Saturday, April 30, 2011

Track work

This morning I drove over to the high school to put some track work in. It was my first track work in a long time and my first time field testing my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch with heart rate monitor. I did better than I expected, but there is certainly plenty of room for improvement.

I jogged a warm up lap and then sprinted/ran faster the straights while jogging/walking the curves for another seven laps. I walked a cool down lap for a total of 2.3 miles in about 30 minutes. I averaged 140 bpm for my heart rate which I think is a good zone to be in. My watch also says I burned 300 kCal which sounds about right. The good thing is interval training will not lead to plateaus and it'll amp up my metabolism enough for me to continue to burn after I'm done.

I like interval training because you can work on your maximum speed, your sprint endurance and your general endurance. You also don't need to go as far to get a good workout. Coincidentally, there was another dude there doing the same kind of workout. However, he one-upped me by running to and from the track. Heh. I hope to do that after a few more sessions though I might prefer to ride over.

I really like my GPS watch. My only complaint is it's a little on the heavy side.

I just drank a post-workout protein shake made from unsweetened almond milk (40 kCal per serving) and whey protein powder (120 kCal per serving). The almond milk will provide a lot of calcium without the dairy. Unfortunately, it is slightly acidic so it might leech some calcium. I guess the whey protein will counteract that phenomenon.

Heh. My 160 kCal post-workout drink undid about half of my gain from this morning, but I think it makes for a good mid-morning snack so I'm not going to sweat it.

Fitness update

It's the last Saturday in the month so it's time for a fitness update.  Fortunately, I have good progress to report.  This month I've lost about five pounds of fat and about an inch of chunk from around my waist.  Not too shabby especially since I spent a long weekend in Vegas in the middle of April.

Today also marks the end of Phase I of the South Beach Diet.  I think it was pretty successful in reducing my sugar cravings.  They're still there, but I think I can control them for a while.  Heh.  Scratch that.  I know I can control them.

I'm 60% through Lauren's 1st Class program and I definitely feel stronger.  I played basketball this week and I also went for a bike ride.  I plan on doing some track work this morning and maybe going for another bike ride tomorrow if the weather cooperates.  I'd like to do some track work during the week, but I'm not sure about the track's availability.  I prefer to run on a track to preserve my knees.

As you can see from the above plots, my progress has been rapid this month, but I'm still working on getting back to where I was about a year ago.  I'm not discouraged though because I'm working on the process more than the end result.  I'm working on changing my life to be more healthy for the long term as well as the short term.

My near term goal is to lose another ten pounds of fat which would put me at 180lbs with 20% body fat.  Then I can work on reducing the body fat down to around 15% while maintaining the weight.

I'd also like to drop my "waist" circumference down to around 32", but that should happen when I drop the fat since most of it is around my middle.

I just need to remember there is no progress without struggle.

Friday, April 29, 2011

This and that

Apparently there's some kind of royal wedding going on across the pond.  I'm sure it's a big deal to some, but certainly not to me.  The princes seems like they're less worthless than the other royals, but who knows?

It's good to see the US Supreme Court continue to erode away our rights.  Yesterday they ruled it's ok for companies to enforce mandatory arbitration.  As I thought I understood it, I have the constitutional right to a real trial.  Not any more.  Crikey.  Arbitration is appropriate in some cases, but the companies get to pick the arbiter and most of them have a track record of ruling for the companies maybe 80% of the time.  The other 20% is probably just so people don't get suspicious.

The sun is out today and should be out tomorrow so I'll hit the high school's track for some interval training.  I need to continue to improve my fitness.  I'll try out my new GPS watch as well.  It's pretty bulky so hopefully it won't throw me off stride.

My project manager gets the bozack for dropping me as an author from an abstract submission, but whatever.  It's good practice for me to work on letting go.

Tonight marks the end of Phase I so I can finally eat fruit again.  Sweet.  I'll make a dessert in my slow cooker tomorrow.  Hopefully it won't undo all the progress I've made.

The Blazers lost last night, but the game was on too late for me.  I guess Wallace was getting it done, but then had back trouble.  Once he left, Portland was done.  Too bad.  I would've liked to have seen them continue.

It seems like the NFL is back to business as usual which is good because it's one of my favorite things to watch.

I finished Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear.  I thought the first 60% was better than the first book which I liked quite a bit.  The next 30% was a little lame, but the ending was good so I'm anticipating the next book.  If you like fantasy, I recommend this series.

I'd like to get an Asus eeePad Transformer, but they're too popular.  It's a little out of my budget as well, but would provide some entertainment on my long flights in June.  We'll see if I can save up some money.  Who knows when they'll build up a big stock though?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Letting go

Another manager at work told me today that I need to be less aggressive in meetings and that I need to learn when to let things go.  It's definitely something I've been working on, but I slip from time to time when I get caught up in the heat of the moment.

I need to learn not to dwell on things because what's done is done.  I think I need to work on making a better decision the first time rather than trying to patch things up later.  It all comes back to patience which doesn't come easy to me as I constantly feel Death looming over my shoulder.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

First bike ride of the year

It's finally nice out so I got my bike out of my storage shed, put some air in the tires and went for a ride. Unfortunately, the battery for my bike computer died over the winter so I'm not sure how far I went. I was gone for about 40 minutes so I would estimate I rode for a few miles. I went towards a park and then towards the high school. I was glad to see people running on the track because it means I'll have access to it when I start my track work.

My bike riding skills were never that great to begin with and I'm definitely rusty. I think I should take a class on riding, but I should also get some real bike shoes and bike pedals. I probably need to have my bike tuned up and I probably need new tires. It's a good thing I got that fat bonus though I've nearly spent it all. Yeah, I'm stupid like that.

I think I'd also like to get a bike rack for my car and panniers for my bike. It would be cool to drive somewhere and then ride my bike around. Or maybe I could take my bike on the train. Hmmm...

I'm in slightly worse shape than I thought and I've still got the stupid chunk around my gut. Heh. No progress without struggle so I just need to keep at it and not get discouraged.

Edit: Of course, my bike computer comes to life after I started poking at it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

After one week on Phase I

It's been a week since I went on the restrictive Phase I of the South Beach Diet.  I lost 2lbs and my scale tells me they're both fat so that's good.  The sugar cravings were pretty strong for the first few days, but they've mostly gone away.  I still get hungry, but it's not quite the same thing.

The biggest problem for me with this diet is not the sugar cravings, but the lack of variety.  I can't have any fruit nor bread products and even my selection of vegetables is limited.  I ate a lot of salad this week which is healthful, but not that exciting.  I'll make a couple of dishes using recipes from the book so hopefully next week will have more variety.  I'm also going to heat up a ham since tomorrow's Easter, but I'm pretty sure I'll get sick of ham after a couple of days so I'll freeze some of it for later.

My exercise regime is going well, but I still feel a little soft around the middle.  My legs and shoulders are as strong as ever, but I really need to work on my core strength.  I think hiking, biking and track work will help once the weather improves.  I'm also thinking about taking a boxing class and maybe some yoga.  They'll help my fitness and will give me something to do after work so it's win-win.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Medium pimpin'

I'm doing ok this morning because the sun is out and I got my bonus a day earlier than expected.  It's pretty significant and will help fund a nice wedding gift for my brother and my flight out there.  I'm still wicked broke, but now I'm slightly less broke.

I've done a much better job with my finances this year. really helps because it can track my spending habits.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rest in peace, Toby

I got an e-mail from my mom this morning telling me that their dog, Toby, passed last night due to kidney failure. He firstly got sick early last year and the vets didn't think he would last a month, but he held on for about fifteen months thanks to some hard work from my folks. I guess the last couple of weeks, he started to fail quickly - he stopped eating and started throwing up a lot.

My mom was able to hold him while they gave him his final shot so he died peacefully. I'm not sure if there is a doggie heaven, but I hope he gets to go there and run around and eat a lot of snacks. Boy, he sure did love his eggs. He was one of the nicest dogs I've ever been around. He loved to play and was very personable. He really only growled at the mailman and only barked when he got really excited.

One of the toughest things about having a pet is saying goodbye to them. I'd like to get a couple of dogs and a couple of cats, but I'm not sure if I'm strong enough to handle the loss when they go. It sounds stupid, but it's true.

Here's a picture of him:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hungry hungry hippo

One of the bad things about Phase I of The South Beach Diet is the sugar cravings the first couple of days.  I started Saturday morning and I've been really hungry ever since no matter how much I eat.  I've done this phase before and the hunger pains are really just due to sugar withdrawal and they'll gradually fade.

I do this phase every now and then when I feel like I've been eating too much sugar since it's good for a blood chemistry reset.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weight loss challenge

I'm in a bet to see who can get to their target weight before June 14.  I'm currently a little bit under 195lbs and my target weight is 180lbs.  15lbs in about two months is going to be tough, but I think it's doable.

To help speed up the process, I'll do Phase I of the South Beach Diet for the next two weeks.  It should help reduce my sugar cravings and should help me lose a few pounds right off the bat.  Unfortunately, Phase I does not allow fruit so I think I'll be jonesin' for sugar after just a day or so, but I've done it a couple of times before so I can tough it out.  I pretty much need a diet reset after Vegas.

I'll continue my exercise program using Lauren's You are your own gym and, once the weather improves, I'll start hiking again if my knees can take it.  I'm also thinking of taking some boxing or jiu jitsu lessons, but I've only found MMA-style Brasilian jiu jitsu and I'm not looking to become a cage fighter.  I'll just need to look harder I guess.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Visited Las Vegas

Last Saturday through Tuesday, I was in Las Vegas.  I had never been before and a friend of mine from California was going to be there with her sister and her sister's family so I asked if I could tag along.  It turned out that another friend from California was in town that weekend playing poker so I got to see a couple of people I hadn't seen for two years.

Vegas is definitely a crazy town which never shuts down.  There's always something going on and people were in the casinos 24/7.  I'm not a huge fan of the noise and crowds, but it was definitely worth experiencing.  I walked around a bunch, saw a Cirque du Soleil show, saw the Bodies exhibit in the Luxor and drove to Hoover Dam and the West Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The bodies for the Bodies exhibit came from China and I was joking that maybe they initiated the polymerization process before they were actually dead, but you never know.

I ate in the casinos and the food I had was just ok.  I didn't get a chance to go swimming because the pool only stayed open until 6.  I figured they didn't want to pay someone to fish drunk people out or maybe they want to encourage you to be in the casino gambling.

The West Rim of the Grand Canyon is actually owned by the Hualapai Indians.  They charge an arm and a leg to get in, but the views were pretty cool.  It's hard to say if it was worth it, but I took a lot of pictures.

I don't think I need to go back anytime soon unless it's as a starting point for a tour through SW Utah's national parks: Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands and Arches.

Here is a slideshow of my picture vomit:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Not right in the head.

I'm not sure if I caught something during the plane ride back from Vegas or what, but I'm feeling pretty effin' far from ok.  Maybe it's a lack of exercise or poor diet, but something ain't right and I've got to figure out how to get back on track.  I'm taking a one week breather from someone because I've become a serious anchor and that's not cool and it's not really fair to her.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I got a haircut this morning and I think it turned out well.

You be the judge:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In a good mood

I'm in a good mood this morning because my exercises are going well, the weather is improving, I'm on vacation this weekend and I got a raise and a fat bonus yesterday.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

One of my challenge tasks is to read 10 books on the Pacific effort during WWII.  My parents both recommended this book since they liked her Seabiscuit so I got it from the local library.  It talks about Louis Zamperini's involvement with the war and his time spent as a POW in a Japanese camp.

I really liked the first half of the book where she describes his upbringing and his attempt to break a 4 minute mile.  I also liked hearing about the B24 Liberators and the bombing missions.  His time spent adrift at sea after getting shot down was cool, but I became less interested after he was captured by the Japanese.  I guess I felt uncomfortable since the Japanese were nasty SOB's during the war, but I now have a lot of Japanese colleagues and dated a Japanese woman last year.

People say it was another time and another place, but the stuff they did during the war...the raping, the brutality...crikey.  I can understand why a lot of older Americans don't like the Japanese.  I know we can't blame young Japanese because they didn't fight, but it's not something which should be forgotten no matter how embarrassing they find it.

Her book is not heavy on military matters and is more a human interest story.  The book trailed off at the end to become a bit too sappy for me.

I recommend this book, but with reservations.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I am (sort of) psychic

The Blazers had a tough game against the Mavs last night, but I had to go to bed too early to watch any of it.  When I woke up this morning, I figured the Blazers had won 104-98.  I checked my phone and the Blazers won...104-96.  Sweet.

Maybe I should hit up a casino or start playing the lottery.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend recap

Yeah, I know it seems strange to recap the weekend Sunday morning, but I have the energy now and I know that not much is going for the rest of today.

I left work a bit early Friday afternoon to drive out to Shelburne Falls, MA to have dinner at the Gypsy Apple.  The drive was pretty nice, but a bit windy.  The restaurant had some pretty tasty grub; I got the Spanish pork chop and it was one of the best I've ever had.

Here's a shot of the small village of Shelburne Falls:
After dinner, I went candlepin bowling which was definitely a new experience for me.  I did alright and even got close to 100.

The drive back was a little hairy because it was snowing in the Berkshires and the roads in NY were a little iffy.

Yesterday my friend Chris drove up with his dog Oscar and we hit up a homebrew store in Rensselaer since Chris and a friend are interested in getting started.  It seems pretty straightforward so I might give it a shot as well once I get my finances under control.  I like to drink beer and I like to make stuff.

After the homebrew store, we went over to the Times Union Center to watch the Albany Devils take on the Charlotte Checkers who used to be the Albany River Rats.  We ate some crap stadium food before, but weren't there early enough to get a bobblehead.  The first period was a little boring, but the second and third were pretty exciting so I think I'll go more often next season.

Here's a view from my seat:
Too many penalties did Albany in and they lost a close one, close because the last goal came after Albany pulled its goalie in the final minute:
We came back and I watched the second half of the UConn-Kentucky game.  Chris watched a little, but he and Oscar hit the hay early.

Here's Oscar:
He's pretty funny and he definitely reminds me of my parents' dog, Toby.  He was pretty excited to explore my house and really liked exploring my backyard.  You can see his nails are really long.

I've been thinking about getting a dog or two and maybe some cats since I have a lot of space, but taking care of animals is a lot of work and I'm not sure for how long I'll be here.  I'll know more this fall.  I could get a wireless pet fence and put a pet door in the garage for the winter.  I'd probably get one smaller dog and one medium sized dog.  I'm not sure what kind of critters are out and about in my yard though, but I'm not that far out in the sticks so it should be ok.  They could certainly give the squirrels a workout.

The rest of today will be spent resting and recovering.  I'll do some laundry and make some tacos.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I fought the law and the law won

I got my guilty verdict in the mail and my V&T 1110A will cost me $150 - $65 for the fine and $85 for the surcharge.  Jeez.  I was right on the money though if you check my post from last week so I guess I can feel good about that.  It doesn't say how many points will go on my license though.

The annoying thing is the court doesn't accept personal checks so I'll have to print something out to pay by credit card.  Why don't they just have online payment then or maybe I could rock up to the court with cold hard cash.

Ugh.  This whole situation still pisses me off, but the anger is self-directed.