End-of-summer-to-Thanksgiving Challenge Week 3: Get some rest!

2014-weight-loss-003Ugh. Week 3 didn't go well. There were two primary reasons, which I'll detail here.

1. Rest. This is the real thing. A week ago Sunday, I was going to take a rest day, but it was beautiful out, and I had some energy, and I went for a run of nearly three miles. And it pretty much ruined the rest of my week.

I was under 10 miles running for the week after that, and I generally didn't feel so hot, even though I got plenty of sleep at night during the week.

2. Supplementing with creatine. This is not to turn you off creatine. I actually like it as a supplement, and I'm probably willing to give up my 20-pound goal to keep supplementing with it. But I probably need to supplement it smarter.

Creatine occurs naturally in your muscles, and supplementing with it basically improves recovery and performance.

It also retains water in the muscle cells (helping them grow), which means that you gain water weight while using it. The Men's Health article linked says you'll for sure gain weight, but keep in mind that's assuming you're already lean. So, I will probably continue to lose fat, but it's a matter of whether I can lose enough fat to outpace the muscle I'm gaining.

I'll admit to feeling better โ€“ less sore and what-not โ€“ with it, so I'll probably not stop simply for the sake of weight loss. I may regulate how I use it, though; my workouts tend to be more intense the beginning of the week anyway, so maybe I'll use it more toward the beginning of the week and lessen the effects of the water retention.

Anyway, I have no real excuses. I resisted the temptation to run on a nice day yesterday and just sat outside instead, and then ran 5.22 miles this morning, so I guess I'm on the right track.

Onward.

Weight Miles 2-minute pushups Pullups 3 sets to failure (total)
8/25/2014 163.2 N/A 63 23
9/1/2014 161.6 10.03 N/A N/A
9/8/2014 160.2 13.41 72 30
9/15/2014 159.6 9.5 N/A N/A
9/22/2014
9/29/2014 N/A N/A
10/6/2014
10/13/2014 N/A N/A
10/20/2014
10/27/2014 N/A N/A
11/3/2014
11/10/2014 N/A N/A
11/17/2014 N/A N/A
11/24/2014
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End-of-summer to Thanksgiving challenge: Week 2

I thought I was actually going to put on a couple of pounds this week. I've been having some major food issues โ€” notably not eating enough calories during the day, then back-loading on high-sugar foods at midnight or later to catch up.

2014-weight-loss-002But I listened to Steve Austin's podcast (auto-plays, NSFW), and someone asked about his diet, since he's trying to lean out for some upcoming TV shows. He's eating a lot of protein (350g) and calories (over 3,000), which is way more than I need, but he's also filling some of his meals out with oatmeal and potatoes and rice.

So I picked up some of those dense starches to take the place of things like, oh, peanut butter cups and cookies. And even in just a couple of days, it worked wonders. So, that's going to be part of the plan for the fall, I think. Not whole meals of piles of rice, of course, but a couple of fistfuls of oatmeal in my protein shake in the morning means it will stick a little longer. In fact, the first time I did it, it was 30g of whey protein, a banana, a serving of peanut butter and a little bit of oatmeal, and I had enough fuel for a three-mile run three hours after I drank it, on what was supposed to be a rest day (I just had some energy I needed to get out).

Anyway. It was also a pushups and pull-ups day. My two-minute max pushups was up almost 15%; my pull-ups increased twice that.

Here's the updated tracker sheet.

Weight Miles 2-minute pushups Pullups 3 sets to failure (total)
8/25/2014 163.2 N/A 63 23
9/1/2014 161.6 10.03 N/A N/A
9/8/2014 160.2 13.41 72 30
9/15/2014 N/A N/A
9/22/2014
9/29/2014 N/A N/A
10/6/2014
10/13/2014 N/A N/A
10/20/2014
10/27/2014 N/A N/A
11/3/2014
11/10/2014 N/A N/A
11/17/2014 N/A N/A
11/24/2014

End of summer-to-Thanksgiving weight loss challenge Week 1

2014-weight-loss-001

Well, I'm not going to lie. I didn't do great Week 1. I hit my 1.5-pounds-per-week goal, but you'd think at the start of a new program you lose big the first week and then everything kind of averages out.

Not if you don't eat right, of course. I guess I've got another week or two of summer slacking my body wants to do, but I'm going to try to balance it well. I'm opening up the grill this afternoon, and you can betcha I'm gonna eat.

Anyway. I did get over 10 miles this week (along with a couple of goes on the elliptical and on the exercise bike). I'm hoping to get out today for a few miles (the gym's closed, so I guess if I'm going to lift anything it'll be a 70-pound Labrador who's not really into the whole being off the ground thing).

Onward. How are you doing?

Weight Miles 2-minute pushups Pullups 3 sets to failure (total)
8/25/2014 163.2 N/A 63 23
9/1/2014 161.6 10.03 N/A N/A
9/8/2014
9/15/2014 N/A N/A
9/22/2014
9/29/2014 N/A N/A
10/6/2014
10/13/2014 N/A N/A
10/20/2014
10/27/2014 N/A N/A
11/3/2014
11/10/2014 N/A N/A
11/17/2014 N/A N/A
11/24/2014

End-of-summer to Thanksgiving fitness challenge: Let’s lose 20 pounds together

OK, we're winding down the season of barbecues (read: overeating) and laying around. And for me, hopefully we're ending the season of poison ivy and wasp stings, which laid me up, collectively, for a month this summer.

There are about 13 weeks from now to Thanksgiving; to lose 20 pounds in that time, we'll need to lose an average of a pound and a half a week.

Here is the tracking table I'll use; feel free to use whichever fields work for you. I'll weigh in once a week; miles will be the number of miles I've run each week (I'll use the app RunKeeper to track outdoor runs and the pedometer on the treadmill to track indoor runs). I'm an on-and-off runner, so I don't imagine this will fluctuate a lot, and if I have more than one week at 20 miles I'll be surprised.

2-minute pushups is the number of pushups I can do in 2 minutes, measured every other week. Pullups will be the number of unassisted pullups (overhand grip) I can do in 3 sets to failure, also measured every other week. These exercises are both good measures of strength. I expect a little but not large growth in pushups (they're already a favorite exercise of mine), but hopefully substantial growth in pullups.

If you're going to join me, let me know in comments, or catch me on Twitter, and we'll link to your tracker, too, if you like.

ยป Blank tracker (PDF)

Weight Miles 2-minute pushups Pullups 3 sets to failure (total)
8/25/2014 163.2 N/A 63 23
9/1/2014 N/A N/A
9/8/2014
9/15/2014 N/A N/A
9/22/2014
9/29/2014 N/A N/A
10/6/2014
10/13/2014 N/A N/A
10/20/2014
10/27/2014 N/A N/A
11/3/2014
11/10/2014 N/A N/A
11/17/2014 N/A N/A
11/24/2014

#100plus100plus1: The wrap-up

I've just wrapped up my (own) #100plus100plus1 fitness challenge. There were several purposes here, but mainly they were getting stronger, kick-starting my stalled weight loss, and sticking to a routine. Most goals are arbitrary anyway, so I set these for October: each day, do 100 pushups and 100 situps, and run a mile.

Here's the round-up:

Weight lost: 6.0 pounds
Pushups done: 3,100, plus a few dozen here and there
Situps done: 3,100, and not a single one more
Distance run: 51.07 miles
Time spent running: 8.32 hours
Other exercises: Mostly recovery; some very light lat pull-downs (typically in the 70-pound range, where I would normally be in the 120-pound range), kettle bell swings, that sort of thing.

Pushups

What I expected: I love pushups, mostly because you can just drop and do them anywhere; it really doesn't even matter what you're wearing for clothes because the range of motion isn't anything different from what you need standing up in most cases. I expected by the end of the month I'd be rattling out sets of 50 or more.

The reality: Every day turned out to be too much of a good thing. I definitely got stronger (you can see my second two-minute for max pushups yielded more than my first), but the fatigue was so bad in the last week that I had to do sets of 10 and 15 for a couple of days. At the end, I was still able to do sets of 35, but with a day's rest thrown in every 10 days or so, I probably would have made some actual advances. We'll see as my workouts progress.

Situps

What I expected: I hate situps. I expected to continue to hate them. Mostly I know that in real life you'd never isolate your abs like you do with situps, but supposedly it's a basic exercise, so I should be able to do them.

The reality: Yep, still hate them. But I went from struggling to do 10 to 15 of them at a time to not really struggling until I was doing 25 and 30. I was actually worried early on that I wasn't going to be able to handle the situps when my back was closer to that bad injured sore than to that well-worked muscle sore, but I never quite let it get that bad.

Running

What I expected: Big suckage. I play sprint sports like tennis, racquetball and softball. I pretty much never have to run more than 120 feet at a time, and what's that take, six or eight seconds? I did try a compressed couch to 5K program over the summer and was able to run 2.25 miles and it was all painful, even with the intervals. So I expected that I'd run about 1.02 miles every day except maybe a run to failure on the last day for perhaps 33 miles on the month.

The reality: I'm fatigued at the end of the month, but I wound up running a smidge over 51 miles, with the only two-steps-past-a-mile day on the last day, and that was about a minute faster than I was running at the beginning of the month. I did 5K distance twice, and I actually enjoyed it most days. Some days I didn't even get into it until I was two-thirds of a mile in – which I guess is dangerous because it means a lot of bargaining at the beginning, instead of striving at the end, but it made a mile a much less daunting distance.

The rest

Would you do it again? I would do a run streak again. Holy endorphins, Batman, and let's be honest, my pre-workout includes a dopamine modulator, so I'm just a happy guy after a while. But one weight-bearing (even body weight) exercise every day is too much. I will definitely balance my workouts better as I move forward, even if I include something like pushups three or four times a week.

Were you happy with the weight loss? Yeah. I ate like crap most of the month, so the fact that I could still lose almost a pound and a half a week means that if I make up my mind to eat better, the weight will just fall off. I've lost 18 pounds since early July of this year; I'm hoping another 20 will get me to a good show-offy body composition for the wedding next July, and even if I slow down to 4 pounds a month, that gives me plenty of time; the trick is to continue to lose fat and not muscle, which is what happens to a lot of people when they lose weight quickly.

Your turn

I know some of you tried it with me much of the month (one person dropped out so he could run a marathon and this would have derailed him; totally a reasonable excuse), and some of you were thinking about it. Stop thinking. Just get off the couch and give it a try.

Come join my FIT-traxx class!

Beginning next week, I'll be coaching a great program called FIT-traxx.

The gym brought the program in at the beginning of the year, and after taking a class, I liked it so much I wanted to coach it. So I am.

I'm leading a demo class tonight at 5pm at the Dewitt Gold's Gym. You don't need to be a member to participate. Show up a few minutes early to sign a waiver and stretch. My class will be Tuesday and Thursday mornings before work (5:45am).

For the price, you really can't beat this program. You get four weeks of trainer-assisted workouts, nutrition advice, and homework for the days when you're not in the class. You also get my email address so we can chat about what you're eating and your workouts and how things are going and any other advice you might want.

I can't talk about price here; you can email me (that's my work email) for some details, but the demo comes with a coupon, and we'll talk about costs there. The two- and three-times-per-week programs come with a money back guarantee, and people who take the program three times a week are losing four inches in the month.

You also get full use of the gym for five weeks (it's a four-week program with a week for make-up classes).

There's also a demo at 8am Saturday, which will be led by Austin, who heads the program here.

Let me know if you have questions. I'd love to see some people I know from the community in my class! [I'll also take music suggestions to heart, and there won't be any John Denver!]

How I’m going to reach my 2012 weight loss goal

The first time I weighed in during 2011 I weighed 170.8 pounds. The first time I weighed in during 2012 (which was around 5:30 in the morning on New Year's Day), I weighed 160.4 pounds. OK, I get it, 10 pounds in a year is good. But I'm not happy with that, especially since I did a weight loss program in the beginning of the year and dropped almost 30 pounds. I understand that maybe that was a little quick, and it explains why I gained 2/3 of it back.

This year I set a goal of getting to 145 pounds by March 1. That's 15.4 pounds in 60 days, or just under 2 pounds per week.

That's sustainable, and while I could probably drop that 15 pounds more quickly, I want to be able to maintain this year, and still be under 150 at year's end.

Here are some things I'm going to do (other than checking in on the blog occasionally):

Lose fat, not muscle. This means resistance training mixed with some heavy lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I think it would be really easy to do a lot of cardio and burn off the weight, but I feel pretty strong and I want to maintain that, perhaps grow it. In that sense, if I don't hit 145 pounds but I get down to 11-12% body fat, cool (I'm probably around 20-22% now).

Use trackers. I have a DietMinder, and I'm using it. I also love FitDay, which counts my nutrients for me.

Live a little. Repeat after me: Diets. Don't. Work. You can get on a diet for a little while, but the second you feel like you're "cheating" or you hit your goal, all the results you achieved go out the window. I could pretty easily lose those 15 pounds in 2-3 weeks using a strict low-carb (under 15g or so a day) and high water consumption diet. But you know what? With a goal of 2 pounds a week, I'm going to be able to drink wine (dry red), eat chocolate (moderate amounts of dark), and enjoy the heck out of a Super Bowl party (unless it's a Giants-Broncos thing, then I can't enjoy it at all).

Try new exercises in my workouts. Know what kicked my butt during my first workout of the year? One-legged deadlifts with a 20-pound dumbbell. I've never incorporated them before, and 10 each leg – done immediately following some one-legged jumping rope (hopping rope?), which was also a first for me – had my quads burning like they haven't in a long time.

Have people I can check in with. Someone actually asked me yesterday if I could check in with him, call him "fatty" and be mean about it until he gets his act in gear. Done. And Ben, even if I don't comment on every entry, I'm watching you, pal. And there will be a dinner party at some point.

OK, I showed you mine. Show me yours.

How to be a hero

There's only so long I can let things sit in a folder without cleaning it out. I'm glad I had an extra half-hour yesterday, because I took it to get started on Nate Green's "The Hero Handbook."

Go to his blog and download the PDF. It's 136 pages, and it's free.

And it's awesome.

I already do a lot of this stuff. I get up early. I get enough sleep. I eat primarily real food. I'm well hydrated, usually knocking off about 50 ounces of water before I leave the house. My workouts are intense and are actually work. I try to indulge once in a while, and I do my best to enjoy life.

But there are definitely other areas of my life I can use a kick in the butt in. And this book is a how-to guide for a lot of your life.

Again, it's free. Go read it now.

American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure

Yesterday, a few of us from Civic Engagement volunteered at the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. Diabetes isn't one of my primary causes, but my employer is a national sponsor, so I had easy access to the organizers.

This is a really great event. Rather than a "simple" run or walk or ride, it's five rides – a 100-miler, a 62.5-miler, a 40-miler, a 25-miler and a 15-miler. It requires volunteers at many stages and a whole lot of planning.

From our perspective, it went as smoothly as we could imagine. We got bad directions to the rest stop we were supposed to run, but got there and set up before the first riders came in. We were missing some supplies, but our radio operator (yes, they have someone operating short-wave radios at each stop, in trail vehicles and at the home base) managed to get in touch with home base to get us the stuff we needed in time.

I didn't look up the numbers (the amount raised or the number of people involved), but it was impressive. If you're looking for a way to get involved, I highly recommend the event.

Getting Josh Fit

I'm ready to introduce a new blog, Getting Josh Fit. Those of you who know me personally know I've dropped about 30 pounds this year, including six inches off my waist. It took a lot of work and a I did a fair bit of research, and I'm continuing both the work and the research.

Don't expect a blog post every day; more likely it will be 2-3 times a week, despite the pre-population run-up I did (I'm not launching with one post, so if you go there now, there will be plenty to read).

My goal with the blog is to open source my experience. I figure if I can do it, so can you. So get reading, contribute in comments (comments are open), and I'd love to make it a conversation. Check it out here.