Exercise Log

Chronicling the latest installment of “try to get into shape”. Look, the COVID-19 lock-down was bad for everyone and bad in very different ways. For some people is was really bad. There was loss, loneliness, and minimum wage martyrdom, none of which I had to deal with personally. I’m thankful for the relative ease my life has been during this time (since it’s still going on as I type this. The ‘lock-down’ is done, but the residual side effects are on going). That said, one thing that I did encounter was weight gain from general lethargy (and a lot of cocktails). My diet had gone to hell (or rather, it was amazing in terms of high quantities of fat, salt, sugar, fried, sour… all the food groups) and my clothes were getting tight. I know, “boo-hoo. You gained weight”, but I’ve had yo-yo weight issues all my adult life and it’s getting more difficult to lose the pounds. In August, I read about a particularly gnarly hike called “Cactus to Clouds” and made a decision to do it. But I’d need to get in shape if this was going to turn into reality. There’s nothing like, “not dying on the mountain” to motivate one to exercise and eat better.

Motivation

I’m no nutritionist or health expert, but I do have the advantage of losing large amounts of weight through changes in diet and exercise. Before my wedding back in 2001, I lost over 40 pound via extreme caloric deficiency, 5 mile a day jogging, and long evening walks around work… and one Subway veggie sandwich split between lunch and dinner. ~800 calories for a full day. It was super unhealthy and left me constantly hangry. These days, my practices are less extreme. After having gained and then lost 20-30 pounds FOUR OTHER TIMES in the past 20 years, I’ve learned ways of focusing on weight loss in a less unhealthy way, but unfortunately I’ve learned nothing about preventing said weight gain in the first place. The only thing my body and brain seem to agree on is that food is delicious (especially the stuff that is bad for us) and that exercise is hard and not worth doing. Self-destruction seems to be in our DNA.

My most recent lesson is that it REALLY helps to have a short term goal where failure can mean very bad things. Really keeps things on track. The most important lesson comes from the old adage, “you can’t exercise away a bad diet”. Take this one to heart. It’s less about calorie counting and more about balancing physical activity with lower amounts of (mostly healthy) food. Here’s the gist of my routine for the next 7 weeks:

  • Make food ahead of time, so at mealtime, when hunger easily triumphs over will power, food prep is a known quantity. I make a beans and rice dish that offers protein, starches, and fiber. Another good one is a delicious carrot slaw from a recipe I found on Chow. I’ll add a simple spinach salad featuring arugula and a Caesar dressing to get me some of those leafy greens I’ve heard so much about. However, I’ll also add some potato chips to lunch because I love potato chips. I also believe being TOO stringent can lead to fatigue and that can lead to blowing everything up with binge eating. Just watch the amount. Aside from morning coffee, I eat two meals a day comprised of what is mentioned above, or any reduce amount of food that isn’t too terrible. I’ve also bee following these as general rules:
  • I don’t eat for at least an hour after exercising, something my sister-in-law had recommended years ago and I still take to heart. I’ve heard this might not be the best idea (some recommend eating immediately after exercise to replace carbs), but it’s become habit.
  • I’m fasting after 7pm. It prevents me from unraveling with late night snacks like I would usually do. It was kind of challenging at first, but many weeks in, it’s just routine.
  • Exercise is the biggest one. I have a desk job that requires a lot of sitting and staring at a computer. My schedule never leaves enough time to move my body. The plan I’ve developed is this: Exercise 3-4 days a week. Primarily this is in the morning when my wife takes my daughter to school. I try to mix things up with activities, balancing HIIT/cardio with focused days and strength training (dumbbells) on upper body, lower body, and core. Mostly I’ve been following along with the incredible husband and wife team at Fitness Blender on Youtube.
  • On top of the above, I also try to do hikes, bike rides, swimming (when the weather is warm enough), or running to keep things fresh. As for the swimming, I installed an above ground pool this summer and it takes 55 back-and-forth laps to do a half mile, which can be dizzying.
  • Finally, I walk the dog a couple miles every night. I don’t want to, but I have to. He’s very demanding.
“Did you forget what you should be doing right now?” (he says nightly)

This routine works for me with my schedule, so I suggest everyone find what works for me, too.

Without further ado, below is my weekly routine. Somewhere around week 3 I started to see a change on the scale and my clothes started to feel like they fit better. 12 weeks on, those clothes are now feeling loose. I bought two new belts as a celebration of sorts.

Week 1 (half a mile in our pool = 55 laps!)
Week 2
Week 3 (tried to go for a run and my legs cramped badly- rest day!)
Week 4 (camped at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park- drank too much…)
Week 5 (I’d been limiting my diet so much, I felt I had to mention ‘hamburger’ on Sunday)
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8 (Friday was “Cactus to Clouds” day! Success! Followed by Palm Springs vacation weekend)
Week 9 (weird stomachache on Thursday)
Week 10 (Finding it harder to find motivation now. My friend, Dylan, came to town this weekend.
Week 11 (Hiked to Cucamonga Peak on Sunday)
Week 12 (after a couple day’s rest, hiked Mt. Wilson Wednesday. Sunday was a “1,000 calorie full body routine- HIIT, core, strength, & kickboxing)
Week 13 – Thanksgiving trip to Big Bear took a toll on exercise. Tuesday: Sitton Peak hike, Sunday: Strawberry Peak hike.
Week 14 – Saturday = Mount Baden-Powell hike
Week 15 – Friday night trip to see The Dollop in San Diego / Sunday walking around Huntington Gardens with Rubes.
Week 16 – Holiday gluttony in full effect. Drove to Santa Cruz over the weekend.
Week 17 – Christmas vacation is mostly overeating road candy. I did my share.
Week 18 – Happy New Year. Note sad attempt to get back on the treadmill…
Week 19 – So much for getting back to it. Vacation continued up in Idylwild. Only dog-walking activity.
Week 20 – Slowly getting back into action…
Week 21 – It wasn’t perfect. Went to visit my dad in Arizona over the weekend.
Week 22 – Finally back to full swing. Still have holiday girth to get rid of.
Week 23 Colleen/Alvin’s wedding celebration in the Bay Area.
Week 24Wednesday says, “no sleep, dog”, which means the dog kept me up all night…
Week 25Turned 50 on Thursday and drove to Sonoma for the weekend.
Week 26Between driving to Sonoma, driving to Vegas (for a video game awards show), and the food poisoning, it was not my best week for workouts.
Week 27Recovering from food poisoning at the start of the week, Huntington Gardens with Vix to end.
Week 28Fairly normal week. Drove back to Vegas to pickup the stereo credenza from Dwight.
Week 29 – Cosmo’s Birthday party on Wednesday.
Week 30 – Erich & Sing’s baby shower Saturday, drive to Fresno Sunday.
Week 31 – Weeding weekend.
Week 32 – Sonoma visit over the weekend.
Week 33 – Working on pool site during week, then up to Hayward for Easter weekend.

Week 34 – Not a great exercise week. Planned Mt. Wilson hike cut short on Saturday.
Week 35 – Deceptive week. Saturday was a brutal work day prepping the pool space. My joints are killing me…
Week 36 – Awful week, exercise wise. Most mornings were me getting up and getting dressed into workout clothes and then waiting too long and telling myself that I’ll do work in the yard later (then don’t).
Week 37 – Went up to Idyllwild for a few days and completed the San Jacinto Loop. Good way to start the week, but my day of rest/driving extended to the entire week. Another bad week for habit building.
Week 38 – No excuse for this continued lethargic spell.
Week 39 – Getting back on track. Even went on a trail run up along Scholl Canyon ridge. I should say “some” of Scholl Canyon. I walked the downhill sections to preserve the knees and the uphills to preserve my desire to not die.
Week 40 – Getting back into gear. Another jog this week. Using weights (dumbbells) a couple times. If I can maintain this type of schedule, I’ll feel ok.
Week 41 – So much for getting back on track. No good excuse. Traveled on Tuesday & Wednesday, then just fell off.
Week 42 – Dammit. Excuse = none. Just tired of it all.