Force Yourself To Slow Down For Better Results

Have you ever had to force yourself to slow down?  What about if you’re looking for better results?  This seems counterproductive, but sometimes it’s quite necessary.  For me, I’ve had to recently go through this when it comes to exercise.  Specifically, with my running.

My Wife The Motivator

I was never a runner at all until a few years ago.  In seventh grade, I joined the track team and dropped out a week later.  It was just never my thing.

But a few years ago, my wife got the idea to run a 5K.  That seemed like a huge deal, and I tracked her progress closely.  I was really excited when she ran her first race successfully.

The next year she jumped up to wanting to do a half marathon.  At this point, I started thinking that if she could get into running, maybe I could as well.

While I never rallied to run a half marathon (she did finish hers), I did start running pretty regularly.  So much that I’ve had to shut myself down.  Twice.

Two Times The Ouch

Both times I’ve had to stop running it was because I started developing problems in my feet.  The first time, I started getting symptomns of plantar fasciitis in both feet.  This was painful and could only be corrected by rest.  So I shut down for a few months.

After the soreness went away, I started running again.  I started using some inserts in my shoes to help give me support, as it turns out that my walking and running step is a bit uneven.

The supports helped.  I ran regularly for awhile, but eventually had to shut down again.

The second time wasn’t exclusively plantar fasciitis, but it again required a shutdown from my routine.

Both times it happened, I had been increasing my intensity.  As it turns out, I’d been overdoing it.

Now, I started running again.  This time, I’m purposefully slowing myself down in three key areas.  All of these are designed to help me prevent having to shut my routine down for a third time.

Frequency

Both times when I started feeling soreness, I was running 5-6 times per week.  This is too much.  I wasn’t letting my feet get the necessary rest between workouts.

Now, I’m forcing myself to run no more than four times per week.  My current routine is to run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

This way, I’m never running more than twice per week.  When I do, it’s only on one occasion.  And, except for that one back to back, I’m getting an important day of rest.

Distance

Last year, I got into running outdoors.  Prior to that, it was all treadmill for me.  I got into running outside so much that I really increased my distance.  I was going 5-6 miles per run at least 2-3 times per week.

Again, that was just too much.

Now, even though I’m indoors until the weather breaks, I’m still limiting myself to 4 mile runs.  Between cutting back the number of days, and the length of the runs, I’m probably cutting my total distance by about half.  The current routine definitely feels more comfortable.

Pace

When I work out, I always challenge myself to improve.  If I lift weights, I look to lift more weight or do more reps.  If I do cardio, I strive to increase my pace or distance.  I’ve always done this.  During both of my past running regimens, I was focusing on this as well.  Probably a little too much.   Last year, I started off running at about a 10:30 minutes per mile pace.  By the time I shut down, I had shaved about a minute off of that.

That all sounds great, and definitely felt good when I logged them, but my feet told me it wasn’t a great idea.

Now, I’m forcing myself to slow down.  I now look to finish with about a 10:45 minute per mile pace.  As it turns out, this is just fine.  I still come away very sweaty.  I still burn a lot of calories.  That feeling of accomplishment?  Still there.  And what’s the difference really?  For a four mile run, it’s about three minutes.  I’m willing to add three minutes of running time to my day if it means I can keep my routine going longer.  It seems like a perfect trade off to me.

Lessons Learned

In the end, I’ve realized that bettering myself isn’t always about getting better.  I have forced myself to get out of the mentality that I have to push my limits.  Not only is it bad for my feet, but I have to probably accept my age as well.  The time for targeting personal best after personal best was probably 10-20 years ago.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t running then.

But I am now, and I’m trying to be smart about it.

Readers, do you ever find you have to slow down when it seems opposite of what you should do?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Guess Which Replacement Fitbit I Got?

Going to the water park for the kids mid-winter break has become a tradition.  This year we went to Kalahari instead of Great Wolf Lodge.  Both are in Sandusky.  But that’s a post for another time.  This year, unfortunately, I lost my Fitbit.  My band broke, and I stuck it in my pocket.  A couple of hours later, I went to check it, and the Fitbit was gone.  The band was still there, but the Fitbit must have slipped out.  So what replacement Fitbit did I choose?

The O.G. Fitbit Flex

I got my Fitbit in 2014.  I picked the Flex.  At the time, it went for $100 and was pretty cool.  Of course, now it’s pretty basic compared to what they have.  I call it the O.G. which stands for Original Gangster, and is a slang term for something once cool that’s now a throwback.

While it sucked to lose my Fitbit, it gave me an opportunity to consider what I wanted to do.

Option 1: Upgrade to a fancier Fitbit

My wife has the Charge 2.  Actually had the original Charge and has since upgraded.  This is a pretty cool device.  This not only tracks your steps, but also has a bunch of other features.  It will track how many flights of steps you make every day.  It can remind you to get up and walk if you’ve been inactive for too long.  One of the nicest features is a heart rate monitor.

Still, the cost is $150.  That’s no small cost, especially when I hadn’t been planning on upgrading.

Option 2: Get a replacement Fitbit Flex

My kids recently wanted to get trackers of their own.  A while back my wife found an original Flex at TJ Maxx for $25.  When she went to look, they still had them available.

This option was appealing because it was something I already had and knew.  Plus, I had a few spare wristbands that I’d already paid for.  And, heck, it was only $25, a far cry from $150.

Option 3: Do Nothing

I also could have not bothered getting a replacement at all.  I know many people have bought them and they’ve since made their way to a drawer.

The only real benefit here would be that it wouldn’t cost me anything.

Image from morguefile courtesy of Alvimann

What Option Did I Choose?

In the end I picked Option 2.  I paid $25 for a replacement O.G. Flex.  Here are some of the thoughts that went into my decision.

  • Price.  I couldn’t beat the price.
  • Bands. I already had a set of bands.  That would probably last at least another 6 months based on how quickly I’ve gone through them in the past.
  • Deal Timing. I searched around to see if there were any deals on the Charge 2.  There were deals that came up which were as much as half off!  That would make it $75.  Sounds like a sweet deal, right?  Well, it really was.  The only catch is they were all last year on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  So, if I get the itch to upgrade, I can probably wait nine months and save some big bucks.
  • Motivation. For me, having a Fitbit is truly life changing.  I know many laugh at that, but I think it’s a real thing.  I have a step goal of 10,000 steps and have hit it every day since July 1, 2016.  So, I want to extend that, and need to track that.  The device also keeps me active just tracking it.  There’s an element of competitiveness when I compare my steps to those of my friends or family.  But, it’s not competitive in an annoying way.  It’s motivation for me.  I walk more. I run more.  It really does make a difference for me.

In the end, I’m happy with my choice. I think I would have felt very guilty had I spent more money, knowing I can probably get better deals in November.

Readers, do you use a step tracking device?  What do you have?  

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Checking In On My 2017 Fitness Goals

I’ve written a few times about how I have really tried to focus on better fitness this year.  I worried about our long camping trips and how that would affect me.  I’m happy to report that things are going well.  Here’s an update on my fitness goals.

Recap of My Goals And My Plan

I wanted to lose some weight and lose some body fat.  I’d spent most of 2016 gaining 0.5 to 1 pound per month, and there was no excuse for it.  I was just lazy and full of poor decisions.

I decided to commit 2017 to make better decisions.

My goals were two fold:

  1. I wanted to lose 13.5 pounds.
  2. I wanted reduce my body fat from 21% to 15%.

My plan was pretty simple:

  1. Work out more.
  2. Cut back on calories from alcohol.
  3. Eliminate all snacking at work.

Tracking Progress

Things have gone very well.  Just as I had a steady rise last year, things have moved in the right direction in a pretty steady fashion.

Here’s a quick summary on how things were at the end of each month:

  • January – Lost 4.1 pounds total.  Body fat: 19.6%
  • February – Lost 5.8 pounds total.  Body fat: 19.0%
  • March – Lost 7.8 pounds total.  Body fat: 17.4%
  • April – Lost 8.2 pounds total.  Body fat: 17.4%
  • May – Lost 9.6 pounds total.  Body fat: 17.3%
  • June – Lost 12.1 pounds total. Body fat: 16.9%
  • July (so far) – Lost 12.3 pounds total.  Body fat: 16.3%

What this represents:

  • I’ve lost 91% of the total weight I want to lose.
  • I have lost 81% of the total body fat I want to lose.
  • Finally, I’ve lost 28% of my total body fat.

Methodology: In order to smooth out the normal fluctuations, I take measurements every day, and then use a running 7-day average on both weight and body fat.

Slowing Down

Things have obviously started to slow down.  I’ve worked around this weight goal before, and I’ve always found that the last couple of pounds are the hardest.  In fact, the one time I hit it a few years ago I only got the last couple of pounds because I got food poisoning.  I’m hoping that I don’t have to rely on that this time.

I really want to get this last little bit.  Then, the real work starts.

Right now, it’s easy to keep staying motivated on my behaviors, but if I hit the goal, I have to make sure to stay motivated so that things don’t go in the wrong direction. Just like they have in the past!

This is similar to personal finance goals.  Many people work so hard for a goal (like getting out of debt) that once they hit it, they don’t have any idea what to do next.

The key is to look ahead.  I’m already looking ahead to how I can stay motivated over the next few months.  It’s not going to be easy.

Three Major Challenges Ahead

We have three things that I really have to watch out for:

  1. Our second week long camping trip – We do two trips per summer.  I got out of the last one relatively unscathed but will have to make sure I don’t fall apart on the next one.
  2. Our anniversary trip – We are going to Cancun for a few days to celebrate our ten year anniversary.  It’s at an all inclusive resort.  I’ve never been to one but I’ve heard that they’re like cruise ships, and it’s easy to indulge.
  3. Halloween – This is my Kryptonite.  Seriously.  After Halloween people bring loads of candy into the office.  And they bring the good stuff.  Hershey Bars.  Reeses Cups.  You name it.   I have never been able to resist the jar upon jar of chocolate goodness.  If I’m going to lose my work goal, this will be how it happens.  However, since by that point I’ll have 10 full months under my belt, I am confident I can make it.

So far, I’m happy with how things are going.  Now I just need to get those last steps and then make sure it doesn’t turn and go the wrong direction.

Readers, how are your goals going?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How Will I Stay Motivated After Losing Weight?

I’ve written a couple of times about how I have been working to get in better health this year.  So far things are going great, and I’ve now lost about 9.5 pounds total.  Things have definitely slowed down over the past couple of months.  I expected that, as this is typically the area where my body hits a wall.  But, I’m still happy with where things stand.  The issue now will be how to stay motivated after losing weight.

Summer Is A Downfall

I wrote earlier about how I stopped snacking at work at the beginning of the year.  That’s still held up.  I haven’t eaten one single thing that I haven’t brought in!  If you know my typical snacking habits, that is a big accomplishment.

But my other normal downfall is upon us:  Summer.  We do lots and lots of camping, and this tends to bring about a lot of poor nutritional choices, at least compared to the rest of the year.

  • Snacking.  There are always munchies and stuff around for camping.  It’s just the nature of things.  I’m always a sucker for a handful of potato chips or something.
  • Alcohol.  It’s vacation, usually at the beach or around a fire. These things make a nice cold drink or two a big temptation.
  • Lack of exercise.  Right now I’ve been trying to get some sort of exercise just about every day.  This involves a combination of running, walking, or lifting weights.  Last year, I tended to do very little of this while camping.

As you can see, these are all things that could definitely put at risk some of the gains I’ve made.

How To Combat The Dreaded Summer Weight Gain

So, I guess the question now is how do I fight this?  Here are some ideas I have:

  1. Hold myself accountable.  Last year, I knew I was gaining weight throughout the summer.  In typical denial, I basically avoided the scale.  This year, I’ll make sure to check in regularly no matter what.
  2. Carry a snack cup.  Instead of a handful of this or that, I’m thinking of getting my own little snack cup that I would have to use when snacking.  This would force me to go get it, force me to fill it, and hopefully put up a mental block if I fill it multiple times.
  3. Take some healthier options.  There’s between 4-8 of us on typical camping trips.  I can’t ask that people like be removed on my account. Nobody wants to be that person.  But, hopefully I can take some of my own stuff to mix in so that it’s not all junk food.
  4. Reduce alcohol and change mixers.  I don’t drink beer, but instead prefer mixed drinks.  Last year, my drink of choice was whiskey and Coke.  This year, I’ll probably switch to vodka and club soda.  Vodka has a few less calories than whiskey, and club soda is 0 calories, compared to a whole lot for Coke.  I’ll also mix them a little lighter.
  5. Exercise regularly.  I’ve gotten in such a routine of waking up and doing some exercise, that I’m hoping I just keep this up.  Right now, if I wake up and don’t exercise, I don’t feel right.  So, if I can tap into that when camping, it’ll keep me pushing along.

Crossing My Fingers For Success

This probably won’t be easy.  The work thing was actually easier because I went cold turkey.  But, I just can’t see myself going cold turkey on the fun things associated with camping.  I think starting off with an approach centered on moderation is my best bet.

The best laid plans, right?

Wish me luck.

Readers, how do you deal with temptations and other obstacles that can derail success you’ve made? Do you have any tips for me?  Please let me know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.