Category Archives: Health

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

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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
9/15/2014 N/A N/A
9/29/2014 N/A N/A
10/13/2014 N/A N/A
10/27/2014 N/A N/A
11/10/2014 N/A N/A
11/17/2014 N/A N/A

A season with Early Morning Farm’s CSA

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An early season share. Bok choy, strawberries, lettuce, hakurei turnips and a bunch more.

An early season share. Bok choy, strawberries, lettuce, hakurei turnips and a bunch more.

Last night I stopped by my local drop point and picked up our final three-quarter bushel box of vegetables from Early Morning Farm (EMF). A farm share is an investment, but this definitely turned out worth it.

If you're not familiar with farm shares, here's the deal. You sign up for the season, and you pay for however long the farm thinks they'll have veggies, in this case, 23 weeks. EMF had two size options coming into the season, and there was a full-season share (June to November) or an academic season share (beginning in August).

For us, getting a larger share (I eat a lot, though this would definitely have fed a family of five with normal, and we have lots of root veggies and squash left) for the full season wound up costing about $27 a week (compare that to your weekly grocery bill if all your fruits and veggies are organic). You do, of course, take some risk. Once you've bought into the system, you've bought into the system, and if there's a flood or drought, you're not getting much in the way of veggies.

Daikon radish

Daikon radish vs. arm

We got a lot of new-to-us veggies we'd never tried before. My favorites were hakurei turnips and sunchokes. Both are crispy when eaten raw, and sunchokes get really sweet when cooked.

We got several different kinds of kale during the season, along with other greens like mizuna, dandelion and mustard greens, napa cabbage, and they managed to have tomatoes a lot longer than some other farms, since their high tunnels managed to hold off the blight that hit this year.

In addition to getting to try new-to-me foods and stretch a bit with recipes, the farm itself was exactly the right fit for someone like me. Their Facebook page was alive right from planting season – they post a photo a day during the week from planting right on through to harvest – they post recipes on their blog, and they're always in touch by email to let us know what we can expect in the box, which gives you meal planners out there the opportunity to schedule your ideas out a few days.

As for pickup, they deliver to a location about a half mile from me. There are lots of drop points, and what day you get your veggies depends on what area you live in. They also invited members to an open house (we didn't make the trip; turns out they're a hike on a night when I was working).

Definitely something I'd recommend you try.


What do you have? What do you need?

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I had a moment on Wednesday night.

Maybe it was more of a Moment.

I don't know where it came from. I'm sure it has a little to do with the stuff I've been reading lately, but not a lot. I'm learning important things from some of it, but I haven't acted on a lot of that stuff; it's really just been information in at this point.

I was walking north on suburban dead-end street I live on, wearing comfortable shoes, shorts, a jacket and a baseball cap. My right arm was around the shoulders of the woman I love. My left hand held a leash attached to the black lab we rescued in January, who was alternately sniffing and urinating (you know, dog things). The sky was dimming, the air a little heavy with humidity but cool enough, by way of apology, to be comfortable.

And that was everything I needed. And I think it's everything I'm going to need. Ever.

That was it. My Moment. What was yours?


Back to training

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I'm getting back to training this afternoon. I've been shooting for numbers at different points during the year and keep hitting setbacks (the last time I started, for instance, I was making some awesome progress, but my trainer was fired and I couldn't bring myself to do it on my own).

Typically, having specific, data-driven goals in mind are a great way to go into a program, but I'm not going to do that this time. I'm training for a lifestyle and personality change.

My goal will be to get strong enough to be doing some parkour or free running.

Here is a quick explanation of the difference: Parkour is a mode of foot transport with the goal of getting from Point A to Point B the quickest way possible, without regard to the obstacles in your way. This differs from free running, which is the version that includes flourishes, diversions/detours and fun, without the destination in mind.

So, leaping fences and running across back yards to get to work is parkour; leaping fences and running across back yards to show off (or for exercise) is free running.

Here are some of the things that draw me to this.

Fear. I have a fear of heights. It gets so bad that I have light bulbs that go months without changing until I finally screw up the courage to climb on a chair or a counter to complete the chore. If I can kick that one fear, I bet I wind up with new confidence in other areas I didn't know I was lacking confidence in.

The appearance of improvisation. Sure, there's room for a little ad lib here and there, but for as improvised as free running videos appear, a lot of planning really goes into it. You can even see from the video above that the guys spend a lot of time practicing in one particular spot. You have to really plan your route to free run safely; you have to be familiar with the obstacles, and you have to know if that wall you're planning to jump over drops three feet, fifteen feet or fifty feet.

Performance. That looks pretty cool, doesn't it? Imagine you're sitting outside at a bar downtown and some guy just comes running up, jumps onto the patio divider, runs 30 feet along it and continues on his way around the corner. You would definitely have a "that just happened" moment.

So, what's it going to take? From an arm/shoulder/back strength perspective, I figure I'll need to be able to rattle off sets of 20 chest-to-bar pull-ups and 5 to 10 muscle-ups. I'll need to do a lot of functional training, and I'm guessing that's not going to mean a lot of weights. I enjoy body weight stuff, so that should be good, and just taking a look at some of Sonya's other clients, I might be a fun trainee for her (I hope).

My biggest obstacle is going to be my diet. Most people lose weight in the summer and gain in the winter (which is kind of intuitive), but I'm the opposite. I drink beer and eat wings after softball games all summer; we might burn through 75 or 100 pounds of charcoal, all with a beer in my hand. Come winter, I tend to eat cleaner and if I'm drinking alcohol, it's typically a dry red wine (high antioxidants) or sipping liquor (smaller quantities than I would beer in the summer).

And since you can't out-train a bad diet, I'm going to either have to make some difficult changes to my eating or I'm going to have to get strong enough to do some of those exercises with the extra weight on me, which means training longer and harder.

Beginning today, I'll be training Monday and Friday afternoons. So looking forward to it!


Come join my FIT-traxx class!

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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!]


Checking in: Weight Loss Goal

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Back in the beginning of the year, I made a plan to hit a weight loss goal of 15.4 pounds by March 1, which comes to an average of 1.8 pounds per week, or, even more accurately, 0.252 pounds per day over 61 days.

I'm pacing a little short, and by a little, I mean a little. We are 3 weeks into the new year (the first time I weighed myself was Jan. 1, not Dec. 31), and I'm down 4.6 pounds, which is 1.5 pounds per week or .219 pounds per day over 12 days.

I've made a big life change this week. For a lot of people, getting a dog means more activity, since they're getting off the couch and going for a walk, or they're going outside and getting some fresh air instead of hitting the snooze button. For me, the process of getting Rufus adapted to his new environment means less activity; I tend to make my workouts adjacent to my workday (immediately before or immediately after work, since I work at a gym), and in an effort to have him doing his business in appropriate locations, I've been going in as late as I can muster and coming home as soon after work as I can. So, no workouts this past week – I'm doing it all with nutrition. Yes, I realize I could come home, let him out, and go back, but it seems really ridiculous to me, since I'm already there all day (I tend to forgo a lunch break, since I'm snacking throughout my shift anyway).

This week, I'm scheduling some workouts for my workday. I'm actually having people cover parts of my shifts two days so that I can get some exercise. I'll also get back to some quick at-home workouts, now that we have a safe area designated for Rufus and he's good with it.



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

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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.


Schedule you

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Found at 407

I've been happily following Beth's return to blogging this month, and saying "I really should get back to that, too."

I had a great start to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for you nerds and search engines out there (hi, Google!)), but gave it up to do things like sleep, eat and poop.

JB scheduled a ladies' night (not coincidentally, I hear there's a film about sparkly vampires who can withstand daylight coming out today; I might have to watch Dusk Til Dawn to make things right), so I decided to schedule time to wipe things off my to-do list.

And this post, about scheduling time for yourself, was the last thing on it. So after I wrap this up, I'm gonna put gas in the car, order some junk food, and wipe out in front of a bad movie. And I'm making this weekend primarily about me (hell, it's my birthday weekend, why not?). I haven't done that in a while, and I've hit some limits, especially where my energy is concerned.

I'm not the only one writing about this this week, so it must be something's going around.

Here's what I'm going to do going forward, and it's something you need to do, too. You know your to-do list? Put you on it. Whether you schedule yourself five minutes of stretching or meditation, a cup of coffee outside, or a few extra minutes to gather your thoughts while you're taking the stairs instead of the elevator, put yourself on your to-do list.

You're going to ignore yourself if you don't – and you're also going to be less efficient and effective with the other stuff on your list.

G'night, interwebz.


American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure

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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.


[ stability ] + [ passion ]

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I'm not one for resolutions. Well, I was last year and year before, but it turns out I didn't look back on them at all, make the goals and track them. So I'm looking at this young calendar year, and figuring out what it's going to be.

2010 was a year of upheaval – and let's make it clear that upheaval isn't all bad. I have found a life partner with whom I share a mutual love, support and respect I've never known. For the first time in my life, I've landed in a job I love at a company whose product I am 100% behind. And for the first time since I moved from my parents' house, I'm in a residence I'm not likely to be leaving anytime soon. So 2011 is going to be a year of stability.

It's also going to be a year of passions renewed.

Baseball memorabilia

Roger Clemens rookie cardMy dad and I were voracious baseball memorabilia collectors when I was a kid. We would go to card shows at least monthly, I would trade cards with the neighborhood kids, and we were involved in a Strat-O-Matic league.

My parents have started their transition to retirement (it'll be a several-year process, likely), and that includes leaving behind my childhood home. I'm inheriting the collection of cards and publications, and I've started doing some inventory. The publications start in the 1950s (with a couple sporadically before then) and continue into the 2000s; while I haven't seen all the cards yet, they appear to end right around 1990, which is when I entered high school.

So I'm figuring out what's what, and I'm picking that collection back up. I'll fill any holes in the sets, and start looking at what's up in the community these days (I see Donruss has been bought and Fleer is out of business, but that was a quick couple of minutes of not-quite-research).


I've always been a reader, but here it is January 5, and I've started my third book of the year. I've finished Kaaron Warren's Slights and read Elmore Leonard's Riding the Rap, and I've started Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room!

I think there will be some re-reading this year, too – Carlos Ruis Zafon's Shadow of the Wind is on my read-again-soon list, and since I'm already reading a dystopic novel (the Harrison), I'm likely to want to re-read any or all of Yevgeny Zamyatin's We, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange.


I know exercise, fitness and weight loss are on a lot of people's lists. But I'm working at a gym (which means I really have no excuse not to go), I'm already in the midst of some personal training, and on Saturday, I start an intensive weight loss competition.

I'll still be playing tennis and, as spring and summer approach, softball; I'm just hoping to be in better shape.

I'm also planning to do more volunteer work, more fundraising, and continue to be active in the community. By the way, in case you were wondering, these are the organizations I supported in 2010, in case you're looking for causes this year:

Central New York Community Foundation
40 Below
Syracuse First
Alchemical Nursery
St. Baldrick's
St. Jude

Photo Credits:
• 1985 Topps Roger Clemens baseball card by Tommy Duchniki on Flickr
• Books by Phing on Flickr
• Weights by rick on Flickr