Project: Thinner by Design

This has been an very odd day.  I actually woke up without any plans for blog entries and as it turns out, I now have two.  Unfortunately it is a situation of the Yang and the Um in the sense that a joyous blog topic was countered with a bummer of an entry.  After an internal debate as to which topic to lead with, the decision was made to go with the order in which they occurred in the day.  This means we’ll be starting with the happy event.  So most of this year was spent rehabbing my messed up hamstring.  With the exception of a few important races, there wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity to hit the pavement for any extended time.  In fact, after the Bix7 in July I don’t think there was one run over 3 or 4 miles until October.  Definitely nothing up to race pace which means it was difficult to keep the weight in check.  By the middle of October I’d managed to gain 6 pounds putting me at 166 (one pound over marriage weight and 19 under my martial arts weight).  This was pretty depressing and the scale was nagging at me every single morning.  Something had to be done.  At the same time a friend of mine (Pakage) had made a personal (and probably doctor approved) decision to reduce his weight and had employed an iTouch app called My Fitness Pal to help him do that.  I was totally impressed when he showed me this app because it had an extensive DB of foods both from restaurants and grocery stores.  Through a simple interface you were able to track your calorie intake, exercise along with a breakdown of key indicators like sodium, fats, vitamins etc.  Oh, and the most important thing is …. it was FREE.  All this brings us to October 20th when I made the personal commitment to getting myself back in running shape again.  There was something coming up the week of Thanksgiving so decided that was going to be the target date to eliminate the unwanted 6 pounds.  The software asked me a few questions regarding my lifestyle and goals and set a target calorie consumption of 1710 per day.  From October 21st to present I documented every meal, every snack, all drinks and detailed my workouts as much as possible.  First thing every morning I stepped on the dreaded bathroom scale and updated the app with the result.  Curious as to the results?  Let’s cut to the chase and show you the weight graph.

I wish there was a way to change the scale on the myfitnesspal website, but you should be able to tell that the goal was MET!  Today’s weight was indeed 160 and even a few days short of the self imposed duration.  In celebration I hit McDonald’s on the way into town and ordered sausage and egg bagel and a medium hot chocolate.  That was one of the best tasting breakfast sandwiches ever.  For now, I’ll transition to maintain mode and with the hammie finally coming around, the runs are already in the 4-5 miles range which means the daily calorie count will need to increase a little.  There are some more details after the jump, but a lot of the graphs and such are more for me to analyze how things went.  Honestly, this was not the easiest thing for me to do.  We eat out a lot which makes healthy choices a little more difficult and there were some sacrifices which led to some frustrating moments.  Swapping out my tasty muffins for oatmeal every morning was hard enough, but giving up some of my favorite desserts and reducing the portions on some of my favorite meals was a true test of the willpower.  At this point, the hammie feels a lot better, my cardio is getting back to par (think there may have been only 2 or 3 days that I didn’t get a core workout in or a run) and can pretty much work out in the lot for hours and hours without tiring.

Some analytics after the jump

Continue reading Project: Thinner by Design

The Yang and the Um Day

EyeFirst off, I have to admit I am currently on a major sugar high.  My wife and I tried out the new ice cream establishment in Peoria Heights – the previous home of delicious Spotted Cow.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the establishment (two uncommon names), but apparently it is a small ice cream boutique chain out of Boston.  We both decided to splurge and get the dipped waffle cones.  Linda chose the nestle crunch with cake batter ice cream and I went with the dark chocolate cone with seriously chocolate ice cream flavor.  Wow, that was tasty.  Needless to say, my sugar level is through the roof, but it was totally worth it.  A tad expensive, but we both agreed it was far better than our previous favorite Cold Stone.

On to the topic of the day.  Yesterday morning I had my one year check up on my LASIK surgery.  Nothing like an 8:25am appointment on a cold, snowy and windy Saturday morning to get the day started.  Being that early, I figured there would only be few people there and I’d be in and out quickly.  I was totally shocked when I entered the building and there was a line of people waiting to get checked in.  Faster than expected, I made it up to the counter and noticed once again a large number of flowers behind the desk.  Every single time I have had an appointment, there have been a large number of wrapped up flowers with various names on it.  First thought was there must be a large number of birthdays or possibly births or the doctors were extremely appreciative of their helpers.  After validating all my insurance information, I proceeded to the waiting area where about 30 people were sitting.  Somewhat stunned, I took a seat in the socially acceptable location – translated, maximized distance from existing customers, much like the bathroom principle with the exception you are still allowed to talk to people and make eye contact.  Pondering the situation, it clicked that Fridays were a primary LASIK surgery day and they always had a followup the day after.  This gave and explanation to the large number of people.  My name was eventually called and the nurse began verifying my vision.  She started asking me if I was taking my steroid and anti-inflammatory drops and how everything was going.  This was not processing correctly so mentioned that I stopped taking the drops over a year ago which resulted in a strange look.  Remembering the deduction in the waiting room, I mentioned that I was in for my 1 year checkup.  With that cleared up, she took down all my powers (dual eye 20/15) and moved me to another room to get checked out by my doctor.  Good News!  Everything is fine and the eye healed up perfectly.  Definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

Another quandary was resolved at the checkout desk.  An older lady was completing her exit papers ahead of me and trying to plan her next followup a few days later.  Guessing with the fact she was not wearing any glasses and needed such a quick followup, the assumption was she just had cataract surgery (too old for LASIK) and was in for her post-surgery followup.  As she was getting ready to go, the receptionist handed her one of the flowers (with her name on it) and said it was a gift from her doctor.  That made a lot more sense than my original thought.  What a nice thing to do, it is relatively cheap compared to the cost of the surgery and it sure made the lady very happy.  Kudos to the doctor for a very nice touch.

But life is based on the Yang and the Um (for the non-Koreans, the Ying and the Yang).  The dualism of life; the good and the bad, sweet and the sour, life and death.  It is this constant opposition that keeps us grounded (morality) and leads to our character definition.  I came home from the appointment elated that my surgery was a complete success.  Later that day, there was a large crack against our great room window.  Typically this indicates a bird had just realized the concept of glass.  I didn’t think much of it since this tends to happen 2 or 3 times a week usually leaving the bird somewhat stunned, but able to fly off once the webs clear.  About an hour later I happened to look out the window and saw a beautiful cardinal sitting under our porch furniture below our large picture windows.  He looked alert, but was just sitting there opening and closing his beak.  It was still pretty cold out and the wind was gusting causing him to continually adjust his balance.  I pondered the situation for a few minutes while observing the bird.  Typically, if the birds don’t initially break their necks, they are able to recover and fly off.  Rarely do their wings get seriously injured since the impact is typically on the beak/head.  But this bird was alert, but wasn’t really moving that much other than adjusting to keep from being blown over.  It didn’t appear any sound was coming out of his beak movements but it was a steady opening and closing motion.  I could try to shield him from the wind or possibly get a box and move him to the basement until he recovered, but eventually decided to let it be hoping he would pull through.  If he was seriously injured, there was nothing I could anyway.  I also didn’t know what the laws were pertaining to a state bird (other than I think they are protected in some manner).  Going on with my daily tasks, eventually the situation left my thoughts.  I checked to see if the bird was still there later in the night and I am sorry to report, the little guy didn’t make it.  He had succumbed to the cold so he must have badly injured himself.  Yes, it was just a bird, but it did trigger memories from the teachings in the dojo.  The happiness of clarified sight in the morning paired with the reality of death in the evening.  The good news is one of the local farm cats will find a special treat when the show up to get out of the cold.

Life is a circle (see the pupil)