Health and Fitness

Data Analysis

Observations After Week 1


Man, I feel like this is some kind of super scientific approach to my well being.  For one thing, I have never used so many apps and extensions to chart my progress.  Some of them are necessary just for the ability to consolidate data in a way that I can share, RunGap for example. Others are just an easier way to track things, like MyfitnessPal and Strava.  I will attempt to explain as I go along…

Week 1 

A few days before launch I tweaked my back really good.  I was spinning and felt a twinge.  I’ve had enough experience with myself to know that the best way to lose 3 weeks of training is to continue doing whatever it is I am doing at the time.  So, I got off the bike, laid on the floor, stretched, took some ibuprofen, iced, and proceeded to lose the ability to lift my leg high enough to put on my underwear.  Two trips to Dr. Bob(Avenues of Health Chiropractic) and some rest, and I was able to launch the physical part of my plan on Monday, the 4th(Diet changes started on the 1st as planned).


I typically use Strava to track my progress on outdoor bicycle rides.  It is an absolute video game for biking and will get it’s own page here in the future.  It maps your rides, allows you to compare yourself with others who have ridden any part of the route, and let’s you know how you did against your greatest rival, you.  Unfortunately, it is not ideal for stationary bikes.  So, when I spin in the winter, because it’s so much harder to wipe out on a 150 pound spin bike, traffic is always light in the garage, and I know exactly when I’m going to get home-when I swing my leg back over the seat- I use my apple watch and my Garmin to track my levels.  I use the Garmin, as mentioned in my “Forward to the Past” to track my effort while spinning.  I use the Apple watch for the data after spinning.  Why, you ask?  Simple…I lost the cord to attach the Garmin to my computer, duh.  

Anyway, Apple doesn’t have a way to view aggregate data so I found RunGap, which takes all the data from my apple account and puts it in one place. 

This is what I’ve been up to this week:

On RunGap you can also look at an individual workout:

You can even view it graphically-Nice intervals!

You can see that I have gotten two cardio workouts this week.  I would add that Covid has made me stir crazy, so I have also added ice skating to my repertoire because if I don’t get outside I will go insane.  Turns out I miss it, and love it, and it’s just about twice as hard as I remember.  I’m not removing anything, I’m just adding 30 minutes of skating when I can.


As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my garage is my gym. This has presented many issues, not the least of which is a lack of real resistance equipment.  I have secured a set of Powerblock adjustable dumbbells to go with the bands I had been using.  

Power Blocks


First of all, let me just say that in my opinion elasticity is a mediocre substitute for gravity.  So, in terms of the workout rendered, the blocks delivered!  In addition, with bands I felt like I was continually adjusting something to get the right “feel” for each exercise, not to mention, the right tug.  By this I mean that decreasing the amount of band available (by stepping on it, or creating a loop to step on) tension is increased.  There is a real lack of precision in that method. What exactly is the tension delivered if I have a 40 pound resistance band with a loop of a 3”diameter under my foot?  The blocks are quick to adjust and precise.  I think the only real drawback is aesthetics.  I feel like I have a couple of steampunk bear traps attached to my arms when I use them.  I also have dainty XX large hands.  When I wear gloves, because that garage takes a little time to warm up, it is tricky getting my hands inside them.  


With the paid version of MyfitnessPal you have even more options for data.

So I’m down to 216 pounds from 217.6.  I’m actually surprised it is not more.  I knew going into this that dropping alcohol was going to have a major impact, both in terms of difficulty in not having it, the subsequent drop in caloric intake.  What I was not prepared for was how difficult eating zero prepared food has been.  I do great in the morning with my shakes, or do I?  Does protein powder count as a prepared food? What about tofu?  I’ve decided that if the thing I’m adding is not a meal in and of itself I’m ok.  Store bought spaghetti sauce and peanut butter- okey dokey.  Vegetarian chicken patties and burritos-no go.

Final Observations

I’m sleeping much differently already.  Not necessarily any more, just more soundly.  Extra water intake may have supplanted beer as my reason for getting up in the middle of the night, but I’m getting up just the same.  However, the quality of sleep I do get  is noticeably better as I haven’t felt the need to sneak naps in this week.  I’m averaging pretty close to 8 hours per night too. 

Stay tuned for week 2.

Image Credits:

Featured Image: Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

“Free Workout Data Manager for IOS.” RunGap,

“PowerBlock Sport Dumbbells: Dumbbells For Home.” PowerBlock, 13 Oct. 2020,

“Fitness Starts with What You Eat.” Myfitnesspal,

Health and Fitness

To Beer Or Not To Beer

My son once made the brutal observation, “Dad, with all the working out that you do, how come you don’t look like the guys on TV?”  Brutal.

I’ve always known the answer to that question, it’s just not one I’ve ever really wanted to face.  It’s diet.  The guys he’s referring to have self-control.  It’s not that I don’t, it’s just that I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that life is to be enjoyed. 

In an interview for the WIRE magazine, the fitness guru Jack LaLanne once said,

“I’m going to be ninety in September. Everybody else can have a piece of the birthday cake, but not me. I have rules, and I follow ’em. No cake, no pie, no candy, no ice cream! Haven’t had any in seventy-five years. It makes me feel great not eating birthday cake. That’s the gift I give myself.”

That’s not me.

(Jack towing 70 boats with 70 people a 1 ½ miles while handcuffed!)
(The Christmas cookie I ate, one of many, just before sitting down to write this post)

Incredibly, I’m considered a pretty good eater by just about everyone I know.  I eat a plant based diet, limiting dairy as well(cheese is the most wonderful exception ever invented!). Our family cooks, so I don’t eat a lot of processed food. We buy organic when possible.  Snacking is done with care.  My theory has always been that if I eat carefully from the time I get up to dinner time, then I can relax a little and be less discerning then.  This has always worked for me.  I’ve maintained a weight that doesn’t fluctuate much more than a few pounds on either side of 220.  At 6’6” this is not a terrible weight.

Fortunately, I’m able to look at food as fuel better than some.  That doesn’t mean I don’t care how food tastes, just that I’m less likely to get hung up on something small like texture, or color.  Take breakfast, for example.  Almost everyday I have a smoothie.

(Commercial Break)


I have owned two vitamix blenders.  My current blender is 15 years old and hasn’t lost a step.  I don’t know anything about the new models, but these are jet engines for your countertop that would liquify trees if you put them in there!

Here’s a snapshot of what I put in a smoothie.  


 2 cups Water

½ cup Organic Frozen Berries

1 tsp. Beet powder

¼ cup Hemp seeds

1 cup Spinach

¼ cup Chia seeds

¼ Ground Flax Seeds

1 Scoop of Whey Protein

3 oz. of Tofu

1 tbs. Walnuts or Raw Pumpkin Seeds

¼  cup Oats 

(optional ingredients: Cinnamon , Turmeric (not for the taste conscious), cacao nibs)

Nutritional information: According to My Fitness Pal– 628 Calories, Fat 29 grams, Carbohydrates 52 grams, and Protein 48 grams. (only 5 grams of this is saturated fat, and there are no trans fats)

Obviously, what you decide to put in it each day can have some serious impact on flavor, texture, and color.  My family loves to mock me as I sit down to a hearty breakfast of grey sludge.  However, it never tastes as bad as it looks.  (If the protein powder you decide to use is unsweetened you will need to add a banana or an apple to sweeten up the mix.)  

For lunch I eat a monstrously huge salad of as many vegetables as we have in the fridge.  I usually top it with beans of some kind, and drizzle it with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.  To this I will add a sprouted grain tortilla or two and some hummus.  I generally have an orange or a few dates for dessert.  

Aside from these two meals I will not eat until late afternoon.  I will enjoy two cups of coffee when I first get up(I like them with unsweetened soy milk) and I will have two cups of tea throughout the day(Plain-green tea), and all the water I can remember to drink.

The real downfall occurs at 4:15 or so.  That’s happy hour.  That is my true weakness.  I love beer and I love snacks.  At 60 calories per cup you really can’t beat Angie’s “Boom Chicka Pop” white cheese popcorn.  So if it’s not what I’m eating (Dinner is varied but always healthy and fresh-except for pizza night!) then this sort of leaves the beer as the odd man out.  

Unlike other foods I really do care what my beer tastes like.  I won’t buy low-cal “sports” beers. I like them tall, local, and flavorful.  I also like 3.  According to fitness pal I take in almost 800 calories from beer alone!  And that, people, is why I don’t look like the guys on TV!  That is also why I do dry months and dry days during the week. 

I could spend an entire post talking about alcohol, but I don’t want to do it.  I know that it is my number one weakness, and my number one risk.  I know that it not only adds unwanted calories to my diet, but that it affects my sleep, and my memory, and my health in a myriad of ways.  I have a healthy fear of it-Far better and stronger people than I have succumbed to it’s charms!  

So, in 5 days I will start another dry January.  I have no intention of quitting drinking permanently, but I intend to be much more focused on documenting the process.  I want to pay particular attention to how I feel, how I sleep, and how it seems to affect my health.  Cutting 800 calories a day out of my diet is certainly going to have an affect.  I might even have to eat more so I don’t waste away!  Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have?