How’s That Cheat Day Thing Working For You?

Way back at the end of 2012 when I hit my heaviest weight, I had stepped on the scale and got slapped with the max weight it would register, which was 300 lbs. I was shocked.  I know for certain I was OVER 300 lbs because as time moved forward and I know I had lost a fair amount the scale STILL registered 300 lbs.  By my estimate, I probably was about 330 lbs, but maybe is was JUST 315 lbs?  Who knows …

So… I took action. I didn’t go low carb or anything but I did what the typical human knows to do and that was to improve my eating and get my body moving.  More sensible meals, portions, etc. and get that bike out and get peddling!  For me, that was a huge shift in what I was doing.

Time went forward and I got in a groove and I was looking for something to improve upon what I was already doing.  Advocare and I found each other.  Super!  In addition to a 10-day body reset at the beginning, their approach followed up with a continuous 14-day cycle which gives you the tools needed to continue progressing.  It certainly works, if you allow it to.

After the initial 24 days, in which I was locked in like with any new shiny thing, I decided that to “keep on track” I was going to incorporate a “cheat day”.  My plan was to stay strict during the week, but on Sunday I’d do what I want.  That’s where my mind was, like many others.  Though at the beginning, when I first stepped on that poor scale, I was punched in the gut by the shock of the reality of how far out of shape I had allowed myself to get, I had yet to exercise the muscle of discipline to a point where I didn’t have to have one out of seven days be free from the responsibility of improving my health.  Going from ignoring it all to a sustainable, longer-term effort to change my ways was too big of a leap, apparently.

I started my cheat day strategy.  On the first of these cheat days, my mood was very bright.  It was glorious!  And since I had blown the day I indulged that evening as well.  Even better!  Then Monday morning I was prepared to face another week, knowing that next Sunday I could go nuts again! I would speak of this strategy with others, and it seems this concept of “cheat day” was not uncommon.  They agreed it was a great idea and they had done similar. It was DESERVED! We had DONE GOOD FOR SIX DAYS IN A ROW! How WONDERFUL!  Give ourselves a participation trophy just for not abusing ourselves the previous six days!

The thing is, for someone who had slowly allowed themselves to get to the point where they had to adjust and hold their breath to tie their shoes, doing well for six days and then becoming unglued on the seventh was a massive improvement.  It WAS wonderful.

But it wasn’t.

I found, after about a month, that it would take me until Wednesday, sometimes Thursday, to get back to where I was on Sunday morning. And this was a time where I had gotten back on my bike and was hitting it as hard as my body and current fitness would allow, which means calories were being burned for sure.

The results of having a whole day of cheating meant that I was actually only progressing, as far as body fat % was concerned, about three days out of the seven. The remaining days were either having that cheat day or recovering from the same. Once I figured that out I had a chat with myself.

During this conversation, I admitted to myself that the reason I was doing the cheat day was that I had succumbed to all the temptations that living in this fine nation presents to us.  We are a weak willed country when it comes to our health, and I’m right there with the majority.  I need to HTFU and get the job done.  This conversation went rather well, and I decided that having a cheat day wasn’t worth it.  What to do then?  How would I give myself a mental reset so that I didn’t snap in the middle of the night and break into Jim’s Donut Shop and dump enough cherry filling over my head to look like Carrie standing on the stage after being crowned Prom Queen?  Hmm…. cheat day is a terrible idea but how can I …. wait … how about just a cheat MEAL?  HAHA!  Yes!  I am a GENIUS!

Cheat meal it was.  But… and you know this is coming…. that just meant that it took me less time to get back to zero, which means it takes longer to get to where you need to be, which means increased frustration, and … And what it really means is that it isn’t sustainable.  How many people do you know that are in the boat we (you, I) are in and have sustained a “cheat day/meal” approach for healthy living?  This assumes that the “cheat day/meal” is what I was doing, which means “Revert to being a damn pig for a while.”  While enjoyable (oh yes) for the timeframe you are shoving that half pan of lasagna in your face, it quickly leads to longer-term failure.

So what to do?  As someone who has struggled with their weight since parenthood stated in my mid-20’s, I THINK I’ve found my happy place with all this.  I believe that a person has to be strong enough to fail, get back up, fail again, get back up and repeat that cycle until they are convinced that what they are doing isn’t working.  I/we can be TOLD it doesn’t work, and I/we can CLEARLY see that it doesn’t work, but we are weak creatures.  We want that food!  We miss over-eating!  We actually MISS eating as an enjoyable activity.  In my happy place, I’ve found that what I have do is redefine what a cheat meal is.

First thing, it’s not a “cheat meal.”  It’s a meal that I’m deciding to have because of whatever reason.  Maybe call it “off plan.”  It could be that I’ve been cranking along for three weeks and I’d like to enjoy some pizza and a few beers with the wife while watching a football game.  It could be my birthday, or a camping outing, or whatever the whatever is.  The key here is two-fold… first, it’s not a cheat meal.  If it’s a cheat meal then it means it’s not what I want to do and I’ve broken down mentally and I need an artificial reset to continue forward.  Second, it can’t be to often.  If my occasional off-plan meal is about every three weeks or month and then it becomes every two weeks and then once a week and then what the hell I’ve blown it so let’s go out to Chinese again and before you know it my scale has sent itself to an orphanage to avoid the abuse.

So, that’s it.  That’s how I’m approaching things now.  I’m changing how I view an off-plan meal and the frequency that I do it.  In January of 2017 when I knew I was going to be able to exercise again I planned my off-plan eatings.  Knee surgery weekend I allowed myself some small indiscretions, but not permission to go crazy.  A camping outing went very well, but I ate some Dutch Oven ribs with a bit of sauce on them.  A family tubing outing and did work over a pizza and have two fine beverages.  At the end of February, I have another camping outing, and I’ll have a few more beverages sitting around the fire.  And the end of March we are going with my daughter to play High School Fastpitch in Florida during Spring Break.  That sounds like a fair list of “cheats” but it’s fairly spread out and otherwise, things are going well using this approach.

What do you think?  Sustainable?  A better way of looking at things?

Don’t Make The Struggle a Struggle

Getting through a tough workout is 100% mental. That’s it. As long as you have a recent heartbeat there is always the ability to scale to any physical limitations that you may have, or think you have.

…. Can’t allow the struggle to become a struggle.

Getting through a tough workout is 100% mental. That’s it. As long as you have a recent heartbeat there is always the ability to scale to any physical limitations that you may have, or think you have. You just have to find out what your mental block is, then confront it. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
What most people, especially myself, have to work on is their resolve and ability to not quit. As someone who still has strong urges to not push themselves, this resolve and abolishment of the ‘quitter’s mentality’ is a daily struggle to overcome.

And really, ‘quitter’s mentality’ isn’t quite the right phrase for me. It’s more of ‘fear of failure’. Isn’t it easier to do a low-energy activity instead of just struggling to just get through warmups? Isn’t it easier to go to another gym and lift on my own versus the coach helping me with simple lift form over and over, for the 100th time? Isn’t it much easier to go ride my bike by myself and do intervals that leave me with black dots floating in my eyes, heaving for air and wishing for death, instead of not scaling properly and having to stand for a bit during Metcon instead of keeping moving, like we are supposed to?Yes, it is easier. For sure. 100%. For that moment, anyways. What isn’t easy is the terrible gut feeling you get once you realize what you are doing. Avoiding. Letting yourself down. Fearing ‘failure’, or at least the perception of failure. What failure really means is not showing up and giving your full effort.

Yes, it is easier. For sure. 100%. For that moment, anyways. What isn’t easy is the terrible gut feeling you get once you realize what you are doing. Avoiding. Letting yourself down. Fearing ‘failure’, or at least the perception of failure. What failure really means is not showing up and giving your full effort.Five am comes early. So far I am getting up and getting there. Trying to develop the habit which will carry me through upcoming times when I’m running low on mental energy. What is helping this is the patience of the coaches and that I’m seeing physical results. The challenge is more if apparent progress stalls. Progress stalling would be a human factor though with that human be myself.

Five am comes early. So far I am getting up and getting there. Trying to develop the habit which will carry me through upcoming times when I’m running low on mental energy. What is helping this is the patience of the coaches and that I’m seeing physical results. The challenge is more if apparent progress stalls. Progress stalling would be a human factor though with that human be myself.

Got to keep going, of course. Can’t allow the struggle to become a struggle.

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’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.


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 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.

All Posts From This Journey
Journey To Hofbräuhaus 2016 – Setup