Thursday, February 24, 2011


I am sad to report that my weight loss has hit a serious roadblock.  On February 9, I weighed in for my support group at 187 pounds.  I was doing great on my goal of weighing 185 by March 10.  The following weekend, we took a family trip and I ate heartily throughout the weekend, but I still maintained some sense of decorum.  I had a few salads with my meals and I did full workouts on Friday and Saturday.  When we returned, I knew I had a lot of work to do to catch up, and I did; I weighed in at 187 on February 16.  I was happy with the result, but I got right back to work.  All week long, I maintained my diet, even controlling myself when we went out to eat with friends over the weekend and substituting replacement shakes for a couple of lunches.  I ran 5 miles on Thursday, lifted weights, did my ab workout and walked 2 miles on Friday, ran 7 miles on Saturday, swam 0.6 miles on Sunday, lifted/abs/walk on Monday, and ran another 5 miles on Tuesday.  I thought for sure I would have a good 1 or 2 pound loss.  NOPE!  I weighed in at 187 again on February 23.  I was pissed!  Then yesterday, I lifted weights, did my ab workout, and walked 2 miles on my lunch break.  I ate 3 sensible meals and 2 nutritious snacks.  I did not have a brownie after the kids went to bed, and when I got on the scale this morning I weighed 189 pounds, up 2 pounds from the day before!  What the hell!  That would mean that I consumed 7000 calories more than I burned.  I haven't eaten more than 2000 calories in a day for more than 3 months.

I usually splurge a little over the weekend, and we have a neighborhood get-together on Friday, but I am freaking out about eating anything right now.  I was so desparate that I actually researched some diet pills yesterday.  Don't worry, I am not going to actually take any; that would not be healthy and those things are freaking expensive.

I have flirted with the excuse that I am building muscle, which weighs more than fat.  And I know that my weight training is certainly working to improve my body composition, but I remember watching an episode of the Biggest Loser where somebody tried to use that excuse.  The trainers about lost their minds yelling at the contestant.  They said that there is no way a person can gain muscle that quickly; that it takes months to build a pound of muscle.  So what am I supposed to think?  I know the scale does not lie, and that the only way to lose wieght is to burn more calories than you take in.  But I swear on my life that I have not been cheating on my diet, and I am working my butt of with my fitness, so I am certainly at a loss for a solution and/or reason.

I want to weigh 185 by March 10 and I want to weigh 175 by June 25.  Before I can meet these goals I have got to figure out how to keep losing weight.  I hope that all of this is simply some sort of metabolic plateau that I can break through this week.

I did manage to achieve a huge milestone for myself.  I have logged more than 100 miles running since January 2 of this year.  Meaning, in 2 months, I have acheived 20% of my goal of running 500 miles in 2011. Yippee!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A new personal record

This past Saturday I went for my long run, and in preparation for the Illinois Marathon relay, I pushed my distance to 7 miles.  I didn't really think about it at the time, but after the run I realized that this was the farthest I have run in almost 8 months.  That was back when I was training for a half marathon, and I have really gone through a lot since then. 

Finally, I am on the mends with my health and I am at my lightest weight in 8 years.  I am running faster and farther than I have ever in my life and it really feels good!  So good that I am proud to say that in that seven mile run, I set a new personal record for a 10K (6.2 miles).  Granted, it was only my second timed 10K run, but it was better than the first, way better!

My first 10K was at the Kirby_Derby last year.  I was coming off of a recent IT band injury, but I still managed a respectable time; I even placed in my age division.  With the help of my Nike+ sportband, I tracked the second 10K of my career, and I was a full 4 minutes faster than my first.  It felt awesome!!!

Of course I hope to continue to improve on these race times, but it feels great to be doing as well as I am.  I'll have to see how well I do this next Saturday?!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things to do

I have been writing up a grocery list in my head.  I have a chili cook off this weekend, and I have been racking my brain to come up with some creative ingredients for a soon-to-be award winning chili recipe.  Coming up with one list made me think of another list that I need to start working on.

Finally, the weather gods have answered our prayers and/or sacrifices and the sun is shining!  I came to work today with no coat on; the weather man says it could get up to 60 degrees.  It seems as though springtime is right around the corner and I have some work to do to prepare the upcoming seasons.  So I thought I might share my list with you all.

1. Buy some seeds.
           Last year we had a small garden in our backyard and it produce rather nicely.  With the encouragement of some success, we have decided to expand the project slightly.  I love garden fresh veggies and I want my children to experience some of the pride you have when you grow your own food.  So I need to get with the garden planning, seed purchasing, and possibly do a few starts under some lights in the basement.

2. Till the garden
           See above.  The ground in our garden space, and all over our yard for that matter, has a ton of clay in it.  So last fall I mulched a bunch of organic material into the beds with the idea that after decomposing throughout the winter, I could till it in this spring.

3. Register for Bike MS and start my fundraising
           I was nearly finished with my fundraising last year at this time, and now her I am and I haven't even signed up for the darn thing.

4. Get Roxanne some lube
          Actually she is going to need a complete spa treatment (tune up).  I never got her into the shop last fall.  If I expect to ride with any comfort at all this season, I have to treat my baby right.

5. Think of a good name for Alaric's bike
          He finally outgrew his old bike and we have stepped up in size this year.  I really want Alaric to enjoy riding this year.  I know that enjoyment is going to require a lot of time and attention from Daddy, but I will be very excited if I can get him riding like a rebel this year. I thought maybe a name for his bike would help.

6. Get Katie's bike fixed up
         She has said that she would like to ride in this year's Bike MS, but that she doesn't like her bike very much.  I have looked for a new bike in our price range,but there really isn't much out there.  So, I think a good overhaul of the bike that she rides now might help the situation.

These are just a few of the things that I need to get taken care of, along with running, racing, lifting weights, eating, working, painting (I won't forget this, honey!), playing with the kids, spending time with my wife, drinking beer, and I cannot forget to make the chili!

I cannot wait!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why does this guy piss me off so much?

Our family had the good fortune to have some time away this past weekend.  Before we headed to our final destination, we stopped in Chicago to take care of a few items.  We stayed at my sister's condo (Thanks again, Anita!) and were able to use the fitness room in her place to exercise.  Katie went first and was able to get onto a treadmill.  I followed and did a shoulder and ab workout that I was scheduled for.  Afterward, I wanted to walk my 2 miles, but all of the treadmills were occupied.  So I rode the stationary bike for 30 minutes.

Now, I need to interrupt here to say that I do not particularly like fitness clubs.  All of the posturing and posing makes me uncomfortable.  I tried to join a Bally's once when I lived in Colorado.  I don't remember ever even going, but I still was chased down for the contractual amount I owed.

The bike that I rode was directly behind the 3 treadmills in the room.  All three were occupied and the TV did not work, so I was forced more than normal to sit in judgement of the runners in front of me.  Two of the treadmills were used by average runners, and I felt like I could relate for the most part.  I was put off by one of their shirts that read "If you can read this I am not losing".  You may not be losing but you are a loser for wearing that shirt on a treadmill. 

The last treadmill was occupied by the inspiration for this post.  This guy had his speed cranked up to 9+ mph.  His head was bobbing up and down, while his normally styled mop of hair was flying around.  His footfalls were thunderous in this little room, as he raced to keep up the pace.  And then he stopped.  He didn't stop the treadmill; he simply stood astride the belt as it rushed by below him.  He proceeded to towel off (Mind you, this guy was wearing thermal running tights and a long sleeve t-shirt; a bit much for an indoor workout).  Then he swigged some water, stretched his calves, his hamstrings, adjusted his iPod, and then finally after a minute and a half he resumed his pounding punishment of the treadmill.  I thought to myself, "this guy is really pushing hard," but almost before I could finish my thought he stopped again.  He hadn't run for 2 minutes and he was stopping!  He did the same routine as before, but maybe not in the same order, and then he started again.  Then he stopped again!  And this process continued for the next 30 minutes; 2 minutes of running full out, followed by 2 minutes of futzing around.  And I don't really know why, but I was appalled!  Maybe it was because I was just in a bad mood or maybe I was upset because I really wanted to use the treadmill.  But I think I was really upset because this guy was a complete poser!

I imagine this guy talking to his friends about how he "ran nine miles this morning", or "ran for a full hour", but I know that he didn't.  The two other average runners on the other treadmills actually ran further than this guy, but he gets to do the boasting.  And it is not like this guy couldn't run for an hour at 7 mph, but instead he has to pose.  By the end of my ride, I seriously felt like yelling at this guy, throwing his iPod in the river, and cutting his freaking hair.

It has been several days now and this guy still bugs me.  Why?  I know that fitness is a personal journey; his actions have nothing to do with my work.  Hell, I will probably never see that guy again.  What am I so insecure about that this guy bothers me so much.  I still haven't figured it out, but I can tell you for sure that it is going to be another long time before I step into a fitness club again.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

An Open Letter to Phil Knight

Mr. Knight,
I apologize for the formality, but as we have never met, I thought starting this letter with "Hey Phil" might be a tad inappropriate. I could be considered your average, everyday runner. I am breaking no records, nor am I winning any races, but I enjoy getting out a few times a week for a good 5-6 mile run. I have been a devout Nike consumer for most of my life, and have always had good faith in your products. recently, My grandmother bought me a Nike+ sportband for Christmas. I must tell you that overall I love the sportband idea. It is a tremendously user-friendly means of tracking ones running, and the website's functions are at least entertaining and at best useful to fitness training. However, in recent months I have notice several shortcoming in the product and wanted to discuss with you some updates for the next version.

1. The display on the wristband needs to be backlit.

I run in the deep black of the early morning and I find it extremely frustrating that I cannot always see the display. The best time for me to see my progress is when I run under a street light, and in my small community streetlights are rarely present. I run long stretches in which I have no possible way to see how far I have gone/how long I have been running/how fast I am running /how many calories I have burned. I am a man who needs gratification for my efforts, and having a visible display would be helpful.

2. The display on the wristband should be turned 90 degrees.

When I do have the good fortune of running under a streetlight, I find that I have to contort my arm into an uncomfortable position to be able to see the display clearly. If you simply turned the display 90 degrees (like a watch might look), the face would be in a position to more clearly see the readout.

3. The whole product needs to be weatherproofed.
I have run the same exact run the last 3 times I have been out, and each time I have gotten a different distance readout when I am finished. I believe the discrepancy is due to the extreme temperatures that I am running in. Last Thursday, it was 15 degrees outside, and the sportband said I ran 5.24 miles, which I think is fairly accurate. This past Tuesday, I ran the exact same route, but it was 1 degree outside, and the sportsband said that I only ran 4.98 miles. Finally today, I again ran the same route, it was -5 outside, and the sportband said i only ran 4.90 miles. As you can see the drop in temperature and distance are in direct proportion. Therefore I can only assume the sportband does not like the cold. Well guess what? Neither do I, but I am out there running, so this cold-blooded thing is coming with me (it's strapped to my shoe).

I know that these modifications will certainly send you back to the drawing board, but I just know that you can do it. You made your first running shoe with a waffle iron for God's sake; I know you can take care of these small items. I sincerely hope you will consider these modifications when you come out with Nike+ sportband 2.0 (you can call it the Fulton version, if you'd like). If you require a test subject for the new version, I would be more than happy to volunteer. If you want to send along any other free schwag, I will do my best to oblige.

Yours Truly,


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Scratch that; reverse it.

The Ugly:

Every single person in my house has been sick for the past week. Alaric started complaining of a stomach ache and proceeded to have a stomach virus problem for 3 days. I finally thought he was over it, and then he threw up on the floor of the kitchen Sunday morning. Amara started getting extremely crabby and needy, so we knew something was wrong, and then she started running a fever for the next 3 days. To top that one off, she started to get pink eye and we had to hold her down to give her the drops everyday. Katie had some sort of nasty head cold, which I am sure she caught from one of our children, that had her down and out over the weekend. Finally, I caught Alaric's stomach bug and was out of commission all weekend, and really did not even start to feel normal until Monday afternoon.

The Bad:

With all of this illness, it has been very difficult to exercise. I skipped walking over my lunch break on Friday and I skipped running on Saturday. I am hoping that the laps back and forth to the bathroom will compensate, not to mention the laps between our bedroom and the kids' in the night. Another problem is that I tend to eat like garbage when I am sick, even if I have a stomach problem. I have no real explanation for it, other than it usually makes me feel better for a short time.

The Good:

The kids are starting to feel better. Alaric went back to school this week, and Amara seems to be on the mend. Katie has also started to feel better and through it all continues to be the rock star Mom, wife, and operations manager for our household. I, too, have been feeling better and actually managed to lift weights yesterday and run this morning. I felt like I might die over the last half mile of my run this morning, but I did finish. And with all of our poor decisions on food and lack of exercise, Katie and I should each post a significant loss to our "weight watchers" group. I will probably lose another pound, or maybe 2, and Katie will probably post a 5-6 pound loss this week (Great work, baby!).

So all in all, it has been an eventful week at our house. I am glad that it is over, I hope it doesn't happen again for some time, and I am happy that it did not impede on our weight loss goals nor our healthy habits.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Holy crap, it is COLD!

While some of the downstate missed out on the 2 feet of snow they got in Chicago, unfortunately we still have to suffer through the extreme cold that is following the storm. We did have the pleasure of about 2 inches of ice followed by 6 inches of snow, but after a day the snow plows in our little town managed to clear most of it off the roads.

When I woke up for my run this morning I was determined to not run on the treadmill. I checked and they had the temp at 2 degrees, but with wind chill, it felt like -10 degrees. I knew it was going to be tough, but how much worse does -10 feel than say 5 degrees out? The answer to that question is A LOT WORSE.

After my first half mile, I thought about packing it in and running on the treadmill, but I soldiered on. The next mile I ran was with the wind and it felt markedly better, but I knew I would have to face the wind again. I went on anyway. I could feel the icicles forming on my beard and I cinched the hood of my sweatshirt a little tighter around my face. When I headed back into the wind again, I think my right nostril started to get a little frostbite, aided by the constant drip flowing from my sinuses. However, I was beyond the point of no return.

I finished the 5 mile run and when it was over I realized two not-so-important things:

1. My Nike sportsband does not seem to like the cold weather. I ran a measured 5+ mile run, but the sportsband only registers a 4.6 mile run. I want my .4 miles back please.

2. Icicles hanging from your beard taste much better than icicles hanging from your nose. What's that all about?

Anyway, I sincerely hope the the weather makes a turn for the better very soon. I can't run on that stupid treadmill much more, and I would look pretty funny if the doctors had to amputate my right nostril.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A new month, a new challenge

Recently I have mentioned my "weight watchers" group on several occasions. It is simply a group of friends and acquaintances that weigh in individually and report their findings to the whole group. We discuss our goals, successes and obstacles. We encourage one another, and most importantly keep each other accountable, which can be the most difficult part of losing weight alone. But as a group we have lost over 60 lbs! It is simply amazing!

The group is paying off on other dividends. Lisa, one of my weight loss partners, mentioned that she had a friend holding a friendly "biggest loser" competition in the month of February. The premise is again very simple, one pays $15 to join the competition and then at the end of the month there are two ways to win, either losing the greatest percentage of weight and/or logging the most miles running/walking/biking/ellipticalling. I am very excited to have another competition to keep me motivated and I think I have a good shot of winning some money.

As an overweight male, I have a good shot for the percentage half of the kitty; I have more weight to lose and men generally lose weight faster than females. However, there are other males in the competition, and there just might be a very motivated women in their ranks. For the mileage part of the competition, I have some experience on my side. I have been working out diligently for almost two years and now I run about 16 miles a week and walk another 6 miles per week. I only wish I could count my 90 minutes of strength work every week.

Any way you look at it I am very excited about participating in this competition. Thank you Lisa and Megan for inviting me to compete!