Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Um... Hi.

Good news: I'm alive. I'm not starving to death. I'm not running myself into the ground.

Bad news: I'm "meh". I'm eating too much. I'm not running at all.

Unknown news: I've decided to talk with my doctor about antidepressants. I've always said I didn't want to be medicated, but there comes a time when you have to consider that, just as some people need glasses or insulin, perhaps I need something. How many weekends should one try to sleep away before deciding that something needs to change? Answer: This many.

I hope to start checking in more often.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Interesting than Me (Today, at Least)

Nothing to say today, but I was perusing my RSS feeds and ran into an old post from Leigh Peele. In it, she links to two other blog posts which articulate everything (and more) that has ever bothered me about The Biggest Loser. They're so good I have to relink them here.

Tom Venuto's Take on the show

The Mohr Team Scolds Jillian
(I'd never heard of the Mohrs, but you can be sure I'll be watching their space after this great piece)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hey, Two Posts in Two Days. Who'da Thunkit?

Success one: Logged all my food today.
Success two: Landed at a caloric deficit.
Success three: Hit the gym and the weights.
OMG: Must I always fry my legs upon reentering training?

Overall: It feels good. And I hope I can walk tomorrow.

Sidenote: Yes, commenting on my last post is disabled. I appreciate that some of you have some very good things to say, but I hope you can understand that I just don't want to open up those issues up to discussion. At least not right now. No offense meant, and I thank you for respecting this. (More than that, I thank you for still being around! You don't know how much your support, even in my silence, means to me.)

Tomorrow: Another step forward.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hey. Me. We Need to Talk.

Where has the time gone?

I'm not going away. I promise.

To prove it, I'm going to share my darkest shame. No, not any of those! I'm talking athleticism/weight/whatever-relevant-to-this-blog shame.

The scale this morning?


Sweet Lords, what am I letting myself do to myself?

Despite the solid upswing of the scale, this hasn't been a reverse without some hesitation. I've made some halfhearted attempts at returning the trend to what it should be. Why the halfhearted? Damned if I know, but that's what it is.

My therapist is somewhat surprised and perplexed. I guess I can't blame her. In some ways, I feel bad for her since it really must feel like I'm just not trying. Well, really, I guess I'm not.

So. Well. And now? Once again, I wonder what my next step should be. It's not going to be a declaration of renewed determination because either I'll do it or I won't. Declarations didn't get me to lose about sixty pounds, and they didn't let me gain ten back. I did.

You wanna stick around for the weird part?

(Ooh, this is difficult... Some of you may wish to stop here.)

We did.

No, not any of you.

You see, my therapist wants me to play with the idea of identifying the two sides of me. Yes, it feels like I'm pretending to have DID (once known as MPD), but she assures me that it's not an invalid step to name the different sides of me.

In fact, I've long theorized (as if I'm the only one) that we all have multiple personalities, but not with the separation and other complications that those with DID suffer. (I know, the idea makes those with DID cringe, but there is a lot to back it up. Another time and place, though.) I've held back from placating my therapist by playing this game, but what do I have to lose?


We did.

Now, who is we? I need names.

I'm going to assume that the me that I want to be is, well, me. So that me will remain Karen.

The more significant name, I believe, is the name of my saboteur. That part of me that demands Snickers for breakfast or Jack in the Box for dinner when there are perfectly good ingredients in the fridge at home. That part of me that wants to stay curled in bed even when the skies are blue and the wheels of the bike are begging to roll. The part of me that has put her foot down since nearing 190 and has been, for now, getting her way. The part of me that I need to work out a compromise with if I'm going to reverse this reversal.

What is her name?

I can describe her. I know that sounds funny, but I have an image of her in my head. She's a child, petulant, pouting, and angry. Well, maybe not angry so much as resentful. Guarded. Untrusting. Afraid. And not willing to look weak. Or stupid. Ever. She sits with her arms crossed and a look on her face that just makes clear that she is not to be messed with. Well, as much as a, what... six to nine year old can do. Most important, no one is going to tell her what to do, when to do it, or whether she's a good person for doing or not doing something. She is that part of me that, when faced with a person telling her to do something she already decided to do, will do the opposite just to prove a point. She's the part of me that demands to be accepted, but refuses to put herself in a position to be rejected. Which means, ironically, that she can never truly be accepted.

Who is she?

What is her name?

I don't think I can just give her one. I've tried, and they've never felt right.

In a way, they've been rejected.

Good Gods, I know I sound like a nut, but this is a step I'm determined to take tonight.

What is her name?


I've always loved that name, secretly wishing my parents had given me that name rather than the banal one they chose. It seems a little odd to give it away to this dark, angry, fearful part of me that I don't want to become. But maybe that makes it more fitting, since the goal is not to eliminate that part of me so much as it's to make this part of me express her needs in more acceptable ways.

On the other hand, it seems fitting since this is the name I once toyed with as the "if you had an evil twin" name. But she's not evil. She's not even misunderstood. She's unheard.

So. Katrina it is.

It's time to begin being heard.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Yes, Well, and Now?

Hey, look who's still around.

So, what am I doing. (Yeah, that's an interrogatory sentence ending with a period. What of it?)

Well, the good news is that I'm still here. And here. And here. And a few other places. That means that my demon, whoever she is, doesn't have a complete stranglehold. I'm still holding myself accountable, at least on some level. Also, I'm cooking a bit again (i.e., not all of my food comes in a take-out bag anymore). So there's still hope. (Well, actually, there's always hope, is there not?)

Now there's the question of Saturday. The No Hill Hundred.


One hundred miles? Definitely out. A metric? Possible, but not likely. Thirty-five miles? Should be doable... but will I? Will I, indeed.

I think I shall. It may be just what I need to help me get my head on straight again. Get my priorities straight.

Will I? I think, yes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Frak Therapy (or not)

Ah, so what was the plan again? Oh, yes. Start seeing a therapist when I'm doing fantastic on the health/fitness/weight loss/transformation. Then, if/when I hit that hump, the therapist can then know me well enough to help me over it.

Well, guess who's bottomed out right out that hump. Yeah, yeah. In many ways I fell off the wagon months ago. But it took school starting for me to stop running in the wagon's dust, pretending to try to catch up. Now I gave myself permission to sit down by the side of the road and start shoveling Snickers bars down my gullet. (Ooh, don't I get nasty when I want to? "Gullet". Well, yes. That's how I feel right now.)

Now, I can hear some of you firing up your keyboards. Stop the negative talk, don't be so hard on yourself. Your weight isn't the most important thing.

Well: no, no, yes but anyway. (In that order.)

I think the negative talk is fair right now, since being permissive is part of what gets me in that place I don't want to be. (Where the only exercise I get is cleaning up empty Doritos bags from the floor.) So maybe I should be negative, and maybe I should be hard on myself. I know the weight is the least of the issues, but my downward spiral is going well beyond weight. I'm supposed to ride a century in less than two weeks. Ha!

So, anywho...

I saw my therapist yesterday. I hadn't seen her for a while. What was her brilliance? That I need to figure out what's going on with me. (Yeah, yeah, I know. That's how it works.)

What was my brilliance? The fact that I set it up so that I have a therapist right now. This is what I need. She won't exactly kick my butt when I see her, but maybe she'll get me to start kicking my own butt. Maybe this time. This time I'll figure out exactly what it is that causes me to do a flip turn.

That's the goal. And I think it's achievable.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not Fat Enough. Who Knew?

So a little discussion about my blog fired up elsewhere in internetland. Turns out that a beautiful, young, overweight woman became inspired to start her own blog about being a fat athlete. Good for her. The more of us, the better.

What bemused (and amused) me, however, was that she sorta dissed me for not being fat enough to be a fat athlete.

Knock me over with a twinkie.

Not "athlete" enough, maybe. Not friggin' "blogger" enough (lately), I can get behind. Not even anti-weight-loss enough, sure. But not fat enough? Hm.

Well, you know, I knew the time would come when, perhaps, I would face the confusion the infamous Fat Cyclist faces. He is in no way fat. Now. Back when? Yeah, he used to be fat. But things change. Must he really shed the nickname "Fatty"? Would I have to one day change the name of my blog?

But there was no way that I thought I'd face that sort of... what? scorn? confusion? befuddlement? "you're not a member of our fat club anymore"?... Anyway, there's no way I thought I'd face that when I'm still around sixty pounds overweight.

I mean, I guess I'm not complaining. I guess. It just feels sort of odd. I mean, I'm still fat. I'm not a size four complaining about my (normal) belly pooch. I'm still medically obese. No, I'm not morbidly obese, but I used to be. And now, already, I don't count for some people because I'm not fat enough. And, while I'm happily looking forward to the day that I can't even call myself overeight, I'm somewhat perplexed at the feelings that arise when some say that I'm not overweight enough. What an interesting place to be.

How bizarre.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Priorities: Two Points

Should I insert the obligatory, "Sorry I haven't posted for a while?" Maybe? Maybe not? Well, you choose. Pretend it's there if you want it, pretend it's not there if you don't.

To be honest, my priorities are straight(ish) right now. I'm far from perfect, but I'm not eating gallons of ice cream for breakfast. I'm gaining a few ounces back, and my exercise isn't fabulous, but it's where I need to be for at least a few more weeks. If you're a teacher, you surely understand that the first month or so of a new year can be the most time-consuming. Add the fact that our principal is suddenly adding even more testing into our overworked schedules, and you get even less time. Add the fact that I'm starting one or two (haven't decided whether to drop one) two-year professional development programs, and my time whittles away even more.

So, am I beating myself up for not being particularly athletic right now? Heck no. Even "real" athletes have off-seasons, so that's where I am right now. I'm still in my events, and I'm still training (albeit lightly), so I can't be anything but proud. So there.

So, that's one issue of priorities dealt with. Now for the next: Have you made giving back to the athletic community a priority yet?

I read somewhere about a woman who makes a point of volunteering for at least one event per year. She moves from the competition to support. I don't know about you, but that really clicked for me. Thanks to her, I spent early Sunday morning volunteering for a local race. At the first station, I directed human traffic (10k and half-marathon runners go this way; 5k runners go that). At the second station, I played traffic cop and stopped motorized traffic so that the runners didn't have to slow down.

Was it as fun as running? Surely not. (But it was fun cheering on the runners and admiring their spirit head-on.) More importantly, let's face it: Where would your favorite events be without the sacrifice of volunteers?

So, I ask again: Have you given back yet? I'm not judging, but I am passing on the idea: Just once a year, step to the side and give support to your fellow runners/cyclists/athletes. It's a whole different kind of achievement, but it's achievement nonetheless.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Owie, Owie, OWIE!

OK, there's pain, and then there's PAIN. Today I'm in both.

I started the New Rules of Lifting (for Women) program yesterday. Yay for me! Did my first barbell squats. Or, at least, I did something which was supposed to be barbell squats. I'm not sure how good my form was. The bar felt unstable (side to side) and my form had to change completely from dumbbell squats as my center of gravity was shifted. But I now get why people really love barbell squats: they really do work so much more of the body. I can't wait until I start dead-lifting in my next session.

So my legs (and a few other spots) are sore from yesterday's workout. Good. That's good pain. I actually sorta like this kind of pain. (No, I'm not being kinky.)

The routine also brings push-ups back on the scene. Now, you know me enough to know that I just didn't throw myself on the ground and start push-ups, right? Nah. I did somewhere around 45° pushups, where I did full push-ups against a window ledge. When I'm ready, I'll progress down to 30° and then floor push-ups. No girlie push-ups for me. At least, that's the goal.

But here's where I messed up. I've heard that the elbows should stay tucked in on push-ups. Where? I dunno. Around. I've always let my arms go out naturally, but now I tried to keep my elbows stay by my sides. Because that's what "they" say.

What the bleep was I thinking?

Halfway through my first set, I decide that this is a mistake, but I finished out that way. Why? I dunno. But I grew a brain before my second set and let my elbows go where they wanted to go.

Too late; the damage was done. My left shoulder hurts. Not the "Ooh, I really worked out my shoulders hard" pain, but the "Oooh, what the bleep did I do to myself?" pain.

Then what do I decide to do this evening? I go on an easy run. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Now I have real pain. The bad pain. The kind of pain where I sometimes have to use my right arm to help my left arm go where I want it to go. I'm taking NSAIDs. I'm icing it. I'm kicking myself. I'm praying I didn't do serious damage.

Although, you really should have seen me try to get my sports bra off after the run. That would have been hilarious to watch. Well, if you didn't care about the fact that my shoulder was hurting so much that I could feel it in my belly. Yeah, that kind of made it slightly less comical.

I appreciate any happy, healthy, healing thoughts you can send in my left shoulder's direction. And I promise I'll stop listening to "them" without doing my own research.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Save the Whales, my Foot!

Nothing to say today. I owe you all a race report before too long, but not today.

Instead, I'll point you to my shock of the day. Perhaps it's old news, but no matter. If you haven't seen PETA's recent (since terminated) "Save the Whales" campaign (which ironically had nothing to do with saving nor with actual whales and hell if I know what it had to with the ethical treatment of animals), you may wish to look here.

I'll admit that I was stunned. Then flabbergasted. Then really, really confused. Because it made no sense. At all. If you're going to refer to overweight people as "whales" and then profess to want to save them, then shouldn't you be not openly mocking them? Be sure to read the explanation about how PETA agrees that, in an ideal world, people shouldn't feel bad about being overweight, but since they do, PETA is going to make them feel shittier because they need "tough love" in order to, um... who the hell knows. PETA sure didn't.

In their honor, I'm going to have a nice, juicy steak.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Our Classroom Objectives are... Oh, Wait

Long time, no post. This probably will continue a bit as I focus on the first few weeks of school. These take a great deal of attention as I realize that what I had planned for a certain day should be replaced or adjusted or whatever, and as I focus on getting to know about two hundred new or new-to-me students. Yes. About two hundred.

As I focus so much on tweaking curriculum and building student relationships, I'm not going to have that much time to focus on food or exercise or, even, blogging. Does this mean that anything is changing or ending? Nope. It just means I won't be tracking heavily. I have slipped on the daily exercise a bit, but I do plan on picking that up no later than Thursday.

Saturday's 5k: I did well, but my time is a matter of debate. I'll explain more later. The bottom line, though, is that I did set a new PR. The question is: What, exactly, is that new PR? Stay tuned to find out.

Wait, don't. It might be a while. Instead, check back often.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Hidden Danger of Exercising with Earphones

Yes, it's true; I exercise with earphones. When biking or running, for the record, I use earphones which don't block external sounds, so I'm not living as dangerously as some others might with earbuds.

So, yes, on the bike I'm taking risks by not hearing as well as I could otherwise. And, yes, when running I'm taking risks by not hearing as well as I might otherwise. I've accepted those risks, and I try to be alert to my surroundings.

Little did I know that the true danger lay elsewhere.

You see, I also wear headphones when I swim. I thought I was safe. I mean, many swimmers wear ear plugs to keep water out of their ears. They can't hear much either, right? It's not like a car would come barreling through my swim lane, right? Whatever urgent information while swimming could wait until I hit the wall, right? So, I thought, I could tune out my surroundings at little risk.

Little did I know that the true danger lay within.

I don't always listen to music. I frequently listen to audiobooks or podcasts. I am particularly fond of NPR podcasts like This American Life. Yesterday, as I had done many times before, I listened an episode of that very show. One of the stories was read by essayist David Sedaris.

If you haven't read (or heard) anything by David Sedaris, I entreat you to delay no longer: Rush out and buy a book or, better yet, buy an audiobook read by David Sedaris himself. He will make you laugh. He will make you cry. He will make you do both at the same time.

And this, my dear friends, is where my near-fatal mistake lay.

For, really, how can one every be trained well enough to counter a laughing fit in the middle of the pool?

One can't.

There I was, mid-length, laughing like a maniac. Not only did I have quickly cease swimming to make sure to get my head above water, lest I drown in four feet of water, but I then had to do my best to ensure that my erratic behavior didn't alarm any fellow swimmers. They, surely, are not used to finding themselves in the pool with a deliriously hysterical woman.

Despite the fact that, at this time, we all had the luxury of our own lane, I do believe that they each quietly inched to one side of their lanes, attempting to place as much water as possible between them and me, and hoping desperately that my madness was not somehow contagious.

They could not understand.

But now, at least, you understand. You know where the hidden danger lies.

Swim safe, and choose your podcasts with care.

Photo credit: _Morrissey_, Creative Commons usage

Monday, August 24, 2009

Follow the Yellow Brick Road...

All right. I feel like if I don't post, people are going to wonder if I've curled up into a ball of self-loathing. For the record: I haven't, and I don't plan to. I have run for the past few days (including today), I biked yesterday, and I'm about to go to the gym for a swim.

OK, you want real honesty? I may have realized another "trigger" for my little "relapse" last week. Ssshhhhh.... It's a secret. I'll let you in on it if you promise not to tell anyone.

You ready? OK, here goes. One of the things my therapist and I discussed right beforehand: Putting myself out there into the world of dating or at least meeting people. We discussed a dating site possibility, and maybe even getting it together enough to go to a meetup.com event. I agreed that I would take a picture of myself with my cute new haircut, in one of my cute new tops, and post a picture online and see what happens.

Do you hear the panic in my typing?

Part of me is ready. It is, really. I look in the mirror, like what I see, and think, "Why not? What could it hurt? It could even be fun."

The other part screams, "What the hell are you thinking?!? This is rejection on a huge scale, lady! It's not just one guy rejecting you at a time, it's the whole friggin' internet world! We're not ready for that!"

And then both parts agree that a chocolate cake from Jack in the Box sounds delicious.

But that's not productive. Even if it does distract both sides of the internet dating battle, it's not productive. I get that. Well, I'm getting that. The past few days have been good. Not perfect, but good.

More importantly, I've had some time to refocus on what's really important. I've said it before that exercise/fitness is my highest priority. I mean, come on, the blog is called "Fat Athlete" not "Fat Dieter", right? Right.

So, that's what I'll focus on. If I feel like I need to eat a little heavier, I'll listen and not berate myself for eating a little more than normal. But the exercise will be my top priority. Six days out of seven I will do something more than walking the dog around a few blocks. It can be a run, a swim, a ride, a hike, a weight training session, a jaunt on the elliptical gathering dust in the spare room, or anything else I think of. I've got plenty of options.

And, yeah, when I exercise, I tend to eat better. Not always, but most of the time. I feel better, so I eat better. They just seem to go hand in hand.

So, yeah. One more confession and a plan. Good enough for today.

(Oh, and, no. In case you're left wondering, my title doesn't have anything to do with today's post. Well, perhaps it does have a bit to do with persistence to a set goal even when one doesn't know what obstacles and detours life may throw. So, yeah. That could be a connection. If you really need one.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Step Forward

OK, I'll admit it: I'm a bit nervous. I thought about yesterday's post and it's somewhat reminiscent of the posts I made leading up to my departure years ago. Not identical, but reminiscent. A key difference is that I'm much more resolved right now, whereas I was a bit more whiny back then.

So, I started to look at some differences between then and now. First, I've hit a lower weight, so I've technically broken through my previous wall (technically). Next, I have more upcoming events than I did back then, so I need to keep up the training. Most importantly, perhaps, I have a therapist. I did that on purpose, remember? I knew that I had always hit a wall in the past, so I "hired"(?) a therapist quite some time ago so she could help me break through that wall.

So, really, no excuses. Staying at this weight: OK. Losing more weight: Great. Gaining weight back: Not an option.

The same for sport/exercise. Staying at this level: OK. Relaxing just a teeny bit: Fine. Picking it up: Superb. Returning to couch-potatohood: Not an option.

For today, I've been eating OK. Not fantastic, no deficit, but also no junk/fast food to kick me way over maintenance.

I also went for a hard run. They say that the hardest part of a workout is lacing up the shoes. Definitely true. Once I got out there, I wondered why I hadn't been running the past few days. It's a blast! No, it's not easy by any means, but it feels good. Why deprive myself of the joys of sport?

Tomorrow: A bike ride. Maybe even a swim in the evening.

(For those paying extraordinary attention (even a bit too much attention, perhaps, but I won't judge): Since I skipped my weight training session on Thursday, I've decided that that will be my deload week leading up to beginning The New Rules of Lifting. So I'll start that soon.)

So, is everything roses? Not yet. But at least I can still see the flowers for the thorns.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another Look at Motivation... and Something Else

Well, wasn't that fast? Just a few days ago I declare that I am done futzing around with my weight loss and am renewed in maintaining a daily deficit of 500-1000 calories.

And that lasted... Should I count in hours or minutes?

Either way, I crashed and burned. Quickly.


Likely suspects: PMS, oppressively hot weather, general burn-out, stress (the new school year starts very soon), a certain part of my psyche saying "enough" and rebelling against the healthful lifestyle...

I'll tell you which one I believe is guilty, but, in any case, I've been hitting fast food and junk food.

Worse yet: I haven't been exercising.

It's an ugly cycle. I eat Jack in the Box and feel stuffed so I don't want to exercise. I didn't exercise, so I'm missing the endorphins so I eat bad food looking for whatever that provides. Continue in circular fashion for... 48 hours now?

I'm not sure I ever mentioned this before, but I smoked marijuana for a short period about a decade ago. (Bear with me; I'm going somewhere with this.) For the most part, it was part of my "unwind" routine after work. I would smoke out the way some people would have a drink at the end of the day.

Now, you might think that pot would have made me gain weight, but I lost weight. (I was already losing weight, so the MJ just didn't disrupt the process.) But what about munchies? I never got them. I have a pet hypothesis that, just as stimulants have the opposite effect in children with ADHD (they calm them down), pot had the opposite effect in me.

The bigger issue is that, as was discovered years ago, eating "mass quantities" of food triggers a particular neurochemical reaction in the brain. This reaction is, believe it or not, similar to the effects of marijuana.

When I learned this, I was not surprised. You see, when I stopped smoking out every night... I started binging. I continued to do that for over a month. It was the only time in my life in which I binged. I didn't know why at the time, but after I learned about the connection between consuming a lot of food and THC (the active chemical in marijuana), I realized that I was basically seeking out that same semi-euphoric relaxation.

Does it make sense that now, as I'm beginning to feel some anxiety about the beginning of a new school year, I'm seeking that same relaxation? Bottom line: I think I'm self-medicating.

Funny thing: When I relayed all this to my therapist recently, she asked whether I had ever looked into medical marijuana. I quickly chuckled it off because I was afraid it would affect my motivation and my exercise.

On the other hand, if my current behavior is affecting my motivation and my exercise... would it be any worse? Would it actually be better?

In any case, I need to get a grip. I am absolutely not willing to undo my hard work. If I stay at 190-195, I can begrudgingly accept that. (Though I would still prefer to lose more weight. It's hard to bike this extra weight up the hills.) But I am completely resolute that I will not go above 200.

I will not. Period.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Help Me Lose Weight."

We had just finished lunch when that sentence was thrown at me by a friend. Wow, I take that as a huge compliment. At the same time, I was flummoxed. I think I was looking at him as if I were waiting for a punchline, so he followed up with, "I want to lose weight. Tell me what to do."

Um, OK. Still flummoxed. First, there was the whole issue that I didn't think that he needs to lose weight, but I figured there was no point in saying that. I hated it when people would say it to me when I had already made it clear that I was "ok" with wanting to lose some weight. He didn't ask me whether he should lose weight; he wanted to know how to lose weight.

I had to ponder. After what seems like thousands of internet discussions and even a couple of long-winded posts on how to lose weight here, I now needed to boil it down to the absolute essence of weight loss. The magic keys to the kingdom, as it were.

I pondered.

I then responded, and many readers will be completely unsurprised by this response.

I have to count calories.

I can exercise or not exercise, but I have to count calories. I prefer to exercise because it allows me to eat more.

I can eat crap or I can eat healthfully, but it comes down to calories. I prefer to eat healthful foods because it makes me feel better and more satisfied. Within reason, of course. If I ate 90% carbs and fat, I really wouldn't do well, but you know what I mean.

It all comes down to counting calories.

He looked a little disappointed. There was no magic bullet. It was nothing he hadn't tried before. It was a hard job that he'd have to work at. Ultimately, it was an answer he already knew.

Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the crux of the matter: Motivation. That, he knew without asking, was all on him. Only one person can motivate you, and that's you.

I guess I'm not much of a sage, but at least I say it as I see it. That's something.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Ran this morning. Worked at the school a bit, unpacking for my new room. Hit the weight room hard this evening and finished up with a medium-length swim. Came home and made some grilled boneless chicken thighs with buttered toast and veggies. I must have tasted it at some point because I know it was all fantastic. But I'm not sure I chewed very much, instead choosing to inhale deeply in a near-continuous fashion. Very unladylike, I must admit. I was absolutely ravenous.

So, just a warning: After a hard day, don't dare get between me and my dinner, particularly if it involves chicken thighs. At least not if you value your fingers.

I do feel much better now.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Seven Day Challenge Conclusion

Side note: I first typed the title in as "Seven Dan Challenge". Boy would that have taken this blog in a completely different direction! OK, sorry, back to family friendly blogging.

How did you do? Did you make it seven days? I did, but only because I cheated. (For those who don't know, my challenge was to get out of bed nearly immediately after waking naturally.) So, how did I cheat? I started using my alarm clock. It was the only way I could do it. Otherwise I'd just keep going back to sleep and waste precious daylight. Some habits, like chewing one's nails, are simply so ingrained that it takes a very concerted effort... more effort than I could gather when half asleep.

So, did I meet the challenge? Well, technically perhaps. But not really. Sadly, school duties are beginning, so I can't reset my challenge. I'll consider redoing it next break.

I hope you all had better success than me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Jolt to Reality... and a Moment of Pure Joy

Let's get this out first: Yes, I weigh myself twice a day. Shame on me. Only the morning counts (and even that doesn't really count because it only gets calculated into the average weight), but I also step on every night before bed just as a "preview" of the next day.

Last night I hit 195. That's it. Too high. No berating, no anger, no kicking myself. Just a renewed determination. I've been way too lax for way too long. Maybe it was a break I and/or my body needed. But I'm done now. Back to a 500-1000 calorie deficit per day with one "refuel" day per week. Period.

Now, after that jolt back to reality, I have the happy coincidence of having coupons for Lane Bryant (LB), a store which specializes in plus sizes. Well, it's not that happy. I had actually hoped to be shopping somewhere other than Lane Bryant for my back-to-work wardrobe, but the unlikelihood of that became clear quite some time ago. So, whatev. I have a LB credit card, coupons, and closets way too empty for the start of school. Off I go.

I buy some blouses that fit perfectly and one pair of pants that fits a bit tight. (Something to work for, right?) I chuckle a couple of times as I realize, in the fitting room, that I had pulled some tops off the shelf at the wrong (old) size just out of habit. And then I put on the knit tops I had picked out. I am astounded. They are the smallest size LB sells... and they are grotesquely baggy. Yay!

But... What now? I need some knit tops to complete certain outfits and... well, what now?

So I peruse the mall.

Yes, the mall.

You may not understand, but this is huge.

The first "normal people" clothes store (no offense, please; that's just how these things are said in my brain) I walk into doesn't quite have what I'm looking for, so I just cruise around the store and duck back out. No one looks at me funny and I don't have to decide whether or not to actually try on some "normal people" clothes. Good.

The second store has just the style of top I'm looking for. The clerk behind the counter notices my LB bags and asks about the store, whether they have some particular sales and/or good deals. She then slyly mentions that they carry womens' clothing in the back of the store.

Uh, oh... I wonder, Is she trying to tell me something?

I shake that off and remember that I'm carrying a bag of clothes from a plus-size store. Either it was just a natural flow of conversation, or she made a logical conclusion from my bags. No biggie.

After chatting briefly, I dare to take a single "regular person" XL top (which you may know is often different from a plus-size XL size) and ask about trying it on.

I slip into the fitting room and slip into the top. I look in the mirror. Not only does it fit, but I look good! I fit into a shirt at a regular store. And, don't take this as bragging, but it looks damn good on me!

I jump up and down for joy. Literally. I'm in the stall in the fitting room, jumping up and down with glee. I swear to myself that I will not cry, blink away some moisture from my eyes, and go out to pick out some more items.

Today I bought three shirts from the regular section of a regular clothing store. It sounds so small, so menial, but let me tell you: It is not small; it is not menial. It may be just what I needed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random Rinky-Dink Review #1: Purple Cauliflower

This may be old news to some of you, but they now have purple cauliflower. I knew about the orange cauliflower, and the green, but I was particularly excited to see purple at the market today. I don't get enough purple veggies in my diet. I figured I like cauliflower, I like purple potatoes. I even love the color purple. What's not to love with purple cauliflower?

Everything, apparently. The bitterness could not be overcome. Just bleh. I had never met a cauliflower I didn't like. Until now.

I still have half a head to use, so I'll see if it holds up any better to roasting (mmmmmm.... roasted garlic cauliflower...), but I don't have high hopes. Bummer.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sensationalistic Journalism Needs to be Exorcised (not a typo)

"Exercise won't make you lose weight," claims the blurb on the cover. The title: "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin". A few paragraphs in, the author provides this quote: "In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless." In the last paragraph, the author himself boldly proclaims, "[B]e warned: fiery spurts of viorous exercise could lead to weight gain."

Deep breaths.

If you haven't already figured it out, I'm talking about an article in the recent issue of Time, sold with the scandalous phrase "The Myth About Exercise" as the cover headline. I don't subscribe, and I'm happy to report that I didn't spend money on this issue (I stole my roommate's issue). The bad news is that this cover certainly did get peoples' attention; chances are that they sold a ton of issues at the newsstands. People all over the internet are talking about the article. The worst news is that the article is, ultimately, garbage.

There are so many problems with this article that I don't know where to start, and I'm certainly not going to have time (or patience) to address it all. Is the science correct? Surely, but that's not where the problems lie. What frustrates me are the implied conclusions of the article and what misconceptions a great deal of the readership will walk away with.

Minor detour: I'm absolutely flummoxed with paragraph two, where the author claims that he has never been overweight (other than a particular two-year exception) but then confesses that he has gut fat that hangs over his belt when he sits. (Huh?)

Moving on. Apparently we need a six-page article to tell us that we need to watch what we eat whether or not we exercise. True, some people do need to be told that; however, the article never really says that in plain language. Where would be the story in that? Instead, it attacks exercise as a tool for weight loss right and left, speckling in a "but exercise is good for you" here and there, and, ultimately, never gives a solution beyond the general recommendation to watch what you eat.

Again, I can't resist reminding you of that parting shot: "[F]iery spurts of viorous exercise could lead to weight gain." Are you kidding me?

Part of the article addresses "compensatory eating", which is a fancy way of saying that we get hungry after exercise and that leads some people to eat more than they burned. Could the author be bothered to mention little details like how one can, if one is paying attention, refuel from a 2,000 calorie ride or hike with a mere 500 calorie meal or even a 300 calorie run with a 100 calorie snack? Might the author mention how a person who would figuratively die on a 1300 calorie per day diet just might be more able to sustain an 1800 calorie per day diet with exercise? (No, not everyone does better this way, but many of us do.)

Possibly the most egregious tidbit follows: "[S]elf-control is like a muscle: it weakens each day after you use it." Um. Funny. A muscle may weaken the day after it is used, but won't it strengthen after that? Nah, let's not mess with a perfectly awful analogy by bringing reality into the picture.

The article mentions that people are simply not designed to easily avoid eating enough calories to make up for those burned in exercise. Funny how it doesn't mention that people are simply not designed to easily avoid eating enough calories to live. Cutting calories goes against what our bodies demand. Period. It doesn't matter whether or not we exercise; the body wants to maintain equilibrium - or, better yet - save some extra fat for a rainy day. No matter what we do, we have to fight our against our body's survival messages if we want to lose weight. Period.

Here's what angers me most about this article: Imagine the couch potato whose heaviest exercise is climbing a flight of stairs when the elevator is broken. He or she picks up the article and gets what out of it? Yep. He thinks to himself, "Well, that settles it. There's no reason to exercise! Pass me the remote control."

Ten, nine, eight..... Deep breath.

Look, you want to hear why people should turn to exercise for weight loss before cutting calories alone? Because exercise can become a lifestyle. It's healthful and has benefits beyond weight change. We all know about the dangers of yo-yo dieting, but no one has ever warned against the dangers of yo-yo exercising. I don't need to explain why, do I?

Bottom line: Why do doctors want us to lose weight? To be healthier. What would they rather have: An active and healthier moderately overweight person or an inactive and unhealthy person at any weight?

Ah, forget what doctors want. What do you want?
ADDENDUM: Runner's World has an excellent response to the Time article here. (Though it doesn't have nearly enough facepalm.)

Thursday, August 06, 2009


I have something interesting to say coming up. I promise. Well, I guess it depends on your definition of "interesting". Mine tends to be a bit broader than some, but I digress.

For now, all I have is a confession: I slept in this morning. It started with a sinister lie. I woke up at 6:03 and decided to pretend that I didn't really wake up. (Huh?!?) Anyway, 6:15 rolled around, then 6:45... then 7:00... then... Well, you get the idea.

I then complained all day long that the day disappeared out from under me. Um, no. I slept an extra three and a half hours away. Clearly I didn't need that extra sleep, or I wouldn't have woken up around six, right? Right.

OK, so it's day number one tomorrow. I will get through seven days. I mean, seriously.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Seven Day Challenge

Quick: What habit do you want to develop (or break) but feels a little overwhelming to do "forever"? You know it takes a month to develop (or break) a new habit, but even that feels like a little too much. Do you think you can do it for a measly seven days? Sure you can! It's only seven days. A mere week. Get a taste for the cost, feel the benefits, and decide whether you can (or even want to) do it for another seven days (or more). And if not? Well, it was only seven days. You can do anything for seven days, right?

Yes, those of you who read my blog a whopping, um, two days ago know exactly where I'm going with this. And, yes, that speech above is a pep talk for myself at least as much as for any of you. So it's official: I'm going to work on my "getting out of bed" habit.

For seven days I will get out of bed within ten minutes of naturally waking. (And not turn around and lay back down.) The one exception I will make is if I wake for some bizarre reason before 6:00 a.m. (I mean, come on. I'm on vacation, right? No need to go totally insane.) The plan is to also get in the habit of checking my morning resting heart rate before getting out of bed. But that's the most painless part of the whole thing.

My seven days will start Wednesday. Why Wednesday? Why not?

Your seven days can start whenever you want. You like the way I pulled you into this? Slick, eh? C'mon, you know you want to join in (even if you're reading this long in the future). Pick your target and pick your start date. What do you want to change for the next week? Use your treadmill (coughCidtalkcough)? Eat breakfast every day? Try a new veggie every day? Cut off the tv for a week?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments, but feel free to do it secretly if you'd rather. Either way, pick a tough goal and join me. I dare you.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Checking In (and Babbling, Apparently)

Nothing interesting to say. I swam yesterday, I biked and ran today. All this despite a general desire to just go back to bed and sleep. I won't chalk it up to depression (though that's a possibility), and I don't think I should blame it on overtraining. I'm certainly not undereating (judging from the recent slight upward swing of the scale, though my fat monitor assures me that I'm building muscle and losing a tiny bit of fat). I'm preparing a nice juicy steak for dinner tonight on the off chance that I'm slightly low on iron. If the steak doesn't do it, then maybe it's time to get a solid blood workup just to make sure that eight and a half months of dieting down isn't leaving me with an unexpected deficiency.

I'm seriously considering taking a solid month off any targeted weight loss, intentionally eating as close to maintenance as possible. (The only difference from the past few months would be that I'm targeting maintenance calories, not just landing there most of the time.)

On the other hand, I wonder about my sleep. Am I sleeping too little? Not very likely. Too much? Possible. I've never been a morning person. I typically get up only when I have to, or when it's so late in the morning that I'd be embarrassed to be caught in bed. I have no qualms about napping (or, ahem, polyphasic sleep) so, again, a lack of sleep is probably not the problem.

I'm seriously considering making the toughest commitment to a challenge I've ever made. For a week, just a week, I hop out of bed the instant I wake up naturally. Sounds easy, right? Yeah, um, not for me. I wonder what effect this would have. Certainly no negative effects. If I could do it. You just don't know how reluctant I've been - my entire life - to ever climb out of bed. (The only exception to this is the delicious joy of climbing out of a sleeping bag and exiting a tent to inhale crisp mountain air at dawn. That's the only exception.)

Just one week. I wonder if I could do it. Rather, I wonder if I would do it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Promises Kept; Food Diary Not

OK, so I became somewhat productive yesterday. Well, somewhat. I needed a new desktop computer, so I ordered a barebones kit. (I had put together a computer from parts somewhere around the days of the 386/486 - you youngsters just need to know that it was the snazziest thing a couple of decades ago - but haven't done much technical since.) It went together fairly well, but took quite some time. So, that kept me busy.

It also gave me an excuse to revert to oldish food habits. Dunno why, but it seemed to be some sort of weird association between geeky stuff and greasy food. Like overworked IT nerds flock to Doritos and Mountain Dew, I turn to Jack in the Box after certain events. Apparently, putting together a computer is one of them. Odd.

Of course, I'm not exactly back on track today, nutritionally, so I'm considering this a two-day free-day. The scale will certainly taunt me for a while, but it won't make me or break me.

On the bright side of things, two promises were kept. First, I promised the dog that we would go on a run this morning in lieu of yesterday's walk. I know (think) she didn't understand what I said, but I did, so I had to keep that promise despite the siren grip of the comforter. No training plan today. I just headed out for a walking warm-up, a solid run, and then a walking/jogging cool-down. It was sort of refreshing to just run for running's sake; I'm going to have to add it in regularly. (And let us not forget that I do have a 5k in a few weeks, so I'd better get my running feet in gear. I insist on setting a new PR in that race.)

The second promise was my weight lifting promise. Two days a week, Monday and Thursday. Who did I promise that to, anyway? Was that just myself? Hmph. Well, all the better, then. So, despite still futzing with some software that doesn't want to install on the new computer, I made it to the gym. I'm at a weird spot where some of the weights/reps randomly drop. Well, not quite randomly; one thing goes up and another goes down. Today, my lat pull-downs went back up after dropping Monday, but my, um... well, nevermind. I guess nothing really went down, but certain lifts I expected to go up (in either reps or weight) didn't go up.

Since I had wasted daylight with the computer, I hit the gym a bit later and at a busier time than normal. While I normally try to avoid eye contact, preferring instead to imagine a gentler version of the mocking scorn I'm "sure" they really have, I let myself notice a few glances today. Now, I'm certainly not anything that would draw most guys' eyes (yet), but I wonder what a couple of them were thinking today. I didn't sense any amusement or negative vibe at my efforts today. If anything, the few guys that looked my way at all (most were, naturally, in their own worlds), well, they seemed to almost have a look of admiration. I don't know if it was because I didn't have a pair of pink dumbbells in my hand, or if it was because my form isn't as bad as I always fear it is, or maybe they were actually somewhat impressed to see how much I'm lifting.

No, strike that last one. I'm really not lifting that heavy (yet). I do lift heavier than many of the women (but not all), and heavier than many of the older men (it's a hospital gym, after all), but I don't think that I'd be raising any eyebrows of admiration.

I'm going to take it a different way. It's not that they're looking at me differently; it's that I'm getting more sure of myself and more comfortable with myself. You know, I like the feeling. In fact, I'm really starting to like lifting again. I mean, really starting to like it. I might even work it into my schedule more. Try to act a little less surprised, will ya?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I know this is no excuse, but I'm just not feeling it today. There are so many options for being productive today. I could go to the school and start organizing my new classroom. I could continue my spring cleaning at home. (Yes, I do know it's Summer. What's your point?) I could probably clean my car.

Regarding more fun and active options... I slept my way past a decent hour to go running (any time after 7:00 and it's just icky hot). I procrastinated my way past a decent hour to go cycling. I could go swimming, but... well... meh.

Maybe I'll take a nice long soak in the tub. That's productive in its own way, right? I mean, relaxation is important. So is reading. I could do both at the same time. That's kinda productive, right?

Yeah, I know. I'm not buying it, either.

I guess I'll just sit here and think about it some more.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Adult Physical Fitness Test - Part II

In January, I discovered and subsequently took the President's Challenge Adult Fitness Test. (You can read my thoughts about the test back then here.) I had planned to retest quartly, but three months went by and I "missed" the deadline. I then thought about three tests a year, and then May 25th came and went. But there's no way I was going to test fewer than twice a year. Even my procrastination has its limits.

So today I retook it. Well, except for the 1.5 mile run. I estimated that time off of my recent 5k race. So, if anything, my time is a little slow. This policy of estimating rather than going out and running 1.5 miles is not likely to change any time soon, so that metric will still be consistent.

On with the show. Here are my results from January and my results from today. Cue the horns!

OK, so let's look at the results. My running, half sit-ups, and sit-and-reach have all improved. That's good. My push-ups have stayed stagnant. That's a little disappointing, but understandable since I actually haven't been doing any push-ups. (Although I haven't been doing any sit-ups or stretching exercises, either.) I had hoped that the related exercises I'm doing would help my push-ups; apparently that's not the case. I'll have to put push-ups into my next strength routine.

I'm somewhat bemused that I get the same response of "Obesity, Very High Risk of Disease" for my body composition for the two BMIs and waist circumferences. You'd think that a difference of 38 pounds and five inches would get a somewhat different response. I mean, I know it's a computer and it's only spitting out data for given input, and it's not like it knows that that was me back then, but you'd think it would have more options for what to spit out at people at various levels. (And, yeah, I know BMI is garbage, but it just would be nice. That's all.)

OK, let's put the weight and belly measurement aside and look back at what matters: fitness.

I've gone from an overall score of the 23rd percentile to the 40th percentile. So, in that hypothetical room of 100 people, I've jumped over 17 people. Hey. That's not too shabby. I've also gone from above average in one area to above average in two areas. That's not too shabby, either.

You know, I think I may feel a little something of the opposite of disappointment in these results. Obama and his six-pack would be proud. You know, if he had time to care.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Swimming Like a Fish. A Slow Fish, Perhaps, but a Fish Nonetheless

As you may or may not know, the crawl and I have been reluctant friends. I grew up on the breaststroke. Wait, even better: the German breaststroke where your face never touches the water (as you see in the wikipedia shot below). I mean, it was good and all. It got me from one side of the pool to the other, but it was certainly never going to be anything I'd do much for exercise.

As a child, I would wail if any water touched my face without me planning on it. Even then, I would tightly hold my nose before getting my face wet. It wasn't until I met a very patient instructor in sixth grade camp before I learned how to blow bubbles and bob under the water while clutching for dear life at the edge of the pool. But that was it. The heads-up breaststroke and bobbing at the edge of the pool. (Yes, I did grow up in San Diego. Why do you ask?)

A few years ago I decided I wanted to learn the crawl. I bought what I'm sure is a good book... designed for improving proficient swimmers. I taught myself what I thought was the crawl. After being told that I looked like I was being electrocuted, I bought a book and DVD on the Total Immersion method and started reteaching myself the crawl from the bottom up. It's been an on-and-off journey (as has nearly everything), but I'm starting to really "get" the crawl.

Yesterday, I crawled 500 yards without a break. Twice. Add in warm-up, cool-down, and interval laps, and it was a swimmer's mile, despite planning on less.

Did you catch that?

No, not the 500 yards nonstop.

But, yes, that was a first-time event.

The other thing.

Yes, intervals!

Ye Gods!

Even better: 50 yard intervals.


What posessed me? Well, I was noticing that, while my laps were becoming more and more (and more) comfortable, getting to a point where I could almost feel myself falling into a groove, requiring very little conscious thought to complete each stroke, my laps were also becoming slower. I wouldn't really have thought it possible. In the earlier days of "full stroke" crawl swimming, I would hit around a 1:12 per 50-yard pace. My record was something like 1:09 per 50 yards. In fact, attempts to swim faster would backfire, and I would actually go slower.

But now, I was averaging something like 1:16 per 50-yard lap. I was more comfortable, but I was slowing down. I'm sure the one fed into the other, but it wasn't the direction I wanted to go.

Was I getting too comfortable with the crawl? Was I getting, in a way, lazy? There was only one way to find out.

I decided to do a 50 yard "sprint". Actually, I think I had only intended to do a single length, but I continued on to the full lap out of habit.

When I completed the 50 yards, I checked my sportcount and was amazed to see the time. 1:03 and change. Wow. (OK, maybe you wouldn't be excited about shaving off six seconds, but I sure was/am. That's like... wait a minute... carry the one... almost a nine percent reduction in time!)

I caught my breath (something I once had to do in the middle of a length 25-yard crawl) and went on a slow recovery lap. Rinse, lather, repeat. Well, once. That was enough for the first time.

I'm certainly no Dana Torres, but I'm definitely becoming more fish-like. In my thirties. Who woulda thunkit?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Glimmer of Home in a World of Flatsploitation

I painted a somewhat bleak picture about the (mis)representation of the overweight in television yesterday, so here I am today to post a follow-up.

The glimmer of hope? Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva. (The Style Network's Ruby deserves an honorable mention, and it is on its second season, so there's hope to be found in more than one place.)

To be honest, I looked forward to Drop Dead Diva with a touch of trepidation. Would it do the right thing? Would it delve into shallowness? Would it be misunderstood like Shallow Hal (which, actually, was a fat-positive movie, though most people didn't stop either laughing at the visual gags or scolding the skinny actress portraying the fat girl's "inner beauty" enough to understand that.)

If you are unfamiliar with Drop Dead Diva, let me give you a quick summary of the pilot: Insecure overweight lawyer (Jane) gets fatally shot. Gorgeous and shallow girl (Deb), whose big ambition is to become a Price is Right model, T-bones a fruit truck and dies. Slender Deb manages to escape the afterlife, but ends up in the oversized body of Jane.

I know, right? It soooo could go either way. Well, it could have. The good news is not only is this a good show, but it appears to be great. I waited until the end of the second episode to decide this. (It was the best I could do.)

How much do I love Drop Dead Diva? Enough that I'm going to provide a bulleted list. I know, right? I didn't even do that for my over-long review of my Garmin! Alright, on with the list!

  • Brooke Elliott's behaviors change tangibly from playing Jane before and after the soul switcheroo. This is good because it's hitting on the idea that peoples' responses to sizeable women is not always about the size; it's often about the attitude. (I remember an advice columnist once telling an overweight man that the reason he can't find a date is not because he's overweight, but because he acts as if he should apologize for taking up everyone else's air.) Note that this is not sending the message that all fat girls are insecure. From other cast, it's clearly sending the message that insecurity was part of Jane's problem.

  • But it's not all about attitude; Jane is sometimes treated differently because of her size/appearance. When Jane goes for research in a bar, looking fairly nice, she's treated "ok", but her hot friend gets a free drink. Her boss treats her like a welcome mat, even when she starts to assert herself. (There's even a bit about how she should think like another overweight woman, well, just because they're both overweight.)

  • Jane is brilliant. Is this playing against the stereotype that blonde girls (like Deb was) are ditzy? Not really. It's made very clear that Jane has/had a high I.Q. so, like her insecurity, this is specific to Jane. The same stands about Deb's previous average (or so) intelligence.

  • Deb, her svelte figure a thing of the past, finds herself (or Jane's body?) drawn to donuts and chocolate. Hmmm... possible stereotype, but they're covering that a bit with the notion that the body feels comforted in certain places and with certain foods. Since it's been made clear that hormone levels and other body/brain chemistry affects cravings and hunger, it's not outlandish. Beyond that, this is a tv show. Play along and appreciate the thought.

  • Stacy, Deb's friend from a previous life (now Jane's friend, of course) tries to help Deb/Jane by helping her lose weight. This, she thinks, will help Deb get her life back. Her clumsy attempts at helping Jane (for example, she changes Jane's drink order to cut calories) are not only a bit funny, but make the viewer sympathize not only with Jane, but with Stacy. We know she means well, but the problem is obvious.

  • I'm not sure that Jane will decide to lose weight. I'm pretty sure she won't. This is a good thing.

  • Deb/Jane hasn't magically figured everything out (yet). She is sad when she sees herself in the mirror. She is flummoxed by the changes this new body brings. (Comfortable bra, anyone?) She doesn't quite "get it" when people treat her differently or, ironically enough, when she finds herself treating an overweight woman with a little bit of improper judgement. She's torn and mixed up, but she's learning.
I'll admit that I was a little taken aback by one particular moment in the pilot. Deb/Jane is with her guardian angel, Fred (played by Ben Feldman who reminds me more than a little of Chachi), and she asks him to make her skinny and hot. (I'm paraphrasing.) Fred responds that he's not a miracle worker. I wanted him to say something else. Something more like, "I can't make you skinny, but hot is a lot closer than you think." Or something like that. I'm not a script writer.

But I think that's part of the journey that Deb is on. She's got to figure that out for herself. Let me tell you: Brooke Elliott, the leading lady in this show, already knows that she's hot. Her character still needs to figure that out.

Let me make that clear. Jane isn't a woman who's unattractive because she's fat. She's unattractive for all the right reasons: poor styling, poor attitude, poor self-image. Let's compare Brooke Elliott in and out of character. (It should be fairly obvious which is which, but I'll tell you anyway that Jane is the top photo.)

Photo credits: The-F-Word (who, by the way, gets it wrong by bashing the show long before it actually aired) and access hollywood.

Sure, the show may be sappy tripe at times but, for the most part, it gets it right. This makes me happy.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I recall an old episode of E.R. It's probably the only episode I can remember anything about. An illness was spreading through the hospital and it was hard to pin down. They finally realized that it was a staff member who was not washing his or her hands after using the restroom. Now it was just a matter of discovering the lazy, unclean idiot.

Please don't let it be the fat guy, I remember thinking. Don't do it, I silently pleaded. You see, I knew about the stereotype.

Sure enough, it was the fat guy. Of course. Because, according to the world of television, overweight characters are lazy, unintelligent, or both. (Or worse.) Look around and you'll see the stereotype played out time and time again. It's awful, and it reinforces itself. Fat characters are, the majority of the time, hapless fools or idiots, and often slovenly and lazy. One noteable exception was Camryn Manheim of The Practice... but she had to challenge the producer to a game of chess for the right to be cast despite her weight. (She later won an Emmy for that role, for what it's worth.)

This is not my imagination. If you're interested, you can read more at pubmed. Though there are exceptions, it appears that television is not improving much in this area, and it continues to reinforce those stereotypes. It's nearly impossible to find an overweight character not cast in a role of a socially inept fool with a poor work ethic.

Worse yet, producers appear to be more brazen as they create television shows which actively exploit the overweight. The Biggest Loser is, thankfully, an exception. But, wait, is it? Do you get the word play in the title? Even the winner is, surprise surprise, a loser. Deep down in my gut, I feel that the show would have, indeed, exploited the contestants if it weren't for the good, strong hearts of Bob and Jillian, the trainers who succeeded in making it a - for the most part - positive show.

I've already talked about my fears with More to Love here. My suspicions have yet to be confirmed there, but I can see unabashed fatsploitation on Oxygen with Dance Your Ass Off. In fact, ironically enough, I had high hopes for that show. I imagined a show of empowerment and positivity. I even played along until I saw them dance on the first episode.

Every outfit, or nearly every outfit, for the overweight dancers had an exposed belly. Seriously? Just in case we missed the "grotesqueness" of it all, the episode was titled "Shake and Rattle Those Rolls". Seriously? Seriously. My hopes at a positive show of overweight people meeting physical challenges were dashed. Here are a couple of examples:

(Photo credit obvious, but here's another link.)

Just try and tell me that the folk in wardrobe weren't told to purposely make these women look worse. I mean, I agree that overweight people can be (are) beautiful, but they - like everyone else! - need to dress properly for their bodies. There's no way they couldn't have dressed either of these women better. Instead of putting them in flattering outfits, they dressed them to make a point: "See how obscene these fatties are? Isn't it gross?"

Well, yes. The outfits are gross. But they are't.

Subsequent episodes haven't gotten much better. The third episode involved a stripper pole. Um, yeah. Real subtle.

Joel McHale, on The Soup, said it well: "Dance Your Ass Off continues to be the biggest exploitation of overweight people since they started putting cookie dough in ice cream." Let's face it: If The Soup is calling something exploitative... Well, that's saying something, isn't it?

Let me leave you with this: There is good news out there in tv land. But it will wait until tomorrow. I've babbled long enough for one day.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Uphill Against the Wind... Both Ways!

If you ride, you've surely noticed that the first five minutes of any ride can be some of the most difficult. You struggle until your body loosens up, the endorphins start to kick in, and you find your groove. That difficulty happened today. Only it wasn't for the first five minutes; it was for the whole hour and a half.

What a hard ride! Yeah, it was hot, and yeah, there were some hills, but nothing I haven't tackled regularly. I was slow, and I was weak. I know it's impossible, but it sure felt like I was pushing uphill and against a headwind both ways. I finished the ride, but I seriously thought about sitting down at the side of the road and pretending I had a flat. (Come to think of it, I should have been able to easily avoid that glass I rode through. I wonder if that was my subconscious trying to create a flat.)

Anyway, I finished, and I (sort of) enjoyed the scenery despite the weakness. Sorry I didn't take any pictures. Really, today's ride reminded me of why I love Reno and have developed a "meh" feeling towards San Diego. The overdeveloped city down by the overpopulated seaside can't hold a candle to the Reno area's beautiful fields and untouched mountain ranges.

About an hour into my ride, I finally hit upon the reason for my weakness. (At least what I believe to be the reason.) I gave blood on Tuesday. I didn't recover quickly the last time I gave blood, so I was planning on waiting until winter to give again, but they called and claimed to be low on my blood type. I really had to think long and hard before agreeing to go in and donate. But I gave in, I gave, and - so they claim - I saved three lives. I guess that's worth it. No, I know that's worth it. It's not like I have sponsors counting on my performance, so if I can do good I should. But hear me now, United Blood Services: I sure as heck won't be donating right before any event, so plan your phone calls carefully! (Please.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gravity Always Wins

I haven't been doing much training lately because, other than being out of town, I'm back to planting a ton of litte bitty plants. I'm almost done, so I do plan on hitting the gym (and the weights) tomorrow. (For the record, gardening and composting are righteous workouts in and of themselves.)

Nevertheless, with a lack of anything else to say, it's time to tell the story of my right leg. You see, back on Memorial Day, I learned a lesson in physics while on a bike ride. I was on paved path A. I realized that I wanted to be on paved path B, where my friend was. I had already come to a complete stop. I looked down and saw some gravel between path A and path B. OK, no problem, I thought to myself. I know it's gravel and I'll be fine since I'm aware of it and it's only, what, five feet?

Um, yeah. Little did I know that under the gravel lay an inch of fine powder and silt. I barely had time to think, Oh, this might be a bad idea, before I found myself on the ground. It had happened so quickly that I don't believe I even had the time to consider about unclipping.

Awful road rash, and not even a macho story to go with it. For those with a strong stomach, you can find pictures chronicling the wound and the healing process here. The first two pictures are on the same day (one shortly after the accident and one at home after cleaning as best I could). After that, it's a picture a day until I got bored. It looks quite a bit better now, but I'm still taking steps to reduce scarring.

This might be a good time to mention that I also have a purple big toenail on my right foot, a souvenier from my kayaking trip. The strategy was, "If it looks like we're going to roll over, just get out." Sure enough, we did dump somewhere down the river, and my toe found a nice rock. People assumed that the purple toenail and the roadrash were related, but they weren't.

Now, onto more recent events. While in San Diego, as you know, I went running. Let me tell you something: If San Diego won't spend the money to fix their sidewalks, then there's no hope for any other city's sidewalks. They are absolutely awful... Bad enough, I daresay, that I felt a little homesick. On one run, I pondered the terrible state of the sidewalk, and noted that I should probably pick up my feet a little.

About a block later, I stumbled. I have no idea on what, but I stumbled. This time, I was able to think it through in slow motion. Oh, shit. Wait, no, I can stumble my way ouf this. Just step a little bit, oh, here I go, and... DAMN. Mere inches away from my old road rash, I have another wonderful bit of road rash. Beautiful.

So, let's recount: A purple toe and about twenty-five square inches of road rash, earned from three separate events.

I have no idea what my right leg did to gravity, but it's sorry. It would like to call a truce. The white flag is flying high.

Now, onto another tidbit. For the record, I always carry a camera with me on rides. However, the camera is rarely used because, while I enjoy the splendid views, I'm rarely willing to stop to take the picture. That's the weird irony of cycling: I ride to beautiful spots, but am unwilling to stop and take any pictures.

But then I read, in VeloNews's Race & Ride Guide, a little blurb about a particular camera. In it, is this tidbit: "Having a smal, flat, digital camera with a big back screen and string loop is key to snapping quick shotts while you're rolling, without crashing." Wait, do people really snap pictures while riding?

I slowly recall that I read this charming and funny blog post by Fatty of Fat Cyclist (no relation). I hadn't thought it through at that time, but it does confirm that, indeed, people do click and ride.

You know, when I was in elementary school, I rode my bike while reading a book. I may have only done it once, just to prove that I could, but I did do it. I wonder if I should work on the skills necessary to take some photos while rolling. I might be able to do it, with some slow practice.

My right leg begs me not to even try.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home Again

OK, I've returned home and returned to reality. The scale tells me that I've gained a whopping 3.4 pounds in the last week. Luckily, I don't give a crap what the scale says. Well, that's not quite true. I take the number my scale spits out and enter it into an app on my iphone that averages my weight and then gives me a "true weight". This bump (and, probably, the week without data) is throwing off my average.

But... Bah. It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Either I've gained a few pounds, in which case I'll lose it again and consider being more vigilant in the future, or it's water weight from less-than-ideal nutrition during my "free" week which I'll lose again. Same difference.

What's more important (much more important) is that I had a blast in San Diego, with not a small part of the fun taking place in either my running shoes or a cycling jersey. (I wanted to spend some time in my cute swim dress, but that didn't happen. Bummer.)

Have I mentioned how much I love the ability to take a route from bikely.com (ahem, after checking the distance and elevation profile), or create a route, upload it to GPS Kit (or Trails) on my iPhone, hook the iPhone up to my handlebars, and follow a route without having to constantly look for street signs? It's absolutely fantastic. I was able to leave my mom's inland house, cruise down to the beaches, tour around, even take an unplanned detour, and return "home" without any stress. Here's one of the trips I took, in all its "satellitic" glory:

The first time I did this, though, I made the mistake of listening to music over bluetooth. The iPhone battery did not survive the nearly four hour ride (with sightseeing and lunch). I was able to remember enough of the route to make it back "home" without a problem, but I stopped by a construction crew to make sure I was going the right way on one long road. Just in case.

"Excuse me, but XYZ Blvd is this way, right?"

Long pause as they all stare and blink at me.

"Yeah," a woman finally says.

"Thanks, that's what I thought."

As I'm just starting to pedal off, the guy halfway in the ground pipes up, his voice a little uneasy, "You have a long way to go."

I respond, a chuckle in my voice, "Oh, I knew that!" and ride off, grinning broadly to myself.

Actually, I was only about three miles away from the street I was asking about. They might have been a bit surprised to know that, when chatting with them, I was somewhere around mile 37 of my 42 mile ride.

I didn't have the battery problem when I switched to using my shuffle for music and letting my iPhone only worry its little head about GPS. With enough tweaking, I could probably get it to guide me through a six hour ride.

I might just have to describe the system in greater detail later. For now, let's just say that this will change how I go about visiting and cycling in unknown cities. I think it's time to stop daydreaming about a long cycling tour (we're talking weeks, here) and start planning it out. I really do.

I wonder how I'll recharge my iPhone... Hmmm... One slight flaw, but not an insurmountable one. Man, I love technology.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Issues Old and New

Just popping in to say hello.

I wonder who coached my mother. She doesn't know about this site (I think), but she's been great. In fact, for a while, I was waiting for her to say something about my weight loss. I had expected her to say something right away, but... nothing. I started getting a bit angry, actually. I mean, come on, it's been 50 pounds since I last saw her. (I know, she can't win. If she says something, I resent it, and if she says nothing, I resent it.) So, finally, she said something. Twice. And nothing since.

Honestly, mom, that's perfect. Thanks. You couldn't have done better if I had written a script for you.

But today I hit true awkwardness: My sister. She's also fought with weight her whole life. It's been a bit harder for her, and she typically hits higher highs than me and doesn't quite get as low as I have in the past. Today she sees me and, well, it's not great. She has that expression on her face... I guess it's the one I'd have if the situation were reversed. I feel guilty (sort of) yet proud for losing weight, and she feels frustrated (sort of) for not and not a little resentful of my success.

Well, we each have to walk our own paths, but that doesn't make it any easier.

A while later, she brings it up again and talks about her recent attempts at weight loss and I - being the idiot that I am - offer help.

She laughs. "Help?"

"Well, you know, not help, but, you know, if you have questions..."

Oh, this isn't getting any better.

I finally grow a clue and shut up.

And, again, I remind myself that I'm not going to let myself derail my journey over any awkwardness or weird dynamic in my family. I've picked my path, I've worked hard on it, I'm enjoying it, and I'm looking forward to what it holds for me further down the line.

I feel bad that I can't help her on her path, but maybe that's the point. She needs to find and face her own demons. I can't fight them for her. In fact, for all I know, I may be one of them (as my mother has been one of mine).

Regardless, I do hope she finds her own path, whether it's discovering joy at her current weight or working to a lifestyle (and body) in which she'll be happy.

I wish I had been smart enough to say that.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Can I Just Bring My Bathroom Scale?

My name is Karen, and I'm a data-a-holic. And I'm afraid of this upcoming week.

I'm going down to visit my mother. Let's not even talk about the issues that brings up. She's going to be so happy that I've lost all this weight... and I'm going to be uncomfortable about it. Why? Who knows. I know I don't, and I'm pretty sure even my therapist hasn't figured it out yet. I guess it would have been a good idea to bring it up at our last session, so I could come up with some strategies, but... Oh well, hindsight. I guess I'll just have to repeat in my head, "I'm doing this for me, not for her, and who cares if she thinks otherwise." Maybe that'll work. If not, I'll improvise. No way I'm going to let my "mom issues" derail my progress, dammit. Hmm... I guess we did talk about the issues. Oops.

Anyway, back to my addiction. If you've been following me and my progress at all, you'll already know that I border on OCD with my penchant for meticulous number-crunching. I weigh my food to the gram. Seriously. And I log it all, of course. I weigh myself every day and take my bodyfat reading every day, both so that I can enter them into "averaging" software. I count every calorie I burn (or try to) so that I can maintain (or at least shoot for) a particular caloric deficit.

For the next week, I won't be doing any of that. Well, I might try to use her ridiculous spring bathroom scale, but it'll throw off my numbers.

I'm already feeling withdrawal.

Yes, I did seriously consider bringing my fantastically accurate digital bathroom scale.


No, no, no... I won't bring it.

I think.

For a week, I'll have to do it like "real" people do it. Watching my portions, listening to my body. Eating when I'm hungry and not when I'm bored. Exercising for the adrenaline rather than the caloric burn that allows me to eat a little more.

Yes, I'm nervous.

I'll still track my workouts for my training logs (and for the challenges over at daily burn), but that'll be it.

And I'll be doing it while visiting my mom.

Yes, this week will be interesting.

Wish me luck. No, really. I mean it this time. Or, if you prefer, wish me sanity. It might be nice to know how that feels.

Race Report

OK, time to cover yesterday's race. It was a lovely area, a beautiful day, and a good turnout. Assuming they have the I-Can again next year, I plan on registering.

Let's get the pressing question out of the way: I didn't medal.

Oh, that wasn't the pressing issue? I guess not. So, how did I do in "my own race"? I ran it well enough. Well, most of it, at least. See, I knew there was a risk when the description said, "relatively flat neighborhood streets," because the question remains: Relative to what?

The start was on a hill.

Upon the starting... um... yell, I trudged upward, optimistic that this would be the worst of it. The truth is that that little hill was the steepest portion, but that wasn't the only hill. We made a quick left and found... another hill.

A woman beside me panted, "I thought this was flat."

I smiled and nodded. I then replied, "It's OK. The hills give me permission to walk," which I then proceeded to do in a short while. I walked only occasionally and only uphill. (I scratched my head a little at the people who ran uphill and then walked at the top; I figure that's a little backwards, but whatever works for them, I guess.)

I lost sight of most of the pack early enough, dropping off from most of the runners and leaving the walkers behind me. I caught back up with a few runners who didn't understand the importance of pacing (or, it seemed for at least one couple, training). That's OK, I was running my own race. You understand.

The odd thing was that, every time I looked at my watch, I was maintaining a pace between 11:00 and 12:30, or thereabouts. I must only have looked when I was really booking, though, because my overall pace doesn't reflect those speeds.

Somewhere around the middle of the course, I fell in line with a young lady (or, perhaps, she fell in line with me). She didn't have much stamina, but made up for it with moxie. She'd run at a decent pace (not sprinting, but faster than me), and then settle in for a walk. To her credit, she didn't seem to do the "stay ahead of the fat lady" that I spoke about here from my last 5k (about two years ago). She was simply racing her own race, a little at a time. But we were leap-frogging.

We were until we got near the end, that is. I like to kick it up at the end, so I did. The instant she saw me right behind her shoulder, she kicked it up herself. Now, this was probably the wrong attitude to take at this time, but I figured: Hey, she's not in my age group, I'll let her have this, and steadied myself. No, I didn't slow down, but I didn't push as hard as I could have right before the chute.

In retrospect, I regret this. I also regret not pushing hard enough for most of the 5k. I should have been much more worn at the end, so I was clearly holding back too much the entire time. Sure, I probably would have walked a bit no matter what, but I think I could have done better, gone just a little faster. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the run immensely; I just suspect I could have done better. So, what to do? That's right, I already signed up for two more 5K events.

My time? I don't know my official time yet. I didn't see a clock at the end, and we weren't using chips, but I did see someone with the little hand-held doo-dad which I suspect was used to record official times. I know I wasn't last overall, but I may have been last for the registered 5K runners. (I couldn't tell walkers from runners on their board.) Well, I'll find out soon enough. I should have been able to approximate my time with my Garmin, but, unfortunately, I clicked it off a little late. It reported 40:37. (Argh! Close enough that I could have easily beaten my PR.)

Honestly, considering the (mild) hills, I'm pretty happy with how I did. Now I'll really have to get going on the interval work so I can pulverize my PR at the next 5K (in late August).

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Silence Is, Um, Silent

Sorry I've been lax in posting. It's not that I'm slacking; I just have nothing to say. I've been hitting the gym, but going light on the running/cardio because of my upcoming race. I also am gardening like mad because we just had 200 or so (no exaggeration) little plants arrive and I'm the only one in the house who can plant them. Sigh. Even while on vacation, life can get in the way.

For kicks, I looked up my last 5k time (from way back in October of 2006): 39:15.5, 42nd in my age group (out of 61). This is about the pace at which I've been running for long, steady runs, so I'm not expecting to PR on Saturday. Of course, a lot has happened since then and now, so if I even come close to that time, I'll be pretty satisfied.

My eating habits have been all over the map lately. Not bad, not good, just... well, just ok. I have been maintaining a slight deficit overall, and the scale is starting to creep downward again. So, there's that.

OK, enough babbling. If you're in the mood for more, check out some of the blog links I added in the sidebar; they're normally pretty good. (Or I wouldn't have listed them, right?)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review of Garmin Forerunner 405 cx

Alright. I've had this new toy for nearly a month. I guess it's time to get myself in gear (Ha! Get it?! Gear? Oh, nevermind...) and write a review. (The alternative is to actually think of something something interesting to write about, and my brain is too fried for that. A five mile hike in too much sun/heat with too little tree cover was just miserableness and more than a little cranky.)

For anyone interested, I did do a review nearly two years ago of my Forerunner 305. At that time, I compared it to my 301. This review will probably follow suit and compare it a bit with the 305. You may want to know that I have nothing else with which to compare it; it's been Forerunners the whole way for me.

You may also wish to note that I'm talking about the 405cx, not the regular 405. The cx part is the straw that got me to finally bite the bullet and upgrade my GPS/HR monitor (can I mangle any more cliche metaphors?). The key about the cx is that it uses heart rate information to improve on its calorie calculations.

Well, let's go ahead and start there: calorie calculations. While I can't vouch for their actual, ultimate accuracy, I will say that they are clearly improved from previous Forerunners. You see, here's how the calorie calculations went before: You took thirty minutes to climb five miles up a hard hill. That's 300 calories. You took ten minutes to speedily coast back down that hill. That's 700 calories. OK, sure, the numbers are pulled out of my rear end, but the reality is that the Garmin looked at velocity/distance only and did not take other factors like elevation change properly into account. Now? It knows that you worked much harder climbing up than coasting down (or hiking up the mountain vs. strolling back down). Again, it's nearly impossible to know exactly how accurate the calculations really are, but they are within reasonable ranges, so I'm trusting them until they prove untrustworthy.

Probably one of the most striking improvements over the 305 is the appearance. Size-wise it's actually nearly the same. But factor in shape and it's a whole new ball-game. There's no way that I'm going to go to work and just casually wear this thing as my watch, but it looks much less like I took a computer and strapped it to my wrist. (The surprising downfall here is that it now looks a little more odd when strapped to my handlebars.)

Here I have it strapped to my wrist next to my normal watch. (You may admire my fantastically fuzzy German arm, if you wish. But do so silently, please.) You may not see it from the photo, but this does lead to one annoyance (of a few) with the 405 cx: because the antenna is part of the watch band, part of the band is rigid. This actually leads it to sit awkwardly on my wrist, almost facing farther away and causing me to turn my wrist more to read the dial. This sounds almost inconsequential, but it's annoying to not be able to adjust it.

Continuing on with the "form factor", there are two more major changes. One is the bezel. Rather than pushing buttons to navigate through menus, you run your finger along the bezel in a circular motion. You also switch between modes by touching and holding the bezel. Some people love the bezel; some people hate it. I'm pretty neutral. I mean, it's OK, but it's nothing special. I can use it through my medium-thick running gloves, but if it gets too wet (from rain), the bezel becomes unresponsive until I dry it off. Not a big issue for me, but it might be big for someone in, say, Seattle where residents have gills (so I hear). It's water resistant, so it doesn't break, per se; it just becomes unresponsive until it's quickly dried off.

The other issue is driving me a bit battier. They've moved the start/stop buttons from the front back to the side. This means that I can accidentally stop a workout by pushing a button (with the back of my hand, I guess). This has happened once when strength training and twice when hiking. Little is more irritating than finding that a significant portion of your workout has gone unrecorded because you somehow inadvertendly pressed stop. Definitely a negative.

One final note on form: The strap is more difficult to open and close. This may soften over time. The 405 cx does come with two velcro straps for sizing or preference, but danged if I can switch them out. I know how to switch out the straps, but I just can't get use the fork-thing to grab and slide the little doohiky enough to get it unattached. (If you had the watch, you'd understand.) So I'm dealing with the default rubber(?) watch band. It does look nicer than the velcro probably would, so I'm coping.

OK, enough about form. Let's move on to function. Back to the heart rate monitor. The connection between the watch and the heart rate strap seems vastly improved. I barely get the watch "woken up" or put the heart rate strap on when the watch tells me that the heart rate monitor has been detected. Wow. No loss of signal; no interference. Re-pairing with other accessories (foot pod and bike sensor) is just as lightening fast. I'm impressed.

Speaking of lightening fast, can we talk about GPS signal? It used to be that I'd have to stand around for quite some time before I got a good signal. I'd have to stretch, fiddle with the bike, or do something else to keep myself from looking too lame while the 305 searched for satellites. I think I even once had a neighbor wonder if I was trying to figure out how to break into his house while I was just standing there waiting for my 305 to get its act together. No such problem with this watch. On a slow day it takes maybe five seconds to get a signal. Niiiicceee.

And once it gets a signal? It's locked on. I have yet to have a problem from buildings or tree cover. It used to be a little bit of a joke to forgive my poor 305 (worse yet, the 301) for thinking that it took, say, 3.51 miles to climb up the wooded mountain trail and, say, 3.68 miles to come back down on the same path. It's a tiny antenna and it's doing the best it can, I'd say. Corners get cut; things happen. Not with the 405cx. One distance up, same exact distance back. Maybe one one hundredth of a mile in difference. I sure can't complain about that.

I can complain about the software. Same cruddy training software as the 301 and the 305. I was excited about Garmin Connect, but it's really nothing to get excited about. Other online software does much better. Sure, it may be "prettier" than Buckeye Outdoors, but it doesn't have half the power. So I'm sticking with Buckeye and SportTracks.

Regarding the software of the unit itself, there is good, and there is bad. Let's start with the good. The virtual traing partner is an interesting novelty, but not without its flaws. (Racing against a virtual partner that goes at a steady pace is slightly frustrating when you have stop lights and hills to contend with.) Chances are, though I haven't used it yet, that the courses feature will be much better because I can race against a former "me", using data from a previous workout.

Another good: Garmin listened to me and finally made "today's workout" a snap to access. Two taps on the bezel and I'm presented with the workout I had scheduled for the day, ready for me to press enter and begin. Only problem? Apparently I'm only allowed to do one workout per day. If you schedule more than one, too bad. I had hoped that, having completed the first workout, it would automatically switch to the next scheduled workout for the day. No such luck; I have to go through a few menus to access the advanced workouts. Ah, well, can't have everything, right?

On to the bad. First, if I want to switch from running mode to biking mode (they eliminated "other" for some unfathomable reason), it takes no less than nine bezel swipes and taps. Not a killer, but definitely an annoyance. If I'm going to do an advanced workout which already is set up for a particular sport, though, it will switch automatically, so it's not an annoyance I have to deal with often.

On to the really bad. If I switch from biking mode to running mode, certain things will switch automatically. (For example, I have it to auto-pause when I'm stopped when biking, but to not auto-pause when running. It remembers and falls in line.) However, the data fields it displays do not switch over. Let me give you the big example. When I'm running, I want to know what? Pace, of course. But when I'm biking, I couldn't care less about pace; I want speed. The 405 cx? Doesn't switch the display between the two modes. Seriously, Garmin? That's a huge oversight. That means that I have to set it up to display both speed and pace, unless I want to go through the hassle of reconfiguring the data fields to display every time I switch from running to biking or back. I don't want to do that, so I'm having to use precious screen real estate to always show both, which means I'm always faced with looking at something I don't care about.

Beyond that, though, the 405 cx is extremely configurable in its display. Do you want to see three things per screen? Two? One? How about three on the first screen and two on the second and get rid of the third? Done. (You can set the Garmin to automatically switch between the screens if you want, and the speed is also configurable. I like this feature.) And for your options as to what data to show, it's insane. There are not enough data screens to show all the things I'd want to show (not that I need all of them, mind you). Just to list a few of the many options for the data fields: There's time elapsed, of course, and time of day. There's cadence (current) or average cadence or just your cadence for the current lap. There's distance and elevation and heart rate (with variations). You can have it show your heading (N/S/E/W) or pace or speed or - I kid you not - sunset in case you really want to push your run to the edge of daylight.

The one significant feature missing from the display: GPS tracks. I liked that I was able to see my little GPS tracks on the 305. No, it wasn't as good as a map, but it was nice to be able to see where I had already been so I could easily track back to the known trail/path. I can't do that now. I can have it tell me how to get back to the start (or a marked waypoint) with an arrow pointing the way (as the crow flies), but what if I don't want to get back to the beginning, but rather want to get back to the path? No such luck. This isn't a deal-breaker for me (obviously), but sure is a sad feature to lose.

OK, let's see, what have I missed in this (huuuuuggggeeeee) review? Ah, yes, the new feature that is supposedly soooo fantastic: the wireless ANT sync. Yes. My computer now can grab my workout from my watch without me having to hook it up. Big whoop. Sorry, but I just don't care much about this one. Sure, I guess it's one less cable and one less docking cradle, but, well, it's just not that big a deal. And it does have times where it fails, so it actually takes longer to wait for it to attempt another transfer. Really, I'd rather just hook it up and have it sync the first time, every time.

And... um.... Hey, I think I covered it! Oh, wait, no I didn't. A couple more things.

The beeps are a little quieter. I can still hear them over my music (yeah, yeah, shame on me for exercising with headphones, moving on...), but I have to be careful about the volume. It does have different tones when you're going too fast vs. going too slow, which is good. It still plays a cute victory song when your workout is finished, which isn't good or bad but still makes me inexplicably giddy and happy.

Also, I've focused mainly on comparisons against the previous model, so let me mention a big selling point (to me): The customizable workout programs. Seriously, you can create a workout for nearly anything you want to work on. Want to work at a particular pace? Done. Heart rate? OK. Distance? Easy. A combination? Okiedokie. Alternating between various stages? No problemo. Intervals? Warm-up, main set(s), cool-down? Done, done, and done. I seriously can't imagine training without my Garmin guiding me through specific workouts. Again, the reporting software leaves quite a bit to be desired, but, again, this is easily remedied with the donation-ware SportTracks. (I wonder if I donated already. Either way, I should probably donate (again). It's good stuff.)

OK, I think that's it. Feel free to ask any questions. One thing's for sure: The hike did not damage my propensity toward verbosity.

Overall, I'm happy I switched to the 405 cx. The improved calorie calculation, snappy accessory re-pairing, and vastly improved GPS signal are not insignificant changes. (I think the elevation reporting is even improved.) Sure, there are some "quirks" which make me want to slap my forehead, but I haven't found the perfect GPS/HR monitor yet, so gradual improvement will have to do, even at the cost of occasional slip-ups.