Wednesday, July 04, 2012
July 4, 2011 I took a bike ride from my house to the end of the pier at Ontario Beach Park. It mapped out to 36.8 miles, and it wiped me out. I was ready to quit more than 5 miles from getting home. I went to bed early instead of even trying to get to the local fireworks display.
July 10, 2011 I joined SparkPeople. 360 days later . . .
July 4, 2012 I took a bike ride from my house to the end of the pier at Ontario Beach Park. I hadn't been in training for bicycling, but I didn't take as many side trips as last year. I haven't mapped it out, but I'd guess the total ride was between 30 and 35 miles. It didn't wipe me out, and I went to the fireworks display with my daughter this evening.
There were several things different a year later, most directly or indirectly related to SparkPeople.
First, I'm smarter about clothing. I still don't have any clothing specifically designed for cycling, but I have a full running wardrobe. I wore no cotton. Mostly, I dressed as if for a run, only with a helmet on top of my running hat. (In 2011 I got sunburn on spots of my scalp, because the ventilation holes in the helmet let sunlight in as well as air. That didn't happen today.)
Second, even though I have a bum foot I'm in pretty good cardiovascular shape. I got back up the long slope from the river to the top of the gorge without stopping and without feeling like I was giving it everything I had.
Third, I weighed in 36 pounds lighter this morning than a year ago. I weighed myself in clothing with shoes (169) then in the same clothing but holding my backpack (182.4) to see how much the backpack weighed. Not only was the backpack (including 3 24 oz. bottles of water) lighter than I expected, my total weight including the water bottles was below what I thought was achievable a year ago.
Fourth, I was perhaps a bit smarter about in-ride nutrition. This year, I stopped and ate some almonds and a leftover gel pack (190 calories, mostly sugar) at the far end of the ride before coming back. That extra sugar boost may have contributed to my not being wiped out by the time I got home.
Some things stayed the same. Both years, I hadn't been working up to cycling long distances. Both years, I made no attempt to treat the ride as serious exercise for the sake of exercise. I went at whatever pace felt comfortable, and coasted a lot of downhills. But even loafing to the extent possible, 30 miles on a bike is going to burn some noticeable calories.
The biggest thing was, this year my daughter wanted to go see fireworks. She had proposed parking a mile away to avoid the post-fireworks exit traffic. Walking that mile (and back) at a slower pace due to the flow of pedestrian traffic didn't bother my bad foot, and I got home in good enough shape to write a blog.
Yeah, I missed my normal bedtime tonight. Yeah, I ended up eating toward the high end of my current calorie range today; but I stayed in the range. I sat 30 feet from a stand selling fried dough for an hour and a half, and managed not to buy any.
I still have my challenges keeping this up. But for all the challenges, today was a good day.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
I haven't blogged in two weeks. It's been a tough two weeks on the motivation front.
Last blog I wrote, I ran 5K on a Tuesday. I went and ran another 5K the Thursday following that. My left calf was fine, but my right foot (which never got back to 100%) was aching a bit more. I decided to give it a few days rest, so no running that weekend.
Then the following week was a flurry of aftershocks from the major work deadline. I didn't find time to run, which was just as well with how the foot felt. I did take some nice brisk walks, and got my 10K steps in every day; but I had some problems getting myself to go through the morning exercise routine. This was probably due to not getting enough sleep, which in turn was due to poor discipline on getting to bed on time.
Last Saturday would have been 9 days since the prior run. I judged it to be a good day to try running again. My right foot disagreed. Just the test run up and down the hallway in the morning told me a real run would be a Bad Idea. Sunday was worse, and I ended up not even getting a long walk in. Sunday I broke a 3 month streak of 10K steps per day. I did manage to go out and buy some stability running shoes for the arch support, like I should have done several months ago; they help, but time will help more.
That's the point where I cut my calorie range by 200 calories per day. If I can't even walk enough to get my 10K steps in, I can't eat like a runner. I may have to cut the range further; we'll see how the scale reacts. This morning, I'm up about 3 pounds from my lowest weight. It's not a bad place to be, but I don't want to be up another 3 pounds.
Today I worked from home. That's good for resting the foot, as it's easier to limit steps here than at the office. Of course, it's not so good for being physically active. I did get out on a couple of 20 minute bike rides. The SP fitness tracker thinks riding my bike burns more calories than a brisk walk. I don't think I believe that, but it certainly burns more than sitting in a chair and typing into my computer. I'll maybe take a longer ride tomorrow on the holiday; then I'll have to figure out something to work into the schedule when I'm back to work.
The real problem I have isn't the foot injury. I've been there before, and dealt with it. Perhaps I tried to come back too soon, too strong; but that can be dealt with as well. The real problem is that fitness and nutrition aren't at the top of my priority list right now. Other stuff has grabbed my attention, such as beta testing a nifty piece of software. That led me to creating a dual boot Windows/Linux computer.
Linux is a lot of fun. It's also a huge time suck when I'm trying to get something to work right. The sucked time is all sedentary.
The other thing that's risen up is recreational reading. I've always enjoyed this, but it got squeezed out for most of a year while my attention was primarily on diet and fitness. It's snuck back in, to the detriment of bedtime discipline.
That's kind of where I am right now. I'm sitting here composing this blog, pondering how to maintain my weight and a reasonable level of fitness as a lifestyle when my attention is directed primarily at sedentary activities. The good news is, the nutrition side of things doesn't seem to be very hard to manage when it isn't the top priority. The bad news is, the fitness side of things could very easily gather dust if I don't pay attention to it.
Who knew? When I started the SP journey, fitness seemed easy and nutrition looked like a challenge. Now, it looks like the other way around.
Oh, well. It's a life, and I just have to muddle through it as best I can.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
SparkPeople encourages us to change our lifestyles to be healthier. We try, but changing a lifestyle is neither easy nor quick. Sometimes the changes are so small that we don't notice them in real time. Then something happens, and we realize that yes, things have really changed.
Today was warm and humid here, though not as humid as I had feared. I went in to the office, but could not squeeze a long enough lunch break to run; so I walked on my lunch hour. The afternoon was busy, and I ended up not eating my normal afternoon snack. Came home, and I was beat. I wouldn't consider running, even though today would be a normal running day.
Well. The first thing I did was eat a salad. The me of a year ago would not have done that, but that's one of those little lifestyle changes that add up. Bagged salad, with pre-cooked pre-chopped chicken breast and a tablespoon of actual salad dressing was the first thing I wanted to eat. A year ago, I would have said that would never be me. After the salad, I had my measured serving of low fat cottage cheese. The salad plus cottage cheese added up to not quite as many calories as my afternoon snack, and I felt a whole lot better.
So I went out and ran 5K. My remote thermometer claimed it was 89.7° F when I went out, and I already had my 10k steps for the day. I did a short warmup, and went to run my standard 5K route. If things went well, I could add distance late in the route.
Because of the heat and humidity, I carried a 24 oz. water bottle. I tried to run at an easy, sustainable pace. There was no effort to be fast, and I didn't add any hills to the route. This is the warmest weather I've run in this year, and it wasn't time to take chances. Things went well, but by the time I got to where I could add distance I'd decided to hold it to a 5K and see if I'm ready to run again on Thursday.
The 5K timed out at 21:56, for a 7:03 pace per mile. That's 4 seconds faster than the virtual 5K I ran on the same route for graduation from the 5K your way program, except then I was trying to run fast and today I wasn't.
There's another lifestyle change for you. A year ago, I wasn't a runner. Today, I am. The remote thermometer said the temperature had gone down to 89.2° F by the time I got back inside; it just didn't seem that hot to me.
Then came the big indicator that I've changed my lifestyle. I have a packet of energy gels that was a freebie from the HM race packet. The nutrition information says 190 calories, 45g carbs (36g sugars), 3g protein. I had lots of calories left for the day, and it would have fit easily after the run.
I stared at that packet and said, "Screw it. I'd rather have an orange." So I had an orange (148g) and later a banana (102g). The two of them added up to fewer calories than the power gels, and I was happier to have them.
That's a far cry from a year ago, when I would have devoured the energy gels or anything else that looked and tasted like candy, and avoided fresh fruit.
I'm pleased with the run, and I might be ready to run three times this week; but I'm more struck today by how my tastes in food have changed.
Tomorrow the boss is taking a group of us out to eat at a local BBQ place, as a celebration of meeting that big deadline yesterday. My first thought on hearing this was, there's a day that I'll go over my calories. One day won't matter. My second thought was, the last time I was there I got very full, and that was pre-SP. What am I going to eat? My third thought was, maybe I'd better look at the menu. So I went online and looked at the menu. I didn't find any nutrition information, but they serve barbecued chicken breast as well as barbecued pork or beef. And I can get a green salad as a side, something I wouldn't have considered a year ago.
I'll be fine going out with the group tomorrow. Life has changed, and this won't be nearly the challenge it would have been even six months ago.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
It's 6 PM on Sunday, and I've just finished what would have been finished by 5 PM Friday in a perfect world. But it did get done, and I'll meet the deadline tomorrow. This is a major work deadline. While there will be a noticeable amount of annoying follow-up, the long period of working evenings and weekends ought to be over now. It's a good time to reflect on how it went and how I handled the stress.
The habits I learned on SP helped a great deal.
First, I never let go of the exercise. I backed off some. I didn't attempt to run three days a week when it *might* have been OK, because I couldn't afford the time to recover if it turned out *not* to be okay. I missed 3 or 4 mornings of kettlebell work entirely, and most mornings I backed off to one set of 5 TGU/windmill combos and two sets of 10 snatches on each side. The dead clean/squat combos went by the wayside, as did the dead bugs. On the other hand, I kept up the 3 sets of 60 pushups every day, and I increased the number of pullups I could do during this period. Count exercise as a success under pressure.
Second, I managed what I ate adequately. I was in my range every day. I didn't jiggle the range up because I was concerned about less exercise; but the weight maintained or even went down ever so slightly. Yes, I had a lot of stress eating; but stress eating looks different now. Pre-SP, stress eating was eat anything that tastes good, in large quantities. Chips and dip. Fast food. Candy. Any type of dessert item. Now, stress eating is go pay Taco Bell for supper or lunch, and eat my standard fare that can fit into the daily nutrition. I would normally do this two or three times a week anyway; it's been every day for over a week now. But I've made the numbers come out on the food tracker, and the sideways weight trend shows that I'm not fudging the numbers. Count nutrition as a success under pressure.
Third, water. SP is big on drinking lots of water. For me, that's integrated with nutrition. It was no effort at all to keep the water intake up where it belongs. Count this as such an ingrained habit that success was never in doubt.
Fourth, sleep. This is a bit of a problem area. I have my goal of being in bed by 10:30 six nights a week. I missed a week in April under pressure, and both before and after that miss I've run close to the bedtime deadline most days. The early to bed at 9 PM hasn't been happening as much as I'd like, but getting up on time still keeps happening. I've been able to tell that I could use more sleep; but I'm much better than I was in similar situations pre-SP. Further, I've had mornings where I woke before the alarm on 7 hours of sleep just because I was keyed up about what I needed to get done. Hopefully this will improve with the passing of the deadline.
Count sleep as an issue, but an issue managed better with the habits I learned on SP than it would have been before.
What would I do differently, in hindsight? The only thing I see is that perhaps I could have focused more on getting to bed early. That's an easy thing to point at in hindsight, not so easy to do in real time. And looking around at how fried a couple other people at the office are, I'm not too disappointed in how I've managed.
Now, off to Taco Bell for dinner, then home for a bit of relaxing before the formal work week starts tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
After my last blog, my sister suggested that I could ace the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) for my age and gender at my current level of fitness. The APFT consists of as many pushups as you can do in two minutes, followed within 20 minutes by as many situps you can do in two minutes, followed within 20 minutes by running 2 miles as fast as you can.
Looking up 56 year old males, 100% would be 56 pushups. I do sets of 60 every day, so that's not in doubt.
100% for the 2 mile run would be 14:42, for a 7:21 pace per mile. I think I can do that.
100% for situps would be 66. I didn't know about that, since I don't do situps. I do Turkish get-ups with a 45 lb. kettlebell, and the TGUs start with a twisting crunch to a situp, so it's possible. Just have to test it.
So yesterday I did a long set of pushups, then before my TGUs I tucked my feet under the couch and tried some situps.
I got to 15 without strain on my abs, but had to quit. The motion of the situp was hitting my tailbone, and it hurt. Apparently I don't have as much padding there as I used to.
To be sure, I could have kept going if it had been a choice between being conservative about my tailbone or pleasing a drill instructor; but I didn't face that choice.
I tried situps again this morning, more cautiously, adjusting positions. Maybe if I use a padded mat I can do them, but not on my living room carpet. I'm not the world's foremost expert on anatomy, but I'm pretty sure the tailbone isn't meant to directly bear weight, and that's what's happening with a classic straight situp motion. (It turns out that the TGU motion lifts the weighted side off the floor first, avoiding hitting the tailbone like a straight situp does.)
I'll count that as flunking the APFT, since 15 is off the bottom of the chart; but I don't feel bad about it. I am not a soldier, and I don't have to try to please a drill instructor.
On the bright side, I went out and ran 5K this noon. I came in at 21:38, for a 6:57 pace per mile; aside from the minor detail that it wasn't within 20 minutes of pushups or pullups, I could have passed two thirds of the APFT.
The left calf muttered a bit, but not as loudly as it did Saturday. During stretches, it didn't complain as much as it did on Saturday. It's not 100%, but progress is being made. I'll see whether it feels like I can run on it again on Thursday; if so, I will limit that run to 5K. First I want to get back to 3 runs per week regularly. After that, I can see about increasing the time and distance.
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