40 Days In…..


So I’ve been focusing on my weight now for 40 days, and I’ve lost 21.6 pounds.  I’ve dealt with Runner’s Knee, inconsistent cardiovascular training and a resulting low number of calories burned as compared to my daily goals, and poor eating habits throughout.  Thus far, my weight loss has not been a slow, steady downward trend; instead, it’s been a series of solid losses offset day 3-5 day spans where I gained a few pounds.  My inconsistency has resulted in a weight yo-yo since August 1st. Overall, I feel lighter and I definitely have a bit more energy than I did in June and July (but that’s not saying much, as I normally act as energetic as a three-toed sloth stoned on valium).  My pants feel loose (a very new feeling indeed).  My face looks slightly less bloated (but my cranium is still so oddly large that it maintains its own gravitational pull).  While these are positive results directly tied to 40 days of saying “No” to various goodies of all shapes and sizes that I truly enjoy (if I were running for office right now, my slogan would be “Just Say No to Oreo”), I need to find a more slow and steady way of dropping the excess me.  I’ve been fairly quiet on here for a couple of weeks, as my level of crankiness hit all – new highs as the frequency of “No’s” being uttered at all times of the day increased.  About two weeks ago, the Headache Fairy swung on by and dropped a bomb on my medulla oblongata that made me feel as if someone had taken a tuba player with absolutely no musical talent and placed him inside my left ear.  All this dude would do is play a crappy B flat over and over again, until the concept of playing in traffic seemed to be a sound concept indeed.  Now that the head ache has subsided a bit (or maybe I’m just getting better at ignoring it), I decided to start clicking away again and provide a quick synopsis of my progress for the sole purpose of showing others that if I can drop a few pounds, ANYONE can.

As my level of crankiness increased over the past month, I also made the decision to delete my Facebook app from my phone.  I was able to share daily posts of motivational sayings, etc – but the countless hours of flipping through others’ posts and corresponding comments was placed on hold for a while, as I didn’t want trending negative commentary to make me get my Irish up and go postal on some dialogue on some topic like “Chloe is the most smartest of allllll the Kardashians ‘cause she remembers to properly trim her nose hairs before she begins to resemble a party favor”.  I found that the escape from Zuckerberg’s Frankenstein was a welcome relief; however, I signed on the other day just to take a quick look at messages, etc, when I found something rather – well – nasty.

I received a message on Facebook from a person that apparently friended me because we had a similar interest or two: running and triathlons.  He seemed to “like” a few of my motivational posts on my page, but never made any comments.  We’ve never met, never spoken, and had never traded messages of any kind prior to yesterday.  This lack of personal history did not preclude him from sending me a personal message that read:

“You an A$$&%#@ with no talent, and ya know it.  Gotta brag about dropping a few – F&%KING LOSER.  You ain’t worth S&%T.  Hope you die.”

 OK, so this made my decision to refrain from Facebook appear wise.  This wasn’t the first time someone I’ve never met before wished me six feet under.  Back in 2015, I got a nastygram like this from another person I never met before, as I was attempting to run from San Francisco to Anaheim for charity.  Some dude had some rather nasty (yet creative) expletives for me within a Facebook message, followed up with the words “…I hope you get hit a car and die.”  Another dude I’ve never communicated with, never met, and never associated with in any way – and he decided that me, a stranger, should do an impression of a bug on a windshield….because that would make him happy.  At the time, I was beaten up enough just by the daily grind in the August heat – so I didn’t let this stranger’s words get to me until my 18-day effort was close to wrapping up.  I elected to ignore this nastygram and just focus on my long-distance run. For some reason, though, the message I read yesterday evening got under my skin.

I thought of some creative and nasty comebacks.  Then I figured that all that would do is prolong the nasty back and forth with someone whose opinion I didn’t give a fiddler’s frack about.  What would be the point?  So I decided to check out this schmuck’s page….and all I saw was negativity.  As I scrolled down his posts and comments, all I saw was one angry post after another.  From politics to family to sports – it just seemed like nothing was cool around him.

As I flipped through his posts to try to get an understanding about why the venom would be thrown my way, I began to realize that I used have just as heavy of a negative opinion about life, the universe, and everything as this guy did.  I began to recall how those crappy times made me feel, and how tough it was to shake off.  So I decided to share a few things via a vlog that I posted on YouTube – and my message is unofficially directed to this dude.   I’ll post this vlog as an attachment in just a few minutes….

 

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Clear!


So after a solid first week of weight loss, my efforts flat lined last week.  A decrease in my level of moderate to hard-effort workouts combined with…well….momentary lapses of reason as it pertained to dinner selections resulted in a total of 10.2 pounds lost from the inception of this endeavor through August 16th.  This translates into 3.97% of my body weight being kicked to the curb….hopefully for good.  I’m hoping that the results will be much stronger this week, as I’ve begun to amp up the gym time.

It’s an easy concept to understand, yet so difficult to execute: if you burn more calories in a day than your body consumes, you lose weight.  That’s what it really comes down to, isn’t it?  There are tons of weight loss plans out there – some are awesome, I’m sure…and others are a bit “quirky” to say the least…but they all embrace that one simple hypothesis.   I normally start the day off strong – healthy breakfast of diced fruit mixed in to oatmeal and a large coffee (because I want to lose weight WITHOUT becoming a mindless ogre).  I chug a bunch of water until lunch time, then score a salad to shut my stomach up.  The issue here is that my stomach is dumb, but it ain’t stupid.  It sees salad coming down the esophagus, and takes it as a promissory note that real food is on its way like a lone shark takes a promise to pay him over the weekend….the vig now begins to rack up.

At some point in the afternoon, I have 2 hard boiled eggs.  Why?  Because if I don’t, I’ll feel so hungry that my stomach begins sending messages to my brain:

“It’s 2pm.  You just threw us that curveball again and FedEx’d us some lettuce, onion and tiny pieces of what we think was chicken…but the DNA testing proved inconclusive.  If you don’t send something down here soon, it’s gonna get real up in here…”

(Yes, my stomach is a gentleman until taunted by pieces of iceberg – then he takes it down to street level)

So the 2 hard boiled eggs are deposited, and for an hour my stomach locks itself in a room and counts the calories provided like that lone shark counting a roll of 20’s given to him by some middle aged dude from Bensonhurst after the Jets failed once again to cover the over.  At around 3:30pm, my stomach flings the door open and begins to scream about how he just got short-changed.  Now he turns in to Joe Pesci from Goodfellas, and my self-discipline is poor Billy Batts.  Within minutes, my discipline is rolled up in a table cloth and dumped into a trunk of a ’78 Chevy.  It never stood a chance.

Dinner usually results in more hollow calories than I’ll admit in writing here.  By the time I’m ready to go to bed, my stomach is sitting back in its easy chair, smoking a tasty Cuban cigar and sipping Macallan 25.  Oh he’s thrilled.  And my brain – like a movie critic for the New York Post – reviews the day like a movie starring Donny Most. “Well the plot began with sound intent, but the climax was completely predictable. It began with shock and awe, and it ending shockingly awful.”

That was a synopsis of a typical day.  Today, however, was different.  Today, Billy Batts stayed out of the trunk.

Total calories consumed:  1,330

Workouts completed:

Swim – 2,500yds

Bike – None

Run – None tonight – and that sucks

Strength Training – 45 minutes

Yoga – (I just list this here because it’s funny.  I don’t touch my toes – I just wave hello to them)

Total calories burnt for the day:  566

Doing the math:  1,330 calories in  –   566 calories out   =  winner winner chicken dinner.

August 4th 2018: Putting the Tiger in the Cat


Yesterday’s weigh-in gave me a little momentum.  You ever have one of those days where you fire on all cylinders?  That was Friday for me.  I pushed the pace on the bike, I ran without pain in my knee, and I still had enough energy to lift a bit.  I then was disciplined enough NOT to down a bunch of Oreos, even though my brain told me how AWESOME those little round pieces of heaven would taste.  I think  it’s because I’m not doing this alone that I saw some immediate success, allbeit tiny in measure.

Generating some momentum with regard to workouts will be easier for me than the nutritional aspect of this effort.  I’m beginning to get headaches from denying my body of chocolate and other not-so-awesome-for-you-but-oh-so-tasty sources of empty carbohydrates.   I’m drinking more water – and my brain is constantly sending me the message of “hey – either you tone down this healthy-living thing, or I’m gonna hurt you.”  So for the past 24 hours, I feel like Neil Peart is pounding the drumline to Tom Sawyer in my skull.

Bill Squires once said that the long run during your training week “…puts the tiger in the cat…” Saturday mornings are reserved for my long run, and I waddled outside and onto the pavement to log an easy 10 miler.  I used the positive momentum from yesterday and I built on it today.  The knee is stiff but the pain is not unbearable.  So I’ll “R.I.C.E.” it (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), and get back to work in the morning.

Momentum.  It’s all about generating and maintaining momentum.

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August 3rd 2018: First Friday Weigh-In


So this morning, I weighed myself in for the first time for our friendly competition, and I’ve lost 1.4% of my body weight since my original August 1st weigh in!  I know this isn’t a big number – but this will be a slow, steady process.  I have to have some patience if I want to do this right.  Here’s the problem: I have absolutely ZERO patience.

Losing weight is a fairly easy concept, IN THEORY.  If you burn more calories doing whatever you do in a normal day than you take in, you lose weight.  Working out helps burn the calories and jack up the metabolism – so if I take in less and I burn more, I’ll weight less over time.  In order to track the calories I am taking in, I downloaded an app on the Iphone called MyFitnessPal.  As long as I log in every single item I consume as well as the amount of water I drink, I’ll know how much fuel I’m taken in all day.  Here’s yesterday’s log as an example:  August 2nd’s Caloric Intake

MyFitnessPal asks you a bunch of questions about your weight loss goals, and then estimates the number of calories you should consume in a day in order to safely lose weight in a set period of time.  So it estimated that I should take in 2,300 calories a day in order to slowly and safely drop to the weight that I want over a set time frame.  In yesterday’s example, I took in slightly less than my daily budgeted amount – so that’s a good thing.  All things being equal, I should have lost a tiny bit of weight yesterday, according to the Apple App Gods.

Here’s where the catch comes in: I’m training for a few endurance events, which complicates the math.  If I only take in the calories on my list that you just saw, I’d have 2,200 calories in me to drive my human engine all day long.  Now let’s take into consideration the workout I performed this morning: 45 minutes of running burned 550 calories.  Then 50 minutes of indoor cycling (a spin class) burned another 650.  So basically I used 1200 of my 2,200 calories to get me through those two sessions. This means that my body needs to run the remainder of the day on 1,000 calories.  So needless to say, I’ll need to move the calorie goal posts a bit – but I also need to be disciplined…..so like I said at the outset of this campaign: this is going to sucketh.

August 2nd 2018: Let The Crankiness Begin


So as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve decided to finally attack my weight issue once and for all.  I needed to address this, because I’ve become sluggish, unfocused and my performance is way off.  I’ve grown tired of spinning my wheels and seeing minimal gains (if any at all) from my training. Enough is enough.

I’ve tried the weight loss thing before – and I’ve never had any luck.  So why is this time going to be different?  Because I’m not doing it alone.  A few friends are going to go through this insanity with me.  We are scattered all over the country, which is a good thing…because I think we will all be extremely cranky as the weeks slog on.

I made the decision to attack this issue on July 20th.  That morning, I took myself to the gym and did something that enjoy about as much as a root canal sans Novocaine: I stepped on the digital scale.  Just to make this a more “fun” experience, my gym’s scale in the mens locker room includes sound effects.  Seriously.  You read that right: sound effects.  I stepped onto the scale, and the numbers began to flicker and role as if I was on some sort of game show.  The scale began to beep and squawk as if it was R2-D2 on an acid trip.  Finally, the numbers stopped rolling, and then…..a “TADA!”

No.  I am not kidding.  “TADA!”

So here’s the thing: when magicians make that “Tada!” noise, it’s usually followed by something awesome.  Know what I mean?  Like a rabbit being yanked out of a hat, or a coin being pulled from behind a kid’s ear.  But the number that darn thing showed me on July 20th wasn’t magical at all.  I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life.  to say I was shocked was an understatement.  I immediately promised myself that real change was going to happen.  So I began to limit my caloric intake significantly and drink water during the day when moments of hunger hit me.

Each of us weighed ourselves yesterday…and it turns out that I dropped 13 pounds in 11 days.  I was blown away.  Since our weight loss project only began yesterday, those pounds don’t count in the “scoring” (if you want to call it that); however, knowing that I can do this when I put my mind to it gives me hope that this month – with a group of like-minded cohorts – I’ll see some real success.

 

August 1st 2018: This Is Gonna Suck.


Some smart philosophical dude once said “the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”.  Let’s face it though: taking that first step isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world.  Whenever I know that I need to address an issue, my first reaction is to procrastinate.  If I had to draw up a logo that directly reflects my personality, it would be an ostrich with his head buried in the sand.  Something like this:

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It takes me a while to yank my abnormally rotund cranium from the dirt – but when I do, I can come up with some really interesting ways of addressing my shortcomings.  For example: as a kid, I grew up on an island in The Bronx, New York.  I spent a ton of time on the water….yet I was constantly afraid of drowning.  Go figure.  And what’s more – I loved to swim.  I’d have nightmares of being underwater and not being able to reach the surface.  My breathing with would get more and more difficult, and I’d wake up gasping for air.  So I stuck my head in the sand for a long time, until I finally decided to attack the problem by learning how to scuba dive.  Here’s another example: I was afraid of speaking in public for a very long time – so I attacked the issue after a prolonged battle with my own desire to remain stuck in neutral by taking stand up comedy lessons in New York City.  Once you do 8 minutes of rather bland observational humor in front of 300 drunken tourists from eastern Europe, speaking to a small group of your peers isn’t quite as challenging.  So it may take me a while to address a problem / weakness, but when I do it’s usually an unusual remedy that’s pulled from my rather lite bag of tricks.

Well there was another weakness that I needed to address, and it’s one that I’e carried with me for most of my adult life.  There is basically more of me than there should be.  I’m carrying way too much excess weight, and it has affected my energy level, my workout performance, and increased my WhatTheFractor (“WTF”).  Never heard of the WTF?  That’s because I just made it up.  If you feel like doing the math, have at it:

 

(168 – (7s+5w+6t+5c+7m+7v)) /7 = WTF

So for those of you playing the home game and love The Big Bang Theory, let’s walk through this theorem:

168 (the total number of hours in a week) 

minus the sum of the total hours each week that I spend Sleeping, Working, Training, Commuting, enjoying Meals, Vegging out (decompressing after tough days)

divide that total by the days of the week

THAT’s my WTF.  

So check this out – here’s my WTF calculation, where S=8, W=9, T=1.5, C=1.5, M=2, and V=2:

(168-(56+45+9+7.5+14+14)) / 7 = 3.214

Therefore, my WTF is 3.214.  That means that I cannot account for 3.2 hours of each day, on average.  That’s got me saying…..WTF?  Where the heck is Dr. Sheldon Cooper when I need him?

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So in order to attack my weight issue and lower my WTF, I’ve begun a weight loss program that has a strong support system.  Progress will be slow and steady…and the necessary changes that must occur will truly and completely and most righteously sucketh.  But like my fears of drowning and speaking in public, the fear of remaining unhealthy looms over me and has made me pull my head once again from the sand.

I’m embarrassed by my starting weight.  I truly am. And I’m going to post updates on here throughout the weeks ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a Little Lombardi is Required…..


I haven’t posted in two weeks for a simple reason: I suffered a knee injury that required time to heal.  I had hoped and planned to run in the 2018 Sketchers LA Marathon, but was unable to travel marathon weekend to experience that 26.2 mile fiesta.  Since that race wasn’t in the cards, I tried my hand at the New York City Half Marathon.  I felt prepared for the distance, but the frigid temperature throughout the run was something that I knew would make me cranky.  What I was not prepared for was the very sharp pain that shot into the inside of my left knee about 7 miles into the race.  By the time I entered Central Park, I could not maintain a consistent running pace and I was forced to walk a significant portion of the last 5k.  I finished in severe pain, and brought home a medal that will only remind me now of the scare that this run put in me 8 weeks away from my first full Ironman.

Two weeks later, I am still favoring my left leg a bit, and I have missed out on significant training time.  This injury comes at a crucial point in my training schedule, so a ton of self doubt had soaked in to every pour over the past week…that was, until I went to the gym on Saturday to get in a long swim.

It felt awesome to get in the pool and do laps while having a full lane to myself for the entirety of the workout.  I was able to focus on my stroke, and try to become a bit more efficient so that I save energy for the 130+ miles that follow the swim portion of the triathlon.  After the workout and a hot shower, I changed as was about to head out of the gym and score a bagel from my favorite muffin shop, when a guy that maintains a locker close to my own walked in.  He just completed his workout, but it was obvious that the Endorphin Fairy hadn’t visited him and sprinkled the dose of daily positivity that a good workout usually provides.  I guess he noticed that my backpack has a small luggage tag on it that says that I’m a Certified Ironman Coach – so he decided to start a quick conversation.  He didn’t open up with “Hello” or “How was your workout?”; instead, he simply dove into his dialogue in such a manner that I wasn’t quite sure whether he was directing his words to me or simply going 21st century Shakespeare soliloquy.  He opened up with “….I hate it when a workout sucks.  You ever have to deal with that?”  When I failed to immediately respond, he followed up with “…I figured I’d ask a fellow gym rat…”.  Realizing that I was the target of his question, I replied that yes, I deal with lousy workout performance more often than I care to admit.  He shared the fact that he didn’t feel like he sees any benefit to working out any more.  His exact words were “…I’m not getting any stronger or any faster.  I’m not even losing any weight.  It’s frustrating.”  I don’t think we was prepared for my response.  Instead of saying “yeah, I am dealing with the same issues…”, I asked a simple question.  “So what’s your goal?”  He looked at me quizzically, and then said “what do you mean?”  That response initiated a conversation where I wound up unleashing a little inner Lombardi.

We spent the next 30 minutes talking about realistic goal-setting.  I had absolutely no idea I’d enjoy that type of discussion as much as I did, and I think he walked away with a bit of an enhanced perspective on his training practices…and sharing some thoughts / opinions with someone like this also fired me back up after 14 days of stressing over the pain emanating from my leg.

I’m back to the grind today, a bit more fired up and ready to go.  The saying is true: by helping others you help yourself.

I took the main points from the discussion I had and I posted them to my blog.  If you’d like, please check it out!  A Little Lombardi