Elliptic trainers are fun

I’m working out on them a couple times a week.  Four or five times a week would be better.

I prefer the ones that give an arm workout as well as the other parts.  Holding onto the railings on the other machines seems a little like cheating, but I’m not one to talk right now.

The machine says that I burn around 450 calories during my 35-minute workout.  (I weigh myself before I work out and enter that into the machine.  I probably actually burn no less than 350 calories; they’re not too far off.) 

Through all this, I realized that people who lose two pounds a week are doing some serious dieting and some serious exercising.  It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound.  Cutting back 500 calories a day should mean a net loss of one pound per week.  Burning another 500 calories each and every day would be another pound per week.

At the rate I’m working out, I’d lose one pound a month.  That’s probably not fast enough.  It’s better than gaining a pound a month, but I’ll be fat for a looooong time at that rate.

Elliptic trainers are fun.  I’ll use them more often. 😉

Well, Wii Fit didn’t keel over from shock

It had been a while since I logged any time on Wii Fit.  Bad me.  It teases me a little when I miss a few days.  The animated Balance Board was happy as always to see me again, and I put in 30 minutes for the first time in about a month without keeling over myself.

I guess there are bound to be a few false starts with any habit-changing endeavors like weight loss.  And this particular one is really tough to overcome:  It’s estimated that only 5% of people who lose 10% of their body weight will keep it off for five years or more.  That’s twenty-to-one odds.  Even worse odds than staying married.

One thing that has been really throwing a wrench in the gears has been my sleep schedule.  Many people have commented that I’ve been staying up, and getting up, way too late.  I’ve come to realize that this ripples through the rest of my life and backs everything up against a wall.  I’ve kinda-sorta gotten away with being an ultra-night-owl for quite a while, but it’s catching up to me, and calling attention to things that aren’t really too complimentary.  People at work notice that I roll in pretty late (even though we have flexible hours), and getting up early for church on Sunday is always a challenge.  Throwing off my sleep schedule so often affects how well I sleep, so my desire to exercise goes down, which decreases my productivity and how well I sleep.  That’s a bad cycle to get into.

Anyway, I’m trying to address my sleep schedule and re-commit myself to exercise.  Thanks for sticking around as I figure this out.  I appreciate it!

I hate fundraisers

Well, maybe I should be a little more specific:  I hate fundraisers at work where they just leave a box of candy bars and an envelope in a high-traffic area.

I fell off the wagon over the past week or so and became a really, really good customer of this particular fundraiser.  As in I bought a couple dozen candy bars and practically bought the whole softball team new uniforms.

Food, food, food.  Buy some food.  It’s for the kids.  BAH!  "Apply directly to hips" is more like it.

I pray that I can resist temptation for sweets more.  It’s something I know that I won’t be able to do with my own power.  A 5% success rate for keeping weight off five years or more says that it’s difficult even with His help.

Here’s a question for you folks who aren’t as tempted by sweets:  How do you say no when your taste buds are screaming yes?

Got a perfect score on Wii Fit Soccer Ball Heading

I just about scared the collar off of one of my dogs when I yelled "YEEEAAAHHHHH!" at the top of my lungs, though.

Five hundred fifty-five points on beginner level.  The advanced level is still eating me for lunch.  I cracked 300 points once and most of my other tries were in the low 200s — a far cry from the maximum 655 points.

You’re reading this, and you might be thinking, whoopee, good for you, let me share my excitement, nah I’m not really excited, that’s lame.

Have I mentioned that it’s really easy to slack off on exercising?  I’ve put in a half-hour tonight and last night but there was a pretty big hiatus, as in a few weeks.  As it was, tonight I just did balance games — which is exercise but not a huge amount of exercise.

I was in good shape in graduate school ten years ago, but I was putting in 45 minutes to an hour, five or six days a week, on an elliptic trainer.  That’s a fairly hefty routine.  Now an accomplishment is playing Tilt Board, Penguin Slide, and Soccer Ball Heading a few times, not breaking a sweat, and writing about it.  This wasn’t what I was doing ten years ago, or even two months ago.

Oh well. maybe I’ll get a bunch of exercise cleaning up after the storm. 😉

Slim down, or pay the piper

The State of Alabama isn’t taking its workers’ obesity lying down.  The state’s 37,000 employees have been given an ultimatum:  Slim down, or pay an extra $300 per year.

Obesity has become a bit of an oversized target for cost-shifting.  With over 30% of the state’s residents obese, Alabama will be the first state to assess a fat tax on its workers.

Increased health insurance premiums are but one way that being fat costs money, but typically this has largely been an issue with self-employed people.  Group health insurance policies even the playing field, and the healthier, often slimmer members of the group subsidize the premiums paid by, or on behalf of, the less healthy members.  Since obesity leads to many health issues, it makes budgetary sense to charge the people who contribute most to the rising costs of health insurance.  Smokers have already been taxes in some places.  Now apparently fat people are on the chopping block.

This will be a permanent money-maker for the state.  Many people won’t take off the weight, and only a small fraction (about 5%) will keep it off for five years or more.

But there’s always that 5% that will win!

It’s my own fault that I’m fat

A report issued this past Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health blamed a bunch of things for the rising obesity rate in thirty-seven states, including:

  • Federal, state, and local governments
  • School cafeteria meal planners
  • Long commutes
  • Longer work hours
  • Exclusion of obesity treatment from health coverage
  • High cost of health club memberships
  • Lack of grocery stores in lower-income areas
  • Sedentary entertainment
  • Stress
  • "Relentless advertising" of unhealthy foods
  • Shortage of safe walking routes to school
  • Mochas with steamed milk and syrup
  • Sedentary desk jobs
  • Lack of bike racks and showers
  • Lack of employer support for employees’ exercise time
  • Weak top-level leadership at the state legislature level
  • Lack of legislation requiring restaurants to provide nutrition information on menu boards

Wow!  I sure am glad it’s not my fault!

Yeah right.  Just like nobody cares for my finances as much as I do, nobody cares about my health as much as I do.  Everyone else cares (a) about making money off of me, (b) expending as little as possible to get me to continue expending energy to benefit their own interests, or (c) making money off of other people by not impeding their ability to make money off of me.  If I’m fat, it’s because I didn’t care about my health as much as I should, and nothing else.

I know that I can be normal weight; I’ve done it before.  To do that, I have to overcome odds stacked against me.  I have to exercise on my own time, without my employer’s financial assistance.  I have to pony up for a gym membership (which I did) or find cheaper ways to exercise.  I have to resist heavily-advertised fast foods.  I have to pay for my own obesity treatments out of pocket.

If I don’t, nobody else will care, I’ll still be fat, and it will still be my fault.  It’s my problem to fix.

How to get a 403% burn rate on Wii Fit Basic Run

I’ve been a slacker on the pushups but I’ve been keeping on with Wii Fit, mainly with the aerobic workouts.  I enjoy the Basic Run Island Lap.  It doesn’t use the Wii Balance Board but it does use the Wii remote: just hold it or stick it in your pocket and it registers your steps like a pedometer.

The metric they use to measure your progress on this exercise is "burn rate," which as far as I can tell is a measure of how consistent the run is.  If I’m just screwing around and shaking the remote up and down while I’m running and making my Mii fall, my burn rate will be in the 10-20% range.  If I give it a good try and do a reasonable job, the burn rate will be higher: 80% to 100%, or more.  When I’m running in place on the floor, I can get a burn rate anywhere from 150% to 250%.  I don’t know how they calculate it but it’s probably inversely related to the variance in the step rate:  the more the running speed changes, the lower the burn rate.  There’s also a speed component: a slower speed seems to give a higher burn rate than a faster speed, even if that faster speed is steady.

I forgot to take a picture of my 403% burn rate Island Lap, but here’s how I did it.  This might be cheating but my calves, ankles, and lower back tell me otherwise.  I bounced for 15 minutes on a trampoline we got at a yard sale.  Nice and steady!  And probably lower impact than running, anyway.

Back in the swing of things a bit

I’d fallen off the wagon a bit with my hundred pushups workout so I dropped back to Week 3 tonight.  (We were without air conditioning for a week, and doing much of anything physical was a chore.)  At the suggestion of Fit36 I tried tightening up the rest periods between the levels, and ended up failing to do the minimum number of pushups on the max level all in one stint; I ended up five short (15, 12, 12, 10, 10) but went back to do the other five about 30 seconds later.

I’m still thinking that going for more pushups each workout, rather than trying to cut the breaks down to the prescribed amounts, is what I need.  I’m more than happy taking a good long time to get through 100 pushups in a row, but I need to keep myself from getting injured, and I also need to lose some more of the weight.  More pushups means more calories burned.

Silver Fit Bank, following dogs, and taking it easy

I just crossed the 20-hour mark in Fit Credits on Wii Fit. My Fit Bank got an upgrade to silver. It’s all shiny and stuff.

Tonight I put over an hour on Wii Fit because my wife found out how to take different routes on the Island Lap run. We had wanted to find the fifteen hidden retro Nintendo characters scattered all over the island (like Mario and the mushrooms from Super Mario Brothers) but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to run the different parts of the island. I knew that I had done it before — that was the frustrating part.

The trick is to follow the dogs. At certain points in the run a dog will com up from behind you. If you pass your guide, then the dog becomes the new guide, and takes you through a different route. What had happened is that I was fooling around during the first couple of times I did the run, and I deliberately passed my guide just to watch my Mii trip and fall. (Simple jokes for simple folks.) But for the past couple of weeks I took my time, and did a nice, steady pace, and saw the exact same route every single time I did the run. Well, my steady pace didn’t let me follow any of the dogs! Bingo! (That’s his name-o.)

I’ve been holding off on the 100 Pushups Challenge for the past week. My chiropractor told me that the hand position for standard pushups can cause the hands and wrists to tighten and become a bit painful to move. Holding off on that during Week 3 helped fix that, but then my right shoulder started to act up. The little pains in my shoulder reminded me of a time a few years ago when I had a likely rotator cuff injury. I was dumb and tried to launch my old dryer drum into the front yard before we took it to the dump. (I took it easy for a week or so and it healed, and remembered not to shock my shoulder like that.) Since basically the only way to heal that kind of injury is to immobilize the shoulder, I’m pretty careful, and if it starts complaining, I take it easy.

Well, that’s my update. How are you doing with your routines?

Mix up your exercise with some volunteering

This weekend I participated in our Lions Club’s highway cleanup.  We have a stretch of road about a mile long that we walk over every couple of months and clean of any trash we find.

It’s great to provide some community service.  It’s also good exercise. Bending over, going up and down inclines in the median, carrying the bag of trash all exercise muscles that I don’t typically exercise.  And at this point, any exercise I can get is a very good thing.  I sure felt it afterwards.

For a lot of people this kind of work is part of an everyday routine, but for a desk jockey like me physical labor is something I have to go out of my way to do.  One disadvantage of desk jobs is that they’re sedentary, so weight gain can creep up on you (as it did me) unless you take active steps to exercise and eat right.

Volunteering and sweating out in the sun for a couple of hours is one way to do that.