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On Resolutions and Motivation

It's been a while, but here we are, 2011! 'Tis the season for resolutions and manic gym attendance, the carols of grumbling bellies and sweet temptations singing from baker racks and fast food joints. Never fear! For your trusty (albeit somewhat -- nay, often -- absent) NPC is here!

The important part about New Year resolutions is the follow-through. At the brink of the new year, it's easy to find the motivation we need. Fit into that Spiderman costume by ComicCon? Easy as pie! Moonlight as one of the Spartans from 300 by DragonCon? It'll be done by April! The unfortunate truth is that we often either injure or burn ourselves out before the real work has even begun, and end up casting aside our fitness aspirations long before we've given them a chance. When you're motivated and eager to go out and run ten miles at the start of your goals, it's likely that your body isn't ready for it. Sure, we've seen montage after montage of our hero learning how to manage his (or her) superpowers, designing a supersuit, and overcoming the otherwise mundane obstacles that would otherwise hinder a good storyline.

The sad truth is that we will probably never see Bruce Wayne on a yoga mat, just as we will likely never see Jean Gray sneak a cookie or drink a slimfast. We toss our D&D characters into epic battles wherein they must exercise great feats of strength and cunning, and still have the energy to haul literally thousands of pounds of gold away as loot like it was nothing. Ultimately, the reality of the physical prowess of our heroes and characters rarely comes to light. This being said, it's easy to see why the stereotypical geek is a sucker for instant gratification and lacks the temerity to adhere to a steady workout regime.

Bollocks, I say. Ask anyone who paints minis what patience is, or who crafts their own District 9 alien costume. These things take days, if not months to complete. Most geeks have patience in spades, but choose to apply it to something other than running fruitlessly on a treadmill or lifting large chunks of metal in a weight room. I'll agree -- it's a mindless task that's hard to focus on, because ultimately, repeating the same task time and time again without having to think is tedious. This being said, here are some ideas to spice up your workout, or at least distract yourself from the boredom of mindless tasks when a montage isn't likely to happen:

1.) Obvious, but compile a motivational playlist of your favorite montage or inspirational music. Daft Punk's "Derezzed" on the TRON soundtrack is an obvious choice for the technophile, but others may be motivated by selections from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Last of the Mohicans, etc. Anime fans may find their inspiration in the title music for their favorites, while D&D gurus may find their blood pumping to battle music. Look around online to find something that makes your workout yours. No one is saying you have to workout to stereotypical workout music. You can even look up free podcasts by NOVA or Discovery on iTunes if you prefer a non-musical approach.

2.) Tailor your workout to your interests. Just because treadmills work for some people doesn't mean you have to jump on the bandwagon. Belly dance (as Jess has taught us) is an exceptional workout, as is regular horseback riding (for those with the resources to do so). Obviously, jogging in a park may be preferable to being packed into room of people who are regular gym-goers. I tend to avoid the typical recommendations of engaging in sports to make a workout interesting, because as geeks, most of us aren't likely to count "sports" among our top interests. If possible, it may be preferable to invest in a treadmill or bike for your home, so you can watch that Battlestar Galactica marathon while working out.

3.) Wii and Kinect. I've never used the Kinect, but I've had success with the Wii. There are tons of fitness games available to suit your interests, some of which don't make it obvious that it's a workout. I like the Wii because I can track my fitness goals and weight. The little board mascot is, frankly, a little turd when it comes to criticisms or pointing out my lack of a workout, but I appreciate its programmed honesty.

There are others, certainly. What do you do to keep motivated?
It's been crazy times in Katdomville, but I wanted to stop in for a quick update.

My general practitioner -- you know, the one who has been gung-ho on me losing weight -- recommended (i.e. demanded) that I try out something called orlistat for weight loss. I was, as always, extremely skeptical on this point. He tends to steer me in weird directions, and I'm still of the opinion that his diagnosis of me being obese (which, by the way, he begrudgingly admitted that I'm just "overweight" now. Ha-HA!) is pretty silly. I was talking to one of his nurses and even she seemed skeptical about the obesity bit, but she said he's probably just trying to remedy my "overweightness" now, so that I won't resemble the Goodyear blimp when I'm 50 and my metabolism slows down. Fair enough, I suppose.

So I researched orlistat. Oh my. Horror stories flooded my interwebs. People who didn't follow the guidelines cited some serious gastrointestinal nastiness. Orlistat stops 1/4 of the fat you digest from being broken down by your regular digestive enzymes that allow the body absorb it. If you take in more than the daily recommended amount of fat... well, that oily result has to go somewhere.

Trumping my dubious doctor's potential Drug Co. kickbacks from prescription meds (something I've suspected since his random "do you want antidepressants?" moment when I hadn't mentioned a damn thing about being depressed), I went with the over-the-counter form, called Alli; I've been on it for a week and I've had no negative side effects. I'm losing weight. Still, as a statistical test, there are some other factors to consider. 1.) I'm working out regularly, and have been losing a minimum of 0.7lbs a week (according to the Wii), though this number has increased by 0.4 this week, despite my laxness about treadmill time early last week. 2.) My diet has changed significantly since I started taking the Alli, out of fear of "treatment effects," so it's difficult to determine what part of my weight loss is the orlistat and which part is overall diet change.

Do I feel that taking it has benefited by weight loss efforts? Absolutely. Where my willpower might have wavered when offered a delicious slice of chocolate drizzled cheesecake, the fear of loose bowels gives me that extra backup. Pit momentary food comfort against the possibility of a gastrointestinal nightmare, and I will always walk away from the cheesecake. This doesn't mean that tasty treats are dead to me -- I found some frozen fruit bars at Walmart that have 60 calories and zero fat, which is a nice treat on these long, hot summer days. If it's ice cream I'm jonesing for, Skinny Cow makes an ice cream sandwich that is 140 calories with only 1.5 grams of fat. While Skinny Cow makes other low-fat ice cream snacks, I prefer the sandwich style because there's no leeway with portion size.

I'm feeling a lot better, actually. Despite exercising regularly, I hadn't noticed any change in my energy levels from day to day until now. The difference hasn't been dramatic, but I'm feeling less lethargic and more motivated to get things done.

As far as the logbook goes, I think I'm giving it up for now. Classes started a couple weeks ago, and I've been slammed with work --it's enough for me to even squeeze in a workout, much less document the whole thing. I'm working on balancing out my schedule, so we'll see how it goes in the coming months.

Progress, goals, etc.

Hoo boy. Life has been fairly nutty lately, and I haven't really been able to keep my log going. As a brief summary, things have been going pretty well -- I've lost some weight and moved down into the "overweight" bracket from "obese." *cheers*

I'm going to have to restart the 6WC or postpone my end date. I've started a new term and classes have been rather time-consuming. I've been fairly good at keeping up my treadmill time steady, despite a knee issue last week.

I've found that the Veggie Lover's bagged salads stocked at pretty much any grocery store has been a good meal base. It has radish slices, sugar snap peas, carrots, and several different kinds of lettuce. For meat, I add a baked fish fillet (usually salmon. I love me some salmon) and maybe some unsalted, toasted almonds. Other seasonal variations have been strawberries, orange slices, fresh apricots, and even some plum slivers. Living in the deep south has the benefit of there being heaps of fresh citrus and strawberries all throughout the summer, and I've been taking full advantage of the cheaper availability. Given a fairly limited budget, I've been trying to dine on seasonal fruits & veggies -- this is going to be fairly interesting come fall, but I'm up for the challenge.

I've lost a little over ten pounds thus far (overall, and not counting the daily variations that make it look like I've lost more). It's a start, but toward what? Well, I surveyed 14 websites for the ideal weight for my height and frame; the results varied significantly, so I took the average of all 14 and came up with a weight loss goal that my local weight loss buddies have found shocking. According to the internet, I need to lose 45.6 lbs. I'm setting my first goal at 25lbs, and we'll see how it goes from there.

I'm anticipating some problems about half way in. Due to my work and recreation, I have more lower-body muscle mass than I think the BMI calculators take into consideration. While my goal is to lose fat, by no means do I plan on reducing my overall muscle mass, so my weight loss goal is contingent on the actual fat percentage in my BMI.

Medically speaking, my neurologist has finally narrowed down the general region affected by my neck injury. This keeps me from doing a lot of abdominal & trapezius work (and associated deltoid stuff, but I really don't have too much of a focus on those), but I can wait on that until things have all been sorted out. I rest a lot easier knowing the source of the pain and can adjust a workout to avoid aggravating certain muscle groups.

I hope my fellow heroes, rogues, and adventurers have been working hard! I miss you guys!
Hokidokie, so... I went to the sports store this weekend to buy a new pair of running shoes. It went something like this:

Me: "Hello, I am new to competitive running and would like to utilize your 5-point fitting system to make sure I get a good pair. Could you help me?"
Shoe Guy: "Pfffft.... Noooob. Lame. Pwnzzorz."
Me: "But... but I need to be fitted for shoes! I don't have the knowledge check for that!"
Shoe Guy: "GTFO or DIAF."
Me: "I... I have money!"
Shoe Guy: " ...... Feh."
Me: "So... "
Shoe Guy: *eye roll* "Get on the treadmill, noob, so I can check your pronation."

Actually, it wasn't quite that bad. It was more like:

Me: "Hello, I am new to competitive running and would like to utilize your 5-point fitting system to make sure I get a good pair. Could you help me? If possible, I'd like to get something that is compatible with the Nike+ system."
Shoe Guy: *blank stare*
Shoe Guy's Coworker: .... *shakes head, then, quietly but loud enough for me to hear* "She's all yours."
Me: "Um... I called in advance..."
Shoe Guy: "Uh, yeah. Go over there and take off your shoes and socks. I'll be right with you."

He looked distinctly bored and irritated with me, but I was the only one in the store (it's a specialty store in Jax) so it's not like I was keeping him from other customers. They advertise on their website that they do the 5-point fitting for free, and I even called in advance. While I was taking off my shoes, I couldn't help but feel completely out of my element. It took me back to early middle school days, where I would try really hard to do well in those torturous games you play in gym class -- one of those where you arm beefy twelve year olds with some sort of flying projectile and tell them to act out their pre-teen rage on the smallest and weakest of their number.

Then I realized something. Shoe Guy was obviously some kind of jock, as evidenced by his bored, disdainful expression and monotone voice that indicated that dealing with some new runner was below him. He might possess special shoe knowledge, but ultimately... he works in retail hell at a dismal wage. I'm a nerd who processes crime scenes and runs my own lab.

The power balance was mine once more! NERD POWER!!

In any case, I settled on a sweet pair of shoes burdened with the lengthy title of: "Nike Lady Zoom Structure Triax 13 Running Shoes." They have shiny silver accents, which is sort of weird, but they're extremely comfortable.... and by comfortable, I mean that my feet feel like they've gone to the special heaven. The arch support is amazing, and the cushioning  (or whatever you want to call the magical substance that absorbs shock) makes you feel like you're running on deliciously supportive clouds of pure joy. The left shoe has an pocket under the insole for my Nike+ sensor, so I'll be able to track my progress on my iTouch again with more accuracy than the pouch that attaches to the laces (which was horrible -- ran five sweaty miles on the treadmill and it registered 1.2 miles. I was not a happy camper that day). I'll hopefully be updating on that soon.

Overall thoughts: It's completely worth it to get properly fitted for running shoes. However, if at all possible, go with a friend. I doubt that all places have the same kind of bored-with-life jock I dealt with, but it might make things a little more comfortable if you do end up running into that kind of personality.

For reference, these are my shoes (except mine are red/white/silver instead of blue/white/silver).

Week 2: Part I

Since last week's log was a huge post, I'm going to try to post every couple days instead of all at once.

Sunday: May 16th, 2010Collapse )

Monday: May 17th, 2010Collapse )

Tuesday: May 18th, 2010Collapse )

I've been neglecting the Wii Fit Plus this week. It's not intentional -- the games are a lot of fun and I know I should get back to them, but I've beat most of E's scores so my motivation is not so high, especially since I try to knock out the EA program when I first get home so I won't lose my momentum. I'll see what I can do about that.

Strawberries have been my snack of choice, followed by oranges on my list of favorites. Tonight's dinner is stir fried peppers, shrimp, and green onions over brown rice. Yum! ^__^

A Week of Wii

I've rebooted my workout regime, under the displeased eye of my doctor who would be rather happy if I just sat on the couch until they figured out the full extent of my injuries. As a quick summary of their diagnosis so far, they've got nothing specific aside from signs of acute injury to my neck with associated nerve damage, but they're still ordering tests so we'll see. Sitting on the couch has gotten old -- very old, very quickly. I've restarted on the Wii, starting at a low intensity and slowly (under the watchful eye of my neurologist) working my way up to something a little more challenging.

The nomenclature here will be "WF+" for the Wii Fit Plus program, using the Wii Balance Board; likewise, "EA" denotes EA Sports Active: More Workouts. "6WC" will refer to the 6 Week Challenge on the EA program, which I have set on Medium intensity for the time being. I'll be keeping my log throughout the week, and posting the full week on Sunday. This can change if it turns out that reading a daily is easier than the block for the week, but it's sometimes hard to make time every day to get online while my laptop cord is still out of commission (currently using E's).

Without further ado, I give you Week 1:

Sunday: May 9th, 2010Collapse )

Monday, May 10th, 2010Collapse )

Tuesday: May 11th, 2010Collapse )

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010Collapse )

Thursday: May 13, 2020Collapse )

Friday: May 14th, 2010Collapse )

Saturday: May 15th, 2010Collapse )

Thus ends the weekly log. Overall, I'm feeling pretty positive about my program. It's a little embarrassing that I'm sore after short workouts, but they're fairly intensive. I'm also doing three different programs right now, and will add a fourth (Jillian Michaels) once cleared for it. I'm used to having a lot more cardio to workout the soreness before starting more strength training, but that's not yet possible until the Doc clears it.

Let me know what you guys think. Is the weekly log too long to get through? Would it be easier to have a post every day? Feedback is welcome.

May. 9th, 2010

I've been working out, I just haven't posted anything. Belly dance takes care of my core. Irish dance works my lower half- which is good because normal leg workouts like lunges make my knees very unhappy. I'd probably be okay with them now that I've muscle built up in that area to hold my patellas in place, but they're still far from fun. My calves have never been this developed before. That's not to say that everyone should go flocking to Irish dance and forget all the other leg workouts they're willing to do. The stance is very different from normal human stance. And I would not want to have done it before my bones finished growing. There was a study done recently on the pressures put on one's body during ballet and Irish dance. Ballet put stress on the knees, hips, and thighs. Irish dance put stress on the knees, ankles, and feet. One move, the rock, puts 14x your body weight on your ankle for a split second. So yeah...not for the very out of shape or obese.
To work my upper body, I've just been doing a set of exercises with 10 lb dumbbells whenever I have time in the morning. I only do one set because I don't want to get tired of it. Right now I'm trying to train myself so that it's almost an afterthought to do a set in the morning, then build up from there. I don't know all the names, but I do bicep curls, tricep extensions, "benching", rowing, and lift them out to the side. That works my biceps, triceps, pectorals, trapezius, lats, and deltoids, so all the major upper body muscle groups. I do a set of 10-15 depending on the exercise. 10 lbs isn't the ideal weight for everything, but it's the right weight that I still get some workout on the easier things and am able to do the harder ones (Like, 8 would be ideal for the deltoids, 20 for the trapezius and lats). I've already worked up from 8 with the deltoid lifts and can actually see them (just barely, but hey, it counts).
I'm going to be taking the P90X DVDs to China with me. I'll probably only do a little bit here and there. Particularly the X-Stretch. I have bands I'll be taking with me, but I really don't like bands. Free weights are much better, but you can't exactly pack them on the plane and I don't want to try those water-filled travel dumbbells because the sloshing around would have the same shaking effect as bands. One cool thing about China- they have exercise machines in the park for free use by the public.

Kat Takes on Just Dance for the Wii

Okay, so you guys can't laugh at me.

Okay, you can laugh. Just not too loudly.

I was trying my hand at the game "Just Dance" for the Wii. My devious boyfriend was holding up his phone the whole time, like he was taking video. He assured me several times that he wasn't, that he was just trying to get a picture. It was distracting.

Oh, and he was taking video.

It's a short clip - 15 seconds or so, and doesn't show much of the dancing, but it's what I've got. Don't judge my dancing -- I was playing that song for the first time and didn't know the moves. If you turn your volume up, you can hear that it's Cindy Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Short review of the game after the jump:

Hm. Now that I've watched it a couple times, I'm thinking that maybe I should just bite the bullet and do an actual, longer video. We can all share a laugh and you guys can get a better idea of what the game entails. That clip is mostly rubbish since it's so short.

Anyway, I really like the game, despite the glaringly obvious problem of the moves not registering all the time. It takes a little while to figure out exactly what the game wants you to do with the controller, but the whole thing is a lot of fun. There are 30+ songs rated by difficulty and effort, so you're bound to find something you like.

As far as fitness goes, I definitely worked up a bit of a sweat after a few of these. I have a harder time getting my moves to register with the easy, low-difficulty songs, so I jumped to the mid- to high-range and had a blast. Jin Go Lo Ba by Fatboy Slim is my favorite -- I'd never heard the song prior to playing the game, but the dance is a lot of fun and you can really get into it.

That's all for today, folks -- finals have descended and I've got a lot to get done.

Fitness on the Wii

Due to a lot of craziness, I haven't been posting here regularly. Let's see if I can't remedy this little problem in two parts

I. Fitness

Tax season has cometh and, like the good little nerd I am, I filed early. I got my return back last month and ventured forth to purchase a Wii. Through a random chance of fate, I managed to pick up the last one at Best Buy as they were putting it back on the shelf (it had been placed on hold and the person never came to pick it up). My first choice in using the Wii to exercise would have been the Wii Fit Plus, but a shortage of the balance board has "rocked the nation" so I went with my second choice: EA Sports Active: More Workouts. No, I don't have the first EA Active. To be honest, I did look for it, but it, too, has come up short on the shelves of my local Gamestop. In any case, the second release is a fair stand-alone game, and I've been having fun with it. 

Let me first stress the fact that yes, you really do need the leg strap. Seriously. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you can tie the darned nunchuck to your leg with a scarf, because it won't work (it slides down your leg a lot and the nunchuck still bounces, making the game halt mid-exercise to announce that you need to fix your 'chuck).

Right, so... I stopped in to pick up a leg strap, and in keeping with the trend you've seen here thus far, it was not in stock. I hit up Amazon and picked up a fitness bundle with the leg strap, resistance band, and a bunch of other frivolous crap, but the whole kit was cheaper than what the EA Sports Trainer kit typically goes for (a difference of about $8).

I shelled out the extra three bucks to get 2-day shipping so I could try to make the 1-week goals that started ticking after my first workout with the scarf. The leg strap came in one day before my weekly goals expired, so needless to say, Sunday was torture as I made up for the four workouts I missed while waiting for the leg strap.

Lesson: don't start your program until you have all the necessary equipment.

As far as the game goes, I'm really enjoying it. There are certain aspects of it that I'm currently hating -- not because of the game play, but because after the third round of 30-minute sessions, the words "Now it's time for crossover lunges!" causes a very noticeable tic in my right eye and an unhappy quivering in my knees. I'm sure this will fade with time as I keep up the regular schedule of the 6-week challenge instead of trying to cram four fairly fast-paced workouts into two short hours.

Despite being sore today, I feel pretty good and plan on resuming my regular workout schedule this afternoon with the start of Week 2. I'll try to have a more gameplay-intensive breakdown as things settle down around here.

Also, this DVD came bundled with my leg strap, etc. The claims are fairly extreme, but with 1,700 reviews at four and a half stars on Amazon, I think I  might actually try it once my finals are complete. I'll try to keep my progress posted here.

II. Diet

Due to the strange nature of my last visit with my dear doctor, I've been more aware than usual about my diet. Sadly, I've had to cut my delicious 12-grain whole wheat bread from the picture for now, since my lunatic doctor thinks that it's the cause of my "apparent obesity" (dude... size 10 is not obese, but okay). He has also declared my beloved lemonade to be the evil gateway drug to guzzling bacon-and-butter smoothies, so I'm pretty much stuck with tea (unsweetened, or apparently the devil himself will lay siege to my soul) and water. I'm not rejecting carbs all together, because that's just stupid, but mostly limiting my intake to my morning oatmeal for now. I usually have some kind of greenery for lunch -- peas are higher on the glycemic index, so they give me some carbs as well, but otherwise my diet has consisted largely of green things, oatmeal, and the occasional meat (but not red meat, because according to Dr. Doom, if I eat red meat the APOCALYPSE WILL COME UPON US ALL!!)

Not that I'm annoyed with this ridiculousness or anything.

I only plan to follow Dr. Doolittle's orders for about a month, if I can handle it. I normally eat healthily (plenty of fruits & veggies, whole grains, lean meats), but he wants me to lose 40lbs. I'll shoot for 15-20 (which is reasonable to me -- I'm overweight, but I don't know where I'm going to pull that extra 20lbs from unless he wants me to lose muscle, which isn't happening).

If I develop long ears and a twitchy nose, it's all this greenery I've been consuming. Just stop me before I start bedding down in dry grass or cedar chips.

Workout Music

The Mariachi Roof Repair has taken up full swing once more, and those of us in the office are left scrambling for a way to drone out the horrible grinding noise. I stole commandeered borrowed a pair of headphones from Chris while he was not in the office to defend them and turned up some Podrunner tunes, which is typically reserved for workouts.

If you're not familiar with Podrunner, it's essentially 45 minutes to an hour of House/progressive house/"NOT-Techno" that has high beats-per-minute (bpm) for running (or jogging/stair stepping/ellipticalling/general aerobic working out). I like it because it sets a pace and is fairly continuous (or, if you listen to their intervals stuff, in waves of planned intervals of pace change). It can sometimes get sort of monotonous despite the changing up of rhythm and music, but I try to focus on my posture and movement while running, so it works out well for me.

Anyway, it also rather nicely drowns out the mariachi band tearing apart our roof (no, really. Every time they rip up something that sounds important, they break into song and cheers) and after a couple of hours of this, was in the zone of work. With Podrunner stuff, you can't really go at a slow pace, even if you're just typing... so I was in the zone, completely focused on my work, A PRODUCTIVITY MACHINE!! if you will, when out of nowhere...

Me: *typetypetypetypetypetypetype* *foot tapping to the beat*
Music: *smooth, fast beats with energizing rhythm*
Me: *typetypetypetypetypetypetype* *foot tapping to the beat*
Music: *awesomebeatsawesomebeatsAre you having fun?awesomebeatsawesomebeats*

Seriously, though... some of the songs just make me want to up and run. Listening to them on speakers isn't exactly the same -- headphones are the way to go. You can find Podrunner on iTunes for free (it's a podcast -- you have to endure a minute at the beginning where the creator talks a little, then an ad for his book, then the music. I usually overlap my pre-run music a little with the Podrunner intro; that is, when the Podrunner intro starts, I know I have about two minutes to finish my pre-run stretches and make sure my shoes are tied tightly before taking off.

I've also subscribed to fitMusic on iTunes (also free) which is more of the same. Again, some people might get bored with the music, but songs that are lyric-intensive tend to give me a bit of a headache when I'm working out. Both Podrunner and fitMusic have some lyrics, but nothing headache-inducing.