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Acquaintances Left Behind

As we near the end of the year, a bit of a review of acquaintances left behind.

Warning – disturbing images below the cut.

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Comparison Shopping

I was in the store buying some suits for work the other week (once again, I’d prefer not to, but I really need some clothes at this point to tide me over).  I had already been in there the week before seeing if it was worthwhile to try and get some of them recut (it wasn’t) and ran into the same guy who helped me then.  He remembered me and my big clown suits so I explained to the him I was not looking for anything pricey as I was still hoping to lose a reasonable amount of weight.

He asked me how much more and I said 20-30 lbs more (lying actually since I know BMI says at least 40 more).  His response – ‘Really?  You look like you are in pretty good shape now.’  It left me a little stunned, since technically, I’m still just over the line into obese.  I mean, I would say I carry the weight well (as in I always looked pretty fat, but just not quite as fat as I was), and I am big boned (it’s why I have trouble picturing myself in pants any less than 34-36″), but that’s like covering maybe 5-10 pounds of the 40.

This guy wasn’t heavy himself either – he was a middle aged foreign born (significant accent) man who looked like he had been pretty fit younger, and maybe had lost a little of his edge to age, but not a lot.  So it wasn’t as if he was comparing me to himself or that he was just used to big people from living here all his life (that said, accent is no indicator of exactly how long he’s been here either).

But then I looked around the store, and sure enough, I had to be one of the skinniest customers in there.  The sales team was mostly on the light side but there were two other men and two women in there.  One guy was a little younger than me, a little shorter and definitely a bit heavier (and not afraid of tight pants either I can tell you), with his more or less equivalent girlfriend/wife.  The other man was a lot older, and probably had been thinner when younger, but definitely had sprouted a very large pot belly now.  The last woman I give a pass to since she was wasn’t in great shape, but she was pushing a stroller with a pretty youngish baby in there, and honestly she was in the best shape of the five of us considering.

When I’d been in there a few days earlier, I don’t recollect it quite as clearly, but I can recall a couple of pudgy guys in there getting fitted for tux’s.  So maybe working there had distorted his sense of who’s in good shape and who’s not.

(As a side note, he put me in a suit with 38″ waist pants – they needed to be loosened in alterations, probably to 40″ but still, woohoo again!)

Meanwhile, in the same strip mall, Casual Male XL, Big & Tall (a former store of mine) recently renovated to take over an additional store slot to get even bigger (and to get a new name – Destination XL!).  So I guess we know what stores are still doing well in an economic slump.

I think there was a larger point here about society enabling obesity by warping our sense of what’s normal, but I think I lost it thinking about my new pants.

Fitness Program 2.0

So, as commented, the fitness plan has been revised due to the marathon training. A primary goal of the program is to avoid injury, since I have little room for error. The pure strength training program has been put on hold for the most part, as have miscellaneous challenges and sub-goals.  For now, the week looks like:

Sunday Run + Cross-Train Cardio
Monday Cross-Train Cardio + Weights
Tuesday Off
Wednesday Run + Cross-Train Cardio
Thursday Off
Friday Run + Weights
Saturday Off

Initially, I am starting with with Couch-2-5K. All of the marathon training programs I have perused start you around 3 miles a run, and since 5k is 3 1/8 miles it segues pretty nicely. I currently am doing that Sun/Wed/Fri. I do need to start getting some outdoor time in as treadmill is no substitute for ground. (Which requires I read up on how not to freeze in winter weather and get sick – another thing I’d like to avoid).

Additionally, in this phase, I am currently doing cross-training cardio work on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays, primarily because the running is stretching the muscles, but not so much the cardio or calories. The Arc Trainer is out for now. What I have read is cross-training should be on exercises that don’t stress the muscles the same way, specifically excluding stairmasters (ellipticals are less clearly noted either way). They tend to recommend biking and swimming, things I will look into in later on. So for now, mostly elliptical, but I am also experimenting with the stationary bike.

In either case, the post-run sessions on Sun and Wed are less intense than previously, in resistance level and sometimes on time period. I am primarily basing both on how I feel coming off the treadmill and making sure the session will not prevent the next running session. So previously I would do 30 minutes of hills at level 12 (1/2 max) on the elliptical, now I will cut it back to level 10 and maybe only 20 or 25 minutes depending on how the legs feel.

On Mondays and Fridays, I add weight sessions instead of a 2nd cardio session. I am starting with pull-up/chin-ups on a strength basis, as I was so close (20 lbs) to not needing assistance. Having put so many other goals on hold for the marathon, I refuse to give this one up.

After that I do 30-40 minutes of light weights. The goal is to hit the whole body especially areas less well-trained by the running but important for running performance (shoulders/core) or injury (knees/quads). Doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps with 30 second rests at weights that do not induce failure. I do as many machines as 30 – 40 minutes and gym crowd allows, alternating body parts as much as possible.  Many runners avoid weights at all costs so there was limited information out there.  The most comprehensive online write up I found was here.

When the running starts to feel sufficiently challenging cardio/calorie wise, I will likely drop any extra cardio unless directed by the program I pick and add more weight sessions.

Future changes:

1) I have skimmed the Verstegen Core Performance Endurance book which is also about strength training for distance runners/cyclers.  His regime is designed to be gym-free and mostly uses your body or limited gym-in-a-bag style gear.  I am definitely looking to include some of his pre-run elastic stretches in, but since I am at the gym right now, less prone to using his exact regime.  Perhaps I will gin up the weight machine equivalents.  When I am doing more outdoor running, I may also incorporate it more directly.

2) I have 3 beginner marathon programs to choose from – Galloway, Higdon, and University of Northern Iowa.  The C25k guys also have some marathon training programs.  Higdon/NI are 18 week programs, Galloway a 30 week program, similar but different.  I’ll need to decide in January which one to do after Couch 2 5K and how I will bridge from 5k to their starts (i.e. what will I do for about 20 weeks if I do Higdon after finishing 5k).

Pleasant Surprises

Not two days after posting about rewards and motivations, I wound up doing a little clothes shopping that turned into a reward.

When I started a while ago (2 years ago), I was generally wearing size 50 easy fit/extender pants (and apparently I had slipped a few 52’s into my closet without registering it since I just found them and got rid of them).  XXL/XXXL was a shirt size, not a Super Bowl.  With the recent weight loss, I had dug out some old clothes, in the 44/46 range, but even the 46’s were falling off, and the 50’s were starting to look a little clown suit-ish (especially the actual suits).   I’ve been trying to avoid buying new clothes while I keep losing, but we got to the point where I just needed a few things to help me get through.

So we went to an outlet mall nearby on the veteran’s day weekend where they were having some sales.  I was initially hoping to pick up a pair or two of dress slacks and maybe a casual shirt.  I figured based on the 44s fitting ok (they were loose, but not involuntarily falling down without a belt), I’d be looking at some 44’s or maybe some 42’s.

So imagine, my shock when I was fitting into 40’s (easy-fit I grant, but still)!  Even better, I tried on a shirt and found the regular XL was too tent-like.  Yep, a regular large was all I needed.  It’s not as loose as I personally prefer, but it fits properly and will only be a few pounds to my preferred fit.  Since 40’s will last me a lot longer than 44’s, I actually wound up buying a couple of shirts and some jeans as well.

It was unexpected and very satisfying.