First 5k Done! – Goal Achieved…. What’s Next?

On March 16, 2013, at about 4:00 PM I ran the Luckython 5k, an Uberthon race event. I was super impressed at how organized, professional, and fun the race turned out. There were hundreds of people (nowhere near as big as the Shamrock Run) there for the event. People’s costumes were hilarious. I opted for the “Nike” look with dri fit shirt, and Nike shorts and shoes. 🙂 There was even a small contingent of barefoot runners!

The run was held at the Aloha Reserve golf club, and the course wound through the greens on the paved golf cart path. It was pretty much flat the entire way, with a few very small inclines and declines. The weather was horribly rainy and cold, but after a few minutes of running I didn’t seem to notice or care that much. This was a chip timed run, so the slow waved start didn’t matter until i crossed the sensor for the chip timing to start.

Once I crossed the sensor and my time started, I moved out to a pretty quick pace. I was running with my iPhone and running application, so I was able to check my pace as I went, to ensure that I’d hit my goal time of 30:00. Starting out I rapidly noticed that I was running too fast, and my heart rate started to climb pretty fast, the initial navigation of getting past slower runners, and finding my point to level off was a tad challenging.

I did like the fact that I was running with a group of people. It created opportunities to challenge myself, I’d see someone ahead of me, and I’d think to myself “Hey, I want to catch up with them, and maybe try and pass them.” It was also frustrating at times to be passed. 🙂 When I hit the first mile mark, I felt like I was moving too slow, and was concerned because the mile on the pavement sure felt further than the mile on the treadmill, but I kept at it. Having the running application on my iPhone, it would tell me my pace, and when I was running a 9:30 mile or slower, I would speed up, and then when I would hear that I was running too fast, I would slow down. I ended the race with a 9:41 average.

When I hit the 50% mark, I was worried that I may have to walk some, but I was motivated to run the entire race, and I never did ANY walking. When I hit the three mile mark, the last bit before the finish felt very long, but I  had upped my pace dramatically, I knew I had to be very close if not over my goal. I crossed the finish line at 30:07 just seven seconds over my goal. I was so tired, and my heart rate was in the 170’s. I typically train in the 140’s-160’s.

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What’s Next?

My girlfriend and I (and possibly our two oldest kids) are going to run the “Rum Run” at the end of May, it’s another 5k, with a rum and beer finish! – Yum

I’m going to sign up for a 5k with obstacles, called The Epic Grind, it’s put on by my spin class instructor and has an eco friendly theme. It should be a blast, another post specifically about that race is coming soon!

There’s a mud race that I’ll be doing in August too, along with my girlfriend and a bunch of folks from her office.

I’m trying to keep myself motivated and moving all summer long!

First Goal – Achieved. – What’s Next?

"Goal Achieved"

When I set out about four months ago to lose weight, I had an ambitious goal. There of course was a number that I wanted to hit, but really what I wanted was to feel better about myself both physically and mentally. I wanted to shed physical and emotional weight. Yesterday, I was one pound from that goal, as close as I’ve ever been. I’ve set this goal a number of times before, but never had the gumption to make it. I was a little worried that I’d stall for this last pound, and somehow never make it.

Today that has changed. When I “weighed in” today, I had exceeded that goal by almost an additional pound and a half. I started out 262lbs. and had set a goal of getting down to 220lbs. Today’s weight was 218.7. I weighed myself twice, as I didn’t believe it, the second weight was  .1 less. It’s official, I’ve hit my goal! I’m so happy with everything the way it’s gone. No crash fad diet, no feeling of dread about working out, I’m not restricted to certain foods, it just feels way better than other approaches I’ve adopted in the past. I’ve “technically” lost more than 50lbs, as at my worst I weighed 270lbs, but was 262 when I started back in Sept.

Now what? Well the first thing I can say, is that I’ll continue to blog, and hold myself accountable. Getting on the scale every morning is probably one of the biggest motivators, the fact that every time I weigh myself, the difference (plus OR minus) goes right to this blog on the left hand side! That is huge for me, I’m putting it all out there. One thing I know is that I don’t ever want to carry around that much weight – ever again.

I had been previously losing about 2 lbs. per week. I’m going to scale that back a bit, and lose 1 – 1.5 pounds per week. This slower approach of losing weight will allow me to up my calorie intake from 1600-1700 calories I had been eating to almost 1900 per day. My next weight goal is to get to 210 pounds. (Only 8.7 pounds to go!) After I hit 210, I’ll evaluate where I’m at, and may try to get to 200 pounds, I’m not sure yet, I’m still kind of taking this as it comes. I think I need another trip to Aruba, so I can go rent a wave runner, that’s kind of what started all of this.

Not to sound cheesy, but if you’ve been sitting back, wanting to make a change, yes, there’s will power and a regimen to follow, but I really think the harder part is what your brain is telling you to do. Conquer the “no way” or “can’t” attitude and know that if I can do this, there’s no reason you can’t too. It takes hard work and dedication, but as you commit yourself to the process, you start to see that the weight comes off faster than you think. There are even times in the process where you get so excited about waking up to weigh yourself that the whole thing snowballs, you’ll do more than you think you you’re capable of.

The way that I feel when I wake up, walk around, and live live lighter than I used to be is so much better than I could have realized. So many things are just easier now, I enjoy getting out to do things where I used to just stay behind. I’ve blogged about this in the past, but don’t mess around with it, just decide to do it and change. It’s not really as hard as you may think.

Planning is Key

PlansOne of the things that continually throws me for a loop is unexpected things that happen in life. It’s the mundane, unplanned, and necessary things. Unplanned child pickups, work running later, emergencies, these are the things that can screw up your plans for the day. It’s ok to miss a workout here and there, but for me, I need to stay focused. My old track record is a series of events like this; getting sick or injured, being busy at work, or a busy home life. These are things that have traditionally derailed my success in the gym.

Now I’m trying to not allow these type of small setbacks be an excuse for failure. It all goes to where I’m at mentally. I have to realize that life happens, and I need to try to make sure I keep focused, and don’t let these things allow me to create an excuse for failure. So when I’m planning to hit the gym after work, and I have to do some unplanned thing, I’ll often try to go later at night when things have calmed down, or work out at home doing some sort of cardio.

Time isn’t the only thing you have to plan. Planning what you eat is crucially important too. There’s been days where I forget to bring my (calorie planned) lunch to work, and I just assume that I’ll go to Subway, or get some grilled chicken, or a salad. But days get hectic, and before you know it, lunch has passed, and the day is closing. Now I’m hungry, and not thinking clearly. These are the times when I make poor decisions. Decisions based on emotion.

It’s important to plan for these type of things. I usually try to keep some protein bars or other “quick-grab” things to eat. Where I work we have a little vending area that has the ubiquitous selection of chips, frozen pizza, candy, and other unhealthy options. If I don’t have anything to eat at my desk, I’ll go down and try to grab a yogurt, or some fruit – something. I look for a balance of satisfaction, measured calories, and something that’s better than fast food.

Remember, life doesn’t always go as planned, make sure you think about things in a way that you will ultimately be successful. If you have an “all or nothing” mentality (like I tend to) make sure that you approach situations realistically, with a plan, and a mindset that shit happens. Just make the best of what you can.

About a week ago, I had several (3-4) days of weight gain, not a ton, 1/2 a pound here, 1/2 a pound there, but I was wondering if I was going to hit the dreaded “plateau”. I was mentally prepared for this, but it was a bitter thought. I was doing everything right, eating right, exercising, so I was a bit confused. I realized a couple things, I had slacked a little here and there on a handful of cheerios, or a small amount of corn chips. I had almost started slipping back into old habits. I went back to my regimen, and over the next few days started to see the predictable weight loss I had been experiencing. I also realized that some sort of wall is coming, and I don’t know when it is. Several days of no weight loss, or even weight gain, are very normal in this process, just stick to what has been working for you.

If you encounter more than a week or two of a stalled plan, you may have to start changing things up. I don’t think I’m at that point yet, but I feel like I could be getting close. I’m so close to my first goal, a goal I’ve set many times and never achieved. But this time I will achieve it, failure is not an option.

Work Out at Work

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing out, that a lot can be accomplished during a lunch hour. Take your lunch to work, and when you’d normally go out to eat for an hour, go for a run. If you’re lucky, your work may even have showers and locker rooms. My office has a small, but decent gym, so when I know I won’t be able to make it to the gym after work, I make sure to try and squeeze a work out in during the day.

Even getting outside to just walk for an hour is a great thing to do. You don’t have to become a sweaty mess. At a decent pace, you can easily walk several miles, and burn a few hundred calories. Eat your lunch at your desk when you’re back to work!

Another great thing to do at work is stairs. Sure you may get some weird looks, but remember you’ll be getting fit! A good set of stairs is a great workout, up and down, burns a ton of calories. Set a goal of 25 flights of stairs, and then go for a small walk to cool down. If you have a large office, chances are you can find a low traffic area.

The point I’m trying to make is plan ahead. If you know your normal gym night is a busy one that won’t let you get away, find a way to cram something into your day, whether it’s before work, during work, or even later, make sure you don’t let it slide. Even if you’re not doing your full workout and calorie burn, get something in, you’ll feel better, and it’s a mental win.

The Gym as a Tool

Quite arguably the best tool in the arsenal to lose weight is your local gym. While it’s possible to lose weight and gain strength without one, I think that most people feel the need to have a gym at their disposal. I joined a gym years ago when I lived in Seattle that was acquired by 24 Hour Fitness. It worked out great for me, I have unlimited access to the majority of 24 Hour Fitness gyms for a mere $10 a month now. It’s a monthly fee I’ve often paid years for when I have never even used it. But now that I’m living close to one, and they seem to be more prevalent is the area I live, I don’t regret that the years of non use at all.

Most gyms are broken down into several distinct functional areas:


Weights/Free weights/Machines
– The main floors of most gyms have a free weights section comprised of dumbbells, weight benches, bars, and other types of interchangeable weight systems. They typically also have all the machines that can take weight plates and racks for doing squats. Weight training is good for burning calories and for building muscle.

Cardio Equipment – These consist of the machines used for doing cardiovascular training like treadmills, elliptical  stair masters, stair climbers, and rowing machines. These machines are great for cardiovascular training and fat burning. Cardio machines typically are a great way to burn a high amount of calories with the right type of workout.

Spin Bikes – Although technically cardio equipment, I like to break spin bikes out into their own category, as most gyms keep them all together. They are typically located near the other cardio equipment, but you’ll often find gyms that have rooms full of nothing but spin bikes. These spin studios are used for spinning classes and bike related workouts. Spinning is a great workout, and is ideal for almost anyone as they require no special skills to use.

Zumba/Pilates/Aerobics/Dance/Yoga Studios – Another thing that most gyms have is some sort of dedicated studio for Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics and Dance type of workouts. These type of workouts are great for people that like to work out with a group of others, and change up the monotony of being stuck on cardio equipment.

Pools/Sauna/Steam – The pool is one of the best low impact, high calorie burning workouts you can find. Swimming laps takes a significant amount of energy, and can be a very challenging workout. A lot of gyms also have some other pool related amenities available like Sauna, Steam Rooms, and hot tubs, which are all great after a tiring workout. They’ll make you sweat, and the heat feels great on sore muscles.

Basketball – Playing one on one, or traditional basket ball is a great way to raise your heart rate and burn calories.

Stretching/Floor Areas – There are typically multiple areas where you can do stretching and floor exercises like push ups, sit ups, and exercise ball work.

A lot of gyms also offer low cost day care that you can take advantage of for those times when you have your little ones with you. Finding the right gym for you is important, as if you don’t like the gym, you ultimately won’t go. Why would you want to spend your hard earned money each month for nothing? I know that memberships at my gym start at around $40 per month for unlimited access to that single location.

Watch for sales, and deals too. Costco is a great place to check, but make sure you read the details, some clubs have different service levels, you don’t want to buy a 2-3 year membership at a discount to find that it didn’t work for the primary location you were considering. Be sure to do your homework and ensure that the membership you purchase works for you. Also keep in mind that there’s generally some wiggle room when it comes to joining a gym. Be sure to remember you can negotiate some, if they won’t come down on monthly fees, or waving initiation/joining fees, ask for a few free personal training sessions. The gym should be able to do something to win your business!

Finding a gym with all of the things listed above is a great step in having the tools you need to create a workout routine that will lead to your weight loss success!

Working Out Mentality

Establishing the mentality to lose weight and workout is hard. It’s probably harder than going to the gym and doing the actual workouts. There’s several components that I have to drill into my thick skull on an almost daily basis to ensure that I’ll continue to keep at it. Ensuring that I keep these things in mind helps me a great deal!

Dedication – Realize that losing weight takes dedication. If you don’t dedicate yourself to the process, the process will not work, no matter how half-assed you go at it.

Never take No attitude – Don’t let yourself become victim to excuses. Beat your brain into submission, that you will be working out a lot, and that you will be good at it. Don’t let your life be the excuse to hinder your progress.

Don’t settle – Don’t settle for less. Remember that you’re worth the hard work, and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

Push yourself – For me this is key. If you’re not physically drenched in sweat at the end of your workout, my opinion is your weight loss is going to take way longer. I’m drenched in sweat at the end of my workouts, and I continually try and push myself further.

Try new things – Trying new things at the gym, or for your workouts will help you progress in your weight loss journey. I’ve tried running, spin class, and kick boxing.

Measure your calorie burn – Measure what you’re burning. You’ll feel a better sense of accomplishment and appreciation for what it takes to lose weight. Remember you typically have to burn roughly 3500 calories to lose a single pound. You’ll also develop a sense of how hard you have to work to burn several hundred calories. I try to burn 500+ calories at least four days a week. A good week I’ll see five days of workouts.

Know you’ll fail at times – Know that there will be setbacks, but don’t let them beat you. Fix the problem, and move on. Realize that some amount of failure is inevitable, don’t let it consume or beat you. It’s ok to cut yourself a little slack sometimes.

Racquetball

Playing racquetball is one of my favorite work outs that I do at the gym. The tough thing about racquetball is that it requires depending on another person. Another challenging thing is most gyms don’t have racquetball, I’m lucky that my gym has one court. I typically have to play later in the evening, but generally it’s easy to get in to play.

The game keeps you moving all the time. The thing I like about playing it is the competition, my good friend and I play at least once or twice a month. I also like the fact that it mixes up my workout, and keeps things fresh.

During a one hour session of racquetball, I’ll generally burn at least 600 calories. It’s so fun that I don’t even realize that I’m working out. I’m just playing a game with my friend, trying to beat him at it!

It’s not a very expensive sport to break into, all you really need is eye protection ($10 – $20), a racquet ($20 – $$$$), and a can of racquetballs! The courts usually have a place inside that you can store your wallet and keys/phone during the game. It’s pretty hard to have a conversation when you’re playing, as the sound bounces all over.

If you’re interested in how to play check out this out, the rules are seriously simple, you can learn them in this video, that’s just over one minute.