Thursday, July 31, 2008

One Year of Getting Fit

Yesterday was the anniversary of my first kettlebell workout, and my quest to lose weight and get fit. I had planned on putting up a special page on my website to include some pictures but I just haven't had time. I'm still going to do it as soon as I can get some pictures taken. But in the meantime, I'll say that at this point I'm very happy with the progress I've made; however, at the same time I wish I had done better! If someone had approached me a year ago and told me that in one year I would weigh close to 40 pounds less, and that I'd go from 44 waist size to comfortably fitting in 38s (I can close 36s but they're a little snug), I surely would have said "sign me up." Well that's what I've done and I get comments all the time on how slim I look. But the first 30 pounds came off in three months and since then it's been a series of gains and losses that have left me short of my goal of at least reaching a weight below 190. So I'm going to keep it up and look forward to the day when I can post a picture of fit-looking, 187 pound, 57 year old!

100 Pushups

There was a link this past weekend on Mark's Daily Apple to a site that caught my interest. The site is It contains a program that is designed to get one to a point where it is possible to do 100 pushups in a row. As I have documented many times in my blog, my upper body development is way behind my lower body. I started making some progress earlier when I was doing some resistance work with regularity. However, due to some problems I was having with dizziness, and my increasing desire to play racquetball, I haven't done much lately. So this looks like a good way to get some upper body work in, especially since I can do it at home with no equipment. I once read an article, or a post somewhere, where the author chided people for doing weight lifting when they couldn't do simple body weight exercises. So I'm going to concentrate on doing pushups for awhile.

The program on the website looks a little shaky. They want you to start by seeing how many pushups you can do in one shot, and based on that, you follow a table with the progression outlined. The starting test has categories of 0-5 pushups, 6-10, and more than 10. This is where a bit of a problem exists. Let's say you can do six good pushups. Then the very first workout has you do two sets of 7, then three more sets of lesser amounts. Obviously a person in that position is dead in the water from the start. It just happens that I can do 10 so I'm at the high end of the scale. I still see where I may have to modify or repeat weeks to keep going, but the bottom line is that I should benefit greatly from trying the program consistently. So here's what I've done up to this point:

Monday: 7, 7, 5, 4, 5
Wednesday: 9, 8, 6, 5, 7

The fifth set is "max" but with a minimum. In each case I hit the minimum with some form break.
Friday I'm supposed to do 10, 8, 8, 5, >9...we'll see.

Otherwise...I played racquetball Tuesday with Ron. Lost four but I scored 7, 8, 11, and 6 points.
I've also kept up with my bicycle work commute all this week. That's 28 miles as of this morning.

There's a major pig-out at the office today--pot luck for a retiring employee. I plan on dropping in, saying hi, and then getting the hell out of there! I'm heading to the gym!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Racquetball

I got back on the court today after a layoff of several days. Neal took the first game 15-10. It was a strange feeling game in that I didn't feel particularly motivated. Normally I'm very competitive and I start getting a bit upset if I fall behind in a game. But I had an "oh well" attitude about that first game. But after losing the first one, my competitive juices started flowing and I won the second two games. I belive the second game was 15-10 or 15-9. I was behind in the match game 11-5 at one point and 13-8 at another. I made a strong comeback and won that game 15-13. I didn't work very hard in the first game but I got in some great work the rest of the way. I get to play Ron tomorrow for my weekly beat down! :-)

The temperatures this July have been some of the mildest since I moved to Corpus Christi some 15 years ago. But my bicycle ride home today will be in some damn hot and humid conditions. I really enjoy the morinig rides in but getting home won't be a lot of fun. But with the gas savings it's like I'm being paid to work out. I'll earn it today! I plan on doing some push ups at home this evening and maybe some plank exercises.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Boogie Golf - A Birdie Bomb

I finally made it back on the course this morning after missing some weekends due to travel and swim meets. My ball striking was lousy at the start but it improved as I played. By the time I made it to the back nine, I was striking the ball pretty well. I took awhile to figure out what I was doing wrong but it boiled down to three things. First of all, I was pulling off the ball early and looking up before contact. I got into the mode because I teed off at first light and I was trying to follow the ball flight in tough lighting conditions. That early look-up may work ok for Annika (and Duval in his prime), but I find I do much better if I try to see the club head strike the ball. It's an important part of hand-eye coordination for me. The second thing was stopping my tendency to put a death grip on the club. When my grip gets too tight, I don't release the club and the ball starts flying to the right. Finally, I started swinging as if I had a glove tucked in my left arm pit. Maintaining that "connection" AND keeping my arms passive are also crucial. When I finally put all three of those together, I was hitting little draws off the tee and from the fairway. I had to start aiming right at set up to stay out of trouble.

The highlight of the day came on the par 3 13th. I hit my tee shot to the very back of the green which has a lot of slope from back to front. I was about 65 feet from the cup and about three feet higher in elevation. I was just hoping for a two-putt when I started the ball about five feet to the right of the hole, but it started turning as it rolled down the hill and ended up dead-center for a long birdie. I've come to enjoy playing solo golf but it's at moments like these that I wish I had a playing partner to share my excitement with!

Another big swim meet next weekend so it may be a couple weeks before I get back out again. I may, however, see if I can't get out for some twilight golf this week.

I Hitched Up The New Wagon--It's On A Roll!

After my week of eating everything in site, I'm back on track and doing quite well. I've definitely cut back on the carbs and the calories. I passed a big test last night when I went to a party at my son's house. There were mass quantities of food and drink available but I limited myself to a plate of salad (an excellent mix of fennel, spinach, onion, and avocado), and small piece of grilled top sirloin. I chased it with a few ounces of a Napa Valley Zinfandel. I was pretty proud of myself!

One thing that is helping is that I have reintroduced something into my diet that has been missing for awhile. A few months ago I decided to stop eating sugar free popsicles in the belief that I had a better chance of taming my "sweet tooth" if I just eliminated as many sweet tasting things as possible. It didn't work. My sweet tooth is just something I have to live with, and these popsicles make it a lot easier to satisfy the cravings without doing a lot of damage. Also, the fact that there's a "crunch" when I bite into them seems to help "fool" the old body into thinking it has actually eaten something. So I'll continue to have a couple every evening on weekdays, and four or five on weekends. They definitely aren't primal, and old Grok wouldn't know what they hell they are, but I think they will help me achieve my goals.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Didn't "Fall Off TheWagon"

No siree!! I pulled that wagon to the side of the road, soaked it in gasoline, and burnt that sucker to a crisp! For the last five days I have been on carb binge that far surpasses anything I've done over the last year. I think I just reached a frustration level from my lack of progress lately and I snapped. I happened to be working a three-day swim meet this past weekend so when faced with temptation, I gave in. Then I left Monday morning for a trip to San Antonio and I just kept going. I'll return home tomorrow (assuming Dolly doesn't blow me off the road), and I guess I could step on the scale and demonstrate how bad things can get in a short period of time, but I don't know how well I would handle that. So I'm just going to get back on the wagon (after I buy a new one), practice a little intermittent fasting, and get some daily exercise. I don't have any choice. I am not going back to Fat-Dave. Ain't gonna happen.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another Fitday Day

With all the buzz about the study showing some good benefits from a low carb diet, I thought I'd put up my Fitday entry for today. Of course, I did NOT follow the study's directive to get my fat from fish and vegetables. I did get a big chunk from some olives, but there's some dead cow and pig in there as well!

Kettlebell Clean and Press Ladders

I wasn't able to get to the gym at lunch time today, so when I got home I broke out the old kettlebell for workout

C&P Ladders
3 x 4 Rungs with 35lb

Notes: For the uninitiated, a ladder consist of doing one rep, break, two reps, break, three reps, etc. Each one of those is a rung. I did these alternating arms so I ended up doing a total of 30 lifts with each. When I was doing these regularly, I had worked up to four ladders of five rungs. I decided to start a little lower since I haven't done these in a while. My warm up for this work was riding home for seven miles against a pretty stiff wind. I've really been neglecting resistance work in favor of playing racquetball lately. Doing more work like this is probably my best bet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Food, Golf, Exercise, Rest

The title kind of sums up the last four days:

Saturday: Spent the bulk of the day at the pool officiating a swim meet. This one was put on by the city which in the past has meant some rather poor selection when it came time to eat. But they put on a good spread this time and it left me with some good choices. The breakfast tacos were huge so I was able to toss the tortilla and put the rest on a plate with a little salsa. For lunch they had some large deli-style sandwiches. Again, I was able to eat some roast beef and cheese, and munch from a veggie tray. I passed on the cookies and other baked items. Good day!!

Sunday: Finally got in a round of Boogie Golf. There was enough of a breeze and cloud cover to make it a very comfortable morning of golf--not something that is guaranteed in south Texas in July. I started out pushing everything to the right, but I finally got it going and played fairly well from tee to green. My putting, however, left a lot to be desired. I had a couple three-putt bogeys, which really sucks after hitting a green in regulation. But what the hell--the short game, including putting, requires practice (at least for me) and it's not something I do.

Monday: I did the round trip to work on the bike, and played a racquetball match with Neal. My consecutive game streak ended when I lost the first game 15-13, but I won the last two games 8 & 9.

Tuesday: I declared today a rest day. I drove to work, and spent my lunch hour surfing the net. I was ready for a break. But I'll be back on the bike tomorrow, and plan on doing a little lifting at the gym.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Fat Lady Was About To Take The Stage

But I sent her back to the wings. I was down 14-5 in my first racquetball game today, but I managed to pull out the game 15-14. I had some mini-streaks in there but I had to fight off four or five game points in the process. I also came back from down early to win the second game. No time for a third today.

Looking back, this was a pretty good week. I rode 56 miles on the bike commuting to work, got in a couple of good workouts in the gym, played nine games of racquetball, and managed to stick to my eating plan. The only thing I would like a mulligan on is my fruit consumption. I think I need to cut back a little to get my total carb intake down. We have a mango tree in our yard that is producing and they are delicious. But those little suckers are one of nature's sugar bombs. They are great but not when you're trying to lose weight.

One consequence of all the work this week is that my legs are a bit sore. I'm not going to do anything strenuous tomorrow although I'll be on my feet quite a bit officiating a swim meet. I also plan on walking 18 holes of golf Sunday. That may end up being therapeutic. We'll see!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Two Course Meal

My wife cooked a couple things this evening that made it on my plate. One was a stir fry consisting of ground chicken, garlic, and broccoli. The other was an omlette made with mushrooms, and red onions. Very tasty!!

Regularly Learn and Play New Sports

The phrase serving as the title of this post is taken from the Crossfit website--specifically from a piece entitled "world-class fitness in 100 words." I mention it because today I was planning on heading to the gym and doing some leg work. But after having a conversation with Ron on a work related matter, he asked if I was up for racquetball today. I have settled into a routine as of late where I try to play twice a week with a couple days rest between matches. Since I'm already scheduled to play Neal tomorrow, I hesitated before I finally said yes. The bottom line is that I prefer "play" to "work out." Make no mistake--playing racquetball at the level I do IS a good workout. But it's FUN as well and that is a great combination!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I lost four games including a 15-1 shellacking in the fourth and final game. But I had my good moments and managed a few side-outs while Ron was using his A-game serve. I'm already preparing tonight for tomorrow's match with Neal. The preparation comes in the form of an 800mg Motrin! :-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bustin Dem Shoulders

I made it to the gym today and my shoulders seem to have taken the brunt of the punishment:


3 sets with a 40lb barbell
20, 20, 15

Renegade Rows

3 sets with 15lb dumbbells
Alternating Arms
20, 20, 10

Bench Press

15 x 70lbs
6 x 90lbs
4 x 100lbs


Thrusters - Not much work for my legs but my arms/shoulders were burning on the second and third sets.

Renegade Rows - This is the first time I've tried these. I started with a low weight because I didn't know what to expect. What I found out was that the difficulty of this exercise lies in the tension required to maintain the plank position while doing the rows. I'll definitely use more weight next time. This was made easier because all of our dumbbells have the hexagonal shape which makes for a stable platform for the anchor arm while rowing with the other. I imagine this would be harder with round plates, and even harder with kettlebells.

Bench Press - I'm not a bench press guy and haven't done any in a real long time. The last time I remember doing any was in the 80s and I strained a muscle in the process which took me off the racquetball court for a couple weeks. At any rate, I did this on a plate-load machine, and I'm not sure what the load is without plates. I guessed 20 per arm in my figures. I obviously was cautious with the weight.

Prior to today, we had eight straight days with some rain so my bicycle has stayed in the garage. But the sun was shining today so I rode to work and back. I really do enjoy the ride although I wish I still had a recumbent bicycle to do it on. But my beater bike gets me there and I'm not to worried about anyone wanting to steal it!

Yesterday I played racquetball with Ron. Lost all three but played pretty well in spurts. I'm scheduled to play Neal on Friday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


In what seems like ages ago, I devised a couple of circuit routines similar to those found on the Crossfit site with girls names. It had been awhile since I tried one so yesterday I decided to do the one named after my granddaughter Kiana. It consist of three rounds of a 500m row for time, followed by push ups, pull ups, and dips for time. The pull ups and dips are on a Gravitron machine. So...yesterday's workout:


Row 1:53, 1:57, 1:56
Pushups 10, 10, 6
Pull Ups 8, 5, 5
Dips 8, 6, 6

Notes: Pretty good effort on the rowing--I felt smoked after the last two. The pull ups and dips were done with 80lbs on the Gravitron. I was surprised that I did so poorly because I had worked down to a much lower assist weight on those over time; however, I really haven't been doing ANY of those for awhile so I guess I lost any gains I had made. I need to get back to regular work on that machine. As a matter of fact, I need to get going on my strength training in general. Between the time spent playing racquetball, and the aborted workouts because of dizziness, I really haven't got much strength training in lately. But I think my visit to the doctor last week will take care of the dizziness (reduced blood pressure medication), so I can go back to some hard workouts on days when I'm not playing racquetball.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Boogie Golf - Rained Out

I tried to celebrate the 4th by getting in a round of Boogie Golf this morning. Things looked ok when I teed of on the first hole but that was because I wasn't looking behind me. When I got to the second tee, I knew things were shaky. I shot the camera photo above after hitting my tee shot in the right rough. I knew the odds were pretty good that I need to be heading toward the clubhouse if I didn't want to get soaked. I finished #2 and then teed off on #9 as the rain started to fall. I quickly decided to abandon that ball and started walking briskly to the clubhouse. That quickly turned to a jog as it started to pour and there was a flash of lightning. So much for that idea! Too bad - I was dressed for the occasion.

I bought this shirt several years ago when I really needed an extra large. There's lots of unneeded material in that shirt now!

I totally blew my primal diet today after being invited to a neighbor's cookout. I'm not even going to bother trying to figure out everything to enter into Fitday. I'll just stay off the scale for a few days and get back in the flow!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Surprise Racquetball

I got an unexpected invite from Neal to play racquetball today. He had another partner lined up but he had to cancel. I was glad to play because I had skipped the bike ride due to the threatening weather, and I wasn't really looking forward to working out. That's the great thing about racquetball--it's a great workout and it's fun. It's especially fun when you win. :-)

More on Fitday

After a shaky attempted start awhile back, I'm now doing a good job of keeping track of my eating using Fitday. I think it's really going to help me achieve my fat loss goals. When you are eating increased fat, it's real easy to go overboard on the calories without realizing it. There have been a couple of interesting blog posts on the pitfalls of ignoring calories when trying to drop pounds. I didn't realize how many calories I was adding to my salad by just opening up the bottle of dressing and letting it pour. The stuff I use has 150 calories for two tablespoons so I have to be a little more cautious about the amount. Once I achieve my goals, I think it will be easy judge what to eat without having to worry about counting calories, but in the meantime, I'll continue to use this tool to ensure I stay on track.

One of the other intersting things about Fitday is that it can give you reports on the percentage of the RDA of vitamins and minerals in your diet. I still have a relatively small amount of data to draw from, but I just ran a weekly report and I'm doing well with some exceptions. I'm doing great with the water soluble vitamins (C, Thiaman, Riboflavin, B-6, B-12, Niacin) with the exception of Folate (52.85%). Fat soluble is a different story. I'm showing a deficiency in D, E, and K. I'm a little suspicious that Fitday is shorting me on the K since I eat a lot of spinach and other leafy greens which are good sources of K. I'm also ok on trace minerals (iron, zinc, selenium) but I'm short on calcium and magnesium. I do take a multivitamin and my fish oil supplement contains E as well, so all-in-all, it looks like I'm doing well. I'll probably do better when I increase my overall calorie count.

My weekly macronutrient totals for the week are 51% fat, 23% protein, and 21% carbs. The numbers are skewed because on Saturday I had a big bowl of ice cream during my granddaughter's birthday party. Typically fat and protien are a little higher.

Another Fish Story

I've always liked the taste of sardines but in the past I've always eaten them on a cracker--either a saltine or Triscuit. But I don't eat the crackers anymore, so as a consequence I haven't been eating sardines either. But I've discovered that I really like them in a salad. Yestereday I had one consisting of spinich, red leaf lettuce, onion, plum tomatos, olive oil and vinegar dressing, and a 3.5 ounce can of sardines. Delicious and nutritious!! I did, however, eat it outside rather than at my desk. My office mate aren't fond of the smell of the sardines. No need to rock the boat--plus I enjoyed being out in the fresh air!!

Weather Wimp

Despite a forecast of possible rain, I pulled out from my driveway today on my trusty two-wheeler. Weather here is very unpredictable so I figured the chances of making it to and from work high and dry were pretty good. But about two blocks into the ride, I started seeing lightning flashes in the distance. I'm not afraid of getting wet while riding a bicycle; however, I'm not to fond of the idea of being electrocuted. I had a bad experience as a youth with lightning that has left me very cautious. The funny thing is that we have been in a drought for awhile with no measureable percipitation at our house for several weeks. So in this case I'll claim that "discretion is the better part of valor" and ride another day!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Upper Body Day

I made it to the gym at lunch and decided to pass on my press and squat routine after the bouts with dizziness the last two times. I feel like I probably would have been ok since I dumped on of my medications, but I'm going to wait until after I see the doctor Thursday. So today I concentrated on the upper body work using the hierarchical set method.

(all weights per arm)

DB Overhead Press

15 x 20lbs
8 x 25lbs
6 x 30lbs

DB Bench Press
15 x 30lbs
8 x 35lbs
4 x 40lbs

Overhead Press (Barbell)
5 x 65lbs

Decline Press (Hammer Strength Machine)

15 x 45lbs
6 x 70lbs
3 x 80lbs

Incline Press (Hammer Strength Machine)
3 x 45 then abort!

Notes: This was a lot of work after having not done much lately--probably over did it a bit. Trying to do the barbell press after doing the two dumbbell sets wasn't a great idea. I started with 75lbs but I immediately dropped 10 pounds after one attempt. By the time I got to the incline press, I was toast.

I did the bicycle commute today as well--I'm enjoying this!