health and fitness 

2019.05.18This Time Around

I posted the image above two years ago.

Life was really good then: I was active, I was slender, I was healthier. I lived in a lovely home in the Midwest, in a lovely neighborhood, with lovely people. And I had a position that I also loved. I had plans to buy a larger home and to move my mother-in-law in with us, because my father-in-law's health was in significant decline, and I didn't want mom alone in her home over the winter.

A few months on, I lost that position that I loved due to layoffs. I lost that house that I loved. Instead of moving the mother-in-law in with us, we moved in with her. I was angry, and I became depressed. Something about my health changed. All of the advances I'd made in improving my health over the previous couple of years had vanished by the following spring.

...and I May Ask Myself, "Well, How Did I Get Here?"

Last spring, I was hired by a company in Dallas and was asked to move down. That summer was spent on househunting trips, buying our Dallas home, and getting settled. The change in everything was disruptive.

Today, two years on, I'm happier generally. It took a while for us to find a family physician -- hampered in part by a massive influenza outbreak -- but my doctor renewed my Fentermine prescription, and I'm happy to say that the other night, I wore clothes to a semiformal event that I hadn't worn in quite some time.

This Time Around

My weight loss approach this time is different than it had been. First, I'm not weighing myself at home. My wife asked me about this just this morning. I'm letting the doctor's office handle the weigh ins, because I don't want to make my weight the center of an infoporn obsession. Last time, I was weighing myself every day, and recording those weights on my site so I could graph and chart the sh!t out of them (and use it as an excuse to do even more crazy stuff with my charting class). I'm not creating an obsession this time. I know weight is coming off because I'm fitting in my clothes better, and because my daughter especially has noticed -- we have a standing date in our pool in the afternoons; she told me she can see a difference. Those things are good enough for me, I think. Well, and I want to notice a difference, too, obviously; I'll carry myself better if I have a little pride in my progress. I think it's going to be a little difficult to feel that pride while I'm obsessing over numbers. Forest for the trees kinda thing.

Fentermine, My Old Friend

Getting reacquainted with Fentermine has been a little challenging. In my first follow-up with my doctor, I was able to recount for her all of the things about taking it that I'd forgotten over the past couple of years -- like the constantly dry mouth and occasional constipation (I stopped making fun of Dulcolax and Benefiber ads after my first really bad experience).

Fentermine is no joke. It speeds the metabolism, meaning that even little things that excite you take longer to recover from; like the time it takes for your heart rate to slow and your body to relax going from jumping jacks to being seated. Tonight I sweated for probably two hours while I cleaned the house -- a task which included the discovery of a special feline surprise in the laundry room (a laundry basket "took one for the team" today). When all was done, I got into my pool to cool off. I feel like I sweat at the drop of a hat and I become more irritable on full-dose days.

Anyway, enough crabbing. I'm simply trying to say that it has its drawbacks -- along with most things in life -- and so one must make choices.

My choice at this point is to continue.



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2018.10.03UPDATE: Starbucks Doesn't Give a Frap About Your Health

Starbucks logo. Image credit: Starbucks
It looks like Starbucks just handed a double shot of "eff you" to customers with health concerns like diabetes


Starbucks has discontinued their Mocha Light Frappucino base. I have a huge problem with that.

No. I have a grande problem with that: According to the nutrition information Starbucks had published on their website at starbucks.com, a grande-sized Mocha Frappucino, made without whipped cream and using nonfat milk, contains 59 grams of sugar (and is 270 calories); 1 contrast with the same sized Mocha Light Frappucino, at 26g (140 cal),2 which is not served with whipped cream and doesn't offer a milk option. The Mocha Light Frappucino has less than half the sugar of the regular recipe, and about half of the calories.

And, Starbucks has just introduced their Triple Mocha Frappucino -- which, when made nonfat milk, contains 51g sugar (380 cal). 3, 4 Here's what Seth Meyers had to say about it last night:



On its face, the discontinuation of the Mocha Light Frappucino, coupled with the introduction of the Triple Mocha Frappucino, looks like Starbucks just handed a double shot of "eff you" to customers with health concerns like diabetes.

Yet Starbucks still has the gall to boast about their "commitment to health and wellness", and to state, "Starbucks has also committed to reducing average added sugar in indulgent beverages by 25 percent by the end of 2020." 5

I have called Starbucks support. The help desk person I spoke with was awesome, and promised me she would both escalate and "red-flag" the issue. At partially her behest, I have submitted the following on Starbucks' "ideas" website:

Please restore the Mocha Light Frappuccino.

The standard Mocha Frappuccino and the new Triple Mocha Frappuccino have unacceptable levels of sugar and calories for people with health issues like diabetes.

Removing the Light option significantly impacts the coffee drink options for people like me. But in the bigger picture, it also calls into question the commitment Starbucks made to health and wellness, and its commitment to reducing average added sugar in its beverages.

I'll be happy to update this post should Starbucks respond.



UPDATE:

Starbucks finally engaged me on this... somewhat. I've been receiving a barrage of personalized ads from them pushing their pumpkin spice lattes over social media, so I've been responding with comments like, "not until you bring back the Mocha Light Frappucino base." Today someone at Starbucks finally replied. Here's the play by play (with my image removed and name replaced with "Me". By the way, Starbucks did greet me by name):

I didn't throw at them the infoporn on their latest Frapbomination, OR how it, combined with the lack of a Splenda-enhanced option, completely flies in the face of their bullshit nutrition committment. At least give me that much.

By the way, just because I'm fighting for the Mocha Light Frappucino base doesn't mean it was all that amazingly good for me. For comparison: A 12-oz. (small) bottle of Coca-Cola has the same number of calories (140), but half-again as much sugar (39g compared with 26g).



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2018.05.03Starbucks Doesn't Give a Frap About Your Health

Starbucks logo. Image credit: Starbucks
It looks like Starbucks just handed a double shot of "eff you" to customers with health concerns like diabetes


Starbucks has discontinued their Mocha Light Frappucino base. I have a huge problem with that.

No. I have a grande problem with that: According to the nutrition information Starbucks had published on their website at starbucks.com, a grande-sized Mocha Frappucino, made without whipped cream and using nonfat milk, contains 59 grams of sugar (and is 270 calories); 1 contrast with the same sized Mocha Light Frappucino, at 26g (140 cal),2 which is not served with whipped cream and doesn't offer a milk option. The Mocha Light Frappucino has less than half the sugar of the regular recipe, and about half of the calories.

And, Starbucks has just introduced their Triple Mocha Frappucino -- which, when made nonfat milk, contains 51g sugar (380 cal). 3, 4 Here's what Seth Meyers had to say about it last night:



On its face, the discontinuation of the Mocha Light Frappucino, coupled with the introduction of the Triple Mocha Frappucino, looks like Starbucks just handed a double shot of "eff you" to customers with health concerns like diabetes.

Yet Starbucks still has the gall to boast about their "commitment to health and wellness", and to state, "Starbucks has also committed to reducing average added sugar in indulgent beverages by 25 percent by the end of 2020." 5

I have called Starbucks support. The help desk person I spoke with was awesome, and promised me she would both escalate and "red-flag" the issue. At partially her behest, I have submitted the following on Starbucks' "ideas" website:

Please restore the Mocha Light Frappuccino.

The standard Mocha Frappuccino and the new Triple Mocha Frappuccino have unacceptable levels of sugar and calories for people with health issues like diabetes.

Removing the Light option significantly impacts the coffee drink options for people like me. But in the bigger picture, it also calls into question the commitment Starbucks made to health and wellness, and its commitment to reducing average added sugar in its beverages.

I'll be happy to update this post should Starbucks respond.



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2018.01.06Apple Watch

Apple Watch logo. Image credit: Apple

Laurel bought me a Series 3 unit to replace my broken Series 1.

I feel like the watch is a symbol for a return to normalcy; the life I led before everything just went off the rails late last summer.

I'm sure that sounds weird, but look at it this way: I used my watch to do three things, mainly:

  • Check the current time
  • Track my day
  • Track my progress on my fitness goals.

I can track time on any watch. The real heart of the matter is in the last pair of bullets.

Track My Day

I feel like I just sorta float through my day at my new job. I find I miss the tighter integration I had in my previous position. My Apple Watch was absolutely fantastic because it would filter my schedule down to simply what I had coming next. Whatever and whenever that was, was displayed at the bottom of my watch face. I would receive haptic indications on things like the start of my next meeting, and it would make me get up and walk around if I'd been at my desk for too long. Not having those has probably made me feel more "afloat" than perhaps I really am.

Track My Fitness Goals

Over the past few months -- especially since living here -- my fitness has fallen flat on its face. I've been depressed; I haven't been motivated to... stay awake, much less exercise. Besides, it's been as cold as can be outside. I've gained back all of the weight I'd lost, and I'm probably nearly back to square one.

What does this Apple Watch mean?

It means hope.

I'm proud to say that, in the past two days since receiving it, I've been paying close attention to my calorie burn (red) ring. I'm pleased to say I'm burning more than I guess I thought I would -- and I'm also pleased to say that I'm watching my number closely and trying for more.

It's all the proof I need that hope has returned.



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2017.12.17UPDATE: Mario A. Finnell ALS Foundation

I've been working on this project for a long time -- two years -- and as you can imagine, the team is always happy to see each other on the rare occasions we can travel and get together.

Some months ago, one of our number started experiencing a problem in his hand. He started having frequent doctor visits, which seemed unusual to me and probably to the rest of us.

Over time, he seemed to become less and less available. When I'd hear him on conference calls, there were mornings he sounded exhausted. Something in his voice was different. It wasn't the same guy we all loved to see.

Only in recent weeks did I learn that he is suffering from ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gherig's Disease; it is considered a group of rare neurological diseases affecting voluntary muscle movement.

ALS and its component diseases are part of a broader class of motor neuron disorders. These disorders all share traits of degeneration and/or death of the nerve cells responsible for message transmission from the brain to the spinal cord and out to extremities. The neutralization of these motor neurons eventually translates into spasms or even atrophy of the muscles no longer receiving the messages they should.

My friend has this.

And I'm not okay with that.

He has started a foundation to raise funds for ALS research. Presently, a number of us are supporting his foundation through a Stridekick campaign, but we can all make donations through the Foundation's Facebook page.

Please consider making a donation. Particuarly if you or someone you know has been touched by this awful disease.

 

UPDATE: I received word this morning that Mario's fight with ALS ended yesterday morning.

Over 17 months, the disease brutalized and ultimately extinguished a loving, caring soul.

The organization's Facebook page asks that expressions of love and sympathy be made in donations in lieu of flowers.



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2017.11.07A Year Without Soda

Diet Coke logo. Image credit: Coca-Cola

My daughter reminded me on Halloween that the following day I'll have gone without soda for an entire YEAR.

Looking back, I find it's pretty amazing -- the passage of time that is. The effort was minimal.

I stick with previous observations about how staying away from it only really seemed difficult at the movie theater. But in the year that's passed, we've become used to buying water and adding flavoring to it to enhance our moviegoing experience.

My substitution of choice is iced tea, and tiny spaces in my car are packed with pink packets.

(Also see: A MONTH Without Cola.)



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2017.10.09Morning Walks at the New Place

It's hard to believe it's only been a few months since Laurel and I started walking first thing in the morning after kiddo caught the school bus.

Today we're walking her to school, then continuing in a sort of a loop back home. Our course is far more challenging than our old route was, primarily due to altitude changes. The walk offers some fairly steep hills. This walk is also a bit longer than our old route.

If my Apple Watch is fitted correctly, I can get about 22 of 30 daily activity minutes just from this morning route. That really makes the early effort worth it!



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2017.09.01August Stridekick Challenge Is Ended

Final stats are in -- I finished 11th of 21.

I found some nice motivation in working to take over the position of the person ahead of me. I did this a few times over the month (I think I started 14th). It motivated me to work harder. The person in 10th finished some 70,000 steps ahead of me -- talk about a stretch goal!

I'm not certain at this point what my relationship with Stridekick will be moving forward. I joined Stridekick as part of a group from work. Since the company has dismissed many of us, I'm unsure if I'll continue to use it (besides, my account is associated with my work e-mail address, which I'll obviously no longer have).

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2017.08.28August Stridekick Challenge UPDATE [EDITED]

After my evening walk, I've taken 11th place from my target -- provisionally: the numbers show I'm ahead of her by nearly 3,000 steps, but her data is 12 hours old.

I may have more work to do tomorrow to "seal the deal."



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2017.08.27The Five-Minute Workout

The display on our treadmill

We're smart people. And because we're smart people, we have some smart technologies in our home. A great example is a computer surge protector that kills power to everything on the strip once the computer is shut off. It's super nice because peripherals power up and down with the computer (which is plugged into a specific outlet on the strip).

What's not so smart is having other things plugged into the same surge protector -- "other things" being our treadmill.

The computer on the strip is Laurel's work computer -- a system to which neither have nor need access. On Saturday night I learned that her computer will shut itself down after 5 minutes of being powered up without further user interaction.

If you're working out at that point, the treadmill will stop abruptly. At 3+ MPH, it will occur shortly after the 1/4 mile mark. It's jarring. But you can keep your heart rate up by hurrying over to the PC to hit the power button again (were this captured on video, you likely won't be proud of your gait) and back onto the machine to start all over again.

A fifteen-minute workout will come with two of these breaks, plus the benefit of "auto shut-off" at the end.



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2017.08.24August Stridekick Challenge UPDATE

I'm closing in on my next victim: the person in 11th place is now only 10,000 steps ahead of me.

Make that 8,000.



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2017.08.19August Stridekick Challenge UPDATE



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2017.08.10Move Streak Level: 100

I'm super proud to report that I've kept my Move Streak alive for 100 days as of today!



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2017.08.09August Stridekick Challenge

My company has started its own Stridekick Challenge for the month of August. The challenge is team oriented -- two teams of participants are competing for bragging rights (for as much as people brag about walking). The teams are led by the two people who completely killed it in the previous challenge.

As of today, I'm in 15th place of 21.



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2017.08.07Study: Depression and Anxiety in Men Linked to High Sugar Diets

A representation of the sugar we consume. Image credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Tonic, a website and digital video channel that covers wellness, science, and health, reported that "men who consume high levels of sugar are more likely to develop depression or anxiety compared to those with low-sugar diets," according to a study published in Nature by researchers at University College London.

Of 7,000 surveyed over 30 years beginning in 1983, men who consumed 67 to 100 grams of added sugar in their diets (268 to 400 tsp (!!)) were 23% more likely to experience anxiety or depression over the next 5 years than men who consumed fewer than 40 grams (160 tsp) of added sugar, suggesting that a high-sugar diet may have long-term effects on mental health.

The same could not be said of the 2,000 female respondents. Researchers were unsure as to why their results differed from the men.

The Tonic article also cited research that asserted the sugar sources of choice for 3 out of 4 Britons are sweet foods and beverages.

Read the full Tonic article here. (Image credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images.) The study was published online in the journal Nature.



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2017.08.07High Fructose Corn Syrup-90 Renamed; Why That's a Big Deal

A spoonful of high fructose corn syrup with a skull and crossbones visible in the syrup. Image credit: yournewswire.com

YourNewsWire.com reported that food producers have renamed high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in order to deceive the public into thinking their products no longer contain the harmful compound.

The article makes an example of Vanilla Chex cereal by General Mills:

According to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), there's been a sneaky name change. The term 'fructose' is now being used to denote a product that was previously known as HFCS-90, meaning it is 90 percent pure fructose. Compare this to what is termed 'regular' HFCS, which contains either 42 or 55 percent fructose, and you will know why General Mills is so eager to keep you in the dark.

CRA explains:

"... HFCS-90 is sometimes used in natural and 'light' foods, where very little is needed to provide sweetness. Syrups with 90% fructose will not state high fructose corn syrup on the label [anymore], they will state 'fructose' or 'fructose syrup'."

Read the full article here. (Image credit: yournewswire.com)

What's the Big Deal?

Reading the article, it sounds like renaming HFCS-90 to "fructose" shouldn't deserve the shade yournewswire.com gives it. I mean, if it's 90% fructose, why not just call it "fructose?"

Here's why: natural sugar and "fructose" aren't the same thing. Actual fructose is a component of sugar; sucrose molecules are broken down by digestion to be useful to the body. The fructose contained in HFCS is not digested, as Dr. Mark Hyman explains in his article, "5 Reasons Why High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You" (emphasis mine):

High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food product and far from "natural" or a naturally occurring substance. It is extracted from corn stalks ... resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS. Some basic biochemistry will help you understand this.

Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two-sugar molecules bound tightly together– glucose and fructose in equal amounts. The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body. HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form.... Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) [. This] is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called "fatty liver" which affects 70 million people. The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin – our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more.

So the big deal is, products are being packaged stating they're free of HFCS, when in fact they still contain the engineered, unbound form of fructose. Even worse, HFCS-90 is 90% unbound fructose, not the 42% or 55% fructose in standard HFCS -- basically, twice the concentration of unbound fructose of the other two varieties (albeit used in lesser quantity, according to the CRA source of the yournewswire.com article).



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2017.08.01Perfect Month Achievement for July

For my second month in a row, I earned the achievement for reaching my daily move goal every day of the previous month.

And by the way, an important clarification: these achievements are not "you've hit your move goal for 30 days in a row." These are aligned with the calendar month -- so if you start making your move goals on the second of the month like I did in May, you get... regret.



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2017.07.28Some definition in the shoulders

Received a nice compliment this morning.

I'd mentioned that for the past few weeks I've been using a set of 5-lb. weights with my workouts, and only recently have I been able to keep the "Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots" mode engaged throughout the entire workout.

Apparently, it's already starting to pay off -- I was told some added definition is already visible.

That's a great thing, because R-S-R always kicks my A-S-S.



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2017.07.27250 lbs

Here's how to wreck my day: Get my wife to suggest I go weigh myself.

I'm back up to two hundred fifty fucking pounds.

Yes, I know that muscle weighs more than fat, and all that crap. When I was taking Phentermine, I was looking at 225 (I don't think I ever quite got there, though), but I wasn't doing any exercise at all. Now I'm a slave to my Apple Watch and I'm up 20 pounds.

I'm not emotionally ready to say I'm up by only 20 lbs. I'm going to be pissed off at the world for a little while until I get the motivation I need. This is pretty crushing.

Even better: I'm in my nasty workout clothes, because I go exercise after my morning meeting. Right now, I'm a hair away from giving up, it shook me that much.

I haven't weighed myself in 2 ½ months. Since then I've been making tons of posts about all the walking I've been doing; my Move Streak is at like 85 days. And I've been free of weight loss medication for at least that long.



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2017.07.26Working with Weights on a Treadmill Sucks

Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots

I posted a couple of days ago about how I've introdued wrist weights into my exercise routine. Today, thanks to inclement weather, I learned that using them while walking on a treadmill brings my awkwardness game to the next level.

My surmise is the culprit is the complication a moving, level platform presents: humans don't naturally walk at a steady pace. There's a lot of subtle mechanics at work in keeping one's body upright, balanced, and stationary relative to a platform moving at 3 MPH. Add to that 5 lbs. of additional weight on the forearms and concentrate on keeping them level with the platform, and voila! One hot mess with a high heart rate.



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2017.07.24Working with Weights

Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots

A couple of weeks ago, we bought some wrist weights for use in our outdoor walks.

We bought two sets -- one 2-lb. weight set (each weight is 1 lb.), and one 5-lb. set (2.5 lbs. each).

We started off trading the weights back and forth -- Laurel would use the 2-lb. set and I'd use the 5-lb. set one day, then we'd switch. I think it's still a good plan. But we had some weirdness last week where Laurel was stuck to her desk a few times while I went walking, and I ended up using the 5-lb. set each day.

Using those weights was weird for the first few days. I tried a few different "walking styles" to get comfortable with them, and I think I've settled on a sort of "Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot" method: bending my arms 90°, with my forearms level with the ground, and rocking them back and forth at my sides with each step, keeping them straight like I'm holding ski poles or throwing punches at the waist. Because the weights have flaps with thumb-holes, I find my ball my hands into fists without thinking about it.

When I started with these weights, I couldn't keep the "Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots" form for the entire walk. My shoulders would hurt, so I'd drop my arms for a while. But by last Thursday, I was able to maintain "fighting form" for the entire walk, and have done so each walk since.

I'm now over 80 days into my Move Streak. I like the addition of the weights, because I feel like I'm working my shoulders and my abs more while walking, and I suspect it's translating into a bigger calorie burn by some low percentage.



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2017.07.07More Achievements, Please

I am immensely grateful to Apple for their Activity app, the three rings and the whole nine.

Now 65 days into my Move Streak and having earned multiple instances of the 7-Workout Week and Perfect Week (All Activity) achievements, I'm kinda left wanting.

I'm a little surprised that there isn't an achievement for Perfect Month, for example. I got all of those Perfect Week achievements across an entire MONTH -- shouldn't that count for something?



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2017.06.30June Stridekick Challenge UPDATE



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2017.06.29Exercise: What a Difference a Month Makes

Today is the first day in at least a month -- maybe more like two months -- that our morning walk had to happen on our treadmill.

Months ago when I started on the treadmill, I was walking at a pace of about 1.7MPH. In contrast, I wasn't happy this morning until I reached a pace of 2.9MPH -- nearly twice the former speed.

I've become used to doing a circuit of 1.22 miles. This takes us up and down inclines, from shade to sun, and from breeze to still to breeze again. We walk this route in the mornings and walk at an aggressive pace to get the majority of our activity out of the way before the heat of the day.

The analog on a treadmill is... challenging. No inclines, no declines -- just flat. I didn't have the experience of pain in varying areas of my lower legs (I didn't necessarily miss it, but I can confirm that pain IS likely the product of variations in the walking surface). No sun, no shade, no breeze. No companion, and no conversation -- treadmill walking is a solo effort.

Then there's all this right in my face for five laps:

Useful: Seeing the relationship between calories burned and distance. (100 calories per mile, according to this display.)

The biggest disappointment though is my stats. My Apple Watch measured my effort at 1.23 miles (nearly spot on with my normal outdoor route). Here's the infoporn, comparing today's indoor walk with yesterday's outdoor walk and an outdoor walk this afternoon:

Activity TypeActive CaloriesTotal CaloriesDistanceTotal TimeElevation GainAvg. Heart RateAvg. Pace
Indoor Walk122 CAL181 CAL1.23 mi0:26:15--89 BPM21'12"/mi
Outdoor Walk112 CAL160 CAL1.21 mi0:21:0237 FT106 BPM17'22"/mi
Outdoor Walk114 CAL162 CAL1.20 mi0:20:5720 FT113 BPM17'23"/mi

Particularly telling here is the average heart rate data. These rates translate into green ring data. This morning's indoor walk only credited me for 8 minutes of exercise, as compared with my normal outdoor walk, from which I routinely get credit for about 22 minutes of exercise, though the calorie burn, time and distance is generally comparable. (I can't explain why the Elevation Gain varied so much -- it's the same route.)

I'm coming up very short so far today, and I think the big difference is in the lack of inclines and declines, because I think they're the key factor in having that good, higher heart rate that meets the activity standard. Notice that the pace in the outdoor walks is much lower than this morning's indoor walk, and still the heart rate and activity minutes were far higher in the outdoor walks.

Apart from daily progress, though, I'm pretty amazed at how different use of the treadmill is now that I've been doing all of these outdoors workouts. Treadmill use is WAY more boring now that it used to be -- and I'm sure going a LOT faster!!



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2017.06.29June Stridekick Challenge UPDATE

As of today (June 29), I've one day remaining in the challenge. I said I'd make Marathon:



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2017.06.27June Stridekick Challenge UPDATE

As of today (June 27), I've made it over 108 miles, which puts me just south of Conch Key. I am still in ninth place and still on track for Marathon.

Everyone below me has basically given up. The gap between me and the person in tenth is some 100,000 steps.

I have a lot to thank Mario for. On Sunday I acquired my third "Perfect Week (All Activity)" achievement in the Activity app. That means I've been closing all three rings in the Activity app for three weeks now -- a feat I didn't think I'd accomplish. This Stridekick challenge has helped me to be much better to myself from an exercise standpoint. I'm sad I'm not going to meet others at Virtual Sloppy Joe's, but look how far I've come!

By the way, my Move Streak is now at 55 days. That's 55 days of meeting or exceeding my daily calorie burning goal.



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2017.06.21'Garbage' In, 'Garbage' Out

We found ourselves once again in need of a fast lunch. I opted for a nearby Wendy's, chiefly because I can get cut strawberries instead of fries as part of a meal.

I'm in the drive-through placing the order. First Laurel's, then mine. Just when I complete my statement, I hear this reply: "Garbage."

My mind whirled. Responses I considered:

  • "What?? Lettuce and tomato isn't good enough on that burger?"
  • "HEY! That's my LUNCH!"
  • "I know, I know, I should have ordered the salad."

The person taking my order was a manager, who immediately explained that her remark was in response to a query from a coworker. The response wasn't intended for me (and I knew it right away).

It was a good laugh.



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2017.06.18On Closing All Three Rings

For me, exercise has always been something that I did but never really wanted to do--with the sole exception of cycling. I love cycling. I rediscovered it once, and I think I'm becoming well-positioned to rediscover it again. Outside of cycling, exercise was mostly military PT. I just never loved it. I probably never even liked it, although there was a time I did it so often I became used to it.

So, thanks to Apple, I have these little achievements (pictured at top) to help motivate me to succeed. At left is the achievement for hitting the exercise goal each day for the week; to its right, the achievement for hitting the stand goal each day for a week (that is, standing and walking about in an hour for 12 hours in the day); to its right, the achievement for hitting the calories burned/move goal each day of the week (this one moves up each week; my streak is currently at 46 days); and finally, at far right, is the achievement for hitting all three of the aforementioned goals each day for a week.

These achievements correlate to rings that appear in the Activity app -- a set of three circles that appear concentrically. At the start of the day, they just appear as three aligned dots; as progress is made, the dots "stretch" in a clockwise fashion. Each segment of a circle represents your progress through each day. Expanding each segment to form a circle is the goal (called "closing the ring"); the rings are essentially circular progress indicators.

You can see from the image above that I've closed the exercise ring for today (the green one) already; I'm over halfway to my move goal (the red one), and I'm just shy of halfway to my stand goal (the blue one).

I'm using these rings and achievements to motivate me to continue to better myself. As you've seen in previous posts, I started with the move goal, and I've done well with it -- so I became a little brave.

Over the past two weeks I've paid particular attention to closing all three rings each day. I find that the activity (green) ring is the hardest to close, because it requires elevated heart rates; and so my strategy has been to take multiple, fast-paced walks throughout the day to satisfy the requirement. The strategy has had some unusually beneficial side effects:

  1. There's nothing like sweat and exhaustion to keep me away from a second cup of coffee: I tend to try to "hit for distance" earlier in the day, leaving me less to have to do later on. So I'll take a longer walk at a faster pace at this time of day -- after which, a hot cuppa does not appeal. In fact, I'm actually allowing coffee avoidance to get me out for the morning walks. I've been making myself go walk instead of going for that 2nd cup. My love of my coffee hates it, but the rest of my body appreciates it.
  2. The distance I walk while mowing my front yard is ½ mile. My BPM gets high enough to count as exercise. But the map looks like a complete scribble.
  3. I have a much greater appreciation for the subtle inclines and declines around my neighborhood. Mostly I can detect them based on which lower leg muscles are hurting at the time. Also: I should stretch.

I've settled into a sort of a routine: a 1¼-mile route in the morning, then a shorter, ½-mile route in the afternoon and evening. Every day. Laurel walks with me when she can, which, thankfully, is most of the time. I really love that this is something we do together.

I don't yet know if all of this has made me healthier, but I believe it has made me better: I feel that I'm really doing something good and positive for myself. And I know but I have to be patient, I have to stick with this to see more obvious results.

I feel like I have a program. Something to follow that requires effort and dedication. For that alone, I am grateful.

When I was working on solely diet-based weight loss, I just was not ready to commit to exercise. Perhaps I blamed it a little too much on my hectic work schedule... I just felt I didn't have room to commit to ANYTHING, because I was working ALL the time. Late nights; days without proper lunch breaks. There was no way in Hell I was going to commit to exercising 30 minutes per day when I couldn't even depend on having time for lunch.

Looking back, knowing what the commitment is like, I still say I wasn't positioned to execute. But life is better now; things have slowed enough that I made the commitment, and I'm glad I have.

Today I'll have earned that collection of badges pictured at top a second time. The change to allow me to do it was instrumental, and over the past couple of weeks I've had to fight a little to keep on track. Now that I'm doing, and achieving, I'll fight like Hell to keep building.



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2017.06.18June Stridekick Challenge UPDATE

As of today (June 18), I've made it over 70 miles, which puts me in the Keys, at Key Largo. I am in ninth place and still on track for Marathon.

One guy, whom I'm convinced has no actual job, is already at Sloppy Joe's -- he does something like 25,000 steps per day.

It's not too late to join the challenge!



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