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.

Seven things I’ve already noticed since I began exercising again

I'm very thankful that the positive feedback that comes from beginning an exercise program comes quickly. Here are seven little things that my wife, myself, and others have noticed already about me since I began exercising again:

  • I feel better. This happened almost immediately. Just the act of finally doing something about my weight made me feel better. Overall, I don't ache as much, and I have more energy.
  • My wife used to only be able to hook two fingers behind my back when she was hugging me. Now she can grab her wrists.
  • I can wrap a towel around myself without worrying that it will fall off.
  • My mother-in-law says that I'm walking straighter
  • My triceps are getting a little bit of definition with the push-up routine.
  • I can see a hint of my cheek bones again.
  • My wife says I have more “sparkle.” I'm losing the glumpy caveman look, and I seem to care more and be happier.

If you've lost some weight, what were some of the first things you or your spouse noticed about you?

Hundred Pushups, Week 4, days 1 and 2

Two days' worth of updates:

Week 4, Day 1, Column 1: 16, 13, 13, 11, max = 21 (total 74)
Week 4, Day 2, Column 1: 16, 14, 14, 12, max = 20 (total 76)

I'm still being pretty generous with the breaks in between the different levels but I cut them down a little bit tonight. (I should be resting 90 seconds in between the sets, but I've been taking more like three minutes.)

It's nice seeing a small amount of definition in my arms again.

If you're interested in keeping track of your workout on your iPod, Peter over at Quick to Fit has just the download for you. (Or you can get my analog version here.)

One ounce at a time

Someone passed on a copy of Fred Brooks' software classic The Mythical Man-Month to me. The introductory page to the chapter on progress tracking has this question and answer:

Question: How does a large software project get to be one year late?
Answer: One day at a time.

Small slippages here and there add up, and if left unchecked, they add up a lot.

But this is a weight loss blog, not a programming blog, so:

Question: How does a large guy get to be one hundred pounds overweight?
Answer: One ounce at a time.

I weighed 140 pounds at one point of my adult life, in my first year of graduate school. Through the next few years I put on some weight, had an operation to fix the effects of Crohn's disease, and subsequently went up to about 180 pounds. I worked off 30 pounds of that over the next year or so just doing a lot of cardiovascular workouts. Then I started writing my thesis and that took precedence. Then I moved to my current location. Then I got married. A year after I was married I was 210. Five years after that I'd crept up to 240. That's up 100 pounds.

One pound is 3,500 Calories. One pound is sixteen ounces, so one ounce is 219 Calories.

Each day that I consumed a can of soda, a beer, or a candy bar more than I burned off, I put on an ounce. One day doing this, and one day exercising a little harder or one day pushing that soda away, evens out. But when those offsetting days aren't there, that's when the weight creep shows up, one ounce at a time, and it adds up.

I gained this weight one ounce at a time. I have to take it off one ounce at a time, too.

Hundred Pushups, Week 3 wrap-up

Got through another week!  I thought week 3 would get me but I squeaked by.  Here's my progress so far:

Date Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Maximum Total
06/18/08 Initial test 8
06/21/08 7 7 5 4 12 35
06/23/08 9 8 6 5 10 38
06/25/08 10 8 8 5 11 42
06/28/08 9 8 6 4 14 41
06/30/08 11 9 7 7 12 46
07/02/08 10 10 8 8 15 51
07/04/08 Exhaustion test 19
07/05/08 15 12 12 10 15 64
07/07/08 16 14 14 12 16 72
07/09/08 20 15 15 12 17 79

One thing I did find myself doing is “powering through” the pushups more (meaning I did them faster). That and I continued to take a little extra time in between the levels (somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes rather than 1 to 2 minutes). I can see the number of pushups I'm doing going up steadily, so that's what really matters, I guess.

Sticking with the program is going to be most of what gets me to the hundred. Since I was so fat to begin with I set my expectations of getting to 100 in six weeks as being zero.  I'll be happy if I can get there in anywhere close to six months.

But that's all right.  It's helping me to get into better shape.