Friday, June 15, 2012

Cha Cha Cha Changes........

 Over the last year there have been so many changes.  I was laid-off from a company that I had worked at for 12 years, in an industry I worked in for 14 years.  I was out of work for 3 months, started a job in the wine industry, and came to a “mutual understanding” that it wasn’t a good fit.  And now I am working for the largest open access mega science research journal in the world.

So much time has wreaked havoc on what used to be a pretty set schedule.  Keep in mind that I used to ride my bike to work, which was 8 miles each way, and my wife would run with me at lunch.  Since I worked close to home, and I am a “farmer” as one manager called me because I get to work early, I would be home at 5PM.   From a fitness standpoint this was ideal. 

However a year before I was laid-off, the stress of the job started to weigh.  This was about the time the first wave of lay-offs began.  In the end, the company ended up reducing its staff by 60 percent.  This is when I started to notice, despite my fitness regimen, my weight beginning to creep up.  Mind you at the time this meant I went from 177 to 186 (I am 6’1”).  My problem was that in the new division I was in, they provided its staff with a “goody drawer”.  So I could rationalize eating some peanut M&Ms, gummy bears, Jelly Bellies, because I needed to fuel up.  At this point I was running 25 miles a week and 65 miles on my bike.  But really this was stress eating.
Hey I just ran 4 marathons in 1 year, one sundae wouldn't hurt!?!

I gained another 6 pounds during my time off.  Since my schedule was thrown off, I did get a lot of bike riding in as well as running.  At Long Beach, I missed my half marathon PR by 6 minutes; however I was still happy with 1:56.

Then I began driving to work for the first time in 15 years to Napa.  I mean this does sound a bit spoiled; however, I have really enjoyed being able to ride my bike at least to the BART station, less to work.  On the train, you can be much more productive (like writing this blog, reading, sleeping, etc.) and you can justify your exercise since it is tied into your transportation.  When you drive to work, basically you are sitting, listening, and probably eating something.  I thought it was really interesting that a study came out about this time on how people who have commutes over 25 minutes are typically obese.

Sloshing through the mud at Diablo Challenge 2011.
Then you have the whole wine industry culture.  To work in wine is to celebrate life through food and drink.  So it wasn’t uncommon to have food available to snack on. That, combined with starting during November, I saw my weight expand from 192 to 206.  This was even with running 25 miles plus a week during lunch and training for the Napa Marathon and the Diablo Challenge Ultra Marathon.

In fact,  due to the extra weight and over-training to compensate for not bicycling, I added over an hour to my time from last time. 

That job ended with me out of work for an additional month.  But now I am back to what I consider a healthier commute, while longer.  I am back riding my bike over 80 miles a week as well as running down the Embarcadero in San Francisco at lunch for an additional 27 miles a week. Yes I now cover over 100 miles under my own manpower. I work of a company that provides fresh fruit to snack on as well as nuts. Have restarted tracking my food and am accountable for what I eat.  I have refocused on eating highly nutritional foods, instead of processed foods. Yet, I have only lost four pounds in 6 weeks. 

There can be a couple of reasons for this: I am sleeping less ( 5.5 hours to 6 hours of sleep at night), I may have cut back too much on my calorie intake, and I am 4 years older from when I was my lightest.  Also, if weight were the only thing to judge, I wouldn’t take into consideration that the last time I was in the 200’s I was wearing size 38 waist jeans, not size 34, and that my legs (and the abs below the flab) are lean.

Not as fit as I would have liked.
But here is the lessons learned.  You cannot underestimate what a change in your schedule can do to your fitness and diet.  While you may feel you are adapting to the change, your body and habits really will show quickly how really you are dealing.  Also, you cannot make justifications in eating habits due to the exercise level you are at.  Again, the body will adapt and if you are “carbbing up” with quick burn fuel (comfort food) instead of high nutrient, high quality foods, you will end up in a nasty cycle.  Also, to maintain a healthy body weight is work, and will always be work.  Don’t give up or rationalize that it is acceptable to be unhealthy because you are a victim of your schedule or what life throws at you.  

If you identify a roadblock, stop talking about it and do something about it.  For example, I have a leak under my kitchen sink.  I know what the problem is,  I know what I need to do to fix the problem, I have even bought the repair kit.  While I don’t have the tool to fix the leak, I know what tool I need.  However, after months of having the leak, I still have a bucket under the drain. Why?  Because it is easier to empty the bucket instead of invest in the tool or the time I need to fix the problem.

Life is the same way.  If you do not make time or have the right tool, you will always be talking about how you need to fix your health and diet; however, you will always be taking the shortcut without fixing the underlining problem.

What 177 looks like with my beautiful wife and son.
My journey back to 177 will take a while; losing weight always takes longer than gaining it, especially as you age.  It may even be an unrealistic goal, with the proper focus being on achieving on how lean I am and if I can improve my running.  That said,  I am making the adjustments now to reach my fitness goals.  These include completing my first 50K, running a half marathon under 1:50 and a marathon under 4:30. I also want to do a Century bike ride as well as a triathlon.  And finally, I want to hold out as my big audacious goals and test my limits being able to run a 50 miler and a 70.3 Ironman.   If I keep this goals in mind, I will always be conscious of the changes that are affecting my health and fitness and adjust accordingly.

What are your health and fitness goals?  And how are you going to test your limits?

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