Some of you may remember my first "attempt" at a triathlon. It was successful in that I achieved my goal of not drowning, but it was quite close. I came in dead last in my group, and second to last overall. Two years later, I’ve officially signed up to try it again… to redeem myself… No more excuses… No more blaming Tenille for a super-tight custom wetsuit. This go around, the goal is to get a decent time. I’m not sure what a decent time is yet, but hopefully it means not coming in dead last.
This year has been one where I’ve put in some effort into my health. When I reached 200lbs last year, Tenille and I decided that something needed to be done. Microsoft offers a $2000 program (that’s after the MS discount) called 20/20. Most people that have taken the program lose a LOT of weight (30-50 lbs). This is from talking with friends that have successfully completed the program. Unfortunately, our household is not one that can afford $2000 for me to get in shape, so we decided to go down the home brew route. A good friend once told me that there’s no secret to losing weight, even though there are thousands of books published claiming they’ve figured out the secret. At the end of the day, it’s 1. Eat less, 2. Exercise more. Everything else is trying to instill discipline in how we do these things. At the recommendation of a few friends, I skimmed through "Body for Life" and created my own program that I felt I could stick to. The goal was to eat frequently in small quantities. Typically, I’d eat about 4-5 times a day, and it could be anything as long as the volume equalled that of two of my fists. I also started a weight lifting program as well as a running program. I’m up to running 5 miles fairly comfortably between a 9-10 minute pace. I can swim 8 laps fairly aggressively (which is the triathlon distance). I need to take a few practice swims in a lake, because as described in my last triathlon blog, lake swimming and pool swimming our two entirely different things. I’m still biking at about a 12-14 mph pace which is a bit slow. I like to blame the equipment on this one, but I also have a hard time believing that better equipment is going to make me THAT much faster. I should stop whining and try training a bit harder. The bigger problem with biking is that it’s a pain in the bum. Literally.
After about 6 months, I’m down to about 178 lbs now, which is great. The last time I weighed under 180 was in college. My end of year goal is 169 which would be my high school weight.
This got me thinking about how we can measure if we’re in the best shape of our lives. There seems to be a strength, endurance, and body composition portion of this. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the strongest I’ve ever been, especially if you measure using the bench press test. I think I could bench about 250 in high school. I start whimpering when I approach 200 now.
On the body composition side, my weight is lower than it has been, but it’s still higher than in high school. Weight is probably not a good measure however, as it’s difficult to pin point when your body is done developing. For instance, I shouldn’t compare myself to my junior high weight as I was still growing at that time. The last fat content check I did (when I was 200lbs) put me at 25% fat. I’m a quarter fat. Apparently, for a woman this is normal. Sadly, I’m not a woman. I’m fairly confident that my next measurement should be lower. But, since I never had this measured in my high school years, it’s difficult to benchmark on this measure.
Finally, there’s endurance. This is where I might have a chance to claim that I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, although there’s some conflicting measures here also. About 6 years ago, I ran the Las Vegas Half Marathon in 2 hours 10 minutes, which is a 10 minute/mile pace. I’m fairly certain, I would not be able to do this today. But, on Friday I ran the fastest mile I’ve ever run in my life. I’ve never beat the 7 minute mark, and on Friday I got 6 minutes and 56 seconds. It almost cost me my breakfast, but it would have been worth it.
Perhaps this "best shape of your life" concept is elusive as our body changes, and only something a middle aged man thinks about. I’ll just document my best times, and perhaps when the time comes where my children are faster, smarter, and stronger than I am, I can challenge them with a few journal entries.