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Content Moved to ethancbanks.com

February 7, 2011

I’m consolidating blogs, so head on over ethancbanks.com to find these articles and more. Thanks for reading!

 

Better, Stronger, Faster – Phase 2

September 27, 2010

I’ve been at this weight loss thing for about a year now.  Here’s a bullet-list of what I’ve gotten done, and where I need to go next.

So Far I…

  • Dropped 25 pounds. Now the interesting bit here is that I dropped that weight almost all in 2009, and I’ve been maintaining since then.  Sort of a bummer, but at the same time, I’ve always, in previous weight loss efforts, gained back what I’ve lost.  So dropping 25 and keeping it off is, for me, a real accomplishment.
  • Dropped my resting heart rate from 75 to around 55 beats per minute. This speaks to my cardiovascular health.  Specifically, it’s better.  I don’t know what’s ideal, but I suspect I’m closer to it.
  • Dropped my body fat percentage from 33% down to 20%. My perception is that my extremities (limbs, fingers) are leaner than my core.  I still carry most of my excess weight in my torso.  I would like to get into the 10% to 15% range.
  • Can run for a few miles and maintain roughly a 10’00″ pace. I’m working on distance, where I’ve done just over 6.0 miles on my longest run.  I’m also working on speed in a 5K, where I’d like to get through a 5K in a total time of 25:00.  I have a long way to go to be able to sustain that pace without my heart exploding, but I’m working on it.
  • Have excellent mental well-being. I don’t know how much exercise has to do with it, but I can say that my fluctuations in mood have dropped quite a lot.  To be fair, I have also changed to a lower-stress job; I’m sure that’s somewhat related.

I Still Need To…

  • Eat better. Binge eating on junk still happens from time to time, although that’s been cut way, way back.  I’ve been working yet again on consistently eating smaller portions of higher quality food.
  • Exercise more consistently. I’m trying to scale up to 5 times a week, whereas now I do 3-4 times usually.
  • Push harder when running. Running is about my favorite thing to do in the whole world right now.  I wish I was out running right now, in fact.  The 10’00″ pace is easy and enjoyable, but in order to improve my 5K performance when competing, I need to push harder.  The treadmill at my gym offers 5K training “levels”.  Right now I’m at level 2 out of, I think, 9.  Level 2 gives you a short warm-up, sustained run @ 6.6mph (9’05″ pace), and cool down.  I did that this morning with good success, although there was mental toughness required to avoid dropping the speed.  I’ll stick with level 2 for a couple of weeks, then “level up”.  I’m shooting to level up every 2-3 weeks.  To be able to beat a 25:00 5K time in the spring, I need to get to a sustained 8.0mph on a treadmill over the winter.  Mix that in with some long-distance hiking in the White mountains and some distance runs on the occasional warm winter day, and I think I can get there.
  • Drop more weight. I need to drop another 25 pounds, and have for several months (this blog is “Losing Fifty” after all).  To meet my running goals and get the healthy physical appearance I’m going for, I think the weight just has to come off.  25 pounds is a LOT of extra pounding on my feet and knees when I run.  I have good running shoes now, and that’s made a huge difference, but running at 180 pounds instead of 205 would be awfully nice.

I posted this now because I’ve turned another corner mentally.  Running is a very big deal for me at the moment.  I think about it often.  I also went through a mild weight gain at my new job, where I picked up 5-6 pounds, but have taken it all back off again with just a little self-discipline.  My brain goes through phases of caring and not caring, and of turning to excessively food for the pleasure it brings.  It’s a fight, but I’ve been back in the zone for the last month where I’m focused again.  I believe I am poised to push through this wall and make some more progress.

5K in < 30:00

May 17, 2010
tags: ,

I have been training for a 5K run our church is doing on 6/5/2010.  So far, it’s been on the treadmill only, although I need to hit the pavement soon.  I met my first 5K training goal this morning, which was to be able to do a sustained jog (no break) for the duration, and complete the 5K distance in under 30:00.  I managed it today in 29:55.  If it’s a little warmer tomorrow morning at 4:30a when I usually roll out of bed, I’m going to try the run on pavement and see how it goes.  I’ve got a 3.3 mile route already mapped out; a 5K is 3.10 (and change) miles.

It’s taken me several weeks of running to get this far.  During the first few weeks, I had issues with achy knees, shin splints, and pain in the balls of my feet that held me back, never minding simply not having the cardiovascular wherewithal to sustain the pace.  I still get a predictable stitch in my side, but it’s much less pronounced that it used to be, and it fades away now instead of persisting.  The side stitch is just under my ribcage on my right side, shows up around 10:00, and fades into irrelevance around 14:00.  My heart rate climbs unto the upper 160s and 170s the longer I run, but it’s better than it was.  I’m not pushing 180 and gasping for air before having to just give it up like before.

I also bought a cheap, but new, pair of running shoes.  There wasn’t much spring left in the soles of the shoes I’d bought last fall, which I think contributed to my foot problems.  New shoes have made a big difference – and I only spent $30 this round.  We’ll see how long they last and serious this running thing gets.  Maybe then I can make sense of spending real money on a pair of running shoes.

The next goal is to take the experience gained on the treadmill and translate it to running on the road, which is a pretty different thing as I’ve been told by people who run.

Still On The Quest, Just Nothing To Report

May 1, 2010

Well, I have some things to report…just no progress towards the “50″ goal.  I’ve been distracted by the rest of my life, so blogging has not been too high on the list of priorities.  I am still with the program.  I am still paying attention to weight loss, but the last few weeks I have not been able to get out and hike much, although I do have one backlogged hike to post.  Plus, I’ve transitioned into a new job, which has brought all the predictable challenges of stress and unusual amounts of time consumed.

Ergo, I’ve been maintaining, but not losing, any weight for several weeks now.  Each Monday, I’m in the 203 – 205 range.  I am working out 3-5 times a week.  I’ve not been very good about what I eat; I think the term for me is a “stress eater”.  These last few weeks have been decidedly stressful, and I’ve been decidedly consuming more calories than I ought.  The net result is that whatever excess calories I’ve taken in, I’ve burned off at the gym, net result, zero.

I have joined a new gym as a result of my job change.  I’m now at Planet Fitness, which has all the cardio and resistance training equipment I could want.  I don’t really care about luxury health club items like a steam room or pool.  I used to care about racquetball, until it dawned on me that my schedule is already so rigorous that I’d never be able to fit brackets into my life.  Hitting the ball off the wall by myself was fun for a while, but got boring.  P-Fit has enough machines to keep me plenty entertained.  I can get as good of a workout there as I want, and it’s very affordable at only $10 a month.

I have changed my workout somewhat dramatically over the last two weeks.  For a long stretch, I was doing almost all cardio work, where I’d use a stairclimber, treadclimber, or incline trainer for 45 – 60 minutes.  I did no resistance training at all.  While that was good for improving my ability to deliver oxygen to my body and recover my heart rate after stress, I wasn’t losing weight – and that, despite regularly blowing through a machine-reported 1,000 calories at a workout.  Reading up on this, I found that (1) the machines are only guessing at how much work your body is doing, and that your actual heart rate during the workout has a lot to do with how many calories you’re really burning.  (2) I found that a lot of aerobic exercise makes your body very efficient at storing fat.  Wonderful.  (3) Bulking up your muscles is the best way to get your metabolism hot enough to keep burning excess calories, even when you’re not working out.

My workouts are now a mix of cardio and resistance training.  Several years ago, I did a program of mostly weight training, so I have some familiarity with how to bulk up my muscle mass.  The strategy that used to work for me was a series of reps where you put on as much weight as you can handle, such that you do 10 reps and just about fail on that 10th rep.  For the second set, add a small amount of weight, and do reps to fail again.  For the third set, add a little more weight, and do reps to fail.  That’s it for that set – go work a different muscle group.  Depending on what muscles I’m working, that usually translates to 10 – 8 – 6, but not always.  It’s all new to my body, so I’ve been conservative on the weight that I’m using thus far while I get used to it.  A lot of times, I don’t have enough weight on the first set to fail at 10 reps – I could have added 10 – 15% more.  I still stop at 10 reps, though.  I’ll work into it over the next few weeks and see how it goes.

I still do hard cardio, but instead of 45 – 60+ minutes, I have been keeping it to 15 – 30.  This is how I start my workout most days – some sort of cardio – running, elliptical – and usually as manual intervals.  I watch my heart rate closely, and set the machine such that run in the 150s for a couple of minutes, then reduce the exercise until my heart rate dips back into the 120′s.  Then I crank it back up.  If I’m in the mood, I might push into the high 160s just because.  After 30 minutes of that, I head to the resistance machines, and do 15 – 30 minutes, depending on how much cardio I actually did and how much time I have before I have to leave for work.  Some days I emphasize the cardio, and others the resistance.

I know that I’m keep the fat at bay in that my pants are fitting as comfortably as they ever have.  I’ve had to go another notch tighter in my belt, and I usually hope that my jeans shrink in the wash so that they fit correctly.  Here’s the challenge with moving to more resistance training though – while I have that waistline indicator, muscle weighs more than fat.  So I could be losing fat and gaining muscle, but the scale won’t be much of an indicator about how I’m really doing, at least for a while as I go through the program transition.  I am planning to buy a body fat meter to help me gauge my progress better.  Our bathroom scale includes a body fat indicator, but it’s wildly inaccurate, giving readings on me of anywhere from 20% – 35%.  The body fat meter should also appropriately scold me for my dietary indiscretions, something I know I will have to give more thought to.

Monday Weigh-In for 3/29/2010

March 29, 2010

Long time, no post.  Been too busy, too stressed out, or both to post lately.  I have been hitting the gym, though.  I’m down to a lower weight than I have been in several years, 202.8 officially this morning.  Checked it twice, moved the scale and everything.  The 36″ waist pants I bought a few months ago are getting loose now.  Heck, the jeans I bought 3 weeks ago are looser than they were.  The improvements keep coming.  I’m looking forward to being below 200 – I do not remember for sure when I was last under the double century mark.

I have changed my workout again, where I’m doing intervals for a while, and starting to run.  I was thinking I should lose more weight to take the load off of my knees, but then I thought I should give it a try to see how it went.  Not bad…not that I can run that much, but it wasn’t really hurting my knees at all.  So now, I’m trying to build up my endurance.  Our church announced a 5K road race in June, so I’m training for that.  It’s good to have a goal.  I figure if I can do 6.5mph for 30 minutes by the time the road race starts, I’ll be doing well.  I’ve never even considered running before – always hated it.  So, to be considering even a baby 5K race is a big step for me.

Mt. Liberty Hike (Lots of Pictures) Posted on NH48

March 20, 2010

Read all about it…

http://nh48.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/the-blazes-are-knee-high-mt-liberty-via-liberty-spring-trail-03202010/

Monday Weigh-In: Life Beyond 25

March 8, 2010

By “life beyond 25″, I mean beyond 25 pounds lost. Down another 0.8 this past week, after a weekend of not being particularly well-behaved when it came to food.  So, I’m very happy with 204.2.  During the week, I was as low as 203.0, which was sort a weird moment.  I lost 2 pounds in 4 days – really?  No, not really.  That’s why I only do an official weigh-in once a week.

I was really hoping to get a hike in this week, but it looks like next week is the earliest I’m going to be able to work that out.  I have the hike and route planned, now I just need my life to let go of me long enough to get out there.  In the meantime, I’m working on how to burn more calories during the 50 to 70 minutes I have at the gym in the morning.  I managed to burn about 1400 calories this morning, combining time on the tread climber with the incline trainer.

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