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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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