Friday, 24 February 2012

Riding High

Well, another week is in the books, and as you can tell from the ever-so-tiny chart, above, I worked out every day this week.  So far in February, in fact, the only weekdays I did not do some form of workout were the two days I spent eating my way through New York City. 

Photo Licenced CC-BY-NC-ND Jarod Carruthers
So about I still carrying around that delicious creamed shrimp and ravioli?  In a word - NO.  Not only did I lose weight as compared to last week, but I also lost weight as compared to where I stood prior to NYC.  In all, I have lost 15.9 pounds, down 3.5 pounds from my pre-New York weight, and down 4.9 pounds from last week.  Obviously New York was a mere blip on the road to weight loss, but it's still extremely gratifying to see that I have made such progress.

I haven't really started to notice a change in my physical appearance, but then, the changes to me are so gradual that it's hard to tell.  Generally, however, I tend to begin to notice changes around 20 pounds lost, so I'm looking forward to that.  I really should take photographs (disguised to protect the innocent, of course), so I can document changes in those dog days of next summer when I am feeling like the weight will never come off.

I had a couple of milestones this week (in addition to the weight loss).  I used the stairs a couple of times yesterday to get to the reception area of my firm, which is a floor above my office.  Normally I am the world's laziest human, and I take the elevator.  What surprised me is that it didn't feel too bad, either. 

The other milestone was actually walking home from work one night this week, rather than cabbing it or taking the streetcar.  I just started off walking, and it didn't feel too bad, so I kept going.  My back started to get a little tight with about a block to go, but overall, the walk was fine.  Certainly definite progress from prior to this little adventure, when walking a single block would leave me winded and virtually crippled. 

All in all, it was a good week.  Let's see if we can maintain this momentum moving forward.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

Photo licensed CC-By eric.surfdude
Well, more than a week after the infamous New York trip, and I am back in the saddle.  I worked out every weekday last week (right on schedule), and even this week on the holiday Monday, when I could have been sleeping.  That suggests that I have been working out enough to develop - gasp - a routine.  A hated, loathed, routine, to be sure, but a routine nonetheless.

I bit the bullet and got back on the scale, and after my Italian restaurant excesses and a week of madly working out, found that I had gained 1.4 pounds (to 322.9 lbs) from the last weigh-in before the trip.  All things considered, and by this I mean all "cream sauces", "melted cheese", "delicious pasta", and "glasses of wine" considered, that's pretty good. Plus, I knew that going off the workout routine combined with eating way more meals out (3 meals in restaurants in 2 days, compared to zero meals in restaurants in the average week) would combine to result in some backsliding, so it's not like this was unexpected.  The amount gained, however, is a nice surprise, as it's relatively little. 

My knees are not hurting as much as last week, but my back is a bit stiff from all the napping I was doing over the long weekend.  It's six of one, half dozen of the other, really.  But nothing terribly painful on the walk into work this morning, so that's good.

It's almost time for the end of the month measurements, and I am actually looking forward to that, if only for the positive reinforcement.  I cannot have worked out all month and lost nothing in terms of inches, it just is not possible. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Humpy Hump Day

This week I have been "enjoying" sore knees. 
Image licenced CC-BY-SA Eric Schmuttenmaer

I have had "chondromalacia patella" for years, probably caused by my weight.  Back in undergrad, my forensic osteology prof used to joke that chondromalacia patella sounds very nice and all, but it's really just a phrase that doctors throw out there to shut a patient up.  Apparently the phrase means "sore knee", but patients like having a diagnosis so much, it doesn't really matter what the diagnosis is, exactly. 

Anyhoo, the sore knees thing is an issue when I change positions - for example, from sitting to standing - or when I am lying in bed.  It is mildly irritating when I exercise, or when I am walking, but not to any significant extent.

The long and the short of it is that I have sore knees, and I have to just suck it up.  Certainly that would be a doctor's analysis, anyways. 

Image licensed CC-BY-NC-SA Lester Public Library

The good news is that all these sore knees are not preventing me from working out.  I am still on the program, and still forcing myself to sweat every morning.

This week's program is 10 minutes on the recumbent bike (Tu/Th), and 7 minutes on the bike + (3 sets of 3 reps with free weights, working arms) (M/W/F). 

Plus, and I've been told this is important, I am still drinking at least 1.5 liters of water a day (rather than the 6 diet Pepsis I used to drink at the office. Every Day).

I don't weigh myself until Friday, but desperately hope that I have come down to my pre-New York City weight.  Otherwise, all this sweating and sore knees stuff seems kind of pointless.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

New York, New York

No weight loss progress this week, nor any expectation of any.  Yes, I have survived my trip to New York, and after three days of meetings, conferences, lunches and dinners, I am simply thankful to be home, albeit exhausted, and with sore feet.

Rather than speak of weight loss that did not happen, let me talk about some of the fantastic restaurants at which I ate over the past three days.

First off was FELIDIA, the East Side restaurant of Lidia Bastianich, famed for her television shows and cookbook.  Although Ms. Bastianich herself was not in the house the evening I ate there, the food, masterminded by Executive Chef Fortunato Nicotra, was simply exquisite. I enjoyed the   Gamberi al Limone, aka salt-baked sweet onion with creamy lemon and and garlic shrimp.  Sweet, creamy and delicious, the onion itself was used as the container for the dish, sitting on a bed of rock salt, and it was to die for.

I also had the pasta special of the evening, Ravioli Margherita, or mozzarella ravioli. Similarly delicious, I left Felidia delightfully full, and well satisfied. My only tiny complaint came at the end of the evening, when I ordered a Spanish coffee, and was served ... well, something that was coffee, but definitely not Spanish.  I am willing to overlook that minor misstep for such an overall wonderful meal.  Located at 243 East 58th Street in New York City, I would recommend the restaurant to any fan of Italian food.   

Next on the list was dinner at the AI FIORI restaurant at the Setai Hotel at 400 Fifth Avenue.  
This meal was not the usual a la carte dining experience, but rather a prix fixe specially designed for a group.  The food was surprisingly good, although I may have had low expectations.  My starter was the cauliflower soup, served in a bowl with a pile of various things, and then finished with the soup proper at the table.  The soup was nice, but some of the elements in the pile of miscellaneous roughage in the bowl were a bit too strong for the overall dish.  Some bites were perfect, and some were too salty, which was a shame, as the soup base itself was lovely.  

For the main course I had a striploin, I think, with a layered potato dish.  Both the steak and the potato arrived in identically shaped and sized rectangles, making a wonderful presentation, sitting on a puree of, well, something beige.  Likely a root vegetable of some sort.  Although I was not asked how I would like the steak cooked, it arrived a perfect medium rare, and was absolutely delicious.  Dessert was a chilled mousse-like thing, which was fine.  Overall the dinner was good, although none of the individual elements were spectacular.  I would happily eat here again if I were in the neighbourhood, although there are better restaurants in the city.

My final New York City dining experience was a lunch at RISTORANTE ASELLINA, located at 420 Park Avenue South.  Another Italian restaurant - is there any other kind in New York City - the restaurant apparently takes its name from a freedwoman restauranteuse in Pompeii named Asellina.  Asellina's executive chef is Marco Porceddu, and his menu was light and delicious. 

For starters the table shared something unpronounceable, that appeared to be rustic mozzarella cheese and chopped cherry tomatoes and peppers.  The scallop special that my table-mates enjoyed was apparently delicious, while the shrimp pasta I ordered was lovely.  You have to really love Italian food to get full benefit from dining at Asellina, but we certainly enjoyed good food, prepared well.   Worth a visit if you're in Midtown.

And that, my friends, is why I did not lose any weight this week.  I regret nothing.  Except, perhaps, not having the chance to visit  Felidia again, armed with a recipe for Spanish Coffee.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Walking to work on a grey and dreary day

Photo by o5com, licensed CC-By
I worked out yesterday and this morning, and my partner suggested walking in to work this morning (instead of driving or taking the streetcar).  No problem, I thought, since I am getting so much more fit. wasn't bad.  I still have that thing where my lower back tightens up more and more with each step, until I am a mass of pain, but it was manageable this morning.  I didn't have to stop and stretch it out, at least, unlike some mornings.

All in all, not a bad walk.  Granted, I only live 8 minutes (3 blocks) from my office, but we're talking baby steps here, people.

My routine will be disrupted this week because tomorrow I am flying to New York City on business.  I am dreading the whole airport / security / squishing my big ol' self into airplane seats thing.  I am also dreading getting around town, and hoping that the partner with whom I am travelling does not want to walk to all our meetings and sessions, as I don't think I can physically handle it.  I hate being this way - too concerned about my physical limitations, to properly enjoy the boondoggle.  I used to love traveling and the adventure of it all.  Now?  Not so much - travel puts all my limitations into sharp relief.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Can't stop now, Clown will eat me.

Photo of weight rack by Andrew-Hyde, licensed CC-By

Week 1 is in the books, and I am still alive and kicking.  Albeit slower, since I'm exhausted by the time 3.oo pm rolls around.

This was the first official week of working out again, and with the memories of the infamous "Misguided Pyramiding Shoulder Incident"* still fresh in my mind, I am starting slowly.

The program: M-W-F is 5 minutes on the bike (again, please remember that I am pathetically out of shape, and even getting my hooves in the foot straps on the bike is a major undertaking) plus 3 sets of 10 reps of arm exercises (bicep, tricep, shoulders) with 4lb / 6lb / and 8lb weights.  Tu-Th is 7 minutes on the bike only.

I was able to work out every weekday this week, although I did sleep in on Wednesday and had to do the workout in the evening.  But that still counts, so I have retained the moral high ground in my mind.

The results this week:  I have lost 1.9 pounds this week, for a 12.4 overall weight loss since the start of this quest.  I have also lost half an inch in my bust since last month, so I am seeing progress (although this does not fill my partner with a sense of delight, since he likes 'the girls'). 

We'll talk when I've been working out for a month and it is becoming more habitual.  For now, each morning is punctuated by my Tourette's-like cursing whilst exercising.  But I am doing it, so I feel great.  Plus, and this is the main thing, I LOVE when the workout is over, so there's that.

Photo of scale by Michael Coghlan, licensed CC-By

* The infamous "Misguided Pyramiding Shoulder Incident" shall never be repeated.  For those of you who aren't hard-core bodybuilders, according to <>, "pyramiding" refers to "an advanced technique for experienced weightlifters who have plateaued with their current routine and are looking for a new challenge. Pyramiding involves multiple sets with the repetitions decreasing for each set while the weight increases."  The key words in that paragraph are "experienced weightlifters".  Which I was not.  Nor was I seeking to dramatically increase my strength and muscle mass, which what pyramiding is good for.  And most particularly, I was not Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote the book with the pyramiding routine that I attempted.  Not being any of those aforementioned things, and possessing all the upper body strength of a Tyrannosaurus Rex with its stumpy arms, I attempted a pyramid program on my upper body.  And I went for it.  The routine, the reps, the weight increases until failure - oh yes, I did it all.  And I felt great, at the time.  Sure, there was a burn, but that was to be expected, right?

Fast forward to the next morning when I could not lift either of my arms (admit it, you knew where this was going).  I could barely dress myself, and spent the entire next week trying to function at work without lifting my arms above my waist.  Try that at home sometime, and you'll see that it's tricky.  I had apparently managed to blow out both my shoulders with that stunt, and it took a long time before I was back to normal.  My shoulders still click when I move them a certain way, but I prefer to think that the clicking is from advanced osteoporosis rather than bone chips in my shoulder from insanity-induced workout injuries.