Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Race to health

Hello blog! It's been a while. So much has happened!

My last blog post was about the Kisscross cyclocross race. Right after that race, I stopped working out. My job and school and holidays all conspired to push aside any time or energy for exercising. Even worse, my work has me basically sedentary. Lets look at a quick tabulation:

  No Exercise
  Holiday Festivities
+Sedentary Daily Existence
________________________
Equatorial Expansion

It got to the point where I was having multiple McDonald's McRibs and Burger King Angry Whoppers for lunch and dinner. It was...glorious! And I knew this was bad. But it's pretty easy to ignore. For while.

But then came Christmas. My wonderful wife bought me many awesome things. Among my presents were a pair of jeans. I was, in her estimation, in dire need of another pair of pants. This is possible. I like to buy things, but only if they have to do with electronic gadgets or cycling. Clothes? I'm still wearing a pair of slacks that I bought off the Gap clearance rack for $9 around 10 years ago. As long as the item of clothing is not TOO torn up and not adorned with TOO many permanent stains, it's a keeper and stays in the rotation.

Anyway, back the new jeans I received for Christmas. They were very nice! But upon trying them on, something happened. It was more difficult to get them on than my other pants. And I had to suck my tummy in to fasten the top button easily. The result was visually equivalent to squeezing a bunch of raw dough in your fist to have it ooze out of the top of your hand. How could this be? My other jeans go on so nicely. Unless...my other jeans have grown with me! My wife said we could exchange them for a slightly larger pair. But I would have none of that! I will keep them...and fit into them! My New Years resolution starts early!

The other impetus to really starting taking care of myself again is my blood pressure. If I don't keep a hawks eye on things, I get hypertensive. And over many months, I did not pay attention to my diet, I stopped working out, and stopped taking any supplements/pills to aid with hypertension. It was bad. Time to kick my own butt!

Thing is...I don't like working out unless I'm motivated to do so in some way. You'd think health, longevity, and all would be great motivators. Nope. I need more than that. I need to be entertained in some way and I need some sort of pressure. For the pressure, I need to be signed up for a race. Not just the intention to sign up. No, I need to be actually registered so that there is a real deadline to meet!

I'm on the hook for two events so far. I've registered for the 100k version of Michigan Mountain Mayhem and the 36 mile version of Barry Roubaix. Michigan Mountain Mayhem is a hilly road ride/race. The 100k version has about 4600 feet of climbing. They have a 200k version that has about 10,000 feet of climbing! Maybe next year! I think the 100k will be plenty tough for me. Barry Roubaix is a off-road, gravel-road type race. And I'm looking at a bunch of other events as well, which my friends will have to remind me about once registration approaches. I like doing events where there are familiar faces!

(I'm also doing a more leisurely ride this weekend, Worst Day of the Year Ride!)

Equipped with many motivators (weight gain, hypertension, upcoming events) I resumed working out again on December 30th! I setup the trainer in the basement, in front of our still relatively new 60" plasma tv and new Blu-Ray player! After much deliberation, some purchases and returns, we settled on the Samsung PN60E8000. The reviews were very good. And when we finally found a place that had the Samsung as well as the other top contenders in stock to compare side by side, the Samsung one looked the best to us. Love it! Since setting everything up, I've been going strong about 5 days per week so far. Though, this week I've been stopped in my tracks. I suffered from a minor flu last week...but decided to keep exercising. Got worse. So I took two days off and resumed working out. I got sick again. I'm going to rest until I'm fully or near fully healed this time. I'm hoping I'll be fully healed for the Worst Day of the Year ride this Sunday.

The other part to getting healthy again is dieting. It has been awful! I've been aiming for a uber low sodium diet. Like...less than 500mg of sodium per day diet. Which, if you haven't tried, is almost impossible. It means there are basically no prepared foods you can eat, and no restaurants you can eat at. You have to eat raw foods or cook everything yourself from raw, no sodium added ingredients. My main diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, just plain with nothing. Dried fruits. Nuts. Rice (being careful not to overdo it). Chicken. Fish. Regarding the chicken and fish...I've been trying out various vinegar based marinades to add flavor but avoid sodium. It's not bad. But it ain't salt! I've also been watching the fat and cholesterol intake, and added sugar (a bit lenient on that one at times). So far, it's been super easy to avoid other bad or artificial ingredients too, which is a bonus.

I've started taking supplements/pills again to help out as well. Hoping for positive results in a week or two!

Oh...backing up to Christmas again, I did get some very cool gadgets! First, I received one of the new GoPro Hero3 action cameras! Very very cool! It can shoot at 60fps at 1080p resolution! And tons of other resolution and framerate options as well. I'm going to make movies of my rides and races!

The acquisition of this gadget also prompted me to get a bunch of other stuff. I now also have a used GoPro Hero2...so I can take rear facing footage or some other footage from the same ride/race. Also...I know NOTHING about photo/video editing. But in anticipation of future projects, I've gotten the Adobe CS6 Production Premium suite, NeatVideo, CineForm, almost every Magic Bullet product, and DashWare. Can't use any of them! If anyone has any tips on how to start making polished videos, let me know!


I also got the Cycleops PowerCal! It's a heartrate monitor...but Cyclops developed a clever algorithm to correlate heartrate with power output! It's not accurate at all for instantaneous power or power over small chunks of time...but once you start analyzing power over chunks of time around 45 seconds or more, it is very very close to direct measure power meters! Plus, with the PowerCal added to everything I already had, I now have all the data I'd want while on the trainer: time, speed, distance, heartrate, calories, power, etc. I like uploading all the data in Garmin Training Center and into my Strava account. (If you run or bike and don't use Strava, give it a try! Great way to track and do simple analysis. I love the social and competitive aspect of it too!)

Gadgets, declining health, upcoming races...apparently it takes a 'perfect storm' to get me to take my health seriously!

Stay tuned! Next time: Worst Day of the Year ride report, preparing for Barry Roubaix, and my first GoPro videos!

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