Fitter. Faster. Stronger. Wiser.
With continued learning and adaptation. Always tinkering.
Context: 37-year-old. 180cm. 75kg. Soldier. Student.
Basically, I want live well into old age, being able to contribute to society and avoid chronic disease (for as long as possible).
How do we do this?
As a start point, using the basic human evolutionary blueprint and applying it to the modern environment, I have found that for me, it has allowed me to look, feel and perform to a pretty good standard without too much compromise.
Simply put, try to keep my metabolism as healthy as possible (by eating whole foods), keep enough muscle mass and remain as mobile (by being active) as I can so that I can actually get around and do everything I want to do for as long as possible… and hopefully help a few people out along the way.
Once again, the caveat is that this is what has worked for me so far…
For those who don’t know me, I have been following Paleo type nutrition for nearly seven years now. For the most part it’s just eating whole foods as often as possible, and cutting out highly processed vegetable oils and sugars as much as practicable.
I rarely count calories and eat when I’m hungry. On occasion, I’ll track using a smartphone application to get a ballpark estimate of how balanced my food intake is. Generally, I’d say my macronutrient breakdown would be roughly:
- 50-60% fat;
- 20-25% protein;
- 15-20% carbohydrate.
Is that keto? Technically, no. It would be pretty close and there would definitely be times through out the year that I would naturally cycle into ketosis.
I normally train in a fasted state, or after a cup of black coffee with some MCT oil and collagen.
My basic plate is a piece of animal protein with a bunch of vegetables and/or salad topped off with some butter or olive oil and sea salt. I eat plenty of eggs and I enjoy full-fat cheeses and dark chocolate (85% min). Mineral water, black coffee and red wine, specifically pinot noir are my drinks of choice.
Mostly I’m eating two meals per day, usually after I have trained. Most of my calories would usually be consumed in the final meal of the day. Mostly because I have more time available in the evening to prepare larger meals.
Another reason would be that I’m more likely to be sharing a meal after work with friends or family and sometimes it’s just easier. Being flexible and understanding the process is key here. There’s nothing worse than being “that guy or girl” who doesn’t eat at a group meal because it’s five minutes into a proposed fasting window.
Finally, when you’re a person who is generally a eating low-carbohydrate diet, getting all of your carbohydrates in the evening can replenish glycogen stores (energy stored in the muscles), and the elevated insulin response helps produce more tryptophan, which allows the process of converting serotonin into melatonin, leading to a more restful sleep.
On occasion, I will eat a third meal, typically if I’m doing a bit more physically at work, if I’m planning an evening workout or if I’m hungry. Super simple.
Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding. There is a difference. As mentioned earlier, I mostly eat two meals per day. One meal post workout and one at the end of the day. This is called time-restricted feeding. All foods are consumed within a window of time, for example between 12pm and 8pm.
Intermittent fasting is exactly that. Intermittent, meaning occasional. I am metabolically flexible, meaning that I am well adapted to using fats or ketones as an energy source, allowing me to go longer periods of time without feeling hungry or craving food. Occasionally on a low tempo day, I would dabble in a longer fast of up to 24-32 hours. This wasn’t very regular, maybe once every 8 to 10 weeks.
Most weeks I eat out with my team mates on a Friday morning at a local cafe, and with friends one night which would usually lead me to the local Vietnamese Pho restaurant.
I generally don’t take a lot of supplements on a daily basis. I really try to get everything through whole food nutrition. My pre-workout is usually just a cup of black coffee and I randomly use a whey protein powder post workout. Outside of that, it’s only occasional cycles of fish oil, cod liver oil and magnesium.
Magnesium. This is probably one of the most important supplements for me. Mostly taken post workout or in the evenings prior to sleep. Magnesium is vitally important to over 300 biological functions in the body and these days it’s not that easy to get enough from diet alone. Add in some intense training or workloads, and your requirement increases.
During the winter months I spend a bit more time indoors and get a little less sun exposure, so I add about a 10ml of Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil every other day. The Cod Liver Oil is a good source of DHA along with Vitamins A and D, which have a variety of health related benefits.
Strength and conditioning. The last 12 months I’ve focused on compound movements for general strength and conditioning such as deadlifts, power cleans and overhead presses. The break down of sets has varied, with a focus of no more than 10-15 working repetitions per movement.
Heavy Turkish getups (up to 50kg), farmers carries and high volume kettlebell swings have also featured consistently in my programming.
These three exercises are so good for you that you could almost base your entire strength and conditioning program around them and constantly see improvements throughout the year.
More recently, I have broken down my workouts into the following workout template:
- Vertical press/pull, hinge and loaded carry;
- Horizontal press/pull, hinge and loaded carry.
Really simple. But I’m finding that keeping it simple is working well for me. I can also finish most workouts in about 30 or 40 minutes.
I’m not setting any world records with my weight training but I’m fairly strong and athletic for a nearly 40 year old, 75kg guy. I’m rarely injured and generally have the energy to perform every day. Oh, I can also run reasonably quick.
Running. It’s been mostly interval work and 5km racing. Occasionally, I’ll run a longer distance out to about 8km, but the days of longer endurance distance running are in the past. For me, its too taxing on the body, and just takes up too much of my time. My preference lately has been to run 50m to 400m intervals and every now and then I just get out and run around for 20 or 30 minutes.
I’ve enjoyed running some of the major running events throughout the year. Firstly, it’s nice to have short term training goals, but I believe that it can give you a pretty good snapshot of how you compare physically (at least when it comes to running) across society in general.
In the last twelve months I have competed in the following events:
- Mothers Day Classic, 4k (17:43min)
- Run Melbourne, 5.2k (23:09min)
- YMCA Fathers Day Run, 5k (23:37min)
- Melbourne Marathon, 5k (24:14min)
- Portsea Twilight, 4k (17:43min)
- Sole Motive Sunset Series Zoo Run, 5k (22:47min)
- Sole Motive Sunset Series The Tan, 4k (17:20min)
- Run for the Kids, 5.2k (23:48min)
I also competed in two virtual races with the New York Road Runners (NYRR), where you track a run locally and upload it to a global leaderboard.
- NYRR Valentines Day Virtual, 5k (23:02min)
- NYRR NYC Half Virtual, 5k (22:25min)
Right now my training consists of three days of strength and conditioning combined with two or three days of running (mostly easy/mid level efforts and some sprint work). Each workout lasts about 30 or 40 minutes. This gives me a total of about three to four hours of dedicated training per week which allows me to have more free time to enjoy some of the other things in life, such as coffee and hanging out with friends and family.
Living in Melbourne, Australia. This is home. Most likely for another 2 years. Being around family and friends definitely makes life a little easier. The importance of good social connections is often overlooked when it comes to optimising ones health and performance.
A key point to note here is flexibility. No-one is perfect and you’re aloud to make mistakes. Everyone is human, and we all have to live in the present day. I love a cup of coffee and can be always found at cafe on the weekend post workout catching up with friends. I have my nights out which will almost always end up at a local wine bar.
Sleep. This is really important if you want to be at your best. I’ve tried really hard to get as close to 8 hours a night of solid sleep. Having a cool and dark place to sleep is a good start, combined with a fairly standard daily wake time (ie: fairly close to sunrise) will set you up for success. There is whole post here to flesh out this topic alone.
Sleep quality will impact your energy levels, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, body composition, overall immunity, heart disease risk. The list goes on… It’s the closest thing to the mythical “magic bullet” for health and performance.
This year will be my 16th as a soldier. Almost a lifetime. Whilst I don’t do too much soldiering these days due to my current role and position, I think it’s still important to keep those skills refined.
While it isn’t soldiering, I do like hiking and camping. Being outdoors is a pretty good escape. I try to get out every now and then for an overnight hike with friends, just to take some time out from the plethora of electronic devices and social media platforms that seem to take up so much of our lives today.
I was lucky enough to get away in January for a 3 week vacation to New York City. This was my fifth visit and it never ceases to amaze. I did a bit of sight seeing, revisiting some favourites, saw a show on Broadway, got to an NBA game and got to see my team win. Had the opportunity to meet new people and catch up with some old friends. I also drank a fair bit of coffee during the day and hot apple cider in the evenings.
Later this month I’m heading to the South Island of New Zealand for 10 days. I’ve never been and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for sometime. I’m hoping to get a glimpse of the Southern Lights and maybe a bit of alpine hiking.
My parents have a holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula which I try to get away to every couple of months for a weekend. I’ve been going there my whole life and there is just something about coastal communities that is just relaxing.
My studies. This year I will complete a Diploma level qualification as part of a Bachelor of Nutrition. Doing this via correspondence which has it’s own unique set of challenges but overall I am enjoying it.
I don’t know what the next 12 months will bring, but I’m going to keep on tinkering and fine-tune ways to optimise health and performance as I move forward into the future.