Sunday, 20 April 2014

90 minutes on an elliptical machine is a loooonnnnnggggg time

I have continued to kick my ass with exercise this week, and am now up to 6 days of working out and eating well.  I am almost entirely back in the saddle; another couple of weeks and I will be officially back on the healthy routine, and these last few months of binge eating will just be a distant memory.

Yesterday was a 90-minute elliptical workout day, and I swear to god it almost killed my spirit.  It turns out that 90 minutes is a very long time when all you want to do is get off the elliptical machine.  I wanted to stop at 30 minutes, then I very badly wanted to stop at 45 minutes, and then again at an hour.  I don't know how the hell I managed to push for the entire 90 minutes, but it was more grueling than usual. 

I can put my finger on part of the reason why the workout was tougher than usual - - my old groin strain (gotten from a failure to bend my knees during my second-last move) has been flaring up since my ill-fated attempt to run.  It's not painful, per se, it just gives me twinges and maintains a dull ache with occasional sharp stabby bits once in a while.  Not super fun.  It makes the elliptical a little more challenging than normal.

The other reason why 90 minutes on the elliptical felt like it would never end is that I was reading a book that was ok, but not great.  I have many good non-fiction books on the shelf to read, but for some reason I prefer to read pulp fiction on the elliptical - - I can't have anything too intellectually demanding for my early morning workouts.  Usually it works great, as pulp fiction books are usually sufficiently engaging and distracting that they make the time pass.

I have been going through series after series of detective thrillers - Lee Child's Jack Reacher books, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski books, the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell, Howard Engel's Benny Cooperman mysteries, Ellis Peter's Cadfael books, the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton, Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan novels, and Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles series.  Most of these series have strong female leads or good action, and I have generally enjoyed most of the books. 

Some of these books are better than others, however.  The Cooperman series was a little too self-deprecating to be true escapist fare - probably what I should have expected from a Canadian author.  The Stephanie Plum books were good, but the lead character deals with stress through eating donuts and junk food, and I found that I was craving those foods as well just from reading the series.  Thank god I have read everything in this series, because picking up those eating habits helped to erode months of progress.  I have literally never craved donuts like I did when I was reading the Plum books - - sheesh!

I just finished the first two Eve Duncan books by Iris Johansen.  They were all right, but not nearly distracting enough to keep my mind from clock watching during a 90-minute elliptical session.  I have picked up the next couple of books in the series to give the works a fair shake, but if they aren't engaging enough I may need to bring out the big guns and go back to non-fiction. 

Today was Sunday and both the Nerd and I were up at 7 am to work out - - we both did weights and elliptical, and I did a bit of walking on the treadmill as well.  Three years ago our Sunday morning would have started with a lie-in until 9.30 or 10 am, followed by a breakfast of bacon, eggs, hash browns with cheese, and hollandaise sauce full of butter, washed down with coffee with Baileys Irish Cream liqueur.  3 mugs of it, at least.  Those were probably 2,500 calorie breakfasts, and it goes without saying that there would have been no workouts in that era.

The Nerd and I were waxing nostalgic about those days whilst we sweated in the workout room this morning (mostly missing the hollandaise, cheese, and Baileys Irish Cream), but you know what?  Although it's not super fun to get up early to work out, neither one of us would go back to the way things were.   That's progress, I think.  I know that and a buck fifty will get you a double double at Timmy's, but I'll take it (the progress, not the double double!).

Friday, 18 April 2014

Coming back online, slowly

Photo by drinks machine, licensed CC-BY-NC-ND
Long time, no write.

For the past few months my workouts have been inconsistent (especially for me), and I have been using work stress and emotional stress as excuses to Eat All The Things.  Some days I couldn't even bring myself to log my food - - who can tell how many calories I was getting from a restaurant poutine, after all? 

That shit stops now.  Well, to be more accurate, that shit stopped this week.  I took myself in hand and started back with the intensive workouts and getting back to my healthy eating routine. 

I still need to lose weight, so adopting an easier workout routine that is more of a maintenance program (which I had rationalized as more sustainable than the hard workouts I had previously done) just doesn't make sense.  So now I am back to 90 minutes of kicking my own ass on the weights, treadmill, and elliptical, 6 days a week.  It's only day 4 of the new-and-improved world order, but it's amazing how easy it is to slip back into a healthy routine after having been so diligent at it for more than 2 years, even after a break.  In a strange way my healthy lifestyle is starting to feel more comfortable to me than the lazy ass binge eating lifestyle I used to adopt.  And only 2 and a half years later! 

Of course my complete abandonment of healthy eating has had its sequellae - - I gained back weight, and a lot of it.  Not that I look like Jabba the Hut or anything, but I have noticed that my clothing is tight, and that is just Not On.  I didn't go out and get all these new clothes just to eat my way out of them after a month, no sir. 

So how did I get here?  Simple - I gave myself permission to indulge myself, using my stress and depression about work as excuses.  Frankly, I feel much better about myself and my life when I eat well and do a hard workout, so abandoning those good habits only contributed to my feelings of depression.  And once you start feeling bad because you're eating like crap, it's ever so easy to eat more to try and feel better ... except, of course, that this never works.  The only thing that works is to fix the thing that isn't working and to stick to the good habits that I know make me healthier.

So I took control of the work situation, and I will have more news on that score in 2-4 weeks or so.  I've still got a ton of work to do on that front, but I recently received some very good news that has given me hope for the future with respect to work, which is wonderful.  I'm not out of the woods yet, but soon, hopefully. 

The Nerd and I are also working at fixing up the apartment to make it more livable.  We are both clearing out a lot of deadwood (I mean, do I really need to keep 30 years of old cards from strangers?) and we have donated a bunch of unwanted furniture to charity.  This gives us more room to move, and more room for books, to be perfectly honest.  Since "books" is kind of the decorating theme for the Palatial Estate, this works well.  As the place shapes up, my mood improves even more.  I hate living in disarray, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with this side project as well. 

So the workouts - what's new and different and what have I learned?  I learned that 46 year old knees do not take kindly to running when I have never run before, and I have had to dial back on the C25K training I was doing.  I sort of wrecked my right knee and aggravated an old groin injury, and in the interests of my health I have changed up the running to merely walking on the treadmill at a reasonable pace.

The weights are effective, so I have not changed anything up there, other than to kick things up a notch with an additional set.  I am currently doing 4 sets of 10 for 9 different exercises, and I will likely keep things at this level for another week or so.

The elliptical is still my best calorie burner and step driver, so I now do 90 minutes on the elliptical on non-weight days.  It kicks my ass every time, but it's totally worth it.  On weight days I do 10 minutes on the treadmill and 35 minutes on the elliptical for a total workout of about 90 minutes, and it feels good. 

No more light workouts for the time being - - they are fine for maintenance, which will be wonderful when I reach my goal.  That's a loooonnnngggg way in the future, however.  For now I need to suck it up, buttercup, and focus on bringing on the sweat 6 days a week for 90 minutes each morning.  So that's what I will do.

As for the food, it's back to first principles.  No more illicit snacking.  No more donuts, unlogged chocolate or cupcakes, no more poutine or grilled cheese, no more nachos or rice krispie square bars.  What do I eat?  The Nerd's delicious cooking, of course, with his balanced and nutritious meals.  I am trying to keep my daily calories under 1,700-1,800, and although I don't succeed every day, it's something to shoot for.  I know that this calorie target gives me enough room to eat enough delicious food to be satisfied, but not so much food that I risk going over the edge again.

I know that eating sensibly, working out to challenge myself, and avoiding snacking results in weight loss, and soon I will be back in my old weight neighbourhood.  I have lost some ground, but I will be back again.  I'm stubborn that way.