Monday, March 25, 2013

Way to go, Me!


Voodo? Does anybody know voodoo?

How about a time machine? Anybody have a time machine?

So, here's the scoop. I had a great weigh in on Monday. That's awesome. Way to go, me!

And then on Tuesday I had the worst workout ever. I should have just stayed in bed or gotten a lobotomy. Either would have been more productive. I did my hour and then I sulked.

I had planned to take Wednesday off, but then Thursday was a 13 hour day before adding in my work out, so I went home. Friday I did my incline walking and that went fine. Saturday I jogged some more and that went pretty well. I'm fairly certain I got a mile in at about an 11:55 pace, so I may have reached a goal but I didn't pay close enough attention.

Alright, so we're finally at Saturday night. Yay. I'm going out with a friend for dinner and drinks and we're even meeting up with another mutual friend who is in town for the weekend. Awesome. We head to Chicago Diner for dinner so that I can have some vegan food made by other people and I can sit around and eat it in public. These are not options that I have every day. My dinner was awesome.

BBQ Seitan Wings with Vegan Ranch Dressing
Vegan Ruben with Sweet Potato Fries and more Vegan Ranch

I even got a slice of cake to go. No picture of that. I ate it before any photo evidence could be procured.

We also went out for drinks. I had several, but not so many that I was too obnoxious. Trust me--this happens.

So, then, we're finally home. It's early Sunday morning. My friend drove my car home because I had drinks. That's how we do.

So, here's where the clusterfuck fallout begins:

  1. After sleeping a bit I get on the scale. Last week for my weigh in my weight was 258.8 (I counted it as 259, but for the record it was actually 258.8 lol). By last Wednesday my weight was actually 256.6. NICE! By Sunday morning it was 262. Let's just call it even at 5 pounds. FUCK YOU! Seriously? Ok, I'd be lying if I said I was surprised. I ate out. It happens. So, I commenced "operation drown-a-bitch." I drank my 64oz jug of water, then a pot of caffeinated coffee, then my nutrition shake with an extra 12 oz of water on top of the 8oz of almond milk, and then drank another 40oz of water. Oh yeah, I was peein. I was peein like I was European (get it?). By the time I went to bed my weight was back down to. . . wait. . . 264? WHAT??? Oh, hell, no. You are an asshole, body. For real. By this morning my weight had finally come down to 261.8. Wow. Thanks, kidneys. Thanks for flushing that whole (what was it?) tablespoon of water out of my system. 
  2. I thought it would be helpful to drag my sorry waterlogged ass to the gym and punish it. . . punish it real hard for all the sinning it had done the night before. I got myself all gussied up and headed out the door. Aaaaand, my car was dead. Are you kidding me with this right now? Yep. My lights were left on over night. My friend has automatic lights and I was too tired (and probably drunk, as well) to notice that they were on so. . . by the time the tow dude came (thank you, AAA) and got me running it was nearly 8 and my gym closed at 7, so there was no work out for me yesterday. So much for sweatin' out the sodium. . .

So, here I am. I'm trying not to be too pissy about my weight today. I know it's water retention. I know I'm being too hard on myself. I know I sound like a petty whiner. I KNOW! BUT, I also know that I was ready to hit 255 today if I could just stay steady and not funk it up! I was poised to hit the -30 mark. What a reason that would have been to celebrate! Of course, now I'm angry at myself for going out to eat. I'm pissed off because I chose to go out. I shouldn't be. It's ok to live your life and have some fun once in a while. And fun doesn't always mean eating cake, but sometimes it does, and I think that's OK. But, now I feel like I'm being punished for it. My body is so sensitive to sodium and it usually takes nearly a week to get it all out of my system. It hardly seems fair, but maybe this is a lesson I'm supposed to be learning.

Ok, universe. I'm ready. transmit your divine knowledge through my thick skull. I'm waiting!



great. mute witness

Yeah, I'm not sure what the lesson is supposed to be.

So, there you go. I'm not thrilled with how last week ended up. It started with such promise and so quickly went to hell. Things looked to be heading up toward the end of the week, but then that fizzled, too. It happens. And, at least I had cake!

This week I'm looking forward to my new running shoes arriving at Naperville Running Company. I need to get some miles logged on the treadmill in them to find out if they fit as well as I hope they will. If so, I can begin running outside if I want to. But, for this week, it looks as if I'll get only a few workouts in before heading up to the cabin on Wednesday or Thursday. I'll have to keep flushing my system and eating as mindfully as I can to make sure that everything is balanced out by next Monday.

That's what I have to give you today. No fancy goals. No big aspirations. Just my sincerest intentions to not fuck myself over again before meeting up with you again a week from now. . . With any luck everything will be peachy by this time next week. Bonus points, me,  for not having a Panda Bear Meltdown over this. Well, it's not over yet. . . stay Golden, Pony Boy. Stay Golden. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Better Luck Next Time, Panda Bear!

The GD Panda Bear almost got me yesterday. . .  almost.

I have to confess that I nearly lost it last night. I had gone into work early and I was exhausted from the start. My afternoon wasn't bad, but I was still just really tired. By 5pm it was time to work out and I had no energy. I did an hour workout but I couldn't get my heart rate up and I was struggling just to keep going at something close to my normal pace. I had planned to put in 90 minutes (45 on the StepMill and 45 on the Treadmill), but I gave up after 60--there was no point in continuing because I didn't have the stamina to make it worth my while. Better to add some extra time to workouts later in the week after I've rested a bit.

Anyway, I felt a bit defeated. There's a ton of garbage rattling around in my head lately that I haven't felt much like talking about in the blog, etc., and I guess I'm just starting to feel overwhelmed by it all. There's as much changing about me perceptually right now as there is that is changing physically, and it's hard to keep up sometimes.

By the time I left work and the gym (I work out at work on most weekdays) I knew I didn't have the energy to cook and I was starting to think about the Panda Bear and I literally wrote this status to my Facebook wall:

I will not have a panda bear meltdown.
I will not have a panda bear meltdown.
I will not have a panda bear meltdown.
I will not have a panda bear meltdown.
I will not have a panda bear meltdown.
I will not have a panda bear meltdown.

I'm frustrated with my body right now but I'm not going to sabotage my progress by eating some faux food.

I'm just exhausted and frustrated and I'm having a hissy fit. I'll live.


A few friends chimed in to tell me to be strong, so that was helpful. But what was more helpful this time was that as I left school I went right across the road to Jimmy Johns and got a veggie sandwich with no cheese and no mayo. It's not my favorite thing and I'm not sure the bread is even vegan, but it worked as a stop-gap this one time. I started stuffing my face right there in the parking lot and the Panda Bear meltdown melted away. I went home and I treated myself to some fat free oven fries with not-fat-free vegan ranch dressing on the side and a margarita. 

I can't say that everything is all better, but I'm glad I won this one little battle against that GD Panda Bear! Hopefully I'll have a little bit more energy for my workout tomorrow. Today is my rest day, and I sure do need it. I'll admit, though, that I also need something to lift my spirits. I'm not sure why I'm in such a funk. Maybe it's not any one thing. . . I'll just have to be patient, maybe. . . 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sometimes You Just have to Let the Bad JuJu Out!

And, Bad JuJu, I release you! Go sabotage some other ho's health and fitness goals!

I have to say that it felt really good to get that little rant off my chest yesterday. It felt good to realize that my goals were a little bit out of focus. Bad JuJu was messin' with my head! While, overall, my focus has been and still is on improving my health and fitness, I feel tempted sometimes to focus more on the way I look. I don't think that should be my focus--looking better nekkid is just a side effect of the healthy changes I'm making.

Speaking of overcoming, releasing, and resisting Bad JuJu, I walked past the rack of gummi candy (including JuJu Coins--zomg I LOVE JuJu candies!) three times yesterday. Every time I thought, "Oh, some JuJus would be a nice treat, and they're not that bad for me." But, I resisted. This is a victory. By the way, it's the next morning, now, and I do not regret resisting those JuJu candies. Bad JuJu! Bad! Good Alester! Good!

As I said, my focus hasn't been off entirely. Sometimes when I'm on the treadmill doing my incline walking I feel like I could take off running. I knew I couldn't jog or run without getting new shoes, so I made a trip Saturday afternoon to Naperville Running Company. I love that store. We have a smaller running store closer to home called DNA Athletics. The owners are really nice guys, and I like to shop with them. Unfortunately, they have a really small shop and my feet are a bit jacked up, so I needed to go someplace with a wider variety. The staff at NRC are super knowledgeable, as well, and I like buying from an independent store. They were systematic and got me into a pair of shoes that felt great. They even sent me on my way with instructions to jog a couple of times on the treadmill to see how they feel and offered to swap them for a different pair if they didn't feel good once I was up and running. That's the mark of a quality running store, my friends! They stand by their products and their fittings and gate analysis.

Unfortunately, I think I do need to trade my new shoes in. The second toe on my right foot is going a little bit numb, which probably means that I'm putting pressure on the nerve that runs up that toe, and I'd prefer not to end up with a neuroma! I'll have to give them a call tomorrow to see what's up. They offered to order me a wider sized version of the same shoe if needed. That may help. . . At any rate, these are the pretty pretty shoes I bought. They were fairly affordable at about $106. Another thing I like about NRC is that they offered me a 10% discount because I have a membership at Charter Fitness. DNA does this, as well, and so do the Dick Pond stores. It pays to shop local!

Anyway, I did do a little bit of running on Saturday. I got up and running for 2.25 miles split into two running intervals with a little walking in between. The next goal on my list was to run a 5k on the treadmill. My feet felt good enough after my jog on Saturday that I decided to go for the 5k on Sunday.

And, I did it! I ran a nice slow 5k at a 4.5mph pace. My total time was just a hair over 41 minutes. I'm a ways off of that 30 minute pace I said I wanted to achieve by the end of the summer, but I have five months to get there! If I can keep from hurting myself I have faith that I can do it. It's going to take a lot of hard work, but I am not known for backing down from a challenge! You know my motto: This bitch don't quit!

So, let's recap my fitness goals, and then talk about my workout totals for the week, check in on my weight loss progress, and set some goals for the next week! Go!

Here's a reminder of the fitness goals I'm working on:

  • Goal 1: Climb the Hancock
  • Goal 2: Jog a Mile on the Treadmill
  • Goal 3: Run a 5k on the Treadmill
  • Goal 4: Run a Sub 12-Minute Mile
  • Goal 5: Run the JJC 5k for my Birthday in May
  • Goal 6: Run a Sub 30-Minute 5k by the end of Summer
It feels great to have crossed another goal off the list. Next up is the sub 12-Minute Mile. Right now I'm jogging at a 13:20 pace, so I'll need to cut about 3:30 off of each mile to get there. Holy balls--what was I thinking? That's a tough one and I've never been that fast of a runner! OK--I need to just break it down. I'll need to start working in some faster intervals to improve my half mile and then my mile pace, then work up to both the speed and distance and knock the Sub 30 5k goal out!

My fitness totals for this week were pretty stellar, if I do say so myself! I managed to remember to bring my HR monitor to every workout, so I can actually share a screen cap of my workout summary!

I'm pretty excited! The sport zones are split from under 60% of maximum HR in gray at the bottom, 60-69% in blue, 70-79% in green, 80-89% in orange, and 90%-100% in red at the top. I'm stoked that I had more than a full hour total in the orange zone and over 3 hours in the green zone. Less than an hour total of the five I spent on the Treadmill, Elliptical, and StairMaster was at anything less than 70% of my max HR. Pow! I have to note, though, that I don't go by the calorie count from the app. It bases the calorie count on heart rate but doesn't account for pace and incline, etc. I had been going by the treadmill's computation before and so I still use that. I'm not sure which one is right, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I am working hard, burning calories, eating well, getting more fit, and losing fat.

And, boy oh boy am I losing fat! I'm finally starting to feel like my body is changing. My legs are stronger and firmer under my nice layer of fluff. lol But where I can really see it is in my belly. It's noticeably smaller, but it's also changing shape. I knew this week was going to be a good one on the scale because the numbers had been moving in my favor all week. I knew if I could just control my diet over the weekend (no sodium binges) all would be good. So, here's a run down of my weight loss progress so far:

Monday Weigh-In:

January 21st:               285 (Starting Point
January 28th:               282
February 4th:               275
February 11th:             269
February 18th:             267
February 25th:             266.5
March 4th:                   272 (Water Retention--went off my diuretic)
March 11th:                 263.5
March 18th:                 259

Total Lost:                   26 lbs!!!

So, this is the end of week 8 back on the wagon and I feel great! I've lost 26 pounds, I've climbed a sky scraper, I've cut meat and cheese out of my daily diet, I've jogged a 5k on the treadmill. Whew! I've been busy! I'm not sure why, but I kept thinking that there was one more week left before the two month mark, but here it is! It's amazing to think that if I keep up this pace and this progress over the next two months where I will be by my birthday. The weight is just a way of measuring my progress, but the thought that I could have made enough progress to have my weight in the 230s by then is really motivating. Of course, there are a lot of variables to consider (injury, another plateau, someone giving me a Panda Express gift card for my birthday and me passing out face first in a bucket of Orange Chicken. . . ), and I don't want to get ahead of myself. All I can do is focus on my own efforts the the choices I make over this next week. . .

So, what is on tap for this week? Well, I definitely need to give myself a cheat day this week. I've been doing really well, so I feel like a trip to Chicago to have some cocktails and a good dinner at Chicago Diner is in order. And I think I'm definitely going to treat myself to a piece of cake! OMG, I love cake! I can't believe that my goal for the week is to eat cake. I LOVE THIS! And this really is important--if I restrict myself too much for too long I may end up with another Panda Bear Meltdown (Hey--that's a good band name!), or worse yet, hitting another plateau. I'm using my cheat day this week to reward myself, but I'm not going to go overboard. I'll still eat sensibly, but I'll loosen up a little to allow for a nice restaurant meal--something I haven't done in a while (except for BD Mongolian, where I can control what goes in my food. . . ).

Oh yeah, but the goals are supposed to be about my fitness, too. Easy: I'm going to keep on doing what I have been doing. I'll do my best to log another five hours of exercise this week, and two more running workouts that will incorporate some intervals at a faster pace to get me working toward my sub 12-minute mile!

I also saw that Naperville Running Company has some running form clinics coming up. There's one on March 27th and another on April 10th. They're only $10. I think I'm going to register for the one on April 10th. I think it could help me run easier to have an expert give me some good feedback on how I'm doing! Maybe I'll go ahead and register for the JJC Foundation 5k after I get paid on Thursday, too. Eeek. Shit is getting real, but I feel like everything is doable. I like this feeling! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dudes can be Dicks and other Assorted Tales from my Life as a Chubster. . .

I was cruising through the internets over the weekend and came across something that really pissed me off. It's not the first time I've seen this, but it made me more angry than it usually does and it was really hard for me to bite my tongue and not saying anything.

Ok, first of all, I will admit that I was looking at pictures and profiles of sexy menzes. It's something I like to do. I have a condition. It's called being gay.

Anyway, this guy said that he cares about himself and has good self-esteem. Therefore he works out regularly. Ok. Fair enough. Then he goes on to say that he doesn't like overweight people because they are "lazy and don't like themselves." He's only interested in getting to know people who love themselves enough to be muscular and fit. Ummm. . .

Ok, I will give him this much:  Exercise promotes health and well-being and we all owe it to ourselves and the people we love to be healthy. So, yeah, I get it.

At the same time, who is he to judge somebody else's motivation? For example, research I reviewed years ago while working on my Master's Thesis has found that male body builders and female models have lower than average self-esteem. Many athletes use performance enhancing drugs and steroids to achieve their level of physical perfection, but sacrifice their health in the process. Wrestlers, boxers, and body builders dehydrate themselves in order to lose weight for competitions, which can damage every system in their bodies! Many people who meet our culture's standard of beauty achieve their look through unhealthy eating habits and the use of diet drugs and supplements that damage their hearts, livers, kidneys, and other systems. You can't tell by looking at someone if they have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other problems that may have been brought on by eating unhealthy eating habits. I can't tell if this guy's lungs are blackened from the cigarettes he smokes (that help suppress his appetite) or his liver is destroyed by the alcohol he soaks himself in or the meth he takes to keep himself partying all night. (And I'm not saying he does any of those things. . . ) You also can't see if people have cancer from the crap they've been pumping into their bodies. Can I point to Lance Armstrong as just one example? Does anybody doubt for a second that his testicular cancer was at least contributed to by his doping--doping that was reportedly done by applying steroid patches to his g'nads?!

Recent reports published in peer reviewed journals actually suggest that people who are slightly overweight (I said slightly overweight--not obese) who exercise regularly are likely to live longer with fewer health complications than people who are at or below the recommended weight by BMI standards? I should also mention that BMI is a flawed way of evaluating a person's weight and fitness/fatness. BMI does not distinguish between lean body mass and fat, so most athletes are classed as overweight or even obese (muscle weighs more than fat). Don't believe me? Look up stats on some of your favorite athletes and then plug their information into an online BMI calculator--you'll be amazed! The truth is that the more people work out and especially the more they beef up and build muscle, the more statistics say that we our nation is overweight. Do you doubt that there are people in the health professions and, particularly, the diet industry that have a vested interest in keeping those numbers skewed? The bigger the problem the bigger the sales hook and the bigger the research grants to study the problem and come up with a cure.

Now, I am NOT saying that it isn't important to be fit and healthy. Seriously, if you read my blog you know that's the last thing I would suggest. What I AM saying is that this issue is more complex than just whether your online profile picture you took as a shirtless selfie in the bathroom mirror of you pinching your nipple looks hot or not. I freely admit that I am too large for my health. I'm working hard to change that. I found that, for me, eating mostly vegetarian but eating quite a lot of dairy contributed to high cholesterol levels and ultimately a plaque rupture, clot, blockage, and heart attack. I've eliminated dairy from my diet at this point (after tapering down it's now been almost two weeks, yo!). I spend 5+ hours a week on the treadmill/elliptical/StairMaster each week, and that's something I don't plan to stop doing. The reality is that I DO love myself and I do take care of myself. I don't think I'm ever going to look the way this asshat thinks that someone with good self-esteem who loves himself is supposed to look, and that's OK with me. I want to be healthy and fit. That's what I care about.

So, then why did this moron's post bother me so much? Because I do struggle with self-esteem, and more importantly, I'm not the only person seeing his profile. How many other guys have hit on his profile and felt the sting of those words? Maybe they are struggling with their self-esteem, too. I mean, it's pretty hard for a chubby gay dude to feel good about himself. It is. And don't talk to me about the bears--the bears are no different. They have their own hierarchy of body types and I will tell you right now that the people at the top of their food chain are the muscle bears--they're essentially the circuit queens who got tired of shaving their chests every day. And they're hot! I'd say that next down from them are the burly bears--the ones who are basically muscle bears with a gut. Next are the bears--they're masculine and strong but also a bit "big." Next are the otters and cubs--leaner or slightly bigger mini-bears. And then finally we come to the big bears--the chubby hairy folk who are not necessarily built as well; the twink chasers--thin and usually feminine boys who like big daddy bears; and last, and in most of their eyes, least, the chubs--fat guys. I'd throw myself in there as a chubby cubby, but I've never felt like I fully fit in. And I'm sure I'm leaving some folks out--polar bears, daddies, etc., but you get the point.

Chubby gay dudes like me have to fight for our right to self-esteem. And I have to say that my self-esteem has improved since my high school years. I am intelligent, kind, sweet, loyal, strong willed, courageous, and funny. I am also more determined than the average bear. This bitch doesn't give up. I have a great career, an excellent credit rating, and a vacation home that's paid for. I have a lot to be proud of, and I am! At the same time, I usually want to change back into lounge pants and a hoodie and watch Netflix when I am getting ready to go out and I look in the mirror. . . because if I'm truthful I just don't feel like I belong in those gay spaces. And it's not all in my head. A few years ago I was spit on by a guy while I walked up Halstead Street in Chicago--he said, "You're fucking ugly, dude. We don't want you here. Go home, fat ass!" Seriously. At least he had the balls to say it to my face (though I wish he hadn't sprayed it, as well!). I've had other guys make crude comments about me to one another thinking I couldn't hear them and I once said hello to someone I had been chatting with online who said, "you have me confused with someone else--I'm not on that website." I asked my friend who was bar tending what the guy's name was and he told me--he then told me his handle on the website we're all on. I confronted the guy later in the evening about it and he said he lied because he didn't want his friends to know he had chatted with me. "I'm a nice guy and I like chatting with you, but they're bitches." Clearly. And, speaking of bartenders, I have been blatantly ignored by bartenders and servers before who spent their time flirting with customers they found more attractive. Jokes on them: I'm a great fucking tipper.

Ok, so at this point, I feel like I need to point out that I'm pretty content to sit at home with my dog and cat and watch Netflix! Also, I don't want this to sound like the pity party that I know it does. I'm not unhappy, and these things I've mentioned do not define me or how I feel about myself. However, they do represent a real, not imagined, set of challenges to the way I feel about myself on a daily basis. Every day I have to battle the messages I receive from the media as well as real people that say that I am less desirable than, less deserving than, less attractive than, less loveable than--that I am less than people who look better naked than I do, and that's bullshit! And, if I'm going to be honest here (which is the goal), I have to admit that I have bought into this asshole's perspective. I have. I fight it, but I find myself thinking the same way he does--that fitter people are better than I am. I shouldn't have to battle the world and myself on the subject, too, but I do. And, I feel like I'm making strides toward winning the battle--not because I'm losing weight and getting more fit, but because I'm improving my health and reminding myself daily of all the reasons why I am more than what some people may think I am. I often remind myself of a Margaret Cho bit (from Revolution?) where she talks about how much time we waste stopping to look at ourselves in the mirror or a window, changing our clothes several times before we go out, and trying to mask our bodies to look the way others tell us to. Seriously, think about it! How much more could you accomplish every day if you took back that time? How much more could you accomplish if you stopped wasting your energy worrying about what other people think of the way you look and put that energy toward something productive--like exercising, studying, volunteering, or, hell, starting a fucking riot!? Think about it.

I guess what I'm trying to say here, in my own rambling incoherent sort of way, is that this guy really pissed me off. But, it's more than that. He reminded me to get angry at myself! Yes, he's a dbag. But, he doesn't know me. He doesn't know who he's talking about. And, he doesn't know who he's messing with! I do. I know me, I know how great I am, and I know who I'm messing with. I'm much stronger than the bullshit in my head and it's time to fight back a little bit harder to get that crap out of my head. I deserve it. I deserve a lot of things, but being spit on is not one of them and neither is being figuratively spit on by myself. I think I do that to myself sometimes, and I need to tell that bitch to sit down and shut the fuck up before I knock her teeth in. (Ok, that's a figurative beat down, not a literal one. No need to arrange for a psych eval. . . ) And part of giving myself a break is to check my perceptions of others. My goal is to be healthy. Yes, some dudes are hotter than I am. And I don't mind that because I like looking at them. I'm just keeping it real, folks. But I can't assume that they are more healthy than I am and I can't assume that their lives are better than mine is or that they are happier than I am. I also can't compare myself to them. Their goals are not necessarily the same as mine. I have no idea what demons they're fighting. I know I called the guy who's profile I cruised a lot of names, and I have to say I'm sorry for that. I'm not going to go back and edit this post because I want it to be honest. But, honestly, I'm sorry. The more I think about it the more I suspect he's got some issues, too. Usually when people proclaim that they have good self esteem (or good morals, good credit, good whatever) they're trying to cover up for something their lacking (or trying to convince themselves that it's true). I don't know him, so I don't know. But, whatever it is he's working through I hope he's doing as well as I am.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Scale Wars: Men vrs Women

I had a really lovely lunch yesterday with a good friend. She cooked for me and was really attentive to the details that would make the meal work for me, and it was really refreshing. I didn't feel like I had to explain much (except to relay the needed information) and I felt like I could just trust her to not throw something in that was inappropriate for me and then leave me suffering with the consequences. This is a really nice thing for people like me who are on restricted diets. I remember when I was 19 or 20 years old and I'd been vegetarian for about 6 months. I traveled home over the holidays to visit my parents and my mom was all in a tizzy about what to cook. I thought, you cook vegetables for every meal. Just make extra vegetables and I'll eat those. You make rice and pasta. Just set some pasta sauce aside before you add the meat, and give me the bowl of rice before you pour beef and gravy over it. Put a little bit of the rice and cream of mushroom soup in a small baking dish and pop it in the oven next to your larger casserole that has chicken added and I'll eat right along with you. (Yes, these were the typical meals of my childhood. . .) She found the concept of eating a lunch or dinner meal without meat to be unfathomable and the idea of adapting a recipe to be just too mind boggling to figure out. My first night home she made a meal for me that included baked beans. I remember asking her if they were vegetarian baked beans and she said that they were. I took my first bite and asked her again:  they tasted way too "good" to be vegetarian (I will admit that the addition of bacon/pork fat to them adds flavor--I'm not delusional, yo!). She insisted. That night I woke up with terrible stomach pain and barely made it to the bathroom before unloading my meal from both ends. I rummaged through the garbage and found the box that the beans came in (they were frozen not canned):  Captain Ken's Firehouse Beans. The box had a picture of the beans with huge chunks of bacon and pork fat floating around in them. There may well have been a picture of a smiling pig on the box! She confessed that she had just picked the pork fat out of the beans thinking that would be ok. She never made that mistake again. . . but mostly because I never trusted her to cook for me again.

Anyway, so this lunch was just lovely. She made baked tofu, kale, coconut rice, and oven roasted maple glazed sweet potatoes. Oh man. That was good. I have to admit I was thinking about it all night! I was also thinking, though, about a conversation we had and about something that a few other people (not her) have said to me recently. She and I were talking about how her boyfriend had recently lost some weight "without even trying" by eating her (vegetarian whole food) cooking. She joked that she doesn't lose pounds she has to chase them away. I laughed. I get that. I have never just lost weight without trying. I have had to work for every pound I've lost. So, I really hate when people make comments to me (and sometimes about me!) referring to how "easy" it is for men to lose weight. I'm a man. Trust:  it's not always easy. Yes, I know that a lot of men can drop weight really quickly. Some people have much faster metabolism than others do. I certainly did lose weight quickly the first couple of weeks on this diet. But you also have to look at what I was doing. If you're eating 1200-1400 calories of nutritious whole food daily and spending 120+ minutes most days with your heart rate elevated to 75%+ of your max and you're not losing a several pounds a week, then something's off. Also, 1200 calories a day for a 6 foot tall guy is not the same as 1200 calories a day for a 5'6" woman. Men are bigger, usually, and they need more calories to maintain their weight. So, yeah, if we cut back to a similar diet to a woman we are going to lose more because we're creating a bigger calorie deficit. I think that a lot of guys (I'm not included in this!) are less likely to eat for emotional reasons than a lot of women are. So, they tend to be more consistent. By the way, I'm basing that on absolutely no scientific data--just my observations.

Think about it this way:  Let's say that two roommates are trying to save $3500 each for a spring break vacation. One of them makes $2500 a month and the other makes only $2000 a month. They both adjust their monthly budgets so that they're spending only $1500. At the end of one month, the first roommate is almost a third of the way to his goal, which the second roommate is only a seventh of the way there. After four months the first roommate has saved his $3500 with an extra $500 to spend for a new wardrobe for the trip. The second roommate needs to save for three more months just to have the money to go on the trip. Now, make that 3500 calories for a pound of fat loss, make their income the total number of calories they need in a day, and you see that it takes a man and a woman eating the same diet a very different amount of time to lose the same amount of weight. In fact--in this hypothetical scenario it takes the woman twice as long to lose a pound--he does it in less than 4 days while she takes a full week. I think this gives a different way to think about it. . . and when you add things like hormones and metabolism into it the differences do start to expound.

But, seriously, the few people lately who have made comments to me about how "lucky" I am to be a guy and be able to just drop weight without much effort can kiss my chubby white ass. Get on the myfitnesspal app and get on the treadmill and create the same calorie deficit I do every day and we'll see who loses more weight. I'm willing to bet we'll lost the same amount if we create the same deficits.

I'm just venting. It's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to.

Speaking of the side effects of being a man. . . 

The week came and went without another blog post. I had promised one, hadn't I?

I'm a guy.

I lie.

Sorry about that.

Moving on. . . 

This past week was a pretty good one. I feel like I finally have a grip on myself again. I will tell you it was a very busy week, though. In fact, on Monday I got so backed up at work that it was 8pm before I ate breakfast. Seriously. That was not a shining moment for me. Tuesday we had a mini blizzard that dumped 8+ inches of snow on us, and then Wednesday and Thursday were just as jam packed as Monday was. By Friday I was exhausted and ready for the weekend.

The good news is that I managed to get all of my workouts in! My goal was to do 5 workouts of 1 hour each. I wasn't concerned with my calories as much as just getting into a comfortable workout intensity and letting my poor aching feet heal a little after putting too much stress on them trying to jog a week or so back.

Here's what I did:
  • Monday:  Rest
  • Tuesday:  Gym closed for weather. Shoveled snow twice for 45 minutes each time. 
  • Wednesday:  Shoveled snow for 30 minutes in the morning. 60 minutes Incline Treadmill 750 calories burned
  • Thursday:  65 minutes elliptical trainer 850 calories burned
  • Friday:  65 minutes incline treadmill 750 calories burned
  • Saturday:  60 minutes incline treadmill 725 calories burned
  • Sunday:  60 minutes incline treadmill 750 calories burned
  • Total:  3825 calories burned. That's more than 4 sticks of butter, y'all! 
I was struggling last week with getting my heart rate up above 130. By Wednesday of this week I wasn't really having that problem as much. By Friday and Saturday I was actually getting my heart rate up into the 140s again. It was more of a struggle again on Sunday, but I was sweating up a storm and it was a great workout--I did get my HR up into the 130s on that day, too. Consequently, I'm rediscovering the love for my HR monitor. I feel like it's a good way of tracking my progress. If I'm progressively doing more intense workouts and staying within the same HR zones that means I'm getting fitter. That's the goal. So, it's all good. I don't need to be quite so obsessed with what my HR is. I need to remember that it is one measure of the effort I'm putting out. One thing I like is that the Polar Beat app gives me a weekly summary of what I did, and that's really helpful! It's really motivating to look at the summary and see that I spent 3 hours with my HR in the moderate intensity zone and 45 minutes in the high intensity zone. That's something to make my poor heart happy!

My diet was also really good this week. I feel more on track and that's a very good thing. My sodium is under control, and so are my fat, calories, and sugar. I did have a little mini binge fest last night, but the only things I had to snack on were Mandarin oranges, a navel orange, and some sodium free whole grain brown rice crackers and low sodium hummus. I did some snacking, but I didn't do any damage. That's a win.

So, I want to continue that momentum this week with 5 more one-hour workouts. I may go to the cabin this weekend if the weather is nice, and that will mean that I have to get them all in before I go. Yikes! I can do it, though. It just means no break day until Saturday. . .

All this hard work is starting to pay off on the scale again, too, which is really nice to see after a couple of weeks of stagnation and (water) weight gain after going off of my diuretic. My weight this morning was 263.6 pounds, which is 21.4 pounds down from my starting weight of 285 pounds. So, 21.4 pounds in 6 weeks--that's an average of a little more than 3 pounds per week, which is good. I can't complain about that. I have two more weeks before the two month point, and it would be great to be close to the 30 pounds lost mark by then. I don't think I'll get TO the 30 pound mark, but If I'm at 27 pounds or thereabout, that would be pretty stellar.

So, I'm looking forward to this week. I'm not going to promise that I'll check in mid-week this week. I'll try to, but I'm going to try not to make promises my lying cheating no good dog self won't be able to keep. . . 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Greetings from the Confessional

Yesterday was a day I'd been looking forward to and dreading.

First of all, it was my mother's birthday. I lost my mom to cancer in 1997. She was 60 years old, and she had battled cancer for 17 years--since I was 8 years old. I still miss her terribly.

Yesterday was also the day I transitioned off of the diuretic I take for my blood pressure. I've been looking forward to this--one medication down! At the same time, I knew that it would mean water retention and a rise in my blood pressure. I've seen the weight gain already. My weight bounced up from 267 pounds last Monday to 272 today--so, 5-6 pounds gained. That's actually what I expected. If If I can go by my history with these medications and my battle with sodium and water retention, I can expect things to balance out over the next few weeks. My BP will be higher for about a week and then as the water balance is restored and I lose a few pounds of water weight things will normalize. I'll need to keep an eye on it, though.

Beyond that, I have to say this past week was a disappointment. I'm not going to dwell on it, but I need to be truthful so that I can keep myself accountable. I didn't eat terribly for most of the week, but I had another breakdown on Friday. Panda Express. I wish they would post my picture behind the register and ban me from the place. Seriously. I don't understand the appeal of their food and I don't understand why I feel powerless in those moments.

I've also struggled with my workouts. There's a couple of things going on:
  1. I'm having a really hard time getting my HR up above 130. I like to have it at about 135 for a half hour of my workout for the cardio benefits. I'm probably having trouble because I take a beta blocker (metoprolol) that slows my HR. I'm also getting more cardio fit now that I'm at the one month point of exercising my heart regularly. Consequently, I have to work out so intensely to get my heart rate up that I cannot breathe well enough to keep it up.
  2. I'm exhausted. This is probably because I've been trying so hard to get my HR up in my workouts. I'm going at an all-out intensity level that is actually too hard. I need to worry less about my HR and more about how I feel. An intense level of workout that's appropriate for me is for me to be breathing heavily, but not so heavily that I can't carry on a short conversation. It should be intense enough that I don't want to talk, but I could if I needed to. I learned this at Cardiac Rehab, and I need to use it! The HR monitor is good, but I can't ignore how I feel. I need to use the heart rate monitor to keep tabs on how my intensity levels are improving and how much I can do within those heart rate zones.
  3. My feet hurt. The truth is that I cannot jog at this time. I want to, and it's still a goal of mine to be able to jog outdoors this spring and summer, but I need to ease off and do exercises that don't damage the joints in my feet. So, walking, StairMaster, and elliptical it is. . . I'll put the jogging off for a couple of months. I already know that I CAN jog--I've jogged for a mile at a time on the treadmill--so it should not be difficult to pick back up where I left off after I've lost another 20 or so pounds and I've sorted out the correct shoes and inserts to wear to prevent more damage to my feet.
 So, for this next week, I'm not going to set huge, and potentially unrealistic, goals for my workouts and diet. Instead, my goals are going to be:
  1. To manage my diet appropriately to get back on track and control my sodium. 
  2. To adapt and try a new recipe--I think it's going to be a whole wheat vegan lasagna!
  3. To exercise 5 times this week for an hour each time at a comfortable intensity level. I am not going to concern myself with the number of calories I burn in the workout--my goal is just going to be to exercise intensely for an extended time. That's what really matters!
Alright--I'm late for work at this point. Time to get moving. Thanks for checking in on me today--I know I've been lax in my posts, but I promise to get one up when I get this recipe adaptation sorted out and I'll let you know how it turned out. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

I'm a Hustler, Baby

Only MY body would hit a weight loss plateau after three weeks. Seriously. I have to say that I saw this coming when I beat the hell out of myself two weeks ago to meet my fitness goal and ate on point and only lost two pounds. This past week was even more frustrating, but I'm happy to say that I kept my momentum. Things will get better. I know that. It's hard to look at a scale that is inching upward and telling you you're gaining weight when you know you're burning more calories than you're consuming. Sometimes the scale is a dbag. Unfortunately, that usually happens on the days your body is being an asshole.

Thankfully, I had a lot going on this week to keep me focused.

First of all, I had my training. My goal for this week was to burn 3500 calories through exercise. I started the week out with an incredible 10.5 mile walk and finished it off by jogging on the treadmill! So, here's the deets:
  • Monday:  1730 cals burned on a 10.5 mile walk at 3.5mph pace or better for the duration!
  • Tuesday:  475 cals burned climbing 102 flights on the Stairmaster StepMill
  • Wednesday:  525 cals burned climbing 122 flights on the Stiarmaster StepMill
  • Thursday:  823 cals burned climbing 140-some flights on the Stairmaster StepMill followed by 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer
  • Friday:  I shoveled for about 45 minutes, but I didn't count the calories burned
  • Saturday:  416 cals burned doing 40 minutes of light incline treadmill walking
  • Sunday:  505 cals burned climbing the stairs of the Hancock Building and 554 cals burned incline walking and also jogging on the treadmill

Total:  5028 calories burned! Goal Exceeded!

I also exceeded my goal of doing two StepMill and one elliptical workouts.

It's a good thing I did well with those goals, because the scale was, indeed, a dbag this week. I lost a half a pound. I'm not going to dwell on it and I'm not going to complain. I am moving on. . . 

I decided part way through the week that I was going to let go of my diet restrictions a little. I found that by Tuesday I had gained a pound over my Monday weigh-in, and by Thursday that hadn't changed. I KNOW I wasn't eating enough that I should be gaining weight, but I thought that my body might be rebelling against me. I decided to try eating a bit more to see if that would comfort my system and let it let go of the weight. In fact, I let everything go on Sunday night after my stair climb and my jog:  I ate cupcakes from the Sprinkles bakery in downtown Chicago! Let me tell you, those cupcakes were amazing. I earned them, and I enjoyed the funk out of them!

Ok, so, let's do an update on the climb and then we'll update our goals for this week:

I know I said that I didn't set a time goal for the Hustle this time around. Battling RA and ILD and not being able to train as properly as I would have liked I just wanted to be able to raise some money and finish the climb. But, after doing my StepMill workouts I predicted that my time would be about 45 minutes and I made it my goal to finish in less than an hour. The real climb is always harder than the StepMill workouts are! I set my fundraising goal at $200, which is what was the default when I first registered.

My time for the actual climb was 45:27, exactly what I predicted. That time is nothing I would have bragged about a year ago, but I'm perfectly satisfied with it! My fundraising accomplishments are a bit more impressive. I only gave myself about a week to do my fundraising work and I far exceeded my original $200 goal. Thanks to the generous donations of my friends I was able to raise $620. I feel really good about that! Along the way I decided to offer my donors the chance to dedicate a floor of my climb to someone they have lost or to someone they love who is fighting lung (or another) disease. I made an iron-on for my climbing shirt with the dedications on the back. I had no idea how emotional that process would be. It really drove home for me why I do these events, and I plan to do those dedications for every climb and race I do from this point forward!

My Sister, Brenda. We lost her to emphysema in August of 2011.

The view from the 94th floor is pretty spectacular!
I'm so proud of our team:  JJC Honors Hustle! Liz and Ashley finished the climb in about 30 minutes, and Erik and John finished in 17 minutes and 16 minutes respectively! Oh yeah, and we raised $1435 for lung health!
You have no idea how happy I was to eat after we finished the climb! There wasn't a whole lot going on at the Expo this year, but I was thankful for the grub!

During the week last week I formulated a progression of fitness goals, so that I can focus out beyond the current week. So, here they are followed by this weeks goals to help me get there:

  • Goal 1:  Climb the Hancock
  • Goal 2:  Jog a Mile on the Treadmill
  • Goal 3:  Run a 5k on the Treadmill
  • Goal 4:  Run a Sub 12-Minute Mile
  • Goal 5:  Run the JJC 5k for my Birthday in May
  • Goal 6:  Run a Sub 30-Minute 5k by the end of Summer

Well, I knew I was going to complete Goal 1 this weekend, but I thought it might be a few weeks before I moved onto Goal 2. Nope. I'm not sure what possessed me to go to the gym after we got home from the climb yesterday, but I felt like I had unfinished business. I planned to walk for a half hour or so but after walking the first half mile I felt inspired to pump the speed up to 4.5mph and jog for a quarter mile. . . which turned into a mile. I walked for another half mile to cool down and then felt inspired to try jogging another half mile which then turned into a second mile. 

So, I'm 2/3 of the way to the 5k distance and so that's the next goal for me to knock out. Though, I do have to say that my feet are feeling it today. I know I need to watch it. I may need to ease up on the jogging this week until I can get my shoes sorted out and make sure that I have the support to run without injuring myself. It's exciting to feel like I'm on the cusp of being able to jog, though--I didn't think I'd be there until late spring! 

So, I guess I'll make my goal for this week to be to burn 5000 calories again this week.
Beyond that I just want to keep eating well. Hopefully, the scale will begin to cooperate with me more!