Archive for the ‘tracking’ Category

Mocha Vegan Performance Podcast — episode #061

Planning for Success

Goal Definition and Creating a Plan.

Listen in to Episode #061 and MAKE YOUR PLAN TODAY!

MVP #061 – Half Marathon Emergency Plan

These notes are from last year (March 2013). One of the many tools that I brought into my toolbox was My Fitness Pal. 

I am loving this journey!  I am now consistently drinking 18 cups of water per day (6 of my water bottles).  I owe much of my consistency to the iPhone application My Fitness Pal.  It has a simple water cup tracker to help keep up with your hydration. It has a built-in bar code scanner now allows me to log things as I go, after the fact or even at the grocery store.

It is great.  I can actually scan items right at the grocery store and add them to my foods or a meal as zero servings and then put in what I actually eat when I do.  It is VERY convenient.  I enjoy weighing myself most mornings and understanding the body works on a cycle.  I also love that I can drink tons of water and it doesn’t stay with me.

2014 update:
What I eventually discovered was that I am most hydrated in the evening; that is typically when I weighed the most – after dinner / before bed. I figured out the daily cycle based upon weighing in at different times of the day when I was off work last year and in close proximity to a scale.


When I was regularly tracking my weight, I liked to use my morning weigh in after a bathroom break. I could measure without clothes, before I got dressed and it takes away many of the variables that provide uncertainty when tracking your weight. Things that leave doubt in your mind can steer you away from your goals. Find a private spot, weigh in naked and you eliminate the concern about whether your clothes weigh five pounds or a half pound; they are not a part of the equation.

I have learned so much. It helps to be a little obsessive about tracking what you are doing. What many people think is an unhealthy obsession can more aptly be termed LASER FOCUS.


By weighing in multiple times per day, at the same times each day, I discovered that you cannot rely on an individual weigh-in or snapshot to evaluate where you are in the process. My weight would fluctuate as many as SEVEN POUNDS during a single day or two.

Only by looking at weekly snapshots over several weeks can you see if you are trending up or down in weight.

Back to 2013:

My TapouT XT workouts 6 out of 7 days a week are extreme in their intensity and test my resolve, but the calories added to my daily food intake are worth the effort.  Plus the changes in my body are fun.  I am really starting to burn fat around the middle and I really didn’t think it was possible.  I had always just considered that the spare tire would remain no matter what I did…I guess I just hadn’t found the right thing yet.

Keep smiling,


Working Hard

I wrote this note last spring regarding how I was feeling trying to change my fitness level and overall health, entitled Day 20: I Wonder What They Think.

Last night was the 6th workout of my 3rd week in TapouT XT.  As I grunted and growled through Sprawl and Brawl on my garage floor, I thought of Monica Seles in a championship match and wondered who might be walking by outside.

I didn’t think it would happen.  I weighed in at 218.8 on day 1 and could barely limp downstairs since my right knee hurt so bad from the Pinnacle Peak run on Super Bowl Sunday morning with Craig.  218.8 pounds after a morning pit stop and wearing nothing but a sad look on my face.  I was still working my way through another crappy illness brought home for me from school by my kids.

The workout was a lesson in the ridiculous.


I struggled through the warm-up with my knee, but it complied eventually.  I don’t know how many times I exclaimed: “Seriously?!” during the workout while I tried to work past my still injured right shoulder and elbow and my general upper body weakness.

My push up(s) looked like I needed a Medic Alert necklace and someone to push the button for me.

I pressed on through the first workout.  My glimmer of hope rested in two things: I liked K-Train.  His approach appealed to me and there were portions of the workout that were designed to be more cardio than strength and, in these, I held my own.

I pledged to return for the second day looking forward to a challenging journey towards an eight pack stomach.  Seriously, is that really something ever proven visible in my family?  My equator measurement was 40.5″ that first morning.  How far towards the center of the earth will I have to go to find this mystical eight pack?  Must be WAY down there.

No more excuses.  Just honest effort and a LOT of sweat.

Through the first six workouts and onto the couch for my first rest day.  Seriously on the couch, bed rest-like, with my 9-year-old son home sick from school.  We watched Netflix and dozed a good portion of the day away while my wife, Lynn, home from her travels that day, entertained my 2 1/2-year-old, Michael.

The rest helped and the killer cold subsided gradually.  The family in general coughed less and I hit the second week with energy after seeing a half-inch slide off of my equator in a single week and feeling sore in places I didn’t know you could feel anything.

Think of how you could change things up in your daily routines.

Why do you think many diets or exercise plans fail? Yes, beyond the fact that quick fixes are not sustainable. Think about what happened that last time you started a diet or made a New Year’s Resolution. You start with an end in mind – perhaps a goal to “lose a few pounds” or to “become a distance runner” someday. Let’s start with diet:

The first day, you have a modest breakfast, a healthy lunch (or so you think) and what seems like a good dinner. And do so for a week. Yet, when you step on the scale the following week, you have actually gained a pound! What could have gone wrong? It IS hard to say. Perhaps your meals weren’t as modest as you thought. Since you weren’t previously a salad eater, that “healthy” salad may have been loaded with hard-boiled egg, bacon bits, cheese, meats, rich salad dressings that were calorie dense additions to those already delicious croutons on top.

What about the running / exercising approach as a resolution. Things always go well at first, don’t they? The gyms are notoriously packed the first half of January every year. Then there seems to be a slow dwindling of the people who arrive on a regular basis. Even getting a personal trainer is not a guarantee. Some people with less limited financial resources that me can retain a trainer for a long time as someone to hold them accountable for their efforts and progress. Let me try to save you some money and point you in the right direction.

Your first visit to a personal trainer – when they are interviewing to be your trainer (aka selling you a package of training sessions) will involve a tour of all of the types of equipment in the gym. Some of those with improper form might be pointed out, noting that you have to be careful not to do a certain thing so you do not hurt your back, etc. They sit down with you in a small office and ask about your goals. This is where they do something very valuable for you: They help identify what EXACTLY you hope to accomplish. You may want to lose or gain weight, become stronger, run faster, look good in your new gym clothes, who knows, but they will ask the right questions so that you COMMIT to a future version of yourself. The really good salespeople will help you visualize this new-and-improved version of you so that you don’t know how you’d possibly leave without signing up for their ongoing assistance. I’m not saying not to do this, because I learned a lot from Kevin when he helped me about ten years ago after I lost my first 50 pounds or so. He helped me understand how to do things beyond the equipment.

If your budget doesn’t allow for such a thing, there are endless other options, but they all involve one common thing: TRACKING. Tracking just means keeping score consistently so that you can make course corrections and keep your efforts moving you towards your goal or goals. In order to know where you’re heading, you goal should be SMART. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive goals.

Here’s how it works: You goal should be specific, i.e. “I want to lose twenty pounds in five months.” You have said how much weight you want to lose, good. Not just identifying that you want to thin down a little. This goal is also measurable because you could do weekly weigh-ins and see if you are moving forward. For the goal to be achievable, that is subjective, but you will know (in your heart of hearts) if you are setting the bar too high. Remember that extreme behavior shifts are typically very difficult to sustain in the long run. Most diets that exclude certain types of food or severely restrict calories ultimately result in the weight coming back. Take small positive steps by tracking your food intake and just looking to see what things that you normally eat may be causing you to maintain a higher than healthy weight. I remember Coca-Cola being the first thing to go when I tried WW on-line. It became OBVIOUS that this was something with no nutritional value that simply added calories to my day.

Make sure your goal is relevant. If your goal is something you don’t really care about, you won’t try hard to reach it. You have to feel the need for the goal, to have a strong reason WHY you are seeking the goal in the first place. And, finally, time-sensitivity is critical to goal-setting. I’ve been down this road many times in the past. I want to lose some weight. Ugh. Let’s go back to 20 pounds in five months or 20 pounds in a year. Once you set a reasonable, attainable, period of time it becomes math and common sense to make an actionable plan.

Let’s say my goal IS to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks for the sake of keeping it simple. That would be losing one pound each week. Whoa, that sounds too scary, so I am going to say 10 pounds in 20 weeks. That means you would lose one pound in two weeks. And, like I touch on earlier, tracking what you eat with a food journal or an app or website like My Fitness Pal, can help you identify trouble spots and evaluate progress. My Fitness Pal (MFP) helps you calculate how many calories to eat to reach this goal. Here’s how it works: One pound is created when you eat an extra 3,500 calories – calories in addition to what your body requires to function based upon your size, gender and activity level. The same works in reverse. Once you have eaten 3,500 calories less than your body requires, you will lose one pound. If your goal is to lose a pound in two weeks (14 days), simply divide 3,500 calories by 14 days to reach a daily deficit of 250 calories. Even without tracking you might quickly decide that the Coke and handful of candy that you have during your workday might be adding up to 250 calories. And, if you could simply replace that soda with water and pass on the candy…it can be that simple. Habits are tricky things.

It is always good to consult with your doctor before changing your diet or exercise patterns. Please do not try to match numbers with the weight loss shows on television like Biggest Loser. These are unhealthy endeavors and the contestants are very closely monitored in a closed environment in most cases.

Track your food if you want to lose weight. You will see patterns. Track your runs if you want to run a distance race. Just make sure that your define your goals as S.M.A.R.T. goals so that you can make a plan that measures (tracks) your progress towards your goal.

A couple of resource links that I used to help for weight loss and/or training for a race:

My Fitness Pal There are great community forums here. I am phipps3113 on MFP.

ONTRI This website guided me through training for my first half marathon in 2004, my first marathon and my first few triathlons. They have free or paid plans. I always used the free ones. There are great forums with lots of people willing to help, just like on MFP. This gives you a place to log what you accomplish so you can see how you are doing.

Please tell me what your goals are. Goals in your head are just fantasies. Get it in writing, make yourself accountable by telling the world. If you aren’t ready to tell everyone, send a message just to me. I’d be happy to help.