Pizza Cake!

DAY 13 – Sunday the 22nd

 

There’s nothing sadder than having to get rid of your old favorites. But just like old toys being let go of after a certain time, so too do most of my old stand-bys have to go away as well. It’s been an entire week without drinking soda which has been a nice change. Though I’ll miss that sweet taste, I enjoy being able to let it go and try to drink healthier beverages. Likewise, something that was an old stand-by, like pizza has also been done away with. Not entirely, but certainly the kind you’d get from Domino’s. A healthier pizza was created here at the apartment using fresh pizza dough, ricotta cheese and healthy toppings like spinach. It did not quite fulfill me the same way that processed pizza does but I’m hoping that these alternatives will allow me to drift away from fast food and more towards eating healthier meals.

Pizza

But I got to admit, that does look pretty good…..

 

Day 14 – Monday the 23rd

 

So close to catching this up to current day. The calf strain that was bothering me really blew up after a nasty pre-set workout on the elliptical machine. It was bothering me so much that I took the day off from going to the gym. It actually felt sad to not go and workout. The respite did wonders though. Between icing the calf, doing light stretches and giving it some rest, the calf felt very, very good at the end of the day. The day before I was limping back from the gym at the apartment complex and was seriously concerned that I had done so much damage to it that I’d have to visit a doctor or take multiple days or even a week off; and now, it’s looking like it’ll be ok. I just need to take it easy and not push it so hard this early. All of this has been eye-opening and I’ve learned a lot in just a few weeks. Just like with school, there’s new lessons popping up every day and in unexpected places. I certainly don’t feel like an expert but I’m certainly happy to keep learning, whether it’s health-related or new workouts.

 

Side note: The apartment announced that it ripped the drinking fountain in the gym out so they can place parcel lockers in. Not sure how to feel about that. The lack of water is a problem, making it so more people are wandering in just to get packages feels like a problem. It’s already a tiny gym and creating more foot traffic in there seems like a bad idea. But people’s packages will be safer, which is good. And I already bring my own water to the gym so I’ll take a wait-and-see approach to this. Plus I’m moving in three months so I shouldn’t care that much to begin with.

 

Chart

I’m so close to running a healthier version of that sub-16:00 mile. I’m enjoying the daily challenge of increasing the pace slightly. I can feel and see with the help of my FitBit that during my runs I’m sitting a safer heart rate during these runs now. There’s actual conditioning taking place. It helps keep me motivated to see if I can eventually run a sub-12:00 or 10:00 mile. In the span of a few weeks the seconds are flying off so it’s certainly possible.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Pizza Driver” by Acid Drinkers

Aorta be a Law!

DAY 11 – Friday the 20th

A difficult question that has recently been popping up when I go to the gym is the issue of when and how to expand the workout. Each day’s workout is a little bit different, with increasing speeds on the treadmill, using the different preset workouts on the elliptical and trying out new machines. That’s been beneficial because it never feels the same even if many of the same machines are being used on a daily basis. But part of the workout regimen is to continually expand, in small increments, to help burn more calories while I’m there. Part of the struggle is health-related. I’m weary on pushing the limits due to the fact that I’m not trying to push my heart much farther. Some of the first days of my workouts saw my heart rate spike into the peak zone quite easily. The repeated conditioning has helped ease some of that as my heart rate is now comfortably in the cardio zone during the run on the treadmill.

 

But given how easily it would be to push it over the limit again I’m a bit trepidacious; at least until I’ve put a few more weeks in where I know that it’ll be better off. The other issue is a minor calf strain that popped up. A lot of that was due to today’s workout where I went harder than usual on the elliptical machine and wound up with some minor calf pain. More stretching is definitely called for in warmups and also in cooling down to help limit these types of issues. One of the big concerns I had when I started was the issue of overtraining so it’s constantly in the back of my mind when I’m increasing the speed on the treadmill or trying new equipment.

Calf

A calf at rest. This is what I’m hoping my calf will do soon.

 

DAY 12 – Saturday the 21st

 

Let’s just go ahead and catch up a day by doing two of these at once. The calf strain did get a tad worse but thanks to some helpful webpages I’ve found some good calf stretches, even when its already been a bit injured, which have helped ease a lot of the pain. Between that and icing it, the calf strain appears to be under control.

 

The home workouts have gotten a bit more intense as well. An app I’ve been using, which keeps track of basic workouts like push-ups, sit-ups, dips and squats, has slowly been increasing the number of reps I’ve been doing for the four exercises. We’re close to pushing 100 total reps for all of them. The squats are the most vicious thing ever. The repeated, and seemingly endless, squats continue to push me to my limit. I was worried about doing them with the calf strain but the leg was feeling fairly good afterwards.

 

Chart

The 15:39 is close to being broken under more normal means. The speed on the treadmill has helped drop the time but it feels more natural without pushing it farther than I’m comfortable with.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Heart Attack” by Toxik

I Couldn’t Tip the Scales if I Wanted To!

DAY 10 – Thursday the 19th

There are some purchases that one would expect to be difficult: buying a car, buying a house or buying an airline ticket while trying to avoid all the hidden fees. But I never expected buying a scale to be so difficult. I went to Fred Meyer, the Northwest’s version of a Target – a hybrid market/department store that’s designed for one stop shopping. Normally it’s a great place to shop, especially for Home Goods, but I learned that they do not carry scales. In fact, they only carry scales in December, when people are gearing up to prepare for fitness once the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Very frustrating but hard to argue with them not carrying them if their clientele will only purchase them one month of the year. So I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, where they had dozens of scales to pick from. I have no idea I the scale I picked was any good. Based on the price, $20, my guess it might be a touch off but it looks nice and is another part of stepping forward.

IMG_5022

Behold the mighty scale as it sits in front of the microwave as all good scales do.

 

 

Now that I have to confront myself with a scale on a daily basis, it is incumbent that I’m more upfront with making sure the decisions continue to be made positively. Dropping soda? Good. Replacing it with lemonade? Less good, because it’s helped me kick the habit of relying or wanting a soda but it’s still very sugary, though less sugary than soda, and something that I’ll have to wean off of as well.

 

In the continuing saga of whether or not the apartment cares about maintaining the gym, the water cooler was re-stocked with cups! But of course, the water was empty and they hadn’t bothered replacing it. It’s a continual struggle with the apartment staff. In some ways it’s an ever evolving mystery with no real insights as to whether or not they’re doing these things on purpose or because they’re simply lazy.

 

Chart

In 9 days I’ve managed to shed multiple minutes off my time while running about 2 tenths of a mile farther. This is great progress, better than I expected! If I can keep this up for more months we could start seeing some really impressive times.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “The Grand Scale of Finality” by Lilian Axe

If You Lift It, Muscles Will Come?

DAY 9 – Wednesday the 18th

 

After a week of running, I’m feeling more and more confident on the treadmill. I’ve been raising the speed a tad here and there and am feeling better about running for 25 minutes a day. One of the issues I’ve had is trying to find a way to stay focused during the entire run. The first few days I ran without headphones or even my phone nearby because I wanted to try to just get into running but I found that I’d fade halfway through and struggle to get to the end. I’ve tried running with the gym TV on but it can be tough to stay focused if there’s nothing good on. I’ve tried listening to podcasts on headphones but the commercials that can pop up in the middle can be frustrating because I want to stop running to skip through those. I’ve tried running with music, but I mostly listen to heavy metal and sometimes the pace can push me faster than I want to. So I’m trying to find a system where I can run so that I can stay focused, stay on pace and not get distracted. It’s a delicate balance. Hopefully this is something others struggle with and I’m not some odd running outlier.

 

Another problem I’ve encountered is the dietary aspect. While I’ve been improving a lot of nutritional choices, like going more than an entire week without soda, it’s still a challenge. Today I met with a professor at a coffee shop off campus and eyed a chocolate chip scone the wrong way. Before I knew it that thing was long gone. That same night, my brother invited a large group out to dinner in order to celebrate being accepted into a foreign language study abroad program. While I only had the one cocktail while celebrating it still made me question how devoted I’ve become so far and how far I need to go. The whole day wound up being a bit of a cheat day which I suppose isn’t a major problem but I also feel a slight concern over whether I’ve fully entered a mode where I’ll make good decisions when I have to.

 

No Chocolate

The gym at my apartment has a small set of free weights which I’ve started to incorporate in between using the treadmill and elliptical machine. This will be slow going but everyone has to start somewhere. Looming in the corner of the gym is a machine that has a pullup bar which stands there taunting me. I’ve never been able to do a pullup and I’d love to be able to do one – just one – before I moved out and head to grad school. I should have added that to the goals list from yesterday! As of right now, just doing low reps of curls with smaller weights and hoping to build up over time. Just like with running, the weight training goal is consistency more than anything.

 

Chart

While that 15:39 still looms large as a major outlier, the overall times continue to drop. There is something fun about running, it’s hard to describe but there is a sort of joy in completing the goal as well as the joy of stopping. We need the pain in order for the pleasure to understand why it’s so great.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Spiral Architect” by Black Sabbath

One Week of Exercise: The True Infinity Gauntlet

My god it’s been an entire week! I never thought I would have made it this far. There were several days where I didn’t feel like going but really forced myself to buckle down and keep going because I know that if I quit there won’t be another time that I do this. It’s this or nothing. It’s the same motivation that kept me on track through college. Going back to school in my 30s was difficult and I had to keep reminding myself to stick it out because it’s unlikely I’d be this motivated again. And while that was difficult I got my degree last year so it totally worked. And it’s only been a week with this but the results are already starting to show: My gut is slowly melting away, which is a pleasant development. Several more months of this and I can be one of those guys who walks around without a t-shirt! Wait, that’s not great for anyone.

 

But what’s important at this point is trying to really come to terms with what my goals are. Working out for a week has been a great start but having defined goals is the kind of thing I need to keep on track. So just what are those goals?

 

  1. Improving cardio

This is a bit nebulous. But in August, I’ll be starting grad school in Utah. The elevation in Salt Lake City is quite treacherous compared to where I’m at now (the beautiful low lying lands of Central Oregon) so I’ll need improved cardio to be able to walk around in Utah without suffering from discomfort. A short visit to Utah showed how far away from that I really am.

 

  1. Losing 26 pounds

This is a bit more direct. I weighed roughly 195 when this started and based on my height my ideal body weight is in the 139-169 area. So losing 26 pounds would put me at the higher end of that range. I’m already down about 4-5 pounds so the progress has already started. If I can keep it up, the goal could be extended to get the weight down closer to the middle of that range, down in the 154 range. It’s a good goal to have for the second wave of this operation.

This goal will be achieved through working out more and more as well as eating healthier and healthier. I’ve now gone 7 days without a soda, was a nightmare at first due to the headaches I had the first few days. But now I’m doing much better with it and embracing drinking more water and a slightly healthier lifestyle. Over the next few months, incorporating a better diet will be crucial to achieving this goal.

 

  1. Gain upper body strength.

This one runs a bit at odds with the last one. In trying to lose weight, it’s hard to try to gain mass in the arm region but it’s something that needs to be done. Just to get these arms a little bit bigger. Not looking for the 24 inch pythons of Hulk Hogan but something more attainable.

 

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

This one is the longest of long term goals but one that was part of the impetus to get this whole workout operation going in the first place.

 

Becky-Lynch

 

Becky Lynch, as seen above, is a legend in her own time. Ridiculously fit and a true inspiration.

IMG_4893

This is her workout. Good god, that workout looks gnarly as hell though. The running portion, which comes to a total of about 1.25 miles when converted, is one that I’ve been working on since this started. She can do the entire workout in 18:55, which she thought was slow for her, and yet I can’t even do the running portion in that time. The Burpees remain a mystical and evil force, not dissimilar from the Uruk-hai in Tolkien’s universe. It’s a cruel device that has brought the largest of men down.

 

Fale

This is Bad Luck Fale, a former rugby player turned pro wrestler in Japan. He’s around 6’4, 340 and burpees took him down like he’s nothing. So they’re a bit intimidating to me. But over the next week, I’m hoping to incorporate a few in and see where I stand, or fall based on that picture.

 

  1. Continually increase workout time

This is something that is currently happening. When I first started a week ago, I limited myself to running on a treadmill because I wasn’t sure what I could handle. I didn’t do great that first day but a lot of that was just getting comfortable. Now that I’m a little more comfortable with my running, I’ve added 30 minutes on an elliptical machine to the daily workout. Between that and doing smaller workout routines that can be held at home, like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc. the workouts are slowly getting a bit more intense and making it more challenging for me. This will be a continual effort to increase time and intensity on the various machines but one that should offer major benefits.

 

  1. Be happier with myself

This is perhaps the most important and the hardest to quantify. Being happier with myself can’t be pinned down to a certain weight or fitness level. It has to be worked on from within. It’ll be the true test but one that I’m curious to engage in. Even as of right now, I feel better with myself for even trying all of this. Over the last year or two I knew there were things wrong but didn’t take any steps to rectify the problems. Now that I have taken some small steps there are physical and mental benefits that are aiding me and encouraging me to keep going. That in and of itself is a major victory.

 

Surely, there’ll be more goals in the future. As some of these goals become achieved, new goals will arrive to help push me on farther. But even completing a small portion of these goals will put me in a better place than I was.

Left to Your Own Devices

I’m starting to think this apartment complex doesn’t care a whole lot about their gym. It’s been multiple days since they bothered to put cups back near the water cooler. The cleaning supplies to help wipe machines down after using them have also ran out and not been replaced. A few loose paper towels was put up on a shelf as a temporary replacement. The water fountain next to the bathrooms was completely removed and now there’s just a gaping hole in the wall. The mirrors in the bathrooms, along with the soap dispensers, were removed and simply placed in a hallway next to the gym. One might think this means renovations but there has been no maintenance people to be seen. The gym overlooks a racquetball court, and if you go down the stairs to try to go in the court, you’ll find a hallway with lights dangling out of their sockets and loose wires all over the place. Even the 24 hour hot tub was closed and locked up at 9:30pm, a bizarre move. This can’t be normal. Is this a common occurrence at gyms? Or have I lucked into an apartment gym that’s poorly run? I’d hate to have to switch since I’m getting to use this for free – well not free, I assume rent covers some sort of fee but I’d hate to have to switch to a gym where I’d have to pay additional money.

 

In the grand scheme of things, these are fairly minor complaints. What a first world problem to have! My gym doesn’t stock enough cleaning supplies for my liking. But it’s amazing how quickly people can become comfortable and settle in to a routine. One week ago I’m not doing any exercise and now I’m getting so comfortable in a gym that I can start negatively focusing on how this is affecting me. It’s a daily struggle to remind myself that the point of this was to push me out of my comfort zone, not necessarily find a new one to easily slip into. It’s a common challenge for everyone to avoid falling into regular routines and try to push forward and challenge oneself. We just have to remember to take this one day at a time!

 

An unexpected consequence of working out every day arose in the form of clean clothing! Turns out my sock pile doesn’t run as deep as I imagined and I wound up wearing festive Christmas socks. Thankfully they’re comfortable.

Socks

 

Another difficult day on the treadmill. Trying to get back in the swing of things after the over training was very difficult. It really threw me off my rhythm and pace because it’s impossible to match that time every day at the moment and it also left me sore and it’s taken a few days to really feel better. Consider it a lesson learned!

Chart

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “We Care A Lot” by Faith No More

Weighing in is the Hardest Part

DAY 6 – Sunday the 15th

 

Before leaving the hotel to return home, I managed to weigh myself on the scale at the gym. I don’t own a scale (working on it!) and have only a handful of times weighed myself over the last few years. The weight has risen slowly but consistently over time and I’ve been firmly around 195 for several years. I always told myself that if I ever got to 200 or higher I’d do something about it but that seemed foolish to wait for things to get worse before improving things. And yet there I was at 190.6! A bad temperature to have but an ok weight given where I’ve been. I can’t be truly sure how much weight I lost since I didn’t weigh myself at the beginning but it’s a sign that things are going in the right direction.

 

Part of the weight loss is exercise and part of it is making better choices when it comes to eating. When I arrived back from the memorial, I had been driving for several hours and wanted to eat something. Normally I would have gone and got regular fast food or even just ordered a pizza. Instead I went to Subway and got as healthy a sandwich as I could find and for the first time ever, without a soda. Now I know what you’re thinking: Subway isn’t that healthy. But it’s healthier than what I would have eaten and the fact that I’m willing to take these steps is what will make this transition easier. I’m not expecting overnight results either in body changes or my lifestyle. It’s unfortunately going to be a slow, long term process where I continually make better and better choices.

 

Because of the long drive, I was unable to go to the apartment gym at my regular time and went much later in the evening. It’s certainly a more interesting group of people that venture in there. While there was only one other person working out, there were a stream of people coming in and out to use the hot tub and a handful of takers for the sauna. Despite living here for over 2 years I haven’t used either of these facilities – of course, I hadn’t use the gym either until recently. Seeing a stream of people running through the gym in bathing suits trying to not attract attention was hilarious. The path of wet footprints on the way out was equally bizarre.

 

The running on the treadmill continues to be difficult, especially after overdoing it the day before. The goal for today was to get things back to normal and slow the pace down, try to hit more consistent times to what I’ve done before. I’ve also started adding a turn on the elliptical machine into the workout to both increase time and expend some calories while I’m in there. It remains difficult, not particularly fun but also very rewarding so hopefully we can keep this going! Best of luck to everyone struggling with this as well!

 

Chart

Definitely slowed down from the previous day but it was for the best. I felt much better and more comfortable by taking it slower. I’ll hit better times eventually but need to trust the process. Even more so than the Philadelphia Sixers did.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: “Worth the Wait” by Grave