Friday, May 30, 2008

Resting heart rate

It's not very scientific but my resting heart rate, at least today, is between 52-56 beats per minute. I used my index and middle finger to find my pulse in my neck, and then did another test using those fingers on my left wrist.

It's a pretty low heart rate, which is typically a good thing. You want a low resting heart rate. That's about the rate it was at when I last saw a trainer, but he used a heart rate monitor instead of the two-finger method.

Planning gym course

I don't know if I will do this cardio or the 42-minute one I'm so fond of but I cam across a good plan of attack for cardio. Again, it's with intervals (yes, I am enamored with the concept), and it needs to be done at a gym preferably so you can keep track of your heart rate.

Basically, you do this: warm-up for 4-5 minutes on any machine - treadmill, elliptical, bike, stairmaster - and then hit it hard. Go for 90 percent of your level, that is run an 8.5 sprint or go up to level 14 on the elliptical or as high as the stairmaster can go. Do that for two minutes, then rest for one minute. "Rest" can be a complete rest, that is get off the machine and stand around, or you can walk or do something easy. I'd probably walk on the 'mill or go to a gentle pace on the elliptical (I probably won't try this out on the other two). Then, go back for another 2-minute 90-percent session, followed by another minute-long rest session. In total, you want to do five rounds for a total of 15 minutes.

By doing this three times a week, you can greatly improve the amount of oxygen you can consume, which is apparently an important aspect of cardiovascular fitness. Also, you can increase your overall fitness level and increase the time it takes you to get exhausted.

Probably the most appealing part of this to me is the time element involved. 20-25 minutes is not a long time, and this is potentially even shorter. In 15 minutes of actual cardio time plus a few minutes warm-up on either side, you can accomplish great things.

I definitely want to try this. I went running this morning and I tried to run portions of my time in sprints but it was difficult to gauge just how fast I was running, how long I was running for and my heart rate. I have wanted to invest in a heart-rate monitor for some time now but until then I will use the gym machines for this.

The most difficult part, of course, is exerting yourself. Even if it's just two minutes, this sort of workout is challenging. Two minutes can seem like an eternity, especially if you are already exhausted and need to hit high gear. And I've been there many, many times, when I'm on the last leg of my intervals and I need to give it maximum effort and it's about the last thing I want to do. But it's in those times when you burn an enormous amount of calories and really make strides in your overall fitness.

To me, that's the most appealing part of interval training.

Back to where it all started

Now that summer is here, the weather will start to get warmer and warmer until the thermometer breaks. 100-degree temperatures are right around the corner, and such weather can severely hamper my outside workouts.

Never fear, though. As summer arrives, so to does the prospect of more free time. Yvie (my daughter) is finally done with preschool and that means no more running around on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That's going to allow me more time to do more things, and one of them is going to the gym.

A year ago, I hit the gym hard in June, July and August. I went from 232 in early June to 217 by late July, and this was before I started running on the treadmill. All of that was done on the elliptical, weights and my steady meal plan. I think it was around a year ago when I really started incorporating fruits and vegetables into my meal plan and made them a priority.

Anyway, I'm salivating about the gym. I want to get back into a rhythm in terms of lifting and hitting the gym in general. I still plan on running outside. That much hasn't changed. But it will be nice to know that on the days I wake up without energy to run at 5 in the a.m. I can still perform the cardio for the day at the gym. I want to get back to my 42-minute cardio sessions and mix those in. I think they can still do me a boatload of good. I want to work on my upper-body strength and I want to do some core exercises as well.

My initial plan is to go on Tuesday. I've got my 5K run a week from tomorrow so I want to run on Saturday outdoors and hit the gym on Tuesday and Thursday. I'd also like to mix in one more outdoor run, perhaps on Monday and/or Wednesday.

I used to dread going to the gym, but now I'm anxious to get back to it, back to the place where I've left so much sweat and so many pounds behind.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Running for time

I didn't get the chance to run my 2.25 or 3.25 miles today but I did have the opportunity to run for time. I went down to the local high school track with my wife and kids to run a mile for time. I'd never run before for time, well, at least not in the last year, so I was looking forward to it.

I wanted to run a mile under 8 minutes. I know that isn't exactly the world's fastest mile but I felt that if I could run it under 8 and document it, it would be a good place to start for me. I haven't gotten a watch so I took a digital recorder and had my wife turn it on when I started and off when I stopped. I do need to invest in a watch, though, and soon.

The run didn't start off greatly. I had a mental block or something creep up when I stepped onto the track. For some reason, four laps seemed really long but from my front door to the one-mile mark on my morning runs doesn't seem that long. That mental block screwed me up.

I never really got into a rhythm. I ran as I normally do but I felt discombobulated from the start. It's difficult to explain, really. I felt fine physically. I ran okay and wasn't out of breath at all. But when I went for the high gear, it wasn't there as consistently as I would have wanted it to be. And I blame the track.

Whatever the reason, I wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders. But as I rounded the final corner I did find that high gear after all. I told my wife to get ready as she had been walking around the track as the girls rode their tricycles in front of her.

I sprinted as hard as I could, not worrying about conserving any strength for any further running. I crossed the mile mark and put my hands up to let my wife know that I was done. I turned around and walked back to her to check how much time my recorder had recorded.


Okay, it wasn't great but it was under 8 minutes. I was worried that I wouldn't finish under 8 minutes and had actually convinced myself that I wasn't going to cross it. But I did. And now at least I have some sort of foundation for future runs.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Interval gave out

I tried my first outdoors interval run today. I've mixed in some of it during previous runs but nothing as organized as I had today. Overall, I think it went well. Better than I'd expected, actually. Not even my iPod could keep up with me.

First thing this morning was the task of making a playlist. I wanted to run three sets of intervals, that is a four-minute 90-percent clip, three-minute 70-percent clip, back up to 4 minutes, down to 3, up to 4 and down to 3. On either end of the run I wanted to have time to warm up and cool down. I ran the Oak Quarry course, so it was a good 3.25 miles. I selected a two-minute song to kind of serve as a warm up, followed by songs with lengths to correspond to the intervals.

After the warm-up song, I let loose in a sprint as The Killers sang about Sam's Town. It actually felt good to just kick it into high gear, to open it up right away. But about halfway through the song, I felt myself slowing down. It was hard but I kept at it. I wasn't at a full-on sprint but I was close. By the time Brandon Flowers saw London and Sam's Town, I was ready for a change of song.

I went down to 70 percent, which was hard to gauge. I didn't want to go too far down to where I'm just basically speed walking but I didn't want to overexert myself either. It didn't take long to find a comfortable clip, though. But the three minutes went by fast and then I had to kick it back up to high gear.

I wasn't moving as fast as before but I wasn't exactly gassed either. I was still going at a steady pace and I knew if I had run my usual 2.25 Run Around the Neighborhood I would have set a new high, if in fact I kept times. But the 90-percent clip was further complicated by my run. I was starting to run at an incline as the Oak Quarry route takes me up a slight hill. After the four-minute song was over, I moved into a three-minute System of a Down song. I needed that extra energy from Serj and his boys to get me up the hill. I made it up to the entrance, crossed the street and started to go back down toward Armstrong. Once I crossed that, I'd be close to the home stretch. I had a lot to give still. I felt it. I could have run a lot longer than my original 3.25-mile plan.

As it were, though, the iPod couldn't. After the four-minute song, I went into the final three-minute song, which would have been followed up by a pair of longer songs that would have played during my final cooldown portion of the run. Instead, barely a minute into the song, the iPod gave out on me. All I heard was the occasional passing car and my footsteps, and eventually my labored breathing.

I wasn't too worried about maintaining the 70 percent clip. I set a mental landmark to try and cross and I maintained the clip until then. After that, I figured I had about three-quarters of a mile to go and I started to go into my usual steady (slow) pace. But I forced myself to move at a faster pace.

I kept it up. I got close to the home stretch so I decided to sprint part of it. I took off and although I wasn't moving at supersonic speed my heart was pumping hard, my legs were moving and I was maintaining a steady, somewhat faster pace. I rounded the second-to-last corner and slowed down. The worst of my run was over. I tried my steady pace instead of my slower one but I was beat down by that point.

When I finally made it home, I was exhausted. I could have kept going. Had I not sprinted that last portion I wouldn't have been so dead tired. But it actually fit well with the interval. I had exerted myself at different times of the run and then I really challenged my heart during the sprint. I'm guessing my heart rate was close to 180 at the end of my sprint.

My iPod, though, was stuck on zero. It didn't flat-line (I resuscitated it after some moments of anguish) but it left me alone to my thoughts. And that was just another challenge I eventually overcame.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A fast solution?

There are many fad diets, and I'm not one to "diet." When I made the decision to try and lose weight, I changed the way I eat - I did not go on a diet.

I came across something, though, that might make me change the way I think about dieting. (Okay, I cringe when I link myself to a diet)

There was a story in Men's Health about fasting. The author of the story fasts once a week, for 36 hours. He's been at it for more than a year straight.

At first, I was hesitant about it. After all, eating five to six small meals is how I was able to knock off 120-plus pounds. I never wanted to simply stop eating because it can have a negative affect. I try to eat every 2-3 hours or so.

But the author swears differently. He says it helps stimulate his taste for food, that is it helps stimulate tastebud sensitivity. It also has some healthy side-effects. For instance: the author dropped some weight, going from 189 to 174; he dropped his body-mass index from 25.6 to 23.6; fasting can also lower cholesterol and strengthen cells and also increase the production of several beneficial molecules in the brain, including BDNF.

The author fasts from Saturday night to Monday morning. He also says that on fasting days he is just as sharp as ever, whether it's in exercise or other activities.

Now, I'm not going to stop eating quite yet. But this sort of fasting sounds strangely appealing. I can't really point my finger to it, though. As I said, fasting goes contrary to my own meal plan but if there are so many positives and few setbacks - the author says there are no documented downsides to fasting.

Of coures, as with anything, you don't want to just dive right in. Their four tips to potential fasting:
- Don't do it unless you are healthy and eat right already
- Start off slowly - 24 hours would be good
- Make your meals on either side of the fast the correct ones
- Time it right so that you sleep through the last portion of the fast

I'm going to have to think about this "diet" (I refuse to use that word), or revision to my meal plan. It does intrigue me, but are there enough positives to do without food for 24-36 hours?


One of the few downsides for running outdoors versus running on a treadmill has been my interval training regiment. Whenever I'd run on a treadmill, I ran in intervals - one minute at a 7.0, the next at a 5.5, back to 7.0, down to 5.5, etc. - and it worked well for me. I had increased my recovery rate because of that and my overall stamina. I noticed that I could still hit top gear after playing nearly two hours of soccer, for instance, even if my top gear isn't exactly fast.

I came across a piece in Men's Health about heart rate and beats per minute and it included a good tip on using intervals outside. According to the story, the average man's bpm is about 70, and I'd read and heard before that closer to 50 would be ideal. Basically, you don't want to be above 70 because it increases risk of a heart attack. The last time I saw a trainer, around October 2007, my bpm was at 54.

Anyway, the tip that most caught my eye was the interval one. According to a study by the American College of Sports Medicine, interval training can increase the amount of blood the heart pumps with each heartbeat (which is a good thing) by 10 percent while running at a slower, sustained pace had no effect.

Their tip: Run four minutes at 90 percent of your maximum heart rate, then three minutes at 70 percent, and repeat it three times. Repeat this run three times a week.

So what does that translate to? A grueling 28 minutes, or is it 21? Maybe I'll go with 21...

Actually, that's sort of what I did with the 7.0-5.5 interval. When I first started it, I figured 7.0 was about 90 percent, though that 7.0 became an increasingly lower percentage the more I ran and built up my speed and endurance.

Of course, when you are running on the street, you can't really run according to speeds.

I'm going to try this. What I'll do for the time (since I don't have a watch yet) is make a playlist that alternates between songs rougly four minutes long and three minutes long. What I'd suggest and probably would do as well is to warm up, either by walking or jogging lightly, before hitting the first four-minute segment. It might throw of my pre-planned route, though, so I'll have to figure out how much I ran afterward, if in fact I did go longer than my route or take a different one altogether.

To be honest, though, I've run intervals before and try to incorprate them in my jogs but this is a good organized plan and that's what I need more than anything - an organized plan.

Stretching my legs

Recently, my activity in working out has been as much as my activity here - which is to say not much.

I've got to get back in the swing of things though and I will. Lately, though, I've not felt like running when I get out of bed in the mornings. Not at all.

But I'm going to sign up for the Fontana Days 5k Run. I've been looking for a 5K run to compete in and this one is perfect. It's very close to my house and it's not too far away.

I'm actually looking forward to it. It's not that I don't think I can finish. Unlike the Mud Run, I do think that I can run this without completely collapsing at the end. It's not so much a physical challenge as it is a first. I've never run in a 5k race. Hell, I've never run in a race, unless the Mrs. Needles' fifth-grade class relay race counts. It'll be a competition. I don't expect to win or finish near the top but I do want to compete against others and try and score a good finish. Plus it will be nice to have Tiffany and the girls waiting and cheering for me at the finish line.

And heck, it would make a good story for The San Bernardino Sun. "Slimming Race: Man loses 100-plus, competes in 5k race for first time."

My tentative plan is to run on Saturday and Sunday and Monday. That might be too ambitious but I need to kickstart my training again, and that would be a good way to do it.

ADD: Okay, it's official. I just signed up for the Fontana Days 5K run. It's scheduled for June 7 so I've got some time to get ready for it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Long layoff

I haven't posted much recently because I haven't run much. I finally hit the streets again on Saturday morning and ran my short 2.25 run around the neighborhood. It went okay, but I was gassed after I ran it. I plan on going again on Sunday morning.

I have a ways to go still before I get back into the groove. I thought I'd gotten into it before this last week but then I didn't do any running and now I feel like I'm back at square one. I'm not, but I feel like it.

I'll post more later about the upcoming competition I'm going to dive head first into and some nutrition stuff I came across in my most recent Men's Health magazine.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Don't skip breakfast

I may have posted about the nutritional qualities about breakfast before but I just ran across an item in my daily Men's Health newsletter about the topic. The most important thing I took away from it is that the more regularly you eat breakfast, the less likely you will overeat during the day.

I find it amazing how people generally skip breakfast and wait until 10 or 11 to eat something for the first time. By that time, I'm guessing you are borderline starved and the odds of making poor choices in that condition are high.

Even if it's something as simple as toast and a glass of milk, breakfast is important. I don't typically eat a lot in the morning but I always eat something, whether it's as simple as tearing open a protein bar, popping two slices of bread in the toaster or having a fruit or two. I'm actually looking to expand my breakfast options and possibly incorporate a shake or something every now and then.

Another thing that was of interest in the newsletter was a link to this game, the Eat This, Not That game. If you don't regularly read the magazine, every month they compare two similar foods from two similar restaurants or eateries. For instance, the McDonald's Big Mac versus the Burger King Whopper. Sometimes, as they mention, it's basically a choice between the lesser of two evils. But it's a really good feature because it helped me eliminate the possibility that I will ever eat at Cinnabon again. Cinna-gut-bomb features 800 calorie cinnamon rolls! They probably taste okay but that is absolutely not worth the effort.

Anyway, here's the game.

A tad under four

It was the birds that woke me up this morning. I thought the anticipation of knowing I'd go on another early-morning run would stir me before the sun came up but, as luck would have it, some bird chirping about something roused me from sleep at 5:21 am.

Oh, there's no way.

The run was fresh on my mind but getting up and running three miles wasn't exactly the most enticing thing at that moment. I stayed in bed a few moments before getting up. I remembered that I had set my clothes out in the office and that my brand-new shoes were waiting for me there as well.

I had set everything up for me to get up and go, and I took care of the first part of the plan. Now, I just had to follow through.

Come on, what else are you going to do?

A few minutes later, I set my iPod on System of a Down and I was out on the street. And off I went.

I wanted to run a bit longer on Friday than the usual 2.25 run-around-the-neighborhood. I thought about the Oak Quarry course, which would require a bit of uphill running. I figured I'd do that so I went down 30th, up Florine, out to 34th and over to Armstrong. But as I went down the street toward Sierra, I thought about going up to Gilliam, which was a new route I'd mapped out over the weekend. I remembered it being about 3.4 miles, the same distance as the Oak Quarry run, so I decided to try that. Something new.

I crossed over Sierra and passed a small side street that I would come out of on my way back. I'd go up to Gilliam, down a back street and out this little street here, Karen Street I believe. I turned my attention up towards Gilliam, only...

I don't see anything up ahead.

There was a sidewalk before me, which was good, a long stretch of sidewalk. The street was at a bit of an incline and there was a bike lane adjacent to the sidewalk. But as far as I could tell, it was all sidewalk. No Gilliam.

Still, I plowed ahead. I wondered how long I'd been running for. I wondered how much I'd ran at that point. I remembered having had a digital watch on recently and playing with it and setting the time and it was pretty vivid.

Yeah, it was a dream, stupid.

Oh yeah. I had that dream. I need to invest in a watch.

I tried not to look too far ahead. I didn't want to get discouraged and I was in a good groove. I wasn't tired. I wasn't mentally exhausted or anything. The only problem was that I wasn't getting the good System of a Down songs that I'd hoped for. Oh well.

Finally, I saw the bike lane break up ahead. Or, did it?

No. It's just the incline and the angle I'm at that makes it look like a street up ahead.

Crap. I just had to keep running. There weren't too many cars out on the street that morning, at least not on Armstrong headed to our coming out of Bloomington. I had on a grey t-shirt with the word ARMY in front of it, and I wondered a few times if passers-by thought I was an Army veteran or something.

Look. Finally. Gilliam.

I rounded the corner off Armstrong, off the comforts of a sidewalk and down into a residential neighborhood I'd seen only in December. I remember driving down the street I was now running on during the Christmas season and that not many of the houses there were in the holiday spirit. It was a tiny bit of a downward slope so I wasn't trudging up as I had been on the other side of the houses.

The jaunt back to Karen and out to Armstrong again passed by soon enough and then I was heading down Sierra. About halfway, I took off. I tried to sprint a good portion of the run and I had enough gas to do it. I was flying... okay, maybe not speeding but I was running at a good pace.

I was beat down, though, when I got to the end of Sierra. Back on 30th Street, I got back into a steady pace and before too long I was home.

After I showered I went to check out the route on my trusty account. I noticed that I hadn't run the right route. I had actually ran a little longer. I mapped the precise route I took, down to the places I crossed different streets at, and it came out to 3.75. It's nice but if I knew I was so close to four miles I would have made it an even four.

Oh well. Guess I'll save that run for the next time some annoying bird chirps me awake before 5:30 am.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Looking good

One of the perks of working out regularly is that clothes fit better. I know my clothes fit great. I went from a size 44 pants to size 32, from XXL shirts to L.

I know that's been sort of a motivating factor for me was to actually try and look good in clothes instead of just trying to find clothes that fit.

Anyway, I got this link from Men's Health. It's a test your style sense where you match a shirt, tie and jacket and see if you matched it well.

Not feeling it

My calf, that is.

I felt up for an early-morning run today and that's exactly what I did. I got up really early (not by choice) and instantly knew that I would go on a run later in the morning. So at about 5:30, after I'd been up for about an hour, I got my stuff together, stretched and ran.

Now I hadn't gone on a run since Saturday. I think I had a calf strain and while I still felt it yesterday I figured I'd better get up and run. I was worried that my calf strain would turn into a vaginal strain and since I'm not a pussy I figured I needed to run.

It actually felt great. Everything about the run felt great. It was nice to put my comfy running shoes on again. It was good to stretch and have that feeling I get when I'm stretching about the upcoming workout/run/exercise. It felt good to step outside in the brisk early-morning air. It felt good to take my first few paces and to get into a rhythm.

Careful, you might become a runner.

But really, though, aren't I one already? Okay, I'd venture to say no but only runners get up before 5 and get out on a run before 6, don't they?

Actually, I know that I haven't put in the time and effort and just outright miles to call myself a runner. There are still parts of it that I don't like and I don't think runners face the same mental obstacles I do. But I'm beginning to think that it's not so much that I don't like them because they make me uncomfortable but rather because they are strange to me. It still seems a bit strange for me to do nothing but run for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, whatever. So I think I deal with that negatively through dislike. I need to embrace the time and prepare myself mentally for running.

I think I did that a little this morning. I didn't think about taking shortcuts or that I'd rather do something else. I just relaxed mentally while exerting a lot of physical energy and listened to some soothing tunes, in this case Black Stone Cherry.

So now I'm showered, my calf isn't bothering me in the least and I feel good physically and mentally about my run.

Injuries be damned!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

No better, no worse

So I think my calf strain, or whatever that hard little bump I have on my calf is, will be a part of me from now on. Okay, maybe not forever but it's not improving. Nor is it getting worse.

I've decided that I will go on a run on Thursday morning. I will probably do my 2.25 run, the shortest course around here. I want to get back on track and work towards a regular running schedule. I'd love to be able to run Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and I think it's just a matter of time before I do so.

I mapped out a 6.5 mile run that seems both challenging and enticing. I want to work my way up to that, strained calf or not.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Calf strain

I've been slowed somewhat these last few days. I haven't been running despite my new aerodynamic shoes. Problem is, the last few times I've been running I've taken home a nasty little souvenir - an aching calf. It actually flares up during the run but I can get through it with no problems. But the rest of the day I feel discomfort. I haven't been running since Saturday, a full three days now and the swelling hasn't gone down.

I think I have a strained calf. That's what I thought I had from the start but I did some research and it looks like that's what I have.

At this point, I don't know what to do other than rest. No running, which is a pain because I was starting to get into a groove. But I'd rather take a few days off and get rid of this pain than keep running on it and keep flaring it up.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Low, Low, Low and High

I didn't have a horrible day of nutrition on Sunday but it wasn't the best either. Still, it was a one-off day and it won't hurt in the end.

It actually reminded me of how I used to conduct business. When I first got on my meal plan back when I was 300-plus, my trainer wasn't strict as far as the specific meals to eat or the types of foods I should eat. But he was strict about the amount of calories I should eat. He had me consume 1700 calories for three days, then go up to 2800 for one day. After that "power-up" day, I'd go back to 1700 for three days, "power-up" for one day and then repeat the process.

Believe it or not, it was hard sometimes to get up to 2800 calories. Sometimes it seemed counterproductive or that it wouldn't work. But I put my faith in my trainer.

I don't know why and I don't know how but it worked. My trainer did say that including such a "power-up" day would help drive my metabolism and kick start it. I followed that pattern until I got under 220 pounds. After that I stuck to 1800 calories per day.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Buffet barrage

Today won't be a good calorie day. I've known that for several days now. It's my wife Tiffany's thirty-... um, I mean, twenty-something birthday and we're going out to El Torito to celebrate. On Sundays, El Torito makes a fantastic buffet that I've indulged in a few times over the years.

While I could stick with eating the healthier of the options, it doesn't hurt to have one meal every now and then where you know you are eating an excessive amount of calories. The key is to know it ahead of time and plan accordingly. Since I knew this was going to happen, I had a normal calorie day on Saturday (1500-1800 calories) and didn't do anything foolish like go out to a pizza place or something. That may have been fun but places like that put you in a position where it's easy to make bad choices.

This morning, I might have a lighter-than-usual breakfast to compensate for the brunch. I might just have some fruit or something. Pineapple actually sounds pretty tasty right about now. And I'm guessing I'll be so full the rest of the day I won't have an appetite for much, so I'll just stick to fruits and veggies afterward. But I will indulge a bit.

I actually think I won't be able to handle the buffet like before. Back in the 300-plus days, I could have killed the buffet. Now I get to a point where I'm too full pretty quickly. I've been so accustomed to eating smaller portions that when I eat too much I know before the meal is over I've eaten too much. Same goes for alcohol. I used to be able to put down six or eight beers before really feeling a whole lot but now I'm lucky if I get to my third beer without having felt the affects of the alcohol.

Anyway, I'll be at the buffet today and while I won't go overboard I know I won't feel bad about indulging because I will have planned on it. And I know that the next few days I will go back to my routine of staying within the 1500-1800 calorie range and jogging and eating the right things.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Influx of fiber

About a week ago I posted about the Abs Diet and the different types of foods you should eat rarely, often and occasionally. After that, I wanted to try and make some serious changes, albeit slight ones at first. I wanted to incorporate more of the "eat often" food group, with specific attention on the fruits and veggies.

I'll get into details in a minute, but I did well to incorporate fruits and vegetables that I hadn't eaten regularly into my meal plan and it actually went off fairly smoothly. I found myself with more choices as a greater variety of fruit took up space in my refrigerator. I'll post up some nutritional information on these fruits/veggies later. I'm compiling a master fruits and veggies list, which I'm calling my "Master Fruits and Veggies List." Pretty catchy, huh? Until then...

Honeydew melon: I didn't realize I liked this until I had some a week ago. I think it's on the "Eat Often" list and I've done just that this week. Pretty tasty. It was about $3 for one bowling-ball sized melon but it yielded quite a bit.

Pineapple: Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Absorbent and yellow and... oh wait. I catch myself singing that whenever I try and give my girls pineapple. At first, when I cut it up it was tasty. But lately the flavor has taken on a whole new dimension. It tastes just as sweet as it does now as the canned ones, except much more fresh.

Spinach: How's this? I wanted to get spinach into a meal so I bought a bag of baby spinach. I found a recipe for Spinach Salad with Orange Vinaigrette. The spinach worked out perfectly.

Watermelon: I don't know why I haven't bought watermelon more regularly over the years. It's very tasty. It was one of my favorite fruits growing up and it tasted every good this week as it did when I was 12.

Strawberries: See above.

Blueberries: I bought some blueberries. They're still in the package. I have a bad feeling they might end up in a blueberry muffin recipe I make regularly. Of course, I don't usually have any of the muffins but still...

Celery: Haven't cut up the bunch of celery I have in my fridge. Need to do so.

Sunflower seeds: I've actually had sunflower seeds here for a long time but stopped eating them because I had the notion that they weren't a good snack. Well, guess again. I had almost a whole bag (160 calories per) on Wednesday and it was a good change of pace as far as snacks go.

Whole wheat pasta: Really didn't notice the flavor between the whole wheat penne rigate pasta and the regular penne rigate pasta we had a couple weeks earlier. Can't notice the flavor, healthier for you... sounds like a keeper.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My little saying

I've drawn on countless number of things over the years to motivate myself and now that I'm close to the 130-pound mark it's a lot easier to find motivation. Usually, if I encounter doubts or a tough challenge during a workout I'll say something like "This is nothing, you've done shit 10 times harder" and I can get through it.

But I feel like I have to be in the right mindset before a workout starts in order to ensure everything runs smoothly. And really, when I don't say it or don't focus when I say it, the workouts don't flow so easily.

Here's what I tell myself before every workout (well about 95 percent of them):

Yesterday's over. Can't do anything about it.
Tomorrow is too far away.
It's all about today.
It's all about this moment.
It's all about right now.
Are you willing to give yourself everyhing you have for this moment?
For right now?

I guess it's like a prayer. But it helps me because each day is different. If I slipped up the day before and had an extra serving when I knew I shouldn't have, or if I had a really good workout and I'm afraid I'll just let it get to my head, I need to forget about it and start from scratch.

Also, I try to forget about the next day or the day after or whatever. It really doesn't matter what I have planned in the future because if I'm working out, I need to maximize the workout and the time I'm going to invest in the workout. Also, it nips procrastination in the bud so I can't say 'Oh, I'll do this challenging workout another day' or something to the effect.

I know that during workouts I'll be challenged multiple times and I have to be prepared for that. And that's how I prepare.

Jogging on cushions

I got an e-mail early Wednesday that shamed me somewhat. It was from my brother Danny and the subject said "run."

I hadn't, and I had said I was going to run the day after my new shoes arrived.

Sure enough, he wanted to know if I'd gone running that morning and how the shoes worked out. I responded "No :(" and I could feel him shaking his head some 40 miles away. I felt like telling him that I was on my way to Disneyland and that I would be walking for about six hours and that I did not have my new shoes on but I wasn't going to just sit around all day... but I went with the short answer instead.

So this morning, I made it a point to run. I got up at about 4:35 or so and it took me about 10 minutes to shake off the sleep. It was closer to 5 when I finally went outside. I waited until Tiffany got up to go on my run.

The first thing I felt when I stepped outside, aside from the cool early-morning air, was my new shoes. They were comfortable. Very comfortable. I hadn't even taken a few steps when I knew that my runs were going to improve. I rounded the corner away from my street and felt the cool breeze on my toes. My old shoes didn't come with AC, but apparently these did.

Now, one thing that irritated me this morning was my iPod. I inadvertantly helped myself train for the Mud Run in another way as I will run that course without the use of the iPod. It had no juice so I wasn't able to use it. So I got to experience a two-mile run with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. I would have given anything to listen to those songs that I'd skipped over on Saturday.

Such as it were, my run was a mental challenge more than anything. My mind wasn't trying to get me to take shortcuts but there were times early on that the time before me was going to be long when really it was going to be somewhere around 20 minutes or so. I need to invest in a watch because I didn't time my run. I left the house sometime around 5:03 and got back at around 5:23 but the times were from different clocks and that's not exactly the most accurate.

There were times during my run that I was able to increase my speed and the new shoes helped. When I made myself run at a brisk pace, the shoes did well to absorb the increased pace. And the only place I felt discomfort when I got home was my calf, which is still a bit tight. It'll go away, hopefully.

So my new shoes were a hit, already worth the $79 I spent on them. Well, that wasn't a 79-dollar-jog but I know the investment was well worth it because I know I'll run and run and run in those shoes, and hopefully they will feel as comfortable as they did this morning.