The lost weekend

I had a bad weekend. I gained 2.6 pounds.

Should I throw in the towel? Give up? Become angry and depressed over that?

Or should I just take the setback in stride? Refocus on what’s really important, like where I’ll be down the road instead of worrying if I’ll fit into that cute bikini for this upcoming season? Well, since I’m a guy I’d probably look silly in a bikini, so that isn’t the point.

The point is, when you suffer a setback in the short term, you should refocus on your long term goals. When you look at your overall progress, where you were and where you want to be, that 2.6 pound gain will appear to be nothing more than a tiny temporary blip on the entire weight loss graph.

I admit, there are times when it gets frustrating. For instance, when someone says they lost 50 almost overnight, you can’t help but compare. Why has it taken me over 2 years to lost 30 pounds and they did it like that? (Snap your fingers.)

You need to focus on the fact that you lost 30 pounds and not how long it took. That deserves congratulations, not chastisement.

Comparisons are self-defeating. People have different metabolisms. Some lose weight easier while others struggle. Accept that fact and move on.

I work with a guy who was overweight and now he’s not. He did it with an extremely restrictive diet, denying himself all foods that weren’t considered healthy.

If someone brought in donuts to work for their birthday, he wouldn’t eat one.

Wouldn’t. Eat. One!

That’s crazy talk. One donut won’t kill you.

Neither will one bad weekend of fast food and over snacking.

You’re not an idiot, just human

Face it, we all fail from time to time. We sneak that donut. Eat nearly a whole bag of Xtreme Cheddar Goldfish (guilty!). Go on vacation and enjoy all sorts of good foods. Overeat during the holidays.
Everyone except that guy at work, but then he’s always Grumpy and has become a judgemental asshole. “You’re not going to eat that, are you?” “Do you how many calories are in that?” 

Don’t be an asshole.

Treat yourself once in a while. There is no ice cream in Heaven, that’s why we eat it here. Just don’t overdo it.

And when you stumble, pick yourself back up and continue down your path as if nothing happened. Don’t look around to see if anyone saw, their opinion shouldn’t matter.

This is why you shouldn’t check your weight obsessively. I used to check it only once a week on our old mechanical scale so I probably wouldn’t even have known I had trended upward when I finally checked on Friday. That’s my fault for getting a cool new smart scale with a phone app that shows me all my stats. I need to focus on just the Friday readings, as I did before. 

Don’t let one misstep derail your whole program. Think of it this way, sure you might fit into that cute bikini this summer, but if that was your only goal, you’ll just yo-yo back up over the winter and be stressing again next spring.

Think about the long term and how good you’ll look next year and the year after that and about all those nice outfits you’ll be able to fit in for the rest of your life.

I just purchased a cool pair of running tights, something I never would have even thought about 10 years ago. And no, I’m not posting any pictures. 

Stay focused. Think long term. Don’t give up. Don’t be an asshole.
Side note: I had to completely rewrite this entire article because, as I discovered, if you don’t put in a title when you’re writing using the phone app, it forgets the entire post when you close the app. I reopened it to continue editing and it was gone! I could have given up and not posted anything today, but I didn’t. I rewrote the entire thing from scratch. You’re welcome.

-30-

Some weighty thoughts

A long time ago, I read somewhere, can’t recall where, this was long before the Internet, so it was in a magazine, possibly “Prevention,” or “Shape,” or something along those lines.

A so-called health and fitness doctor said, “You’re ideal weight is what you weighed when you graduated high school.”

OK. There is one problem with that. What if you already had a weight problem then? Just because he seemed to have been at an ideal weight for him when he graduate high school, doesn’t translate to everyone having that same idealness.

For instance, I was just skin and bones when I graduated high school. I weighed all of 125 pounds. That translates to an underweight Body Mass Index (BMI) of 17.7. Normal BMI range for adults is 18.5 to 24.9. I was in the 9th percentile, meaning 91% of Americans weighed more than I did at my age and height.

I was able to suck in my gut so far, it would go up into my rib cage.

Skinny-Friend-That-Eats-A-Lot-Y-U-No-Get-Fat_o_101316

Yeah. I was one of those people who could eat as much as I wanted, not exercise, and never gained an ounce of weight. Those were the days.

Except it’s wasn’t my ideal weight. I was too skinny. For my height my ideal weight should be between 134 and 167 pounds. When I reach my current weight goal of 185, I’ll still be marginally overweight according to most health charts and I’ll have a BMI of 26.5.

visual.body1_1

I was a 17 as a teenager and a 33 just a few years ago

But when I reach that, I’ll still be healthier than I am now and I’ll also be healthier than I was when a I graduated high school.

So I have no idea where that so-called expert came up with the notion that your high school weight is your ideal weight, because that’s just a stinking pile of bullshit.

What is your ideal weight? Well, you could look at all the charts and graphs and measure and weight yourself until you come up with an estimate or you could just go see your health care professional, discuss your health goals and desires, and together you can come up with a healthy and reasonable weight goal. They might even be able to prepare a diet and exercise plan.

Do not put any faith into the Internet or so-called celebrity experts.

As they say, consult your doctor before you start any exercise or weight loss program.

-30-

Once twice three times a runner

Last night’s run made it three consecutive days where I ran. I haven’t run consecutively since I was a twenty-something circa 1990 BSP (before shin splints).

I ran three days in a row! And none of them were wimpy casual runs. Tuesday was a 5k at higher than my normal moderate pace. Wednesday I did intervals, five six-minute sets consisting of three minutes walking, two minutes moderate run, then one minute at an eight mph sprint. And last night I used the treadmill’s Speed Burn which starts at a minimum pace (for me my moderate pace) then it ramps up to your maximum set pace (I set it for higher than Tuesday’s already higher than moderate pace, and then it slowly ramps down to your starting pace. It looks like a bell curve when all is said and done.
And I feel good. No pain. No aches. No nagging nags. I was worried because remember I had an IT Band injury in August that had prevented me from running a couple of weeks and set me back several weeks in my training. 

But no, nothing. I feel great. But I won’t push four in a row. I’ll take at least today off. Saturday I’ll play by ear, but if I do run, it’ll be my first 5 day running week since I started back into it last Spring.
Something else I mentioned a while back, that night running makes for a night of restless sleep and I thought about taking Advil PM to help the joint and muscle stiffness I was suffering from and to knock me out.

Turns out they have a warning for people 60 and older to not take said product and since I’m on the cusp, I figured better safe than sorry, and I only took it the one time. 

Instead, I take a couple aspirin and a Melatonin tablet (N-acetyl-5-methoxy tryptamine, a hormone from the pineal gland that regulates sleep). That seems to be working and I’ve not been experiencing any night-time leg pain or stiffness (even when my 70-pound dalmatian lies across my legs) or any sleepless nights (not counting dogs needing to pee at 3am).

And you’d think if I was going to suffer stiffness and sleeplessness, it would be after running three days in a row. But no. It’s all good.

And I nudged ever so much closer to the magical number of 200 pounds adding more incentive to run more frequently.

I did break past another magical number and that was 29.9. My Body Mass Index (BMI) is now 29.2! I went from obese to just overweight. Although my body fat percentage still has me falling on the obese side. I’m at 32.1% and won’t fall below obese until I pass 31% body fat (and in all honestly, I do find it odd that by one stat I’m down to overweight but by another stat I’m still obese). 

But wait, you ask, how do you know that?

Well first Body Mass Index is a fun mathematical equation that looks like this:

But if math makes you squeamish, then get yourself one of the new fancy-scmancy smart scales. All the cool people have them. If you get one that operates with bioelectrical impedance, than you get all sorts of cool information. 

What bioelectrical impedance  does is when you step on the scale, you make contact with little metal strips, like on my Yunmai Color Smart Scale, completing the circuit. These strips send a tiny, and undetectable by you, electric current through your feet, traveling up one leg and down the other. Because electricity travels faster through muscle and water than it does through fat and bone, it calculates your percentages by the current’s speed. Neat, huh?

This was from this morning:

Now I’m not saying you need to obsess about all those numbers — you really shouldn’t even obsess about weighing yourself more than once a week — but C’mon! You gotta admit all those readings are fun, right? 

Or maybe I’m just too much a techno-geek from watching a lifetime of Star Trek episodes and reading science fiction. Whatever.

The future is now! We have computers in everything. We’re living the science fiction predictions of the 1940s. This is Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half Century!

Sorry. Got carried away.

The one stat I’m curious to see change is the last one, my Fitness Age. I wonder how far below my actual age I’ll be able to get? Kind of reminds me of the fitness age from WII Fitness. I got it down into my 30s and really, I doubt that video game boxing, tennis, or golf got me into that good a shape.

Run. Run again. Run once more.

-30-

A weigh we go!

I’m reaching what for me is a milestone in my weight. 

Me, after my thyroid went wonky

Back in 1999, I blew up like the Michelin Man when my thyroid went on the fritz. Seriously, I have one picture that if I find it shows that is no exaggeration. My skin is white and puffy and you can hardly see my eyes because they’re just slits surrounded by puffy flesh. My lower legs were the worst. They had lost all their hair and were like playdough. You could push in on the flesh and leave a one-and-a-half inch indent that would stay there for quite some time. (Anyone remember the old pulp fiction action hero, The Avenger, who had lost nerve function to his face and could mold it like putty, changing his appearance to that of anyone? It was a little like that.)

I thought I was dying. I was scared.

My doctor ran me through a whole battery of tests to figure out what was wrong — nerve testing for my carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, chiropractors for my severe back pain, blood tests to see why I was cold and tired all the time — which is amusing (now that I look back on it), because we had a ferret who had a thyroid problem and he lost all the hair on his legs, so my wife kept saying it was my thyroid; it took my doctor months to come to the same conclusion!

And my weight shot up because my thyroid wasn’t regulating body functions properly; I was retaining fluids and I was just too damned tired to exercise. This experience has also made me a little less critical of people with weight problems because as with me, it might not be their fault and might be a medical condition.

So since 1999, I’ve been well over 200 pounds. I think I might have peaked close to 250 before I started taking my thyroid medication.

Today, I weighed myself and I’m almost, but not quite, at the point where I’ll drop below 200 pounds. Honestly, I can’t remember when I was below that. Early 1990s when I was still running seriously, before I developed shin splints? 

Now I’m only a couple pounds on the wrong side of 200. Part of me wants to fast just to reach it, but my luck, my body will think it’s experiencing a famine and it will hold onto its fat reserves even more tenaciously. So, no. Fasting isn’t the answer.

I do think I’ll run more often now that I see I’m approaching that marker. Instead of running three times a week, I’ll try to run five. Yesterday was the first time i ran on back-to-back days and i felt good.

Even though i can see 200, I’m nowhere near finished; after 200, I’ll still have at least 15 more pounds to go to reach my goal, but 200 is a great marker indicating my goal is within reach.

Yesterday, for grins, I lugged around a 20 pound barbell. It was exhausting! And I used to carry that, and more, around all the time!

By the way, losing weight is hard. You have to do exhausting aerobic exercises, get your heart rate up, sweat, breath heavy, for at least 20 minutes at a time, every other day preferably, plus you have to watch what you eat, count calories, watch fats, increase fiber, eat more fruits and veggies, and drink a lot of water (not soda or sugary energy drinks), and even then, depending on your.motabolism, you aren’t guaranteed fast results or huge losses.

Anyone who tells you losing weight is easy or all you need is their magic pill or secret formulation or miracle diet or superfood, tell them to Fuck Off. In fact, punch them in the nose, give them a good kick in the groin, then tell them to Fuck Off. The punch and kick will be good exercise.

Eat right. Drink water. Exercise your ass off.

-30-

Feel the burn

No, this isn’t a political post and has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders. Although, really, folks? Am I the only one who had the squick button pushed everytime I heard “Feel the Bern?” Ick, no! I don’t want to feel him. Go away.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, on with the show!

Over the last year, I’ve been working to get back into running shape, analyzing my technique, what’s working and especially what’s not working. And dieting. 

And did you know one of those large bags of salad in the grocery store is considered a SINGLE serving? I know it’s only 5 ounces, but lordamighty, who can eat that much vegetation in one sitting? One of those bags will last me 2-1/2 days. I put a few handfuls in a Tupperware, then add fat free dressing, a little cheese (maybe a tablespoon or two), and maybe six croutons, and that’s my lunch. I’m satisfied. I can’t imagine trying to eat the whole bag.

Sorry. I digressed. Where was I? Oh, right, learning about, and adapting new techniques to my run.

I’ve changed my stride length, for instance. As a much younger runner, I thought to run fast you had to stretch your legs as far out in front of you as you could reach. Since I never ran track or Cross country in high school, I was never coached and I’ve had to learn as I go. What worked in a resilient and flexible 20-something body doesn’t in a none-of-your-business-how-old-somethjng body.

So over the year, I’ve shortened my stride and in the process went from an extreme heel striker to a mix between slight heel strike and midfoot striker. So instead of landing far out in front of my body, I’m now landing almost directly underneath my body.

Tuesday I decided to experiment again with foot strike. I was going to try to run on the balls of my feet. 

I started at a slower pace, just to get used to it, then slowly increased my tempo as I stayed up on the balls of my feet, not letting my heel make any contact with the surface.

I’ve tried this once or twice over the past year and I would just give up after a few steps. It just didn’t feel right. Almost unnatural. Maybe I wasn’t anywhere near in shape enough (read: way too heavy), but thise previous attempts were labeled as Fail and I figured it just wasn’t for me. After all, we’re all different and what works for one doesn’t work for all.

But this time out, I was determined and was able to stay up on the balls of my feet for a good long while (for me), much longer than I’ve ever attempted.

And it didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable. It felt pretty good, as a matter of fact. There definitely seemed to be less shock when I landed than during my normal foot fall.

So how long did I run on the balls of my feet? Sixteen minutes. That’s about when I started tiring and got sloppy in the execution of my landings. My calves were burning and I had to revert back to midfoot landing for the rest of the run.

When I finished, my lower legs were more tired than normal.

And today? My calves are stiff and sore has Hell. It’s like I’ve never used my calves before. 

Which means I will continue to run on the balls of my feet. It did feel good and if it means I’m working my calves and maybe they’ll start to grow and get ripped and I’ll finally have the muscular calves I’ve always wanted, then the burn is worth it.

Not my calves nor quite what I want

Run. Burn. Ouch.

-30-

tomtom gone gone

In Friday’s blog post, I wrote that I had just purchased a Tomtom Runner Cardio and I detailed my thoughts on it up to that point.

My prime concern at the time was the tomtom wasn’t syncing. I had wasted an evening and an entire next day trying to get it to sync. I tried everything, including unlinking the tomtom from my smartphone, turning off bluetooth, uninstalling the tomtom sport app, shutting down and restarting the smartphone and on and on and on. Nothing worked.

After I got back home that evening, I plugged it into the computer to see if I could get it to sync. I had plugged it into the computer when I first got it to charge it. This time I plugged it in and it started downloading an update, as well as a GPS map. I’m not sure why it didn’t install the update when I first plugged the watch in, but there you go.

After the updates were done installing, I went through the whole process of reinstalling the tomtom sport app, turning on bluetooth, and trying to get the phone and watch to sync.

This time, they synced. Yay!

Now I could play with it. So I went running on my treadmill. The tomtom Runner Cardio seemed to do a pretty good job figuring out my speed and tracked my treadmill run as well as the treadmill itself did. Yay! That was the main reason I bought the watch, because as I said, I do a lot of treadmill running, especially  in the winter.

Two issues down. Now to play with the app itself. Well, let me tell you, the app still sucks. It’s as minimalistic as they come. Maybe that’s because the watch itself is very simplistic, only designed to track running, outside or on a treadmill, so the app has very few features.

Sure it has some great feedback for the run. But it really doesn’t do much else.

Unlike the Garmin or Fitbit phone app, which have several useful features to help you monitor different activities, this pretty much just tracks your heartbeat and your runs.

And with regards to your heartbeat, that never seemed to show up on the app. Ever. It said something that if you wear the watch at least two hours a day, it’ll provide you with a resting heart rate. Or something. But it never did. The app never showed me anything about my heart rate.

It said it was syncing. It did upload my treadmill run info. But the heart? Nothing.

And also unlike the Garmin or Fitbit, syncing wasn’t automatic. You had to have both the app open and menu down on the watch to wake it up in order to sync. Way too much work.

So at this point, I’ve chalked the watch up as a Big Fail as a fitness watch. It doesn’t do step counting, it doesn’t monitor sleep, and the heart rate monitor is questionable at best. Sometimes it wouldn’t read anything when on my wrist, other times it was reading a heart rate of well over 100 when I was supposedly resting. So unless it realized I was stressed over the fact that the watch sucked, it just did not work very well. Additionally, the watch itself was bulky and uncomfortable. Not to mention, the app is a fail as well. Too minimal in feedback to even be useful.

So the bottom line? I’ve returned the tomtom Runner Cardio. I’m not sure I’d even recommend it to people who just want it for running. It was just too unreliable.

And I’ve picked up the Misfit Shine 2 in red. The fitness tracker I should have gotten the first place.

Maybe I’ll post a review. Maybe not. I already know the Misfit phone app is pretty awesome because my wife has the Misfit Ray. And the Misfit Shine 2 is similar in function to the Misfit Ray, it just has a different look to it. Both are very stylish. Both are comfortable and unobtrusive.

misfitspeedoshine2

Misfit Shine 2

I like red.

-30-

2/28/2017 — I completely forgot to add one other point against the tomtom, and I believe it’s something in common with even their popular Spark model: the USB charger dock. 

TomTom Charger Dock

That bulky end piece on the left docks with the watch behind the menu button. I had some trouble getting it to fit, but then it finally clicked on.

No big deal until the watch was done downloading updates and had finished charging and it came time to disconnect.

I pulled and tugged and wiggled it, but nothing. I looked for a hidden tab or anything to indicate how it separated, but it seemed once joined it didn’t want to unjoin.

I was afraid if I used too much force, I’d damage something.

So I Googled how to disconnect the dock from the watch. It appears that is a common problem because there were tons of people asking the same thing.

The answer? Just yank hard.

Yes, well, I finally got it after several minutes of tugging, wiggling, and jerking. And the second time I attached it, removing wasn’t any easier.

So keep that in mind if you’re considering a tomtom Runner or Cardio.

TomTom needs to work on that. What’s wrong with a universal Mini-USB  plug?

New year same old goals

Yes, yes, I’m well aware it’s already the 6th of January and I haven’t posted my 2017 New Year’s resolutions yet.

That’s because I don’t have any. Not really. Not any that I sat down and agonized over.

My goals for this year are the same as last year and the year before. Just keep getting better and better, every day in every way.  But if you want something more specific than that wonderful life philosophy, then here, they fall into the following categories:

Health & Fitness: My goals here are simple. To keep losing weight. To try to eat healthier, with more fruits and veggies and a lot of pasta and cheese. To keep improving on my running, distance and speed. And to keep trying to sculpt my aging body through weight training by adding muscle as I lose fat.

Writing: Again, simple goals. Keep reading and keep writing. Try to write something every day. Maybe go back to keeping a journal of ideas and stream of conscious thoughts, like I did back in my early days of writing. I will also try not to get discouraged and try not to take Rejections as personal insults. That last one is a hard goal, because every Rejection sends me into a blue funk. I need to change my thinking that they aren’t rejecting me, they’re rejecting my story.

Mental Health: Yes, OK, let’s move on, nothing to see here. I’m working on dealing with my ADHD in all its manifestations.Maybe I’ll try to get back into meditation or something.

And that, as they say, is that.

Well, I do have one new unspecified goal and that’s in regard to politics. I intend to get more involved, contact my Representatives more often on issues of importance, and to join the resistance against the big orange turd in an attempt to prevent him from destroying all the progressive advances we’ve made as a nation over the past 100 years. He lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and only won the Electoral College by 80,000 votes in three states. He does not have a mandate. He’s disliked more than any other incoming President in history. He does not even deserve to be President. He represents the worst qualities of Mankind: hate, bigotry, intolerence, zenophobia, homophobia, and sexism.

Join the fight. Let your voice be heard. The election is only lost if you give up and normalize ignorance  and racism.

-30-