Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Inspiration from Friedrich Nietzsche

"Even the strongest have their moments of fatigue." --Friedrich Nietzsche

I guess this isn't so much inspirational as a consolational. I'm still sick and feeling down about it. I cannot breath through my noise and my chest is still all filled up. And to make it worse, I am stuck here at work trying to finish up a project. I'm just tired. Very, very tired.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sick. Not Again!

It is true. I'm sick. My daughter started coming down with a runny nose and cough over the weekend. My wife and I were soon to follow. Yesterday, my throat was very sore, and I have been constantly taking hot herbal tea with lemon and using throat lozenges. My nasal passages are filling up, but I still had planned to train today. But then I started to feel discomfort in my broncial tubes, and a productive cough has developed. I think I am finished for today. Hopefully I can get over this bug soon. Getting sick is very frustrating for me, and I am really pissed off right now!

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Week 6 Progress Report

Monday: I had serious problems with my run. I ended up doing a walk run for 25 minutes (1.6 miles) and felt very discouraged, but I figured that most likely I was overtraining and was not overly concerned about a medical issue.

Tuesday: Because if the problems on Monday, I took a rest day and I think this was the best thing I could have done. I felt a lot better, and my heart rate monitor showed a dramatic drop in my resting heart rate. I think this confirmed that I really needed some recovery time. I had been thinking about whether I can afford a weekly rest day. I think this proves that I cannot afford not to have one.

Wednesday: Swam 1500 meters at an easy pace. I was hesitant to push it, seeing how my doctor still wants me to see a cardiologist, but I felt great afterwards. My confidence was slowly restored.

Thursday: Spinning for 40 minutes at an easy pace. This was at a really low heart rate so it was not much in the way of exertion. Even so it was still really uncomfortable because I didn't have my cycling shorts and I couldn't get the spin bike configured the way I like. I was also learning about all the muscles I haven't been using while running and swimming.

Friday: Swam 1500 meters, with a few sprints thrown in. I started to do some kick-flips. I am very awkward at kick-flips, but I figure the only way I will get better is to start doing them. My apologies to those in the lanes next to me.

Saturday: Easy pace run for 65 minutes, 4.3 miles. I kept my heart rate at about 85% for most of the run. It was a lot slower than I expected, but I like the fact that I could keep the pace up for an hour.

Sunday: Bike ride, moderate exertion for 1 hour, 35 minutes (15.8 miles). This was my first real bike ride in a few years. It took me a while to get my bike ready. Every inch needed some deep cleaning. The tires were flat, but in good condition. My compressor died on my while filling my front tire. I was able to fill the rear with a CO2 cartridge, but I definitely need to get a good bike pump. I really liked the electric one that I had, because it could pump up the tires for your car or an air mattress really quick, but I'm not sure that I want to buy another one if it will die just pumping a bike tire up to 120psi.

My bike chain needs degreasing, but I did not have time to do it. I think the hubs probably need to be repacked as well. I also added on the speed and cadence sensors that work with my Polar S625x heart rate monitor, but so far I have not been able to get the cadence sensor to work. I have heard that there is a fix for the cadence sensor, but it involves taking the thing apart.

Of course, all this work on my bike has made me think about the few additional things that I need to get for my bike. I really want to get some clipless pedals, but I'm not sure what kind to get. It can be a complicated proposition because you do not just buy the pedal. You also have to get a shoe that will accept the cleat for the petal. I really like the Shimano TR2 Triathlon shoe, but it only has a three hole pattern that will accept Look type cleats. I wouldn't mind getting a pair of Look pedals, but the spin bikes at my gym only have SPD pedals. On days where I cannot get out and ride, at least I could spin at the gym in the mornings before or after work. SPD petals also have the advantage of being dual sided, and you can get shoes where the cleat is recessed into the sole, which makes it easier to walk around in them. Then again, I really do not like the spin bikes at my gym. Why should I buy a shoe to match a bike I do not even like. Plus, the only shoes I like so far that will fit an SPD cleat are Sidi, but if I go that way I cannot afford the tri shoes, because they are almost two hundred dollars. SpeedPlays seem nice too, but I do not even know what kind of shoe they will fit. Do you see my problem?

I definitely could use some upgrades for comfort on my bike as well, especially with the super stiff aluminum frame that I have. I could use a new saddle. My saddle is just too hard, so I want to get one with gel in it. I also definitely need to get some new tape for my handlebars. Right now, I just have strips of vinyl on my handlebars, and it is very hard on my hands. In fact I really want to get a whole new set of handlebars, but I really do not know what to get. Bike parts are really expensive, and often you need to try them out to really know if they will work for you. I cannot afford to keep buying the same parts over again, looking for something that will work. So I keep the same old stuff that I know I do not like.

Here are my totals for the week:
Swam 3000 meters
Biked 2.25 hours
Ran 5.9 miles

Which brings me to a total of:
Running: 63.37 miles
Swimming: 9700 meters
Cycling: 2.25 hours

I have been working on a new training plan. I haven't worked out all the details, but it will give more structure to how I organize each workout within the week and allow me to have a rest day. For now it means that I train in each sport only twice each week. To compensate for the fact that I will have fewer training sessions I will try to make them longer. Here is the plan for next week:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Swim 1700 meters
Wednesday: Spin 60 minutes (hard pace)
Thursday: Run 70 minutes (easy pace)
Friday: Swim 1700 meters
Saturday: Bike Ride 120 minutes (easy pace)
Sunday: Run 60 minutes (hard intervals)

I am continuing to lose pounds, but very slowly; too slowly, in fact. This past week I made deeper cuts in my calories, and I have had some reward for my efforts. I think cycling will help in this area, because with all the time on the bike you can really burn massive amounts of calories. Here are my current weight stats:

Weight: 253.0 lbs. (down from 264)
Body Fat: 35% (down from 39%)

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Friday, March 24, 2006

First Ride

This week I am starting to add in Cycling to my training. I was supposed to do it earlier, but because of the events of Monday it was postponed for a day. Yesterday I hopped onto a spinning bike because my bike is not ready yet. I tried to keep my heart rate below 70%, so it was a very slow ride. I have a hard time keeping my cadence up, even with little to no resistance. I was very frustrated with the spinning bike, because it had only limited adjustment. I found myself too stretched out unless I moved the seat all the way forward, but if I did that all of my upper body weight moved to my hands. The seat was very uncomfortable too. I'm still really sore, and I only road for 40 minutes. My right knee was not too happy. It doesn't hurt, but just feels weird. My next ride will probably be on Sunday, and I'm going to try my own bike. To get a good workout you usually have to spend a lot of time on the bike, but I want to easy into it. I think I might risk injury, if I spend more than an hour on an bike that is not adjusted properly, and I'm still trying to figure out what the adjustments should be.

I had a good swim, this morning. I swam 30 laps in 50 minutes. It was a moderate pace; I certainly wasn't pushing myself too hard. I probably could have gone longer, but I rather not push myself too far. I started to try and do kickflips. I can do them, but only very awkwardly.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Stress Test

I had my stress test yesterday. The good news is that it did not show any problems. The bad news is that the doctor did not let it go very far.

For those of you, who have never had a stress test, let me describe the procedure. Electrodes (sorry, I did not count how many) are placed on the chest and abdomen. These electrodes are connected via wires with a unit that is strapped to your waist. This unit is then connected to an electrocardiograph device which maps your heart's response. You perform the test on a treadmill, although sometimes a stationary bike is used. If the doctor is trying to measure oxygen intake you wear a face mask connected to a device that measures the oxygen flow into your lungs. The doctor will take your blood pressure and then the test will start. The treadmill starts slow and then speeds up in three minute increments. Most stress tests are done according to the Bruce Protocol. Below is list of the stages of the protocol. Each stage lasts three minutes.

Stage 1: 1.7 mph, 10% grade
Stage 2: 2.5 mph, 12% grade
Stage 3: 3.4 mph, 14% grade
Stage 4: 4.2 mph, 16% grade
Stage 5: 5.0 mph, 18% grade
Stage 6: 5.5 mph, 20% grade
Stage 7: 6.0 mph, 22% grade

The advantage of the Bruce protocol is that most people cannot sustain stage seven for three minutes, so usually a doctor can get a reading for maximum heart rate and VO2 max (maximum intake of oxygen). I went up to stage three before the doctor decided it was good enough. I estimate that I probably could go up to stage 5, but no farther. Fit athletes can usually go to stage 6 and possibly 7.

After the test my doctor seemed to think that my discomfort from Monday was a pulled muscle or at least something other than my heart. That was good to hear, but I know that it wasn't a torn muscle. I brought some printouts from my heart rate monitor to show him. I have reproduced them below.


This first chart is of a normal interval run I did on a treadmill. It is actually a very nice curve. The line is smooth and responds amazingly quickly to the change in speed. Isn't the human body amazing?! Notice how my heart easily goes up to 160 bpm and the recovers nicely.


But here is a copy of my run on Monday. The circles in green are the trouble spots. The line starts out nice, but then after going 5 mph for a while, I run into trouble. My heart refuses to cross the 130 bpm mark and I start to feel pressure in my chest. I am forced to slow down, so you can see the speed declines. You can notice that the line is actually quite erratic at the peak. After recovery I tried it again with the same results. After showing his chart to my doctor, he wanted me to see a Cardiologist. That is not what I wanted to hear.

What I wanted him to say was that this is normal and that I was probably just stressed or tired. Hopefully that is what the cardiologist will say. I was really looking forward to get back into training, and more delays are not what I need. I figured it was okay to go for a swim, since swimming doesn't raise your heart rate as much as running. So I went to the gym and did a nice and slow thirty laps. That felt good!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Inspiration from Lord Chesterfield

"A man of sense is never discouraged by difficulties; he redoubles his industry and his diligence, he perseveres, and infallibly prevails at last." --Lord Chesterfield
This heart incident has to be looked at as just a bump in the road. I have a stress test scheduled this afternoon at the doctor's office. I'm a little nervous about it, but am expecting that it will be normal. I'm actually hoping that I'll get a full blown test so that it will give me some insight into my maximum heart rate and possibly my VO2-max. One of the first things I did when I received my heart rate monitor was measure some basic baseline information. The first was my resting heart rate. I took my heart rate while resting several times. I even wore it to bed one night. I always got the same reading, 70bpm. My monitor also has some extra functions that Polar calls MyIndex and OwnOptimizer. MyIndex simply measures resting heart rate and then projects other basic fitness measurements, such as maximum heart rate and VO2-max. I was projected to have a maximum heart rate of 180 which is a good 7 beats lower than my age predicted max (220 - age). My VO2-max was projected at 29, which is pretty bad!

Last night, I thought I would update these measurements. Before I went to bed I did both MyIndex and OwnOptimizer. My resting heart rate was an astounding 54! It is not possible to make such gains in a week. So either I have some wrong measurements or perhaps my body was trying to recover last week and I suffered from an elevated heart rate. I hardly had any workout on Monday and Tuesday I took off, so perhaps that was the rest that I needed. Or perhaps I was suffering from a bug. I will need to do more measurements to be sure.

My max heart rate was projected as 177, which is a whole 10 beats less than my age predicted max. It seems too slow, because I have often run at 165-177 and I was not that uncomforatable. Also, max heart rate isn't supposed to vary that much. This is one of the reasons I'm hoping my stress test will give me an accurate number. This number is very important for training, because the best way to control training intensity is to limit it to a percentage of your maximum heart rate. My VO2-max was projected at 32. This would move me from a "very poor" to "poor" rating. I can't complain about that.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What's Up Doc?

I went to see my doctor this morning about the chest pressure I felt yesterday on the treadmill. The good news is that I do not have a temperature, my blood pressure is good and my chest is clear. I also had an EKG and it was normal. The doctor ordered a stress test EKG, which I will have tomorrow. He did not seem too concerned, but said I should stay of off treadmills until we get the results of the stress test.

While this whole episode is cause for some concern, I have this feeling that it is going to all turn up nothing. On the positive side it really is a good idea to get fully checked out before undertaking any strenuous exercise program, and a stress test is a good idea. This situation is making me take the measures that if I were to do things by the book, I would have done already. I know that sometimes a stress test can be used to determine a maximum heart rate, and I hope I can do that tomorrow. This would be helpful in furthering my heart rate training, but technicians who deal with heart patients are usually more conservative and may be hesitant to allow me to do that.

I did some research on the net yesterday, looking for possibilities that would give me the symptoms that I have. The first is just being heart tired from over-training. Unlikely but possible. This would be the best possibility, because it is easily cured with a bit of rest and recovery. The second possibility is an infection in my heart tissue. This usually happens about two weeks after certain types of viral infections. As regular readers of my blog would know, I was sick a couple of weeks ago, so this is also a possibility. If this is the case, then the good news is that it is treatable with medication, and normally one makes a full recovery. There is the possibility of permanent heart damage, but this is unlikely. The third possibility, is that I am suffering from stable angina, which is a condition related to disease of the arteries. It is simply a condition where one suffers from pressure and sometimes pain while under exertion. Unfortunately this condition is not really treatable, although it may be managed by controlling blood pressure and losing weight. Hello! That's what I'm trying to do! Anyways, I shouldn't get ahead of myself here. I'll let the doctor figure this all out.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Terrible Run This Morning

This morning I went to the gym as usual, and tried to go for a run. My heart rate refused to go over 130 and I started to get some pressure in my chest. I slowed it down to a fast walk and focused on my breathing and got my heart rate down to 120, and then I was ok. I tried to start jogging again, but I would have the same problem. I decided after 20 minutes that my body needs a break, so I stopped my workout early.

I'm a little at a loss for what went wrong. I think this sort of thing is usually a sign of over-training, but last week wasn't very hard. In fact, I had two rest days last week, and my calorie intake over the weekend was pretty high. Sunday was not a hard day either. Saturday was more intense, but not much more than what I have been doing in the last few weeks.

Other possibilities are sleep and dehydration. I did go to bed late last night. I think I have been drinking enough water, but my fat percentage was a bit high on the scale today, which for me is usually a sign of dehydration. So today, I'm going to drink lots of water and get to bed early and see how tomorrow goes. Tomorrow, is my first day cycling.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Week 5 Progress Report

This week I continued to build on my swim. I have been slowly adding laps and worked up to 24 laps today. I even did a sprint lap and was surprised at how fast I can go. Unfortunately, I cannot sustain the speed for even a whole lap. My stroke is getting better, particularly with the entry of my arm into the water. It seems that when I get it right I am sliding through the water. Even my kick has improved. I still need to work on rolling my hips. I can roll left ok, but not right.

Running has gotten a bit more fun. I have done a couple of runs around the neighborhood, rather than the treadmill. The upside, is the varied terrain and nice change of inclines. The downside, is that I'm running on asphalt and concrete, which is harder on my legs. I tried to use my Polar HR Monitor to do some interval training, but somehow my warm up period was set at 50 minutes. I tried to reprogram it, but it just takes too long. The best thing to do is program the interval on the PC and then download the information the monitor. This is what I thought I did, but apparently the programming did not take.

I hadn't scheduled any rest days, but decided to take one on Wednesday, because of things I need to get done at the office. I was ok with that decision, but then on Friday I had to take a day off, because I slept through my alarm and had prior commitments in the afternoon. This made me really regret taking the rest day. I tried to make up for it, by swimming and running on Saturday.

Here is a rundown of what I did on week 5:
Monday: Ran 33 minutes, 2.55 miles
Tuesday: Swam 22 laps, mostly straight with only a few stops
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: Ran 43 minutes, 3.1 miles
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: Swam 22 laps, Ran 42 minutes, 3.0 miles
Sunday: Swam 24 laps

I have stopped losing weight. Even my body fat percentage stopped going down. I probably have been eating too much, but in he mirror it looks like I'm still losing. Here is my weight info:

Weight: 256.5 lbs. (down from 264)
Body Fat: 37% (down from 39%)

Next week I start Cycling. Here is my plan for the coming week:
Monday: Run 40 minutes
Tuesday: Spin 30 minutes
Wednesday: Swim 1400 meters
Thursday: Run 60 minutes
Friday: Spin 45 minutes
Saturday: Swim 1400 meters
Sunday: Swim 1200 meters, Run 45 minutes

I tried to fit more in there, but the schedule is tight. I'm still debating about rest days.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

My New Polar S625x Heart Rate Monitor

My heart rate monitor arrived last week and I have been playing with it all week, to the detriment of my blog. It has quite a steep learning curve, because it has so many features and is not very user friendly. Part of the problem is that all of the devices many features are controlled with only five buttons, so it becomes vital to learn the proper sequence and levels of various options.

All of the "S Series" Polar monitors have the option to work with PC software that can track your exercise settings. In some monitors the software is sold separately, but it is included in the S625x. In fact the monitor really includes everything you need in the box. This monitor is currently the top of the line monitor for runners, but it is exactly the same monitor as the S725x. The S725x is marketed to Cyclists and comes with a speed sensor for your bike, while the S625x comes with a "foot pod" that measures speed and distance while you run. Both sensors will work for either model. The clincher for me was that the foot pod is over a hundred dollars if purchased separately, while the bike speed sensor is only forty dollars. So I went with the running model and can get the bike sensors later.

The S625x has so many features that it is hard to know where to start. The monitor can measure your heart rate of course, but can also measure altitude (actually atmospheric pressure), temperature, running speed, calories, bike speed, bike petal cadence and even petal power (the last three require optional cycling sensors). Probably the most important feature is the ability to set target zones for your heart rate. Once these zones are set the monitor will beep at you if you go over or under these targets. Then later when you look at how you did on your PC, it will tell you the amount of time you were in the zone. I love zone training and now I can do it outside! There is also a useful interval feature that provides cycling target zones just like on the treadmill at the gym. I tried out the target zone feature today in a run around my neighborhood, and it worked pretty well, but it takes too much time to set up the zones before heading out for a run. It is kind of annoying to be fiddling with you wrist watch when you just want to get up and go! There are exercise sets that you can pre-program. Then you just select which program you want and off you go. But I still haven't figured how to program all the zones yet. I need more study time with the manual.

Probably the coolest thing about the S625x is the foot pod. It attaches to the laces of your shoe, is very light and can measure the distance and speed of your stride. This information is then transmitted to the monitor, giving you real time speed and pace information. When you are use to running on a treadmill like me, this is very important. It also means that I can keep track of my progress from session to session by comparing my heart rate changes at different speeds over time. Polar's competitors, Garmin and Timex, have similar systems that use GPS to measure speed, but actually Polar's setup is much better for me. Since I still run on the treadmill sometimes I can still use the Polar foot pod, whereas the GPS units wouldn't measure any speed since I'm not really moving. I also think that the Polar unit is more accurate. Properly calibrated it is 99% accurate. GPS units are around 95% accurate. This is because if the GPS unit is even a foot off in location this could mean a significant error in speed measurement, particularly around corners or bends.

Now I'm working on what heart rate targets I want to set up. I purchased a book called Heart Rate Training for the Compleat Idiot on Amazon. There is a lot of information on the net, but much of it is contradictory, so I figured I'd get a book, especially one that seems so highly recommended. Soon I'll have some pretty charts to post. Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Inspiration from Emil Zatopek

"When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." --Emil Zatopek
I have been training non-stop since I have been sick, even when I did not feel like it. I'm proud of that. But I didn't train today. But it wasn't that I didn't want to. It's just that I have come across several suggested training schedules, and they all suggest taking a rest day. I'm a bit skeptical about this, because so long as you don't show signs of over-training such as an elevated resting heart rate or mood problems, then you should be ok. I also believed that swimming and running are sufficiently different activities, utilizing different muscles, such that a swim day really is a rest day for running, and vis-versa. But I needed to get some work done at the office, so I went into work early instead of going to the gym. Bummer. I'll have to not make a habit of it.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Week 4 Progress Report

This week I got back in the saddle in a major way after a weak last year. I stuck very close to my planned schedule. I was able to complete all the workouts and even swam extra laps on Thursday and Saturday. I wasn't feeling very motivated this morning, and I kept telling myself that today would be a rest day, but next think you know I am in the gym on the treadmill. This has never happened to me before. Has training become a habit? This is very encouraging.
For swimming I focused on getting balanced with kicking and my breathing. I'm still not totally comfortable breathing on my right, but it is getting better. I'm comfortable with kicking. I swam more laps than I had planned. I actually probably swam more than I recorded, but I kept forgetting which lap I'm on. I swam at least 1000 meters on Sunday, so that is my goal for swim sessions this week. I am going to start adding drills from Total Immersion. I'll give more details on a post next week.
On the running side I am still building my base. The great news is that I am starting to see progress on my speed. I can maintain a 5.5 mph speed for 20 minutes without busting my target heart rate zone (that is with a 1% incline).

This week I ran 14.58 miles which brings my total to 48.82. I also swam 2700 meters which brings total meters to 3300.

For next week, in addition to increasing my swimming distance to 1000 meters, I am also adding in another swim. This means I have to run and swim on the same day. This will be my first brick! A brick is a training session where you do two sports back to back. To make it more reasonable I cut back the laps on that day and will run for only 30 minutes. Even so, it is still going to be rough.

Monday: Run 40 minutes
Tuesday: Swim 1000 meters
Wednesday: Run 60 minutes
Thursday: Swim 1000 meters
Friday: Run 60 minutes (intervals)
Saturday: Swim 1000 meters
Sunday: Swim 800/Run 30 minutes

I received my new polar heart rate monitor! It is one fabulous gadget, but it is taking a while to figure out. I will post details next week. Stay tuned.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

DietPower Update 2

I have been using the DietPower Weight & Nutrition Manager for almost three weeks now. Here are my body stats:

Body weight: 256.5 lbs. (down from 264 lbs.)
Body Fat Percentage: 35% (down from 39%)

Here is a chart of my progress. As you can see, I have seriously plateaued. I have not lost any weight in the last week and a half. Why is this? The most obvious answer would be that I ate too much. But according to the makers of DietPower this is not supposed to be possible if I ate less than the budget allotted to me.

This would only be true however, if the budget alloted was based on an accurate measure of my metabolism. It is possible, however, that DietPower miscalculated my metabolism, especially since I am just starting out with the software. The reason for this is that your beginning metabolism is simply derived from a chart based on your gender, weight and age. This is going to be based on the average person and is probably not going to be very accurate. The beauty of DietPower is that it tracks your body changes over time to give you a more accurate picture of your metabolism. It does this by looking at the calories eaten and calories burned over the last 30 days and comparing it to the amount of weight gained or lost over those 30 days. But when you first start you will not have thirty days of data. So for the first thirty days the metabolism given by the software is based on a smaller data set and has to be taken with a certain level of skepticism.

Another source of inaccuracy is the fact that most of the initial weight lost on any diet is water weight. Glycogen stores are usually stuffed full before a diet, when the individual is in a calorie surplus situation. As a person moves into a calorie deficit the glycogen levels lower. Since glycogen is stored in water, as the glycogen is depleted the water is naturally expelled from the body. Of course when you lose water, you lose pounds. The software cannot distinguish between pounds of water loss or pounds of fat loss. This weight loss confuses the DietPower software into thinking you are rapidly losing fat and as a result your calculated metabolism is very high.

Both of these factors mean that initially it is very likely that the metabolism calculated by DietPower (and thus the resulting calorie budget) will be too high for the initial few weeks.

Here is a chart of my metabolism as calculated by DietPower and my calorie intake since starting DietPower. As you can see my metabolism (in green) has moved quite high. So this could be the reason I have stopped losing weight. But I think something else is at work here. As you can see from the chart above, my net calorie intake (blue) has been significantly below my calorie budget (purple). An alternative explanation is that my body has been building muscle. This is a common phenomena when starting a training program. Instead of seeing the scale go down, it may not budge, or it may even increase. As the muscle fibers are stressed they work to repair themselves. During this process, the muscles swell with water and as a result get heavier. Ultimately, the muscle will rebuild it self and be stronger than before. In many cases it will be larger and heavier.

I think this is the reason I have stopped losing weight because you can still see a change in body composition in my body fat measurements.

Here is a chart of my body fat percentage over time.
Now admittedly some of these changes are due to water retention issues and not changes in muscle or fat, but over a length of time the measurements should give an accurate picture of changes in muscle mass. You can see that in the last week and a half there has been a steady decrease in percent body fat. If your weight stays the same and your percent body fat decreases, that can only mean lean mass is increasing. Perhaps some of this is water, but at least some is probably new muscle.

How much muscle? Here is the formula for calculating lean mass:

Lean Mass = Total weight*(1 - Percent Body Fat)

Week 3: Weight = 256.5lbs.; 36% Body Fat = .36 --> Lean Mass = 164.2 lbs.
Week 4: Weight = 256.5lbs.; 35% Body Fat = .35 --> Lean Mass = 166.7 lbs.

These calculations show an increase in lean mass of 2.5 pounds. This of course also means a loss of 2.5 pounds of fat.

Not too shabby for just a week.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

My Old Trek 1220

I have been thinking about bikes lately. I have an old Trek 1220 that I bought second-hand back in 1994. It doesn't have many miles on it, as it has been in storage for most of the time that I have had it. On the good side, it has a light aluminum frame, and it has a three sprocket front gear. This gives it plenty of really low gears which is useful in going up hills, especially for someone like myself, who is heavy and out of shape.

On the bad side are the really pathetic breaks, which are Shimano Exage. Most of the other components are Shimano RX100 components, which are of marginal quality, but decent. One thing that I really do not like about the component group on my bike is the downtube shifters, which I find very inconvenient. But it gets worse. The front derailer is not indexed. What this means it that you have to shift by feel or sound of the gears. I often have to look down at the gears while I shift, which isn't very safe. It is essential to get the derailer in the right place or the chain can suddenly move to the wrong gear or even come off the bike altogether. I actually had the chain come off on one ride. It is not difficult to get the chain back on, but I don't want to be on the side of the road putting the chain back on my bike during a race.

Another issue, and probably the most important one is fit. I bought the bike not knowing a thing about bike fit. Still, to this day I'm not sure if I can fit on the bike. I have made various adjustments like a new Nitto 66 seat post and aero bars, but have never been really comfortable on the thing. Part of the problem is that I'm not sure what the fit is supposed to be like. I always assumed that the comfort level was really just me and the fact that I was out of shape, and not the bike. I really need someone who knows bikes to come over and take a look at this thing with me on it and see if it can be made to work. Perhaps I just need a different stem or something simple like that.

For now, when I start training for the bike I will take spinning classes.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Inspiration from Vince Lombardi

A dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price.
--Vince Lombardi

I ran some intervals this morning. I was happy to notice that I was able to keep up a 5.5 miles per hour speed and still maintain my heart rate under 160. For intervals I really should push the speed more. Next time I'll try for 6.0 miles per hour.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Good Swim

I had a good swim this morning. During the week I usually go to a gym near my work. It has an indoor pool, which is good because it has been raining lately. It wasn't crowded this morning. Sometimes the pool is overrun with mobs of senior citizens who do aqua walking. They tend to spread out over the pool and don't always have the courtesy to leave some lanes to the lap swimmers. But today I shared a lane with two other lap swimmers who were about the same speed as me, so that was very pleasant.

I tried a new exercise today which involves swimming with a closed fist. Since you cannot use your hands to push through the water, you have to use your forearms. It helps you get a sense of proper arm position, and I think it was very helpful. It is also useful when you come up upon a slower swimmer (imagine that, a slower swimmer than me!) and do not want to pass.

I worked on breathing on the right side. It is still difficult for me to maintain my balance and breath on the right. My head seems to pop up, and then my legs sink. When I roll to the right my legs start flopping around, and it is a big mess. Well, I still got in 16 laps.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Week 3 Progress Report

Today, I got in my first swim. The pool at my health club is outdoors, and it was cold early in the morning, but fortunately the pool is very well heated. I was expecting to have problems with my kicking, but it was ok. As long as I don't try to get too much propulsion out of them they do just fine. I try to not kick too fast. I need just enough to keep my legs from sinking and my body balanced.

Where I do seem to have a problem is my breathing. I'm supposed to roll from side to side and then take breaths as I roll. But I seem to only be able to roll effectively to the left and breath on that side. Next week I will have to focus on proper rolling and breathing on both sides.

Because I was sick for most of this week, I'm not going to move on to the next week on my plan. I will just repeat my original plan for week three. I did run for 3 miles yesterday, so that gives me a running total of 34.24 miles. Here are my other stats:

Weight: 256.5 lbs. (down from 264)
Body Fat: 36% (down from 39%)

My new polar heart rate monitor should arrive in a few days!

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Friday, March 03, 2006

DietPower Update

I think today will be the first day back training. I felt ok this morning. I still have some lingering congestion, but my chest feels ok. I'm going to try a swim after work today and see how it goes. If I can also work out Saturday and Sunday, I can get a total of three workouts in, and this week won't be a total loss.

Even without exercising I still have made progress on losing some dead weight. I have been reporting my food intake for the last week and a half. On days that I don't train my calorie budget is less, but still doable. Here is a chart of my progress.

As you can see I have been beating my goals and have eaten less that my target giving me a bank of saved calories. The software has recognized this and is compensating by increasing my daily budget to keep me on track.

Here is a nutrition analysis:

You can see that my sodium intake is too high. I tend to eat quite a bit of soup, which has a lot of salt. My fat intake is good, and my protein consumption is good (perhaps could use a little boost.) Overall I would say it is pretty good.

So far I have mostly been able to stay away from fast food, which really is my Achilles heal. It has been difficult to come up with the time to pack my lunches (and since I tend to work late, dinners too), but it has to be done. It really is the only way to consistently eat right.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Inspiration from Buddha

I'm still sick, but I figured I would try to stick with the humpday inspirational quote.

"Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes."
Buddha (Gautama Buddha)

I felt a little strange yesterday, because here I was feeling terrible, but wanting to go out and run a few miles. I have never had motivation to get out and exercise like I do now. I was hoping I could get to the pool this afternoon, but now I'm developing a cough. Ugh!

In other news, I purchased a new Polar HR monitor. It has all kinds of bells and wistles and will provide lots of charts and graphs for this blog. When it arrives in the mail, I'll do a full profile.

Since I'm not out training I have also spent more time on the web, getting ideas for training strategy. One great site is named aptly enough as Beginner Triathelete. The site has good acticles on training, memoirs on first triathlons, and has useful tools such as training logs and training plans, all available free of charge. But probably the best resource on the site is the forum. There is a wealth of information, and the people are really nice. Check it out.

Another site that has lots of great content is Men's Health Magazine. I have been a subscriber for years, and give full credit to the magazine for keeping my mind on fitness even when I didn't actually take the actions to be fit. I think of it as a little reminder each month to get back to business. On their webpage they have a channel devoted to triathlons. There are plenty of good articles on training, nutrition and how to get started. There is also a small forum for triathletes where you can get advice and cheer each other on.

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