Mission Impossible: Add one & Subtract one

2011 was good.  It was supposed to be my year of the product.  It didn’t work out like that. 2011 was more the year of the thinker for me.  2012 is awesome! 2012 is the year of the doer!

Start Singing.

1 What is your mission for January?

January double dog dare:  My mission should I accept it is to add something and subtract something for every month for the entire year 2012.

I just re-read some of older posts and entries regarding goals and New Year’s resolutions.

This one, “Do not tell me your goal, and you will succeed.” sticks out for me.

Let’s break it down in plain english.  You tell your friend you are going on a diet, and plan on losing weight.  You now feel satisfied, because you’ve done step one.  You’ve made your goal public like many experts state.  However, just because you have taken a step and made it public, you start to feel like you are already attaining your goal.  So, since you feel like you are already losing weight, you actually don’t work as hard to attain your fitness goal.

This is the reason I was intentionally vague with my January mission.  I wrote down my January challenge in a post dated in February 2012.  When that date comes, I’ll let you know if I completed my challenge. In the meantime, what is your mission should you accept it?  Break them down into smaller pieces.

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2011 in early review

2011 in review. I know the year has not ended, but I’m in the 2012 planning mode. I decided to start!

At the beginning of the year, I had goals. My goal was complete a Triathlon (done) and to lose weight (done) and keep it off (oops, I screwed up the last one).

This year, my weight graph looks like a smiley face. In any other context, I’d say a smiley face would be happy. In my 2011 weight chart, I began the year and ended the year at the same weight. In the middle of the year, I lost weight. I guess that’s better than average. The average person generally gains about 1 to 2 lbs a year. As of the end of August 2011, I was on track to lose 12 lbs of excess weight. I’ve gained it all back.

How? I stopped exercising. I started to eat candy like it was going out of style, and I’ve been working tons and vacationing a little. Add all that up, and its easy to see my weight creep back up. I’m still in decent shape, but I can feel my tummy expanding.

Traditionally, we start resolutions on New year’s Day, but Its not New Year’s yet, and I don’t care. I started today! Today, I did what I know must be done. Food In = Food Out!

I tracked the food that I ate and entered it into a journal. I then realized that I ate too much food for my body, and I willed my way to an hour of exercise today to balance my caloric intake. Its one day. Habits are formed with consistent action, but Habits must start one day at a time. Its time for you to start! (notice not only did I start exercising. I also posted a blog. There’s more things starting at once.)

Personal Best Triathlon. Still Room for improvement.

Dateline: Sunday, Aug 28, 2011.

Scott completed the Chicago International Distance Triathlon.

Pre-Race:

I had a great time with my family downtown.  We walked a bit more than I’d like.  We got down to the Hilton Hotel (the Chicago Tri sponsored hotel) right before lunch.  We checked in, and then walked to Macy’s for lunch.  I’m a big fan of the Seven on State quick serve restaurants especially Rick Bayless’s Frontera Fresco.  MMM… Tacos.  Probably not the best idea for a pre-race meal, but so worth it.  Then, we walked back to the Chicago Multisport Expo to pick up my race packet, get marked, and attend the course talk.  I skipped about 1/2 of the course talk due to off-timing of the my lunch and the schedule.  Luckily, the course didn’t change from last year, and I was able to revisit my notes from last year which calmed the pre-race jitters.  Speaking of pre-race jitters. They started a week before the race.  I could sense the tenseness, and I’m sure my family could sense my distracted mind.  I was focused on the race.  I had difficulty even meditating to calm myself down. After attending, the expo. we walked to Millenium Park, had a great dinner at Harry Caray’s, and then visited Chicago Summer Dance.

Pre-Race Goals:

My main Triathlon Goal is to break 3 hours and be above the average.  That hasn’t changed.  However, I took note of my last year’s time and incorporated my training times, and came up with these goals:

Realistic Goal:

Swim: 35 min (my 2010 swim time)
Tran 1: 7 min (my 2010 time)
Bike: 85 min (17.5 mph my 2010 bike avg)
Tran 2: 5 min (my 2010 time)
Run:   56 min (9 min miles. pace run during 2011 training pace)

Total: 188 min

Stretch Goal:

Obviously, this is above 3 hours.  So, I created a stretch goal to finish under 3 hours:

Swim: 32 min ( quick swim)
T1:  5 min
Bike: 83 min (18 mph)
T2: 3 min
Run: 55 min (8:40 min miles)

178 min

How did I do?

Pre-Swim:

In order to get a good spot for transition, I woke up at 3:40am to get out the door about 4:10am and make my way over to transition which opens at 4:15am.  Before transition set-up, I like to shower to wake-up.  I also want fresh ice for my water bottles, and I like to eat a pre-race breakfast of a banana and a cliff bar.  I always bring too much stuff with me, just in case, to transition.  My suggestion is only bring what you need.  I don’t need an extra set of running clothes.  Although, I don’t know if I will listen to this advice in the future.  I like to be prepared in the event of rain or just some odd occurrence.  It was a windy morning, and there was a rip-tide warning for the beach.  So, I was starting to get mentally prepared to be battered during the swim.

My wave for the race wasn’t until 9:06am.  So, instead of watching the sunrise and the first heats, I met my brother in the transition set-up and we walked back for a little pre-race Bagel.  Next year, if I have a late start again, I think peanut butter on a bagel will be an awesome breakfast choice.  I then went back to the room, and tried to sleep.  That didn’t happen, but I did walk through the race twice using visualization techniques to help prepare myself.  That was very helpful.

The 1.5 KM Swim:

It always takes me a while to get my wet-suit on.  So, I like to get to the swim-start about an hour before my race time.  This gives me some time to relax.  It gives me some time to put on my wet-suit which takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to do.  Then, I get some time for photos and then off to the chute.  Waiting in line is fun and exciting, but still stressful.  Both last year and this year, I experienced an unexpected swim-shock.  Its really difficult to see in Lake Michigan especially when its choppy and wavy.  I’d categorize myself as a strong swimmer.  Yet, when swimming with a big group of other guys all starting to swim, there’s no room.  I don’t position myself in the front.  I position myself in the middle.  Maybe I should change that next year.  By being in the middle, you have wait for the front of the line to start.  So, the first 100 yards or more, I swim freestyle with my head above water so I can see where I’m going.  Its similar swimming style when you try to swim freestyle without goggles.

Combine the crowded swim, with not being able to see, with a changed swimming style, and the adrenaline of a competitive race, and you get my heart rate racing super high and consequently my breathing was uncharacteristically hard.  In fact, my thoughts in the first 1/4 of the race, are Why the heck am I doing this to myself again?  What’s the benefit of doing this triathlon thing again?  So, I can scare myself and swim in a lake with a bunch of other people,  Why?

After I get to the buoy turn-around, I know that I’m 1/4 of the way done with the swim.  so, I usually settle down.  For some reason, I didn’t settle down as much.  It took me unbelievably long to get into a rhythm. I am normally a breath every 3rd stroke swimmer in the pool.  However, in the lake, I turn into a breath every other stroke.  In addition, I know my form was off.  I was not feeling the water.  It felt foreign. I know I was not stroking the way I can. I think more practice in the wet suit is required. As I’m going along, I’m thinking I have to get my stroke back, and I’d break into a little bit of a sprint, then I’d have to stop and do a little breast stroke to see where I’m going, then do the whole sequence over again.  One part, I’m glad I practice is cleaning my goggles while in the deep end of the pool.  My goggles were foggy about 1/3 of the way through with the swim.  Once, I cleared my goggles, I seemed to calm down and get my breathing under control.  Now, about half through the swim, you are back at the swim start.  That always energizes me, because I know I’m half-way done.   However, the next part of the swim is where the break wall opens up, and the waves were really pushing me around.  I was kicking much stronger than normal, and it seems every fourth breath, I’d get a wave in the face.  Happily, Lake Michigan, being a fresh water body, tastes much better than pool water.  For the next part of the race, I was playing bumper body / tag with a couple of other swimmers.  We were all at about the same pace, and one would go a little faster, and then I would pass him, and back and forth until finally, I concentrated on my form, and I pulled away from that pack.  However, I ran right smack into a slow group of swimmers which means I had to concentrate on sighting better to swim around all that group.  Once, I got to the final buoy, I was swimming towards the stairs, and I had a little difficulty getting out the lake.  Happily, the volunteers were great in helping us out of the water.

Part of the Chicago Triathlon Swim, is about a 450 yard jaunt back to transition.  I did my best to unzip my wetsuit while running.  I had to run around a few participants which was good.  I’m glad the cloth they had on the ground was in tact.  The cloth really helps running bare-feet on the concrete path.  One thing that was new this year, was I heard my wife call out to the kids.  “Oh, there he is.”  I quickly turned and tried my best to wave while running.  That put a smile on my face after the wavy choppy swim.

1.5 KM Swim Time:  37:23 minutes

I am a little disappointed in my swim-time.  I can swim faster than that.  I know I have a sub-30 minute swim in me.  I guess that gives me incentive to freak myself out again next year.

Transition 1:

I wanted to beat my transition time of last year (7 minutes).  I like to sit on the ground when I take of my wet-suit.  It just makes it easier for me.  So, as soon as I cross the timer, I find a spot in the grass, pull of my wetsuit.  Then, I ran to my bike.  put on my socks/shoes.  Throw on my shirt and shorts.  Grab my iphone and put it on my bike.  Set-up runkeeper on the iphone.  I totally forgot my glasses.  (Can I blame my bike time on lack of glasses?)  Luckily, I’m not blind.  I just have a little difficulty reading signs that are far-away which wasn’t a requirement while riding.  I also drink some water, and grabbed my bike nutrition.  I think I want to get a little bento box or something for my bike so I can reduce the time for that.  I also have to work on transition.  it still feels slow!  I did my best to run to bike out.  I was quicker than last year, but I feel I go get better.

Transition 1 Time:  06:12 minutes

The 40 KM Bike:

I forgot the first part of the bike course requires an ascent for the initial ramp onto Lake Shore Drive. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the initial burst of energy required to get up to speed.  Combine that with the Head-wind coming from the North, and that lack of initial burst set the pace for a mediocre bike ride.  Last year, I averaged 17.5 mph.  This year, I averaged:  16.8 mph.  Quite a bit slower.  The one saving grace, I feel is that I was rarely passed by anyone with non-road bicycle. In fact, I think only one non-road bike passed me.  The rider looked like he was 6’8″ tall.  I have a fitness bicycle, the Trek FX 7.3.  It has a similar riding position to a mountain bike or hybrid bike, but has tires and bicycle frame styling closer to a road bike.  So, on a windy day like Sunday, my riding position really is a detriment.  Knowing that, really set me back.  Mentally, due to wind, I  let myself relax in the first quarter of the race and did not push as much as I should have.  That was my second mistake.

Now, on the second quarter of the loop, the wind is a tail wind, and boy did that feel awesome!  I was riding at super speeds.  I was really hoping the tail wind would make up for my early bike ride mental lapses.  In fact, I was cruising and passing many of the road bikes which felt awesome.  Last year, I rarely passed anyone.  The other difference was last year, I was an early heat (7:38am swim-start).  So, I had fewer bicycles on the course.  This year, the bike course, felt really busy.  I think passing the slow riders artificially inflated my confidence in my speed.

Lessons Learned:  Weather is a challenge, but if I had stayed strong mentally, I think I could have averaged a faster time.  Be prepared for the initial ascent.  its an easy climb, but if I charge the climb up and really push the climb, that will set the pace for the entire ride.

I also need figure out how to get faster on the bike without the use of technology.  Can I get to an 18mph average with my current bike set-up?  What can I change?  seat-height?  Training style? Ride more intervals?  Do more hill-work?  One training style I changed this year compared to last year, is this year, I rode much more road trails compared to last year, I rode more forest preserve hiking/biking trails which are more gravel, hilly, and twisty.  Maybe, I should return to the forest preserve trails?

Technology wise,  Should I think about buying shoes & clips, aerobars, a new helmet, or maybe even a road bike?

40 KM Bike Time:  89:50 minutes (16.8 MPH)

Transition 2:

Last year, I changed my shirt from biking to running.  I was sweaty, and thought I’d feel more comfortable. In an effort to speed up my T2 time, I decided not to change as I planned.  I tried to run back to my transition spot on the rack, but I got caught behind some bike walkers.  I also took too much time switching my Runkeeper iphone app from bike mode to run mode.  I grabbed a drink of cold water from my insulated mug which was refreshing.  I grabbed my race belt.  Part of me wonders if I shouldn’t just wear the race belt for the bike portion to speed up T2.  T2 should be easy.   Rack bike, change shoes if needed, and go.  I know I can improve my T2 time.  Granted, I beat my last year’s time.

T2 time:  04:00 minutes

The 10 KM Run:

I’m proud of my run.  In fact, this year, I feel I can call myself a Triathlon finisher.  Last year, I didn’t have that finisher feeling.  Why?  Last year, it was so hot and I was unprepared, I walked about 4 miles of the run.  This year, I was determined not to walk.  I didn’t even want to stop to walk near the water stations for fear that my momentum would be lost.  So, slow jogged through the stations gulping at water.  The Chicago Triathlon run is deceiving.  You think Chicago, and you think flat-land which is totally true.  The run south is a little more elevated than you think.  So, there’s some hills and some elevation climb.  Not much, but enough that its noticeable.

Now happily, the wind was at our tail for about 2/3 of the run.  That was great.  In fact, it was a cool breeze.  So, when I got to the turn around just before the 4 mile mark and the wind was now blowing into my face, I felt refreshed.  It really helped me.  In fact, I yawped at the turn-around how great it was to be there.  The Run was not easy by any means.  Its a mental battle.  Yet, I was determined to run the entire thing.  I wanted that finisher feeling that I lacked the prior year.

In fact, I trained for the run much differently this year.  Last year, I did more biking & swimming with less running.  This year, I was balanced between the swim/bike/run.  My longest training run this summer was 10 miles.  During the doldrums of the running race, I mentally chatted with myself that I didn’t run a 10 miler just to walk the run portion.  I didn’t do all my training all summer long just to feel a little deflated at the finish line.  That’s why I’m proud I won that mental battle.  I ran the entire portion.

I have to say the last mile was difficult, but so worth it.  I pushed it. I have Sean to thank for pushing it. I remember him suggesting to leave it all on the course.  I knew I could run faster, and I tried to pick up the pace a ton that last 1.5 miles.  It doesn’t show in my times, but I’m sure that helped at least keep me consistent and not slow my time.  The last mile is a little more challenging than you think, because you go down hill under a tunnel, then you have to go back up hill to the finish line.  So, its not a forgiving flat run that you would expect.  You think you’re finished, but boom, you have this incline to face.

Near the end, Happily, I saw my wife and two kids cheering me on.  It was exciting.  I waved my 6yr old son to run with me.  I know its probably not a good idea.  I could get other racers hurt, but I held on to his hand, and he ran hard.  He started to lag behind just a bit, and I said, come on Cam, we’ve got to run faster, and he started to pull my hand a bit.  I was so proud to finish with him.  Seriously, I’m beaming now just writing about it.  Cam and I got an official picture taken.  It felt great having my wife and kids there along with my parents.  Of course, my sister-in-law and her kids were there for my brother who finished about 10 minutes before me.  Having a cheering section really does help.  In fact, in a happy surprise move, I saw my parents in the first mile of the run.  They took pictures.  I was tempted to stop and give them a hug, but I did not want to stop momentum.  I wanted to break the 9 min mile mark.  Overall, I’m happy with my performance, but I know I can go faster.

10 KM Time:  55:09 minutes (8:53/miles)

Total Time:  192:36 minutes

Post-Race:

The best part of the triathlon is getting the cold towel on the head to cool off and drinking the ice cold water.  This year, I grabbed some watermelon at the post-race bar-b-cue, and that was some of the best watermelon I’ve had.

The worst part of the triathlon is the 1.5 mile or so walk back from the finish line back to the transition area.  I just finished the triathlon.  I swam hard, I biked hard, and I ran harder.  Then, you’ve got to go collect all your transition items and pack up and go home.  That’s the grueling part of the triathlon.

Mentally, I have mixed emotions.  I am ecstatic that I ran the entire run.  I really feel like a finisher.  I feel like I can call myself an age-grouper triathlete.  I am happy this year’s time 192:36 minutes beat my last year’s time 213:51 minutes.  In fact, I think a 19 minute improvement is great. However, I missed my realist goal mark by 4.5 minutes, and I missed my stretch goal by 12.5 minutes.  I know I can be faster.  I just have to figure out how to adjust my training to become faster while maintaining endurance coupled with the difficulty of scheduling workouts with busy family life.

The future:

My kids asked me before the race, will you win the race?  My first answer was No, I won’t win the race. However, I went on to explain to them, I’m not running against everyone else.  I’m running against myself.  A Triathlon is a mental test as much as a physical test.   To me, Triathlons and Endurance sports in general are similar to Golf. I’m competing with myself and the course.  Can I  run my best race and achieve a personal best time? After racing in 2010 & 2011, I know I can do better, and that is reason enough for me to sign-up for another Triathlon next year.

The nice thing about racing the same event year after year, is you get comfortable with the course set-up.  You also have an easy ability to compare performances between years.  However, the Chicago Triathlon is a bit of a logistics issue.  There are so many people, and its so busy.  I love it.  Yet, I might try a different race for a more intimate experience next year.  We’ll see.

Final Thoughts:

After training for an entire summer, and then completing the pinnacle event of my race year, I want to tell everyone.

Of course, I tweeted it, I facebooked it. and now I’m blogging it.

In fact, on Sunday, I almost wore my medal when I ran out to pickup some Chipotle for dinner  just so I could show-off.  I didn’t do that.

Finishing a triathlon without walking is an accomplishment I’m proud of.  In fact, I received all sorts of congrats from online friends.

Thank you to my family for coming out to the Race.  I really appreciate it.  Thank you to my friends who gave me congratulations. Thank you to all the Volunteers for a great Race.

Philosophical Ending:

Yet, there are plenty of other endurance activities we don’t cheer on.

For example, I have prepared and practiced my trombone for concerts.  I then performed in the concerts.  I tweet it, and facebook it, and I get much less congratulation responses.

Another example, you have a difficult project at work, you prepare months for the completion of the project.  You announce the finale to your friends, family, strangers, they don’t seem to celebrate those accomplishments as much as an endurance event.

Triathlons make me realize that Life itself is an endurance event.

We all have challenges.  We all have accomplishments.

Cheer each other on daily!

–Scott Stawarz

In the meantime, Swim, Bike, and Run!

Talk about fitness or Do fitness

Ten days to go. Okay, it’s more like eleven, but who’s counting? I am that’s who.

To go to what?

My second Chicago Olympic distance triathlon, that’s what.

So, where am I?

I realized that blogging right now is a hobby. I like to do it. I think I am good at it, but there are currently more important objectives in my life. That is why I have not been on a regular posting schedule.

What have I been up to?

I have been on a regular exercise schedule! For the past ten and half weeks, I have run twice a week, biked twice a week, and swam twice a week. I have made exercise a priority! It’s on my google calendar. I do it. When I miss a day, I move that workout to another day and brick it. Or, when I was away without my bicycle to ride, I did more running workouts. Its been awesome. I feel great. I have much more confidence in my triathlon time this year.

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.
Arthur Ashe

Granted, some of my self-confidence comes from not being a complete rookie triathlete. Now, I am just your average age-grouper, but I am still raring to go. This training season: I ran farther, swim faster, and biked faster than last year. I know I am better prepared, and that makes confidence easy.

Consequently, as I know you have noticed, the time that I use to blog about fitness activities has been replaced by actually doing fitness related activities. In fact, the time I would use for many of my technology consulting and technical training activities has been replaced by my fitness activities. Of course, I still make time for my family. It also seems that twitter and facebook have given me a micro outlet to express myself.

Waxing Philosophically Now:

Still I miss writing and blogging. I miss commenting on other blogs.

I am still voraciously reading the entire interent.  I try my best to keep up with fitness blogs using Reeder on my iPad.  I follow too many people on twitter.

The one thing I don’t miss is the lack of energy I used to feel.  My energy is now exercise powered, and its great.

So for now, bear with my inconsistent posts. I have stories to tell, and I think I can help you meet your goals.

In the meantime, I suggest you stop reading/writing about fitness and you actually starting doing fitness!

Favorite Beginner to Intermediate Tri Training plans

I’m six weeks into my 2011 Triathlon Training plan.  Despite my early injury set-backs, my training is going great.  In fact, I’m lovin’ it!

I am a book reader.  I love books.  My wife and I were at the local bookstore a while back, and I told her, “I love to be among the books.”  I can just feel the knowledge pouring into me as if I’m getting a new training download via the Matrix.

When I was looking to start training for Triathlons, I went and perused, borrowed, and bought a bunch of different books.

There is one book that I keep going back to.

It’s the Complete Triathlete’s Training Manual:  A Unique Training Guide for Triathletes of All Abilities, by Oliver Roberts.

I love how it makes my training plan so simple.  Its makes it easy easier to fit my training sessions into my hectic lifestyle.

In my last post, I talked about my plan.  Since, I’m only shooting for the Olympic DistancesI try to exercise, 6 days a week. Run, Swim, Bike, Swim, Run, Bike, Rest.

Now, sometimes, I miss a day or something comes up, and what I’ve done is basically turn my next weekend workout day into a brick workout, or I will move my rest day around.  I try to avoid moving the Rest Day too much, because then you sometimes get stuck working out an extended period of time without a break.  We all should know, myself included, that Rest days are just as important as our training days.

Now, something else that super-charged my recent weight loss was a Dog Dare Challenge.  Basically, my brother dog-dared me into a weight loss challenge.  We basically were both lamenting on how difficult it has been to rein in our eating habits. So, we basically created a weigh-in day, we then challenged each other to a weight-off contest based on percentages.  Then, we held each other accountable.  It went great.  I really jump started my eating plan and helped me to lower my calories I ate.  It got me in tune with my portion sizes, and I have a better idea what I’m eating.  I still have difficulty with late-night eating binges when I’m working.  My solution to that is go to sleep, but sometimes work is calling.

Parting Tip:  While you are exercising, Count down how many laps, repetitions, or time you have in your activity rather than count up.  Looking ahead keeps us more motivated rather than looking behind.  When we look behind ourselves, we become complacent with how far we have come.

Party Tip:  If you are going to Drink Alcohol, remember Alcohol has calories so adjust your eating habits accordingly.

1Photo Source

2Phone Source

Drive, Dreams, and looking

It has been a while since I posted.  I am searching. Searching for something that I am not sure what it is.  I’m looking.  Part of me thinks, a metamorphosis must take place.  Another part of me thinks, the something I am searching may already be found, it just needs to be awaken.  I’m still driven.

I am deep in the throws of Triathlon training.  Its been more difficult this year.  The weather, work, and responsibilities have been throwing wrenches in my training plans.  Yet, I train.  I admit that without my already committing to a triathlon this year, I’m sure I would not be training this hard.  I’ve tried my best to workout six days a week.  My goal has been Run on Mondays, Swim on Tuesdays, Bike on Wednesdays, Swim on Thursdays, Run on Fridays, and Bike on Saturdays.  Rest on Sunday.  Since, I’ve ramped up my training plan over the past month or so, I’ve had to change training days all over the place.  I still have been able to get two Runs, two Swims, and two Bikes in each week, but just not on the planned days.

I’m still debating some intermediary races.  Possibly the local triathlon in early July or maybe the sprint triathlon in late july as a warm-up for the Chicago Triathlon at the end of August.  I’m not sure yet if I am up to the standard distance yet for the early race.

I have to say as I’ve increased my training I feel much better.  I love it!  Although, I’ve been watching calories in, and I’m a little sleepy at times. I’ve lost some of the winter weight gain, but I still have a little bit more to go.

So, back to dreams and looking… I’m still searching… when I find it, I’ll let you know.

 

Recipe for Recovery

In my last post, I described my setback.  How I’ve been lacking discipline and allowing bad habits to creep back in my life. I also described how I hurt my groin. In this post, I’ll write my Recipe for Recovery and how I am recovering from my groin injury.

  1. Rest and Relaxation
    Well, For the first few weeks after the self-diagnosed groin pull, I just iced my groin and rested.
  2. Stretching and low intensity
    I re-introduced my stretching and really slow walking with very low incline. This is difficult for me. I love to have the incline at 6 or 10. It keeps my Heart Rate up. At low inclines and low speeds, my heart rate doesn’t rise as much as I’d like.
  3. Real relaxing.
    I had a family vacation at Disney World. Although, I had to walk all over creation. My leg hurt, but was bearable. Mentally, it was quite nice to break from the couch potato time. In fact, I tried my best during the vacation to stay off email, twitter, Facebook, and the internet in general. If I had screen time it was with the kindle app.
  4. Return to low-intensity training
    My groin had a set-back due to all the walking at Disney. So, I went back to slow walking, but I added swimming in the pool and stretching.
  5. Slowly increase intensity.
    Only recently, have I re-introduced my dumbbell exercises and weight lifting. Although, I’ve kept my squats workout simple.
  6. A return to Books.
    Instead of TV watching (since I’m not on the treadmill or elliptical as much), I’ve been reading a ton more. Not just internet articles either. I’ve been reading books. Normally, I’m reading two to three books at time time. I stopped that since the Internet candy reading supplanted much of that.
  7. Mix in better weather.
    I’ve been able to get out on the bicycle a few times. I’ve been able to walk outside, play with the kids at the park.  I know I don’t have any control, but getting out in the Sun really does help the body.
  8. Friendly Challenge and competition.
    My brother dared me to a little challenge both physically and creatively.  It jump started my motivation to reign in my eating habits.

This is where I’m at:

Its really a bummer when you want to exercise, but physically you shouldn’t. I was planning on doing two or three Olympic Triathlon races this summer along with a few smaller warm-ups mixed in. I’m not sure that’s happening. I’m only committed to doing the 2011 Chicago Olympic Triathlon.  I still would like to add a long bike ride and possibly a shorter Triathlon, but I haven’t found much yet.

As my bad habits came back in droves, so have my good habits returned.  As soon as I made a commitment to myself to reign in my eating habits, my exercise habits followed.  Add in, I’m blogging a bit more, I’m doing some new creative work.  I have my ups and downs, but I know I’m on the road to recovery.  In my next post, I will take a look at lessons I’ve learned while going through this process.

1Photo source: National Library NZ on The Commons

Setback


Beware: Bad habits come out in droves! Over the past few months I have:

  • Failed to stretch regularly (I used to do it 6 times a week.)
  • Deliberately not counted calories nor watched what I ate.
  • Increased my expenses while decreasing my income and increase my work.
  • Increased my TV viewing habits.
  • Increased my Internet Reading habits.
  • Decreased my exercise intensity.
  • Not published many blog articles.
  • Failed to achieve many of my 2011 first quarter and second quarter personal goals.
  • Let my productivity in my non-work time decrease dramatically.

I could go on, but I’ll stop before I start depressing you too.

Couch Potato Netflix

What’s the deal? What’s going on?

I don’t know really. Once the tidal wave gets started, it picks up steam, and boom you are back at the beginning.

Take my blogging. If you are still reading my site and read my recent posts, you can probably get a sense of my lack of urgency. I just haven’t wanted to publish. Note: If you are trying to lose readers and followers, not publishing is a fabulous way to do it.

Self-discipline and moderation was difficult for me in College. Yet, I learned my lessons, and for the most part, in my post-college life, I’m a disciplined and controlled person. In fact, I’d like to think I am better than the average joe.

What happened? What has changed?

A confluence of events have taken place.

Event #1: We added a beautiful HDTV to our household last year.

Event #2: We decided to add a Netflix subscription to our lowest of low Cable TV package. (Believe me when I say low Cable package, I’m an ardent Chicago Sports Fan, and we don’t even have ESPN, TNT, and other stations.) In general, I’m just not much of a TV watcher. Yet, my past taught me to stay away from time-sucking habits. Its one reason we don’t own a DVR.

Now, if you are reading where this is going, a couch potato is born

In fact, if I look at the dates, my blog production started to really deteriorate when my Netflix subscription started. Coincidence, I think not.

Now: You might think that my exercise habits have regressed too, and you’d be correct in many ways. However, when I’m watching Netflix, I am often on the treadmill or elliptical. Its a soft rule I have: if I’m just watching TV mindlessly, I must be moving.

I don’t follow the rule entirely, but more times than not I will.

Wait a minute, I thought I said above, that my exercise intensity is down? You’d think if I’m doing all this TV watching which means exercising, that I’d be in buff summer condition.

Picture Snoopy the dog pointing at me rolling on the Floor Laughing.

My winter sedentary-season training habits combined with my active-summer-season diet results in weight gain. My calorie burn is not enough to keep up with eating.

Event #3: A couple of months ago, I decide after a reading a great article on weight-training, that I’m going to get back into my exercise intensity groove. I think to myself, I’ve been on the treadmill for a few weeks. I’m just going to pick up the intensity of my workouts.

One day, I decided to combine heavy dumbbell deep squats in my morning workout with evening incline treadmill workouts and very little rest. Mix in a lack of stretching, and Boom: I have a leg pains.

Although, I don’t remember the date. I can vividly imagine the circumstances leading up to a painful leg. I’ve self-diagnosed a groin pull with the help of from medial friends. Leg pain is not fun. I’m only now starting to get over it. I still have not ran yet. I’m going to test my leg at Fitbloggin.com’s 5k this year.

Three Events start to rattle the cages of bad habits, then one habit starts the ball rolling. Then another and another and before you know it, I’m engulfed in an avalanche.

In fact, I’ve been so frustrated at myself for my lack of self-discipline, that I’ve let anger seep into my personal relationships. I know its wrong, and yet I can’t seem to control it.

Stay tuned for my Recipe for Recovery!