Tag Archives: Moores

New opportunities, old challenges

Remember this momentous occasion? I’m still using the bag load of Irish Spring samples they gave me last year. It’s time once again for Moore’s Suit Drive. It’s actually been on for a couple of weeks. Not having needed businesswear for the first half of this year, I hadn’t been by the store in months and only noticed when I walked by the store between meetings a couple of weeks ago. I brought in a couple of my transitional suits. They were size 42. I’m now a 38 or 40 depending on the cut. The local charity which benefits from the drive is the John Howard Society, somewhat appropriate given my new gig.

Yes, I’m back in the swing of things on the job front. I started a new job last week. I’m working as a research assistant at the Parole Board of Canada.  It’s a four month contract and I’m still in the hunt for a permanent post, but I’m enjoying the work.

Now that I’m working again, it’s back to my old fitness routine. The Running Room clinic night on Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice club are late enough that I don’t have to rush out the door to get out there on time.  There won’t be any change on that front. (I have to admit that it’s a little weird to have a predictable schedule for the first time in my adult life.)

I have had to change my Greco routine. I go to the 7 am Lean and Fit classes now. There’s enough time that I can hit the shower and make it to the office for 8:30 without too much rush. It’s a little closer to 9 if I stop for coffee along the way. Frequent readers can probably guess … I start my day at 9. I did try to keep the Tuesday and Thursday Extreme Lean class in my routine. Since it’s a shorter class and ends at 8:30, I can still get to the office on time if I rush. This time of year, I’d rather not. There’s nothing worse in the summer than arriving at your air conditioned office a damp, sweaty, mess. Next thing you know, you’re freezing in your office when it’s damn near 50 degrees outside.

Making it to the gym for 7 means waking up at 5:30. Yes, that’s 5:30 in the morning. Remember, when I started this journey a year and a half ago, I was getting up that early, sometimes earlier. That was in January when it was pitch black and -20 out. This time of year, the sun is shining and it’s +20 out.  It’s a little easier to settle into a routine in those conditions. I’m also modifying a routine, not starting fresh.

So it’s going to be the 7 am class four times a week for the foreseeable future. When I started the year off unemployed, I kept going to the 7 am class for a while. I probably started going to the later class around late February or March. As I realized that the job situation was not going to be resolved as quickly as I originally anticipated, I started going to the later class. After all, I didn’t have anywhere to I needed to be at 9 am.

You may also noticed the blog entries are getting shorter. Sorry. Since I don’t have as much free time on my hands, the 2000+ word entries may be a little less frequent for bit. It’s about quality, not quantity. Right?

Right?

Now that we’re in the middle of July, it’s pretty much the peak of the tourist season in Ottawa. With the all the visitors to the downtown, we urbanites, especially the denizens of the Byward Market and surroundings, can feel like the animals at a petting zoo. It certainly makes for crowded sidewalks when running in the evening.

On Tuesday, I actually got to lead the half-marathon clinic in a mini-talk on running drills. It was fun taking the group up to Parliament Hill to do drills on the front lawn.  Since they’ve been watering the lawn nearly continuously throughout our drought, the lawn at Parliament Hill is probably the only green grass in all of Ottawa. Maya, the instructor for my 5K/10K clinic last year, would do the same. I tried to incorporate them into the my own clinics, but I found it just made the participants impatient. Since many of them were doing a 5K race for the first time in their lives, the importance of drills (to improve flexibility and improve speed) was utterly lost on them.  My 2 hour pace group can be quite large, but leading the entire clinic gave me an appreciation of just how large the group is. I lined up the group parallel with West Block and they took up the full width of the lawn. The Hill is teaming with tourists. I’m sure we made a bunch of Facebook albums in Japan and whatever highly censored version they have in China.

Wednesday was another hill night. Five repeats this time. We split them between Fleet St. and the Rideau Locks, with a nice tempo run in between. I enjoyed this in the last clinic, but I can’t help but think this is a mistake this time of year. In addition to the usual competition for space with pedestrians and cyclists, the Locks hill is full of tourists watching the locks in action or hanging out at the Bytown Museum waiting for their boat tour to come in. We easily add another 90 people to that equation. On my first run up the hill, I go caught behind a man in an electric wheelchair that I had a little difficulty passing. Since the hill is too steep for the electric motor of the chair, he had to criss-cross the width of the path. For giving one of my instructors a thumbs up as we passed each other on the hill, I almost lost an arm to a douchebag cyclist that thought the downward slope of the locks hill was the finish line of the Tour de France. Same asshole dinged Kalin further down the hill.

If we meet again, you’ll have one thing in common with Lance Armstrong. One thing. It won’t be the number of titles.

The weather has much improved in Ottawa. We had a wicked afternoon and evening  of thunderstorms Monday that broke the back of the humidity. It’s still a littly muggy here, but the highest humidex it reached post-storm was 36 degrees. Even that night there was a breeze which pretty much cancelled it out.

For the first Sunday in a few weeks, I’m looking forward to Sunday’s long run, 14K. It’s a nice route that takes us through Old Ottawa South, through Carleton Univeristy and the experimental farm. It’s supposed to be a nice sunny day. Fingers crossed.

Allons-y!

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So You Say You Want A Resolution III – Give Back

You called in the pros.

You surrounded yourself with friends that are good for you.

Now it’s time to JFDI.

Just

Fucking

Do

It.

Take the plans others have tailored to your goals and execute them. Follow your exercise plan. Do not deviate from the nutrition plan.

You’ll se some pretty dramatic results at first. The lifestyle changes you’ve made will be such a sudden shock to the system, don’t be surprised if you drop 5 lbs. that first week.

Word of caution, early results are atypical. As your body adjusts, you week to week loss will be an average of 1-2 lbs. Some weeks you may not lose a pound. Some weeks will be setbacks. (NB: I’ve found it helpful to buy my own scale that also does the body fat percentage. Declining BFP in a week where weight increased will show some of those setbacks are due to muscle gain outstripping fat loss).

As the good weeks outnumber the bad, soon the clothes won’t fit and tailoring will have gone from a rear guard action to an exercise in futility.

It’s time to replace the wardrobe.

I actually had to do this twice. I did a mini-replacement in the spring to get through my university commencement and spring sitting of Parliament. By the time fall came, actually by the time summer arrived, that stuff was too big. I did the wholesale replacement of the business wear in the fall and then went on my casual shopping spree in late November.

As you buy new clothes, you’ll have to make room in the closet for the new stuff. What to do with old stuff?

In the age of EBay, Craigslist, and the like, there will be the temptation to sell off your stuff.

Take my advice: don’t.

First, you have so much to sell and so many of the potential buyers are looking for something for nothing, it’s more trouble than its worth.

Second, there will be so many people invested in your success, you will never be able to pay them back directly. Sure, the professional you hire to come up with a plan will be rewarded and they will have earned every nickel, but what of the Christians and Vickys? They helped you because they’re your friends and they saw you for what you could be even if you didn’t. How are you going to pay them back?

The simple answer is: you can’t. The debt you owe them makes Chewbacca’s Wookie life debt seem like a bummed cigarette in comparison. It is because of these people that your immediate life is better. When people ask how are you doing, you’ll sound like a Charlie Sheen interview from spring 2011. You’ve added years to your lifespan. You more than look awesome. You are awesome.

That’s not a debt one easily quantifies. Go ahead, try.

You can start by trying to help them realize their own goals. Vicky and I are about to embark on new challenge together. We’ll be training together for the half-marathon for the Tamarack Homes Ottawa Race Weekend.  We’ve already registered for race day and the Running Room’s Half Marathon clinic. We also workout together at GrecoLeanandFit. I hope to be the positive force in her life in the next year that she has been in mine this past year.

BTW, if you’re interested in any Ottawa Race weekend events, register soon. There’s 9000 places per event and they all sell out months in advance. The reason why Vicky was cheering me on for last year’s 5K was by the time she found out she was going to be in town that weekend, the race had sold out. That was almost two months before race day.

My friend Christian is a more difficult kettle of fish. He’s already the accomplished runner and is in great shape.

For that matter, in these recent posts I’ve thus far failed to mention my friends Chris and Brittany, whose wedding this summer gave me the added goal of looking good in a tuxedo?

Or of my parents and grandparents who inculcated the character in me to tackle this challenge?

You start to see the point.

Since I can never repay the debts I owe, I pay them forward.

Yes, it sounds corny, but it’s pretty straightforward.

When it came to what to do with those fat clothes, I waited for Moore’s annual suit drive to donate my business wear and tossed most of my spring and summer casual wear into a charity bin.

the Charity Pile

As that great villain, the Canadian winter, began to rear its ugly head again in Ottawa, I bagged up my winter wear and called the Shepard’s of Good Hope here in Ottawa. They’re in constant need of winter clothes of all sizes to help the homeless survive winter and will come to pick up your stuff. A little known fact, Ottawa is the coldest national capital on earth.

There are many worthy charities in your area that can make good use of your soon to be oversized stuff.

Google them.

Contact them.

Give them your shit. In the spirit of George Carlin, once it no longer fits, it’s not stuff anymore. It’s shit.

It’s of no use to you, give it to someone who will put it to use.

For runners, it’s actually quite easy. Most of the races out there benefit a charity or two. In the four races I ran this year, 9 charities have benefited. If you agree to raise a certain amount for the charity, they will waive your entrance fee. Some charities sponsor runners that fundraise for them. If you agree to raise a certain amount, Team Diabetes will not only pay your registration fee, but the travel and accommodations for international events.  Raise money for Charity. See the world. Run. Downside? None.

While they are all worthy events, the Run for the Cure was the most personal for me as both of my grandmothers have been afflicted with breast cancer. It was really fun event and a great goal race for my 5K clinic. My paternal grandfather, Thomas Read, also died of cancer. Taking part in a run that raises money for a cause you believe in is but another way to combine your new passion for fitness with your duty to pay it forward.

To recap:

Call in the pros.

Surround yourself with Christians and Vickys.

JFDI

One foot in front of the other.

Pay it forward.

And …

Wait for it …

Allons-y!

Week 47 – Adventures in Shoppingland

Another season, another shopping spree, another charity pile.

For those not in the Ottawa area and/or unable to look out a window this morning, the cold weather is finally upon us. It’s even snowing on this blog.  That’s how hard it snows in Canada.

(It’s actually a setting in WordPress for the Christmas season. Pretty neat?)

With winter hitting like paratroopers on D-Day, I am in desperate need of warm weather casual wear.

Actually, I was in desperate need of warm weather casual wear. The most recent sweater I owned was a Christmas gift from last year.  It was only two sizes too big.  With the cold weather coming fast, I figure my sweaters are best put to use keeping the poor and homeless warm.  I cleaned out my closet and drawers of the warm stuff and everything else that Moore’s wouldn’t take back in September.  I called Shepards of Good Hope on Monday and they were only too glad to pick them up.  I filled up two garbage bags worth of the stuff and left them at the front desk of my building for pick-up.

Vicky and I went shopping last weekend.  We’re pretty frank with each other when it comes to what each other looks good in.  As I wrote before, this stuff is expensive and the window of opportunity to return anything is short.  With the holidays coming and crowds at the mall now elevated to horde status, neither of us wants to waste time trying on stuff that one of thinks only looks good on the rack.

Brutal honesty is better than a polite fib any day.

I have developed this tendency to replace an entire season in one outing.  I just want to get it over with.  I don’t mind shopping, in general, but I’ve never liked shopping this time of year. Once Advent begins, I won’t go to Walmart until after Christmas.  Now that I live in a city where the nearest Walmart is 45 minute bus ride away, that habit is really easy to maintain. Since I have to travel to be with my family for the holidays, I find it easier to shop online and select my father’s office as my delivery address.

It was a pretty productive trip.  I bought pretty much enough to get me through the winter in one shot.  I’m pretty sure besides the honest advice one of the reasons why Vicky loves shopping with me is I tend to need more therefore I buy more and inevitably spend more, thus making her feel less guilty for her purchases.

Since holiday sales have started earlier on this side our border with the United States to keep us Canucks with our near-parity dollars at home, I can at least say I didn’t pay full price for everything. A couple of items were full price, but I couldn’t exactly wait for a store to mark down the winter boots.  That doesn’t happen until spring, and it’s snowing today.  I was incredibly lucky a couple of years back to be living in the US during their Thanksgiving.  I think 2008 was the first year stores extended their Black Friday specials to their websites.  I worked out a pretty good system.  In the days leading up to the blessed occasion, as stores would advertise their specials I would place them on my wish list.  I’d get out of bed early Friday morning and move the wish list to the shopping cart, go through checkout, and be back in bed within the hour. One of my picks was a rather expensive pair of winter boots, regular price $325, that bought for a relatively mere $75.

I’m the SEAL Team 6 of shopping: identify target, engage, achieve objective, return to base, leaving only dead men to tell no tales.

Okay, maybe not that dramatic.  You get the idea.

I picked up my new suit from Holt Renfrew last night.  My first tailored suit ever.

Read .... Michael Read

Feels great to wear something that fits so perfectly.  As I put it on, I could hear Jack White’s fuzzy guitar riff and Alicia Keys sweet wail from the last Bond movie in my head.  Daniel Craig, eat your heart out.  There’s a new guy on the block who’s better than all the Bonds … except Connery.  There are few people that I would settle for being in second place to. There’s Connery and … Okay, it’s a list of one.

One purchase made this past week wasn’t so productive. I bought my first GPS running watch this week.

I also returned my first GPS running watch this week.

Another crime of opportunity by a gadget geek.  The Running Room had a customer appreciation sale, 20% off everything.  My instructor discount on tech gear is only 15%.  It was probably the best deal I would get before my current clinic ends and I return to student in February for the half-marathon clinic.  I have a Timex which usually does me quite well on the training runs, but during races I have  failed to hear it over the iPod or inadvertantly ignored it.  That’s not to say, fancy expensive = better, but it was at least worth a try.

Unlike my friend Christian, I like the running gadgets and technology.  While it is partly to satisfy my inner gadget geekery, much of it is for practical reasons.  For example, I wear the fancy compression gear because, until recently, every part of me was fairly floppy.  As a previous entry illustrated, floppy leads to rubbing.  Rubbing leads to chafing. Chafing leads to screaming like a girl when you go for a swim in a salt water pool with your best friend. Even though I’m now less floppy, I’m still floppy in those particular areas when I run.  The nice Lululemon shirts are fine for my Greco workouts where I might be bouncing up and down for no more than 90 seconds at a time, on a 5K run they might as well be fine grade sandpaper.

I first went with the Nike+ GPS watch made by Tom Tom.  Seemed like a good idea.  I was already using the Nike + GPS app on my iPod with the shoe dongle, so I could stick with the same system for tracking my runs.  I also liked the form factor.  It wasn’t as big and bulky as its competitors.  It was small enough that I could wear it to work and no one would be the wiser.

Like George Costanza, my first instinct was wrong.

Upon field testing, though, two small flaws revealed themselves which when combined were real deal breakers.

1. You have to set it up on your computer and there are very few adjustments you can make on the watch itself.  This would normally not be a problem.  Set it at home for the run intervals for that night’s clinic and not a problem.  After a couple of weeks it’s 10 and 1 intervals for the remainder anyway. The problem is actually between clinics, some of the alumni want to stick with the 10 and 1 while others tend to want to scale it back after their goal race while they’re waiting to do the next clinic.  On those occasions, you don’t know what the intervals will be until you arrive.

2. It has the wimpiest alert ever.  It’s so bloody weak, I originally thought I forgot to turn it on.  Turns out I did turn it on, but it’s just not loud enough.  There’s also no volume control.  The alert is either “on” or “off”. I could barely hear it over the ambient noise during my Sunday run, so hearing it over my iPod while listening to music will be impossible .

The funny thing is, normally when I buy gadgets I read the reviews.  I am not an early adopter.  The iPod was in its 4th Generation when I finally bought one.  When its battery life had whittled down to 40 minutes after years of faithful service, I replaced it with a 4th generation iPod Touch.  When I finally broke down and bought an iPhone, it was the … wait for it … 4S. I probably would have broke down earlier when the 4 was released, but since work supplies me with a Blackberry I didn’t see the need for a personal phone until recently.  Long story short, I’m no one’s de facto beta tester.

While the issue of the computer only set-up was raised, no review I read seemed to realize the negative implication. I guess reviewers just assumed they would now what their intervals be when they left the house for the day.  Not a single review mentioned the crappy alert volume. I can get around the first one, but the second is a deal breaker. Full stop.

Thanks, Internets.  Thanks a lot.

So now I am the owner of a Garmin Forerunner 610 (ask me in a few weeks if I’m the “proud” owner).  Yes, I could have gotten one of the older models cheaper (Amazon had a door crasher on the 410 less than 24hrs after my purchase), but the 610 has a few things going for it that the others do not:

1. Form factor – a. it’s smaller than the older models.  The watch face isn’t as large and doesn’t look like Dick Tracy’s wrist watch radio.

Did I just date myself?

b. The face is touchscreen and there are very few buttons.  No one will mistake it for a wristwatch calculator.

Did I just date myself…again?

2. Vibration alerts. You can set it to vibrate as well as beep and light up when you do intervals.  Even if the beep alert was as wimpy as the Nike+ watch, I have the vibration as back-up. It’s a pretty aggressive vibrate alert, too.  Not rip my hand off aggressive, but aggressive enough I’ll definitely notice it.

That written, I’m still using the Nike+ on my iPhone with the shoe dongle.  I figure one can compliment the other.  The downside of all the watches, both Nike+ and Garmin, is that it doesn’t have the instant gratification of the iPhone/iPod app.  Once I end the workout, it automatically sends the data to the website and I can look at it, the map it generates, etc. all before I get home.  The watches have to be synced directly with the computer either through USB (Nike+) or bluetooth (Garmin). I’m going to run with my phone on me for emergency purposes, regardless, it might as well track the runs.

In all honesty, if the iPod app just had an interval feature I wouldn’t have bought either.

In terms of the tracking information, the Garmin wins hands down.  If you are  interested in looking at your performance, the Garmin provides more data points than Nike+. The mapping feature allows you to choose between Google and Bing as your map provider.  I’m sure this is an important feature, I’m just not sure why.  I also like that I can customize the workouts on the Garmin.  In under a minute, I can program the upcoming week’s run into my watch.  For example, I can program 2 intervals of 10 minutes running with the 1 minute walk breaks followed by a third interval of four minutes for next week’s runs. On my Timex, I’d be literally watching the clock on that third interval for four minutes to elapse. Not a fun way to run at night.

Even though it is the easier of the two to use, I can’t recommend the Nike+ watch.  I’m sure it’s fine at tracking, and better than just using the iPod app  but, as an instructor, I require something more versatile. I would actually keep my Timex over the Nike+.

My current rankings:

  1. Garmin
  2. Timex
  3. Nike+GPS watch
  4. Nike+GPS iPod app

While I still like the app and will still use it, the lack of intervals will mean the “+” will be more than brand recognition. It will be + some other device, in this case a watch or otherwise.  If you just want a watch that does intervals, a Timex will do. The Nike+GPS watch tries to be the middle option, laps and intervals for those that want the Timex features but what it gains in simplicity of use, it loses in versatility. The price point for what you get isn’t that stellar either.  An older model Garmin which does everything the Nike+ does and more retails for $30 less.

It’s too early to give the Garmin more than a qualified recommendation. I’m still playing with it and learning the ins and outs.  Right now, I can say it is the best one of I have used thus far. We’ll see in future posts if my praise becomes more effusive.  Since I’m kind of prone to bitching about stuff that doesn’t work properly, if I never mention it again it’s probably a good thing.

The 5K clinic is entering it’s second half.  I will only be here for three of those weeks before I take off to Fredericton for the holidays.  With the exception of this Wednesday, my group is pretty consistent in attendance.  A combination of rain all day turning to cold rather quickly scared off most of my students. Okay, all of my students, except one: Vicky. She’s actually the only one who so far has not missed a single run.  I know a couple were a struggle.  I was at the party the night before, too, and was dragging my arse just as bad Sunday morning. Vicky in bad form is still faster than they rest of the class.

The rest of the class, that is, except her instructor 😉

Allons-y!

Week 46 – Winter has come

Winter is now upon us in Ottawa.  We had our first snow this week.  Just enough cause the usual first snow panic and chaos.  It’s been cold enough to stick around the last couple of days, but tomorrow it’s going to warm up again and we’ll have a reprieve for a few days.

The sneak preview of winter allowed me a chance to have my first winter run.  It was mild enough that the path along the canal remained clear.  It was a little wet with snow melt from the salt the NCC put down, but still warm enough that it hadn’t frozen to ice.  My running friends have so been proven right: the NCC does a better job at clearing the canal paths than the city does at clearing the sidewalks.

The combination of the weather and the removal of the OccupyOttawa brats from Confederation Park kept the cyclist traffic down.  I don’t have problems with sharing the trail with cyclists, per se, but the hippie college crowd has to realize their dark earth tone clothing and retro-bikes sans reflectors makes them virtually invisible at night.

Get a lamp. The life you save will be your own.

Now that they don’t have a nightly klavern to attend, the trail has been largely bike free after dark.  The difference was immediately noticeable.  There was one biker I would see every night I was on the canal during the siege of Confederation Park I would call Neon Ghost Rider.  His bike was decked out with LED Christmas lights of various colours and could be seen for miles.  No Occupy, no Neon Ghost Rider.

For readers not used to my tongue and cheek sarcasm, I didn’t have a big problem with the whole occupation of Confederation Park.  We Running Room types use that park as a start point for most of our practice runs.  We gather at the fountain, brief the runners on the night’s run and route and head out.  My group is small enough that I could take them right to the canal trail to do that. Larger clinics, not so much.

In some ways, the Occupy Movement was a step up in the usual crowd that hangs out there.   Without going into too much detail, a few weeks before the occupation my clinic was inadvertently treated to a live sex show by a couple of the city’s homeless.

It was forecasted to be cold enough Wednesday night that I packed my new winter gear, specifically the fleece-lined pants and my new coat.  Both performed excellently.  Truth be told, it was probably still too warm for them.  I decided to go light on the inner layers to compensate.

My made to measured tailored suit from Holt Renfrew arrived this week.  Since it’s about six weeks from order date to delivery, it arrived a little big.  I wrote a few weeks ago about being down to a 38.  I was measured for that suit a few weeks prior.  I almost put the whole thing off when they told me it was six weeks until delivery. It was a sale on a custom suit the weekend of my birthday. I couldn’t help it.  On the plus side, since it is a tailored suit, the additional alterations are included in the price.

I’m pretty much done buying suits.  Besides the tailored suit, I also picked up a pair of suits from Beyond the Rack.  They had Jones New York suits that are regularly $800 for less than $200.  I picked up two.  Despite the name of the brand, they’re actually made in Canada.  In fact, the one I bought at the Bay during their Bay Days sale earlier this month is now the only made in Canada suit I own.

What I really need still is casual wear.  I now have a couple of shirts and sweaters, but as we near the end of the Parliamentary sitting, I’m going to need more.  With winter upon us, clothes, particularly pants, get dirtier quicker.  Since I have to pay for laundry, a couple small loads a week will be a major hit on the pocket book.

Speaking of clothes, it’s time to clean out the closet and drawers again.  Most, if not all, of my winter sweaters are too big and I have a lot of casual shirts that Moore’s clothing drive didn’t want.  Didn’t mind wearing the oversize t-shirts in the summer around the barbecue, but now they’re taking space away from increasing collection of athletic gear. I’m sure there’s a charity in desperate need of warm clothes this time of year, so it’s time.

Looking at the title this week, it’s hard to believe that a year is almost up.  It’s been a remarkable journey. With the holidays coming, it’s going to be important to stick to the plan.  Christmas parties are notorious for crappy, unhealthy hors d’ouerves.  The receptions my office hosts are among the chief culprit.  Try as I might, getting a veggie tray added to the offerings has been an uphill battle.  Since I’m leaving soon, it’s one of the few battles I’ve given up on.  Tried my best, but it will soon be someone else’s problem.

While the end of the year may be cause for reflection, I plan to spend the last few weeks looking more forward than back.

Allons-y!

Week 40 – Victory Lap

First, some apologies. I remained relatively silent on the ol’ social networks last week and when I was on, I was lying through my teeth (or fingers since it was in the written word) of my status or whereabouts. The reason last week’s post was in the middle of the week had little to do with reaching my weight goal (though that seemed as good an excuse as any) and more to do with the reason I wouldn’t be around on Friday. I was driving to New Brunswick to surprise my mother for her 60th birthday. A little hard to write and post while driving a Dodge Charger in the middle of Nowheresville, Quebec.

Fellow Whovians will remember the first rule: the Doctor lies.

And lie I did. Especially when I let it slip that I would be in New Brunswick on the weekend. I would recover by saying “New Brunswick? I meant New York. I was going shopping in upstate New York for their Columbus Day sales. You know I don’t have clothes that fit me anymore. I would have to leave New York at 4 to make that appointment. Freudian slip, I guess. You now where I want to be this weekend.” Matt Smith and David Tennant would have been proud.

Mom was none the wiser and genuinely surprised when I showed up at the front door Saturday night. My sister, in on the surprise, sent me a BBM from the party: “Mom’s telling everyone how you’re going to Syracuse.”

Thanks to those that helped keep my cover.

I think I finally learned the lessons from previous trips and did well on the nutrition side of things. Did have a Subway sandwich for the first time this year as lunch, but the lunch options where I stopped at Port Jolie were a Subway, Normadin, or Tim Horton’s. Normadin had a rather long line to be seated and I don’t like the sandwiches at Timmies’ since they stopped serving roast beef. Subway was the least bad option. Just a small steak and cheese on 9 grain bread. Managed to almost get through the whole order in my weak conversational French until a combination of being low on energy and a very fast-talking cashier forced a “Huh?” out of me. “For here or to go, Sir?” It’s time I can go a little easier on my food choices without considering that I have fallen off the wagon.

It was Thanksgiving this weekend in Canada. For any US readers, the celebration of Thanksgiving in October as a commemoration of Martin Frobisher’s 1578 exhibition to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage made for a great laugh on How I Met Your Mother, but isn’t exactly true. The voyage is listed in Wikipedia, though, as part of the history of the holiday, so it must be true. I’m told Star Wars is a true story, too. We have a shorter growing season here in the north, so the harvest is earlier and therefore we made our statutory celebration of the harvest earlier. Every few years or so, it lands on my birthday. One year it landed on my 19th birthday. Back then every bar in the city was closed on statutory holidays. No free drinks on my first day of legal drinking for me 😦

Thanksgiving dinner meant a few deviations from the nutrition plan. Since I finished with Free Form Fitness, I’m not following their plan as strictly anymore. Don’t worry, I haven’t fallen off the wagon. Although if you ran into me a the Boyce Farmer’s Market on Saturday you couldn’t be blamed for assuming otherwise. Once again, I indulged in old habits, but in my new ways.

I had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. For the first time in my adult years, I’m truly fit and healthy. I’m wearing clothes in sizes I haven’t worn since junior high. People I’ve known for years don’t recognize me. It’s fun to see the reactions of people when they clue in. Sometimes its even helpful when an old associate doesn’t recognize me.

I’m mostly thankful to my family and friends for their support during this journey. I certainly wouldn’t be here without them. There are two kinds of friends one keeps around: those that are good to you and those that are good for you. I’ve come to learn recently that just because one is the former does not necessarily mean they are the latter. Those that are the latter will likely include characteristics of the former. A friend that is good to you is not necessarily bad for you, but may be more reinforcing of your baser instincts. A friend that is good for you helps you become a better person. They see in you what you cannot see in yourself.

I am thankful that I have more of the latter than the former. The decision to go on this journey was by no means a natural one for me. I was quite content the way I was. Looking back, I was the proverbial pig living in the mud, content because it was all I knew. That self-deprecating sense of humour I mentioned in previous posts? A mere smokescreen in place of true self-esteem.

There’s quite a few I should name, so forgive me if this drones off like an Oscar speech. If I forget to name you before the orchestra plays me out, I’ll make up for it when next we meet in person. Since starting this journey and writing about it on Facebook and now WordPress and Twitter, I have received hundreds, maybe thousands, of comments. Your support has been instrumental in my success. Like the cheering section in the last kilometre of a race, your words of support have kept me going.

There’s a few friends out there who have been great examples as what one can achieve when one puts in the effort. Friends like Christina and Meghann, who I knew in high school or as undergrads, lost touch with only to be reunited over Facebook. Seeing how they transformed themselves made me realize when I started this that I could do it, too.

Very early on in this journey one of my best friends, Christian, he of Bald Guy Running and now Insightfully Bald, convinced me to train for the 5K for Ottawa Race Weekend. He was going to slum it with the 5k (he previously did the half marathon for that event) to support his wife, Ramona. I’ve joked that he got me drunk one night and signed me up to the cult of the runner. The truth of the matter, though, is I thought completing a race would be a good intermediate goal. I was supposed to do cardio on my days I wasn’t working out with my trainer, so why not put that activity in the context of a goal that would serve my ultimate goals? He convinced me. I, in turn, talked our friend Michael Clements into doing it, too. Frequent readers will recall that I didn’t know that until he surprised me by showing up on race day with a bib.

Christian, channelling his inner Fred Durst before the Army Run. Next year, we're running the half-marathon together.

The 5k dare lead me to the Running Room for my first clinic, the Learn-to-Run 5K. After I completed that clinic, I was asked to be group leader for a combined 5k/10k clinic and, after that, asked to instruct a 5k clinic. Not bad for a guy who bought his first running shoes in February.

The person who really got the ball rolling though is my friend Vicky. She was the catalyst, the lynchpin that allowed all the ingredients to come together to make this happen, the lever that pried the immovable boulder to roll down down the mountain. Over dinner last December, just before our Christmas holidays, it was Vicky that suggested Free Form. I had just told her about my drop in suit size. She told me she was planning on trying it and suggested I check it out, too. It would further our friendship. Beginning a pattern that would recur throughout this journey, making life choices over food and drink, I said, “sure”. The rest is history.

Getting ready for the Army Run.

I’ve relied on Vicky a lot in this journey. She’s been there for most of the major milestones. She saw me off at the start line for Ottawa Race Weekend. We ran together for the Army Run. She even took me shopping for my first batch of new clothes to get me through the spring sitting. She was pretty astonished to find out not only pretty much everything I owned came from Moore’s, but I hadn’t even stepped foot in most of the stores in the Rideau Centre that didn’t have the word “apple” or “gamestop” in it’s name. I didn’t even know some of these stores actually sold men’s clothes.

The only time she judged me is when I tried something on that looked truly awful. Yes, I tried on some stuff that was truly awful. Not Herb Tarlek awful, but awful nonetheless. Thankfully, she has laughed with me instead of wretching at the utter ghastliness of my sense of modern fashion. I’ve appreciated her honesty, because this stuff isn’t cheap.

Everyone should find themselves a Christian and a Vicky. The funny thing is neither of them told me I should lose weight. They asked me to join them on their journeys. While I’ve written about my own journey, theirs are no less important to me.

You may have noticed a lot, and I mean a lot, of Doctor Who references in my blog posts. Pretty obvious it’s my favourite science fiction show, isn’t it. For those not familiar with the longest running TV show in the history of the medium, the Doctor is a Time Lord, a time traveller, who goes about time and space in ship that looks like a British police box. He frequently has a human companion, our entree into his world. The recurring theme of the show is being “bigger on the inside”. He crashes, always crashing, rarely landing smoothly, takes on a companion or two, makes them better over the course of a season or two and then leaves them behind to seek their own destiny.

I always thought I was the Doctor in my friends’ lives. Seems like I’ve come and gone just as frequently the last few years. Don’t get me wrong, DC is great, but it’s no Gallifrey. I can prattle incessantly. Sartorial choices come from a different era. Even have a piece of paper conferring the title of Doctor, just not the kind that actually helps people. Turns out, however, I was the companion. They made me bigger on the inside, or smaller on the outside, or … See what I was saying before about prattle?

They saw in me what I couldn’t see for myself: the man I could be. It just took me 9.5 months to dig that man out and see him for myself. I like him and can’t wait to see more of him.

I hear the orchestra playing, so I will close by saying I have the best best friends in the world. While I gave thanks to them, all of them, this Thanksgiving, I will never be able to truly repay this debt of gratitude. I can only hope to be as supportive for them in their journeys as they were in mine.

Allons-y!

Week 31 – Now what do I wear?

This week’s weigh in: 177 lbs

Weight Loss to date:  59 lbs

To Goal:  7 lbs

 

Once again, thanks for all the support over the last week .  I have had a lot of great responses since taking this journal public and have also discovered similar bloggers who are sharing their own stories of weight loss.  When I get a rainy day (summer is too short in Canada to spend a sunny day behind the laptop), I’ll add them to the blogroll so you can find them too.

While it’s just a pound this week, it’s a net of one pound.  I actually dropped four.  My misbehaviour on the weekend caused me to gain three pounds by the time I weighed in on Monday.  I had some drinks with the run clinic I just finished being a group leader for at a pub that did not have a very nutrition plan friendly menu.  Dropped two of the weekend sin pounds by Wednesday and two more between Wednesday and Friday. 

If you read my special post from Saturday, you know the charity pile is now in the hands of Moores for their suit drive and whatever charity owns the box on Isabella St.  I’m sure whoever eventually gets my clothes will put them to good use.  As I’ve written before, I owe so many friends and family a debt of gratitude that can never be repayed in full I think the best course of action is to pay it forward and let my success help someone else.  

There’s another angle as well.  I gave them away as partial punishment for my spendthrift ways.  For new readers who haven’t combed through the old entries yet, I normally spend money on three things:  food, gadgets, and clothes.  Of the three, the latter is the item I’ve been the most foolish with.  I actually had two dozen suits in that pile. 

I’m going to repeat that for the purpose of  emphasis:

I actually had two dozen – twenty-four – suits in that pile.

Barney Stinson has nothing on me.  I couldn’t believe that myself when we counted them at the store.  The reason for the accumulation is a lot simpler than one might think.  Before my weight loss, the only time I get rid of clothes is when they wear out. I may occassionaly give some stuff I really don’t need (like my big winter sweaters when I lived in DC) to charity to clear out closet space, but normally if it’s wearable it stays.  Having spent a few of the last five years in grad school, where the number of times I wore a suit could probably counted on one hand, there hasn’t been a lot of wear and tear.  My summer weight suits and separates also don’t get used much as there are few events once Parliament rises that would require me to wear one.

In many ways, my suit buying reflected my other appetite.  I don’t think I needed a single suit I bought in the last six months.   A couple wore out towards the end of the sitting spring 2010, but I certainly didn’t need to replace it with six suits.  It’s really no different than some of the stupid food choices I made in the past, where I would order a pizza when I could make a smaller, healthier one in half the time at a fraction of the cost.  I justified the suits with plenty of excuses: they were 2 for 1, I wear suits every day it’s like they won’t get used.  Not much different from the pizza order justification:  gotta eat tomorrow, I’ll use the leftover for lunch; it includes wings and pop for under $20, I can’t make that for that amount.  You get the picture.

The real stupid thing, though, was buying the three-pieces in December.  I had dropped enough weight to be down a suit size.  I didn’t know then I would hire a trainer and lose even more weight, but I should have at least held off on buying new clothes until after Christmas.  That was just plain stupid.  I looked damn good in those three-pieces, but it was still a stupid purchase.

New rule:  no clothing purchases over $100 without a friend present.  I trust sales people to make me look good, but, in the end, they’re on commission.  If they can’t convince me to part with my income, they don’t get theirs.  I need a second opinion to make sure there’s someone looking out for my interest, not theirs.

My closet now stands rather empty.  I have three suits I didn’t give away.  All were purchased in the month of May this year.  One is a Zara suit that I bought a couple of weeks after the first two (and a size smaller) and the other two are my Calvin Kleins I bought at Macy’s on my way out of DC after commencement.  Casual shirts outnumber dress shirts at ratio not seen since a mere 300 Spartans held off the Persian army of Xerxes the God King.

Need to make these last for another month or so.  I have a family wedding to go to in three weeks. I hope they still fit.

Starting a new charity pile, too.  This will actually be the charity suitcase.  This is mostly casual stuff and sweaters that are now too big and didn’t fit what Moore’s wanted.  I’m going to bring back to Fredericton on my way to that wedding in Cape Breton and let Dad and my brother-in-law fight over them.  The irony is these clothes are mostly Christmas/birthday/found a deal at Kohl’s in Florida presents from my parents and other family members. 

It’s almost like re-gifting, but without any guilt on my part.  They know they’re getting them for a good reason.  Maybe now they’ll start giving me non-gift card gifts again.  We decided after the disaster of two Christmas’ ago that presents would be mostly gift cards or consumables (booze).  Since I have to travel to get home and you never know what luggage restriction Air Canada is going to place on you until you check in, it’s pretty difficult to give me “stuff” to take home.  If I still owned a car and I was willing to do the drive from Ottawa to Fredericton in late December, it would be one story.  Since neither “if”s apply (the reason behind the latter I will save for my career as a paid humourist), the presents have to stay small.   

Disaster may be too strong a word to describe that Christmas.  My parents gave me some money to put toward some of my debt and a Moores gift card, but the two “items” they gave me – a couple of sweaters – were too big.  One item could be returned, but the other was bought in the US and would cost more to return than it was worth.  I left to return to Ottawa with the monetary gifts that year.

It was an honest mistake.  They felt miserable for it.  I felt like a shit for not liking either of their gifts, but there was no point in faking it.  They looked nice until I actually put them on.  I would have never worn them. 

The other side is, if my own parents are thinking I’m XXXL, maybe I should have taken that as a sign that I was too big and started this journey a year earlier.

In other news, my new run clinic is going well.  Since it’s a small group, I feel a little more comfortable with it being my first clinic as an instructor.  Actually have a metric assload of running this weekend.  Clinic night tonight.  The topic is running gear and the store manager covers it followed by the run.  Practice run Sunday morning. 

My next 5K race is then the same Sunday afternoon, the Fesenius Alive to Strive.  It’s at the Terry Fox athletic facility on Riverside Dr. here in Ottawa.  Hoping to get close to the 30 minute mark with this one.  Start time is at 2 pm.  I’ll probably be there around 1.  Anyone who wants to come to cheer me on is more than welcome.

Allons-y!

Special Edition – Getting Rid of the Fat Suits

As mentioned in my last journal entry, this weekend I was planning to do something special.  I was getting rid of my suits and business wear that no longer fit, what I affectionately refer to as “the fat suits”.  Moores is having its annual clothing drive for menswear.  I’ve been waiting for this because their charities will give the clothes to low-income men who are going on job interviews, training, etc.  Many clothing drives sell the clothes and use the money to fund their programs.  There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but I prefer the direct assistance approach.

Someone asked me why I didn’t just sell them on Kijjijji or some website.  As you’ll see in the photos below, there’s so much stuff managing the sales would be a full time job.  I did offer them to any of Facebook friends who wanted to sell them in the Glebe Yard Sale, but there were no takers.

Mostly, I wouldn’t sell them because it seems wrong.  I’ve been blessed with success.  My success would not be possible without the support of friends and family.  I can never repay that debt of gratitude, it’s just too deep. Since I cannot repay my debts, I will pay them forward so that my success will benefit someone who needs the kind of support I have been so generously given.

This is pretty much every item of business wear I had purchased prior to the beginning of May 2011.    Some of those suits date back to before I left for Washington, DC in 2005 to start my PhD.  There’s also some old (and not so old) winter coats a few pairs of shorts, including the plaid ones I compared to a kilt in an earlier post.  There’s a lot of memories in that pile.  The suit I wore for my first visit to Washington, DC, in 2004 is in that pile.  The suit I wore when I first met Stephen Harper a few days later is in there, too.  As are the suits I wore when I met Brian Mulroney (even the tuxedo for the dinner when we dedicated the building in his honour at St. Thomas University), the GG, countless other luminaries and, most importantly, friends.  Even the suit I wore for my PhD commencement less than two months ago made it in there.

The first task was to get them out of my apartment.  I had arranged with building security to have an elevator put on service.  Avril, one of the friendliest security guards you will ever meet, was worried I was leaving. “No, not leaving,” I replied, “It’s just going to look like it.”

My friend Christian Maillett, he of Bald Guy Running fame, offered to help with his car.  His first reaction to the size of the charity pile could be summed up with the letters “W”, “T” and “F”.  We first loaded everything in the elevator and brought it down to the service entrance from which we would load the car.

As you can see, we loaded it to the gunwales and, Wu Tang blasting from the car stereo, headed the Bank St. location for Moores, the scene of the crime.

 

 

 

 

We arrived at peak time at the store, but my regular sales lady, Liz, stopped everything to help us.  Pretty much everyone was agog at the amount of clothes coming in.  I brought so much in, they couldn’t count it all before Christian had to go pick up his wife from Yoga.  It’s not like we didn’t have another stop to make, too.  Back in the car and crank up the Wu Tang.  Ah, memories of the STU years.

I had a bag of clothes that didn’t fall into what Moore’s was looking for.  I actually bagged this stuff up before I began losing weight because it was stuff I just wasn’t wearing.  I looked around for a charity box to deposit the stuff in for months.  Finally found one on Isabella St. when I had to make a stop with cousin, Glen, a few weeks back.

Going

 

 

 

 

 

Going

 

 

 

 

Gone

 

 

 

 

 

And thus marks another milestone on this journey.  Big thanks to Christian for the help.

Allons-y!

Week 15 – Taking stock

April 22, 2011

This week’s weigh-in: 203 lbs

Weight Loss to date: 33 lbs

To Goal: 33 lbs

Thank you for your support, questions, coments, etc.  We’ve passed another big milestone, the halfway point.  Would have liked to have passed it a couple of weeks ago, but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts my own failings delayed this moment.  I don’t want to dwell on the negative, so let’s take stock of the victories to date:

The “infomercial picture”. Me in a pair of pants from a size 52 suit I bought in October last year.

Pretty much everything I own is too big.  For someone who prided himself on not looking like a fat slob despite the fact, let’s face it, he was a fat slob, this is a problem.  Using suspenders instead of a belt has gone from useful extension of life for my pants to making me look like a clown.  With a belt, though, I can’t stand up without having to pull up my pants.  I don’t event have to undo my pants to take them off anymore.  Just undo the belt and let gravity take care of the rest.

I’ve been doing some shopping to buy mostly office casual clothes since that what’s I’m wearing the most of right now.  I don’t want to spend too much because anything I buy now will probably not last me more than a season.  I just want to get through to fall before I do a wholesale wardrobe replacement.  Since my suits from Beyond the Rack haven’t arrived yet, I picked up a couple of slim fitting suits from Zara and some Docker’s from Moore’s.

The Dockers are size 36.

I’m going to repeat that:  The Dockers are size 36.

I think the last time I fit into a size 36 pant was high school.

The Zara suits are a size 46, but they’re a Euro slim style and based on EU sizes.  My North American suit size, as of my last measurement a couple of weeks ago,  is a 44.  I was at my peak at size 52 when I splurged on some suits in October, but down to 50 when I bought a couple of three pieces in December.  That’s down three sizes and I have a little over 30 lbs to go.

I bought a watch in November and had to have another link taken out of the band this weekend.  It was flopping around my wrist when I run.  The jingle jangle of the titanium band is rather annoying when your running a couple of km. Who would have thought that I would shed fat from my wrists? Not me.

Dress shirts aren’t much better, but I can’t be bothered to replace them yet.  Not wearing them enough to bother.  As I lose some of the older ones to wear and tear, I’ll just replace them with smaller ones.  I did buy a couple of “modern/slim fit” shirts late last year and even they are roomy, but at least they don’t look as bad as the traditional fit.

The dress shirts are actually an item that I thought would be relatively safe from this.  As my weight has gone up and down over the years, my neck size has remained a constant 17.5.  I’m also rather barrel-chested, a trait from my mother’s side of the family, I believe.  That my shirts are now too big has challenged another assumption about what I could achieve on this journey.  I’m starting to toss those notions in the trashcan in which they belong.

Now that I’ve passed the halfway point on my journey, I think I may look back on the first half and think it was the easy part.  Looking forward to getting below 200 lbs for the first time in years.

Allons-y!

Week 13 – This week 30, Next week halfway point

April 8, 2011

today’s weigh in –  206 lbs

Weight loss to date – 30 lbs

To goal – 33 lbs

Thanks for all the great comments and support from the previous entries.  For now, success has been a constant motivation, in and of itself, but as this journey continues slowdowns and setbacks will be inevietable.  Your support will be as essential to get me through the rough patches as it was to get me through the smooth ones.

As the title suggested, I reached another milestone this week.  A couple, actually.  The 30 lbs mark is the most obvious one, but there were a couple of others.

Those who saw Thursday morning’s status update know that the first batch of suits that I had Moore’s take the waists in are now too big for me.  It was a rather comical scene.  With the election on, the office dress code is business casual, but we were holding one of the few events we couldn’t cancel and I wanted  to wear a suit just in case I had to go in.  I buttoned my suspenders to my pants and pulled them on.

Unlike most people, I pull them up both legs at a time.  Deal with it.

As I’m tying my tie, I look down to see the waist of the pants hanging out … by a couple of inches.  Grabbed the next one in the closest.  Same.  Next one. Same. Finally one of my more recently altered suits fit.  Still big enough on me that I looked like a clown, but at least a well dressed clown.

I’m not going to bother seeing if they can be taken in any further.  Since I’m not having the jackets altered with the pants to save money, I’m just going to look goofier as I get smaller.  Even my dress shirts are big on me.  Regardless of the election results, Parliament will probably not sit again until June, at the earliest.  I already have some cheap suits on order so I should be able to get by until the fall before I start rebuilding my wardrobe.  Having these suits further altered seems rather pointless.  Into the charity bag, they go.

The other milestone is I ordered some new swimsuits.  The one I wear now is in good condition, but it’s getting too big.  By too big, I mean I’m having trouble keeping it around my waist while I’m actually swimming.  I swim after I do my cardio on the in-between days when I ‘m not with my personal trainer, about five times a week, so I beat the suits quite badly.  Sears had some on sale, so I figured it would be best to order more than one.  I now have two pairs of Speedos on the way.

No, not those kind of Speedos.  I’m in no danger of parading down a beach in a pair of walnut smugglers like a Quebecois retiree.  One pair is basically same boxer-style trunks I have now, except a size smaller. The other is a different style, skin tight with a shorter inseam.  Let’s call that pair … aspirational.

The training for the 5k continues at pace.  Doing 2  minute run, 1 minute walk sets.  Settling into a nice running pace.  Like most runners, I’m starting to hate the treadmill.  It feels weird now like I’m being propelled instead of doing the propelling.

Having my personal training session at 6:30 am and doing the Running Room program at 6:30 pm makes for one long ass day.  Having learned its a bad idea to eat before the run, I’ve modulated my feeding schedule on Wednesday so I won’t go into starvation mode by extending the time between meals.  Even with that adjustment, I need to grab a bite to eat almost immediately afterward or it might be 9 o’clock by the time I get home to cook something for myself.  Thankfully, there’s a nearby Subway where I can grab a salad with a double meat portion.

Like a lot of runners, I’m using my iPod when I run alone.  I’ve learned the hard way that my diverse music choices don’t necessarily make for great exercise music when I just put the pod on shuffle.  The programmers at Apple have also yet to take my suggestion of adding a time of year element to whatever program algorithim runs the shuffle function.  I love Christmas music … at Christmas time.  April, not so much.  (BTW, if you have the chance to catch the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Holiday Show, do it.)  I’ve done up a couple of playlists for a 30 minute run with a 5 minute cool-down:

Run 1:

  1. Agent Tex by Jeff Williams (from Episode Ten of the previous season of Red vs. Blue)
  2. Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J
  3. Mothership by Kid Beyond
  4. Cochise by Audioslave
  5. Lust for Life by Iggy Pop
  6. Suicidewinder by Ridley Bent
  7. Run this Town by Jay-Z

Cool down:

You are the Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne

Run 2:

  1. On to the Next One by Jay-Z
  2. Howlin’ for You by the Black Keys
  3. Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant
  4. Flathead by the Fratellis
  5. Faint by Linkin Park
  6. Run On by Moby
  7. Deny by Default
  8. Run (I’m a Natural Disaster) by Gnarls Barkley
  9. Sydney Steel by John Campbelljohn
  10. Ten Million Slaves by Otis Taylor
  11. Passion of the Night by the Brian Setzer Orchestra

Cool down:

Amazing Grace by the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Mostly up tempo rock and hip hop with some blues mixed in.  There’s probably a few head scratchers there.  Agent Tex is four minute version of the score from this episode of Red vs. Blue with some of the one-liners mixed in.  “What’s so hard to understand about swish, swish, death?”

I saw Ray LaMontagne at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival probably a decade ago when he was a nobody from Maine and have recently been reintroduced to his music by a friend.  This song is my current favourite of his.

Ten Million Slaves by Otis Taylor.  Banjo based blues music? If you saw Public Enemies with Johnny Depp or at least the commercials you know this song.  Saw Taylor perform this live at Ottawa’s Bluesfest in 2008.  Great song from an amazing album, Recapturing the Banjo.

Amazing Grace by the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  One of my favourite songs by a mass bagpipe band and military choir.  Can you think of a better way to end a run? No, didn’t think so.

Next week I should reach another milestone, the halfway mark.  The next half will be, in all likelihood, harder than the first half, but with your support I know success is assured.

Allons-y!

Week 12 – My Campaign

April 1, 2011

This Week: 209

Weight Loss to date: 27 lbs

Weight Loss to goal: 39 lbs

First, it’s time to take stock of my achievements so far.  Since I promised in the first note not to post any full body before shots, I’m going to use my work ID photos.  Being a contract employee, my security pass expires with my contract at the end of every fiscal year.  I don’t always get a new photo, but decided this year it might be a good idea.

The “before”. This was taken when I came back to the Senate in September 2009

.“In Progress”. March 29, 2011

I call the second one “In Progress” because “After” will be when I reach my goal.  It is far to early to declare mission accomplished in this battle.  When that happens, I’ll probably have to replace every piece of photo ID I have.

Speaking of battles, the last couple of weeks have taught me that my gains are like David Petraeus’ report to Congress on the Iraq Surge: tenuous, fragile, and reversible.  Went out a couple of times this weekend and pretty much drank double what I would normally have in beer.  My trainer calls beer “carb bombs”, to which I replied,”Car bombs? No, I just had a couple of pints of Guinness.”  Think I’m going to have to keep the beer down to my Friday happy hour two or just toss it altogether for the hard stuff.  I actually shed four pounds this week, but the first two were the two that I added between Friday and Monday.  Had I not had such wild swings last week and packed on two this weekend, I might have reached the halfway point this week.  Celebration delayed, but not denied.

As you may have guessed, there’s an election campaign going on here in Canada.  Being a recovering graduate student and a contractor, I’m rather constrained economically as to what I can do in this election.  Simply put, I would have to take an unpaid leave to work in any great capacity on a campaign this time around.  On the one hand, it sucks.  My friends are out there running for re-election, some trying to get in for the first time, and I’m practically a spectator.  Again.  This one is worse because I’m actually back in the country.  On the other hand, campaigns are really bad times to try stick to a fitness regimen.  You eat at odd hours and it’s usually junk.  Good luck finding time to get a workout in.  Candidates usually lose weight during campaigns because of all the door to door canvassing.  The volunteers usually pack it on from the junk stocked in the campaign office.

So my campaign will be the one I began in January.  Some of the lessons I’ve learned in politics both from my mentors and my own experience really does apply.  I’d share these lessons, but since my political experience and advice is pretty much my stock and trade, there’s no way I’m giving that away for free.  Like Rob Blagojevich said of Obama’s vacant Senate seat in Illinois, it’s a valuable thing.   Especially since I’ll need the money to replace the wardrobe when I get close in on my goal.  I’ll save it for my second career as a motivational speaker.

The training for the 5K continues.  This week was 10 sets of 1 minute runs with 1 minute walks.  It was also “buddy night” and I was quite happy to have a couple of friends join me.  Since I have a couple months of cardio in me before I started, I’m running a little faster than most of my group.  I wouldn’t be presumptious enough, though, to think I can train for this on my own.  It’s one thing to be fast 1 minute at a time, it’s another thing to keep that pace for 5 kilometres.

I’m gearing up, too.   Other than shoes and some Under Armour cold gear I bought for paintball years ago, I have no running gear.  I went ahead and bought a running jacket and a water bottle pack.  The water pack is self-explanatory.  I figure the Wednesday runs are late enough and the Sunday runs are early enough, it’ll be be quite cool for a couple of months during running time so the jacket will come in handy.

Here’s the punchline:  the jacket size is large.  Not extra-large.  Large.  Not extra, extra large.  Large.  It’s a little tight, mostly by design, but when I wear it, I look one of the X-men. Cyclops or Wolverine?  If I get around to posting a photo, you can decide.

One last thing on sizes.  I purchased some suits on BeyondtheRack.com.  They were on for $90, regular $300.  I’m going to need something for when I head to DC in May for commencement, but if Parliament comes back in June just to pass estimates and then break for the summer, I won’t be in any urgent need for office wear until the fall.  You may remember a status update where I bemoaned the fact that I didn’t know what size I currently am or what I size I would be by the time something from BTR was delivered in as much 3 weeks.  Since I had to pick up some pants at Moore’s a couple of weeks back, I asked my usual salesperson to measure me.  Two weeks ago, I was a  perfect size 46.  Since every 10 lbs lost s a size lower, I ordered size 44.  Worst case scenario, if they’re too small they can be let out.  I’m now down almost five suit sizes since I peaked at size 52.  An imperfect metric, but going in the right direction.

Allons-y!