The Chances

How a 250+ Pound Couch Potato Got Healthy

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You did what?

Change is afoot.

Not being able to run as much as I would like has caused me to rethink things like fitness and how to get to where I want to be. Where do I want to be? As healthy and fit as I can, but that's pretty ill-defined. I think I'll figure it out when I get there.

In the meantime, things have been changing a bit, and now seems the perfect time to get back to the blog. I should have done this when I started Crossfit, but that's fine. I started Crossfit!

I've been going since August, and it's made a huge difference. When I started, I weighed 182 pounds and was about 18% body fat. All these months later, I'm 162.4 and 13.9%. But that's not all, I've lost 2.5" around the chest, 5" around the waist (around the navel), and 4.5" around the hips. Apparently Crossfit works.

Just before Christmas, I lost my job of 11 years. I was able to find another one after a few months, and they're extremely positive about being fit, working out, running, and just spending time staying healthy. This makes lunchtime a lot easier.

It only took me a year to figure out that if I completely backed off running, I might heal. I've been feeling quite a bit better, so I've started running a little bit. A few miles at first, but the past few weeks I've run 5 miles, 3 times per week without pain. But that's not all.

Yesterday, I bought a road bike, my first bike since Chico State 20 years ago, and a road bike at that. I've never owned a road bike before, so this is a new experience for me.

It's a 2011 Specialized Secteur, and I'm extremely pleased with it so far! I can't help thinking how much I couldn't believe spending $450 on my mountain bike way back when, but it served me well for more than 15 years. I didn't blink an eye at spending $850 for this one.

Today, I brought it with me to work and rode at lunch. With great nervousness, I let the Garmin sync, and waved at people as they drove out the parking lot while I stood there like a big doof. My worries went away the minute I hit the road.

I really enjoyed myself! Of course, there are quite a few differences from running, and I had a plenty of observation along the way.

Spin Class Training: Over the past year or two, I went to spin class pretty regular. Lately it's slacked off, but it's really interesting how the instructors telling us, "OK, there's a hill, add a gear", helped out on a real bike. In my previous life with a bike as primary transportation, I never would have stood on the pedals, but doing so in spin class made it second nature to gear up and stand up during the course of hills. It made a huge difference!

Garmin: It took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to switch sports! No wonder they had to update models, what a pain. I know where it is now, but it was anything but intuitive to make the switch. After running, I realized that changing sports changes the entire profile of the unit, which meant Auto Laps were turned off. BOO!

Sporttracks: I need a cadence sensor, that's all there is to it. The Calculate Power function seemed pretty reliable while running, but on the bike, it got confused and converted the 598 calories reported by the 305 to 245. 245 calories for an hour of work, plus wind and hills? I don't think so!

Handlebars: I spent a good amount of time figuring out where I wanted to hold my hands the majority of the time. I tried going down low in the wind and up hills, but the problem was the brakes were such a distance to apply from that position that it was uncomfortable for me. Braking was fine in the upright position, but of course, I wasn't exactly aerodynamic that way.

Hydration: It was windy, but I couldn't believe how thirsty I got! That was a problem, because I had trouble getting the water bottle out of the holster and up to my mouth for a drink while in the midst of riding. That particular problem can be resolved with practice, but also while wearing a hydration pack.

Gears: Surprisingly intuitive! At the bike shop, they demonstrated how to downshift by turning the brake handle, and upshifting by pressing the thumb button, but I was afraid I'd have trouble downshifting while riding. As it turns out, I was able to shift with my right pinky pretty fast. I also found that downshifting BEFORE stopping at a light is important. At one point there was a longish (1/4-mile, maybe longer) hill, which I'd added a heavy gear and was standing on the pedals with. I stopped at the top where the light was, but had forgotten to shift, so I thought ok, better shift. Mmm, not the best idea while at a stop, and when the red light changed, guess what happened? Yup, the gears switched and here I was, in the middle of an intersection (and traffic), trying frantically to get going again! Learning experience. :)

Pedals: Sometime in the near future I'll need to go clipless. I found myself quite a few times not pedaling, but sort of STEPPING on the pedals. I caught myself and changed the behavior, but attaching my feet to the pedals would make a big difference, plus add the ability to lift while pedaling.

In the end, I rode 12.15 miles in 56:54, at an average of 12.8MPH. There were a lot of stop signs and lights, which tells me that a work commute could easily average 14MPH.

I also recently found out that GAP (Gauche Aquatic Park) in Yuba City is open year round with a heated olympic pool. Interesting...

That's it for now. I'll have lots to talk about in the coming weeks.