The past due update post

I just noticed that its been over 2 months since my last entry. Between summer activities and getting my legs back under me, I just haven’t been too much into writing. So here is a quick update.

Running

In June I started to pickup my running after feeling like my foot injury was starting to heal. I started with relatively lower miles and took a few weeks to build up to some longer 6-8 mile runs. Everything felt pretty good so I outlined my 50k Mckenzie River and Portland Marathon training plans.

The plan I outlined was based off of the Advanced Marathoning book. It was just too ambitious for where I was at in my running. I was really surprised at how quickly I lost my fitness. The plan immediately went out the window and I just focused on trying to build up my base again. 4-5 runs per week and be in the 30-40 miles per week range. Last thing I want is to injure my foot again.

First week of August was the Cascade Lakes Relay. My wife and I co-captained this year and had a great experience again. I am in awe at how organized and smooth everything runs for this event. The race organizers do a great job considering the amount of moving parts and volunteers involved.

2013 We Thought They Said Rum

2013 We Thought They Said Rum

In less than two weeks I have my first 50k. The Mckenzie River 50k. I am still undecided how much of this I’m going to run. My longest training run so far was last weekend at a little over 15 miles. This weekend I’m shooting for 20. If that goes well, I am going to just plan on run/walking the entire course. I’ll have to be smart and just start really slow and take it easy. It’s a beautiful course and a tough race to get into (Lottery to get in), so i’d really like to complete the whole thing.

Greek Lakes Trail Run

Greek Lakes Trail Run

After the Mckenzie River, I signed up for the Portland Marathon again. I’ve been hesitant to do any speedwork recently, for fear of injuring myself again, so my goal for Portland will probably just be a sub 4 hour but try to run consistent splits and not blow up at the end.

I signed my wife and I up to the Silver Falls Half Marathon. This is a very popular half marathon that sold out in less than 10 minutes this year. The course is the similar course I did this spring at the Silver Falls State Park.

Diet/Fitness

I’ve  have let myself go a bit this summer. I was around 126 pounds for the Eugene Marathon and am now around 136. 10 pounds in a few months was hard to accept.  I continued to eat like I was running 40-50 miles per week when I wasn’t. I’ve recommitted myself to get back on the wagon and start tracking again with MyFitness Pal and drop some of those extra pounds I have put on. I also need to start getting into the gym a few days a week for some weights, that has also fallen off.

I think at some point in the year, we all need to take a break from whatever we are passionate about. An opportunity to recharge and recommit ourselves to the goals we have set out. June/July was it for me.

Lunch for the day

Whoa! two posts in one day.

Add this to the list of things I never imagined me eating (and liking).

Spinach-Salad

  • 3 ounces of Chicken Breast
  • Handful of spinach
  • Slivered almonds
  • Dried cherries
  • Basil tomato feta
  • Fat free italian dressing

Nutrition

  • 310 Calories
  • 10 Grams of Fat ( Eliminate the feta to cut that in half)
  • 35 Grams of Protein
  • 6 Grams of Fiber

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counting App review

I’ve been a myfitnesspal (MFP) user for a couple of years now, previously I used an app on my windows phone to track my food and exercise log as a calorie counter; so I’ve been logging off and on for about 5 years. The process and habit of logging I think has been key for me to keep my weight

I’ve been pretty consistent about counting my calorie intake for the past 18 months or so, there have been a few lapses while camping, weekends, or just needing to “take a break”. If I go long periods without tracking it, I have a tendency to start cheating on my portions or dismissing that handful of nuts I just ate. Logging also gives me a much better visual understanding of what a portion looks like.

MyFitnessPal has a website, iPhone and iPad app to keep track of everything. They also offer a large community for support, information and encouragement.

MyFitnessPal account setup

The setup of your account is pretty simple, just enter your stats (age, height, weight) and what your goal is (drop weight, maintain or gain weight). It will give you suggested calorie intakes along with guidelines for your macro nutrients. From there, you can tweak and modify things as you see fit. I’d suggest double checking the results they spit out with a few other BMR/RMR Calculators.

MyfitnessPal-Goal-Modification

MyFitnessPal Goal Modification

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter

Daily entry of your exercise and food is pretty easy. They have a large database of foods already in the system and easy access to your most commonly entered items. For the most part, I tend to eat a lot of the same things (especially for breakfast). You can also create your own “meals”, which are just a collection of individual ingredients and can easily be dropped into a meal. I have one setup for a yogurt and oatmeal bowl that I eat for an afternoon snack frequently. The barcode scanner on the iPhone and iPad app also helps enter your data, but always double check the actual label to their database. I think most of the calorie counting apps use the same crowdsourced nutrition database, and I have found lots of errors.

MyFitnessPal Ipad Screen

MyFitnessPal Ipad Screen

It’s only going to be as accurate as what you input. One of the more difficult items to tackle is eating out. To get the most accurate measurements, I try to deconstruct the meal and enter ingredients individually. If I eat a cheeseburger, I will enter the ground beef (normally selecting a 85/15 lean beef, because honestly that is probably what the restaurant used), bun, cheese and any condiments by itself.

One complaint with the food database, and this isn’t really their fault, but I wish it was a bit more curated. Sometimes finding what you are after can be hard with the variations. Using ground beef as an example, there are probably a hundred entries, that could probably be scaled back to just 10 or 20 if they got rid of all the duplicate entries.

Tracking your Exercise

Depending on the type of exercise you do, the accuracy of their database is pretty questionable. I think most calorie counter apps and gym machines over estimate calories burned. What I have come up with is a base of 12 calories burned per minute as a 10 effort level (going all out). From there, I have to use my best judgement on what my perceived exertion level was for that exercise. For the most part, a easy run is about 80 calories per mile or so. This usually matches up with my heart rate monitor on my garmin. The one huge are of concern I’ve seen is on the eliptical at the gym, those machines seem to really be generous (there is no way I am burning 15 calories a minute at a medium level of intensity). Again, you will have to make the best judgment there. A heart rate monitor will really help take a lot of the guesswork out of this.

Tracking your progress

MyFitnessPal allows your to track your progress in a couple of different ways. You can go by weight or measurements. I personally just go by weight, not too interested at this point in my measurements. You can update your progress as frequently as you’d like. I typically weigh myself daily (just for my own curiosity) but only look at weekly progress (will be the topic of a future post).

MyFitnessPal Progress

MyFitnessPal Progress

MyFitnessPal Community

The community aspect of MFP is something that is a bit unique from other calorie counting apps I have come across. You can connect with other friends or people with similar goals and become friends through the app. This can be more appealing to others I think. For me, it’s not a big motivator. I have in the past friended a few people, but have noticed like in real life, they tend to lose their enthusiasm for the app/site after a few weeks.

Their forum is very active and can be a good place to find some feedback and general tips. Again, it’s all peer to peer so there is also a lot of bullshit (IMO) in the forums.

Overall

There are a lot of options for calorie counting apps out there. The quality of the app is not what is going to make or break my goals. It’s the decisions I make on a day to day basis. What I want is a tool that is simple, works consistently and allows me to quickly track what I want to track. MyFitnessPal does just that for me.

How the Man Show saved my life

OK, so saving my life may be a bit of a stretch, but at least one skit from the show had a significant impact on my life today.

If you don’t know what the Man Show was, it was a 30 minute comedy show hosted by Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel. The show was a collection of random skits all geared towards men. One skit in season 2 was called the Man Show Diet. View it below

When I made the decision to drop some weight, I did what probably every person does in a similar situation. I started to google things like “best way to lose weight”. There are so many systems, kits, plans, books and gimmicks out there. We like to find shortcuts. For some reason, the Man Show Diet always stuck in my head. It is simple, it is the truth and it works for the long term.

I’m sure there may be some solid science behind the diet systems out there (maybe not, I don’t care really), Paleo, Atkins, Jenny Craig, Medifast, Juicing blah blah blah and I’m sure you can lose weight if you stick to the plans. My biggest problem was I ate way too much of everything; carbs, sugar, fat, proteins, well maybe not fruits and veggies.

What I lacked was education. I had to start at the beginning and learn some basics. There is a lot to learn, I took small steps and made incremental changes. Here were my 3 steps to dropping weight.

  1. Use a calculator to figure out how many calories you should be eating
  2. Measure/weigh what you eat – I could not visually connect what 1 serving of a particular food looked like. I still weight some items to check myself.
  3. Record everything you eat – Be honest here, was that really 4 ounces of steak or 6? See step 2

If the sum of the calories you have at the end of the day in step 3 is less than step 1, congratulations! you have a calorie deficit and will lose weight. It takes a deficit of approximately 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound in a week.

Don’t forget to add back in your exercise calories. Most (All?) gym machines over estimate your calorie burn (The ellipticals are the biggest offenders here!!!). A heart rate monitor can help you get a better idea of how many calories you burn for a cardio workout (they don’t work for strength exercises).

That is how I got my start. Counting calories only. I didn’t look at any macro nutrients, just calories..It had to be simple and it had to give me the flexibility to still eat what I wanted to eat.

Plain Non Fat Greek Yogurt

I’ve been eating a lot of plain non-fat greek yogurt lately. This is a good option while i’m trying to increase my overall protein intake, but keep fat intake lower. It’s a great substitute for sour cream or as a base in a breakfast bowl with some oatmeal, almonds and blueberries. The tangy flavor took a little getting used to but you can help that with a bit of fruit. You can also increase the protein content by adding a half photo-1or full scoop of protein powder and mix it in (Vanilla flavored is a good option), this also helps with the tangy flavor.

If you opt for a flavored variety, be sure to check the sugar content, I was amazed to see some had upwards of 20 grams of sugar.

1 cup of plain non-fat greek yogurt provides about

  • 150 calories
  • 23 grams of protein
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 9 grams of sugar
  • 340 milligrams of potassium
  • 25% of your RDI of Calcium