Follow me on my journey to lose weight and get healthy.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

One small step for man...

...and many steps to cross the finish line.

Happy Saturday! I survived my night at work, breaking down and having a single cup of coffee (with sugar and cream, I have to confess). I don't feel super bad because coffee is something I enjoy, but I also don't want to be in a habit of desperately needing it every day. Anywho, work went quite well, as overnights tend to do for me. Somehow I end up getting super quiet nights almost every time I work overnight by myself. You sure won't hear me complaining about that!

I must admit, I was tempted to just go home after my shift was over. Thankfully I'd opened my mouth in front of a couple of coworkers about hitting the fitness center so there was some accountability/guilt-tripping going on. I'm glad I got down to the gym (like I always am once it's over), and now I can sleep well knowing I put in a good effort.

Today was the big day, my longest run of the year. For those of you who have been running for a while, 20 minutes doesn't sound like much, but for me it's a spectacular milestone. I wasn't sure how my body was going to take it, so I went at 5.5 mph with the knowledge that I could always adjust the speed if necessary. I don't know if I could have gone much faster and sustained it for the entire time, but during the last two minutes I increased the speed and handled that fine. This gives me hope for speed drills in the future.

I nabbed 2.35 miles in 28 minutes, which comes out to an 11:54 pace. Keep that up and I've got my less than 36-minute 5K in the bag! Woo-hoo!

I also did a few ab exercises, but after the fourth move I got a pretty good stitch and decided I'd better ease up for now. There's plenty of time to build up to more moves and more reps.

The temps are supposed to drop significantly by Monday, when the high is supposed to be 79 (it topped out at 102 yesterday), so I might be headed back to Gray's Lake for my runs.

Have a great weekend and be safe, whatever you're doing. And try to work in some exercise while you're at it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ten little monkeys jumping on the bed...

Happy Friday! (Insert Rebecca Black song) By the time most of you see this you will be done or close to done with work for the week. I have to say I'm jealous. Due to one of my coworkers being on vacation, I will be working the overnight shift tonight. It's 2:30 PM now, and after a bit of lunch and a little grocery shopping I will have to try and get a nap so I can at least survive the night. Since I'm trying to avoid caffeine, particularly because of its dehydrating properties, I'm not wanting to have any coffee while I'm at work, but we'll see how the night goes.

Today was my day for strength training, and it went remarkably well. I didn't sweat nearly as much as last time, probably because I've had the A/C set cooler, but it has to also be due in part because I'm adapting to the weight I'm using. It looks like sometime next week I will have to increase the weight for at least some of the exercises to continue my growth. That's exciting, though, because it means I'm making progress.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow with my long run coming up. I've also figured out that after my runs would be a great time to go through a short ab routine. The Power 90 program has a set of 10 ab exercises and it only takes about 10 minutes to go through them all. Obviously I'm not going to put forth a six-pack simply by doing crunches and stuff, but my core muscles could use some specific targeting to get them stronger.

There's lots of time left today for you to get something exercisey done, and with a long weekend ahead for most, ample opportunities abound. Good luck, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two for one special...

I ran out of time to put up a post yesterday, so you're going to get two days at once now.

I did my strength training routine via Power 90 yesterday and felt great throughout and afterward. Push-ups, squats, lunges, and chair dips are getting a bit easier to perform. Lack of flexibility and/or strength in my upper back and shoulders are preventing me from doing very deep push-ups and chair dips, but there is improvement. I'm only using the Level 1-2 workout right now and have been debating going up to Level 3-4 as it would add an extra circuit to the mix.

I went running after work last night. That went remarkably well. My routine this time was a 5-minute walk, 8-minute jog, 5-minute walk, 8-minute jog, with a 3-minute cooldown at the end. I added a little extra speed for the last 1 1/2 minutes, resulting in a total distance of 2.29 miles, which is a 12:39 pace. Saturday morning will be my first major test of endurance with a solid 20-minute jog. I might have to drop from 5.5 mph to 5.0 mph to get through the whole thing, but that decision will rest on how I feel that morning.

I also weighed myself today and came in at 227.4 pounds. That's 4.2 pounds lost in the last 2 1/2 weeks. I've definitely been helped along by keeping a food diary. I don't look all that different just yet, though I noticed on Sunday that my dress pants fit a tiny bit better than the previous week and my work shirts feel a little tighter in the shoulders and chest, so it seems something is happening. I'd be glad to be closer to 210 or 215 by the race in November just so I'm not trying to carry as much weight on the course, but at the same time, as I've said previously, the actual number on the scale isn't as important to me as the composition of the pounds. If I ultimately weighed over 200 and was below 18% body fat, that would be far better than weighing 180 and being closer to 30% body fat. In any case, hopefully in a few weeks I'll have picture updates that are worth posting.

I trust you're doing what you can to improve your own fitness. Remember, don't be discouraged by setbacks, but focus on how to improve tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cruisin'...on an early Tuesday morning...

Last night after work I trudged over to the fitness center at work to get in my first running workout of the week. Okay, maybe "trudged" isn't the right word as I was reasonably awake. It had cooled off some by the time my shift was over, though it was still hotter than I would have preferred for outdoor running (I know, I'm such a wimp!).

This is my third week running, but I'm working on the 5th week of the C25K program. This week, each session is different. Next week all three workouts will be different, too. I'll be moving more quickly to endurance building as two weeks from now all of my running sessions will be long and uninterrupted.

Continuing with my friend's suggestion, I did a quick half-mile warm-up before stretching, and I think that really helped. I don't have any soreness yet today, and that's even after doing a strength training routine yesterday, too. Pretty exciting! It also means I'm probably going to need to up the intensity in my workouts soon or else I will start hitting a plateau.

The routine last night started with a 5-minute walk, followed by three 5-minute jogs with 3-minute walks in between, wrapping up with a 3-minute cooldown. I managed to cover 2.25 miles in 29 minutes, which is a 13:20 pace. It was a bit disappointing to see my time increase like that, but as I didn't want to push too hard at first and burn myself out, I eased off a bit compared to Saturday. At the same time, though, it seems I have to put in a lot more effort to maintain the speed the treadmill says I'm going compared to running outside, so it's entirely possible that had I been running outside I would have covered more distance. The treadmill should be consistent with itself, however, so as long as I'm using it I can at least compare my workouts.

September 27th or 28th will be my last workout of the C25K program, leaving me with 5 weeks to add miles and do speed drills before the race on November 3rd. Even though my pace last night came out as close to a 40-minute 5K, I'm sure I can easily get less than 35 minutes come race day.

Hopefully you've got some goals of your own that you are working on. Try to stick with them, and try not to set them unrealistically high. Also, be sure to set little daily goals as well as big picture ones, and if you don't meet them, pick yourself up and go again tomorrow.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Heat wave!

We're supposed to be hitting temps near 100 degrees most of this week. Even inside with the A/C running, I feel a little warm. That is partly because I just finished my strength training workout for the day.

Today's routine went quite well. I could probably increase the weight for a few of the exercises, but I'm going to hold off to make sure I don't injure myself.

Short post today as I need to eat and get ready for work. Look for another one tomorrow!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stronger and faster...

I'm bringing you a joint post today. With my working overnights this weekend, I was thoroughly exhausted when I got home yesterday morning and needed sleep more than exercise. When I woke up, I didn't feel the absolute greatest and needed at least some water before even thinking about working out, and even still I almost didn't get a session in. However, Abi and I were able to eat supper much earlier than we might have normally with this schedule, and by about 10:15 PM I had the Power 90 workout up and running.

I was worried about residual soreness from Wednesday's workout, which was still bugging me when I got home Friday morning, but after sleeping all day most of it had gone away and it didn't bother me at all. Better still, the workout seemed to go much smoother than Wednesday. I left the weight where it had been (15 pounds for all of the exercises) and it was a good deal easier to go through everything. Hopefully I stretched everything out sufficiently afterwards to prevent a lot of aches and pains from building back up. One blessing is that I won't be hitting the weights until Monday.

Today, then, I hopped on the treadmill in the fitness center at work after my shift was over because of the heat and humidity (with a high of 96 predicted, it's not surprising it felt so warm outside even at 8 AM). At the suggestion of a friend of mine, I started out with a brisk half-mile walk before stretching to loosen everything up. I think it really made a difference in my ability to run as well as the recovery.

I stayed pretty consistent with the rest of this week, logging 2.38 miles in 30 minutes, a 12:36 pace. I started out hitting my jogging intervals at 6.1 mph, and managed to get through the first 3- and 5-minute intervals at this speed. During the second 3-minute jog I had to back off a bit after a minute or two, and for the second 5-minute jog I started at 5 mph, with a little burst of speed during the last minute. With the temps predicted to be hovering around 100 degrees this coming week, I'm going to use the treadmill at work when my shift is over. I'll have to experiment, but I think if I start at 5.5 mph I can maintain it throughout.

Next week I'm using the 5th week schedule from C25K, which means every day will be a different workout, culminating in a solid 20-minute run on the last day. Definitely exciting!

I am blessed with a fitness center at work I can use as well as a set of adjustable dumbbells here at home, but don't feel like you need fancy equipment or a gym membership to get healthy yourself. Milk jugs filled with water, sand, concrete, or whatever you can add to give them some weight can be used for strength training purposes, and there are many exercises you can do with simply your body. Diet is also a major portion of weight loss, if that's your goal, and keeping a food diary is a huge element in that regard. MyFitnessPal is a great website for this, though you can log everything by hand if you'd prefer. Keeping a food diary forces me to evaluate 1) if I'm really hungry, and 2) if the snack/meal I'm considering is really worth the hit to my daily calorie goal.

Have a great weekend, and I look forward to seeing you next week!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Breathe in...breath out...

With clouds in the sky and temps hovering right around 80 degrees, I got to the park much later than planned today (it was after 1 PM by the time I got started on my run). I wasn't sure how I would feel after yesterday's strength training workout as I was quite sore in many places by the time I got home from work last night. Thankfully the worst of it went away overnight and a little bit of stretching worked out a lot of the rest. Some more stretching, lunch, and possibly an Epsom salt bath will finish out my day. I'm working the overnight shift tonight and tomorrow night, which means today is pretty much going to be worthless. Thankfully, I shouldn't have to pull all-nighters anymore after this weekend and my overnight shift next Friday night/Saturday morning.

One funny thing I've noticed about myself when it comes to running is that usually in the last 10 minutes my muscles all really loosen up and my stride evens out. I suppose this could mean I should be doing more warming up before I get started. Something to consider, at least.

On to the stats, for those of you who care about such things. I got a total distance of 2.45 miles in 30 minutes, which is a 12:14 pace and is making my goal of running a 35-minute 5K in November look perhaps a little too easy. Time will tell, of course, as I'm still a couple weeks from sustained running. What I found especially fun today is that I hit the same distance as last time (2.34 miles) in 28 minutes flat--that's 2 whole minutes faster!

I'm looking forward to sharing what I go through over the next weeks and months. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my life.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Exercise isn't pretty...

After a 3-month hiatus I went through the Power 90 Level 1-2 strength training DVD. I only needed a couple of longer breaks throughout the session, which was great, but I can also feel I did quite a bit of work. I did my best to focus on proper form and I think I was rather successful. As for not being pretty, I'm sweaty, red-faced, and could probably use a nap. Oh well.

The rest of this week is going to be...interesting. I'm working my usual evening shift tonight, and when I get off at midnight I'll have 24 hours before I have to return. Friday and Saturday I will be working the midnight-8 AM shift, not very exciting for me. I know I'm going to have to push hard to get my workouts in Friday and Saturday mornings before I get to bed.

I was reminded by a friend today that it's not a good idea to weigh yourself every day, especially if you are trying to lose weight. I think most, if not all, people experience the same thing when they embark on a fitness regimen: the weight initially increases before it starts going down, even if you're doing everything right. At least some of this is due to increasing muscle mass without an equal decrease in body fat. I have weighed myself a couple of times this week, but I'm going to wait until at least next week to share the numbers so I can be sure to account for water weight discrepancies.

It's getting to be lunch time, and then I have to get ready for work, so that's all for today. Have fun out there, whatever you're doing...just get out and do something!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dun dun dun!

Abi found a very dramatic website here. It is great to use when revealing exciting news. It's a lot of fun.

The weather has warmed back up to what August usually feels like, and I could definitely tell a difference while out for my run today. It was 87 degrees when I checked back at home, and the breeze was lacking. It wasn't the easiest of workouts, but I continued on and finished it.

Surprisingly, I did better than I expected I would. I clocked 2.34 miles in 30 minutes flat. That's a 12:49 pace. Not as good as last time, but considering my runs were all doubled in length while my walks stayed basically the same, I think it's a great accomplishment. I'm always looking to improve, so I'm hoping to knock at least a few seconds off when I get out on Thursday. One bit of excitement is that if I were able to maintain my overall pace for the duration of a 5K, I would complete the race in less than 40 minutes. At least I'm moving in the right direction for my overall goal.

Strength training of some sort is on the agenda for tomorrow. As for now, it's time to turn on the A/C, do a little stretching, and hit the showers before lunch.

Happy fitness!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Missed a day...

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I am writing to admit that today I didn't get anything accomplished by way of exercise. With getting up at 10 AM and having to leave for work at 11:30, working out wasn't exactly at the top of my list of priorities.

Tomorrow, however, expect to hear from me with results from my running workout. Last week's sessions were 90 seconds jogging, 90 seconds walking, 3 minutes jogging, 3 minutes walking, and repeat. This week it's 3 minutes jogging, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes jogging, 2 1/2 minutes walking, repeat. I'm hoping to get out to Gray's Lake for all three workouts this week, and I should end up making a little more than one trip around the lake each day. Exciting!

Even though I haven't been active today, that doesn't mean you can't (or shouldn't). There's still time, so get out and do something!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A change in plans...

Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to exercise (and oh how I wish I was so much more flexible than I am now!). Yesterday was my birthday and I spent it out of town with my family, so I didn't get out for my run like I'd hoped. Rather than push my running back, I decided to get my third day in for this week and save the bike ride for another time.

Also, instead of running around my neighborhood, I packed up my family and we went to Gray's Lake here in Des Moines. There's a paved trail around the lake that is almost exactly 2 miles long, and it is considerably flatter overall than the area immediately around where I live. I think this, coupled with a gorgeous 80 degrees, helped me log 1.88 miles in 23 minutes, 30 seconds, which is a 12:30 pace. It was quite exciting to see the results at the end, and gratifying to know I made it almost the entire way around the lake in much less than half an hour. If my family can get into some sort of routine, I think it would be beneficial to run at Gray's Lake on all of my running days. I know my wife would appreciate it because it would give her a chance and an excuse to get out and do some walking herself.

I have a training thing at work on Monday and need to be there at noon, which could be somewhat limiting for a workout that morning. I will probably go through the body weight circuit. I'm also going to do my running on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday next week. I might keep that schedule since most Saturdays we can more easily get to the park.

I hope you're enjoying your day today and getting what you can out of it. It is a blessed day!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


It's funny how you can be in the middle of a workout and feel like you can't do even one more move, but two minutes later you start thinking, "Hey, that wasn't so bad. In fact, why don't I go do that again...right now?" That's definitely how I feel as I type this. Of course, I'm not asking for punishment, either. I mean, with as stiff as I was at work last night, likely due to Tuesday's exercises, I don't want to push farther than my body can handle at the moment, even though I woke up this morning and basically all of my soreness had gone away.

I opted for the Nerd Fitness Beginner Body Weight Workout again today. I just didn't think I could give a good showing with a full 30 minutes of the Power 90 routine. Perhaps part of my problem yesterday was from a lack of a good warm up on Tuesday. I rectified that this morning. Nerd Fitness has a couple of warm up routines, and I used the shorter one. The difference is that instead of 30 seconds of jumping rope (as I don't have a jump rope), I did four 75-foot sprints (and not all that quickly, either :P ). I think the warm up helped, because not only did I do those exercises, I did one full circuit and then the squats and push-ups a second time. I had to give myself a few short rest breaks throughout, but there is definitely some improvement there!

Probably the tightest muscles I'm still working on are my hamstrings, and I know I need to keep up on that. My goal is to eventually be able to lie on my back and put both legs straight up in the air without any support and then reach up and touch my toes. I've got a lot of work to get that far, but with diligence I'm confident I will get there.

Running tomorrow, and I'm still planning on a bike ride Saturday. What a great week!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Running down my worries...

It is an absolutely gorgeous morning out there today! At 73 degrees with a very light breeze, it was magnificent to be out running. A little more shade on my route would have made my excursion perfect, with the possible exception of making it more difficult for the GPS to track my distance (I'm pretty sure I picked up at least two more satellites compared to Monday, and I didn't notice the signal being lost even once). If you live in the Des Moines area, I suggest you get out and enjoy the day at the earliest possible opportunity.

I squeaked out 1.74 miles in 23 minutes, 52 seconds, yielding a 13:42 pace, a full 26 seconds faster than Monday. Some of that could be attributed to losing the GPS signal on Monday, but I can tell I was also moving faster today. What this amounts to is a decrease in 5K time from 43 minutes, 49.8 seconds to 42 minutes, 31.2 seconds. That's moving in the right direction!

A great thing about running outside straight from home is that even with a leisurely start this morning, it's still not even 11:30 AM--I still have 3 1/2 hours before I have to leave for work.

Hopefully you've been inspired to get out and do something today. Forget the mistakes of yesterday, pick yourself up, and make it a great day today!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Feelin' good...

I decided to do the Beginner Body Weight Routine from Nerd Fitness again today. I was still only able to get through one circuit, but it felt good anyway. Probably the most frustrating aspect of going through the circuit is how weak I feel. It's not that many reps of that many moves, so I should be able to blast through it, right? Oh well, it'll come in time.

Afterward, I decided to try a bath with Epsom salts. I'm not sure if it did anything special for me, but the salts were fairly cheap and I enjoyed soaking. The real test will be after multiple uses and seeing if residual soreness goes away.

Tomorrow is my next running day, and I'm pretty excited about that. I think I know what spots I need to avoid to keep the GPS signal working, so I will hopefully find out how accurate my numbers were yesterday. Looking ahead to the rest of the week, I think I will do either the circuit from Nerd Fitness or the Power 90 strength training DVD on Thursday, run on Friday, and get my bike out on Saturday.

Good health to you all! Enjoy your Tuesday, and get active!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A mid-morning run to start the week...

Welcome to a new week! I hope you enjoyed your weekend. My family certainly did. My dad and step-mom were down for a visit, which is always fun. We ate out a lot, which is also fun, but not necessarily conducive to good health. Abi and I will have to find other ways to do special things for a while, because I definitely don't need any more food from restaurants for a good long while.

I will try to remember to weigh myself each Monday and give the number when I put up my post. Not that weight alone is a sufficient measure of health, but it's a number to track, and I like tracking things. Plus, it's quicker than taking body measurements every week, though I will be doing that along the way, too. Anyway, this morning I rocked the scale at 233 pounds. Depending on fat loss and muscle gain, I'd like to be anywhere between 180 and 195, so there's quite a bit of progress to be made.

And on to the workout for today. Because I get home so incredibly late if I use the gym after work, and the lack of handy shower facilities at work makes me not want to exercise on my way in, Abi and I talked about it and I decided I could make myself run outside in my neighborhood. It's not the most enjoyable area, not super pretty, but it's right out the door. Plus, this way I can get up and get going with relative ease and still be back and cleaned up before lunch. Not a bad deal, really.

I've used Robert Ullrey's podcasts in the past, but they weren't on my computer and I didn't want to take the time to download them again. This time around, I'm using the Podrunner Intervals files by dj steve. In both cases, the music is generally electric/techno, which is fun to listen to while running. A note about using Ullrey's music: for whatever reason, the Week 4 file will show up under your Podcast menu, while the other 8 files will be listed in your Music menu. It took me about half an hour the first time I used it to figure out what was going on. I started today with Week 3 of the intervals after how things went Wednesday night last week at the gym. We'll see how that works out for me.

Today, then, I hit 1.72 miles according to the GPS, all in 24 minutes, 19 seconds. The GPS lost the signal a couple of times, but I think the numbers are basically right. To fix this problem in the future, I've got an idea of the stretch of road where I need to run on the other side to avoid interference from the trees. It's overcast today, too, which I suppose could have an effect. Anyway, this comes out to a 14:08 pace. That works out to running a 5K in 43 minutes, 49.8 seconds for those of you who care. My goal is to get down to a 12-minute pace by the November race.

Happy health to you all! Maybe I'll see you out there.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I'm beat...

Abi had mentioned the possibility of doing the T-Tapp basic workout together, and I thought that would be a fun thing to do. Unfortunately we don't have the instructional DVD, so I was soon lost in the moves the instructor was calling out. That's not a very fun way to exercise for me. A friend of ours might have the instructional DVD, and if so we'll see about borrowing it. I don't mind variety in my workouts, so using T-Tapp as part of my overall scheme would be fine with me.

So, with being able to follow very little of that regimen tonight, I opted to go through the Beginner Body Weight Workout from Nerd Fitness. I have to admit, I was only able to do the circuit once, which surprised me with how simple it looks. So there's another goal for me to achieve. I did get sweaty, so I at least feel like I did something.

My dad and step-mom will be arriving this afternoon to spend the weekend, so I may or may not get an actual workout in before Monday. Next week, though, I start in earnest.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A delayed start...but we're off!

Last night after work I finally made it to the employee fitness center and hopped on the treadmill. It was nice enough I could have run outside, but I don't have a great location to do that after midnight, unfortunately. Getting out to run in the morning before it gets too warm and I have to go to work would probably be ideal as I didn't get home until about 1:30 this morning, but I'm not totally sure if that will work out. There's going to be some trial and error as I get back into the swing of things, that's for sure. It's amazing how much having a child can make scheduling tasks difficult!

I'm going to get started on the C25K program on Monday since I went ahead and signed up to run a 5K in November (details HERE if you are in or want to travel to the Des Moines area and participate). Last night I walked three 5-minute intervals at 3.0 mph and jogged two 5-minute intervals at 5.0 mph. I felt really good during the jogs, so I'm pretty sure I can start out at Week 2 or 3 of C25K and be fine. That would also give me extra time between finishing the program and running the race to do some longer runs and speed intervals. A 5.0 mph pace seems more than reasonable to me, so my goal for this first race is to hit 35 minutes. That might be ambitious, but hey, having something to shoot for is what makes it fun.

Tonight I will be heading straight home from work to go through an as-yet-undecided strength training routine. I might just do Power 90, or I might do a circuit I found at Nerd Fitness. Either way, I want and need to do something besides just running to improve my overall health, lose weight, decrease my body fat percentage, and be stronger.

The important thing is that I'm back at it, and will do my best to get in at least 5, if not 6, workouts a week. My goal is to give an update at least every other session, if not after every workout. Feel free to get on my case if nothing shows up for a few days.