Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week 4 of the Weight Loss Challenge

Another Monday, another weigh in... and the results

Week 0 (Nov 2nd): 179.4 lbs, 22.4% body fat, 30 BMI
Week 1 (Nov 9th): 173.6 lbs, 20.2% body fat, 28.9 BMI
Week 2 (Nov 16th): 168.8 lbs, 18% body fat, 27.3 BMI

Week 3 (Nov 23rd): 167.7 lbs, 16.6% body fat, 27.1 BMI

Only lost about a pound this week, a percentage loss of .7% for the week and total percentage loss of 6.5% for the competition. Not bad really considering that I was off diet and exercise for four of the 7 days... Still with Thanksgiving coming up it's important that I really focus the next couple days to at least maintain what I've done so far, and hopefully knock off a few more pounds.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Back on the wagon

It's amazing how easy it is for me to lose focus during a diet. When I'm eating clean I love it... I rarely crave bad foods, I feel healthy and energetic, and I lust for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables... But as soon as I break diet and lets pizza or burgers or chicken wings enter my stomach it turns me all Mr. Hyde and I start drinking out of the deep fryer like a lunatic...

So not surprisingly an impromptu 48 hour adventure to NYC last week caused me to fall off diet hard... It started on Wednesday morning with two McDonald's breakfast burritos (my friend who bought breakfast ate 4 McGridles!!!), culminated with a 12 beer 12 bar Wednesday night tour of lower Manhattan sandwiched between two unfortunate consumptions of unidentified NYC street meat, and ended with a chicken wing and gas station sandwich pit stop. Combine that with a 6 hour Wednesday morning flight, 5 hours of sleep on the floor of a buddies closet sized Manhattan apartment, and an 18 hour partly hungover Thursday morning drive from NYC to Peoria via St. Louis (my friend had extra frequent flyer miles so I flew out to NYC with him to help him drive back a Honda S2000 that he bought on eBay)... Needless to say my body was not happy with me...

I spent Friday recovering physically (laying on the couch all day with my dogs) and Saturday recovering the mental fortitude of the diet (after one last half pound, grass-fed, local farm raised double cheeseburger mmmmm...)

Sunday I finally felt like myself again. In fact with the increased calorie consumption and rest from the daily exercise I felt pretty great. I decided that since I was back on my game I'd head to the gym and make up for some lost time. That's how last nights melee of exercise endurance began...

I started with 1.25 miles on the treadmill with a incline of 3.0 and an 8:34 pace. Then I hoped on the exercise bike for 20 minutes on the random hill setting. I then returned to the treadmill and ran another 1.25 miles this time with an incline of 5.0 and an 8:34 pace. I then got back on the exercise bike for another 20 minute session on the random hill setting. Then I returned to the treadmill and ran 5 miles at a .5 incline at a 8:00 pace. Then back to the exercise bike for one final 20 minute random hill session. And finally capped it off with 3.11 miles on the treadmill with the first 1.61 miles at 7:47 pace and the final 1.5 miles at 7:03 pace.

In the end I had run 10.62 miles, biked 20 miles, and burned about 2000 calories. I was exhausted, my legs were jello, but mentally I felt great! I'm back to craving healthy foods, back on my workout schedule, and back on the wagon... which is crucial because I'll definitely have to hit it extra hard during the next 5 days since I'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the family this weekend and diet or no diet I'm cutting out all the stops!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Week 3 of the Weight Loss Challenge

Went to the gym last night for another exciting weigh-in... Had the opportunity to literally size up some of my competition as I waited in line to weigh in. There were two ladies in front of me; one a heavier set older lady and one a skinny younger lady. The older lady lost 2 lbs this week even though she "had some bad days". The younger lady went from 127.8 lbs to 127.4 lbs... I think to myself: If this is what all my competition looks like then the 500 dollars is as good as mine!

Then it was my turn to step on the scale... I walked into the weigh in office and El Gordo (the fat trainer) was chowing on some fried rice, cream spinach, and some sort of chicken nuggets... real professional man... but onto my results:

Week 0 (Nov 2nd): 179.4 lbs, 22.4% body fat, 30 BMI
Week 1 (Nov 9th): 173.6 lbs, 20.2% body fat, 28.9 BMI
Week 2 (Nov 16th): 168.8 lbs, 18% body fat, 27.3 BMI

a 2.8% weight loss for the week and a 6.9% total weight loss so far in the competition. Still not confident on the body fat measuring device, but if its even close to right I suppose that it's the real indicator that I actually lost something besides water weight.

So far I've been keeping my diet in the 1500 to 1800 calories a day range and doing about an hour a day of cardio and 45 minutes a day of weight lifting. Up till now the program has been very successful... Yesterday though I finally noticed the calorie restriction and increased exercising starting to take its tole. I started to feel pretty lethargic and low energy as I labored through my workout at the gym... I think that part of the problem is that now that my ITB isn't bothering me anymore I've really upped the running (38 miles last week) and now my body is starting to pay the price.

Luckily I'll be out of town tomorrow and thursday so hopefully I can get in one more good workout today and then use the next two days to allow my body to heal.

There's still 4 more weeks left of the weight loss challenge. I need to continue to lose weight at a fast pace but make sure I don't burn out too early because I know I'll need plenty of reserve at the end for the final push!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Da Great Outdoors

I think I finally turned the corner on my ITBS. I've been running relatively pain free since last Friday. I still feel the reminisce of something going on but it's hard to tell how much of that is real and how much is in my head. Also, I'm not sure if it's a coincidence that the pain went away at the exact time that I started taking Naproxen, but I haven't been brave enough to find out yet by not taking a Naproxen in the morning... I guess I'll save that trial till next week.

But for today's trial... My first attempt to run outside since my walk of shame...

It's a lovely day. The air is a crisp 57 degrees and the sun is out in full force. A beautiful day for a run. I decided to run my 5 mile route; one of my favorites because it's flat and because I ran it so frequently during my marathon training that it provides me with a good benchmark for my performance. I strapped on my Garmin (oh how I've missed you) and headed out the door... The run was fabulous. It was so great to finally run free, away from the constant methodical cycling of the treadmill. I was free to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I was free to choose my own pace and to speed up and slowdown at will...

Also this was my first real outdoor run since marathon training... and I realized how nice it was to be running simply for the sake of running. I had no concrete goal. No milage I had to reach for the week. No tempo or pace that I had to keep.

I ended up running 5.25 miles pain free and at a good steady base pace (I'm not even going to put how fast it was because it doesn't matter!)...

Sitting here blogging now, shortly after my run I feel exhilarated. I feel that I'm finally starting to get in shape. I'm eager to spend this winter building my base, pushing my fitness, drop some extra pounds, and working my core. I'm excited because my running "career" is just starting and I'm confident that next spring I will be ready to really start competing and setting some PRs!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

MacGyvering the Ipod Sweat Issue

(Quick observation: Don't you think this guy looks a bit like Nitmos?)

Before I start let me just say that I love my Ipod! It has the ability to hold more songs than I'll ever own in my lifetime (My first ever MP3 playing device I owned back in college only held 8 songs). It's orange (go Illini). And it's so damn sleek and cool looking... it's like some kind of alien music playing technology from outer space... or the future... or BOTH!!!! So now that I got that out of the way let me just say...

I HATE MY IPOD... Ever since I got it it's been a pain in my butt. First of all I bought the sports band so I could listen to it while running... Works great except the plastic cover of the band was so thick I couldn't adjust the volume control. Also, the sports band wicks sweat right into the Ipod. Turns out that Ipod's are not intended to be dunked in water and let me tell you... after a run on a hot summer day I'd probably be better off dunking the Ipod in water instead of having it strapped to my sweaty arm.

Luckily my Ipod has not sustained any extreme damage yet... so far the only thing that's malfunctioned is that the lock button doesn't function anymore. Not too much of an issue except that when it gets sweaty the Ipod suddenly goes into permanent lock mode and I can't use it until it dries out.

Another problem I have is with the ear buds. I can never get the apple issued ear bugs to stay in my ear while running. After trying multiple pairs I finally found that the 10 dollar pair of Maxwell brand headphones they sell at Walmart work great for me... only problem with them is that all the jostling and bouncing from running tends to wear out the wiring at the point where the head phones wire connect to the 1/4 inch jack, so after about a month of use either the left side or the right side of the headphones inevitably cuts out...

I've been battling these problems for about 6 months now so I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and called on my inner MacGyver.

First off I took a pair of scissors and cut a circular hole into the plastic of my Ipod arm band so that I could access the volume control. Next I took some electrical tape and reenforced the connection of my headphones before looping the headphone wire back around and taping it in place so as to remove the stress from the joint where the wiring meets the quarter inch jack. Finally I took a zip-lock back and tightly wrapped my Ipod in it. I then cut the bag off to size and used painters tape (only tape I had handy at the time i.e. Macgyver style) to seal the cut ziplock bag tightly around my Ipod.

And like that all my problems are solved... either than or the tape will speed up the degradation of the headphones, the Ipod armband will tear apart due to the hole I cut, and moisture will slowly seep into the ziplock bag through the hole where the headphone jack plugs in and over time will retain enough sweat that my problem will be worse than before I messed with the stuff... on top of that my warranties will all be voided and I'll be out 200 bucks... oh well, either way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

God Bless Naproxen (5.5 miles!)

Huge accomplishment in my marathon/ITBS recovery progress today. I ran 5.5 miles non-stop at 8:20 pace... and I had to stop at 5.5 not because my ITB was hurting but because a tendon in my foot started bothering me. Not too worried about the foot tendon but I figured I better stop while I'm ahead.

I guess it's either healing on its own or it's the Aleve I'm taking... I've always been an Ibuprofen man but it seems like Naproxen might be the way to go.

At this rate I might even get in a couple more runs outdoors before winter (fingers crossed)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Week 2 of the Weight Loss Challenge

A week after the first weigh-in we returned to the gym for our weekly update. I stacked on so much weight last week that I knew that I was in for a big weight loss... in fact I didn't want it to be too extreme so I made sure to drink a bunch of water right before I was scheduled to weigh in... and the results.

Week 0 (Nov 2nd): 179.4 lbs, 22.4% body fat, 30 BMI
Week 1 (Nov 9th): 173.6 lbs 20.2% body fat, 28.9 BMI

a 3.25% weight loss for the week and a 3.25% total weight loss... not a bad start really, especially if the 2% body fat loss were really true (which I question since I still don't trust the measurement device).

Also in a more running related note I actually got 6 miles in yesterday... It was 2 miles run, 1 mile walk, 1.5 mile run, 1 mile walk, 1.5 mile run, .5 mile walk, 1 mile run... although I had to stop and walk to keep my ITB from flaring up it was still nice just to get that much time on my feet... not sure how the interval running compares to running non-stop but I'm really hoping that getting the milage in anyway I can will ultimately help me preserve my fitness. Also since I've been doing all this running on a treadmill (booooo!!!!) I've been taking full advantage of the incline setting. Yesterdays run/walk was all performed between 2%-5% incline so hopefully I'll come off the back side of this injury with tons of leg strength!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend at the IHSA Cross-Country Championships

Over the weekend the Illinois state high school cross-country championships took place in Peoria, Il and since I currently live in Peoria I figured I'd head down to Detwiller park and check out some of the future elites in action.

It was a beautiful day for spectating; 73 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze. Possibly a little warm for racing.

I'm not much for nostalgia normally but being there among all the spectators and teams definitely took me back to my old cross-country days.

I arrived just in time to catch the start of the girls 2A race where the lone competitor from my Alma Mater, Carbondale Community High School, Junior Lacey Gibson was competing. She wound up finishing 47th place with a time of 19:21 on the 2.5 mile course!!! Definitely a great achievement for her and hopefully something she can improve on next year.

Next up was the boys 2A race which turned out to be one of the wildest races of the day. The gun went off and within the first mile the lead pack had dwindled down to about 5 boys. At this point local runner CJ Elward decided to make courageous and unexpected move. He pulled away and created a huge gap between himself and the 2nd place challenger. By the two mile mark he had a 14 second lead (about 100 meters). By the 2.5 mile mark he was still maintaining his lead but was noticeably fatigued. With 400 meters left Elward still had a 10 second lead but by now he was weaving back and forth, unable to run a straight line, and stumbling into fences and trees. With 200 meters left the challenger, Paul Zeman, shot past him and finished strong for the title in a time of 15:09. Meanwhile CJ Elward did all he could just to keep himself upward and moving forward as he was passed by 70 more runners and wound up 72nd place.

Later Elward said that he had blacked out and didn't even remember finishing. It was a heart breaker of a race but also amazing to watch. The poor kid gave it his all, and I have to commend him for his courageous tactics of trying to run away with the state title with 2 miles left in the race. In the end the heat got to him and he fell short of his goal. Truly a heartbreaker and I'm sure he'll be devastated for a long time. Hopefully he'll continue to compete in college and will have some more great races to help him put this day of regrets behind him.

The premiere race of the day was the boys 3A race. The gun went off and similarly to the 2A race the lead runner, Sophomore runner Lukas Verzbicas, had opened up a sizable lead over the competition. However, unlike the 2A race there were no expectations of anyone catching Verzbicas. The real story line was whether or not Verzbicas would be able to break the state course record of 13:50.6 set in 1972 by Olympian and National Champion Craig Virgin.

Lukas took off at a blistering 4:32 first mile but in the end couldn't maintain it and finished in 14:07. Of course he already owns the junior record for the indoor 5k of 14:18, he won the junior triathlon last year, and he's only a sophomore, so hopefully he'll have two more shots to break the record.

Verzbicas is hoping to compete in the 2012 olympics as a triathlete but says he could potentially focus on running if his times improve enough that he'd be able to challenge the East Africans. Either way its going to be exciting to see what this kid can do in the future.

Overall it was an exciting and motivational weekend for me. It gave me some slight pangs of regret that I never had the focus or drive to put in the training I would have needed to get me to the state cross-country meet when I was in high school. I came close to making it twice (5 seconds short as a sophomore after running the race of my life, and 15 seconds short as a senior after running a terrible race) but it never really mattered quite enough to me at the time.

Luckily I still have many great years of running ahead of me and many new challenges. Many old PRs to attain again and many new PRs to set.

I might never be in the olympics but I'd at least like to break 20 min in the 5k again (and then 19 and 18 and possibly 17???)... And I hope that I can someday get that marathon time under 3:30 (then 3:20, then 3:10 and off to Boston, and possibly 3:00???)...

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Dangers of Competitive Dieting?

Competitive dieting: It's the antithesis of competitive eating which makes me the Bizarro-Kobayashi.

Now I think I have a pretty good understanding of how a healthy diet should work. To put it simply make sure that calories in are less then calories out and every 3500 calories you burn you'll lose a pound (I count my calories using about.com's calorie counter which you can find here)... Other tips are to eat smaller portions more times a day to keep your metabolism up and to prevent you from getting too hungry. You should also drink more water which will make you feel full and help your body flush some of the waste your burning. Some diets also recommend focusing on increased protein consumption but as a runner I need my carbs so I pretty much ignore that one...If you want to do it safely it's usually recommended that you aim to lose about 1 to 2 lbs a week until you hit your goal weight.

Now you can throw that last tip out the window because this isn't about safely losing weight... it's about losing as much weight as you possibly can in 6 weeks!!! Hey, maybe this competitive diet thing isn't really the marvelous pathway to a healthy lifestyle that people all around the country believe it to be.

A quick google search led me to this blog that outlines some of the dangers of competitive eating and obsessive dieting.

Like anything, it really comes down to moderation... Obesity may be an epidemic, but when it comes down to it, it's probably much healthier to be a little bit overweight then to be anorexic or bulimic.

Of course I'm a marathon runner so moderation isn't in my vocabulary and I'm going to dominate this competition... in which case it comes down to is limits... I have enough faith in my knowledge of exercise and nutrition that I feel like I can push myself to the limit without going over the line and causing myself any damage. But a lot of people aren't as informed as I think I am and they may fail to recognize the dangers in competitive dieting. I mean when people tune in every week to watch the Biggest Loser on NBC the message they're getting is that rapid weight loss = healthiness and happiness.

On a more local level I'm worried for some of the people who are in my personal weight loss competition. From the weigh in it appeared to be mostly middle-aged overweight housewives who probably are not well educated about what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. Then when the trainer at the gym who's running the competition says that I'm obese because my BMI is over 30 then it really makes me worry (sorry I keep ranting about the BMI thing but ignorance really bothers me, especially when its coming from someone who's supposed to know better... looks like I'm going to have to do a post about BMI). Oh well, hopefully no one gets hurt during the competition.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tales from the Gym (part 1)

It's getting cold and I'm running injured so consequently I've been spending way more time than I'd like to at the gym... now don't get me wrong... I love working out, but my gym is a bit creepy. Unfortunately it's two blocks from my house, cheaply priced, decently equipped, and has an indoor track and racquetball courts so for better or worse I'm stuck with it...

but still like I said... it's creepy... so I decided to write a multipart series explaining why...

Chapter 1: Attention Members:

In my gym, much like in gyms all across America there is a locker room. I try to avoid this locker room for the most part but it does contain the bathrooms, the scale, and the sinks so I do find myself forced to venture in there every once in a while. Now, I think that most male locker rooms contain a fair share of full frontal male nudity... it's pretty much an unavoidable fact of life... I've come to accept that fact... I mean, I'm a mature adult... I can handle a few naked men changing, showering, etc as long as we can all look the other way and mind our own business. Unfortunately some of the members of my gym must have different ideas of what proper locker room etiquette is... for in my gym there is a sign that read:

Attention Members: In respect for our other guests please wear proper gym attire or other attire while sitting on the chairs in the tv room. Thank you.

Now there's a couple things wrong with the sign... First off, why is there a tv room in the locker room to begin with? Do people really need to sit around the stinky locker room just to watch tv? And given that there is a tv room, why do we need a sign asking us to not watch tv naked in the public locker room? Why would anybody do that?... and to the people who do that... Why don't you read the damn sign???

Yes, that's right... More often then not there is some naked old fat guy (or guys) sitting in there in his birthday suit watching tv without a care in the world... What I can't understand is why? Does he tell his wife that he's going to the gym to workout and then hide in the locker room naked and exposed watching tv... I can't even begin to fathom it (or fathom the idea of sitting in one of those chairs after they've been thoroughly slathered by old man balls!!!)

And here's another question... Why does the tv room have to be situated in direct view of the locker room entrance? Needless to say you can't walk into my gym's locker room with out getting an eyeful of the above pictured bird.

I mean like I said, it's an inevitable fact of the men's locker room... and there seems to be an direct relationship between how old and hairy you are and how comfortable you are with your own naked body (and how much you're willing to exhibit that comfort to others).

Oh well, could be worse... and let me tell you how: One time I walked into the sauna of the Southern Illinois University rec center (ok my bad for going in there)... and you're not going to believe this (wait for it)... but there was actually a big fat (like 350+ lbs) black guy (not that it matters if he was white or black but I want to make sure that everyone gets a clear picture of this in their heads) and that guy was shaving his balls with a Bic razor (well some kind of safety razor at least. I didn't actually stick around long enough, or inspect close enough to determine the brand name of the razor)... So I guess I should thank my lucky stars that geriatric exhibitionist television watchers is all I have to deal with at my current gym.

Alright... well that was a lot I had to get off my chest (chestnuts??? Dr. Dre: The Chronic circa 1993). Thus ends the first horrific tale of my multipart series "Tales from the Gym"... be afraid... be very afraid!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm a big loser!!!

There's a weight loss competition at my gym and first place is 500 buck so my wife and I figured we might as well give it a shot.

The contest is 6 weeks in length with weigh ins every Monday night and the person who loses the highest percentage of weight wins.

I spent all day yesterday preparing for the weigh in by drinking plenty of water, eating salty foods, and topping it all off with a 1.5 lb steak and giant baked potato. Bloated and ready to pop I stepped onto the scale and weighed in at a robust 179.4 lbs.

They also measured my body fat percentage using this nifty little device.

You use it by holding it in both hands and it sends a small electrical signal through your body and calculates your body fat based on the resistance. It figured my body fat percentage to be 22.3%. The trainer at the gym who was performing the measurements then informed me that my BMI was 30 which means that I'm obese!!!

To be honest, I'm skeptical about that body fat percentage and I've always thought the BMI is a crock of shit. Maybe I'm just in denial.

Anyway, I already exercise everyday but I'm going to step it up even more. More importantly I'm going to start counting calories and cleaning up my diet. I'll post updates every week and hopefully by the end of this whole experience I'll be 500 dollars richer and at a more optimal running weight.