OrangeMud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 Review

Another bright IdeaLike all my reviews, this is a down and dirty, no mumbo jumbo review using my real world experience. Continuing in a new direction today, this will be a non-tech gear review. Today we will be looking at the OrangeMud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2

So, you’ve never heard of OrangeMud (www.orangemud.com)? Yeah I hadn’t either until last year when a good friend and fellow runner (Yeah you, Ed) introduced me to their stuff by giving me his Double Barrel HydraQuiver.

I will say this before I get into the review, if you are into buying American designed and American made (As a note, OrangeMud is based out of Corona California) products, like I do, you need to check them out. OK enough chit chat let’s get to it.

Disclaimer: None, the manufacturer did not provide this to me, though I wouldn’t turn down anything from them (hint, hint Josh).

Pros:

Breathability: The VP2 is made from a mesh patterned synthetic material. It’s lightweight, allows plenty of airflow when in use and so far has proven to be extremely tough.

Weight: Weighing in at 9.4 ounces without the included bottles, and 14.7 ounces with them (that’s 264 and 416 grams respectively for my metric friends). This thing is light. Which aids in the comfort aspects

Durability: I’m not going to lie, I’m rough on gear, but the VP2 has proven to be just as rugged as the Double Barrel Quiver it replaced. I’ve had it for a while now, and put well over 500 miles in while using it. It’s been in the woods, and the city and has had zero issues.

Storage: The VP2 has plenty of storage space (198 cubic inches). Two (2) shoulder pockets that can accommodate smaller items like protein bars, gel packs, and energy chews and two (2) front pouches that are big enough to hold items like my phone (I use either a Nexus 6 in a case or a Note 4 in a case) with no issue. All of the pockets are made of a nice stretchy material so you can jam-pack them if you want. I routinely carry 3-4 gel packs in each shoulder pocket, my phone in a front pocket and whatever snack I want quick access to in the other front pocket. If that isn’t enough space for you you can buy an optional accessory pocket that can go in the elastic lashing straps between the bottles.

Hydration: The VP2 comes with two (2) 20-ounce bottles but can fit bottles up to 24 or more ounces thanks to the adjustment straps on the bottle sleeves.

Adjustability: The VP2 has 2 adjustment points. The side straps ,which you should set & forget and the chest strap which you should use for your fine tuning. Basically you put the thing on and make the side straps snug, really snug. Then you use the chest strap to find the right tension to keep it in place.

Comfort: The VP2 is very comfortable to wear, like the Double Barrel I have worn it for hours at a time and never had any issues with discomfort or chafing. The design of the mesh allows plenty of air flow and does not retain moisture.

Neutral:

Fit: OK, I’m a big guy; more than a couple of people have called me a Sasquatch. I’m 6’3” and anywhere between 235 – 250 pounds depending on the time of year. The VP2 fits me but it’s a little small in my opinion. Not small as it it’s hard to get on and off or adjust; small as it the bottom of the pack falls in a spot that feels a bit awkward for me. I’ve let OrangeMud know that I would like to see a Plus sized version of the Pack and Josh Sprague (the owner and all around nice guy) has said that it is on the road map. If you’re 6’ or under and of a medium or slighter build this will be great for you. If you’re bigger in the chest region, or of a larger build, like I am, you may want to look at the Double Barrel HydraQuiver, though you do lose the front pockets with that model.

Bottle Placement: I’ll admit it took me about 10 runs with the first HydraQuiver I had to get used to it. It takes a bit of finesse to reach behind your head and grab or place a bottle from the sleeve, though once you get the hang of it, it’s no big deal at all. In the beginning I probably dropped the bottles half a dozen times trying to put them back. They held up and are still in use today.

Bottle Sleeve: I’m listing this here because the Double Barrel had a fit that held the bottles a bit snugger than the VP2 does. I’ve been told that people requested a looser fit because they wanted it to be easier to get the bottles out. OK I can deal with that; I use a spray on adhesive (the stuff used to make rugs less prone to slipping) to make the sleeve grip the bottles a bit more.

Cons:

Price: At $149 MSRP the VP2 is expensive, but like most things you get what you pay for. The VP2 is well constructed, and is made by a small American company. Factoring in that I’d say that it’s a little high but not outrageously so.

Other:

Warranty: OrangeMud provides a 90-day money back guarantee, a one (1) year warranty on the workmanship of their accessories and a limited lifetime warranty on the packs.

Summary:

So looking at the HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 , you can see the PROS outweigh the CONS. The pack is durable, lightweight, and good for road running & for trails. It has plenty of storage, and won’t chafe you, even after hours of sweaty use. Sure it’s a little bit on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. Also your purchase is with small company designing and manufacturing quality products here in the USA, and that’s always a good thing. I can wholeheartedly say that the VP2 is Rob approved.

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Carson Footwear Iguana Racer Review

Another bright IdeaLike all my reviews, this is a down and dirty, no mumbo jumbo review using my real world experience. We are taking a new direction today, this will be my first foray into non-tech gear reviews. What are we going to see today, what has the dubious honor of my first tech-free review? Carson Footwear’s Iguana Racers.

If you’re not familiar with Carson Footwear (http://carsonfootwear.com/) I can’t say it’s your fault. They are new player in the footwear world, but at 2.5 years old they are definitely making their way into this ever-burgeoning field.

I will say this before I get into the nitty and the gritty, if you are into buying American designed, American made (As a note, Carson Footwear is based out of Milwaukie Oregon), and almost entirely American sourced products, you need to check them out. If you like to buy from the underdog, the small guy, the hip new upstart, check them out as well. OK enough chit chat let’s get to it.

Disclaimer: I contacted Everett Carson after a mutual acquaintance introduced me to the product, and he was gracious enough to agree to let me have a pair of his premiere offering for review. This will not influence my review, but in order to have full transparency I want to let you know.

Pros:

Breathability: The upper of the shoe is made of a tough, synthetic fiber in a tight mesh weave. It’s lightweight, allows plenty of airflow when in use and so far seems to be pretty tough.

Weight: These shoes are light. I have big feet (size 13 or 14 depending), and shoes normally list the weight for a size 9-10. I can tell you that these are probably the one of lightest pair of shoes I own. 10.3 ounces is what the postal scale shoes the size 13 weighing at. Pretty light.

Durability: I’m not going to lie, I’m rough on footwear, but these have been pretty darned good so far. I’ve run a couple hundred miles on the trails and the roads (combined) as well as walked around San Diego during Comic Con with these guys. They have also pretty much become my go to casual shoe, so they get a lot of mileage on them.

Sole: The sole on these is pretty nice, aside from the lug pattern, which is good on the trails it’s made from lightweight polyurethane instead of your typical EVA. From what I have read this material wa created especially for Carson with the help of BASF. I’ve also read that it helps to dissipate force horizontally as well os vertically so it can be thinner than its EVA counterparts.

Designed, Built and mostly sourced from America: For some of you that might not be a plus, but for me it is. I like supporting smaller, independent manufacturers and if they can add more to their local economy as opposed to somewhere in China or Bangladesh, even better.

Trailability: The PU sole with its unique lug pattern is great on multiple terrains. Dirt, gravel, sand, muddy areas; they performed admirably under most conditions. The one area where I saw a dip in gription (grippyness and friction) was in wet surfaces. They can be a bit slippery on wet stones and grass. Not terrible by any means but it seems to be their weakest point.

Neutral:

Zero Drop: I won’t mislead you; I like zero drop footwear. Inflated heel height is not natural and you shouldn’t stand for it (pun intended). I know a lot of people either don’t know the difference, don’t care, or think it’s weird but having the front and rear of your feet at the same point is where it’s at for me. For those who don’t know zero drop means that the front and the rear of the shoe are the same height. Typically running shoes have anywhere from 4mm – 16mm of difference between where the forefoot and the heel are in relation to the ground.

Stack height: Measuring in at 10MM the Iguanas fall squarely into the mid-range stack height for me. My work shoes are zero drop, .5mm stack height VivoBarefoot RAs and my marathon shoes are Altra Paradigms with a whopping 34mm stack height.

Don’t let the stack height fool you though, I have run 6-8 miles courses in these and they are as comfortable as some of my shoe with 18-24mm stack heights for the same distance.

Price: At $100 they fall right into the upper price point for non-professional runners, but factoring in the fact that they are manufactured and assembled here in the USA it’s a bargain as compared to most other companies that have everything made overseas.

Cons:

Fit: These run a bit smaller than I am used to. Truth be told I probably need a size 14 in them. They have a narrow toebox, and crowd my caveman toes together a bit. Luckily though the upper material is stretchy and they expand on the landing portion of my stride to allow my toes to splay a little bit.

No Rock Plate: Every shoe has to make compromises, weight for cushioning, breathability for waterproofing, or in this case no rock plate for flexibility. I get it, It’s not a huge negative but I wanted to make sure I let you know, being a minimalist shoe, they are very thin and flexible, which means no protective plate. For me that’s no a big deal but for some people it may be.

Other:

Warranty: Carson provides a one (1) year warranty on the workmanship of the shoes. You’ll get a nifty warranty card with the serial number of your shoes when you get them.

Packaging: like most shoes, they come in a box, but in that box is a nice bag to store your shoes in. In a world where companies like to give you less and less, it’s a nice touch.

Summary:

So looking at the Iguanas as a whole, you can see the PROS well outweigh the CONS. The shoes are durable, lightweight, good for road running, and great for trails. They are a little bit on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for, and really don’t you want your feet to have the best quality you can get for them? If you have wide feet consider getting a size larger than you usually wear. Don’t worry there are different patterns for the shoes, so you don’t have to have reptiles on your feet if you don’t want to. After a couple hundred miles and my daily life I can say that Carson Footwear is Rob approved.

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Fitbit Surge: Lightning Review

Another bright IdeaLike all my reviews, this is a down and dirty, no mumbo jumbo review using my real world experience. I’m shaking things up and starting directly with the CONS.

CONS:

HRM: The HRM isn’t as accurate as my other devices. To validate the HRM I wore the Fitbit, my Mio Link and my Polar FT7 with chest strap. The Fitbit read 57 as my Resting Heart Rate, the Mio and the polar both read it as 51. As a control I hopped onto one of the machines at the gym and grabbed its HRM pads, it read 52 as my resting, off by a few BPM, but not bad. However the disparity widened during my run today. At the height of my run, the FB registered my BPM as 163. The Polar and the Mio both clocked in at 176. That’s 13 BPM and a pretty big difference.

GPS: The GPS takes its dear sweet time to lock, not surprising. Based on the size of the device the antenna is pretty small, and probably a bit weak. It took about 25 seconds for it to lock, but once it did It never lost signal.

Size: I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty big. If you have dainty wrists, it’s going to look out of place. The face area is 1 5/16″ wide and 2 1/4″ long.

Proprietary USB connector: This is one of my biggest pet peeves. It means one more cable to keep track of. One more expense if I lose the original cable. I get it, you want a cool way to connect to your device, but you don’t want a cradle, so you design so goofy little pin style connector that has a weird shape. Bully for you, but I hate it. This thing is large enough that they could have put inductive charging in it. Drop it on a Qi based charging pad and walk away.

Price: At $250 this thing is pretty pricey. I’m not saying it isn’t worth the cost, just that it’s in the same realm as devices from Garmin, and the like that have a lot of the same features, plus do mapping and cadence.

PROS:

Comfortable: This thing is comfortable. The material that the strap is made from is a polymer of some sort that has a soft and almost silky feel to it. It is easy to grip, yet doesn’t pull on my arm hair (which there is plenty of). It has a traditional hook and loop style clasp and the retainer loop has a “tooth” in it to hold the band. It’s lightweight and once you slip it on it’s pretty much forgotten about.

HRM: OK I can hear you now, “You just listed the HRM in the CONS”. I did, but keep reading Skipper. The HRM is optical. It has 2 pulsing lights that allow it’s sensor to measure your pulse rate on your wrist. No more uncomfortable chest straps (more for the ladies and us fat guys). Being a large guy and pretty hairy guy, I have always hated chest straps. The pull hair, the get pushed down by jiggling fleshy parts and they have trouble getting readings through my overly manly fur. Having the HRM be optical and on your wrist eliminates all that frustration.

Battery: So it came out of the box with 50% battery, throwing caution to the wind I didn’t even charge it, I just set it up and put it on. I turned the HRM to always on, fiddled with the settings and let it do its thing. I even left the cable for it at work. I wore it the rest of the day, all night, and still have it on this morning. It used the GPS while I ran, the HRM is still going and the battery appears to have moved all of about 10%. Not too shabby. They claim it will get 7-10 days of battery life (based on usage of course).

Fitbit Community: Being a fit bit it has all the accoutrements that any of their devices has, including the website, mobile app and fairly rabid fan base. People LOVE their Fitbits . The website shows your recent exercises, weight goals calories burned, calories consumed and water intake. It has areas to challenge your Fitbit friends, log your food intake and what have you. Their food database is nowhere near as expansive as MyFitnessPal, nor does it link with MFP. That is a shame but it is what it is.

GPS accuracy: While the GPS does take a while to get a lock it seems to be fairly accurate.  My phone clocked my run today at 5.36 miles, the Surge clocked it at 5.37. Considering the size of the device I can live with a longer lock time as long as it keeps the lock and is accurate for my runs.

Operation: The Surge is pretty straight forward to operate, three buttons and a touch screen. Most of your work is going to be done using the buttons, while navigation is done using the touch screen. Wake the device up, button. Choose an exercise, scree. Start/stop/pause buttons. View text messages, screen. You get the picture. Without looking at the user guide, it took me less than 2 minutes to have the navigation and operation of this thing down pat.

Screen: The Surge uses a transflective type display with a back light. What does this mean to you? It means the display is readable in direct sunlight and when it’s dark it has a sensor that tells it to turn on the back light so it can be read. This makes the battery life a lot easier to manage as compared to standard always lit lcd /led/olem displays.

Water resistance: this sucker is rated at water resistant to 5 ATM. Which while it sounds all cool and whatnot really just means you can sweat, wash, shower, & run in the rain with it. It is not designed for use as a swimming tracker (needs at least a 10ATM rating for that). You can probably splash around in a 4’ pool with no issues, but diving depth is a no no.

Summary:

So looking at the Surge as a whole, you can see the PROS, outweigh the CONS. It’s a solid little device with some nice features. It’s a definite step up from your typical glorified pedometer that the rest of the Fitbit family of gear is. The HRM is a bit inaccurate, but not terribly so. The GPS is a bit slow, but it’s accurate once it gets a lock. It’s comfortable, not terrible to look at and has a good battery life. If you can get past the price tag. I think most people will feel it’s a great workout/daily life device worth strapping on their wrists.

UPDATE: 7/6/2015

Well The surge is still working like a champ. Battery life with my mixed use (GPS 4 days a week for runs) is about 4-5 days per charge. It has survived my circuit shorting sweat and been in the shower pretty much every time I have. I can say that the Surge is Rob Approved.

UPDATE: 9/29/2015

The newest software update has made this device even better. Improved battery life, mile mark notifications, and general stability improvements. the last update I would like to see is the ability to get email notifications. If it had that it would be the complete package. I still say that the Surge is Rob Approved.

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AfterShokz Bluez 2 Review

As always this will be a down and dirty type of review. It will be based in real world terms, not fancy marketing hype. Ready or not, here we go.

 

Common background information: I workout a lot, I sweat profusely and I have shorted out at least two dozen headsets in my pursuit of sweat-proof earphones/headsets to use while I run, lift, and bike. If you have read my previous reviews, you will remember that I reviewed other Aftershockz products last year. Well my friends at Aftershokz have graciously provided me with a pair of their newest headset to torture. Iam happy to say that, I have found another great headset that I can recommend. Like their predecessor these are a bit different than standard headsets/earphones in that they are an open ear, bone conduction type of headset. That means they sit on your cheekbones and send sound to your inner ear, not like tradional heatsets that go in your ear. So without further rambling, I present the AfterShokz Bluez 2. http://www.aftershokz.com/collections/wireless/products/bluez-2

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If you are unfamiliar Aftershockz, I can say I’m not that surprised. Though I expect that to change any day now. When I first came across Aftershokz, I was looking for bone conductive headsets. I knew they were out there but hadn’t ever found any Bluetooth ones before. Anyone who knows me knows I HATE, and yes that is a strong word, but I absolutely hate wired headsets and earphones when I exercise. My gorilla arms tend to flail about and get tangled up in the wires and rip things off my noggin. I was happy to find that someone had stepped up and created a Bluetooth BCH and couldn’t wait to try them out.

Good:

Price: The Bluez 2 MSRP is $99 but I imagine that street price will vary a bit once they are publicly available. The price point is not too outrageous for a Bluetooth stereo headset of decent quality. It’s great when you take into consideration, that bone conductive sets are usually higher than this when wired.

Comfort: Like my review for the Decibullz (http://aosp.us/?p=799) and the original BLUEZ (http://aosp.us/?p=862) , I cannot stress this point, enough, because they do not go in your ears, but rather sit on your cheek bones, they are extremely comfortable. I wore them for about 8 hours the first day I had them, and just like the previous model, I almost forgot they were there, except for the constant rhythm I had in my head.

Fit: The Bluez 2 fit like, most other wrap behind headsets, but are most similar to the Motorola S10/S11 headsets, in the fit department. If you’re worried about them falling off while you workout, don’t. I know some of you out there are going to be like, “But I really workout hard/fast/violently/whatever…” Yeah I do too. I do 60-75 minutes of cross-fit style training followed by 60-90 minutes of trail/road running. In the course of my workout my head gets flung into many different positions, sometimes with a fair amount of force. Guess what, they stay in place just fine. They fit securely in front of your ears and have a band in the back that helps keep the tension on them. They have stayed in place so far for me, in excess of 8 hours of workout time so far. A small change from the original is that the tension strap is not adjustable. So far that has not been an issue because it fits snugly and has some stretch to it.

 

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Sound Quality: If you’re looking for a headset that can be an audiophile’s wet dream, I’m going to ask you to kindly move along, as these are not the headphones you are looking for (Jedi mind trick active).  OK are those guys gone? Good. OK, for the rest of you out there who are looking for a headset that has great audio, phone capabilities, and decent battery life, I’m talking to you. I was surprised by the sound quality of the Bluez 2, even compared to the originals which were good. I had tried bone conducting headsets a few years back and was, let’s just say, underwhelmed by them. The Bluez 2 do a great job of reproducing the sounds that you would normally have going into your ears. The bass was bassy but not overbearing, the mids and highs were there and represented well. If you have them cranked all the way up you can hear the music coming out of them from a distance, but if you set them down on a hard surface they will shake and rattle all over the place, letting you know it’s not sound but vibration that you are hearing. They have implemented a new feature called “Leak Slayer” which helps cut down on audio leakage, which was an issue for the originals. As far as call quality I have made a few calls with them and people say they can hear me nice and clearly and I can hear them very well too. The Bluez 2 have an additional microphone for noise reduction, and it appears to work as advertised So they actually do perform very well as a phone headset.

Packaging/Accessories: when most companies are trying to give you as little as possible when you buy their products, it’s refreshing to see one going a bit better. The Bluez 2 are packaged well in a nice box. Inside that box is a soft carrying case, a charging cable, a warranty card, a quick start guide, a multi lingual instruction sheet and the tension band. Unlike some of the other brands that give you throw away packaging and the headset, it’s nice to get the carrying case included. That being said, I’ll never use it. I never used the rigid case that came with the Bluez.

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Controls: The power, volume, and multifunction buttons are rubber coated/booted physical buttons. They work as intended and are easy to use. To answer a call you press the multifunction button on the left “ear” piece (when you are wearing them), this will pause any media you have running. To end the call you press the button again. To make a call a double press of the button gets you into the dialog for that. To play/pause your music you single press the multifunction button. Dead simple.

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Battery: They claim a 6 hour battery life. I was able to get almost 8 hours out of them the first day I had them. The first couple of hours were at about 90% volume, while the rest was at 50% or a little below. I’m not sure what volume they have their number spec’ed for but, as always,  your mileage may vary.

Warranty: They come with a 2 year warranty, that covers defects in workmanship and sweat damage. As a side note, they truly stand behind their products. I destroyed 12 pairs of the originals with my overactive sweat glands. They happily replaced them no questions, no qualms. This is a company that I can say honestly really cares about their customers. The customer service staff that I have worked with have all been great. Always courteous, always genuine, and always eager to help me get my issue resolved.

 

 

Neutral:

Sound Quality: I know I just said this was in the good column, but there is something I need to tell you about that is neither Good nor Bad when it come to the sound quality. Remember these are an Open Ear style headset. That means you can still hear outside sounds/noise when you use them. For me this is a good thing, I often run along roads and busy streets, and being able to hear approaching traffic is always good. While I enjoy the solitude that my in ear headsets give me, the safety factor takes precedence when running outside. Being able to hear ambient noises can be a strange experience at first, but you’ll adjust quickly.

 

BAD:

Comfort: Again, I know I just said this was in the good column, just hear me out.I had no discomfort with the Bluez2 but the foillowing goes out to anyone who is new to bone conduction headsets. You will likely have no discomfort while wearing/using the Bluez2. You may notice a strange sensation when you take them off. After being on your head for a long time, you may notice a weird tingling sensation on your face (no doubt from being shook all day) and you will likely notice a sense of relief when you take them off. Because they put pressure on your face, it apparently build up after a while. Like I said I only noticed it after taking them off and only the first few times I wore them.

USB Flap: In order to maintain the Water resistance/Sweat Proof-ness they have a small flap that covers the usb port. It’s made of plastic and is held in place by a flimsy little, for lack of a better word, tether. I would have rather seen a rubber plug style door that is welded to the plastic than what they are using. It has been ok so far but we will see how it holds up. The original Bluez had the same type of connector and it was surprisingly resilient.

 

Conclusion:

Conclusion: No bones about it (see what I did there?), well excluding your cheek and inner ear bones (you do know you have bones in your ears right?), the Aftershokz Bluez 2 are a good buy. Even if you have to pay full retail price, but who does that. They have performed well for me so far and will most likely become my daily driver (replacing the original Bluez) for working out and running, assuming I don’t prove the sweat-proof claims inaccurate.

 

UPDATE 5/30/2014:

So, I have put these things through the wringer. Over 20 hours in the gym, and 200+ miles running in conditions ranging from light rain to high humidity and heat. They have had more sweat and moisture on them then should be legal and all the while they have performed great with nary a peep of complaint. These are by far one of the best headsets on the market today.  I can finally say that the Bluez 2 are Officially Rob Approved.

The measure of true fitness – I’m a Work in progress

Let me preface this post by saying, I’m still working on my true fitness. I am in no way near where I want to be, but everything takes time. Maybe someday I will be truly fit, until then I’m a work in progress

Crossing the finish at the warrior dash

The thing that most people fail to comprehend is what true ‪‎fitness is.
It’s not a specific weight, a body type or even an appearance, but rather a measure of ones capability.

True fitness doesn’t come from having the physique you see in magazines, being able to lift the most weight, or from the number of reps you can do in any given exercise. True fitness is being the best you, that you can be.

Overcoming your personal obstacles, out performing the you of yesterday. True fitness is a measure of your endurance, you capacity for change and your ability to accept the things that you cannot change.

Having rock hard abs and the perfect V shape would be great, don’t get me wrong, but they are not the true measurement of your fitness. Running two miles when you used to only be able to one, is a much better measurement.

Recognizing your stumbling blocks, both mental and physical, and working to correct and eventually overcome them is a better measurement of your true fitness.

Being physically fit is only a part of your true fitness, the greatest aspect of true fitness is mental. it’s not hoping, or praying that you are able to do something. It’s not being afraid to try, even if you do not succeed at first.

Having the mental attitude of “I believe I can do this” or better yet “I know I can do this” that is the biggest part of true fitness.
When we can look at ourselves and say “I give you permission to fail, so long as you have given your best effort”, that is when we are at our best.

Once you allow yourself to get over the preconceived notions of what fitness is, you can focus on raising your capabilities and your functional abilities.
When you give yourself permission to move past the obstacles that you have placed in your own way, and allow yourself to live up to your potential, then you will know what true fitness is.

True fitness is functional fitness, not physical fitness.

Calculating Calories Burned: How I do it

Hey Look It's Me

Hey Look It’s Me

It’s been a while since I have posted anything so I figured I would go over something.

I have been asked before and some of you may be wondering how I figure my calories burned, well here is my method:

It begins with heart rate monitors, these wonderful and frustrating devices are the crux of any method of figuring calories burned.

I use two different HRMs one is a Polar FT4 with a rigid chest strap (http://www.polarusa.com/us-en/products/get_active/fitness_crosstraining/FT4), the other is a Scosche Rhythm with an arm strap (http://www.scosche.com/rhythm/). I use both of these great devices to record my numbers for my various exercise routines. When I finish a routine I then add the results from each HRM together and divide the sum by 2 to get an average (the results from each device are pretty close to each other but never the same).

Next I take this averaged number and then subtract my Basal Metabolic Rate (the calories I would have burned just sitting around on my arse in the same period). You can find a rough estimate of yours here: http://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html

Take the number you get for a BMR and divide it by 1440 (the number of minutes in a day) and that is how much you burn per minute just sitting on your butt doing nothing.

For me that number is 1.5 (well actually 1.4868 but I round up) so if I do 30 minutes of exercise and burn 600 calories I would need to subtract 45 calories from the result (30 minutes x 1.5 per minute) because I would have burned that amount of calories even if I was just being a bum, that leaves me with 555 calories burned for that routine.

I am the only guy I know that uses a calculator at the gym, but I feel it gives me a more accurate set of numbers, which will be better in the long run. I hope this makes sense to you guys and perhaps you will start using this method for yourself.

Yet another trip around the Sun

Hey Look It’s Me

Well Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of my arrival on this, our home planet. It’s a small blue marble floating around in the vastness that is space. Light years from anything of real interest, far removed from the hub bub that lies in the center of our galaxy, let alone our universe. What did I do to commemorate such a momentous day, you ask? Well I’ll tell you, in a nice timeline format.

4:30 a.m. – woke
4:35 a.m. – brushed teeth, got dressed for gym
4:40 a.m. – ate breakfast
4:50 a.m. – out the door
5:10 a.m. – at the gym for my Tuesday workout
7:10 a.m. – hit the showers
7:25 a.m. – off to work

BIG chunk of day gone

4:55 p.m. – head home
5:35 p.m. – off to the mall (wife was supposed to pick up some clothes that were being altered)
6:15 p.m. – TO DINNER! (at a great local restaurant that specializes in american comfort food)
8:00 p.m. – back home doing a little bit of work remotely (checking on a big data transfer)
8:15 p.m. – geeked on the computer
10:00 p.m. – called it a night

Exciting stuff I know, but it was a good day.

Since you’re here I might as well expand upon my workout routine as well. My Tuesday workout? well as of late I have switched it up a little bit. Here is what I have been doing for Tuesdays:

Strength:
30 Dips
10 Overhand pull-ups
10 Underhand pull-ups
10 Front grip pull-ups
30 Crouched row 110 pounds
30 Tricep extensions 55 pounds
30 Push ups
40 Sit ups, ledge style* (10 front, 10 right, 10 left, 10 front) 15 pounds
30 Bar dips neutral grip
30 Renegade rows with should press 70 pounds (35 pounds per hand)
30 Crouch and punch 15 pounds each hand
30 Mountain climbers
30 Lunges 70 pounds
Typical time 40 – 45 minutes
Typical Calories Burned 250 – 300

Cardio:

5k run 7.5 mph
10 mile bike ride
Typical time: 50-60 minutes
Typical calories burned: 1200-1700 depending on incline and and other variables

*this is done with a piece of equipment or hanging off the edge of a platform so that your whole upper body is just hanging out in the wide open with no floor, so that you can get a wider range of motion.

It’s been working well for me, I’ve noticed I’m getting more definition in my arms and my stomach area is starting to tighten up a bit, which is a good thing as I have a lot of excess skin to deal with.

On a related note I discovered a new brand of exercise clothing that I really like. Hylete makes a nice collection of workout and competition gear for cross-trainers/cross-fitters and other exercise enthusiasts . I liked the shorts I got from them so much, that I applied to and was accepted into their athletes program.

Basically they help to sponsor me with gear for telling people about their stuff. It’s a simple premise, I tell people about the gear I like and direct them to the Hylete web page, if people use me as a referral when they buy stuff, I get money to buy gear at a reduced price (which helps me save money to pay for more races and such). It’s a win for everyone. Hylete gets more customers, I get more gear, and my friends get high quality gear from a small company trying to make it big.

So if your in the market for some workout clothes give them a look. If you buy something and use me as a referral, great; if you buy something and don’t use me as a referral that’s fine too. I’m just trying to help a small company get their product seen by more people. In the end it isn’t about me getting stuff, it’s about someone building a business that will provide a quality product and employ more people right here in the US. If I get a benefit from it I’m all for it, but even if I don’t I hope see them succeed. Our economy can use all the help it can get these days.

That’s it for now.

Go.

Do.

Be.

Rob

Warriors Dashing, Mudders Toughing it out, and other things I’ve been up to lately

It’s been a while since I wrote anything of any substance, well intrepid readers don’t worry, you’ll find no real substance here. So, you can continue to breathe easy. This is a light post about things I have been up to as of late, nothing too heady, or heavy, just a nice easy jaunt down recent memory lane. Lace up your running shoes, grab your water bottle & let’s hit the road…

stolen from http://experimentinginhappiness.files.wordpress.com

As some of you may know I’m a bit of a workout guy. 4 days a week, 1.5 – 3.0 hours, about 1500 calories per workout, depending on what I’m doing. I have been on a maintenance course lately, just keeping my weight in check and getting more fit. I had ulterior motives though, while not insidious by any means, some people may think them a bit kooky.

I was training for the Warrior Dash (http://warriordash.com) and the Tough Mudder (http://toughmudder.com). If you are unfamiliar they are obstacle course runs. The first being a 5k run with 10+ obstacles to over come to get to the finish line. The second being a 12 mile course with 21+ obstacles standing between you and the finish line. When I tell most people that I do these for fun (and to help raise money for charities) they look at me funny and I know that they are mentally scratching their head and saying “This dude’s cheese must have slid right off his cracker.” while that assessment may or may not be accurate, the fact remains that I do enjoy the grueling punishment that these courses afford me. They push me to do better, run harder, get stronger and generally prove to myself that I am still alive.

I participated in the 2012 Wisconsin Warrior Dash on 8/18. I used it as my primer for the Tough Mudder that I ran on 9/8. It was great. I finished in just over 31 minutes. 36th in my age bracket (out of 600+ runners) and 253rd over all (out of 6510 runners). I also raised over $350 for ST. Jude’s Hospital. The course was great and I was in an early heat so as to avoid the hot mid-day sun. I had set my go to finish in 40 minutes, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I was well below that time. I’m not one for Timed races, as I care more about completing the course than competing on it. which leads us nicely to the next run.

Crossing the finish at the warrior dash

The Tough Mudder, I ran this in the first heat on 9/8. 12 miles of varying terrain littered with many obstacles. Unlike the Dash, this is non timed course that focus more on camaraderie than on time. As fate would have it my cousin, who was supposed to run it with me, was forbidden to do so by his physician. I was a team of one, or so I thought. About 1 mile in I met up with a 34 year old Fireman from Milwaukee named Kevin. His teammate was out as well, due to elbow that got broken in a MMA match. He asked if I wanted to team up and I was happy to do so. He had run the Mudder the year before and was glad to find someone to run it with.

Being 7 years younger than me, a fireman, and a previous runner in the Mudder, meant that I would have to keep up with him, as his pace would no doubt be faster than mine (you do remember me saying I like to be challenged, right?). Well his normal pace was a bit faster than my normal pace, but I stepped it up and kept up with him (except on a couple of hills where he slowed to wait for me.) We ran at about 6.5 mph for the first 5 miles where we happened to meet up with a third guy, and I knew this one. Tom is a guy from my gym whom I have talked to a few times. Here I am just plodding along at about mile 5 when I turn and see him just jogging along as if it’s no big deal; I started talking to him and he gladly joined our twosome. Now a threesome we were like a team, 3 different guys, with different strengths to compliment each other. It turns out the Tom was supposed to be in the 9 am heat, but like me he decided to go early, to beat the heat.

So picture the scene if you can, 2 guys that are younger and in better shape then yours truly, trudging along the mud laden, obstacle filled course with about 7 miles to go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in OK shape, I run, I lift, & I bike, but these guys are not former fat guys with loads of spare skin flopping around, I looked a bit out of place next to them, but never the less here we were, 3 guys, out to beat this course. As it turned out I was kind of built for this type of thing. I’m tall, fairly strong, and can run for decent amounts of distance without really slowing down. I could grab the tops of the tall walls with just a slight jump, I was tall enough to hop over the smaller barriers with ease, and limber enough to go under the others with little difficulty.

I surprised not only myself but my teammates by being the pace setter at about mile 9. Both Kevin and Tom started to get worn out at that point and I had to take point and keep them motivated. That was easy, seeing the old man of the group plodding along at the same pace he had from the get go, does wonders to get younger guys going.

I was in my zone, the place I go when I exercise, be it biking, hiking, or running. I get into a mental state where I have a sort of tunnel vision, all I see is my end point and I focus on that. I was there; running through smoke and fire; the zone; Climbing up an incline and jumping off a 27 foot tall platform into water; the zone; running up a steep hill, then dropping down a sheer dirt cliff; the zone; running through the muddy forest area, and dodging barbed wire; the zone; swimming through water and getting shocked by up to 10000 v of electricity yep, the zone. At one point Kevin turned to Tom and said, “this guy is like a machine, he just keeps right on going without stopping”. It’s funny the guys I go hiking with have said the same thing. It’s the zone and it is my secret weapon to conquering the course.

Even though the Tough Mudder isn’t timed, I started my HRM when I crossed the starting line and stopped it when I crossed through the “Electroshock Therapy” obstacle. Yeah you read that right 2 obstacle both involving water and electricity. The first one was called the Electric Eel, where you crawl and swim through water with live wires danging down so that you cannot avoid them. ZAP! ZAP! ZAP! I got one to the forehead in the eel that made everything go black for a second. You want motivation, getting shocked will motivate you to move your arse faster. The second electric obstacle is the very last one on the course, no crawling this time, you’re running through an archway laden with over 1000 wires. Random wires have a live charge and will zap the unlucky. I got 3 zaps running through; more motivation. In total I clocked in at 01:58:02 from start to finish. Not too shabby for a guy who less than 2 years ago only ran to kitchen to get a snack.

So Rob, having run the Dash and the Mudder what are you going to do now? I’m going to Disney Land!
Well not really. I went to Kentucky, for a few days of hiking in the Red River Gorge Geological Area of the Daniel Boone National Forest. I hiked a lot, I took a lot of pictures, and generally relaxed for 4 days in one of the most scenic places I have been. Want to see my pictures? There are over 300 of them, most of trees and rocks and other nature stuff…

Suspension Bride over the Red River

If you ever get the chance go to the Red River Gorge and the Natural Bridge Parks in Kentucky. I was once again awed by the beauty and power of the world around me. Nothing can make you feel small quite like seeing the enormity of the world we live in up close.

Now I have had to return to the real world, where there are project, deadlines, and problems to be fixed. It’s amazing how much can pile up in a 6 day absence from work. I have servers to repair, new switches to put in place and a 24TB Equalogic ISCSI SAN to implement as well finishing up the office remodel that I am overseeing. I keep the memory of my recent obstacle course in my head along with the pictures of my visit to KY. Filed away to remind me that there are better things waiting for us, just beyond the doors and walls of home and office.

I have about a year to get ready for the next Tough Mudder, Spartan Beast, or maybe the Zombie Run. Who knows what lies around the next corner, just waiting for me, you, hell all of us, to grab hold of and run with. Adventure waits for us, and will always be there when we are ready for it.

Rob

Update If anyone would like to see me get zapped in the Electroshock Therapy obstacle at the end of the 2012 ToughMudder, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MqJneBi_kk&feature=youtu.be

The secret to my success

I was recently asked if I had any tips or tricks to help out a new member of MFP (myfitnesspal.com). Below is what I wrote to them, it applies to all of us so I decided to share it with everyone. I hope you enjoy it.

There really is no magic to my success. I eat less than I burn, I eat better foods, and I exercise a lot.

Food:
I buy better foods, I mean that, I have switched to more organic, and less processed foods. I eat more “whole” foods, less canned foods. For example I buy a whole chicken, instead of just breast meat (for the most part), because it is less processed. I eat less pasta, bread, and processed sugars. I use all natural sweeteners when I use them (agave nectar, raw sugar, etc)

When I buy veggies, I buy fresh or frozen. I buy organic and local meats (when possible). I eat a lot of fruit and I drink a ton of water. If you look at yesterday’s log for food, I drank 19 glasses of water.

Exercise:
I exercise 4 days a week for at least 60 minutes each session. I run, I lift weights, I run some more, I ride my bike, I ride the stationary bikes. When I run, I run at least 4 miles at a time, always with an incline (when on a treadmill). The incline is the key to burning big calories. If you are just starting off and you can’t run, walk, but goes as fast as you can on an incline when possible. Most treadmills will incline to at least some degree. If you are walking outside, walk like those people you see in the mall, all serious and determined, walk with speed, with determination, with purpose.

Mentality:
Be positive, you’d be surprised how many people neglect this aspect. A positive frame of mind will help you achieve more than you ever imagined. I can’t wait to get to the gym on the days that I go. Do I love lifting weights, and running and sweating like a wildebeest in the Savannah? Absolutely not. Do I love the feeling of accomplishment, and the results working out brings?Absolutely. The positive frame of mind will carry over into other parts of your life as well, causing everything to seem better overall, which in turns, makes you feel better about yourself, which then leads to better outcomes.

Goals:
Set a goal. No matter how big, or small always have a goal. I’m not talking about your end goal. I’m talking about intermediate and small goals. Like: Today I will walk an extra 500 steps, or I will lose 3 pounds in the next week, or I will not eat a candy bar for 7 days. Small steps, near term goals, little victories. They all add up to long term success.

Dieting:
Remember that you cannot expect a diet to work. Diets are short term plans of action, that are not correlated with long term goals. To be successful, you have to change your lifestyle, change your eating habits, and change you way of looking at food and exercise.

Support:
Find a mentor, a role model, a friend, a workout buddy. Whether that person is live and in person or only accessible via the the ephemeral confines of the Internet, you need a mentor and a role model; someone whom has had success and is willing to share their plans, their routines and their insights with you.

Surround yourself with friends, I’m not talking your go to a bar or movie friends, I’m talking about like minded individuals that can relate and share in your struggle. By joining MFP you have taken the first steps in that part. No one can understand what you are going though, or what you will achieve better than someone who has been there, is there, and is struggling with the same (or similar) issues as you are. We all need support, and while our IRL (in real life) friends and family may be empathetic, unless they are on the same journey as you, they cannot truly understand.

Find an IRL workout buddy, someone who can help push you along, pick you up when you falter, be there when you fail (and you will fail along the way). Find someone that will not let you stop when you hit that wall, won’t let your failures be the death of your ultimate success, someone that will support your effort, or kick you in the ass to get you moving again. You need someone that won’t accept “I Can’t” as an answer.

Acceptance:
Push yourself, If you are capable of running 1 mile, don’t settle for that, push yourself to go 1.25, or 1.5 miles instead. Never accept your comfort zone as your top end. Push yourself to achieve and you will achieve. if you can lift 25 pounds try 30. Do not strive for good enough, strive for better than you have ever done. You are a piece of evolutionary genius. I’m not talking science vs religion here, I’m talking human adaptability. You are built to excel, made for success. You are not a static being, you are ever changing and your goals should follow suit. Set your dreams just beyond your grasp and then reach for them.

Recovery:
Sleep, rest, recharge. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, 8 if you can get it. Take a day off between workouts to rest. If you are pushing yourself, you will need the time off. Your muscles, while marvelous, need to rebuild after hard work. Take a break from workouts. I routinely take a week off where I do not do any structured workouts. That’s not to say I am not exercising, I’m just doing things like hiking in the woods, trekking up a mountain, chopping wood, swimming in a lake, rowing a boat. This is how I recharge, getting away from society and getting back to the pioneer spirit.

That’s it, you now have been given access to my toolset. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.

Weight Loss, Food, Clothing and a Financial crisis

So in my last post I had pics of me from last years holiday party. In those pictures I wore a size 54 jacket and size 48 pants. I went to Men’s Wearhouse on Sunday and bought a new suit. I had to, they basically laughed at me when I went in to see if I could get my old suit altered to fit me. You see this year I wear a size 44 coat and size 36 pants. That’s a big difference; so big that they told I had to get a new one, because they couldn’t alter any suit that much. While that in it self is great it’s also not.

Sure losing 114 pounds has done wonders for me; for my health and well being, my exercise and eating changes have been wonderful; not so much so for my wallet. In the past year I have spent more on clothing than I have ever had to. While I feel great and have surely added years to my life, my finances are feeling strained because of it.

Now, admittedly, I could have bought a cheaper suit than I did. I tried on a few at the mall and none garnered the approval of my wife, so it was off to Mens Wearhouse, where i had $50 in gift cards anyway. My intention was to buy a suit I saw on their website for $249 and since they were having a sale I could get a second one for $100. Great $349 – $50 is $299 not bad for 2 suits. Well they didn’t have the suits from the website in store (big shock) so I looked at what they did have. I ended up with a suit for $299; still not too bad. Add the second one in for $100 and we’re just under $400. Then they get you for tailoring, taxes, toll money, their kids college tuition and such, which I understand, but dang it if I didn’t end up spending over $500 after my gift cards were used up. So once again, I had been hornswoggled. I intended on spending about $250 and ended up doubling it. My wallet took another hit for the team. I feel sorry for it, I really do.

I’m liking the fact that I can shop in the “Mens” section not the “Big and Tall” section, which by the way is really just the “Big” section in my opinion. They believe that anyone with a waist larger than 42 is never going to have more than a 30″ inseam; but on the off chance you do it will most assuredly be because you are a gargantuan and have a 36″+ inseam. so all of the moderately tall fat guys get screwed. We either have to buy “highwater” pants or dress like we are Steve Urkel.

Sorry I got off track there, where was I? Oh yes my poor, poor wallet. In addition to having to bear the burden of my new wardrobe, my wallet has had to shoulder the weight of higher grocery costs. It’s amazing how much more it costs to eat healthy than to not. For example, I have been trying to move to more and more organic, and where possible locally sourced food stuffs. Here is a comparison with what I believe are fairly accurate numbers for one item.

Chicken. One of the most abundantly available meats products know to the US consumer. I never really gave much thought to the chicken, except maybe what to marinate it in on what to slather on it, until I changed my eating habits. Now I consider many factors when looking at this ubiquitous culinary item. Let’s say you want to make some chicken, so you meander on down to your local mega (or not so mega) mart; you are presented with a myriad of poultry choices.  Standard fare Chicken, Organic Chicken, All Natural Chicken, Free Range Chicken, Pastured Chicken among the bevy of others. each one with it’s own pricing structure and variance depending on a whole other list of factors.

For my comparison Let’s consider ordinary standard chicken, organic chicken and locally source pastured chicken. For my standard we will use a run of the mill mega mart chicken, an Organic Chicken, and a Local chicken procured from a local store (in this case Bushel and Peck in Beloit Wisconsin)

Standard Young Chicken 3-4 pounds: About $6, fed who knows what, kept in a tiny cage, gets crapped on by the bird above it, has it’s beak removed, treated inhumanely

Certified Organic chicken 4-5 pounds: About $8, fed grain, no antibiotics, kept in a pen with a bazillion other birds, crowded but not entirely inhumane treatment, doesn’t get sunlight or weather.

Locally sourced Pastured Organic Chicken 4-5 pounds: About $10, fed all natural grain, no antibiotics, allowed to roam and peck around in a field with a bunch of other birds, basically living the good life until he get’s culled for my consumption.

So you can see the hit a wallet takes. I want to buy the locally sourced bird. It helps a local farmer, my local economy, is good for me to eat, and I can rest easier knowing that the animal that gave it’s life for my dinner was treated with respect and dignity; but at nearly 2x the cost of the standard chicken I cannot afford to do so all the time. I will usually opt for the certified organic chicken to split the difference but I truly would prefer to get the local bird.

This same type of dilemma occurs for everything you buy when you change your eating, The food that is good for you costs more than the food that is not. I understand the economics of it. It costs more to raise the animals/vegetables/unicorns with out antibiotics and growth hormones because there are less overall successes in the end than there are in the factory farmed varieties that are made bigger, and faster with the help of science, chemical voodoo and Brawndo. I just don’t like it, nor do I have to. I do however have to tolerate it.

So now my food costs 2x as much, my clothes have all had to be replaced , and I had to buy a new suit. My wallet is sore, it has been taken to the woodshed and beaten within inches of it’s life. What’s a guy to do.

What’s your opinion? Tell me your thoughts.

Rob

On Losing Weight, Dieting, and My General Lunacy.

Hey Look It’s Me

Early in September 2010 I made a decision; I decided that I was getting too old to be fat. I could be fat, or I could be 40, not both. Since I haven’t figured out how to stop the march of time, I was left with only one path. I was about to turn 39 and weighed in at about 325 pounds. I had been half-heartedly been dieting whittling my weight down from an all-time high of 390 pounds. In 2008 I had dropped from 390 to 340 in a few months and kind of stalled out. I would lose a pound or two here and there but it took me another year to get to 325.  So that fateful September, I decided that I needed to stop dieting. Yes I said stop dieting. Dieting had done nothing but put me on a rollercoaster ride of losing and gaining weight, what I needed was a lifestyle change. Anyone who has dieted before knows how hard it is to stay on it, well it’s just as hard (if not harder) to alter the way you think about life and food.

I had already joined a gym and was going on a regular basis; doing all the same old routines I had done in high school and seeing little in the way of results (they didn’t work that well back then either). So I decided that I needed to find some tools to help supplement my quest for a healthier me. I wandered about the various exercise websites, and looked at all of the “weight loss by buying specialized food” sites and wasn’t getting much in the way of inspiration. I decided to see what was available in the Android Market on my phone. I typed in exercise and found a few apps that looked like they may hold promise. I searched on weight loss and found a few more apps that looked like they may be a decent resource. I installed a few different apps and saw nothing that I hadn’t seen in countless other places, that is until I loaded up MyFitnessPal. This application had a hook, it was tied to a website (http://www.myfitnesspal.com) that had a social aspect to it. You could find like-minded individuals who were willing to offer encouragement and were able to relate with your struggles.

(Me in December of 2010)

(A simple Comparison Picture)

I joined MyFitnessPal.com on September 13th 2010 weighing 325 pounds. I was determined to make a go of it and try for a big number. I wanted to lose 100 pounds by the time I turned 40. That gave me just over a year to get my butt whipped into shape and hit my target. Was it a foolish goal? Probably. Would it take determination, will power and a complete change of mindset to make it? Definitely. So I proceeded to use the website to set my goal weight. I chose 220 pounds and it asked me a few questions about my lifestyle. Based on my goal and my lifestyle (sedentary) it set my calorie intake and expenditure goals for me. OK now I had a plan and goal just like many other times before, but this time I had a weapon to help me.  By tracking the food I ate with the application on my phone, I soon learned I ate a lot more than I thought I did. A WHOLE LOT MORE. The first week of being on MFP,  I didn’t not make my calorie intake goal once. I did learn that I ate on average about 3500 calories a day and only expended about 2200 a day (not counting workouts). That meant 1300 calories in excess each day, well no wonder I didn’t succeed all those times before. This was a game changer. I knew what I needed to do straight away. The second week I made my goal every day, coming in below it by a few calories a few times. Progress at last; small steps to be sure, but progress none the less. For the first couple of months I relied on the machines I was using for cardio and the built in numbers on the MFP web site to tell me the calories I was burning (both of which, while helpful, are not accurate). I was losing weight, I averaged about 2 pounds a week; not too shabby. I was well on my way; If I could maintain 2 pounds per week I would make my goal with time to spare. I bought a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and started using that to chart my calorie burns. I would take what the machine said I burned add what the HRM said and average them out. Then I would subtract my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to get the approximate total burn for each workout. Yet another reason to use a smartphone, I needed to do math at the gym. In the old school days I would carry a little notebook and chart what workouts I did. These days my notebook is a phone and it charts the exercise, they calories burned, my calories exerted,  and keeps me in touch with a community of people all struggling with the same problem I am (a definite trade out from the old spiral).

I have a routine now too, just like the old days; only it’s a bit different. I work out 4 days a week. I start each day with the same breakfast (pretty much without fail). I find that the consistency helps me. What do I eat for breakfast you ask?
1 pure protein bar (usually Chocolate Deluxe)
1 Multivitamin
24 ounces of water

Yep that’s it; that is breakfast. I have snacks throughout the day the first one at about 9 am every day. Anyway back to the workout routine. As I said, 4 days a week. I workout onTuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Tuesday and Thursday I start out with chin-ups and Dips 30 of each then it’s cardio time I run. I used to walk, then I jogged, now I run. I average about 7.3 mph for 30 minutes. I use a machine called an Incline Trainer made by Freemotion. It allows me to run a course that varies from 3 degrees to 30 degrees of incline. That’s right I run on 30 degree incline for part of my workout. Typically the course keeps you at a level for 1 minute then changes. The constant change in incline keeps your body from being too adjusted and it has to constantly recalibrate itself. This leads to big burns for me ion the calorie department.  After the Incline trainer I move on to another machine (crazy I know) made by Precor it’s a 546i Crossramp. It’s like an elliptical but without moving arms, and the ramp goes between 1 degree and 20 degrees of inclination. Yep you guessed it. I run a course that varies on this one too. 30 minutes at about 6.5 mph. I don’t burn as many calories on it but it works all the muscles of your legs throughout the workout.

On Saturdays I add weights. 30 minutes of weight training, plus an additional 30 minutes on the Incline Trainer. So that’s about 10 miles of running on ever changing courses plus weights. Saturday is my big day I tend to burn about 2000 calories at the gym.

Sunday is strictly cardio. No chin-ups, No dips. Just running on the two machines.

I track everything I eat using MFP. I track all my exercise using MFP. MFP has kept me on my course (unlike this rambling story). MFP was the tool I used to make myself more accountable for the way I treated my body. It is that accountability that has made my dramatic weight loss possible. I know you’re wondering: “Did he lose the weight? Did he make his goal?”   Yes and Yes. I hit my goal on September 4th 2011, a full month before my target date. As of today I weigh 218 pounds. I am still working out like mad training for the Toughmudder 2012 (http://toughmudder.com ).   It’s a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by former special forces members. I have inspired my cousin too. He is going to participate in the mudder with me.

I guess what I really wanted to convey here was that it is possible. I lost over 100 pounds in under a year. The tools to help you are out there, and many like MFP are free, the only cost is your own motivation.  For better or worse I have changed my life, and my lifestyle. I eat better (for the most part), I exercise routinely, and I am maintaining my weight loss.  My next challenge; besides the Toughmudder? Getting this loose skin tightened up so I feel less like a shar-pei. That may take a while though.

Rob

Update: 6/22/2012 Just figured I would add a new picture

Me as of today

As of today I weigh 215 pounds. I currently wear a 34″ waist and a large shirt. I work out 4 days a week and limit the total amount of calories I eat per day to around 2200.

My Breakfast is still 24 oz water, a protein bar and a vitamin, but I have added glucosamine as a supplement as well.

I still log into MFP everyday, but I don’t always log my meals.  If you get on there feel free to request me as a friend. my userid is robrowald.

I am a modern day caveman

Hey Look It's Me

So I have been hitting the gym pretty hard as of late and I stopped today and looked at my feet after working out. I mean I really looked at them. Feet are pretty ugly to begin with; I mean I know they serve a very specific purpose and all, but seriously my feet are more akin to what you would imagine Neanderthal man to have not a modern 21st century hominid. Anyway back to the issue at hand. I was looking at these ugly appendages at the end of my legs and you know what; my second & third toes on each foot are bruised under the toenail (yeah pretty gross I know).
I think this is due to the fact that I run more on my toes/ball of my foot than on my heel. This is ironic because I walk just the opposite. All my shoes that are just daily wear types have the heels worn down, my gym shoes have the fronts worn down. What the heck is up with that. First off Who expects a 270# guy to run on the balls of his feet, second of all why is it that I appear to be the only person at the gym that does this? Is it weird that I run this way? Is this also a throwback like my over sized suborbital ridge (again very Neanderthalesque). Come to think of it I’m a bit more like a caveman and less like a modern human in a few ways…
1.)  I have what I call gorilla arms; my arms are long. No really they are long, bordering on freakishly long. I’m 6’3″ tall and I have arms that are 39.5″ long. I have trouble finding shirts with long sleeves because my arms are so long.
2.) Hair: Not only do i have very rough/course hair on my face and head (think bristle brush), I’m covered in hair, granted I’m not as hairy as some other people out there, but I have been shaving since about age 12. Oh sure it’s all cool to be the first of your friends to shave, but not when you have to shave 2x a day. Granted since I have gotten older the rate at which the hair grows has slowed down and I have gotten more lax about the frequency at which I shave but I bet I could still shave 2x a day.
3.) The afore mentioned suborbital ridge: That’s right ladies, I know you’re probably thinking to yourselves “He’s quite the looker.” on top of the last two wonderful items, I have a hard bony ridge in the place where normal people have eye brows. Now this is not to say that it sticks out freakishly or anything; it’s just a bit more pronounced than what most people I know have. I have a thick skull in both the literal and figurative senses. I could do some serious damage If i headbutted someone.
4.) Feet: Yep we’re right back where we started. If you were to look down at my feet you’d swear I walked around barefoot in a gravel pit all day. My feet are wide, flat and rough. I’m the kind of guy who can walk across gravel and not really notice that pointy piece that always seems to poke you in the arch. I went and used that Dr. Scholl’s foot analyzer thing and it said I needed the CF440. For those of you not in the know; Dr. Scholl’s has placed these foot analyzer devices in various stores to help you determine what kind of shoe insert you required to help keep your feet from aching at the end of the day.  Mine is the CF440: for flat feet, with a low arch, that hit the heel and ball of the foot. this brings us full circle to my original issue: my poor toes
Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do to help my toes out? obviously I’m not going to stop running but maybe someone has some tricks/tips to lessen the damage I’m doing to my toes. I’m all ears.