I’m finally getting some fitness back! My right arm is still half useless for chores, but otherwise my legs and lungs are getting much better as I can run and bike ride again. In recent history, every time I tried to attack a hill on my bike, I felt like I was about to have my heart burst out of my chest while all my muscles threatened to seize and leave me no more than a heaving puddle of goo stuck in the fetal position along a rode somewhere. Rather than that pleasant mental picture, I’ve been experiencing the thrill of steady flowing endorphins and literally feeling the power that I can produce to propel myself; its very nice to get be getting that back to say the least.
As my quick previous post mentioned, rather than being a superman and getting everything figured out from the get go, I got a few punches thrown back at me. Well, its not how many times you get knocked down; its what you do after you get knocked down that matters. (Or which ever version of the cliche you prefer) The real question is, have I learned anything? Thankfully, yes. Three things are abundantly clear – sleep, diet, and mental state matter more than any other part of training etc. (yes, the basics are the key – go figure)
To elaborate – when I don’t get enough sleep, I tend to eat more and with less respect for the quality of the food that I eat. When tired, especially when exhausted; its all about simple carbohydrates and caffeine; quick easy food that in all reality does nothing more than to further reinforce the physical and mental predicament that I am in at that time (bouncing energy levels, and the accompanying bouncing moods, even if only slight). By taking time to recognize that that is the state I am in; I can eat better food and get some real energy and allow my body to actually nurture itself and provide me with some mental clarity. There is also the more obvious part of lack of sleep – the body isn’t repairing itself, so it takes longer to recover from an injury or sickness (or process any other issue – even mental.)
Diet – well, this should be obvious, but many times it is not. When I don’t eat well, I don’t exercise well, I don’t sleep well, I don’t think well, and my body just doesn’t function the way it should. Yes, I can live and survive while eating poorly – I just can’t live at optimum levels. What does eating well to me mean? It means less sugar and junk that is marketed as food but comes in a wrapper or box with more ingredients that I can barely pronounce than ingredients I can grow and or recognize at a farm. It means drinking water rather than the thousands of products that are marketed to us as better than water – the vast majority of which are really just water with a lot of useless calories added to them. Calories, that when added up are more than a healthy 30 or so year old male should consume in an entire day. If I am going to get really down to brass tacks – when I feel that I am eating my best is when everything that I am putting in my mouth is no more than two steps from being alive. Cooking, grinding, blending are all steps. A salmon steak is usually 1-2 steps (after being caught it is then cooked or frozen and cooked). Veggies and fruit are rarely more than one step – pull from ground, vine, etc and then eat or cook and eat; sometimes there is a blend and cook option (I’ve had some killer cauliflower soup lately!). When chemicals are added to the mix, that is generally when it starts to deviate from being good food for me. Yes, I realize nearly everything that we put in our mouths could be considered chemicals as they have a chemical make up – that is not what I am referring to. I’m referring to substances may have once been a recognizable food source to a Neanderthal, but have then gone through a process to dilute, concentrate, separate etc the once whole food into very distinct parts that are then even further altered sometimes; something like bleach, or one of the multitudes of things that are passed off as food but could not be created outside of a laboratory. On a more basic level – wheat, good (somewhat); bleached wheat, not so good. Sugar cane, ok (in moderation); bleached, pulverized, boiled down and concentrated sugar – not so good.
Enough with the food for now – on to the third part; mental state. This could be made into many books, and has been by thousands of people. For me lately, this has been a matter of being realistic with myself. Accepting when I am tired and shouldn’t push on. Accepting that it is ok to be depressed at times. Accepting that I won’t always make the right choice and forgiving myself when I screw up. Letting go of the notion that I can’t show weakness. Letting go of the notion that to feel pain and loss that it has to be something dramatic and beyond what what I have lost – any yet to not dwell on it and do my best to let go of the load. That last part is much harder to do than it is to write, at least it is for me, as that means actually dealing with it and not blatantly avoiding it. This subject could go on forever, and I’ll probably come back to it a lot as this is a cornerstone subject. I can’t say it is primary, as the three I have listed are so intertwined it is unbelievably frustrating, yet so simple; when one is off, all three are off.
One of the tenets that I’ve been working on lately is not looking for meaning externally; but to look inwardly, even if that means dealing with feelings etc that are much easier to avoid. It’s weird being human sometimes – out of all the billions of people out there, sometimes the one we try to avoid the most is ourselves.
I’m way behind on my updates here; very sorry about that.
The really quick synopsis is that I am not superman.
The slightly longer version is about 6 weeks ago I twisted my ankle pretty well playing soccer and I wasn’t able to run on it until this last weekend. To top it off, I dislocated my right clavicle while lifting (really weird military press machine, will never use again ! ) about a month ago. So my running and lifting have taken a back seat all this time. The dislocation and ankle put me on the sidelines for riding my bike for a bit as well as several weeks of restless sleep – All that adds up to nearly zero weight fat loss and barely any fitness gained in the last two months. Frustrating to say the least!
All that is somewhat behind me as I am cycling ~5 days a week and am running again as well. I’m holding off on the lifting until my PT starts on the 30th – apparently everyone else is getting injured as that was the soonest I could get in…
Hopefully I’ll get the format of the blog fixed up this coming weekend as well.
I just moved servers – new one is much less costly, and should be a bit quicker as well. It will take me a couple days (probably until next weekend ) to finish making tweaks to the new setup, so hang in there with me.
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
A year ago today, at about the time that I am starting to write this, my mom’s body shut down. She had a great life, though shorter than we would have liked, that ended with many years of dictating the terms she could with her battle with cancer. I hesitate to say that she died on this day as she reached out to me on the 9th to say goodbye and that she was letting go of her body. Cancer had turned her body into a ravaged battle ground, for many years the damage was manageable and my mom was able to get in some of the traveling she wanted and dedicated a lot of her time volunteering for things dear to her heart like the Friends of Archaeology, Santa Fe Folk Festival, Indian Market, Spanish Colonial Market, etc. We were fortunate in that the cancer wasn’t overpowering until the last several months. We were able to have one last Christmas together (my mom’s favorite time of year) and even though she was almost unable to walk at the time, we all very much enjoyed the family time and holidays. It wasn’t until February that it became apparent that the cancer had gotten too systemic to keep up with. Back in December we had known that the treatments weren’t having their wanted effect, but you always want to hold out for some hope. Until that last month, we were able to carry on conversations quite well – in that regard alone, I count our family very blessed as I know that too many other families have to go through the process with months to years of incoherence dotted with few points of lucidity.
I can’t say that she lost the fight; she chose how to live her life with what was presented to her and for the parts that she couldn’t control, she did her best let go and become one with it. Of course she was pissed at times, how could she not be; however the majority of her choices were to do the best with what she was able to and if the body wasn’t able to do so, adjust as necessary (or in some cases overcome the body with sheer willpower). She got to see and know both of her grandchildren. Unfortunately, our youngest may not remember much beyond what we tell her as she was two when my mom passed away. Our oldest however, remembers her well and talks about her fairly frequently. The legacies that my mom left to, and with, our family are many – far too many to even realize currently.
I was going to make this post a long one and go into some of the great trips we shared – cross country skiing, camping, trips to OR, Chaco, and my high school graduation trip to Europe with her are definitely high lights. Those are all stories that I will tell, but for today, I’m going to keep it at this and go play with my kids – it is after all what my mom would prefer to see me do, maybe we’ll even go for a hike.
I will include this picture though as it is currently one of my favorites.
Things haven’t gone quite a planned since my last post as our family has been sick for the last 2 weeks with myself being sick since last Sunday (though I didn’t realize or acknowledge it until the next day). Things are doing much better now, so I’m slowly crawling back out to join the athletically active again! Today I went wandering on some dirt trails on my CX bike and loved every minute of it (as well as finding some great new training grounds).
My weight is bouncing all over the place (which is pretty usual for me unless I am being very diligent about my hydration). I’m between 225lbs and 219lbs depending on the day and my scale is reading between 16% and 19% body fat. I’ve learned to take the reading on the scale as tool to judge overall trending and not an accurate number. I think I am realistically in the high 20% range and probably in the mid 30% range if I am to be really honest with myself. I’ll do a 12 point skin fold (caliper) measurement soon and that will tell me much better. I may even put a “current” weight counter on the right bar to further keep me thinking about making correct choices. My food intake is actually very healthy for a “typical” mid thirties American, but I have been having more than my fair share of stress eating breakdowns as of late (ahem… 15+lbs weight gain of pure fat in Nov-Jan ).
I’m trying a To attach a weekly workout summary to my posts like this from TrainingPeaks, it seems to work, but I’m not sure if I will keep it up or not as I have a feeling it won’t be static as I would like. I may just have to rely on good ol manual entry – the horror!.
This last year ended up being a bit of a lost year as far as many things go. Life didn’t exactly go as planned in some ways and I got a bit down; good ol poor me attitude in many ways. It wasn’t all bad as I have found a good bit more peace in my life, but I was letting life happen more than fully participating. Showing up and going through the motions is better than not showing up at all, but it isn’t the way I am.
Here are a couple facts that I have finally owned up to:
I am overweight by way too much.
I am not actively deciding where I want to go and doing something about it.
While I am participating with my family, I can do better.
Yesterday, a few things happened that accumulated into what I needed to get me going again – a kick in the pants so to speak.
I saw that the Boulder Valmont bike park was selected for the 2014 Cyclocross Nationals and realized that I had absolutely no chance to race it in my current shape. They don’t even offer races for the bottom categories I have been racing in and there is absolutely no way I could even qualify currently for an upper category.
An acquaintance that I hadn’t talked to for a while mentioned during a conversation of “how’s life going” that the fire he used to see in me wasn’t fully there and I wasn’t carrying myself as powerfully as I used to.
In the past week several people have mentioned how they got inspiration from my exercise and determination that I used to do.
In the past month, I’ve known of 3 people that have lost a loved one to Cancer, one to heart failure, and another has a relative currently battling massive heart issues.
It’s been nearly a year since my mom died and as I was lamenting about how out of shape I was to myself, my thoughts drifted to her and I’m pretty dang sure she smacked me a bit. I wasn’t raised to be one to self pity, I was raised to take the bull by the horns if needed. Somewhat of a “its been a year, now pull up the big boy pants and get back to life!”
So what am I going to do?
I’m honestly, still figuring it out a bit and will update that as I figure it out.
I do know three things:
I’m going to post up my weight and %fat at least monthly, yep somewhat turning this into a fat blog.
I will be a competitive cat 3 cyclocross racer by Jan 2014.
I’m not going to race just to race.
I’ve been giving lip service to dropping the fat that I have gained over the past 7 years for years now and have gotten down to 202lbs once, but keep going back up to 220+ with two spikes now into the high 230lbs. I have put in quite a bit of exercise, even did a half iron distance duathlon in that time range; however it seems like I was always in the pre-race training mode where I wanted to be on top of my performance capability. Being ready to race, meant that I wasn’t dropping the fat that I really need to drop as I didn’t want to be in the negative calorie wise and not be fully recovered for the next days efforts. And in all reality, I was still training too hard too often and not actually going slow when I should have been. I do still want to get in a half marathon if possible, the Bolder Boulder maybe, and hopefully one or two duathlons, but I have to be ok with possibly not beating my times for last year. If I’m not ok with it, then I’ll not enter as I need to get the fat off and stop making excuses.
Weight really is only one part of the equation as I do have a large bone structure and I do have some decent muscle mass; however I really see no reason I should be over 200lbs unless I really want to build back all the muscle I’ve lost since I was pretty serious into weight lifting. Having 36″ thighs, 52″ chest, and 23″ upper arms really didn’t offer much other than making it impossible to find clothes. I do want to get a little bit back, but I was much better built in College than I am now and I was down at 175lbs then; granted that was 6-8% body fat. For now I’m going to shoot for the 188lb range in two years with the body fat percentage being the much more important part. That I would like to get in the 12% range or lower as I think that I can maintain that.
For the blog posts over the past year – I may back fill some as I have quite a few posts from the last year mostly done, I just never got to finishing them and hitting post. One thing I will do is post regularly, if nothing else than to hold myself accountable. My weight 3 weeks ago was 227, not sure about the body fat.
Now for the cheesy quote that holds much truth
“time to get busy living, or get busy dying” – I know which choice I’m making.