Friday, January 12, 2007

The Ten Day Wall

Last night, I did my day ten workout in Body for Life. Hopefully, this is a good sign for my eventual success.

I mentioned the "New Year's Resolutionists" in my last post, referring to the vast crowd that begins and exercise program on January 2nd. Well, I don't have official numbers to back any of this up, but there are three critical milestones in a New Year's workout plan. There is a whole crowd that drops out after one workout. Yes, I'm not kidding. One. They frantically re-arrange their schedule, maybe even shell out the big bucks on a contract at a gym, go one time, and quit. There is a subset of this group that gets a treadmill or elliptical for Christmas and sets it up in the main room of the house, maybe right in front of the television. This new exercise wonder gets used once or twice. Then a week goes by. Then a month goes by. And something gets stacked on top of it, or it gets moved to a corner. Within a year, it's in the basement, or the garage, or is being used as a planter.

Then there's the one week crowd. They start on Tuesday after New Year's day. They make it to the next Tuesday. They've worked out hard for an entire week. They get on the scale for the one week weigh in. They must have lost ten pounds, maybe fifteen. They look down at the display. Zero. Nada. Niente. "This exercise stuff is bogus," they mutter as they shove their new elliptical in the corner of the garage next to last year's treadmill and the ten year old exercise bike that's being used as a planter.

So, if one makes it past the one week barrier, what could possibly stand in one's way. How about the ten day wall. "But, we've made it through a week," you say, wringing your hands with anxiety. "Why would we quit at ten days?" I didn't invent the human Psyche
, I just observe it. So what is it about ten? Does the extra digit intimidate us? Is it our inherent need to fit everything into the base ten numbering system (even though the natural world and virtual world alike all run in binary)? Who knows? All I know is that by January 12th, most of the New Year's Resolutionists have fallen on the swords of their good intentions and have been carried from the battlefield, to be seen no more (at least until January 2nd of next year).

But I'm now past day ten and I'm darn close to the all-important twelth workout. Psychologists have determined that it takes an average of twelve repetitions of an action for the human mind to form a habit around it. So, at twelve workouts, you've hurdled past the ten day wall and you've reached the point where exercise is something of a habit. And it's clear sailing until the one month moat. Just kidding, although the inimitable Skwigg (check out her blog on fitness and general madness) refers to something known as the "four week freakout".

So, for the record, my last weigh in, on Tuesday, showed that I had lost a pound. This isn't statistically significant (yet), but at least the trend is in the right direction. I feel more energetic, although I did sneak in a short nap after work last night. I finished my week one video diary. I don't have a link to it yet. I shot some video clips for week two, which I plan to assemble into a coherent something-or-other over the weekend.

I had a good workout last night. I even surprised myself by going up in weight on some things I didn't expect to. More later. Ciao.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

From Summer into Fall into Winter

Well, it's been some time since I wrote. A surprisingly long time, actually. In fact, I really don't know where to start. How about last Summer? Yeah, that's as good a place as any.

Well, this past Summer, Cheryl decided she wanted to make another attempt at a century ride. If you don't know what I'm talking about, its a hundred miles on a bicycle. She and I attempted one a long time ago and, due to screaming headwinds (20 mph, gusting to 30 mph), we quit at the halfway point. Cheryl's always been unhappy about not finishing. So, there was one in September of this year. We trained for it, mostly on the weekends, since I was in a play that rehearsed every weeknight. Another result of my rehearsal schedule was that I didn't get in much exercise during the week and I wasn't eating right.

Now, a year previously, I rode in the MS150, which is a 150 mile bike ride over two days. I finished that without killing myself. In fact, I felt like it wasn't that hard at all. Of course, that was a month and a half after my first Body for Life Challenge, so I was in great shape and weighed in at 171 pounds. Going into this century ride, I was not in such great shape and I weighed in at around 180 pounds.

But we did it anyway. And we finished. There was a point at about 80 miles when I was pretty sure I wanted nothing more than to quit, but Cheryl was determined to finish and I couldn't bear to let her down. So I led the way over the last 20 miles, basically moving forward on determination alone.

Well, I got involved in another play, which turned out to be more stressful than any I'd done in a long time. I started eating the wrong things in the wrong quantities and collapsing on the couch every day after work. When the play was over, the holidays started and I went a little crazy with food and sweets. So, the day after Christmas, realizing that my belt was feeling tighter than it should, I got on the scale.

I was at 188 pounds. This was only one pound lighter than I weighed before I started Body for Life. Now, I'm hopeful that more than a little of that is muscle instead of fat, but I can tell that a lot of it is right around my waistline.

So, I've joined the ranks of the new year's resolutionists. You know what I mean, right? Just go to a gym on January 2 and you'll be lucky to get in the door. Everyone starts a new diet or exercise program on January 2. And most of them are gone by January 10.

Me, I stocked back up on nutrition bars, started cutting back on all the things I'd been bingeing on, and started the Body for Life program for the fifth time. Of those five starts, I only have one finish so far. But I don't want to go through life looking and feeling the way I do at 188 pounds.

So, I'm one week into the program. I have six workouts, three with weights and three aerobic, behind me already. I also got in some running and walking thanks to some great out of season weather. I have eleven more to go. So we'll see what happens.

I'm attempting to keep a video journal of the experience to let people follow along, but I'm having a devil of a time editing it with Microsoft Movie Maker (horrible, horrible software package, but free). If and when I get that posted, I'll add a link to it.

Well, I'm supposed to do lower body tonight. I hate lower body, but at least it's short. Gotta run. More soon.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A short post....yeah right

I would probably post more often to this blog if I could keep my posts a little shorter, but I nearly always seem to have a ton of things to say.

So, I'll get right to it. My Body for Life Challenge was derailed about five weeks ago when I started feeling tired all the time and nauseous most of the time. My digestion was all messed up (I won't go into details on that). About two weeks ago, I started to feel better and got in a few workouts. I had one day when I went back to feeling lousy. Of course, it was our wedding anniversary, and we went out to dinner. I spent most of it trying to eat some token amount of food, the very sight of which made me feel ill. Thankfully, I started feeling normal again the next day.

So, where does that leave me? I have no idea. I've been working out, just not on any schedule. My diet is chaotic right now. My weight is down, but I don't feel like my lean weight is staying positive. Plus, I have a ton of commitments this summer, including a band, a play, a short story book to edit, a novel to write, and maybe even some leisure time. Some sleep might be nice too...

Cheryl is still nearly running circles around me on the bike. She jumped in our newly-opened pool yesterday and swam a mile. I did half a mile the day before and I could barely move my neck yesterday.

I definitely haven't met all my goals so far this year. I guess I'll just keep going, moving forward when and where I can, and try to be patient. Or maybe I should look into those prosthetic washboard abs...

Um....., no.

Monday, April 03, 2006

How many workouts does that equal?

Okay, I mentioned in my last post that I missed an aerobic workout on Wednesday due to a recording session. I missed the next aerobic workout because we were out late on Friday with another couple and I just didn't have the juice left to get on the bike at 11:45PM. So, I was thinking of getting on the exercise bike Saturday night after doing my weight workout earlier in the day. It turns out it wasn't necessary.

Cheryl and I took advantage of a really beautiful Spring day to go biking Saturday afternoon (after my lower body weight workout). Aside from some strong winds (which seem to always be headwinds somehow), it was a perfect day. The sky was clear, the temperature was cool but not cold. We went on our usual route across the river. On the way back, Cheryl suggested we ride up into old St. Charles to see the Tartan Day festivities. So, we strolled around the festival for awhile and headed home. Our mileage for the day was something over thirty miles, I think about thirty-three. I'm no longer worried about missing those two workouts.

As usual, the body fat calculations between the Tanita scale and the calipers are totally conflicting. In fact, the body fat calculations from the scale show my body fat going up. The calipers show it going down. I tend to trust the calipers, obviously, since they are a direct measurement. So, the one-site measurement says I'm at about 18% and the four-site measurement says I'm just under 25%. Not very consistent. But the trend is good, because they both went down from a little over a week ago. My weight is also down about two and half pounds. So, it's all going well so far.

I should mention that Cheryl has worked a lot harder than I have over the winter. It really showed on our bike ride. The only place I ever got ahead of her was on the hills and I should mention that I have a lighter bike with lighter wheels. For the most part, she kept up with me or rode ahead of me for most of the ride. All I can say is "wow"!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Spring into action

Okay, this title is a little obvious. I started a new round of the Body for Life challenge on March 21, more or less the first day of Spring. I didn't really choose this day for symbolic reasons. It just worked out that way. My wife and I had just returned from vacation and suddenly, for the first time in months, my schedule was wide open. Factor in that we had just come back from a week in Florida where I was very conscious of how I looked with my shirt off, and I had all the time and incentive I needed to start up the challenge again.

I did hedge a little. I decided not to post any blog entries for the first week, mainly because I didn't want to do a lot of talking without having stuck with it for awhile. So, I've made it this far. I missed one aerobic workout, which I hope to make up this weekend. I squeezed in my upper body workout around 11PM last night after spending the evening working on recording some drum tracks for the band I'm in. But I started my lunchtime walking program again. I even resisted today when my walking partner suggested blowing off our walk and going to lunch.

The first few weight workouts were tough. I've made some adjustments and I'm starting to see some progress already. I'm working the abdominals very hard and trying to lose enough body fat to show them off.

The most gratifying thing is that all this exercise has jump started my metabolism so that I'm not coming home and sleeping every day after work. So, I'm actually getting some things done in the evenings, which leaves me more time to relax on the weekends. Really, I'm spending less time exercising than I was spending asleep on the couch every night, so I'm really gaining time from doing the program.

So, the goals are:
1. Reduce body fat to about 14%-15% (averaged between calipers and body fat scale)
2. Increase lean mass by 8 pounds.
3. Substantially eliminate abdominal fat (yes, it's very arbitrary, but I know what I mean).

Okay, I think that's enough to think about for one day. Later!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Seek Inspiration in Daily Affairs

Well, first off, I obviously have not been keeping up with my blog entries. When I started this blog, I was making four to six entries a week, and now I'm down to one or less a month. Hmmm, what does that mean? Maybe nothing.

The title of today's entry comes from the song Heart Hotels by Dan Fogelberg. The whole verse goes something like...

Seek inspiration in daily affairs,
And your soul is in trouble and requires repairs,
And the voices you hear at top of the stairs,
Are only echoes of unanswered prayers.

For some reason, the first line is bouncing around in my head today. It wasn't until I started writing this that I thought about what it meant to me and why I was thinking about it. It means I need to keep looking for positive things in my daily life, no matter how many negatives come my way.

I started back into Body for Life back in November, after my play ended, but life got complicated and I've missed a lot of workouts. And I was sick between Christmas and New Years Day. But I took some time to think about what I needed to do and how to accomplish it, particularly in Body for Life, but in other areas as well.

For instance, I took some time off from writing my novel to write another short story in my Benjamin series (I've traditionally written them for Cheryl for Christmas). I cranked out thirty pages in a little over two weeks and I liked the way it turned out. Now, I need to get back to the novel. And I would like to finish it before the summer, when I might be in a tight rehearsal schedule. I also want to do the National Novel Writing Month, which is in November (the goal is to write 50,000 words starting on November 1 and ending on November 30), so I need to keep my schedule clear for that.

As for Body for Life, I've not been doing too great, but I've done okay considering the holidays and all the food that's been everywhere I go. Cheryl and I are going to Florida in March for my niece's wedding, so I want to look my best for that. I have the blueprint for reaching that goal, since I've done it before. I don't have a complete detailed plan for everything, but I have an outline. I'm starting today and getting on with it. Its a new year, a good time for starting new things, so here goes nothing!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Really really overscheduled!!!

So, first off, I started my new challenge early because I just couldn't wait to get back to the process. So, I actually began November 8th. I've missed some workouts and I've struggled with the eating plan, but I decided perfection wasn't so important as just doing the thing.

Meanwhile, I'm involved in several projects at once, including shooting photos for a friend's car club calendar, publishing three of my own calendars on, compiling a book of short stories for publication and working on a novel. And I might be doing another play in the near future. Craziness.

It's funny. Our society talks about turning forty as the beginning of the end. But, in a lot of ways, I think I'm living more than when I was in my thirties. I'm considering writing a book about it (as if I needed another project) called something like "The Myth about Forty". I do know that I'm in better shape than I've been in a long time.

I was sorting through some pictures for one of my calendar projects and came across my before pictures from my original Body for Life challenge. There was one of me in jeans from the back and I was amazed at how much fat was hanging over the waistband of my jeans. I'm not in perfect shape, and perhaps I never will be, but I've really come a long way.

Had a good upper body workout tonight. I'm trying to hold off the holiday weight gain. I need to start getting up and doing my aerobic stuff before work, but it's cold in the mornings. Brrrr....

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Okay, the sad fact is that I just passed the end date of BFL Challenge number 2. I'm basically so far behind on my workouts that I don't even know where to start. I've been in a downward spiral ever since my mother's funeral, except, of course, that I trained for and rode in the MS 150 bike tour. I haven't even updated my web page with my final results for BFL Challenge 1 and I didn't send my forms in by the deadline, so I really didn't even enter the challenge.

But I have a plan. First, I'm going to stick with my workouts and my eating plan, at least on an informal level. Second, I'm going to finish the play that I'm in and some other things that are eating up my time. And I'm probably joining a gym. Mainly, I just want to maintain my weight loss and my fitness level.

Then, around the beginning of next year, or maybe slightly before, I'm going to do the challenge again and attempt to take my fitness to another level. If that goes well, I'll probably look into the personal trainer certification in the Spring.

So, that's the plan. I can live with it.

And, I will be writing a bit more in the future. More soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Back on the road again

Well, I missed a most of a week of workouts while my most recent show was on stage. Then, a little over a week ago, my mother passed away. I've mentioned that she was in the late stages of Alzheimers in previous posts. I have another blog that concerns my mother's passing and what it means to me. You can see it here, if you're interested:

Well, for the next few days after that, my life was consumed with helping plan my mother's service and being with the family as much as possible. So it was another week with no workouts. I got on my bike this past Sunday and did 27 miles. I did a weight workout on my off day and then another weight workout yesterday. This morning, I returned to the stationary bike for the first time in two weeks. All in all, it wasn't too bad. I did the same workout I was doing two weeks ago and my legs were still sore from the weight workout on Monday. But I got through it.

The astonishing thing is that, after two weeks of almost no exercise (except running around on stage) and only minimal adherence the Body for Life eating plan, I've gained maybe two pounds at most and my body fat percentage tests exactly the same with the calipers as it did before all this started.

I'm doing the MS150 bike challenge in early September, so I need to keep my aerobic capacity up and my weight down. Cheryl and I are vacationing on the beach in Florida in about three weeks. So I really want to stay on top of the program between now and then (what can I say, I'm vain and want to look good on the beach).

It feels good to be back on the program. I'm trying not to cheat, but, mostly, I'm just going to keep pushing forward. I still have updates to do on the website, including the final pictures from the first challenge. I hope to have those soon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Drop the hammer!

Yesterday, the power went out in the building where I work. This set off a fire alarm, so all of us where evacuated to the parking lot in the 90F heat. After awhile, when it became apparent that the power would not return (which means no computers, no phones, no network and NO AIR CONDITIONING!!!), most of us were sent home. Strangely enough, I spent my drive to work that morning fantasizing about an afternoon off and all the things I could get done if I had one.

And so I did. I cleaned the swimming pool, I lazed around in the sun for awhile, I completed some rebate forms that had been sitting next to our new computer monitor for two weeks, and I got to do my workout without having to rush. I still did it fast, but that was for intensity instead of necessity for once. Very timely thing, that power outage. There are those that believe that human beings can alter the fabric of reality through prayer, vision, meditation, or whatever you want to call it. I think I'm going to spend some time envisioning a million dollars and see what happens.

This morning, I got back on the exercise bike. I really wanted to work hard this morning since I didn't get to ride for real over the weekend. I took some new data as well, including calories burned at several intermediate points and heart rate after the third interval and at the end of the workout. This puts me in the dangerous position of having several statistics that I'll want to top on the next workout (it's a guy thing, what can I say).

I really believe in the power of vision. When I was 14 years old, I bowled in the Missouri State Junior Bowling tournament, in the team division. My team was made up of guys like me that didn't excel in any of the traditional highschool sports, like football, baseball, soccer, etc. I wanted us to do well so that we could have some "athletic" accomplishment of our own. I probably obsessed about a top three finish in our division for the better part of a month. I actually prayed for it. I envisioned making good shots and hitting all my spares. Well, we all bowled way above our abilities and finished second in our division. The following year, I finished 12th in my age group in singles.

So, what does one think about while riding an exercise bike? How about this...



(You'll have to paste this into your browser's address field. Apparently blogger does not recognize it as an internet link. Also, I had to split this into two lines. Paste the first line and then the second one, with no spaces in between.)

This is Lance Armstrong in the opening stage time trial of this year's Tour de France. The riders start at one minute intervals and ride individually against the clock. This is Lance catching and passing Jan Ullrich, one of the best time trial riders in the world, who started a minute ahead of him!

Inspirational! (to me, anyway)