Dead End Stations

So, often, when I come up with an idea for a post, it comes to me while driving or some other time when I can’t really sit at a computer and write it all down. Sometimes I say to hell with it and let it go, other times I will stop and use Voice Memos on my phone to record a bit of the ideas, or a full on Dennis Leary/Rick Mercer-esque rant that I then go back to later to try and make a post out of. 

I would say 98% of the time, on the listen back, I realize the idea is either a.) stupid; or b.) I was completely full of shit. Another 1.5% of the time, I’ll take the rough idea and mold it into a post. The final .5% of the time I’ll just directly transcribe the audio to form the post, which is the case here. This is my way of saying, warning: if this post comes across as unhinged and rambling, that’s because it is. It’s a transcription of me, pacing the deck in my backyard, gesturing and babbling while my dog looks at me funny from time to time.

Why not just post the audio you say? Well, because that  sounds even worse, and truth be told, I do edit the transcription a little to edit out some of the swearing and sputtering, else the swear words would probably outnumber the decent ones. I’ve left select ones in for emphasis.

So if meaningless screeds are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Fill yer boots.


So, I’m thinking about this as I go into the ‘corner store’, the convenience store, the ‘gas ‘n’ sip’, to get my Jones root beer – which has a picture of a cat in a toilet on it – and my Reeses’ Big Cup, which is a normal Reeses’ peanut butter cup that actually has Reeses’ Pieces shoved inside the Reeses’ peanut butter cup, you know, because just one peanut butter cup isn’t enough, you gotta have more candy inside a candy, and I’m getting this because, let’s be honest, I’m fucking addicted to junk food, and, um, I can’t even figure out where, or why it started or what happened or where my diet went to shit, now it’s just a constant daily struggle to try and eat right and fucking succeed and fail and succeed and fail and succeed and fail and try and be fucking zen about the whole thing – but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

So  I go into the ‘corner store’ – and I think about this all the time – if an alien species came and looked at us they’d say,

“well, what are they doing? – well, they’ve got these little ‘stations’ set up everywhere – sometimes within blocks of each other – and these stations do 2 things: first of all, they fill their vehicles from these stations with this fuel that’s simultaneously destroying the planet and also enabling them to drive around these vehicles that destroy the planet and, second,  while they’re in there, they buy this crap that they eat that ruins their health. “

-The Aliens

I mean, think about it, you go into these ‘convenience stores’ and, except for the three, weird-looking, bananas they put there as the token health food, there is nothing in these stores of any nutritional value. Except water. Maybe water. And yet we are constantly in and out of there, we are constantly buying this stuff, we are constantly putting it into our bodies and fucking ourselves up and it’s just this perpetual cycle.

And so, if you look at it from an outsider’s standpoint, we – you know – it’s just the stupidest fucking thing we can do. And, I don’t understand – I’m ‘friends’ with the guys that work at the store near me – they know me by name (presumably because I’m consistently in there, ‘fucking myself up’), “Hey how’s it going…” –  how does it feel to be these guys that are the merchants of this stuff, they’re making a living off this stuff. It’s like, “hey, here’s this crap – you know – that stuff’s really terrible for you, let me sell that to you.” And have no compunction about that.

And, like, I mean, it’s not their fault, they’re just making a living, but how did we get to this point as a society where we have like, literally, stations set up everywhere, where you can go in and, in one fell swoop you can fuck up the planet and fuck up your health at the same time.

I mean, wow. If only we could get that efficient about the opposite. It seems like a no-brainer. But instead of setting up a system whereby we could stop in at someplace and improve the planet and improve our health in one go – how come there’s no gas stations that just sell nothing but healthy food – or maybe there is somewhere – I don’t know, I haven’t been to every gas station around, but I’ve been to what would seem, a lot in my lifetime, for one person. Think for a second about how many different gas stations you’ve been at in your life. Let that sink in.

Yeah. Man. But I’m the same, I’m just locked in to that same pattern, just like everybody else, I just keep doing it. And keep going. I mean, I’ll go a day or two, and get gas, and not buy anything at these stores, but then eventually again, there’s the freakin’ candy and the soda talkin’ to me and I cave….

I mean, nobody talks about that – we talk about addictions – we talk about addictions to drugs and alcohol, I mean how is this any different – if this was just a store where you went in and crack was on display there for sale – people would say, “You can’t do that, this is bad” – but here’s a store that’s just stocked to the gills with what a huge majority of the people on the planet now – ostensibly – are struggling with – and that is diet, health, obesity – and these things are just there, and it’s like ‘regular ol, day in – day out’. Stop for the gas. Get my junk. I’m on my way. Have a nice day everybody! Go fuck yourself!


A few notes. First off, if you’ve ever tried to transcribe any sort of audio diatribe or speech, and you think you’ve gotten the punctuation right – you’re wrong. All convention goes out the window. You’d be hard pressed to form textbook ‘sentences’. There’s also something that can’t be transferred from the audio – the delivery, the tone. You’d be hard pressed to get that bang on.

Second, I realize in transcribing this – that it comes across as me saying this is an issue for everyone – it’s not. I know there are folks out there who don’t have this problem, and I know there’s folks in third-world countries who don’t have any food, never mind worries about eating too many chili-dogs at the 7-11. I know this. Don’t comment or write me letters. I know there’s people out there that do get it though, and I realize there are entire industries out there – who may have started with the best of intentions – but have now gone far astray of any moral or ethical culpability with regards to their products and the effects on their consumers. They are about dollars – nothing else – even at the expense of the lives of the very people they require to consume their product.

The discussion to be had is how to get off the treadmill. How do we as a society break free from the cycle, and the normalization of these types of behaviors, especially when there is a whole component of industry with extensive means determined to keep people locked in that cycle as grist for the mill.

Fitness Landscaping: Me and My Dirt Spot

Most folks get right frustrated with dead spots in their lawn. I, on the other hand, have really been working at one, nurturing it. I’ve been pouring fitness into it. In the past 33 days I’ve fed it:
  • 355 Arm Curls @ 20lbs
  • 460 Arm Scissors
  • 200 Back Extensions
  • 150 Back Stretches
  • 440 Basic Burpees
  • 870 Butt Kicks
  • 130 Climbers
  • 50 Close Grip Push Ups
  • 1095 Crunches
  • 100 Dead Bugs
  • 260 Elbow Plank
  • 200 Flutter Kicks
  • 1680 Half Jacks
  • 50 Half Wipers
  • 5920 High Knees
  • 210 Hops on the Spot
  • 36 Jump Knee Tucks
  • 2550 Jumping Jacks
  • 320 Knee to Elbows
  • 50 Leg Raise Hold
  • 100 Leg Raises
  • 2620 March Steps
  • 100 Modified Leg Scissors
  • 200 Overhead Punches
  • 80 Plank Jacks
  • 2660 Punches
  • 160 Push Up to Back Extension
  • 340 Pushup Planks
  • 565 Pushups
  • 820 Raised Arm Circles
  • 260 Raised Leg Planks
  • 200 Reverse Crunches
  • 240 Scissor Chops
  • 100 Side Leg Raises
  • 260 Side Planks
  • 1680 Side to Side Hops
  • 210 Side to Side Steps
  • 300 Sit Up Punches
  • 300 Sitting Punches
  • 210 Step Jacks
  • 140 Tendon Leg Holds
  • 140 Tendon Leg Raises
  • 140 Tendon Raised Leg Swings
  • 140 Tendon Side Leg Holds
  • 140 Tendon Side Leg Raises
  • 140 Tendon Side to Side Legs
  • 55 Wide Grip Push Ups

My Fitness Program

I’ve been working for quite some time on losing weight with my target being getting to 200lbs. I lost almost 20 lbs during a stint last year but for quite some time now, I’d plateaued and even with an increase in exercise, I wasn’t losing, I was just maintaining. In addition to wanting to lose weight, I wanted to feel better and be stronger. I was also having some stomach issues and wanted to address that. After talking to my doc and doing some research I decided to change two things. One, I wanted to introduce more strength/conditioning elements to my lifestyle and two, I would finally have to get serious and honest about my diet and what I was and wasn’t eating something I’ve danced around for years.

33 days ago I kicked in the strength element. I started the DareBee 30 Day CardioTrim program. I dig the DareBee ideal and ethos. I don’t have the time or money to join a gym or do Crossfit, as much as I’d like to. DareBee is the poor man’s Crossfit. Literally hundreds of weight/equipment-free exercises and demos, plans, nutrition advice, a support community. Fun stuff. It’s great  – check it out if you’re looking for that kind of thing. I can’t recommend it enough. I know what you’re saying. 30 day program, started 33 days ago? Um, that math doesn’t add up. You’d be right. I took a day off here and there when I felt my body was saying to. I was tired. Listen to your body.

At the same time I started using My Fitness Pal to track everything I was eating. Actually I’d been using it a month before as well. This has given me great data on what fuel (or lack thereof) I’m putting into the tank as well as allow me to correlate that to how I’m feeling and how workouts are going. As a bonus it syncs with my Garmin Vivoactive activity tracker and keeps track of calories burned etc. There’s a great iPhone app (and prolly Android as well) that makes it easy to enter food or even scan barcodes anywhere, anytime. I’ve found that having a data stack to refer to both motivates and excites the geek in me to stick with the program and also keep me honest.

I’ve changed up my diet pretty radically. For the past month and a half or so, I’ve been on a – don’t laugh – shake program, and finding it works pretty well for me. One of the huge hurdles initially for me was trying to teach myself how to eat properly after literally decades of not doing so. After reading and some advice from a buddy, I’ve been using GNC Lean Protein shakes for breakfast and lunch and then eating sensible, whole food dinners. Dinners had always been pretty good at our house, Lyn is a great cook and I’ve become more involved and so have the kids. We’ve always pretty much made everything from scratch trying to use the least amount of processed crap as we can. In addition, we’re using more white meat instead of red, more fresh veggies and even trying out a vegetarian recipe here and there.

Workdays have always been the hardest for me as the temptation to get crap for lunch and/or snack on junk food all day while hammering on a computer was pretty much the norm. Having the shake routine set – in combination with smart, healthy snacks has taken the heavy lifting out of trying to figure out what to eat, was well as eliminated the temptation to fall off the deep end into the deep fat fryer. It’s not my intention to use these shakes forever, but for me they’ve been a great tool for re-learning how to eat as well as managing diet. Overall the shakes in combination with the change in diet have alleviated some persistent stomach issues I’ve been having as well.

Other small things I’ve done that everyone always talks about but do make a huge difference are drinking lots of water (I usually get about 3L a day) and not eating after 7ish at night.

Finally, I’ve continued to strive for something I set out over a year ago and that is to run or ride the bike every day. Doesn’t have to be a monster workout – sometimes it’s just a half-hour cruise, but do something. Every. Day. I’ve missed days for sure, but only 2 in a row at most.

The Progress – Has It All Been Working?

In the first week or so I lost 4lbs. That’s a lot, and I think mostly due to water weight. It was encouraging, but I realize unrealistic to think that trend would continue. Over the remainder of the month, I didn’t lose or gain, just maintained. I think this is pretty much due to diet and touch on that later. I did read an interesting article on why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight that I found very informative. Thanks to Gewilli for the link.

My fitness is improving radically. Everyone has their own definition of what fitness is. I feel better physically and mentally. I have more energy. I feel stronger. I have less fatigue. The Mojo Tank is full.

I gots all kinds-o-progress, yo.

Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail

What’s important is that you keep driving.

Repeatedly I have to remind myself:

  1. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It took 30 years to put the weight on, it’s not going to come off in a week.
  2. Fitness and strength is as important as the weight loss. What you’re doing will not always have immediately tangible benefits.
  3. See #1.
  4. See #1. Again.

In this world of instant downloads, one day shipping and live streaming, I too have become impatient. Expecting to see significant weight loss returns in a matter of days is unrealistic. Keep focused. Keep with the program. Keep going. It will come.

There have been days when the last thing I wanted to do was the workout. Sometimes I would forget until almost bedtime. It would be dark. Cold. Raining. Sometimes I was able to do Level III reps and all the extra credit. Sometimes I could barely manage Level I and  be whimpering. What matters is that I did it. And I also proved to myself that I could both handle it physically AND establish it/fit it into the daily routine/schedule, the latter being something I always was skeptical about or used as an excuse.

Remember. The Spot isn’t going anywhere. The Spot is hungry. The Spot wants sweat and reps.

The Takeaways So Far: What I’ve Learned

  • Be patient. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight. Nothing does.
  • I’m still eating too many calories. Though I’ve definitely changed what I’m eating for the better, my snacks and meals are still too calorie-heavy. I need more green veggies and protein and less calorie/carb/fat heavy snacks. Working on it.
  • I’ve cheated on food for sure over the past month. But I’ve learned to be more conscious of what I’m eating and why. Do you really need something to eat? Or are you just bored, distracted or stressed and circling the kitchen, one of my major traps. Stay busy, stay focused on the goal. When I have urges or cravings I’m learning to stop and take a second and ask if I really need anything, and if I do, to make a smarter choice vs. acting impulsively. I’ve learned to enjoy ‘treats’ more – like a Blizzard with the Fam at DQ, but I can be ok with the mini-I don’t need the medium with extra stuff. When people want to go to Wendy’s, they have salads there too (who knew?) not just Baconator combos. An online buddy of mine, Paul told me once: “One salad doesn’t make you skinny just like one piece of pie doesn’t make you fat.” You’re trying to change habit and routine, and if you fall (or intentionally get off) the horse, don’t beat yourself up, just get back on.
  • Just because you rode 100km, doesn’t mean you should eat that many calories worth of crap.
  • Keep a journal. Don’t feel like you have to write everything in it or everyday, but have one. Maybe not for everyone, but working for me.

One Day at a Time

It really is just that ridiculously simple. I’ve realized there is no ‘end’. There is no ‘fail’. What I’m trying to do is perpetual. Organic and ever-growing. It’s now a process that will end, really, only when I finally check out. So time to keep doing it. Today.

Gotta go pick out the next DareBee 30 day program. #feedthespot

#SpringThawChallenge : Halfway

An appropriate day as any for an update. 45 days down. 45 to go. Halfway to Spring, March 20 and I’ll not lie, I’ve been slacking.

We’ve been pounded with multiple snowstorms and brutal cold temps and keeping up, let alone finding the time and motivation to exercise has been challenging. I’m still managing to squeak in a run here and there, but diet is suffering. I find the more I hibernate inside, the greater my desire to eat all the things, specifically the bad ones. Things like 3 storms’ worth of #stormchips aren’t helping. Still not drinking as much water as I should either, but on the plus side I’ve had hardly any pop.

I did have a stint awhile back where I ran every day for a week and was feeling good but then the first of 3 snowmaggedons hit and derailed me. I tell myself I could hit the elliptical inside and that would be better than nothing, but I hate it. Would so much rather get outside, even if it’s cold. I’m really enjoying running when I can get out, even more so than the bike in some cases, just ’cause there’s less work/kitting up involved. Also with as much snow as we’ve had, I can run places I can’t go with the bike, even the fatbike. I’d like to get a set of running snowshoes. Maybe next winter.

I keep telling myself to get up early (which would mean around 5am) and run in the mornings, but damn it’s cold and dark then. It’s a psychological killer. Sometimes the voices in my head get the better of me.

“Go run outside in sub freezing temps in the dark? That’s nuts man. People will think you’ve lost it. It’s borderline irresponsible.”

I’m holding steady at 217lbs which is still down from the start, but not where I wanted to be at this point and really, seems to be my average/comfort zone, so not much accomplished. This seems to be the weight I always plateau at and I’m pretty sure that food is gonna make the difference at this point, but it’s hard to break bad habits and start eating like a rabbit. Never been my thing. I’ve always been a meat and potatoes (and cheetos) guy, so switching to ‘eat food, mostly plants, not too much’ is the hardest part for me.

Will get back on the exercise horse. I actually miss it and find myself looking for it each day I don’t squeak it in somewhere.

Half way. Days are getting longer now. I’m recommitted to kicking some ass and taking names.

Some Thoughts on Layering & Kit for Winter Running

You can do it too.

In an article at Gear Junkie that I posted earlier on Facebook and Google+ this week, Eric Larsen said something that really resonated with me. People are always commenting how I’m nuts to be out in such cold or that it’s weird that I like being out in it. What he said particularly was:

“People say they hate the cold. I think what they mean is they hate being cold. I agree, being cold sucks. It’s painful. I like being warm in very cold environments; you can do it, too.

Same here. This morning I got up to go for a run and it was -17ºC/1.4ºF. That’s pretty f’n cold. Not arctic polar cold, but cold enough for most of us non-explorers. Most of these mornings I lay in bed, contemplating if I want to face the cold or not, I also am mentally figuring out what I’m going to wear if I do. I’ll check the temperature and conditions outside and then in my head, compare that with other times I’ve been out in same conditions and what I wore and what worked and what didn’t – i.e. did I freeze my ass off or overheat. Another factor will be what kind of activity I’m doing and how long I anticipate doing it for.

So along those lines I thought I’d share what I wore today as maybe it will help some of you sort your own kit:

Feet
1. Thin cotton sock – most people, including me, will tell you that cotton next to skin is a no-no, and that’s true, but I don’t have any thin/liner weight wool socks. I hope to remedy that in the near future. I put these on today and rolled the dice. I won.
2. Grocery bags – yup, you read that right. Low tech, but never fails. Cheap vapor barrier.
3. Medium weight Smartwool sock.
4. Salomon Speed Cross shoes – while not a winter shoe specifically, these do have some tech and materials designed to keep water and cold out. More of a ‘fall/muck’ shoe.

Legs
5. Synthetic long underwear – cheapie stuff from Walmart.
6. Fleece/thermal cycling tights – these are Performance house brand ones I’ve had for at least 10 years. Still in great shape. Right leg has broken zipper pull replaced with a paper clip. I’m punk rock.

Torso
7. Under Armor ‘Cold’ base layer – wicking/thermal
8. Merino Wool Cycling jersey – wicking/thermal – added bonus doesn’t collect stink!
9. MEC Derecho Cycling Jacket – shell/wind – nice because it has full zippers up the sides/armpits that allow you to vent easily if you start to heat up.

Misc
10. Buff – This provides a nice ‘gasket’ at the neck to keep out drafts – something I hate. It’s also great ’cause if it’s too cold once you get out you can pull it up over your nose/mouth. I don’t even have the wool/winter version, just the basic one.
11. Trusty wool RandiJoFab cycling cap – this one’s got built in flip down earflaps if needed. I like it vs. a normal winter cap too, ’cause it has a brim.
12. Salomon running vest – this is the first time I’ve run with this even though I got it some time ago. I don’t normally take water with me on short runs, but lately when it’s cold I find I get thirsty sooner. Maybe it’s the cold air or my mouth dries out faster, I dunno. Perhaps, my body’s using up more water for heating so it’s telling me to drink. After reading again in the article the importance of eating/drinking, I decided at the last minute to throw some water in it and take it along. I’m glad I did. I didn’t actually end up drinking anything, but it was a great trial run. The pack is comfortable, streamlined and fit great underneath my shell layer. I actually sorta forgot I was even wearing it.

Hands
13. Some thin Head gloves from Costco – while not meant to be a liner glove, these are the closest thing I have. Also nice is they have the pads on the fingers that let you use them with a smartphone.
14. Pearl Izumi Amfib Cycling Gloves – as an outer glove.

Today I probably could have just gone with one pair of gloves, the Pearl Izumis, but it’s always nice to be able to take off the bulky outer glove to adjust snowshoe bindings or access zippers/pockets, without exposing your hands to the cold.

I wore all this too, bearing in mind that I wasn’t going to be stopping anywhere for any great length of time and would keep my body temp up with activity. If I had planned anything like that, I would have brought extra layers to add on for those times of inactivity, as Eric mentioned in his article.

Overall, I had a great time and wasn’t too cold or hot – BAM – nailed it! Nothing is better than getting outside any time of year and getting your kit selection just right.

#SpringThawChallenge Post-Holiday Weigh In

So the Holidays – and time of unlimited consumption – are now behind us and time to get back to the task at hand. I did enjoy some treats over the Holidays, I will not lie, but tried to do so in moderation. In addition, I tried – and was relatively successful – in continuing with my exercise every day endeavor. Looking back, since Dec 23rd, there’s only been 4 days that I didn’t complete either a bike ride, a run or a Neila Rey workout. So without further ado, this morning’s weigh in result: 218 lbs.

So, 4 lbs up from last weigh in, but still down from the original. I’m ok with that. I’ll take it. I’m feeling good moving forward into January and it’s unobstructed-by-holidays-that-involve-eating status. To celebrate making it through the Holidays without a total derailment, I’m 5 – and only these 5 – gumdrops. You may enjoy them with me vicariously.