Hello weakness, my old friend…

Things have been up and down a lot for me lately. Between trying to get my daughter to sleep through the night, having a pipe burst at the house, and being volunteered for a special project at work, I have been spent.

I haven’t lost sight of my goals though and have kept working toward them. I am still losing weight, just a little more slowly than before. I have been working out, but not as regularly. More and more sugar has crept into my diet, mostly because it’s just so darn convenient!! Nevertheless, things haven’t completely fallen apart.

I was missing being active and after having been so successful on my diet I was excited to get back on, full steam ahead. I started back last week and things have been going great, for the most part. I haven’t really lost any strength, though the workouts are a little harder than I remember. But I’m starting feel stronger already and I’m feeling good about it!

My running has been pretty sporadic though. Race season is fast approaching and I know I need to get it together, so last week I ran twice. The first run went great, the second was a bit more of a struggle. And after that run is when I felt something I haven’t felt in a long time… See, I have a problem where I can’t help but to always compete with myself. It can be a good thing, and it does drive me to work harder and be better, but it also gives me a lot of anxiety and can interfere with my success. Even though I tell myself these are to be nice, easy runs, I can’t help but always race the clock. Maybe one day, when I am trim and fit that will be great, but for now, this uncoordinated, over-weight, weak, damaged man has to realize that he’s not getting any younger and things just don’t hold up the way they used to.  I have to remember to take these things slow; progress doesn’t come overnight, and every run won’t be faster than the last.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I was losing weight 6 years ago for my wedding. As we know, I used to be an avid runner and had good muscle-memory from it in my legs, especially my quads. So when I started working out and doing leg exercises I was really pushing myself and it was going really well. The problem was that I was pretty overweight. I once heard that for every extra pound of body weight you’re carrying it adds four pounds of pressure to your knees. I believe it. All of that load was just too much for my patellar tendon, and I got a pretty decent case of tendonitis in my left knee. I stopped all high impact exercises, got a knee brace, did massages and eccentric squats. Short of steroid injections, sounds waves, and electro-stim, I did it all. And it took months before I could use stairs without my knee hurting. I was lucky that it never got bad enough that the pain would stop me from normal, everyday life, but it was always there, and it was always a reminder of how badly I had neglected my body over the years.

Well, after upping my activity and pushing myself my increased running volume I am sad to say my old friend is back. It is quite mild, at the moment. More of a tingling feeling than pain, but it is very, very familiar. I think I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that when I got it last time I was working out when I weighed about 260 (117 kg). I have recently lost about 40 pounds,  but I started at 300 (136 kg), which brings me down to… 260. I think I was excited and encouraged by my weight loss and thought everything would be ok since I have lost so much weight. But I never stopped to think about what my weight actually was.

It’s ok though. I’ve been resting it and it’s getting better, I will give it a few more days and I will go for a short, easy run just to try it out and see how it goes. If I ease back into it slowly, as I am losing weight I think I can get around a full-blown injury. I am also glad it happened now, when I have a couple of months to work on it before race season starts. I have too much planned to be sidelined by a stupid injury. Until then I will be continuing my strength training and I guess I’ll just do more indoor, low-impact cardio for now.

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Quantification: V02 Max

This post has been a long time coming, but it’s better late than never! Way back when I first started training I wanted to be able to have a way of showing definitive progress. There is always the obvious stuff like weight/fat loss. The problem those is that they can happen with zero improvements to overall health or fitness. I love data and I really enjoy being able to compare things. I wanted more health specific data that I can track to show improvements. Initially I had all sorts of things in mind that I wanted to get done, but I soon realized these tests aren’t cheap and I wouldn’t be able to do all of them. I, of course, measured my weight, body fat, and blood pressure. The only fancy tests I was able to afford at the time were my VO2 Max and my Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).

Your VO2 Max is basically the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. It is often measured in ml/kg/min, that is milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. If you notice your body weight is calculated in the equation, so someone that weighs more is often going to have a lower V02 Max score. This is part of the reason I wanted to get tested prior to starting all of this. I know that just by losing weight I should improve my test results (and that is going to feel great!), but I wanted to be able to say ‘This is where I was and this is where I am now’. There is something very satisfying and encouraging about being able to quantify your progress.

There are a lot of people who take your VO2 Max and judge your worthiness as an athlete by your results. There are also a lot of people who generally don’t use the score for much. There are several reasons for this. The first is what is mentioned above; you might have two people with the same level of aerobic fitness, but the slightly lighter person could be considered more fit when we all know that isn’t necessarily true. Also, we need to realize that two athletes with the same VO2 Max could be moving at two different speeds. It’s not hard to imagine that two people could be using the same amount of oxygen but that one could be clearly faster than the other. For these reasons, and others, it’s probably not the best idea to base your fitness level solely on this number. As I mentioned though, for some it can be nice to have some sort of frame of reference though. Your VO2 Max is determined by many factors. Some, like your genetics, may be beyond your control but your VO2 Max is still trainable to a certain degree and knowing where you fall can at least tell you what you need to work on and if you’re making progress.

I got my VO2 Max test at my local Endorphin Fitness. I was assisted by their director of coach operations, Parker. My test was a pretty standard way of testing. They place a mask on you that catches all of your exhalation while you are running on a treadmill. The treadmill is gradually increased in both speed and elevation until you reach your VO2 Max. My test results were disappointing, though not surprising. As an untrained individual with a desk job and almost 100 lbs (45kg) of excess body fat I didn’t expect to do well. Even when I was younger breathing while running was always the hardest part. My lungs always gave out before my legs did. I always blamed it on all of the second hand smoke I was exposed to, but maybe my body just isn’t that great at processing oxygen.

Whatever the reason, my VO2 Max when tested came out at 32.3 ml/kg/min. When compared to the population I fall solidly in the “poor” spectrum (an elite athlete might have well over 50 ml/kg/min). It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it is what it is. I would like to think that there is just more room for improvement, so I have to stay encouraged to do so! The test also revealed that I have an estimated max heart rate of 195. While that doesn’t necessarily indicate anything with regards to my fitness, I think that it is a little reassuring that my heart can get going when it needs to! One other thing the test revealed is my anaerobic threshold. This is basically the point where you switch from using oxygen to move your muscles (aerobic) to not (anaerobic). From my understanding this is also the point where you begin to ‘feel the burn’ as you’re not able to clear the lactic acid build up in your muscles as quickly as it’s being produced. Apparently mine is around 72% of my max heart rate, which is at 182 bpm.

Knowing this information by itself doesn’t mean much, but taken together and developing a training program focused around improved these stats can make a huge difference. So far I have been focusing mainly on improving my overall fitness, but with the start of the new year I’ve begun focusing more on the little aspects that are going to make a big difference. I haven’t finished the program yet and I am still tinkering with some ideas, but when I have completed it I will be sure to share it. Ok, I’ve spent enough time at this computer, time to get up and move!

2017 Challenge For Charity

2017 Challenge For Charity

One of my friends on social media shared this challenge today and I thought it was brilliant! Not only is it tough enough that it’ll definitely help me get in shape but it helps raise money for The Special Operations Warrior Fund! Improving yourself while helping others? What gets better than that?!

I have copied the complete original post below. It’s from the100mileman on Instagram:


#Repost @the100mileman with @repostapp

・・・

YOU DO IT…I DONATE! 

2017 CHALLENGE FOR CHARITY. 

We are doing #2017ofEVERYTHING to start 2017.  You have 31 days to do all of the above starting 1/1/17. Hit the “like” button to commit. 

CHALLENGE:

Starting 1/1/17 you have 31 days to complete the above.  I will donate $100 to the @sofwarriorfnd for everyone who finishes (up to $25,000). Who’s in? 

HOW IT WORKS:

It’s on the honor code. Every Monday in January post your status and tag it #2017ofEVERYTHING. Finish by 1/31. 

WHEN DONE:

Email livingwithaseal@gmail.com your name so we can compile the list of all finishers and make the donation in your honor! 

SPREAD IT:

Tag friends that likes a challenge…and charity. 

DISCLAIMER: 

Not everyone is healthy enough to engage in strenuous physical activity. You should consult with your physician before engaging in any exercise routine or other physical activity.  Engaging in any exercise routine or other activity associated with the 2017ofEVERYTHING challenge is at your own risk. If you have, or suspect that you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. 

GOOD LUCK!

End quote. So if you’re looking to start your year off right, head over to his page and commit! 

Happy new year! My 2017 resolutions

Happy new year! My 2017 resolutions

I think we can all agree that it’s a refreshing thing to say “Good Bye ”
to 2016. While the changing of the days really doesn’t mean much, I think the symbolism behind celebrating the new year can do a lot of good. I think people who are very goal oriented can be more successful if a plan is laid out ahead of time and there is a clear starting point. I know some people criticize new year’s resolutions because most don’t follow through with, but that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying to improve ourselves. Even three months sticking to a resolution is much better than not doing it at all.

This year I wanted to stay away from any generic, empty resolutions like ‘losing weight’ or ‘eating healthy’. While both of those are components of my resolutions, I wanted them to be more specific and measurable. I wanted all of my goals to tie into my health and fitness goal. I also wanted to make them things that I though were achievable. It’s one thing if you try really hard and miss your goal, but it’s another to set yourself up for failure right from the start. It would be a miserable year chasing an unachievable goal.

Without further ado, here is the list of resolutions/goals I have set for myself for 2017:

  1. Run a sub 5 minute mile
  2. Be able to perform 10 consecutive pull-ups
  3. Reach goal weight of 215 lbs (97.5 kg) and 15% body fat
  4. Touch my toes to the ground in plow pose

It shouldn’t be any surprise about resolution number one, and even though I’ve previously committed to that goal, it is meant to be completed in 2017 so I think I still use it!

Resolution two is there for two reasons. The first reason is that I’ve never been good at pull-ups. If I remember correctly the most I’ve ever done was three and that was when I was in high school. Even when I lost weight and got in pretty good shape for my wedding I could quite complete one. I am no where close to doing a single pull-up right now, so this is also an ambitious goal. The second part to it is that if I am able to do ten pull-ups it will be an indicator to me that I’ve finally mastered body weight activities. These can be a challenge for anyone, but especially so for someone who is carrying a bunch of extra weight. If I can get to a point where I am doing ten in a row I think it’d be safe to say I’m more fit all around. Having a stronger back will also be invaluable for my upcoming race season. I would love to not have to ask for anyone’s help getting over those walls.

The third resolution will assist in every resolution. I picked these numbers because I had to pick something. At the end of the day I’m not very concerned about my weight but I do have a certain body type in mind that I’d like to achieve. I have a feeling it’s somewhere around these numbers. The heaviest I will be while still considering myself successful is 220 and the lightest would be 200 (90.7 kg). I was below 200 lbs when I was in high school and I’m not trying to get back to that point. I was too skinny and didn’t have enough muscle mass. I was also 6% body fat in high school. Knowing that I think I’d be ok to be at 15% now, but I might adjust that once I get there. It’s hard to know what that is going to look like until it happens. My starting body fat was around 36% so even if at 15% I’m still carrying a little extra weight I think that improvement will still be something to be proud of.

The last resolution is similar to number two. I haven’t ever been able to nail plow pose. I think with my workouts and building muscle (especially in my back to reach goal two) I need to be sure to focus on my spine health. I have been making small attempts to improve my posture and eliminate some of my back pain. I think if I can get my spine in shape enough to do this pose a lot of these ailments will vanish on their own. Since the spine connects everything else in the body if I can get it flexible enough to properly do plow I think it will also reflect on an overall body improvement. I think this one in particular will be a good way to improve and gauge my overall flexibility.

Again, I want to wish everyone a happy new year! I hope everyone setting goals this year can summon the strength to stick to them and can find a way to improve their lives. We are all in constant change, we can’t avoid that, so it’s time to take the reins and guide yourself to the place you actually want to be. You are the only thing standing in your way. There are so many things out there that try everyday to bring you down, don’t let yourself be one of those things contributing to your own unhappiness. You can change it, and you will change it, if you want it bad enough and put in the work. Success is inevitable. Go get it!