Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Happy Holidays to everyone!
My Christmas went well. It was nice to hang out with the family. It was great getting my Christmas shopping mostly done a week early for once. It was nice to come out of it basically unscathed in the weight loss department.
That said, yesterday was probably my highest caloric intake day since I started this quest 5 or 6 months ago. It included a few cookies, a slice and a half of Pumpkin Pie, a bit of Chocolate Mousse, and a moderate amount of general snacking throughout the day. I tried to keep most of the snacking as healthy as possible though.
I know that sounds like a lot, but compared to other years it was nothing. I managed to run 4.5 miles and lift weights on Sunday night. I also went for a 2 mile walk/jog on Christmas day, mostly to check out my new Heart Monitor watch (thanks Dad!). I think it was important to keep some level of activity during this time. It also made me not feel as bad for taking the day to indulge on some snacks.
So in the overall scheme of things things are still going great. I'm still sitting below my January 1st 08 goal by 6 pounds.
This morning I went back to running my morning 5k on the treadmill. I threw in some bench presses as well. I'm still less than 10 pounds away from my original weight loss goal. There are still some parties and outings coming up, but won't there always be? I'm not worried about it.
Here's to a healthy, safe, goal filled and fun new years and 2008. I hope everyone else is having as good a time as I am!
Friday, December 21, 2007
I guess the low weight is sticking since this is the second day in a row at that number.
I had my department holiday lunch and then party/happy hour yesterday. I had turkey and some salad for lunch. Then I left the room because it was filled with about 15 different desserts people brought in. I figured it be best not to be around them...
At happy hour I had some Vodka and Diet Cokes, no food. I had another salad when I got home later last night. I wanted to keep it light since I probably had a lot of calories in those drinks.
Lots of comments about how I looked at the happy hour. I guess people lighten up a bit and find it easier to talk about such thing. All of the comments were positive though and I feel really good about it.
So all in all, not the healthiest day, but considering the circumstances I'm happy with what went down. There will be days like this so it's a good test.
I'm just over 8 pounds away from my goal. I think me running a 5k every morning and drinking a LOT of water throughout the day is really making the weight fall off. I've also lifted twice this week and aside from the drinks yesterday my diet has been really good. Maybe I'll be at 220 by the end of the year? We'll see. I'm in no rush really, it just happens that I'm going through another one of those phases where the weight is coming of quickly.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I used all my spare time today to edit this new compare pic, so I really don't have time to post.
Here's the new pic with day 149 being today. I'll let the pic do the talking today.
I have some more update pics I'll be posting but I have to redo the layout of my blog first. So until then...later
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I had another unplanned milestone today. I broke my best time record for a 5k. I ran it in 27:45.
This wasnt planned. First I ran 11 intervals at 5 and 7.5 mph, but then after the last one I cranked it up to 8 mph, basically just to see if it was feasable to break my 5k record. I always have my prior best number in the back of my head.
Eventually I ran the last 45 second or so at 10 mph and I was yelling at the machine to make me go faster as I'm watching the time unfold.
I thought I was either going to pass out or launch off the treadmill!
The bad news is my back is kinda sore now. I'm not sure why but hopefully that goes away.
The pic is another from the Firebird Festival Saturday night.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I thought I'd share this picture from Saturday night. Every year my town has a festival where they build this three story tall Phoenix bird and burn it to the ground. It's supposed to symbolize a rebirth for this old, once shabby iron town. It was a rebirth of sorts for myself as well.
As of today my weight loss goal is 10 pounds away. I'm excited to get there.
After a not very relaxing 3 day reprieve from the gym I decided this morning it was time to attack one of my goals. The one that has been staring me in the face for a while now was the sub 8 minute mile.
When I started running I didn't really even pace myself for a fast mile, but after the first minute I figured "what the heck" and I hiked the treadmill up to 8 miles an hour and kept it there. Eventually I was running at 10 mph and I was able to eek out a 7:44 mile.
Strike that one off the list!
In other news my friend and I are looking into purchasing an Olympic weight bar and weights so we can start doing squats and bench presses in his basement.
I have to say, when I see that huge bar sitting on the floor it's a bit daunting. This will really be a challenge for me to build upper body strength as I've never even been able to do a single pull-up in my entire life.
In a way I'm really looking forward to the challenge of it.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I know that you're supposed to drink a certain amount of water every day. Lately though I've been reading how if you do not drink enough, your body thinks there is a drought and actually retains water.
I've often been guilty of not drinking enough so yesterday I made an attempt to drink more. In fact I drank probably 80 ounces throughout the day. I was peeing all day long. You'd think that I might actually weigh more today taking in all that water. Guess what? I'm down almost two pounds from yesterdays weigh-in. Coincidence? I don't think so. I don't think it's possible to lose 2 pounds of fat or muscle in a day, so it must have been water retention.
It seems weird to think you need to drink MORE in order to lose, but it seems that its true. In addition to getting rid of retained water, drinking the correct amount also makes your metabolism work more efficiently and therefor you also burn more calories when you work out. That's what I've read anyway.
This whole thing just shows me first hand that it really is so important to drink lots of water, every day. From now on I'll be trying to do just that. I suggest to everyone, weather they're trying to lose weight or not to do the same.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I felt kinda sluggish this morning as I made me way through a 30 minute workout, so afterwards I played around with my camera a bit. Someone had asked for some updated pics a few days ago. I was going to wait until day 150 which is coming up, but what the heck.
Don't pay any attention to the retarded/crazy faces I'm making :). Click the pics for Larger/Scarier versions.
In other news, I have a story to tell:
As I mentioned before, Liz and I adopted a 6-8 year old St. Bernard rescue named Bella. She is the nicest dog. Bella had surgery last week and this week she's had some complications that has caused her to bleed. She'll be OK, not to worry. In the meantime we wanted to keep her in the kitchen when we're not at home so she doesn't get blood all over the house.
Yesterday morning Liz put Bella in the kitchen and blocked off the door with an ottoman and a recliner chair. I came home at lunch to check on her and she had pushed the recliner and ottoman out of the way and was asleep on our bed. Thanks Bella!
I had an old plywood door in the garage. I cut it in half and installed it in the doorway, then latched it with a brass hook and loop into the door jam.
Liz and I went for a walk last night after putting Bella back in the kitchen and closing the new door.
Upon arriving home, I opened the front door to the house, only to be greeted by Bella.
Upon further inspection, I found this.
Needless to say, I think we might be getting her a diaper instead. That should be a good punishment!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This picture is from yesterday. I took the day off from work and decided to hike a 7 mile loop in the woods. The snow we had is gone from everywhere else, but in the higher elevations in the PA mountains it's still there. It was a foggy, rainy, cold day, but it's always beautiful in the woods.
This particular picture is from a section of the trip that was on the Appalachian Trail. The Pennsylvania section is well known for it's multitude of "ankle breakin'" rocks that require you to constantly be staring at the ground planning every step. The cold, wet and ice covered rocks made it even more interesting than usual.
The trip started and finished near a man made reservoir seen below.
It really looks like a frigid winter place, but it was actually close to 40 degrees. I did the hike alone, walking most of it but jogging the parts that were too treacherous to run. At some points I needed my hands to get over ice covered rocks the size of Volkswagen Beetles.
I'd brought with me some beef jerky, water, and a power bar and I'm glad I did because I did start to feel a little weak in the middle of the hike. I'm still tweaking my diet on days when I do a lot of heavy/long activity.
I feel like the weight loss has slowed down a bit over the past few weeks. I'm not saying that is bad and in fact I've been wondering as of late if I've been losing TOO fast. According to my Excel sheet, as of today, day 144, I've lost 68 pounds. That boils down to almost a HALF POUND A DAY.
Don't get me wrong, I want to lose the weight and I'm happy its gone. But I want to do it a healthy way and I want it to stay off.
So my point; that fact that is has slowed down a bit in the past few weeks is OK with me. I feel great, I feel stronger than I ever have, and I have more stamina than I ever have had. I am by no means done, but I do feel good where I am. I just want the rest of my gut and love handles to go away! I know they will.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Like I said, it's practice...right, practice. I havent gained weight though and I'll tell you why. Because I work our more/harder when I know this is going to be happening. Normally I don't run on weekends, but on Saturday and I went for a 3 and a half mile jog around town, and Sunday I did 45 minutes on my treadmill while listening to the Eagles lose, again.
So in this time of great temptation and wonderful cheesecake filled moments, stare that food in the face and let it know who controls who. And even if it wins the battle, you will win the war*.
*But it won't be one of those drawn out wars that last like years and years. It will be more like a blitzkrieg of sorts, with you being the victor. SPARTA!
Friday, December 7, 2007
First time in the 220's today. Woohoo!
I was thinking about it, and I believe it was definitely High School when I last weighed in this range. Also, this will probably be the last month that I participate in any of Tuck's challenges. Kinda sad actually :(
I know I've said I'd be lifting more and I have, but I can't seem to stop running. I think I'm really getting a high from it. I ran a 5k yesterday on my new (free) treadmill that I got the other night. Then this morning I ran another 5k. I'm taking it easy and running them in right around 30-31 minutes. I'm not really going for speed, but I will say they get easier each time I run them.
The eating has still been good, although not perfect. Part of that is on purpose. 1., I think I might have been losing weight a little too fast and 2., I know I'm not always going to be eating perfect, plus I'm getting close to my maintain period. I'm in a way practicing. Basically, I want to start getting used to eating in moderation while still having some of the things I like that aren't the best for you. I'm not going crazy, but I've allowed myself some cheese here and there, some butter, and a few of the things that I'll eventually be eating every once in a while, but that I didn't let myself have over the past few months. I'm still keeping my calories around the 2k mark though.
I don't want the maintain mode to be a huge shock to my system physically or mentally so I really think this is an important step. Don't get me wrong, I still plan to eat as healthy as possible, I just have to allow myself some of those "other" things too. I'm just teaching myself to control them instead of them controlling me.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
So what do you guy's do for exercise in the winter? I'm in the gym every day, but I'm going to need a good outdoor activity to supplement that on the weekends. Of course, I could jog or ride my bike but not in the snow. Well I guess I could jog in the snow...that just sounds like a twisted ankle or broken hip waiting to happen.
Speaking of snow, it's doing it right now. Just a few flurries. We don't normally get that much snow here in Philadelphia. And usually not before Christmas. The fact that we're relatively close to the ocean and I guess due to the jet stream, we often get ice, or freezing rain. This year so far seems like it might be different as we've actually gotten flurries a few times and it's only December 5th.
Anyhow, I'm thinking of trying out a new winter activity. Maybe Cross Country Skiing? I do after all have a huge park (Valley Forge) right near my house. Maybe Snow Shoeing? Not sure if we'll get THAT much snow...
I do know one thing: it won't be shirtless leg lifts in the snow.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The past few days I’ve been thinking about motivation and what creates it in me. I have to say, I can be a very lazy person. The weight and shape I allowed myself to get in over the past ten years is a great example of that. I’ve been lazy paying bills, keeping things clean, getting things done. I can admit that. These are all things that I’ve tried to improve about myself over the past year or so. For me, something snapped inside me in the months leading up to my 30th birthday. I don’t know exactly how to put it into words, but somehow in the past 18 months or so I’ve come to realize my own mortality. I guess this happens to a lot of people when they hit 30. I’d like to think I’m not alone anyway.
I don’t consider myself a religious person and I have no idea what will become of me after I die. Everyone has their own ideas ranging from nothing, to going to heaven, to being reincarnated. I don’t want to get into that discussion, but I’d just like to get across the fact that I do not know what will happen. It’s pretty scary really, especially for a person like me who often values rationale and facts over feelings and faith. My answer for this dilemma is to try not to spend much time trying to figure it out, but instead enjoy the time I have and make the most of it. I don’t plan to have any regrets. Will I make mistakes? Absolutely. But I will not regret those mistakes because they will be part of learning, which is part of living. Regardless of what my peers, my bank account, or my body tells me, I will do what I want, and I will achieve what I want, or at least give it a hell of a try. If it ends, I will make that decision. I refuse to have it made for me.
I know I’m only 31 years old and that is relatively young, but I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned that your body will adapt and allow you to do things you’d never have thought you’d be able to do. It’s a wonderful machine that can reward you, or cause you great pain. For me anyway, it constantly impresses. I will give back what you put into it. At least that has been my experience.
I have not always felt this way. As with many things my thoughts and feelings about motivation have changed over the years. And there have been a few defining moments that have helped shape me.
The one that’s been sticking in my head is my Chicago – Philadelphia bike trip a few years ago. For those of you who read this and know me, you may want to skip this part as I’m sure you’ve heard this story before.
At some point, maybe 8-10 years ago, my Dad started riding bicycles. I’m not really sure what motivated him to do so. Maybe it was because he didn’t smoke anymore and wanted to get in shape. Maybe it was because he rode as a teenager and wanted to relive those days. I don’t really know why, I’ll have to ask him someday. The point here is that he started riding. I’d also ridden to work and around my home town as a teenager, but most of that went away when I started driving a car. When my Dad started riding, eventually I started going with him. I can credit him with being the one getting me into the sport which eventually in a way changed my life.
This was also a pivotal time in our relationship as I was just becoming a man at 20 or 22 years of age. I was just starting to really get to know my Dad and we ended up bonding on our bike trips in one way or another. What started out as an hour down a flat paved path on a Sunday afternoon eventually turned into 40-60 mile day trips in the rolling hill of southeastern Pennsylvania. I’d been interested in hiking prior to this so at some point I suggested we get some pannier bags and take the bikes on a longer multi-day touring trip. Neither of us had ever done this before.
Over the next few years we’d end up doing many trips. We threw our bikes on the train from New York City to Montreal then rode home to Philadelphia through the Adirondack Mountains over 10 or so days. We rode to Virginia Beach in the hot summer heat, turned around and came home, camping all the way. We also did smaller long weekend trips through wind and rainy weather, hot and cold. People at work could never understand why I’d take vacation time to ride a bike all day. At times I wondered the same thing, but at the end of a long hard day of riding the feeling of accomplishment always overrode any pain I went through.
In Early Spring of 2004 we’d planned to do a bicycle trip. Actually, I’d planned it. I do the planning and my Dad does the repairing of the bikes. That’s just how things work . That year, a former high-school peer of mine made headlines in the National News. His name was Nick Berg and he’d gone to Iraq for business, and ended up being murdered. A simple Google search will tell you more of what happened if you’re interested.
The event hit very close to home for me and for some people I know who were close friends with Nick. Somewhere during that time I got the idea to basically dedicate a bike ride to Nick. In fact Nick used to go on long bike rides himself. So in late May of 2004 my Dad and I flew out to Chicago with our bikes, intending to ride home to Philadelphia. We’d have signs on our bikes that said “Ride for Nick” and we’d hand out flyers which told people what we were doing and asked them to contribute to the Nick berg Memorial fund. I’d also set up a website that had a forum and I would update it with pictures and text from our trip along the way.
Before we left I’d been interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer and our story ended up getting picked up by the Associated Press. The story reappeared on news channels and in newspapers in several places across the country as we were riding.
As for the trip itself, well, we had our problems. I had done no training whatsoever before the ride and was not in the best shape. In fact I never trained for our bike trips. I’d just suffer it out for the first few days and my body would eventually adapt. Being overweight probably didn’t help either.
The first half of the trip through the flat Midwest went well enough, but about half way through my Dad started having major knee problems. As it turned out his bike was not put together properly when we got to Chicago and it was slowly irritating his knee. Once we fixed it, it was too late and the damage was done. The strongest rider I’d ever ridden with was having trouble keeping up with me even at a slow pace. He was in a lot of pain and really should not have been riding at all.
When we reached the mountains of western PA, it was my turn to suffer. I had bike problems where it wouldn’t shift into lower gears right when going up yet another steep incline. One time I got so angry I jumped off the bike and chucked it into a ditch in the shoulder and started walking. I’d even considered sending home a lot of the luggage we were carrying on the bikes to make it easier.
This was the longest and hardest trip we’d ever done. At the same time it was the most emotional. As we were riding my Mom would phone us letting us know she read about our story in the LA Times. I’d been in contact with Nick’s family and they knew what we were doing. In fact Nick Berg’s father planned to ride the last few miles home with us on the last day.
So back to our trip: it was hard. In the end, we ended up covering over 1,000 miles in 9 days. My Dad somehow suffered through 500 or so very painful miles. I somehow got stronger the farther we went regardless of how much my bike acted up.
We did end up riding the last few miles with Mr. Berg. When we got home my friends were there waiting, along with a reporter. I wasn’t sure how but we’d made it, but we did. We did it for ourselves, for Nick, in a way it was for who we were as a people. There were a lot of reasons I guess.
When I started feeling better, and as I was riding up a steep hill, I could not stop thinking that whatever anyone throws at me, however difficult things get, it all just makes you stronger. That goes for western Pennsylvania hills, knee injuries, and Iraqi terrorists. I know it sounds cliché to say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I was really realizing this first hand.
Most importantly, what this trip proved to me was that I CAN, and I WILL do what I set out to do. Sometimes we need a little help from each other, but in the end reaching your goals is up to you. It get’s a lot easier when you truly understand that you CAN DO IT. If it were easy, well that just wouldn’t be life I suppose. We all fall down, the important part is that you get back up.
My take away from this is the following:
1. I will not ignore my problems. They will not go away.
2. Things will almost never be perfect and I will fall down. I will ALWAYS get back up, until I meet my goals.
Learning these two things changed my life. Some day’s I’m still learning them, but they will always be in my mind.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Well, I just had a nice 3 day vacation from working out. It was nice, but I found myself constantly thinking about what my next challenge is going to be. I'm within 15 or so pounds of my goal weight and just over a pound away from my JANUARY 1st goal of 230.
Speaking of my weight, if you remember last week I was saying that when I started running the marathon I actually got heavier. It's true. When I started I had leveled out at 234, then two day's into the run I was at 236 and as high as 240 depending on what time of the day it was. It didnt seem to make sense because even though the scale was higher I my clothes were looser. Yet to make it even more confusing I felt kinda bloated.
Well, within two days of when I finished the run I was back down to a new low of 232, and now that has come down slightly further to 231.2 as of this morning. So why the gain? Seems it was water retention. I read somewhere that when you're putting that much stress on your muscles they retain water in order to repair themselves. Makes sense. The farthest I ever ran before two Friday's ago was 3.2 or so miles, then I suddenly did 5, took two days off, then ran another 5, then 7, then 7 again, and so on.
I read that some marathon runners actually put on weight when they're training. Crazy.
The other reason I know it was water weight was because the first day after I finished my run I was peeing NONSTOP.
So now I'm back to normal, at a new low weight-wise, and I'm ready to start back up the exercise again. I do still have some lingering blisters on my left foot, but nothing too bad.
Starting this week I'll be toning down the cardio a little bit and concentrating on weight training. The fat is MOSTLY gone except for some around the middle, so I want to start toning.
What the schedule is, I don't actually know yet. I had to take Bella to the vet this morning so I haven't started yet.
I'm thinking about running just 2 miles or so in the mornings, then lifting in the PM, rotating between upper and lower body. Basically two-a-day's.
We'll see how that works. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.