Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Long term readers of my blogs will remember that I have a foot injury that keeps me from running. I got it at the beginning of February, took most of February and March off, and then got back to running. Mid-June, I did too much too hard and aggravated the foot.
Since then, I've been very cautious about coming back. I want that foot to heal properly.
But . . . how much is enough? Right now, the foot is probably better than it was when I was running in April and May. It's not 100%, and I'm intimidated by the prospect of making it worse. So, what can I do?
I can walk reasonably briskly. In mid-February, I couldn't do that.
I can run short distances, such as to make it across a street before the light changes.
Some days, I can run a few laps up and down my hallway lightly. Other days, the foot reminds me that it is injured. This doesn't keep me from doing things, but it warns me of potential re-injury.
Ten days ago, I walked 5.2 miles briskly. That was a poor choice. The length of the walk wasn't that bad a choice, but a course that didn't have an opportunity for me to bail at about 4 miles was a poor choice. By four and a half miles, my foot was feeling it. I lost the ability to run laps up and down my hall for most of last week. But the foot got better, during a week when I got over 10K steps each and every day. I ran a few light laps up and down my hallway yesterday morning and this morning.
I have a 10K on Thanksgiving Day, and I expect I'll be able to walk it if I don't aggravate the foot. I *might* be able to run it, *if* I can figure out how to ease into training.
So . . . this evening I ran about a tenth of a mile. Practically nothing, but it didn't feel bad. Tomorrow morning I'll pay attention to whether the foot is complaining. If it doesn't, maybe on Thursday I'll try some walking with short running intervals.
I just hope I don't find out how much is too much the hard way again.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Depending on when I'm driving to work, I might hear a segment on the radio from the local "health and fitness reporter." Since joining SparkPeople, I've listened more to what she has to say. A typical segment briefly describes a current health news headline, which might also appear on the SP health news feed. Then she discusses what it means, and has some light banter with the morning radio guy. This is fairly standard infotainment fare.
The other day, she covered an interesting headline. Apparently there was a study done, and in this study overweight people who exercised for 30 minutes a day lost 8 lbs. over three months. People who exercised for 60 minutes a day lost 6 lbs. over three months.
The fitness reporter explained that the study only looked at exercise, and that no requirements were set on diet. She hypothesized that people who are new to exercise and do more will work up more of an appetite, and they probably ate more. All this makes sense to me; but of course the headlines will scream, "Don't exercise as much! It does more harm than good!"
The interesting thing is, on the way home from work that same day the radio news mentioned this study again. This time, there was no health and fitness reporter explaining things. The sound track was that more exercise isn't as good as less exercise.
Google is my friend. I found a link to a news article reporting on this study: www.foxnews.com/health/2012/08/24/30
One thing that jumps out at me from the link is, the study was done with previously sedentary men. I remember the "previously sedentary" part from the morning radio spot, but the male-only wasn't mentioned, or I didn't catch it if it was.
I don't want to belabor the shortcomings of the reporting on this particular study. For one thing, I don't particularly want to go beyond the news and work hard enough to understand the underlying study. But I am going to ramble a bit about health news reporting in general.
The job of news reporting is to sell advertising. In order to do this, there must be readers or listeners. To that end, things that are new and different are reported, and these things are spun to pique the interest of as many people as possible. So we end up with health news headlines that sound like firm conclusions from scientific studies that mostly only produced interesting clues and pointers for further research.
This social phenomenon results in headlines that we can cherry-pick to suit our own preferences. Coffee is good for you. Coffee is bad for you. People who drink red wine in moderation are healthier than people who don't drink at all. Red meat is associated with heart disease. Lean red meat is important to get enough iron. If you pay attention over time, you can find contradictions in the headlines in less than a month.
The contradictions aren't because research is producing contradictory results, or at least they aren't most of the time. The contradictions are because very small phenomena are being blown out of proportion in the headlines. Most of us understand this intellectually; but it's still hard not to pay attention to those headlines. It's on the news, it should be true, right? Well, maybe kinda sorta if you pay attention to the fine print that might not have made it into the sound bite.
And that brings me around to a minor annoyance I have with SparkPeople articles. Among other things, SparkPeople is a news aggregator. Many of the SparkPeople articles are like the health and fitness reporter's spots on the radio. They pick up the current health news, give a little analysis, and move on to the next topic. So we get some inconsistency in the SparkPeople message.
Where SP is on message, it's very good. The material presents a mainstream point of view advocating a balanced diet, drinking lots of water, getting a reasonable amount of exercise, getting enough sleep, and paying attention to motivation. That formula has worked well for me.
Where SP is not on message, it passes through a lot of mainstream media health news and attitudes. That's where we get article titles like "Butt-Blasting Workout" and food comparisons that implicitly assume that more fat is always bad while ignoring the relative amounts of protein in the food being compared. I need to view that kind of stuff the way I view the health and fitness news. It's not news, the sound bites are not accurate, and it's so superficial I need to ignore it.
On the whole, I really like the SP site. I need the nutrition tracker. The fitness tracker works for me as a motivational tool. And the community is awesome.
Putting up with health and fitness news that's no better than the mainstream media is a small price to pay for the good parts of SP.
Friday, August 24, 2012
It's Friday evening. In my current routine, this is the day I take my daughter to Taco Bell while her last load of laundry is in my drier. Today, I stopped at Aldi on the way back to pick up a few things: A honeydew melon, strawberries, onions, cottage cheese, eggs, bagged salad, tuna, and baby carrots. Pre-spark, I might have bought eggs, cottage cheese (only when I planned to put it in spaghetti sauce, and the full-fat variety then) and tuna (four cans would last me several months). The rest . . . baby carrots maybe once in a while. The other stuff, never.
Now, this is all stuff I'm buying because I was running out of it. To be fair, the onions and the melon are new additions to what I buy, but this isn't a first-time purchase on any of this stuff.
Daughter is slower to change to healthy ways, but she did ask if I could give her an orange peeler. It seems she bought some grapefruit by mistake, and she's going to be eating them. A knife at her apartment didn't work as well as an orange peeler did at my house for oranges.
In the back of my mind, the trip to Aldi on the way back from Taco Bell is a timing issue. Part of it is giving daughter a good example, even if that example is a couple decades later than I should have started. The other part, of course, is that it's on the way and it's when I have time to get this done.
Daughter finished her laundry and went on her way. I got to my evening snack, and had to add calories to make my minimums. I would have been fine right now shorting myself a couple hundred calories, but I'm not an intuitive eater. I need to identify a proper range, and eat to that range.
This has been happening more than once a week lately. Get to the late evening, and have to eat more to make minimums. Since I'm not back to running yet, it can give me a twinge of anxiety; but the scale trend is sideways, so I'm not changing the nutrition range. And in the grand scheme of things, it's a heck of a lot easier to deal with finding another 200 calories to eat than to deal with being done for the day and still wanting to eat more!
As I think about it, the trend in grocery shopping and the trend in eating to the calorie range are probably linked. Adding peppers and onions to my salad doesn't add a lot of calories, but makes the salad more satisfying. And having 100 to 150 grams of melon instead of an orange is fewer calories, but satisfies that craving for something sweet at the end of breakfast. There's likely similar stuff going on that I'm not noticing, but those two spring to mind.
In this respect, I'm doing things a little backwards. I got to goal weight before I started eating this healthy. (Not that Taco Bell is all *that* healthy, but the rest of the day looks pretty good.) And it had to be a gradual transition, as I ate to the nutrition ranges and tried one thing at a time to see if I liked it and could fit it into the plan.
It's still an evolving process, but I'm seeing some similarity between exercise and healthy eating. Both required me to start with little stuff, incorporate that into my lifestyle, and build incrementally.
Before SparkPeople, I never would have though of eating healthy or eating clean as something that could be accomplished by a gradual transition. Now, I see that this is the only way I could accomplish that. I'm still not eating like a true clean eating fanatic, and maybe I never will; but unlike my pre-Spark self, I now could survive a week of being fed by a clean eating fanatic.
At least, I could survive it as long as I could make it fit into my ranges for calories, carbs, fat, and protein. And I'd probably run out to Taco Bell as soon as possible after that hypothetical week . . . and buy groceries on the way back from Taco Bell, with a list that might resemble today's list.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I had a bad motivation day yesterday. I mentioned in a status update that I was having trouble with motivation to exercise, and that was true. I did my morning pullups and pushups, and skipped the rest of the morning exercises. Got a walk at lunch.
Came home from work, and still didn't feel like exercising. So I mowed the lawn instead. Didn't feel like doing that either, but if I was going to do something I don't feel like, I may as well get something necessary done.
My motivation level was so low, I couldn't even bring myself to write a blog. That likely would have helped, but I didn't have it in me. The good parts of the day were that eating was on track, and I got to bed on time.
I thought about the morning lack of motivation, and decided that maybe I was fatiguing my upper arms too much on the pullups and pushups, which made me reluctant to do TGUs or renegade rows. Maybe working the triceps a little more intensely than is good for getting more stuff done?
So this morning, I experimented. Instead of doing 12 chin-ups and 60 pushups, I just did 12 chin-ups. The second set of 12 chin-ups was easy. After the third set of 12 chin-ups, I did the first set of 60 pushups. Only got two sets of pushups in before the long simmer of the steel cut oats, and at that point my arms felt fine for doing TGU/windmill combos and KB snatches. After the snatches, I couldn't do the third set of pushups; but I got them in a few minutes later during the short part of simmering the steel cut oats.
Today was a work at home day. I found myself doing some dumbbell squats during sanity breaks from work. Where did that come from? I guess my lost motivation snuck back in the back door, at least for today. Had a nice walk at lunch, and got to my 10K steps easily today.
So, why did my motivation go away? I don't know. Why did it come back? I haven't a clue. I just fiddled around with changing things, and the motivation came and went.
Like maintenance, motivation doesn't seem to be steady state. Just have to work with what I've got, and do the best I can when the motivation is low. I'll see how motivated I am tomorrow; I wouldn't be surprised by either good motivation or poor motivation, the way this week has gone.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Early in my SP journey, I looked online at some ideal weights. The answers varied, and it wasn't clear what goal I should aim for. I wrote a blog about this at the time:
This week, there's been an active discussion on the now-renamed At Goal and Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team. One of the posts there aimed at supporting new maintainers had a link to a site I'd used to look at various ideal weights. Now that I'm maintaining, I went back and looked again.
I saw the same estimates I was looking at before, but they look different with a year's Sparking under my belt. The BMI range of 139-183 lbs. remains too broad to be useful, but I no longer think about edging into the top end of that range. The top end is clearly too high for me, and the bottom end is clearly too low for me.
The Devine formula target of 170 that looked too low to me then, looks too high now. The People's Choice Ideal Weight spits out 165, but it varies according to what weight I tell it I currently am. I learned to ignore it the first time past.
But the real deal is the Met Life tables. I have a hard time measuring my elbow as described, but I think I come out close to the borderline between medium and small frame as Met Life defines it.
My Met Life ideal weight range is stated to be 160-173 lbs for a medium frame. That looked way low to me a year ago; this morning I weighed in at 161.4 lbs.
However, the Met Life standard is weighing while wearing 5 lbs. of clothing and 1" heels. The program already accounts for the 1" difference in height; but my standard weight is in undershorts and tee shirt, which combine to weigh less than a pound. So if I knock 5 lbs. off the Met Life range for medium, I get 155-168 lbs.
That kind of sounds like where I've settled is in the middle of the range. If it turns out I'm really small frame, that range goes down (adjusted for my weigh-in standards) to 147-158 lbs. I kind of doubt that 158 should be the *top* of my range, though it's possible it should be *in* my range.
What does this all mean? Not a whole lot, in terms of picking a weight target. I still have to do that based on how I feel and what I can do at the proposed target weight. But there is a bit of an ego pump to see that where I've landed, which might still have a slight downward bias, is right there in the range that would make an insurance company happy to sell me a whole life policy.
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