Fuel For The Engine

Let’s talk about food; well, more specifically about the quality of the fuel we decide to run the intricate set of machinery called our body. This is an idea that has been on my mind for years, ever since I first lost over 100lbs and was looking to optimize my existence on this planet. When I first started losing weight back then, and even now, it was all about how much food can I eat that falls under X number of calories. It was, and has been, all about the number. If I want to lose weight I just need to make the science and math work, and it did. Even now I have lost over 35lbs in under 60 days and all I’ve had to do it stop shoving food in my mouth once I meet my calories for the day; easy enough. Classic calories in vs calories out.

But am I getting healthier?

I’m losing weight, running and even started doing some weight lifting. Those are all positives.

I’m eating primarily whole foods; meat, veggies, cheese, fruits and nuts with the occasional Klondike Bar or a couple (well maybe a few) pieces of pizza. I’d say overall I am pretty close to an 80%/20% split of good food to shit food. I think where my nutrition is lacking is falling for the “healthy” foods. You know what I mean, the foods that tell you (through their advertising) that they are “healthy” or a “healthy alternative to yadda yadda”. If there is a health claim on the wrapper it’s probably not healthy for you.

I drink almond milk that is pretty much 2% almonds and a bunch of chemicals to which I add a whey isolate that I bought at Wal-Mart. If you didn’t know Wal-Mart is not the bastion of health food products.  Against my better judgment (and hours spent reading more about nutrition than any human should ever read) I fall for the “sugar free”, “reduced calorie”, “fat free” versions of the foods I love so much. I even have powdered peanut butter.

I guess my point is that there comes a time when the quality of the food we put in our bodies should be as important, if not more important, that the quantity. I’m not saying that one needs to prescribe to a particular diet dogma be it Paleo, Keto, Atkins or any of the dozens of diets we seen praised and admonished on the news.  I do think that if you are serious about your health you should at least look into the science behind the popular diets you come across and look at the claims with a skeptic’s eye. It is hard because nutrition science is a relatively new and ever changing study.  What is bad for you today will be good for you tomorrow. There have been some myths told in the past that have shaped the nutritional recommendations that brought us to where we are today from a health standpoint. Don’t just do something because it worked for your friend, be your own experiment and find out what works for you.

For me, I know I have felt the best in my life when I was eating as clean of a diet as possible, staying away from foods that I know (through exclusion and reintroduction) have a negative effect on my health. Going forward I am going to transition back to my roots, back to the days before the calorie (and the number on the scale) were my only consideration. My body is a machine and if I want it to perform well, I will fuel it well.

I’ll post again with the changes to my diet and at least weekly on how everything is going. I’ll throw up the cool recipes I am trying and maybe even some of the research I find along the way. I am not a scientist, or a nutritionist. I am just like you, the everyday person who’s looking to be healthy. Don’t take anything I post as proof of anything, try it and make up your own mind.


C25K W5D3: It Has Arrived

If you were to take a poll of everyone who has ever participated in the Couch to 5K program and ask them what single workout was the one they had the most trepidation about I bet the overwhelming result would be Day 3 of Week 5.

  • Warm-up
  • Run 20 minutes
  • Cool down

Up until this point in the training there have always been recovery periods to look forward to. We have yet to run for more than 8 minutes at a stretch and we are now expected to run for more than twice that time without stopping. This is a real watershed moment for most C25Kers. We feel that if we can just get through W5D3 the rest is cake, relatively speaking.

So, let’s take a look at my accomplishment.

c25k w5d3
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Was I fast? Nope. Do I have a shit? Nope. I did it.

I ran for 20 minutes and 1.6 miles without stopping! The best part is that I could have easily kept going. I was found a good pace and a breathing rhythm that allowed me to run free and easy. It really is an awesome feeling when it all comes together for great run. I haven’t felt this good running in years, probably since I completed my first 5 mile continuous fun 4 years ago. I hope that my body is remembering the training I did way back then!

So, it is now on to week 6. Instead of dreading my long run on Day 3 and I am looking forward to the challenge!


C25KW5D2: The One Before The Big One

The runs are getting longer and I’m not talking in my stockings, because I’m a dude… and I don’t wear stockings. Not that those that do are bad or anything but don’t wear stockings while running… unless you work in a building and it’s on fire and you need to get away. Ok, officially off track.

C25K Week 5 Day 2

  • Warm Up
  • 8min Run
  • 5min Walk
  • 8min Run
  • Cool Down
  • Totals: 15min Walking and 16min Running

I’ve decided not to record my warm-up and cooldown walks. It seems silly and pretty soon I won’t have any walking in-betweens my runs so this just simplifies things. I hadn’t planned on doing this until Day 3 but I think I entered Day 2 into my Garmin incorrectly because after the 5 minute warm-up walk it told me to run for 5 minutes instead of 8. The images below will look a little weird but it gets the point across. Also, I ran with music today because motivation.

c25kw5d2 1
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I‘m not sure if it was the music or my body getting stronger but the 8 minutes runs when by pretty easily. I could have kept on running at the end of each run interval and that makes me hopeful for being able to complete my first “long run” on Day 3. My left knee did start hurting a bit but I think that was because I was landing more midfoot than forefoot. Once I adjusted that the pain went away. I also had some numbness in the toes on my right foot but that eventually subsided as well. I assume all of these little aches and pains will work themselves out with my continued weight loss and training.

I’m cautiously optimistic for Day 3 and 20 minutes of running non stop. Yikes. It has been a solid 4 years and about 60lbs ago since I’ve run that long without stopping.

I plan on starting to do some strength training starting on Wednesday of next week. Yesterday I went to the YMCA and became a member. I will have to continue making my $10 donation to Planet Fitness every month but I feel so out of place there among the college kids. I’ll be doing Starting Strength and I plan on getting to the Y as soon as they open at 5am in hopes of having he squat rack all to myself for a bit. Also, once I am below 200lbs I plan on continuing the Triathlon training I started about 3 years ago and the pool at the Y will serve me just fine this winter for my swim training.

That is that. Week 5 is 2/3 completed and I have a huge obstacle ahead of me on Saturday. Wish me luck!

The Dreaded Week 5 Begins

Finally!! Done with the catch up “I did them because I thought I needed to but didn’t really want to because they are totally shitty posts” posts. Now, we can get on to the good stuff, and by good stuff I mean mediocre content about my life and whatnot.

So, the dreaded Week 5 of the C25K program is upon us. Why is it dreaded? Because I am overweight and I thought it would be a good way to burn some calories to take it all back to the Stone Age and propel myself with my feet. Here is what Week 5 looks like. (I’m not going to include the warm up and cool down walks, they are implied and I’m lazy.)

C25K Week 5 Day 1

  • Run for 5 minutes
  • Walk for 3
  • Run for 5 minutes, déjà vu?
  • Walk for 3 minutes, wait a second… I bet I know what’s next
  • Run for 5 minutes… I was right!
  • Totals: 13 Minutes of Walking (including the w/u and c/d), 15 minutes of running

Um, that’s just Day 1… what about the rest of the week? This is one of the weeks where every day is different, and I think Week 6 is the same way. I’ll post about Day 2 and 3 when I complete them but just know that is more running and less walking on Day to, and Day 3… well.. that’s the real mother*@&$r, just wait and see.

If you have noticed I have been running on a W/F/Su schedule. Today is Tuesday, and I am running, so therefore something has changed. That something is that I have started doing some cross training (Beachbody’s Power 90 to be exact, spare me whatever prejudice you have against BB products, they are easy to follow and get my ass moving) that I am going to do on a M/W/F schedule and that, in turn, facilitated the change in running schedule.

Here are my numbers for today.

week 5 1
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week 5 2
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I’m pretty satisfied that I am running at a sub 12 minute mike pace on my run segments. That will but me at a sub 37 minute 5K assuming that I can maintain that pace with no walking. I will know at the end of this week what my actual “no walking, all running for a specific amount of time of more than 5 minutes’ will net me.  Remember, Week 5 Day 3 Is Coming. I’m really surprised that my last 5 minute run interval was my fastest although the “back” of my “out and back” is slightly downhill which is probably counting for my usual negative splits (pace increasing as the workout progresses). I don’t want to say today’s run was effortless or even easy but I at the end I knew I could keep going if I wanted to, but I didn’t, and I had to go to work.

Tonight is the “Sculpt” workout for Power 90 which is some push-ups and light weights and me swatting away the cat from my sweaty disgusting body. The plan is to do the cardio “Sweat” routine on my off days and the “Sculpt” routine on my run days as to allow enough recovery to not interfere with my runs. We will see how that goes for a while, I may have to tweak how much I walk during the day (usually about 7 miles) so I don’t completely burn myself out.

Well, until Day 2…


Who Has Time To Be Sick, It’s C25K Week 4!

c25K Week 4, the week that almost wasn’t. I woke up on Day 1 with a head cold. I was completely stuffed up and put some serious thought into postponing the star of the week or just scrubbing it all together. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s see what Week 4 has on the table. If you want a recap of the first few weeks I have that for you too. Continue reading “Who Has Time To Be Sick, It’s C25K Week 4!”

C25K Week 3

I have been trying to find time to work on these C25K catch-up posts. I am about to start Week 5 and I really want to get into the habit of writing something daily about my training. If you would like to get up to speed be sure to check out my articles on Week 1 and Week 2. Let’s take a look at what C25K Week 3 has to offer.

  • 5-minute warm-up walk
  • 2 rounds of 90 seconds running/90 seconds walking/3minutes running/3 minutes walking
  • 5-minute cooldown walk
  • Totals: 19 minutes of walking and 9 minutes of running
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Much like Week 1 & 2 there was not much difficulty completing these workouts. The one thing that is weird is that I seem to have more lower leg pain during my walks as compared to the runs. I am a forefoot strike runner and I have very little discomfort (once I am loose) in my lower legs while running. I do have some post workout calf pain as forefoot strikers tend to use a lot of calf while running. Nothing too bad so I’m not going to complain.

I have been progressing on my pace from week to week. I know that once I start running farther distance and longer times I will have to keep my pace in check as to not burn myself put. We’ll worry about that in a couple of weeks. For now, I am just trying to push the pace and get some garner some aerobic endurance.

Week 4 is a decent jump in running time and therefore distance so I am hoping that pushing the pace now will pay some dividends then. We’ll see. Like I said not much to report in these “easier” weeks. I’ll have Week 4 up as soon as I can.

C25K Week 2

Week 1 is in the books and now we move on to week 3. I am hoping that when I am posting my runs on a daily basis I will have more to actually say about how I felt during each run. I am posting these catch up weeks more for posterity then reading pleasure. Stick with me! Here is Week 2!

  • 5 minute warm-up walk
  • 6 Intervals of 90 seconds of running/2 minutes walking
  • 5 minute cool-down walk
  • Totals: 22 minutes of walking and 9 minutes of running
Click to see larger image

This week I made two decisions.

  1. I was going to program the training into my Garmin and not use the C25K app anymore and…
  2. I was not going to listen to music when I run.

Now, When I was running longer distances 4 years ago I had to, and I mean really had to, listen to music or the runs were torture. I needed something to distract me from the discomfort of running. I just wanted to get through the session and get on with my day. At the time I thought I was heading toward even longer runs when ultimately training for marathons or triathlons so I needed a crutch to get me through.

Now, after having gained a ton of weight back and, essentially, starting from square one, I want to get into the habit of running sans tunes. I want to hear the world around me, my breath, my feet on the road. I want to lean to enjoy the solitude of the run.

OK, enough hippy dippy stuff.

I kind of screwed the pooch here. As I said before I stopped using the C25K app and for this run I was just watching the time, problem is I calculated wrong. I missed a run interval at the end and shortchanged the day by one minute. Not much to say about the runs, not too taxing.
I noticed my error in Day 1 and made sure I ran the correct time on Day 2. The net result was one tenth of a mile rather and a tick up in my overall pace. I still have not entered the intervals into my Garmin 310XT because ai am in the market for a new watch and have decided on a Garmin 230, which I will have for Day 3.
I finally have all of my intervals loaded into my new Garmin Forerunner 230! I like this set up because each time the watch moves to a new stage it is counted as a lap. I get a really good idea of my run race as compared to my walking pace. This will be useful in evaluating my progress going forward.

  • Average run pace: 10:59/mile

Two weeks down, 7 more to go, Stay tuned for Week 3!


Couch to 5K (C25K)

Over the next few days I am going to catch everyone upon my Couch to 5K training. I am currently on Week 4 of the program and I would like to start writing daily posts on my training and experiences on the road. To prep I need to get everyone caught up. So this will be part 1 covering the first week of the Couch to 5K (C25K) program.

So, what is Couch to 5K? As the name suggests it is a runing program that is designed to get you off the couch and ready to complete a 5K (3.1 miles). In reality is it a program that will have you running, by the end, 30 minutes continuously… it is then up to you to bridge the gap to the 5K distance.

OK, lets go over what Week 1 of C25K entails.

Brisk 5 minute Warm-Up Walk
8 intervals of 60 seconds running/90 seconds walking (20min total)
5 minute Cool Down Walk
Totals: 22 minutes of walking and 8 minutes of running


Week 1 was a little wonky for me. I used a couple of different watches to record the runs so I am really not sure what to make of the distances. Honestly the distance you go is not as important as running when you’re supposed to run, and waking when you’re supposed to walk. I don’t have much to say about the first week, the run/walk intervals were pretty easy and I didn’t feel taxed at all.

I’ll be back soon with Week 2.


Proper Introduction

This was originally posted on the /r/LoseIt sub-Reddit.

I think the time is right for a proper introduction. Hi, my name is Mike and I know what you are going through. Weight loss is a journey… a hard, slow, methodical journey. The goal of this journey is lifelong health and once you get there the rest is easy, right? Well, not so much.

Back in 2009 I was coming to the end of my 8 year marriage and starting the process of getting a divorce. It was amicable, my ex-wife and I are much better friends than we ever were husband and wife. I have a 10 year old son that both frustrates me and amazes me like no other can. I learned more about myself from that failed marriage than I ever would have learned staying unhappily married. In 2009 I had already been out of the Navy for 5 years and my weight had crept up steadily over the years, topping out at 290lbs. On my 5’7” frame I was about 130lbs overweight. I knew I was fat and getting fatter. I played a ton of video games; I worked a security job that had me sitting behind a desk for 8-12 hours, 5 nights a week. I was working overnights which compounded the issues. Mix all that with being back in the dating pool I knew that it was time for a change.

I left my job as a security guard and started working in the footwear department at L.L. Bean. I helped open there store here in Albany, NY and after the first day of setting up the footwear backroom (a ton of walking, lifting and bending over) I was laid up in bed for 3 days, unable to move without shooting pain radiating from my lower back and into my legs. I had self-diagnosed it as sciatica due to some Google-fu while trying not to move while lying in bed. Google told me the best treatments for sciatic pain is to do just what I could not do, move. So I, very painfully and slowly, went for a walk down the street, maybe 300 yards out and back, each step long and deliberate. By the time I had made it back to the house I was walking freely. Six walks over the next two days and I was back to normal. I still ate like crap, but having a job that forced me to be on my feet for the better part of 40 hours a week helped me go from that high of 290 to around 260lbs in about 18 months. Not a great weight loss feat but it set me up for the next part of the story.

The first woman I dated after separating from my wife was a big girl, but she wanted to make changes in her life as well so we started on the weight loss journey together. We cut out white wheat, sugar and salt. The 3 “white deaths”. I started running 3 days a week and weight training 3 days a week. In the matter of 4 months or so I went from around 260lbs to 240lbs, counting calories and working out. I wasn’t strict meaning that if we went out to dinner all bets were off. I was in a new relationship, meeting new people and having a good time. It was good to see some progress. I had left my job at L.L. Bean for a position working for the State, so I was back behind a desk but I was armed with better eating habits and a gym routine that was keeping me steadily losing weight. My relationship with my GF lasted about 16 months, and without getting into too much detail we went our separate ways, not exactly on good terms. Such is life.

The next part of my weight loss journey led me to dating and eventually living with a woman who had recently had gastric bypass surgery. If you are not familiar with the diet restrictions associated with this surgery it is essentially low-carb, small portions and as nutrient dense as you can get. It was easy to eat healthy in this environment. Again, I wasn’t perfect and routinely ate meals that would be considered “off the rails”. I was still working out (more bodyweight stuff) and running more frequently (generally 3miles a day, 3 days a week). The time frame here is 2011-2012 and I was able to dip my weight down to 188lbs by July of 2012. For those of you that are counting that is over 100lbs! I was steadily losing weight towards my goal of 160-170, I was focused on my health like I had never been at any point in my life. Then, out came the rug.

I know that it’s not a healthy practice to attach one’s self-worth to the love and affection of another. It is a definite recipe for disaster. The woman I was with during this time was both the women I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and the woman I could never see myself spending the rest of my life with. She was physically beautiful and becoming more so by the day (she had lost over 140lbs because of her surgery) yet I always knew that that fact would be the end of our relationship. Her personality was so similar to mine (I can tend to be sarcastic and even a little mean) that although we never fought, we never really were able to communicate out real emotions and insecurities. As she became more confident in herself, I became less confident in us. Stuff happened, a picture of her kissing a friend at a Halloween party, inappropriate conversations with a guy in Texas (granted this was very early in our relationship so I just let it go, forgave her and moved on), e-mail conversations with an older guy she knew where she had her car serviced. It all just kind of made me a little crazy and the tension built and built until the relationship couldn’t contain it. I didn’t trust her and she didn’t want to be with someone that didn’t trust here. It blew up in a nasty way. We broke up the day before my birthday 2012, had a lease we couldn’t get out of for 3 months, so to say tension was high in that apartment was an understatement. I tried to make some efforts to salvage the relationship but she had moved on (rather quickly I may add) to a new guy and I was left, living in an apartment with a woman I still cared deeply for, but know was so bad for me. I didn’t fall into total disrepair until after I had moved out, had my own apartment, and was alone.

This was actually the first time I had lived on my own in my entire life. I was 36. I maintained my running but my diet went to complete crap. I would eat great for breakfast and lunch but dinner became McDonalds on the way home from work followed by a run to the convenience store for ice-bream and snacks. Mentally I knew I was sliding back into bad habits but emotionally I didn’t care. I started going out with friends, drinking heavily on the weekends, seeking attention any way I could get it. Looking back it’s sad to think that this was the part of my life when I met my future wife and started the health regression that has me where I am today. So, about 3 months into my bachelorhood, after drinking and eating my way back to about 200lbs I met my current wife. Let me tell you this woman is a Saint and the most selfless person I have ever met. I’m not going to bore with any details but let’s just say that she helped me through the emotional issues I was having with the breakup with my ex, issues I was having with being a part time father, and eventually the issues I was having with going from 200lbs when we met to the almost 280lbs I sit at today (well, today I am 270lbs having decided that enough is f’ing enough).

So how did I gain back all that weigh? Simple… I got happy and lazy. In the past I had tied my weight and weight loss to whoever I was with. I never lost weight for me, I never made the decision to get healthy for me. I did it because the person I was with was doing it and I needed to keep up. I needed to become the person I thought that person would love. Man that is a destructive way to do things because it isn’t stable. So, I got married to the person I know is with me for me, not who I look like or what I weigh. We have an amazing, so amazing little baby boy. We have a good life and I am happy, truly happy for the first time in a long time. I’m happy, except I am unhealthy. I want to be healthy again. Well, that’s pretty much it. I forgot to mention that early on in the relationship with my wife I trained for and competed in a Sprint Triathlon, you know Swim, Bike, Run. I crossed the finish line fighting back tears. I felt like that was going to be the moment that got me back on track. Yeah, it didn’t. What it did do was add another moment in my life that reinforced the notion that if I set a goal and work toward it I can accomplish it. It is important to remember past victories, learn from the failures and move on.

Here are my goals for the rest of 2016.

  1. Lose 20lbs by the 4th of July when my mother comes to visit, she’s been doing Weight Watchers and has lost 30lbs, go Mom! (Update: I hit 20lbs lost on June 6th!)
  2. Start running again. I tried a few weeks ago and it is just too much for my back. I have started walking to and from work (about a mile each way) as well as walking at work on my breaks and lunch (probably an additional 3 miles). I will try running again (C25K) when I get below 250lbs. (Update: I recently finished Week 1 of C25K, no back pain!)
  3. Commit to a 3 day per week strength training regime. Probably bodyweight training to start. Yeah, I need to get on that.
  4. Yoga. I want to do more yoga… and foam rolling, with the foam roller I bought like 5 years ago!
  5. I’d like to be under 200lbs by the end of the year. I think that is an attainable goal.

Beyond 2016? Triathlon training, hitting my target weight of 160-170lbs. Running 5k events regularly and training for longer distances. Maybe even a marathon someday. Go to the beach and take of my shirt and not feel like Shamu. Take my current CICO program and transition it to more of a hole foods, food quality type of eating.

If anyone is interested I am always looking for friends and motivation on MyFitnessPal so feel free to send me a friend request!

Welcome To My Blog

How pretentious does one have to be to create a blog using his own name? Well. I guess as pretentious as I am, even though I’m not pretentious at all, I’m lazy… and unimaginative. It was a whole lot easier to just register a domain in my name than to beat my head against a wall trying to figure out a slick and cool name for my personal blog. Hell, it’s a blog about me so why not just go with my name, right?

So, what exactly am I going to write about? I’ve written for blogs about sports, video games and nutrition. So, it’s a good bet that I will write about those topics. I’ve hiked some High Peaks in the Adirondacks, completed a triathlon, spent 6 year in the Navy, been married (twice) and have two awesome kids… I may write about that too. I’m an agnostic, generally don’t trust what I am told is the truth (some call me a skeptic but I prefer realist), and have a bit of a short fuse. So this should be interesting.

I post on Twitter sometimes; you can follow me if you’d like @LucidHuman_. I don’t have much interesting to day right now but who knows what the future will bring. Maybe aliens, or robots, or Trump.

I have a FitBit tracker that I plan to year all the time, you can be my FitBit friend if you’d like as well. This way you can see how badly my 60 year old mother kicks my ass on a daily basis in step count.

I no longer have a FitBit. I have found I like the offerings from Garmin better being more accurate on distance and heart rate. You can find me on Garmin Connect.

Additionally I use MyFitnessPal to log my food and weight and I am always looking for more friends there as well.

That is about it for now, my next post will be about my personal weight gain, loss, gain journey up until now and what I plan to do to fix it. Good times.