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Before and During pics, 5K My Way Week Zero Day Three

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Before, 7/31/2011:

During, 9/1/2011:

The plan had been to take pictures at the end of each month. Yesterday was end of month, and I forgot. emoticon

I record my weight each day. The difference in weight between July 31 and September 1 was all of 6.8 pounds. It would not be surprising to see little difference; it's a bit surprising to see as much difference as there is. That's still not where I want the "after" pictures to be, but it's good progress for one month.

Then after I took pictures, I went out for the last of my remedial training on running. The plan was walk 1 minute, run 2 minutes, times 11 for a total of 22 minutes running. That should prepare me to start Week 1, which starts out walk 1, run 3, times 8 for a total of 24 minutes running.

This evening it was 80 degrees out, warmer than it's been while I'm running since last Friday. I changed a few variables. Put my older running shoes into the gym bag and retrieved the newer ones, thinking that might help some irritation of the bottoms of my feet I'd noticed before. Tried to figure out the Pose Technique that WATERMELEN had recommended. That's hard without a coach to look at how I'm doing. Tried to figure out what it should feel like and run that way. What I ended up with feels more like pulling the ground with my front foot than pushing with my rear foot. It gets me moving faster, with a longer stride, as promised. I didn't figure out how to slow down and stay in that method.

The most notable thing about this session is that I've hit the point where the limiting factor is my cardiovascular fitness. Part of that will be running faster, part might be not getting the Pose Technique right, part will be the temperature (which comes with deceptive humidity). During the session, I lost track of time segments once. Did a walk 1, run 1, walk 1, run 2, walk 5 steps, realize what I've done, run 1, and back on track. Ended up covering 3.9 miles in 33 minutes, 11 cycles of walk 1, run 2 with the irregularity from losing track.

That rate would get me through 3.5 miles in under 30 minutes. emoticon

All in all, it's been a pretty good day.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOVE_2_LAUGH 9/2/2011 2:08PM

    Great job. Visual confirmation that you're making changes are so rewarding, aren't they?

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/1/2011 8:46PM

    OK, I gotta be honest... I envy your long legs when I see you reporting 33 minutes for 3.5 miles, and you aren't even running the whole time.

Go, Bro! emoticon

p.s. What did I tell you about progress photos? I didn't get my end of August taken, either... I'm thinking Saturday morning will have to be close enough.

Comment edited on: 9/1/2011 8:46:46 PM

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Time and Distance

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I am not a runner. Once a year, at the end of May, I pretend to be a runner for the Chase Corporate Challenge. That's 3.5 miles, or just a bit longer than a 5K.

Every year since the first time, my goal has been to be able to run the entire 3.5 mile distance. Every year, I've fallen short of that goal. The reasons are many. I'm busy during tax season, so I don't train then. I don't switch gears naturally at the end of tax season, so I lose too much time there. A couple of times I tried to train, and overdid things.

Enter SparkPeople. I came here to learn to record and control what I eat. The site also promotes exercise. I know a bit about weight lifting, and I see what SP has to say on the subject is very basic and suitable for people with absolutely no weight lifting experience. I wonder if the same is true about their running programs?

So I take a look. I can walk forever, but I'm not a runner. The 5K My Way running program starts with walk 1 minute, run 3 minutes. I couldn't do that. Other programs start with walk 4 minutes, run 1 minute. That's a lot more walking than I need between runs.

So I looked at what the programs had in common. They all are structured in terms of walk X minutes, run Y minutes, repeat Z times, Z increases on day 3 of each week, while X and Y become more challenging each successive week.

The end point of the 5K running program is to run 30 to 40 minutes. (SP says "jog," but let's be honest. If it's worth breaking out of my walk, it's worth running.)

So I built myself a two week remedial program that I call weeks negative one and zero of the 5K My Way running program. I'm on Week Zero and it's working. Today I walked 1 minute, ran 2 minutes 10 successive times. Friday I'll go for 11. Next week I'll start Week 1 at the SP drill of walk 1, run 3 times 8. (They word it clumsily, listing the first cycle then saying "repeat 7 times," but the listed total time makes it clear what is meant.)

I got into this thinking I needed a formal pattern for a gradual buildup. I knew I needed to not go as hard as I could, in order to increase my capability instead of achieving what I can right now and being sedentary the next two days. But there's something else important going on here.

SP says they're training for a 5K run. I've always thought in terms of training to run 5k, or 3.5 miles, or 5 miles, or whatever fantasy distance I've never been able to run. But that's not what the training program is doing.

It's really training me to run 35 minutes.

That's an important distinction. Historically, I thought in terms of distance. Run 200 paces, walk 200 paces. The real training program works in units of time. Walk 1 minute, run 1 minute. (I still don't get starting out with the walk instead of the run, but I'm following that structure.) The end result is to be able to run consistently for a sustained period of time.

If I can run continually for 30 minutes, I'll be able to run continually for 3.5 miles. Even on the walk 1, run 2 drill I covered 3.67 miles in 32 and a half minutes (with a 2.5 minute walk at the end, because 10 cycles is where I am in training.) Running nonstop will trim at least 2 and half minutes off that, probably more.

The other thing I noticed was the step count on the pedometer. When thinking in terms of distance, running artificially looks worse than walking. It's fewer steps to walk/run my 5.2 mile loop than to just walk the same loop. But . . . it's more steps to walk/run 30 minutes than to walk 30 minutes. Greater distance, more steps, same time.

I'm beginning to get it. To train to run, and to get the fitness benefits of running, how far I run isn't the most important thing. How long a time I run is a better measure to focus on.

Next May, I want to be able to run at least 30 minutes continually. I'll be willing to stop sooner if it doesn't take that long to cover 3.5 miles. Slightly changed goal, but I think I have a better chance of meeting it than I've ever had in the past.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HOT4FITNESS 8/31/2011 10:09AM

    I agree that the Sparkpeople way is not always the best way. Sparkpeople is great to get people on track to start an exercise program, eat more sensibly, and change their lifestyle. i too have used some of their suggestions and built my own programs. So way to go. I look forward to hearing about your training.

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WATERMELLEN 8/31/2011 8:40AM

    Great analysis.

You might like to check out 2 other resources on line:

POSE technique of running (which reduces potential injury); and
Podrunner downloads for musical accompaniment . . . geared to that gradual build-up approach.

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/31/2011 6:47AM

    Once again, Spark people's hidden benefit: getting us to think differently, look at things a little differently. Spark People is not what it appears to be. It is a life management system, a goal setting system, a values examining system... and along the way, a body can lose some weight and become more fit.


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GETSTRONGRRR 8/30/2011 11:21PM

    One word....Galloway

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Feeling Like an Imposter

Monday, August 29, 2011

I've been on the SP site for seven weeks now. I track what I eat. I stay in my calorie range, and after the first couple of weeks I started watching the macronutrients and staying in those ranges.

I climbed back on the fitness bandwagon, walking more regularly, lifting weights, and actually using the gym I'm paying for. Last week I started training to run, with the aspiration of being able to run 3.5 miles nonstop at the end of next May.

The system is working. In seven weeks, I lost 11 pounds and the clothes that were tight are now comfortably loose. I'm not lifting as much weight as I did at my peak, but the strength is coming back. This weekend I weighed in at a 20 year low, though the weight has since bounced back up a little with rehydration.

And sometimes I feel like an imposter. What the heck am I doing here, with a lousy 21 pounds to lose (10 now), and fitness that came right back after 3 or 4 weeks of actually doing it? There are people here who have lost 50 or 100 pounds. There are people here who started out so obese that just getting off the couch was exercise, and they managed to turn themselves into runners. There are people here who are losing weight in spite of medical conditions that limit their ability to run, or even to walk. There are people here who work their butts off to lose a half pound a week.

I have it easy. I may not be young any more; AARP wants me to join. But I'm pretty healthy, and not *that* much overweight. Yes, I desperately need the nutrition tracker. Yes, the stupid motivational tricks are really helping me actually exercise, as opposed to thinking about exercising. But still, I sometimes feel like I'm freeloading on a system that was built for people who need it a lot worse than I do.

Sometimes I read about a situation that is so far from what I experience that I just can't think of a way to offer support without sounding holier than thou. And then I wonder, what the heck am I doing here?

Then I take a deep breath, and think about it. I'm here to develop habits that will maintain a healthy weight. I'm here because I am going to have to track what I eat for the rest of my life. I'm here because just posting a status that says I will go to the gym commits me, and then I actually DO go to the gym. I'm here because some of the other people here have some pretty good ideas that I can use in my own life. I'm here for pretty much the same reasons the people who look like they belong here are.

I'm here because my diet and fitness are better when I'm here than they were when I wasn't here. That's enough. If I happen to help anyone else too, that's a bonus.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDALEE14 8/30/2011 6:49PM

    I know what you mean. Years ago, I joined Weight Watchers and I only had about 12 pounds to lose. Some of the women there looked at me as if to say "what are YOU doing here?" But, I stayed just the same. Fortunately, everyone here at SP is so wonderful and we all know that each and every one of us have goals and challenges that may be different, but we care and we encourage. So, congratulations on seeing such grand progress in such a short period of time. It's encouraging to the rest of us to see success. We help you, you help us.


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LOVE_2_LAUGH 8/30/2011 9:45AM

    Exactly. This site is here for anyone who wants to improve their health and fitness. It's just not for the morbidly obese. It's for everyone. Glad you found SP and that it's working for you. Ain't it great?

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DEBRA0818 8/30/2011 8:35AM

    The road to unhappiness begins with a comparison -- that's what Confucius said. Listen to your sister! Everyone has the same struggle to be a good caretaker of themselves. Whether you are at your right weight, a little overweight or greatly obese, the path is the same every day for the rest of your life. It's hard to do even if you're slim. If you read The Spark, you'll see that the inventor was not really overweight, but he had a few pounds to lose and a lot of bad habits. His ingenious website was created for everyone, including you!

Cheers, Debra
emoticon emoticon

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DEBRITA01 8/30/2011 7:32AM

    We are all traveling the same road...some of us have farther to go than others, but we all want the same thing~ a healthier lifestyle. Whether you have 2 pounds to lose or 102, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you want to maintain the relatively good health you have now. And if SP can help you achieve that goal,, you belong here.
Keep Sparking! emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/30/2011 7:20AM

    Let me tell you a secret I discovered years ago when I was working to take off 80 pounds. It was just as hard for those who only had 10 to lose. My mountain might have been physically bigger, but the need to learn and use tools and get support was the same.

No such thing as an imposter! You're a Sparkly Spark Person now! emoticon emoticon

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CEHALLA 8/30/2011 12:05AM

    I have had some of the same ideas, of being an imposter in a different way. But, really, its just another distraction. Its amazing to me, how many ways my brain can find to distract me from my ultimate goal. And its a lifestyle change for me, too, not just a quick fix, so I need all the help I can get to point out possible ways to get off track. thanks!

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GETSTRONGRRR 8/29/2011 11:44PM

    No imposters here....we all have different weight goals to achieve, but we share a common struggle.

None of us can say our pain, dilemma, struggle, anxiety, is any greater or less than anyone elses....we each have a tough road to travel and we get there through mutual support

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MARZIPAN22 8/29/2011 10:10PM

    If I had known about, and followed Spark when i had fewer pounds to lose I wouldn't have as many to lose now !I'm so glad you are a Sparkie...keep inspiring the rest of us on !! emoticon

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I Don't Trust My Scale

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oh, I believe it weighs accurately enough. I just don't trust that the my weight is really as low as it says, and will stay that low.

This morning I weighed in at 185. That matches my low weight for 2010, which I touched last September 12. That was a jiggle down, between the weights of 186.2 and 186.8. It was kind of an artificial low, because I'd fallen off the fitness bandwagon some time earlier.

I expected to celebrate achieving a weight of 185. Not only was it my low weight for 2010, it was lower than any previous weight going back to 1991. But this morning's 185 doesn't feel like an achievement, because it's a jiggle up from yesterday's weight.

Yesterday I weighed 184.6. I didn't trust that weight enough to brag about it. It was down more than a pound from the day before, and I'm not normally seeing movement of more than a pound into new low territory these days. Especially not when it's more than a pound lower than a weight that was, itself, a new low for 2011. I figured I was pretty dehydrated, and I should bounce right back up there.

Well, the weight bounced back up, but not as far as I expected. Maybe this is real. If I weigh about the same tomorrow, I think I'll begin to believe it.

I just hope I don't blow it with the burritos I made for lunch this week. The nutrition numbers say they should work out just fine, but right now I'm not in a trusting mood.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 8/29/2011 9:36PM

    That you're sticking with the programme is what counts the most: because then (in the long run) the scale has NO CHOICE! Your weight will go down, really, and you will trust that it has gone down!

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DEBRITA01 8/29/2011 8:40AM

    Oh, that darned scale...someone once told me "the scale is a fickle lover"~and it's so true! Try not to focus too much on the's just a number. Continue to focus on all of those great changes you are making in your life and you'll get there. Keep Sparking! emoticon

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MACILINN 8/28/2011 10:13PM

    Yes I understand, I usually step on the scale only when I feel thinner, and that usually works, except that my w/i day doesn't always agree w/the lower #. I use it anyways, my lowest wt for the wk works for me! I do tend to restep at least 3X to make sure it's real though. It's so funny how that darn scale has so much power!!!

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ARLENE_MOVES 8/28/2011 8:13PM

    Funny -- I talked to myself all morning about the scales reading lower than yesterday. It must be going around!!!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/28/2011 7:53PM

    Follow the plan, and the scale will do whatever it will do... at some point, your body says "I'm done". You are probably not there yet. Keep on keeping on, and see what it decides.

Meantime, congrats... on a newfound consistency and methodology... and the number on the scale... trust it or not... it matters little! You're doing great. emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/28/2011 8:31:20 PM

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BRAVERUDE 8/28/2011 7:45PM

    Obsessing over the scale... I do it, as well. Probably ought to take the advice and weigh in only once a week....nah!! Enjoy your achievement!

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Philosophical Quibbles with the System

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The theme for the Spark Diet Stage 2, Week 6 (which starts today for me) is finding the unexpected opportunities. The suggested action steps are a bit problematic:

1. "Batch cook a dish that can last 4-5 days." I live alone. I've spent 6 weeks or so learning to fix one meal at a time that fits into the diet. Batch cooking needs a whole different discipline. Batch cooking in general seems a bit silly for my situation, but I think I can do this. Pre-Spark, I made some tasty lentil & rice burritos. Part of the reason they were tasty was that I put on unmeasured amounts of sour cream and shredded cheese. I can measure the cheese with my trusty food scale, been doing that with BBQ chicken wraps and breakfast burritos anyway. And I can try substituting plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream, and measure that.

I envision doing one burrito at a time on the food scale, instead of my former assembly line of 8. But I'll be able to use the food scale to subdivide my lentil & rice stuffing more accurately. The stuffing is made, and I'll do assembly later this evening or tomorrow. We'll see how they turn out.

2. "Exercise entirely in 10-15 minute blocks of time this week." Ain't gonna happen. I understand the idea is to encourage people to do something instead of sitting; but I'm in week zero of training for a 5K. Coming up tomorrow is walk 1 minute, run 2 minutes times 9, which equals 27 minutes nonstop exercise. No way am I messing up the 5K training to fit a lame scheme that's supposed to make me think about fitting exercise into odd slots of time.

I do things like walk around the block on breaks at work; but I don't count that as exercise. And yesterday (end of week 5) I rearranged to fit 5K training into the lunch hour. I think I've got down what this is supposed to teach, and the action step just looks dumb.

3. "Exercise in one place that you normally wouldn’t (the office, the back yard, the garage)." I suppose I can look for some unusual place to exercise, just to get the 5 spark points. But it doesn't make much sense to me. Maybe take my kettlebells outside to the yard tomorrow, instead of using them inside, just to say I did it. Seems kind of silly.

One of the things I wrestle with is, what is exercise? I don't like to count mowing the lawn (though I did once, a few weeks ago) because I'd do that anyway. I don't count taking the stairs at work, because I did that all through the period when I was off the fitness wagon. I have counted my lunch walk at work, but I wonder. If "exercise" means getting the heart rate up to 60% - 85% of the max, I don't think those walks count. I don't have a heart rate monitor, but the last two times I stopped to check my pulse was 54% of the max while I was maintaining roughly a 15 minute mile pace.

Oh, and the exercise tracker keeps telling me to adjust my plan because I'm burning too many calories and need to eat more. I might do that, if I thought the calories burned calculation had any reasonable relationship to reality. But they don't really. They give either too many or too few for cardio exercises, and I can't tell which. They give no calories burned for strength training, when I know I burn more calories in a 30 minute weight lifting session than I would on a 30 minute walk. The basline metabolic rate is a guess based on some average. I'm seeing strength gains and weight loss on what I'm eating and doing; I think I'll keep it up for a while. Time enough to adjust calories if I stop losing weight or start losing it too fast.

Doing the batch cooking thing brought up another minor frustration. I made a recipe for ground beef substitute, which is lentils and brown rices cooked with beef bouillon. Pre-spark, this was a basic part of several things I did. It should be healthy enough to adapt for cooking on the SP diet. (Yes, the bouillon is high in sodium. I'm not particularly sensitive to sodium, so I don't care.)

I can't add an existing recipe to a new recipe, or to a food group. #!&^. Ended up adding the spices (which add some sodium) to the ground beef substitute to call it burrito stuffing. Then I took the recipe results, and hand entered them to create a food called burrito stuffing. I'll have to hand enter the results from the ground beef substitute recipe in order to use it to create a spaghetti sauce recipe.

Three decades ago I noticed the inefficiency of taking numbers generated by one computer and hand entering them into another computer. You'd think a site like SP would address this issue, and let me create a recipe of a type called "ingredient," which could then be included in other recipes.

Oh, well. For all the minor nuisances, the SP system is working for me. It has got me to eat better, and it has got me to get back on the fitness wagon. In the not too distant future, it's going to get me to move my 36" belts to the back of the closet and start using the 34" belts. I suppose I can work around a few things that don't make sense for results like that.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 8/28/2011 7:05PM

    I'm just a rebellious soul who finds it very hard to be unquestioningly compliant about ANYTHING actually.

But: do like the "grouping" option on the nutrition tracker which I can then edit: eg I've created a salad grouping which has a huge whack of different vegetables: then I take out the ones not in any particular salad.

I agree about calories burned weight lifting . . . not just on cardio.

Oh well. Oh well. It's a fabulous site, just not perfect and me neither.

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JAZZEJR 8/28/2011 4:04PM

    I'm not sure if this addresses your "ingredient" problem--you're more familiar with the Spark system than I--but when I end up listing individually the various ingredients of a meal from my own Favorites list, I save them as a group and name it something I can recognize like "Burrito dinner"--that may signal me that I have a salad included. Anyway when I select that group for a meal later, all the ingredients are listed--if I made the burrito with chicken instead of the meat substitute this time, I can remove the meat and add the chicken from my favorites list. Is that what you had in mind?

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/28/2011 12:11AM

    For the things that "look silly" or that don't fit with how I live? Guess what? I *don't do them*... there is enough good in Spark and enough breadth of Spark that I can do that. And still get good results. But every so often, for the discipline of it, I try a new one, anyway!


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