Saturday, November 24, 2012

Time Off For Bad Behavior

Here's my cute intro from before The Week That Wasn't:

Couch to 5k is going well. This time I didn't need major surgery after week 2 workout 3. 6 full weeks of training remain, and I'm feeling ready to PR this race. It will be a great New Year treat for myself.

This is actually my third attempt at Couch to 5k. The first was years ago and I quit in the second week. That time I was doing it on a flat gym track. The second ended with my surgery after two weeks, and that was at the flat track at a local school. This time I decided to do it on the roads around work and home and I think that has helped. Before I wasn't challenging myself enough, and so when the workouts ramped up my body wasn't prepared. Now I'm using the hills around me to get ready for actual running. It has made all the difference.

Unfortunately, I kept putting off getting a flu shot. It was a dumb thing to do. I'm a week behind in training, but that's the least of why this week sucked. I quarantined myself away from my 2 month old, which was hard to do. Yesterday the doctor confirmed that it was the right call. I can't wait to hold that little bugger tomorrow. Polly Walnuts, our cat and mascot, has been a worthy sick-mate, but I want my son back. The lesson is for me to stop procrastinating when things involve him.

The good news is I'm going to pick up where I left off. A PR on New Years Eve is still within reach. In fact I'm working on my race day playlist. It will be about 45 minutes long. That gives me one song to warm up and 40 minutes to finish the race. Here's a tentative list:

Warm up: Empire State of Mind - Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys

Rest of the tracks in order:

Time to Pretend - MGMT
All of the Lights - Kanye West
You're Gonna Go Far, Kid - Offspring
Me & My Girlfriend - Tupac
Ghost on the Dance Floor - Blink 182
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem featuring Rihanna
Babel - Mumford & Sons
Words I Never Said - Lupe Fiasco featuring Skylar Grey
Chapel Song - We Are Augustines
Wild Ones - Flo Rida featuring Sia

Goals for 2013:

-PR a 5k, 8k, and a 10k. And just to make it harder, if I PR at the First Night 5k December 31st, that just sets a new low mark. It won't count as a 2013 PR.

-Take 3,000,000 steps. That's around 8,220 steps a day.

-Log 365 miles in Nike+. These can be walking briskly in addition to jogging, so long as I'm doing aerobic activity. A mile a day is a little under 2.5 miles, 3 times a week. It's a good goal as I've never maintained that type of cardio for an entire year.

Monday, October 22, 2012

That Was Different

I have a son. A month into his life and we're still figuring out how to balance his needs with ours. It's likely that this balancing and re-balancing will continue forever, and that's ok. We love the little guy. What we won't do is sacrifice our happiness and our bodies to take care of him, because frankly that's just a way of using our kids as an excuse to be lazy. His pediatrician told us that while of course our son needs more care now than he ever will, we still need to take care of ourselves and sometimes go out together without him and generally make sure we're happy and healthy, too. Nick is an amazing part of this family of three, but we still have our own identities and wants and needs. It was a relief to have an amazing doctor telling us this, as it only reinforced the way we already felt.

Happy, healthy parents have happy, healthy kids. I fully believe this. That doesn't mean working out six hours a day and ignoring your kids, but it means time alone to jog and lift (or do yoga or anything else) and create the energy and positive inertia one needs to be a patient, loving parent. And I'm basing this partly on the parents I know who are wonderful with their kids but still manage to kill it in the gym and on the roads.

I weigh 230.6 this morning. My weight goal was out of reach a few days ago (without some reality show trickery) so I focused more on having a fun 5k walk. Mom and I stayed together and didn't force our injury/surgery recovering bodies on the way to 49:16. Dad did 43:21. Oh, and last week he won the over 60 category at the Sherry Anderson 5k. NBD. I was below 230 for a few days two weeks ago, but slacked off on eating (still no dessert or soda!). My lowest was 228.6 and I will be back there soon.

With all of this in mind, my next goal point is simple. Eat better, do couch to 5k with Sean, lift with John, do back exercises, and PR the First Night 5k by Generations Crossing in downtown Harrisonburg on December 31st. Doing all of that should allow me to get below 225. Let's all make this a healthy fall, help each other out, and love our kids and ourselves.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Goals Reimagined

Midway through my next phase, perhaps it's time to evaluate where I've been and where I'm going. Surgery basically killed 3 weeks of my plan. I still ate reasonably well, but I got very few steps. So that goal is out the window. The biggest challenge will be still moving with a new baby, but I think we're up for it. Long walks will just be part of this kid's life, as will race day.

Let's detour into race day, shall we? Recently I cataloged every race Kacey and I have done. It's funny how this little semi hobby has turned into such a huge part of my future. I went from considering it a fun diversion to thinking of it as one of the biggest things to look forward to several times a year. I hope to never miss Shamrock weekend, for example. The baby will hopefully enjoy race day. There is lots going on, and just a happy, healthy vibe whether it's Shamrock, the Monument Ave 10k or a local 5k. Today I got an e-mail about the Santa 10 miler (and 5k) and I definitely plan to do that in December 2013.

We've been trying to downsize our stuff for the last few years. At some point, you realize that having a lot of stuff can be suffocating. So I've decided to only collect one thing: race medals. The beauty of charity races is they realize people are willing to pay a little more for a keepsake. Race number sheets wear out, shirts get old, but no matter where we end up living I'll find a place to display my medals. Who cares if everyone gets one? It's there for the memories, not bragging rights. I just wish every race gave them out!

Here are my current PRs:

5k - 40:09 (Harrisonburg Autism 2011, 12:55/mile)
8k - 1:25:59 (Virginia Beach Shamrock 2012, 17:18/mile)
10k - 1:27:08 (Richmond Monument Ave 2011, 14:01/mile)

My original goal was to PR a 5k on October 20th. I'm back to walking a lot, but jogging still feels stabby. So that isn't likely. But when I wrote down every race I've done, I also realized I've done every Sherry Anderson 5k, so I might do the 4th annual on Oct 13th. At the worst I'll have fun long walks on consecutive Saturdays. But for a PR, let's just plan to PR all three race lengths over the next 15 months. That gives me several chances at 5ks, and perhaps more than one 8k to get a PR.

Here are the rest of my goals, keeping in mind that I'm just past halfway done:
  • Desserts: Keep not eating it. Got it? Got it.
  • Other food changes: Just be sensible and really try to track calories.
  • Cardio for at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week
  • Take the baby for many awesome walks.
  • Lift once a week, do back exercises 4 times a week (I go back to the doc on Monday)
  • Only drink water, sparkling water with real fruit in it (or natural flavors at the very least), or unsweetened almond milk. Absolutely no soda, milkshakes, etc.
  • Cigars: 1, on or around September 15th.
  • Alcohol: Drink no more than two nights a week, beer or wine only (no sugary mixed drinks). This will not take effect until well into P2, as two weeks into JFJ I swore off alcohol until Kacey can drink again. Once the baby is here, this will be the only exception to my rules on what I can drink.
  • Just eat better in general (Veggies, cut down on meat from ~14 times a week to ~7).
  • Steps are up in the air. At this point I want to walk as much as possible after the baby is born, but it won't be my focus.
  • Get down into the 220s. I'm close so I think I can do it.
Lastly, since I haven't touched alcohol in months, I wanted to list my favorite beers. I look forward to moderately drinking the following:
  • Chimay Red
  • Landshark
  • Shocktop
  • Legend Brown Ale
  • Heavy Seas Loose Cannon

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Invisibility and Other Musings

"Oh, it's just the tech guy."

I laughed when two people who work in my building were having a genuine, silly conversation, only one of them realizing I was there. When the second person saw me, she first got embarrassed about the frank discussion I had been privy to. Then she realized who I was and said, simply and truthfully, "Oh, it's just the tech guy."

This is not an insult. It's sure not a compliment either, it's just the way the vast majority of people feel about us IT folks. We ARE the equipment. When something breaks, we're to be yelled at or panicked to. When we fix it, we're living legends. But most importantly, when we're there working on something that isn't an emergency, we're window dressing. I've been working on computers during intense disciplinary meetings in principal's offices. I've witnessed the dressing down of employees by bosses. I've been put in front of screens with highly sensitive data (not a click away, just sitting there open). I've seen office politics at its worst and office romance at its least subtle.

And sometimes, instead of pretending I'm not there, people involve me in the discussion. They talk badly about their bosses, their employees, their families, and I engage. Because for some reason, everyone trusts the tech guy. It makes sense if you consider that IT can see all your shit anyway if we want to (we don't). So what is there to hide? We're not messing with your private files, we're on your side, and we want your equipment to work as much as you do.

Babies and Food

Most people have been very supportive of my quest to get healthy. But reactions certainly run the gamut from encouragement to selfishness. The first reaction of some people is to worry about how it will affect them. Others feel like my choice to abstain from dessert means I'm judging them. Why do so many office/life events center around food? And how do we avoid participating in the food portion without making some people feel like we think we're too good for their birthday, etc? I can't have dessert once a week. It doesn't work for me. So I have to turn it down all the time, but I'm not faulting those who don't. My new reality is that the two times I've lost significant weight, 2012 and 2003-04, it involved no dessert. Sometimes is not an option.

We have lots of birthdays coming up, mine included. I know my close family won't be upset with me for not eating cake, but why is there a small part of me that worries about it? We're conditioned to eat crap at events, and thanks to the event industry, new obligations pop up each year. There are cards and desserts and plastic garbage for "special" days, both very real (birthdays, major holidays, Talk Like A Pirate Day) and completely made up (Valentine's, the super bowl). Now I'm not complaining about gifts, more the excess of holidays, when back before I became a cranky old man we used to just spend time together and give small, personal gifts, and that was love.

Basically, I'm moving in a new direction, and hope others are or will start. We're getting rid of clutter in our house, trying to live smaller. We're moving toward a diet that consists largely of fresh food. And I definitely want to give fewer "things" and start addressing more "needs" for those around me. I'm starting to see the light about gift cards or stone cold cash as gifts. Because if someone handed me cash instead of a gift, right this minute, I would either indulge with a GPS watch or running shoes for me, or just go buy things like diapers. My point is lets start giving less and be together more!

And we want the same for the baby. I grew up with a reasonable amount of toys. I wasn't drowning in them, and I used my imagination a lot. Too many toys, too much reliance on TV or other electronics, and I feel like kids have a harder time just being on their own, outside, imagining and building. Then again, I'm not a parent yet so I'm not allowed to have an opinion on child rearing (or so I've been told repeatedly).

Having a baby causes great excitement among friends, family, and sometimes people I don't even know. Babies are awesome. But much like getting healthy, there are a few people it just plain bothers. Some complain about how we won't be able to hang out anymore. Many say "just you wait" as if we'll finally pay penance for our year of DINKhood.

But nothing matches the reactions of some of my mother-in-law's clients. She has been harassed about when the baby is coming (as if she can predict the future). Several people have scoffed at the idea of her taking time off to help us out. A few have said they are no longer going to use her because she can't guarantee her availability. It's amazing and sad how low some people can be, and I say good riddance to them. If they beg to come back, which they will, charge double.

Perhaps Some Positivity

Strong desires for dessert still kick me in the face occasionally. I can quickly dismiss them most of the time. It's starting to feel like dessert is a sphere and as I address the need for it I can sense my hand gripping that sphere. Each week I go without, each time I smell it and feel weak but refuse anyway, every time I move past and have gum or fruit instead, I smile. And I squeeze that sphere tighter. And it's starting to crack, and that's good news for me, because soon it's dust and I'm never going back.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shmurgery

Friday, August 17th

We went to the County Fair with the Neitzey's. I had barely noticeable stomach cramps, but thought nothing of it. Considering it was the fair, I ate pretty well.

Saturday, August 18th

I woke up pretty early and did the final day of Couch to 5k week two. It consisted of a 5 min warmup brisk walk, 1:30 jogging and 2:00 walking alternating 6 times, and a 5 minute cool down. I was dogging it. Sluggish, unmotivated, and generally just beat down, but I didn't know why. I returned home and had really annoying stomach cramps. They would go away after a few minutes, but bloat and general discomfort would follow.

After a shower, we had breakfast with the Neitzey's and went to JMU for Football Day, aka Let the Average People Walk Around The Clubhouse Area and Spend Money Day. I was able to eat half of a hot dog, but basically my stomach was in knots. Acid and gas relievers did nothing, but we had a busy weekend so I toughed it out.

I barely made it through a dinner party that night. I ate what I could, turned down what I thought would make me worse, and tried to laugh through the near-constant cramping. Sleep would surely bring improvement.

Sunday, August 19th

The discomfort was still there, only now pressing on my belly brought on a bit of pain. I went to the bathroom, at which time Kacey decided I was going to the hospital. While in the bathroom I coughed. Then doubled over in pain. Hmm, let's try that again. Cough, followed by searing pain in my right lower abdomen. I walked out, looked at Kacey, and said "I need to go to the emergency room." "Yes. Yes you do." So at 8:30am we made a trial baby run to the hospital.

The intake person looked at me after I described my symptoms. "Do you have your appendix still? You might not for long."

I can't remember my doctor's name, but it was awesome and he was awesome. He didn't offer up platitudes or bullshit. He had a great sense of humor and kept us both calm. The worst part of the day was after all of the tests had come back except for the confirming CT Scan. At that point we knew I was in terrible pain and my white count was up. If it wasn't my appendix, what the hell was it? When the doctor returned at about 3 he said "Well guess what" and off I was to surgery 40 minutes later.

The surgeon came by to shake my hand and brag about all the holes he was going to make. Then he made a funny joke about using staples to put me back together, which I later learned was neither funny nor a joke.

Then they knocked me out. Good times.

I woke up shivering in recovery, luckily with the sarcasm half of my brain still intact. It was a tough crowd in there. At about 5:40pm on Sunday I was pushed into my room, down an appendix but having made friendships that would last forever. It was the best summer of my life. That may have been the drugs, though.

Blatantly going against what all the doctors said would happen, I didn't feel that groggy and I went to sleep after midnight. However, I did need help to get up on my own at 9pm to go to the bathroom.

Monday, August 20th

Man, they really want you out of the hospital when they think you can go home. One of the nurse's even tried the "it's not you, it's me" line. Eventually we got tired and left.

Monday night I took my one and only dose of painkillers ("the good stuff"). There's an entire bottle left. Why am I against painkillers? They make me feel weird. Also, they can be a little TOO fun, and I don't need anything replacing my cupcake-shaped hole in my diet. But most importantly, and I can't stress this enough, they make it hard to poop. And I was having enough trouble doing that.

Afterword

After a week of hardcore recovery, including daily stabby pain, I started to walk a bit more (about 5,000 steps a day). Now two weeks in, I'm looking forward to getting my staples out Thursday the 6th. And I'm looking forward to getting back to my jogging program. But most importantly I'm looking forward to carrying my baby around.

Yes, this has caused me to take a few steps back from a food and exercise perspective. But I'm not going to obsess over it. I still haven't eaten dessert, I had two sips of soda, and I've actually hit the 22 pounds lost mark since June 30th (32 pounds from my peak in the spring). A little slowdown won't stop me as I try to become an annoyingly health-obsessed father.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Horse Before the Cart

Couch to 5k training began last week, and this morning marked the second time I've woken up super early and decided to get my jog/walk out of the way first thing. While I was out there, confused by the sounds of 6:30am, it occurred to me that little wins like this were a product of patience. When I try to start a new fitness program and I decide I need to get up and workout early I tend to fail. When I let the day dictate when I should workout, knowing I need to jump at the opportunity, I succeed. The main difference this time is I changed my food first, started walking a decent amount each day, and now find myself more able to fall asleep early and get up early. Trying to force my sugar-riddled body out of bed at 6am was an exercise in futility.

Don't read this the wrong way. I'm very, very far from being a morning person. Just ask my poor, abused snooze alarm. But giving myself the freedom to workout when I want, so long as it's on the right day, has led to jog/walk sessions at 6:30am, 11am, 5pm, 6:30pm, and 8:30pm. I don't care when it happens because I haven't missed a day. Once the baby arrives, will I be better off with hard and fast routines, or will hard and fast days with the ability to improvise workout time make me more successful? I'm betting on the latter. The strength and newly formed (and hopefully perpetual) ability to say "this is my chance to work out today, I'm taking it" instead of "I'll do it later" or "I'll do it tomorrow" gives me hope that my little one will have a fit dad.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Junk Free July Recap/Reboot: Phase 2!

Buckle up, folks, because this one's a doozy.

Junk Free July is over. Here are some stats:
-Length: 36 days
-Steps taken: 288,969
-Desserts eaten: 0
-Non-water drinks: 0
-French Fries drooled over: 1,287
-French Fries eaten: 0
-Starting weight: 257.4

Now we get to the part where I talk about the rules I broke. Blue means I succeeded, red means I suck. Here we go:

Activities
-Read July, July before the August 6th deadline
--I started it, doesn't that count?
-Walk 2 miles minimum at a time at least twice a week for the 5 weeks of this plan
--Honestly, I mostly just forgot about this. Basically I walked enough, but didn't actually have the 10 workouts I planned for the five week period. This will be addressed in my next challenge.
-Average at least 8,000 steps a day for this time period
--My days often centered around how to keep getting steps after work. A lot of nights ended with quick walks in our complex or even around the living room. In the end, I averaged 8,027 steps per day.
-Continue back exercises as per Doctor's orders

--Considering all the traveling this month, I feel like I've stuck with this and improved my back.
-Keep working towards a clutter-free, baby-ready house
--Kacey did a ton more than me while I was at work, but we're really getting there.
-Take care of Kacey as best I can
--I hope this is true. I mean I know this is true.
-Weigh in before and after
--Perhaps this didn't explicitly say so, but my goal was to not weigh in all month. Then I could see if I felt differently before I saw the results on the scale. I failed miserably, and eventually was weighing myself all the time. I'm not worried about this issue, however.
Cheat Meals
-None
--I'm very happy with this aspect of JFJ. While my main meals often consisted of unhealthy items, I didn't binge on things I promised not to, and I didn't drink a single thing I wasn't supposed to.
Allowed items
--I ate many things not on this list, including unhealthy main dishes, but I largely stuck to the list for snacking. I'm calling this a win.
No
-Sugary cereals, cookies, cake, ice cream, soda, juice, french fries, sweetened milk, alcohol
--I fought through the first week or so of real cravings, and eventually reached a place where my pangs for sugar were weak. Fresh fruit was a major help this month.


Several people have talked about how I must be excited about all the donuts and cupcakes I can eat next week. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not going back without a fight. I feel better now than I have in years, and that includes the last time I was in the 240s and working out a lot, which was Spring 2011.

This weekend we had family (and a few close friends, the ones we could fit) over for the baby shower. It really would have been a failure to give up 36 hours before this little experiment ended, but truffles and brownies and soda and cookies and cupcakes all on one table are hard to resist. There were times I felt my breath pick up pace, and my eyes widen, and I knew I needed to check myself. Ugly, but true. Here's to hoping that a few days from now I'll be back to the calm I had reached during this journey.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my 2nd-tier nemises, sodium. If sugar is Ledger's Joker, sodium is Ra's al Ghul. (Bane can be Sweet'N Low since he sounded as authentic as Adam Sandler doing a Sean Connery impression)

I both love and hate myfitnesspal. Pizza will from now on be made at home, Bdubs will be condemned from my diet, all in the name of sodium. Trying to eat out reasonably, only to go home and get punched in the brain by myfitnesspal, is becoming tradition. 8 boneless wings from Bdubs with medium sauce have 3,280mg of sodium. That's 1,000mg more than the daily suggested, all packed into 768 calories. Whew.

So with that in mind, Accurate August (so named by my lovely wife) will involve taking everything a step further. Accurate August will also be known as Phase 2, or P2 for short. This includes making the phase last even longer, so P2 will actually go until October 21st and will include the birth of my kid. At the end I will try and find a plan I can stick to once the baby has turned us into living zombies due to sleep deprivation. Another end goal will be to pr a 5k on October 20, 2012

So let's talk rules:

  • Desserts: None, and that includes my birthday, Kacey's birthday, Dad's birthday, and the kid's birth day. Yes, I said no cake on my birthday. Fruit would be great, however.
  • Other food changes: mustard instead of mayo, balsamic instead of ranch, baked organic chips instead of regular potato chips, just general healthy switches.
  • Cardio for at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week. I'll accomplish this by doing the Couch to 5k program.
  • Take the baby for many awesome walks.
  • Lift once a week, do back exercises 4 times a week.
  • Watch no more than 2 TV shows a night (unless it is an Office/BBT rerun that I can largely ignore). This should be easy with the baby coming and the fact that we only watch a few shows now.
  • Only drink water, sparkling water with real fruit in it (or natural flavors at the very least), or unsweetened almond milk. Absolutely no soda, milkshakes, etc.
  • Track food every day and keep sodium to around 2,400mg a day (and never go over 3,000mg).
  • Cigars: 1, on or around September 15th.
  • Alcohol: No more than 2 drinks a week, beer or wine only (no sugary mixed drinks). This will not take effect until well into P2, as two weeks into JFJ I swore off alcohol until Kacey can drink again. Once the baby is here, this will be the only exception to my rules on what I can drink.
  • Four meals out each week, max, and that includes work lunch. In addition to lowering sodium, one of my goals will be to eat lots of vegetables during P2.
  • More steps per day: I considered jumping up to 9k but I'm trying to set myself up to succeed. 
Perhaps this seems rigid. But what I want to get across with these rules is that I will likely always feel addicted to sugar. Excusing birthday cake, for me, leads to excusing ice cream a few nights a week. That leads to Pop-Tart benders, which quickly lead to sugar-filled breakfasts, which lead to dessert three times a day. Then I'm right back where I started. Unless I can physiologically change how my body reacts to sugar, I need to be strict.

So that leaves is how this 5 weeks affected my weight. This morning I was 244.6 pounds, a loss of 12.8 pounds, 2.49 pounds per week. I couldn't be happier, and in order to keep up a pace that even approaches this I need to start really working out and tightening up my eating.

My goals for Phase 2:
  1. 8,500 Steps a day, minimum (11 weeks, or 77 days, so a total of  654,500 steps)
  2. Walk/Run the October 20th 5k in under 40 minutes
  3. Wake up the final morning, October 21st, below 230 pounds
Thanks for sticking with me!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cheating at Solitaire

Like the album name implies, I have cheated many times since I started this short journey. I'm only cheating myself, though. And I tell myself just don't think twice, it's all right.

My cheating involves weighing myself. Just couldn't help it. Of all the rules I made, this one was clearly the least important. I threw it in there on a whim. So ignoring it doesn't make me feel guilty.

More than two weeks in I feel my confidence growing. When I talked about this time of year having relatively few tests, clearly I hadn't really figured out what the month would bring. Parties, lunches with friends, dinners out, a few road trips, and the need to resist the voice of hunger is slowly going away. This past weekend in particular was a true test. Many hours on the road and a full day out in Raleigh, NC with friends. I handled it all pretty well. Now I just need to try and be reasonable about portions and the content of my main courses.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

5 Days In

When I started this mini journey it wasn't about weight loss. The main goal has always been to kick my sugar habit. The hidden goal, though, is to lose some weight, even a little bit. So far it's been fairly easy to avoid (and control myself around) sugary snacks/drinks/desserts. Five days in I haven't yet cheated. But it can be complicated.

The other day, on the way to my mother-in-law's salon, I thought about how the first thing I do when we walk in is grab a few cookies. I made sure to keep that thought active so I wouldn't mess up out of reflex. Last night the issue wasn't cupcakes downtown during the Valley 4th celebration, it was the fresh lemonade I had to struggle to avoid. In the 'burg fresh lemonade means a few lemons, some water, and several cups of sugar.

A friend told me today that when we meet this coming Monday for lunch I shouldn't worry about finding food; surely there will veggies and dirt at the restaurant. That's when I assured him my meals hadn't actually changed all that much. I had tacos tonight and bacon at lunch. I'm hoping to lose some weight by just cutting a few things out and exercising more.

Yes, I know that getting really healthy will require a re-doubling of my commitment after this five weeks. My main courses will need to radically change. But I've been backsliding for eight years and it's time to grab onto what I can. That damn pendulum isn't swinging back on its own anytime soon. And this small step, cutting out the least nourishing foods and worthless drinks, can bring me progress after just five weeks. That can start me down a path that will hopefully be my gut's final undoing.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Obstacles

July 1st weight: 257.4

My goal is to not weigh myself again until the final morning of this challenge.

Events where I would normally eat poorly are obstacles. Today we went to a movie (Ted) and that meant Twizzlers! Or in this case that meant sneaking a Raw Rev bar and water bottles into the theater. Luckily, Kacey has a purse that would hold a small child (that may actually come in handy in a few months). The movie was hilarious, and I didn't even miss my Twizzlers.

I didn't get a lot of steps today, but I only have the energy to fight one battle at the moment. It's 9:36, so perhaps there is time for a short walk before bed. One day down!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Junk-Free July

Thanks to this post on John Stone's blog I decided it's time to shake things up. The picture of the burger along with the caption about rationalizing food after exercising really struck me. I've done that way too many times. So with the baby coming in September, and several tough events (tough meaning there will be lots of food) on the horizon, it's time for Junk-Free July.

The main culprit for me is sugar. I love sweet, sugary sugar. It tastes good in my mouth. Therefore the plan of attack will center around processed sugar. I'm not going to obsess over main dishes when dessert is my arrow to the knee. Oops, I mean Achilles heal.

I already know the three hardest days. And since one of them is August 4th, my original plan (which I thought up in my brain) has been extended. JFJ will go from 11:59pm on Saturday, June 30th until 8am Monday, August 6th. This means one thing for sure: Cold Stone on Saturday night. Yes, I am going out like that.

Why July? Many reasons.

1. It's the first month to start since I decided to do this. Duh.
2. I still need to read the book July, July by my favorite author
-Side note: I will read this book in July. It was the last gift my Grandmother ever gave me, and it's about damn time I read it.
3. July will feature a birth (probably, it could be June) and several gatherings but it's not the birthday filled madness that August-February is for our families.
4. Summer is the easiest time for me to eat healthy. Veggies are everywhere, the heat makes it easier to eat less, and going outside is often a pleasure (I may revise this when it's 100 degrees and humid on Friday and Saturday).
5. Five weeks seems like a good amount of time to try and change my habits with regard to sugary desserts and drinks.
6. Alliteration.

So here are the rules, which I swear I'm not making up as I go along:

Activities
-Read July, July before the August 6th deadline
-Walk 2 miles minimum at a time at least twice a week for the 5 weeks of this plan
-Average at least 8,000 steps a day for this time period
-Continue back exercises as per Doctor's orders
-Keep working towards a clutter-free, baby-ready house
-Take care of Kacey as best I can
-Weigh in before and after

Cheat Meals
-None
-Ever
-Really, stop it

Allowed items
-Raw Revolution bars that we get at the Friendly City Food Coop (yes they have agave nectar and cocoa in some bars, but it's natural and oh shit the Food Coop is right next to Klines) (also, shut up)
-Quest Protein Bars (another h/t to John Stone for introducing so many of us to these amazing bars)
-Medium cereals, aka Multi-Grain Cheerios and others of that ilk (while Bran-tacular Gut Bombs may be encouraged, I'm allowing myself a little bit of wiggle room)
-Flavored, carbonated water (with natural flavors only)
-Fruit, frozen or fresh, as this will be my dessert replacement
-Unsweet almond milk
-Gum

No
-High cereals (Lucky Charms, anything both Toasty and Crunchy, etc)
-Cookies
-Cake (even if it's on a day that is honoring my yet unborn offspring)
-Ice Cream
-Happiness (I kid, I kid)
-Soda (not even our new favorite)
-Fruit Juice
-French Fries
-Sweetened milk
-Alcohol

Basically, I'll attempt to use common sense for the next five weeks when it comes to food. Post your own rules if you want to do some JFJ with me, and I'll put up "Before" numbers this weekend.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Classics

Recently I've been hearing music that has transported me back in time (in a good way). It dawned on me that the Classic Rock stations I grew up listening to have that effect on the generations ahead of me. I love Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan more than any other artists, and their music affects me greatly, but it doesn't give me the same gut-punch feeling that some '90s music has recently.

Today, Pearl Jam's Black was on the radio and I was in 9th grade again. Then I was riding around town with my friends in 10th grade; having friendly arguments at the lunch table; playing Sega and sneaking alcohol. I'm not sure when the music of my youth became so important to me, but it's only now that I truly understand what radio stations mean when they talk about music to make you nostalgic. That music was '50s and '60s when I was a kid, '70s when I was a teenager, and '80s through college. Now the classic '90s brings me back 20 years and it scares the shit out of me and makes me happy at the same time.

So I'm 34 and about to be a dad, and I'm trying to embrace the feeling that my youth is long gone. At the same time I want to feel younger and get stronger and healthier and be a good husband and father. Maybe I need to tap into that youth and make a mix to bring it all back. I'm talking Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Candlebox, Rage, etc. Any ideas?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Return to Mishpocheh

From Saturday to this morning I spent 5 days without a FaceBook account. During that time the people asking me where my account was and why I had deleted it totalled, wait for it, zero. This tells me several things.

First, it tells me that most people are tired of the constant boring updates, the "friends" we really don't even know, the connections that go from boring to annoying when people occasionally let their real selves out. Second, it tells me that most of my 350 friends had unsubscribed from my updates just as I had done from theirs. Third, it tells me that most of the people I actually keep up with on FB are the same people I keep up with in other phases of life. You know, real human interaction like e-mail and text messages. And fourth, this means I'm not as awesome as my "It's not my fault I'm awesome" t-shirt made me believe.

My FB break started as a 24 hour experiment. I was tired of a news feed full of "like this page so my baby can win a gift certificate" and "come buy my shit" and "come see my improv group perform in an alley behind the old, greasy Jess'". The straw though was when I felt my wife was being assaulted with Internet Guilt Bits because we expressed a lack of excitement about the baby registry. Basically, I just needed a break from what had become white noise. The other impetus for all this, and equally important, is that I didn't want to take the time to delete friends (waffling the whole way) and clean up my timeline.

Once the 24 hours was up, I told Kacey that 48 hours might be even better. That's when she joined me. My break, with a 2 minute login to download my FB data, became about 110 hours, culminating in a new account and a fresh start. More importantly this new account has a different name, tougher privacy settings, and an in-your-face attitude that the internet may not be quite ready for.

That brings to another main issue. I'm a FB addict. There, I said it. I log in 5-6 times an hour, nearly every hour I'm awake. I don't play games and I go through phases where I comment on a lot of updates, and others where I only lurk. But for some reason I go to that stupid page over and over. So with this new account my goal is to login less, only add people I'm interested in reading about, and generally be a better captain of my digital life. I'm slowly going to add people back in, the whole time checking myself to make sure I don't fall into old habits. It will be a place for me and my mishpocheh to communicate. So if you read this, and you have decided to block me or unsubscribe from me, no hard feelings. Just let me know so I can delete you. There's no need to pretend further in an already warped, pretend online world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SOTD

I like to workout to non traditional workout songs. I'm not good at telling beforehand if I will like a song once I'm out walking. Eventually I just realize that some songs I never skip and keep putting in new mixes.

Workout Song of the Day:

Dan Black - Symphonies

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nerding Up

Disclaimer: I'm typing this post on my iPad. Apparently in some circles that makes me evil. I'm also watching Terra Nova on the Xbox in the background. The Xbox sits near an Apple TV, and once I am able to join the Republic Wireless beta I will have an Android phone. I have neither cable nor brand loyalty. That's how we roll in this house.

I used to painstakingly track my daily steps in Google Docs. I quit after a few months at JMU when my pedometer broke. Recently, Rabia got me back into tracking steps, so I went a little overboard. Yesterday I created a brand new doc that tracks daily steps. And it tracks my total for the week. And my daily average. And what my daily average would be if I didn't take anymore steps that week. And how many steps I need for the rest of the week to average 5000 a day. And how many I need the rest of the week to average 10000 a day. Whew. Will any of this help me take more steps? I hope so. Since I injured my back again two weeks ago, I've been slowly increasing my activity. Next week my goal is 6000 steps a day. Hopefully my super nerdy doc will help!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Officially Official

So the cat is out of the bag. Kacey and I are going to have a baby, which will most likely be human. Fingers crossed! It's either that, or a badass alien that will protect us from the invasion and eventual zombie apocalypse. A boy can dream, can't he?

In all seriousness, we are super excited and scared. I mean ready. Scready. This new development has sparked a need to thin out the stuff in our house that we never use. We're not going super minimalist, but each weekend we haul more crap out of our house. It has left us wanting to get rid of more. Kacey and I both hang onto things for years and sometimes decades because we feel guilty about getting rid of it. Sometimes I actually LOATHE a given object, but because it was given to me by a distant relative in 1993 I have to keep it. Well that is no longer happening in our house. We're cleaning up, cleaning out, and preparing for the literal and figurative shit storm that will be greeting us on September 15th, 2012.

Life changes lead to other life changes, and in that way a little creature then the size of a grape convinced me to stop making excuses about my nutrition. I want to be healthy for myself, but more importantly, I want to be healthy for my kid. The rest is white noise.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Technology Schmechnology

Kacey and I have been preparing for the 8k at Virginia Beach's Shamrock weekend. We're planning to walk it with maybe some jogging thrown in. After several sedentary months, the last few weeks have been wonderful. I've been lifting with John on Tuesdays, and that has felt great. Kacey and I have been walking a lot, by ourselves and with good friends Justin and Denell. Slowly, we're also changing the way we eat. Not 100% "clean" but less of the bad and more of the good. Now I sound like Rain Man.

Technology has come a long way since I was young (I know, I know, my parents had to jog with portable phonographs, and I consider my life tough because all I had was a walkman). Right now we use the Nike Plus watch system, which does a passable job. Ours do not have GPS, and I'm hesitant to buy the Nike GPS watch since it's only for running and I want to get a bike again (ours were stolen supposedly, but I like to believe our bikes were spoke-crossed lovers who ran away to join the bike circus and live happily ever after). We're probably a long way from getting bikes, but I don't want to buy a $200 watch that only tracks running when there is a $250 watch that tracks nearly anything I would ever want to do. Having said that, if all you want is a GPS watch for running, I've heard great things about the Nike watch.

I've read arguments on both sides about whether to use technology while working out. Surely none of the options are 100% accurate. But I think they're accurate enough to show relative change when compared to your previous workouts. My brother introduced me to this Omron pedometer and I've been really happy with how it won't count a few steps at a time (and thus won't accidentally count when you shift in your chair or whip your hair back and forth).

There may be too much technology out there for purists, and there is an overwhelming number of options in each category. But the MotoActv comes closest to the perfect option for me: GPS for running/walking/biking/ etc, plenty of space for music, bluetooth for wireless headphones, Ant+ for a heart rate monitor and many other gadgets. Battery life is a major concern, though, and of course it still requires a chest strap for HRM. I hope it's successful and creates a new category, the all-in-one fitness watch. Imitators are welcome. Frankly, I wish Apple and/or Nike would go after this new product space, or perhaps Polar or Garmin. I want to see my progress. I want to have just one device when working out. I want simple yet extremely powerful. I want to be able to run and not worry about battery life or accidental shutoff. So please, fitness tech companies, make a product that will demand our money.

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Name, New Path

Let's be honest. This blog has worked out as well as my diet over the last 6 months. It felt like fits and starts of success mixed with holiday-fueled failures. So for now I'm just going to take each day slowly and try to become a better man a little bit at a time.

My big success this week was vegetables. Last night, with Kacey's help, I roasted a large batch of carrots, squash, and zucchini. The carrots held up the best, while the rest got a little soft. Next time it will all be better. But it was simple, and even though I was exhausted from work and still fighting a cold, I was determined to not let the vegetables go bad. Olive oil, salt, and pepper were all that was needed to make it a pretty delicious meal topper.

I'm hoping to actually use this blog regularly to talk about food, working out, tv, and whatever else comes up. For now, here are a few of my favorite things:

-This stuff is packed with vitamins. I like it with almond milk, but I even try to choke it down with water when I'm out of milk (like this morning... bleh).

-These have natural products, taste really good for the most part, and have tons of fiber. They are by far the healthiest protein bars I have ever had.