Exercise

My 5k Report

I ran my second 5K race ever yesterday! You can read all about my first experience in 2008 (so young!) on this very blog. Mayor Nutter (who was the mayor of Philadelphia at the time) was there, and I met him so that was cool. And Marisa took what is my favorite picture of the day:

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That's me pointing to the Mayor's back. How security didn't escort me away I'll never know.

Much like my first 5K experience, signing up for this one was something of an impulsive decision. I wanted to support the cause of getting rid of colon cancer in my mom's memory so it seemed like a good idea. Of course, I hadn't actually ran outside, or really at all, for months and months and months before I signed up.

I had been doing an hour on the elliptical for several months, so I didn't think it would be too bad to get back into the running habit. To train I went out and did exactly what you aren't supposed to do: I ran a 5K run to see how it would feel.

Reader, I ran my fastest 5K ever! At this point I considered becoming a professional runner, but the benefits aren't great.

A week later, I ran another 5K and BEAT my previous time again!

Then we went on vacation and I ran along the coast of Oregon… and didn't beat my record. However, I did get chased by a couple of dogs so that was fun.

I ran a few more times in Philadelphia and before I knew it race day was upon me. Marisa, sadly, was off being famous so she couldn't be there. My brother and his girlfriend came down to watch me race (though they weren't there at the start, since really it isn't that exciting. And due to a coffee mishap they missed me crossing the finish line, but it is the thought that counts!).

I showed up, pinned my number to my t-shirt and waited. I hate being late for things, so I was an hour early for the race. I could have helped myself to some snacks… but I don't eat before I run since I imagine myself vomiting along the route (this is also why I don't eat before public speaking).

Since I had so much time on my hands I checked out the giant colon:

Soon it was time to start the race. I was surrounded by people in much better shape than me (some of whom were wearing nothing but their underwear. I was wearing the pair of boxers they gave to runners [it was an undy run] over my running shorts… doubly secured).

And off I went! My goal for this race was simple: pace myself. During my practice runs I was so excited to be running outside that my first mile would be super fast (well, for me) and then the second mile would be slower, and the third mile would be me jogging/walking and hating life.

I didn't want to walk at all during the 5K, and I didn't want to expend all my energy during the first mile. How did I do?

Check out my Runkeeper stats:

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I am very proud of how darn consistent I was able to keep my pacing. How did I manage it? Well, I had set Runkeeper to tell me my pace at 1 mile intervals, which really meant that I couldn't adjust at all. Before the race I set it to alert me every .5 mile (which I didn't think would be too annoying) and it worked like a charm.

Now, when I registered for the race I had two fears:

  • I would be the fattest person running.
  • I would come in dead last.

I'm happy to report that only one of those fears was true, which made the fact that the second didn't come true all the sweeter.

Sure, I was the biggest guy running (lots of people did the fun walk) but I wasn't the slowest person. Hurrah for me!

Now, I was very far from being the fastest person but I did come in 9th in my age group (104th overall). That's something.

The run itself was pretty good. I made sure to run along the far edge of the road so people could easily pass me (since I wasn't running very fast). We ran 1.5 miles one way, turned around, and ran back.

The way out was great. I was chugging along. Passing some people, having some people pass me. No big deal. Then I turned the corner, passed the water station (no water for me, thanks. Don't want to vomit) and ended up behind 3 teenage girls walking side by side on the race route. It was clear that they were friends since they were chatting amongst themselves. No big deal, but they were blocking the entire half of the road. I sped up, swerved around them and passed them.

No big deal.

Well, having seen an old fat guy pass them they decided they needed to speed up themselves and so they passed me. And kept running. Until they started walking again. And, you guessed it, I had to pass them again since I was running at a consistent speed.

Once again, they saw this… and decided to run pass me again.

And then they started walking side by side again.

So I passed them, again.

And this was with about .7 miles left, so I was pretty sure they would run past me and beat me to the finish line… but I didn't see them again.

Therefore I assume I beat them. Take that, teenage girls who I am sure have no memory of me even being there!

According to the race chip I ran the 5K in 31:39 which gave me an average pace of a 10 minute 11 second mile (3 times in a row!).

And then I ate two bananas and drank all the water:

When I ran my last 5K (9 years ago) it took me 33:03, so I improved without really trying. Hurrah for me.

And a much bigger hurrah to everyone who donated to the cause. I was almost the top fundraiser for the race (I was bet by $75 but I'm ok with that).


50 pounds

I knew there was a problem when I had to limit myself to wearing 7 out of 71 of my Hawaiian shirts.

Ok, don't get hung up on the fact that I have 71 Hawaiian shirts. That's not what this post is about.

I'm blessed, or cursed, with a very good self image. The upside? When I look in the mirror I think to myself, “My, what a handsome young man!” That's great! Everyone should like the way they look, if you ask me.

The down side? The fact that I had gained back lots of the weight I had lost without noticing.

Sure, my pants were snug. But there's an easy solution to that: new pants! And during the winter I wear sweaters which are very forgiving to an expanding belly.

Of course, I knew something was up when several of my Hawaiian shirts didn't fit. Even some of the “fat” shirts I have on reserve (for you skinny people out there those are the shirts I know are a little big, so I can always be certain they'll fit even if other shirts seem to have… shrunk) didn't fit. No bueno.

I've been down this road before, and I've even lost over 100 pounds! When I finally hopped on the scale I found out that I had gained back 70 of those pounds (over the course of several years, but still!). I did find some solace in the fact that I hadn't gained it all back; cold comfort.

Clearly, I needed to do something. But what? Previously I cut carbs out of my diet completely and had seen some great results. The problem with this is that I would stop eating carbs for several weeks and then black out only to awaken surrounded by the crumby remains of several cakes, empty husks of bread, and chip bags drifting down our hallway like tumbleweeds.

What I'm saying is the carb free lifestyle isn't sustainable for me.

But then I cracked the weight lose secret, and I'm going to share it with you right now. Are you sitting down, people, because this is big! Roswell aliens big. Jimmy Hoffa's corpse big!

The best way to shed the extra pounds? Eating sensibly and moving more!

WHAT?!

Now, I know that doesn't work for everyone, and that truly sucks. Hell, it doesn't work for me!

I've known forever that I should eat sensible portions and exercise. But if I could do that I wouldn't NEED to do that, if you catch my drift.

At the tender age of 40 I've come to the conclusion that I have no idea how to eat like a normal person. When left to my own devices I make the worst food choices, though to my credit I also make those choices a lot resulting in consuming a staggering amount of calories.

That leaves me with a problem: I know the solution to my weight problem but I'm seemingly incapable of doing it. What is a fat guy to do?

I found the answer, as one does to so many of life's problems, in Oprah; praised be her name.

One night Marisa and I were watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Oprah was a guest. She was on to talk about being Oprah, of course, but also to chat up her new cookbook. Now, you can't just write a cookbook these days (says the guy who is married to a cookbook author), you need a hook. Even Oprah, praised be her name, needs a hook! And this cookbook featured recipes, as cookbooks so often do, but each of the recipes included their Weight Watchers Smart Point values.

Turns out, as the kids say, that Oprah recently-ish bought part of that venerable weight loss institution Weight Watchers. And her cookbook was like a Trojan Horse to seduce unsuspecting guys named Scott into signing up for Weight Watchers.

Reader, I bought the book. I signed up for Weight Watchers. I weighed my food. I tracked my points. I went to the gym. I've lost 50 pounds in 5 months.

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Let me repeat that: I've lost 50 pounds in 5 months!

Which means that I've managed to track my food every day for the last 5 months (I would say religiously but I'm an atheist). Warning, I'm about to sound like a Weight Watchers commercial but they haven't paid me a cent (Oprah? Feel free to send me some money. Or one of your favorite things.): it hasn't felt like I've been on a diet. But I've totally been on a diet.

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What does it feel like? It sort of feels like I'm learning how to eat like a responsible adult. This isn't fun, I'll grant you, but it hasn't been horrible either.

Now, if you're not familiar with Weight Watchers let me give you the basics. You're assigned a number of Smart Points each day based on your height, weight, and what your goal is (losing weight/maintaining). Various foodstuffs are assigned point values based on a formula that takes into account calories, protein, and the like. You are allowed to eat as much food as you have points for, but once you're out of points you stop eating.

Still hunger? Good news! Vegetables and fruits are 0 points. Eat all you want!

You can sign up for a membership that includes in person meetings, but I don't like people so I opted for the online only membership. This gives you access to the Weight Watchers app which features a barcode scanner. Here's how that works: Pick up a bag of Oreos, scan it to find out how many points are in a serving, figure that isn't too bad since a serving of Oreos is clearly “the whole package,” double check the serving size, question everything anyone has ever told you, put the Oreos package down, and eat a banana.

The app is great because not only does it include a huge database of scannable food, but you can also use a point calculator to find out how many points things that aren't listed have (I've calculated how many points my favorite Sweetgreen salad is [16] and how many points my formally favorite Wawa hoagie has [so, so many points, you guys.]). Plus you can input recipes and it spits out how many points are in each serving (based on the number of servings the recipe makes). This has made Marisa happy since my previous diets of no carbs, dairy, or legumes would make cooking for me more challenging than it usually is.

A Brief Review of the Weight Watchers iOS app

Overall, the app does what it says on the tin. It allows you to easily look up and track your points, enter your weight, and it'll even sync with a FitBit or Apple Health to give you Fit Points (you get points for activities that you can use to supplement your daily points. I have yet to use any! But I accrue them like a mofo).

There are, however, a few areas for improvement:

  • Without a network connection the app is pretty useless. It would be nice if there was even a limited database of foods on device (perhaps it could remember your frequently used foods?). Not a huge deal, but if you want to see a bunch of angry dieters just search for Weight Watchers outage on Twitter.
  • Keep me logged in for Christ's sake! I don't know why, but this app seems to have trouble remembering me, and I'm starting to take it personally. Maybe if I lose more weight then the app will love me. IS THAT IT, WEIGHT WATCHERS APP?!
  • While I love scanning food, for some reason you can't scan things to add them to a recipe that you're creating. This is dumb and should be fixed.

Thus ends the mini review of the Weight Watchers iOS app

That's the eating part, which lots of people tell me is the most important part, but what about the exercising (autocorrect, knowing me it would seem, kept changing exercising to “excess icing.” Thanks, iPad, you're a jerk.)?

For awhile I was running like a madman, but I've decided that I like my joints so I should probably do something else in the gym. I cast my mind back several years to when I lost these 100 pounds the first time around and recalled that most magical of exercise equipment: the elliptical. Have you ever wanted to kind of run while hovering a few inches off the ground and simultaneously staying in one place? The elliptical is for you!

I do an hour on the elliptical in two week cycles. The first week I go Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. The second week's sequence is Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Having a schedule is super important because I know I have to go to the gym. And I can watch a nice BBC show as I workout (tonight I'll be watching the last episode of Series 3 of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, but I'll write another post about all the shows I've watched at the gym covered in sweat and grunting).

All of this work is paying off, but the sad irony is that while I've lost 50 pounds and I feel good about it I still need to get rid of at least about 50 more. If I stop and think about that it makes me want to eat a chocolate chip muffin (31 points) in a dark room, so I don't think about it.

However, when I have those chocolate chip muffin thoughts I remember the deal I made with myself: I'm going to use Weight Watchers for a year and see how I feel/how I did. My weight along the way should be trending downward, but the goal is still 7 months away.

This leads to an obvious question: what's my goal? Well, it would be nice to lose 100 pounds total so why not make that my goal?

All 71 of my Hawaiian shirts fit now.


5K in underwear

Mom

My mom, Joan McNulty, died from colorectal cancer. It isn't on of those "glamorous" cancers that you hear so much about, mostly because I think people are more comfortable talking about breasts and lungs than they are colons and rectums.

50,000 people a year die from colorectal cancer, and it is very treatable if detected early!

In order to help lower that number I'm running the 2017 Philadelphia Indy 5K this September. All donations go to help the Colon Cancer Alliance to get the word out, fund research, and help someone else's mom not die from this type of cancer.

Donate!



Walking as therapy

After the election I, like many folks, spiraled into all sorts of worst case scenario thinking. I have hope that Pres. Trump isn't going to be as bad as I fear, though early indications aren't making me feel confident in that hope.

Marisa is away this weekend, and so I decided I wanted to keep this weekend politics free. Needing to clear my head yesterday I did what I so often do: went for a walk.

I've always been a walker, but after college I found myself not walking much. I missed the wanders I used to take and a FitBit gave me reason to pick up the habit again (and I just realized I've been FitBitting for 5 years!).

I headed out with one goal: walk 5000 steps in one direction and 5000 back.

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On my walk I came across Independence Hall and it reminded me that this country was born out of great strife in a troubled time.

As I continued my walk I passed the Second National Bank, a building I've walked past countless times:

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I've often wondered what it looks like inside, but I had no idea it housed a Portrait Gallery called "People of Independence!" I thought maybe this was a new thing, but it has been there since the 1970's. I went in and spent a good long time reading about every portrait in the place.

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As you might expect, it was mostly white dudes who were involved with America's independence (along with a smattering of women and black folks). It made me feel better knowing that when times are tough there are people, maybe just a few but still, that stand up for what's right.

I don't know if I'm as brave as the people in that gallery, but I do know that I'll do my part in making sure that this president doesn't ruin all the work that has gone before.


330

330.jpgYou may recall that before I got married I realized that I needed to get back on the bandwagon and shed some weight. The good news is that I did, in fact, lose some weight (enough to look good in my wedding photos) but the bad news is that we had lots of great food during the honeymoon.

That, in and of itself, wouldn't have been a problem if I had gone back to the gym after returning home. I didn't. I also didn't stop eating like a mad man, and now I've gained all the weight I lost before the wedding back (and then some!).

loseitorloseit.jpgWhat is a fat guy to do? Why, turn to a webapp that a smart Philly area developer just launched called Lose It or Lose It. The idea is simple: you decide on a goal (mine is to lose 30 pounds in 10 weeks) and the app lets you decide how much money you're willing to lose should you not meet that goal ($200 in my case). You weigh in every week, and if you don't hit your goal you are penalized a small bit. At the end of the 10 week period you get back all the money you put up if you meet your goal. If you don't meet your goal you get back the money you put up minus any penalties.

Fairly simple, I think. Check out my profile here. I'm certain that by mid-January I will be at least 30 pounds lighter (and I'll fit into more of my Hawaiian shirts!).