Thursday, August 5, 2010

Week 4: Fitness this Week & Giving Back

Aug. 3, 2010: End of Week 4
The changes have been dramatic. Despite what was a bit of a lackluster exercise week I think I'm getting the diet really keyed in. It's actually hard to believe how much weight I've lost in just over four weeks. Maybe I'm dehydrated, maybe I was carrying around a lot of extra weight in my gut, maybe I'm still losing muscle mass from atrophy after my surgery. I've checked my scales repeatedly but each time I weigh myself the jump downward is startling. I was at 245 on July 5 and am balancing at 231 this morning on August 3. Fourteen pounds! I'm actually feeling lighter, both physically and psychologically.

When I started this effort, I went out and bought 4 of 5 pairs of shorts--all my others were too small or thrashed. It was one of the things that shocked me into motion; they varied in fit but some were 38 inch waist, and some 40 inch. I couldn't believe I was wearing 38s, let alone 40s. I remember my first 36 inch ones from a Hawaii trip Christmas 2007. Easy to explain away as being different clothes fitting differently but I was kidding myself. Well, just four weeks later the 38 inchers, buttoned, fall off if I don't cinch the belt.

The physical differences aren't obvious, though. I've lost weight plenty of times in the past, even from winter to summer. Usually it shows in my face first, then the remaining fat redistributes and I get a second bump of being thinner. Other periods of weight loss, though, I was losing maybe a pound a week. If this monolog seems self-absorbed, credit it to my disbelief. I keep waiting for the drop to slow down.

The major change this week wasn't exercise, although I've been doing enough to get my metabolism revved up more. I think it's the switch away from processed foods and especially from refined grains. I had no idea how much white rice, crackers and bread I was eating. Last week I switched over to brown rice and I've almost eliminated white rice. I'm hitting whole oats more in the mornings, and have basically eliminated Starbucks and snack foods.

This week I set up a bunch of meals around quinoa and vegetables. I was looking for variety so that I don't get tired of the brown rice, and saw quinoa on the grocery store shelf. I looked it up online and was pretty surprised - it's a "pseudo-grain," seeds from a South American spinach like plant. 'Its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, like meat or eggs, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest but it also has a coating of bitter saponins which are often washed off during processing, otherwise it can be a laxative.' Pretty tasty too. You treat it the same way you do rice, and I used my rice cooker to make it.

From daily bad food choices, I really only had two or three this past week. My stomach seems to be shrinking and I'm not eating as much. I think my body is finding a balance between feeling more full on higher fiber foods, and feeling a little hungry, after which I eat some fruit. My blood sugar has to be swinging less too.

Once again, this week began with a short Bay Trail ride Sunday evening. I'd danced a fair bit the night before. I was tired Monday and only hit the gym once this week, given evening work meetings--I bought a 5-acre property online at auction for my organization on Monday, valued by the tax assessor at $582,000 and I won the auction with a bid of $80,000 plus a $4,000 auction fee.  Also because we headed up to the Russian River Thursday evening. I got in a good hike Saturday on the Sonoma coast.

It was my 4th week at 10 lb single arm weights and 20-30 lb double. Last night I started with 15 lbs and 25-30 for the next 4 weeks, more stretching and supersetted with ab crunches, and increased the machine cardio from 30-35 minutes to 40, five or ten minute segments between exercise supersets so that I don't get bored.

My only regret is that, although I'm getting on the bike and the San Francisco Bay Trail at least once a week, I haven't made progress hiking segments of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Still, I got in a good hike on the California Coastal Trail. My first month's average for gym visits has been only a little over twice a week, 9 miles cycling per week and 7 miles hiking and other cardio. I'm home the next two weeknds with no major plans, so I'll try to do better.

My Goals
• Write about the outdoors.
• Get in shape; current goal, drop from 245 to 200 lbs.
• Experience joy more frequently.
• Popularize the San Francisco Bay Trail & the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
• Leave things a little better than I found them.
• Donate 5% of my income to worthy causes.

In my head I know that I'll gain weight as my weight lifting continues, but I started with the idea of dropping from 245 to 200 lbs. Bottom line, in a little over four weeks, I'm down 14 lbs from my starting weight--a third of my initial goal--and my diet has improved significantly.

Aug 3, 2010
231 lbs (current weight on August 3, 2010); 245 lbs (weight July 5, 2010)
Bay Trail cycling miles: 14.9
All cycling miles: 35.9
Ridge Trail hiking miles: 2.2
All hiking & other cardio miles: 25
Gym visits: 9

Finding Joy
The week started with joy, cycling along the Bay Trail and the north San Francisco waterfront, hiking along the Sonoma coast, hanging with friends over the weekend, making donations to a couple of charitable causes. It was low key but nice.

Giving Back
I'm a lucky man with no dependents, little debt, and a pretty good salary. I save a fair bit for retirement. My goal is to leave things better than I found them on a day to day basis so, besides my work for a conservation organization, I'm picking up a little trash on each bike ride and hike.

I'm also donating about 5% of my income to worthy causes. This week I joined the Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden at Tilden (not entirely altruistic; I want their quarterly newsletter Manzanita) and I made a donation to the Sonoma County Food Bank. I've made plenty of donations over the years, but making them on a weekly basis feels better than getting a gift. I've started thinking about it more, but then natural choices seem to arise during the week.

Donations this year
Bay Nature magazine
Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden at Tilden
Save Mount Diablo
Sonoma County Food Bank
To a friend

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