Saturday, December 31, 2011


Have you made any New Year's Resolutions this year? What are they?

Every year, people make resolutions at the New Year. It seems like a good time because of the 01/01, blank slate aspect of a new year. Most years, the resolutions are the same. Of the top 10 most popular resolutions: get fit, lose weight, learn something new, and volunteer/help others are all things that can be done by taking on my challenge to run this year.

Some of the other resolutions: spend more time with friends, enjoy life more and stop smoking, can be done or at least aided by taking on the challenge. It is much easier to stop smoking when you have another activity that can fight stress and raise endorphins. You can spend time with friends or family while running, rather than watching TV with them. Exercise or any increase in activity will make you feel better, which will make all of your life more enjoyable.

The success rate for resolutions is low, about 12%, and it's theorized the cause of that is lack of clarity and planning. People say, "I want to lose weight" with no goal of how much to lose, how they'll lose it, or how long it will take. There was a study that showed ways to improve the rate of success. Men need concrete goal setting and women need to share their goal. If you have a goal, please do both to increase your odds of success. It will also give me some challenges to tackle.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bad Information

I love the internet. I use it to get information about everything. I look up words for precise definitions all the time. I use it for this blog, too. I find that at least 90% of the information is accurate and verifiable. You can usually find several independent sources with the same information.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of bad information out there, too. Some of it comes from sources and sites that would be considered reliable, too. Yesterday while looking for a decent couch to 5K program, I came across a plan on Fitness Magazine's website. The plan itself wasn't horrible, it was similar to most other plans I found. However, their "Quick Tip" at the bottom is horrible and injury inducing. They recommend runners land heel-first. Never do this. NEVER.

There are top runners who do land heel-first, but they're not reading this blog, so the rest of us should avoid that and try to run like Ryan Hall who many consider to have the best form in the US. Here's a video that explains good running form in the way that numerous reliable sources have explained it to me and is basically step-by-step instructions to achieve Ryan Hall's stride.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Couch to 5K

Many people tell me that they can't run or can't imagine enjoying running. I was once among those people. I ran slowly and with a lot of whining. I think running is one of those things that people view as something they do or something other people do. There doesn't seem to be much of a gray area. I have been converted to the awesomeness that is running. I really want to help others experience the same conversion. Or at least open them up to the possibility of conversion.

With that as my goal, I started looking into the many couch to 5K programs out there. The concept is great. It lays out a 8-10 week training program starting with about 20 minutes of walking & a little bit of running and at the end, you're ready to tackle a full 5K. My only problem with many of these programs is that at the end, they expect you to run the full 5K with no walk breaks. I think that's pushing the participants past their abilities. I also read many people saying that they couldn't do the last week of training because there were no walk breaks. That leads to frustration and quitting.

I love Jeff Galloway and his run-walk Galloway method. Many of the charity marathon training programs use this method, but not necessarily the same run-walk ratios. This is the method that Team to End AIDS uses it gives them a great success rate. I finally found a couch to 5k schedule that used the run-walk method. I don't know if it's perfect, but it's the best combination of the two programs that I have found. I hope that I can encourage those non-runners out there to give it a shot and see if at the end of two months if you can enjoy running. I'm not guaranteeing that you'll love running as much as I do, but at least you'll have opened up to the possibility.

If you make it through the training program, you'll be ready to take on the 2nd challenge that I issued for 2012. I would love if all of you were out there with me next summer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


There is a simple way to determine if your weight is within a healthy range. It's not exact, but for the average person, it's a great way to monitor. The calculation was created as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. It was created in the 19th century, but has gained wider use in the last 30+ years. Or you could use one of the many charts that are online, like the one here. The goal is to have a BMI between 18.5 and 25.

There are other simple tools to determine if your weight is in a healthy range, but this is one of the most accepted and easiest to use for most of us. If you're a body-builder, or just very muscular, this may show you having a high BMI, even though you're healthy. You can use the waist-to-hip ratio or body fat percentage, too, but those involve more measurements.

Is your BMI in the healthy range? Do you want to get it into the healthy range? Stick with us and we can help you move more and get it under 25.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


It cannot be stressed enough that water is the most important thing you consume. If you're trying to lose weight, or just be more active, you need water to help you. There is no magic amount of water that you should drink. The "8 glasses a day" rule is close and easy to remember, but not accurate if you're heavier than average, or more active.

A good way to figure out how much to drink is to take your weight, divide it in half and drink 80% of that figure in ounces of water every day. The other 20% of the water you consume will come from food. This figure is just a base; you'll need to add more for your activity. A good rule of thumb is 8 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise. If you're fully hydrated before the activity, and you don't work out for too long or too hard, this should carry you. If you're working out harder or longer, you'll need more water and something with electrolytes.

There are many benefits to staying fully hydrated:

Water helps your body remove toxins in the most efficient manner, leaving the liver unburdened.
Water fills us up without adding any calories.
Water helps a person’s ability to exercise and burn calories.
Water is used for protein synthesis which is needed to build or repair muscles.

Water is a necessary ingredient in turning food and stored fat into energy. If you can't turn stored fat into energy, you can't lose weight.
Water consumption can reduce your risk of colon cancer.
Water consumption can reduce your risk of bladder cancer.

If something so simple can reduce your risk of cancer, there seems no reason to not have a glass of water.

A simple way to tell if you're fully hydrated is to make sure your urine is light yellow, never dark or amber in color.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Social Networks and Obesity

Many studies done on the spread of obesity and smoking through social networks have shown that the health habits of our friends and family are a good indicator of our health habits. If one of your close friends becomes obese, your chances of becoming obese go up at least 50%. The same data source shows that quitting smoking works the same way; if your friends quit, you're more likely to quit.

I'm trying to use this peer pressure to help all of us get healthier in 2012. If you share your health resolution with me, I promise to make it mine, too. I will also share our resolution with everyone else so we can all view it as a challenge to get moving more. So far, the only resolution has come from Desiree. She wants to set some personal records in the marathon and triathlon. She's also going to do more trail running and swimming. I will be doing at least two hours of cardio every week and will be training to run the half and full marathon.

If you're newer to fitness than Desiree, instead of shooting for a great marathon time, why not shoot for improving your time at walking or running a mile? If you currently take 20 minutes to walk a mile, why not work up to a 14 minute mile by the end of the year? Every person is different, but it's still important to get out there and move.

Have any of you decided to join us in these challenges? Do you have challenges of your own?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas

They mark the time from Christmas to Epiphany. It's also a time of year when many of us sit on the couch, eat leftovers and recover from too much drinking and eating. This is not a good way to get started on New Year's Resolutions or recovering from all the Christmas cookies and snacks. I found a set of exercises to help with all that sloth. It's set up just like the song, so you could do day 1 on December 26 and keep progressing until January 6. Or, you could follow the suggested workouts that they have at the link.

When January 6th rolls around, let me know how you did.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Inspiration

I wrote about Dick Hoyt back in March. I knew that he inspired me to get out and move, but I didn't know that he inspired an entire organization. My Team Triumph pairs up three volunteers to act as "angels" like Dick and help navigate "captains" like his son Rick through various races around the country. I saw them in action last July when I ran the Packers 5K and many runners and spectators were crying when they crossed the finish line. If you want to be inspired check out the WI chapter's facebook page. They do have chapters around the US, so you don't have to be in Wisconsin to participate. If you're looking for someone to keep you accountable to your running, here is an entire group that will demand that you be accountable to the other angels and to your captain.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Second 2012 Challenge

I will again be training with the Team to End AIDS for the marathon and half marathon. This year, I hope that injury will not prevent me from running the actual races. I challenge everyone out there to join me in training with them. They set up the training schedule and have a great success rate. If you make it through the training, you will make it through the race. They do require fundraising, but it's much easier than you'd ever imagine. To join them, you don't have to be able to run 26.2 miles already. You don't even have to be able to run quickly. Their slowest pace group runs/walks every mile in 16 minutes. You just have to be able to walk 3 miles to begin the training. I would love to see all of you out at the training site next summer.

If you want more motivation, please check out their video. It will motivate you and hopefully inspire you to join. Their first sessions for signing up will be in the first months of 2012, so I will remind you of this challenge at that time.

UPDATE: you have until 1/31 to sign up at the reduced rate of $65. It goes to $95 in Feb. Join Team Twitter and you'll have even more built-in support.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New everything

I redesigned the blog today. I added additional pages, which you can view by clicking above. I'm switching my blog from just being about my daily activity and progress to a blog about health, fitness and moving. I hope I can inspire you to be more active and in turn get inspiration from you.

I plan on posting inspirational stories and quotes to keep us all motivated to keep moving. I also will be posting tidbits about health and fitness. That could include scientific studies, recipes or anything that may help us in our quest to be healthier. I will still post updates on my fitness journey, but only periodically.

I know that the new year is just 10 days away and people are starting to think about their resolutions for 2012. Instead of resolving to be healthier, I would love if you would make more specific, concrete resolutions and share them with me. If they're not too far-fetched, I will make your resolution my resolution as well. It will be more of a New Year's Challenge, than just a resolution. Here's the first one: I challenge myself and everyone else to participate in cardio activity for at least 2 hours every week. That can be walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing or anything that elevates your heart rate. Please let me know what your challenge is.

UPDATE: I will be tracking my activity using DailyMile. The most recent activity will show up on the right side of my homepage. I highly recommend it. It's free and allows you to track all you activity and it creates graphs so you can see trends and improvement.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 18D--Pencentages

I am a big fan of logic. Sadly, this causes me some problems when I encounter the art of medicine. Sometimes, they don't seem to use logic at all.

Take for example the idea that everyone should drink 8 glasses of water a day. This seems pretty simple and innocuous until you realize that a person who weighs 100 pounds is told to drink the same amount of water as someone who weighs 200 or even 300 pounds. Now the randomness of 8 glasses a day makes little sense. It turns out that the real number is 1/2 ounce of water for every pound of weight. Some of this water can come from other beverages and even foods. The figure of 8 glasses applies to a person who is about 125 pounds. I theorize that women who were dieting in the 1950s-1970s were the ones paying attention to the water intake, so the 8 glasses became the standard figure.

I'm starting to theorize that the lose 1-2 pounds a week figure comes from the same dieting demographic. I can't comprehend how my weight loss percentage should be less than 2% a week, but a person who weighs 200 pounds can only lose 1% a week. What if a severly obese person used the same gauge. It could take them several years to get to a healthy weight and they'd only be losing .5% per week. After much searching, I found a few places online that say it's 1% a week, but they aren't reliable sites and don't cite anything for their figure.

If any medical or fitness professionals have a reason for the 1-2 pounds figure or a percentage that should be followed for people of all weights, please let me know. I'm really curious and want to understand the science and logic of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 17D--Measurements

I have been working out with the EA Active faithfully for about five weeks. I was seeing some physical changes in muscle tone and definition, but much of it was still hidden under fat. I had been watching my diet and trying to lose weight, but wasn't seeing any progress. I finally gave in and started Weight Watchers about 10 days ago. I am too poor and cheap to actually pay them, so I am piggy-backing onto another's online membership. I am using the minimum number of points that they set up, based on the relatively small amount of weight I would like to use. It's working, too. In 10 days, I have lost almost 2 pounds and am at my lowest weight in 2 years.

I know I shouldn't focus on weight, and that has not been my first goal or focus. I have mainly been noticing it because I know my body has more muscle, but I could feel the layer of fat over that muscle and realized that losing pounds is the only way to see the definition.

It's been one month since I did my last set of measurements, so it's time to remeasure and check for progress.

My weight is currently 136.5, which means a BMI of 24.14.

My waist is 30 inches. Down one inch!!!
My hips are 39 inches. Also down one inch!!!!

My waist to hip ratio is .76, just slightly better than last month.

According to one site that calculates body fat percentage based on these measurements, I have is estimated to be 30%, which is down 1% over the month.

Upper chest: 34
Under bust: 31
Thigh: 23
Calf: 13
Wrist: 6
Bicep: 11
Neck: 13
Forearm: 10

Most of the measurements have remained the same. My thigh has gotten bigger, but I can feel that it's stronger, so I'm not too worried about the increase in size.

I will be back in one month to take a new set of measurements. My goal is to lose a little on the waist and hips and several more pounds on the weight.