Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I Like Potatoes

I'm taking a week off from work to use some of the comp time I've accumulated over the past six months. I happened to stumble across Penn Jillette's Presto! which tells the story of how he lost about 100 pounds, starting by eating nothing but potatoes for several weeks. I've been wanting to reset my taste buds to be less accustomed to salt, sugar, and fat so I decided I might as well follow Penn's lead. I will admit to cheating a tiny bit just to eat some produce that would otherwise spoil--avocados, romaine, bananas, cherry tomatoes. Other than that, it's plain baked potatoes, black coffee, and water.

So far, I feel pretty good and I'm not having any cravings as of the fourth day into this experiment. We'll see how things progress. I'll keep up the potato focus until at least my next work trip. It'll be impossible to eat only potatoes while traveling.

For exercise, lately I'm letting my hip get happier and focusing on stretching. I have re-started my volunteer gardening again, with a two hour stint at weeding and planting squash. The weather has been pretty rainy lately which puts a damper on outside activities. I have been spending more time with my Wii, however. I did enough cardio yesterday to completely sweat through my t-shirt, stringing together 10 minutes of boxing, 10 minutes of running, 6 minutes of hula hoop and some bowling. Today I did canoeing, bicycling, swordfighting, and bowling. I anticipate my shoulders and lats will remind me in the morning that I used them.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mii Not Wii Fit

Image result for wii fit plus gamesDiscovered this morning that three of the four treadmills in my apartment complex fitness center are broken and the fourth was occupied, so I wasn't able to get in a good run/walk session. After puttering about my apartment for a bit (and having a second cup of coffee), I decided to do a Wii Fit workout. I knew that there were various individual exercises for yoga, balance, and strength, plus the various game-like activities (running, skateboarding, etc) but had not figured out how to build an actual workout. I found the workout part after getting irritated by having to keep selecting a new exercise. I added in all of the strength training bits so made a 25 minute workout.

Dang, I'm out of shape.  I knew that already, but now it's documented.

As I keep going, it'll be interesting to watch progression over time. Overall, there are things I can do moderately well and things that I am not very good at. The "single arm stand up" is one in which I'm particularly not good. The good news is that I can practice getting up from laying down on the floor pretty much any place there is a bit of floor space. I'll be adding that move to my NerdFitness-based bodyweight workout. I don't know that I'll ever be happy about doing pushups on the Wii Balance Board as I'd like to have my hands a bit farther apart than the board allows, but I can always do pushups on my own separately.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Making Smarter Food Choices

Why is making smarter food choices so hard? Is it because we think healthier food isn't as fun or as satisfying? Certainly there's an element of doing something "bad" or forbidden. There's also research that shows that fats, sugars, and salt can generate cravings to eat more of the same.

It's hard for me to remember that a treat is and should be an occasional thing. Not occasionally in a given day, but occasionally in a month or even less often than that to make it truly special. What complicates this is how much I travel for work. I don't always have much control over what and when I can eat. In addition, when traveling to developing nations, fresh produce is likely to end up making me sick, which also limits my food choices.

I also know that when I get stuck on a hard problem or stuck doing a task I don't want to do that I'll go find something to eat as a distraction. When I get bored at home I might cook a meal to help fill the time. These behaviors are not serving me well and need to be stopped. I'm re-reading CHarles Duhigg's Power of Habit to help figure out how to restructure this habit into something constructive. I am glad that I at least recognize the issue now.

What I need to remember every time I have food options available to me is to make the healthiest choice possible. It's not a function of what is fun. It is what is best for my body and for my current and future health. As Wil Wheaton recommends, it's making a choice for which my future self with thank me.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dark Side Half Marathon Completed

I was in the Disney/Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon again this year. The weather was hot and I wasn't as prepared for the race as I should have been. I found the Team Galloway pace group in my corral and stuck with them all the way through. I did finish and I did meet my time goal. I also felt something in my left hip tear within the first mile of the race. The pain and function didn't get worse as the race went on so I just kept going. 

I also ended up getting on a plane for an international business trip the very next day. While on my trip, I got in a couple miles of walking each day, so that was good. My hip is still sore and has twinges off and on. I'm not sure what motion it is that sets it off but strongly suspect that a lot of good stretching would help wonders.

Next up, I'm aiming at the Light Side Half in Anaheim in January 2018. I'm setting a goal of 2:30 for a finishing time, barring any injuries or temperature issues. I'm in the process of plotting out my training plan, using either a Galloway or Higdon training plan to get me started and keep me on track.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


My motivation has taken a beating lately. I'd been making good progress on my walk/run training. Then I quit. I also started back eating junk food snacks, mostly because of poor food planning at work. I'm not sure what happened.

In the end, it may not even matter why I fell off the wagon, just that I get back on it. There's a month left before my race. Any additional training will help me get ready and will definitely help boost my health and strength.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Talking To Myself

Photo: Yahoo
The biggest struggle I have in getting to the gym is me. I make excuses why I can't and talk myself out of going. I imagine that other people in the gym will think I'm too out of shape to be there and will silently mock me.  Realistically, I know that they're unlikely to think about me at all and even if they did think poorly of me, it wouldn't mean I couldn't or shouldn't go anyway.  But I debate whether or not I should go and frequently this debate takes enough time that I no longer really have time to get to the gym before work.  And some days I just delay getting out of bed and miss the window.

The talking myself out of working out stuff follows a cycle and I'm not sure what causes its ebb and flow.  I can go for months where there is little that gets in the way of my working out. And then somehow I get off the habit and have trouble getting re-started.  The more I struggled to get back into it, the less likely I am to get back into the habit.  Oddly, when I quit trying to make myself go and even tell myself that I'm not going, I find myself putting on my shoes and heading out the door.

With that said, I know what's likely underlying the most recent bout of struggling to get to the gym.  Having moved to a new city and a new job a couple months ago, I'm still working at establishing new daily life routines and to get my stuff unpacked. I'm not making much headway on either front lately. The job can be overwhelming and most of the time coming home to face piles of boxes and packing paper is also overwhelming, so I end up sitting in my comfy chair to eat dinner and then knit or read for a few hours before it is time to get ready for the next day and for bed.  It seems like the evening time passes by in a flash--as soon as I sit down to eat and read, suddenly it is bed time.

But I have been able to get to the gym on weekends and I've been pretty consistent about it. I know I'm not making significant progress training for my upcoming race, but I am confident that it's better than no training at all.  Now I just need to build in a couple extra days during the week and I'll get there. Every workout I get in is better than no workout at all.

In the meantime, I'll keep re-directing my thought process toward more productive patterns than what others at the gym may or may not be thinking about me.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Slow progress

I'm still trying to figure out my daily routine in my new city. I'm not regularly getting up early enough to hit the treadmill in the morning. I have started taking walks at work to help sharpen my brain.  Today though I spent half an hour on the treadmill.  My intention is to put in a couple weeks of 3-5 days a week to start building the routine and the stamina up, then start in on Galloway's half marathon program. I won't get all the way through it before race day, but I'll be a heck of a lot better off than if I just winged it myself and I need the structure to keep me on target.

However, I did get myself some new shoes. I have some lovely Brooks Adrenaline GTs again. I went a half-size up over the previous pair. The smaller size was marginally too short in the toebox. By comparison, these feel huge, but objectively are closer to the size they should be. We'll see if I keep my toenails after long training sessions.