Tuesday, April 29, 2008


When I was younger, I ordered two things via mail. One was a switch blade. The other was a book on fighter planes. I awaited both with baited breath and was excited when each arrived. I longed to play with the switch blade, to add it to my "arsenal" of toys I used when I pretended to shoot up bad guys and go off to war. I also longed to scan through the fighter plane book, to look at all the old war planes and the new ones in awesome detail.
I think those were the last times I felt as anxious as I feel now. On Sunday I ordered a pair of new running shoes, the first time I ordered a pair of shoes online. And according to UPS.com, they went out with the morning's deliveries.
These are the ASICS GT-2120 model. I ordered a size 9. I tried to get the black pair but they had only a few colors to choose from and black wasn't one of them, so I went with this exact color scheme. It's not the colors that I'm concerned about, though. The shoes I have now and have had for several years just arent' working any more. They've put up through some tough challenges before as they helped me go from 300-plus to my current weight of 185. I should put them in the hall of fame for that.
These new shoes, though, are different. They are running shoes and are geared for the runner, which I guess I am. I've been running like a fool lately... okay, not that much but I've run some in recent weeks and I hope to continue running, perhaps at an even greater pace. I will go running Wednesday morning if the shoes arrive. Even if they don't, though, I need to get out there and run.
Now, being that I've never been a runner, I don't know what to look for in running shoes. My brother- and father-in-law are each avid runners, the former is actually training for a marathon, and they suggested this specific shoe. The way I figure, if it works for them, it will work for me. My brother-in-law Kyle actually showed me his pair, which is the same model as the one I have, and they feel light.
I'm hoping that they make a difference. It's not that my shoes are hurting me but they don't exactly feel like pillows on my feet or anything. Maybe I can blame them for my calf injury on Saturday's run.
When they get here I will put them to use no doubt. And maybe I'll have better luck with them than I did with my switch blade (broke within weeks) and the book (had to send back because couldn't make the payment).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Defeating the beast

It was probably best that I was jarred out of sleep this morning by the phone. If I would have had too much time to think about my task this morning, I might have psyched myself out. As it stood, Danny called and russled me out of my peaceful slumber.

I didn't have too much time to gather my stuff together. I drove to my mom's house - the same exact route I was going to run in a matter of minutes - to go get him.

Holy crap. This is a bit of a drive. I can just imagine how hard it will be when I have to navigate this by foot.

After picking Danny up, I came back to where it all started. I tried to stall. I didn't do it on purpose but I caught myself doing that. For instance, I didn't need to use the bathroom but I went to the bathroom anyway.

I got my iPod ready and went to say my final farewell to Tiffany. She asked me what was the matter.

I'm a ball of nerves right now, I told her.

She settled me somewhat, though. We walked out of the house, onto the street and head on into the toughest challenge of my life.

We made it to the end of my street. I turned, made it down to the end of 30th Street. We had to get up to the freeway, go under it and get out to Jurupa Road. That would be about 1/4 or 1/5 of the distance. Jurupa Road would take up a sizable amount of the jog.

We navigated through some construction. I stepped on a sandbag.

Maybe if I'm lucky I'll sprain my ankle and then I'll have to turn around and go home.

I refused to let those sorts of thoughts linger. I knew that if I could just make it out to Jurupa Road and get into a rhythm I'd be fine. Physically I didn't doubt myself. It was the mental crap I was worried about.

We darted under the freeway underpass, skirted across Mission Boulevard and went down towards Jurupa. Once on Jurupa, it seemed simultaneously an accomplishment and inconsequential.

Okay, we're on Jurupa. Kind of weird seeing it at this level.

I was thinking about reaching Patriot High when it happened. I felt a twinge in my calf. Great. Just what I needed, an injury. The part of me that earlier hoped for an injury even felt guilty. I wasn't even on Mile 2 and now I had something I had to fight through.

A few minutes later I was struggling. My mentality was in the toilet and my calf was reminding me every now and then that I couldn't overlook it. Add to that the seemingly endless road before me and, well...

Oh my God this sucks.

I tried to keep my focus on the upcoming streets. I made it a goal to get to Pyrite, and then I wanted to get to Agate and then Pedley. I passed them all by and was within sight of Van Buren. Suddenly I started to feel good about myself.

Danny is waaaay ahead of you.

In a way, though, that was good. He was holding a steady pace and I needed to do that as well. I'm not going to run as fast as he does. That's just not going to happen. But I could use his example to keep myself going and push myself.

He's going to kick your ass in the Mud Run.

Probably, but I'm not as far along as he is with our respective preparations.

Oh look. A train!

Indeed, a train was slowly chugging along. We were not going to be able to get across it, obviously. So we might get to rest a little after all. I'd stopped to walk once before then, right after my calf started to make noise. But I took about three steps and got right back on it. This time, though, the train might force our hand. However, I knew that I wouldn't reach it while it was still in front of me, and sure enough I was about 20 yards from the tracks when the train went past. I jogged to the street as the light had turned green. I didn't want to get stuck at the light, but it turned yellow right when I got to it.

I stopped just as Danny had crossed the street and turned back to look where I was. The ground swam underneath me.

Hey there. I can't stop now.

A red car made a left turn in front of me. I jogged across the street. By that point, I figured we were more than 3/4 of the way done. Actually, we'd passed the four-mile mark somewhere before the train tracks.

Danny was really far ahead of my by this point. Something I need to work on is to run at a steady pace. I actually can do some of that but my pace is slow. I need to work on that before the Mud Run, but that's something I never would have known by running only at the gym.

I passed the elementary school and turned onto the second-to-last street.

Where the hell is Danny?

I turned on to Webb, which bends and turns into my mom's street. I wasn't on there for 20 seconds when he turned the corner way up ahead. Our original goal was to complete the run between 45-48 minutes. I figured we'd passed the 50-minute mark and that I wasn't going to get to that goal, but it was a good foundation nonetheless.

Okay, you're almost there. Finish!

I picked up the pace a little and saw Danny standing in front of my mom's house. I made it to within sight of the house itself. I stopped at the driveway where earlier I'd parked in front of.


I tried to cool down. I was tired and my leg started to hurt once I stopped running. I was drenched in sweat. I wanted to take off my shirt and my shoes and socks. But I also wanted to enjoy the moment and feel good about what I'd done. So I called home.

I did it, I panted into the phone.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I'll admit it. I'm scared.

It's not that I don't think I'll finish the five-mile run I have planned for Saturday morning. I actually plan on getting to my mom's house in one piece. But just the thought of trying to run for five miles without stopping seems very daunting to me.


I have never run this far outside at once, so I don't know how to pace myself. I figure I'll just try to maintain a steady pace but keep some in reserve. I don't want to gas myself halfway through the run.

Luckily for us, the path isn't smooth. There is a lot of road construction near my house and how we'll be able to navigate under a freeway overpass is beyond me at this point. I think we'll just have to sprint past that part and hopefully come out unscathed on the other side.

I'm worried that I'll hit a point in the run where my mental exhaustion will overcome me. I will just have to focus and battle through it. I think I will use upcoming streets as markers.

Hopefully at some point in the future I'll be planning runs with distances in the double digits, and then I can look back at this with a different perspective. I don't know, though. Right now, it seems as if I'm climbing Mt. Everest first thing Saturday.

Never, occassionally, often, all the time

After my previous post on foods I don't eat hardly at all or ever, I fished around for the a good chart I have regarding nutrition. This was from a recent Men's Health magazine and while the list is geared towards Abs - the Abs Diet Power 12 to be precise - it is still good to know what is good and what isn't. Some foods typically fool people; yogurt for instance is thought to be a healthy food but it is really not. Too many calories and not enough good stuff to negate such a high caloric intake.

The list is divided up into four parts: Eat Rarely, Eat Occasionally, Eat Often and the Abs Diet Power 12, which presumably you should eat daily. I'm not going to write all of them but I'll break it down by group.

Eat Rarely: The only thing I have a problem with from this group is refried beans. Given my background and upbringing, giving up refried beans is an impossibility. It would be like asking me to give up my left testicle; it's not going to happen. That being said, I try not to eat refried beans often. Honestly if I have them once a week that's a lot for me. But to me eat rarely means eat it once a month at the most and even then feel guilty as hell for indulging - beans dont fit into that category.

I used to eat bagels a lot. I hardly touch them now. I can't remember the last bagel I had. Same, sadly, goes for regular beer. White bread is just not great especially when you can easily swap it out for wheat bread. I used to eat a ton of frozen burritos. Those I can safely say will never see the inside of my mouth again.

Okay, gotta amend the top part. Chips is something you should rarely eat. I suppose when I have to rethink my meal plan - not that it's a bad one but it's good to re-assess it from time to time - I may consider giving them up. For now, they will remain in my diet though I do try and eat only a few at a time.

Croissants, danishes, donuts... pass, pass, pass. Pie is a major gut bomb. Especially when you top it with whip cream, which also makes the list.

Eat Occassionally: I'm taking this to mean once or twice a week max. Still, I may be wrong.

Applesauce makes the list but I make my own applesauce when I get around to making it. I use four apples, 1/8 tsp of cinnamon and a couple of tablespoons of sugar and water and then heat it all for 15 minutes. I peel the apples so that cuts down on calories. I don't think its too bad but again I don't eat it that much. I prefer apples.

Light beer is okay. Honestly I don't crave beer as much as I used to. Granola bars got me through the last few months. I went to Costco recently and purposely didn't buy any. When my current supply runs out, I won't have them around to tempt me. I don't care for guacamole so that's not hard for me to pass on.

There are a lot of low-fat items on the list: cream cheese, ice cream, dips (whatever those are), mayo, margarine, etc. Really, these types of foods can add up if you're not careful. It's better to have them in your meal plan but use the low-fat versions and make smart choices than to not have them at all.

Some of the different types of meats: lamb, ham, lunchmeat, pork tenderloin, veal. I eat lunchmeat regularly. It depends on my schedule though but we have plenty of it at home. I should cut back some.

Eat Often: Alright, here are the foods you shouldn't feel guilty about eating, unless you eat triple portions. Apples are a fixture at my house. I eat about seven a week and maybe a few more on the weekend. The perfect snack.

Some of the veggies: asparagus, corn, eggplant, broccoli, brussels sprouts, garlic, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes. I love me some onions and garlic and tomatoes. I use so many of those in cooking meals each week it's ridiculous. Asparagus I eat every now and then, usually when it goes on sale at the local grocery store.

As far oils for cooking, the list includes canola, sesame and peanut. I have canola oil and extra virgin olive oil and I think I'll stick to those. I may throw in sesame oil as well.

Sunflower seeds suprising to see here.

Other foods I didn't expect to see here: avocados (lots of calories but lots of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, potassium, folate, fiber), Canadian bacon, part-skim Ricotta cheese, tea, wine (1-2 glasses a day).

Staples: And the main foods of this particular diet. Eat these as much as possible, according to this diet.

Almonds and other nuts - I don't usually eat nuts because they are high in calories but they are very healthy snacks. Not very filling but healthy.

Beans and other legumes - So maybe not refried but beans can make a tasty and apparently healthy addition to many dishes.

Spinach and other green vegetables - Popeye I'm not but I should make an effort to eat more spinach. I suppose an easy way around that would be to make a salad using spinach leaves.

Dairy - Milk is good. I use 2 percent. One serving has 145 calories and 10 grams of protein. Cheese is good as well. I'm partial to Monterrey Jack and parmesan.

Instant oatmeal - Never been a fan of oatmeal. Wouldn't even attemtp to incorporate into my meal plan. Sorry.

Eggs - See above.

Turkey and other lean meats (lean steak, chicken, fish) - I'd say four out of every five dinners we prepare use chicken meat. It's so versatile you can't go wrong.

Peanut butter - Again, not a fan of peanut butter. Perhaps I should be.

Olive oil - An absolute staple at my house. I want to start making my own salad dressing with it. I made some Asian style dressing using olive oil and honey and ginger and other things and it was pretty damned good.

Whole-grain breads and cereal - Another fixture in my house.

Extra-protein powder (whey) - Um, what? I've been called a whey before...

Raspberries and other berries - The only reason I don't buy raspberries more is that they're expensive. But when strawberries go on sale I tend to buy them. Same with blueberries.

Well, there you go. A good list of foods to avoid and incorporate as much as possible. Not definitive but a great resource at the very least.

Stay away

After scarfing down a few handfuls of baby carrots, I thought about what other snacks I could have had in their place. Actually my choice was between carrots and an apple and I went with the carrots because the apples I just bought came out pretty crappy. Maybe I'll make some applesauce with them.

Anyway, before I might have had some tortilla chips for a snack or maybe a sweet bread or the like, and possibly a soda. But I've eliminated some things as options and others altogether from my diet.

Here are just a few things I've erased or almost erased from my meal plan: syrup, waffles, sweet bread, cookies, ice cream, yogurt, fudge, regular soda, cake, french fries, hamburger, pizza, jelly, cinnamon rolls...

Okay, well, that's just off the top of my head. I do eat some of those things but none of those I would say I eat regularly. Too much fat, not enough fiber, waaaay too many calories.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Early morning run

It started with the dogs. At 2:38 this morning my wife woke me up because of the dogs. Rooney and Tevez were whimpering. I had no choice but to get up. Great. I reached over and, what's that?, felt my daughter's face.

When the hell did she get up here?

I let the dogs out and laid back down. I figured I'd squeeze a few more hours of sleep before getting up and running. Life had other plans.

The dogs started barking. The daughter was restless. Thursday suddenly greeted me with the realization that I'd not be sleeping again for another 19 hours or so. Great.

My wife and I got up, put our daughter back in her bed (despite her jarring awake and crying), let the dogs back in and stopped the charade of trying to go back to sleep. She got in the shower, I put my shoes on.

Might as well do this. I've dragged my feet long enough.

I got my iPod, slung it around my arm, grabbed a beanie and walked outside.

What the hell am I doing? I should be asleep. Or at the very least at the gym.

I'd mapped out a route before. I knew I had roughly 2.25 miles ahead of me just to get back to this very spot. I stretched. I put on Smashing Pumpkins. I ran.

I made it to the end of my street. I think if I divided the run up into portions, that would have completed 1/1000th of my run. I rounded the corner and headed down into the darkness. The part of the street that runs behind our entire community was one long section of my run. I think it's a good half of it so I saw nothing but a white wall with the occasional vandalism on one side and dirt, weeds and a big hill on the other.

If you turn down this street, you could be home in a few minutes.

My mind kept trying to get me to take shortcuts. Perhaps it longed to be anywhere but out on Sierra Avenue jogging at 3:35 a.m. But I had to do it. I have a five-mile run awaiting me on Saturday and I wanted to run this course twice before then. If I didn't do it Thursday, when exactly was I going to do it?

I saw traffic lights up ahead. It's a strange vision, seeing such lights coming up slowly and slowly until finally I reached them and left them behind almost as quickly. My next task was to get to 34th Street. It was another traffic light that I saw in the distance.

Cars zoomed by. I wondered if they wondered what the hell someone was doing jogging at 3:40 in the fucking morning.

Okay, that's gotta be a third of the run I thought as I got onto 34th Street.

Actually, I knew the worst was behind but I still had a good portion left. I got on to the final leg without too much effort. Actually, I ran at a rather brisk pace the final half of the run.

If I was at the gym, I could see how fast I was going but I'm guessing I'm at least running at a 7.0.

Finally, 30th Street. I could hang a right and get home quicker but at that point the thought didn't even cross my mind. I ran down to the end of the street, turned onto my street and saw my house up ahead.

I should still be asleep right now.

I walked up to my front door. I went inside and showered.

See, that wasn't too bad, was it?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Next challenge

I successfully completed a three-mile run a few weeks back. Now, the next step in my preparation for the Mud Run is to go a little bit longer.

I guess I could call this the "Mama, I'm Comin' Home" run. I'm going to attempt to jog from my house to my mom's house. It's a five-mile run, which makes it the longest such run I'll attempt to date. Last time, I felt a bit confident because I was going to attempt to run three miles and I'd completed three miles on a regular basis on treadmills at the gym. This time around, though, I will feel confident only because I felt like I still had some gas in the tank at the end of the last run.

What will make this run a bit less stressful is that it won't be on a track. I will have landmarks to get to and overcome and I think that will make the run progress more smoothly. For instance, I'll say to myself 'Okay, just get to the next street' and I will be able to complete it.

Really, that's just a snippet of my mindset throughout my weight loss. I never sat down and told myself 'Okay, lose more than 100 pounds' even when my weight was coming off. It was always 'Okay, let's get down to the 270s' or 'Try to get beneath 250 by November' or whatever it was. That helped because if I'd have thought about it all at once, it would have seemed insurmountable and I wouldn't be wearing size 32 pants today. (Well, actually, today I'm wearing a roomy size 34, but you get my point...)

I will need to complete some other runs before then, of course. I will try and run two of the runs around my neighborhood. Though each is just two miles - or less than half of the distance to my mom's - it is necessary to get them under my belt if nothing else so I can get used to running on streets and sidewalks.

Baby carrots

Ah, the joys of carrots. I picked up a 5 pound back of baby carrots over the weekend and, yes, I intend to eat them all. Not at once, of course. Actually, it's a good couple of weeks before I get through all ot it.

Now carrots might not seem like the most exciting snack. It's not, really. I'd much prefer a bag of chips or something to the effect. However, baby carrots is in ideal snack. It's an easy way to pick up fiber and you can eat a lot of them without picking up too many calories. Chips, on the other hand, can cost you quite a bit of calories because you can't have just one of them, right?

Every two ounces of baby carrots has one gram of fiber (you should get 20-25 grams of fiber per day) and just 20 calories. So if you have twice that or so, you'll have a couple of grams of fiber under your belt with just having consumed about 40-50 calories. Compare that to a bag of Fritos that will get you around 150 calories and less than one gram of fiber.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Don't skip it

Skipping meals might seem like a good idea sometimes. If you don't eat breakfast, the thought goes, you can have more at lunchtime and you won't have eaten too much overall. Or conversely, if you had a big breakfast and big lunch, then skipping dinner might make up for that.

But skipping meals isn't the best idea. In fact, it's not a very good idea at all.

I've found that it's better to eat small meals throughout the day than it is to go long stretches of time without eating anything. One of the first things my personal trainer told me way back in March 2006 was to eat small meals each day. That is, eat breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. That is five meals in one day but it works if you keep the calories in check.

For instance, a typical day for me:

Breakfast: Special K breakfast bar (180 calories), water
Snack: Apple (70 calories)
Lunch: Turkey sandwich, chips, water (400-500 calories)
Snack: Granola bar (180 calories)
Dinner: Chicken, rice, water (450-500 calories)

That's about 1400 calories, maybe more. If I get to dinner with that few calories, I might indulge and put some cheese on my chicken or something to the effect. Hell, I might even go for a second helping of rice. Yup, that's me going crazy.

Anyway, I try to shoot for 1600-1800 per day, but no more than that. I'll mix in one serving of milk (which isn't a whole lot) in the morning sometimes if I know I'll have calories to spare that day. Milk has about 120 calories per serving - at least the kind I get - and it also has a good amount of protein per serving as well, and that's always nice.

If you skip meals or only eat twice a day, you aren't doing your body any favors. The body works smoother and more efficiently if you eat small meals during the day. It's easier for the body to process food and keep the metabolism high with 5-6 meals than it is with two.

Today, for instance, I had two pieces of toast plus a cup of milk for breakfast. So far that's about 280 calories. For my mid-morning snack I'm thinking about devouring an orange that's been sitting here getting stale. For lunch, I'll have a deli-style sandwich. I've got a baguette that has my name written all over it. After an apple for snack, I'm going to finish the day off with my famed Rhode Island style hot wieners, maybe about three. I'm guessing I'll have about 700-800 calories heading into dinner so I shouldn't have to worry too much about the hot dogs. Three dogs with the meat and stuff will be about 800 calories so I should be fine.

Such a meal plan consisting of small meals requires planning but it's worth it. It's better than skipping meals and then getting so hungry that you make poor choices. And it works better for your body too.

All of this info I gained from having had a personal trainer for about nine months. I've lost more than 120 pounds since my first chat with him so I know this sort of meal plan has worked for me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cheating calories

Every now and then I'll provide hints of ways you can cut back on some calories without sacrificing too much flavor.

Now, there are some tips that are kinda lame. For instance, I read about how you could cut back some calories on pizza by taking a napkin and patting it down to sop up some of the grease. Yeah, well, if you didn't eat the pizza in the first place, you might save even more calories.

No, these are practical tips that you can actually use.

Let's see. I think the easiest way for me to save 40 calories is by using fat-free cheese slices. I eat lots of sandwiches for lunch and I can usually get my sandwiches down to about 230 calories, maybe a bit more.

If you don't pay attention to sliced cheese, you can easily get to 70 or even more. Add to that the high calories most sliced bread has, plus dressing or mayo and the meat of course and it can get out of hand.

I use sliced cheese that is 30 calories per slice. Also I try and find bread that is 70 calories per slice. The meat I use is about 60 per serving so that is 230. I may use more if I add thousand island dressing, but then I don't use anything but fat free dressing and it's all good.

So the next time you are looking for some sliced cheese, be on the lookout for the fat free 30 calorie kind. Trust me, you won't miss the extra 40 calories.

Run around the block

After my three-mile jog on Saturday, I think the toughest thing looking back was the mental part of the run. It's tough to run knowing that you have to cross the finish line 12 times. It would be nice to have a clear starting and end point, and even if they were the same one, it would be nice to cross it just once, at the finish line.

Thanks to the WalkJogRun site, I've devised a 2.25 mile run that starts at my doorstep and finishes at my doorstep. But it's the distance around my entire neighborhood. In theory I should be able to run this in about 20-25 minutes or so, so this run would be a good thing to do early in the morning or in the evening, basically whenever I'm not here alone with the girls.

Also, I was worried about being sore after my run and I'm not sore at all. Okay, well, maybe my back is a bit sore but I think that was from Disneyland/California Adventure. I went there on Monday with the girls and we walked all over both parks and I pushed the stroller the entire time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Long and winding road

I did it. I made the transition from indoors to outdoors, from treadmill to track, from jogging with a mirror in front of me to jogging with the sun beating down on me.

It wasn't easy by any means but then again what in my last two-plus years of fitness has been?

Saturday morning my brother Danny accompanied me to the local high school track for a bit of running. I was nervous. I woke up at about 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. I didn't think I was going to be so nervous really. I mean, what's a little jog like this compared to the beast that is the Mud Run? But nonetheless I was a bit apprehensive.

It's not that I didn't think I could do it. I was just worried as if I had a test to take that day. In essence, really, the jog was a test to see how I was preparing myself in the gym.

We got to the track at about 6:45 or so. I stretched. But not too much. My brother in law told me recently he didn't really stretch before he jogged so I thought maybe I'd follow his lead. Then, it was time to start. My brother and I had talked about jogging three miles in under 30 minutes. We got on the track and started our jog.

This isn't too bad, I thought about halfway around the first lap. Really, I've already completed 1/24th of my jog and I made it unscathed.

I quickly supressed those thoughts because 12 laps seems easier a task than 24 half-laps.

Okay, well, maybe this is going to take more than 30 minutes, I thought to myself as we closed in on the end of Lap 2.

Alright! Look at that! I made it past the mile mark! I thought as I started Lap 5. I can't remember the last time I ran a mile straight outsi... oh wait, yes I can. It was right here, right in this very track. But I weighed about 245 then and hadn't worked out in a week and nearly collapsed after finishing that. Let's see, that was March 2007 and, um, well, that wasn't a pleasant experience. Okay, let's focus on the here and now.

Running outside was a new experience for me. As Guns N Roses gave way to Soundgarden on my iPod, I maintained my focus on the task at hand.

Okay, let's see, I only need to pass this particular spot five more times, I thought midway through Lap 7. And if I've already made it seven times, surely I can make it five more times.

Sometime close to the end of Lap 8, I started to feel good about myself. I'd barely jogged one mile in my adult life before and here I was getting set to complete two miles. At once. Unreal.

Okay, two miles down. One to go. Finish strong.

Oh no. I let it slip. I didn't want to tell myself to finish just yet. I said the f-word, and that rattled me. I didn't want to give my body a false sense of hope that the end was near. I was in a rhythm but that stupid thought ruined it. It took me about a lap to get back to wear I was mentally.

Okay, let's go. Less than a lap to go. Now it might be good to let yourself think about finishing.

Danny took off at the end of Lap 11, a clear indication that he was finishing strong. I was doing well to keep up with him but I get the sense he was taking it easy for my sake. It didn't matter. I did what I wanted to do, which was to put myself in position to finish the jog and I was so close. White Zombie's Thunder Kiss '65 was the perfect compliment to accompany me down the stretch. I was in a groove both mentally and physically and I did want to finish strong.

Okay, here we go. Taking this last turn and then it's over. Yeah, the jog will be over. I will have run three miles! Unbelievable!

I had toyed with the idea of pushing myself more than the 12 laps. I thought that it might have been good to push myself that way. But ultimately I didn't want to ruin a good experience. I wanted to set a good foundation for future jogs and let myself enjoy my accomplishment, yet another in a long list of them.

So I stopped after Lap 12. The ground felt wobbly. After a quick breather, we walked one lap. It wasn't really a victory lap. No way. It was a cool down lap. Yeah, I succeeded in my goal but I wasn't about to bask in any perceived glory.

We actually finished under our goal of 30 minutes. The final time was 27:26. The next time I step onto the track, though, that run will mean little. I'll have to do it all over again, and what I did in the past won't matter much.

But at least I did it. And I gave myself the knowledge that I can do it again.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Big run tomorrow

I've made my bed. Now I have to lay in it.

I scheduled the first outside run for Saturday. Bright and early too. 6:30 a.m. I'm going with my brother to the local high school track to run. We're going to run three miles and we're going to shoot for under 30 minutes.

Now, it's not the first time I've ever run a long distance (to me right now, three miles is a long distance). But it's the first time I've attempted such a run having planned for it ahead of time. Yes, I know I sound like I'm whining but this is a big step for me. When I take on activities like this - outdoors, no machines to help me out - it feels like all the time I spent in the gym is practice and then I face the exam. I've prepared well this last week and now it's just a matter of proving it.

I think I'll make it, actually. I am not too concerned about collapsing in Lap 10. But I'm going to have to push myself and wake up in the right frame of mind. Otherwise it will be a struggle.

Beware the salad!

It's a common assumption to think that a salad is always a healthy option. Eating a salad, after all, is akin to eating grass.

But that's not always necessarily true. Salads can actually be gut bombs.

Here's a good list of 14 supposedly healthy foods that aren't exactly healthy. Salads make up two of the 14, with the dreaded Chicken Caesar Salad coming in at number two.

As the Chicken Ceasar Salad entry points out, there are about 900 calories and 20 grams of fat in a typical serving. 900 calories! And that passes for healthy?!?

What I've found is that regular salads work best. And if you cut down on the croutons and dressing, they work even better. One thing that is difficult for me at times is to find healthy alternatives in certain restaurants. My daughters like McDonald's chicken nuggets but I usually steer clear of getting anything there. However, if the need for me to eat there arises, I can usually find a salad worth eating there. They used to have a really good Southwest chicken salad but it's been discontinued as far as I can tell. The Asian grilled chicken salad has only 300 calories without the dressing. As the dressing comes in a separate packet, you can add in as much or as little of the dressing as you like, but I think even the entire packet is only 100 calories. So even if you splurged and added the entire thing, it's only 400 calories which is about a typical lunch for me, maybe a little less.

Anyway, check out the rest of the original list of 14 and you might be surprised at some of the "healthy" options out there. The only one I really have a problem with is number 8, the granola bars. Still, I stick to the Nature Valley Oats & Honey, which has 180 per package. Not the greatest but it does settle my hunger.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Water, water everywhere

Have you had enough water today?

I've been home most of today so I've had the opportunity to drink away. I've had, oh I don't know, some 60 ounces of water or so. I'm still about 30-40 ounces away from reaching my goal.

Water is important. Okay, yeah, you knew that. But it's typically something many people overlook. Water should be as an important part of your meal intake as fiber, carbs, protein, whatever else you strive to reach each day. For me during my weight loss, water and calories had an equal amount of significance. I did not feel like I accomplished something in terms of my meal plan if I was under my water or over my calories.

Of course, drinking plenty of water means plenty of trips to the bathroom. So you must plan accordingly. If you are going somewhere that does not have a bathroom handy, you might want to consider that. It's easiest for me to drink away when I'm at home like today but if I'm doing my usual driving-around, chasing-after-athletes, harnessing-kids routine it can get difficult. But I still try to drink away.

Get outside and run

So I've made a tentative plan to run outside on Saturday. Seems I'll make my May 1 goal a reality.

Anyway, I'm hoping to run either two miles in 18 minutes or four miles in 30 or something. My brother Danny, no stranger to this running outside stuff, is taking charge. I just I can keep up with him and he doesn't have to run sympathy circles while I'm doubled over in pain!

I actually saw a thing in the most recent Men's Health magazine about taking workouts outdoors now that the weather is better. But these workouts are intense, crazy intense. I'd be willing to try them, though.

They suggest a four-week plan, which is to say four consecutive Saturdays, though I suppose you could choose any one day of the week. We'll see if I get to these. I'm thinking in June might be a good time to do these because I'll have some more time on my hands.

Week 1
(set timer for 10 minutes)
- pushup position bridge for 60 seconds
- 20 jumping jacks or dumbbell swings (with no rest)
- repeat sequence until time is up
(rest for fewer than one minute and do that two more times)

Week 2
- 10 pushups
- 30-second sprint
- 10 situps
- 30-second sprint
- 15 prisoner squats (from standing position, put hands behind head and squat until knees are at 90-degree angle)
- 30-second sprint
(repeat three times)

Week 3
- 30-second pushup position bridge
- 30-second sprint
- 30 seconds of dumbbell swings or jumping jacks
- 30-second sprint
(rest 30 seconds, repeat 6-8 times)

Week 4
(each exercise is followed by 30-second sprint)
- 30-second pushup-position bridge
- 30 seconds of dumbbell swings or jumping jacks
- 10 pushups
- 10 situps
- 15 prisoner squats
(rest one minute, repeat sequence twice)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Faces to names

The top guy likes to exercise and can run quite a bit before getting tired. He likes to lift weights and follows a strict meal plan.

The guy on the bottom ate whatever he wanted and didn't work out at all.

Both are running at the Mud Run. Both are me.

And the two other people in each picture were the motivation behind it all.

We got links

So I've decided that I like this blogging deal so I started customizing it to give it more of a personal touch. I've got some links up on the right. Some are fitness, some are food. You can't have an effective fitness program without having an equally effective meal plan.

For instance, calorieking.com is a great resource. It gives you the breakdown of calories in foods, both generic ones (i.e. a medium apple is about 72 calories) and specific foods from restaurants (a McDonald's cheeseburger is 300 calories; so small, so tasty, so not worth it).

In the future I'll go more into how I've been able to get fit and my newfound love of cooking and how all that works well together for me. For now, though, enjoy the links.

Keep on running

At some point in the near future, I'm going to have to run outside. It's not something I'm looking forward to, as I've never really went jogging outside before. All my workouts have been mostly limited to the comforts of a gym, unless you count running around on a choppy middle school field while playing soccer as a workout. I don't; I consider it playing soccer.

Anyway, I am in fairly decent shape after all. I hadn't run regularly for months and on Tuesday I completed my second 42-minute cardio session in three days. I wasn't as wasted as I was on Sunday, but then again I didn't do any resistance training beforehand. I was drenched with sweat when I finished but I felt I could have gone on longer. Yes, the Mud Run was in the forefront of my mind during the jog. When I reached the mile mark, I told myself that at that point in the race I probably would be covered in mud and would have scaled like five walls by then or something ridiculous.

But I can't train indoors the whole time. I know that. So I've set a goal, because goals are cool when you attain them. I want to have run at least once outdoors by May 1. That gives me about two weeks to take my running from the gym to the streets, or the local high school track.

Part of me thinks that without a mirror in front of me and with nothing regulating my speed that I'll struggle. Another part of me feels that without such restrictions I will be able to run more freely and that will help boost my performance. I want to start off at the high school track because it will help me kind of keep track of my miles. At the gym, I walk for an equivalent of one lap and by the time I am finished I complete about 3.5 miles, usually a bit more. I want to try and keep doing the interval training but more than likely I will just need to complete several miles and be content with that.

I guess I shouldn't be worried too much. Whenever we play soccer, I run and run and run. I'm not very good so I try and compensate by running all over the place. And many times when others say "I'm so tired" I nod my head but I don't feel the same. I feel pretty good most of the times we play, and sometimes our games last for hours because nobody can score.

For today, I'll probably do another 42-minute cardio run. If I can get three to four of those a week, I'll be set. I've done two already and hopefully I can get two more, today and possibly Friday. Soon enough, I'll be running like crazy at the high school track, just hopefully I can get over my mental block about it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Interval cardio

As part of my posts here on this blog, I want to describe some of my exercises so they may be of benefit to people. This particular cardio session is my favorite one. No matter the circumstances, it always tests me and always makes it feel like an accomplishment when I finish it.

Here's the breakdown of the 42 minutes:

- 5 minute warm up (usually a 3.5 or so)
- 12 minutes of alternating rounds; 1 minute at 5.5, 1 minute at 7.0, 1 minute at 5.5, etc.
- 3 minutes walking (3.8 or so)
- 6 minutes of alternating rounds, same as above
- 3 minutes walking
- 4 minutes of alternating rounds
- 2 minutes walking
- 2 minutes sprint (8.0 at least)
- 5 minute cool down

The intervals are supposed to help drive weight loss but I've also found that it helps me recover better. When I play soccer, which I go about two or three Sundays a month, I am running as strong at the end of the game as I am at the beginning. This will be invaluable at the Mud Run, as I'll need stamina and the ability to recover.

It also helps me mentally because it's easier for me to get to the next minute knowing I will change it up rather than thinking about reaching the next 10 minutes at a steady pace.

For me the next cardio hurdle will be running outside in the elements. I know interval training will help me for when I take that next step.

In earnest

I made it out to the gym today and I think I laid the foundation for the Mud Run in more ways than one.

Physically, I did exercises that hit some of the areas where I want and need to gain strength in, namely my upper body. I also did my usual 42-minute cardio session after my exercises.

Mentally, I also focused on the Mud Run, in particular during the cardio session. At several times during my time on the treadmill, I thought to myself 'At this point in the run, I'd be running up to a wall' or the like.

There is still, however, plenty of time between now and the start of the Mud Run and plenty of time to work on different areas of my body and mind.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Course map

Here's a map of the Mud Run.

The Xs are the spots where I'm going to collapse of exhaustion and the circles are the spots where I'll throw up.

What was I thinking?

I think I'm crazy.

That's what I've determined. I signed up for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, scheduled for Oct.18. The Mud Run is a 10K obstacle course where presumably you run and get muddy while doing so. You probably also get really, really exhausted.

Sometimes my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and I think that's what happened here. And that's why I think I'm crazy.

See, I lost a lot of weight in the last two years - 120 pounds to be exact. And I wanted to make good use of my newfound fitness and lifestyle. So I figured, what the hell, let's run a 10k obstacle course! It'll be fun!

Actually, I think it will be a rewarding experience as well. But it won't be easy.

I have to work on the following before I feel confident about the Mud Run:

- Cardio
- Upper-body strength

Not much, huh? I only need to get to the point where I can run a long distance out in the elements as opposed to the comforts of 24 Hour Fitness and get to the point where I can do a pull-up or 10 as opposed to doing nothing but hanging.

Over the next six months, I will train harder than I ever have in my life. At least, that's what I'm hoping for. I've worked out minimally since the start of the year and though I've kept my weight around 187, I need to work out and have a plan while doing so. I figured I'd start a blog to keep track of my progress and to sort of force myself into working out more regularly. Actually that part shouldn't be a problem. I worked out about four times a week throughout most of 2007, well, at least from March through November. I take winters off...

I'll update this blog every now and then and check in on what I've done and what I hope to accomplish. Let's see, my latest gym venture was on Wednesday and I worked out my arms, chest and back and hit the elliptical and treadmill. I weighed in at 186.6 afterward. I'm sore this morning. If all goes well, I'll hit the gym on Saturday morning, bright and early. My plan is to increase my cardio to the level I was at (a 42-minute treadmill session) last November, do that regularly and then progress to running laps at the local high school. Tomorrow, I'll work my legs out and try to stick to either the elliptical or treadmill for the duration of my cardio session. We'll see how it goes.