Have you ever moved a few items around on your refrigerator shelf and discovered some long-forgotten leftovers? I certainly have and I bet you have as well. And did you look at the mold-covered alien and think “What kind of science project is this?” Well, this post is about a different kind of project, and it’s not always so “sciency.” It’s a health and fitness project, or more specifically, tons of them.
I’ve always enjoyed a good health and fitness project, and I’ve done lots of them on myself. The results have been a mix of stunning success, absolute hilarity, and also a few disastrous results. I’ve even been able to convince other people to be subjects of my experiments. Fortunately, most of those have gone well.
As readers (oh, and thank you so much for that) you know by now that I have this gig going in which I do some of those projects and then write about them. Two of my past projects, which morphed into books, were Project Full Circle Squared, and Project 9.10.17. Full Circle Squared was all about taking a 52-year old dude and training him to break 60 seconds in the 400 meter run. Filled with insights into training, philosophy, and humor, it’s a fun read for anyone who wants to embrace middle age and design their own fitness project. 9.10.17 was more geeked-out and data-driven, as I subjected myself to all sorts of training methods, ketogenic dieting, and objective measures to attempt to maintain 9% bodyfat while gaining 10 pounds of muscle in the year 2017. And I almost made it. That journey was a reflection of many of my clients’, and much of America’s, goal of losing weight. I just turned it into a focus on idealizing body composition while increasing health, which is the way I think such things should go. But n=1 only goes so far.
Thus, Project JACKED! has been ongoing in 2018, and it is really shaping up (couldn’t resist) to be something special. This is going to be a book and a weight loss/metabolic reset program that I’ll publish this summer. It’s all based on a 4-month comprehensive wellness program that I have designed by distilling down all the latest science. We are in the beta phase now, with 19 intervention group participants and 10 control subjects. It’s looking to be awesome, and even though I’m admittedly biased, this will be a great resource for anyone who wants to have a clear plan that lays out exactly how to restore health and lose weight easily. And the magic in JACKED is that it is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but is instead a modifiable template that each user can customize to fit her or his needs.
I’ve also got some other Projects, some of which don’t yet even have a catchy name, that I’ll be writing about in the future. Most of these will probably be brief reports or short stories. Here are a few things that have intrigued me as of late.
- Project Aerobic De-Conditioning: I spent several weeks this winter doing absolutely no aerobic exercise. This was during a period of time that included lots of sleeping, some meditation, some fasting, and quite a bit of heavy strength training. I felt great, and all my health measures except one were outstanding. However, my resting heart rate (RHR) increased from an average of 56 beats per minute (bpm) to 68. I tested this multiple times per day for many days, making sure there wasn’t a confounder such as high stress (luckily wasn’t having that) or illness. Lost all that fitness in 3 weeks. Took over twice as long to build it back. That’s pretty consistent with what the literature says with detraining. Aerobic benefits, unlike strength, are quite transient. Good to know.
- Project MaxCal: Earlier this year I spent another 6 weeks trying to see just how many calories I could eat and remain weight-stable. Now, keep in mind, I only eat an extremely high quality, natural diet, with no sugar, processed garbage, and the like. I noticed a couple of really interesting things. One is that unless I was drinking olive oil (of which I do a shot occasionally), it’s really hard to get hypercaloric on big plates of broccoli. But if I included fatty meat and fish, root vegetables and lots of butter, it could be done. The other thing I was surprised to find was that (and this was during a period of heavy strength training and high intensity interval work) I had to eat approximately 1,000 calories above my baseline before I gained an ounce (recognizing that there were small variances). This is also well-supported by recent literature, in that weight management is way more than just calories in and calories out. It’s really dependent on a well-regulated metabolism from balanced hormones. My workouts were revving up my metabolism and just making me more thermogenic. This occurs when we simply use the extra food to produce more heat, and literally burn it off. Brown fat, or brown adipose tissue (BAT), as well as muscle, upregulates its heat production in the presence of the fuel. I was able to track a 0.3-0.4 increase in my morning body temperature during this time. Food for thought…and heat.
There are tons more but I don’t want to bore you and I also have a few surprises to reveal with respect to sports training, eye and skin health, supplement stacking, and more. But why I shared these endeavors and inquiries with you is to encourage you to undertake your own project…whatever it may be. If you want to train for a summer sporting event, need to lose a few pounds, aim to get your blood pressure or blood sugar under control, or anything else…YOU CAN DO IT! And you can create your own program, that fits YOU, by using all this great science that we now have at our fingertips today. I hope you already have a project for summer lined out, but if you don’t, it is my sincere wish that this post provided you with just a little more inspiration. Onward and upward!