Monday, August 22, 2016

Let's Talk About Last Week (08/15/16 - 08/21/16)

or How It Feels To Make Good Choices

It's Monday, and once again I'm reviewing my workouts, runs, and food choices over the last week. Overall, I'm happy with my actions and my results. So let's get to the details.

I was scheduled to run four times and I got them all done. I completed one 4-miler, one 3-mile speed run, one 5k all-go, no-walk run, and a grueling ten-mile long run. I was going to be out of town on Saturday, so I switched my long run to Friday. Life conspired to keep me from getting to the gym, so I took my run outdoors. It was hot and humid and I was out without sunglasses or water, so my pace fell off quite a bit. But I stuck with it and was super happy to get the miles completed.

Strength Training
The weight training was great, but my Friday/Sunday switch meant I missed one of my four scheduled weight workouts. I compensated with additional miles, but I need to make strength training as much a priority. I'll get them done this week.

This was a bit week for yoga. I took my Wednesday morning class at my local gym again, but I took advantage of my out of town trip to take a Saturday glass in Santa Barbara. It was nearly 90 minutes long and definitely NOT an easy class, but I did the best I could and really enjoyed it. I know I will get better, and it's just a matter of committing to the classes and allowing myself the time to improve.

FitBit Steps
I am finding that hitting my ten thousand steps each day is pretty easy. I even hit 10k+ today, Sunday, which is supposed to be a complete rest day. When it comes to this part of my goal, I am killin' it.

Nutrition and Fuel
This was a little tougher for me this week. I indulged a bit more and I was away from home for more meals. That made healthy, low-calorie eating more difficult... but not impossible. I also enjoyed a few beers while I was out over the weekend, and that meant a lot of empty calories added to my totals.

The good news? I tracked every single thing I ate, stayed under my possible calories, and made enough good choices that my few splurges didn't wreck my training.

I have also discovered just how much I love a homemade smoothie. And that is even more delicious when it tastes like a shake. Here's what I do:
  • I have precut, pre-weighed frozen bananas and strawberries. They were measured before freezing and each plastic bag holds about 5oz of each fruit. I add one bag of strawberries and one or two of the bananas, depending on how hungry I am.
  • I also add two cups of the Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. Each cup has only 30 calories, so it is a great way to add volume without heavy calories. (No, this is not a sponsored post. I really do love this stuff.)
  • Add all of this into a blender and whip it up. The frozen fruit means that this is more of a shake than a smoothie.
The overall calorie count is 330, give or take, and well worth every single one of them. I had to eat mine with a spoon since it was so thick.

Delicious. Healthy. And totally in my calorie range. It's become my post-run meal of choice and I have not even started experimenting with other fruits in the mix. I'll let you know if anything tops this basic recipe, though. It's easy enough that even I can make it.

Overall, it's been another really good week. And I'm feeling good about myself and about the results I am seeing. Today is Monday and I am already starting off with good choices. Let's see where another seven days of healthy eating and increased physical activity take me.

Who says a guy has to use a boring straw?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Let's Talk About Last Week (08/08/16 - 08/14/16)

or How I Learned To Stick With A Training and Nutrition Plan

It's Sunday, and I'm resting comfortably while reviewing my workouts, runs, and food choices over the last week. Overall, I'm happy with my actions and my results. So let's get to the details.

I was scheduled to run four times and I got them all done. I completed two 4-milers, one 3-mile hill run, and an 8-mile long run. I have been running intervals and they really seem to be working for me. I run .40 miles, then walk for .10. Then another .40 running, another .10 walking. I also increase the speed throughout the run so I finish with negative splits. I know this sort of pacing isn't for everyone, but I'm finding that I feel strong when I run and I recover quickly when I walk. And my overall per mile pace continues to speed up run after run, so I'm going to stick with this.
My 8.0 mile summary from Saturday

Strength Training
I have finally started strength training and I successfully completed all four scheduled workouts. I'm starting easy, working chest and triceps twice a week and back, biceps, and shoulders twice a week. My weights were fairly light this first week, but I plan to add on slowly every week going forward. (Don't worry, folks. Proper form and technique are more important to me than heavy weights. I don't need any injury to sidetrack my marathon training.)

This is new for me, but I am adding yoga into my training routine so I can strengthen my core and help stretch out my back. I have two yoga classes on my schedule each week, but work interfered and I was only able to make one. Instead, after missing the second yoga class, I opted to take a leisurely three-mile walk, instead. Not the same thing, I know, but I felt good about still getting some physical activity and not just blowing it off.

FitBit Steps
This is the hard one for me, but I have to make good decisions that will help me with my overall training plan. I am choosing to let my 10kEveryDay streak end today. I am purposely NOT going to get in 10,000 steps today. I could do it, sure, but I am supposed to have one complete day of rest each week. And as my Saturday long runs get longer and longer, the rest day will become more and more important.

So, I choose to let the streak end. I will likely get 4000-5000 steps in, and that's plenty. It's been a good week and I'll take an overall 100k and consider it a win.
It's been a good week for FitBit steps.

Nutrition and Fuel
I am most excited about this recap of the week. Hitting my fitness goals are important, sure, but it's the calorie intake that most impacts my overall health and weight loss. As they say, healthy bodies are made in the kitchen.

Having all the extra activity really increased my number of available calories, but I didn't use that as an excuse to go crazy. I ate very well, making conscious and healthy choices nearly every time. I've rediscovered how much I love eating fresh fruit (watermelon, grapes, pineapple, strawberries). I've worked up a few go-to quick meals that I can make easily. And I've been able to walk away from the less-healthy choices.  I stayed within my calorie counts all week long, even when I indulged a bit and when I went to a potluck party with snacks and treats in every direction.

Overall, it's been a very good week. I'm proud of myself for sticking with my plans and I'm very happy with the results. The extra pounds continue to come off and my energy levels are through the roof. It feels good to be me right now, and I'll take that as a win.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fueling The Machine

I'm nearing the end of my second week of my full commitment to training and nutrition, and I'm feeling pretty good. I've hit all my scheduled workouts and I'm still enjoying them. That's a good thing.

And the nutrition? That's really made a difference for me. I've made some pretty drastic changes and I don't know that I'll continue them long-term, but they are helping me as I train for my marathon, definitely.

I know that I need to track my food consistently if I want to lose weight. This training evolution, I'm relying completely on my FitBit and logging every single thing I eat. It was a bit cumbersome at first, but I tend to repeat meals often and it gets faster to log things as I build up my own list of "recent foods."

Overall, I'm not having any problems staying within my allotted amount of calories. That's because FitBit calculations automatically adjust all day to reflect the extra calories I've earned through exercise and motion. Of course, I realize that these numbers are all estimated, so I want to make sure I am burning more calories through each day than I am taking in.

Here's what the last two weeks look like. It doesn't appear that I am taking in nearly enough each day, and that is also a concern for me. Starving and depriving myself isn't a healthy way to lose weight, because the body needs fuel to perform. So I need to eat more, which is kind of cool to discover.

Notice that there are two days when I splurged a bit on the calories. In week one, I indulged with a bacon cheeseburger and bacon cheese fries. Week two, I ate a ham & pineapple pizza and sweet potato french fries.

Neither of those meals put me over my calories allotment for those days, because I had plenty of extra activity to cover them. They were little rewards and I earned them. So I don't feel bad at all about them.

I am (once again) discovering that if I choose the right foods, I can eat a lot more of them. For example, I was craving a salad yesterday afternoon, so I decided to make one myself instead of buying one out somewhere.

And that matters. Not only did I save a lot of money, I also was able to control exactly what went into my salad. There were no hidden calories and I was able to track it exactly.

I started with the basics - yellow pepper, carrots, and a cucumber. I used a huge bowl and a big pile of spinach leaves, and the salad looked big enough to feed a family of four. But no, it was all mine.

I added seasoned croutons and an incredible, low-calorie pear gorgonzola dressing, and my lunch was complete.

And here's the calorie count. Considering how much food was in the bowl, I'm super happy that the whole meal was under 400 calories. 

I also discovered yesterday that I can make my own fruit smoothie at home using Silk soymilk, frozen bananas, and fresh strawberries. Talk about a winner! I absolutely loved it. I made one for breakfast with vanilla soymilk and a smaller one for dessert with the chocolate soymilk. Both were right around 200 calories and worth every bit of that.

And I'll end with a positive note. I blogged earlier about how easy it is to drop into a slump. One bad choice leads to another, and another, and before you know it, your entire workout and healthy eating routines have fallen off.

But the reverse is true, too. One good choice can be the inspiration for the next, and after a few good choices, you're back on the right track and ready for more. That's where I am right now. I am wrapping up week two of my #LongRoadtoLongBeach training and nutrition plan, and I already feel better.

It's not about the pounds. It's not about the number on a scale. It's about feeling stronger, healthier, and more in control of my life and my actions. That's how I feel right now, and I want that feeling to continue. So the good choices I've made over the last twelve days are now motivation for me to keep making those choices today... and tomorrow... and on and on.

I'm feeling more like me each day. And that makes me very happy, indeed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Long Road to Long Beach

After the emotional experience that was my San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, I really struggled to find any motivation. And as has happened before, I fell further and further into a spiral of bad moods and bad choices.

You know how that works, right? You don't feel like working out or going for a run, so you don't. And since you already feel bad, you give in to the food cravings. And since you overate junk food, you don't feel like running. And since you skipped your workout, you eat more crappy food. And on and on it goes, a spiral of poor choices and worse results.

That's been the last couple of months for me. There's more to the story, of course, but that's for another blog. I'll just say that these have been very dark days. But they haven't been the end of me. Nope, that's not happening.

So I had to find a way to get myself back on track. An unexpected invitation to run the Marine Corps Marathon was just the push I needed. And though I am not going to be able to get to Washington, DC, this October, I found another local event happening about the same time and signed up for it.

My next big race will be the Long Beach Marathon on October 9th. I'm not looking to set a PR at the event, but I do want to cross that starting line feeling confident that I am ready for the full 26.2 miles. That means I need to be focused and committed for the full nine weeks available for training.

Good news. I'm off to a fantastic start. Turns out, that spiral can work the other way, too. One good choice can lead to another. I went for a run and completed a simple 5k. That made me want to make better food choices afterwards. And eating a healthier dinner made it easier to wake up the next morning and go for another run. And there it was again, the "one thing leads to another" effect, but this time it was a positive chain that has had an immediate impact on my mood.

After gaining way more weight than I ever imagined I would, I have turned it all around with a few healthier choices. I have:

  1. Engaged Rik Akey as my running coach
  2. Begun tracking every single thing I eat on my FitBit
  3. Committed to four runs each week
  4. Added strength training
  5. Started Yoga (for stretching and relaxation) 

But this, friends, is perhaps the single more important thing I have done. I made a promise to myself that I would write this blog, honestly and openly, and that I would post it before I had the chance to over-think it or worry too much.

And here it is, the whole ugly truth. I'm featured in a documentary about weight loss yet I've gained the weight back. I'm cited as an inspiration for others but I've been feeling like a complete fraud. And I'm trying to encourage others while I've been completely falling apart myself.

Sometimes, the truth sucks. But if I've learned anything over the course of nearly fifty years, it's that there is a big difference between being down and staying down. I've been down for a very long time, but I'm finally seeing the way back.

So here's the good news. After only one week of healthy eating and consistent workouts/runs, I am already feeling better. The numbers on the scale are better. And most importantly, I am looking ahead to what's coming instead of dwelling on what has happened behind me.

In one week... seriously, one week... I have lost 5.4 pounds. It's not something I was actually trying to do, and it is not a weight loss I expect to repeat week after week, but it's a nice affirmation that the basics are still the way to go.

I'm not starving myself. I'm not overdoing it at the gym. I'm just making good choices. And I'm seeing positive things happen because of them.

Eat healthy. Be active. Repeat consistently.

I have a lot of work ahead of me. I know that. But it all starts with a decision to change the things that are making me unhappy. So I am.

And that's how I am going to successfully complete the #LongRoadToLongBeach.

This is me on Monday, Aug 8th. And that
might actually be a smile on my face.