Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fit for Wii Fit?

At least this time I can say that my non posting is not a matter of non posting.  If that makes sense.  Since I started training for the Bear Chase half marathon, I've been keeping a separate blog on my training, so as you can see for awhile I'd copy my posts from there but decided that's just silly, so, instead here I am just blogging there and not here.

Which makes me feel really unfaithful to this blog by spending all my time with the other... blog. 

But I figured this was worthy of its own post over here, in light of a couple of posts I did earlier.  In one I was lamenting the 340's plateau, another rejoicing about "breaking through" to the 330's, and another about tricking the Wii.  If you'd read through those, you could tell some frustration with the amount of time it was taking me to get through the 340's.  And really, that plateau continued for the most part until mid June.  I just seemed to hover constantly at around 340. 

I think the half marathon training is what's getting me rolling in the right direction again.  I'm sure some of it is the additional running, though to be honest I've been running and riding my bike quite a bit for the last few months.  But the other side is, the training does have me more conscious about how I eat, when I eat, etc.  There really is something about when you start shifting your thinking about food, looking at food as fuel rather than just something to eat.  It is interesting thinking through when  you need to eat certain types of foods so that you feel the most energy for when you are out running, especially keeping energy up for the longer runs. 

So, for the past month, I've seen some steady progress.  It's still slow compared to my weight loss after the lap band, but.... it's steady.  It's not feeling stalled.  And this morning?  329!  I'm oficially busted through the 330 barrier.

Yes, I'm just a little excited.

I think especially when you think about the whole "tricking the Wii" thing.  It's that stupid video game that has set this major barrier or mile stone.  330 pounds is the limit for the program, so unless I'm sticking foam under the board to trick it into thinking I'm not as heavy as I am, I cannot use the Wii Fit program. 

Now I haven't tried it yet because I had to run off to work, but....  now I should be able to do Wii fit!  Generally I'm enjoying the outdoor stuff enough now with the running and with riding my bike to work, so...  maybe I won't be using it all that much.  But...  I....  CAN!!!!!!!! 


Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Bracelet is an Oxymoron?

I have this ID bracelet that I wear when running from Go Sport ID.  The idea is to have something for identification, such as if some car sends me flying into a bush and knocks me out.  It's got my name and emergency contact information.  There were 2 more lines available so I put 2 things down:  Philippians 3:13 and Remember the Rain.
I never really thought about how contradictory they seem.  The verse speaks of forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead (very definite runner's language there, yes?).   And then there is this phrase that is definitely pointing to what is behind.  Forget the past.  Remember the past.  My bracelet is an oxymoron.
I think there is a balance involved there.  When you think of running, if you are constantly looking behind you it makes it impossible for you to run ahead well.  In thinking of this half marathon, it's all about setting a goal.  You're working towards something, not away from something.  At the same time, it helps to learn from the past.  For me it's about looking at this time in my life I never want to go back to.
I have times that I reminisce about things from my younger days.  I think about when I could run most of an 18 mile walkathon or do a 42 mile bikeathon with hardly a thought, I just did it.  I think if I dwell on that, lamenting how I can't do that any more, maybe that's the kind of looking behind that hinders.  But here's the thing.  I'm doing things now that I just couldnt imagine doing for a significant part of my life.  It's kind of nice to be rolling into 50 seeing my fitness improving and being able to say I'm in better shape than I was for pretty much all of my 30's, most of my 40's, probably even a good bit of my 20's.  There's something to be said about getting better with age.
I was thinking too of when I attempted the MS-150 bike ride about 15 years ago.  A long run was out of the question, but I thought maybe I could train up for a long bike ride.  I actually did pretty well, and while I did not complete the ride I'm still proud of my accomplishment, I look back at how I just totally ran out of gas towards the later part of the ride and think, if I knew what I know now about nutrition and preparing for something like that and such (stuff I'm really only beginning to learn) I wonder what a difference that would have made.
And maybe that's the key.  Maybe it's about what we do with the past.  If we see the past as stuff to defeat us, if we look back and say I couldn't do it then...  that's the stuff that hurts us.  If we learn the lessons as part of moving forward, that's where the past can be pretty powerful.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Toto, I Have a Feeling I'm Not in Kansas Any More... Yet!

I've posted before about my virtual race across America.  I just got done updating my runs and bike rides for the past month.  I recorded 126 miles on my bike this month including 26 today, and since I started tracking a couple years ago I'm now at a total of 1,527.4 miles,nearly across the state of Missouri.  Getting into familiar territory now!

That's the view from the point where I am according to the website.

Looks like kinda an ugly hill to try to climb.  I better get pedalling.

The Ultimate Training Food

I’ve always considered training to be a purely physical thing.  I think I always brushed off the nutritional aspects.  Which probably also explains some of how I got to be 300 plus pounds.  But it’s the little things I never really payed much attention to in the past, even when I trained for a 5K before.  Things like the value of a good recovery meal or drink after a good workout, things like how certain carbs at the right times really make a difference in your energy levels.
In particular, here are some interesting tidbits I’ve learned.
One, chocolate milk is said by many to be an ideal recovery drink.  It has the right mix of carbs and protein to help the muscles replenish after a workout.
Mmmmmm….   Chocolate!
Two, peanut butter is great as well.  A lot of distance runs will have PBJ sandwiches out along the course for energy, sometimes a bagel with peanut butter on it can be a great breakfast for right before a run or workout.
Mmmmmmm…  Peanut Butter!
Anybody see where I’m going with this?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Week 1 In the Books

From Remember The Rain, my half marathon training blog (aka being lazy #3, though this time I'll copy the whole post onto here).  http://remembertherain.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/week-1-in-the-books/

Wednesday night was our first class in Change through Challenge.  We got our training binders and covered some basics.  Most of it was introductions and covering what we would be covering.  Typical first class in that way.  
I find myself really looking forward to it.  Andrew, the instructor, just led his first class this past spring semester.  I believe he had 21 people.  All 21 finished their marathon.  Some walked, some ran, all finished.  That’s pretty impressive. 
Initial thoughts: Where I know I can learn the most is in nutrition.  This may take some work, it especially might take some humbling myself.  I’ve developed some strong opinions over the years, much of them coming as a result of some tremendous albeit temporary success several years ago on the Atkins diet.  Now, to this day I believe that low carb dieting is terribly misrepresented but I will say it’s hard to fathom the idea of anything good coming from carbs.  Fiber carbs, okay, other carbs?  Not so much.  
That’s not to say I don’t really enjoy those dipped ice cream cones they have at McDonalds right now.  But that’s a whole ‘nother post.  
When my wife and I were dating and she was in the midst of her training for a half marathon, she had commented that one of the huge values was the way it shifted the way she looks at food, that it has helped her shift to seeing food as fuel, especially as they got into the longer portions of their training.  Looking back on what I talked about in my last post, when as a kid I could just go out and do this 18 mile walkathon without any real thought or training, I think that kind of mentality has always been with me.  I could just do it.  But if I’m going to stretch myself into the kind of thing I didn’t ever think I could do, I have to think differently.  And that includes nutrition.
There is a phrase that came out already that is sticking in my head.  I’m not sure if it was in class or in our discussion after class:  Trust your training.  
Yesterday was our first “long” training run.  It was just a mile.  
Okay, I have to jump in here.  I LOVE that I say it that way.  Having been at a point where running a mile ever again seemed a bigger pipe dream than running a half marathon is today, I’m thrilled to be able to now say “JUST” a mile.  A couple of years ago when I started doing the couch to 5k training program, I hit the point in the training where I could run a mile without walking.  It wasn’t a fast run by any means, I could probably have walked it as quickly, but…  I ran it.  That ended up being a bigger accomplishment to me emotionally than even being able to run the 5K.  It was like when I hit that first step I knew te other would follow.  That’s maybe why I feel good about this now.j
So, we did this run on a good old fashioned track, 4 laps for a mile.  We did a couple of laps as warmups and then did our first mile.  13:48 was my time.  I’m happy with that.  We talked some about a few different things, got back to nutrition, discussed warmups and stretching afterwards, and I felt good.  It is going to be something like 15 or 16 weeks total, so it’s a very incremental increase in distances.  
I’m optimistic.  It’s a great group of people, seems like a good class…
And already I start wondering if a full marathon is in my future.  
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Not just yet anyway…

Walkathons and Half Marathons

Or you can call it being lazy #2.  I posted this on my half marathon training blog.

Being Lazy #1. Posting a link to my half marathon training blog.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Remember the Rain

Note:  I started a new blog, http://remembertherain.wordpress.com, specifically for tracking my training journey for this half marathon.  I'm sure I'll repost most of that over here as well.  I probablly don't even need to put this note here, it's just that I think i've told the rain story a few times over here, maybe too many times.  But it seems to be a good start to the whole thing.  I know, why two blogs, why not keep this one?  I don't have a good answer for that really.  But then again, I could give the same answer to why do a half marathon?  It just seemed like the thing to do I guess.

You know the kind of downpour I'm talking about, right?  The ones where you would swear it's made up of little drops of air amidst all the water falling down?  That's what we were looking at coming out of the store.
I really don't know who all was part of that 'we;' it was myself and a lot of strangers.  Anyway, we all stood there, waiting for it to let up.  It was becoming pretty clear that this stuff wasn't letting up any time soon, and one by one people would give up waiting and dart across the parking lot to the shelter of their cars.  Pretty soon there was no we, just me, and I realized it was my turn.  Off I went.  Walking.  There was no dart.  There was no dash.  Just a slow, resigned trudge while getting thoroughly drenched.
I wanted to run.  I just... couldn't.  Maybe I forgot how.  Or I didn't believe I could.  I don't know, I just... couldn't.
I couldn't tell you what I weighed then.  If you asked me, I'd have said maybe 350 pounds.  Of course I'm quick to point out I'm 6'5, so that's like 225 pounds on someone 6'2, right?  Once upon a time I'd lost 86 pounds.  I knew I'd gained a lot back, but I wasn't about to weigh myself.  One, my scale at home didn't go high enough, and I'm not about to spend money on a scale when what I should be doing is losing the weight enough to use the one I have.  Two, I probably really didn't want to know.  All I know is, it was maybe a year later, after I'd already started getting a bit more active, that I finally found my way to a scale that went high enough, and weighed in at 393 pounds.  Had I gained more by then?  Or had I already been over 400?  I don't know, but I was miserable and out of shape.  That walk across the parking lot, as you can imagine, took forever.
That's a forever of feeling completely defeated.
That's forever of being embarrassed that all these people who had dashed to their cars could now see me completely unable to do the same thing.  Not even for the fifty freaking yards to where my car was.
That's forever of wondering how I got this way.
Sometimes that kind of forever can be a good thing.  It's that kind of moment that tells you, I don't want to be this way.
I wish I could say that it was the kind of thing that inspired this overnight change, that I set my teeth and vowed never to be that way again, that it affected the kind of overnight life change that puts those guys on The Biggest Loser to shame.
Here I am six years later, with a long way to go.  For some of us, maybe most of us, that kind of thing doesn't happen over night.  Which sounds like it's making excuses.  Maybe it is.  Maybe it could be an overnight thing, I'm sure it should be a more complete and direct transformation than what it was.  There's no question about that.  Just like there's no question I never should have got myself into that position in the first place.  But here I was.  And here I am.
It did spark something though.  Maybe it was a slower, quieter revolution.  It started out as a sort of resolve that I wanted... I NEEDED to get better.  No, I HAD to get better.  And I've slowly gotten better.  I currently weigh about 338 pounds.  That's not as better as I'd like to be, like I said, I have a long way to go.  But it's getting better.  Better enough to be ready to take this next step anyway.
This is what will serve as my training journal as I begin training this week for a half marathon.  I've run (as in run from start to finish, without walking) a 5K now, a couple of times.  Run is a relative term, some could walk faster than my run.  Sometimes I can walk faster than my run.  Nonetheless I've done it.  I've run a 10K as well.  And walked it.  I did it with splits of 2 minutes running, 2 minutes walking.  But I was able to keep that pace.  So this just seems the next logical step, right?
This is not the story of a guy who has it all together, of a guy who has turned it all around and is now this great success story.  This is the story of a guy who is still getting there, is still working on it.  This will probably be a story as full of failures and mistakes as it is of success, because after all it has been that way ever since that day in the rain.  This is a story of a guy whose progress has been slow, way too slow.  But here's the point.  It HAS been progress.  Despite my blunders, setbacks, fallbacks, backslides and whatever other kind of backs, here I am today actually believing that I can do this.  That's a long way from being that guy who couldn't even run the 50 yards to his car.
Many things have kept me moving forward.  My wife has been a tremendous part of that.  She has encouraged me, but more than that has been such a part of bringing me to this point in my life where my outlook on life is such that...  moving forward is the most logical place to be.  It's where I deserve to be.  And it's where I want to be.  There is something about that time six years ago that I think will always be part of that.  I don't think I'll ever forget how that felt that day.  In some ways I hope I don't.  I think it's because even though I get frustrated that I'm still so far from where I want to be, remembering the rain reminds me how far I've come.
And it keeps me going.

What am I thinking???

Okay...  a half marathon?  Really???

I remember when friends or family would talk about running a 5k, thinking kind of wistfully and nostalgically about the days I could run, knowing that was never going to be part of the conversation for me.  I had a time where I didn't think I could ever do something like that again, that was something for when I was in my 20's.

And then I did it, 2 years ago.  I did it again this year.  I'm not just talking a mixture of jogging/running, but running the full distance.  Yes, it was slow, very slow, but...  I did it.

But those 10K people, they are out there more.  That's an accomplishment.  Maybe a bit more extreme, but still...  that's pretty darn good.  A year ago, I walked the Bolder Boulder 10K (talk about a party!), this year I did the full run with 2 minute walk 2 minute run splits.  Now, so far, that's not totally something that I ever saw as a huge accomplishment, especially walking because even at my worst I've always known I could walk, even several miles, when needed.  But I know a lot of people who thought that was an accomplishment though.  I felt good with this year's run, but still, those people who could run the whole thing...  that's fit.

And then there are those marathon and half marathon people.  Now we're getting insane here.  That's over the top.  That's just torture.

So...  here I am, signing up.  Hesitant, but looking forward to it.

13.1 miles?  Are you kidding me?

So here's what it is.  My wife teaches at Red Rocks Community College.  She was telling me about a course that a friend was teaching called Change Through Challenge.  It's actually a business course, but it's about the soft skills a person needs to be successful in business such as goal setting, perserverence, discipline, etc.  But it's not just about learning what those skills are or look like, but it's built around developing those skills...  by training for a marathon.  The final for the class is a marathon.  I remember thinking that was just brilliant.  They have a flyer on it here:  http://www.rrcc.edu/pdfs/ChangeThroughChallenge_12.pdf

Anyway, later she came to find out they were doing a special course of it, for faculty, that is adapted around a half marathon.  She's done a couple of half marathons before, something that I think I always figured I'd never be able to catch up to her on, you know?  But anyway, something about it was intriguing, she was thinking of doing the course and of course I blurt out, well if I could get into it, I can do with you.

Me and my big mouth.

And here I am enrolled.  Class starts Wednesday night.  I've committed myself to this whole half marathon thing.  We do our long training runs Sunday mornings, though I think the initial one is just a mile.  Now lately I've not been running as much, I ride my bike in to work most days of the week, I go to the Y a couple nights a week for weight training, I even signed up for a Taekwando class with my kids (another what was I thinking moment)...  so I get in a run maybe once a week now.  But I did get out Saturday to just try a one mile run..  so after a bit of a walking warmup, I got in a mile at just over 13 minutes with no walk breaks...  I'll take that.  I could have kept going really, maybe I should have...  but it's still like... I'm happy to be at that point I can begin this.

I'm not sure if 338 pounds is a great spot to be at running a half marathon.  That could be a bit brutal on my joints.  And yet I find my joints seem happier being abused by running and such than not, which really makes me question the sanity of my joints...  but anyway...  It begins this week.

So, if I don't end up posting in a long time it means one of two things.  I'm still really bad at posting frequently.  Or, I'm wrapped up in intensive care somewhere because this was just really reallly stupid.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Still Kicking

And it's still a long slow battle.  Still in the 330's, it's not like the weight is just dying to come off.  And yet I remain encouraged.  One, it's summer and two, I'm more active, and three, it still feels like progress.

I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K again.  Okay, I think I"m hooked, that's just a fun race.  I get into it I guess when you get to these parts where people are lined up to give you high 5's, honestly I'm amazed at how many people line the streets to watch you run in.

And of course, at all these races they have photographers who take your picture at different spots and then offer the pics for sale.  Which I never buy.  Except this time...  I just really liked this one.  Maybe because they got me at a good angle and I look thinner than I really am, but...  I just liked it.

And, I shaved about 15 minutes off last year's time.  Which really isn't that much of an accomlishment since I completely walked the whole thing last year.  This year was better, I did splits of running 2 minutes, walking 2 minutes.  But the good things is I was able to maintain that.  I'm thinking that'll be an annual tradition for me.

I know,it's been months again since posting.  I get so bad at this.  I might be posting more frequently though. I gave up on trying to promise that some time back because I know myself.  But, I have new purpose now.  This is about to become my training journal.

I'm going for a half marathon.  

It's called the Bear Chase.  I start training this week.  I'm sure I'll look atl this over time as one of those major "what was I thinking!" kind of moments.  Quite sure.  I'm thinking that now come to think of it.  And there's a story to it, which I'll get to soon enough.  As for now, I just got back from a run, have somewhere to be soon, and...  well, I need to shower.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Well It's About Time

How long ago was it I was thinking I was on the verge of smashing through the 340 barrier?  Well....  smash is maybe not the best description now, is it, as long as this took.  Although....  for one day I feel good calling it a smash.  338.9.  Totally skipped a pound!

I still get the sense that it's going to take off, even though I've been thinking that for two months and it's been a reallly slow go.  But maybe it had to be that slow to teach me what I needed to learn to get it to really take off.  Or at least I hope I learned.  That we will see.

I have to look back at the time leading up to surgery and kick myself for this sense of arrogance I had.  I think all that time that I'm thinking okay, I did the surgery thing before and lost a LOT of weight.  It's just going to happen again like that.

It hasn't.

And a lot of it has to do with the arrogance.  I had this feeling that I really didn't have to pay attention that much to what I'm eating.  The weight's going to come off.  And yes, I'm pretty darn active for my size, so I KNOW it's going to come off.  I was grumbling through the preliminary nutrition classes that it's all built around like someone was about to go on weight watchers, not get surgery.  I get that way when I think I already know it all, or that I'm doing what I know I need to do so I don't need anyone else to tell me what to do.

And then we get to January, and woohoo, I've dropped a bunch of weight already.  Can't wait to blow through the rest of the 300's in about a week's time...   and yet, January turns to February, and I'm still in the 340's.  And February rolls into March.  Okay, now we're getting on something closer to a quarter of a year and I've lost maybe 5 pounds in all that time?  This is not right.

Part of it, I tell myself, has to do with not being as active in the cold weather.  We've had a much colder than usual spring, a lot of snow at very inconvenient times that really messed with my running schedule.  I've actuallly been riding my bike to work quite a bit lately, but again, weather kinda dictates if that's doable.  And I see progress because of that and I feel better because of that.  Last night I ran two miles straight, first time I've done that in a couple years...  and yet that barrier remains.


So, last week I go in for my surgery follow up.  I'm accustomed to going to these things and them raving about how well I'm doing.  Happened all the time last time around.  Happened with my 1 month follow up.  This one, yeah, they're glad I'm feeling well, I've recovered well from surgery, they love how active I've been, really impressed them that I rode my bike to the appointment.  But then it comes to my having lost only 10 pounds since the last appointment...  ummm....  well, this is the time where we really like to see the most rapid weight loss.  Oh crap, I've got a bad review, for the first time it's not glowing.  Sooooo, what are you eating?  Are you tracking?  Oh yeah, I know I'm probably about 1500 calories, I track off and on but haven't lately.  Okay, well...  you are probably eating too much.

I can't be eating too much.  You can't eat too much when you have had surgery.

Well...  that's the thing.  I even commented on here before that the good thing is that if I fall back into some bad habits, the surgery keeps me from gaining it all back real quick...  and that's what has been happening.

Someone I worked with has lost an amazing amount of weight.  Without surgery.  She said her key has been she tracks everything that goes into her mouth, watches it like a hawk.  She knows what her limit is, and she sees where she is throughout the day, and paying attention to all that is a huge motivating thing for her.  How many times I smile at that kind of thing and think how quaint.  It's that arrogance again.  I think I've found the best way to do it, how cute of you to try it a different way.  Now I don't know that I really feel quite that way, but sometimes I wonder...  or maybe it's more like yeah, that works for you but me, I gotta do it my way....

And yet, here she's lost that weight, and I'm stuck in limbo.  And she doesn't have the benefit of a gastric sleeve surgery.

So is that what it's taken, is to get this not so glowing response from my last appointment to shake me up and make me realize I'm not taking this as seriously as I should?  Maybe the fact that I"m blogging like once a month tells me that yes, maybe so.  I mean I really am when it comes to exercise, I'm really proud of how I'm getting out for walks at lunch, starting to get back into that mindset I had a couple years ago when I'm going to choose walking over the bus where time allows, I'm back into the shape that I can run a 5k now be it ever so slowly, looking at riding my bike to work 3-4 times a week.  THAT has been great.  But...  food-wise?

So that was a bit of a wake up call for me.  So I started logging on again to MyFitnessPal, something I've not done in a couple years.  I have been using FatSecret off and on and it's got a great database, but...  it's clunky too.  So I check out MyFitnessPal... and start using it.  I've tracked my eating for 8 days.  Let me just say...  1500 calories is a good day.  And sadly, a rare one.  I see what the little snacks in between do, and... you know, it's sobering.  I've not been one to put a lot of stock in calories because I think there are a lot of other factors, but...  still.

So I think that's part of what is the key to starting that taking off, and why I think maybe I am ready to see it all take off.  Maybe?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Couch to 5K week 5

I'm not sure which is tougher, starting week 5 of the couch to 5k training program, or starting that 6 days after the last run of week 4.  This has been so far the toughest run of the program, I'm sure that delay had much to do with it.  I ran Sunday, and then Monday and Tuesday are pretty full from morning through night, and then Wednesday it snowed.  Today the walks were clear enough to get a good run in.

Might be time to think about a gym membership, we got more snow coming!

And yet, having said all that, I feel good.  Tired, but good.

Weight loss continues to come ever so slowly.  But the good news is that it's happening, slow is better than not at all.  And there's a level of fitness taking place now that is incredibly encouraging.  The nice thing about the bad weather is, it gave me an excuse to finally take my bike in to get it tuned up.  My work responsibilities have shifted to the point where I rarely will have to go out to customer sites, meaning I can ride my bike in quite regularly.  That is the one thing I missed the most about changing my job from Sprint a couple years ago was getting rid of the commute.  How dumb does that sound?  But in getting rid of the commute, it got rid of the opportunity to ride and walk so much.  So now, work is only 6 miles away, which isn't so bad, but I find myself looking very forward to riding that on a regular basis.  Especially with gas prices going back up.

There are times I wonder, should I have done the surgery?  I mean, I'm not losing weight all that fast, I see people all around losing it without surgery and doing great.  I saw an update from an old friend that I hadn't seen for awhile, who had lost a BUNCH of weight and looks incredible.  I watch the Biggest Loser on TV and what they accomplish is amazing.  I think about times I've lost so much weight on my own, and... did I do the right thing?

And then I hear about people finding out about conditions or things they never would have known were going on, things that may or may not have been caused by weight or exacerbated by weight.  I remember when I had my workups a couple years ago and just some little things here and there and I realize, yes, I did do the right thing.  I took a huge step to change something in my life and it IS making a difference.  Surgery is not what is needed by everyone in my situation, but having said that I know with full confidence that it was the best answer for me.

I thank God for how people I know and care about have been through some amazing challenges in life and have been able to come through with a whole new perspective on life.  I'm amazed at things that I see.  And...  I also thank Him for where my life is going.  Life is good.  Pretty darn good at that!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Little Scary How Much Google is Taking Over

So here I am, for the first time, making a post from a Chromebook.  It's a little laptop but with Google Chrome operating system.  I originally got it for the kids to use so they don't use my laptop, but I find myself thinking maybe I'll keep this and let the kids use it.  It would certainly come in handy for taking to classes, it's nice and compact.

But I find myself thinking, wow...  it's like Google has taken over my life.  Now I've got their laptop.  I've been an android junkie for awhile, living off my cell phone which is powered by, guess who, Google.  I use their navigation program all the time for work.  Right now, I'm thinking that if the powers that be at Google wanted to become megolomaniacs intent on ruling the world, the only thing that stops them is that evil Empire at Apple.  But then again, my apple addict friends would argue that it's Google that's the evil empire.  If the two ever got together, look out.

I did run into one disappointment though when it comes to Android this past weekend, as it would relate to this blog anyway.  I've always loved having the applications on my phone for workouts and such.  While doing the Couch to 5K workouts, I've been tracking with two different apps, Endomondo and Active.com's Couch to 5K trainer.  This weekend, Best Buy had the Wahoo Blue heart rate monitor strap on sale.  I've always been thinking of getting one of these monitors that can connect via Bluetooth so that programs like Endomondo can also track heartrate, so I was pretty happy about that.  It's advertised as being for iPhones "and other Smart Bluetooth" devices.  My Galaxy S3 has Smart Bluetooth capability, sweet.  So I pick one up.  Only to find out that I need Wahoo's application to sync up and, guess what...  they don't make an Android app.  So, my wife, who has an iPhone, got to inherit my nifty little gadget.

So, yesterday I did run the third workout of week two on the Couch to 5K training program.  Heart-rate-monitor-free, albeit.  I will say I'm a bit surprised how good I've felt so far this time around.  In week two, you do a five minute warm up walk, run 90 seconds, walk 2 minutes, run 90, walk 2, etc until you've done six of the 90 second run intervals, then you do a cool down walk of 5 minutes.  It's a total of 31 minutes.  Last summer I tried doing the C25K program again, and mid way through week 2 pulled a calf muscle and got slowed way down, never really did complete the program in time for the Firefly Run, a 5K I was training for, but still was able to run/walk the course.  But this time around, I feel even better.  It's harder to compare with the training that I documented better earlier in this blog, but one thing I will say is that I do feel more like I'm running than I remember ever feeling during the running segments.  I've lengthened out my stride, don't feel like I'm shuffling as much and don't feel like the motion is nearly as herky jerky as I felt before.  Add to that I'm a good 40 pounds heavier than when I was training the first time...  but I don't feel the stress in my joints that I've felt in times past either.

And yes, the plateau remains.  There are times I shake my head and think, I'm eating less, I'm doing a great job getting a work out in every day, and yet...  everything remains the same.  I know that if I were continuing to use the BodyMedia armband I've talked about in the past, which measures all my activity, it would show I'm burning a butt ton of calories, a LOT more than I'm eating.  And yet the plateau remains.

Having said that...  I'm not that concerned.  Okay, maybe the fact that I'm talking about it points to a small level of concern.  But there is something that is telling me I'm on the edge of busting through that plateau.  Maybe it's the past experience?  I've been here before, after my last surgery.  Not for nearly as long, I know that.  But I remember being at a point for awhile, being a bit perplexed at how I wasn't really losing weight even though I was eating less and working out a lot more.  And then it was like something burst.  I think that's where I am now.  I feel better, I feel lighter, I feel the effect of the runs and the workouts and all, and it's a good feeling.  I don't know if it's that the workouts are kind of helping the plateau along in some way, whether it's the building muscle (which we all know the mantra that muscle is heavier than fat), or what.  But I know I've felt this before, this point where it's like the weight is making one last stand, or that my body is preparing or whatever and that's keeping it here in the low 240's...  but something is about to break.

I believe it.  Okay, mostly anyway.  I will admit that a part of me says, yeah, it's been a month and I've been thinking it's going to be any time now.  At this point a month ago I was looking forward to hitting the 330's by the start of the year...  and now I'm looking forward to hitting the 330's by February.

And this is the point where plateaus do such nasty damage because it gets you into that kind of thinking.  That's why, I know it's better to focus on that part that, honestly I can't really back it up other than knowing there is something deep down that just tells me, it's about to break free.  Sometimes you just have to have that confidence, because that confidence keeps you doing the stuff you gotta do to make it happen, you know?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tricking the Wii

There was a period after my last surgery where I got pretty active with the Wii Fit.  There are a number of pretty nifty aerobic exercises, really a bunch of things.  So I think to myself, okay, I'll give that a try again.  

Just one problem.  It wouldn't let me.  It seems that 330 is the maximum weight it will accept.  The little balance board that goes with it can actually measure your weight among other things, and it pretty bluntly let me know sorry dude, you're too fat.  Come back when you are a little lighter.  

So I'm thinking I really don't want to wait.  I heard about people putting foam under the balance board to trick the wii.  I looked around, no foam.  Thought about 'borrowing' some batting from my wife's quilting stuff, that's kinda foam like.  She wasn't too keen on that idea.  So...  I tried a towell.  A couple three folds later, just enough to push up against the bottom of the board but little enough to allow it to still settle in some when I step on it (and to keep it from groaning too loud) and, voila.  The Wii now thinks I'm 300 pounds.  Woohoo!

Okay, so I'll have to reset my character when I get to where I can actually get on it without using the towell.

But, 29 minutes of actual exercise later, with heart rate ranging 125-135 beats a minute during the exercise, is a good start.  Sure, I could do some stuff probably without the Wii just as well, but...  something about having the goofy little characters prodding you on works pretty nicely at keeping you going.  And it gives you somethign to shoot for.  Not a bad little tool really.

I feel like that's a good follow up to yesterday.  I started my couch to 5K training last night.  1.75 miles in 30 minutes.  Active.com has a good training app for that now, there's even a drill sergeant kinda character that shouts commands at you to run or walk.  Having said that, I might like Endomondo a bit better though in the kind of reports it gives you.  You can customize it for the kind of intervals involved.  So maybe I'll run both.  But the nice thing is, I can walk today after doing the workout, and even have the energy to do the Wii fit, so I think that's pretty positive.

Here in the next few days we'll see if some of this additional exercise will help get me off this plateau.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Lapband verses the Sleeve

Today marks my 8 week anniversary of having the Gastric Sleeve done.  It's interesting because I am in the rather unique position of being able to compare surgeries, having had the lapband a couple of years ago.

In September 2010, I had the lapband surgery.  A little band was placed around the top portion of my stomach, creating a small pouch at the top of my stomach.  When I would eat, the food would sit in that pouch first, creating a full feeling pretty much right away.  Success for me was pretty amazing, losing 60 pounds or so over the next 5 months.  However, by that following February, the band had slipped in a pretty major way, with most of my stomach having slipped through it.  It had gotten to where it was keeping me from being able to keep down any fluid or food, and had to be removed.

I had gone from 352 pounds to under 290.  Right before I had the band removed I weighed in at 267, though I don't know that I could ever say that was a "real" weight because there was nearly a week of really not getting any food into my system at all, not to mention being extremely dehydrated.  After the band was removed, I settled in at right around 290.  Over the next couple of months I think I moved up to around 300 pounds, hovered there for several months, then slowly regained pretty much everything I had lost, and then some, getting up to 375 pounds.

So, on November 20 I was back in, this time getting the Gastric Sleeve.  This is a more permanent procedure, as a pretty good portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a rather small sleeve for holding food (thus the name).  Right now, I'm sitting at 344 pounds.

As far as how it felt after surgery and all, I would say the two are pretty similar.  Now with the lapband, I was at home the same night after surgery, after the sleeve they kept me overnight.  I don't know how much that had to do with the procedure itself and how much had to do with the approach of the different surgeons and hospitals.  Overall, I felt the recovery and the way I felt after surgery was pretty much the same.  The only difference was that with the sleeve, I had a surgical drain in place for a week, which was a big nuisance.

As far as diet, at this point it is all pretty much the same.  You can eat pretty much anything, it's just that the quantity is limited.  I do believe that I can eat more with the sleeve, but not by a huge amount.  After the lap band I could eat maybe 4-5 ounces of solid food at one time, now maybe 6-7 ounces.

In the end, I don't know that I would say that either one felt any different than the other or that I would prefer one over the other.  My weight loss was more rapid with the lapband than it has been this time around.  I'm sure there's a strong correlation with that last bit of being able to eat more.  I think too I tend to graze on food between meals now which has some effect.  Finally, my level of activity was much much higher after the lapband because of all the walking I would do going to work and back.  Truth is, that is an excuse as much as anything.  I pushed myself into that kind of situation with the activity, and right now I'm working on doing the same thing now.

There will be other posts I'm sure talking about the differences and similarities.  One thing I want to make sure is clear to anyone thinking about surgery or just wanting to know about having it done.  Having surgery is not an easy way to losing weight.  That's how I used to look at it, it was taking the easy way out.  Long long ago I mentioned what one doctor said.  It's more like it levels the playing field so that diet and exercise CAN really make the difference.  I believe that's what I'm really coming to understand especially this time around is, surgery does not replace diet and exercise.  It's really more of a safety net.  It's kind of like, when it is too easy to slip back into some old ways and really snarf down some food, well, I can't do that.  You learn pretty quickly where your limits are and how miserable you get if you eat too much.  And that kind of serves as a check or balance.  In the end, you still have to do the exercise, you still have to eat wisely.  That's the only way you lose the weight.  Believe me, it's very possible to not eat wisely after surgery, it's very possible to defeat the surgery.  But in the end, maybe the best way to put it is it gives you a way to stop the backslide before it gets out of control, if that makes sense.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Slow progress

I'm not sure you can call it progress.  Here I am 11 days later and my weight is pretty much the same.  Okay, strike that 'pretty much,' it IS the same.  I'm a little surprised by the plateau, and by just the slower progress than last time around.  

But, maybe I shouldn't be so surprised really.  I went through and updated my exercise.lbl.gov stats (where you walk/run/bike across the country virtually) off my recorded workouts on my phone apps, and it was really pretty striking the difference in exercise after my first surgery and now.  Back then, I was commuting to work, and my work was a mile away from the light rail station, my home is 3 miles from it, and because of the wonkiness of my work schedule often it made more sense to walk those segments than to wait for a bus. So, back then, it was not uncommon for me to get in 4-5 miles of walking in in a day's time.  Today, I'm making a decent effort to get out and exercise more, trying to work in a good walk during lunch break or something like that.  That said, right now I'm averaging a mile a day instead of the 3 miles a day I averaged in November.  I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.

The other thing that I am finding is that I can eat more today than I could after that surgery.  It's still not nearly as much as I could before surgery, and that is a good thing.  

I do know a plateau is not uncommon.  But usually that just means it is time to change things up.

One decision I made is, I want to participate in some runs this year, get back to being able to run longer distance.  Last year, I actually did three, though I walked all of two of them and a portion of the third.  

So, this year, I've set a goal to comletely run six races.  I'm starting with the Spring Fever 5k in Golden on March 23.  The timing is perfect for doing a 9 week Couch to 5K training program.  Then there is the Cherry Creek Sneak at the end of April, I'm thinking of doing the 5 mile option this time, then the 10K Boulder Bolder on Memorial Day.  10K may be as long as I go, I just know that the time commitment for doing something longer like a half marathon may be more than I can do with work and school also demanding a lot of my attention, not to mention family.  But maybe after Boulder, I can revisit that thought.

Training officially begins in one week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Another year, another surgery

In one of my last posts, which was a really really long time ago, I said something about if I were to find myself gaining my weight back substantially at all, it would be time to consider going back in for surgery.

Well...  I did, and I did.

After I had surgery to remove my lapband, I gained some weight pretty quickly and then managed to hover around the 300 to 320 pound mark for quite awhile.  I believe my low after the first surgery was 267, though part of that was having a week to week and a half of not really receiving any food or fluid because my lap band had slipped down around my stomach in such a way as to cut off everything.  So I would say maybe 285 would be closer to what I really got to.

For close to a year, I did really pretty well.  I took to running, ran the 5K in April after the surgery, felt good...  I was working a commuter job and managed to work a lot of exercise into the commute, including some 17 mile bike rides, and that definitely helped.

And then I changed jobs.  It was a job I enjoyed more, I worked as a field technician for a telecom company starting August of 2010.  The job did require a fair bit of activity from time to time, but also a lot of driving, and it was a time I got into some old habits.  To the point I was getting back to where I was before my surgery and remembering how I swore I would never go back.  So...  here I was, back again, and this time deciding that I needed to go a more permanent route.

So, on Novermber 20, I was back at it again.  I mentioned before the only other option was a gastric bypass, but that was not accurate.  At least with my doctor, it appears that they have begun doing a lot more gastric sleeve procedures than lapbands due to the higher rate of complication with the lapband.  In the sleeve, to put it simply, they lop off a fair bit of your stomach, creating a smaller space for food.  I foudn that preferable to the bypass because of the nutritional concerns with the bypass, and so....   here I am again, post surgery once again.  And...   feeling better once again.  Today just passed my six weeks since surgery meaning I'm pretty much full speed as far as recovery, eating, etc.  So....  we shall see how this goes eh?

Pre-surgery I got back up to about 375.  I'm about 342 right now.  I think the weight loss has been slower this time around, and maybe that has a lot to do with how involved I got in the walking portion of my commute to work after the last one...  and I think I can eat a bit more than I could after the last one, so that also makes a difference.

That said, I feel great.  I'm starting to feel like walking more again, actually wanting to start running again, have a lot more energy, and...   very optimistic.

Not a bad place to be to start a new year eh?