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Uncharted Territory

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Friday morning I weighed in a 184.4, and duly noted it as a 20-year low. Saturday I had no change, weighed 184.4 again. This was overshadowed by my inability to run as much as I thought I should and realization that I needed to pace myself.

Sunday: This morning I weighed in a 183.4. Stepped off the scale. Weighed again. Same answer, down a pound from the day before, which was itself a 20 year low.

So I put the weight into Excel, and changed the 2011 graph to add the point. It might be a smidge below trend line, but not far. This is probably a real weight loss. Then I updated the range for the long term graph, and I got a nearly horizontal wiggly line with a lot of white space below it. Huh?

It took me a while to figure that one out. Turns out that Excel's hidden algorithm for scaling line graphs takes a range from 221 to 184.4 and sets the minimum vertical axis number at 160. But if the range is 221 to 184, Excel assumes that I want to see how that all relates to a bottom of zero. Because I've upgraded to Office 2007 since the last time I fiddled with graph settings, it took me a while to figure out how to manually set the minimum; but I did get my readable long term graph back.

This could easily turn into a rant about Microsoft, but that's not where I want to go with the thought.

It's not just that 183.4 initially made my long term weight chart blow up. 183.4 is off the chart historically in that I *don't remember* just when I last weighed that little. I remember struggling to come down from the unreasonably high weight of 185 some time in the mid to late 1980s, but I don't remember what I weighed in which year from 1985 through 1990. I recall a couple of key weights from 1991 - 186 before I moved, and 191 after I unpacked the scale.

There's other stuff I don't remember, too. I don't remember what kind of scale I was using back then, or whether I had standardized the time of day to weigh or the clothing I weigh in. For sure, any scale I used was only accurate to one pound, and may have had a bias of being heavy or light by a pound or two. I remember a couple scales with such a bias, but I don't remember whether I was using a biased scale the last time I weighed this little, or which direction any bias might have been.

I'm now in uncharted territory. Any further weight losses are into territory where I can only say very roughly that I used to weigh this little more than 20 years ago.

I don't think I really believed I could lose weight below 185 when I started with SparkPeople. When I set a goal of 175, I forget what time frame SP set for it, I think some time in early 2012. That looked way aggressive to me, so I changed the goal to July 4, 2012.

Yesterday I backed that goal up to April 15, 2012. That now looks like way far out, at the rate I'm losing; but I'm okay with that. Now I'm becoming concerned that I might be losing a shade more quickly than I ought to for the last 10 pounds, and perhaps I ought to slow that down a bit.

That requires some thought. I've been comfortable in the eating range, and exercising quite a bit. The exercise is going to get toned down as fall commitments like choir and bell choir start up, so I'm reluctant to add calories to the diet. And there are a couple of social eating commitments coming up that may blow a couple of specific days of eating. But I want to keep the running training, which would mean the exercise I will be getting won't be comparable to what I got in past fall seasons on the fitness bandwagon.

Decisions, decisions. Which way do I go? I don't know for sure, because I'm in uncharted territory.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 9/4/2011 9:31PM

    "Uncharted territory" sounds very adventurous!! My initial SP set goal was 155 -- I'm now maintaining for quite a period of time below 140, mostly at about 137.5, fluctuating about a pound.

The concept of "lowest attainable weight" versus "lowest sustainable weight" intrigued me (from Judith S. Beck's "The Diet Solution", and there's a blog about it in my archive if you think that might be useful to you).

Because my weight has stabilized, apparently, I'm thinking that this is lowest sustainable weight . . . chosen by my body itself, as your sister suggests . . . and the weight I was in high school/early university years.

Comment edited on: 9/4/2011 9:36:09 PM

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/4/2011 8:16PM

    You'll make your own decision of course, but when I got to my initial goal and they told me what my maintenance range was, I wasn't comfortable going that high... I liked the level I was eating at. So, I stayed close to it, splitting the difference between losing and maintenance ranges.

This allowed my body to essentially choose its own goal. Which it did. Good luck, and especially with the adjustment to less activity.


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Pacing Myself

Saturday, September 03, 2011

I've always had trouble pacing myself. That's one of the reasons I've never been a runner; I've never been patient enough to train slowly.

Thursday I turned in a pretty good walk/run time in training. Friday I lifted weights and got out for a walk late to keep some streaks going. And on to Saturday.

The plan was to get up early, do a walk/run of 5.2 miles before meeting my daughter at McDonald's for breakfast, then do normal weekend stuff. What happened is I ended up slacking off a lot.

First, the walk/run. This was not a training exercise. The idea was to walk longer than I would in training, and not push hard on the runs. Well, the humidity this morning was every bit as bad as yesterday. The good news is I got out when the temperature was still reasonable; but I was doing terrible with the running. First stretch, I felt like slowing to a walk at one and a half minutes. After that, I managed 5 two minute runs, with 2 to 5 minutes walking between. The next time I set out to run, I managed a half minute.

My socks were wet. I'll try buying new socks, feels like the wicking action in these socks isn't what it was. My calves hurt. Either I really worked too hard Thursday, or the walking lunges yesterday were too much. I could feel a soreness in my thighs; when I got home I looked it up and I guess I worked by hip adductors pretty hard on Thursday. I don't think the RDLs and walking lunges yesterday would do that.

The technical term that weight lifters use for how I felt is "pretty beat up." This is obvious from the time I start the walk/run, but by the time I'm ready to admit it I'm more than halfway through the course, having run a total of 12 minutes. That's kind of deflating after training with walk 1, run 2 and running 20 total minutes. Couldn't manage 20 minutes in 2 minute segments, even with more time walking between runs. Sad.

Managed the 5.2 miles in 64 minutes. Got a little bit of a late start, so I skipped the hamstring and quad stretches, but made sure to to a good job on the calf stretches. Made it to breakfast on time, to hear daughter talk about moving to a solo apartment the first of October. There's drama with her landlady/roommate, who seems headed for Learning Experience in Life.

After breakfast, it was hot and humid. Normal weekend chores got started late, and some didn't get done. What did get done was a nap; grocery shopping; a bit of playing around on the SP site; and watching some football. I made no attempt to deal with the lawn in the heat. Tomorrow is supposed to be just as bad. I'll see how my body feels before I try to deal with the lawn then.

This is kind of a wakeup call. I've been diligent about getting exercise, but not as diligent as I should have been about controlling how much exercise. This has given me problems in the past, when my fitness program imploded but I kept eating like it was still going on. I'll try to deal with it better this time.

First step is tomorrow. Maybe I'll start Week 1 of the 5K My Way running program, and maybe I'll just walk for exercise. I need to listen to my body and see whether I've got enough rest time in to charge back into training. If not tomorrow, almost certainly Monday for the training. Tomorrow is supposed to be hot again, but Monday should be cooler at the cost of having some showers. I can deal with showers when out to walk or run.

It's a hard lesson, but I need to learn to pace myself. Not only in a single day's run, but also in overall exercise and fitness. I really don't want the program to implode and see the results I've already achieved evaporate. If I have to see slower progress, fine. But let's not lose what I've already got. To hold on, I need to keep working the program, but not work it so hard that it implodes.

Pace yourself, kid. You're worth it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    AMEN!!!(to slower progress when slower progress is demanded)

Last week I thought "what the heck has happened to me?!!" I had been doing a fantastic job, I thought, on my walk/runs, but then last week it was like I could barely move. The temperature has not been all that hot here this summer, but last week the HEAT hit the fan, so to speak. I don't do well in high temperatures. I mean, I don't do anything well and certainly what I am able to accomplish is done with little enthusiasm. Not trying to make excuses, but definitely embracing your words as they apply to my own program and performance.
Not going to beat myself up next time. Instead, I will accept that my body is demanding a slower gait for the time being.
Thanks for sharing this blog with us.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 9/3/2011 10:38PM

    Pace yourself: that's right! "Pace" is Italian for "peace" (pronounced pah-chay) and really: we gotta make peace with ourselves, by permitting a sustainable pace.

About 70% of weight loss/weight loss maintenance for me is: nutrition control. Exercise is essential for cardio fitness/toning/mood control: but really doesn't make a huge difference, with my metabolism, for weight loss.

Thanks for your comment on my trivia blog . . . vainglorious then, but already have rung up a "wrong answer" today!! Hate the questions which refer to American junk food choices not available here in Canada: so I just have to guess which is the better option . . . grrrr!

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/3/2011 9:34PM

    Good last line, there! When I was in the midst of the Couch to 5K program a year ago, I was getting discouraged and thought I was gonna die in about week 4. I whined in my blog about it and got a response from a Sparker who was a couple weeks ahead of me in the program.

She said... "jog SLOWER"... and proceeded to say when she was at the point in the program, she felt she was jogging slower than she could walk, but once she got through that week, she turned a corner and never looked back. I took advantage of her experience... and did the same.

You will find what works. It's important not to pile too many straws on that camel's back... an error I, too, have made in the past. You're learning it all... at your own... pace!

Spark on! You ARE worth it. emoticon

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Heat, Humidity, and Stupid Motivational Tricks

Friday, September 02, 2011

In Rochester NY, we sometimes get deceptive humidity. It really doesn't feel very bad, but after you walk a half mile you're dripping with sweat.

Today was warm, about 88 at lunch, and there was nothing deceptive about the humidity. It was in my face. I took a short walk and got back into the air conditioning. I didn't bother counting the walk as exercise.

The boss let folks out early for the Labor Day weekend. I used the time to go to the gym early (planned for after work) with the idea of mowing the lawn later, or maybe making up the cardio with a walk from home when it cooled off. Heh.

The gym is air conditioned, but the a/c isn't terribly efficient in the weight room. The weight room is in the basement, so it was cool enough; but much of the outside humidity migrates in. I was sweating seriously after a warmup, and dripping after the first major lift. Well, that's what lifting weights is like in the summer. I persevered, in spite of having forgotten to pack my water bottle. I made lots of trips to the drinking fountain.

After lifting, I reasoned that I might get a half hour of cardio in on a treadmill, and that would boost my step count up to where it would have been if I'd got the lunch walk. Still no water bottle, but it's only half an hour. I can drink before and after. Well. The cardio room a/c was working well, but 2 minutes in my feet were telling me that my socks were wet and it was NOT a good idea to keep going. Canceled out of that program, and didn't count it as cardio.

Ran a couple errands, and still got home a bit earlier than normal. Step out of the car, and the heat and humidity are oppressive. I've acclimatized to fall weather, let's not go back to high summer! Went in, fed the cat, had dinner, and recorded stuff on the nutrition and fitness trackers. Survey the yard. I really need to run the hedge trimmer before I mow, and then bag the clippings. I'm not up to that this evening, it will have to wait for tomorrow.

At this point, my pedometer reads about 8800 steps. There's no way I'm getting 1200 more steps inside my small house. Start looking as Spark Streaks. I've got a 44 day streak of exercising 10 minutes a day going, and I don't know whether weights should count. It says I have a 19 day streak of 10,000 steps, but it's really 48 days with an accidental streak reset thrown in.

So at 7 PM, the stupid motivational tricks get my butt out the door for a walk. I need 10 minutes and about a thousand steps. This is doable. The heat is less, as the sun has gone behind some western clouds. The humidity is still in my face, but can be dealt with as long as I'm willing to sweat. Get to the turning point for the short version of the walk. I've already worked up a light sweat. I'll need a third shower for the day anyway. May as well go the full 2 mile route. Turns out I'm at an off pace, and that takes me 32 minutes. Good enough for the streaks and the steps.

Now, off to bed. I want to be up early tomorrow, so I can walk/run 5.2 miles and get cleaned up before breakfast at 9. Then with the exercise and step streaks defended, I can see about taking care of the lawn tomorrow afternoon.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARLENE_MOVES 9/2/2011 11:43PM

    Love your attitude and your blog. The humidity here is MD is why I got dvds - especially the Leslie Sansone ones.

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BARBAELLEN 9/2/2011 10:38PM

    I can sure relate to not feeling like exercising in the humidity. Here in Baltimore, the humidity is anything BUT deceptive! Pretty impressive that you made yourself go out and get your steps in in spite of the discomfort. But looking at your progress photos, I can see why you're staying motivated. You look great!

I know what you mean about the stupid motivational tricks on SP! I'm always amazed at how I've been lured in. I'm even more amazed that they work! I don't know that I'd admit this to anyone outside of SP, but I actually felt a little ticked off that all my streaks were blown when I couldn't record anything during the recent power outage. GadS! This program really does work, doesn't it!

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I82MUCHB4 9/2/2011 10:08PM

    Congrats to you for getting over those pesky bumps in the road that like to pop up all too often. You knew what you had to do and you made it happen. Sure, you kept waiting for an opportunity to be more comfortable, but you eventually made it happen. I hate humidity. Having grown up in California, adjusting to east coast humidity has been an ongoing battle for the last 18 years! Anyways, now you can feel good about keeping your streak going strong!

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/2/2011 9:32PM

    We are not so different from Kindergartners or Pavlov's pooches, after all. To stupid motivational tricks! emoticon emoticon

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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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