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11.26.03 Still Striving

Though I keep losing 2 pounds a week as it's suggested I do, I feel like I'm in a bit of a valley with my fitness. I want to get up there a little more. Here's some observations.

I can now do a steady 70 crunches in a row, and I can do 160 or more if I take 1 minute pauses in between. I can do jumping jacks until the cows come home these days, though I haven't really put that to the test. I'd like to see how many I can do in a row. Maybe I'll test that out this weekend.

What I can't do well yet are pushups. I still have too much body weight. I can do "granny" pushups, the ones where you do them from your knees instead of your feet. But I want to do better.

I can't do chinups at all yet, either. Mind you, I'm still 60 pounds overweight. I might just get better the less weight I have on. But for right now, I can't do two major body part exercises to proficiency. Those are some of my new targets.

I can easily jog short distances without much issue. I haven't gone out on a run in a little while, due to lots of various planning circumstances. Just the same, I'm feeling confident about that.

So, I'm still striving. I'm still pushing my body to get into better shape. I'm seeking a certain proficiency that will allow me confidence to do even more with my body.


11.24.03 Cross Country Skiing?

I went to a used sporting goods store and found out that I could get outfitted for Cross Country Skiing for cheap money. Probably less than $100 for the entire setup. But I have a bunch of questions.

Does anyone who reads this journal cross country ski? Do you know much about it? I did it once when I was in fourth or fifth grade. That was it, but I remember that it was fairly easy to pick up, and that it just requires fairly strong legs.

I'm wondering where I can do it. I think the wildlife reserve allows skiing, and I think the state park not far from our house does, too. I'd like to see if that's a do-able thing for the season. If not, the only other alternative I had in mind was getting a membership to a Y and going swimming all winter long.

What do you know about cross country skiing?


11.20.03 The Bad Days

My mind is my greatest obstacle. On bad days, I feel like none of this matters. I don't care. I just want to do whatever, break free from my self-imposed restrictions, and throw all my effort to the wind. I'm glad this is only on bad days.

Instead, what I'm working on training myself to do is just throw away the bad stuff and dig in harder to find the good stuff. It's not my actual mindset. It's something I have to work to do.

I did my workout. I didn't do anything with walking or jogging. I ate well.


11.19.03 The Fitness Mindset

I am a relative newcomer to the idea that I can push myself to attain fitness levels above my current standings. I used to think that when I stopped was the best I could do, be it in lifting weights or running a distance. I was very wrong.

The other day, I did 160 crunches (broken 40 crunches every 2 minutes). I can now regularly do 65 or over at a shot. I can do more and more jumping jacks, provided I keep pushing myself to do more each time. It's all in the way I'm working my head.

I'm just starting to learn about this. I was really bad at accomplishing it before. I used to talk myself out of doing more by saying that I was doing "good enough." For some reason, that seemed to work really well as a governor to my efforts. The new method is to say that I have a goal beyond my current ability and to train towards it.

This is working rather well, but I have to say, when I'm having an off day, or if I'm feeling a little low-energy, it's really easy to fall back on "good enough." I hope to continue my efforts in strengthening my mindset.


11.18.03 Cardio

I spoke with a few of the runners at work to ask them what they did to build up their cardiovascular strength and endurance, and I received the same answer. Now that I can jog a mile, I should move to extending the distance a little bit at a time. That makes sense.

I got up to the level of being able to jog the mile by doing jumping jacks. I was quite surprised at how they got me to that next level, so that I could jog the mile. I think the advice was good, to do the jogging for longer distances.

The other advice I received was, once I reach the point where my heart's really thumping and it's nearly hard to breathe, I will drop down to a brisk walk until I can get my breathing back. Then, I'll jog for as long as I can until I have to slow it down again. This, I imagine, will be after that mile at some point.

I'm really anxious to pass two specific goals:

1.) I want better endurance, such that I can run for a few miles without tiring.
2.) I want stronger upper body strength, such that I can do many pull-ups.

The first is something I can work on now. The second is an issue that will require me to lose more weight and to find better back exercises than I'm doing right now. Just the same, they're both manageable.

Hmm, thought of another goal:

3.) I want to be able to do 50 push-ups in a row. I can currently do 7 good ones, or maybe 20 grannies (the ones where you put your knees on the ground instead of your feet).

I've already reached my goal with crunches of doing 60 at a pop. I'll try to get that up to a 100 over November and December.

But that cardio goal is what I'm gunning for right now.


11.17.03 A Mile, Ladies and Gentlemen

This weekend, I jogged my first mile. A complete and full mile. The last 1/10 or so, I actually even sprinted, but that was because the wind kicked up. Needless to say, I'm fairly pleased with myself.

I had to go out and get running shoes. The trail hikers I wear day to day didn't cut the mustard. I convinced Kat to go get some, too. We're proud owners of New Balance 716 sneakers now. We both appreciated the Asics brand, too, but we figured the NBs fit a little more snug and felt like we were being held in place. Besides, they retailed for about $70 but we paid 40-something, and the Asics retailed for $120. We figured we wouldn't buy the most expensive shoes there.

But how the hell did I get into running?

First off, I have been exercising steady since August 4th. I worked my legs up with all the other parts of my body. Second, I've been walking briskly since some time directly after that. Walking leads to jogging, which will lead me to running. Third, I'm doing a daily fitness and nutrition program, so it's not like I just got off the couch and started jogging.

Another thing that helped was working on getting my heart rate into some better control. Know how I did it? Simple. Jumping jacks. I did scads of them until I could do them without wheezing and dying. Because before that, I was pretty weak.

So, I'm getting into running. At least that's theplan right now, because I think it will help with my fitness goals even more. I'm enjoying the process of getting in shape. I feel a lot more in tune with my body, and that's a great pay off.


11.13.03 Role Model

Part of my personal mission statement surrounding fitness reads like this: "I am a role model in the making." When I say that, I'm not trying to force my views on anyone, and I cannot be concerned with what other people choose to do with their health. Instead, what I'm saying is that I am sharing my success, and showing people who ask what I've done to accomplish that.

When people ask me if I'm losing weight, my first natural tendency is to pretend that I'm not. I don't know what brings that on. I think it's because I feel like I'm bragging if I acknowledge it. I'm trying to change that about myself. I'm starting to say "yes, thank you." Or just a simple "yes I am." I still feel shy about it, but I don't think I should have to.

I am happy to talk with people about this. When I got involved with this program, it was because I talked with someone who was silently achieving all kinds of success. This person was very much like me, a skeptic who didn't really like diets, and who didn't want to exercise. She was a strong factor in my decision to attempt something like this. Now, I feel like paying that forward (as that trite expression goes).

So, I've put up a new page that attempts to explain what I did to get where I am now. The information there is so incomplete, though. To get what I really did, just read the stuff that I have in the Resources section of the fitness page. THAT is where you get the detail. This thing I put up is just for people to get some sense of what I did.

Hopefully, this will be useful to someone. Feel free to email me any questions.


11.12.03 Running Questions

I received an email from a friend telling me that he'd experienced similar issues while jogging that I mentioned in my 11.10.03  entry. He said that his body would trick him two ways: first, he'd be strong enough in the heart and lungs, but have tired leg muscles, and then, when his muscles got stronger, he'd have problems with his cardio. He said it circled around like that for quite a little while, but that eventually I'd break into a kind of even keel and I'd get to love running.

I'm curious if anyone out there who runs has experienced that same thing, and what their take was on it. I'd like to get as much information into me before I get started, so that I'll know as much as possible about what to look for.

So, anyone who has done any running, please speak up. I'd love to know your experiences. That's very helpful to me.


11.11.03 Night Shift

The only thing that really thumps my fitness routine is working a third shift. I just don't feel like getting out of bed at 6:30AM when I just crawled into bed an hour before then. I wonder how others contend with that.

What I do is that I just consider whenever I wake up to be morning, and I work out first thing after I wake up. Does my body's metabolism know that? I don't know.

Anyhow, the other thing is, we usually buy the teams coffee and donuts for these night shift events. That means facing temptation before facing the added sense that I might not want to work out the next morning. Oof.

That's all for now.


11.10.03 New Workout Routine

So, after reading the Stew Smith books, we've edited our workout routine a bit. We still mix it into the 8 minutes philosophy, but we've just added some stuff around the edges, and edited and refined what we're doing with that time. Here's what the routine looks like.

Warm up: 2 songs worth of jogging in place and doing jumping jacks and the like.
Stretches: 2 or 3 songs worth of various stretches. There are 15 of them in all.
Workout: 8 minutes split across two body parts at a time. Today: chest and back.
Abs: Crunches, kicks, everything we can to fight that area.
Stretches: 2 songs worth of stretches and some cooling down.
Brisk walk: usually a mile and change every morning.

By the way, I went jogging Saturday. It was an eye opener. My muscles were very ready for the work, but my heart and lungs weren't exactly ready. Instead, I worked my endurance by jogging a while, walking until I could breathe again, and then jogging some more. It worked, in that I can see that's a good model by which to get my endurance up there.

I was a little bummed out, because I was hoping that I could jog more than that. I am thankful that my muscles were ready. I'm just sorry that my heart and lungs weren't so big for it. Ah, I'll get there.

Lost five pounds from last week. That didn't suck, after being on a plateau for so long.


11.06.03 Diets

In Andrew Weil's book, EATING WELL FOR OPTIMUM HEALTH, he devotes a good several pages to just how little doctors know about nutrition. They are required to take a year of it in school somewhere near the beginning of their training, but unless the specific doctor has a gnawing interest in doing more with nutrition, that's where the training ends.

The advice to check with a doctor before starting any nutrition program is okay, because she might warn you about some potential risk to a specific diet's effects on your particular body's situation. What is less likely to happen is that your doctor will know enough about overall nutritional medicine to prescribe you a good solution that fits your goals.

Instead, you must research and learn what's expected of you in any of the nutrition programs that are out there. Better still, research overall nutrition and get to understand why various diets say to eat and not eat what they say.

The nutrition program I'm on doesn't ban anything. Instead, they suggest which foods might be better for me for different reasons, and above all else, they teach about portion and moderation.

There's plenty of material that shows why Atkins is good, why it's bad, why South Beach is even better, why The Zone isn't nearly as bad, etc. You can find medical backing for every nutrition plan there is. So, how do you choose?

I think that reading good books about nutrition like the one mentioned above is a great way to go about determining what you might consider doing towards your health goals.


11.05.03 Plateau

For the last several weeks, I've been hovering around the 30 pounds lost mark. I have been a little discouraged by this plateau, until my fitness partner gave me a reminder. I've been through this before.

When I first started the program, things were going fairly slowly. I lost a few pounds, but nothing like I thought would happen. I was building up muscle. And then? Pow! I lost all kinds of weight in a big rush. My partner told me that's what's likely happening again this time.

Since going up to the new program, I'm building even more muscle. It's obvious in how sore I get from my working out, and by how much tighter everything feels from my efforts. Because of this, I'm building all kinds of good fat-burning muscle tissue, and this will burn off another 30 pounds for me fairly quickly once things turn that corner again.

I'll be ready for it. Before having that conversation, I was pretty discouraged about this plateau. Now? I don't care. I'm still working it all off.


11.04.03 Challenge!

Today at work, there's going to be a weigh-in for a fitness challenge. I really like the name the guy who founded it came up with: "The Svelte Members Club." Sounds really fun, huh? I think I'm going to jump in.

We're going to hash out the rules, but the general idea is that we'll weigh in at the beginning and end of each month and then the winner will be the person who lost the most percentage of their weight within that month. Thus, the first month might show lots of people with losses, the second would show a few more, but by the third and fourth month, the herd will be thinning. I think that's where I'll  have my chance.

I also put forth Kat's idea that we have a check-in three months after the last weigh-in and put money on the results of who actually stayed the closest to (or better than) their last weigh-in. That just proves who sustained and who didn't. I think that'll be interesting.

My back's a little sore from yesterday's work, but otherwise, I feel good. We did shoulders and squats today, so that's not too hard. I can't believe I'm getting the squats together. They used to be so difficult for me. I'm glad they're finally getting to be okay.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to the challenge.


11.03.03 Sore Sore Sore Yum.

Things I never thought I'd do but did this weekend:

*bought a basketball
*bought a jumprope
*bought an exercise mat

The ball is just so that I can get into something that requires me to use all this new energy that I've been building up. I'm not good at all. A friend of mine had a nickname that fits me well when it comes to hoops: the New England Brick Master. I can't hit for anything. But then again, that's not why I got the ball. I just want to use some of this energy.

I'm interested in the jumprope, because it's really high energy and aerobic to do that. My very first effort chewed. Man, those boxing guys make it look really easy. It doesn't help that I bought the cheap 2 dollar one instead of the somewhat more neato 5 dollar one. But, whatever. I'll figure it out.

The mat's because I've got a bit of a sore tailbone during abs work now that I've got a little less padding there. I can't feel bad about that. Nope.

I'm fairly sore from some of the new exercises. Some of the abs stuff I'm doing requires that I keep my legs six inches off the ground for the entire duration of the sets, and man, that adds up. But I'm loving it. I'm loving that my body is responding to the challenge of what I'm doing. This is going to be great.

Still not sure if I'm going to start running now, or wait until after Christmas. The difference is 25 pounds less body to haul around.