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Friday and Pecan Pies

Friday, October 21, 2011

The house is warm again. :) The furnace tech arrived about quarter of ten last night, poked around, determined that the fan seems good but wasn't starting, and replaced a $90 capacitor. Like magic, the fan started up as it should. Total time to diagnose and fix, maybe a half hour. I even got into bed by 10:30.

Today I hauled my gym bag to the office, thinking I might hit the gym and lift weights on my lunch hour. Changed my mind later, and decided to walk instead. I had too much stuff going on in the evening, and without a lunch walk I probably wouldn't get my 10K steps in. So today was a light day for exercise. I need some light days, but two in a row is enough. Tomorrow I'll figure out running in the low to mid 40s, hopefully well enough to learn how to pack the gym back to run in the 40s on my lunch hour.

This evening's errands included picking up my new suits, picking up a prescription, and baking pecan pies. I won't be eating the pies; they go to a church dinner tomorrow. I dutifully determined the nutritional value (such as it is) of the trimmed pie crust that I ate while baking, and still managed to come in within ranges. Then, for grins and giggles, I put the recipe into SP and found that a normal slice of pie, as prepared tonight, is 478 calories and heavy on the fat and sugar. No surprise there.

I was mildly amused when the screen offered me 3 Spark Points for entering this incredibly unhealthy recipe. I don't think that's quite the action SP intends to incent, but I grabbed the Spark Points anyway.

Now it's time to take care of some of the weekend household chores while I wait for the pies to finish baking, then off to bed at a decent hour so I can get done all the stuff I want to do tomorrow.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEBRITA01 10/22/2011 10:05AM

    Isn't it interesting how once we know the caloric consequences of certain foods, we see them in a different light. Good willpower resisting the pie...I probably still would have wanted at least a half-slice!

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DEBRA0818 10/22/2011 8:55AM

    At Weight Watchers (yes, another past failed attempt at weight loss for me), they used to call those "BLT's" -- bites, licks and tastes. We may not count them (although you did), but our body, the perfect calculator does!!!

Congrats on the quick fix to the furnace -- I'm sure you're going to need it!

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BARBAELLEN 10/21/2011 10:58PM

    Do you mean there are calories when you eat pie crust trimmings or when you lick cake-batter spoons? Gosh, and I always thought pecan pie wasn't fattening if you ate multiple slivers instead of whole pieces.

Seriously, you're so conscientious that as long as maintaining is your goal, there's no doubt you'll continue to be a success story. (BTW, maybe you should have a little sliver of that pie. After all, those pecans are packed with omega-3's)

Comment edited on: 10/21/2011 10:59:27 PM

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WATERMELLEN 10/21/2011 9:47PM

    Mmmmmmm pecan pie. I would not have nibbled on just the crust!!

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CIRANDELLA 10/21/2011 9:08PM

    Whew! What a relief that your furnace tech zeroed in on the capacitor problem just like that (snapping my fingers). That you need that warmth right now is an understatement; it's COLD out there!! Glad you're ready for the winter now and can concentrate on braving the elements while running (brr-rr-rr! :) Those pecan pies must be absolutely teeee-rific - lucky fellow churchgoers, Kevin! Enjoy that dinner...lots of folks are going to adore those desserts :) Not too long ago, I took a look at the nutritional value of our late mom's brownie recipe (my favorite) - and if I divide that pan into 16 pieces, each comes out to 129 which I say emoticon - Susan

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/21/2011 8:41PM

    I believe the incentive is to track reality, not necessarily to share "bad" foods, but to know what's in them so they can be fit in to the program. There are no forbidden foods, but knowing a slice is 478 might make me take a half slice as a splurge, rather than a whole slice, huh?

Glad the furnace is working again. Have a great time at your church dinner!

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We Interrupt this Fitness Channel for an Episode of Real Life

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I ran on my lunch hour Tuesday and Wednesday. The original plan was to walk on the lunch hour Thursday, and lift weights at the gym after work. Then Friday was to be a light day, with a lunch walk and non-exercise tasks in the evening.

Come 5 PM, and I didn't feel like going to the gym. Temp was in the low 50s, but there was a brisk wind and it felt colder. I was tired. I needed to get eggs so I can bake tomorrow, after running other mandatory errands between work and baking. I decided to do the grocery shopping gas up the car, get home, and get to bed early. My body was saying it needed rest.

Man plans, and God laughs.

Got home, and smelled that new heating season smell from the furnace. That's funny, it was there this morning. It should have gone away by now. Fixed dinner, tended to financial record keeping and bill payment.

I'm cold. The furnace is on. Check things. The furnace fan isn't on, and I can't turn it on. Sigh. Call my furnace service. I'm under contract, so no charge for a service call. But by the time I figured this much out, it was 7:30. The tech should get here between 9 and 12.

So much for early to bed tonight. I'm guessing that I won't make bedtime by 10:30, which is a Spark Goal of mine. The second session of weight lifting this week isn't going to happen. Maybe I'll sleep in on Saturday, and defer my Saturday run till afternoon.

And maybe God will laugh some more at my revised plans. For now, I'm just hoping the furnace tech gets here in the early part of the time window and can fix the problem easily.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CIRANDELLA 10/21/2011 1:27PM

    Oh, boy - I hope that furnace is back on its figurative feet very soon! Usually, it doesn't take more than a few minutes - maybe a half hour, at most - for the new-heating season smell to clear up. I hope all will be well in that department... Good for you, with weight lifting! My upper-body muscles always feel so pleasantly relaxed after I've done my reps. Have a great weekend! - Susan

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DEBRITA01 10/21/2011 8:20AM

    emoticonLife happens...Hope your furnace is up & running again soon, until then, stay warm!

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ARLENE_MOVES 10/21/2011 12:16AM

    Hope you stayed warm in the meantime!

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/20/2011 9:35PM

    Which rule number was "roll with the punches"? Here's to the furnace tech getting there, solving the problem and a warm Winter heating season!

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RG_DFW 10/20/2011 9:14PM

    Flexibility is a good thing...

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More Believable

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Today I ran at lunch again. This time, I remembered to look at my watch when I started. Did a bit longer route. 3.31 miles in 24 minutes, for a 7:15 pace per mile. Felt like I was working a little harder than yesterday early, then backed off and about the same on the last half.

7:15 is more believable. I conclude that I messed up the measurements yesterday. Still, it was a good use of the lunch hour both days.

Now, off to choir practice!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 10/20/2011 8:01AM

    7:15 is still emoticon
I hope to reach this speed by spring - maybe, and not in miles but kilometers lol...

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RG_DFW 10/19/2011 10:20PM

    Great pace... Not sure I'll ever get there, but it gives me something to shoot for.

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DEBRITA01 10/19/2011 9:20PM

    Good for you...getting your run in during lunch! emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/19/2011 8:55PM

    emoticon emoticon

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Am I Really That Fit?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Last night at the gym was weird. I hadn't been in to lift weights in a few weeks, so I deliberately held it to four lifts from the categories of push, pull, major leg, and calf. This time, that was DB chest presses, lat pulldowns, deadlifts, and seated calf raises.

As expected, I wasn't quite as strong as when I was last lifting regularly. But the loss wasn't huge. I had been deadlifting 205 lbs. for 3 sets of 8 reps. 185 for 8 was easy, so I threw on another 20 lbs. I was able to deadlift 205 for 3 sets of 6. Deadlifting 205 is kind of an emotional point for me, because that's what I lifted the first time I could deadlift my weight for 3 sets of 8 reps. I'll get there again.

I had hoped to do the chest presses with 45 lb. dumbbells, but had to come down to 40 lb. The lat pulls came down from the 130 I was maxed at before to 125, and I could only manage 3 sets of 8 reps at that weight. As expected, the seated calf raises were a process of feeling out how running had changed my soleus muscles.

The weird part was, I did all the lifts to the limits my strength would allow, and I wasn't drenched in sweat. Yeah, I worked up a light sweat with the deadlifts; but at the end of the workout, I could hardly squeeze any moisture out of my headband. It felt like I hadn't been working at all. If this hadn't been a first time back, I might have done some renegade rows or something else ambitious just to feel like I'd worked hard enough. But I didn't push it; I've climbed back on the weight lifting wagon enough times to be cautious the first time back after several weeks off.

Sure enough, this morning my arms and shoulders informed me that I had indeed worked out yesterday. I didn't have the awful re-entry DOMS, just the normal amount that tells me I worked hard enough for a training effect. My legs mostly felt normal, though I could tell I had worked my quads as I walked up the stairs to my office this morning.

Maybe I'm seeing a benefit in the weight room from running improving my cardiovascular conditioning?

Then today the not quite believable results continued. The forecast was partly cloudy with a high of 61. I have bell choir in the evening, and I lifted weights yesterday. Today I packed my gym bag with running clothes, and planned to run from the gym on my lunch hour. The weather turned out to be nearly perfect for running, so that's what I did. I mapped the route as usual, but I forgot to look at my watch right at the start of the run. So I had to estimate a time and point early in the route to measure from. The result turned out to be a pace of under 7 minutes a mile.

I don't want to believe that. It didn't feel like running as hard as last Saturday, when I turned in a 5K pace of 7:03. But double check. The full route was 2.98 miles, and I timed 20 minutes. The tag of untimed route at the beginning was probably under a minute. The estimated point to finish was 2.89 miles.

I can't make sense of the numbers any way but to think it comes out to just under a 7 minute mile; but it sure didn't feel like I was working that hard. Either I'm still seeing training improvement, or I messed up the measurement somehow. Or perhaps the brisk walk from the office to the gym was a proper warmup, and I've never warmed up enough before? I don't know.

Oh, well. Whether I messed up the measurement or not, I'm beginning to believe that I *can* run a 7 minute mile pace for a 3 mile or 5K distance under ideal conditions. But that's not really important. The important thing is, running is fun and I need to figure out how to get it done through the fall and winter as the weather changes.

After all, I won't always have the near ideal running conditions I had today.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 10/19/2011 3:07PM

    After reading you ran 5K in 21 minutes,
I'm not surprised at anything ; )

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LJCANNON 10/19/2011 9:59AM

    emoticonNow that Running has become "Fun" for you, I know that you will find a way to get it done regardless of the Weather or any other Challenges that you face.

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WATERMELLEN 10/18/2011 11:40PM

    You are really making fitness progress: terrific!! And: obviously loving it too. Even better.

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MOBYCARP 10/18/2011 9:36PM

    I don't think I'm eligible for the CSG, because I'm not a Nebraska resident. True?

Anyway, before I travel half a continent to compete, I need to figure out how to compete in my own back yard. If that turns out to be more hassle than the prize is worth, I can always go back to running my neighborhood weekends and evenings, and running the Genesee River Trail at lunch.

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/18/2011 9:06PM

    OMG, another runner has been unleashed! "Running is fun" he says. Your dad was a walker. Your grandfather a runner and later hiker. Looks like you're a runner after all. You going to come blow away the CSG next Summer? emoticon emoticon emoticon Life's good... Spark on!

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The Fitness Tracker - an Analytical and Philosophical Digression

Monday, October 17, 2011

On yesterday's blog, I mentioned that the fitness tracker thought I burned 699 calories running. CIRANDELLA commented to the effect that burning that many calories in a single run impressed her. I'm not as impressed. I'm particularly unimpressed with the fact that this morning, the tracker showed that expenditure as 703 calories. Apparently it retroactively applied today's weight (0.8 pounds higher than yesterday) to yesterday's exercise. I wonder how far back this retroactivity goes?

I don't trust the fitness tracker's calculation of calories burned.

Not long after I became a member of SP, I noticed some flakiness in the calories expended numbers. The first big anomaly I spotted was that the fitness tracker gave me an awful lot more calories burned for bicycling at 13 mph than for walking the same amount of time at 4.2 mph. It wasn't double, but it was more than 150%. But I knew that it took more effort to sustain a 4.2 mph walking pace than a 13 mph biking pace. What I didn't know was whether biking was a high estimate, walking a low estimate, both of the above, or both were off by different amounts in the same direction.

Later, I found the mapping function. I like it for determining distance; but if I map a route and tell it how long I took, it generates a different number of calories burned than just telling the system the same miles and time without going through the map. I'm not talking rounding error; for yesterday's run, the answers were 699 or 648 calories.

And there are no calories credited for strength training. I'm pretty sure I burn more calories in a good 30 minute weight lifting session than in 30 minutes of walking. (Though perhaps not as many as in 30 minutes of running.)

I do appreciate the fact that the calories burned are only estimates. The relevant question is, are the estimates close enough to use in deciding how much to eat? I decided that in my case, the answer is no.

The upshot of these observations was, I decided to mostly ignore the calories burned generated by the fitness tracker. I use the tracker as a motivational tool, to get myself to actually *do* the exercises. To that end, I count my morning TGU/windmill combos and kettlebell snatches as strength training, even though the amount is small. But it gets me to be consistent. To that end, I count exercise walks even though they don't get my heart rate into the target end. To the same end, I don't count mowing the lawn or moving furniture, because those are things I'd have done anyway. (Okay, without SP I might not have been in good enough shape to move *as much* furniture when daughter moved; but I would have done what I could.)

Since I don't trust the calories burned calculations, and the way I use the tracker would make the calories burned numbers suspect even if I liked the calculations, I tend not to update my projected exercise plans much. The fitness tracker complained at me for too many calories burned all the time I was losing weight; but I was satisfied on my calorie range, so I stuck with it. Based on my rate of weight loss, I probably had a bigger calorie deficit than SP recommends; but it worked out OK for me. I lost weight, improved cardio endurance, and improved strength at the same time.

When I got to maintenance level, that gave me the issue of not knowing where my calorie consumption really should be. On another fitness forum, one of the more educated people says she just watches her weight and adjusts her diet in small increments if she is gaining or losing. I think that's a good concept; the question is whether I can learn to do it. After all, weight loss over time is the real measure of having a calorie deficit, just as weight gain over time is the real measure of having a calorie surplus.

The implication for maintenance is that I'd like to be able to set a calorie range, and have the site adjust the macronutrient ranges for me. I don't think it will do that. But I can adjust how many calories I tell the fitness tracker I'll burn, and the numbers will flow through to changed ranges for calories, carbs, fat, and protein. So that's my method for changing the calorie range: Take desired increment or decrement of daily calories, multiply by 7, and increment or decrement planned weekly calorie burn in the fitness tracker by that amount. Then I have to go in and override the lower limit on protein, which will always pop out at 60 grams when I need it to be 90.

As my sister is fond of saying, reality is more important than online tracking. Bearing this adage in mind, I'm happy with the SP fitness and nutrition trackers. The nutrition tracker is as accurate a measure of what I eat as I'm likely to find, and the fitness tracker works for me as a motivational tool. That's good enough, and I can work around the fact that the calories burned calculations aren't accurate enough for my taste.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CIRANDELLA 10/18/2011 9:36AM

    I've really enjoyed the way you're fine-tuning a personal maintenance formula for yourself, Kevin, and it's interesting that you've isolated the retroactive way one's most recent weight statistic is factored into the previous day's exercise. There are a variety of processes which can affect one's day-to-day weight fluctuations, water retention and glycogen storage a couple that come to mind. With regard to water, both amount consumed in a 24-hour period and salt intake influence the usual 60% or so of total body mass it comprises. You might find this article by a personal trainer of interest:
Nonetheless, you may well find that over time, a reliable pattern will emerge for you, and you can personally structure your plan accordingly. Am eager to see what you discover in the process.

I've questioned my tracker's calibration of nutrients, too; good point! Plus, I want to discuss with my internist whether it is now prudent for me to lower some of my medications. In particular, my neurologist and I found that the gabapentin I take for MS-related neuropathy could be lowered by 1/3, yet it still delivers the same amount of pain relief as the former, larger dose.

I've been using the software version of FitDay's tracker, largely because I've customized it quite a bit over the past 7 years. Eager to read about your progress, as always - keep 'em coming! emoticon

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DEBRA0818 10/17/2011 10:31PM

    Good enough is the gift that keeps on giving! As always, listen to Barb!


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ONEKIDSMOM 10/17/2011 9:04PM

    emoticon I'm sure I've accused you of perfectionism at some point or other, despite this being a pot/kettle conversation. Learning to relax and find the point of "good enough" is a gift!

Good luck with good enough, bro! emoticon emoticon

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