Category Archives: Tools

Watching my weight, Sparkin’ up (no, it’s not what you think) and heading to the beach

It’s been more than two months since my last Just A (Running) Fool post (and Motivation Monday post too). Today, hopefully I can begin a new streak of not only posting once a week for Just A (Running) Fool and Motivation Monday, but also exercising several times a week and continuing to motivate myself (and maybe, in turn, you).

How? A three-pronged approach:

It was the latter two, whom I met through Facebook, that helped re-motivate me to get back on track with a 90-day Fitness Challenge, starting today. I’ve committed to at least 30 minutes a day of exercise 6 days a week. That may change to 60 at some point, but I’m starting small so I won’t get too discouraged quickly.

However, in the past, I have had much success with both WeightWatchers and SparkPeople. First, WeightWatchers spurred me to my initial weight loss a few years ago (started by losing 50 pounds, and then with exercise, lost another 50, going from 280 to 180) and then SparkPeople kept me going when I didn’t want to go on with a great support system with teams there.

I’ve been paying for WeightWatchers Online since August (I believe, it’s been so long and I haven’t done that well yet with it), but am recommitting myself today to the program, because it’s the one thing that has helped me lose weight with diet. SparkPeople has helped me in the past with motivation, and I’m still friends on Facebook with many of the people I’ve met there even though I haven’t been active on the teams there for at least six months. As for Team Beachbody, we’ll see…but anything that can help get me going is a plus.

Now where’s the beach? I have a feeling I’m not going to find one too nearby in northcentral Pennsylvania.

This one’s for my wife, who really loves this group (okay, not so much):

This post also can be found on my main blog, an unfinished person (in an unfinished universe). If you are interested in getting a more complete picture of this incomplete person, you can subscribe to that blog.

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Motivation Monday: Assessing where I am

Should your resting pulse be in the 55-60 range, you are an out-of-shape athlete with great endurance potential. You are missing out on some particularly satisfying sports experience. A sedentary individual with a resting pulse in the 50s may well have remarkable talent for endurance events.

…this baseline pulse can tell nonathletes just how bad things are– and how good things can be. Individuals with a pulse in the 90s are cheating themselves of an active life. Those in the 70s are settling for less than they can get. If you are in the low 60s you could be living those dreams of glory.
— George Sheehan in “On Assessing” in his book How To Feel Great 24 Hours A Day

Tomorrow morning I am going to take my resting pulse and measure the circumference of my calves, thighs, hips, waist and chest using a tape measure as suggested by Sheehan in the chapter and book above (I would do it tonight, but I can’t find the tape measure and need to ask my wife when she returns home where it is). This morning, I already weighed myself as part of the WeightWatchers program I recently started. I weighed in at 213, the same weight where I began with WeightWatchers a few weeks ago. I had dropped three pounds, but then over the last few weeks, have regained that same amount.

One other part of the assessment involves testing how far I can go in 12 minutes. Sheehan suggests using a quarter-mile track, usually available at the local high school. I suppose even with sports practices beginning this week, if I get there earlier enough in the morning, I will have no problem doing that. Sheehan also has included aerobic tables from Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper to tell you how you rate on the fitness ladder using maximal oxygen consumption as a baseline.

I already took my resting pulse about half an hour ago and it was at about 60. So I feel encouraged by what Sheehan wrote, but know that I have a long way to go. Plus I know that from being able to complete the 25.9 mile Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect in 2007 that I have endurance already. It’s just a matter of regaining it.

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This post is also being crossposted at my main blog, an unfinished person (in an unfinished universe).

Horror of horrors: I stepped on the scale

Yesterday I did something that I haven’t done in a while. The horror, the horror: I stepped on the scale, and it was as bad as I thought. Last year, I had gotten down to about 179, but now I’m almost reverse of the numbers at 196. What happened in the interim?

A few things:

  • I stopped tracking my food on SparkPeople, which helped me lose at least 20 pounds during my first six months there.
  • I stopped running as regularly as I had been running. I found, and still find, excuses not to run. It’s raining. It’s too late in the day. It’s…blah blah blah.
  • I stopped going to the gym for strength training.
  • I started rationalizing that a milkshake/a trip to Pizza Hut/a little bit of alcohol once a week or every two weeks was all right. All those milkshakes, trips to Pizza Hut and little bits of alcohol begin to accumulate — right around the stomach area.

So what am I going to do about it?

  • I am tracking my food on SparkPeople once again.
  • I am beginning a regular running routine and getting up early so I have no excuse.
  • I am making a goal of going to the gym at least twice this coming week.
  • I am not having anymore milkshakes, alcohol or trips to Pizza Hut. Whenever I go to Pizza Hut, I look around and see people who are more obese than myself and think how sad, but then realize I don’t have too far to go to be there. In fact, I have been there and literally am there, when I’m there with them.

As my wife says about the upcoming Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect, I don’t need any more weight to climb up the mountain. She’s right. Now is the time to start jettisoning some of that weight.

This post is cross-posted at An unfinished person (in an unfinished universe).

Music over my head

As has become my custom on Monday nights, to start off the week on the right foot, I went to the fitness center at the high school and ran for half an hour on the treadmill and then half an hour on the elliptical. This week, I am also committed to an hour of exercise daily Monday through Friday with Lynne Blair, one of my teammates on a few teams at SparkPeople. Tomorrow night: To the gym, to restart a strength training routine after too long of a layoff. Kim has an ambulance meeting so I’ll go then.

Until then, I’ll leave y’all with a little King’s X, restarting my rave music after each run. This band always has been one of my favorites, especially the album “Dogman.”

5 more miles — and a tip of the hat

Today after telling myself I’d get in a lunch-time run, I kept procrastinating and procrastinating until…usually this ends with — I didn’t run. But not today, even though I couldn’t find my armband for my iPod as quick as I wanted to — as it was buried under some things in our bedroom — I still made it to the gym and ran for half an hour on the elliptical and then about the same on the treadmill. I wanted to run 5 miles today and did. Saturday: 7 miles, maybe a local 10K course plus, as I call it.
Also today, I want to give a tip of the hat to a few of my fellow runners here where I live, namely three ladies who are role models to me for their consistency. I saw the first two ladies yesterday, out running in a light, cold drizzle, on what I know is their usual 5-mile route, I believe. They also do plyometrics on Tuesdays and Thursdays…and in my humble opinion, they rock. A tip of the hat and much thanks for the inspiration to get out there and run to Kate Black and Deb Rudy. I know your husband is also out there too hitting the pavement with you, Kate, but I wanted to give you two special props because you also are in the plyometrics class. And I might have picked on you, Deb, for not getting up to the plyometrics class, but heck, you’re still there and I’m not.

The third woman to whom I want to give a special shout-out is Ellen Krajewski, with whom I recently became teammates on a private team on SparkPeople. You have come so far since last summer when you were huffing and puffing up the hills at the Laurel Festival Footrace. I have no doubt this summer you will be dusting me with the mileage that you are starting to put in. You also are inspiring me to keep running — even when I don’t want to do it. Thanks to all three of you.

Of course, there are many other ladies (and men) here in my hometown that inspire me in my continuing to run, but I wanted to give you three special thanks because I was thinking of you this week. Thanks again.

Signs say go


Me before I get ready to head out for my run this afternoon, with new poster in background over my desk: Desiderata.

“Poem tomorrow green light today” read a message a friend sent me on Facebook earlier today. Simple, but for me, who used to write a lot of poems, it was very profound…It helped me to quit procrastinating, to get out the door and to run. Yesterday, I ran three miles on a treadmill at the gym after what was supposed to be a scheduled 7-mile run. Today, I ran the other four miles around town (temperature at bank read -1 Celsius when I ran past it). Maybe I will write a poem tomorrow.

Persevering: The end of Week 1

Seamus sniffs my YakTrax after I bring them in tonight after run earlier today.

Today’s run: As I started today, I looked out my window at what appeared to be six inches of snow and freezing rain that was expected this afternoon. It was almost 10:30 a.m., I hadn’t had breakfast yet, done my Spiritual Exercises yet, I had a phone call to make to Wisconsin at 1 p.m. for a story that is due by Friday, AND then I still needed to fit this run in before it would dark about 4:30 p.m. So only time to run was after interview, about 2 or 3. And it was a 6-mile run. Was I looking forward to this? Heck, no. Was I going to do it? Won’t say heck, yeah, mainly because it was cold as well the dickens, but will say unqualified yes, because I had to persevere. (Apologies to those of you who read this first paragraph in a slightly different form on one of my teams at SparkPeople.)

After putting on my layers of clothes, including UnderArmour tights and a pair of sweats, three or four shirts, and a pair of YakTrax on my shoes, I headed out to the road at about 3:10 p.m.. I really had no clear idea of where I was going. I had a general idea, because of mileage, but I knew that I could modify it as I went. Like Forrest, I just ran. Partway down the road, I opted to go up a dirt road because at least it wasn’t as well plowed as some of the borough streets and I figured I’d have a little more fun out on the back roads. If I was wearing YakTrax, I thought I might as well use them.

Most of the course I ran was uphill, but then finished with a downhill and a flat for the last mile or two. About two miles into it, I hit a slight groove, so even as I got to the hills, I didn’t slow down too much. I did walk some, but then sprinted from telephone pole to telephone pole for a while to keep myself going. I passed a few vehicles and when I waved, some of the drivers waved back. Others just gave me a double-look like they couldn’t believe I was out there. However, the way I figured it, it was still light and the freezing rain hadn’t started yet, so I was fine.

Knowing that it gets dark about 4:30, I did push a little and made it back by 4:25 p.m. Not a great time for six miles, but according to the training plan I’m doing, it was within the time constraints. So as I am apt to say, I’ll take it — and at least, I’m off to a good start for the first week of the training program with 15 miles in, that is sans strength training at the gym as scheduled. I’ll work on that aspect this coming week.