Saturday, September 17, 2011
My first 9 weeks on SparkPeople went very well. I learned to use the food tracker, I learned to use the stupid motivational tricks to get me to exercise more consistently, and I even started training to turn myself into a runner. I dropped more weight than I would have imagined practical in that much time. I changed the way I eat.
It's not hard to understand why those 9 weeks went so well. I'm a single person household. It was summer, and I had no fixed social commitments. I control the groceries I buy and whether I go out to eat. It was the ideal situation for implementing a diet and exercise plan.
The 10th week has been more challenging. Fall social commitments started up. That squeezes the serious exercise out of two days a week, though I can still get 10K steps in. I made a plan for dealing with the time crunch, opting to keep the running training and cut back on strength training.
Man plans, and God laughs.
Thursday I strained a calf muscle. Based on the way it acted on Friday, the major strain is to my right soleus. That's the muscle that activates when you flex your ankle with your knee bent. The gastrocnemius seems to have minimal or no damage; a tentative test yesterday seemed to indicate I could have done standing calf raises without a problem.
There's a lot of things I can't do easily with a sore soleus. Tentative motion tests Friday morning without external weights ruled out squats, Romanian deadlifts, traditional deadlifts, and lunges. That pretty much meant no lower body strength training. TGUs were out. Even kettlebell swings seemed to bother it a little. I didn't even test for military press or barbell clean and press.
Friday was a very frustrating day. I felt like I should be MOVING! But it hurt to walk any sustained distance. I learned to climb stairs flat footed, because that didn't hurt like a normal motion on my toes did. I cut my lunch walk short, because I couldn't handle those long walks. I got my 10K steps in by taking them in short stretches. 800 steps to shop at Sam's Club. 900 steps to shop at Walmart. Between 120 and 150 steps from my office to the restroom and back at work. Ended up walking less than a mile in the evening to fill out the step count, at a wimpy 3.2 mph pace. I had visions of totally falling off the wagon, with everything coming apart because I couldn't do anything major.
Today was better. The soleus is still sore. Running is out, but I got my TGU/Windmill combos and KB snatches in this morning. Daughter rescheduled breakfast at McD for lunch at Taco Bell, and I walked a bit over 4 miles starting when breakfast would have been. The 4 miles was shorter than the original aspiration, but at least I was smart enough to have a twisty route with opportunities to bail on distance. I was surprised to map that out to a 4.0 mph pace; I thought I was holding back more than that, particularly early on.
Taco Bell is easier to work around the McD, but it's still something to work around. At this point, I have 630-980 calories left for the day . . . and a social eating dinner to attend. I'll have to estimate what I eat when there, and that's a bit of a challenge. I've done very well eating dinner at home with one eye on the food tracker as I decide what foods to add to the meal.
This dinner shouldn't be too bad. I expect buffet style, mostly home prepared and simple. There should be some good choices availbale. At the end of September, I have a restaurant-based buffet dinner to attend; that will be a real challenge.
When I write it all out like this, it doesn't look so bad. But emotionally, it's scarey to be on limited exercise at the same time as having food challenges. Yeah, that's silly; the leg should be all better well before the late September dinner. Maybe I'll be able to run tomorrow, maybe not till Monday; but there will be progress. The progress just isn't as steady as I'd like it to be.
Ah, well. The classic prayer would seem to apply: "Lord, give me patience. And give it to me RIGHT NOW!!!"
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Autumn weather arrived today. The morning temp was in the low 50s, with light rain. Got up early, got to work, walked about 3/4 mile to the mandatory meeting and arrived right when the bus I could have boarded did. Walked back to work, and tried to get a day's work done in 5 hours. Took a break for a lunch walk, and hit my 10K steps by 1 PM.
Maybe that should have been a warning.
After work, came home with the plan to do Week 2, Day 3 of the 5K My Way running program. Had a slice of whole wheat toast and some water. Put on my new exercise slacks and a tee shirt. Poke my head out into the now 57 degree weather, and decide I can do without a jacket. Set off for the routine of walk 1 minute, run 4 minutes for 8 cycles.
Cycle 1, I look at my watch when I've been running 4:02. Good. Cycle 2, I begin to feel a twinge in my right calf. It's not bad. I've walked with stuff like this many times.
Maybe that should have been a warning.
Cycle 2, I looked at my watch when I'd been running 4:07. I'm feeling pretty good. Add another loop to the route, with another up and down hill, because it's 5 minutes longer than last time.
Cycle 3, getting into it. It's feeling like training, and this is familiar. The calf is manageable.
Cycle 4, 1 minute into the run the calf cramps up and I can't run. I'm about as far from home as this winding route will take me. Surely no more than a mile?
Walk a few paces further along the route, hoping it's temporary and I'll be able to continue. It isn't. By the time I realize the shortest way home would have been to walk back down the hill that I cramped at the top of, I'm partway down the hill the other direction. I can't walk as briskly as I normally would, because of the calf.
At this point, I'm very glad to have the long exercise pants. When the breeze blows, I'm not so glad of my decision to forego a jacket. Sitting still doesn't seem like a good option, and even if I call my daughter it would take her a half hour to come get me. So I soldier on. Later, I'm able to walk at a more normal pace but still can't run.
Turns out my walk home was 1.35 miles. At this point I'm glad to get back int he warm house, and stretching just doesn't happen. Get supper, shower, and log my food and exercise.
My pedometer reads 18,601 steps. That's the most I've had in a single day since I started wearing it in mid-July.
So now I contemplate, what did I do wrong? Perhaps I wasn't as hydrated as I should have been. Perhaps I did too much walking during the day for running in the evening. Perhaps I did nothing wrong, and something like this was going to happen anyway.
We'll see how the calf feels tomorrow, which ought to be a weight lifting day. I'm hoping that by Saturday I can make another attempt at Week 2, Day 3 running.
In the past, feeling like this would have convinced me that either I'm not a runner, or I don't know how to train. I'm not convinced this time. I think I can overcome this. The question is, how long do I need to rest that calf before I hit it again? The more important question is, now that I've been through this will I be smart enough to quit running sooner if the same thing happens again?
Monday, September 12, 2011
I saw a lot of blogs about running, or wanting to run, this evening. Some folks are relaxing by running a few miles, some are gearing up for half marathons, some are wondering if they could actually run a 5K.
I am not a runner. I've said that many times, and each time I've said it, it was true.
I'm a veteran walker. Even at my most out of shape, I probably could have walked 5 miles. I can certainly walk a 5K in 45 minutes, if I push the walk a little.
Once a year for the past several years, I've pretended to be a runner at the 3.5 mile Chase Corporate Challenge that runs in Rochester, NY at the end of May. A couple of times, I managed to run the first two miles. Once I didn't manage to run the entire first mile. I've never been able to run the entire course. Finishing has never been in question; I could always walk 3.5 miles after running to exhaustion.
Right now, I'm doing the 5K My Way running program. I am so much not a runner, that I couldn't do Week 1 when I decided to train. I had to do two weeks of remedial training before I was good enough to start the program.
Today I did Week 2, Day 2. The program at this point is walk 1 minute, run 4 minutes for 7 cycles, total time 35 minutes. I covered 4.32 miles in that 35 minutes. That's the exact same distance I covered Saturday on Week 2, Day 1, same routine; but this time I had more hills.
As I was running the 5th cycle, it occurred to me that someone observing me at a random instant during my training would have an 80% chance of thinking I'm a runner. Someone observing at a random geographical location would have a larger chance of thinking I'm a runner, because I cover more than 80% of the distance in the 80% of the time I'm running.
By the time I get to the end of the program, it's going to have me run 40 minutes continually. I'll have to think about where to run that one; it looks like I'm going to need a longer route than I have used to date. That's Week 4, day 3, so I have a while to think about where I want to do that. Then on Week 5, it backs off to 30 minute runs; I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm supposed to work on speed at that point?
I am not a runner, but I've trained to the point where my calves feel normal the day after I run 28 minutes in 7 segments of 4 minutes each. I've trained to the point where my resting heart rate is a bit lower than it was when I started. However, I'm not yet where the training is supposed to take me.
I am not a runner. But in 3 more weeks, I will be.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
It's been a day of competing themes.
At church today, our interim minister preached on looking back and looking forward. Looking back, we had the remembrance of 9-11. At 10:28 am, the chimes rang and worship was interrupted, as our lives were interrupted 10 years ago. This happened to fall during the children's moment, teaching remembrance of 9-11 to people who weren't born yet then. Looking forward, today was Rally Day, launching the new church year tied to the academic year.
Rally Day came with sundaes this year. Brownie sundaes, with brownies that looked like 3" squares. I dithered a bit, then spotted a brownie that was 1" by 3", where someone else had already cut off a smaller portion. Told the server to use that one, and one scoop of ice cream. He gave me a smaller scoop than I was thinking, but that was good. Having measured a tablespoon of salad dressing or barbecue sauce many times, I felt confident in estimating a tablespoon of chocolate syrup.
That small brownie sundae satisfied my social eating urge, and was more enjoyable than a "full sized" sundae would have been a year ago. Scarcity makes is special. When I got home and entered the parts, I was surprised how easy it was to work around. High calorie dessert, and good nutrition. Competing themes.
Today was also planned to be a day of mostly rest, though I did want to get my 10K steps in. Spent the early afternoon dealing with household paperwork, getting stuff caught up that had been waiting for a convenient time. Along about 3:30, I looked at my pedometer and saw a bit over 3300 steps.
I'm not going to get 6700 more steps inside a 1225 square foot house. It's a day between 5K training, so I'll take a walk. Maybe walk the route that I've been thinking to add to the running route, for when I'm running longer and need it to be longer. Put on my cargo shorts, grab my e-book, and go to the door.
It's raining. Well, not really raining, but kind of sprinkling and the pavement is wet. Hmm. Change from cargo shorts to running shorts. Put the e-reader away. I'm now dressed for running, but I'll walk. It won't matter if I get wet.
Walk the proposed neighborhood route, which turns out to be 4.65 miles. Not as long as I'd hoped, but the new addition has an uphill that should be brutal if I'm trying to run the entire route. I can see myself wanting to put that in when the training is going well. If I can successfully train to run that route, the hill in the first mile of the Chase Corporate Challenge won't bother me at all.
The sprinkle did change to a light rain, but changed back to a sprinkle before I got home. All in all, it was a pleasant walk. It was also a walk that wouldn't have happened, pre-Spark; the rain would have scared me away. A pleasant walk, recorded as exercise (4.1 mph pace), but the point wasn't really the exercise. The point was the 8K or so steps I got in, and looking at that brutal uphill in person instead of just mapping it.
Looking back, looking forward. I went to look up what I weighed on 9/11/2001. My daily records only go back to 12/31/2001, but I wrote some ranges down of what I remembered from when I was weighing but not recording daily. I wrote down that I was in the 212-216 range in September-November 2001. A lot of history has happened since then, and a lot of personal life has happened as well. This morning I weighed in at 181.4. I'm 10 years older, but healthier, more fit, and at least 30 pounds lighter.
Looking forward, the start of the church year also means the start of bell choir and vocal choir practice on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. It's a time when it's easy to fall off the exercise bandwagon, because other commitments take up time. I thought ahead a bit, and decided to convert from Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday 5K training to Saturday-Monday-Thursday. Did Week 2, Day 1 yesterday. I'll do Week 2, Day 2 tomorrow.
That's going to squeeze out some weight lifting. Can't be helped. There are only so many hours in the week, and I can't throw as many of them at exercise in the fall as I can in the summer.
With luck, when I get through the 5K training I can live with shorter runs on my lunch hour plus a longer run on Saturday, and go back to lifting weights Monday and Thursday evenings. In the past, the Mon-Thurs weight lifting schedule would have been watered down by evenings needed for shopping or other household maintenance stuff; but now I'm an empty nester. It could work. Or I could get two weeks into that, and find that it implodes from being too much to attempt regularly. Don't know until I try.
Less time exercising probably also means slower weight loss. That's okay. SP says I should be losing slower this close to my goal, anyway. The change in life's tempo will be an opportunity to see how to adjust the system to deal with a changing life.
Such are my thoughts on this lazy Sunday, as I look back and look forward.
Friday, September 09, 2011
This morning I weighed in at 182 even on a scale that weighs to a fifth of a pound. I am 5 feet, 11.75 inches tall. That calculates out to a Body Mass Index of 24.856, just below the "top of healthy" number of 24.9.
This is the first time I've seen a BMI in the healthy range. The last time I weighed this little, I'd never heard of BMI.
Of course, BMI is not a perfect measurement. It relates weight to height squared, when all good students of math and physics know that weight would be more properly related to height cubed. And it measures weight, not volume. The implications of this are first, seriously athletic people with significant muscle mass can have high BMIs and be healthy; and more subtly, taller people will be healthy at higher BMIs than shorter people.
During past weight loss efforts, when I bounced off 188 or 185, I wondered whether my weight lifting had built so much muscle that I couldn't get into the nominally healthy BMI range. That turns out not to be the case; I got strong before, but got enough protein to build muscle at the cost of eating too many total calories. In the back of my mind, I probably knew this; but I was in denial.
When I started with SparkPeople, I figured that the proof of the system would be if I could get down into healthy BMI range. The system has proven itself. Yes, this is a one day low. I may weigh more tomorrow. But the day will come when I will consistently weight 182 or less.
Achieving a BMI in the healthy range was a goal in 2005. It was a fantasy in 2006. I came within 2 pounds of it in 2010, before I put some of the pounds back on. And it was a reality this morning.
But to tell the truth, for something that I've wanted to achieve since 2004, it's kind of a non-event. Really, 182 is just a number on the scale. Lower numbers are on the way. I was more excited that my calves felt normal this morning after doing the 5K training yesterday evening. That's an indication that the 5K training is working, and I may yet become a runner.
If you can stand one more financial analogy, BMI is to fitness like a good credit score is to personal finances. Take care of the finances, and the credit score takes care of itself. Take care of the fitness, diet, and exercise, and eventually the BMI will take care of itself.
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