Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Worlking - Day 16

As Andrew pointed out in the comments on the last post, there is a fancy-shmancy version of the worlkstation (sorry, walkstation... blah =) available for roughly 30 times what I paid to put this contraption together. I have to admit a certain level of envy when I saw the clean lines and extra large work area, but at this point I'll take the extra $6,300 any day of the week, yes sir.

It's been a while since my last post, sorry about that. I was sick on Thursday and Friday (and through the weekend) and while I still worked part of each day, I didn't walk much. I think I walked a half-day on Thursday and not at all on Friday. By Monday morning I was very eager to back on the horse, as they say, but even a small stretch of time off was hard to overcome. Yesterday I was pretty sore. However, my spirits were lifted high when I came in from work; my wife even noticed it. There seems to be a definite positive correlation between mood and worlking. That's a great side benefit, considering the primary reason I'm doing this is to shed weight.

I'm currently at 25.45% of my goal. In other words, one down, three to go. I was discussing this with my wife and wasn't sure which would be harder - the next two quarters (seems like it's always easy to lose some quick weight at the beginning) or the final quarter. I'm afraid of some kind of "senior slide" after I've lost 75% of my goal and then find myself saying, "Um, you've already lost a lot. Have some pizza!"

I suppose I should just take Lovie Smith's approach and focus on this one quarter at a time. Maybe I'll start holding press conferences and say "Every pound is a playoff pound."


Friday, October 19, 2007

Worlking - Day 10

I decided to take a day off today to give my toes some time to heal. The left toe seems pretty good and the right is making good progress. I may spend some time walking this afternoon because I'm going a little stir crazy sitting on the couch working today. I think I'll feel better overall if I expend a bit of energy before the day is out.

Today was also an official weigh-in day and I'm down 4.44%, so hooray for me.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Hate My Toes (Or Why I Almost Bought a Hatchet)

I spent more time today than is probably healthy considering the implications of hacking my little toes off with something (preferably) sharp. They suck. They both have blisters now, although the left one is already starting to heal and turn into blissful callus. How I love calluses.

I may need to take a day off tomorrow and spend some time sitting at the kitchen table working. Now that I'm so used to worlking, I don't know if I can go back to an l-less workday. Gah, the agony! I would estimate that it is the metaphysical equivalent of what my goddamn right little toe felt like by about 3pm this afternoon.

I'm honestly not sure which is worse.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Worlkstation

This may be one of the most hotly anticipated posts ever, in the entire history of teh interwebs. Here I reveal the exact design of what I lovingly refer to as my worlkstation.

There are a few things I should point out at the beginning of this discussion:
  1. I am very lucky in that I work from home full-time. This means that I have a lot of flexibility as far as worlking is concerned (doesn't bother co-workers, cause any kind of distraction, that sort of thing).
  2. I'm going for economy, not style. That means I haven't put a lot of effort into making this worlkspace "nice" because quite frankly, I wasn't sure if it would last. If I find myself workling 6 months from now I'll probably consider making some aesthetic upgrades. For now, I'm going the cheap route.
  3. You may not criticize my worlkspace in any way, shape or form. I don't just mean you can't post critical comments because this is my blog. You're not allowed to even think badly about it. See rule #2 for additional details.
So, okay. With those disclaimers, let's get into the nitty-gritty of this contraption. Click here to read the entire post.

First of all, I should point out once more that I didn't come up with this idea by myself (although I did coin the phrases "worlking" and "worlkstation." (If you do a Google search for "worlking" you'll find Stairway on the 3rd page amidst a sea of links to pages with typos. Searching for "worlkstation" on the other hand, finds me in the fourth slot on the first page... infamy, here I come!) Update: Only two days after I originally wrote that, I find it is no longer true. I appear to be slipping in the ranks. Serves me right for jokingly caring about it in the first place...

I originally heard about the concept of a treadmill desk on a blurb on NPR, and promptly forgot about it for months. After reading a random article on CNN.com about a wife/mother who decided to get in shape and went from being morbidly obese to being a marathon runner, I remembered the treadmill desk and looked it up. I haven't purchased any Plexiglas, but I put together something that works well for me. I'm sure for enough money you could get something pretty nifty and mobile. I wanted something that allowed me to worlk but still buy, y'know, food and all that.

I checked out the Want Ads that my company hosts, and the very first entry in the 'Sporting Goods' category was a treadmill for $100. That seemed like a pretty good deal and I snapped it up. As I mentioned before, I work from home so I was able to utilize some shelving that I put up without much hassle - I just put my monitor on the top shelf, my laptop and docking station on the bottom, pointed the treadmill at it, and started worlking. VoilĂ !

Well, I guess there was a little more to it than that. I also put together a platform for my keyboard, mouse, and ridiculously over sized Cubs insulated sippy-cup (see photo below). I don't have a wide-angle lens for my camera (more accurately, I don't even have a camera that takes different kinds of lenses) so it was hard to get a decent shot of the workstation - I can't get far enough away to get everything in one shot so it's not the best perspective. Still, you get the idea. It's definitely rough, but it does the trick, as they say. It certainly does that. Enjoy the photos!

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Worlking - Day 8

The journey continues... I'm still walking strong with only fairly minimal issues (occasional but pervasive blister issues on the left little toe, with a hint of a problem on the right little toe today). I've switched shoes to see if that will have an impact. I still need to find a good pair of walking shoes and I've ditched the double socks (thanks Andrew and Colleen!).

Since starting this process about 4 weeks ago (the diet began before the worlking), I've shed just over 4% of my body weight (in an effort to preserve the tiny shred of dignity that remains, I've decided to disclose my progress in terms of percentages instead of raw weight - sneaky, huh?). In order to reach my final goal and lodge myself firmly in the very upper region of the "healthy" weight for my height (based on varying charts and tables that have scoffed at me for the last few years), I need to lose a whopping 25% of my original weight. Four down, twenty-one to go. Since I'm in love with percentages, that means I'm about 18% of the way to my final goal.

The nice thing is that these are solid, modest numbers that do nothing but encourage me at this point. I feel great, I'm making progress, and I have no desire to quit either my diet or my worlking. Things are good!

Coming soon... a detailed description (with pictures!) of the setup of my worlkstation.


Monday, October 15, 2007

kevboy Versus the Pizza

I just watched Chuck, and maybe it's just because I'm on a diet, but I felt that they consumed waaaaay too many pieces of pizza in one hour-long episode. Seriously, they had pizza in at least three different scenes. It was completely incidental to the show, too, it wasn't like it was a show about pizza or anything. They're just a bunch of sadists.

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My name is kevboy, and I'm a rageaholic...

"Hi kevboy!"

Okay, so I'm not a rageaholic in the actual sense of the word, but I do tend to get upset every now and then while working, usually when I get an instant message of this persuasion (not from my boss, but someone else who needs help with something):

Hi, you know that issue I just sent you about an hour ago? Have you dropped everything you were working on when I sent that in and gotten done it yet?

Usually I feel a flood of adrenaline that makes me shaky for a little while before I calm down enough to type a reply back (to the effect of, "No, and while this query makes me wish I'd never agreed to help you, I will get to it in a while..."), but I just discovered a hidden benefit of being on a treadmill while working. I didn't feel shaky at all. Instead, the release of adrenaline had one effect - it made me feel like I had just started walking, as if I'd been on this thing for 8 minutes instead of 8 hours.

It also felt like I recovered from it much faster than usual - the downside is that the "fresh" feeling I had went away all to quickly. That was pretty cool, though, and thought I'd share.

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Worlking - Day 6

I sort of lost steam last week and didn't post on Day 4 or Day 5 (which was really only a half-day!), but I did not lose steam as far as my workling is concerned. Losing the orthopedic inserts may have saved this plan, because since doing so I haven't had any kind of pain to speak of, other than moderately sore feet at the end of the day. They don't hurt any more than after a normal day at the zoo or a museum, so I'm not concerned about that.

I did have a blister on one of my little toes, which was a strange place to get a blister, I thought. I have been doubling up on my socks to avoid just such a thing, and I'm not sure why it came up, but that was on Thursday afternoon. It hurt a bit on Friday but by this morning it was completely gone and so far things seem good.

This morning I inclined the treadmill just a tad, and I can feel the difference in the muscles that are getting worked. It's interesting - I feel much more in tune with the muscles and joints in my lower body than I ever was. The interesting thing is how out of tune I was without realizing it. Things just feel different, for lack of a better description. For instance, the first time I noticed that moving felt different was as I crawled around on the floor with my boys playing "lion." Well, to be honest I was being an antelope and they were lions. It's cute, trust me.

On the downside, I spent a couple of days at my parents' house this weekend and did a TERRIBLE job of sticking to my diet. I ate badly, and often. As a result I lost no weight last week. However, I have refused to let that be discouraging, as this is a long-term process and I need to remember it as such. It's almost like investing - in the short term there will be fluctuations but the trend will be in one direction (and in my case, downward, hopefully!).

Total estimated mileage thus far (not counting today): 40 - 50 miles. I have played around with my speed a bit and I worked slightly strange hours last week, so I'm not sure. On a normal week, I'm estimating that it will be right around 10 miles per day, 50 miles per week (Note to Andrew: I'm leaving this morning for DC - see you right around Jan 21!).


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Orthopedics, Begone!

I've made the decision to forgo the damn orthopedic inserts I've been wearing. To be quite frank, when I put my shoes on this morning and stood up, I felt like I was standing on a couple of ball bearings. I suffered through it this morning, but five minutes ago decided it wasn't worth it, and I would try my luck without them.

The biggest problem is that if the shoes I'm using don't work, then I'm somewhat screwed. I don't have the disposable income to be buying crazy-expensive walking shoes right now, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed (no toes - I think that'll worsen things) that I'll be okay. Otherwise I might have to withdraw and regroup.


Are Healthy Choice Meals Healthy?

As far as Weight Watchers is concerned, yes. I just had a delicious Philly steak sandwich with peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese that was only 6 points. To put things in perspective for those of you who don't do WW, that means I could eat, like, four of those every day. That may not be the healthiest choice in the long run, though... too bad. I'm not overestimating the deliciousness of that sandwich, I swear.

Worlking - Day 3

If you've ever doubted the effectiveness of walking as a form of exercise, I'm here to tell you that it works. That is to say, if you do a lot of it you will hurt in that good I've-been-working-out kind of way.

I can't say I'm that surprised. I've always known that walking was a good form of exercise, but it's such a low-intensity workout that I've always felt it would be difficult to do enough of it to make a difference. Until now, that is. I probably won't know for a few months just how effective it is, but so far it seems like 8 hours/day will make a difference.

The biggest hurdle I have to deal with so far is sore feet. I have orthopedic inserts that I got from a chiropractor that were custom made for me, and I think they're helping, but they're also making my arches sore. I'm not sure if that's a result of not having worn them much in the last year and then doing this. If the pain continues after a couple of weeks I'm going to have to figure something else out. I wanted to go to the Good Feet store and get some custom made walking shoes, but someone told me they cost something around $400... I haven't verified this for myself, of course, and I still think I'll price them to be sure, but I'm not all that hopeful, honestly. If that doesn't pan out then I think I'll find just a really good pair of walking shoes. I'll have to do some research on that front to determine a brand.

Other than my feet, muscles in my hips are probably the second sorest place, and that's not even bad. Once I start walking most of the pain goes away after I get warmed up. The worst part is when I've stopped for a while and start to stiffen up a bit. I stood in the warm water of this morning's shower for a bit, just letting it relax my leg muscles.

As of now, I've had no thoughts of quitting. I have, however, had to psych myself up a bit more than I hoped, but that's to be expected - I am working out, after all. After a few weeks I might be in good enough shape to where I can do it without thinking much about it, good or bad, and that's what I'm keeping in mind as motivation right now. This is a marathon, not a sprint (a phrase you might have heard ad nauseum during the final few weeks of the baseball regular season) and I need to treat it as such. As such, in honor of the Chicago marathon, I will start keeping the room at a steamy 87 degrees with 80% humidity. Also, no water.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

100th Post

I figured I would waste a post with a celebratory woo hoo! marking my 100th post. Kind of sad considering how long I've had this thing, but I don't think anyone is really surprised given my sketchy track record here.

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Worlking - Day 2

The last 9 hours or so that I've worked (counting today and part of yesterday) have been spent at my new treadmill desk. I've walked continuously during that time, and so far I'm holding up well, with only minor discomfort in my feet.

I walk at a very slow pace (about 1 step per second), which keeps me moving without being too strenuous over time. I can talk on the phone without being out of breath, and if I were a normal person I probably wouldn't even sweat; even for me, the sweating is minimal.

"Maybe you should have a fan blowing on you to cool off and prevent sweating," you say.

"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" I laugh maniacally, making you somewhat nervous. "I have three."

"Oh," you reply awkwardly. "Um, I was only trying to be helpful..."

"Well, you're not." I reply rudely.

Seriously, though, it's not bad at all. I find that stretches of 30-45 minutes will go by between peeks at the timer without really thinking about it, so it's not like I'm constantly checking how long I have left (per my usual approach). I focus on work and just walk on and on without much thought. If this holds up without something bad happening to my feet then it's pretty much the best way to exercise ever. I realize I should also be including some kind of weight training if I want a complete workout, but hey, let's be realistic. For now, I'll focus on doing this for long enough that it becomes a habit and something I do without thinking about. At that point I'll think about complicating things.

Until then, I'll continue marching along.
Click here to read the entire post.


Small Changes

I haven't fiddled around with my Blogger template very much lately, but I just figured out how to add a link to a post that will hide a bunch of text unless you go to the post page, keeping really long posts off the main page.

It was a really easy change, but I ended up fiddling with it a bit longer than I expected because I didn't like the way it worked in the example I shamelessly stole it from. It had you adding the link to the template, which was putting the link on every post regardless of whether you had "hidden" text or not. I messed around with it for a few extra minutes and got it working the way I want, even though that means a bit more of a manual process when I want to add that feature to a post. I'll happily accept that, however, since I probably won't use that feature all that often.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Walk To Work

I'm excited... I finally have something I feel is worth blogging about! I usually avoid posting to Stairway whenever I feel like the post would be too blah for someone else's consumption (especially a stranger). This is true no longer.

I am going to start an ongoing series of posts to document my attempt at regaining control of my health (hmm... that's an awful sentence jammed with passive tense). Rewrite: Over the next few weeks and months I will post a series of entries that document my new found attempt to get into shape.

I've never been good about exercising, and now that I have two sons that spend a frightening amount of time copying me, I realized that my lackadaisical approach to my health is going to have serious repercussions for several reasons:
  1. I am at risk of dying sooner than I (or my family) would like. This would have a negative impact on time spent enjoying family life. In other words, I wouldn't get to see my kids grow up and raise families of their own. That would be Teh Suck.
  2. I am at risk of teaching my kids to be fat, unhappy lard-asses. Hopefully I'd also give them enough self-identity that they'd be their own fat, unhappy lard-asses, but I think I'd be happier if I could raise them to be their own person that is also a happy, health, vibrant athlete. Also, I am going to force them to be left-handed and teach them to throw a wicked curve ball. This seems like a better retirement strategy than any 401(k) could ever be. Seriously, have you seen how much Ted Lilly makes?
  3. I am at risk of growing old and realizing I've spent most of my life assuming that I would get in shape in the next couple of years. I realize this is somewhat at odds with the first point, but you get my drift. I don't want to spend my life toasting "Next year at the gym."
With all that being said, here's what I'm currently doing. It's simple:
  • I watch what I eat.
  • I exercise.
To help with the food, my wife and I have been following Weight Watchers. It's a really simple strategy, and seems like it will work well. This isn't the first time we've done it, actually. We followed it for a couple of months a little over a year ago, and it was really effective. I don't honestly know why we ever stopped, but I'm glad we've gotten back on the horse, so to speak. Not that I'd ever eat a horse. Too many points.

To help with the exercise, I'm trying something a little more radical. I heard of an interesting idea on NPR a few months ago, and I filed it away in my mental folder of crazy ideas I wouldn't mind trying. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic came up with the idea a treadmill desk (I'm not entirely sure if they came up with the idea, but they were the focus of the story). The idea is that you can walk while you work. Apparently a slightly overweight individual could burn enough calories while "worlking" (a phrase I just made up right now) to lose 30 - 40 pounds a year. Hmm, interesting. Instead of sitting on my ass and getting fatter while working, I could burn calories all day long.

I know many people would laugh at the idea, but I also got laughed at for driving 65 miles to work (one way) so that we could buy a house near my in-laws' house (my wife wanted to be near her mom when we had babies). I don't deny that it was damn hard to drive that far, but I did it for a reason, and I was stubborn about sticking with it. After about 18 months of that, I was able to finagle the ability to work from home full-time. Now my commute is about 15 seconds. Nice, and totally worth it. Because now that I work from home, I can also have any kind of a desk that I want. Do you see where I'm going with this? That's right, folks, I'm putting together a treadmill desk of my own. In fact, I'm walking right now whilst I type this. I've been walking pretty much non-stop for the last 4.5 hours. And you know what? It's not so bad. I think I could really get used to this.

Enough for now - more specifics on the treadmill desk and progress reports to follow... stay tuned!
Click here to read the entire post.