Thursday, July 28, 2011

Help Wanted

I had mentioned back in June that I wanted to do something big, plus Katie and I have been looking to earn a little extra cash for vacations.  So from time to time, I check out the classifieds and job postings on Craigslist for part time work in maybe coaching or training.  My searching is mostly fantasizing, and considering the market size of central Illinois, jobs in these fields are rare.  But just yesterday there was a posting on Craigslist for a part-time personal health trainer.  The ad talked about leading group meetings for weigh-ins and discussion of health and nutrition. I know that I am not even close to being qualified as a professional, but the job sounded like more of a coordinator and discussion leader. So, I responded to the ad.  The reply was not exactly what I was looking for, as it appears as though the job is really to sell some sort of health products, earning comission off the sales.  This is not at all what I am looking for.

But it did get me to start thinking.  Over the past two years, I have gained some useful knowledge about health and fitness.  I have a lot of experience in cooking and healthy menu planning for a family.  Plus, I think my attitude and demeanor could serve me well in order to motivate others to make healthy decisions in their lives.  Could I lead and coordinate weekly meetings for individuals interested in making some healthy choices in their lives?  Would people listen to/share with/pay an untrained, but experienced individual if it helped them to live a healthier lifestyle?  Could I even get enough people together to make it worth my time and effort?  How many people would make it worth my time and effort?

I believe the people are out there.  Even in my small town of 5500 residents, the local hospital has had an overwhelming response to a pretty radical weight loss program, and it has been working for many!  Shows like the Biggest Loser and Food Revolution are still on the air because people are watching.  There is interest!

But is there interest in me?  I think there could be.  I am one of the people.  I weighed a lot, I ate all the wrong foods, I sat on my ass and watched TV, and I made the decision to do something about it.  It hasn't all been sunshine and daisies.  Sometimes it has been downright impossible, but I pick myself up and keep moving!  I think people could appreciate that I have been in their shoes, and I want with all of my heart for them to do something about it!

Maybe I am just daydreaming, maybe I am just waiting for someone to tell me "I Can't", or maybe this is just the start of that something BIG I was looking for.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My 100th Post!

I can't believe I made it to 100 posts.  In the beginning, I thought I would have been to this point long ago, but there have been a few stall along the way.  A lot of things have happened since I started writing this blog.  Let's just take a look at a few highlights, shall we:

1. I got a new bike.
2. I got fired.
3. I learned what an IT_Band was.
4. I went through health care hell.
5. I almost shit my pants. Note: this has happened more often than I would like to remember
6. I lost over 50 pounds.
7. My wife bought me a fitness evaluation.
8. I learned to love running in the rain.
9. I broke up with Phil Knight of Nike.
10. I ran more than 700 miles, I have biked more than 1000 miles, I have done more crunches than I care to count, I have participated in 2 biking events, and run in 3 races.

All in all, that is a pretty good bucket list.  I've got plenty more that I would like to do in the next 100 posts!  Now, I just hope someone is here to read about them!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's HOT!

I am writing to you today from central Illinois, otherwise known as the surface of the Sun, where it is currently 95 degrees outside and the heat index is 110!  I was going to put a video on this post; the clip from Good Morning, Vietnam, when Robin Williams pretends to be a soldier giving a weather report.  But I realized that I had done a similar report last August.  Needless to say the same holds true this week, it is freaking HOT out!

The heat has made me adjust my normal exercise routine.  I had still been walking 2 miles over my lunch hour, and I tried to do the same on Monday.  I made it almost the whole way, but after nearly 30 minutes out in this heat and humidity, I decided to cut it a little short.  I must admit that the heat was really getting to me.  I couldn't believe it could get so bad while I was only walking!  Yesterday morning, I competed my 7 mile "shakeout" run which I usually take pretty slow.  I went even slower on that morning, and still sweat through my entire outfit before the sun even broke over the horizon.  I skipped my lunch hour walk today altogether.  I figure I will take my Thursday 5-mile "tempo" run at a little lower tempo than normal.

I am mostly nervous about my long run on Saturday.  As it is the weekend, I usually try to sleep in a little to get some extra rest, and I break my run into 2 loops so I can stop at the house to drink 20 oz. of Gatorade before heading back out for the second half.  I was going to bump the run up to 11 miles, but I think I will stick with 10 form one more week.  I may wake up a little earlier than normal to avoid the excessive heat, but it is still murderously hot at 5am.  Also, I am going to split the run into 3 loops, stopping twice to hydrate.  Even with these accommodations, I am more than a little nervous about the run.  I do figure that if I am really dogging it after 7 mile (1 four mile loop, and 1 three mile loop), I could conceivably call it a day.  Obviously, I would like to avoid that idea.

I don't really know for sure how it will all work out.  I pray that we get some relief form this heat very soon, and I hope very much that when I run my half marathon in September that the heat of summer has given way to a perfectly cool fall.  Stay safe out there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Horsemen of the Apocalypse

On or about Mile 5 of my 7 mile run this morning, I stepped onto the bike path on the east side of town.  The trail was very picturesque in the pre-dawn hours.  There was not a cloud in the sky to speak of.  The sun had yet to make its ascent, but its early light had lit the horizon on fire with colors of pink, red, and purple.  The soybeans were a dark green "carpet" pulled tight against the horizon, and pockets of fog resided in the low-lying areas.  I thought about just how beautiful this place was at this time, and how more people should be out to see it.  As I ran through the last pocket of fog, just before I entered the tree lined section of the path, this feeling of peace and nostalgia was soon ended.

The moment I stepped through the fog, the trees closed in around the trail.  The path was darkened as I lost sight of the colorful horizon, and Metalica's Four Horsemen came on the shuffle of music in my iPod.  These were prophetic signs of the horror that was approaching me.  My senses were already on edge, acutely surveying my surroundings, when it finally happened.  It took me a few seconds to realize it, but I could sense the presence of another in my midst. I realized I was being chased by not one, but two horse flies.  Many of you may not know of the horror of which I speak.  For these were no common house flies.  These were determined spawns of Satan, that will chase you to the ends of the Earth, hoping to nab a taste of the sweet blood that courses through my veins.

It began with a few swipes across my scalp.  As I swatted at the nuisance, one of these monsters actually crossed the path in front of me, letting me know the fight that I was in for.  I picked up my pace, in the hopes of out running these demons, but to no avail.  For no one can truly out run the devil.  The flies escalated their attack to a full on bombardment, diving at my head, back and shoulders.  They were, I am sure, attracted to the sweet smell of my perspiration, and their lust for my blood had driven them into a frenzy.

I managed to eliminate the first attacker, when it made the fatal mistake of biting my shoulder.  With the reflexes of a Jedi, I smacked the crap out the thing, smearing blood on my hands and shoulders.  His compatriot continued the onslaught for another mile, occasionally disappearing from view or attack.  However as my run came to its end, I was able to vanquish this final tormentor as it sank its "teeth" into my back.  I grabbed this last demon from its bounty, threw it on the ground, and stepped on it like the bug he was.

I am sure that my elimination of these creatures has done much damage to my Karmic balance, but have you ever been bitten by one of those things?  It freaking hurts!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Homestretch

The very last part of any race is supposed to be the toughest.  Your body and mind are tired, you have spent all or most of your stored energy, and in general you just don't know if you are going to make it.  The homestretch is also where you should feel that boost of energy from the knowledge that the race is almost over.  Sometimes you use that energy for one last "kick" to bring you across the finish line.

And so it goes, or at least I hope it does, for weight loss.  A few weeks ago I set one of my goals as weighing 185lbs by July 10.  I have placed many obstacles to achieving this goal in front of me.  On occasion, I have been undisciplined with my eating and drinking beer.  Which has been easy, what with rewarding my children for jobs well done and a couple of major holidays packed in the middle.  I have stuck with my workouts, and even expanded some with my training for the half marathon.  My body and my mind are both tired of dieting, training, working around the house, and a general lack of sleep.  On Wednesday I weighed 191 pounds, which seems like a long ways from my goal.  However, it is not out of the realm of possibility that I could sneak in under the wire for a few short moments on Sunday, July 10.  I am excited about getting near the finish line, and I feel the rush to finish strong.  I am not for sure if I will make it, but I am proud of the effort that I have put in.

I am also not too overly concerned about the scale any longer.  I honestly feel that I have gained some good muscle mass in the recent weeks, and I it is my sincere hope that this is keeping my weight up.  I feel as though I am slimmer than I was a few weeks ago; some of my squishy parts aren't quite so squishy.  And if I get a good poop out I can even take my belt down a whole notch on occasion.  

So I guess that I am saying that things are going pretty well.  I have a chance to make my weight goal by Sunday, and overall I feel great!  I'll never really get to the finish line with this health and wellness stuff, but if I keep going the way I am, I will always be coming down the homestretch.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Second Open Letter to Phil Knight: We Are Breaking Up!


I am writing to tell you that as soon as I can afford it, you and I are finished!  That's right, I am done with you and I am throwing all of your things out on the street!  I had gone with the idea that the Nike+ sportband was an affordable alternative in the large market of fitness watches.  And much the same way I feel about Wal-Mart, I have found that "affordable" means "crap".

In my first letter, i described some shortcomings of the sportband that I thought could be improved upon.  After several more months, those shortcomings have evolved into "pain-in-my-rearend" dysfunctions.

1. Compatibility with Polar Wearlink+ heart monitor

After my visit with a fitness specialist, it was suggested that I begin to workout using a heart rate monitor.  I was excited to find out that the sportband had a compatible appliance.  Since I started using the monitor, the flood gates of complaints have opened up.  HR exercise requires that I run at differing paces to maintain particular HR zones.  These changing paces are not recognized by the foot sensor, so now when I run slower for zones 1 and 2, the mileages are much lower than actuality. At first I figure, "No problem, I will just recalibrate the sportband for these runs."  Au contraire, mon frere!  The sport band cannot be recalibrated for runs that use a HR monitor!  Why, you ask?  I don't have the foggiest idea!  I assume it has something to do with calorie calculation by HR and elapsed time instead of weight and distance traveled.  But no matter what, if I cannot recalibrate the distances, I am losing a ton of miles and the other functions of the watch are completely lost.  Essentially, this lack of accurate distance calculation makes the watch a $120 ($60 a piece for the sportband and HR transmitter) HR monitor, which is not that great of a deal! 

Now, the sportsband won't even recognize the HR signal from the transmitter!  I see this as one of 2 problems.  First, the transmitter needs a new battery.  That means that the battery on this transmitter lasts about 3 months!  Are you freaking kidding me?!  My kids toys last longer than that!  At $14 per battery, the affordability of this system becomes very suspect!  You might say that this is a Polar problem, and has nothing to do with Nike.  I say that since this is the only HR transmitter compatible with the sportband, it's your freaking problem!  The second possible problem is that the HR receiver in the sportband has stopped working, at which point I will stomp up and down on this piece of crap, cursing the day it ever walked into my life.

2.  Software compatibility

Initially, I was enthused by the user-friendly Nike+ website and its many functions, coaching, and games.  But now after several months, I have found the use of this website and software very exclusive.  I cannot import the data from my runs into any other website, nor can I upload the data from the sportband onto any other website!  This stinks!  I like the Nike website, but it is not the only fitness website in the world!  In fact there are approximately 1 gagillion other websites with which I would really like to use my fitness data, but alas I cannot.  This has become most frustrating in the last month, as I have attempted to raise money for charity by entering fitness information into another website.  This website gives greater "points" to exercises that are entered from a technology rather than hand entering, because of the possibility of cheating.  But since your technology is incompatible with their website, the kids in Africa are just going to have to wait a little longer for their new bike!  Thanks a lot!

I have been researching far and wide for new fitness technology in watches.  While you still tempt me with the new Nike+ Sport Watch, I no longer have faith in your work!  I don't really know why I ever had faith in it in the first place?!  All of it matters very little, as soon as I can afford it or the holidays get here, I am getting a Garmin 305.  I wish I could say that it has been fun, but it hasn't!  I think we had a few good times, but maybe I was fooling myself.  I will conclude with what many of my ex-girlfriends have said to me, "God, the sex was AMAZING, but I hope I never see you again!"