Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Your cheatin' heart...

Back in January, I started out on this whole thing with weight loss first and foremost in my mind.  I was fat.  Really really fat.  I still am for that matter, but not in the same league that I was at the start of the year.  XXL shirts wouldn't fit unless I went through an elaborate stretching procedure with them, my elastic waist "fat pants" were on the verge of not fitting, and my body was just plain running out of places to put the fat that I was continuing to pile on.

However, as the pounds came off, and as the months went on, this mindset shifted a bit.  Weight loss is still important, but overall fitness has been what I'm feeling the best about as of late.  To anyone who's been reading my latest posts (which I suspect is a very small, albeit elite and obviously highly intelligent sect of the human population), you've surely noticed this trend.  Talk of what and how much to eat, pounds lost, and so on have taken a back seat to talk of accomplishments mostly consisting of my foray into running.

I think this is mostly a good thing.  After all, healthy and fit is what we're going for here - right?  However, I think I need to re-focus a bit.  See, a problem I've had in the past with all of my weight loss attempts is to "rest on my laurels", and this eventually leads into a full-on "off the wagon" slip.  And when I go off the wagon, I go OFF that motherfucker.  I actually chop the wagon up, start a fire, and use it to cook and eat the horse.

I'm starting to get a lot of positive feedback from people.  I'm down 82 pounds at this point, and people are definitely noticing.  I'm getting a lot of compliments and encouragement, and it does feel great, but I know myself - and this is where something in my brain starts to say "Yeah - you ARE awesome!!  Let's get McDonald's on the way home and chase it with a birthday cake."

There's some warning signs starting to surface, too.  I'm still drinking water, but I've been starting to cheat back to diet soda every now and again.  Also - there are a few times in the last couple of months where I've eaten some of my calories for the next day the night before.  If there is something that will do me in here, it's eating at night - I just CAN'T CAN'T CAN'T do it.  I think I've got to think of myself like an addict with this one - zero allowance.

And here's the big one - I opened up the door to cheating on my daily calorie allowance about three months ago.  My son and I love to eat at this Brazilian grill place.  It's expensive, so we only do it about once a year when the right Groupon comes along.  Servers come to your table with different spits of meat, all you can eat, and they're all tasty.  I figured if I was going to pay an arm and a leg for this, I really didn't want to restrict myself, so off I went.

That single "cheat day" doesn't bother me too much, what does bother me is that I've had two or three cheat days since for no reason whatsoever.  People will say that regularly scheduled cheat days can actually be a good thing, but I don't think it's a place I should be going right now.

You can also see it's made my weight loss more erratic.  Look at my weigh in data before any cheat days:

Now look at the trend line that has three or four cheat days in it:

You can definitely see a difference.

So - here we go - keep focused - stay vigilant.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Running evolution (part 2)...

All right - the last post ended with my running the Color Run - great experience, great first race, and everything I had hoped it would be.  So here's some of the run-centered highlights since:

After the Color Run, I decided to attempt to "level up".  The same outfit that made the c25k app that I used also makes a c210k app, so I commenced download.  Since I was still riding the high of finising c25k as well as the Color Run, the increasingly long runs (peaking at 60 minutes with no walking) didn't seem completely daunting.  Off I went, and after a few runs I came face to face with my first running related (I guess we can call it an) injury:

After I came in from one of my runs, I was sitting out on the deck, cooling off.  My wife came out to chat, and upon seeing me, started laughing hysterically.  We snapped a pic for posterity:
Yes, yes it is - that is my nipple bleeding through my shirt.  After doing a bit of Google research (which had a fairly shocking start due to my admittedly poorly chosen search string "bloody nipple"), I found out that this is somewhat of a common running issue, especially with men.  It turned out to be fairly easy to remedy - I gave the nipple a few days of hard earned rest, and then busted out the next few runs wearing band-aids (which is an awesome look for me.  No photos of that one - you're welcome).

The long term solution for my pink little buddies is to apply a product I found from Gold Bond before each run that goes on like a stick of deodorant.  It's called (and I've decided that this will also be my name if/when I become a superhero) "FRICTION DEFENDER"!!

The next 5k
I found that I really liked having a race "out there" that I was training for.  I'm not sure exactly why, but I find it motivating, so I signed up for another local 5k that was a few weeks away.  Come race day, this one was a different experience, but also fun.  I ran it alone, since my daughter has a bunch on things on her plate this summer.

This race was a bit more competitive.  (Well, for some people, that is.  The only things I was competing against were myself and common sense.)  Unlike the Color Run, this one was timed via a chip you tie to your shoe, and to my surprise they announce your name and snap a picture of you as you cross the finish line:
Even though the Color Run wan't officially timed, I knew how long it took me to run via my fancy-dancy GPS watch.  To my surprise, I beat that time by four minutes on this run.  It's true what they say about race day adrenaline.

Thank you sir may I have another
By now, I'm well into the c210k program (I've got two more runs until I "graduate").  While I didn't feel comfortable signing up for a 10k (my 60 minute runs are only taking me about 8k, not the 10k pace the app expects you to run), I wanted to have a race out there on my horizon, so I signed up for another local 5k.

Once again, I beat my previous time (by three minutes this time), and it was a complete blast.  Here's the requisite finish line photo they took:
With this race, however, I think I've come to an epiphany.  There were two races run here on this day:  the 5k, and a half-marathon (13.1 miles/21k).  We all started and finished from the same spot.  In watching everyone mill around at the starting line, and watching some of the half-marathoners finish, I've come to the conclusion that I think I want to run this half next year.

I really think I can do it - and I'm going to make it a goal.  I've run my last race for this season, but I'm going to continue training throughout the winter (I'm not quite sure how that is going to work yet, but...yeah.), and I'm trying to put a race schedule together for myself that culminates with this half-marathon at the end of next summer.

In other news, inches are still disappearing, but as you may notice in my weigh-ins to the right, the pounds are coming off ever so slowly.  I'll address this in my next post.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Running evolution (part 1)...

First of all, when I do it, I'm pretty sure it's called jogging (at best).  But fuck it - I'm going to call it running because it sounds cooler.

So, there have been a few developments with where running fits into my fitness plan since I first started the c25k program almost three months ago.  I can't really say that I hate running now.  That said, I can't really say that I love it either.  I guess you could say that I love that I don't hate it.  I get a huge sense of accomplishment when I finish a run, and I'm almost always (pretty much) looking forward to the next run.  The only time my mind really goes to a dark place is when I'm about ten minutes into the run, I have a moment of clarity and say to myself "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??!!"

Anyway, here's some of the highlights from the past several months:

This stands for "week 5 day 3" in the c25k program, and it was kind of a turning point for me.  I wrote a previous post about it.  Once I did that run, I realized that even longer runs were actually possible.

Buying shit
I always do this - I get all jazzed up about something, and I find a bunch of shit related to it that I all of a sudden feel the need to purchase.  My wife (understandably) hates that about me.  With running, it started out with shoes.  I didn't feel too bad about that purchase, since my feet were starting to hurt on off days, and one of the first pieces of advice you read regarding beginners and running is to get yourself fitted for a good pair of running shoes.  And the advice rings true - the foot pain went away after I started running in them.

Next came the running shirts.  I had one "tech" type shirt that I realized was extremely comfortable to run in - it was light and wicked the sweat away nicely.  So off I went looking for running shirts.  I didn't go crazy (you certainly can), and got a few generic-type ones from Target.  They actually turned out to be a fortuitous purchase, as you'll see in the "nipple" entry in my next post.  (I know - quite the teaser.)

The latest purchase was this:
a gps running watch.  As I was clicking the "Buy it now" on Amazon, I'm thinking to myself "Why the fuck do I need this???"  In my defense (and there really isn't much of one), it was one of the cheapest ones out there.  I just kind of got tired of driving my latest route in the car to figure out the distance, and pretty much guessing at my pace.  Strangely, the purchase has been kind of motivating.  I know that if I stop running, I'm going to hate myself every time I look at the damn thing.

Color run
By the time the Color Run rolled around I was feeling mostly confident.  I say mostly because my latest training runs hadn't been quite a full 5k yet.  I was running slower than the c25k program assumed you would go, so my 30 minute run only took me about 4k.

My neighbor, who is an honest to goodness "for real" runner told me not to sweat it, and that I'd have it in the bag come race day.  She was right - adrenaline took care of that last one k.  The run itself was amazing - the atmosphere was great, and (unbenounced to us), my wife had made "congratulations" signs for my daughter and I at the finish line.  Coming around the last corner and seeing her there screaming her head off for us was a priceless moment.

All right, this post is getting long enough, so tune in next post for "part 2".

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Don't call it a comeback...

And, we're back.  Things are good, albeit slow-ish.  Well, not necessarily slow, but plodding.  I'm making progress, continuing to lose weight, but sometimes it feels like an endless plodding.  Are you old enough to remember that Dunkin Donuts commercial with the "...time to make the donuts" guy?

It kind of feels like that from time to time.  Constant monitoring of calories, continuous exercise, daily weigh-ins, and all the mental energy expended focusing on this.  It's easy to be all gung-ho at the start of something like this.  You know, when you're finally ready to commit yourself to it, you are starting to see results, and you start to realize "Hey - I can do this!"  But by this point we are well beyond the newness and the "honeymoon" stage, now is where the rubber meets the road.  (I was never really sure what that exactly means, but what the hell - I'm throwing it in anyway.)

In the last post before my hiatus, I posed some questions to be answered upon my return, so here we go:

The Color Run is done by now.  How did you do?  Have you kept up with running?  Any plans for future races?  When you started the C25K program, you professed your continued hatred for running.  Is that still the case?

The Color Run was indeed awesome, and I am still running.  I'll stop with this question here since my next post will focus on where I am with this whole running thing.

Still working out with the kettlebell?  You've been thinking about adding some more exercises to the routine you do, or increasing the work interval times and decreasing the rest times.  Have you?

I am still working out with the kettlebell.  I haven't added any exercises to the routine, but I did increase the work interval times and decreased the rest times.  However, my main focus has been on running as of late, so the kettlebell has taken a bit of a backseat.

The amount of weight you are losing each week has started to slow a bit, which we were expecting.  You told yourself you wouldn't let this discourage you.  Is that still the case?

The pace has slowed to about 2lbs a week, and sometimes less.  I'm not discouraged, but I will say that it does register a bit on the piss-off meter.

Hopefully, you're in the low 230's now.

I am!  Holy shit how did you know that??

Does your wedding ring fit yet?

No it does not.  Fuckballs.  I'm really not sure what the hell is going on here.  If anything, it seems like it fits tighter.  Color me baffled.

How about those 38" waist pants that you've been keeping in your closet for fucking ever?

As a matter of fact, I just tried them on tonight and they fit.  And I'm talking a legit fit, with only a smidgen of muffin-top.

I'm assuming you're still logging everything.  Do you still feel good with your calorie target at about 1800/day?

Yep, the log is still a cornerstone of my plan.  Calorie count is still hovering around 1800/day.  I have dabbled with planned and not so planned cheat days here and there, which I'll talk about in a future post as well.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Turning a corner...

The 20 minute run is done - book it.  My daughter and I kicked it out on Sunday.  For the first time since I started this C25K program, I really think I can run this upcoming 5K.

Mind you - the pace was a slow plod (about 12 min/mile), but hey - I'll take it.  I'm trying to think of the last time I ran 20 minutes straight through, and the year I'm coming up with is 1987.  Holy shit, that was 26 years and 83 pounds ago.

My job duties are transitioning right now, so I'll be taking a "blog break" until mid July.  Here are some notes for future me to consider and reflect upon when I return:

The Color Run is done by now.  How did you do?  Have you kept up with running?  Any plans for future races?  When you started the C25K program, you professed your continued hatred for running.  Is that still the case?

Other exercise:
Still working out with the kettlebell?  You've been thinking about adding some more exercises to the routine you do, or increasing the work interval times and decreasing the rest times.  Have you?

The amount of weight you are losing each week has started to slow a bit, which we were expecting.  You told yourself you wouldn't let this discourage you.  Is that still the case?  Hopefully, you're in the low 230's now.  Does your wedding ring fit yet?  How about those 38" waist pants that you've been keeping in your closet for fucking ever?

I'm assuming you're still logging everything.  Do you still feel good with your calorie target at about 1800/day?

Good luck, and see you in about a month and a half!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fear of the unknown...

I mentioned in a previous post that our family took a trip to Disney a few years ago.  My son, who was about seven at the time, was apprehensive about some of the "scarier" rides.  Roller coasters were on his immediate veto list.  For some reason, they scared the shit out of him.  Anything that he remotely perceived as a roller coaster was a no, so "Mt. Everest" and the unfortunately titled "Rock 'n Roll Roller Coaster" were out.  I was surprised "Space Mountain" didn't hit his fear factor radar, and figured I may be able to coax him into it, but that's a story for a different post.

Imagine my surprise when he proclaimed that "Tower of Terror" was the ride he was most looking forward to:

arguably the scariest ride in the park.  It was all I could do to not say, "Really dude??  I mean - c'mon - it's got the word 'terror' in its name."

In my previous post, I mentioned how he had a horrible experience on the dinosaur ride he was so excited about.  It was one of the first rides we went on, and I was worried that it might have soured him for the rest of the trip.  However, we explained to him that there was a place at each ride just before you get into the car where you can choose to leave the ride if you don't feel comfortable.  (Everyone calls this the "chicken-out line", but we of course didn't present it to him this way.)  He seemed cool with that, so off we went to "Tower of Terror".

I'm not sure if you've had the opportunity to experience a ride in a Disney park, but one of the things they love to do, especially for their scarier rides, is to try and scare the shit out of you while you are standing in line waiting for the actual ride.

By the time we were ready to belt ourselves into the ride car, we had been given a "tour" of the hotel, whereas it was explained to us that the hotel was really really old, lots of shit was falling apart, a bunch of people had stayed here and had never been heard from again, and now we're going to take an elevator up to the top floor where we can maybe start to figure out why this place is so fucked up.

So just before we belt in, I was positive we were about to exit via the chicken-out line.  My wife gives him one last "Are you sure you still want to go?", and he simply responds with a silent, wide-eyed, slow nod.

Belt in, and up the "elevator" we go.  As we reach the top, you can see that there are some doors that have been opened to the outside, and all you can see is blue sky as we slowly roll towards them.  Just as we are about to reach the doors, he looks over at my wife and I and says, "I want to get off."  I tell him it's too late, that we had to get off before we belted in, and he says "You lied to me!"  At that exact moment, the car jerks to a stop, we're outside the top floor of the hotel, and the bottom drops out.  Free fall.

Well, he loved it.  We ended up going on that thing a bunch more times, and he was quite proud of himself.  When I think back on all of this, I realize his fear stemmed from "the unknown".  In less than a minute, he went from "HOLY SHIT GET ME OFF THIS THING!!!" to "Let's go again!", and it was all because it transformed from an unknown to a known experience for him.

So what does this have to do with anything?  Well, I'm on week five of CT5K, and the third run this week is a 20 minute run, with no walking.  No lie - I'm actually losing sleep over thinking about this run.  Up to this point in the program, the longest I've run with no walk break is five minutes, and that was this week.  I can't believe how anxious I am over this.

But I've got to realize that my fear of this stems mostly from the fear of the unknown.  I was apprehensive about running at three and five minute intervals this week, for a total of 16 minutes per run, and now it seems like a perfectly fine run session.  I've been reading a lot of posts about running where people say it's a lot of "mind over matter", and I'm starting to believe it.

Tune in next week for the result - wish me luck!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hunger games...

I'm sure this sounds painfully obvious, but I think that how I manage and think about my hunger through all of this is key to my success or failure.  Like I said, obvious, but as I look deeper into the "hunger issue", I believe that it's more than just "I'm hungry now - MUST EAT!", and "not hungry".

When I started this back in January, hunger was my main concern, and the thing that would almost always end up derailing previous efforts; specifically, being hungry at night.  With previous attempts, I would have all my calories for the day, everyone else would go to bed, and I'd stay up a little later.  The pantry and refrigerator would just call my name.  I'd give in and eat, well, whatever we had - leftovers from dinner, peanut butter, ice cream from the tub, chips/nuts/you name it, and boom - I'm 1500 to 2000 calories over my daily budget.  I'd go to bed feeling like a fat loser, promising myself "Ok - we'll start tomorrow".

So, getting through that first week was the hurdle I needed to keep building on.  It's almost like I went through some "stages of hunger", especially with the hunger at night thing.  At first it was just me sitting in a chair and willing myself not to go to the fridge or pantry to get something, but fuckballs, I really wanted to.  Next, it was realizing that I'm hungry, but there's no point in obsessing over it, since the part of my mind that was committed to staying on plan had made the other part who wanted two double cheeseburgers its bitch.  After that, it gets a little hard to explain - it's like I would be hungry, but I really didn't care, being a little bit hungry every now and then seemed almost irrelevant.

That's about where I am now with things - I'm a little hungry every now and again, but it's not like that hunger feeling pushes itself up to the top of my thoughts and says "PAY ATTENTION TO ME FATTY!!!"  Now that's not to say there aren't times when I'm extremely glad it's time to eat, or that I wouldn't slip back into my old eating habits if I fell off the wagon.  But all I can do is take things day by day and adjust if needed.

I think one thing that has helped me keep everything on track is the fact that I'm allowing myself to eat anything I want - I just have to keep to my daily calorie target (about 1850).  So, if I want to consume my entire day's allotment in maple syrup (hold on let me see how much that would be - 1.5 pounds - holy shit), I can.  I just have to accept the hunger and craving consequences that come with it.  For this reason, I've noticed I'm eating a lot more vegetables and "filler" type foods, vs. just the low-volume, high calorie stuff.

Something happened the other day that made me think I've got my mind on the right track.  I was doing the weekly grocery shopping, and came to the candy at the checkout line.  Snickers, Reese's, and Hershey's, oh my.  I though to myself, "Wow, it would take me like forever to eat all of this".  Well, of course it wouldn't take me much actual time at all, I'm fairly certain I could set some sort of speed record that would stand for quite some time.  But my initial thought was about how long it would take me to consume all of those calories based on my daily budget.  It may seem trivial, but I was kind of proud my thought process went there instead of "I WANT THAT FUCKING CANDY!!!!!"

Another thing that has helped is this:

It's a digital kitchen scale that I got off Amazon for around $30.

Whenever I was working on a plan where I'm counting calories, I would often struggle with what I call "calorie creep", where I would either over or underestimate the calories for something I was eating.  Each of these has their own pitfalls.  The problem with underestimating is obvious, but I would often overestimate my items, so I would make sure not to go over budget.  This would lead to me thinking "Well, I'm really hungry now, and that sandwich I made was really closer to 200 than 300, so I'll have a little snack now and call it even".  Quite the slippery slope.  With the scale, I can be confident of the calorie content of everything I eat, and the number is the number, no bullshitting.

I'm down another 3 lbs this week, with another inch off my waist.  As long as I don't try anything stupid like the above mentioned maple syrup experiment, things should keep progressing well.