Monday
Oct262015

Mountaineering and Alpinism is Expensive

There's a prohibitive cost barrier to doing a lot of the coolest stuff you can outdoors.

 

I think I've been 'realizing my life purpose' which is to maintain relative obscurity while (hopefully, if I'm lucky) attaining enlightment through conquering the outdoors. The challenges nature puts in front of us. I've proven to myself I can complete just about anything I put my mind to with the races I've been doing, and especially last year's Breckenridge Beast. It's in my nature to be cautious, and I'm learning patience and persistence, and I'm in no rush to become the best of anything, so I think this can be something to do for the rest of my life. There is no completing it, there is no end, no way to measure your accomplishments. No goal, aside from - live life, use my body the way it is meant to be used, recognize my place in nature.

 

So here I am, in Colorado, and as of yesterday there is now snow on the peaks. There was a big enough storm in the mountains in recent weeks that I-70 at Eisenhower tunnel was closed for a few hours. Weather is sitll mixed in Denver, and winter may not techncially arrive until December 21, but from where I am winter is here. And I want to get into winter activities.

 

Snowshoeing, mountaineering, alpining, ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and even sledding all require some gear that I just don't have. Not everything, but enough things that it makes me put my teeth together and inhale sharply when I make a list of things I'd need to buy.

  • Snowpants
  • Gloves
  • Winter boots
  • crampons
  • ice tool/axe
  • synthetic puffy with hood
  • base layer (top and bottom)

 

I have some waterproof pants (not insulated, not designed to stand up to alpining), I have some very mediocre gloves (that were cold and didn't repel water the last time I wore them), I just got some new hiking boots (that are not insulated, and will require additional waterproofing for snowy conditions), I have microspikes (which will only work in some situations, not those for which crampons are designed), I own trekking poles (which can not double as an ice tool), I have a puffy (which is down and no hood, and already partially failed me on Mt. Evans), and I have a base layer (which is not that thick and I specifically got it for spring/summer/fall conditions), and while all these things might work this early in the season still, as it gets colder and snowier I'm going to need different gear.

 

Not having an unlimited budget for these sorts of things means there's a debate about what to get and when, especially for such a long list. For any piece of gear you can go out and find something that is cheap, it will work, but it probably won't last. Or you can get that expensive piece of gear that's going to really cost you, but it will likely last you a long time. In my experience (as an adult) it's better to just get the more expensive gear, take good care of it, and it will fit/feel/work great, and last a long time. Earlier this year after extensive research, it sitting in my Amazon cart for months, a few too many walks to work in the rain where my older eVent jacket wasn't holding up as well, and one very soggy camping trip I finally bit the bullet and bought the (very expensive) Arc'Teryx Alpha FL jacket, and so far I have not regretted it one bit.

Even if I got a bunch of mid-tier stuff, this is still easily 1000+ in gear that I'd need to obtain to make these trips successful and safe, so I really hope things go well this Christmas.

Thursday
Dec042014

Entitlement and the Outdoors

What happened? When did everyone become special snowflakes who nobody understands, and as a result everyone should treat them special? Around the time of participation ribbons and making sure everyone gets a Valentine's Day card I imagine.

It wasn't like this when I was a kid. A fat kid at that. I knew I was weaker and less desirable because I was overweight. Maybe not in those terms, exactly, but I could just inherently tell that the athletic kids were better humans than the unathletic kids. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty darn smart (if IQ means anything, of which I am dubious, I am of "superior intelligence") so I clawed and scraped and hung on to that smartness with everything I had. Also I was funny. Being smart all the time is hard and tiring, and in the end you are ALWAYS ARGUING with people, and pretty much always wasting time. Maybe if I applied myself more I could be a Bill Nye or a Niel Degrasse Tyson, but what's the payoff? I could work on stand up comedy and maybe I could become a George Carlin or Robin Williams or Pete Holmes (what a weird mix, haha) but it feels like you are forever chasing external validation - I'M FUNNY!

It seems like that's where a lot of this entitlement comes from - desire for external validation. Fat activists want validation from fit, skinny, attractive men. Neckbeards and 'nice guys' want validation from fit, skinny, lare breasted, attractive women. I just don't understand where it comes from, and sadly if I think back I was one of those people who felt entitlement, and that only by getting that would I be validated. Entitlement for that job, that paycheck, those things, that girl, this body.

You get nothing for free. You get nothing unless you put the work in. How can you expect anyone to love you if you don't love yourself? How can you expect an attractive and fit mate if you don't do your best to be as attractive and fit as possible? You should always be striving to improve, to be the best version of yourself you can be. You will fail sometimes, but you need to learn that that's life, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Nothing comes fro free.

 

You need to be validated by yourself, simply for being alive. Life is a wonderful thing and, as far as we know, you only get one of them, so you might as well enjoy every moment and soak it up as best you can. You need to make the most of it.

You know what makes me happy, what validates me? Being outside and seeing what my body is capable of. Humans and our ancestors lived outside (like any other animal) for hundreds of thousands to millions of years. We evolved to be our best selves in the outdoors. To feel better when we get more sunlight, when we have a nice tan, to be literally happier the more time we spend outside under the blue sky. We evolved to hunt, to work, to play, and to rest. So you should run, and lift, and climb, swing, jump, roll, and swim.

 

Don't give up. Don't be happy with mediocrity. Don't resign yourself to where you are in life, or how you look, or your current fitness level. Always try to be better. There's that ideal version of yourself inside. That version that can cook, or be super suave with the ladies, or nail a 360 in the half pipe, or climb a wall, or run a marathon is inside of you, you just need to put away your bad habits and let this improved you out.

 

And when you die you should be able to say "I am the best me I had the time to discover and create in this lifetime." That's how you die with no regrets and a smile on your face.

Tuesday
Dec022014

Food Ramblings

Food is a problem for a lot of people, myself included. As a former, mostly-reformed, fatty there is something so alluring about the taste of fast food, ice cream, candy, and all the junk that isn't food and we shouldn't be eating. I've had a few major slip ups lately, more than just Thanksgiving, so I wanted to write out some thoughts (ramblings?) about food.

There are some people who say you can't judge food, there is no good food or bad food, you can't call one food healthy and another unhealthy... these are people who are trying to justify eating shit food. Most food available in stores today wasn't even invented until the 1970s and after. Go back and watch That 70s Show and see them reference these new foods coming out - popsicles, chips, frozen dinners, microwave foods. Prior to that all that was available was real whole natural foods, and everything was healthier. Was there apple pie? Sure, but it was likely more fruit and natural sugar and less added sugar as that is what people were used to. A lot of what is available today isn't even real food.

Humans are omnivores and evolved to seek out the highest calorie foods which include fat, sugar, and salt. Fruit would be available during limited times of the year, and fructose helps you to store fat, so humans would gorge themselves on limited quantites and put on additional body fat to prepare for the winter. Super, this helped us to stay alive. Fast forward to today when food companies hire food scientists to design foods that specifically trigger our basest desires - fat, sugar, salt.'

Between this, the increasing prominence of emotional eating, and the fact that food is available everywhere we have to take a lot more personal responsibility about what we eat, when we eat, how much we're eating, and why we're eating.

WHAT

Food quality is a touchy subject, so let's simplify by saying vegetables, meat, and eggs are basically all good. Fruit should be eaten in moderation, and I personally think only during certain times of the year. Rice, bean, and potato consumption should be based on personal tolerance, goals, macros, and necessity. Basically everything else should be avoided as best as possible. So last week when I ate mass quantites of McDonalds, Arby's, frozen pizza, and Taco Bell in just a few days, that wasn't such a good idea.

WHEN

I don't know what happened, where the idea of needing to snack all day came from, but it is getting out of control. Starvation mode is a myth unless you are literally starving. If you've eaten in the last 7 days and have more than 10% body fat, as far as you should be concerned starvation mode is not real. If you eat 3 meals a day that is more than enough, even 2 is plenty, and even 1 is sufficient. Only if you are a scrawny hard gainer (and likely a teenager) is there any world where you need to eat 4 to 6 to 8 times or more a day. Get your shit together, plan your meals, eat at the same time every day if you need to.

HOW MUCH

If you are trying to lose weight and can't, you are eating too much. If you've lost weight, you might not get to eat as much if you want to keep it off. You need to calculate your shit. Figure out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or the number of calories you burn just from existing and laying in bed or whatever, then figure out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and knock off 500kcal a day and maintain it every day. You can cut more if you want, if you can handle it, but a lot of people say they get too hungry, if you're an athlete or work out regularly your performance might suffer. Just remember if you think about a cheat day, if you're cutting 500kcal a day and maintenance on the cheat day that's only a 3000kcal a week deficit (less than a pound a week). If you overeat or indulge on your cheat day and eat at maintenance+1000kcal that's only 2000kcal a week deficit which would be barely a pound of fat loss every two weeks. You can try to move more, and you should move more, this can help supplement your deficit, but for a 180lb person running a 5k in 25 minutes (my best 5k was 26:22, so that would be tough for me especially in an untrained state):

 

Distance:
3.1 miles
Duration:
00:25:00
Pace:
8:04 / mile
Calories Burned:
422
Calorie Burn Rates:
136.13 / mile
1,012.8 / hour
16.88/ minute

 

422 kcal. That's less than in a single Hostess Cherry Pie. Don't reward yourself for running or working out, you're probably undoing all the work you just did.

WHY

Whenever you feel hungry or want to eat, one thing you can do is HALT and decide if you are:

 

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

 

If you are experiencing any of these feelings in conjunction with hunger when you know you've eaten recently you need to be consciously aware of and mindful of these feelings, and acknowledge that you are not actually hungry, rather it's a way of coping with these feelings.

Thirst can also be misinterpreted as hunger, so whenever you are hungry try drinking some water and wait 20 minutes before eating again.

Monday
Dec012014

Spartan Race Prep Lead-Up

Sign ups for 2015 Spartan Races opened the other week so we (me and my Tribe) signed up for the Colorado Springs Military Sprint (May 2) and the Breckenridge Beast (June 13) and I am starting to plan out my training now.

I started Stronglifts 5x5 at the beginning of October and have been making steady progress. I started with the empty bar for most lifts, a bit of weight for rows and deadlifts, and as of my most recent workouts:

  • Squat 5x5 - 160lbs
  • OHP 5x5 - 95lbs
  • Deadlift 1x5 - 225lbs
  • Bench 5x5 - 95lbs
  • Row 5x5 - 115lbs

Squats are starting to feel pretty hard, as are OHP. Deadlift is getting challenging, but I pulled 315x1 (3 times) last Christmas so I know I have some room. Bench doesn't feel that hard yet, nor do rows, but there's some extra considerations related to my shoulder issues.

The plan I'm working on I will likely start in January, though I may start the running training sooner. The current plan is to have daily mobility and stretching, follow a 5/3/1 program for my major lifts, body weight assistance exercises, running training based on the Brian MacKenzie Power, Speed, Endurance/Crossfit Endurance 12 week half marathon training program, weighted walks/hikes, a skill component which is mostly gymnastics abilities, and then climbing and parkour training.

I'm still working out some of the details, but the plan seems to be coming together.

The Military Sprint we did last year and it was 4+ miles, 15+ obstacles, and many of them were designed by the military (it was at Ft. Carson) making them super rugged.

The Beast is a new challenge for us, it's 12+ miles, 25+ obstacles, and the fact that it's at altitude in Breckenridge will make it that much harder.

We're looking for a Super (8+ miles, 20+ obstacles) so we can get the Trifecta, but no word on whether one is happening in Denver so we may be eyeballing the SLC Super.

 

Doing the 30 day blog challenge, so I'm going to write something every day for the next 30 days. Some topics to consider:

  • My diet, how it's been going , cheats lately, weight loss
  • Shoulder issues, and all that jazz
  • Training updates
  • Spartan obstacles and appropriate training
  • Specific training options/plan, why I'm doing them, resources for them
  • Meditation
  • Cooking, my favorite recipes
  • Fat logic
  • Foam rolling, and why I don't do it every day (hint, being an idiot)
  • Stretching, and why I don't do THAT every day either (see above)
  • Holiday stuffs

Thursday
Aug212014

Fat Acceptance Promotes Helplessness and Hopelessness

Today while surfing the web at work I suddenly found myself in a new section of the internet - the fat acceptance movement. This is a crazy wormhole.

It's not entirely unusal that I found this, I've heard about it before, done a little cursory reading, and frankly thought it was stupid and never bothered looking at it again. This was in the midst of my lifestyle change.

My max known weight was around 250lbs. I can't tell you how much I really weighed at my fattest though because I made sure to not own a scale. I accepted my lazy, fat self just as I was, convinced myself I was happy to sit on the couch playing video games, that my high blood pressure being treated with medication at 23/24 wasn't a problem, and (in hindsight) was eating a RIDICULOUS amount of food. You can't maintain that kind of weight otherwise! It did not take much to start losing weight, at least not in terms of eating less and doing a little more activity - all I did was walk around the block. At a certain point I was watching Human Planet and some other documentaries on Netflix about human evolution and realized there probably weren't fat cavemen, which coincidentally coincided with reading Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, and discovering primal and paleo. I read 4-Hour Body and started doing bodyweight exercises and running, I was getting close to 200. I learned about LeanGains and Intermittent Fasting, Stronglifts and Starting Strength, macronutrients and supplements, keto and carb cycling - you name it I've probably read about it. And I tried them all and made tweaks and sought help from the internet. Oh, I had a few backslides and slip-ups, but in the end here I am now, 3 (or is it 4 now...) years later flirting with 170, and kicking butt at climbing, mud runs, parkour and gymnastics training, and bodyweight training (when I'm not injured... this right shoulder is still not better, but that's another blog post).

 

The hardest part about going from fat to fit isn't the stuff you have to do, it's DOING IT. It's holding yourself accountable, having the willpower, the mental fortitude, the strength, the drive to do this thing that, frankly, feels REALLY HARD. Go back to my "Your Thoughts Are Not You" post if you need a primer on why you shouldn't listen to your brain. Even though that post was written for men who are scared to talk to women, it holds true - YOU are the one who has to do it, you need to stop making or looking for excuses, and just tough it out and do the hard work. And that's hard, so it seems out of reach, and a lot of people just give up (or don't even try) and that's the fat acceptance movement in a nutshell.

 

I think I was no better than any of them, or you (depending who reads this, I guess). I definitely believed at the beginning of all this that I would fail, but over time and learning more I realized I could do this, I had the power. But I really had to shore up my abilities, not physically, but mentally. Everyone thinks they are so mentally strong, but most of us are not. Take willpower, for example, did you know you use it up? That's why it's so hard to skip that piece of cake at the end of the day when you're on a diet. Willpower is like a lake, it has two dimensions - how big is the lake (surface area or breadth) and how deep is the lake (depth).

  • The breadth is your ability to have willpower for different things - I'm going to do the dishes, I'm going to the gym, I'm going to eat right, I'm doing my homework, etc. If this sucks you may be strong enough to go to the gym, but then you get home and give up and overeat junkfood.
  • The depth is how much willpower you have for something in particular. Say it's someones birthday at work and there's cake and ice cream, you resist ALL DAY LONG but then get home and eat a pint of Boulder's Organic Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream - this is because you didn't have that "food" willpower deep enough.

Willpower is like a muscle, you have to exercise it, and if you are weak this is way harder than lifting heavy weights 3 days a week. Want to know some tricks? Go stare at a rack of candy bars for a while, then don't eat one. Tell yourself all day you get to have pizza or Chipotle, then don't do it. This is how you get strong. I'm not kidding, but I'm also no expert - go read The Willpower Instinct and apply that stuff. You can do it, you have to believe in yourself.

 

You need to learn to be ok by yourself, you need to learn to love yourself, and have self-compassion. Meditate, have mindful awareness of your thoughts, especially those negative ones. I know this sounds hokey and new-agey, but if you don't love yourself you just aren't going to try. I was going to say "try as hard" but lets be honest, there's 'trying' and there's really TRYING and most people would agree that they have accomplished things they REALLY truly set their minds to. This is not "accepting yourself just as you are" because if you did that you wouldn't be a part of the fat acceptance movement because you wouldn't try dieting or anything in the first place because you would be perfectly content with yourself. Being fat is not who you are, just as loving Papa Roach when you were in high school is not who you are. There are lots of books on these topics, I'll try to put together a reading list at some point.

 

And you need to learn what happiness really is. If you're a mega tubster and you think you'd be happy if you woke up tomorrow as a fit skinny person, you're wrong. Happiness comes from doing your best, trying hard, putting effort into it, and accepting things as they are. And this, I think is where FA really screws up - acceptance. Acceptance does not mean that your sitaution is unchangeable, static, unwavering, so you need to accept it; acceptance means you take responsibility and acknowledge that you can't move things along faster then they are meant to go. "I got myself into this position, I'll get myself out of it!" instead of placing blame and "I can do 5 push-ups, and tomorrow I'm going to try for 6!" instead of "I can only do 5 push-ups :/". You are where you are, but that does not mean you will always be there, you can change it! It won't happen over night, but if you put the time and energy into it, you will improve. It's the same with weight loss, I guarantee it.

I'm getting off track, and I could go on and on, so as one last thing I just want to point out that eating "all natural, organic, blah blah blah" junk food is no better than eating other junk food if you're eating it in quantity, stop lying to yourselves! Just eat REAL food, food that looks like food when it is grown or born. Once you get your weight and eating addiction under control then you can CONSIDER eating those again from time to time as a treat.

 

 

Anyway... so today I stumble upon /r/fatlogic and subsequently Ragen Chastain along with /r/fatpeoplehate and some other stuff, and was disgusted with what I saw.

An overweight woman posting pictures saying she has been chronically sick and depressed and nothing but nice post after nice post from people saying "hey, I used to be there, try eating better, eating less, and exercising more, it helps a lot!" with her responding "IMPOSSIBLE" and acting like Mrs. Pancake from Rick and Morty 

Though she was much more rude and angry.

Claims of "stopping dieting and just eating how I feel like and finding her balance point" but putting on A TON of weight and how that is totally OK. And post after post after post of fat people telling other fat people it's impossible to lose weight, don't worry about being fat, just accept it. People talking about yo-yo dieting, another fiction created by fat people who don't have enough self control and willpower to stay away from that box of donuts after they drop the first 20lbs and want a little self-congratulatory circle jerk. I don't care that you love Twinkees, stop eating them! The reason you think fast food and junk food taste so good is THEY ARE SCIENTIFICALLY DESIGNED TO TASTE LIKE THAT TO DRAIN YOUR WALLET. This is not the way human beings are meant to live. If you are a big fatty fat, but are an animal lover/activist and hate seeing animals caged up in zoos and getting lethargic and messed up THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO YOURSELF!

I'm getting frustrated, clearly, so let me say I still mess up here and there and eat a case of butterscotch crumpets or a whole pizza. The difference is I TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY ACTIONS. When the scale ticks up 5lbs the next day, it is what it is, I don't beat myself up over it, just accept it and try to do better the next day. Not every day is going to be a great day, the goal is just to make the majority at minimum pretty good days so a once in a while screw up doesn't derail the whole train. You can't give up after one slip up and just see it as inevitable that you will overeat shitty food every day, I KNOW you are stronger than that.

 

I'm not trying to attack or make any hamplanets (or even ham-plutonians) feel bad here, I care about you and I want you to get your shit together! Get out of this fake little world you've created in your head and accept that if you don't make a serious change only bad things are in your medical future. Once you've gotten away from the bad food, break the bad habit of overeating, stop eating your emotions, start working out, and all that jazz you will eventually realize that a) exercise is fun b) all that super delicious "food" is actually pretty gross and all those healthy things you don't think you like are actually pretty good and make you feel good and c) no matter how good you feel when you are fat, guaranteed you feel worse than an average day for a fit person.

 

Contrary to what Ragen and her compatriots would have you believe, there is HOPE, and let me tell you it is glorious. When you are fit, and skinny, with relatively low body fat your body works at it's peak and optimum capacity. Yes, sure, you look good, but what's more important is YOU FEEL AMAZING. The way your mood changes, your outlook on life, your confidence, and willingness to put yourself out there increases 100 fold. Just think about that for a second.

 

You are not helpless, you are not hopeless. You can lose weight. You can get fit and strong. You can climb mountains or run marathons or lift heavy or learn to do a backflip and a handstand. You can do it all. You just have to want it more than you want to shove a donut into your mouth. It takes work, time, dedication. You have to have awareness of and acknowledge your weaknesses, then work to make them better. Losing weight and getting in shape isn't just about having a better body or being more attractive, it's about being the BEST YOU you can be. Nobody else can be you, so why would you want a shitty version of yourself running around?

 

So give it a go, and if anybody tells you that 95% of diets fail, kick 'em in the crotch and say "I'm not on a diet, I'm changing my unhealthy lifestyle."