’t screwing my body up in ways that everybody had predicted.

And that is why I’m thinking so much about the blood test results that I will see in two days. My body feeling normal all the time is puzzling me and I’m very curious about what the blood tests will show. Either way they turn out they will raise a lot of questions based on what my body measurements turned out to be… but if the reason I feel normal is because I actually am still normal, what does that mean and who can explain it to me?

And if that is the case then why is there such a huge hype and over-abundance of public campaigns about diet and organic foods and contrived, absolutely unnatural diet programs and weird foods that were only thought of in the last ten years when really the campaigns should be focusing on exercise and listening to your body? Why isn’t there an overwhelming public awareness campaign about the benefits of competitive sports throughout all phases of life? Just because there has to be a loser?

Are we that weak as a society that we’re afraid of putting our kids on a team that might suck and hurt their feelings? Are we such weak parents that we’d rather leave our kids alone and not hear their complaining that we never forceably tear them from the computer or TV screen and make their fatasses get out and compete in an athletic event? Are we such weak communities that we cannot demonstrate to our kids by our own common examples that participating in sport can be a far more rewarding mental, social and even strategic gaming experience than playing World of Warcraft?

I just took a swing at video games, TV, parenting, and many other things that are signs of a passively entertained and totally not actively engaged society. I am no stranger to video games. I love them. I would love to start a video game company, actually, and have even completed several design documents for game proposals I would like to fund and eventually publish if the timing and money was ever right. But I can tell you from experience that there is a time and place for games on a TV screen and games that I play with my own body for real. Becoming immersed in a gaming experience is enjoyable, but whenever I let myself get out of hand with gaming I always come away feeling empty, like I’ve just thrown away some of my time. On the other hand a slightly drunken WoW Arena LAN party, ExciteBot rally or HALO kill-a-thon is a hell of a time — for one night or one day, but not for a week at a time. As a daily experience going out and boxing or wrestling or playing football is much more rewarding and tends to make me a lot more friends who feel much more deeply connected to me on and off the field than any video game session or guild experience ever has.

These are really important aspects of life that we seem to have thrown away and chosen to ignore. You learn so much more about someone when you’re tied up with them on the mat than when you’re talking with them on WoW chat or vent while you try to tackle the latest instance. The artificiality of the experience registers with everyone involved and makes it somehow less important than when you’re testing your skill or strength against someone who is really alive, really there and really lives a few doors down from you.

Day 14, Midterm testing of my body

So now it is the 14th day of my McDonald’s-only exercise experiment and I am heading in for medical testing. I had my bodyfat percentage, height, weight and tummy circumference measured as well as my blood taken for a full lipid panel and blood count. Everything I did on Day 0 was repeated today.

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Getting my blood drawn… my favorite part…

In the event that my experiment demonstrates that exercise is the key, personal laziness is to blame and there is nothing inherently evil about McDonald’s I’m certain detractors — with their emotional penchant for discounting anything that does not promote their personal position — will point out that I am one or two days off from being at the exact middle of my experiment. Unfortunately this is the real world where I have to compete with other patients for routine testing appointments and I was unable to secure a blood draw date on Day 15 (it is a Sunday) or on Day 16 (it is a Monday and they do not do blood draws then). In fact, though I can get my body measurements today and give blood samples, I will not know the results of my blood tests until Day 17, when my doctor is available to give me a consultation and appear on video once again.

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Having my belly taped — a mildly humiliating experience

As things stand currently, however, I can report only on the preliminary results of my body measurements and how I have felt through all of this and compare these to my predictions and the predictions of an American dietician I consulted prior to engaging in this experiment.

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Having my body composition electrically measured

So far tallying up my calorie intake totals I have consumed, on average, about 4,000 calories per day for exactly two weeks. All of my calories have come from McDonald’s with the exception of 3.46 liters of Pocari Sweat (an elecrolyte solution) which I consumed during my worst period of dehydration while I was sick with gastroenteritis (caused most likely by a rotavirus). I have also consumed one multi-vitamin tablet per day, the details of which I will post with my complete consumption pages later when this experiment is complete (the multivitamin does not contain more than 100% of the FDA recommended daily levels of any specific vitamin or mineral and is the same that I have been taking before this experiment began).

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A close-up of the body measuring machine used (my measurements still on screen)

This dietary pattern has been pitted against a boxing/combatives workout program that I put together for myself based on previous competition train-up programs I have followed for jiu-jitsu and grappling tournaments in the past. Generally the program involves three to four mid-distance (defined as between 3 to 7 kilometers) runs per week, five to six weight-lifting workouts per week (each focusing on different specific muscle groups), and five to six boxing workouts per week.

I have not been keeping daily dietary notes as I go, but rather tallying up the caloric intake after the fact. I also have not pre-planned any specific pattern for my food intake, but have been following my mood at mealtimes. I also have not timed my meals throughout the day or planned a specific number of meals per day. I eat whenever I have time and feel hungry, I eat whatever I feel hungry for at the time (so long as it is from McDonald’s), I eat everything I order (no half-eaten burgers, and I have video evidence of everything I’ve eaten which will be released later), and I eat as many or as few times as feels appropriate to my body for each day.

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Nothing like the old-fashioned way to test kidney function: pee in a cup…

My workout is planned and scheduled on a day-by-day basis but the time within each day for each event is not decided and is entirely flexible. Generally speaking, however, I tend to run before I eat anything each day, and runs come before lifting, which comes before boxing which is always last. I am flexible within my workout schedule, however, and have missed days due to illness. All of this is logged in detailed notes I am keeping as well as being visually documented by video. All of this information will be organized and released at the conclusion of the experiment so that there will be no unanswerable questions about my performance.

All that being said… in two weeks of eating only McDonald’s and working out I have lost 3cm from my belly measurement, dropped 2% of bodyfat and lost 1kg of overall weight.

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My actual result tags from the clinic. To be specific, I reduced bodyfat by 1.7%, my belly slimmed by 3.3cm, and I lost 1.2kgs.

These are the only results that I can state at the moment because I do not yet know the results of my blood work. My body measurements, however, directly contradict the findings of Mr. Spurlock in his movie, Super Size Me, and my results are fully documented whereas we never got to see the supporting information about what and when he ate or what he did or did not do throughout his day. We do know, however, that exercise was specifically forbidden to him by his own rules, and this represents an absolutely unrealistic scenario when discussing health issues. Anybody could get fat and unhealthy in the span of a month in the event that they intentionally overeat to an extreme degree (no matter what the dietary makeup is) and make a conscious effort to not exercise.

Based on body measurements I have demonstrated that one can eat exclusively (and at ~4,000 calories/day, significantly) from McDonald’s — the organization which Super Size Me specifically sought to attack — over a two week period while still exercising vigorously and reducing overall weight and bodyfat percentage. In fact, a 2% reduction in bodyfat in a two week span is a fairly substantial achievement, no matter what diet or exercise program you’re on (outside of the Auschwitz diet, of course).

I’ll refrain from celebrating this finding as evidence against the position that corporate America — the general ideological iconic entity which Super Size Me was groundlessly assailing — as represented by McDonald’s is engaged in some conspiracy against mankind. I will refrain from celebrating these findings as such evidence until I have my bloodwork results back, that is. The fact is I do not know how my bloodwork looks and it is entirely possible that though I may have reduced my bodyfat percentages and by all external mesaurements am healthier and more athletic than when I started, I could in fact be getting more unhealthy in many hidden ways. My kidneys or liver may be headed for impaired function, I may be developing diabetic tendencies, I could simply have a massive cholesterol imbalance that predicts cardio problems way down the road if I don’t mend my McDonald’s habit. There is no way I can know these things without seeing the results of my bloodwork. Simple as that.

If my bloodwork comes back with bad results, meaning that I am, in fact, becoming more unhealthy and burdening my body with this extremely high-fat diet, it will simply be a confirmation everything that we think we already know: that this sort of a high-fat diet is unbalanced, unnatural and not a healthy lifestyle option. From the flavor and enjoyment point of view I can tell you already that this is not an enjoyable diet and I am absolutely sick of eating hamburgers at this point.

If, on the other hand, my bloodwork comes back with perfectly normal results then I will have a lot of questions to ask a lot of medical people. It would mean that perhaps we either misunderstand the relationship between exercise and dietary effects on general health or perhaps that the time scale of change within a body is something we do not fully understand. It may also be that the body, when stressed, can adapt to certain changes and delay the onset of unhealthy conditions without being able to fully outrun them. Who knows. I certainly don’t.

At any rate it is clear that whatever the results wind up being they will raise some questions in light of the very positive results of my body measurements taken today when compared with the measurements on Day 0.

It is also clear to me that it logically progresses that McDonald’s is a company focused on making money from its consumers and that this is the reason for its creation. They cannot make much money if what they sell is a known toxic substance. They also cannot make money if their products are not in demand. Ultimately the customers make these decisions with their wallets, and if people didn’t buy french fries and double cheeseburgers it is a sure bet that McDonald’s would not have them on their menu. The differences in how people make decisions with their money are readily apparent if one travels between regions and countries and looks carefully at a McDonald’s menu for the differences. Salads and vegetable juice are normal menu items in Japan, beer is a normal menu item in many places outside the US, uber-healthy fad-diet options are becoming common in many American McDonlad’s locations which simply mirrors the common availability of highly contrived, non-traditional food items across the US. This is a market trend, not a conspiracy.

I’ve sort of gone off on an anti-conspiracy tangent here, but that is really the point of all of this. There is no corporate conspiracy against any of us. We are the ones conspiring against ourselves every time we decide to eat out instead of learn to cook, drive the kids one block to school in the SUV instead of making their fatasses ride their bikes, skip out on sports with the neighborhood club instead of being an engaged member, buy a spa membership instead of getting involved in a real athletic hobby. We have bad personal habits. We are to blame, ourselves. If you are an unsufferable fatass then you should look in the mirror for someone to blame. We talk a lot about “taking responsibility” these days but we supplant the actual taking of responsibility with talk about it. Ultimately, I believe that this is the nugget of truth that will be uncovered by my experiment. So go eat your cheeseburger, fatty, then get in your car and drive 300 yards to your driveway.

Day 13, Full of energy

I woke up on the 13th day of the experiment feeling good and ready to go. I headed out for my run around 11:00 as the weather started to get nasty, but running in the rain has never really bothered me — though cleaning my shoes out afterwards has.

I ran the normal route, 4km starting with a climb, then a long descent and then a final climb. As I approached the highest elevation of the run I ran into a wall of rain, but I was expecting that; it seems like its always raining on top of that hill. I felt sluggish for some reason through the first mile or so, but things got better as I continued. I didn’t make great time but I felt pretty good and finished in 20:49. That’s almost a full minute slower than the last run two days prior, but getting caught at stoplights and my mood could have effected that.

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Coming back down from the heavy rain

Unfortunately as I started cooling down I noticed my lower legs were feeling a little bit odd. I was aching around my shins and calves and that means I’m probably getting shin splints. Whenever I am getting shin splits my old left ankle injuries can come back to haunt me and I can develop plantar’s fascitis pretty easily. I’ve had this before and know from experience that stopping running is not the way to solve this problem. Ensuring that my feet, ankles and calves are streched out regularly throughout the day — not just before and after a run — and performing lower leg exercises like ankle rotations and one-foot stands is the key. So I’ve got to keep that in mind over the weekend rest period and throughout the rets of this experiment.

I was pretty hungry because I had skipped breakfast again so I ate a large meal for lunch. I headed to the gym for an arm workout around 15:30. My triceps did not feel burned out like they did last week so I started with tricep exercises and then moved to biceps. My workout looked like this:

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Skull-crushers… yay

Skull-crushers:

12 reps @ 35kgs
10 reps @ 40kgs
8 reps @ 45kgs
6 reps @ 50kgs
12 reps @ 40kgs

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Tricep pulldowns on the lat machine (the only cable pull available in this gym)

Tricep Pulldowns (cable):

12 reps @ 29kgs
10 reps @ 34kgs
8 reps @ 39kgs
6 reps @ 44kgs
20 reps @ 34kgs

Mini-dips (on bench with legs extended on another bench, flexing hard):

To failure (in this case around 50 or so reps)

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Everyone’s favorite achy-tricep exercise…

Kickbacks (dumbbell) + 1-second hold

10 reps @ 16kgs, 3 sets

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Normal grip this week

Preacher curls:

12 reps @ 20kgs
10 reps @ 30kgs
3 reps @ 40kgs (planned 8, failed at 3, no partner)
6 reps @ 35kgs
12 reps @ 30kgs

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Sometimes I love these, sometimes I hate these

Concentration curls:

10 reps @ 18kgs, 3 sets

I was able to go up in weight a bit on the bicep workout but overdid it trying to hit 10kgs intervals on the way up starting at 20kgs. I really should have started at 25 and gone up 5 each interval but I got ahead of myself because I felt full of energy. With a partner that could have turned into a great thing because I could have been guided into putting out my absolute maximum effort with assistance, but unfortunately I’m going to the weight room alone these days with nobody to help me get the maximum benefit from each set (or to motivate me and keep me on track, either).

I had to run off and eat quickly after lifting because I had an evening time limit to adhere to. The following morning I was headed in to give blood for the second time and to keep the blood test accurate I have to fast for at least 12 hours before having the samples taken. That meant I had to eat early with enough time for the food to settle before heading in to the boxing gym in time to finish that early enough to finish eating before 22:00 to make my blood test at 10:00 the next morning.

I made the mistake of eating french fries with my afternoon meal and I could feel them in my tummy the whole time I was at the boxing gym. Nasty. But whatever, I didn’t throw them up and I actually felt like I was bursting with energy the whole time I was boxing. I had expected to run through a pretty low-intensity workout but I was raring to go so I hit everything pretty hard. My one problem was though I had intended to do two rounds of jump rope my lower leg aches came back so I backed off and only did one round of jumping.

My workout came out like this:

Jumprope, 1R
Knees (heavy bag), 2R
Front kick, 2R
Shadow, 3R
Heavy bag 3R,
Sparring (defense), 2R
Heavy bag, 2R

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Defense sparring: where you practice trying to not get beat up (too badly)

Even though I was putting out a lot of effort during each of these I really felt like I had more energy and wanted to continue on with some heavy mitt training and movement drills but unfortunately time was just not on my side. It was already 20:30 before I realized it and I simply had to pack up and head out to eat or else I would have to go to bed on an empty stomach after boxing… and that would be miserable. A 12-round workout is pretty decent, though, and five rounds of that was heavy bag, which is nothing to laugh at, at least not to me.

The next day I had to head in to the doctor’s office to get my blood taken so it was time to eat and turn in for the night. Yawn.

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Nom nom nom… mmm… salad…

Day 12, First decent day in a while

Today was an interesting experience, not only because I was able to prove to myself that I’m emerging from illness without much lingering weakness, but most notably because I am doing it all on a McDonald’s diet. At this point, 12 days into my experiment, I should at least be feeling horrible if everything that Super Size Me had to say about McDonald’s was true. In fact, I shouldn’t be able to complete my workouts, much less make a physical comeback from a stomach flu and pursue a fairly intense exercise regimen.

My day started a bit late, but that is my fault. I got caught up in trying to transcode a bunch of video nonsense that we’d shot earlier in the day, or rather make sense of out a bunch of nonsense we’d shot. My tummy started rumbling and telling me to feed it around 13:00 so I headed for some takeout from McDonald’s.

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McDonald’s: Breakfast of champions?

After my meal I didn’t want to hit the gym straight away, even though it was just shoulders day. Eating such heavy food makes me want to give it an hour or so to digest, but I didn’t have a whole lot of time to waste getting started this late, either.

My shoulder workout had a little bit more to it than last week, but due to a relatively busy gym I wasn’t able to secure a squat rack to do a rull routine of overhead presses. Adding to that was the fact that this gym has no dumbbells between 20 and 45kgs; they’ve got from 2kgs to 20kgs, and from 45kgs to 65kgs, but nothing between 20 and 40. So if I need, say, 35kgs — a very normal weight for my workouts — I’m just out of luck. So I had to settle today for doing five sets of 20kgs dumbbell overhead presses in place of doing a nice, graduated barbell or dumbbell workout. Does it really matter? No. In the grander scheme of my fitness it what is most important is that I improvised some solution and moved on instead of just looking at the gym and saying “Ah, its full, screw it, I’ll skip today…” As Yoda said: That is the path that leads to the dark side…

My workout came out this way:

Shrugs:

20 reps @ 80kgs (2 sets)
10 reps @ 130kgs (2 sets)
20 reps @ 80kgs (2 sets)

day12-1756shrugs.jpg
Hmmm… not a great illustration of this exercise… Better luck next week

Upright row:

20 reps @ 25kgs
12 reps @ 30kgs
10 reps @ 35kgs
8 reps @ 40kgs
6 reps @ 45kgs
12 reps @ 35kgs

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Wee!Its funny faces day again!

Overhead dumbbell press:

10 reps @ 20kgs (4 sets)
8 reps @ 20kgs (had planned 10 reps, but failed at 8. )

day12-1756dumbbellshoulderpress.jpg
Rawr! I need different sizes than this!

Overhead barbell press:

10 reps @ 30kgs

day12-1756overheadpress.jpg
I’m still doing these in front of my head, hopefully next week I can alternate the way I like if my shoulder is up to it…

The squat rack opened up towards the end of my workout and I hopped in there to see if I had anything left in my shoulders but my single set of 10 reps @ 30kgs told me I was burned out already and should pack it in for the afternoon.

I grabbed a bite (or two, I was hungry) to eat on the way back home. I didn’t want to be in the boxing gym until eleven again tonight so I decided to try to head out as soon as I felt settled. I got caught up in writing the previous day’s blog entry but still was able to head out around 20:15 or so. I wanted to follow a slightly more demanding routine than the day before just to see if I could take it or not, but keep my focus on the technicals.

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Waiting for the bag to swing back during front-kicks

Boxing workout:

Jumprope, 1R
Shadow, 1R
Knees (bag), 2R
Front kick (bag), 2R
Heavy bag, 3R
Heavy mitts, 3R

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Left cross, flying knee, kicking, blocking: All things I need to work on…

I felt pretty good throughout my workout, though Farrap (the stout little trainer) started really picking up the pace on me my last two rounds and made sure I felt worn out at the end. Just to show him I wasn’t going to wimp out tomorrow I did a few sets of pullups after my workout. He thought it was funny.

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Nom nom nom… I’ve done a hell of a lot of noming at McDonald’s lately… (>.<)

After leaving the gym it was McDonald’s time again. I am no longer very enthusiastic about eating hamburgers — they are pretty boring at this point, more like batteries than food — but I was starving so I ate pretty quickly and then left for home. Shower, bed… mmm… Overall it was a pretty nice day.

Day 11, Return to a regular schedule

Day eleven of my McDonald’s-only training experiment went fairly well… at least in terms of be capable of completing all my events today despite recovering from my recent illness. My big challenge today was to get through everything without running out of gas. It was a three-event day so that was a lot to ask my still weak feeling body, but things worked out just fine.

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A somewhat unusual photo snapped of me running in the rain, taken from inside a car.

I started the morning off with a 4k run which I completed in 19:58, despite having planned a slower pace for myself. Maybe I just wanted to get it over with. Maybe the rain made it more fun than it should have been. Anyway, 19:58 is how things worked out. Not super fast, but faster than it felt.

I got moving later than I had intended today, but I wasn’t going to let that keep me from training. I’ve found the key with eating only McDonald’s while training is to give myself enough time to let a meal settle in my stomach before starting a new event, so I went to eat as soon as I could manage after the run. I gave it about an hour to settle before heading to the weight room for legs.

Legs is a pretty rough day, even without having the added difficulty of recovering from a stomach flu to complicate things. I knew I was going to feel weak once I got started so I settled on a very easy, flat program for squats today (just 5 sets all at 100kgs) and some straight-leg deadlift for hamstrings. I wasn’t interested in doing any leaping, box jumps, lunges or anything else that required a lot of concentration and balance, so I just stuck to those two exercises.

Squats:

10 reps @ 100kgs, 5 sets

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Yes, today I needed my serious face, even for only 100kgs… (q.q)

Straight-leg deadlift:

12 reps @ 30kgs
10 reps @ 40kgs
8 reps @ 50kgs
6 reps @ 60kgs
12 reps @ 40kgs

day11-1733straightleg.jpg
Not a great illustration of this exercise

That’s a lot less interesting (and a lot less difficult) than last weeks’ leg program, but I’m still feeling weak and easily fatigued from being sick. I don’t know how much quickly my strength would come back if I were eating a normal diet, but as things are that’s just not an option. So I’m taking things easy.

Right after lifting I needed to eat again so I could have a little stomach-rest period before boxing. I didn’t want to run out there and puke all over my trainer. Never in my entire life have I tossed my cookies while training or exercising and I don’t think now is a good time to start.

I headed to the gym around 20:00 to start my boxing workout. I didn’t want to push things too hard, but I did want to at least get some good technical work in today. That turned out to be a good plan because about two rounds into heavy bag work I started to quickly feel fatigued so I dropped a lot of my planned punching combinations and worked on my (still terrible) kicking form.

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Pow! In pictures this looks great, but I felt tired a lot faster than usual today…

After a few more rounds of heavy bag I got with El to work the focus mitts. He told me that over the weekend he had had the same illness and so had someone else at the gym. I suppose that is where I picked it up myself. Its difficult to avoid the occasional community virus when you’re sweating, spitting and bleeding all over each other all the time.

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Same thing here: This left kick may look nice but it felt horrible because I was already exhausted by the time we started heavy-mitts…

Here’s how the boxing workout played out in the end:

Jumprope, 1R
High-knees, 1R
Front kick, 1R
Shadow box, 2R
Heavy-bag, 3R
Heavy-mitts, 2R

As you can see, a 10 round workout, while nothing to laugh at, is about half of my normal 18 round program. The entire day was like that, but that is OK. Though I didn’t excel at any particular event today I did — for the first time since I felt sick — complete every event, and that was my goal. I was extremely happy to be able to perform all my planned events today. It was a great feeling to be back in the gym and training again. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to do the same.

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Rawr! I’m angry at my salad for feeling like a worn-out wimp so quickly! Raaar!

Of course, after the gym it was time to head back to McDonald’s one last time for some more burgers. I was upset at feeling fatigued so quickly so I decided to take my rage out on my salad instead of the camera girl. I also discovered an alien companion disguised as a cheeseburger, so I bit his face off. Yay me.

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Haha. The cheeseburger alien has pickle brains

Day 10, Weaker than expected, but still getting better

Today was the tenth day of eating nothing but McDonald’s while observing a high intensity exercise program. Unfortunately this was also the second day in a row that I was not able to complete all my events due to illness. I am definitely getting better, however, and was able to at least put in a light chest workout, though I had to pass on boxing again today. One scary note: in four days of being sick I lost 2.1kgs (Oh no!).

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I suppose if I was a huge fatty I would be happy about that — diarrhoea is a fabulous way to lose a lot of weight after all — but I don’t need to be losing any weight, I’m already about 10kgs lighter than I’m supposed to be anyway! I weighed in at 87.7 on Friday afternoon but was down to 85.6 (above) by the same scale today. Yikes! I felt fine walking in, but as soon as I got on the bench I realized I was incredibly weak compared to three weeks ago — the last time I was able to execute a real chest workout. Here is how things turned out:

Benchpress:

12 reps @ 80kgs
10 reps @ 90kgs
7 reps @ 100kgs (had planned 8 reps)
10 reps @ 60kgs, 3 sets (had planned an entirely different routine here)

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Let me introduce you to my benchpress frog-face…

Dumbbell flys:

8 reps @ 16kgs, 3 sets

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“Awesome”: The shirt might say it, but I sure wasn’t feeling that way today…

And that was all I had in me. I got tired so quickly that it made me really confused and I felt terrible. Not just terrible because I was underperforming by an enormous degree, but bad physically also. I felt pretty terrible about halfway through this, which is why I made flys the last exercise. I just ran out of gas. By comparison I had planned to do flat benchpress, flat benchpress (narrow grip), incline benchpress, dumbell press, and dumbell flys. My planned weight for flat bench was to start at 90kgs for 12 reps and work up to 120kgs for 6 reps and flys normally happens with 20kgs dumbbells, not 16kgs.

But I was sucking pretty bad today after my first set, so I just called it quits early. I was working out without a partner and I’m not going to hop under 120kgs without being confident I can get it off of me if I dump it. Unfortunately this also told me I should give boxing another pass today as well.

It was nice to get into the gym again but it just turned into a pretty depressing experience overall. Working out alone also has the disadvantage of not being able to have your friends or workout partners with you to cheer you up and carry your mood through a crap time like the one I’m in the middle of.

My plan for tomorrow is to run, lift and box, but just at reduced output. I’m really getting sick of hanging around all day thinking about working out and training and not being able to do much of it. The weather is also pretty bad around here and that’s not helping my mood any.

On a good note, however, I was able to continue feeding my face. So that was the one happy aspect to the day. I sure hope tomorrow feels better than today did.

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I’ve got a lot more of this to do if I’m going to make those 2kgs back and be strong again… (q.q)

Day 9, Recovery

I woke up this morning feeling a little more sluggish than usual, a little more dehydrated than usual but otherwise better in all ways than I had felt the last three or four days. Thinking back it is pretty obvious to me now that I was getting sick for several days but just refused to let myself acknowledge it. I either wanted to write it off as normal fatigue, the effects of a high-fat diet on a stiff physical schedule, or simply explain it away as my penance for not having spent a month training up in preparation for this. All of those things are certainly having an effect on me, but nowhere near what being actually ill did.

Mondays are heavy days with three events scheduled: a run, weightlifting, and then boxing in the evening. I was sure I wasn’t going to make all of those happen today, but I was going to at least try to do something, even if I fell far short. I wouldn’t know how good or bad I really felt until I put my body through at least a few paces.

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After my run. Weather was crap, so was I.

I started with a 4km run which I expected to run at an extremely slow pace, but finished out in 20:29, which is right at the same 8-minute mile pace I was running last week, so apparently feeling miserable and running in the rain didn’t upset me too much… at least not while I was actually running.

After my run I had the sweats again, bad. I took a shower but as soon as I finished it I realized I wasn’t really wet from the shower, but from sweating. I didn’t feel hot, didn’t feel bad, but I started to feel dehydrated very quickly. I drank lots of water, and simply sweated it out. This went on for about an hour. I finally stopped sweating and wound up with only a dehydration headache to show for my morning run and sweat session. I decided to finish off my 2 liters of water and switch to Pocari Sweat, which did the trick for the headache.

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The remains of the drink in question: Pocari Sweat, the great dehydration headache-killer
This also happens to be the total I’ve consumed so far: 3,460ml = (2l + 500ml + 2(480ml))

I felt a little strange for a few hours after my run and far more fatigued than I should have, so I decided to call of the rest of the training for today. It simply wouldn’t do to head to the gym for a weight workout and either suffer another uncontrollable sweating spell complete with its accompanying headache, or crap my pants on the bench while trying to move something heavy better left unmoved. Going to box would have been an even more disastrous experience if things happened to go not my way.

I didn’t feel hungry until quite late, and this turned into another single-meal day, though this meal was — for the first time in days — normal in size and composition and was prompted by an equally normal appetite.

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Finally! Food!

Even though I generally don’t like fries I was really hungry for them today, so I ordered some. I just wanted the flavor of something salty, I think, so I asked for a small with my meal… and laughed when they told me they don’t sell small sizes with meals. That’s funny to me by itself. A medium size is a ton of fries for one person to eat at once, but whatever. I was hungry anyway. Weirdly, though, after my meal I started feeling a little rough. Not nauseated or anything, just rough — almost like the sort of hangover you get when you forgot to eat the day you drank. I think I’d gone for too long without food before my run (around 20 hours between my last meal and my run), then waited too long between the run and eating and was now shocking my system with too much too fast. That’s the unfortunate effect of having a screwd up appetite and schedule, I suppose.

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Feeling a little weird as I chomp into my second burger

I decided to pack it in for the rest of the evening and get an early night. Hopefully tomorrow will go a little bit better than today. Its not a run day, but it is a pretty serious lifting day (chest) and, of course, boxing if I can.

Even though I didn’t accomplish the things on my schedule I was happy with how today went. I didn’t sit around all day feeling sorry for myself and was able to head out and do at least one event, despite having been very sick over the weekend. This is how I find out how I’m feeling, to push myself a little bit and find out. I can feel fine all day sitting around, sick or not, but I never really know what condition I’m in until I step out and actually try to do something.

Day 8, Miserable

I woke up early today because of the ‘splode ass. Then I couldn’t get back to sleep. Every way I tried to turn, or tried not to turn, set off an avalanche of gurgling, rumbling, and a host of other weird, nameless, onomatopoeically impossible sounds from my guts. My stomach never actually hurt, though, and I’m thankful for that. It would have just been one more thing to be angry about.

Today was Sunday. The day I am supposed to go to the fight and watch my friends and training partners compete. In the morning things didn’t look very good for that.

After three or four highly explosive episodes on my household throne I became suddenly hungry and decided to head to the drivethrough for some breakfast. Looking over the menu I just couldn’t see anything that even remotely interested me, as grease was definitely the last thing I was hungry for. I settled on pancakes, a fillet-o-fish, salad and an orange juice… but by the time I arrived home I felt miserable and worn out so I fell into bed and passed out for a few hours.

When I woke up I still felt horrible, but I also still felt hungry. So I opened up my McDonald’s bag and started to eat…

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I looked, and felt, like this all morning and afternoon

The hotcakes aren’t so great when they aren’t hot anymore. Actually, they are downright horrible when they aren’t hot anymore. I’m picky when it comes to pancakes in the first place because I make some killer pancakes and I’m picky about ingredients when I cook. Pancakes may be simple, but there are still distinct grades of kickass and ass-kick in the pancake family. This was just ass-kick. They were hard to get down. It didn’t help that I felt bad, either.

The fillet-o-fish wasn’t anything wonderful cold, either. Actually, I think I would have been better off not eating anything and just calling it a day. Yuk.

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I decided to be lazy with the expert: the dog

I felt pretty bad all morning and afternoon and decided to at least try to make it to the competition to see how things would turn out. I rested all day and took things very slow. I drank a bit more Pocari Sweat and a ton of water and, surprisingly, had my first normal urge to urinate in three days. The frequency of the intense asscapades was also on the decline and I started feeling pretty optimistic about heading to the fight.

I woke up at 4p.m. feeling tired and nasty, but not as completely miserable as I had felt yesterday. I didn’t feel like driving so I decided to try to take a taxi to the stadium to catch the opening bell at 5. As things turned out I was able to stay and watch all the fights with minimal discomfort until around 8:30 or so, when, thankfully, everything was over with anyway and I could make my escape. Yay me!

After leaving I realized that I had an almost normal-feeling appetite for once in three or four days. What a wonderful feeling! I didn’t want to overdo it and I didn’t feel like eating anything complex so I settled on just three cheeseburgers, which turned out to be the cheapest thing I’ve eaten yet. I got them all down without any problems, drank a bunch of water and turned in for the night tired, but very hopeful about tomorrow.

Today was a schedules rest day anyway, so there was no problem with not doing anything. In fact, if being sick was just in the cards for me then these days were the best possible days to be sick, as they covered the least intense periods I have planned. Tomorrow is supposed to be a very heavy day, a 4km run, a full back workout in the gym and 15+ round boxing workout at night. I doubt I’ll be able to complete all of that but I’m going to at least attempt some of it and see how I feel.