Saturday, August 1, 2009

End of step one

After 2 months it was time to step on the scale and see the results of my simple diet. For those just tuning in, I devised a diet based on cutting calories and tried to lose 15 pounds in two months (starting at 225). I also added extremely moderate exercise that included walking about two miles a day and a morning exercise routine that can be charitably described as a warm up.

What was the result? A slightly better than expected 208. That is 17 pounds in 2 months with no radical change in behaviour. Anyone that has been on a diet or two knows the progress went. The first ten pounds came off quick. The next five took about the same amount of time. Then nothing for a week and then the last two in the final week.

The lesson is that simple calorie counting can be a great way to start a diet and can be effective if you have just a few pounds to lose. I was surprised how quickly my body adapted to the change. The added exercise was not much but it did stimulate my metabolism. I actually felt like exercising more. By the last couple weeks, I started feeling hungry all the time. This tells me I'm going to need to change my eating habits if I'm going to continue losing weight.

What is next? I still want to lose 13 pounds more and my fat percentage is much higher than I like. I'm going to need to increase exercise and calorie intake. I'm still working on how I'm going to do that. I set Halloween as my new goal. Once I see 195, I'll start working on that fat percentage.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

C&O Canal worth the investment - and interest

Tim Rowland tried to generate interest in the C&O Canal in his column this week.

It is good to see people trying to promote interest in the canal and the mostly forgotten life style that it created. I'm not sure if the expanded bicycle trail will help make people aware of the history of the canal but they will get more people on the towpath. One thing that would definitely help is better marked access points to the trail. There are many parts of the trail that are hard to reach on a day ride.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Progress after 8 weeks

After only seven weeks, I stepped on the scale and saw 210 pounds. As usual, the first ten pounds came off quickly and easily. The next five were a bit slower but didn't require much effort. And just as usual, I've stalled out and have not lost anything since.

I'd like to lose 15 more pounds and do it by the end of October. This is going to be difficult if I can't increase my activity level. So far I have cut most of the easy calories by cutting out sugary drinks and snacks in between meals. I'm happy with the light exercise I've been doing. I should be able to increase this over the next few months. At the rate I'm going, it will still be the end of the year before I'm at the level I was years ago.

Staying ambulatory through the end of the year may be a problem. My right foot has another bone growth starting. Unlike all of the earlier ones, this one is forming on the bottom of the foot. I have no idea what it is going to take to deal with it. Right now it is a race to get in the best shape I can before I have to take a break and deal with the foot.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Washington County, Md. Atlas

Large scale atlas with street level detail, showing ZIP Codes, block numbers, schools, hospitals, points of interest, shopping centers, airports, parks and more.

I know what you are thinking, "Get a GPS already." While a GPS is a great tool for getting specific direction, I hate trying to look over a map on the screen. Sometimes I just want to leaf through a paper map and see my entire route or find my own alternative.

The ADC maps are first rate and serve the function of looking for alternative routes well. While it doesn't show all of the river access points, it is pretty good with the gravel roads I keep finding myself driving.


Fishing the upper Potomac River

Ken Penrod gives away his favorite fishing spots on the upper Potomac

Think of this book as The C&O Canal Companion from the river's perspective. Ken Penrod knows about more than just fishing. If you plan on spending time on the Upper Potomac River, you need this book. If you plan on fishing the river, commit it to memory.


The C&O Canal Companion

A mile-by-mile tour of the C& O Canal, the 184-mile Potomac River waterway that stretches from Washington, D.C., to the Appalachian Mountains -- including hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, bicycle shops, river outfitters, parks, and campsites.

The big selling point here is a mile by mile list of what you will find along the canal. Points of interest are noted in the text and in small maps of the area. While the maps show good detail and the text doesn't miss many landmarks, access to the path and facilities available are conspicuous by their absence.

This is still my book of choice for a quick overview of a portion of the canal. It is well researched and extremely comprehensive. This is the one book to have for a general idea of what you will see while on the towpath.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Avoiding injury

Buck says the best way to avoid injury is to get plenty of sleep.
The root of my physical problems is my flat feet. They have caused me problems my entire life. The pain starts in my feet. You start to compensate by changing your walk. That causes your ankles to hurt. Then you knees, then your hips, and then your back. After years, a few minutes of standing becomes excruciating.

I haven't been able to get much exercise since my last foot operation. I just about recovered from it when I pulled something shovelling snow. It took two years to get over it and I still have pain on days when I over exert myself. Looking back at it objectively, I shouldn't have
been shovelling snow just yet.

Once the doctors eliminated any serious problems as a source of my pain, the diagnosis was an inflamed nerve. I managed to get over my injury by remaining sedentary. Now that the pain is mostly gone, I've been easing back into activity. In my younger days, I wouldn't call this exercise. It wouldn't even call it a warm up.

Every week I plan to add another exercise. I'm starting with stretches and calisthenics. The plan is to be back to lifting weights by Thanksgiving. I hope this will prevent a new injury. I guess we'll find out.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Plan

So how do I plan to get back in shape? Well an aggressive diet and exercise program is out of the question. I haven't stuck to a diet in forty years and I am too afraid of an injury for vigorous exercise. No, the plan is to take it slow.

Primarily, I want to eliminate as many calories as I can without impacting meals. For me, this means sugary drinks. I start my day with an average of five cups of coffee with cream and sugar. Going cold turkey on coffee is not happening, but cutting down to two cups is reasonable and saves 600 calories a day.

Next is my juice habit. When writing code in the afternoon, I like to have some juice. I was going through a bottle of V8 Fusion every two days. Cutting back to one reasonably sized glass a day, reduced consumption to two bottles a week. It also saved 240 calories a day.

Lastly, I would usually have two glasses of iced tea with dinner. I cut this back to one and saved another 140 calories.

That is a huge 980 calorie savings that equals .28 pounds a day (figure 3500 calories is a pound). That should result in a loss of close to two pounds a week. All of this liquid was replaced with cold filtered water from the refrigerator. I know there is a line of reasoning that drinking cold water burns calories as you drink it because you body has to warm it up. The problem is the actual calories burned are too few to make a difference.

Now there are nine weeks in June and July. At two pounds a week, I should be able to drop 18 pounds by the end of July. Then again, there was a holiday and a big car club get together and a couple other events that might slow me down so I set a goal of 15 pounds by the end of July. That means I should drop from 225 to 210 before August.

I will tell you that I did start at the beginning of June and I have stuck to the plan. Next post, I'll explain how I'm going to start exercising again while avoiding injury.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Starting Over

It has been over two years since I suspended Adventures with Buck. My reasons were based on my health and state of mind. In the intervening time, I have dealt with my own pain and my father's final battle with cancer. I can't say that it has been easy. In fact, my life has been a struggle since the spring of 2006 when my Dad called and told me he had lung cancer. I was dealing with my chronic bad feet at the time. Suddenly my issues with mobility and pain were not so compelling.

Getting back on track was made possible through the support of my family and friends. My wife has been great. As most of you reading this are animal lovers, you know that Buck was there for me as only mans best friend can be. Complicating things was a new addition to our home. Last August, Buck was joined by a young Beagle named Beatrice. She will be joining us on our adventures.

Now I'm finally ready to make a comeback. This time around, I'll be focusing on what I'm doing to get back in shape before we start tackling any more hikes. In the last two years I've gained 25 pounds and have been fairly sedentary. Now that I know my pain is not caused by any serious health issues and I have managed to get it under control, it is time to get back to my fighting weight before we go exploring. I hope you will check back often to check my progress and keep me motivated.