Showing posts with label weight loss. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weight loss. Show all posts

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lighter but no faster

Running route or AT-AT?
Today's run (street): 4.5 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Yesterday morning's rain forced me onto the dreaded treadmill, but there was nothing to dread. We've been having an issue with the treadmill tread bed being stuck on incline. Even when set on a decline, the angle was elevated. My wife uses the treadmill daily and has not enjoyed running uphill her entire workout. I played with the controls and somehow got it unstuck.  

I know my evangelizing about minimizing sugar is getting tiresome, but I can point to it as the reason for a string of good runs. My last treadmill experience had been at the fitness center in our hotel in Boston. I ran very well that day, partly because I'd been off of processed sugar for a week and partly because I  fitness center treadmills. Despite using our far less exotic Free Motion machine, I felt rock solid on Friday, without the fatigue (some of it mental) that I usually experience when I run on it.

I got out early enough this morning to avoid direct sun. I decided to change up my route and followed Jericho Turnpike down to SOB Road so I could check out the newly paved path from beginning to end. Although the heat was moderate, the humidity was rising. Those conditions would normally be enough for me to consider cutting my run short. I didn't cross my mind and, in fact, I ended up adding another half mile to my four mile target.

I'm not sure how much of my running improvement has come from the physical response to a change in diet. I'm sure some of this is due to being six pounds lighter since I started paying attention to sugar and simple carbs. Despite all that good stuff, I'm still as slow as ever. I did try to focus on speed a number of times but I couldn't sustain it for more than a couple of minutes. Once I'm confident that I can tap into my newfound energy, I'll pick up the pace.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The good and the bad of weight loss

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

Weight and running are often linked together. Many people run either to lose weight or to keep their weight at an optimum level. Some serious runners starve themselves to the point of emaciation because the less weight you carry, the less work is required to hold a pace. I took up running in 2008 when my weight slipped into the unacceptable range. By improving my diet, reducing portion sizes and running almost daily, it only took a few months to reach my target.

Over the past six years I've held my weight steady. Except for a period in 2010 when I lost a lot of weight due to pneumonia, I've stayed close to my original target. But over the last year I've put on a few pounds. Not enough to require me to go up another pant size, but enough for me to re-assess my diet.

I plan to reset and drop back down to my ideal weight. My question is how low do I go? From a running perspective, I would probably see better performance if my weight were 3-5% lower than my current target. I can get there, but I'll pay a price. When my weight drops below normal, the first fat to go is in my face. I end up looking wan and drawn. So much for my maintaining my boyish good looks.

For now, I'll work on getting back to normal and decide whether to go lower when I get there. The Runsketeers will be doing mile time trials next weekend, so I'll see if I can make some weight reduction progress over the next eight days. I may be naive to think it could make that much of a difference, but you don't see too many elite runners who resemble Homer Simpson.

I'm sending good thoughts and wishing for good weather for SIOR and TPP at tomorrow's 10 mile Run to the Brewery. You guys will rock it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A glimpse (perhaps) of another emerging runner

Two routes to a healthy life
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

This morning I noticed a guy walking around the neighborhood while I was out running. Everything from his noticeable gut to his white New Balance walking shoes reminded me of myself, five years ago. My journey from a sedentary life to being a runner started with early morning walks around the neighborhood. That routine led to walking with some running, then running with a little walking. After six weeks, I was just running.

I don't know this walker or his story, but I admire him for getting outside and moving. I have no idea if he's been a dedicated walker or whether he has plans to transition to running. One thing that walking did for me was reinforce the benefits of of an active lifestyle. I lost 30 pounds between August and November of 2008 and half of that weight came off before was exclusively running.

This week I've struggled with a cold and decided to forgo yesterday's workout. During my run today, I thought about that cold and realized that I was recovering fairly quickly. I wondered if my running had helped me hold off colds in the past, and if my immunity was stronger because of running.

I completed my run and noticed that my overall time was nothing special. I'd taken it easy in deference to my still present (but diminishing) cold and I think that was a good decision. I know that running keeps me in good shape and it might just be keeping me healthy. I'd like to think that the walker I saw will follow my path and get to his ideal level of fitness. Whether it's by running or walking, the end result will be a happier life.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I may be weak but I'm slow!

Up until yesterday I was feeling very good about my state of conditioning. I was chatting with a work colleague who I hadn't seen for a few weeks and he asked me if I'd lost weight. I didn't know how to respond to that question. Yes, I did lose weight when I restarted running back in 2008. Forty pounds in fact, all due to lower calorie consumption and more activity. More recently, after battling severe pneumonia, I lost another five pounds. My recovery is now complete and my weight is back to mid-December levels so I was puzzled by his question. The next thing he said floored me, "You look kind of...weak." Weak? I really didn't know how to respond to that. Then I thought about it and realized that it's probably true. While my running gives me stamina, I'm not doing all that much to build strength. A year ago I was mixing up my workouts and including core exercises and some upper body conditioning. In the time that I've returned to daily exercise I've been focused solely on running. Even my elliptical sessions have been more about speed than effort. I decided that it's time to stop ignoring my core and upper body.

Although my wife and I have accumulated a closet full of hand weights I'm loathe to use them. I find weight lifting to be mind numbingly boring. I've been thinking about getting one of those stretch band systems that attach to a doornob and provide a variety of ways to exercise muscle groups. It's low tech but it works, as do sit-ups and push ups. This morning I chose the elliptical but cranked up the resistance as high as I could handle. It felt good and it was good preparation for my trail race. The benefits that come from moving the unit's upper poles is questionable but it's better than doing nothing. I'm going to put some more attention to strength building and I'm hoping to gain about five pounds through upper body muscle development. I suspect that strengthening my core will also lead to better running performance.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

State of my weight

I weighed in today for the first time in weeks. I'd assumed I stabilized but the scale showed I've lost almost three pounds since last month. I've been disappointed with a number of technologies that I've used for quantifying status and/or performance (inaccurate HRMs, failed displays, etc.) and I've discovered that my digital scale falls into that category. I've learned not to trust the first result but instead step off it and allow the scale to reset before stepping on again. Most of the time the first result will under count and I sometimes repeat my weighing 4 or 5 times before I'm confident that it's returning a consistent number.

After all that weighing I determined that I've actually lost about a pound since the last time I measured. I'm really fine with that although I don't want to go much lower since I've already been through a round of suit tailoring and clothes buying. I've reduced my weight significantly since September (when I took up running again) and I can roughly correlate my weight reduction to pace time improvements. I'm not interested in losing any more weight simply to improve my speed so the next wave of performance will have to come from strength and speed training.

This morning I did a 20 minute workout on the elliptical using one of the built-in training programs that simulates big hills. It was tough at times but, unlike running uphill, I was able to use the arms of the machine to help my progress. I mapped the upcoming 5K on MapMyRun and it doesn't seem to have elevations like my last race. All the same I figure that hill work can be helpful for endurance and leg strength.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Under a rest

Last night I had a conversation with my wife and kids about alarm clocks. They were mentioning how annoying it is when my alarm goes off at 4:00 reverberating loudly through the house. Hey, with the split second timing of my morning routine I need that jolt to get the day started. So I guess you could call it irony that I forgot to set it last night and by the time I woke up this morning it was too late to run.

Right now I'm debating whether I'll accept my fate and just call it my first rest day of 2009. I actually considered bringing gear to work so I could run at lunch but, without ready access to a post-run shower, it's not a practical option. I also have the option of running when I get home but I prefer to spend evenings with my family. Taking a real rest day is probably a good thing to do. I've been dealing with a sore tendon on my right side that hasn't affected my running but it makes walking uncomfortable. A rest day can only help that and this is a good opportunity to see if my performance on Saturday will be improved because of this extra recovery time. This is important to know as I plan my strategy for the week of my April race.

I did take the time to weigh in this morning and was mystified to see that I am continuing to lose weight. I thought I'd stabilized but apparently I'm consuming less than I'm burning off. I should be happy about this, I'm certainly not emaciated, but I do need to build back some muscle. Perhaps some weight training needs to be added to the routine. That's a good goal for this weekend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Aging backwards

This past weekend my mother-in-law declared that I look ten years younger since I've returned to running. I appreciated the compliment although I think she was just being kind. Either way it was nice to hear, better than the more common statements of concern that I get from friends: "You're losing too much weight" and "You look like an underfed prisoner.” That is certainly not the image I'd like to project. Even my wife has pointed out that since I've hit my goal I should start eating again like a normal person. I told her she should listen to her mother.

I agree that I have reached my desired level for weight but I’m not going back to my old habits. I’m in far better shape than I've been in over a decade and I’d really like to stay that way. Besides, I’ve already had my suits tailored. Although I don’t do many upper body workouts I've noticed that muscle definition in my chest and arms is much more noticeable. Results like that add to the motivation to run and cross train. I'm not looking to reverse the aging process except to help ensure that I can ably run in the decades ahead. I’m in an unusual place compared to many runners my age who, despite dedicated training, will soon begin to see performance declines every year simply due to nature. Since my starting point is different (I’ve had lots of room for improvement since returning to running last August) I’m actually gaining in both performance and endurance. I don’t know how long it will be until I hit my peak and then start to lose ground but I’m not worrying about that now. It’s great to be told that you look years younger (especially if it were true) but I much more prefer the way it feels.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nutrition, running and weight

I've written before about my observations related to workout effort and weight. The key point is that maintaining an ideal weight should not be viewed as a complex series of actions related to diets that force unnatural behavior and/or over-training to burn off calories. Simply put, if your focus on fitness and weight maintenance isn't sustainable your results won't be sustainable. Last August I decided that my diet and level of activity were unacceptable and chose to change my behavior. I never considered any changes related to quick weight loss because that wasn't the point. The point was more about managing cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure by introducing more activity, reducing portion sizes and making better choices for foods. Everyone has their own unique body chemistry and what has worked for me won't necessarily yield the same results for others. But I have been successful in meeting all my goals to date.

This morning I weighed in (I only check weight once a week, always in the morning before my run) and noted that I have largely stabilized at a weight that is 13% lower than my benchmarked weight from August '09. My BMI has gone from 27.2 to 23.6, and my cholesterol, triglyceride and other vitals have all moved well into the normal range. My average running distance has increased almost 30% since August and this is also key to getting to full equilibrium. As weight has come off the effort required to run an equivalent distance has decreased. Increasing distance while maintaining the same safe and satisfying diet has allowed me to reach a level that is both sustainable and healthy.

Now that I have reached this point I need to think about where I go from here. I do plan to keep increasing distance and I'll need to build more muscle to increase my performance. I may need to eat more to do that because without the right level of protein a runner can do damage to muscles when pushing hard. I suspect that may be why I experienced a hamstring pull doing tempo runs a few weeks ago. It's all about balance. This is my typical diet. You can compare it to Sedentary Man's:

90 calorie Special K bar (high complex carbs, low sugar, low protein)
Half cup coffee, .5 oz. non-fat milk

200 calorie Larabar (nut varieties, high protein)
6 0z. coffee with fat free milk

Stir fry with tofu, vegetables, brown rice and low sodium soy sauce
Whole fruit

Boca burger, whole wheat bread
Sun Chips
Trader Joe's Omega nut mix (1.6 oz.)
Whole fruit

I've been introducing small portions of chicken into my dinners, typically mixed with vegetables, to increase protein levels. I also add edamame to increase protein. As I've said before, it's really about listening to your body. At this point I believe I have the balance right. Compared to August I have significantly more energy and I am far less stressed. Good results are motivating and the level of effort required to maintain my balance is reasonable enough so that I look forward to my daily workouts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fitness equilibrium - what's your natural weight state?

After four months of focusing carefully on diet and training I believe I have reached my equilibrium point. Based upon my normal workout routines, nutrition choices and portion sizes I have stabilized my weight. Only if I consciously change my diet and/or increase the level of my routine will I further reduce my weight. Now the question is, "What do I really want?" According to the BMI calculators I am in the category of Normal. I have a friend who watches his diet and runs over 40 miles a week and his BMI score is Obese. He sure doesn’t look it.

I don't have the time to exercise more frequently but I can increase the intensity of my workouts and runs. I should probably do that anyway to increase strength and performance. I could eat less but why? If I eat the same and work out more intently will my weight go up because I'm building more muscle mass? If my weight does increase will I care? Is it worth thinking about everything you eat to maintain a weight that could not be achieved through a healthy diet and normal exercise?

I will benchmark this to see how things go over the next few months with no change in diet but a modest increase in workout effort. I really don’t care about my weight as long as my HDL, LDL, triglyceride and blood pressure levels are normal. Maybe it is time to buy that HRM watch.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Emerging Runner's Guide to Weight Loss

After 3+ months of focusing on fitness through running and exercise I am convinced that the only reasonable way to maintain a healthy weight is to do the following:

1. Eat smaller meals and less sugar.
2. Exercise moderately as many days a week as possible.
3. Repeat forever.

That will be $24.99. Or $9.99 if you are reading this on a Kindle.

Seriously, I've seen some great benefits from running including a much higher energy level and lower levels of stress. Though my goal at the start was to reduce my LDL and Triglyceride numbers I have also brought my weight down to a level I'd not seen since the late 80's. Now I need to deal with that. I have to either get new clothes or have all my pants and suits altered. But I would rather run five miles uphill in the heat than go clothes shopping. So I guess there is a downside to this after all.

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