Category Archives: AMR Fitness Challenge

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Yes, it is true.

I finally got back on the About Men Radio Fitness Challenge and made real progress.

My amigos from AMR chidded me on the podcast that I — very Kramerlike — declared myself out of the competition before it even ramped up.

Yep, I was OUT!

Earlier this year I noticed a measure that I was not happy to see.

It wasn’t the scale telling me that at 250 pounds that I was at least 50 pounds overweight. It was that tongue twister combination of systolic and diastolic numbers, commonly referred to as BP, my blood pressure.

It read 150/96!

A quick search of medical sites told me what I already suspected: I was squarely in the Stage 1 hypertension neighborhood. And if things continued like this I could buy some property in that neighborhood, and eventually and probably soon, a plot!

How could this be?

I was a soccer player, fit to run. Ten years ago, I was completing sprint and Olympic triathlons as well as 5Ks and half marathons.

Where did it go so far south for me? Ten years of neglect, that’s how.

Fitness levels drop exponentially after 40. Gone are the days of, “Ah, what the hell” attitude.

Every instance of feeding and activity has to be carefully monitored and planned. Gone are carefree days of eating and thinking that a little jog will balance things out.

So after a hard look at those numbers and disgusted that I was about to go up another pant size, I decided to do something about it.

This was not my first rodeo, I had molded myself back into shape those 10 years ago when I first fell out soccer fitness. I felt I knew the approach to take.

The very first thing was to completely cut out the “3 S’s”: Sodas, Sweets and Seconds.

I then  started packing up mini-containers with food, to eat small healthy portions five or six times a day.  Boy does this take up a lot of time! But I was determined to make it work.

I ordered a Herman Munster-sized lunchbox to carry all my parceled food and mid-meal snacks.

I only added extended walks and light running to my exercise. I was too heavy to bang out actual runs on these shins.

Shin splints were an issue for me back when I was lighter and swifter of foot, so I didn’t want to start my new routine struggling to work through screaming pain.

After the first month, I was rewarded with weight reduction but my BP numbers were still high and I was quickly getting tired of the packing and planning of all those meals.

I continued to review and research and I came across something I had never thought I would be willing to try for weight reduction.

A Canadian doctor of nephrology was getting a lot of attention suggesting to f___ for weight loss and a whole bunch of healthy benefits, including improving blood circulation.

I read on. So I can employ that four letter F word to lose weight, improve my BP and transform my lifestyle?

So can I really f___ my way to a new me?

Yes, I can.

First of all, it is not THAT F word. This is Fasting.

Whoa! Hold  on there. That F word means NOT eating. And for an extended amount of time!

Not cool.

That goes against everything I learned in my first go-round for health.

How can this be?

Won’t fasting cause muscle loss?

Won’t fasting weaken me?

Won’t fasting turn me into a grumpy son of a bitch?

No, no and no!

After looking into this from other sources and reading Dr. Fung’s book I decided to give it a try.

I ditched the monstrous lunch box and started what is called a 16/8 Intermittent Fast.

So easy when you look into it. This fast schedule, the easiest of the fasts, allows an 8-hour feeding window with 16 hours of no food but plenty of water!

Black coffee and unsweetened green tea were also allowed. Since I was already a black coffee drinker and I also drank my teas unsweetened, I was good to go for this experimental regimen.

I can happily summarize that it worked!

Most of the fasting period is spent sleeping, and I had missed a breakfast before because of rushing or whatever, so I knew the hunger was not going to be that hard to overcome.

The most I missed the first few days was that mid-morning snack but I did not miss the packing and preparing at all.

The hunger pangs were easily calmed with another cup of joe, or a freshly brewed tea.

I pushed my lunch out to about 1 p.m. and then I ate dinner at home around 6:30, still giving me an extra couple of hours if I needed a nibble.

I found that I didn’t. So I checked out the next level: The Warriors Fast!

Wow, that name alone had me sold.

I also found out that when those wimpy (and not so wimpy) Hollywood types need to get cut for a role in which they would be prominently shown on screen or movie poster (think Gerard Butler and his 299 homeys in 300), this is the regimen their personal trainers force on them!

This fasting schedule is a 20/4. In following the previous naming structure that meant that this will be a 20-hour fast with a smaller four-hour feeding window.

Now I am skipping both breakfast and lunch, eating dinner at home and avoiding any very late snacks.

The beauty of this regimen is that if I start my feeding window at 7 p.m. I could have a late snack at 10:30ish and still be well within my window.

I did this and still was not grumpy.

I did not miss eating and continued to shed pounds. I started this journey at the end of January and in August I had proudly hit my target of shedding 50 pounds.

I looked down on the scale and 199.8 stared right back at me! I did it!

But this is not an invitation to change anything. I have become very accustomed to the meal skipping.

It simplified my life and gives me extra time with my family rather than spending it preparing so many little meals. It also allows me to eat heartily (and not overdo it) at dinner.

I have also learned to try so many different fun meals at dinner without guilt.

I am not shedding weight and cutting up at the rate that Wolverine has with this diet, but our objectives are very different. My goal was to get into a lifestyle change that I could support and still keep a steady improvement of my weight and health.

To that extent, I am maintaining myself in a 195- to 200-pound window.

I have increased my running and together with my wife we happily run and do some high-intensity interval training together (more on that in a future post).

Oh and those blood pressure numbers…118/74!

Now to do some more f___ing!!

Weighting For the Moment of Truth

This is the latest installment in the About Men Radio Fitness Challenge in which members of the AMR posse have pledged to eat better and adopt a healthier lifestyle in order to lose weight. Chris Mele has this update:

My moment of truth arrives on Monday.

I go back to see the doctor, who when I last visited, said she wanted me to drop 15 pounds.

So after doubling down on my workouts for the past two months (after being sidelined with an illness for a month), after cranking up the intensity of my exercise, curbing my sugar intake and tracking my calories with an online app, I stepped on the scale today and…

I GAINED two pounds.

To borrow a line from “Blazing Saddles”: “What in the Wide World of Sports is going on here?!”

I mean, c’mon!

I have extended my workouts to nearly an hour and six days a week.

I really have tried to keep track of my food, entering the calories on the conservative side and being honest about my unhealthy snacking, namely the Frisbee-sized cookies I get from the Jefferson Diner in New Jersey.

But there was the readout on the scale, unblinking: 203.7.

Of course, when I get to the doctor, her scale will say something worse because it always does.

I was aiming to lose 15 and gained two.

Once upon a time, 15 years ago, I dropped 40 pounds but I did it by eating scant calories (mostly carbs) and doing only industrial-strength cardio (cardio videos, running, biking, etc.)

The result though was I looked bony and unhealthy. Plus I was cold all the time.

I’ve been doing a bit more weight lifting and taking in more protein.

I do have to say I feel like I’m filling out a little bit (and not in a paunchy in the poochy kind of way either).

My wife says I have dents in my torso (I guess to match the ones in my head!) and my clothes do feel like they fit better.

So I guess I am doing something right.

Maybe weight is not the final arbiter of whether you’re healthy.

In this case, I feel like the doctor has put her thumb on the scale and made me more concerned with hitting a number than with how I’m doing overall.

Will see what she says on Monday.

Related blog posts:

Going Old School to Get Into Shape

Battle of the Bulge: The Struggle to Eat Right and Exercise

 

Can My Doctor Just STFU About My BMI Please?

 

 

 

Making Some Progress in AMR Fitness Challenge

Richard Rodriguez offers this update on his progress in the About Men Radio Fitness Challenge:

I began tracking my meals, exercise and progress on July 1st and I’m using the Lose It app.

It has been an up and down battle.

I amazingly lost three to four pounds during the first week probably just due to the sudden change in diet and increase in exercise, but since then I’ve gained back and lost again.

Now over two months in, I’m happy to still be on the right track and the weight is coming off, although very slowly, and I’m five to six pounds down.

I feel better about myself physically and continue to make better food choices.

With the help of the app, you can see the breakdown of carbs, fats and protein, and see how grossly lopsided many of my food choices have been.

I’ve tried some healthy shakes and regularly make an unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter, banana, dark chocolate powder, cinnamon, honey and ice shake.

I definitely need to increase the proteins and severely cut back on the fats and carbs.

My exercise really only consisted of walking as my dogs love to walk, but I had a recent setback with an illness and my exercise ceased.

I’m better now and ready to resume walking and I need to add more exercise to my regimen.

Overall it’s nice to be able to tighten my belt a notch and know that the changes I have made are making a difference .

I need to continue and up the ante.

Weighing in on the AMR Fitness Challenge

Going Old School to Get Into Shape

 

 

Losing 7 Pounds With Home Cooking and Fresh Ingredients

As part of the About Men Radio Fitness Challenge, About Men Radio contributor Janifer Cheng explains how getting back to nature — and away from processed foods — has benefited her boyfriend.  Look for more AMR Fitness Challenge updates coming soon!

I grew up with parents who worked all the time.

Generally, dinner consisted of takeout,  leftovers or whatever was brought home from the restaurants where my parents worked.

During their rare day off, my parents would cook, which, depending on the ingredients, either took all day or a little over an hour.

This kind of home cooking has become old world, left to those who live in throwback societies, whether it’s the Amish, outside first world countries, or your grandparents’ place, it’s rarely done anymore, because our time is too short to spend slaving over a hot stove.

I’m reminded of this daily.

After several enormous life changes, I now find myself with a lot of time on my hands and cooking more than I have in the last 10 years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cooking five-course meals.  It’s generally preparing dinner for five, instead of getting takeout for one, which was what I was doing as of two months ago.

Chicken pot pie with cream biscuits.

food-4

Pot roast.

Braised chicken in red sauce.

Double chocolate espresso cake.

food-2

Irish beef stew.

Mango coconut custard.

Blueberry or banana pancakes.

These are just some of the things I’ve made from scratch in my new home for my new family.  I’m temporarily unemployed, so as I wait for the next gig, I cook to feel like I’m contributing something to my situation, and I missed cooking anyway, so killing two birds with one stone = WIN!

I’ve been preparing my boyfriend’s breakfast, packing his lunch and making dinner for him for the last two months.

The vast majority I’ve been making from scratch, with the exception of the occasional packaged mixes that still require you to add water, meat, etc. to complete the meal.

My boyfriend thought he was gaining weight because he was eating more than he had before, until last Sunday, when we went shopping at a supermarket and he stepped on the complimentary scale and prepared for the worst.

His brow furrowed.

In the last two months, he has lost seven pounds.

He was perplexed.

How is it he could be eating more food, more often, and yet be down seven pounds?  He’s in his 50s and his metabolism had begun to slow.

This didn’t make sense.

Two months ago, we watched a four-part documentary called “Cooked,” where one of the guests said: “If you want to eat something, make it yourself.  If you want an apple pie, make it from scratch.  Cut the apples, roll the dough.  It’ll take more time, but it’ll be healthier for you.”

Maybe that was it.  We weren’t relying on junk anymore.  Someone was at home, making good food, with less calories over all, and even though he was eating more often, it was doing less damage to his body.

He wasn’t living the single sedentary lifestyle, but taking the occasional walk around town with his girlfriend in hand.

Although I gained back the “New York 10” (the 10 pounds you lose because of the amount of walking you generally do in New York daily), I’m starting to feel my clothes loosen as time passes.

Maybe one of the contributing factors of why more people were thinner back in my grandparents’ time was because they had to make everything from scratch or close to it.

Maybe in our need to have everything now, we’ve lost something essential that bypassed the cooking phase and went straight to stuffing our face.

Whatever it was, it’s good to know it doesn’t take too much to get it back.

Wait, I wonder if this works with barbecue?

What I Discovered in Conquering the Warrior Dash

It was about 10 minutes after leaving the starting line at the Warrior Dash at Pocono Raceway – keeping pace with the top third of my wave of fellow dashers – that I really, really wished I had had a second cup of coffee.

I knew there would be a dozen obstacles that included climbing through channels of mud and through pits of mud and wading through muddy water with barbed wire inches above your head, but this running thing?

That was going to get old quickly.

Notably, though, within about 15 minutes after starting, participants were not running like they were in a marathon.

Instead, they were walking and talking with each other and enjoying the experience.

What I learned was that this “race” was not really a race at all.

The competition was inside your head.

Could you clamber up the side of a tall barn-shaped structure and climb down the other side?

Could you walk across a narrow board spanning a pool of muddy water and not lose your balance?

Could you take a rope and climb a steep incline and then use a rope to get yourself down? (I felt like Batman and Robin from the 1960s television series where they scale the side of a building.)

batman

I truly was not sure how I would perform until I got out there.

Each obstacle was marked with a sign that read “Danger: Obstacle Ahead.”

“Danger”?

Holy crap. That was intimidating.

Reading the fine print on the waiver I signed was also not exactly reassuring.

It said that I understood the dash was a test of my physical and mental limits and “an inherently dangerous activity” that included extreme obstacles of fire, mud pits, barbed wire, cargo nets, heights, climbing and jumping into water, among other feats of derring-do.

It went on to say that the course might include plants, insects and wild animals.

It even mentioned death three times for crying out loud!

I will say though that the course was infused with a sense of humor. The obstacles were dotted with signs like “Yes, we wish you had trained too” and “If your ex could see you now.”

The thing that I came to appreciate as I climbed and crawled was that if you kept your mind focused on the fun, you could have a good time.

Yes, I had poured myself into some tight-fitting bike shorts that made me feel like a sausage. There were plenty of muscled shirtless guys who easily lapped me.

But you know what?

There were also people of every shape and size and a few guys of a certain age like me out there giving it their all.

Driving home I was a bit sore, hungry and had some muddy grit in my ears even after showering.

Still, I was elated because:

a.) I made it.

b.) The median age of the participants had to be like 27.

c.) And I got through the course in respectable time.

Maybe as A.A. Milne said: “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem…”

Going Old School to Get Into Shape

With the encouragement of my childhood friends who make up the About Men Radio crew, I’ve decided to fully embrace the AMR Fitness Challenge.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to eat right and exercise.

I’ve been working out consistently for nearly 15 years but I would say in the past two or so, I’ve slowed down.

Instead of working out for 45 or 50 minutes a day for six days a week, I started to do 30 minutes of exercise four days a week.

And with a desk job and being in the car four hours a day, that made a difference.

My doctor recently told me she wanted me to lose 15 pounds because my body mass index was too high.

So I am using the Fitness Challenge to get back to my old better habits.

After a July filled with travel, vacations and plenty of eating and drinking (and being sidelined with a medical issue for five weeks), I’ve started August off right.

I’m going old school with my workouts — relying on tried-and-true routines, such as circuits with weights and a Crunch Cardio Boot Camp DVD that has always served me well.

DVD

Now, here is the absolutely crazy thing: The harder I’ve pushed myself by extending my workouts, the better I feel, the more energy I have, especially at night when I’m working, and the better I sleep.

When I was only working out 30 minutes a day, I did not get those benefits.

I’ve also taken up MyFitnessPal.com to help me keep track of what I’m eating. It’s really simple math: You need to burn more calories than you take in.

When I was working out 30 minutes a day, I was just drawing even with my intake or eating more than I was burning.

I’ve tried a couple of different strategies: Eating more protein. Skipping sugar with my coffee. Eating more celery, carrots and peppers as snacks, sometimes with hummus.

I’ve signed up to run in a Warrior Dash in three weeks, so there’s more than the usual motivation to get going!

I’ll keep you posted…

If you want to share your tips and ideas — or to send words of encouragement — post on our Facebook page or write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com.
Related links:

Weighing in on the AMR Fitness Challenge

Note: About Men Radio member Richard Rodriguez wrote this a month ago as we prepared our AMR Fitness Challenge. We’re encouraging all men to do what they can to get themselves in better shape. Here is Rich’s first installment:

It is July 1st and I have determined this to be the start of my entry into the AMR Fitness Challenge:  Six months, lose 30 pounds and start regular exercise.

I am using the Lose It app to track my calories and exercise.

I ended my old job, which I had used as an excuse and crutch for my lack of exercise and healthy habits for the past two years.

When I had lost my job at the end of 2011, I used that time at home to be healthier and actually walked regularly and monitored my calories with the Lose It app.

I lost weight, felt better and even ran my first and only 5K.

Then I thankfully went back to work but my healthy ways went out the window.

I was driving four hours a day, gone all day, under stress at the job, and by the time I got home I was exhausted and defeated.

I didn’t want to do anything.

I probably gained 20-30 pounds and erased all the progress I made before.

I began a new job on July 5th with a shorter commute, and will have more time for my family and for taking care of myself and becoming more healthy.

I took a painful picture this morning and weighed in. I hope to begin a transformation and have a great improvement by the end of 2016.

Rich AMR

With the help and encouragement of the AMR crew, I hope all of us can reach our goals.