Thursday, May 26, 2016

Barely Walking

So I went to the gym again today, on a sort-of empty stomach.  I had to cut my usual lunch of the entire plate of drunken noodle with chicken in half after finding out how many calories there are in a cup of drunken noodles, and I was sort of fine until about 5pm when I had to leave for the gym.  But I didn't eat anything else, and I wasn't really famished so all was well.

I usually start my run at 5mph for about a mile before doing something else, and that's what I did today.  But as I was doing that, I felt like I wasn't really running.  I was more like... speed walking.  And I didn't feel tired like I usually would after about 7 minutes.  I barely had to deepen my breath after I finished the first mile.

And although this was kind of cool, I wasn't really sure what kind of improvement this would count as.  Muscle strength? Stamina? Or just finding a new and better technique to run? As I increased the speed for the next mile I was out of breath for the fastest minute or so, and stopped when I got to about a 5K.

And I felt really good.  Sweaty and slightly out of breath, sure, but my foot wasn't hurting and I didn't stress my body too much with it.  It was just strange.  I mean, it doesn't mean that I'm all of a sudden a very fast walker, and if I walk like the way I did on the treadmill I would look very silly, but I really don't know what I did differently of where I have improved to achieve that.  Or did I just learn to take shorter steps and not bounce as much?  I don't know.

Today the gym was relatively empty.  I went around the same time as I did on Tuesday, but on Tuesday the gym was packed and there was no unoccupied treadmill at all.  I think finals week is approaching for the undergrads and that might explain it a little bit.  Also it was so warm and sunny out I passed at least half a dozen runners and a equal number of cyclists, so maybe everyone was working out outside.  Either way it was very nice not to feel crowded and claustrophobic. And the fitness room is air conditioned, so what's not to like?

I really think all of my strength improvement is due to my HIIT class, but the class will likely not be offered in the summer, and plus I've gotten to the point in the term where I just become very afraid of the class.  Afraid of the tiredness and out-of-breath-ness, even though I know it's good for me in the end.  I've purchased an arm band for my iPhone and wireless sports headphones so I could maybe do some weight lifting or something in the future on my own without having to worry about where to put my phone if I will have to do with music/podcast-less.  I will never achieve the level of fitness as i do in my class, but any muscle building is better than none at all right?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lose It!

Despite owning just every other Apple products, last week I finally got my first iPhone!  I bought the new SE because of the smaller size and cheaper price.  I was gonna get a new phone anyway and I couldn't be happier that I was actually getting the newest model.

After I got my phone I spent hours obsessively playing with it and installing new programs.  One of the apps I downloaded was the weight loss app Lose It! It's concept is just like every other weight loss app: you count the calories you take in by logging everything you eat, and you count the calories you use by somehow recording your exercise. I usually really hate calorie counting, I always feel that is it is the opposite of healthy eating and a normal life style. But I saw all the positive ratings users have given to this app, and I thought, hey, I need to lose weight, what do I have to lose?

And now I see why so many people like this app.  Yes it is a calorie counting app, and yes if I were to download this even 6 months ago I would probably dislike it and delete it in a day.  But several things have changed in my life: I have a Fitbit that records all my steps and exercise and then some; I have a new phone that has a front and back camera; and I just have this overall curiosity to document everything I do.  I've been using this app for 3 days and although I can't say I will stick with it forever, I did learn some very interesting things already.

First: weight loss really require discipline and patience, and persistence.  When I first started using the app I set an arbitrary goal of losing 20 pounds.  The app told me that if I do it in a way that would not strain my lifestyle or my health I could achieve my goal in September.  If I want to do it even more leisurely I could do it by November. And it sort of struck me.  I know a health way of losing weight is to lose about 1 pound per week, but I never had the capacity, until with the help of this app, to actually determine that if I want to lose 20 pounds, which I genuinely do, this is how long it's going to take. I could do it in a more extreme way but I knew that I wouldn't be able to stick with it, so I contented myself with that fact that hey, September will roll around in an eye blink and I may still carry these 20 lbs, so why now use these months to do something that I really want to do.

Second: I way over eat. This app is extremely great for logging everything you eat because it has a tremendous database of nutritional information, everything from a generic food item (caesar salad, for example), to the specific nutritional value of certain restaurant or supermarket food items.  It also has a scan function so if you eat any prepackaged food (like a can of soda or frozen dumplings), you can just scan the barcode of said item and indicate how much of it you ate (half a can, or 7 dumplings, for example).  There is still some approximation involved, especially with home cooked meal.  It can accurately tell you, say, the caloric count of a 10-oz portion of cooked salmon, but because I didn't tell it how I prepared it, the app cannot accurately determine, say, salt content or the calories of the dash of oyster sauce I splashed on my salmon.  But overall it was extremely painless to log my food, which made the experience way nicer.

But as I said, it's apparently that I have been way underestimating how much I think I eat.  It's no wonder that with all the exercise I do I'm still not getting any lighter.  I always think I didn't eat a lot on any given day, but when you punch in all the items the numbers are pretty shocking.  For the 3 days I've been using the app I was able to keep under the caloric budget the app has set for me, mostly with the help of all the running and gym classes and walking I do, but I have been scared of putting anything in my mouth because I simply don't have the budget to eat anything.  It turns out that I'm not only poor financially, but also calorically.  I really can't afford to get as many take-out as I would like, but at the same time my body just cannot afford to take in the extra calories, without getting heavier that is.  It's a fun way to think about food intake, and in some ways makes you less likely to take in that extra sip of cream-and-sugar-filled ice coffee.

It may seem like a cruel way to live, especially given how much I enjoy eating.  But financially I've always lived according to my ability.  I'm not very good a saving a lot of money for some abstract thing in the long-term future, but I also don't get into debts just because I want something and it doesn't matter whether I could afford it or not.  And bringing this mentally into the way I eat may be a good thing.  I will be more encouraged if this way of life actually produce me results.

Third, and this is the downside: I can't stop obsessively syncing my Fitbit and checking and rechecking the app.  It's back enough that I can't stop fidgeting with my new phone, it's worse to unlock it every 3 minutes to see how much my walking as offset my food intake budget.  I have not been driven crazy by this yet, but I feel that I'm getting there.

I'm not trying to pimp this app on anyone, it's just that I've been kind of all over it for the past few days that I just need to write it down somewhere.  I really hope this will help me produce some real result in weight loss.

I'm still running semi-regularly, and taking gym classes, and occasionally doing yoga.  Summer is finally approaching New England and it's time to think about running outside (I know, I still haven't, I need the time to get over the self-consciousness).  I've not been very successful with running in summers, and hopefully this year there will be some improvement.