Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Month

Four weeks already done on this current challenge.  It's really amazing how quickly the times flies by.  When I started it was summer and hot...now it's autumn and much cooler.  Holidays are looming, with all the obstacles included.  

But damn I feel good!  Even with the soreness and occasional bruises.  Even with the sometime frustration of opting myself out of eating junk with friends.

Through it all......I have more at the end of this month.  I expect even more at the end of the next. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Not a Runner

I use to run.  I use to run all the time.  I jogged before it was popular.  I ran just for the pure enjoyment of running.  It seemed like I could never really get tired.  

"I use to" is the operative phrase here.  I can't run for any great distance anymore without great pain in my knees and ankles.  Every once in a while I'll try sprinting and, though it feels great at the time, I pay a big price the next day with soreness and limping.  It really pisses me off because I miss running.  I sometimes have dreams of running at night.

So what to do?  Walking is boring and really doesn't get my heart rate going much...unless I do that weird speed walk duck waddle thing, and that isn't happening.  Swimming is good but somewhat impracticable since I have to go to where a pool is located and open.  

A bicycle was my answer.  I bought a fairly cheap on at a discount store.  Nothing fancy, but it suits my needs.  As I've mentioned before, there are miles and miles of walking/biking trails close to my house.  It also includes miles and miles of back woods trails that I really enjoy riding through.  Lots of fresh air, trees, critters, and mud.

Oh yeah, the mud.  Love the mud.

Feels like I'm 8 years old again. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Live By the Scale, Die By the Scale

It's the golden standard measurement for all fitness and diet programs.  Your weight is the primary number you start with, keep track of, and end with to prove your progress.  We set benchmarks....going below 300 lbs, 200, 180, whatever.  We set goals of what we would like to weigh.  There are charts that tell you if you weigh over this number for your age and height, you are fat, fat, fat.  There is even a TV show contest to see which morbidly obese contestant can lose the most pounds before totally ruining their health for a money prize.  It's all about the pounds.  It's about what you weigh.

One thing though.....it's just a number.  It really means nothing. Yes it's a measure, but only one of many, and not even a really important one at that.   Much more important are measurements of your body such as your waist, arms, chest, etc.  These will show you where you are losing fat and gaining muscle.  Measuring your bodyfat percentage is also very helpful in giving you a realistic picture of your body composition.  There is also medical measurements of your blood that can tell you loads of things that are critical to the ongoing health and care of your body.

Yet all those things take time and money.  It's the very epitome of instant gratification to step on a scale and see a number...even though the number tells you nothing.  You can gain weight by drinking water.  You can lose weight by not drinking water.  You may weigh more at one time of the day than another.  Your scale may be inaccurate or the battery is low.  There are many reasons for weight fluctuations of several pounds.  I've stepped on my scale and then stepped on it again ten seconds later and have gotten different readings.

My advice.  Forget the scale.  Pay attention to how your body looks and feels.  A mirror is a better measurement than how many pounds you weigh.  Look at it this way....nobody is going to notice that you weigh five pounds less than you did last month.  They will, however, notice that your biceps seem to be getting large or that your tummy is flattening out.

That type of gratification beats any number you may see on a scale.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cardio....also called aerobic....it's exercise that's very important in strengthening your cardiovascular system; stuff like the heart, lungs, blood vessels, all sorts of critical things to keep you living day after day.  My cardiologist recommends at least 60 minutes a week of the type of exercise that gets my heart rate up.  150 minutes is best.  Cardio also has the benefit of helping to shed fat, especially gut fat.  It's a generally good idea to do some type of cardio whenever possible as much as possible.  

There is one problem though.  Cardio is fuggin boring!

It really doesn't matter what you do for cardio as long as you are moving and your heart rate is up.  At a gym there are all types of machines you can use like treadmills or ellipticals.   You don't even have to go to a gym.  Jogging or doing a fast walk around the neighborhood works just dandy.  I like riding a bicycle.

And that's the key to get over the boredom.  Do something you like.  Music helps as well.  I tend to like the harder rock, but really it's whatever you enjoy listening to that will make the time pass more easily.  

Because that's the show stopper with doing cardio effectively and consistently....being bored.  If you are bored doing something, chances are you will not do it or, at the very least, look for an excuse to skip it or put it off for another day.  The mind has to be entertained while the body is being put through it's paces.  Your brain doesn't care whether it's being entertained while your body is sitting on the couch or sweating on a treadmill.

Though if you're going to be listening to Nickelback.....don't tell me about it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Too Old

Reality can be harsh, especially so when you're forced to realize that you are just too old for a great many things.  Oh...I know there are all the sayings that age is only a number or that you are as young as you think you are....but that is, by and large, bullshit.  The body (and mind) I had when I was a kid is vastly different than the one I have now so many years later.  I can't run all day everywhere I want to go like a child.  I can't shoot hoops for a couple of hours with friends.  I can't shrug off an all-nighter and go to work in the morning.  I can't live off a diet of microwave burritos and coffee.

I can't do a lot of things I use to do because I'm too old.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.  Most of the things I did while young were not good for me.  My body was a lot more resilient so the damages took decades to accumulate to a point where I noticed.  Now days, I can almost instantly feel the consequences of any abuse I give to my body.  I eat a piece of crap food...I feel bloated and sick.  I skip exercise....I feel jittery and moody.  I don't get enough sleep...I'm pretty much useless.  This type of almost instantaneous feedback keeps me on track in a way that being young never could.

Still play with toys and read comic books though.  I'm old....not dead.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Supplement Yourself

I'm a skeptic.  I'm very leery about the claims of supplements that promise amazing results by using their products.  The health and fitness industry is particularly thick with the claims because....who wouldn't like to find some magic potion or pill that would give a shortcut to months of hard work and sweat?  My experience has been that an overwhelming majority of the products and their claims are complete and total bullshit.  Believe me...I've tried many of them.  I wanted them to work.  But wanting and getting are hardly ever the same thing.  I've been burned many times on crap products as I'm sure others have been screwed.  It's a racket aimed at a market full of desperate people....and it is as old as civilization.  

The thing is, to get all the nutrients needed to actually do stuff like lose weight, build muscle, and maintain good health is kind of complicated.  Most people....at least not me.....cannot spend a whole hell of a lot of time planning out, buying groceries, prepping, cooking, and hauling around all the good foods needed for an average day.  Plus, I just don't have the kind of money required to stock a pantry that would fit that need.  I don't even have a pantry in my tiny little house. 

So what to do?  

The easiest answer is to use food supplements.  Things you can supplement for a highly nutritious meal that is easy, convenient, fairly cheap, and portable.  What I have found that fits the bill are protein shake mixes.  I've gone through a lot of these as well.  Some are made of crap ingredients.  Some taste like they are made out of crap.  Some are actually more unhealthy to eat than a burger and soda at the nearest fast food slop shop.  

I have found a couple that are worthwhile.  Both are produced by the Phillips brothers.  Bill and Shawn Phillips had a company many years ago called EAS.  They really put out some good stuff and Myoplex blazed the trail as a nutrition shake that actually tasted good.  Not just edible but really yummy.  Eventually the company sold to others and Myoplex took a nosedive in quality until nowadays it is just crummy shit you can usually find in the clearance bin at WalMart.

However; both Bill and Shawn have developed their own nutrition shakes.  You can only get them online and they are a bit on the pricey side, but their quality is unmatched by anything you can find in any store for any price.  Bill Phillips has something called Right Light.  It's good but seems to be designed primarily for losing weight.  This doesn't work for me very well since I need a minimum amount of protein and carbs.  I wouldn't mind losing weight at a quicker pace...but the diabetes makes it a bit more tricky than normal. 

 Shawn Phillips has my answer with his product called Full Strength.  I can't say enough good things about this stuff.  It tastes great!  Mixes so easily I can even do it in a hand shaker at my desk at work.  It has an ideal balance of protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals....geared to the needs of older men.  It's filling and satisfying.  The price is not cheap, but it's less expensive than a crap meal you would get on the go and it is worth every penny and more.  If you are looking for a quality meal replacement shake, I would urge you to give it a try.  They will even send you a couple of samples if you ask.  Just follow the link.  

It takes away the excuse of being hungry but not having anything good, and good for you, to eat.  

Thursday, October 02, 2014

You can't control the weather.

Hell....here in Kansas....you can't even predict it worth a darn.  For some people it's a handy excuse to skip exercise.  Storms, snow, ice, tsunamis, meteor showers, all kinds of things that make wanting to get dressed and go outside not so appealing.  This morning there was one of those famous north Kansan gully washers.  Hail, thunder, and rain coming down so hard you can't even see across the street.

That's why I belong to a gym.  Just like the once mythical postman I don't give a damn what the weather is, I will get the job done, and my job is to workout before I get too far into my day.  That's the key.  If I wait until the weather clears, I'll find another excuse.  Once you start accepting excuses not to do things you have promised for yourself, you will be amazed just how many there are that seem perfectly reasonable.  

Besides; I like rain.  It's only water.  Walking through a rainstorm to the gym wakes me up.  Walking out of the gym into a rainstorm is absolutely invigorating.  

I'll draw the line with tornadoes though.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Everybody has a schedule.  You get into a routine.....up by a certain time, eat at certain times, go to work, come home, go to bed, over and over.  It gives the day structure and allows you to balance out all the things that you need and want to do in any particular 24-hour period.  Without a schedule, the day is aimless and things get left undone.  It's something of a vacation and, while nice for awhile, is pretty hard to sustain as a lifestyle.  We need schedule.  We thrive when there is a plan.  I don't know about you...but when I have a schedule for the day and something unexpected comes up (usually pretty much all the time) the ability to adapt is not just tossing away the schedule, but adjusting the schedule to fit the unforeseen event.

I've recently had a change imposed upon me in my work schedule; going in to work much later and, consequently, coming home much later in the evening.  I can't just shitcan my schedule, throw my hands up in the air, and say it's all pointless.  I have to come up with a new schedule.  I have to adapt.  This has necessitated changing when I do certain things every day...like eating meals, spending quality time with my wife, taking meds, exercising. 

Exercise most particularly. 

Oh how easy it would be to put exercise on the shelf.  To wait until I was more comfortable in my routine.  Until I (ahem) had the time.

I don't do that with eating.  Boy...I'll find the time to eat!  I'll make time to eat.

Exercise should be the same...and it will, it will.  I discovered this morning that the later hour I go to the gym happens to be a time when it is packed full of people.  I'm not sure why there would be so many more folks at the gym at 9am than at 7am, but I am going to have to figure a time that I can go and get through the crowd to the machines.  I may have to consider splitting my work day up and going in the afternoon.

I dunno but I do have to find a way.  I have to think of exercising as just about the most important thing I do during the day.

I'll pencil it in on my schedule.