Tag: Fitness

Why Is Diet So Confusing?

I will confess that I have been known to get sucked into drinking the Kool-Aid from time to time. Beliefs, approaches, or fads that I was convinced was the one true path. I talked ’em up and spoke with authority about them. I even had a bit of condescension towards people who didn’t know, understand, or believe in the new great thing. Fools who still bought into the old school set of beliefs. Here’s a few of the things that I’ve thought were the end-all-be-all in the past. I’m not suggesting any of them are bad – just that as thinking evolves, they’re not the magic bullets I once believed them to be at the time.

  • Barefoot shoes and running.
  • Crossfit.
  • Keto.
  • Intermittent fasting.
  • Primal/caveman
  • Body For Life
  • Zone diet
  • 5/6 small meals per day
  • Foam rolling
  • Apple cider vinegar (I have no idea why I thought this was a magical thing)

And on, and on, and on. Even though I think I’m being a rebel and cutting edge, I realize I’m just as much of a lemming as anyone else following the latest fitness and diet fad. Meanwhile, I was happily making fun of people eating the cabbage soup diet, doing juice cleanses, or the Whole 30 diet. Why is it so damn hard to know what you’re supposed to be doing to lose or maintain weight?

Meanwhile, my trainer wants me eating more calories because my BMR is too low, and I need a massive increase in the amount of protein I consume. Zone 2 is best for aerobic improvements, and carbohydrates are now good.

Sigh. I don’t know what to think anymore. My body fat percentage is getting worse, but my muscle mass is the best it’s been in a very long time. I feel stronger and better balanced now, but I can’t button the waistband on most of my pants. Why is this so hard? I just want someone to give me a weekly menu with exact portion sizes that’s easy to make/prepare. And yes, I’ve Googled that exact thing. A billion results come up, all with conflicting information, or promise to be the perfect diet plan… for $29.99 a month.

Why is diet so difficult? Why can’t I find a way of eating that gives me enough of a routine to keep calories in control, yet lets me eat out from time to time? I clearly don’t have the discipline to eat “strict” all the time or count calories daily. So, does that mean my only choice is to constantly keep up a crazy amount of workout/cardio activity to balance it? At my age, I don’t know that I have that in me anymore.

Our grandparents did not calculate out their daily macros, walk around all day with giant BPA free water flasks, or worry about zone 2 training. Yet on whole, their generation did not have the obesity problem we have today. Maybe that’s the book I should write – “The WWII Generations Guide to Diet and Exercise”. I’ll make a fortune!

But then again, my grandfather’s favorite exercise machine was a vibrating belt you’d put around your waist. I have no idea what its actual purpose was. To jiggle the fat away? To be fair, we have kinesio tape today. Maybe we haven’t evolved as far as we think?

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…

What’s Your EDC? (everyday carry)

EDC. Everyday carry. I’m a sucker for clicking on EDC YouTube channels (yes, there are channels dedicated to just this). There’s just something about all the little gadgets and doodads I find fascinating. Mini flashlights, pocket knives, cool key holders, all-in-one mini tools, wallets, I absolutely love this stuff. I click on almost every link and wonder if I could use that gadget or not.

But I never buy any of them. For all of my obsession over the idea of cool EDC stuff… I absolutely hate carrying stuff in my pockets. Here’s what I carry every day: Three keys; a mini pocket knife; a tiny minimalist wallet; a phone; a handkerchief. That’s it. I’m astounded at the amount of crap the dudes on these EDC channels purport to carry in their pockets. They must jingle, rattle and sound like a old suit of armor walking down the street.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse at all times, my problem is more anatomical. I was born without a butt. Zero. None. It doesn’t exist. My legs just go straight up and suddenly you’re at my lower back. I’ve heard you can fix this issue by doing squats with heavy weights. I tried it once and it didn’t take. Implants may be my next best choice. Anyway, the end result of my curve challenged backside is that it’s an everyday struggle to keep my pants up. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I cinch down my belt, gravity wins out before too long. All day long I’m constantly hitching up my pants.

It’s manageable in my day-to-day life because I don’t carry anything. Work, however, is a different story. As an RN I have to carry a bunch of crap because you never know what you’re going to encounter in a patient’s room. My work EDC is as follows:

  • Penlight
  • Trauma shears
  • Hemostat
  • Multicolored pen
  • Mechanical pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Handful of 10 ml saline flushes
  • Bunch of alcohol wipes
  • Work badge/ID
  • Emergency SOS tracker
  • Med room keys
  • Locker key
  • Watch
  • Stethoscope
  • Coban wrap
  • Breath mints
  • Handkerchief
  • Personal phone
  • Work phone
  • N-95 mask
  • Safety goggles

In addition to all that stuff, I have a mini clipboard with my daily brain (notes and plans for each patient), phone numbers for all the departments, some frequently used reference material, and a few extra pieces of paper to scribble random to-do reminders on.

I’m quite a sight to see sprinting after a crazy naked patient as they try to make a break for the stairwell (happens way more often than you’d think). I leave a trail of stuff all the way down the hall as everything in the above list comes flying out of my pockets.

Everything on that list gets used every single shift. It’s taken years to pare down to what I currently carry. Every item goes in a specific pocket. I’m very functional. I see RN’s roll into the nurse’s station with giant backpacks, coffee mugs, water bottles, and lunch coolers. I don’t understand. What could you possibly need for a single work shift that requires a massive backpack?

Where was I going with this? Oh yes – gravity, pants, and EDC. At work I wear scrubs which only fasten with a drawstring. Even though I pull the drawstring tight enough to cut off circulation, my pants are halfway down my rear most of the day with all the crap I have in my pockets. The aforementioned running down the hall scenario carries the very real risk of my pants suddenly ending up around my ankles and me doing a sliding faceplant in front of all my coworkers. I’ve lain awake at night worrying about this.

Because of this nagging nightmare scene that never leaves the back of my brain, in my civilian life at home I want as little as possible in my pockets. At this point if my butt gets any flatter (and belly gets any bigger), I’m going to be forced to go the suspenders route. And that my friends, unless you’re a carpenter or firefighter, is the end. Complete surrender of fashion. You cannot make suspenders look good. Period. And because I’m all about fashion, I’ll stick with the belt and minimal EDC. Maybe try the heavy squats again.

Of course, I could go the route of the fanny pack or purse – ahem, murse. Hmmm, maybe that’s the ticket. I’ll dig out my old school messenger bag/briefcase and just carry that everywhere. Just think of all the cool stuff I could carry every day!

What’s in your EDC?

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…

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.

I Don’t Care About Weight

Last night Mrs Troutdog told me that she thinks I’m obsessed with my weight and is convinced I’m trying to get back to what I weighed in high school. Ouch. I probably got a little defensive at that, but there is some truth to what she said. Just not in the way she thinks. (Like most males, communication is not my strong point)

I don’t care what I weigh. Honest. What I do care about is body fat percentage and BMI. Healthy numbers are around the low 20’s for both categories. But nobody talks about those numbers. (Hey girl, that BMI is looking mighty fine. wink, wink) We tend to incorrectly use weight as a proxy for “health”. I want to get to a sustainable body fat/BMI level that’s considered to be just barely in the fitness category. Having achieved it before, I know what number on the scale corresponds to a healthy body fat percentage for my body frame and current muscle mass. So therefore, it’s easiest when talking about goals to simply say that I’m trying to get to a certain weight.

If I could put on 20 pounds of muscle, the number on the scale would be much higher when I reached my body fat/BMI goal (but very unrealistic without the aid of HGH, T, and possibly steroids). I don’t care what the number on the scale is – I’d be perfectly happy to walk around at 220 pounds as long as my body fat was 18%. Is there some vanity associated with this? Sure. I’m human. Who doesn’t want to look great strolling down the beach? But at my age that’s a much, much smaller motivation than it was when I was younger. What I do care about is health and longevity. And I’m more and more scared about it.

At my hospital the overwhelming majority of the people I see are there as a result of weight and a lack of strength and balance. People in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s who can’t lift themselves off the toilet. Folks who can’t wipe themselves, trim their toenails, or tie shoelaces due to a lack of flexibility and obesity. They are so deconditioned and weak that navigating steps, reaching for something in the cupboard, or bending down to pick something up is a dangerous minefield. They fall and break hips or suffer brain bleeds when their head hits the floor. And when that happens, more often than not it’s the beginning of the end. They get placed in a rehab facility, then a skilled nursing home. And within six months to a year… they’re done.

I don’t want that. I want to be active and participating in sports as long as I can. I don’t want someone to have to tie my shoes for me when I’m 80. And I’m scared. This is the first year that I really noticed my balance is diminishing. Strength is less than it was. I became aerobically deconditioned incredibly fast during these last two years of covid-induced inactivity. And yes, the weight poured on faster than it ever has. My body fat percentage increased 6% and my BMI ballooned into the overweight category. That’s why I seem obsessed with weight at the moment.

I am determined to not let sloth get the better of me. I desperately need to develop health habits that are sustainable. But the truth of aging is that you are going to decline no matter what. You have to push harder at my age, just to maintain what you have, than you did in your twenties. The longer you wait to make a change, the harder it’s going to be. Personally, I’ve reached that tipping point of concern. All joking about giving up and just wearing velour tracksuits aside… I’m genuinely worried. It’s time to right this ship before it’s really too late.

I’ve hired personal trainer to help build back strength and mobility. I started running again. And I’m desperately trying to find an eating plan that is sustainable. Sorry to disappoint all the Keto fanatics, but zero carb full time isn’t it. Life is too short to banish tacos for the rest of my life. And by taco, I mean a real taco. Don’t give me one of those weird zero carb tortillas and fake cauliflower-based rice. I don’t know what the right eating plan is yet, but we’re working on it. None of this is easy. I don’t particularly enjoy it. But I want to be mountain biking into my 70’s and there’s only one way to achieve that.

What I care about are my blood pressure, resting heart rate, lactate threshold, A1C, strength, mobility, body fat percentage, and BMI.

I don’t care what I weigh.



	

Envy Of The Fitness Aristocrats

This morning as I was scrolling through the Twitters, I came across a tweet from some blue check personality who looked like an actress of some sort. She was slim and toned, holding a green looking drink, and posted something like “love my post workout smoothie!” She was standing in a high-end gym with large windows overlooking the ocean. The thought that flashed through my head was yeah, it’s pretty easy to look great when you have attendants and trainers to cater to you and your workout at two in the afternoon. If all I had to do was sleep in, eat the breakfast my personal chef made for me, show up at the resort gym and do what the instructors said, then drink the kale and Ka’Chava smoothie my assistant had waiting for me – I’d look like that too. Ok, maybe not wearing a pink leotard but you get what I mean. Like when the Rock posts on Instagram about getting off his private jet and heading to his multi-thousand square foot private home gym, with every piece of fitness equipment ever invented, for a late-night workout… it just doesn’t resonate with us common folks.

Except that’s just jealousy on my part. Not of the wealth and privilege, but of the commitment these folks have. Fitness and weight loss take determination. A resolve to restrict calories and to push yourself physically. Is it harder for a working mom to find a way to drive to the gym at 05:00 AM to work out before the kids get up, than the celebrity who has an attendant to wipe their brow and take pictures for Instagram? Of course. But at the end of the day, both of them have to show up, do the work, and give a pass on that piece of chocolate cake if they want to look the way they do. Most of us don’t have that resolve.

The envy is really just a manifestation of your own self-pity for not having the same resolve. To succeed in fitness, working out needs to become a basic part of your life. Like brushing your teeth, getting the laundry done, and taking out the trash – finding an hour to get a workout of some sort in has to be just a standard part of your day.

Not being a physically strong person, I’ve hated “working out” my entire life. It hurts, it’s a huge ego blow when all you can lift is the pink “my pretty pony” barbell, and it’s overwhelming to try and figure out where to start. Weeks and weeks go by, and it feels like you’ve made zero progress other than every muscle now hurts when walking down the stairs or brushing your teeth. The mental resolve it takes to keep hitting the gym, morning bootcamp in the park, or daily jog is massive. People who are fit can’t appreciate the resolve it takes to go from zero to a daily fitness routine.

I’ve only once, briefly crossed that line into habit. A few summers ago, I decided to start running. For a while it was all I could do to get around the block. Then I started trail running. I’d walk more than run. And then at some point I realized I was running (slowly) without stopping. And then I got a little faster and my distances started increasing. By the end of that summer, I was comfortably running mountain trails at 7,000 feet and doing 6-10 miles. I was almost… so close… to that feeling of needing to run. I didn’t quite crave it – I was still doing it as a way to drop pounds – but there were a few days where something got in the way and I couldn’t go for a run, and I found myself actually missing it. I wasn’t sore any more afterwards, and even started making plans for what type of runs to do each week. That’s the threshold that needs to be crossed – you look forward to a workout and regret it when you miss one.

I obviously didn’t cross far enough past that line, as I was motivationally derailed shortly afterwards and lost all the progress I’d made. So here we are again, back at square one. My personal fitness Groundhog Day. I see the fabulous people on the social medias, bragging about their workouts.

"Just killed a workout with the best trainer ever! Going to snack on three almonds, then get ready for a ten-mile run this afternoon. Coconut water is the best!! Love all my fans!!!!!" 

I briefly get motivated after seeing these posts. I will do a workout today. Right after drinking this seventh cup of coffee. And watching some motivational David Goggins on the IG. Crap, it’s really cold out there and it’s already lunchtime. Ok, ok, ok. I’ll eat lunch, let it settle, and then go for a run. Promise. After this nap. Shoot, I forget I need to go to the store. Well… it’s almost dinnertime now. Alright, I PROMISE I’ll get up early and go run tomorrow morning.

My fitness Groundhog Day. Every day. The embarrassing part of all this is that I have the ability to be a member of the very fitness aristocracy I was jealous of, if I chose. I have a decent home gym. I only work a few days a week, so my time is unlimited. I could afford a trainer if I wanted. The foothills and running trails are a few blocks away. I’m in a very fortunate position to be able to buy, make, or order whatever food, nutritional supplements, or fancy Ka’Chava smoothie machines I want. If I decided that leopard skin running tights, or a fancy heart rate monitor was the limiting factor to my training, Amazon can have it at my doorstep tomorrow. There literally is zero barrier to my becoming an Olympic-class athlete (age adjusted, of course).

Except that pesky motivation issue. The drive to simply lace up the shoes and just do it, as Nike reminds us. Giving up and resorting to wearing velour track suits like an old school gangster would certainly be easier. Trust me, I’ve thought about it. But deep down, I’m not happy with how I feel right now. I need to make that change. To find a way to put up with the initial pain and cross that line to a healthy fitness lifestyle.

As I revisit where I started out with this post, I’m thinking that the secret isn’t money or fitness aristocracy… it’s the photos. I suspect the real secret to success is taking killer pictures of yourself working out, so you can brag about it on social media. That leads to accountability. If I just start posting daily pictures of my workout, eventually my six Twitter followers will start expecting a daily photo. And I’m not one to disappoint my fans.

Hmmm. Do I go with a high-end, fancy equipment Troutdog workout photo theme?

Just finished measuring my VO2max. Going to get some zone 3 intervals in on my Peloton, then drink a recovery shake! 

Maybe a grungy, military/mountain Troutdog photo theme would fit better?

Just finished a twenty-mile run carrying this big rock. Going to go home and drink some homemade bone broth and then lance these blisters. 

Either way, this will take some planning. You may want to sign up for my socials and newsletter now, so you can follow along with my fitness journey and not miss out.

Because I’m fairly positive, most likely, unless something comes up, definitely starting tomorrow.

Headed Off To Bootcamp

How’z those New Year resolutions going? I’m pretty sure in the fitness industry they’re now reaching peak “new year, new me!” frenzy. Somewhere in the next few weeks the new gym membership attendance begins to wane. By late February the committed gym rats have their empty weight rooms again and gym owners can rejoice – all those oversold introductory one-year memberships are now free money. Diets are being broken, and people are realizing they’re stuck with three more months of Jenny Craig meals they won’t eat. That Peloton bike investment and pre-paid 1 year subscription is looking shaky, although it does make a handy spot to dry sweaters.

In Troutdog land, we’re still on the path. Been about 80% good with diet and mostly in ketosis. Zero alcohol for the month. I was really good until I got taken out by the virus which we shall not name. I got hit with the full dump truck of symptoms. Everything except loss of taste and smell. Apparently for me, full fevers and body aches is a license to eat everything I can find in the pantry. I put back a couple of the pounds I’d lost. I’ve now re-lost those pounds, but my end of January weight goal is 1.5 pounds away with three days to go. I’ll probably get close, but no cigar. I blame China.

Workouts have been spotty, but I’m doing it. Again, the damn virus put a damper on things. When you’re newly lifting weights, it’s hard to tell if that head-to-toe body ache is because of DOMS, or Covid fever? The biggest accomplishment is that I started running again. And by running, I mean a lumbering walk-jog with occasional bouts of wild flailing around in an attempt to not slip on the ice. People my age break hips falling on the ice, so I’m extra careful.

All of this, combined with days and days of contemplating my navel while waiting to pass quarantine, prompted me to make a rash decision. I committed to something I’ve never done before. I hired a personal trainer. Gasp! It was either that or join the military so I can go through bootcamp. With tensions mounting in the Ukraine and South China Sea, I figured a local fitness expert was a safer choice.

I’m not sure what to expect. I don’t see him until next week. I told him I was looking for help putting together a program that incorporates strength training with improving aerobic endurance. I started putting together an extensive resume of past fitness and sport achievements, a list of gear and equipment in my home gym, daily nutrition data, and then a proposed schedule of workout times that correspond with my circadian rhythms. I then realized that he’ll probably throw that in the trash and say, “Uh, can you lift that weight? No? Ok how about that one? Still no? Can you lift that pink one? Hmmm. Maybe this isn’t the best fit…”

I’m starting to realize that what I really need is someone to simply hold me accountable. To yell at me to stop complaining and just get it done. To ask me what the hell I’ve been eating that my weight went back up three pounds in a day. To slap that 2,000 calorie Starbucks Frappuccino out of my pudgy little fingers. In short, I need to go to bootcamp.

Maybe there’s a military branch for middle aged dudes with poor eyesight and more computer skills than physical attributes. Weekends only would be a bonus. I’m thinking that I’m a walking recruiting poster boy for… The UNITED STATES SPACEFORCE!

So, if you don’t hear from me for a while I’m either binge watching Bill Murry in Stripes or I got called up to report for duty. I wonder if they’ll make me get a haircut?

Diet Secret Unlocked: Stay Busy

I should probably put this on my wildly successful, subscription substack – but because I like you guys, I’ll give you this tip for free. I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me until recently, but I’m a little slow sometimes. Anyway, here goes. Are you ready? The secret to losing weight – stay busy. That’s it. It’s that simple. Let me explain…

I don’t have a problem working out. I don’t have a problem committing to a particular eating plan. I don’t have a problem tracking macros, calories, or a hundred other stats. What I do have a problem with is stringing those things together for more than a few days. The difference between the times I’ve been successful with weight loss and, ahem, now? Constant activity.

My last go-round with fitness happened when I was still working full-time. I was so crazy busy at work it was easy to fast all day (I ate one meal a day, when I got home). There simply wasn’t time to eat and no time to think about being hungry. So that was three days a week of at least a 1000 calorie deficit per day. (hospital work is three twelve-hour shifts) I was left with a compressed week to fit all my activities in. So even though I probably exceeded my calorie goal many of those remaining days, I was active enough to balance it out. And the weight melted off. About 30 pounds in four months. Activity fosters more activity. As I started losing weight it motivated me to work out even harder and watch my diet even closer. It’s a positive self-reinforcing cycle. Eight months later I came close to hitting my high school weight.

And then at the end of that summer, after summiting the highest peak in the lower 48, I “took a break”. It was only going to be for a short time. After all, I’d earned it. During that break period, I went part-time at work. Then the pandemic hit. Sloth set in and my activity level plummeted. Suddenly I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. I spent too many hours just surfing the web and watching non-stop YouTube. And what happens when you have idle hands? Grazing in the pantry and fridge every two hours.

Even though I’d “restart” the diet each morning with a vow to be strict… by 3pm I’d have already hit my calorie budget. Sitting around so much just made me tired and my motivation to be active simply faded more and more each day. This a negative self-reinforcing cycle. And the pounds came back with a vengeance.

With a new year, we’re here at reset #432. Two weeks in and doing good so far. Back in ketosis. No alcohol since the New Year. Winter finally gave us a ski season, so I’m back outside again. The scale is slowly moving in the right direction.

But I still have plenty of time on my hands. And I find myself standing in front of the fridge far too often. I’m not actually hungry. Keto is great for limiting choices and calories, and the daily blood checks keep me honest… but I can still blow my food budget by consuming 400 calories in nuts and stay in ketosis. Right now, I’m on that razor edge of continued success or falling off the wagon again.

Having time on your hands is dangerous in so many ways. It saps productivity. It’s a conduit for a ridiculous amount of screen-time. It’s a recipe for sloth. I’ve written before about wanting to find more purpose, to focus on my hobbies and actually get good at something, to make plans and follow through with them. All things worth focusing on. But more than anything – I need to keep myself occupied so I’m not thinking about food and finding myself standing in front of the refrigerator a dozen times a day. Oh, how I envy the apathetic eaters who simply don’t care about food.

So, the secret to losing weight? Keep yourself so busy you don’t have time to food graze. And the bonus reward is going to bed each night tired and fulfilled with a day full of productivity towards something. Its’ a win-win.

Of course, the other option is to completely empty out the pantry and fridge of all food. Restock them with only the EXACT number of calories allotted for each day. Heck, you could go so far as to partition all your shelves and label them Mon, Tues, Wed, etc… Trust me, I’ve thought about it.

While I’m getting desperate enough for that degree of obsessiveness, I’m not quite ready for that level of extreme. For now, it’s time to ramp up the daily activities to ludicrous levels. So, if you start seeing three posts a day about mountain biking to a lake to go ice fishing, followed by running the dog and then walking downtown to take photographs, and then evening workout sessions… just know it’s not my overachieving, Ritalin fueled personality – I’m desperately trying to distract myself from standing in front of the fridge.

Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.

Benjaman Franklin

You’re Going To Be Disappointed

Wow, that’s a very pessimistic title. I didn’t mean it to be. I also didn’t intend this post to be negative, although it is. I wasn’t trying to wallow in self loathing or pity, even though it may seem like it. I’m just trying to keep it real. To be honest. Ok enough of that, here’s the backstory.

Lately I’ve gathered quite a few new readers. That’s a good thing. But for reasons I still don’t understand, virtually all the new folks are connected in some way to health, fitness, and diet. My most liked and read posts are the ones somewhat related to diet and weight loss. How I need to diet. How I need some discipline. How I need to get back in shape. Why can’t I lose weight, diet, or get back in shape? There’s a clear theme going on. I honestly don’t understand why those are so popular? It clearly feels like what people want to read are inspiring stories about recognizing you need to make a change, starting the journey, sticking to it, and showing success.

And here’s where you new readers are going to be disappointed. I’m good at recognizing I need to make a change. Not so good at executing on those plans. For reasons I can’t identify, I have failed miserably at getting my health back on track. I probably need years of psychotherapy or possibly electroshock therapy to understand my inner demons, but I’m too cheap for that. I’ve done great in the past at making a change. When I lost all my weight the last time, I literally decided the day before a huge Christmas party to start keto. I resisted all the good food and drink at that party and never looked back. Boom, hit my goal weight pretty quickly and felt great. Same when I decided to run. I simply went for a run one day and never stopped.

And then eventually the wheels came off and I fell off the wagon, hard. Here I am back at square one. Except this time I can’t seem to get the mojo back. I’ve been starting my diet/exercise routine tomorrow – for about six months now. Sound familiar? Reminds me of the old joke – “quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it dozens of times”. I don’t know why I haven’t been able to be like Nike and “just do it” like I’ve done previously? I’m happy. I’m in a good place with work. Been loving my hobbies and sports. Spent lots of time this summer with family and friends. I feel like I’m busy and productive in a good way. Life is good. I just can’t seem to put down the fork.

So I see new readers come on board via the health route… and I ignore what they like and instead write about political crap and vaccine conspiracy stuff. And nobody reads those posts. But how do I write about health related stuff when I’m not actually doing what I said I’d do? If I was a politician or a CNN contributor I’d just make it up. But I don’t want to do that. I actually haven’t felt like writing much about politics lately as it’s depressing and I worry it makes me sound like an angry QAnon guy. I pretty much wore out the ginormous motorcycle stories, so that avenue is limited. In a nutshell… I think I’ve run out of words.

It’s clear why the diet and fitness industry is worth a gazillion dollars. Everyone’s looking for that magic jumpstart. Just eat this one food, just do this one exercise and the pounds will melt off! I know that once I start, success builds on itself and the motivation just gets stronger and stronger. I know what to eat. I know enough exercise physiology to make the changes I want. I understand the health risk factors for covid because I deal with them every day at work. I know exactly what I need to do. I just can’t seem to start.

So, there we are new readers. You came for some sort of insightful reflections on my health journey. And got rantings on bureaucracy, motorcycles, and vaccines instead. So what’s next? Hopefully I’ll be writing a post in a few days detailing in agonizing detail my new knee pain because I’ve managed to run three days in a row. Or that I’m feeling a little woozy due to lack of calories, but my ketones are off the chart! But if you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s probably because I had to go buy new ski pants because I can no longer button the waistband on my old ones. And nobody wants to read about that.

Wait, did you hear that Susan Rice and Obama are secretly running the government behind the scenes? The way I heard it is…

Tony Soprano: I think it’s time for you to start to seriously consider salads.

Bobby Baccilieri: What do you mean?

Tony Soprano: What do I mean? I mean get off my car before you flip it over, you fat fuck.”