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5K not quite the SP way

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Last Sunday, I blogged about getting some exercise and steps in spite of the rain. Today, I have the Sunday lack of routine steps again, and it looked like rain early this afternoon. But this time I'm prepared. I've bought more exercise shorts, so I can afford to use them instead of cargo shorts for walking. I've bought a new pair of running shoes, so I can afford to get my old gym shoes wet. I put on the slick running shirt I got at the Chase Corporate Challenge two years ago, because it will handle sweat (and rain) better than a cotton tee shirt.

Well, I've never really trained methodically to run. Maybe I should look at what SP recommends. There are a variety of running gear up programs. Each of them is structured in terms of walk X minutes, run Y minutes, repeat Z times. The numbers X, Y, and Z vary by program, but it looks like you hold X and Y constant for 3 sessions a week, sometimes increasing Z, then the X and Y numbers get progressively more challenging each week. That's the concept.

When you get to reality, Week 1 is either walk 4 minutes, run 1 minute or walk 1 minute, run 3 minutes. I'm not sure I like either of those choices. But let's try the walk 1, run 3 thing. Get out, walk a minute, start running, and realize I left my water bottle at home. I'm dumb, but not that dumb. I stop running, walk back, and get it.

Start again, 4 minutes later. Walk one minute, start running. I'm feeling it at 40 seconds, but keep running for 1 minute. Plan B, walk 1 and run 1. Let's try this 12 times, because I know I managed 12 segments of short running (100 to 120 paces) yesterday during my 5.2 mile mostly walk.

First mile, 9:33. Second mile, 19:06. I'm shocked at the consistency; I could swear I'm running slower by then. I manage 10 reps of walk 1, run 1, then slow to walk 2, run 1 for two more reps. I'm needing a bit more rest between runs, but more importantly the first 20 minutes got me to the strip mall and I need to avoid pedestrians. By now it is raining steadily, so the pedestrians are congregating on the covered sidewalk and there is more traffic than usual in the close lane as their rides come for them. Two minutes walking was enough to deal with this.

After 26 minutes, I've run 12 one minute segments. SP would call this the end of a workout, but I'm about 2 and a half miles from home. No, I'm not that dumb; the plan was to take my normal 5.2 mile walk route and just walk all the way when I'm done with running. I shouldn't have any problem walking the rest of this loop, as my legs are very accustomed to walking.

The rain comes down harder. My natural inclination would be to run, to reduce the time spent in the rain. I resist this inclination, because I can feel in my calves that I've already been running. Been the overdoing it route before, let's try the gradual work up route this time.

I did run across the one significant intersection, because I hit the light green and didn't want to chance it changing while I was part way across. I don't expect drivers to be looking for pedestrians in the rain.

There's thunder, and a couple of small flashes of lighting. A couple years ago, they closed the course for the Chase Corporate Challenge for weather like this. That was the race where I got the shirt I'm wearing now, LOL. But I was raised in the Great Plains. I'm not intimidated by upstate New York thunderstorms. It's not cold, and it begins to remind me of walking in the rain when I was a kid.

I get home, after walking almost 3 miles in rain of varying intensity. Hit the restroom, do my stretches, take care of the wet clothes, shower. Now there's sunshine outside. Oh, well. The time to walk/run happened to be when it rained, and it was kind of fun.

I tentatively think I'll try a shorter walk/run around the neighborhood Tuesday evening. It will be a test of whether the suburban dogs get upset at seeing someone running, and it will leave me closer to home when I get my 12 segments of running in. How I deal with a third session on Thursday or Friday depends on how Tuesday goes.

It's kind of been a comedy today, but if I can run two minutes at a time next week, perhaps the week after I'll be ready to work on the SP 5K running program. I just need some remedial work first.

We shall see. I've never been a real runner, but I've never tracked what I eat before either. Don't know that I can't do it unless I try.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONEKIDSMOM 8/23/2011 7:35AM

    Remembering some of our walks in flood waters in Bethany park... I wonder that we survived to adulthood, bro. Some things are just plain foolish. But a walk in the rain is still refreshing, if I don't have to be presentable at its end!

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BARBAELLEN 8/21/2011 8:03PM

    I love running in the rain, since it keeps me cool! (Speaking of cool, I'm sure you looked very dapper in your new slick exercise outfit.) I don't know about the lightning, though. I worked with a guy who is fortunately very bright, but has a severe speech impediment and limited motion on one side of his body, the result of being struck by lightning many years ago. Being a little intimated by thunderstorms might not be a bad idea. At the risk of sounding like a nudge, be careful!

BTW, you are really being conscientious on your fitness mission. Impressive! Keep it up!

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DIVALADY 8/21/2011 5:23PM


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GOATS03 8/21/2011 5:07PM

    Congratulations! That's awesome :)

I also enjoyed reading your blog.

Keep up the good work!

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GONEWLIFE 8/21/2011 5:05PM

    Good job ! Keep it up !

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Breakfast at McDonald's

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New routine, even newer than SP, is to meet my daughter at the local McDonald's for breakfast at 9 on Saturday mornings. It's a time to catch up on her life, spending an hour to 90 minutes before she has to be to work. Today was the third Saturday in a row doing this.

This has been a learning experience. Before the first breakfast, I went online and found the McDonald's nutrition information, if you can call it nutrition. It looked like the workable breakfast sandwiches were the sausage burrito or the egg McMuffin, each at 300 calories.

Week one, I ordered off the dollar menu. Got the sausage burrito, a hash brown, and a small decaf. Noticed that this seemed to stimulate my appetite, but I dealt with that. I can work with this level of calories for breakfast. Then late in the day, I saw that I needed an awful lot of grams of carbs to hit minimum, and wasn't that far below minimum calories. Oops. Made my ranges by going higher in the calorie range than I liked.

Week two, I ordered the egg McMuffin meal and substituted hot tea for the coffee. This is more protein, less fat, and didn't stimulate my appetite like week one did. Ran into a similar carb problem late in the day, but this time I knew it was coming. Had oatmeal for dinner to make my ranges with the calories kind of in mid-range.

This week, I was up early. The plan was to get my 5 mile walk in before breakfast. Five miles on an empty stomach didn't seem like a bright idea, so I had a slice of whole wheat toast with a pat of butter and honey before the walk. Hmm. That's about the same calories as the hash brown, but more fiber, more carbs, more protein, less fat. Okay. Skipped the hash brown at breakfast, just had the egg McMuffin and tea. It was enough, and appetite wasn't a problem before normal lunch time. Had oatmeal at lunch, and went into the afternoon about the same place in the ranges as I do on a typical work day.

This is doable. Breakfast at McDonalds can be just an egg McMuffin and tea, and it won't be very hard to work it into the daily nutrition. I just had to get past the legacy thinking about breakfast at McD that included hash browns. The point of the exercise is conversation with my daughter, and I don't need to eat the hash brown to have that.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LEANJEAN6 8/21/2011 7:25AM

    Nice of you to meet yer daughter!--Special!! And it looks like you figured it out with the calories! Good! --Interesting blog-Nice to see other people Sparkin'! Lynda

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/21/2011 3:22AM

    The most important sentence fragment: "The point of the exercise is conversation with my daughter". Life doesn't stop because one is changing one's eating to make healthier choices. One has to fit it all together, like a puzzle. emoticon

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DISGRUNTALGOAT 8/20/2011 10:37PM

    I always check out McDonalds nutritional information before eating there. I usually know in advance that I will be having a meal there. Sometimes I freeze half of my ice cream and have it 2 days in a row if it is too high for my calories. LOL
It really helps to know what to order so you don't sabotage your whole day. :)

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The Boring Diet

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've read the complaint that diets are boring. Usually this is cited in an article about why they don't have to be boring, and followed by details that motivate me to stop reading the article before I get to the end.

On SP, I've seen evidence that some people go to a bit of effort to avoid culinary boredom. There are the ubiquitous, intimidating recipes. There are blogs that discuss devising this, that or the other treat that fits into the nutritional goals. My sister has posted status about what she has for breakfast indicating more variation in the past 4 weeks than I've had for breakfast in the past year, excluding breakfast eaten away from home.

I suppose diet boredom must be a real phenomenon, because people put so much effort into avoiding it. I haven't hit it yet, five weeks into SP. Part of that may be because I'm still figuring out what I can fix that fits into the nutrient ranges, but I suspect most of it is because I have a high tolerance for boredom.

My most common breakfast is oatmeal with raisins, a very simple recipe: 1/3 cup quick oats, sprinkle of salt, 1/3 cup raisins, 2/3 cup milk, alternate stirring and short segments of microwave till done. Serve with a glass of milk, no sugar other than the natural sugar in the raisins. I'm content to eat this five days a week. I know, because I have for years. My concession to dieting has been to replace the 1% milk with skim milk.

You may ask, what do I do the other two days? About one day a week, I'll eat grits with cheese and spices, usually the same spices, and drink orange juice. On Saturdays, I'm going to McDonald's for breakfast with my daughter and being creative with food the rest of the day to make the nutrients work. Before breakfasts and McD, I might have skipped breakfast on Saturday, or made myself a breakfast burrito (usually a dinner item now), or had oatmeal with raisins.

Similarly, I pack the same lunch to take to work most work days. Pre-diet, I'd make some burritos to take about one week in 4 or 5; I haven't yet figured out how to make burritos that fit the system well. If I were worried about boredom, figuring out diet-friendly burritos would be a higher priority.

I do have more variety in my evening meal, but I tend to eat the same stuff two or three days in a row. Sometimes this is because I fix something that is two meals' worth, but more often it's because I found something I liked that worked with the nutrients, and I'm going to do it again.

Eventually, I'm going to get tired of what I'm eating now. But I'll figure something out when that happens. When I do, I'll probably end up eating a lot of the same thing, only it will be something different than I'm eating a lot of now.

So . . . maybe diets are boring, and ability to tolerate boredom helps success? Or maybe that's not universally true. In my case, it's more likely that making food *routine* will allow me to define what I eat and spend my non-eating time thinking about other things than food.

Based on my weight history, I think that would be a Good Thing.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PANBOOKS 8/19/2011 9:43PM

    I liked reading your blog. Like you, I have oatmeal for breakfast or cheerios. I never get bored with those two choices. The consistency of your plan and of your choices will lead to your continued success. Spending non-eating time thinking about other things made me smile because I agree.

Have a great weekend!

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DBCLARINET 8/18/2011 12:16PM

    I eat the same things every day, too. My breakfast is almost always an egg or two and some kind of meat. For a while, it was sausage. Sometimes it's bacon. Right now, it's smoked salmon.

My husband and I love going out for brunch on the weekend, and while I lived in Virginia Beach, we went to the same restaurant, where I got the same crab omelette every time. I loved it every time, too.

Lunches are big salads. Yeah, I change the toppings, but the basis is always a salad.

Dinner is where I "change things up." But I always default to our favorites: bunless burgers, a big CrockPot of chili with loads of veggies, or something delicious on top of spaghetti squash (one of our hands-down favorites).

I think my diet could rival yours in terms of boring. But am I bored? Never! I think that's the key to success. Eat what you like. Just because it's "good for you" or "fits in your diet" isn't enough, and I think that's where diet boredom comes in. You're gonna get bored if you're not eating stuff you like.

This also reminds me of a study I read about. When babies were given free choice to eat whatever they wanted, all healthy, whole foods, they would eat whatever "tasted good" for a couple days in a row, then switch and start eating something different, then switch a little later. In one given day, they didn't eat a balanced diet, but considered over the course of a few weeks, the diet was balanced. I can't even remember where I read about that study -- it was years ago, but I remember it to this day because of how much sense it makes.

Sorry for such a long post to say, you're completely right. Posts like this definitely get my brain ticking!

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WATERMELLEN 8/18/2011 8:26AM

    Weight loss maintainers (research indicates, eg National Weight Loss Registry, Judith S Beck "Diet Solution") tend to be "fuellers" who eat pretty much the same thing over and over. I do myself -- oatmeal or omelettes for breakfast, salads and fruit for lunch, "soup of the week" and yogourt with fruit for dinner. Huge variety of veggies and fruits, some variety in oatmeal or omelette add-ins, variety in soup flavourings but: the pattern doesn't change much.

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BARBAELLEN 8/17/2011 11:26PM

    After reading this, and your previous blog, I got to thinking about this diet boredom. (BTW, welcome to the world of chicken with everything!) Anyhow, I don't think it's uncommon to eat the same things on a routine basis, diet or not. Funny, friends and I have laughed about our dinners in days of yore. As kids, it's amazing how many of us recalled spaghetti night, chili night, meat loaf night and, of course, that godawful Chung King CHow Mein night (to use up Sunday pork roasts.) There may have been variation on which night, but the weekly menus were unbelievably similar. It was the same stuff over and again. Just like a "diet", except calorie-laden!

What I'm thinking is, I don't know that diet meals (as in low-calorie diet) are really any more boring than non-diet meals. I think that those of us who do better by eating the same foods now, did the same thing before "diet foods" kicked in. Dieters who are seeking culinary experiences every day are probably still doing the same thing they always did, except their recipes are from SP instead of Epicurious!

What does this all mean? I don't know. I guess it means that eating the same thing over and over until you move to the next thing isn't all that weird. You eat what you like. No matter what they say about low-cal food being every bit as delicious as fattening food, I don't think so, and I'd rather have butter, sugar and cream. Well, that won't work, and it does limit options, so I'm just as happy to find something healthy that I like and stick with it. Call it boring, but it works.

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LIMASTAR 8/17/2011 11:00PM

  I don't know about boring, but I have a short list of meals that I like to eat on a regular basis. It really helps to keep me focused and saves me shopping time. Time saved means more time for exercising.

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FOUNDER3 8/17/2011 9:00PM

    Sounds as though you know yourself pretty well, so that will be a real aid to you.

I have been going through a period of uncontrolled eating, and the funny thing is I am finding myself bored with the overeating of many foods, both healthy and unhealthy.

Today, I ate very healthily, and tonight, I am satisfied. One day at a time. I will make my decision when I wake in the morning that it is a new day. But, not worrying about that tonight. Satisfied with what I ate\today, and want nothing more.

Best of luck to you.


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ONEKIDSMOM 8/17/2011 8:58PM

    Seriously, the writers of YOU: The Owners Manual, and YOU: On a Diet have observed that those who are most successful at weight loss are those who are able to "automate" their food choices... i.e. eat the same thing... two meals a day, long-term.

Even though you might have observed variation in my breakfasts... I am pretty doggoned automatic: breakfast is some variation of fruit and steel cut oats cooked in Skim Milk. The variation is my attempt to put grits into the rotation (thanks to YOU). I also vary that maybe a day a week with a JC breakfast. Workday lunch is either a garden or a spinach salad (alternating days), and a JC entree. Snacks are similar rotations of a few simple choices of fruit, nuts, and baby carrots and celery. Dinner even becomes semi-automatic, as I have some go-to meals.

So pat yourself on the back... your ability to "tolerate boredom" bespeaks a leading sign of success! emoticon

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5 weeks in, the evolving diet

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Historically, I've had a problem with diets. The problem is, they tell me to eat lots of stuff I don't understand, don't like, is a lot of work to prepare, and/or makes recipes to feed 6 or 8 when I'm a single person.

Certainly most of the recipes I see on SP fit this mold. They typically call for 3 to 6 ingredients that I've never bought and have no use for other than the unlikely chance of my wanting to make that particular recipe, then make enough that I'd better be OK with eating it every day for a week.

But the SP diet doesn't have to be that way. The SP diet is simply, eat whatever I like as long as I come in within the daily ranges for calories, carbs, fat, and protein. Okay, for the first couple of weeks I only watched the calories; but I feel a lot better since I started watching the macronutrients. I take a multivitamin, so I'm not worried about too little of the micronutrients; and it's a great blessing that I'm not particularly sensitive to sodium.

Five weeks into SP, I see changes in what I eat. Some of the changes were fairly predictable, like getting rid of the diet soda. Some were a surprise, like the way concentrating on getting enough water significantly reduced my decaf tea consumption. (Yes, I know decaf tea is a reasonable substitute that some people count the same as water. I thought about that, realized that tea is more of an eating trigger for me than water is, and decided to only count water.)

And some of the changes are really, far-out, unimaginable a month ago. Like, salad. I've never been fond of salad, unless it had lots of stuff like black olives and cheese on it. I've never liked salad dressing. And there's the whole buy fresh produce and go to a lot of work to fix salad for one problem.

Well, my sister showed me pre-made salad from the grocery store. That fixed the prep effort problem. Got through one bag dry, not having lemon juice in the house. For the second bag, I decided to risk buying some light ranch dressing. Serving size is 2 tbsp. I put 1 tbsp on my first salad, and it was more than enough.

Hmm. Reminds me of chips and dip, only it's a lot better for me. This is a keeper.

Then there's the protein. Under the prodding of the macronutrient ranges, I bought low fat cottage cheese and chicken breasts. The cottage cheese is no surprise, I've always liked that. But the chicken breast has opened up new culinary experiences for single servings.

The routine is, buy the smallest package of chicken breasts at Aldi. Bring them home, and bake covered at 375 F for 50 minutes. Let cool enough to chop, and store the chopped chicken breast in plastic containers. Weigh out how much I want or need as I need it.

What can you do with chopped chicken breast? For starters, wraps. I started with a chicken burrito, which took a couple tries to get right. But a BBQ chicken wrap was pretty easy--chopped chicken breast, a tablespoon or less of Bullseye, and a half to 3/4 ounce of shredded cheese on a tortilla, and microwave to melt the cheese. (As someone on another forum said, use cheese as a flavoring rather than as a main ingredient.)

Later, on a day when I needed protein but not carbs, I got the idea of just putting some chicken on a plate, adding a half ounce of cheese, and sprinkling with red pepper and chili powder. Microwave just enough to melt the cheese, and it's pretty tasty. Kind of the same idea I used to do with corn chips, only less cheese, less fat, more protein, an more flavor.

I'm contemplating eventually figuring out how to make chicken soup, with lentils, rice, pasta or some combination of these for the carbs. No, I'm not going to look for a recipe; I'll figure out something that works to make soup for one.

I'm still not buying a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables, like all the diet gurus tell you to do. But that's okay. I don't need to do that. I can eat my salad, and my baby carrots, and custom design my solo dinner to round out whatever macronutrients I need to fill out the day.

I can do this. I don't think I could follow a diet that demanded X servings of vegetables and Y servings of fruit each day, but I can follow a diet that gives me a calorie range and ranges of how many grams of carbs, fat, and protein I need. It may not look like a traditional weight loss diet, but so far it's working pretty well for me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONEKIDSMOM 8/16/2011 9:41PM

    Congratulations. Over time, you are finding your personal version of the "guy diet" (your nephew's term). I called it "maintaining my way to my goal weight".

This is not a diet, in the traditional sense. It is a diet in the dictionary sense of "what you eat".

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Food is to be savored. Spark on!

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Deadlifting My Weight

Monday, August 15, 2011

I was a weakling for my first 49 years of life. I took up weight lifting shortly after my 49th birthday, and started out with weights that were comically light. Six month later, I'd conditioned to the point where I thought I could try deadlifts. I started at 125 pounds.

Some time during that year, it occurred to me that it would be cool to be able to say I could lift my own weight, and the deadlift was the obvious measurement. While gradually lifting more, but still substantially less than my weight, I thought about standards. I decided that, for me, that meant lifting my weight for reps - 3 sets of 8 reps, being able to put the bar down under control.

I got up to lifting about 180, and I could see it coming. I weighed about 190 then, and it was only a couple of ticks away. (Cue the heroic laughter from offstage.)

I continued to get stronger, but my weight was a moving target. When I was lifting 190, I weighed 195. When I was lifting 195, I weighed 200. I finally caught up at 205, having gained about 15 pounds from where I first got the idea.

At that point, I wasn't tracking what I ate. I figured I was working hard, and if I was hungry I'd eat. Yeah, right. In hindsight, I think I got enough protein at the cost of getting too many calories.

Fast forward three more years. I've been on and off the fitness wagon, and in 2011 I climb back on. This time, I reluctantly admit that I need to track what I eat. SparkPeople makes this possible for me. I'm no longer tracking historical weight lifting in detail, because those detailed records made me too self-competitive. I'd want to never lift less than I did last week, when sometimes I needed to lift less to avoid injury. Better to lift what feels right and not to think about what I did last week.

Well, SP got me motivated to go back into the gym. I'd taken close to a year off, and knew I'd lost some strength. So the first time I did deadlifts, I felt around for the right weight. That turned out to be 185, when I weighed 195 in my gym clothes. Lifted a few times, tracked what I ate, lost a few pounds.

This evening I weighed 190 in my gym clothes. I walked into the weight room, did my warmups, and deadlifted 195, for three sets of eight reps. That's about a two week development period, as opposed to the two and a half years it took me to build up to lifting my weight the first time.

Okay, I'm still lifting less than I did at my peak strength. But it's a nice psychological boost to walk out of that gym knowing that I could pick up an iron bar that weighed a bit more than I did, and lift it off the ground.

I hear someone is donating a piano to my church, and that it needs to be moved from its current location to a truck and from the truck to the church. I bet I'll be able to hold up my end when I'm asked to help move it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LEANJEAN6 8/16/2011 6:41AM

    Wow! What a great journey you are on! --must feel good! You have to be proud! --so happy I read your blog! ---truly inspirational-!!--Thank-you for sharing! Great blog!-Lynda

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/16/2011 5:48AM

    Congrats on reaching a long-held personal goal! Amazing what we can do when we free ourselves of expectations. emoticon emoticon

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BARBAELLEN 8/15/2011 10:56PM

    So, the real trick to reaching the goal of deadlifting your own weight is to lose enough weight?

Seriously, this has to make you feel GREAT!

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MOBYCARP 8/15/2011 10:21PM

    Sets of 8 are a conservative, injury avoidance precaution. I'm less likely to injure myself lifting something I can do for 8 reps than going for something that maxes me out in 5 reps. For similar reasons, I don't use straps on deadlifts; I figure if I can't lift it because of my grip, I shouldn't try. I'm not the demographic that t-nation targets.

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CHAOSTHEORY635 8/15/2011 10:03PM

    CONGRATS!!! Lifting more than you weigh is pretty much the most awesome and motivating feeling ever.

i apologise if this is an intrusion, but: why 3 sets of 185x8 and not 3 sets of 5 with something a little heavier, or something like 5x185, 5x195, 3x205? (re: high reps and deadlifts, see:

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