A couple of weeks ago I revisited the Fitbit site to learn more about their product. After doing some research I decided to jump in and I ordered my Fitbit. I got it last Thursday. The first setup was pretty easy and I really like how it wirelessly uploads data without me having to think about it. I’m using it both for activity throughout the day and to track sleep. I’ll share some more about the results after I have some more time with it.
I’ve been taking the dogs out on walks every morning, provided the temperature is about 0°. Now that we’ve had a bunch of snow I’ve found the morning to be a bit slippery, especially on the one hill. And the fresh snow doesn’t give much traction. Feels a lot like walking in sand.
I was reading Robert Craig‘s blog and saw his post about his YakTrax and how well they worked. This seemed like a great addition to my morning activities. Santa Claus visited our house early last night (we are traveling this Christmas) and left some YakTrax for me, as well as winter gear for the dogs.
The YakTrax are easy to get on. They slip on the bottom of your shoe without much hassle. I have the YakTrax Walkers. The dogs and I went out for an hour today and the YakTrax made a huge difference. I didn’t slip at all, and had as much traction for walking as I’d ever want to have.
Tammy said that some people online were complaining that they had broken on them, sometimes on the first use. I’ve only wore them once so I can’t speak to how well they will last. I can see how if you put them on wrong, or had one of the bands crimped badly, it could cause a problem. We’ll see.
In the meantime, if you walk reasonable distances in the snow, I’d highly recommend buying a pair of YakTrax.
Today I hit the first milestone on my fitness program. I stepped on the scale to do my weigh-in and was under 300! I’m just under two months in and I’ve now dropped just around 25 pounds.
I hit this goal much faster than I expected. I had originally targeted 300 by the end of the year and I did it in about half the time I had allocated. I know that can easily be a bad thing, but I think it’s fine. I’m eating comfortably, and even am having desserts from time to time. I’m not working out crazy. I’m doing my walk with the dogs every morning, and now 2 spin classes a week. I’m feeling great, and the weight has come off pretty quickly.
In addition to the numbers on the scale my belt has notched way down and my jeans are too big. I’m very excited to also be able to put my wedding ring back on.
My 280 goal date is January 31st. I’ve got Thanksgiving, Christmas and my birthday between now and then, which will slow things down some, so 10 weeks for 20 pounds seems aggressive but achievable.
For those of you tracking my progress on my weight loss journey here is an update. Since my last check-in I have had a lot of great progress. At my last check-in I was at 314.6 and today I’m at 307.4, losing 7.2 pounds in those two weeks with a total loss of 14.8 pounds. Most of that weight came off in the last week with some intentionally focused high-quality food work.
I’ve continued my program without any changes and I’m feeling really good. If anything, I was a lot less hungry in the last week which isn’t surprising. I’m currently on track to hit my first goal of being sub-300 by the end of the year, and am actually a bit ahead.
I went to my fourth spin class tonight at LA Fitness. First off, after four sessions I still think the spin bikes are incredible. They are so much better than any others I’ve used. I’ve been really happy with the classes, especially the last two. While I’m ridiculously out of shape, I’m really impressed with how well I am doing.
In the past I’ve talked with people that have done a few marathons and then don’t run much for a couple years, and ramp up really quickly for another marathon. I think I get that more now. Even as ridiculously out of shape as I am right now, I’m finding that I can hang in the class pretty good. My guess is that I don’t have the mental barriers that others may have. I get that it hurts when you climb, and I know what that hurt is like, and I know how to manage it. The fitness level just determines how much power I can get with a certain level of suffering. Over time, I’ll get more power, but the suffering is the same. I’m also really pleased that my natural cadence is still right around 90 rpm’s. That still just feels “right”.
I was pretty proud after tonight’s spinning session. I wore my heart rate monitor for the first time and I actually reached max heart rate a couple of times (about 187). Here is the floor under my bike. :-)
I’m a couple of weeks down the path to losing a bunch of weight. This will be a long road and to help along I have a few tools that I’m using to help me along. The last time when I really focused on losing weight was 2000 and I used a program called Lifeform extensively, several times every day, to track everything. Now in 2008 my iPhone is almost exclusively my tool of choice for this goal.
The first thing I wanted to figure out was a good way to log my food. I firmly believe that tracking your food intake is likely the most important thing you can do for weight loss. In the past I kept a very specific, to the gram and individual calorie, log of everything I ate. This was incredibly powerful, but in retrospect it was not the best long-term solution.
The reality is that you will not weigh your food and track everything you eat for the long term (even though I did it for nearly 2 years). It is too hard, obstructive and quickly becomes a crutch. While you cannot be clueless about the nutritional impact of your food, you can also become far too obsessed about it. For me this was a problem because leaving that gram-precise sterile environment resulted in drift and a lack of discipline.
However, writing everything down is incredibly powerful. I was once on a century ride with two guys that I later found were psychiatrists. I mentioned to them how powerful I thought food logging was and they explained that that power came from being able to “objectify” what you have written down. The simple act of logging allows you to step outside of yourself and review and coach your own behavior. I can see this, and would admit that I have at times changed behavior because I “didn’t want to write it down.”
Last time I kept grams and every detail in Lifeform and now I needed to find a new tool. I wanted something that I could use for logging and it needed to be on my iPhone. I did not want a web application because speed is everything. Databases become big issues with food logging programs, and the means of entering information were important. I did a lot of searching for food logging on the iPhone and I found a bunch of programs and frankly none of them were very good. They seemed clumsy. They were really designed for a mouse interface, not a native touch feel. I was bummed as there seemed no good solution.
I then stumbled into some diary programs. This intrigued me since a food log could easily be a food diary. Simple, few word entries. The key features include multiple entries per date, ability to enter things with a time stamp in the past and searching. I found My Diary (iTunes) and it’s great for this need!
That screen shows lunch, snack and dinner for Saturday, October 11th. I’ve been using My Diary now for nearly a month to track my food and I’ve found it great.
Logging your food can tip you into an OCD view of eating that ultimately is not healthy. Using a diary format allows you to not be shackled down by numbers and just focus on the healthfulness of what you eat. Additionally, something I really didn’t think about is the ability to put context in your food log. When you read “Awesome turkey burger that Tammy made!” it carries context and value. A food entry saying 112g Turkey, Fried is devoid of all context and meaning. This is very helpful.
I’ve found My Diary to be fast, simple and very convenient. You can change the date and time of entries so if you miss writing it down you can catch up later. And I can’t emphasize how great it is to have this right on your iPhone. I highly recommend using My Diary for food tracking if you are looking to do that.
This is the end of the second week since I took a hard diet change and got serious about getting myself back into something resembling fitness. My initial progress has been great. This week (Friday to Friday) I lost a little 4.4 pounds with a total weight loss of 7.8 pounds. This is what it looks like.
The green line shows my goal trajectory. That line tracks back to 300 by the New Year and I’m keeping close to it. The red line is a smoothed view of my weight and it was going up for a while just as an anomaly of me loading years of old data into it. Now that I have some recent data it is reflecting reality.
I’ve been journaling my food (not logging it). So I’m writing stuff down but not counting calories or points or anything. I’ve got goals for each meal and I’m hitting them well. In fact, I’m not even feeling all that hungry which is great.
I am feeling strong, a bit quicker and am really positive. Off to a great start!
Tonight I went to my first spin class in over four years. I was pretty nervous and joked with Tammy that we should check the status of my life insurance policy before I left. In the end though, I had a good time and got a great workout. I wasn’t able to keep up with the class which I fully expected, but I did a bit better than I expected as well.
The thing that I loved about the spin class though were the bikes. I’ve ridden on a number of spin bikes and even have one at home. There has been a lot of improvement in them over the years, but the new LA Fitness has these Keiser M3 spin bikes.
These bikes are hands down the best spin bike I’ve ever been on. Actually, they are the best indoor bike I’ve ever been on period. Here is why they rock:
- The flywheel resistance system uses magnets. There are no brake pads causing uneven resistance and squealing noises. I can’t emphasize how awesome this is. Every other spin bike I’ve used makes a ton of noise, and has uneven resistance as the pad and wheel rub. Huge improvement.
- The resistance curve is very linear. Most spin bikes give little resistance and then suddenly start increasing a lot. Not here. Plus the resistance is moved with a little lever on the handlebars. You can adjust it without even taking your hands off the bars. Huge win.
- I love that the flywheel is in the back. It’s bad karma to a cyclist for the flywheel to be in front. Here the power and motion is where it should be, on your rear wheel.
- They have SPD clips on all the pedals which is a must have.
- Speaking of the flywheel, it isn’t that heavy. This is a big problem on some spin bikes, including the one I have at home. If you are spinning at 100+ RPM the momentum on the wheel is so strong it takes a few revolutions to stop. I was able to stop the flywheel on the Keiser M3 in one pedal rotation.
I’m a huge fan. If you like to cycle, look for these in your gym or bug them to get some. I would expect that the magnetic resistance system probably results in a lower total cost of ownership too since most gym spin bikes need weekly maintenance. It would seem these would have lower maintenance.
Tammy and I have had a gym membership for a while. Let’s just be nice and say that the membership was “under-leveraged”. We got pretty excited around a year ago when some construction started fairly close to our house and we found out it was going to be a new LA Fitness location. The location is much closer to our house than our previous options, and we knew that LA Fitness was cheaper as well.
This weekend we stopped in and took a tour. We were pretty impressed. They don’t attempt to have a “spa experience”. There is no water wall in the entry way. In fact, there isn’t even a towel service. But, the equipment is really great and the space is nice. Not too tight; not too distracting.
We signed up right away cutting time and distance to get the gym by 70%, and cutting our monthly fee by 70%. Win, win! We are both looking forward to getting some good use out of the membership.
I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time, my entire adult life really. In 2000 I started an intensive program working extensively with a trainer and focusing with complete obsession on my food intake. In the course of 10 months I lost 100 pounds and changed a lot. Slowly though discipline broke down and focus was lost. This chart tells the story better than words.
I believe that when you are making major changes in life it is an opportune time to push some bigger changes through. If you’re disrupting things, disrupt them big. I’m at a big inflection point in my career, so I’m making it an inflection point for fitness too. On top of that I’ve noticed that my lack of fitness and excess weight has become a bigger problem than it ever was before. Perhaps showing signs of getting older, my blood pressure has crept up. In order to do fun things with Mazie and Tammy I need to be lighter on my feet.
A week ago I began to work hard on this, and I’m going to keep on working hard until I get to my goals. I’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s going to be hard, but I’m going to hold myself accountable to it. If I pass on the appetizer or beverages at dinner you will know why. My goal is to get back below 300 by the New Year, and to reasonable fitness by next summer. If you see me attempting to be stupid, feel free to point it out. My plan to get there includes daily exercise and strictly watching food.
Wish me luck! I’m feeling great!