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My Body Goals For 2014

I've established my priorities previously. This is to establish the goals that flow from those priorities. This is where the priorities interact.

 There's little in this that independently affects brain power (that I know of), so there's nothing here that I'm marking with (Brain), but otherwise, in order, here are my body goals for 2014:

  • Significantly greater range of motion for my right foot, less pain from both feet (Feet)
  • Weight of less than 200 lbs. Waist of 32 inches or less. (Weight/Body Fat) 
  • Meeting daily steps goal of 6000 daily. Raising to AHA-standard 10,000 steps and meeting that. (Feet,Stamina/Endurance) 
  • At least one 5K race completed in 40 minutes or less. (Stamina/Endurance) 
  • A set of ten standard push-ups (Strength) 
  • One successful pull-up or chin-up (Strength) 
You will notice no specific dietary or exercise regimines here. This is because I consider then as "plans", not "goals". You take on Paleo or Slow Carb or Atkins or whatever in order to take control over your weight, not as a goal in and of itself. You might become a Vegetarian for political/humanitarian reasons, but then "Stop participating in cruelty" is the goal and eating a Vegetarian diet is your plan to do fulfill that goal.

Significantly greater range of motion for my right foot, less pain from both feet (Feet)

As previously mentioned, my feet are weird. My left foot shows -- showed? It's been a while since I saw the doctor -- signs of pronation and bunions, but my right foot is far far worse.

It is my belief that it has always been worse and I just never noticed until 42 years in. It might be the case that I can't fully fix the problem without surgery, and any invasive surgery is problematic and likely to leave it in a continually compromised state. I intend to use stretching and other non-invasive means to get it worked out.

Related, though, is the fact that the mere fact of hitting the American Heart Association's recommendation of 10,000 steps leads me to believe that my years of neglect as a mostly-sitting student and computer professional has caused muscle atrophy in my feet and ankles, and an amount of physical therapy that'll lead me through pain is necessary before I get to where they're where they should be.

I'm finding that, while my ankle hurts when I start moving, once I'm going for a while, the pain subsides. I'm thinking that I have to move more all the time to get my ankles to a better point.

Weight of less than 200 lbs. Waist of 32 inches or less. (Weight/Body Fat)

I am on a downward trend, and the evidence tends to show that I have more to lose if I keep the way I am, but I'm into a time where many people hit a plateau due to the increased consumption around Christmas and the decreased activity due to Winter. I expect this, I hope to work against it, and I expect further loss come Spring. I suspect 2014's weight loss, unlike 2012 and 2013, will be something I have to work for.

I'm tossing in a Kickstarter-like stretch goal of getting and staying within 5 lbs of 180. I think much less than that and I'll look like a bean-pole, but we'll see.

Meeting daily steps goal of 6000 daily. Raising goal to AHA-standard 10,000 steps and meeting that. (Feet,Stamina/Endurance)

I dropped my daily steps goal in FitBit to 6000 steps because it seemed doable without heroic measures, and while I often have spike days above the goal -- even above the 10,000 step goal -- but weeks where my daily average is above 6000 are rare, and weeks when my worst days were above 6000 steps just do not exist.

Kinda goes with the first goal, and certainly relies on it. If my ankles and legs aren't happy, I won't be pushing myself to move.

At least one 5K race completed in 40 minutes or less. (Stamina/Endurance)

As mentioned before, I've "run" a 5K with a time of 45 minutes. I'm happy with it -- I came, I saw, I didn't stop, I got the t-shirt! -- but I believe I can do better. So, my goal here is to prove it.

A set of ten standard push-ups (Strength) 
One successful pull-up or chin-up (Strength)

I am grouping these, as they are predicated on upper-body strength. There's a bunch of core in pushups, but that isn't my primary reason. I've been trying to keep body weight squats in my endurance work, like ten squats every lap, but I don't have a strong way to gauge that, nor a strong reason (pun intended) to work on it. (Did a 5K nature run followed by some Cross Fit including squats, and the squats made my thighs ache for the better part of a month. That is why I do squats.)

I also intend to get my form together for burpees (a perfectly sadistic exercise in it's own right, one where my form so far has been spastic and ill-disciplined), but that's that would be nice, not I will do this.

Up soon, at least before New Year, is my plans to achieve these. After that, progress reports as I knock these things down.


My Body Priorities for 2014

I can see myself with a MacBook
This is not to take the form of a set of premature New Year's Resolutions. Resolutions are code for promises to yourself that you will not keep, and I have never wanted any part of that.

This is to take the shape of what I want to change about myself, which will then lead to behaviors I want to develop or cease. The scheme for behavior modification will come, but it will not be "Starting January 1, I'l stop drinking caffeine and stop eating sugar and run 5 miles every day and lift weights and read a book a night and get to sleep before 10pm and wake up at 5am..." Willpower is a finite resource, and you can burn through it this way.

So, my priorities, in order of importance:
  1. My Feet
  2. My Brain
  3. Weight/Body Fat
  4. Stamina and/or Endurance
  5. Strength
Two years ago, I stopped drinking colas and lost over 40 lbs, started sleeping better and felt good enough to start a Couch-to-5K process that lead to me finishing a race. Almost five months ago, I moved to a standing desk, and while that really sucked for quite a while, I'm happy with the results. So, I think I'm past all the outstandingly stupid things I was doing to myself, which means I'm out of shortcuts. Doesn't mean there aren't efficient and smart ways of doing things, just that the no-brainers are done and I'll have to start burning willpower.

My Feet: Two years ago, my youngest participated in a hike with his Cub Scout pack to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Tippecanoe, and at the end of it, I noticed intense pain between the smaller toes and the outside of the ankle, which kept with me for several days after. I went through similar pains as a volunteer at an Independence Day 2012 celebration, and as part of my Couch-to-5K process. 

Eventually, the sharp pains in my foot lead me to a podiatrist, who told me had pronation in my left ankle and extreme pronation in my right. They're also pretty flat, to the point where I used to be able to make fart noises with my right foot coming out of the shower. Right now, my feet, mostly my right foot, are the limiting factor for most of my attempts at further fitness. It's one thing, for example, to keep running when you're sweaty, wheezing and tired, but it's another thing when each time you push off, it feels like someone's shoving a knife into your arch.

So, my goal here is to develop stretches and exercises that make my foot less flat, less pronated, and less painful. This is a primary things: I can't really do much with many of the later goals without making progress here.

My Brain: Exercise increases your brain power, and as a programmer, my brain is my most important feature. If I didn't believe that exercise helped my brain, I wouldn't be doing half of this or writing this. This article mentions benefits of both cardio and strength-based workouts, so more activity of whatever stripe is 

Weight/Body Fat: By memory, my top weight was 330-350 lbs. Top weight I recorded is 270 lbs, in Feb 2012. I am 217 lbs as of this morning. I no longer have a double chin. I wear a Large t-shirt (after 20+ years in XL) and 34x34 jeans.

But I still have a gut.

Teenage me could not imagine having six-pack abs. 30-year-old me was befuddled at how he could eat like he did and still be over 300 lbs, and couldn't even begin to imagine something like muscle tone or a lack of love handles. 43-year-old me is beginning to see it.

So, exercise plans will be chosen with an eye to fat burning as priority, but really, it seems to me that this is more a diet thing. Right now, I make breakfast and lunch decisions mostly based on economics and convenience, which means oatmeal for breakfast and microwave Banquet for lunch. My thought is to go with a Slow Carb diet, but I will need to work out how to make it work around my requirements.

A word on "diet": Popular usage has "diet" meaning a temporary change in food intake to achieve a certain outcome. This is not the correct meaning. When they say "A panda has a diet of shoots and leaves", they mean a panda only eats those things, all the time. When I say I'm considering the Slow Carb diet, I'm saying that I'll commit to it, the way I committed to not drinking sodas.

Stamina and/or Endurance: I mentioned running a 5K earlier. I'll add scare quotes and say "running", as I spent much of that race walking, giving me a 45-minute race time. My goal on this is to do at least one 5K this year, where I do a time of less than 40 minutes. I want to spend all that time running or at least jogging, with no energetic walking.

Endurance, as I understand it, relates to having enough to keep going through the race, while stamina relates to having enough to keep you going at maximum capacity. Endurance is for marathoners while stamina is for sprinters. I think what I have is neither and so could use a little bit of both.

Strength: At the previously-mentioned Independence Day celebration, one of my tasks was to move staging, including choir risers. These risers are built to stand the weight of several choir members, and are thus solidly built. I thought I had it in my to lift a riser to stage level, and I just didn't have it in me to do so. I had said that there was nothing in my life I didn't have the strength to handle, and this proved me wrong.

My goal is not bulk; I don't want to look like Mr. Universe. I just want to have reserves of strength when I need them, and I want that strength across my body, not just in my arms and upper body. This means squats and lunges in addition to curls and lifts.

My current objection to strength training is that it's hard to quantify like you can with endurance training.

From these priorities, I will develop plans, which I will put here and document my progress. Any ideas and suggestions, both on what to do and how to keep motivated in doing it, will be appreciated.


Something That Makes Me Sad, But Probably Shouldn't

Saturday was a good and incredibly geeky day for me. I went to the Indy Quantified Self Meetup, held in one coworking space, spent much of the afternoon in Fry's, where I met someone and talked about a startup idea (planned meeting, not happenstance), then went to Indy Hackers' Holiday Social, held in another coworking space. I listened to tech podcasts all of the way down and most of the way back. There's geeky things I didn't do (converse with my good geek friend Patrick) and otherly-geeky things that aren't for this blog (went to two guitar stores).

It was a good day, but there's one thing that wasn't so good. Maybe.

Above is the entire technical book stock at Fry's Indy. The entire shelf. There's lots and lots of shelves, and once, they were filled with all sorts of technical books. It fills my heart with joy to see a wall of O'Reillys. For the longest time, my first-pass rule for judging a technical project or tool was "Is there an O'Reilly book for it?" The books for learning Perl are Learning Perl and Programming Perl, and I judged Python harshly because the book a Python person would suggest is not Learning Python.

These days, though, your first pass for a technical question is asking Shub-Internet and ending up with a discussion thread, IRC log, or hopefully a Stack Overflow answer. I have editions 1 through 4 of Programming Perl, and they are decreasingly dogeared and beverage-stained as time goes on. I haven't really dug into Programming Perl, Fourth Edition, in part because I know how to write Perl, but in part because, even when I don't know what I'm doing, dead trees are not my go-to.

And, even from the perspective of the writer, writing tech books is a losing game. Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror writes about it when pushing a book, ASP.NET 2.0 Anthology, that he contributed to. xkcd did a comic (which I can't find) which compares the staying power of different book types, grouping math and physics texts as books that can stay without revision for decades, sometimes centuries, while a book on a language or protocol will be out of date very soon, sometimes before publication.

So, it would make sense to have Knuth's Art of Computer Programming on your shelf, but less so Perl, much less Perl 5.18.1. So, it would make sense to publish Art of Computer Programming on paper, but to generate and regenerate language documentation into electronic form.

And really, at places like Fry's, you want as much floor space devoted to things that can only be atoms, like motherboards, cases, LEDs, cables, trackpads and MacBook Pros, and things that can be bits should be bits. Plus, of course, the fact that you can put a whole lot of bits into your tablets and newsreader.

So, I can rationalize it at length, but it still saddens me to know that the world I used to live in, where there were places where a wall of amazement and possibility was available to me. I guess it outs me as a geezery geezer who geezes.