New goal: training for Eugene Marathon on April 28th and using it to qualify for Boston next April.
I did it! I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:39:22.
Boy, I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry about that. Bet you’ve heard that one before. It’s funny how you can be so gung ho for a time period, posting like mad. Sometimes, even having to wait to space out your blog posts. While other times, you just get busy—like me for the past month or two—and don’t either have anything to say, or are too busy to say it in your blog. I guess the latter was true in my case. But here I am, with my laptop in bed late, deciding to hack together a post sometime after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2012.
Today is the beginning of the last day of 2012. So the good news is that I have been fairly consistently running and spinning and less consistently lifting weights. Additionally, while I am not currently logging my food intake into My Fitness Pal, I have maintained my weight at more or less where I want to be. I am currently 165 pounds, which is at the top of the range of where I want to be. Considering this is the pinnacle of bad eating season, I am pretty okay with that. In comparison, at this time last year, I weighed 185. Yes, 20 pounds more than I weigh today.
But weight is not everything. I am also pretty happy with my fitness level, although with the craziness of the holidays and my kids being in town, I managed to run only twice last week. However, during each of the weeks in December prior to last week, I ran at least 3 times. And I have started running on Saturdays with the Seattle Greenlake Running Group that I found on meetup.com.
In fact, I ran long runs of 9-10 miles with the group the past 3 out of 4 Saturdays.
I have big plans for 2013 and have already signed up and paid my entry fee for three—count ‘em, three—races. They are:
This run is tomorrow, January 1st at 10:30 AM. it’s a 5K followed by a jump-in-the-lake. (And in case you are wondering, it’s likely to be raining and very cold!) The trick, of course, is not to stay up too late New Year’s Eve and get too drunk. Otherwise, the race will be very painful. (It will be cold and wet, regardless, however.)
This is the one I actually have to train for. 13.1 miles around Lake Sammamish in Redmond, Washington. The race is Saturday, March 9th which gives me about ten weeks to get ready. And while I can run 10 miles without too much trouble, I’d like to ramp up over the next ten weeks and use this race to really improve my fitness.
Okay, now we are getting a little crazy. I have to say I have been intrigued with these so-called extreme obstacle course races since I first started hearing about them this past year. They include Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and the one I just signed up for a couple of days ago: the Spartan Race. The deal on Living Social was just to good to ignore so I nabbed it. The race is Sunday, August 4th in some town I have never heard of in Southern Washington state. Oh, and yes, as a matter of fact, I am crazy. ‘Nuf said (for now).
By the way, I am loving my new iPhone app for tracking runs: RunKeeper. The also have a version for Android phones. It’s free, addictive, and highly recommended. And for the most part, it makes GPS watches obsolete. Expect a post on this fabulous app sometime soon.
Oh, and we got a dog a couple of weeks ago…
So that’s my story. What about you? What do you have planned for 2013?
So it’s been four weeks since we left for Italy to get married and honeymoon with a brief stop in New York on the way home.
When we left, I had dropped 15 pounds and Zanna had lost 10.
Our plan for our trip was a noble one: ease up a bit but continue he to eat less and exercise more. You can read more about the planned maintenance plan in an earlier blog post.
On the airplane ride to Italy, we continued to log our calories using the offline version of the wonderful MyFitnessPal.com program. We quickly realized once we landed in Europe, however, that without 3G on our phones and reliable and consistent access to wireless that we wouldn’t be able to use MyFitnessPal. So we ditched it.
Now, did I mention where we were spending our wedding and honeymoon? In Italy
You know…The land of food and wine. The land of amazing pasta, pizza, cheese, cannoli, gelato, and wine. Also, did I mention that we were getting married there and that some wedding cake and celebrating might be involved?
And the wedding cake we had was nothing short of spectacular, by the way. For those interested, it is called millefogile, and it’s to die for even though there was no chocolate involved!
Well, I won’t say we ate like pigs. But I have to say that we quickly dropped all pretense of being on strict diets and logging our calories. That said, we did generally try and eat smart. But let me confess it here: there was a lot of pizza, pasta, wine, and cheese involved in our diets in Italy. Furthermore, I am guessing that we ate gelato at least every other day. And we had cannoli and cake a few times too. Okay, so we were slightly refined pigs.
And once we got to NY, I’d like to say with 3G access on our phones and wireless access at my parents house, that we immediately jumped back on the diet bandwagon and MyFitnessPal. Well, I’d like to say that but it would be a lie to say that. We continued to eat pizza and even had some more cannoli at a small family reception Friday night.
After 2 1/2 weeks it Italy and 1/2 week at my parents house in Long Island, we arrived home late last Saturday night. The next morning we weighed in and were shocked to discover that Zanna lost an additional pound and I had gained one pound. Wow! IOW, for all practical purposes, we maintained our amazing weight losses.
We were astounded!
In reality, I don’t know how this was possible and why we were so lucky. But I can speculate why. So here goes it.
Listen, I was expecting a weight gain on the order of 5-7 pounds for me. So again, I was quite shocked. Of course, at the same time, I did notice that my newly purchased 32 inch waist blue jeans continued to fit me throughout the trip so perhaps it wasn’t that bad. But one pound? Remarkable.
So what has happened in the intervening week since we have made it home from our wonderful trip? Well to be totally honest, my weigh in today was 163.0. Up 1.5 pounds since we got home.
Not exactly where I want to be but within a reasonable margin of error. And this is after surviving Halloween week and the adjustment back home and back at work.
And we are both back on MyFitnessPal and I am reducing my caloric intake allowance a bit until I get back to 160 or 161 where I will move back into maintenance mode. Especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner.
Certainly, no one–after reading the current articles (like this NY Times piece) where cyclist after cyclist has come out to reveal how Lance (and many others) has been doping for years–can possibly believe that Lance Armstrong is still innocent.
Lance Armstrong is certainly an amazing athlete and a great spokesperson for cancer survivors. Furthermore, his foundation has truly done wondrous things (including funding research benefiting my employer, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), but the time for denial, intimidation of ex-teammates, and cover up of years of wrongdoing is long past.
It’s time, Lance. Time to “man up” and realize that as much as it hurts to admit wrongdoing that you can do more for the sport, your foundation, and humanity by ending this charade and fessing up.
it’s time, Lance. But the window where you can get out with some semblance of dignity, honor, and a smidgeon of integrity is rapidly closing.
Lance, the time is now.
Okay, so you achieved your goal, now what? It’s time for a plan to maintain your good fortune. You certainly didn’t work your way down to your current amazing weight to rocket on back to your old weight.
I know I haven’t. Yes, my wedding is right around the corner (it’s this tomorrow, October 12) and I was still at my goal weight when I took off for our wedding on the 7th but that doesn’t mean come the day after tomorrow that I start pigging out (or sooner).
Although the wedding has presented itself as a great milestone for my diet plan, in actuality, I like to think of it as a means to help motivate me, not an end in itself. The true motivator for me was my gut. That is, my spare tire of a gut—my beer belly—told me I was overweight, corroborated by the unabashedly unbiased CDC BMI calculator.
In fact, I was overweight for far too long and I finally decided I was going to do something about it thanks in part to my fortuitous reading of Timothy Caulfield’s excellent The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness.
Of course, I could always revise my goal downward and continue to try and lose weight until I was 155 or 150 pounds or lower but I have decided that, for me, at this point in my life, 160 pounds is a good compromise weight. It’s both several pounds under the high end of “normal” for my height (169 pounds), and, as important, I believe it’s also realistic. I think I have half a chance of being able to keep my weight here at 160, plus or minus 5 pounds. (If the truth is to be told, I really mean plus 5 pounds; the minus side of the equation is very unlikely!)
So about two weeks ago, I achieved my goal and I have to say that it was hard for me to figure out what to do next. At first, I decided to continue on plan until we left for Italy for the wedding. At the same time, I started to crave extra calories and would at times convince myself it was time to “cheat” a little here and there.
Meanwhile I dipped down to a low of 158.8. At one point I looked at myself in the mirror and worried that perhaps I was getting carried away and maybe even looking a bit too thin.
Eventually, after a significant back and forth in my mind, I decided to shift into maintenance mode. So how did I actually accomplish this?
I went into the configuration settings for myfitness pal and changed the What is your goal? setting from “Lose 1 pound per week” to “Maintain my current weight” as shown here.
Making that change to myfitness pal was the easy part of the deal. More difficult was the realization that, although I could increase my caloric intake, the change was not a recipe (pun intended) for open eating season. My change of my goal into maintenance mode increased my daily target intake from 1450 to 1920 calories, a net increase of 470 calories.
The thing to realize is that one can easily consume 470 calories with a small dessert, plate of pasta, etc. Even a latte and a couple of pieces of banana can put you close to 470 calories. The point I am trying to make is that while this is a welcome increase in calories, it’s not a huge change.
This is where it’s important to realize that if you are serious about maintaining your weight at a significantly lower weight than when you started you need to permanently shift your views on eating.
While I am still coming to terms with how this will sort out—and I have to do this while getting married and honeymooning for three weeks in the land of pasta, pizza, cheese, wine, gelato, and cannoli—I am committed to making the shift in thinking.
This means eating less. Let me repeat that sobering fact: this means eating less. We humans in the Western World eat way too much. Caulfield drives this home in his chapter on diet in The Cure for Everything.
But we are also not talking starvation either—or even skipping meals. Just eating at a rate and frequency much more akin to what our creator (or evolution) intended. It’s that simple.
There is little secret, however, that may help in the maintenance game. As I’ve written about previously, when I was on the diet, I tried—and sometimes it was very difficult—to not eat the extra calories that myfitness pal awarded me when I exercised. But in maintenance mode, I don’t plan on thumbing my nose those extra calories. Again, this is not an excuse for unbridled eating. And I will still do my best to avoid what Caulfield calls the poison foods, even when exercising.
Nonetheless, as long as I am exercising regularly (and hopefully vigorously) and successfully staying below 165 pounds, I will allow myself to eat the additional calories that my exercise burns.That’s my plan anyway. Wish me luck.
Postscript: It’s been a rough start to maintenance; four days into my trip. Not enough sleep or exercise, and too much stress, too much eating, and too much eating at restaurants. Plus, no scale in sight. I need to re-focus on my plan; but first the wedding.
I don’t think my story is unique; you workout you maintain a decent functioning body and then you meet someone, fall in love, and as I like to say, gain “10 pounds of love weight.” The phenomenon is not for women only: men seem to go through this too, so it’s no surprise that Paul and I both gained some weight during our courtship. One of the biggest challenges for women who live with men is the annoying realization that you can’t eat like he does and not expect to put on pounds.
The Whole Geek (Paul), Future Mrs. The Whole Geek (Zanna),
Matron of Honor (Tammy), and Best Man (Peter) last weekend in front of Fisherman’s Wharf,
I have tried numerous times, sort of, to lose those 10 pounds but the reality is that I just didn’t care enough. I really didn’t want to put forth the effort, and I think in the back of my mind figured I couldn’t do it without drastic measures. Somehow the planets aligned and while Paul was reading Tim Caulfield’s book “The Cure for Everything…” and as we were planning our wedding, we decided it was time to give it another go.
I recommended we log our food using My Fitness Pal as I had used it in the past (and a myriad of other online tools) and found it to be the most user-friendly.
As Paul has posted before, there really is no secret to losing weight. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for many of us, myself included, that I cannot eat whatever I want in the quantities I want and maintain a healthy weight. I fight that every single day!
Ultimately you have to cut calories. For me, unfortunately, cruelly, that means reducing my caloric intake to 1200 calories per day. THIS IS NOT EASY. In the beginning this seemed like a paltry amount of food and I struggled! I ended up starting at 1400 calories per day because I just struggled so much getting to 1200. While Paul was peeling off the pounds at a quick pace, I was sluggishly bouncing up and down the scale. I finally tired of the up and down and made a concerted effort to eat 1200 calories per day. I was bitter. He was losing weight I wasn’t. What a motivator!
For us that meant oatmeal in the morning with fruit, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds (just a tablespoon full) with our latte. Lunch was salad or nonfat Greek yogurt and fruit and dinner was another salad, veggies, and maybe salmon. We have eaten in restaurants successfully and had wine many nights of the week (usually stopping at 4 ounces) and enjoying small bits of dark chocolate.
Once I figured out I could survive on 1200 calories per day, I did a pretty good job of staying at that number regularly. The results? I have successfully dropped those 10 pounds in about six weeks. Yes, I lagged behind Paul. Yes, I’m approaching menopause. Yes, I have a bum knee, a kidney transplant, take tons of drugs. Yes, I have excuses to use, but the reality is, that by eating less and moving more, I did it!
I am, what did they say about the economy “cautiously optimistic” about my ability to maintain this weight, which I’m happy to say, slides me into the healthy BMI category. However, I’m not stupid. I know that our upcoming trip to Italy could be a license to consume, as the Coneheads put it “mass quantities“, but then my pants won’t fit!
Will I enjoy gelato? Yes. Will I enjoy pasta? Yes. Will I enjoy my wedding cake, you bet. But, I won’t enjoy them all on the same day. I will balance out the indulgences with better food choices and relieve any wedding day stress by walking in the Italian countryside.
In conclusion, I share this story with all the 40-something women out there who think they can’t lose the weight, that it’s impossible during the hormonal firestorm, and with women who have health problems who can’t do intense exercise right now. My message is, yes you can. If you want to, you can! It won’t be easy, but you will get used to eating less and you will enjoy the results.
This morning I stepped on the scale and was overjoyed to see I had surpassed my goal with a weight of 159.0 as you can see. Wow.
This begs the question “Now what?” Well after hugging Zanna I answered this question by putting on my running shoes and banging out a hilly 4 mile run.
This is no time to rest on my laurels and break out the Ben & Jerry’s. Rather, my thoughts are to continue with my current diet & exercise plan until we take off for Florence on Sunday (yay!). At some point on our trip (did I mention we were getting married on the 12th?), I will shift into maintenance mode.
For me, maintenance mode means continuing to keep a food diary but with a higher daily calorie goal for maintaining weight rather than losing. Of course, this will likely be quite challenging since we will be traveling in Italy, celebrating our wedding, and eating every meal out.
I hoping, however, that I can continue to eat smart and exercise most days.
I’ll let you know how it goes…
The old Boy Scout refrain is quite apropos when it comes to staying on plan with weight loss and fitness. Yes, it means more planning, but that’s the small price to pay for the huge benefits you are bound to accrue for your efforts.
For example, I hauled the following to work today in one of my bike panniers…
My tower of containers for Monday includes a green salad with veggies and 1.7 ounces of left over baked salmon (yes, I weighed it); 1 tablespoon balsamic & olive oil salad dressing; some cherry tomatoes for the salad (separated because I don’t like to refrigerate tomatoes); jicama, celery, and carrots; 2 tablespoons of hummus; half-cup of grapes; and a small Fuji apple.
What’s that you say? A lot of containers. Precisely, I answer. But this is how I stay on plan and how I don’t break the budgets (money and calories).
A little over a month ago, I took to heart what I read by Timothy Caulfield in the book The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness so I decided to embark on a diet based on Caulfield’s diet chapter. For more details on this great book, see my earlier post that goes into great detail.
And what great timing: when I came to this decision, I was about seven weeks away from my marrying my soul mate, Suzanna, in Tuscany. And if that’s not a good enough reason to lose weight, I don’t know what one is.
In this post, I discuss the diet (after a little background) and share with you my results. Hopefully, this will be of some use to you if you are struggling with your own body mass or just curious.
I was a long distance runner and skinny and short growing up. I finally stopped growing in college but remained very skinny. Somehow after college and living on very little money in graduate school, I grew up. And not just in maturity. Like many people these days, virtually overnight, I seemed to grow from about 140 pounds when I was a starving grad student to the 175-185 pounds I have consistently maintained for the last 3 decades.
On the positive side, unlike many of my peers, I have managed to maintain a BMI in the range of 25 to 27. Not great, but within striking distance of a upper range of normal: 24.9, or so I have been telling myself for the last couple of decades.
Even when I was training for marathons (I’ve completed four in the past decade; and three others back in high school), I never got into the normal range except for one brief period in 2006. (Here’s a blog post I dug up from January of 2006, where I was excited that I briefly hit a 24.9 BMI.)
At the same time, I was unhappy with the gut that stared at me every day when I looked into the mirror. Now when I was marathon or triathlon training, I generally was closer to 170-175 pounds with a BMI of 26, but still the gut was there. Look for example, at this photo of me after my 3:36 marathon performance (just missing qualifying for Boston, by the way) at the Eugene Marathon in 2008. I don’t know about you, but I can see a gut there even though I had just run a marathon and had logged on average 30-45 miles per week while training for the race for about six months prior to the race.
Which leads me to the book that inspired the diet…
In The Cure for Everything, backed by his review of the current research, his discussions with nutritionists and top-of-the-field fitness experts, and his first-hand dieting effort, Timothy Caulfield asserts a few basic premises that I took to heart and have formed the basis of my current diet plan:
That’s pretty much it; most everything else is noise when it comes to weight loss including how much carbs, protein, or fat you eat or what time of day you eat it.
And if you think this is all just a bunch of assertions from some random person, think again. While I won’t go into the details here (this post is long enough), Caulfield backs up his assertions with numerous references to research studies and interviews with nutritionists and physical fitness experts.
At the start of my diet on August 25, I weighed myself, and just to make sure, I also had Suzanna measure my height using a wall, a pencil, and a level. My weight on that day, first thing in the morning, was 174.6 pounds and my BMI was 25.8 as calculated on the US Centers for Disease Control BMI calculator page. Notice the mention of OVERWEIGHT!
Also, the circumference of my body at the belly button: 37 inches.
I have good news and bad news about this diet. First, the bad news…
It’s all quite simple. Here is what I did…
Maintaining a food diary on my fitness pal or some other online log or even on paper costs nothing. The diet itself costs nothing but does require a healthy dose of diligence and persistence. At the most, you might need to purchase a few measuring cups and spoons that will come in handy. A kitchen scale may come in handy too but we did fine for a number of weeks without one although we did purchase one recently.
On Sept 18, after about 3 1/2 weeks, I had lost 9.6 pounds, and achieved my goal weight of 165 and my belly button measurement was 34.5 inches. I was speechless. Not really, I was telling everyone of my success.
So I updated my goal weight to 160.
Now, on Sept 29, after only 5 weeks, I have lost 13.6 pounds. This morning I weighed in at 161.0 pounds and now am only a pound away from my goal weight! Not bad, not bad at all! My belly button measurement is 33.5 inches and my BMI is 23.8, significantly under the upper limit of normal!
The astute reader will note that my weight loss velocity was only set to one pound per week when I first configured my fitness pal yet I lost on average 2-3 pounds per week. And I wasn’t hugely obese to begin with so that can’t explain my accelerated weight loss. This is all true. I attribute the quicker results to working out hard 5-6 days per week and—and I think this is important—not eating the extra calories that my fitness pal awarded me. Sure, you may need to increase your calories if you do a 3 hour bike ride or a 2 hour run, but for most lesser exercise routines, you simply don’t need to compensate by eating more. And if you are able to do this, you should be rewarded handsomely!
I did it because I stuck to the plan.
What I did right…
It’s worth emphasizing, that when you have fewer calories to work with, you need to make smart choices. And these decisions will be different for different people. I choose to have a latte (sometimes two) most days but this costs me 135 calories a pop. Others (especially those not addicted to lattes) will choose a different way to spend those 135 calories.
The important thing is to stay on track and emphasize whole foods over processed junk with artificial sweeteners and other phony ingredients. Oh, and you need to lay off the salt too!
Aside: although I won’t reveal her details here, Suzanna has been quite successful too.
Here are some reports straight off out of my fitness pal to give you a sense of a typical day for me…
The first one is from Sept 14th. Notice how I log everything. For breakfast, I had oatmeal with lots of fresh fruit, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds and a grande-size latte.
For lunch it’s Fage (please don’t ask me how to pronounce it!) Total Zero Greek yogurt with fruit and slivered almonds (a half a tablespoon). Also, a couple of pieces of dark chocolate.
Dinner in this case was estimated. Probably for a meal out though I don’t recall exactly. Finally, I must have had some sort of snack that was estimated as well. Sometimes, an estimate is all you got but it’s best to be as honest as possible. Notice I was over my target by only 10 calories!
Here’s another example day: the September 7th food diary…
Eggs for breakfast; I entered a custom recipe into my fitness pal which added up the calories for me.
Lunch was Greek yogurt (again).
We had a guest over for dinner and ate wild salmon and quinoa. Plus two glasses of wine.
I snacked on sliced jicama, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of hummus while at work. Plus a peach and then later in the evening some pretzels. I was over my 1,500 calorie goal, this time by 194 calories, but again, I was pretty darn close.
Here’s another day—actually it’s from today. Cooked rye flakes (a lot like oatmeal) for breakfast with the usual fruit and seeds and a latte.
Lunch was a little unusual in that it was mostly veggies and hummus plus a square of chocolate.
Dinner was out at a Thai restaurant but we kept it smart. I had half of a lightly dressed salad and only a 1/4 of a tofu-based curry dish with a bit of rice (we took home half the curry dish instead of eating the whole thing).
And some fruit, dark chocolate, and coffee for snacks.
Here’s an example of an exercise routine at the health club. Running on the treadmill for 33 minutes followed by some weights work from last week.
Not every day goes smoothly. There are challenges. Some of the challenges we met were caused by back-packing, travelling, and eating out at restaurants. There are the times where someone brings brownies to work. And of course, there are always days where you just want to eat and eat!
Something I do that really helps is to pre-measure meals and snacks into containers (often setup the night before) and bring those containers along with me. I do this for my lunch at work and we did this for our recent trip to San Francisco and when we went back packing on the Olympic Peninsula And don’t forget the snacks! The more you can do to prevent breaking down and buying a cookie or a bag of chips at work or the airport, the better! I bring snacks to work almost every weekday (in addition to lunch) consisting of things like a couple of pieces of fruit, a small serving of nuts, a dried fig or two, carrots and celery with 1 or 2 tablespoons of hummus, or a square or two of chocolate.
Getting a cup of coffee helps me too. Of course, there’s also tea and you can’t knock a good old glass of water or sparkling mineral water. And, if I’m having an especially tough day at work, I will buy myself a second latte later in the day and perhaps a banana or an apple.
And if you have to go over, try and minimize the damage. And once in a while, you are going to blow it; forgive yourself, get over it, and set out to work harder the next day to stay on plan.
With two weeks to go before our wedding, I am a mere pound away from my revised goal weight. I am pretty sure I will attain my goal but even if I miss it by a pound or three (I could always gain weight between now and then), I will still have been successful. Still, I’ve worked hard enough and have come this far, that I doubt I will slip backwards at this point.
Once I attain my goal, it will be time to maintain my weight! My maintenance plan is simple: continue to try and stay under 2,000 calories and, when I over-indulge, compensate by eating less at other meals and exercising more. And don’t beat myself up for the occasional misstep.
Exercise plans to be a big part of my maintenance plan. And it’s important to me not just for maintaining weight. I have a strong desire to maintain a high degree of fitness for health reasons too. And because I enjoy being fit!
I’m sure our three weeks in Italy celebrating our wedding and honeymoon will be a challenge but we will hopefully make wise choices and walk, hike, and exercise a lot to make up for some of the indiscretions that are likely to happen.
Let me be honest: I can’t predict what will happen on my honeymoon, or what will happen next month or next year. I admit that I am venturing into new unchartered territory as I circle around my target of 160 pounds.
But I also know that following this dead-simple, gimmick-free diet and exercise plan has given me new hope and makes me realize that even if I have temporary setbacks, it shouldn’t be that hard to get myself back on track.
And just maybe by putting my story out in the open in the blogosphere, it might just help me stay on track even more!
We thoroughly enjoyed TEDx Rainier last year, held at the University of Washington in Seattle. We had such a enriching experience there last year watching great talks from Rick Steves, David Horsey, and others along with our Seattle GiveCamp friends Felice and Glenna.
Well, we just signed up again and, if you live in the Seattle area, I highly recommend you apply to attend. It’s being held on Saturday, November 10.
And if you don’t live in the Seattle area, you can checkout the list of other TEDx events here.