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Unexpected Calm Motivation

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Motivation is an odd thing.

Yesterday I disrupted my normal routine. I went to a minor league baseball game with a group from my church, and took my daughter along with me. That's a twofold disruption. First, the game goes late with fireworks afterwards, so I know I'll be up past my normal bedtime. Second, there's ball park food for supper.

The weather was great, the company was congenial, and it was a fun time. The local team lost 2-1, sending a grand total of 28 batters to the plate for a lackluster performance, but that's okay.

I had the SP app with me, and I chose well for dinner. Since I had lots of calories left, I could fit in some ice cream. Yum! I even got to eat a normal bedtime snack at an abnormally late hour after I got home.

Comes the morning. The alarm has been turned off, but I'm up anyway. I get myself to go back to bed, and get up permanently an hour an 20 minutes later than the alarm would have gone off. I'm moving slowly, since I'm still sleepy-tired.

Moving slowly is okay on a weekend. It's one of my luxuries and I'll enjoy the ability to do that. Took my sweet time to get around to the first set of pullups, then the pullups and pushups went normally.

Didn't feel like doing the KB exercises while the steel cut oats were simmering, so I didn't. I told myself I'd do them later. Yeah, right. Where have I heard that line before?

In the midst of doing the cheap Spark Point drill, I took time out for the TGU/Windmill combos. Those felt so good I went right into the KB snatches. I have lots of time, so I did 3 sets of 10 instead of my usual 2 on work days. This is all taking quite a while, as I move loads of laundry through the weekend process and spend some time playing on the computer.

As I'm doing a set of KB dead clean/squat combos, it occurs to me that this is what motivation looks like today. I'm not hot to get to the next exercise, and I'm not pushing to do better than I did last time; I'm just *doing* it, because it feels natural.

I had about decided to deep six cardio for the day in favor of trimming the hedges and mowing. But the weather failed to cooperate. I woke to rain. The grass dried out enough to mow later, but by the time I would have got out, we had another thundershower. So I went for a walk in the aftermath of that shower, and walked through a few sprinkles. Covered 5K in 45 mintues and small change, for a reasonable but not exceptional walking pace. Again, low level motivation in action.

The bad foot is still not ready for real running. It let me do a couple laps of jog up and down my hallway this morning, but that's about it. Still . . . if I can keep up what I'm doing today, I'll be okay when the foot is well enough to let me run again.

Of course, today's level of motivation and pace of activity would totally fail me on a work day; but I'll worry about Monday when it gets here. This was Good Enough for today, which was a day after disrupted sleep patterns. The plan is to get to bed on time tonight, get the sleep back on schedule, and see how well I move by Monday morning.

For now, this is enough. Motivation has returned, from I don't know where and sparked by I don't know what. I'll enjoy it while it's here.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 7/29/2012 10:07AM

    "The best is the enemy of the good": Voltaire was right (or at least a lot of the time). Motivation is a funny thing: I no longer expect to experience it BEFORE doing whatever it is to be done. It's always after-acquired, for me.

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RG_DFW 7/29/2012 7:51AM

    sounds like a good day

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TIFFY0906 7/28/2012 9:42PM

    Sounds like you had fun at the game.

emoticon with the workout.

Comment edited on: 7/28/2012 9:43:10 PM

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VICTORY2XS 7/28/2012 7:58PM

    What a great time to have spent last night. I am sure it was worth everything.

And today, you could have decided not to exercise at all, but that was not what you chose to do. I little bit of extra sleep may have been cathartic.

Finding peace on a Saturday is truly a gift from Above.

Best wishes,


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NWFL59 7/28/2012 7:56PM

    emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/28/2012 7:51PM

    Enough is such a great balancing concept. Glad you had a good day.

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Wednesday Maintenance Musings

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday has been a better day than Tuesday was. I got enough sleep. Maybe it wasn't enough to catch up on the deficit I've been running, but it was enough that morning exercises had proper motivation.

The bad foot is still griping about yesterday's abuse. It griped enough that I limited my lunch walk to 20 minutes, at less than full pace. But it didn't grip enough to keep me from getting in 10K steps today.

The weight trend is looking pretty sideways. That's a good thing, and a little puzzling for the issues I've had with getting exercise. But I'll take it.

Along about this time last year, I just started hitting my stride in losing weight. This year, I've become accustomed to seeing my year over year comparison be down 30+ pounds. That should change in the coming weeks, as my weight last year went down and my weight this year needs to go sideways. I'm trying to prepare myself for regarding that dropping year over year number as *normal*.

It just now strikes me that I've been tracking what I eat every single day, for over a year now. This has become the new normal for me. I'm seeing anniversaries of risky events, like the church breakfast in the park last Sunday. A year ago, I blogged about eating too much there. This year, I ate more but kept it in plan (an expanded maintenance plan) better. Tracking my food isn't flashy, but it's important. It's a Good Thing that I can do this naturally, regardless of the ebbs and flows of my motivation for fitness and regardless of my injury status.

I suspect that's what I need from the fitness effort, too; the ability to just do it, regardless of motivation, regardless of what else in my life happens to demand top billing. I'm there with food tracking. I'm not there with exercise. I'm not there with getting enough sleep. For now, I think I need to focus more on the sleep; if I mess that up, it's a Bad Thing for the exercise, too.

And with that thought, I'll post this and wind down for bed.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RG_DFW 7/26/2012 7:46AM


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MSLZZY 7/25/2012 11:40PM

    Exactly! Focus on sleep first and the rest will come.

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HEALTHIERKEN 7/25/2012 10:45PM

    Yep. Sleep first. Unless you decide that a little more exercise would enhance your sleep patterns.

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NWFL59 7/25/2012 9:49PM

    emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/25/2012 8:51PM

    When motivation flags, sleep is a very good place to start the focus! emoticon emoticon

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Blah Tuesday Checkin

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm running short of time to blog most evenings these days. Today is no exception, but I wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts/events.

Thought: I need to be more consistent getting to bed. Two nights in a row, I was up toward the late end of my bedtime range, *and* kept the light on reading for a bit after going to bed. Less sleep makes me less motivated to exercise, and less inclined to move in general. I never knew that until tracking various stuff on SP got me to pay attention.

Event: I worked from home today, which makes it more difficult to get my 10K steps per day in. I set out to take a 3 mile walk at lunch, and it started to rain. Then it started to rain harder. I wimped out, and *ran* back to my front door. It wasn't a lengthy run, probably under 100 meters; but by the time I got home, the bad foot was complaining.

That's no surprise, because I already knew I wasn't ready for a real run. The surprise/nuisance was the foot reminding me of the abuse when I set out for a walk this evening to fill in those 10K steps. The short 10K step streak I had is getting broken today.

I'll make another stab at getting to bed a little early, and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for both rest and steps.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NWFL59 7/25/2012 9:52PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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STRIVERONE 7/25/2012 5:45PM

    Maybe aiming for a week's average of 70,000+ steps would be a positive fall-back position when there are days like this.

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MSLZZY 7/25/2012 10:32AM

    Don't let it stop you. Start again and do the
best you can.

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RG_DFW 7/25/2012 7:08AM

    You've had some setbacks but you're still in there... way to keep at it

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HEALTHIERKEN 7/25/2012 12:13AM

    MOBYCARP, I'm with you on how letting bedtime creep later and later puts the damper on exercising the next day. Stinky that you couldn't get in your steps dryly today : (
S**t happens, gotta roll with it. If anyone can turn this little slump around, you're The Guy : ) Better days ahead, you know it


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ONEKIDSMOM 7/24/2012 8:57PM

    Heart aches for you, brother! I know how you love that activity, and how frustrating recovering from injury can be. Hang in.

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How much is enough?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Once again, MARKSTIPANOVSKY is making me think. He says,

"If you start today and modify what you're doing then you've started to successfully become fitter, stronger and healthier...

It really is that simple. If you can only move for 1 minute and you choose to increase your exercise by another minute tomorrow and then exercise for 2 minutes every day this week you will be really successful...

Add one minute per week and in less than a year you will be exercising / moving and modifying for an hour every day... "

Somehow, it's not that simple for me. I get the part about starting with something I can do, and adding to it in small increments over time. Where I fall down is the question, "How much is enough?"

I've done the routine of starting an exercise, getting better at it, adding more, and ultimately burning out because it's too much. I've done that several times, with different forms of exercise. With some types of exercise, I've done it more than once. Enter SparkPeople, where one of the major things we are taught is that consistency is vitally important. It's better to follow a plan most of the time and get back on track after you slip a little, than to try to do everything and then end up doing nothing or very little.

Which leads me to the basic question: How much exercise is enough?

Exercise is the other side of the weight loss/weight maintenance equation. We all know that we need to eat in moderation, not in excess and not in starvation mode. So why would we think that we need to always keep adding more exercise? At some point, there won't be any more time to add and burnout will become a problem.

So, how much exercise is enough?

I don't have a good answer to that question. I suspect the answer will be different for different people, and it appears to vary over time for me. I have a few clues.

Last August, I set out to see if I could become a runner. I succeeded. I got to where I could run 3 days a week by following the 5K Your Way running program. Then I wanted to run 4 days a week. And I ran a competitive 5k. On Thanksgiving I ran a competitive 10K because I couldn't find a 5K. Then I wanted to run 5 days a week. Then I wanted to train for a half marathon.

It ended badly, with a foot injury that kept me from running at all between early February and late March. Just as I thought I was back, the foot got re-injured and I haven't run now since mid-June. I'll probably be back, and I'll do a few things differently.

But the important question is, how much running is enough? I was aiming for what looked like a modest 3 days a week at a 5K distance when I re-injured that foot. 20-20 hindsight says I came back too fast, and I can fix that by coming back more slowly this time. But still, however slowly I come back, I want to know: How much running is enough, and where do I need to stop adding?

Running and the foot injury is the most obvious cautionary tale in my life, but there are other examples. I've lifted weights and made progress, and burned out from thinking I should always be able to lift the most I've ever lifted. Intellectually, I know that isn't so; but males tend to believe it should be so. Call that a mild case of testosterone poisoning.

I have a couple of (so far) happy examples. Pre-spark, one of the exercises I did and burned out on was Turkish get-ups. Testosterone poisoning led me to favor doing the TGUs with a windmill at the top. I'd get pretty good, then miss a couple weeks, and be unable pick up where I left off, and then quit for a long time.

After finding SP, the TGU/Windmill combos became one of my standard exercises. I do one set of 5 on each side. That's it. Not two sets, not 6 or 7 or 10 TGUs. One set of 5. When I came back from the last burnout, I started with a 25 lb. kettlebell and alternated sides. Left, right, left, right . . . until done. By the time I found SP, I was using a 35 lb. KB most of the time, and going down to the 25 lb. on days when I felt weak.

I kept up the TGU/windmill combos daily for maybe 10 months (minus a couple weeks of doing partials when the injured foot didn't let me do the lunge motion) before missing a few days during a period of poor motivation. But I never missed a full week. I progressed from the 35 lb. KB to using a 45 lb. KB. I now mostly do 2 TGU/windmills on a side before switching. Left, right, right, left, left, right, right, left, left, right. On days when I feel strong I may try to do 3 in a row on the same side.

It's enough. I'm not stretching it to sets of 6, and I'm not out shopping for a 50 lb. kettlebell. Part of why I've kept it up is that I stopped with what was enough, and the incremental challenges after that were really small. That, and I allow myself to go backwards to alternating on days when I feel weak.

Then there are the pushups. These started during my first foot injury as 3 sets of 25 pushups on the swiss ball. I couldn't run for a long time, and it was a while before that foot would support a plank; and the sets of pushups got longer as I did more of them.

I stopped adding numbers when I got to 3 sets of 60 pushups. Yeah, I did a couple of tests where I did over 100 pushups. (Most recent endurance test, only 78.) But I've kept up the 3 sets of 60 pushups every day, even through the poor motivation. It's enough. Adding more risks burnout, and I don't want to go there.

Besides the cautionary tale and the good example, I have my puzzles. This year, I became able to do pullups. I was thrilled when I could do 3 neutral grip pullups in a row, because that meant I was really doing pullups and not just kidding myself with starting momentum. Right now, I can do 3 sets of 8 to 10 neutral grip, or three sets of 6 or 7 wide grip pronated pullups . . . and I can feel burnout creeping up on me if I push it to hard.

I really want to continue to be able to do pullups, which means I need to do them. But if I try to do too many, I'll burn out. So . . . how much is enough? I don't know here, and I'll have to find out by experiment. Maybe there will come a point where I can routinely do 3 sets of X pullups, and I need to go buy a dip belt to add challenge. (What a fantasy! Am I really thinking that's possible??) But I don't know what number X represents.

I have to respect the philosophy that MARKSTIPANOVSKY propounded. It's the way people who are just at the beginning of their fitness journey need to think. But I'm in a bit of a different place, and I need to think differently. The important question for me isn't how much should I add to my exercise routine. It's how much is enough, and where should I stop adding.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NWFL59 7/22/2012 11:21PM

    I'm still in the 'add' phase. Maintenance habits are way too far out. However, I'm interested in finding out your solution to your maintenance challenge and how you keep it interesting without overdoing to the point of boredom and still keep it constrained time wise so you don't consume most of your free time exercising or thinking about it instead of enjoying the health and wellness all your previous efforts have afforded you.
I think for me, daily flexibility in variety in both type of exercises and duration as well as intensity will become key to my sustainment of long term success.
But then again I'm a lot older (@62) than you and in far worse health and not as strong but I'm working to improve my situation (except for the age part of course). Good luck in finding your balance. emoticon

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HEALTHIERKEN 7/22/2012 11:05PM

    How much is enough? hmmmm.
Do you look the way you want to look?
Can you perform what you want to perform for as long as you want to perform it?
Do you weigh what you want to weigh?
Are you as healthy as you want/need to be?

If there are more 'yeses' than 'no's', perhaps you're ready for maintenance.


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MSLZZY 7/22/2012 7:44AM

    Interesting question. I say it is all about balance.
Find the spot where it feels the best and continue.
There has to be a level when it feels good and will
not lead to burnout. Best answer I can give you.

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RG_DFW 7/22/2012 7:38AM

    Good questions but there are those who also say less is more...

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CAROLJEAN64 7/21/2012 11:54PM

    Did it ever occur to you that you are substituting exercise to meet the needs you used to meet by eating? I think you need to examine what needs you think exercise fulfills and find some other activity that you can substitute once in a while.

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BALLOUZOO 7/21/2012 11:38PM

    I think exercise, like anything can become an addiction. Many addicts I know go from one addiction to another drinking to drugs to alcohol to whatever.

My goal is balance in all things. As long as exercise is adding joy to your life~not keeping you from other things like family and friends and isn't hurting you or taking over you probably have balance.

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/21/2012 9:54PM

    Is a puzzlement, as the Yul Brynner version of the King would say. I'm not sure how much is enough for me, either. If I can come up with a level of working out on a regular basis that allows for doing a few major events in a year, and whatever smaller ones fit into the training plan, I think I can call it good.

What I know for sure is that moving makes me happy, and helps keep the stress/anxiety under control. But my body needs recovery time, and giving myself one or two complete rest days a week is vital to being injury free.

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Being in charge

Thursday, July 19, 2012


"Maybe the secret of choosing to lose weight is as simple as remembering that you are in charge... "

Um, yes.

In my weight loss phase, when I was seeing an unexpected level of success, I commented that I didn't think I could have done this before I became an empty nester. Living alone gives me the flexibility to eat what I choose, for good or ill. It gives me the flexibility to only have good stuff sitting around.

But I still choose what I put in my mouth, and how much of it I put there. I'm in charge.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that I'm in charge, or hard to exercise my authority. A couple days ago, there was a JDRF fundraiser at work. For $5, you got a sundae. While I was aware of the irony displayed by serving ice cream and traditional toppings to support diabetes research, I talked myself into buying a sundae. I had $5 to spare in the "other charity" line of my budget.

I don't eat ice cream very often these days, so I stared at the list of flavors for a few minutes before settling on Muddy Sneakers. I've always liked the gooey, fudge or caramel flavors. The fellow doing the scooping dished out a generous scoop . . . then added to it. I estimated he put a cup and a half of ice cream in that bowl. That was a bit much, but with the bowl mostly filled I didn't have room for very much butterscotch and chocolate syrup.

I ate the whole thing. I made my tracking estimate, and it came in around 500 calories. I felt a sugar rush. It wasn't a good feeling. I hadn't really acted like I was in charge.

In 20-20 hindsight, I realized I could have done a couple of things. I could have told the server to stop . . . but I didn't think of that. I could have stopped without eating the whole thing . . . but I didn't think of that, either. I could have just given $5 to JDRF research and passed on the sundae . . . nah. I wouldn't have done that.

After I did some things wrong, I did a few things right. I skipped 300 calories of my normal afternoon snack. I had a light supper, and came in within calorie range for the day. I was a bit lighter on protein than I'd prefer, but above the minimum. And I managed to stay below the max for both fat and carbs.

More importantly, that sundae was a one-time thing. The next day, I ate normally. Ditto for the day after, which is today.

I guess I really am in charge. I messed up a little, and recovered as well as I could. More importantly, I didn't let that mistake turn into eating like I used to before SP.

The secret of losing weight is remembering that you are in charge. And, I might add, the secret of maintaining a stable weight is pretty much the same. The details are different, but the theme of controlling diet and exercise still plays when I choose to make the weight to go sideway.

I am not controlled by ice cream, or by political pressure to support fund raisers. I am in charge. The JDRF did not shove that ice cream into my mouth or force me to swallow. I managed that on my own. And I managed to not turn it into a bigger disaster on my own, too.

The same lesson no doubt applies to fitness, and to getting enough sleep. Bearing in mind that I'm in charge, what I need to do right now is wind down for bed. It's a whole lot easier to make good food and exercise choices when I get enough sleep.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 7/20/2012 9:47AM

    Excellent point you made there. Yesterday was
DH's birthday and almost too hot to want to eat
supper so I opted to have popcorn at the baseball
game and a piece of cake (with frosting) and still
stayed in my range. I was in control, barely.
Better choices today-for both of us.

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PLMITCH 7/20/2012 9:28AM

    Great blog. Yeah, I sure don't get why JDRF would be serving ice cream! Maybe if they put out some healthy stuff folks would not show up! Yeah, right...


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RG_DFW 7/20/2012 5:55AM

    Good words

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/19/2012 9:50PM

    I *have* been known to go for option 3, especially at work, where we have more than our share of "food days". Donate to the kitty, don't bring food, so as not to be tempted to take on the treats, either!

All things said, you did well... you remembered you were in charge after just one episode, not a month's worth!


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NWFL59 7/19/2012 9:33PM


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