Worrying About Nothing

MAY 8th

One of the things that I continually worry about when getting down to the gym is whether or not someone will be on the machine I need first. I start with the treadmill before moving on and using the elliptical machine. And yet there was someone on the treadmill! For the first time in nearly a month, my routine was going to have to be modified solely to accommodate someone else.

 

worry

It shouldn’t be a big deal to have to modestly adapt my workout routine but it felt like a massive deal. I started wondering whether or not I’d be able to use the treadmill at all. One of the things I’m still working on is just relaxing. Not just at the gym but in general. Managing to ignore small details that are trivial and unimportant is something I’m working on just as hard as improving my cardio. And this was a perfect test. And yet I still don’t think I passed.

 

While I did great on the elliptical machine – which wasn’t a massive surprise given that I was much fresher than I normally am when I use the machine – I couldn’t help but keep an eye in the mirror on the treadmill and wonder if/when that person would finish. Would I still be stuck on the machine, only to have another person swoop in and take the treadmill while finishing my workout? These are beyond first-world problems, they’re not even problems. They’re bizarre scenarios concocted in the inner reachings of my mind that are designed for no purpose other than to make my day more complicated. By cutting out that worrying I could not only focus on working out but making my life more palatable in general.

 

And that person did finish on the treadmill and I was able to run my usual length of time. While I was a bit more tired at the finish of the run than I ordinarily would have been, it didn’t affect me in any meaningful way. I was still able to keep a solid pace going and keep running without having to quit. Maybe it would be good to alternate which machine I use first just to keep things fresh. Perhaps I’ll have to look into that.

 

Chart

One of the toughest issues over the last week, while visiting Disneyland, was forcing myself to go down to the hotel gym and keep up the running. While there was one day I was just unable to get down there (I was in the park until midnight and the hotel gym closed at 10pm), for the most part I was able to get there and get a quick workout in. I mostly limited it to just the treadmill and nothing else (mostly because I was already walking 8-10 miles a day so I counted that as my elliptical workout) but found it quite rewarding. The times continue to drop and it’ll be quite amazing to see a sub-14:00 mile considering I started with a 20:00+ mile.

Eating Healthy at the Happiest Place on Earth

MAY 2nd – MAY 7th

It feels like I’ve been gone forever and yet it was only 5 days in sunny Southern California at Disneyland. Going into the trip I knew it was going to be a tough task to keep up with all the fitness and dietary routines I’ve been trying to put into place. The fitness actually not so much because it’s impossible to go there without walking 8-10+ miles every day in the parks. There’s just so much walking that has to be done!

Beignet

But with the diet I knew it was going to be difficult. How can one be expected to stay focused when confronted with the amount of churros that Disneyland has to offer? Making things worse, it’s Pixar Fest down there now through Labor Day and each section of the park has their own specialized churro to offer you. It was going to be a difficult week. Or so I thought.

 

The first day in the park started with me eating a Clif bar in hopes of fueling up enough to make it through to lunchtime. Surprisingly, those little bars do fill you up even if they don’t taste great at 7:30am. But I don’t think anything tastes good that early. As the hours and miles went by I started to get hungry and thankfully found a food cart near the back of the park that was selling fresh fruit! A bag of grapes and a bottle of water later I felt fueled up but not overly gross. This is one of the nicest things about the park: the sheer variety of food options. No matter where you are in the park there’s something for everyone. While there’s plenty of junk to be had there are also lots of healthier options if you’re willing to invest time and look for them.

 

Lunches throughout the trip consisted of healthy items like salmon with fresh vegetables, salads, roasted chicken, etc. While there are also plenty of traps like churro carts (the strawberry churro was delicious and the only one I had), beignets and ice cream, one just needs to sift through and find the carts where you can get fresh apples or bananas. They’re there, I promise!

 

Along those lines I drank lots of water. It was incredibly hot so it was necessary to stay hydrated given the amount of walking that was going on. But the water was also good to distract me from drinking other sugary drinks like soda that in the past I would have jumped on when visiting the park. So throughout my stay, I felt that I was eating and drinking fairly healthy. Sure, there were some nights that ended with a large dinner and dessert but it was so easy to walk everything off that it never felt extravagant or perhaps as extravagant as it should have. But if you do visit Downtown Disney and eat cake at the new fancy bowling alley that has opened up there, and you eat the cake, it’s totally worth it. It’s so good I’m contemplating going back as soon as possible to have that cake.

 

Sure, on Saturday there was a pizza and soda that was had at the hotel pool. Sometimes you just have to take a cheat day and have the meal you’re craving. There’s nothing wrong with that provided you’re willing to keep putting in the work to help counter it.

 

And when I came back last night, I weighed myself for the first time since leaving and found I was at 181.6! I had actually lost weight after 5 straight days of eating out. That long of a stretch without home-cooked meals or buying fresh food from a supermarket can be overwhelming but thankfully I walked that tight rope and came out ok.

The More I Know, The Less I Weigh

The biggest problems come from the most unlikely of places. After getting through a few days of calf strain, it appeared that everything was back on the up-and-up. Yet just a week later I find my knee suffering from not necessarily pain, but from some fatigue. The running and elliptical work has been difficult but by staying within my limits it’s felt like everything has managed to remain fairly even. The only noticeable change has been the app I’ve been using at home.

 

App.JPG

 

With the number of reps consistently rising, I recently found myself doing sets of squats that are far more than I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps the sudden rise in squats is what has caused some strain in my left knee and ankle. I noticed some pain in the ankle the other night during the squat sets. One of the biggest problems with the home workout has been that I wind up getting so hot I have to take my shirt and socks off to help cool down. But the removal of the socks seems to leave my ankle with little support for this workout. I then tried the workout again the next day but with the socks on, hoping to see what kind of support it offered, and found it made a major difference. Once again, I find that being comfortable is second rate in comparison to being safe.

 

The scales did turn in my favor! One day after weighing in at 184.4, I was told by the scale that I’m down to 183.0. A large jump and one that might not be totally accurate. This scale is very sensitive and I’m finding that multiple weigh-ins throughout the day are helpful in order to get a larger picture of where I’m really at. The consistency needed to simply get a correct weight is more than I imagined. But despite the random fluctuations there does appear to be progress being made in the weight loss.

 

Chart.JPG

The times continue to fall. The closer we can get to making a real run at the Becky Lynch workout the better!

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Weight of the World” by Overkill

Too Much Water, Water Everywhere?

DAY 18 – Friday the 27th

 

Perhaps the most terrifying moment in any diet, weight loss or fitness program, is that moment where you have to step onto the scale to find out just how you’re doing. There’s that split-second where the future looks bright. The weight will drop, bells will ring and everything will be going a-ok. And then that split-second ends and you find yourself staring at a number you weren’t prepared for and suddenly instead of bells ringing, alarms are blaring. The entire program is called into question. What will it take to get the scale to read the correct number!

Scales

Sometimes it does feel like the scale is more of an arbiter of justice than a measurement of weight.

 

I had a similar run-in with the scale recently. Every day the scale had been providing me with a steady string of descending numbers. Every time I got on the scale it felt like everything was going perfect. Then the scale said I was at 184.4. Still down from where I started but more of a plateau given that’s where I’ve been for several days. So what’s the problem? Have I hit a plateau? Have I pushed all the water weight out and now I’m going to have to grind even harder to get a pound off? Is the workout no longer enough? Or was the early weight loss simply from abandoning soda and junk food? So many questions, so few answers.

 

It’s a bit discouraging to see the same number pop up when the progress has been so steady. But it’s also great to see that the numbers aren’t shooting up yet either. The diet I’ve thrown together is holding enough to prevent weight gain which is encouraging. The positive choices are slowly coming together and helping undo 36 years of negative choices.

 

I know dieting and weight loss can be finicky, I’m learning that first hand right now. There are lots of reasons why weight loss is so difficult and the stress that comes with seeing the numbers go up and down, sometimes seemingly at random, can make things even worse. Just stick it out one day at a time and make that workout a few minutes longer the next time, try to do something to shake things up and see if it can push the scale.

 

May the scales be ever in your favor!

 

Chart

Those times are diminishing faster than an octatonic scale in jazz piano. This is one of the only things I remember from taking jazz piano lessons 20+ years ago.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Holy Water” by Mercyful Fate

To Chafe or Not to Chafe? Let’s Just Not Chafe

Today was the first day I truly felt like a runner. For the first time since this started, or really in my whole life, I wound up chaffing after running. Not terribly but enough to make second guess what I was doing. Was my stride not effective? Was I doing something wrong on the treadmill? Was I pushing myself too hard? All of these thoughts flowed through my head when I felt that first sting.

 

At the same time, despite the worrying, it did make me feel more like an athlete. This is the same thing that all runners have to deal with so now I’m part of that elite group of all runners! It was somewhat liberating and exciting to think I’ve evolved up the athletic ladder. Next thing I know I’ll be dealing with shin splints.

 

Of course this brings up the larger issue of how to avoid chaffing and what I was doing wrong. While I still don’t know what really caused it, or why, there appear to be several things I could have done that would have nipped this in the bud to begin with. Had I known this would happen of course. First things first, would be to wear compression shorts while running and/or working out. These appear to be much better at keeping everything in place and preventing issues like chaffing. And because of their recent popularity they are much better looking than one would imagine. I was certainly impressed and of course I’m now on the hunt locally to try and find some.

 

Compression

 

They’re so slick!

 

I’ve also seen items like sprays, similar to Gold Bond, that one can rub on areas that would be effected by chaffing to prevent it from occurring because it reduces friction. This is another useful tool that I’ll need to procure if I’m going to keep running.

 

Despite the pain, I managed to go out to dinner with friends. The last time I had gone to dinner with this particular friend we wound up at Buffalo Wild Wings. Ordinarily, that’d be great. But now that I’m trying a stricter diet we wound up finding a small farm outside of town that runs a dinner service three nights a week. Instead of wings, fries and beer, we wound up having a much healthier dinner using only homegrown ingredients out there on the farm as well as fresh squeezed lemonade that was worth every penny. This is the kind of place that I love to find because I can eat healthier, fresher meals at slightly higher prices of course, but I leave the restaurant feeling much better about the choice I made. So if you’re ever in Corvallis, Oregon, be sure to drift outside of town and look for Gathering Together Farm. It’s only open for dinner 3 nights a week and reservations are necessary but it’s definitely worth it!

 

Chart

We’re inching ever so close to running that 1.25 mile stretch in 18:55. The Becky Lynch workout will be defeated!

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Pain in the World” by Danzig

It’s Too Easy Being Green

DAY 16 – Wednesday the 25th

 

The Shadow

 

Proto-superhero/early 1930s radio detective The Shadow would utter his catchphrase at the end of each episode, “The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay!” One could apply that line of thinking to jealousy. While I knew that this undertaking would be difficult, it’s hard not to look at people, both men and women, who are farther down that road and be envious. Most of the weekend was spent watching the NBA playoffs and bits and pieces of the NFL draft and while it’s fun to imagine getting into that kind of shape, it’s also a bit disheartening to see how far that road is.

 

One of the main reasons that I, and many others, avoid going to big gyms is due to the fact that those first steps have to be spent in the shadow of perfectly toned bodies. It takes a lot of confidence to be able to walk into a gym and begin those workouts. Even at my small apartment gym it was not exactly easy fitting in. The free weights range from 8 lbs all the way up towards 70-80 lbs. As someone who is using weights closer to the lower end, it makes me feel a bit exposed to use those. Fortunately it’s rarely a packed gym so you can work out in anonymity fairly easily. But I do wonder when I have to move and use the university gym if I’ll feel better about walking in there to use all the equipment.

 

I never once used the gym here in Corvallis. I had many friends who did, even my elderly Japanese instructor, and I always got good feedback about how friendly it was at the gym. While the gym could be packed and you might have to wait for a machine, it was welcoming to people at all fitness levels. Certainly that’s something I’m hoping for in Utah.

 

The Shadow’s advice rings true even when talking about jealousy. Being envious of people in better shape won’t help me in any meaningful way. Envy won’t make my gut smaller or give me better cardio. Unfortunately, one does have to grind and keep chipping away day after day. It’s a mindset that’s difficult to get behind but once you can realize that the only thing that matters is your happiness with yourself. Avoiding outside comparisons will increase your personal happiness and you’ll slowly see those results.

 

Chart

That day off did wonders. Not only did my calf feel butter but now I’m hitting sub-16:00 times daily without feeling dead like the first time I did that when I wasn’t really ready.  At this pace it’s possible I could start hitting sub-15:00 and sub-14:00 times fairly soon. It certainly is amazing to me that this could be done in 16 days.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Green” by Atheist

2 Weeks In Makes For 2 Weak Legs

DAY 15 – Tuesday the 24th: Weekly Update on goals

 

An entire week has gone by since I stated those initial goals so let’s see if I managed to make progress on any of them:

 

  1. Improving cardio

I think there’s been decent progress towards this goal. Each day I’m running harder and faster and putting in the time to get my run times better. The daily workout is slowly getting me there. The nice thing about this is it’ll pay off immediately when I move to Salt Lake City. Having stronger cardio will allow me to be able to walk around without as much distress.

 

  1. Losing 26 pounds

We’re definitely making progress on this one. Weighed in at 184.8, so down a little over 10 pounds since this started. It’s going to take a while to reach the full 26 pounds gone but every little bit will help. One of the things I’m working on is being more aware of what I’m ingesting. Cutting out soda was a good first step but I’m now going to have to be more aware of calories and making sure to limit my intake. It’s certainly not as fun as just eating what you want but since this is one of the more likely goals to achieve it has to be dealt with seriously.

 

  1. Gain upper body strength.

I knew this one would take time. But I’ve added in some weight training and I’m slowly building up reps on the weights. There is the slightest hint that my arms are gaining in strength. While I’m a long way off form where I want to be, and I’ll have to greatly increase the arm workouts to make it happen, it’s a positive step.

 

  1. Find a way to complete the Becky Lynch Workout.

 

BeckyLynch

Damn you Becky Lynch, the Irish angel/devil who concocted such a devilish workout. But one day I’ll find a way to complete this workout (see below). Unfortunately by then, she’ll have concocted something far more sinister than even this!

 

IMG_4893
Enter a caption

 

Ugh, this workout. So I can proudly say that the running portion of this workout is getting easier and easier every day. But those burpees! Today I was able to do the first set of 10 so initial progress has been made! The 10th burpee might have been a bit suspect but let’s not dwell too much on that. Honestly, that was so difficult I thought I would never stop sweating. I just lay there on the ground trying to suck up some air. It’s going to take some serious effort to complete even the second phase of this workout! That last leg looks too intense to even worry about at this point.

 

  1. Continually increase workout time

This one has been a mixed bag. The workout time at the gym has stagnated, mostly due to a calf strain that I was trying to keep under control. I didn’t want to push it farther than I felt it should so the workout time at the gym has not increased. However, the app I’ve been using at home has greatly increased workout time there where I’m now doing nightly pushups, situps, squats, etc. Whether it’s more effective to be doing that or more time in the gym on machines remains to be seen.

 

  1. Be happier with myself

I’m glad this one is going well. Just the idea of consistently getting to the gym, dropping a few pounds, being able to run faster and faster times does have me happier with myself. The results that can be seen so far are all very positive. It makes me think that even better results can be achieved!

 

  1. Do a pullup

So I’m adding this one in. I’ve never been able to do one and it’s only been just under 37 years so it’s probably time that I can do one. Certainly achieving that would be a great boost to personal morale!

 

So after a difficult week of working out — new exercises, calf strains, etc. — it’s rewarding to see so much progress being made. I knew it would take a long time but didn’t know it would be such a daily grind. In fact, it’ll most likely get more difficult from here as I try to find new workouts, new ways to improve, new diets, it’s endless. But with these goals in mind it’ll be easy to focus and follow a path towards achieving at least one of these goals.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Seven Days Without You Makes One Weak” by Victory