Same, same, but different

Yeah, so…. the world and stuff. Am I right?

Still working from home and really enjoying it. I find I’m so much more productive this way. Well, aside from the daily Zoom meetings which I feel are largely unnecessary. Many of my coworkers seem to socially benefit from them, so I suppose there is a benefit. It’s just not one I’m seeing.

I take some joy in being a touch subversive with my Zoom backgrounds.

Monday begins furlough time. I have to take at least one unpaid day off each pay period for the next year, or until I’ve taken all 26 furlough days – whichever happens first. So while not great, it could be so very much worse. (And I’ve no illusions that it could still get worse.)

The garden’s footprint has tripled in size, and I think that’s as far as I’m going to take it. It has expanded to include zucchini, yellow squash, Mexican grey squash, pumpkins, three varieties of tomato, three varieties of peppers, garlic, carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, bunching onions, basil, and chick peas. Yeah…. I think that’s everything.

Still managing to work out six days a week. Running three days, and doing my old Power Half Hour DVDs from Beach Body three days. I’d been training for the Yellowstone Double Bison (back-to-back 5k and half marathon in early June) but that was cancelled earlier this week. I opted to defer to the virtual race version, so I’ll still get some swag plus a $75 credit toward a future race.

While I do miss many of the exercises that I was able to do at the gym, I don’t really miss being at the gym. I’ve got the space in my laundry room. I think I’d like to invest in an adjustable bench (incline/flat/decline) and some weights. I’m hoping that a bit further down the road I’ll be able to score a gonga deal at a yard sale or something as people start trying to clear out the workout gear they panic-bought at the start of all this. But now is not the time for that. Not yet.

My annual physical which had been rescheduled to a phone call was eventually cancelled. (Makes sense, how do you do a physical exam over the phone anyway?) I checked in with my doctor about my blood lab results from March and his response was “Nothing of concern.” So that’s that until in-person appointments can happen safely again.

My weight progress is still maddeningly slow. I credit this largely to getting lazy at times about my calorie logging. Being in the house – where all my food also happens to live – has also made me a bit more likely to snack than when I’m at work and the only food I have is what I brought with me for the day. And there’s the part where I’m not burning quite as many calories as I was before the world stopped. I’m floating between two and five pounds away from Ultimate Goal Weight, depending on the day.

It’s frustrating to be so close and not see marked movement in that direction. Some days I just want to call it “good enough” but I’ve come so far, it would be a shame to give up when I’m so close. I’ll get there. “The body will do what the body will do.” “The less you have to lose, the harder it is to lose.” “Trust the system.” These are all the things I say to friends in my r/loseit challenge team when they’re struggling. I need to take my own advice.

The thing that has ultimately been the most difficult for me in all this is being unable to play music with my friends. Oh, I’ve got a couple of different remote projects going on with different folks, and I’ve been making music on my own to help myself stay grounded. But it’s not the same as that energy that happens when you’re in the same room as other people, playing live. Or even better, at a venue playing music with friends for a bunch of people, everyone’s energy feeding off each other… It’s something special. And I miss it so very much.

This is the playlist I’m keeping of my “Quarantine” music.

70 pounds down!

Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a snazzy “70” title. Anyway, this morning I stepped on the scale and hit the 70 pounds lost mark exactly. So that’s pretty cool. I’ll probably bounce back up a touch tomorrow, but that’s okay. I’m still taking the win today.

In other news, my body is changing. Like, a lot. In good ways. Last week I finally had to bust out the size 32 jeans. The waistband is just a touch snug still but otherwise they fit WAY better than my size 34s, which are going into the Too Big bin. The last time I wore these pants was something like 5 years ago. So that’s pretty cool. I did take a photo to commemorate the occasion, so here it is:

My r/loseit challenge team has a “pics or you didn’t gym” thread. Last week a bunch of the guys were posting flexing photos. I didn’t bother doing so for any of my workout photos because it just felt strange. It’s not something I do. But one of the guys said I should post one, so I took a photo after yesterday’s workout and shocked myself when I looked at it.

Yes, I absolutely took an assist from the lighting. On the other hand as a friend said, lighting can’t create what doesn’t exist. I’ve received a ton of positive feedback on this photo on Instagram and teh MyFace for which I’m incredibly grateful. I’ve also still got a LONG way to go. (I’m looking at you belly, “love” handles, and man-boobs). No time to get complacent now.

As always, thanks for reading.

Race Report: Old Tucson 4-Mile Trail Run

Coffee up, buttercup. This is going to be a long post.
Coffee up, buttercup. This is going to be a long post.

So this weekend was the Old Tucson Sunrise 4-mile Trail Run.  I signed up for it as a “baby step” between a 5k (3.1 miles) and a 10k (6.2 miles).  Except I somehow managed to not pay attention to the part where this is a trail run.  No wide, smooth, paved paths here.  So I also managed to get my first trail run – ever – in the books this weekend.  Is that a thing I’m interested in continuing?  I don’t know.  I haven’t ruled it out, but it also wasn’t one of those “THIS IS AWESOME AND I HAVE TO DO IT MORE!!!!” experiences.

Anyhoo.  I got there at 7am to secure good parking and get my timing chip.  Then…. I waited.  A lot.  See, because the track is so narrow for the middle two miles, they split this into two separate races by gender.  The ladies went first at 8am, then them men at 9am.  So I tooled around Old Tucson for a while taking selfies and waiting for our turn to run.

Once race time got there, things got awkward.  See, there was also a family 1-mile fun-run at the event, which did the same loop as the first mile of the 4-mile route.  And they did that run along with the men.  So there was lots of dodging around kids, but that’s okay.  At the split-point near the end of the first mile, it was off into the desert along the tracks used by the Old Tucson horseback tours.  Much of it was only wide enough to go single-file and while none of the hills were huge (I’m looking at you, Saguaro National Park East 8-miler and A-Mountain half), there were quite a few of them.  Definitely had to walk a few of the steeper ones.  But I made it through and didn’t biff it, so I’ll call that a win.

I know, I know, get to the results, already.  I finished about where I figured I would.  My personal trackers had me finishing around 43:30, but I also didn’t get to stop them right as I crossed the finish line.  I’m usually pretty good about noticing the big clock at the end of the course, but I just…. didn’t this time.  So from the official results, I actually finished in 42:08.7 for a 10:32/mile pace.  I’m pretty thrilled with that because on most of my runs lately I’ve been just below 12:00/mile.  I finished 168th out of 196 men, and 19th out of 21 in my age group.

Sitting down with coffee and a burrito. Also, TIRED.

After the race, they provided breakfast burritos which were… nothing spectacular but definitely appreciated.  Then we were free to enjoy the park for the rest of the day so I rode the train, went through the haunted mine tour, browsed a few shops which hadn’t been open while I wandered and waited for the race to start, and went home to shower and get lunch.

A finisher is me!
A finisher is me!

Then it was off to Cy’s to have her mom work on my gig vest.  About this time last year, she made us some super fancy clothes for super fancy gigs – which was convenient since we had a super fancy gig coming up.  Unfortunately, that was also when I was at the heaviest I’ve ever been.  We’ve got that same super fancy gig coming up in a couple of weeks, so I figured I should probably try on that vest in case it needed altering since Cy’s mom is in town again.  Yeah… it was a friggin circus tent, but no longer.  She was able to take the vest in by about 12 inches.  I’m excited to have a comparison photo from that gig.

Speaking of the gig and vest, that also meant I needed a new black button-front shirt to wear with said vest to said gig.  So I stopped at the thrift shop on the way home to test my luck.  Grabbed a couple of XL shirts mostly out of habit and… too big.  Tried a couple of Large shirts and wouldn’t you know they were just right!  (Last year, I had to buy a 3XL black shirt for this gig, just for some perspective.)

So then I got home and decided I should probably go through my “too small” bin again.  I tried on item after item and nearly every single one fit.  A few things even went straight into a new “too big” bin.  And my “too small” bin now consists of exactly one tee-shirt and one pair of jeans.  So that felt pretty good.

So that was Sunday.  Saturday was pretty ordinary – gym day, then lots of errands.  Skipped the ParkRun because of Sunday’s race.  (Also, I slept late so didn’t finish at the gym in time to make it to the run.  But I would’ve skipped it anyway.)

Friday was my first meeting with the cookbook club at Bookman’s.  I was really stressing about this because I just didn’t know now to make the logistics of prepping a pot-luck dish in time for it were going to work.  Then I found granola recipe in the featured book and was able to make it a couple of days ahead so Friday I just had to get home, feed the cats, get my stuff together, and get to the book store.  (Also, that granola is good!!!)  They were a lovely group of people, and everyone’s food was delicious.  I’d pretty much talked myself into bailing after this first meeting – largely because of nerves over “new people” combined with stressing over food prep schedule logistics – but I think I’m going to stick it out at least one more month.  Though the next meeting is the same evening as my blacksmithing class, so that may be a challenging schedule.  At least I have lots of time to get to know the cookbook this time around and maybe find another good make-ahead dish.

I think that’s probably more than enough for now. As always, thanks for reading.

Bust That Cycle

It’s been over a decade since he first posted this video, but I’m still grateful to zefrank for the concept of “bust that cycle”.  I’m going to start you with that video for reference.  He gets to cycle busting at about the 1:00 mark, but I’ll go ahead and quote the important bit for those who don’t want to watch the video.  (There is an f-bomb in there later, for those sensitive to that sort of thing.)

“Busting your cycle is where you take one aspect of your life that’s more or less constant and you purposely bust it. By temporarily breaking a routine, you can often experience the world in a very different way. If you bust the right cycle, this shift in perspective can often lead to elation and a sense of possibility.”

So I’ve been trying to bust some cycles lately.  Probably the most obvious would be the whole gym thing.  I was trying to bust my cycles of “not being a gym person” and having fallen out of the habit of doing strength training at home.  That seems to be working pretty well, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve just begun my third week working out there.  Since this was my first gym-weekend when I didn’t have to get to orchestra rehearsals or concerts pretty much right after exercising, I decided to do bust another cycle while I was there this morning.

My membership includes access to these “total body enhancement pods” which look kind of like vertical tanning beds – but I am assured they’re not tanning beds.  (Those are in the next room over.)  I look at these with incredulity every time I walk by, probably mostly because I just don’t “get it” and usually don’t have the time to care.  Today, I decided to give it a go because I had time to spare and… well… what the hell?

So I signed up for the next available time slot, bought a pair of tanning goggles (they require you to have them even though this is not a tanning apparatus), and was escorted to the room containing my weird pod thingy.  Left alone I stripped down to my shorts, put on the goggles, climbed in, shut the door, and hit the “start” button.  Bright lights surrounded me as fans in the ceiling activated.  There are also handles on the ceiling, which an electronic voice prompts you to hold to help with stability.  Then the floor starts to vibrate while generic electronic music is piped in through the speakers.  And…. you stand there.  For like 10 minutes.  Then it all stops, you get out, get dressed, and go on with your life.

red light therapy?

This is my “I just spent 10 minutes in a bright, vibratey tube with fans blowing on my head and generic electronic music playing at me because reasons” face.

I still don’t really understand what it was supposed to do for me and I certainly didn’t feel anything but a bit foolish when it was done.  Some web searching after getting home tells me that these pods use what they call “red light therapy“, which I guess is actually a thing, and there’s apparently research out there stating that it’s beneficial to skin health, weight loss and… stuff.  So maybe I’ll give it a few more tries before writing it off.  I mean, since I’m already paying for the… privilege?

Then I decided to try one of the massage chairs.  (Another benefit with my membership.) At first I really wasn’t sure what to think about being molested by what otherwise appeared to be a comfy chair.  This, on the other hand, is something I could probably get used to and can actually see myself taking advantage of on a more regular basis.

massage chair reaction

This is my “this chair is kinda handsy and I think I’m starting to like it” face.

In other cycle busting news, I’m trying to be (a little) more socially active and (slightly) less hermit-like.  I have learned that Bookman’s has a monthly cookbook club where they choose a cookbook then everyone chooses recipes from it to make and bring to the next meeting.  And I’ve just joined it.  I wasn’t able to make it to their first meeting which was last night, but I’m signed up for next month.  So that’ll be a thing to watch for here.

And once again, I’ve written way more than I originally intended.  So if you’ve made it all the way through, congratulations and thanks for reading.

Sweet 60!!!

It’s taken just over two months – which included Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, an orchestra cycle, and starting a new workout regimen – but I finally hit the 60 pounds lost mark!!!

I was just a tenth of a pound away from this mark at my last weigh-in right before leaving town for Christmas, after which I bounced right back up a few pounds as one would expect when on indulges over the holidays.  Then with my new strength training routine at the gym, I knew my body would hold onto some extra water weight – if not actually gain a bit more – as my muscles healed and acclimated to the new activity.  Which it did.

I’d been floating around the same couple of pounds in the low to mid 220s for the last week and a half.  Yesterday morning I weighed in two tenths of a pound away from the 60-lost mini-goal.  This morning I whooshed right past it by a pound and a half!  So that’s nice.

Also, I finally fit back into all my proper tux pieces for the orchestra.  They don’t fit quite like they did when I bought them – yet – but they fit without busting at the seams.  I took a photo to use as a comparison for our next concert in April.


Then the gym thing.  I’ve just completed week two of the routine that my r/loseit friends call “Push/Pull/Legs”.  I’ve been working to figure out how to make this happen before work on weekdays (without having to get up at like 3am) so it’s done and I don’t have to think about it the rest of the day.  I think I’ve found the “sweet spot” of prep that I need to do to make it happen.  Here’s what my “night before the gym” checklist looks like:

  • Kitchen
    • Assemble breakfast components
      • Could be pre-mixing cottage cheese & hot sauce in a container, pre-portioning cereal in another container to keep it crunchy, and making sure there’s a spoon with my stuff.
      • Could also be something as simple as a Lara bar.  (This is what I did the last couple of days and it made the time between gym and work much more convenient.)
    • Assemble lunch/lunch components
    • Dole out my morning pills into a spare pill bottle
  • Go Bag
    • Exercise checklists
    • Pen
    • Padlock
    • Work clothes
    • Pill bottle from kitchen
    • “Shower shoes” (cheap flip-flops)
    • Towel
    • Shower kit
      • body wash (travel size lives in kit)
      • shampoo (travel size lives in kit)
      • scrubby thingy (either in kit or hanging on bathroom door to dry)
      • q-tips (travel size lives in kit)
      • deodorant (from bathroom)
      • beard oil (from bathroom)
      • hair gel (maybe) (from bathroom)
      • hair & beard combs (from bathroom)
  • Bedroom
    • Set out workout clothes
      • T-shirt
      • Shorts or pants
      • Sweatband

With all that done, I only have to get up about 15 minutes earlier on “gym days” than on “run days”.  I’ll take that.

And speaking of the gym…. I think a girl may have been checking me out a little bit today.  Maybe.  Okay, so here’s what happened.  I get on a treadmill far away from other people (because I’m antisocial like that) and get started with my warm-up walk/jog.  A couple of minutes in, a girl gets on the treadmill next to mine despite there being about a bajillion other vacant treadmills in the room.  Then out of my peripheral vision, I thought I saw her glance over at me a few times.  I just kind of ignored that because my peripheral vision has never been that great anyway.  Or maybe she was just curious about what speed setting I was using.  I don’t know.

So I finished my warm-up, then went to do my core exercises.  Nothing strange there.  Then I go to the TRX jungle gym looking thingy to start on the Pull exercises the trainer put together for for me.  In a break between sets, I happened to look up and Treadmill Girl was using one of the machines in the next area… but one which was oriented vaguely in my direction.

Now, these are most likely just coincidences which my muzzy and uncaffeinated early-morning brain linked together for some inexplicable reason.  And I’m happy to leave it at that unless there’s a repeat occurrence.  One of my r/loseit friends, however, says romcoms have informed him that Treadmill Girl and I “are about to engage in a torrid and hilarious relationship.”  So I guess that’s a thing to watch out for.  Or something.

I dunno.  I’m just going to keep doing my thing and see what happens, I guess.

On trying new things…

In my last post I wrote about joining a gym for the first time.  Now I’m going to write about actually going for the first time.

Technically, I’d been in the building three times already.  First time to check it out and sign up, a second time for orientation and my first one-on-one consult with a trainer, then a third one-on-one to go over the routines she’d put together for me.

Saturday morning, I actually went to Do The Thing.  (That’s how the kids are saying it these days, right?)  I got all the way through the first day’s workout as outlined by the trainer, got into my car to head home, saw the time, and discovered that I’d been at the gym for almost two hours.  I knew I’d been there longer than I had anticipated but… the hell?!?  Later that day, I was chatting online with some of my r/loseit challenge friends about my experience.  I wrote out the routine for them and they weren’t surprised that it took that long.  That was nice to hear, because I was feeling rather negatively about myself.

Today was supposed to be Day 2, but I absolutely failed to get out of bed in time to compensate for another two hour workout.  (Seriously, it would mean getting to the gym around 4am, and that’s all sorts of NOPE.)  So I packed a bag of the essentials to have ready in my car so I could just stop and do it on my way home after work.

Which leads me to my next point:  Making this work.  I hadn’t anticipated adding 2-hour workouts to my schedule.  I’m going to see what it takes to make that work this week and maybe next week, then see about scheduling another consult to discuss possibly combining some of the exercises somehow to cut my time commitment down.  I do need to keep in mind that I’m trying to add these new routines while in the midst of the latest orchestra cycle.  That’s certainly complicating my available time pool right now.  The concerts are this weekend, so next week should give me a better feel for “normal life” with the new workouts.

The other thing I’m having to figure out is what do I really need to have in my “go bag” to be ready to work out then get on with my life?  It’s actually easier on the way home from work since I don’t have to be all that presentable.  As my r/loseit friends advised this morning, I could even just have a sweatshirt or something to put on after working out so I don’t even have to shower at the gym while not worrying about getting my coat all funky.  (At least, while it’s still cool enough for layering to be necessary.)  But I also like having my workouts done early in the day so I don’t have to think about it later.  I’d kind of like to go straight from the gym to work in the mornings, but that requires bringing a fair amount of clothing and toiletries.

So for today it turns out I really just needed my workout clothes.  By the time I was done with tonight’s routine, I just wanted to get home and get dinner into the oven.  And I’m now writing this still unshowered and in my pajamas because I’m getting up to run in the morning anyway, so why bother?  Who am I going to offend?  The cats?  (Yes, I’ll definitely shower after tomorrow’s run.  I’m not the guy who goes to the office stinky.)

Also, and this was something I did NOT see coming, apparently Planet Fitness brings in pizza for their members?  Yeah…. that just feels like bringing a keg to an AA meeting: a royally bad idea.  I don’t get it.  Though I suppose it gives their employees a certain level of job security.

I’ve also found a new running path.  Yesterday was my Long Run day, but it was also raining and had been since the night before.  I knew parts of my usual route would be incredibly muddy, but decided to go for it anyway.  When I got to my first “route decision point”, I decided to try a raised and paved path that I’d seen before but didn’t want to try exploring in the dark.  (I slept in yesterday, so it was light enough to see unaided.)  This path is in only marginally worse condition than my usual route and is on an elevated berm for its entire length, so puddles and muddy overflows are nonexistent.  And it’s further away from the main road, so traffic noise isn’t as loud.  Pretty sure this will become my “usual” path for a while.  I’ll try it again tomorrow when it’ll still be dark out to see how I feel about it.