Fitness, Health

MyHealthScore: September 2014

Lifetime Fitness, the new gym I joined two weeks ago, is the best fitness facility I’ve ever been to. I knew this already, as I was a member back in Katy from 2007-2009. If you’ve never set foot in a Lifetime, I strongly urge you to check it out. Is it pricey? Yes. It’s far more expensive than a regular gym. But given the things you receive as a member—free Crossfit, yoga, and every other class you can think of—it’s well worth the admission. Plus, it’s just nice to go to a place where you can hit free weights, use a squat rack, then hop on one of 14 different kinds of cardio machines before getting in the eucalyptus steam room or the dry sauna or the massive hot tub. And then you can top it off with a swim in one of the massive 10-lane indoor or 12-lane outdoor pools.

This is going to sound like a Lifetime commercial, but I’m a big fan. And one of the other perks is something called MyHealthScore, which is an overall assessment of your health and fitness. With my membership, this costs $20, which is quite cheap when you consider all that the test reveals. I knew I wanted to take the test soon after signing up so I could figure out my baseline score and have something to look back on three months down the road when I take it again.

Here are my results.

Overall score: 76 out of 100. This is not perfect. But it’s much, much higher than I would’ve scored even six weeks ago. I was docked 16 points for high body fat (more on that in a little bit) and 8 points for my glucose being slightly high. The glucose was high because I ate carbs last week (I usually only eat vegetable carbs). That’s easy to manage, and I was barely over the threshold.

Body fat: Currently, my body fat is 28%. When I measured my body fat on August 21, it was 34%. So I’ve made drastic progress, and it is absolutely evident in the way my body looks and in the pants I’m now wearing (size 34, down from 38). My Body Mass Index is 28.5, which is high. I need to get my BMI down under 25 in order to be truly healthy, and my body fat goal is 15%. That’s going to take awhile, and when that day arrives I will have some nice abs. But I am going to get there.

Total Cholesterol: My total cholesterol is 176. Anything below 200mg/dL is desirable. So I’m good here. My drastic change in nutrition has worked wonders here.

TC/HDL Ratio: This measures the relationship between healthy cholesterol levels and your total cholesterol level. Mine is 3.67 to 1. That, again, is in the low side and is desirable. I’m good here.

Blood pressure: My blood pressure is 110/71. These are great numbers for my age.

Triglycerides: Anything lower than 149 is considered low and desirable here. Mine are 88. So again, doing awesome here.

Glucose: My glucose levels are 103. This is slightly high, as desirable is considered to be less than 101. The doc said this is partially due to the processed foods I ate in small quantities last week, and partially due to the fact that I am overtraining. I’m in the gym twice a day, seven days a week, and yeah, that is too much. He has instructed me to rest, and with my regular diet (which includes zero sugars), this will drop down to desirable levels.

Aerobic capacity: My VO2 score is 45.7, which is “in the green” for oxygen intake. I’m very happy about this number.

So, things I am going to work on in the hopes of improving my score on the next text: Not overtraining. Resting more often. Being cognizant of not taking in sugars or processed foods. Flexibility. And finally, mixing in more cardio so I can continue, along with my healthy food lifestyle, to shed that body fat and get it down below 20% and onwards to 15%.

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Whole Life Challenge

New Beginnings at a New Gym

The gym I’ve been a member of for nearly a year was closed over the weekend. Which was weird, because it’s never closed. And that’s the thing: it was closed…unless you are a Mr. Olympia competitor. If you were one of those giant, perhaps chemically-helped folks competing at the Olympia tournament here in Las Vegas over the weekend? You could go in my gym and lift weights and get your photo taken. Without paying the same membership fees I pay.

I get it. My gym is filled with these giant people at all times. It is a destination for people with big muscles (and I’m not talking about myself, even though you might think I am). They paint themselves as a gym for the heavy lifters and the glamorous. The gym has a nightclub feel to it, especially at night when the lights are turned down low and the last great supply of black lights from the early 1990’s are turned on.

But I’d like to be able to work out when I want to work out. So when I go to the gym and it is closed to me because I am not a Mr. Olympia athlete, well, you can imagine it was not all that pleasing. So I asked the manager to refund me for the days the gym would be closed. It seemed only right. Here is what he said:

“It’s only a couple of days a year. You’ll survive.”

Really? I try to respond to things with understanding and peace these days. In The Four Agreements (my new best book in life), one of the tenets is “Don’t take anything personally.” But this one made the hot ginger blood in me start to boil.

So I canceled my membership immediately, and I drove over to Lifetime Fitness and signed up. I used to be a member of a Lifetime club in Katy, and I loved it. To this day, I’ve never had a better experience with a gym or fitness club. It is much more expensive than what I was paying, but when you consider all the things you get that other gyms don’t provide, it is a no-brainer. Plus, it’s just a gorgeous facility. You actually want to go work out, because you feel as though you are in a resort.

And one of the things I’ve discovered about myself is this: the more skin I have in the game, the more likely I’m going to be to utilize something to its fullest. That’s the way things are with the Whole Life Challenge. Because I paid $50 to enter that contest, my brain constantly tells me that I have to make sure I get my money’s worth. Lifetime Fitness is significantly more expensive than my old gym, but paying all that money each money will make me use it more than I ever would at a cheap gym.

And there are so many classes at Lifetime, too, and they are all included. Squash. Yoga. Hot yoga. Crossfit. Spinning. In short, there’s a class for everything, and they’re all included with the price of the gym. I started with a hot yoga class yesterday, and it will be part of my new routine (which I’ll list below, for those who are interested).

In short, I’m thrilled to be at Lifetime. My twice-a-day gym visits are much more pleasing now, which means I’m much more likely to keep doing it, even after the Whole Life Challenge draws to a close.

Below is my new routine. Not listed are the 5-6 dog walks I take Belle on each day; those tend to total about 6 miles of walking. This seems like a lot, but it is so very perfect for me. Focusing on these multiple daily sessions has helped me change my way of thinking in a drastic manner, and I believe yoga is going to help me take that to the next level.

MY FITNESS ROUTINE

Monday:
Morning: Weight training (squats, bench press, barbell row)
Afternoon: Running

Tuesday
Morning: 6 mile walk
Afternoon: Hot yoga

Wednesday: 
Morning: Weight training (squats, overhead press, deadlift)
Afternoon: Spinning
Evening: Hot yoga

Thursday
Morning: 6 mile walk
Afternoon: Swimming for distance

Friday: 
Morning: Weight training (squats, bench press, row)
Evening: Hot yoga

Saturday
Morning: Restorative yoga

Sunday
Morning: Walking

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Whole Life Challenge

And the Whole Life Challenge Baseline Workout Results Are…

I woke up this morning, ready to rock and roll on my Whole Life Challenge baseline workout. I was excited. It felt a little like Christmas, because I knew today was the start of something awesome for my physical and mental health. I started eating correctly a few days ago, but today was the moment I would gauge my current fitness level with a test that could be repeated every so often to see how much progress I am making.

I took my before photos. This was not fun, as I had to take them shirtless and all of the hairs (on my head and on my chest and on my chin) were running in very different directions like a bunch of crazy little ginger people. But I took the photos, and now I’ll have another progress indicator to look back upon two months down the road.

No, I won’t be posting these photos on my blog. Not until after the contest, anyway.

Then I did the workout. I decided to opt against running 800m (1/2 mile) as I’d planned, because I wanted to be able to repeat this workout precisely every two weeks. My route was mapped out to end up back at my house; considering I’m moving out of this house on October 20, it didn’t make sense to try and repeat the same exact map. I’m only moving right around the corner, but it would still be a slightly different route due to my lack of wanting to avoid being shot by the people who will live here after I move out. They probably don’t want to wake up and find me doing air squats in their driveway. That might get weird.

So I decided to go with the 1000m rowing instead of of 800m walking, which meant I needed to head up to City Athletic Club’s Crossfit room. I stretched for a bit, and then I did the workout.

As a reminder, this is the workout:

OFFICIAL WLC Workout

Complete as many reps as possible (AMREP) in 11 minutes of:

800m Run (1/2 mile) (or 1,000m Row); followed by
75 Squats; followed by
50 Sit Ups; followed by
25 Push Ups; followed by
as many Burpees as possible in time remaining.

Count ALL reps completed in under 11 minutes (squats + sit ups + push ups + burpees) as your score.

EXAMPLES:
1. If you complete all the squats (75) and 25 sit ups, your score would be 100.

2. If you complete all squats (75), sit ups (50), and push ups (25), plus 5 burpees, your score would be 155.

I honestly figured I would score below 100. I joked with my sisters that I would likely be scoring a 7, but that didn’t seem possible since the Whole Life Challenge scoring application won’t even let you put anything lower than a 20.

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My fish oil (Barlean’s Omega Swirl) is delicious because it does not taste like liquid salmon. Buy it at Sprouts or Amazon

And then I did the workout, and I scored a 146. So I completed the 1000m row, 75 squats, 50 sit-ups and 21 pushups in 11 minutes. And yes, that’s far better than I figured I would do. For real. And the best part? I didn’t throw up on myself or anyone around me. I didn’t pass out. I did the workout, I laid on the floor and did some honest to goodness sweating, and then I came home and made a breakfast consisting of organic pork sausage and eggs. I took my fish oil. I feel great.

This is the start of a good day. I can feel it. My confidence is high, and that’s because I know I’m accomplishing many things. Physically, mentally, emotionally; I am in such a better place right now than I have been in a very long time, perhaps even five years. And though I know I have a long way to go before I reach my ultimate goals, I feel like I’m getting back to the core of who I actually am, and that is the best feeling I’ve had in a long, long time.

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Whole Life Challenge

My Whole Life Challenge Workout Schedule

So, here’s the schedule I came up with. Tomorrow morning I’m doing the official baseline workout, which is this:

OFFICIAL WLC Workout

Complete as many reps as possible (AMREP) in 11 minutes of:

800m Run (1/2 mile) (or 1,000m Row); followed by
75 Squats; followed by
50 Sit Ups; followed by
25 Push Ups; followed by
as many Burpees as possible in time remaining.

Count ALL reps completed in under 11 minutes (squats + sit ups + push ups + burpees) as your score.

EXAMPLES:
1. If you complete all the squats (75) and 25 sit ups, your score would be 100.

2. If you complete all squats (75), sit ups (50), and push ups (25), plus 5 burpees, your score would be 155.

So that will give me my baseline workout. From there, my actual workouts will begin. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

MONDAY
7:00 am: Dog walk, 1 mile
7:30 am: Stretching
8:00 am: Gym (Stronglifts 5×5 weight training)
7:00 pm: 2 mile run
8:30pm: Stretching
Throughout day: Short dog walks

TUESDAY
7:00 am: Dog walk, 1 mile
7:30 am: Stretching
8 am: Yoga
4 pm: Swimming
7:30 pm Dog walk, 1 mile
Throughout day: Short dog walks

WEDNESDAY
7:00 am: Dog walk, 1 mile
7:30 am: Stretching
8:00 am: Gym (Stronglifts 5×5 weight training)
7:00 pm: 2 mile run
8:30pm: Stretching
Throughout day: Short dog walks

THURSDAY
7:00 am: Dog walk, 1 mile
7:30 am: Stretching
8 am: Yoga
4 pm: Swimming
7:30 pm Dog walk, 1 mile
Throughout day: Short dog walks

FRIDAY
7:00 am: Dog walk, 1 mile
7:30 am: Stretching
8:00 am: Gym (Stronglifts 5×5 weight training)
7:00 pm: 2 mile run
8:30pm: Stretching
Throughout day: Short dog walks

SATURDAY
9:00 am: Stretching
1:00 pm: Swimming
8 pm: Dog walk, 1 mile

SUNDAY
Stretching
Dog walks, short
Rest

EVERY TWO WEEKS
Repeat WLC baseline workout to gauge status

As the weather here in Nevada cools down and gives way to fall, I’ll substitute some of those days with long hikes at Red Rock or Mount Charleston. I’ll probably even substitute a few days with a trip to Yosemite. I do love hiking, after all.

But in general, this will be my guide.

The Stronglifts program is one I have done before, with great results. It is focused on adding muscle and functional strength and in reshaping the body. I’m adding a whole bunch of cardio and stretching and more cardio on top of it. I hate cardio, but I am going to do it, and I am going to do a lot of it.

This, combined with my super-strict diet, will lead to results. I am going to get to 170 pounds by the time December 1st rolls around. I’ve talked previously about my goals, and I have a lot of them. But this is the one that delivers the most immediate visible results. Those visible results are a sign of my commitment, and I am committed.

I can’t wait for Saturday. Let the Games begin.

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My (temporary) standing desk

This is the standing desk I’ll be using for the next month or so. I want to make sure that I’m going to be a long-term convert to the standing movement before I splurge for a more expensive and permanent desk.

But for the time being, this will work out swimmingly. It’s mobile and looks good and is sturdy, even though I put it together myself. And it’s strong enough to hold my 24″ monitor.

Today was my first real standing day. All work I had to do, including two stories written, was done standing. I walked around a bunch, too. I did notice an uptick in productivity, but also an uptick in ouch my aching legs and bum. But some of that is likely due to me stopping once an hour to do 30 air squats. In Fitbit news: I blew past my 10,000 step goal for the day about 7 hours earlier than I typically do. I’m currently at 16,000 steps, my highest mark ever.

In a month, if I’m still satisfied that this is my long-term working solution, I’ll look into buying a nicer desk. I’ll probably go with the Safco Muv, because that one is still under $300, but I’m also looking at desks that range from $700 to $1400. I doubt I spend that much in the end, especially since most of those more expensive desks are not mobile, and I want to remain mobile. So the Muv will most likely be my only decent option, unless I decide to go with the UpDesk, which I also like.

My new anti-fatigue mat came in today. I can’t wait to see what kind of difference it makes tomorrow. It feels…squishy.

Stay tuned. I’ll keep updating with my thoughts on my move to the standing work lifestyle.

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My (temporary) standing desk

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