Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Zumba Night - 2 guys, 947 girls

After the Boot Camp, several of my friends in Rob's Big Losers had stated that they were going to the Zumba class at GHS YMCA on Monday evening, and had invited me to come along.  Now, knowing that I'm so into music that I've been known to be cutting a rug at 3am, I figured this would be easy.  Truth be told, I don't go dancing, and the idea was slightly frightening to me.  Monday nights is Zumba for All, though.  Thus we packed up the girls and we ALL went to Zumba.  

As a very brief summary of the event follows, along with what I learned about Zumba as vehicle for my personal fitness.  I have nothing against Zumba itself, there were a lot of folks that were having a lot of fun dancing around to the routines.  That said, the music definitely wasn't in my range of acceptable.  It was alright, but it wasn't anything I was going to go make a mix tape of or anything.  There was a definitely salsa-esq rhythmic beat to it, though, which I would assume makes following the routine easier if you can keep up with the routine in the first place.

Most of the routines looked so simple when I saw that little skinny thing doing them up on the stage.  Amazingly, though, during the course of the last 10 weeks on this journey God has not mystically replaced the feet I was born with with those of Fred Astaire (or even Jerry the Mouse!).  Also, after attempting to go through the routines, I realized I am not a rear-engine body type, and certain things cannot move in that fashion!  Lastly, I realized I was sorely needing different workout clothes to the ones that I came in.  I say this because I felt very "uncontained" at times jumping around.  This is just not a feeling that anyone really wants to have.

All said and done, I had an okay time, although I was more than slightly self conscious in the class.  Not having "the moves", or even really understanding the routines, puts me into an uncomfortable state of feeling like a dork while waving my arms around being an idiot.  I did take several positives away from the experience.  

First is that I tried something outside of my "norm".  In general I'm a "bike 3-5 times a week" type of person.  Heck, I can easily get into ruts where I eat the same thing and even start wearing similar clothes throughout the week because it's comfortable.  Changing my workout routine I know will help stave off  the evil "p" word, which I'm already starting to battle.  Second, which is a lot like the first, I learned more about what vehicles I want to take in my fitness journey.  While I don't think a steady dose of Zumba is really the thing for me to move myself towards God's image of me, it's definitely something different and something the whole family can do together.  Third, it's a strong reminder that I cannot just do something new and expect to be good at it.  I know this already, but getting a healthy dose of reality is always a little bitter to take.  Lastly it has made me think more about what I need to be doing during my "rest days" on the bike.  I need to figure out how to get the other things I want and need to do into the program, so I do not neglect anything.  I have the 5k coming up in a few weeks, I need to do more strength training, and I want to spend more time in the pool.  All of that won't fit into my current cycling schedule at the same time, but I'm thinking maybe I can rotate through them in such a way as to make it all work.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

RBL Boot Camp #2 - It was so brought.

This morning was the second of the Rob's Big Losers BootCamps.  This time we were at the Adam's Mill YMCA center, and this time it was outside.  I felt like I was in 5th grade again, having a field day (in every sense of the word!)

We started out doing some warm up exercises, and they were okay.  Then we moved into a "field games" exercise.  During this we had several stations set up, and for the first round we did each station for 2:30.  The stations were as follows:

  • 4-corners station:  In this station was set up in a square, where we started at the first cone.  
    • run from first to second cone
    • side step to the third cone
    • back peddle to the last cone.  
  • Kettle Bell station:  At this station we worked in pairs.  The first person would run up to the kettle bell (about 15 yards away) and do hip thrusts, then run back and tag the second person.  
  • Medicine Ball Station:  We did side extensions, swinging the medicine ball from bottom one side to top the other 4 times, switching, then tossing the ball to our partner.  
  • Ladder Drill:  We ran through the ladder doing different drills along the way, the drills were
    • Straight through
    • Double step
    • Straight through
    • Side Step
    • Straight through
    • in and outs
  • Punching Station:  At this station we did punching drills, including hitting some punching targets from time to time.  The last minute we did uppercuts the whole time.

After we completed all the stations, we repeated them but this time for only 1:30 at each station.  A couple of the stations were modified for the second time around.  The 4-corners station had high steps and then 5 jumping jacks when you reached the second cone, and sprinting from the third to fourth cone instead of back peddle.  The medicine ball station was squat tosses the second time around.

At the end of the stations, we lined up in two teams, shoulder to shoulder.  From there we handed a medicine ball down the line, and the person at the end of the line had to run the medicine ball to the other end and start the ball going again.  Once the person that started the ball had run to the beginning of the line, the whole line had to move to the other end of the field (maybe 30 yards) and do the drill again.  We had a friendly competition between the teams as we went (but my team won!)

The last event was a water race.  We had buckets set up maybe 20 yards apart, one empty and one full.  We were then given an 8oz plastic cup and lined up, again in the two teams.  We had to go one at a time to the full bucket, fill the cup, and run back to fill the empty bucket.  The first team to fill the bucket "won".  It was a really close race until team 1 accidentally knocked their "fill" bucket over!  Our team had planned to help them after we filled ours, but once we had filled the bucket Rob ran over with team 1's "full" bucket and helped them out.  Notice that my team won again ;)

After we were done with the games we did a round of cool down and stretches, then gathered for prayer and had some fellowship time.  Lisa had said we should all gang up on Rob, so he started to run away.  I decided to give chase and eventually "tagged" him!  If anyone should happen to have a photo of that, I'd love to get a copy.  After the stressful week that I had with all sorts of personal hurdles that I managed to jump knock over, this was just like being a kid again.  It was 1000% what I needed to refuel me.

I can say for absolute certainty that everyone that showed up today was 100% a winner.  We had a fantastic time with a bunch of courageous folks that have started a fantastic journey together.  I cannot imagine a better way to spend the first gorgeous spring weekend than outside, being active, with great friends.  The 5k is just weeks away at this point, and I look forward to seeing everyone again, and it not being "the last time".   I wonder if Rob has "reunion" workouts for all the RBL Alumni that everyone could get together and have fun?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Making me "FIT"

When I originally thought about this title, it was with the thought of talking about the "fit" on my bike, including my clothes.  What I realized as I started writing, though, is that my "fit" has much to do with my "FIT"ness, and the obvious double entendre was plain as day.   Which brought my thoughts down a completely different path.  So far this week, I've managed to get out on three rides:  Sunday I rode by myself, Tuesday was another warm up for the SCTAC season, and Wednesday was a recovery/fit ride.   I say "fit ride" in the sense that I had to adjust my saddle height yet again, since on Tuesday night my knee was extremely sore about halfway through the route.  This time, however, it wasn't in the spot where I know I have some patellar tendinitis, but rather higher up on the knee, near where the knee meets the quad.

Thus last night I went out and brought the saddle up again, this time an additional 1/4 of an inch or so (maybe closer to a 1/2 inch total).  I still have a few measurements and adjustments to do (as well as a few rides) to make sure I have the height set correctly, but with no noticeable pain after a 20 mile ride up the Swamp Rabbit trail, I think I'm pretty close.  That said, I have a new issue:  Neck/Shoulder pain.  It's not really that new, but after the trip last night my shoulders HURT.  I typically call that my back, but back implies the lower back.  This is up near the shoulder blades.  Before this pain was closer to my neck, and just getting some good stretches helped out immensely.  Now, I'm pretty sure this is saddle distance from the bars, especially when I'm in the drops.  I say this because I had already known I was "shrugging" a lot on the hoods before, and now that the angle is sharper (with the seat higher), I'm figuring I need to adjust it.  

This all ties into the second "FIT" of this post:  My overall fitness.  When I first got this bike 6 months ago, I could ride with no noticeable pain at all.  I rode for over 1,000 miles, and the worst I did was started to aggrevate a knee that had a prior injury.  After doing a little more reading, that tendinitis is something I should expect, as there is scar tissue from the Osgood Schlatters on the entry of that tendon to my shin.  Then again, that was at least 30 lbs and 1,000 miles ago.  I wear pants 2 sizes down from before.  My jersey (which was a club fit XXXL should really be a size L.  I started with 3XL pants, I'm now wearing XL bibs.  

When I have thought about weight loss, or "FIT"ness, I have always just assumed I'd be smaller, but in specific ways.  I'm realizing that the new me "FITs" into a whole host of things differently.  The journey has just started, but moments like this are definitely the roses to enjoy along the way.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dealing with Self Image

One of the most difficult things I've dealt with recently hasn't been a trip up the Watershed, or my knee bothering me, or even being hungry all the time:  it's been my self image.  For the majority of my life, and all of my adult life, I've been a large individual.  Even at my "game weight" when I was a kid playing baseball, I was considered large.  Even when I could run the bases faster than almost anyone else on the field, when I could make the plays and put my heart into it, I was "large".  Thus is my body type, and some of my self image issue. I've always seen myself as large, so how can I deal with the idea that I could be skinny.

Fast forward to last Thursday.  I took a ride to the top of the Greenville County Watershed, on a road that leads from Tigerville, SC to Saluda, NC.  We only went as far as the state line before we turned around, but it was a fantastic trip.  At the top my friend John took a few pictures of my "triumph".   One of the shots he took really make me take a step back and re-evaluate what my self image should be.

I've posted the other pictures in various places, but this one really speaks volumes to me.  In this picture I'm not "bulky", and you can tell that the jersey I'm wearing is a few sizes too big.  To me it shows the level of commitment and effort that I have put into this Journey over the course of 1,000+ miles and countless hours on the bike.  I don't look "fat" or "large", but I look like a work in progress that is starting to take shape.  I know that I still have 20+ lbs on my belly that need work.  I know that I'm not "in shape" yet.  I know that I have muscle and endurance to build.

But I also know now that I'm not always going to be "large".  I can be "Brian".

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Inside My Numbers: Februrary

When I watch ESPN, they have a segment called "Inside the Numbers", which talks about the numbers associated with a stat/sport.  In reverence for how amazing some of these numbers are, I titled this post accordingly.  I took a look at my numbers from February, and there are some interesting factoids in there that I want to go over, and the format from the ESPN segment seems the most appropriate.  Most of these stats are based on my information on SparkPeople, as this is currently where I keep the majority of my data.  I keep wanting to switch over to TrainingPeaks, but the momentum is a bit overwhelming for me right now.  I have 3 months of data in SparkPeople, and the tracking is easier there.  I really don't like having to enter things in more than one place at a time, which is also a drawback.   That said, the numbers:

1580:  The number of Fitness minutes that I logged during the month of February.
201: Distance traveled, in miles, during the month.  This is both walking and cycling
669:  Daily average calorie burn over the month
45762:  The total calorie differential (estimated).  This is BMR + Exercise - Eaten for the entire month
13:  The amount of weight lost between 2/3 and 3/2

These numbers show just the level of effort that I was blessed enough to put out in February, and just how much work it takes to drop the weight.  What I've realized is that these numbers are not realistic to maintain for an extended period of time, and honestly I don't want to.  At some point I have to gain more muscle mass than fat loss to get to my goals.  And building weight costs calories, and not calories that can be created by stored fat.  But seeing the numbers in front of me gives me a level of effort, and a level of accomplishment for completing it.  I'm still 20-30 lbs from my original "goal weight", and I'm still not convinced it's realistic, but it also means I'm to the half way point of the "weight loss" part of my journey, mentally.

But like any great journey, the destination is never the goal.  The goal is the journey itself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

(A Few of My) Favorite Things

Last Sunday marked the start of Daylight Saving Time here in SC (and in most places in the United States, for that matter).  Now in general I'm not a fan of DST, I end up feeling sluggish for a couple of weeks while I adjust to the new time schedule.  What I do like about it is that it marks the unofficial start of Cycling Season here in Greenville.  The daylight is long enough that you can get out and have a great time riding.  Officially the SCTAC season starts on April 3, but that didn't stop ... well, anyone it seemed, from showing up at the old Donaldson Center and getting in some time on the bike on a beautiful Tuesday evening.

John, Paul and myself got out a little before 5:30, giving us just over 2 hours of daylight to complete the country loop.  For me it was a chance to see what my real fitness was, and how I'd handle the course prior to the start of the SCTAC rides, so I knew which group to try to go out with.  The course is also just under 32 miles, so that meant that with stops we had to pace at 16mph to complete the course in daylight.  The pace was absolutely no slouch, and for the most part I was able to keep up.  I'm still struggling on the climbs some, which honestly I'm not surprised with right now.  I have gained a lot of leg strength, but I have a bit to go before I'm going to be strong on climbs.  With all of that said and done, we completed the loop in under 2 hours, and my moving speed was at over 17mph!  I'm not sure I want to go out the gun in the "C" group, but knowing I can keep that pace and potentially keep with the group is inspiring.

Now, what exactly of that are "a few of my favorite things", you may ask?  A beautiful spring day, good friends, a spectacular countryside to ride in, and the fitness to be able to enjoy it.  I praise God for these gifts, as they are wonderfully made, and make my heart sing.  Sitting here today I look forward to the heat of summer being able to ride that loop.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spinathon Day 1

Today was day 1 of the GHS YMCA Spin-a-Thon.  This is an event that is supporting their Open Doors Campaign, to help folks that cannot afford to participate in the Y's programs.  Considering the gift that I have been given, I feel very strongly for this campaign and helping others to have an opportunity to have access to resources and equipment to make a fitness journey that could change their lives.

Today started out at 5:15, getting on a spin cycle.  Except for a 30 minute break I took to have some breakfast around 7:15, I was on the bike for the entire time.  Instead of giving a play by play, I wanted to documented my feelings for the event.  I had an incredible time, and even though I sit here tired and sore, I'd sign up to do it exactly this way again.  The only thing I regret is that I was unable to raise as much money for the cause as I had wished to.  Riding for over 5 hours was very rough for me, and the last hour was very rough.  I was thrilled to see my fellow Rob's Big Losers on the bikes, too!  Over the course of the past 6 months I've come to love cycling as a way to get fit and have fun at the same time.  Things that get folks onto a bike and enjoy themselves, including spin class, to me is absolutely priceless.  Tomorrow is Day 2, and I hope to see the rest of my team mates out there on the bikes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Going Bananas!

Originally I was going to title this entry "I Hunger", in reference to the classic Williams arcade game "Sinistar".  That said, I worried there would be too many click throughs that I didn't really want to end up here.  My geek and gamer side does show through sometimes while dealing with this journey, though.

This week seems to be dealing with Hunger more than anything else.  For the first 5 to 6 weeks of this Journey, my body seemed to be handling the changes well.  I was getting in good exercise, I was feeling great, and I was blessed with being kept from temptation and hunger.  Then about a week ago, things started to change.  Now I don't have many cravings, but when I go by the pastry counter at Panera I definitely go "hrm. that looks really good" more.  In fact, I had a great conversation this week with Rob and Kristen about hunger along with the how much my family has been a major supporter (and participant) on this journey.

Listen to my conversation with Rob and Kristen!

That seems to have sparked several other conversations about eating, exercising and overall hunger this week.  One of my friends and co-workers, who also happens to be a coach at Greenville Cycling Center offered up some advice as well
Make sure you're getting calories on your longer rides. Not a lot and not from sports drinks. Maybe 300 calories for a 2 hour ride. You shouldn't end a ride hungry. The other days, rat some real food within 30 minutes. Something with protein and carbs. Even a glass of chicolate milk.
 I even posted up a question to the Voler.com about all the nutrition items out there in the "snack" isle at the local bicycle shops, and had a great response from Peg over at MountainPedals.net.

Check out the article on Voler.com!

That said, I'm working on eating more often, and having a larger variety of foods during the day.  I've even been adding Bananas to the mix, and for those that know me at all, for me to say I had a banana in something else is weird, let alone by itself!   The workouts are going well, and I want to fuel my body to continue to burn through my fat stores so I can reach my goals, not just for this first 12 week journey, but every journey I have planned in the future.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Means Paris Mountain

Mondays have come to mean training on Paris Mountain for me.  After the great ride yesterday, I was curious to see how my legs would handle the Monday ride.  Last week they were a bit tired, but were strong enough to do well through the course.

The big difference I see this week is the change in heart rate.  I'm not sure if this has to do with my legs not having to work as hard because of the brace, or if there is just a plain placebo effect in place because of the brace.  What I am seeing is definite data differences between using and not using the brace.   There isn't a lot to say on this ride, outside of being a lot stronger than last week.  I'm still seeing improvement on the main assault up Paris Mountain.  It may only be 6 second improvements, but those 6 seconds are showing a lot of strength as I go.  The only thing of note from the ride is that it looks like I'm able to recover in the saddle a lot more than I was 6 weeks ago.  It's hard to believe that 6 weeks ago I was barely able to muscle my way up the mountain, and now it's a weekly trek.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Consider it Brought

This has been a fantastic weekend for me overall.  Despite some minor setbacks at the house, I managed to get in 2 spectacular workouts.  After Thursday I did some research, and picked up a patella tendon brace to see if it would help out my knee while I'm working out until I see the Orthopedist on the 13th.  I cannot believe how much that little strap at the base of my knee helped!  I went to cycling class on Saturday and just had power throughout the whole hour, ended up soaked with sweat and feeling great.

Today was the standard Brookwood ride.  It was windy, but I had a lot of high hopes for a really strong ride.

I did say it was windy, right?  I don't mean "oh, there was a breeze out", I mean winds at 20mph+ !  It was enough to push the bike around, and make going into the wind rather painful.  That said we headed out in a rather large group (there were a dirty dozen of us) and faced the wind.  Right off the bat I knew this was going to be a better ride than normal, as the I had so much more power on the first hill.  Rob Dempsey was with us today as well, and he's such a strong rider that he definitely makes the ride more challenging.  I did manage to keep up with the pack a fair amount, and the few times where I was off the back I managed to catch up reasonably well.  I was happy that I'm learning how to recover while moving, so I can keep with the group a lot easier than before.  I didn't finish as strong as some weeks, but considering the winds we were dealing with it was a really great ride!

Tomorrow's challenge will be another trip to Paris Mountain!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bla days are Bla

Wednesdays are about the most difficult day for me in the routine.  It's not because of a challenging workout, it's because it's the one day in my routine where I change my routine on purpose to get up earlier and try to do more.  The other times that I've attempted to use get in shape, I've had to make major adjustments to my schedule to make it happen: get up an hour early, squeeze it in between this and that, etc.  This time around, everything else is having to fit around my workout schedules, and I'm trying to be really flexible with when I do things, making sure I get something done.

That said, Wednesdays are my 5:30am cycle class.  This means, for me, getting up almost 2 hours earlier than I typically do, getting something quick to eat, and shuffling off to the gym.  I love the intense workout, and in general it sets me in a good mood for the rest of the day, even if I'm tired from it.  Yesterday started out the same as the past 3 Wednesdays, with a great workout.  I then added the 15 minute ab workout that Lori does right after cycle class, to try to work on one of my "trouble spots".  Then again, aren't abs everyone's "trouble spots"?  I got home and showered and changed, and got ready for work.

My wife and I had gotten flyers in the mail to try Starbucks "Perfect Oatmeal", and we had figured since we usually have Breakfast together after my workouts on Wednesdays that it would be a good time to try it out.  We met up at the Starbucks, and I had intended to head directly to work from there.  It took a bit longer to get our breakfasts, and they were good, but it takes time to eat.  At this point I was running later than I wanted to be to get to work, and beyond that I realized that I had forgotten to take my medicine that morning as well as bring my mid-day suppliments (I can't take calcium with my Thyroid medicine, it can impact it's uptake).  I had also forgotten my fruit snacks for morning and afternoon that I have at the office to help balance out my diet.  So instead of going directly to work and being just a little late, I had to quickly drive home and get all the stuff I had forgotten, and I was a LOT late to work.

Fast forward through the day, the effect was that my diet ended up being slightly off (I didn't have either snack, ate a little heavy at lunch -- although it was healthy) and in general didn't have a high energy level.  The weather I know didn't help (it was mist-level drizzly all day long, kinda dreary), but I think it was my own mental attitude that made it as bad as it was.  I did survive it without blowing up my diet or my exercise routines, and I look forward to a great Thursday with my RBL team, some time in the pool, and a great outside run in the fantastic weather we're having.