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Five Weeks of Maintenance

Friday, November 11, 2011

My initial weight goal was 175 pounds. On Friday, October 7 I weighed in at 174 and declared myself to be in maintenance. Today marks 5 weeks of maintenance for me.

In those five weeks, I've lost 5.4 pounds to arrive at today's weight of 168.6. That's a bit more than a pound a week. Hmm. Sounds more like SP's recommended speed of weight loss than like maintaining a steady weight.

So what have I done in five weeks of maintenance? I've increased my calories, twice, for a total increase of 400 calories per day. I've taken two cheat days where I deliberately went over the top of the calorie range. And I've gone from training to run a 5K, to regular running, to running a competitive 5K.

So while I've added some calories to the diet, I might not have added enough. And I might have added some calorie burn to the exercise side, too; it's hard to tell. On the one hand, I'm concerned about adding more to the diet, because I'm not convinced that I will sustain my current level of activity long term. On the other hand, I'm concerned that I might eat too little and lose too much weight.

The gripping hand is, I don't know what my most healthy weight should be. I'm pretty sure I'm not below it yet, because a) I'm feeling pretty good physically, b) I ran a personal best fast pace for any run longer than 2 miles last Sunday, and c) the daily TGU/windmill combos and snatches with the 45 pound (~20 kilo) kettlebell are easier now than they have ever been.

So I guess I gotta have faith that my body will tell me when I get where I'm supposed to be. That's what my sister says happened for her. At this point, the fantasy of achieving my immediate post-high school weight of 165 doesn't look all that far fetched.

But I won't get there because I'm trying to lose weight. I'm in maintenance, dammit! If the weight comes off, it comes off; but the goal is to stay fit, have fun, and keep running through the winter months.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUZETTE070 11/14/2011 5:14AM

    Sounds like you've got all your ducks lined up, Moby! I'm sure vigilance is the key. If you do bottom out - wherever that may be and just be sure to keep from packing on the pounds again, you're going to be healthy for life. I believe that is what the maintenance mindset is all about. Not to stop all those good habits because we have 'arrived' but be more careful, because it is above all else, a balancing act.

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KRISZTA11 11/12/2011 3:30AM

You've got it!

I totally love your reasoning!
If you feel good, fit and healthy and are content with your diet, then there is no reason to make any emergency changes.
But it's good to make sure calorie intake follows changes in exercise level up or down,
or to increase food intake if you get often hungry, so that you don't lose your motivation.

Thanks for sharing, I appreciate your thoughts,
as I'm in a very similar situation: lost 3 kg (6.6 pounds) in my 8 weeks of maintenance, despite adding 150 calories to nutrition plan and actually eating it every day : )


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FROGGGY13 11/12/2011 2:47AM

    This all sounds excellent. I like your reasoning regarding when you'll know you weigh too little. Congrats on your good work!

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ARLENE_MOVES 11/12/2011 1:35AM

    "but the goal is to stay fit, have fun, and keep running through the winter months"

You got it!!

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/11/2011 9:03PM

    By George, I think he's got it! Seriously, maintain the habits, the scale will take care of itself. When and if it starts to alarm you (I get a little alarmed when it goes below 120)... you can re-assess. But if you feel good, are physically capable, and aren't overly hungry... hey, sounds like maintenance to me!


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Running Away from Snack Day

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

It's been two days since I ran my fastest pace to date in an organized 5K. Today was a day to run on my lunch hour, which has the additional benefit of taking me away from the Snack Cube on Snack Day during the time that everyone will be walking in and out and sampling stuff.

Got a late jump on the lunch hour, so I went a shorter route than I would have preferred. Tried to run at a brisk training pace, not pushing to equal Sunday's race pace but not slouching. Got lucky with favorable pedestrian and automotive traffic patterns between the gym and the River Trail, and it was near perfect weather for running. Added just a small jog at the end to come out to 21 minutes, and figured I'd run 2.8 or 2.9 miles.

It mapped out to 3.02 miles. Doing the math, that turns out to be a 6:57 pace per mile. Huh. That's the second fastest pace I've had on any run of greater than 2 miles. It was exceeded only by Sunday's race with real competition, and I certainly wasn't trying to run that fast today! There could be some small inaccuracies in my mapping and/or timing, but I almost certainly was running around a 7 minute mile. And if it weren't for time constraints, I could have kept going.

So I came back to the office and faced the Snack Cube. Did some figuring, cut some of my normal lunch out in favor of a Brugger's bagel (12 grams of protein, TYVM) with light garden veggie cream cheese (spread thin to stay in the 2 tbsp serving size listed on the package). Planned out the food for the rest of the day, and quit eating snacks. The quitting part would not have happened in my world before tracking and trying to hit calorie and macronutrient ranges.

An email arrives to the effect of, "I've just cut the chocolate cake and it's delicious! Come get it before it's gone!" The cake does not fit in the meal plan for the day.

I forego the cake.

At quitting time, there's quite a bit of good looking stuff left in the Snack Cube. I can leave it there.

Nothing tastes as good as being able to run a 7 minute mile feels.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CIRANDELLA 11/10/2011 7:17PM

    Good going! That very last sentence of your blog entry says it all, and says it truthfully, too - chocolate-laden e-mails to the contrary :) emoticon

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DEBRITA01 11/8/2011 8:55PM

    I like the title of your blog. Presently I am trying to run away from sweets...when I see them, I try to run in the opposite direction :) Finding alternatives to your snack day, especially running, is great!

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WATERMELLEN 11/8/2011 7:59PM

    What a pair of victories!! Yay you!! (and . . . do you suppose there's a connection?)

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/8/2011 7:36PM

    Nothing tastes as good as knowing you won't regret eating it later! emoticon

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It's Dark Out

Monday, November 07, 2011

I got out of work at 5 today, and the first thing I noticed was that it was dark. Of course, this happens every year on Daylight Wasting Monday; but somehow it always surprises me with the contrast. This year, it was especially striking because today was a beautiful sunny day with a high around 62 F (17 C).

Intellectually, I know why this happens. It's a combination of being at one of the more northerly points in the Continental US; being further east in the time zone than where I was raised; and (usually) heavier cloud cover in the winter making the dusk turn dark more quickly than in the clearer summer months. It makes rational sense, other than the silliness of changing our clocks instead of just staying on the same time year round.

But still, it seems harder to accept that it gets dark all of a sudden than to live with the gradual change in the length of the day.

As I walked out to check my mail in the dark, it struck me that running in the evening would be dangerous now. I need to get a reflective harness and runner's lights to make myself visible if I'm going to run in the evening dark, particularly in the winter when many drivers won't be expecting to see runners. Either that, or get my running done on weekends and lunch hours.

The lunch hour thing should work tomorrow and Wednesday, as the forecast calls for good running weather. But I shouldn't put off darkness running gear more than a week, because we won't have good weather all winter long.

This is the sort of thing that has the potential to derail an exercise program. I don't want to let that happen.

After musing a bit about the dark, I came in and read a few blog entries. The theme that jumped out at me this evening was maintenance and motivation. There were people just entering maintenance, or close to goal, and concerned about how to do it. There were people like myself, newly in maintenance and still feeling out how to make it work. There were longer term maintainers struggling to keep or regain their spark, so they could stay healthy.

It's a bit sobering. Today I skipped lifting weights at the gym, in favor of grocery shopping. The groceries for my kitchen could have waited, but a snack day was declared for work tomorrow, and I need to bring something. That last bit pushed the boring errands into higher priority than the pleasant gym session. Sigh.

But there was a blog addressing food control in maintenance, too. It served as a cautionary tale for what could happen to me if I slip back into my pre-Spark eating habits.

So, pull up my big boy pants and deal with the snack day. I bought mini kolackies, which will keep well enough that I can just leave them at work if they don't all disappear. I need to mostly ignore the snack cube tomorrow. I need to plan what I will do to make this happen.

One important part of the plan is, I will run on the lunch hour. Besides the forecast for good running weather, being out of the office long enough to run means I'm not eating snacks for that long. Another part is reaffirming my motivation to leave the snacks alone after a taste. I have two sayings for that.

First, for people who offer me stuff I shouldn't have: "Nothing tastes as good as being able to run a 5K in 21 minutes feels." (The classic line of "being thin" just doesn't speak to me.)

Second, for myself when the temptation is internal: "You can't out-train a crappy diet."

We'll see how the day goes tomorrow. One day of blowing nutrition discipline won't be a disaster; but snack day is not the best excuse for a cheat day. I'd rather save that level of indiscretion for something more socially significant.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 11/10/2011 3:38PM

    "You can't out-train a crappy diet." - that's a big truth...

To people offering me unwanted food I always tell: no thanks, I'm not hungry now.
I found this very effective. True and usually surprises people (weird reason not to eat, huh?), and so far nobody pressed me further ; )

You are so lucky you can go out to run at lunchtime.

I always run in the morning, before breakfast.
Before daylight saving time it was getting too dark (and dark sucks out my motivation), but now it's OK, and hope it will be OK for a couple of weeks.

Funny, this is the first time in my life that daylight saving does good for me.
It was a nightmare when my kids were babies, and they woke up 1 hour earlier, but in general it was losing one hour sleep.

Comment edited on: 11/10/2011 3:39:01 PM

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/7/2011 9:33PM

    I kept my appointment with the heavy metal. I'm still figuring out just how heavy I should go with my new set of triathlon supporting exercises... treated myself to a six-pack of personal trainer sessions. Happy Birthday to me.

The first is on Friday. We'll see what form of torture she comes up with.

Tomorrow a rest day, sort of. Wednesday, spinning. Thursday rest. Friday, the trainer.

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2011 Race on the Ridge 5K

Sunday, November 06, 2011

This was my first organized 5K since I've been training to run. My goal was to beat my timed solo 5K (21:57) and to keep running the entire course. Both goals were accomplished, making this the first organized road race that I've actually run all the way.

The weather forecast was for 36 F (2 C) and sunny at race time, with the temperature rising to an eventual daily high around 62 F (17 C). I had just bought more running clothes yesterday, and some of them saw duty today. I had advice from the local running store on how to organize things, given that I would be driving myself to/from and had no support crew. It worked out well.

On the advice of a co-worker who runs, I lined up at the front. This was not as daunting for a race of under 300 participants as it has been in the 10,000+ participant Chase Corporate Challenge. I started out fast, prompted by adrenaline and competition. Of course, I could not keep up the pace of the leaders. I passed a few people in the early going, then I was passed by a handful of people during the rest of the race. Somewhere during the second mile, a female runner passed me and I thought she would probably be the overall women's leader. Sure enough, she was. I traded places with one other guy a couple of times, and he ended up ahead of me by quite a distance.

So how did I do?

On the list posted on the wall, I showed up 22nd out of 135, with everyone ahead of me being younger than I am. Hence, the age group medal. Chip time on that list was 20:59.534, but they read the time as 20:59 when they gave out awards. That works out to a pace 6:46 per mile. Kind of makes me wonder what my one mile split was, as I slowed down later in the race.

I'm pleased with my performance, and now I'll have to think about other organized races. There's a 4.4 mile race on Thanksgiving Day; if I run that one, I'll have to control the urge to keep up with the real runners at the start. I don't think I could have kept running for 4.4 miles after the start I had today.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BARBAELLEN 11/7/2011 12:25AM

WOW! Very impressive! You have definitely earned bragging rights on this one!

I really appreciate your sharing your successful journey from registering on the SP site all the way to winning this medal. It made me pause and reminded me how much is possible with determination. I needed that. Thanks, and CONGRATULATIONS!


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MOBYCARP 11/6/2011 8:48PM

    Addendum: On the posted results, I was 21st out of 163 finishers. The late times were obviously walkers. In 20-20 hindsight, I remember that the first position on the wall was a test timer.

Posted result is 21:00, which is where I round to the second. Fair enough.

There was one older guy ahead of me that I missed on the wall. 65 years old, and he ran the 5K in 20:20. Maybe I can train to be that good in another 10 years. emoticon

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CIRANDELLA 11/6/2011 8:20PM

    Congratulations, emoticon, on your phenomenal, first-in-your-age-group work today! That's some VERY serious running, and your weather paralleled our own here - pretty brisk starting temp! Do you think you'll run the Thanksgiving Day race? You'll be leaving a lot of couch potatoes in the dust that day, but with every MD's blessing! emoticon

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DEBRITA01 11/6/2011 8:14PM

    emoticonon your first 5k run...and, I can sense there will be more to come! Be proud of your accomplishment...#1 in your age group is awesome! emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 11/6/2011 6:30PM

    Fantastic! You gotta be very proud of yourself!!

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ARLENE_MOVES 11/6/2011 5:58PM

    So proud of you. I will vicariously run with you as I'm not allowed so lets keep running!!!!!

emoticon emoticon

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KRISZTA11 11/6/2011 3:02PM

    Wonderful time, congratulations!

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/6/2011 1:49PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Proud of you, brother! And not at all surprised by your race time, knowing the difference between my own training times versus race times. You, sir, are a real runner. Whether you accept the title or not.

I have pondered in the past year, particularly, whether we, as children, might have truly become athletic, had we been raised differently. Clearly, there is some native talent, which our parents did not particularly encourage. Not that I blame them, mind you... they did what they could in the time and life they themselves led. But seeing how well my son did athletically with just a slightly different direction (his dad was very encouraging of his baseball, soccer, golf, basketball, whatever, and I went along with that, too).

Just goes to show... it's never too late to become who you're going to be!

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10K Steps

Saturday, November 05, 2011

One of the popular fitness goals is to get 10K steps in per day. Make that into a Spark goal, and combine it with streak tracking, and the stupid motivational tricks suck me right in. I have a streak of 112 days of getting 10K steps or more. The streak tracker only reports 29 days, but that's because of a bug that used to chop off that streak when I changed my calories burned projection. (The bug appears to have been fixed, but the streak tracker doesn't let me start tracking an existing streak from when it really started.)

Early on in my SP membership, I watched how far over 10K steps I went. My thinking was that as I got more fit, those step counts should go up. I envisioned getting to where 20K steps in a day was no big deal.

My thinking on that subject has changed.

As I learned to be a runner, I also learned that there is such a thing as too many steps, and that all steps are not created equal. On two days, my step count exceeded 18K. On one of those days, I injured a calf and spent over a week getting it back to normal. That was a day of lots of walking, plus training to run.

Straining my calf drove home the lesson that there is such a thing as too many steps. Getting 10K steps per day in the wake of that injury highlighted the lesson that all steps are not created equal. The first couple of post-injury days, I had a lot of cheap steps pumping the count.

Running steps are a lot more exercise than walking steps. Continual brisk walking steps are more exercise than ambling steps. And the steps around the house just doing household chores are light and very easy. The steps are not created equal.

So, what about the 10K steps per day goal? It's a good goal, but it's not a stretch goal. On a day when I run 3 miles for 4K steps running, it really doesn't matter if I have enough walking steps to make the count hit 10K. I've been active. It will still be fairly easy to hit 10K, as running 3 miles plus a warmup and cooldown is likely to be 6K all by itself, and 4K for the rest of the day isn't that much; but the day would be active enough even if I spent the rest of it in bed reading a book.

The real value of getting the 10K steps is on the off days from running. The difference between 2K steps being totally sedentary and 10K cheap steps is much, much larger than the difference between 10K cheap steps and 15K steps including a 5 mile run. Those 10K cheap steps might not even include anything that I'd count as exercise for the tracker, but they keep me active and burning calories. Maybe it's only 200 or 300 calories a day, and certainly I can't track them accurately; but it's a lot better than *not* burning those calories.

And that's the real value of wearing my pedometer and making an effort to get those 10K steps. It's not in getting the best exercise on good exercise days; it's getting a minimum amount of exercise on days that are mostly rest.

So how am I doing? Today is an enforced day of no running, before an organized race tomorrow morning. The pedometer shows over 18K steps. 9100 or so were a 5.2 mile walk, and the rest were pretty cheap steps. My legs feel fine, which is part of the point of not running today; and it's better to have those cheap steps than not have them.

Much like overeating, getting too little exercise can sneak up on me. Those 10K steps per day, even when they're mostly cheap steps, help prevent that.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEALTHIERKEN 11/6/2011 12:11AM

    "Those 10K cheap steps might not even include anything that I'd count as exercise for the tracker, but they keep me active and burning calories. "
As you conclude, therein lies the reason for counting steps.

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ARLENE_MOVES 11/5/2011 11:23PM

    I'm not in the habit yet of putting on the pedometer. I need to put in right in front of me. When I do weat it, it reminds me to move and I think that is important for me.


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JSPEED4 11/5/2011 11:03PM

    Thanks. emoticon

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CIRANDELLA 11/5/2011 10:47PM

    I love the way you keep learning, keep discovering more about how your body responds to different fitness approaches, as you continue to explore this "brave new world" :) Interesting, isn't it? You're going to hit on an optimal range for yourself as you progress - I feel sure of that! It's different for all of us, isn't it? I was up early at the farmer's market (or what's left of it, this time of year :), and I ambled down to watch the tai chi class execute their graceful movements against the calm, glassy lake and fiery foliage. Suddenly, a thundering horde of serious runners was upon me - people from their forties, say, up into their seventies! Yet their footsteps were of the same cadence as they wended their way around the lake. They were a fearsome and fearless bunch out there at shortly after 8:00 AM, and jogging in temperatures around 35! Happy steps, however you pursue them! emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/5/2011 9:31PM

    Good luck on your run tomorrow! And woo-hoo for "cheap steps". Gotta love 'em.

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STARMIZER2000 11/5/2011 9:29PM

  Good reading

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