Randomosity

It is Random Friday, where I cover a lot of topics in a short time. Hang on.

Fuelishness

When I first started driving, I got into the habit (some might say weird compulsion) to keep a notebook in the car to keep track of fuel and mileage. Its something my mom did, and still does. Whenever you fill up your car with gas, you note the date, odometer reading, how much gas you put in, and then you can figure out how many miles per gallon you’re getting.

This is useful because it often can indicate if there’s a problem with the engine if the MPG starts dropping radically.

I got away from this a few decades ago, but I just started up again recently. I found a phone app called “Fuel Buddy” and it tracks all the fueling information and even calculates the MPG for me so I don’t have to wear out any brain cells.

Fuel Buddy also allows you to track several vehicles and has options to automatically sense what gas station you are at. You can set service reminders for various components, like the battery, engine oil, spark plugs,  tire rotation, etc.

So far I’ve found on our last fill up that our 2004 Pontiac Vibe got 26.27 mpg, which is pretty good for an older car that does primarily city driving, and the 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge got 33.35 mpg. I might have been driving it a little aggressively since I first got it, so I’m going to see if I can better than on the next fill up.

First Outdoor Run

Yes, you read that correctly. Tuesday, I went out for the first outdoor run of the year. We finally had nice weather, no rain, and it was in the low 80s.

I wore my Hoka One One Clifton 3 and they were so cushiony, it felt like I was running on a wrestling mat instead of a cement sidewalk.

I did fairly well, and ran well over a mile and a half before I had to rest walk for about half a block or so. It seemed like I was always running uphill. How is that possible? I’m pretty sure M.C. Escher did not design my neighborhood.

I’ll have to relearn to pace myself, but it was nice being outside instead of on the treadmill watching TV.

I ran a total of 3.14 (pi!) miles in 36:13. Way off my personal treadmill best of 28 minutes and change for 3.11 miles (5k). My average speed was 5.2 mph, which isn’t bad since I had about 4 walking breaks thrown in there. And my fastest pace was 9.1 mph! Call me The Flash! Or maybe The Flash’s older, out of shape brother, The Slump.

The only drawback to outside running is my shoes got dirty. They don’t pick up dirt and grass and debris when I run on the treadmill. I’ve grown accustomed to having my shoes looking like new, so seeing the sole no longer pristine white sort of depressed me. Oh, well.

Took the Plunge

My phone did, that is. Fell right off my belt and took a half gainer into the toilet bowl at work. I guess the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge really is waterproof because it wasn’t harmed at all.

Luckily, the water was still disinfectant blue from when it had been cleaned the day before, meaning no one had used it yet.

I wiped it off, smeared some hand sanitizer on it, and it was good to go.

Weigh-in Friday

Sorry. I didn’t weigh myself this morning, which is probably just as well. Despite returning to salads for lunch this week, (the last several weeks I was eating PB&J or lunch meat sandwiches), I ate a lot of junk food the rest of the time: pizza (three times, restaurant and frozen, and leftovers), burgers  (twice, both at restaurants), a shake, cheesecurds, and heavily salted snack foods. So I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d climbed back over the 200 pound mark.

First Place!

Thought I’d mention it, since nearly every baseball pundit predicted we’d be in last place,  the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place in their division, leading the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.

Nyah! Nyah!

Star Trek Discovery

By now, most trekkies have seen the first real trailer of Star Trek Discovery and pissed their pants. Amirite?

Or you’re in a state of quiet uncertainty. You dont want to get too excited in case it sucks, but you’re still eager for anything new from the Star Trek franchise.

Or you’re one of those skeptics who are trying to figure out, if this is supposed to be in the Prime timeline 10 years before Kirk, why does all the equipment and special effects look like they’re from the Kelvin timeline?

I’m actually part of a fourth group. The ones who are angry as Hell that CBS isn’t airing Star Trek Discovery on over-the-air network CBS, but instead has chosen to hold the franchise hostage and extort money from loyal fans by forcing them to watch their pay service, CBS All Access.

I don’t know about yoo, but I don’t deal with terrorists. Why should I pay for a service that has only one watchable show on it? I mean, I can’t even name another television program that airs on CBS.

Fuck you, CBS.

If I have to, I’ll wait ten years for the show to make it to Netflix.

How the Elimination of the Fairness Doctrine Fucked Over America

I read something appalling recently. Although that the approval ratings for the Orange Turd are the lowest in the history of approval ratings, there are 96% of those who voted for him, STILL SUPPORTING HIM!

Are you fucking kidding me?

So you have to ask yourself Why? And the only answer possible is they are uninformed on the issues, they only hear one side of the argument, the side they already agree with. There is no critical thinking involved. They are spoon fed their opinions from Fox News, Breitbart, and conservative talk radio.

There was a time in America where the people were better informed. They could make better decisions because they were more knowledgeable about current events and understood both sides of an issue.

If you’re old enough, you probably remember when news programs had Point-Counterpoint discussions where they’d discuss both sides of an argument.

They did that because it was an FCC  requirement.  They had to give equal airtime to opposing views to keep their broadcast license. During elections, if they had one candidate on, then the station was required to give equal time to their opponent.

It was called The Fairness Doctrine and it became law in 1949. And it worked. Most Americans, if they regularly watched the news, had a basic understanding of issues and could make informed decisions. It helped Americans to think for themselves.

But then, in 1985 under Ronald Reagan, that rule was rescinded. Without the requirement to present both sides of an argument, conservative talk radio was born and its angry,  one-sided ignorant rhetoric quickly found an audience among white bigots who felt disenfranchised by a progressive America.

Talk radio hosts were able to inflame these white Americans into believing all their supposed woes were because of illegal immigrants, non-Christians, libtards, feminazis, ecoterrorists, gays who were forcing their lifestyle upon them, and the like.

And their hate and ignorance continued to grow because now they could feed their ignorance by listening to only one side of the news–conservative–and they lost the perspective to see things from the other side. It became easier to name call than have an open mind.

And the Orange Turd found he could capitalize on their hate, their bigotry, and their ignorance, and he road a massive wave of racial, homophobic, sexist prejudice into the White House.

And despite his every lie, every scandal, every illegal activity, his supporters still love him because they are completely uninformed about these activities and have the opinion (handpicked by the Orange Turd himself) that everything negative said about him is “fake news” and all part of a witch hunt to tear him down.

And that is why we need The Fairness Doctrine back: to try to bring some sanity back into politics, to gradually re-teach people how to think for themselves, and to inform them of all sides of the issues.

Resist to stay informed.

/rant over

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Don’t wait to check the date

Tuesday I thought I’d try a new training technique for my run that I’d just read about.

Instead of starting off slow and increasing your speed throughout the run and finishing with a sprint, this technique has you start off fast and then progressively decreasing your speed.

I began at a 6.5 mph pace (which is faster by almost 5mph than my previous fastest pace for a sustained run) with the intention of decreasing it by 2mph after each mile until I completed 5k. My intent was to finish anywhere from 6.1 to 5.5 mph, depending how tired I felt toward the end of the run.

After the first mile, I thought, “OK, my lap times are approximately 2:18. I still feel strong. I can go for another two minutes, so I’ll keep at 6.5mph for just one more lap.”

That one lap became two. Then three. Then four. Now I’d run 2 miles at this clip. Just one more lap, then I’ll slow down, I told myself again.

Long story short, I ran the entire 5k at that 6.5 mph pace and set a personal best in time. 28:something (it’s written down in my log), which I think betters my previous PB by at least one minute, if not more. Again, it’s in my log. 

And I felt good. No. Great. Exhausted, yes, but it was a good exhaustion because I had accomplished something.

As part of my post-workout routine, I’ve recently added drinking a small bottle of Core Power protein shake. I had read chocolate milk is good post-run, so why not a protein shake? Especially a 240 calorie one with 3.5 grams of fat, 26 grams of carbs, and 26 grams of protein (made up of 19 grams of essential amino acids and 5 grams of branched chained amino acids)? 

Besides, they’re delicious.

The next morning I woke up with the urge to go to the bathroom. But not to urinate. No. This was a stomach cramping “You’d better run!” urge. 

And minutes later, there it was again. And again. And again.

If you have stock in Imodium, you’re welcome.

At first I thought it was my body’s reaction to the previous night’s extremely strenuous run. Except I’ve never had that sort of reaction before.

So then I thought food poisoning. Except I was the only one in the house sick. Did I have anything they didn’t have?

Oh, right. I had a bottle of Core Power, but I’ve had those several times over the last couple weeks. I’ve never had this reaction before.

Then for shits and grins, I checked the bottle. Hmm. All the ingredients are filtered and purified. Its even lactose free. They seem to pride themselves on offering a quality product. Nothing in there that should affect me adversely. 

Until I looked at the lid:

Yes. It expired November 22, 2016. Four months ago! Considering I had only started buying them two weeks ago, that means it was expired at the grocery store.

The problem is, which store? I picked them up from two different supermarkets. 

Guess I’ll go back to each, check the Expiration Dates and whichever store has expired product still on the shelf will get an ass-chewing.

That is unexceptable. I did not look at the date before I drank it because I expected something recently purchased would be fresh.

I will continue to buy Core Power protein shakes and use them as part of my post-run routine.

I’ll just be more diligent checking Expiration Dates in the future.

Run. Hydrate. But check that expiration date.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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