30 pounds down

1 pound left until I’m no longer overweight.

20 pounds until my goal weight.

A week from today, my Garmin Vivoactive 3 ships. Maybe. It’s already over a week late, and I don’t really trust United’s Mileageplus to follow-through since they already missed the first date.

You might be wondering, if I’m losing weight without some sort of device to track steps and whatnot, why am I getting one now?

The answer is two-fold. First, because my miles were expiring and I wanted to use them before they all went poof. Second, because I want an easier way to keep track of my heart rate during activities compared to wearing a chest strap. And third, because I think the data it provides me will help me stay balanced going forward.

One of the interesting things I’ve discovered over the last 11 weeks on the keto diet is that I rarely struggle to stay under my calorie and macro goals. This high-fat diet leaves me pretty satiated, and I don’t have much trouble avoiding ice cream. (Avoiding rice is another matter, so I pretty much have to stay away from Thai and Chinese restaurants if I don’t want to blow my carb goal for a day.)

The challenge I have is eating enough of the right stuff, particularly when I’m active. Right now, I’m only having around 1,500 calories a day, and I feel fine. But if I burn 800, I absolutely need to eat more. And if I don’t do a good job of tracking how much energy I’m burning, then I may not eat enough. Typically, when people exercise and don’t track their calories, they end up eating more than they burned, but because I’m using MyFitnessPal to log everything I eat, I am firmly sticking to the calorie goal.

I’m also really curious to see how many calories I burn during regular activities. For instance, I’ve read that standing during work hours, like using a standing desk for your computer, can burn 400 calories in an 8 hour day. I certainly feel it in my legs, but do I need to eat more those days? Or did I just burn an extra 100-150 like I do during yoga? I can handle a 100 calorie deficit (a couple pieces of dark chocolate), but 400 is more than I have for breakfast, and 2/3 what I eat for lunch or dinner.

I look forward to blogging on March 16th to see if the trend of the last 11 weeks continued and I have hit my goal. March would be a good time for that.

  • Starting weight: 240
  • Goal weight: 190
  • Current weight: 210

Did you know that United frequent flyer miles expire now?

I discovered a few days ago that we lost 40,000 miles. In order to not lose the rest, I went through United’s merchandise that you can buy with miles.

To help better track my ongoing fitness improvements, I ordered a Garmin Vivoactive 3 and a Garmin Scale. I did a few hours of reading today to compare the Samsung Gear 3, Fitbit Ionic, and the Garmin Vivoactive 3, and I feel pretty confident in my decision.

And if I hate them, I can sell them and put the cash in the bank. But I think this will help. I’ve been weighing myself regularly, but I definitely don’t log it when my weight goes up. Instead, I wait for it to go back down (in a week or two) before I log again. Having a scale log automatically will help keep me accountable. And I’ve got some strength and cardio goals for the new year that the Vivoactive will help track.

At the end of the day, gadgets don’t help you lose weight. You can’t outrun your diet, and keto is helping address that part of the equation. One of my favourite fitness quotes is, “Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret.” The discipline of the diet isn’t too painful for me, but I think exercising will be more of a challenge.

In related news, some of my weight from yesterday turned out to be water I guess.

  • Starting weight: 240
  • Goal weight: 190
  • Current weight: 217

At this rate, I have about 10 more weeks until I hit my goal weight.

Not Embarrassed

The warm-up at The Pit boxing gym is pretty intense:

  • Jumping Jacks x 30
  • Body Squats x 30
  • Arms out rotation x 50
  • Arms front rotation x 50
  • Chain breakers x 30
  • Close grip push-ups x 25
  • Reg grip push-ups x 25
  • Wide grip push-ups x 25
  • Burpee x 20

I went for my first session two weeks ago, got maybe 1/5 through the warmup, and had to lie down on the cold concrete floor because I was so dizzy. Something about all that plus going up and down for burpees gave me vertigo, and I was out of the action for probably 20 minutes.

I should have been mortified. Here I was, with a group of about a dozen guys and a twelve year old girl, who all went through the entire warm-up in half the time I only managed a fraction of it, and I was laid out on the ground. Fifteen years ago, I’d have wanted to hide my face for weeks, or crawl in a hole and die. But I didn’t find embarrassment, or not too much. Rather, lying on the ground after doing just a portion of the warm-up, I found motivation.

Everyone at The Pit is incredibly nice, non-judgmental, and inclusive. There were no sneers or judging glances at me, though several people checked to make sure I was OK. Their tone wasn’t derogatory in any way though. Later, one young man told me that he was puking the first two months at the gym, and I at least hadn’t done that. Boxing is generally a solo sport, but there’s a strong team atmosphere there, which is to the credit of the coach, Will Grover.

As it turns out, my dizziness was probably due to illness. The day after going to the gym, I came down with a wicked cold, and I didn’t leave the house for six days because I felt so bad. Then we traveled to Wisconsin and I missed a couple more workouts. But last night, I went back for my second session, and I completed the warm-up and never got dizzy.

Getting there almost 40 minutes early to give myself time to stretch and go slowly through it helped a lot. We do a warm-up, then a bunch of different boxing exercises, then a work-out that’s 2-3 times more intense than that warm-up. Newbies like me are only obligated to do half of the work-out, and I only managed about half of that, or a quarter what everyone else did. And again, they did it in a fraction of the time.

But I completed the warm-up. I did more last night than I did two weeks ago. The way I see it, I show up 2-3 times a week, do what they tell me for two hours, and I’ll get in better shape. And I really need it. I need to get my health under control. Since I started working at home, the pounds have been piling on, and it… “scares” might be too strong, but it does kind of scare me. I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to be one of those IT guys who just gets more and more round and waddles around and has high cholesterol and heart problems in his 40s. Working out for two hours, three times a week, is a huge sacrifice of time for me, and it has already meant missing out on social activities I’d like to be part of. But I’ve got to get this health thing re-aligned.

I’m not embarrassed. Part of me feels like I ought to be, but internally, I look at that and think, “Let that embarrassment fuel harder work. Do better. Be better.” And that’s not hard, because I’m not on my own. I go to the gym and have a group of people who are going through the exact same thing, and they model it for me. I have people encouraging me, and guiding me, and correcting me, and telling me that I’m going to get there.

Two more weeks from now, I want to be able to complete the work-out. Maybe not quickly, but I’ll get there.

The best thing about Starting Strength

A few weeks ago, I developed terrible pain in my left shoulder. I don’t know what brought it on, but the muscles tensed up so hard that it hurt as badly as when I broke my collarbone in 2008. Wondering at the cause, I searched online for chronic muscle tension, because this isn’t the first time my shoulders have hurt like this, just the worst it has ever been, and I discovered that this sort of tension is common for people like me who sit at a computer all day. The best remedy is exercise.

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What are your writing exercises?

I haven’t done writing exercises much since I finished taking creative writing courses in college, but I always found them helpful and intriguing. Now I have agreed to join Sarah Salway as a guinea pig and complete 12 weeks of exercises as part of some work she is doing.

To get back into the habit of working on them, I was curious: what writing exercises do you do, either to get the ink flowing or to take your mind and fingers in new directions?

My first real go

Time: 1:03:16
Distance: 3.67 miles
Music: The Crane Wife by The Decemberists
Runkeeper Report

I rolled out of bed a little after 7 this morning (don’t have to go to work thanks to Memorial Day) and got out the door shortly thereafter. Between getting dressed and stretching, though, I realized that my pre-exercise routine is going to take longer than I had anticipated, so instead of getting up at 6 a.m. on weekdays, I’ll need to be up at 5:45 to stretch and get ready. I also took along my iPhone so I could use Runkeeper.

My left shoe wasn’t settling right, which was frustrating–it felt like it was twisted, so the heel was a bit too far to the left, and I worried that this would cause problems down the road. I made it just over half a mile before I finally paused to take that shoe off and put it back on, which took care of the problem.

If you don’t find that terribly exciting, I won’t blame you. As things go, it wasn’t an exciting time, but let me share a couple of memorable moments:

1) I saw two men walking down the street or sidewalk during my hour long excursion. I don’t know if they were homeless or just walking, but I overcame my natural inclination to shy away, cross the road, and generally act like I don’t know the other person exists. Encountering people out in the world always makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable, and I hide that by withdrawing–I get away, either mentally or physically. But I smiled and nodded as I passed, greeting them as another human being. It wasn’t much, but I know that it makes me feel warm and happy when people accord me the same, so I hope it was a positive thing for them.

2) I dodged around some refuse on the sidewalk at one point. This wasn’t hard because I’d seen it coming, just some mud and leaves and the litter that gets stuck in such places. It was near a greener place–not a forest, not here, but an overgrown part that is still a little wild. During a rain the soil had eroded and washed onto the sidewalk, but it didn’t cover it completely.

I was on the street and looked down at it, for a flash of white had caught my attention. On closer inspection, it was the bared spine of an opossum, lying belly up–or at least, it would have been had its belly remained. Instead there was just spine and a supine head, gaping mouth and damp fur caked in mud.

***

I look forward to getting into the routine of the exercise. I want it to become everyday, humdrum, and methodical. I don’t want to have to think about it. When that day comes, I can turn my mind to more interesting things while my body goes through the process of burning calories and strengthening bones and muscles and joints. I seriously considered turning on an audio recorder on my iPhone so I could talk to myself while I walked–take some notes, record my thoughts, etc. Maybe I’ll do that sometime, who knows. With the way iPhones work now, though, I don’t think it’ll run more than music and Runkeeper, and I really want to use Runkeeper so I think audio recording is out until later this summer (when OS 4 comes out for the iPhone).

20 pushups and 20 crunches when I got home. Going to try and increase those counts by 10 a week throughout this.

Oh, and I have a blister on the inside of my right foot. Pain is just the body’s way of communicating with the mind, telling it that something isn’t right, or that it doesn’t want to do something. The body tends to be lazy, though, and doesn’t know what’s good for it. I hear you loud and clear, good buddy–message received. Now shut up and keep going.