Bitter Sweet Congratulations

For much of this last year today was supposed to be the day of my second marathon.  I didn’t actually make it, which is mostly a story of self-sabotage.  Yes there were some legitimate places in my calendar over the last year where training needed to go off the rails.  Most of it though was procrastination followed by lack of motivation and just plain not wanting to do it.  When I finally decided to pull the plug on the whole notion a couple of months ago I was relieved.  I felt like I had lifted a burden off of myself.  The intensity of the workouts I’d have to do and the ground I would have had to make up was truly monumental.  It was technically doable, but I wasn’t sure at what cost.  I therefore felt it was best to just let it go.

Yet this morning, when I saw my friend’s posts about getting on the line to race and then his finishing medal, I didn’t feel relieved anymore.  I felt immensely happy for him.  He not only finished but met his objective time.  Yet it also was a poignant reminder that my year of procrastination and then final abdication led me to missing my ultimate end objective of completing the medal series around this marathon.  It’s just a shame I let it get that far away from me so fast, and the results in my overall fitness show for it as well.

I could technically finish out the marathon series anyway, having missed just one medal.  I’m not sure if I care to do that though.  Right now I’m not in a place of being in great shape and needing to hit another goal, like I was last year when I planned to do my first marathon.  This year I’m very much out of shape and overfat.  Would a marathon goal be enough to motivate me or be so far removed from my reality as to seem like a mirage?  I’m torn.

In the mean time, I just have the greatest heartfelt admiration and kudos for my friend that stuck through it throughout the year and managed to hit his goals.  Hats off man!

Mystery Solved? It’s the Exercise, Stupid!

It is no secret that the path to health is a good diet and moderate exercise.  What “good” means and what “moderate” means is left up to someone else to sort out.  Mostly I think that is because a one size fits all model is not applicable.  Over the past two years I went from having my weight and body fat really dialed in well to everything going to shit.  There were ups and downs in my exercise levels.  There were ups and downs on my diets.  There were some unavoidable life events too.  Is there something that I could learn from all of this data that would give me some definitive indication of what is going wrong?


November monthly update

A month ago I gave myself a call to action. Unfortunately that turned out to be more theoretical than practical.  I actually did manage to do some calisthenics in the beginning but that fizzled. I need to try to get back to daily exercise if I’m going to beat back the weight.  I didn’t clean up my diet as much as I’d like, but I did manage to clean it up a little bit.  The net effect is about one more pound of fat on my bones but no more muscle.

I have two things on the horizon that I am weighing to use to jump start my process.  The first is the idea of signing up for a half marathon for late March.  It’s far enough away that training is reasonable.  I really don’t have any more marathon ambitions, while I still regret not achieving my extra long goals in that area, and half’s are still challenging enough that I have to keep moving forward.  That seems like a great path to take.  However it doesn’t address the problem I was having in getting my butt to do proper cross training and strength training.  Running is better than nothing, but it will not help slow down muscle atrophy caused by aging.

A second idea is to do monthly contests with friends.  I have seen this work wonders with people in the last year.  People set targets for themselves and then win, or lose, based on how well they hit their targets.  The targets have to be mutually agreed upon and reasonably challenging.  What good is it for someone’s target to be to lose ten pounds and the other to lose none over that same period of time?  When done in larger groups cash purses have been what I’ve seen done.  Perhaps on a smaller scale it could be something like buying a dinner or something along those lines.

Either way, I have yet another month of increased size, increased fat and at best plateaued muscle mass.  I need to reverse these trends sooner rather than later.  It’s no mystery why they are happening: I’m not eating as well as I should and I’m not exercising at all.  The longer I wait to actually start doing these things the harder it will be to correct.

Whole (Processed) Foods?

I finally hit up the new Whole Foods that opened just around the corner. It wasn’t my first time going to one of these stores, but it was the first time I went there for the expressed purpose of buying produce for my house.  Previously I hit it up for a last minute cheese, or wine or some other product when it was the most convenient supermarket on my way.  I was expected to be blown away by a wide assortment of produce, almost all organic, that would let me indulge my vegetable wanderlust (if there is such a thing).  Instead what I got was a display that reminded me more of my corner Food Lion.


I Didn’t Need a Ruler To Prove the Obvious

As I wrote a couple weeks ago I really need to start getting back ahold of my fitness. As my clothes got tighter and the scale (with body fat measurement) kept creeping up I was feeling more and more desperation.  I needed to break my procrastination on this matter, which has been dragging on since late-July.  After three years of tracking food, two years of sporadic but periodic exercise and eating solid during the week and lax on weekends I had pushed myself into my experiment and burned myself out on the whole matter.  Yes, that was after personal trials that provided good excuses for going off the wagon, so to speak, but it’s still just rationalizations.

With my “fat clothes” that were supposed to be thrown away but instead put in permanent storage now what fit me easiest, I started the climb back yesterday by taking my measurements and setting my baseline.  I can feel how off everything is, so it’s not like I needed the ruler (or the scale or body fat percentage reading) to tell me that things were off the rails. It just provides good feedback.  The bottom line is that it is far easier to fall back than it is to claw your way forward or maintain a certain level of fitness.

I won’t post specific measurements, but suffice it to say that three months of not exercising, eating pretty piss poor even with reasonable (but negative) calorie balances and being overly sedentary have taken its toll. Weight wise things are deceiving.  I’m still hovering just under 190 pounds. That’s where I’ve been basically since the end of May, with the exception of when I was on the Paleo phase.  However I have had peaks as high as 193 over the last couple of weeks.  As more proof that weight isn’t everything when you factor in body composition that’s where you can see the real bomb going off.  Yes, my weight is pretty much the same but my percent body fat has shot up above 20% for the first time since March 2011.  That trend is measured both with the on-scale body fat measurement and with skin fold calipers.  This is actually the largest skin fold measurement I have taken since 2006, which just was less body fat on a younger body.  In three months I’ve lost anywhere between five and six pounds of muscle.  I’ve gained a proportional amount of fat.

That actually creates a double problem.  Fat doesn’t burn as many calories as muscle.  I’m therefore not only getting fatter, my base metabolism is also going down which will reinforce the fat gain feedback cycle.  That’s a problem at any age, but when you hit your late-30s, early-40s the problem of muscle atrophy begins to accelerate.  How did I have such a steep drop off?  I hadn’t been exercising much this past year, but recently it has been none.  I guess it turns out that a little is substantially better than none, even if it’s not as good as it should be.

The extra fat showed up in how my clothes were fitting, but that really showed up most in my abdomen measurements.  In three months my chest circumference went up by one inch, my hip circumference went up by 0.75 inches, my torso went up by 1.25 inches and my belly went up by 1.75 inches.  That’s the same weight but with a 5-6 pound swing in fat and muscle mass landing straight on my core.

If I just sulk and bitch and moan then this will continue to devolve into even more disasterous proportions. Instead I’m trying to clamp down on my eating, introduce at least 15 minutes a day of exercise each day to get into a rhythm and hope that some of these short term gains turn into short term losses.

Picture of Me (Hank)


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