Category: Health

Wins And Losses

It’s been an interesting week. One filled with highs and lows, ups and downs, good and bad. I’m going to steal the slogan from Lance Armstrong’s new group, WEDU and their podcast The Forward – “Always forward, never straight”. Life would be boring if it always went in a straight line. This week definitely had a few turns.

Fitness took a (mental) turn this week for sure in a couple of categories. I felt like I was making some progress and then my trainer introduced some new movements. I’m now so sore I can barely walk. That’s good in the sense that I’m clearly pushing hard. But it’s a bit discouraging because I thought I was past the crippling DOMS stage of working out. Clearly my improving strength isn’t as well-balanced as I thought.

And then there’s the issue of weight. I’ve been avoiding the scale because I know how I feel and what I look like. My diet’s been… well, not good and I know it. At the beginning of the week the trainer asked if I was finally going to be serious and track my intake. Ok, ok, ok, stop yelling at me. I was diligent and tracked everything all week. I bravely stepped on the scale this morning. And now I’m super confused.

Per the app, I’m way under on the number of calories I should be consuming. But per the scale, I’ve gained 2+ pounds. My muscle mass increased, but so did body fat and visceral fat percentages. Something’s not adding up. I know that my calorie intake has to be much higher than I’m tracking. Realistically the app doesn’t account for all the sauces, etc… because the physics doesn’t lie. You can’t be significantly under in calories and gain weight. Regardless, it was enough of a motivational spark to keep me tracking my intake and to start getting my diet in order. I don’t know what that diet will be yet, but I can’t go back to keto. I just can’t.

On the positive side of the ledger, a couple of good things happened. One of them was an unexpected surprise. I have a little YouTube channel that I post to from time to time. Almost no subscribers, and my silly little videos only get a handful of views. That’s ok because I enjoy making them and it’s mostly a learning experience at this point. But as I’ve mentioned before, there’s still a nagging feeling in the back of your head – why am I doing this if nobody watches? Well, out of the blue one of the older videos hit 10,000 views in just a few days. Very strange. That’s miniscule traffic in YouTube terms, massive for me. I’ll admit it’s nice to feel like someone is watching/reading what you create. It’s enough of a spark to motivate you to keep on being creative.

So that’s it. A real mixed bag of events for the week. The weather continues to be crap. I can’t get my sprinklers to work. Diet continues to be off the rails. But some exciting personal stuff happened and then I got a little creator spark/validation.

The path we take wobbles all around and certainly isn’t straight. But all that matters is that the path keeps moving forward.

P.S. In a fit of desperation, I’ve thrown away all food in the pantry and fridge. I’m now staring at empty shelves and unsure of what I should do now. Perhaps I was a bit hasty…

Do This One Amazing Trick

Ever notice how many YouTube videos, blogs, and ads use some form of this clickbait title? “Use this one trick to gain 10,000 followers in a day!” “The IRS doesn’t want you to know about this one trick”. I fell for one of them yesterday while surfing YouTube. I don’t remember the title, but it was something like “Follow this one rule to improve your channel”. I don’t have much of an attention span, so one rule is right up my alley. Convinced I’ll soon be scooping up all that sweet YouTube cash, I clicked on the thumbnail.

It actually ended up being a reasonable video, and the author made a good point that I think translates well to making videos, writing a blog, or life in general. He asked a simple question. “Are you an entertainer or an educator?” You have to pick an approach for your content and stick to it. Whether you’re writing a blog, an article, or creating a video, people will consume your content for one reason. They either want to be entertained, or they want to learn something. They’ll keep coming back to your content if they continue to see that same type of (quality) content. What generally doesn’t work is to post a bunch of how-to stuff, then suddenly post content that tries to be funny.

It almost doesn’t seem to matter what your niche is. How to repair things with duct tape. Heckling pro golfers. The history of manhole covers. It makes no difference what the content is as long as you’re consistent. If I am a fan of duct tape, the last thing I want to see on your amazing duct tape channel is a travel vlog of your trip to Disneyland with the kids. I have a friend who has a YouTube channel dedicated to cowboy action shooting. It’s a bit of an obscure sport and you wouldn’t think there’d be a be demand for that sort of thing. He has 20 thousand subscribers and posts nothing but 30 second clips of shooting matches. It’s all about finding your lane and then staying in it.

And therein lies my problem. It dawned on me that whether it’s writing, YouTube, or life in general… I’m a bit of a lost soul who can’t decide what niche I want to be in. That’s neither good nor bad. It just is. This blog drifts back and forth between trying to be funny, some random political/opinion stuff, and general reporting on the minutia of my daily life. As a reader it’s probably hard to know what you’re going to get (I’m honestly surprised people continue to subscribe). The same goes for YouTube. My pitiful little channel can’t figure out what it wants to be. I had visions of a broader category but keep resorting to the creative path of least resistance (and effort).

The end result for both blogging and YouTube is something that I’m clearly not terribly passionate about. As an example, for some reason still baffles me, 90+ percent of the subscribers to this blog are fitness related. I find this amusing and slightly embarrassing. I am not a fitness person. I am not fit. I’m not making much progress on my fitness journey at the moment. Because of that, I’m not very motivated to write anything about fitness. But anytime I even mention the word fitness… the views go way up, and I gain another handful of subscribers. So, I realize that I could probably focus 100% on fitness and diet topics and rapidly acquire readers. But is that really me?

Similar with videos. I like motorcycles and it was easy to crank out a few videos about some trips I took. But I didn’t have any desire to be only a motorcycle travel vlogger. The motorcycle only occupies a small portion of my life. But as it turns out, those motorcycle trips are what people watch. Do I stick with what gets views, or try to figure out what will motivate me to make lots of content rather than just an occasional video when I go on motorcycle ride?

It’s sort of an interesting life question. Everyone knows the old adage about working – “pursue your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I’m not sure that’s realistic advice. As a young man my passions were surfing and being angry at the world. I’m not sure how successful I would have been focusing solely on that. But who knows? Maybe I would have gone on to launch a surf clothing company that featured anti-establishment slogans that made me a gazillionaire.

The reality for most of us is that through luck and circumstance we stumble into something and end up doing it for long enough that you actually get good at it. Is it a “passion”? Maybe, maybe not. But it pays the bills and gives you an identity and a focus. Maybe these creative outlets should be the same? I stumbled on a couple of things that attracted a few folks willing to read/watch my nonsense. Perhaps I should just embrace it and focus on what works. Really dive in and enjoy the niche I accidently found. I never thought I’d be a software engineer or an RN either, but I got pretty good at both.

But the other adage about creativity is that you should create for you first. Who cares if anyone else likes it? If your creativity comes from passion and happiness, people will recognize it. There are followers for every sort of niche. If you put out good content, those followers will find you. At the end of the day, what’s the point of being creative if it’s not your passion?

Interesting questions. I’m not sure what I’d tell a young person going out into the world today. I’m not sure what to tell myself. That’s some deep stuff to ponder on a Tuesday morning. I think I’ll go get my workout done and think about it…

The Struggle Is Real

Who knew that the hardest part of being an adult is figuring out what to cook for dinner every single night for the rest of your life until you die

Today, I stepped on the scale for the first time in a month. Why so long? Because I knew what the number would be. I’ve been going to the gym faithfully and am seeing significant gains. The range of motion in my chronically injured shoulder is hugely improved. Flexibility and proprioception are better than they’ve been in a very long time. Overall, I feel much better. But… I can tell that my waistline hasn’t changed, so I’ve intentionally ignored the scale. Oh, I look at it every morning. I tell myself that tomorrow I’ll step on it for sure. But I don’t really want to know the number because it’ll force me to accept reality. So I put it off for another day. And then another. And another.

I do see some positive physical changes with all the gym work. Shoulders seem a little more defined. I can tell the abs and trunk are stronger. The legs feel stronger from all the squats I’ve been doing. I tell myself that if the number on the scale went up, it’s probably because I’ve added muscle mass. I optimistically told myself that the bodyweight number won’t have changed, but muscle mass will go up and bodyfat will have gone down. So, I took a deep breath and stepped on the scale.

I gained a pound, muscle mass went down and bodyfat went up. Shit. How is that even possible?

I really am tired of thinking about food. The worst part is that my diet isn’t horrible. It’s not like I’m eating at McDonalds and Taco Bell every day. I’m not snacking on chips, doughnuts, or eating pizza every night. I don’t drink soda. I usually eat two meals a day. Mid-day I have a few pieces of cheese or some popcorn. Dinner is a protein and a vegetable. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a dessert. We eat out maybe once a week.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know exactly why I don’t lose weight. The biggest culprit is the volume of food. I may only eat two meals a day, but they’re 50% bigger than they need to be. I don’t just put a little sauce, dressing, or butter on something, I put a LOT on. There are too many empty calories from alcohol consumed. The snacking, while not bad foods, happens more times during the day than I want to admit.

So, I know exactly how to fix the problem. The issue is that I’m sick of thinking about food. I’m tired of thinking about calories, eating something and then feeling guilty and mad at myself afterwards. I’m tired of having to plug every morsel into a food calculator to see where I am on calories. I hate the feeling of going out to eat and having the internal struggle with the menu. I should order a salad or plain fish, but a burger and fries are what I really want. I restrict and starve, then eat too big a portion, do a bunch of cardio and then have three beers that night. I resolve to eat something really healthy and then make a salad the size of my head and add a full cup of dressing, cheese and bacon. I eat dinner every night like clockwork, even though I ate three chicken pieces a few hours earlier and I’m not really hungry. I’m just tired of agonizing over food.

I wish I understood why food is such a struggle. I resent having to obsess over the almighty calorie. I’m pissed that I’ve basically written some version of this same post probably a dozen times over the last few years and yet, here I am again. I fear I’m starting to sound like a teenage girl with an eating disorder.

Sigh. Ok, end of rant. Back to figuring out some sort of sustainable meal plan. And cardio. Need more cardio. The struggle is real.

That’s Going To Need A Patch

  • The weather in my part of the world was perfect this last weekend. Mid 70’s and no wind. The ideal conditions for a motorcycle ride. As I may have said previously, I’m generally a rule-follower. So for motorcycles that means ATGATT (all the gear, all the time). So getting ready for a ride is like those movie scenes where the astronauts are being dressed in their spacesuits by a team of helpers. My gear includes big heavy boots and an armored riding suit that weighs approximately 45 pounds and is made of some sort of magical Kevlar (affectionately referred to as the Fat Elvis suit). Once dressed, I clomp out to the garage and perform my pre-ride inspection as I was instructed 30 some-odd years ago in my first riding class. I checked the rear tire pressure with my cheap tire pressure tool and got nothing. I checked it again. Still nothing. I cursed myself for buying cheap tools and went and found another pressure gage. Still nothing. I’ve ridden for so many years, yet I’ve never had a flat. It never even dawned on me that the tire could be flat. Sure enough, there was a huge screw embedded in the tire. Sigh. There went the days ride.

    After stripping off all the gear, I now was faced with figuring out how to plug and repair the tire. I’ve carried the tools all these years, but never actually used them. Several YouTube videos later, one ruined tube of glue, some four-letter expletives, and the tire was patched and actually holding air. In the big picture, this was actually a good thing to have happened. I now know I can fix a tire in the field if needed. I learned a few things about some of the tools I’ve been carrying around. And I’d wanted new tires anyway, but had been dragging my feet on figuring out which ones. Even though this event ruined my weekend ride plans, I’ll view it as a net positive. What else are you going to do?

  • Speaking of YouTube, like many of my hobbies I had a burst of creativity last summer, swore I’d crank out a bunch of videos, then promptly forgot I had a channel. Then this week for some reason I got a massive influx of new subscribers and some comments (massive means six). It’s funny, it doesn’t take much to get me excited about things. I’m re-re-re-vowing to make videos again this spring and summer.

  • The internet is a blessing and curse. Pre-internet, to figure out something like what tires to buy for your motorcycle, you’d go down to the shop and ask them. If you were really into research you might go buy some magazines and read a few reviews. That was it. Now you have an unlimited amount of resources – blogs, YouTube, forums, etc… A billion different opinions on what is the best tire. If you’re not familiar with motorcycle tires, there’s a massive array of choices. Tires are rated on street vs dirt ability, longevity, mud vs dry dirt, sound level, and on and on. It can easily become a black hole of analysis paralysis. I bravely sorted through all of this, watched 127 hours of YouTube reviews and settled on the Motoz Tractionator GPS for those of you keeping score at home. Now I just have to wait for the supply chain shipping gods to deliver the new shoes.

  • It cost me $100 to fill up my truck yesterday. Let’s Go Brandon!

  • The trainer at the gym yesterday had me do these weird plank circle things on top of an exercise ball. Today my abdominals hurt so bad it’s hard to get off the couch. I’m making progress and it’s good to see, but this is why getting started with a workout routine is so hard. Pretty much any new movement causes DOMS and makes it hard to be motivated to do it again. It will be nice to get back to the point where I can blast through a workout and not be destroyed the next day.

  • This weekend we went to a music festival my city puts on every year. Five days and hundreds of bands of every possible genre, scattered through the city. It’s a fantastic event for the city and I love seeing that there are still places where this sort of thing can take place without riots, protests, and other general idiotry taking place. Of all the bands we saw, my favorite was some young kids (doubtful they were even 21) playing hard-core hair metal. Not generally my go-to music, but the lead guitarist was a young gal who was awesome and crazy energetic. It’s unusual to see a women as the lead guitarist, let alone in a metal band. Makes you wonder how she got interested in that sort of music at such a young age?

Song of the day: Veruca Salt – Seether (Glastonbury ’95)

I Might Be A Viking

  • We’ve been watching the Netflix/BBC series “The Last Kingdom“. It’s pretty good, and worth the watch if you haven’t seen it. Similar to Peaky Blinders, watching with captions turned on is recommended due to the heavy English accents. I joked after one of the episodes that, being of Swedish ancestry, I might actually be a Viking. Mrs Troutdog walked away laughing. I was a little hurt. My family is from Sweden. As a young lad I spent my time surfing, sailing, and scuba diving. I love the snow and embrace the cold winter sports. Those things pretty much define what we think of as characteristics of the proud Norse people, right? I did a little bit of reading, and it turns out that the Vikings weren’t very nice people. Raiding and pillaging villages, taking people as slaves, and other unmentionable acts were pretty much the hallmarks of a Viking visit to your hometown. Fearsome warriors, the Vikings occupied much of Europe during their heyday. Ok, I admit I’ll probably never be tossed in the fearsome warrior category. But don’t worry, I can write a scathing email if my back is pushed against the wall. Continuing my extensive research, I stumbled upon a link describing Viking hairstyles. It turns out the “Viking look” is an actual thing right now. Hmmm, I kind of like the look. The problem is that I can’t grow a beard, look terrible with long hair, and Mrs Troutdog would never let me shave the sides of my head. Oh, and that’s probably not a look an old man can pull off anyway (unless you’re a 300-pound powerlifter). Oh well, I don’t really like pickled and salted fish and I’ve never actually been to Sweden. I suppose no radical hairstyle changes are in my future. But deep down, in the dead of winter, I may still have a few small daydreams of being a Viking.

  • Our next Supreme Court Justice, when asked to define what a woman is, replied that she can’t because she’s not a biologist. Her fear of saying anything that goes against the progressive narrative tells you all you need to know about her probable judicial leanings. It doesn’t matter, it’s all political theater anyway.

  • The weather this week will be turning warm. It’ll be in the mid 70’s by the weekend. Glorious warm sun and dry trails. I find myself paralyzed with indecision about what I want to do. Mountain bike? Trail run? Golf? Motorcycle ride? Winter is officially done.

  • Along with warm weather comes… yard work. At the start of winter, I boldly declared that I’m perfectly capable of maintaining the yards and got rid of the gardener. It’ll save us some money and won’t actually take me that much time. Now that time has arrived and as I’m surveying everything that needs to be done… I’m slightly regretting my decision. No matter, I shall rally and become the gardener that I was always meant to be! Stay tuned for frequent garden updates.

  • The Ukraine scenario continues to be awful. It’s horrific to see the suffering. It is a confusing mess in every way imaginable, with no clear or positive outcome. But for all the folks calling for U.S. intervention, you should first define how many American casualties are you willing to accept. How many young men are you willing to let die or be permanently maimed in the name of defending Ukraine? 50? 100? 1,000? More? 100,000 in small tactical nuclear strikes against U.S. bases in Poland or elsewhere? As is clear by the footage we’ve seen, this is not a video game. “Intervention” has consequences. Own up to what you think acceptable losses are – and intervening with zero losses is not a realistic answer.

  • I had jury duty this week. I dutifully drove downtown, parked, and made my way to the courthouse. Checked in, found a hard plastic chair, and began the waiting process. Eventually we were sorted out by red and green badges and lined up by number to proceed into the courtroom. Just before we entered the Jury director came out and said that everyone with a green badge is being dismissed, our case was settled. Hallelujah! Interestingly, in my county you’re still on the hook for the remainder of the week and can still be called in. Fingers crossed for me as I call into the jury selection recording number each night, to find out my fate for the next day.

  • I’ve been seeing a gym trainer twice a week for almost two months now. I’m starting to see progress. My range of motion is improved, balance is better, and core strength is significantly better. For the first time in a long time, I’ve been able to play golf or lift and move heavy patients at work without my back hurting the next day. I’m not quite ready to say I look forward to working out, but I’m actively making sure I don’t miss or find excuses to skip any workout sessions. This is a big change for me. Stay tuned…

Song of the day: Kaskade & Skrillex – Lick It (Official Video)

Secret Gym Confession

I discovered something about myself today while at the gym. I honestly had no idea. It’s probably because I haven’t really pushed myself before, but regardless of the reason, I didn’t know this about myself. It turns out I’m a… grunter. The trainer had me doing some weird lunging, take a step, and twirl a barbell plate over my head thing. I’m pretty sure it was about the 75th rep and every part of me was shaking with the exertion. Out of the corner of my eye I caught one of the other gym-goers giving me a funny look. I took a step, lunged (or was it lunge and then step? I don’t know, I was too exhausted to think) and caught myself letting out a loud grunt. Not a delicate exhale, but a deep, loud, uugghha-whoosh sound. Like the sound an angry apex-male silverback gorilla would make as he ripped the hind leg off a helpless deer.

Ok I’m pretty sure gorillas are vegetarians so maybe that’s not the best analogy, but you get my point. It was loud. And I was doing it with every step. Now in my defense I was winded and gasping for air. But I will concede that it was a bit dramatic for the little five-pound barbell plate I was swinging around. Naturally I immediately tried to stop doing it, but all that happened is that my breathing got screwed up and my cheeks turned all purple because I wasn’t getting any air in or out. The trainer gave me a funny look and asked if I was ok.

I was perfectly happy with whatever I was doing, and now I’m going to be all self-conscious about breathing. Reminds of something similar I was doing when running. Back when I did a fair amount of trail running, I was always pleased at the positive vibe I got from other people. It seemed that everyone I passed would give me a smile or wave. Gosh, everyone is just so friendly here! And then one day I went running on the street and caught a glimpse of myself in a window. I was putting a reasonable effort in and breathing pretty hard. Turns out when I breath hard my mouth opens up in a big sloppy grin, plenty of teeth showing and my tongue flopping around like a goofy Labrador retriever. People have been smiling at me because they’ve been seeing this big oaf lumbering past them with a ridiculous grin plastered across my face.

Here I am thinking I look almost exactly like an intense Kilian Jornet and in reality, I’m a bit closer to Special Officer Doofy in Scary Movie. Oh well. That I can live with. I don’t see many people out on the trail anyway. And a guys got to breathe, right? Besides, I probably couldn’t change that habit even if I wanted to.

But the gym grunting. That’s probably not cool. Maybe if you’re deadlifting a small Volkswagen, but certainly not when you’re lunging around with a silly plastic foot slider on the carpet. It’s a small gym. And it’s usually full of ridiculously fit people. I’m sure word has gotten out about the old grunting guy. I’m going to have to do something about my breathing before I get pulled aside by Biff the manager and encouraged to maybe go find an outdoor gym. The problem is that there’s a distinct possibility of my passing out if I try to hold in the grunts. And that would be embarrassing.

Sigh. Why does there always have to be so many perfect fit people at the gym? They never make weird sounds and certainly don’t sweat or lay on the floor gasping for air. I think I need to join that Average Joe’s Gym from the movie dodgeball. At least I’d fit in with my baggy, ripped sweatshirt and ten-year-old workout shorts. The fitness struggle is real people.

Just Take A Lesson

Proprioception is something that we rarely think about (bada boom, no pun intended). It’s the sense we have of where our bodies are in space. It’s why you can drive a car without looking at your feet on the pedals. You can walk in a completely dark room without losing your balance. You can type without looking at the keys. And why NFL receivers can make those amazing stretched out end zone catches with their feet staying in-bounds. Your brain keeps track of what all the appendages are doing at all times without you thinking about it. Some of us just do it better than others.

My first real awareness of this was an experimentation period with barefoot running. I’d just finished Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run” and decided to go all-in on barefoot running. I went with the Vibram Five Fingers shoes and hit the trail. If you’re not familiar with them, there’s no sole or cushion – just a thin layer of rubber to protect your feet from scratches and cuts. Needless to say, landing on a rock while running hurts. A lot. I spent much of those early runs with massively bruised feet. Eventually, someone pointed out what I was doing wrong. I was watching my feet when I was running. I was so busy trying to avoid rocks and “direct” where I stepped, my running was awkward, clumsy, and I constantly stepped on the rocks I was trying to avoid.

The secret is to not look where you’re going. Instead, look way ahead down the trail. Your brain sees all the terrain and creates a map of where to step without you being aware of it. If you stop thinking about it and let the brain and proprioception do it’s thing, you become smoother, faster, and avoid the rocks. It seems very counter-intuitive. You’ve done it yourself many times without realizing it. Walk across a room carrying a very full coffee cup. If you stare at the cup as you walk and try not to spill, most likely you’ll start spilling. Look ahead and stop thinking about it and your brain, arm, and hand will take care of the balance just fine.

What’s my point with this? Our conscious thoughts often get in the way of learning new skills properly. Take the golf swing. The average downswing takes about a quarter of a second. Your proprioception WILL get the clubhead to the ball. The problem is you may unknowingly have to do all sorts of weird contortions to get the clubhead back to the ball depending upon what you did in the backswing, setup, etc… Here’s where conscious thought gets in the way. I’m someone who was traditionally too cheap and stubborn to take lessons. Instead, I’d spend hundreds of dollars on the driving range pounding away at balls thinking I can “fix” my swing by myself. I was sure I knew what I was doing wrong. It was just a matter of enough practice. When it finally became clear that wasn’t working, I broke down and took a lesson.

That first time I saw my golf swing on video I was blown away. Everything I thought I was doing, had nothing to do with what I was really doing. My conscious brain would lie to me and it would “feel” like my hands or hips were doing one thing, but in reality they were doing the opposite. It was an ah-ha moment for me. My stubborn insistence (and cheapness) that I can teach myself has probably cost me significantly over the years. If I’d been willing and open years ago to taking lessons for many of my sports, I suspect I’d be much more skilled than I am today. I’m a reasonably coordinated and athletic person, so I’ve been able to make things work. But I could have been so much better.

I’m now at a point that I have the time, resources, and willingness to take lessons. I’m embracing it. I’ve been going to a personal trainer and have been making gains far quicker than I ever did by myself in my garage gym. He’s correcting horrible form that I “felt” was correct. I took my first ever ski lesson this season. A few simple changes have made things more effortless and really dialed in my carving turns. I never would have figured that out on my own. I’m doing a big block of golf lessons because I want to stop fighting the game and enjoy playing. It’s very obvious now that I can’t do that on my own watching YouTube instructional videos.

Our bodies and proprioception are an amazing thing. But unless you’re one of those .001% of gifted natural athletes, most likely your conscious brain will get in the way of correct movement. But as Mrs Troutdog has told me for years (and I didn’t listen), even the top pros have coaches for a reason.

Whatever your sport is, go take a damn lesson.

I Did A Bad Thing

I’m still not sure how it happened. Mrs Troutdog was out of town. God, this is so hard to say. I was, (chokes up a little), I was… hungry. Like, haven’t eaten in three days hungry. And I went to (takes deep breath)… Costco. You NEVER go to Costco when you’re hungry. That’s like rule number one. Like the very first thing they teach you as a new diet recruit at diet bootcamp. I’m so ashamed.

Now, fortunately there weren’t any blowouts with a 72-count case of doughnuts or anything. I’m not going to say I didn’t think about it, but I had at least a tiny bit of self-control. But there was bread. Oh god, so much bread. I honestly intended to simply get something to make a sandwich. I was hungry, it was lunchtime, and I was craving a sandwich. Having bread in the house is a bit of a forbidden thing, so standing in the Costco bread aisle felt very… naughty. Because you can’t get a small amount of anything at Costco, I put two giant loaves of sourdough bread in the cart. Enough bread for approximately 62 sandwiches (not including the heels). I almost abandoned the bread for giant tortillas, but they came in packages of about 120 and that a bit much even for me.

And then I saw the bagels. Oh my, I haven’t had a bagel in forever. I mean, I guess as long as I’m already having a sandwich, I may as well have a bagel for breakfast in the morning. But wait, we don’t even own a toaster (I wasn’t kidding, we don’t eat bread). So off to the appliance aisle to pick up a toaster. And then, as always happens when you get into a self-destructive mode, I thought – you know what, you can’t have a sandwich without potato chips. I’m already blowing it, fuck it, I’m getting chips. I did make a half-hearted attempt to find some kind of low-cal chips, but it didn’t last long. One ginormous bag of greasy chips into the cart. And what else do they have in the chip aisle? Popcorn. Oh my, I love popcorn. I looked at the calorie count and justified to myself that it’s not a horrible number as long as I don’t have it every night, right? (ignoring the fact that the calorie count is per serving and there’s like 20 servings in each bag). The 50-count case of Kirkland brand popcorn went into the cart.

I got home unpacked and made my sandwich. It was glorious. Toasted sourdough in my new toaster. Avocado. Sharp cheddar cheese. Bacon. Turkey. And a giant pile of potato chips. Oh my. If I was a smoker, I probably would have had a cigarette afterwards. And then the guilt set in. What have I done? Why am I so weak? I don’t understand why I do this to myself.

I walked into the kitchen and surveyed the wreckage of my frenetic sandwich making. Now if I was a smart man, I would have simply thrown everything away. Yep, had a moment of weakness and got it out of my system. Don’t beat yourself up. Dump it all, go for a run and eat clean tomorrow. Right?

Nope. I committed the other cardinal sin of dieting. The dreaded, “I already blew it, it’s the end of the week, I’ll start clean on Monday” justification. So, I’ve eaten it all. Day after day of sandwiches, chips, bagels, and popcorn. Sometimes twice a day. Mowed my way through a nearly 100% carbohydrate diet for days.

So now I sit here feeling bloated. My stomach’s a bit upset. I tried to go for a run but felt like crap. Mad at myself. Guilty. Ashamed. Vowing never to do it again. Mrs Troutdog is mad at me because she partook in the carb-binging as well. It was an end-to-end failure. Why do we do this to ourselves? Normal people, how do you resist these urges?

Sigh… Never go to Costco when you’re hungry.

It’s easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.

Margaret Mead

How’s Your Mood?

A month ago, I made the commitment to start going to a strength and conditioning coach. I tried to join the military to get that free bootcamp training, but the recruiters couldn’t stop laughing. I think that was a no. I wanted two things out of my training – someone who would promise to make me look like Daniel Craig in six weeks and someone who would come to my house and yell at me at 05:30 AM every day to get my ass up, put down the doughnut, and drop and give me twenty. I did find a trainer. Even though he ignored my first two requests he had all the right certs and degrees, so I decided to give him a chance.

Week one was pretty humbling. I was sure we’d start out with deadlifts, tire flips, and kipping pull ups. After doing an assessment, he said “uh, well, I think we should get a little foundation work in first”. Which is secret trainer code for “my eighth-grade girl clients are stronger than this guy”. It’s an absolute miracle that I’ve made it this long skiing without blowing out my knees. The stabilizing muscles for my knees are so weak, a few lunge type movements have my legs quivering like Jell-o and unable to maintain any balance or coordination. My core was mush. Planks, dead bugs, and bird dogs leave me shaking and lightheaded in just a few minutes. This is all a good thing. We’re making progress.

The best part though has been the motivation. I can get motivated to do anything for a short time. But being human my attention span drifts, and I find reasons to stop. Take this morning for example. I had a particularly hard shift yesterday and got home late. I was still tired this morning and had zero motivation. Left to my own devices I definitely would have bailed on any sort of workout. But I’d scheduled the trainer already, so I’m paying for it regardless. I would have felt guilty making up some excuse to not go… so I went.

And surprise, I felt great afterwards. I always do. The endorphin surge you get after a workout, a bike ride, a run, a ski, or any sort of exercise makes you feel good. It’s a natural mood enhancer. Every single time. I know that, yet still find reasons to be lazy. We humans are strange creatures. The amount of resistance and energy we put into avoiding something that will make us feel better is ridiculous. A little sun and a little exercise are probably the only prescriptions the vast majority of the population need to be happy. Screw big pharma, right?

Now, if I can just find a service that will come to the house and slap that doughnut out of my hands, I’ll be golden.

Never Miss Twice

I stumbled upon another piece of advice a few weeks ago that I really like. It applies to diet, exercise, and being a secret agent ninja sniper. Nobody has perfect discipline. At some point you’re going to go over on your calorie count because you accidently fell into a plate of nachos. Or you’ll miss a workout because you left your muddy shoes on the porch and didn’t feel like putting on cold shoes in the morning. It happens. That’s ok. You’re human. The key is to not let it happen twice in a row.

Unless you’ve inadvertently joined the military and a drill instructor is yelling at you 24/7, it’s hard to be strict. Life happens. You travel, the folks in the office invite you out for drinks, someone has a birthday, holidays… there’s plenty of reasons you fall off the diet and exercise wagon. I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with keto for that very reason. For me, it works. I also hate how strict it is and rebel constantly with a burger, and then berate myself and struggle to get going again. The key is to not beat yourself up. You ate half a bag of Fritos and skipped going to the gym to binge watch all 103 seasons of Beverly Hills 90210. That’s bad, but not fatal. Just don’t repeat it tomorrow.

The habit killer is to do it twice in a row. My favorite justification is “starting on Monday”. It’s obviously ridiculous to start a gym routine or diet on a Wednesday. Who does that? You start on Monday. Everyone knows that. It’s now Thursday and I just ate Taco Bell, so this week is clearly ruined. Since there’s no point in starting now, I’m just going to eat bad through the weekend to get it out of my system. After all, I’m starting my workout and diet on Monday. Sound familiar?

You’ve blown it. Either by accident or by choice. Just don’t do it twice. A pretty smart guy I follow advocates what he calls “Fat Loss Sprints”. He acknowledges that very few people have the discipline to eat at caloric deficit every day for three or six months. But that’s what we set ourselves up for – I’m going to lose this much weight by summer. And several weeks into it you look ahead at four more months of restricted eating and get discouraged. What he likes instead is creating diet “sprints”. Be super strict for three weeks for example. Hit that goal and then take several weeks off and eat at a maintenance level (which doesn’t mean nachos every day). Then do another diet sprint. Several weeks is doable. Months are too overwhelming. Sure, the weight loss may be slightly slower, but it will be a sustainable lifestyle.

Always forward. You’re going to trip. You’re going to stumble. But you keep putting one foot in front of the other. The cumulative effect of diet and exercise over the long term is more important than any one day or meal. Had a moment of weakness? Just don’t repeat it with the next meal. Skipped the gym in the morning? Go for a walk after dinner, and don’t skip tomorrow.

Never miss twice.