Friday, December 03, 2010

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spin workouts versus cycling workouts–Which is better in my opinion

I started spin workouts this fall; I saw them as a new, more intense cycling workout. I did not want to even enter the room until I felt like I was at sufficient shape to be able to hang in the room.

In short, I really like to spin. Even bought some clipless shoes so I could spin harder. Very quickly I have found a new exercise that I like, based on cycling. BUT would it help me lose weight. I did some research and it seem yes. But know that I have been spinning for a while, I thought I would offer my opinion and perspective.

Prior to adding spin to my routine, I was riding a bike in the gym ( five days a week or more. I would alternate between two programs, slowly building up my time and intensity. The goal was to ride for 47 minutes a day, at 100 RPM. I typically ride at 85% peak heart rate for the last 25 minutes. So its fairly intense. This has been what has worked for me.

Spinning is a different deal – it is pure variety from high RPM, sprinting to low RPM, high tension climbing. The variety is what I like . The music, the direction – makes the time go by fast. And I sweat.

So – what’s my verdict so far. Spin class is an overall more comprehensive workout. Based upon the class I will work more muscles (like my glutes and core) then just cycling. I know by spinning that my glutes are in much better shape.  I am in overall better shape from spinning.

However, plain cycling is probably better for me in a pure weight loss scenario. Its more focused, more straight intense work. BUT – by spinning I can actually cycle harder (makes sense). Today, I was able to just plain go harder on the bike even though I spun yesterday. I am a better rider due to spin.

I also will sometimes do a pure cycle on the spin bike. ( Here I get the spin bike experience, while cycling. I did my birthday ride this way – I rode 48.9 miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes on the spin bike.

So what is my answer – do both – both are good for you – Spin for the overall and cycling for the cardio burn. Spin for overall tone and strength, cycling because it has proven to be the best for pure weight loss. Plus throw in a true outdoor ride to get out the gym

Monday, November 08, 2010

Quick update on my weight loss

So last week was a big week – I went back to the doctor for the first time in 6 months. I had a target weight in mine. Which I hit. I weighed 60 pounds lighter than when I was the doctor in early May.  Even better news was by blood pressure was normal (120 over 72). It was 140+ last time so that was a huge drop.

These combined were great news. I did talk to the doctor about target weight. He brought the trusty BMI. Ugh. And my target weight was another 50 plus pounds. Internally I just laughed at him. He and discussed this and we both agreed for someone with my build that is just not realistic. I would have to cut significant muscle tone to make that weight. I di that in high school for wrestling and promised to never again get that weak.

So – back in late Feb. to the doctor I go. We agreed I should try and lose some more. But I am wondering if I am not close to a more optimal weight.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Value of changing the workout

First, the value of cross-training is really at this point. In fact, my daughter saw this summer the value in her off-season. 

However, my knees are pretty shot. I know I have severe arthritis in my left knee and suspect highly the right is shot.  Losing weight has helped but I still have knee issues. Planning to ask the doctor on running but my guess it will be limited. Though on getting in the pool, but having swum in the past it’s not my thing. Which is truly ironic given my oldest daughter’s love for the sport.

So I am riding the bike. And it gets boring jumping on a bike everyday at the gym and doing the same routine. So how do I try and change things up:

1) Vary the programs I am doing – I alternate the program on the bike each day (stationary)

2) Change music I listen to just about every day

3) Set goals within goals – like I have to enter my weight so I make that a target weight and every few weeks get to lower the weight

4) I bought a used bike off Ebay – a mountain bike – had it tuned up and at least once a week I ride that and do not go to the gym. This is one of my favorite things to do.

5) Once I felt in shape – like after say 8 months I have added spin classes – again a change of pace.

So there you go – change of pace is super important even we doing the same exercise over and over.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

My weight and our marriage

In a previous post, I made a statement that my weight was an issue in our marriage. Being the idiot that I am very often am, I did not think what that could mean, especially to my wife. So first I owe a huge public apology. So here it is - Ginny I am sorry.

Here is what I intended - When I was overweight, there were so real consequences.

First, I likely had undiagnosed sleep apnea. I remember waking up gasping for air, literally feeling like I was choking. I remember one night I awaking in a panic, struggling to breathe, scared to go back to sleep. Don't think that this made me constantly tired, I was always struggling to feel rested. It was a constant.

Second, given I did like who I was in the mirror, it affected my general attitude. I would duck pictures, etc.

Through this all, my wife loved me. Loved me even when I did not love myself. Loved me despite being morbidly obese.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

My weight loss process – couple updates that I forgot

Some of my inspiration

I have had several inspirations to date. First, has been my oldest daughter. She has dedicated herself to swimming in a large way. I watched her ,at to me a young age, really throw herself into the sport. For me, she showed me dedication that I needed mirror.

Second, as part of college ministry we are surrounded with college athletes. Watching them and how they eat was really an eye opener. It convicted me on especially soda.

Finally, my wife and my family. I need to be here for her, healthy and ready to go.  My healthy and weight was becoming an issue to our marriage – nothing ever said but I recognized it.

Weight Graph

Latest Graph Blue is 1 pound a week plan  and red is actual.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My weight loss process to date – August 31st

Many people have been asking about how I have lost so much weight and what I am doing. Well I am doing a bunch of stuff so I thought I would document some of it. This works for me


First, I am or was really overweight to the point my doctor was talking surgery. Very scary stuff. Also, my left knee was diagnosed with severe arthritis and was really bugging me.  Combined – I needed to lose weight for very tangible quality of life issues. My mobility and my ability to lead a normal life were being threatened.

And this was something that I knew was coming. I knew for a while now that I had a price to pay.


I have several key philosophies:

  1. Start small and grow – I started with a small workout and grew the intensity. The workout I do today – if I had started with it – would have killed me and no way would I have stuck with it. Similar, I have gradually cut back on food items and quantities. No cold turkey unless I make the decision.
  2. Keep trying to up the ante – I have tried to up the ante in my workouts as far as intensity, usually monthly. As soon as my workout feels easy, its time to really step it up. Also, I have changed my diet gradually, trying to find ways to replace things higher in fat or sugar with replacements I like.
  3. Its going to take a while – I went in May and did a spreadsheet from my current weight, losing a pound a week – and saw it would take until my birthday in 2012 (yep over a 18 months) to get where I wanted to be. And you know what – I put the weight on over 15 years why would come off in a few weeks.
  4. Be your toughest critic – you know where you can make changes, where you are good and where you are weak.
  5. Learn what you are putting in your mouth – if you do not know what is in it, assume its full of calories and fat. Especially eating out.  I went to Panera one morning – and got their nutrition guide on their baked items – scary. Nutritional knowledge, which I continue to learn, is essential.
  6. If you work hard, you occasionally get to cheat – The concept of a “cheat” meal where you essentially relax the rules is super important – as long as it an occasional thing. I strive to not cheat the cheat so I can enjoy the cheat.
  7. MOST IMPORTANT Not a diet but a lifestyle change – frankly some of the changes I am making are on the long term – if I go back to the way I ate and drank and did not work out, I will be right back where I started. Alton Brown discusses how to see this in his recent weight loss. I really like his perspective.

What I am doing

I am doing five main things to help with my weight loss. Not in order:

  1. Cut fat – Trying to really cut the fat in my diet. It means not eating lots of things (french fries? any fast food pretty much?). I also know where I am choosing to eat fat and why.  I eat cream cheese on my bagel because the fat cream cheese takes like paste. But I choose to eat ham (low fat) and mustard (no fat) sandwiches for lunch instead of roast beef and mayo – I like roast beef better but ham is so much better for me
  2. Cut sugar – I like sweet things – I have a big, big sweet tooth. But I have had to really cut sugar in daily diet, It means saying no to desserts a great deal.  Look this is hard – but I give myself one dessert a week. I stopped baking at home – and avoid places like donut shops. Cutting sugar from your diet makes a huge deal. Also means giving my the sugary sodas. Youtube Coke and Sugar sometime for an eye opener.
  3. Cut calories – I have cut calories in my meals – but mainly in couple significant manners.
    1. Cut calories in what I drink –My goal is that each day I drink zero calories. For me that meant giving up Coke. I love, love Coke. More than most. But in May I made the decision to go to Coke Zero. and cut my soda count down. Couple of things that also helped have been Vitamin Water Zero (I love lemonade).  I make exceptions for orange juice (the new reduced sugar OJ is just horrible). But even OJ is loaded with sugar.
    2. Cut alcohol – I stopped drinking alcohol for now. Alcohol is loaded with calories. I love beer and this has been hard – but its empty calories.  Again, its about looking at way to cut calories.  I will drink again and look forward to that victory beer.
    3. Eat more veggies and fruit – I actually have learned to enjoy salads
  4. Workout intensely and consistently – Pretty simple – go the gym, and work hard. and go often. I started at three days a week and have worked to 5 (cardio every day, lift two times, abs two times) with a weekend ride thrown in as well. I did some research on rather to go the classic lower intensity fat burn or the high intensity workout. In the end, I am burning more calories and fat by working hard. My goal is to literally walk out the gym covered in sweat.  No messing around.
  5. This is a daily thing Steps 1 through 4 are daily things – focusing on what I am eating, why I am eating it, and working out.

Looking at this as a chemistry problem

I look at my weight loss as a chemistry problem. That is this – I am trying to up my metabolism daily (through intense exercise) while reducing the richness of the fuel (cutting fat and sugar) and amount of fuel (calories). By doing this, I am forcing my body to look to other sources of fuel (stored fat) to burn. I also know that I will burn muscle at times, so I am trying to lift consistently and work hard in the gym to build muscle while eating protein to battle the muscle burn.

This idea of chemistry and metabolism has become a mental image.  I see my workouts as me stoking my body’s fire,  making the fire hotter which means it burns more fuel than it would do naturally. And when i do not work out, I look to cut calories to match my naturally lower metabolism.

New foods and new models – more of the how

So in lowing my weight, I have taken on some new foods and ideas. Here are some that I consider important

  1. Water Most important thing – we now drink at every dinner, in or out. I choose it consistently. And i make sure every workout has a water bottle. I have a couple of  times found myself really low on my weight this summer, and it was water weight. I was all drawn out and weak. I want to lose fat not water. Water is so important
  2. New alternatives that are zero calories or low calorie  - Coke zero (and I just tried Pepsi Max) is 0 calories. And it tastes like a flat Coke. Vitamin Water Zero is another great alternative. Gatorade G2 is a low calories alternative to Gatorade. But water is still king
  3. No caffeine after lunch I do not want caffeine after lunch – as I want my body to naturally wind down. Which leads to
  4. SLEEP – I can not over emphasize how regular, committed rest has made a difference. My body would tell me that I was hungry when I did not sleep enough (think sleeping less than 6 hrs a night for several nights in a row). And I would respond with high-sugar, high-calorie snacks to tie me over. Great sleep fuels my workouts, and gives my body recovery time.  So getting a regular bed time and 8 hours is actually a big weight loss tip. And as I have lost weight I have slept better.
  5. New foods
    1. Greek yogurt – high in protein and low in fat – its a great thing
    2. Chicken – I really have chosen to eat more chicken in lots of ways; and less beef.
    3. Wheat whether wheat pasta, bread or now bagels – wheat – more filling and just better for me
  6. Choosing foods I still eat some of  “old” foods –but choose more wisely. I eat steak but only sirloin – its the leanest cut usually and then I cut the portions. I eat potatoes some just not stuffed, or fried. I eat more rice instead. I eat cheese but less. 
  7. Working out and when I figured out I prefer working out first thing in the morning. With my job rarely starting before 10 am (and going later), I have the opportunity to go the gym before work and I do.  I work out better, it fuels my day and I get it over. So I work in the am now. Your mileage will vary.
  8. GOALS I have lots of them. The long term goal is out there but I need something else/ These fall into some of these categories
    1. Short term, more immediate – When i workout on the bike I enter a weight. I have used this as a goal weight. It’s set 9 lbs less from last time and when I am within 2 lbs of the weight, I set it again (now its 11lbs away).  This is a short goal that I like because it shows progress.
    2. Intermediate Weight goals – the breaking of a barrier is always great and hitting a milestone like losing 50 lbs. One of my favorite was moving the weight on the gym scale (one of the 50lb sliders).
    3. Celebrate the intermediate goals i I post these to twitter and facebook. When I hit 50 pounds lost, I bought new madras shorts, in my new lower size of EBay. It was a tangible reward for great work.
    4. People like to here when you hit goals

Encouraging others

Look, obesity (and I would know) is a big problem in the US.  I look around and see it. Yesterday at the gym an older man who most have been 350 was on the bike, struggling to ride even 5 minutes. I looked at him not with pity or scorn, but thinking that was where I was headed in a hurry. I felt sorry for him and knew at his age the battle was hard.  I look around these days and I am amazed at how big we are – not just adults but kids.  This summer I watched a 10 year old kid who was probably 30lbs over weight eat nachos and candy all day at our neighborhood championship swim meet. Beyond wondering how the kid did not throw up in the pool, this kid was already in sorry shape. 

We can blame the food industry and restaurants. But Hardees would not sell huge super fatty cheeseburgers or biscuits if the public would not buy them. Nor would Wendy’s sell the Bacanator. At the end of the day, I alone am responsible for what I eat, what’s in it and the amounts. I know there are people who have legitimate medical issues as it comes to weight. But for most of us, its all about not exercising and eating way too rich of a diet.

Couple of points of encouragement to others

  1. Find what works for you – I bike at the gym and then bought a bike. Works for me with my knee and love it. I am really hard core on food.  My wife is less hard core and walks.  She is doing great and what she does works for her.
  2. Start in the small and grow – I can not over state how I have started slow (on the bike at the gym three times a week for 28 minutes and drinking coke) and gradually increased. Each new step was one I made, calculated the costs, accepted and acknowledged. I t was me deciding to quit Coke. Its me who has been making my cardio workouts longer and more intense.
  3. Accept this is hard stuff Look eating donuts and drinking Coke is awesome – making decisions to say no for a greater thing is always tough
  4. Make this a priority – I have made my workouts a priority over work at times, and have said no to dessert in social situations where saying yes was probably the accepted thing. But in the end my being more healthy makes me a better husband, Dad, worker, friend, etc.
  5. Know when to say yes and enjoy it There are great times to say yes and eat great food. Plan ahead when you will “cheat” and ENJOY. Of course the irony now is that my body does not like it too much when I cheat.

Final thoughts – where I am going

First I owe my wife huge thanks – she has been a huge encouragement and helper, educating me on food, challenging on what I am eating and just helping me to think.

The benefits from losing now 62 lbs are numerous. To me the highlights have been:

  • Mental health – I increasingly like how I look, and I am ore confident. Plus who does not like getting compliments are looking nice
  • The obvious physical benefits – more energy, less winded, etc.
  • Confidence – three years ago we went on a vacation trip and were active. My weight caused me to not be able to do things either at all or very well. It was shameful and embarrassing. Contrast this year’s trip to Cape Code were I was able to do everything well and lead the family.  I now have a ton of confidence.  I feel like a better dad all the way around
  • Clothes fit better – ok I will need a new set of clothes soon.

Where am I going with this

  • I still need to lose a bunch of more weight – and I anticipate along the way I will have to change some things to get there. So far my body has reacted really well, having lost 30lbs in 90 days. But some day it may hit a stasis point but not yet. My goals are big and will take more time to get there. But I can see them.
  • I go back to my doctor’s in little over two months. My hope is that my high blood pressure is better, and that we can discuss more positive avenues. 
  • Maybe take on new cardio pursuits. I use to run, but with my knee will need doctor clearance to begin again. Maybe swimming? kayaking? I just know that being active is really good for my soul, and personhood.
  • Leading our family – my weight loss has made the more of leader of our family with food, exercise, etc.  And that has bleed over to other areas as well.