Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10,000 steps

Rumor has it that it takes 10,000 steps (or the effort behind it) to keep Americans healthy. I think it's roughly five miles. And it's the number I'm looking forward to outdoing every day for the month of November.

Why, oh, why?

Because it's a challenge. No, literally: it's a challenge. My department at work is taking on another department to see who's fittest. We're making teams, reporting every day and seeing who steps the most for all of November.

I don't think I need to tell you how glad I am the crutches are gone!

One of the best parts of my office is that we're 20+ hyper-competitive people all in one place. Honestly, I can't point to a single person and say, "s/he is a slacker." That's why we hyper kick butt on a daily basis. And there are no tubs, at all. What's more is we all get along. We have really great leadership, and no one's so insecure in his/her job that they need to overcompensate. I think it might be one of the first times in the history of offices that this has happened. In my life, at least.

So, why am I so concerned about having randomly pulled teams? Yes, the competitive weenie is rearing her wildly untamed head. But I don't want to end up on a team with people who will neutralize my ability to win. I guess I'm just afraid of begrudging someone who doesn't step up for this challenge. Maybe I'll just have to become a good motivator. Maybe I'll have to realize it's just a silly workplace competition.

Funny thing is the prizes aren't extraordinarily fab. The winning team of the winning department gets lunch with some senior VPs I don't know (I'm not sure that's a reward). The team with most steps picks up a six-month membership to the local fitness center. At least all people over 10,000 steps per day get one-month free memberships.

Bottom line: i just want our department to win. It's good PR! And we need it.

While we are currently a department of butt-kickers, we're still plagued by a legacy of bad news and service from slackers past. What better way to win people over than to pile-drive them and drop elbows in a fitness contest?

I was relieved to hear that the 10,000 Steps Challenge wasn't just about steps and walking. It's an overall fitness contest. So, all my walking, cycling, swimming, circuit and strength training, running, yoga and dance count toward my totals.

Conversions for non-step activities are done by minute equivalencies. Circuit training, for instance, equals 178 steps per minute. I do a minimum two hours of circuit/strength training each week, so I picked up 21,360 steps. If I run about four hours over the course of the week, it's approximately 48,000 steps or 200 steps per minute. And at least an hour's worth of yoga each week = 600 steps, or 100 steps per minute.

Bare minimum extra activities minus general daily steps puts me around 17,000 steps. I'm hoping my general walking will push me to my goal of 20,000. And worry not: I fully intend to do all of this without breaking myself. Just a few hearts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week one redone.

No, you weren't the only one sick of the tubby talk. I can't promise it's over. I can believe the worst has passed. (Knock on wood.)

And now for something mildly different.

It had been 10 days since I ran when I hit the road on Saturday. A couple weeks ago I felt a sharp pain in my shin during some cardio. And, well, I hate crutches, so i dropped the impact and took to the bike.

I also took to fitness boot camp.

If you dropped by my tweets last week, you caught that boot camp day one didn't blow mind as imagined. Sure, I had some slight soreness two days later, but I was looking for a royal butt whooping. On the plus side, I discovered that I wasn't remotely as out of shape as I feared. Four months off wasn't a strike out.

Day two was a little more intense, and I can still feel the soreness in my inner arms. It starts with 30 minutes of an intense circuit/interval model, followed by 30 minutes of plyometrics and ab work. Yoga, it turns out, does make you a fitness all-star. I'm grateful, though, for the extra work on my back muscles, which I've neglected since spring.

While it's only been two days, I feel more in touch with my muscular structure. My larger muscle groups definitely feel worked and some of the middle groups have burned as well.

I've tried to maintain a miniature version of Tracy Anderson mat work going at home to continue toning and getting in touch with my smaller muscle groups. I really dig Tracy Anderson and think this break for boot camp will make my heart (and butt) grow fonder.

Saturday, however, was the first time I had run since the sharp shin pain and since the start of boot camp. Would I have lost too much fitness? Would the pain return?

No and no.

I ran a warm up mile straight (sans walk breaks) around 9:30/mile and didn't want to die. Not even a little bit. Then I turned up the heat.

After 1:30 walk break, I continued with 2:10 run, 1:30 walk for about 4.5 miles. My muscles were happily loose and warmed up, so the 7:33-7:58 pace for those 2:10 segments felt just right. Typically I wouldn't have pushed that tempo, but I was so deadset on not checking pace (and getting discouraged) that I just ran with it. And run I did.

I followed up with stretching and light massage. The only quirk was tight hamstrings when I cooled down—probably a product of last-man-standing split lunges last Wednesday.

We didn't push it so hard today when NB and I ran 3.25 in 2:20/1:30 intervals around 8:30-9:00 pace. It was my first two-in-a-row since spring. We'll see on Monday—during boot camp, probably—how my body reacts.

I also biked intervals today for 30 minutes and will try to catch some pedaling in the morning before work.

It's like my own little last-G-standing sequence. And I'll be standing on the scale Monday morning for the Week one's results.

UPDATE: Monday weigh-in read 128.6, which is a little lower than expected. Was I chock full of water last week? Did I lose too much water this weekend? Three pounds in one week seems a bit much (well, I'll still take it). This is where the late-week weigh-in comes in handy. But I have to manage my expectations. See, I'm wary of accepting lower-than-expected weigh-ins because they jerk my expectations... and set me up for a setback weigh-in later, which will lead to a "screw it" moment. Perhaps I can find a way to be banned from the train.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I know certain things.

When I was 15, I recognized something out loud: I know that I know nothing; I know I have plenty to learn.

Sure, it may sound simple, maybe silly. Profound or not, it was a big step for a teenager. And it's that wisdom that has helped me learn a lot over the years. Granted, one of those things was not stop running when your legs are broken, but I digress...

You think I babble too much about fitness and losing weight? Well, step inside my head. Whole new world in here. The hardest part about fitness, race-training and weight loss is that I know what I'm doing. I know what I'm talking about. I know how to achieve what I want to achieve. I just don't do it. Not necessarily that I won't do it. I just don't.

What's even more difficult is that I can see myself not doing what I need to do before I commit my sins. So, I'm in full power to stop myself, stay on track and meet my goals. But, again, I just don't. It goes back to the "eh, screw it" problem. I take one piece of chocolate and, eh, screw it! I have 17. We could go on about addictive eating, but I think it's more than that. As in: my head's way more screwy than an addictive eating disorder.

See: I don't eat compulsively. I don't necessarily eat when I'm angry or bored or happy or sad. I eat normally and then hit on something really good and BAM: screw it! It's an excuse. I eat something really tasty, and instead of enjoying it in moderation, I give myself an excuse to overindulge.

Now, this wouldn't be a problem if it happened over the holidays. Or even just special occasions. No, no. To me Tuesday is a special occasion. So is Wednesday morning. Wednesday at 2 p.m. Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. You get it.

Can I control myself? Absolutely. Do I? Absolutely not.

Monday was Day 1 of boot camp. It was fine. I learned that the average person is mind-blowingly out of shape. I was relieved to find that, somehow, I'm not!

It was a good 30-minute circuit session, followed by another 30 minutes of burpees (a.k.a. sun salutations for wimps) and other plyometrics. I broke a tiny mist of sweat while other people were wheezing and breaking quarter way through. I'm not patting myself on the back. I'm just being flabbergasted. Yes, I pushed myself. Yes, I tried hard. It's just that I've been going fast, hard and furious for four years. So, even in my bad shape, I guess I'm not so bad. (Insert sigh of relief.)

My personal trainer for the month told me I'd probably feel some soreness in my abs, legs, triceps and back. Good for me it was just my back, which has need some strength attention. Check!

The other thing PT helps with is nutrition. He asked that I log my nutrition for 2-3 days. He's going to examine and let me know what I'm doing right or wrong, what I should add or subtract, what else I need to do.

I laughed to myself when he said he'd help me with nutrition. For long stretches over the past four years, I've logged my food. You'd be surprised to hear that I'm actually an impeccable eater. About 98 percent of the time, I'm uber healthy and balanced. A recent blood exam showed I was super healthy on all my levels.

It's just that other two percent of the time—when I'm scarfing cupcake dozens, eating my dough than baking cookies, trying out new frostings, loving the whole jar of dark chocolate almond butter with NB's caramel over apples—that makes my butt huge. So, I laughed because if you look at my food log, the problem areas wouldn't jump out more if they were written in red marker. Here's how I imagine the conversation going:
PT: "So, GP, I see that you maintain a healthy balance of low-carb, high lean protein and low fat mini meals throughout the day. But what's with this 17 pieces of chocolate on Tuesday afternoon? Or the quart-sized bowl of guacamole and... how many chips? And what about these four gourmet-sized cupcakes on Sunday? Seriously?"

GP: (sheepish grin) "Want a slice of cake?"
I'm not sure if knowing what to do and not doing it is better or worse than knowing nothing at all. It certainly doesn't help my attitude when some other know-it-all tries to tell me to "just start exercising" or "just eat this way." I know. I just don't.

All this recent following a method or joining boot camp is really just my way of getting someone else to tell my things I already know... in the hope that I'll listen and do it. It's no secret that I aim to please. I've had goody-goody A-student syndrome all my life. Perhaps that need (or the threat of shame—I respond well to that too) to please or to be held accountable will break down something in my head. Even better: in my actions.

All that not knowing I knew about when I was 15 has helped me get where I am today. Too bad I didn't I wanted to lose 15 pounds back then. If I'd lost a pound a year starting then, I'd be done by now. And I'd have to blog and something more mundane than weight loss, like... nevermind.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weight loss re-redux.

Last night's post was a little bit more whiny than I like to be. My first thought was to delete it, but sometimes it helps to keep remembrances of stupidity past.

For the final last time I'm starting this weight train again. Seriously. No, no... more serious than the last time I was serious about being serious about it being the last last time. Hold me to it!

Each time I start over I feel that the week's weight-loss sins were less bad than the week before. Sometimes it's just falling into a party of the too-good chef. Sometimes it's feeling like they might never make ganache this good for the rest of time. Sometimes it's waking up on Sunday morning, feeling light, healthy and on track, like you've lost five pounds, only to find you've actually gained two to three.

Yep, that last one was yesterday.

Talking to Monica today helped me re-get my head on straight. I told her about yesterday's weigh-in (132) and the "eh, screw it!" trip to the cupcake shop that ensued. Not that I want other people to have my habits, but it made me feel like less of a weight-loss failure when she said she shared my screw-it experience. It's nice when other people do the things you think are a little kooky. Like talking to yourself. Or posting way too much about yourself online.

We also decided that we'd both be fine if we could just grow upward a few inches. Something tells me I'd be cool with the daily caloric needs of a 5'8 girl. Maybe even a 6'0 guy. This 5'nothin' gig is the pits!

So, last night, after I finished at least half the jar of dark chocolate-almond butter my dad gave me and the tub of caramel I picked up for NB, I decided that this was it. The it of the it of the it. No more screw-it binges. Even if the scale doesn't agree with all the food I haven't been eating. I just have to stick with the plan.

And as chance would have it: boot camp starts today!

Long story short: I signed up for Cleveland Fitness Boot Camp because of a discount. It couldn't have come at a better time. One hour, three days a week. I'm really looking forward to someone kicking my ass. Three times a week.

Not that I can't kick my own ass. Another thing Monica and I discussed was our ability to exercise our butts off... without our butts going anywhere. It irks me to itches when someone tells me I "just need to exercise" or "just need to stick to get in some cardio" to lose weight. Because 50 miles a week on two fractured legs is symptomatic of a lazy doof.

I may have other problems, but laziness is not one of them.

Discount aside, I hope boot camp will give me some new perspectives on exercise and nutrition. There are obviously some serious gaps in my brain on those fronts. Plus, it's always invigorating to get a new workout, a new challenge. The only thing I'm worried about is explaining my need to be careful of impact intensity without sounding like a weenie. You know by now that I, umm, have a problem with being stupidly intense. How do you explain that you need to tone down the crazy in a boot camp? Aren't we all there to be crazy?

It might also help my plan to go someplace where they'll mark my progress — as opposed to the failed social experiment of posting my weight online. I operate on accountability. Only at boot camp, I won't be editor of the records.

So, on this day, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, I draw the line. No more starting over. Just full steam ahead on the weight train. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that GP Cup isn't going to win itself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weight-loss redux.

Believe it or not, I actually not trying to demonstrate the ups and downs of losing weight. It just comes naturally to me. What can I say?

I have to blame at least part of it on my parents—once last weekend and again this weekend they've derailed my efforts to have a successful Monday-morning weigh-in. It's not that they don't mean well. They just bring some really good food to the table. And while their fit, trim bottoms have some level of discipline and healthy metabolisms, it appears that neither of those traits is hereditary.

(Sign two of dieting trouble: denial. When you start blaming other people for your overeating, you have a problem. Don't pass go. Don't collect $200. And don't, for the love of god, eat those cupcakes!)

My best weight has wiggled around 129 pounds. It momentarily dipped to 128 last week, but then the weekend happened. As usual, I have no problem doing the exercise. I have all the problem not eating when hosted and fed. It's time to start hiding on weekends. Or getting my jaw wired shut when leaving the house.

So, this week I start the Cleveland Fitness Bootcamp. Because I like gimmicks. And I get a discount for doing it. I'm eager to get my toosh kicked for the next month (blended with my Tracy Anderson Method). Please look forward to an excuse-laden post in two weeks about how I've failed again.