Holiday Season Health Meltdown – Strategies To Help Next Year

Each year the holiday season arrives and destroys our health goals. Well, we ALLOW it to destroy those goals, but since it happens EACH YEAR we just blame the holidays, because it’s easier. It’s become common to the point that it’s accepted and acknowledged, and we go along for the ride.

The New Year is a time for renewal. Promises to ourselves are made, Facebook posts made, and exercise programs started. How many of us actually believe ourselves? Do we believe that the next holiday season will be any different? How many of us actually fully recover from what we did to ourselves to get back to the next holiday season at least even? Most people arrive at each holiday season in worse shape than the previous one.

Many of us, during this time of the year, are engaged in work weight loss programs, renewed commitment to fitness, and generally promising ourselves that we won’t let what happens during the holidays happen again. A fair amount of us experience severe regret, agony, and something close to mild depression.

I am among this group.

A few years ago I had escaped this group and was on a very good path. Then early in January, 2016 I suffered an injury that removed my ability to exercise. Exercise was my rocket that allowed me to counteract the gravity of food temptation. Without that rocket, I fell into the black hole.

This pattern of trying to do the right thing then blowing it during the holiday season is more common than we would like to think. I’m right there with you. I’ve contemplated this with myself over and over and though I’ve come up with a few strategies that help, but only if you want them to. What I’ve recently done is go back to how I’ve achieved goals that are for other than eating and tried to apply them towards this quandary. Below is how I’m going approach it this time, this next holiday season.

Remember Your Pain: Write down what I (you) are going through NOW because of what you did THEN. Read that next year and decide if it was worth it. Take pictures. Strip down to bathing attire and document where you are now. Video? Sure. Talk to yourself in that video and let yourself know what you are experiencing NOW, because of THEN.

No Leftovers That Hurt: After an occasion, even if it is at your house, don’t keep leftovers that don’t allow you to recover. Turkey? Sure. Desserts? No, give them away, throw them out, or take them to work and let everybody else make bad decisions.

Trade Meals For Exercise: Say “OK this meal, which I’m going to eat because I’m just going to, is worth 5 extra hours of blah blah” and then make sure you get it done. Use your community and your “Thing”, both of which I’ll get to in a moment.

Prepare Your Body Before: Starting NOW, and at LEAST a few months before the holiday season, get to where you need to be with your bodyfat, fitness, and health in general. Not only will that give you a tad bit of leeway for the holidays you will be in a routine that you can get right back into.

Have Your Fitness Routine: This is similar to the above, but it is HUGE. If you are already into a routine, you can continue on it and minimize or erase the damage. This doesn’t give you license to go nuts and then fix it, but we know that no matter what those meals and occasions are going to occur, so let’s acknowledge it and deal with it.

Community/Support: By nature, we are social creatures. We also crave some sort of accountability; however slight it may be. You may be able to keep yourself accountable, but probably not enough. Having a community around you can help encourage you when you need it, create a bit of social pressure when done right, and generally keep you accountable. Make plans with your community to chat about your specific holiday event and also to make plans BEFORE the event to get together and do something healthy. Your community is not there just to make everything “all right” and pat you on the back, it’s there to help each other stay on course and to get BACK on course, if needed.

Have A “Thing” That You Do: Do you have hobbies? You may chuckle and say “Yes, if I had time”. As of now you HAVE time and one of your hobbies is going to be some sort of healthy movement. Prior to my injury, and what I’m working back towards, I liked to ride my bike, do CrossFit, and hike. Those three things were among my “Thing” and I was interested I them, read about them, planned them, and generally treated them like something that I REALLY liked instead of a necessary evil. In fact, I DID enjoy them, to the point of talking about them so much I was irritating to those around me.

In summary, do something to remember your pain NOW as you approach the next holiday season. Prepare ahead by starting a sustainable health program, and surround yourself with a community of people who truly care about you and will encourage you before and after.

Barre Chords – E Major Shape

Little post to keep track of my barre chord information.  Not a bunch here right now.

I use JustinGuitar.com’s information quite a bit.  I’ve purchased some of his material and also donated to his site.  One of the most useful exercises is the One Minute Changes.  Here he is below showing how to do the One Minute Changes with barre chords.

Sister Golden Hair – America

This is part of my Acoustic Guitar Set List series if you care to read that.

This song was chosen by my jam buddy and after looking at it I think it will serve the purpose of learning something, which is barre chords.  I’ve been somewhat avoiding them even though they are a valuable skill to have.

Some collateral information for this song.

Lyrics HERE.

Background, meaning of lyrics HERE.

Alright now that is out of the way we can get on to learning the song.  I searched YouTube for a good tutorial and I found the below and will use it unless I find another.  And actually the only time I’d seek out another is if I try to find a watered-down version to play while I’m working on the barre chords.

As I mentioned above this is a great tune to work on some barre chords.  I speak about barre chords, and improving them, HERE.

As I learn this song I’ll put information below.

Journey To H2H – Goals And Objectives

Michael Henry Rocks... on a bike
Michael Henry Rocks… on a bike

Update: I am STILL recovering from a calf injury that I sustained in January of this year (2016).  All activity beyond just existing has provoked it so I’ve shut everything down.  Therefore no H2H for me this year.  I hope to be able to get to riding before long and will use the Winter to rebuild fitness and establish some sort of base.

I’m planning an Imperial Century for 2016.  I’ve already done one of them ( H2H ) so the actual goal of riding 100 miles isn’t my burning desire.  I certainly want to do it again but I’m going to make it the end result and not necessarily the goal.  It’s the lettering on the icing on the cake.  Some of my objectives will occur as a result of the 100 miles itself however.

I’ll list the goals and objectives and then chatter about them below.

  1. Ride Result – Ride the Imperial Century at a much healthier bodyfat % <- I could stop here, actually
  2. Ride Result – Average 15 mph during ride time
  3. Ride Result – End ride in good physical and mental shape
  4. Get to 50 mile distance as soon as possible
  5. Achieve 100 mile weeks by outdoor or trainer rides starting first week in April 2016

All the above serve goal and objective #1.

Chatter

Ride Result – Ride the Imperial Century at a healthier body fat %
What’s this mean?  If I’m eating right, recovering properly, and putting in the work then in theory almost each say I’m at a healthier body fat %.  Goal met too soon?  Well technically yes but I’m shooting generically for 12% body fat.  Is that what is right for me?  Not sure, I won’t know until I approach it.  Could be that I need to be above that but I doubt it.  Could be that I need to be below that … maybe.

By getting there (properly) my fitness will increase and I will arrive (or come close to) my target BMI, whatever that is.  I’m picking 200 lbs as the body weight I would be at as it seems right according to the mirror.  I’ll let my body fat % determine the weight my scale says though.

Ride Result – Average 15 mph or more during ride time
The Dayton Cycling Club has rider classifications which go from “D” (9-12 MPH for 20 miles) all the way up to “AA” (22+ MPH for 100 miles).  Right now I consider myself at a “C” (12-15 MPH for 40 miles) classification.  Averaging 15 MPH or more for a distance of 65 miles results in a “B” classification if done during an official ride.  Obviously 100 miles satisfies the 65 mile requirement, I just have to figure out how to make my planned ride an official event.

End ride in good physical and mental shape
Completing the ride isn’t the goal.  I’ve done an Imperial Century when I wasn’t properly prepared and it was painful.  I was actually hoping my bike wold break in half around mile 80 so I could stop.  I wouldn’t allow myself to quit but if my bike broke?  THEN I would HAVE to stop!  I don’t want to do a fun 100 that same way again.  I’m sure I’ll attempt some distance in the future where I’ll end in pain, like a 200 miler, but for a distance I’ve already done I want to prepare and ride it to finish in good spirits and physical condition.

Get to 50 mile distance as soon as possible
Fifty miles seems to be a distance that I can achieve even if I don’t have a massive amount of time.  I could do it in the morning as part of my commute if I wanted.  That would be ONE HECK of a morning commute  but if I could pull that off as well as a weekend 50 miler I’m well on my way to increasing my fitness and satisfying an exercise component of my healthier me.

According to the MapMyRide.com calorie estimator if I rode 50 miles (using my age, height, weight) at 15 MPH at medium intensity I would burn 3500-4,500 Calories.  Wow!  Even if that is the normal over-estimation that the calorie estimators give I will still assume it would be a TREMENDOUS way to start to my day.

How realistic is it to ride 50 miles and still be in my office at 8 am?  Not sure.  It is an opportunity that I have the time for but I just need to have the will power to get up early enough to get it done.

Achieve 100 mile weeks by outdoor or trainer rides starting first week in April 2016
Part of getting to 50 milers as soon as possible means that when I can get outside in the spring I need to have a decent base that has been maintained or built in the cold months.  I already have started getting my indoor trainer setup going but the challenge is to make it interesting.  Many experience this “make it interesting” challenge so I’ll be doing plenty of reading to look into the various virtual apps, mind games, etc.

Journey To H2H – The Problem Is …. Recovery

The time required to get ready for the Hofbräuhaus 2016 isn’t an issue.  I can get up early enough during the week to get in my needed time in the saddle.  I’ve just got to do it.  I’ve been getting up at 5 am now a few times a week so I just have to make sure I get to bed in time to not run down as the week progresses.  I may not be able to get in longer and longer rides but that’s something I’ll just have to deal with.

So let’s eliminate time as an uncontrollable factor.

Effort?  Sure.  Dedication and perseverance?  Sure.  Those are things I can control so let’s eliminate them as an uncontrollable factor.

Right now I’m doing CrossFit three or four times a week depending on my schedule.  I prefer FIVE times a week but that would  mean M-T-W, F-S which as fastpitch season arrives I won’t be able to accomplish due to game schedules.  As the bike hits the path I couldn’t do five days of CrossFit and bike sufficiently either because of the one thing I can only highly influence yet can’t control.  That thing is RECOVERY.

If I was a finely tuned athlete I could do a 6 am workout then recover and do a lunchtime ride.  My goal is to get to that as that is what endurance athletes do.  Not sure I’m that just yet or would be able to get there anytime soon.  I think in order to do both on the same day I’d have to cruise through one to have enough energy to get through the other.  Part of my strategy MAY be to do both at moderate pace one day a week and that would be an interesting experiment but I’ll have to give that more thought.  CrossFit Endurance have some workouts where you do both in the same day with a minimum of 3 hours rest between the two.  At what level do you need to be at in order to do that?  I don’t know but I’m going to explore it along with my CrossFit coach.  If I COULD do a good job at two workouts in one day on M-W-F that would allow for a day of recovery (T, Th) between.  One could make a few arguments for and against that approach.  In the end it comes down to the ability to get in the proper workouts with the proper recovery and move along the path towards the goals.

Speaking of my CrossFit coach I am working with someone that is far more knowledgeable than I am.  She is going to do a bit of research to see what would be a good initial approach for someone who wants to do CrossFit, train for a distance ride, is on a health journey, and has the time I have committed to.

In my next post I’ll lay out what my “As It Stands Right Now” plan is.  I’m sure that Plan won’t Stand.

Journey To Hofbräuhaus 2016 – Setup

In early Jan 2016 I started CrossFit to “add some morning cardio” and I quickly found it was much more, of course. Prior to joining I committed to organize and ride in a 100 mile bicycle event the weekend before Halloween. I committed to that to give myself and a few others a goal to encourage us to get out and ride for our health and to have a fun reward at the end. Three years ago we did this same event and it was painful yet fulfilling.  I had started that year VERY overweight and at a base of ZERO miles on the bike.  The group that went decided to do it again so it was set.

Along the way I’m also continuing a weight loss journey. More specifically instead of being on a weight loss journey I’m actually on a “Healthier Body Fat %” journey. We know they are not the same, right? However when many say “weight loss” that’s what they mean. Others don’t mean that. So… if I slip and say “weight loss” know I am just looking to get leaner in a healthy manner.

CrossFit is helping me get “functionally fit”.  This means moving towards a healthier body fat %, correcting muscular imbalances (quads to hamstrings, rear shoulders to front, etc), controlling my body in space (balance, getting up and down from the floor) and generally improving health and wellness.

The fastest way for me to get functionally fit is to continue with CrossFit as my primary physical outlet and put riding my bike as secondary.  However since I’ve committed to the 100 mile ride I can’t do that else the day of the event will arrive and I will be in pain while completing it.  That’s not the point.  The 100 miler is there as a reward to show ourselves that we got our rumps out the door and prepared for it.  Riding the H2H and doing it without suffering is a by-product of improving our health using the bike as a tool.  We know it’s not the ONLY way but it is what we chose.

So how to manage all the goals that I suddenly have?  How to improve cardio?  How to add some needed muscled?  How to improve stamina, improve my body fat %, create a clear mind, etc. all while doing both CrossFit AND getting ready for 100 miles?

Good question.  I’ll begin to address it in some subsequent posts.  I’ll catch you up on the discussions I’ve had, the research I’ve gone through, and overall the plan I have right now.  The plan will change, but I’ll let you know the NOW.

Welcome. Hop on. Advise and argue. In the end it will be a fun experiment.

Journey To Hofbräuhaus 2016 – CrossFit, Weight Loss (Lean Body) and An Imperial Century

On this page follow my journey toward managing CrossFit, training for an Imperial Century, and continuing towards a healthier body fat percentage.

Here is some setup info.  I’ve linked it here because it will eventually scroll down the page.

Links:
All Posts From This Journey
Journey To Hofbräuhaus 2016 – Setup
CrossFit?

CrossFit Week 4 – Summary

Week 4 brings an air of urgency for me.  I’ve been doing CF for three weeks and I want to progress a bit faster.  In order to do that I’m going to go backwards a bit.  On Tuesday I’m meeting with one of their coaches to work on catching deeper into a squat, something I’ve been avoiding a bit for the sake of using heavier weight.  When I start catching deeper into the squat the unfamiliar movement will cause me to significantly lower the weight on the bar.  In time as the movement becomes more natural I’ll adjust and the weight can start to trickle back up.

My legs are weak.  That means I need to address it and stop working around the issue.  The time to do it is now, not later.

Notable Workouts
MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2016

I went backpacking this past weekend.  That means I babied my calf by not doing a workout on Friday.  This also means I didn’t do CF for four days straight.  I’m sure my hiking helped but it’s not the same.  I could certainly feel a bit of lost conditioning.  The coach again recommended that I not push my calf so no double unders or jump squats.  Instead I did air squats.  I did MANY air squats as substitutes and it really worked the conditioning, something I am really lacking in.  It worked to the conditioning to the point where I got a nearby bucket and made it a bit more nearby.

Skill:
 Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps)
 20-Doubles
 10-Strict DB press
 6 Rounds for quality
 Metcon
 Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps)
 10-Renegade rows
 20-Jump squats
 AMRAP 9 Minutes
Crossfit WOD - 01-25-2016
Crossfit WOD – 01-25-2016

As you can see above the Skill included 20 Doubles.  In Bravo we scaled to 10 Doubles which I subbed in 10 Air Squats.

For the Metcon I did 20 Air Squats instead of the Jump Squats.

I am starting to so my squats a bit quicker.  The movement is becoming a bit more natural so I sped things up.  I’ll keep working on that and see how fast I can safely go while keeping good form.  I see a few people going VERY quickly but I’m worried about the bounce at the bottom.  If they are controlling that and not actually bouncing then I’m all for it.  If they are bouncing for the sake of faster reps then I’m not good with it.  I’ll push my pace and see where I land over time.

Tues JANUARY 26, 2016

I Rang The Bell

Wed JANUARY 27, 2016

Instead of doing CF for three days in a row I opted to go to my regular gym and do some auxiliary work.  Then I would do CF Thursday, Friday & Saturday.

Since I don’t know what workout we are doing in CF until later in the evening I had no idea if what I would be doing auxiliary would be pre-fatiguing me for the next day.  In reality in only matters in that it could make the next day’s workout more brutal when I’m still having to scale to get through them.

I am terrible at chins.  Meaning I can’t do one or am close.  I feel hints of chins coming on but it’s a like a movie that you really want to see but you get news that they are just talking to actors, getting the director, and going through the script.  It’s a movie but …. not a movie.

So… I go to the gym and do seven sets of 10 of 135 lbs on he bench.  I don’t go heavy but work on a certain weight to help develop stamina under stress.  I figure 70 total reps would help.  On the last two sets I couldn’t bang through all 10 and had to rack the weight, sit up for a few seconds, then get back under to finish.  Fair enough, that pushes though a bit.

Next I worked on chins.  I used a certain rubber band and decided that I’d do 20 chins however I had to get them in.  That hurt a bit.

Next was farmer’s walk to work on my grip and the other benefits.

Good workout, but not how I like to push things as I didn’t know what the next day would bring.  Turns out I picked the wrong things to work on.

Wed JANUARY 27, 2016

I went to the Noon session.  It was just one other participant and myself, along with the coach.  The workout?  Pull-ups, Burpees, etc.  My chins and bench work was going to make this painful.  And oh it did.  Ouchie.  The warmup and pre-WOD activities all were warmups for the WOD and of course just about did me in.  The came the WOD.

For time:

Pull-ups
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

Burpees
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

DB or KB snatch 35/55
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

Push-up
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

Pull-up
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

Burpee
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

DB or KB sntach 35/55
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

Push-up
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
*One partner completes a round before tagging his teammate.

The other participant kicked my butt hard!  She was a beast and her determination kept me going non-scale as long as possible and even when I scaled I would switch over to non-scale when I could.

As the workout finished I knew I was whipped.  Being a bit exhausted taxed my cardio capacity in the end I was better for it.  Though brutal.

Sat JANUARY 30, 2016

It was Open Community where I do CF and my mom went with me to check things out.  We had fun working out together.  I don’t know if she will come back but we shall see.

My calf continues to progress slowly.

I Rang The Bell

Today I got to ring the PR (Personal Record) Bell at Practice CrossFit, the place I recently started to get in my exercise. I hesitated to do it. The only reason I walked over and gave it a few pulls was because of the below linked blog post by Josh Bunch, owner of Practice CrossFit, that I read just earlier today. It speaks about how one person’s celebration can fuel another’s spirits.

Why We Ring The PR Bell And You Should Too

Even as I was reaching towards the rope I felt a bit odd about it. In lives past I’ve had bigger numbers. Lives past. Back then. In reality the number isn’t really important to me. Progress is. If I progress then the numbers take care of themselves. It’s how it works especially when you are working on Mike version 2.0.

When I rang the bell there were a fair amount of people in the building. Everybody could have given an obligatory “yeah….” but instead it was much louder, and sincere. I felt they were truly happy that someone got a PR.

I’m a huge baby. I almost teared up a bit. ALMOST.

Go ring your bell, in whatever it is that you do.