Sunday, August 31, 2008

Elvis has left the building....

Ok, so Elvis has left the building... and my feet have left the ground. Literally.

Had my training session this past Thursday, and was more than happy to show off the fact that I've taken up slogging (slow+jogging=slogging). Basically, you get to a certain point where increasing the incline and speed on the treadmill can be only so challenging, so I've taken to increasing the speed more than before, thereby forcing my feet off the ground into a slow jog. I don't think Sebastien believed what he was seeing, but indeed, I was jogging.

A 5 minute slog with a 45 second rest followed by another 5 minute slog, followed by a minute rest, finishing with another 5 minute slog seems to be working well. Oddly enough, the running feels easier as it goes on... that is, at minute 12-15, it feels great. In fact, minutes 4-6 are the hardest... so, if I make it beyond that point, I'm gold.

I'm also increasing my strength, and apparently my form and flexibility are improving as well. My assessments are positive, and things are moving in the right direction. I've lost an inch off each of my chest, waist, hips and arms... the thighs haven't gotten any smaller. And since I seem to have inherited my father's legs (98% muscle), they likely won't get any smaller. So, I'm wrapping my head around living with 28" thighs... yes... my quadricep is larger than a lot of women's waists... but I guess c'est la vie! I'll take them... better than chicken legs. Mmmmm... chicken. LOL!

I'm taking this weekend 'off' from the gym. Sebastien's orders. This isn't an entirely bad thing because it's the busiest time of year for work, and I've been working every day. Once I hit Wednesday at 2:00pm, I'll be a happy boy... but until then, I'm just getting out with the dog for a good long walk (the weather is fan-friggin-tastic!) and having good meals.... this apparently should give my body some rest and the muscles some time to heal -- gearing up for more exciting stuff and challenges in the weeks ahead. My classes start again next Tuesday, so I'm looking forward to testing myself, and my ability to keep all of this going -- work, school, working out, eating well, walking Rosie... but I'm confident that I've got the solid base of good habits that will make the challenging weeks ahead only that much easier!

So, that's the scoop. Still feeling like a million bucks, and happy that my feet are off the ground!!!

Kia kaha.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

So this is what a million bux feels like....

Nope, I didn't win the lottery.... you'd all know about that earlier than now... although I do still play the 6-49 every week, and fall asleep on Saturday nights planning how I'm going to spend my millions.... well, if I win this week, of course, I'll share my wealth... but I'd also probably quit my job and hire Sebastien for more than a week... this week's workout was fantastic... and I feel like a million bucks!

So, I had a bit of a slow week the week prior... a little disorganized... a bunch of stuff came up... didn't do as much physical activity as I would have liked. My computer hard drive fried (hence the lack of a blog last week) and work has started to kick into high gear as we anticipate the start of the new school year at the university. But that's life. I realize that I've had a pretty charmed few weeks where I've been able to focus exclusively on eating well and being active... knowing that I'm forming all the right habits. But last week was a bit of a test... and I didn't do as well as I would have liked, but I still prevailed.

I had my training session on Thursday evening instead of Wednesday -- Tony, Steve and I went to see Avenue Q at the Elgin Theatre... an amazing musical that was just a delight to watch. Now, as most of you know, nothing lifts my spirits and fills my heart more than a good 2 hours of top-notch musical theatre. So after a cruddy week, the show was incredible, and I was in a much better mindset to face my training session on Thursday.

Got to the gym and we didn't waste any time getting started -- ended up doing about 1 1/2 hours worth of work and I really could have kept going for an extra 30 minutes or so -- without a doubt. Did a great combo of cardio and strength training and quickly realized how much progress I've made in terms of my overall strength. I've also realized just how much going to see a trainer has been like therapy. Sure, it helps that Sebastien is working on becoming a life coach as well, so it's a good fit. But my sessions aren't just about lifting weights and doing cardio -- I get a good chunk of time to process my thinking about this new journey and how I'm feeling about it all.

So, as a short-list... here's how I'm feeling.

  • I feel stronger. Especially in my arms. I've got good strong McGrath legs, but chicken arms. They're getting better -- without a doubt.
  • I have no more pain in my legs when I do cardio -- flexibility is way up and I've got much more stability in my movement, making me feel much more confident to try new things. In fact, today, I faced my nemesis, and hammered out 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer. It felt amazing to conquer that fear, and the buttery feeling in my legs as I hopped back on the treadmill to do intervals of speed walking and slogging (slow jogging) felt even better. Yes, that's right... I'm slogging.
  • I climb the big flights of stairs to my office every day without feeling completely winded. In fact, the other day, I went back down and up again one more time... just for fun.
  • I'm sleeping a lot better.
  • I'm sweating less -- last week I wore a sweater at work... I've never worn a sweater in the middle of the summer
  • And all in all... when I get home at night, after having done a full day at work, walked the dog, and then put in at least an hour at the gym, I'm exhausted. But it's a good exhaustion. It's the type of fatigue that makes me smile -- makes me feel great about the fact that I've done something good and worthwhile to make me feel this tired. And that, is SO satisfying.
So, that's the update for now. I have another assessment coming next week. And I really don't care what the numbers say. I know what my mind, body and soul are telling me right now, and no set of body measurements could make me feel like the million bucks that I feel like right now.

Thanks to you all for your ongoing support... the fact that I know some of you are eagerly reading this each week means the world to me.

Kia kaha,

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Last Lecture...

Randy Pausch recently passed away. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who quickly became famous for his 'last lecture'. These lectures are given by faculty to new students or as part of a lecture series, through which they are encouraged to give their last lecture -- to craft a thoughtful, inspired and powerful lecture as if it were their very last. Professor Pausch's lecture has nothing to do with engineering or his research. It is about achieving your childhood dreams. Consider taking an hour to sit back, relax, listen, and reflect. It's definitely worth it. The lecture is also available in print, under the title 'The Last Lecture".

Check out all the links at:

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Boys smell and slipping up.

So my most recent revelation... brace yourselves for this one... is that boys smell. Yes, indeed. After working out for an hour and dripping with sweat... boys smell -- really bad sometimes. It's kind of gross... kind of disturbing. What's even more disturbing is that.... I smell too. WHOA! The other day I was on the treadmill working out, and was wondering what in God's name that stink was... I looked around and there was no one else around me. That's when it hit me. I stunk! Well, not so much me, but one of the numerous baseball hats I've been sporting while I work out. And I need to wear a hat to keep all of my hair out of my face (a problem easily solved by getting a haircut, but we'll reserve that debate for a future blog). And hats tend to stink over time. And you can't wash hats every time otherwise they can lose their structure. So I have a dilemma... destroy a perfectly good hat??? Or shatter a perfect dillusion that somehow, I don't stink after working out. You're probably overwhelmed with the depth and profoundness of my commentary... but that's what's in my head.

I guess it goes back a bit to the first meeting I had with Sebastien, my trainer. During his interview he was trying to get a sense of what activities I did and didn't like to do. He started with 'likes'. Of course, I'm bull headed and difficult, and told him it would be easier to start with 'dislikes'. He indulged me... he's new, forgive him. HA! My response was... "I hate to sweat." He laughed. I laughed. He moved on. But I was serious. I hate sweating. I hate being messy. I hate my clothes sticking to me 'cause they're wet. I hate the fact that sweating means you can't re-wear a piece of clothing. This then results in more laundry. And for those among you who have ever stepped foot into my bedroom, y'all know how much I HATE doing laundry. In spite of not liking being messy. I know... I'm a complex, complex man... and good luck to the poor sucker who has to figure me out.

And that poor sucker is Sebastien. LOL! I'm feeling ever more confident with my choice to hire a trainer -- especially one who indulges my stubbornness, my circular and verbalized thought process, my bitchy sense of humour. He gets me. Well, he kind of has to... isn't that what I pay him for??? All kidding aside... this all seems to be clicking. And I'm learning a lot from my sessions with Seb (I've just decided it's easier to just type the first three letters of his name. I've also realized that I'm kind of talking about him like he's not here... but he is in a way. He's probably going to read this very shortly.) I digress....

I guess what I'm trying to put out there is that I feel like I'm in a good groove. Making positive changes about one's health is in a large part due to forming good behavioural patterns, and thinking about those changes realistically. I'm taking my time on this one. I've been at it for about two months... and I don't really know how 'the numbers' shape up. I don't really want to know. All I do know is that I feel amazing. My skin has cleared up (finally). I'm eating for fuel and am starting to tune into what it feels like to nourish my body -- knowing that the goal is to have good energy levels to hammer out a good work out at the gym every day. Yep, every day -- except for my one day off a week. But I'm now at the point where sweating and stinking aside, I'm really looking forward to going to work out and am not really willing to give up that slice of 'me time' for much of anything. It feels good to treat myself to this daily pleasure.

I'm also learning how to not punish myself for 'slipping up'... knowing that 'slipping up' should be a part of life. From the numerous times I've sat in Weight Watchers sessions and other programs, I recall the sense of guilt that gets put on your shoulders (voluntarily or involuntarily) when you've 'had a bad week'. Or how you can feel like if you don't follow 'the program' to the letter, that you won't have the results you want on the scale, and ultimately won't get your gold star for losing 10 pounds. What Seb is teaching me in a round about way, is that I should plan to slip up. I need to allow myself those moments where I go out and have a good time and don't obsess about what I'm putting into my system. Because my workouts and good work leading up to that point create a condition where my body can deal with it. And my mind too.

So last night, I had one hell of a 'slip up' night. My friend Paul and I went out for a drink. 'A drink' with Paul starts with a beer at 8:00 and we leave the pub at 1:00am. Stella Artois is a lovely lady... HA! I went to the gym before hand, and I wnt to the gym this morning (it's amazing how an hour long workout clears up a hangover!) But I don't feel one lick of guilt for having a great time last night. I had some wings. I had a great salad, too. And we had our fair share of beer. And I'm cool with that. What's interesting to me now, is that I'm now on my own new 'program' (if I can call it that), and I don't feel like crap for slipping up. But previously, when I wasn't on any program whatsoever, I felt like shit if I did slip up.. and I slipped up often. I know.. my brain is a complex beast... and I'm still trying to figure out how my dysfunctional thinking works. But in doing so, Seb and I are chipping away at the psychology of making this life change, and I feel like we're making progress.

It's a good thing.

A quick note... before I slipped up with Paul last night, I made a quick stop en route at a pub in Toronto called 'McVeigh's'. It is an Irish pub (an authentic one.. not one of those 'Firkin' chains) where my aunt Majella met her partner of many many years, Liam. Liam loved McVeighs. He loved the atmosphere. The pints. The meatloaf special. Liam passed away yesterday morning in Ireland where he and Majella moved a few years back.. He had a fairly short battle with cancer.. and passed on with Majella at his side and, I know, all of us in his heart. He was a man who knew how to eat well and drink well... a fine meal and a great glass of wine followed by a few pints were the markers of an evening well spent with Liam. But more importantly, he was a man who lived and loved even better. A huge heart. An open mind. An open home. Liam was always so very supportive of me... my career... my education... my coming out. Every step I took in my life since I've known him, he always helped me see as a positive thing -- as yet another thing we do in our live to expand our minds and stretch the boundaries of our perceived limitations. I know in my heart, that he would see my new path towards health in the very same way. So I took a moment last night at McVeigh's..grabbed a quiet table and a pint, and toasted a man who touched the lives of all who had the privilege and honour of sharing in his wonderful, joy-filled, world of optimism and opportunity. He will be missed. He already is.

Slainte, Liam!

and Kia Kaha, my friends.