XOSKIN XOTOES socks

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.

 

Disclaimer: These socks were provided to my free of charge, as a product ambassador for XOSKIN.

 

Common background information: I work-out and run a lot, I sweat profusely, and I have pretty large, pretty flat feet. How big you ask, US size 14 big. There is a reason This blog is called The Urban Squatch.

If you are unfamiliar XOSKIN products, read on and maybe find a new must have. If you’re already a XOSKIN fan, I hope you like my review.

I came across XOSKIN products through a few of their ambassadors, who also happen to be my fellow Orange Mud ambassadors. They came highly recommended from people whose opinion I have come to value and trust, so I gave them a chance. Long story short, I loved their gear and got to talking to Kroy and Rick at the company and they offered me the chance to become a product ambassador, which I decided was probably a good idea. Flash forward a few months and a few rumors of upcoming toe socks and we land where we are right now…

OK Enough chit chat, let’s dive in.

Good:

 

Comfort: These socks are pretty much completely seamless, which makes them comfortable. No seems, means no hot spots to rub on your foot. XOSKIN uses a proprietary material to make their clothing and some trippy 3D knitting techniques to make not only cool looking but really wearable socks.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Fit: OK, technically speaking these socks are designed for feet that realistically end at size 12, that being said, they don’t seem to be any worse for the wear having stretched over my big feet for the last few months. The material is weaved in such a way that they have plenty of give, and although stretched thinner than they would be for small footed individuals, still provide more than adequate performance and protection for your feet.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

 

Wicking: The truest test of any performance sock (or material) for me is wicking. When you sweat as much as I do having the material you’re wearing move moisture away from your skin as quickly as possible for as long as possible is a big deal. These socks pass the muster. They have done a great job of keeping my feet as dry as possible and as comfortable as can be while in the midst of some pretty grueling conditions.

Durability: These socks are tough. I have worn them 4-5 days a week, washing and drying them in machines, not by hand and air drying, and they show no real signs of visible wear. I’ve run somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 mile in them, worn them to the gym a few dozen times, walked around the yard in them, around the house and generally treated them like they deserved a good beating.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

 

Neutral:

 

Breathability: I know I just said that they wicked really well, and you would think that wicking and breathing go hand in hand; and they do. Don’t get me wrong they let you feet breath just fine. They allow air to flow right on in and help keep your feet cool and dry… when you’re moving.

When you are just lounging about in them, they seem to run a bit warm. Meaning that my feet always feel a bit warmer than I think they should when I’m wearing them and not actively moving around. You might wear them and think, that guy is crazy, or you might agree with me. It’s a personal thing.

 

Price: I’m putting this as neutral item for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I don’t know what the actual price will be when they are set loose upon the world, but going by their other socks, I expect them to be in the range of 20-30 bucks a pair; which is steep if you’re short on cash. Secondly, I believe that you get what you pay for and if you want the highest quality and best performance, well you must pay for it. So pricing gets a middle of the road score.

 

BAD:

I really tried to find something I could put here, but honestly there isn’t anything. If hard pressed I’d say sizing, because they only make their socks in 3 sizes (1, 2, or 3) which are designed to fit a multitude of sizes; but even that is a hard press because like I said, even though these are designed for smaller feet they have held up just fine.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Conclusion: The XOSKIN XOTOES are a good buy, even if you have to pay full retail price (whatever that will be). They have performed well for me so far and have been my go-to socks for working out and running. If you are in the market for toe socks or running socks for that matter, (and you really should be because protected feet are happier feet) give these a try. If the price point is outside your budget, keep your eye on their website, their Facebook page or my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds for sales and discount codes. I believe that once you try their gear, you’ll be convinced that are setting the bar higher. You can check their gear out at http://www.xoskin.us

 

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.

HydraQuiver_VP2_Front_Black_web_1024x1024HydraQuiver_VP2_Profile_Black_web_1024x1024 HydraQuiver_VP2_Side_Profile_Black_web_1024x1024

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.

A tech guy who is talking less and less about tech or How I’m trying to get back to things I did in college

Hey Look It’s Me

Yeah you read that right, As of late I have found myself thinking less and less about tech items. Now don’t get me wrong, I still like electronic toys. I have multiple DishNetwork receivers, 2 Logitech Revues, a Meraki cloud controlled wireless access point, a Xoom tablet, and Android phone and a bevy of other items that I use on a regular basis. I like my toys, and I like computers and networking but I  like not using them as much these days too. Unless I am playing a game or having to VPN into work to fix things, I rarely pick up my laptop anymore. If I need to surf the web I tend to use my tablet or my Google TV unit and that’s just peachy.  I have a smartphone because work pays for it, if they didn’t I would probably go back to a dumbphone.

Where the biggest fundamental shift has been is in the tech prognostication arena. I used to keep abreast of everything that was being discussed, thought about, tested, manufactured, and what have you. I used to be the go to guy for what the next big trend in IT was going to be for many people, but in the last few years I have noticed that I have, by and large, become less interested in the “what’s next”. I’m not sure if I’m burned out, jaded, tired, or just genuinely disinterested but the “tech future” area of my brain is getting smaller and smaller. It may be because I have made a few changes in my life, including more physical activity, and eating better.

I find that instead of  thinking about technology as much I am instead thinking about outdoor adventures; things like hiking, camping and as of late The Tough Mudder 2012 that I am going to attempt. I find that I think about places I could go for these activities instead of thinking about things that would keep me inside. Mind you my wife wouldn’t believe any of this, because of all the tech related items that float around our house, due to me being a beta tester for a few different companies, but I swear its true.

For years I would go to bed and have blissfully dreamless sleep. close my eyes and fade to black. I would awake refreshed but it would literally be as if I just closed my eyes. Time was instantly passed with no sense of time gone. In the last 6 months or so I have noticed that I remember dreaming. I rarely retain what I was dreaming about for more than few seconds but it’s a start. When I was a kid I would have very vivid and often times lucid dreaming sessions. I am hoping that those days return. I cannot say with certainty what is causing the shift in my neural activity but I honestly think it has more to do with my physical activity levels these days.

So it appears, from my perspective, that the increase in physical activity/fitness has made my brain stop thinking/caring as much about tech and in turn made me think more about more physical activity and creative things again. Sure the change has been slight in the grand scale of things but a change is a change none the less. I have recently began to think about writing poetry and short stories again. I have even toyed with the notion of trying to get back into doing art again. I could be completely off base here, it may have absolutely nothing to do with the lifestyle change. It may be caused by changes that come with getting older. Who knows, certainly not me, but I’m going to ride this out and see where it takes me.  So if you happen to follow me on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter you may notice less and less tech talk then again you may not. Only time will tell.

Rob

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.