Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Friend or Foe – 2nd Amendment Collaboration

April 3, 2013

If Walking and and 2nd Amendment had a baby, it might just be Friend or Foe, a site that makes great use of Google Maps to let users post how carry-friendly businesses are.  As a web developer by day, I’ve thought of building something similar many  times, but never got around to actually doing it. Being the good sport that I am, I’m happy to support somebody who did…begrudgingly 🙂

When I found the site, I had fun marking all the places I’d been lately.  I mark most places as neutral if they don’t have any anti-carry signage, and therefore allow carry by default.  But I have the most fun marking places that I know are pro-gun; Bass Pro, Cabelas, even Wal-Mart because they’ve remained carry-friendly in spite of public and government pressures.  I also enjoy posting no-carry places, so others hopefully see them and avoid them.

What does this have to do with walking?

After marking all the places I knew from recent memory, I wanted to do more. Kansas City is littered with business parks, strip malls, and the like. I realized it would be great exercise to walk these places and verify their carry status. Driving doesn’t work – you can look for the official signage, but you won’t catch the many non-compliant custom signs or messages.

Walking past a couple dozen doors takes half an hour or so. It’s good exercise, it supports the 2nd amendment cause, and it removes my biggest obstacle to walking – boredom.  I hate walking the same route every day, or walking in circles with no purpose. This way I’m occupied writing down business names for a good cause, and never in the same place twice.

I hope you visit Friend or Foe, and look for me on the Top Contributors list – I’ve been hitting the pavement!

Slow Juice Fast: Day 7

March 27, 2013

Yesterday I got “back on the wagon”.  Not that I’d really fallen that far off, but I did stick to my juice the entire day, and even got a 20 minute elliptical workout in.  The results didn’t show up on the scale – my weight remained unchanged – but I have to remember that losing 12 pounds in seven days is pretty good by any standard.

I’m still planning to juice, and “earn” reasonably-portioned solid meals with exercise. So, by the numbers:

  • 7 days of vegetable juice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • 2 solid meals at dinner time.
  • 2 evening snacks, both on nights I ate food with dinner.
  • 12 pounds lost, from 315.2 to 303.2 pounds.

I’m not bothered by hunger much, or low energy at all.  Just the desire to eat. Just the habit. It’s been an interesting journey. I won’t be reporting on my progress daily anymore, but I will post updates regularly.  My short term goal is to get to 280 as quickly as possible so I can start running outdoors again.  I never used to like running – until I spent hours on an elliptical, staring at my basement wall 🙂

Slow Juice Fast: Days 5 and 6

March 26, 2013

The last couple of days have had a common theme: eating some solid food for dinner. In the strictest sense, I cracked 🙂 But overall, it hasn’t been too bad.  I was worried that if I ate anything, I’d start eating everything, but I didn’t. Both nights, I still had my juice first.

The first night, my wife stacked the deck against me. She was tired and still getting over her own cold, and ordered pizza.  I had two slices with dinner. I had a third slice later that night, because mentally I’d “broken the seal”.

The second night, I had a “handful” of scrambled eggs – yay protein – and half a bagel with so little cream cheese I chuckled at why I added it at all.  That was good, but later that night we watched a family movie, and I had a little more popcorn than I should have.

I was also interested to see if my weight loss would just evaporate once I took a bite of solid food, but that didn’t happen either.  I still lost half a pound the first day, and stayed the same the second. For the next day, I plan to completely fast again.  I’d like to jumpstart the loss again.  Here’s to getting back on the wagon!

Slow Juice Fast: Day 4

March 24, 2013

Day 4 is done!!! I was at my sickest last night. A lot of sinus congestion/pressure, and I was cold. No, I didn’t have a fever. Mrs. Survivalist already checked!

I debated yesterday morning whether to keep doing the juice fast or not. I decided to make the juice AND drink it, then make my decision. Diet decisions shouldn’t be made on an empty stomach. I decided to take it one meal at a time this way – consuming my juice, then deciding if I needed something more. I stayed with it all day.

I have to say, I feel really good after a juice. I’m not hungry, and I have energy. I don’t think my cold would have been any better off if I’d gone back to solid food. After a long night’s sleep, I feel better. Still sick, but better. So as long as I continue to recover, I don’t see a reason to abandon the fast. I think the worst is over.

My cravings have started to go away. I’ve been doing something I call the “cheeseburger test”. It started out by accident. I’d catch myself daydreaming about eating a double cheeseburger from McD’s. In the first few days, I could taste it, and it was delicious. Now, when I *try* to daydream about it, it doesn’t seem as appetizing. The same is true for most of my other trigger foods.

I never fully appreciated what it meant to be an alcoholic until I was overweight. I didn’t understand why they preach total abstinence over moderation. Now I get it. When you have an addiction, you’re at your weakest right after getting “just a taste”. It’s no different for me. One slice of pizza turns into several. Sometimes, as a last resort, you have to put some things completely off limits. It’s been a great exercise doing that with food for the last few days.

Slow Juice Fast: Day 3

March 23, 2013

I’ve been fighting off allergies or something this last week. Maybe not the best time to start a juice fast. Other than the congestion, I feel good. Again, I haven’t felt super hungry or deprived, my energy has been good, and I’m even down about eight pounds. Granted, I know some/most of that is water weight, but still.

So my question is, should I continue the juice fast when I’m not feeling well? I’m not sure if this compromises my immune system at all. Heck, it may even help since I’m getting a lot more vitamins and other micronutrients (and sleep, for that matter) than I usually do. And this started *before* the juice fast, but wasn’t that bad. Overnight though, I got really stuffed up.

It’s 10:45am, and I still haven’t eaten anything. I slept in kind of late, and now I’m trying to decide what to do. Honestly, I’m just now starting to get hungry, and before that even an egg mcmuffin (a personal weakness of mine) didn’t sound appealing.

I’m going to make my juice for the day, and make my decision from there. I don’t want the temptation of some quick cereal or fast food to sway my choice. Once I have the juice, I can make a fair assessment about whether to drink it. I know it sounds backwards, but the temptation for fast food has been big the last few days.

Funny too, I hand’t realized until now that my cravings haven’t really been for home-cooked, well-balanced meals. They’ve been for junkier foods – fast foods, mac & cheese, a Red Robin burger, high-calorie mexican, etc. And not all mexican food is bad for you (especially in moderation), but the stuff I’ve been craving is. There’s a place near my office that makes these enchiladas – they’re filled with meat and cheese, then covered in more cheese. I’m pretty sure the tortillas are only there to structurally support more cheese.

So this tells me I’m on the right track – I’ve been missing the *bad* foods, and with good reason. I’ve been addicted to them for a long time.

Slow Juice Fast: Day 2

March 22, 2013

Work is busy today, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Juicing went well yesterday, except an insane craving for meat! I thought about the gourmet mexican restaurant I sometimes visit for lunch with coworkers. But I also thought about McDonald’s double cheeseburgers. Clearly, quality wasn’t an issue 🙂

I have to say, I’m not starving on this diet at all. I feel great, and no more hungry than when I watch what I eat any other way. I’m not missing nutrition, because I’m getting plenty and I’ve stored up plenty over the last several years. What I’m missing is the physical act of eating and tasting. It’s amazing, though – how long does the joy of a cheeseburger last? A few minutes? The consequences, however, have been sticking around my waistline for quite a while, and it’s time for them to go.

My real concern now is AFTER the fast. It’s actually easy to temporarily ban solid food because the rules are easy. Going back to the real world is a little tougher, when you have to decide if something is okay to eat, and how much. I don’t have to worry about eating too many chips when I don’t start eating them in the first place.

I thought about ending my fast next friday at lunch (assuming I don’t crack before then). There’s a pub here in Kansas City’s Plaza area that serves unlimited fish and chips on fridays during Lent. That sounds awesome. It also sounds like a drunk celebrating a week of sobriety with a bottle of Jack Daniels!

After talking it over with coworkers, I think I’ll compromise. I’ll celebrate next friday with fish and chips, but in moderation. It’ll be a good test. More like a drunk celebrating a week of sobriety with a single jack and coke 😉

Slow Juice Fast: Day 1

March 21, 2013

I’ve completed my first day of drinking only juice that I make at home using fresh vegetables and fruits. The emphasis is heavily on green vegetables – kale, celery, cucumbers, etc. Apples and a smaller dose of lemons really help turn them from tasting completely like lawn clippings to something rather tasty.

The first half of the day, I was actually drinking “smoothies” made in our blender. There are lots of arguments that this is better for you than throwing out the pulp like you do with a juicer. And there are lots of arguments for using a juicer as well, but it boiled down to me owning a blender and not a juicer. And by “drinking”, I mean “chewing”, because there’s a lot of pulp!

So what happened the second half of the day? We got a juicer 🙂 I told Mrs. Survivalist that I know I tend to dive head-first into new hobbies and interests, but I would hold off on getting a juicer until I’d done the fast for a few days first. She replied that she’d been wanting a juicer for a while. I picked one up over lunch, and man alive – there’s a big difference.

Blender vs Juicer

I think ultimately if you’re going to turn eatables into drinkables, the blender is probably the better way to go because it’s closer to the way God intended. I’m a meat and potatoes guy, but I’m becoming a big fan of natural foods (including meat and potatoes). So the blender does some of the chewing for you, but largely leaves your vegetables intact. Blenders are also easier to clean, and it doesn’t take as many vegetables to make the same sized drink.

That being said, sometimes we have to embrace our inner Lazy Bastard, and it doesn’t get more convenient than a juicer. The extra cleanup pales in comparison to how fast it works. My wife and I took forever trying to blend kale, even with other juicer ingredients. The juicer handled it all smoothly and easily. And it was delicious! It was also much easier to consume. At times, I had to resort to using a spoon to consume my blended smoothies. Then poof, it becomes less like drinking juice and more like eating cold, unsalted vegetable soup.

The Results

I felt pretty good yesterday. A friend and I talked about buying cattle to raise on his acreage, so there were a couple hours of really wanting steak. I’m the kind of guy who REALLY misses his meat on Lenten Fridays. But aside from being hungry late afternoon, I felt pretty good all day. No headaches, my energy was great, and I’m down 3.3 pounds. Yes, I know about losing water weight etc, but it’s still a good start.

I ended the yesterday by juicing today’s entire diet. It’s not as good out of the fridge as it is right out of the juicer, but I don’t have the time to juice 3-4 separate times a day. As messy as the juicer is, it’s much more practical to juice in bulk.

So far, so good.

A Slow Juice Fast

March 20, 2013

Gallagher once said, “Why do they call it fasting when it goes so damned slow??” Amen to that. But my recent fitness efforts have stalled out, and I’m looking for answers.

I found inspiration in an ironic place: Netflix, the lazy man’s best friend. I stumbled across the documentary “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead“. I’m a programmer, and I was killing time waiting for some very slow scripts run, so I watched it in 10-15 minute chunks. It really spoke to me.

First off, let me say that I know a lot of people saw the film and interpreted it as a 90 minute infomercial for the juicer industry. I didn’t. I saw a guy who weighed about what I do when he started out (around 310 pounds), and documented his journey.

People also criticized it for following the Supersize Me format almost to the letter, but I ask you: who had the tougher job? The guy gaining 20 pounds eating fast food, or the guy losing 100 pounds eating raw fruits and vegetables? There’s only one of these challenges I want to imitate, and for that I can forgive any lack of originality.

That said, I’m taking up Joe’s challenge to go on a juice fast. This is not what I’ve traditionally considered “juice” – I always thought of store-bought, high-sugar fruit juices, but Joe’s secret to success was home-juicing lots of fresh vegetables, and a moderate amount of fruit. And eventually, he added whole, raw fruits and vegetables to his diet. The juice-only regimen was a temporary kickstart. That seams sensible.

I’m well known among friends and family for running hot or cold. I’ll fall in love with something (elliptical machine, walking, hiking, boating, camping, fishing, etc) and do it to death before abruptly abandoning it. My hobbies run in fast, furious streaks. So I can’t promise how long I’ll do this, or how faithful I’ll be to the diet. But I’m willing to do what Joe asked – I’m willing to TRY.

Tonight my wife helped me with the first batch, and we tried a sample. It was good! We’re using a blender for now, which I kind of like because it’s easier to clean and you get the benefit of digesting the pulp as well as the juice. But we might be getting a juicer this week if I stick to the diet for at least a day, heh.

My first batch (tomorrow’s juice) is Joe’s own Mean Green Juice, and it’s much tastier than I thought it would be. So here goes! My starting weight is 315, and hopefully at the end of the week I’ll start to see some progress.

130 Chances, Day #3: Mostly Positive

July 5, 2012

Yesterday was the 4th of July, and I kept myself out of trouble mostly by working the first part of the day.  I got up, and did my workout.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I’m in that first patch of soreness where your body isn’t used to the effort *and* your muscles are tight.  I also tried something new: I added video to the routine.  Only video.  Let me explain.

A couple years ago we bought a tablet PC, like an iPad but cheaper.  I’m a computer geek (personally and professionally) and I was enamored that it was roughly half the price, but had twice as powerful hardware.  Unfortunately, it also had terrible software, and so we haven’t used it for much of anything.

One of the original ideas was to watch videos while working out on the elliptical machine, but all the big video outlets – Netflix, Hulu, Youtube – see this tablet as a “mobile device” like a phone, even though it isn’t. It can only connect to the internet through our home network, just like all our other computers. But because it *looks* like a mobile device to the Internet, the major players block a lot of content.  At the time, neither Netflix nor Hulu even supported the device, and probably still don’t.

I decided to play a little legal leapfrog here, and downloaded the entire series of Futurama from a torrent site. If you’re not familiar, I basically downloaded without paying.  However, it’s a bit of a gray area because we *have* a Netflix account that would let me watch every episode of the show on my TV upstairs. But Netflix doesn’t work on my tablet, so I’m just watching stuff I’ve already paid for the right to watch.

I’ve seen most of these episodes already, which is perfect.  I won’t be tempted to watch them at other times, but they will be interesting enough to help the time pass more quickly during workouts.  Futurama will be my workout-only treat.  Unfortunately, yesterday I got downstairs only to realize the video worked fine (like I said above), but there was no *audio* – no sound! I watched the pilot episode mostly lip-reading a cartoon (heh) and going from memory.  It still helped a little.  Later in the day, I fixed the sound issues, so tomorrow’s workout will be better.

The Food

I’m happy to say I stuck to almost all of my rules, and only fudged one.  I got my workout in, only ate during planned meals, and only drank water.  But I ate more at dinner than I should have, due to the table-wide 4th of July spread my wife put together. Lots of meat/cheese/crackers, chips and dip, etc.  Still, I think I usually did worse at my average dinners.  I also got to bed late, but not too bad.

Revised Rules

After living with the rules a couple days, I’m revising them:

  1. Work out for at least 20 minutes before anything else.
  2. High-protein or slimfast breakfast.
  3. Procure lunch before lunchtime.
  4. Stop eating dinner before you feel full.
  5. Eat no other meals.
  6. Drink nothing but water, reasonable morning coffee, and occasional alcoholic beverage.
  7. Avoid sweets, even at meals. They trigger a craving for more.
  8. Go to bed before midnight.

Based on these, I scored 6/8 for Day #3. I ate until I was full, and went to bed late.  Still a pretty good day.

Learning to Live with Hunger

September 1, 2009

Yesterday I took some time to really contemplate hunger.  As I’m trying to lose weight, I’ve realized that maybe the discomfort of slight hunger is akin to the slight discomfort from say, not having your house at the perfect temperature at all times.  People lived without air conditioning for all of history, save the last 50 years or so.  Now, we’re uncomfortable when the temperature is even a couple degrees from perfect.

I think maybe the same goes for hunger.  We live with such abundance here in America.  Even in those first shaky years of my marriage and family, when money was scarce and rent was almost always late, I was never hungry.  The idea of always eating until we’re full seems just as “given” as the idea of always controlling the temperature to within a couple degrees.

I’m starting to think this is wrong.  Defining the end of every meal as being the point of total satisfaction (and often more) is a recipe for disaster.  I see now how I got overweight.  I expected to feel “full” after every meal, and even the slightest hunger was a discomfort I was unwilling to live with.  I think if I can learn to live with even the smallest amount of hunger, I can eat much less.

My wife gives the kids as much as they want to eat.  That sounds good on the surface, but I’m starting to think it’s wrong, and will leave them as overweight as she and I have become.  Refills of sweet breakfast cereal until kids no longer desire more seems dangerous.  Perhaps just a single serving is in order.  And if the kids are really still hungry, something more nutritious(and less tasty) like toast is probably a better way to go.  If you’re really hungry, you’ll eat toast.  But it doesn’t take more than a sweet tooth to down another bowl of sugary cereal, even the varieties that are “healthier”.

This summer I did a great job of conditioning myself to live with the mild discomfort of temperature.  I didn’t use my mustang’s a/c at all, even when hopping on the interstate for 20 minutes or so meant keeping the windows rolled up.  Eventually, it didn’t even seem like discomfort at all, and I’m genuinely shocked at times when my wife needs air conditioning.  I did the same thing with physical effort, upping my daily tolerance.  Perhaps I can do the same thing with hunger.  Maybe if I’m always comfortable with a mild amount of hunger, and I accept this mentally, weight will become a non-issue.  And it’s not a bad survival skill!