Monday, October 31, 2011

Is the Scale Broken?

For the past five days, the scale has read 160 each morning.   This is the first time that I can ever remember the scale reading the same weight for more than two days in a row.   I am still flying high from reaching my goal weight and I know that I am close to hitting a solid plateau.  Running Without a Watch has brought a peacefulness to my life that I have never before experienced.   

While I still run on most days, I don’t stress anymore when I miss a day.  I continue to eat in a healthy manner, which includes allowing for the occasional outing to a restaurant or carry out. The other day, when we ordered pizza, I ate two slices and felt satisfied, instead of my usual four or five.  

Today at work, we had the October birthday celebrations.  While my co-workers ate cake, candy bars and chocolate milk, I politely declined.   It wasn’t even a big deal; the food just didn’t appeal to me.  If they had served some chocolate cheese cake, now that would have been a different story! 

For the first time in my life, I feel in control.  Rather than letting food control me, I am controlling the food.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

50 Days!

Today celebrates 50 days of Running Without a Watch, and it also coincides with my weekly weight in day, which means that I officially reached my goal weight of 160 pounds.  Now that I have reached this pivotal moment though, I realize that achieving this goal means more than just losing a certain number of pounds.  It means that I finally learned how to set a goal that was realistic and achievable.  You see, when I have set weight goals in the past, I also set a prescribed time frame.  This time frame always led to my demise, because when I got close to the deadline and realized that I would not make the cut, I quit trying. 

However, just as Running Without a Watch has helped me to change the goals I set for running, it also helped me to change the goals I set for weight loss.  I realized that it didn’t matter if I reached my goal weight by Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, or even Presidents Day.   What really mattered was eventually hitting that goal weight by maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.  Just as my running got easier when I stopped focusing on speed and time, losing weight became easier when I stopped putting pressure on myself to lose weight by a certain date.

During these past 50 days, I have learned how to manage the ups and downs of everyday life without losing focus and giving up on my goals.  Even today, when I was feeling anxious about a personal matter, I didn’t go to the bakery.  I have been able to eat out at restaurants; even order dessert!  I have taken a few days off from running and jumped right back into it without any problems. 

While these victories are due to the insights I have learned through Running Without a Watch, none of it would be possible without the support of my loving wife.  She has listened patiently, cheered me on through the ups and downs, and taken care of the kids to make sure I could work out.  I truly could not have done this without her. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are you a Gymrat or a Homebody?

I would like to share with you an article in which the author discusses her opinions about exercising at a gym vs. exercising at home.  In the article she describes her experience of first working out a gym with a personal trainer and then switching to workout DVD's which she used at home.

This article got me thinking about my view on this subject matter.  My only experience with a gym was several years ago.  The monthly rate was $80 for fitness classes and self-defense lessons; no equipment was included.  While I have looked into joining a gym where I live now, the closest one is 20 minutes away.  I figure that I could have a great workout in almost the same amount of time.  I also looked at joining a gym near work, but it just didn’t seem practical to travel 45 minutes each way to exercise on the weekend.

Besides the inconvenience of getting there, there is a problem that I have with typical gym memberships, their commitment requirements and up-front fee.  They are in the business of making money and have these requirements because most people quit the gym after a few weeks to a few months.  Have you ever been to a gym during the first two weeks of January?  Have you ever been to the same gym during the first two weeks of May?

If I could find a gym with no monthly commitment, or at least with the first month commitment free, I would probably join.  I firmly believe that you shouldn’t spend the money on a gym membership until you have at least 30 days of consistent exercise. 

If you feel that you are ready, and if you are seriously thinking about buying a membership, consider the reasons behind choosing a gym over exercising at home or outside.  Maybe paying money to a gym will help motivate you to get up and move, maybe you like the scheduled classes and the equipment, or maybe you have friends there and enjoy the opportunity to socialize.  It is also important to consider some of the practical aspects to the gym like the hours, the locker room facility, wait times to get on the equipment and also the time limits for using the equipment.  Some gyms adhere to strict rules limiting the use of certain equipment to 30 minutes a turn; how might that impact your fitness goals?  Finally, make sure you understand what actually comes with your membership, so you don’t get stuck with extra fees.

While there are many advantages to working out at a gym, I still prefer working out from home. It is free, easy and convenient.  I can almost have my whole workout done in the time it would take to get to the gym.  There is no waiting, no crowds, and no noise; it’s just me, my running shoes, and the fresh air.

Which do you prefer and why? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When the unthinkbale becomes the acheviable.

The number on the scale before me this morning read 160.0.  Awesome!  I reached my goal weight after 48 days of Running Without a Watch.  This is the lowest the scale has said in my entire adult life.  My heaviest weight was about seven years ago; I weighed 206 pounds.  The difference between my highest and lowest weight is 46 pounds.

During these past seven years I feel like I have tried everything to lose this weight.  When my first son was born, I weighed 190 pounds.  Through hard work on the treadmill, and giving up eating at restaurants for six months, I got down to 160.5.  While this was a huge accomplishment, I was unable to maintain this weight.  Once I started to eat out at restaurants again, my weight quickly rose to 175.   

For a while, I fluctuated between 170 and 175.  While this sounds like a pretty good weight, I could feel in body that I wasn’t as fit and as healthy as I could be.  I knew I needed to find a healthy way to maintain a consistent weight; I was tired of watching my weight go up and down on the scale, year after year.  Without a doubt in my mind, I have finally found the way. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

One bad run does not ruin the bunch

On Friday, I went out for my usual run, but things didn’t go as planned.  Before I continue though, let me back up a minute and give you some background information.  

The day started very early, at 4:30am.  After working until noon, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up essentials for the weekend, then returned home and started cooking.  After cleaning up the kitchen, I spent the rest of the afternoon with my boys, and then helped my wife put them to bed.   When it was finally time for my run, I realized that I hadn’t eaten as much as I usually do, but I decided to get out there before it got any later. 

Well, needless to say, as I was exhausted and not properly fueled, my body just couldn’t keep up with my demands.  Shortly after I started, I realized that I should have run my back-up loop instead, but I pushed on.  Then after the first mile, when I should have turned around and headed home, I foolishly carried on.  Finally, when I completed the second mile, my body just ran out of gas.  Without any more energy to run, I cut my losses and walked the rest of the way home. 

A couple of months ago, before Running Without a Watch, I would have had difficulty recovering from this kind of run.  I probably would have coped with my negative feelings by overindulging in unhealthy foods, and may have pushed off running for a few days.  However, now things are really different.  Although I did take the next night off, I did it for the right reasons.  I decided to spend time with my wife for an “in-house date night.”  We talked over a nice quiet dinner, and then rented a movie. 

Since beginning Running Without a Watch 45 days ago, the changes continue to amaze me.  I have lost about ten pounds, I am making smarter choices with my food, I am able to control myself around dessert, and this is the most consistent I have been with my running in years.

Remember, one bad run does NOT spoil the bunch!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Treadmill Movie

Since moving a few years ago to a smaller space, I had to give up my beloved treadmill and make a drastic change in my running routine.  After spending years running on the treadmill, I switched to running outside, and have since grown to love it.  The fresh air, the sun, and the scenery are really wonderful, but let’s get back to the treadmill.   

I would run on it for about an hour each day.  I ran so many miles, I actually burned one out!  The treadmill was especially useful on those crazy hot or cold days when I didn’t want to venture out, or in the rain and the snow when it just wasn’t safe.  On those days I knew my treadmill was waiting for me in the basement.  Also when my treadmill was in the basement, I was free of time restrictions.   I used to run before work, starting my workout at 5:00am.  Since I didn’t need to be at work until 8:30am, I was able complete my run before my family even woke up.

At times though, running on the treadmill could be boring.  To counter this, I installed a TV with a DVD player and a DVR cable box.  I would record movies or TV shows to watch during my runs.  That’s when I discovered “Treadmill Movies.”  These are movies with intense actions scenes of about 10-20 minutes in length.  My favorite of these types of movies are the “Fast and Furious” series.  But my favorite scene is from the beginning of “War of the Worlds” when the aliens start to attack and destroy.  This captivating scene takes close to 20-25 minutes.  I imagined myself in the movie trying to escape from the aliens!  I saved this movie on the DVR for months as a standby when I needed an extra boost.

In addition to the “Treadmill Movie”, I also recommend motivational movies to accompany your run.  “Run for Your Life", documented the history of the New York Marathon, and inspired me to set new running goals.  Also, Ultra-marathon man. A story about Dean Karnazes quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. 

Quick tip about fast forwarding commercials during a run.  Most 30 minute shows are only about 22 minutes and one hour shows are about 44 minutes.

What movies or TV shows get you through your workout?

Run for Your Life

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fitness Tip

I try to have a few different routes when I go out for a run or walk. This helps to keep the runs from getting boring.  One of these routes is around a half mile loop that starts and finishes at my house.  I use this route on days of extreme weather, or if I am going out at 4:30am for a run before I have to leave for work.  This way for some reason, if the run gets too hard or I need to cut it short, I am no more than a 10 minute walk from home.

In the times that I have used this route, I only had to cut it short one time.  On a morning when I got a later start than I wanted to, I cut the run short by one lap to make it home in time to shower and get ready for work.  Having this route as a back-up provides me with a good alternative and helps to motivate me on tough days.

What is your back-up route?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A run, When its good, its good and when its bad, its still good

What determines whether a run or workout is good or bad?  The weather?  What you ate that day?  How far you went?  How long you went?  How fast you went?  In my opinion, none of the above should make that determination.  Instead, it is the way you think about your run that should determine if it is good or bad.  I can remember many times that I felt disappointed as I finished my run, because I put too much pressure on myself.  In fact just today, my run was tough, really tough.  I was struggling to make it up the hills and was forced to slow down just to complete the run.  If I was running with my watch, I am certain that I would have been very unhappy with the time, which would then have led to frustration and a sense of failure.  However, since I made this critical change in my thinking, and began Running Without a Watch, I pushed these negative thoughts away and replaced them with a fresh and positive point of view.

I took a step back and realized why I went out to run in the first place.   I am not a professional runner.  My livelihood is not affected if it takes me 20 minutes or 30 minutes to run 3 miles.  I run for me.  I run because it feels good.  I run because I want to lose weight and maintain good overall health.  Instead of setting goals for increased speed and distance, I now aim for consistency.  This point is especially important for new runners.  Don’t focus on speed or time or distance.  Just go out and run, bike, or walk.  Strive for consistency, and most importantly, have fun! 

Since shifting gears, and beginning Running Without a Watch, it is the most consistent I have been with exercising and eating right in years.  42 days, 6 weeks, 10lbs.  I must be doing something right.