Sunday, April 10, 2011

Progress on health and fitness

Okay, first night with weights. Very simple, and very low weight, but I'm basically starting from scratch again. Better safe than sorry!


So, I've got two adjustable dumbbells at 20lbs each, and two plain dumbbells at 15lbs each. Given that I can't even get my 16k kettlebell (about 35lbs) up to do even start Turkish half-get up? Yeah, starting lower. Much lower. I'll need to see if we have enough plates to make it 25lbs or even 30lbs in the future - I do know we've got some big ones (25lb plates), but that'll be a while from now before I can use those.


I would like to find an Olympic bar for bench presses, but so far the stores I've seen only have standards. While the exercise machine/station thing has a bench press function, I'd much rather use free weights than that. More natural. I'll also do deadlifts with it, but first things first. I will likely use my kettlebell for weighted face-the-wall squats in the meantime.


Need to fire up the 360 at some point - the EA Sports Active 2 is fun for aerobic work :)


I'm a bit excited about things - thanks to reminding and pushing from friends, family and my doctor, I've been able to make some pretty positive changes to my lifestyle and health. I don't think I'll be looking like Jason Statham or Pavel Tatsouline anytime soon, but within the next five years I want to look, feel and be healthier, fitter and more attractive than I have the past 30+ years.

Weight Watchers has been a tremendous help with my diet, and I've been working on integrating some of Body For Life's eating style into how I do things (ie, smaller, more frequent meals). If nothing else, its helped me avoid the after lunch "I need a nap" feeling from scarfing down too much at once. My cholesterol is good, my blood sugar is nearly normal (5.9% on a non-fasting AC1), and I’m feeling better overall.


Actually, having plans helps me a lot. For diet I've got Weight Watchers, and for execise I'll be going with Pavel's Power To The People, which is relatively simple. Can't do it exactly for now, but that's what improvisation is for. The biggest thing is it gives me something to look at and follow. In the past I've always tried to do it by myself, figure it out myself, and it can be pretty daunting, thus easier to bomb out of.


So, yeah, progress is good! Smile

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bought local

A few days ago I was having to decide between buying my Myoplex locally from GNC versus buying online for $10 less. Well, I made my choice, and went locally. I had a quick stop to Queen Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center, walked to GNC, presented my Gold card, and got the $50 box for just under $42, including tax. That’s a work-month worth of meals at about $2.10 per serving, which isn’t too bad.

Having thought about it a bit more, I did think of some other benefits to having bought it locally.
  • By spending it here, I paid local sales tax.
  • The business itself pays local taxes.
  • The employees will get more money (I’ve heard GNC has commissions), so that’s income tax plus them spending money, which will be sales tax.

With tourism still recovering plus the expectation that Japanese visitors will be declining in number while they rebuild, that’s important right now. The state and county definitely need the money. While I’m not a fan of everything the government does (federal, state or local), there are things my taxes pay for that I am thankful for, if not appreciative of.

Likewise, the better off my local community is the better! The more and better non-tourism jobs that are available, the happier I and others will be. While its not likely we’ll ever stop depending on tourism as a major source of income for the state, buying local helps other job and career options more viable.

Will I buy locally 100% of the time? No. Maybe I could do that on ‘Oahu, but not on Maui. But I have to say I’m a bit happier to do it now than before. There's more to a purchase than getting the lowest price, it seems.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Buying local: rubber meeting the road.

One of the things I've been trying to do over the past few years is, when I can, to buy stuff locally. Even if I buy something from a national retail chain, I know that some of that money stays here and contributes towards the local economy. There are exceptions to this, of course, but overall I've tried to keep to that.

Right now I've got a case where I need to choose, though. The local GNC sells EAS' Myoplex Lite for $50. After my Gold Card discount that'll be $40 plus tax, so $41.67 total. At 20 packets/meals a box (enough for four working weeks), I'm paying $2.09 per shake.

But if I went through Amazon and subscribe to it (ie, they will automatically ship me more every month), I can get it for $30. They claim no shipping, so if that's true? That'll be $1.50 per shake and over a $11 per box. Over the course of a year I'd save close to $150.

So, the question is, what is that difference in price buying me? Like everyone else, I'm wanting to make sure I get a good value for my dollar. But what else is there besides the product itself?

  • Buying locally means more money for the workers at GNC (I've been told they're on commission), and for the GNC itself. I've worked in retail and know plenty of other folks who have and still do, so payroll is a big thing.
  • The GNC occupies a storefront in the local shopping center, paying rent. Should a store lose traffic or even close, the lowered amount of customer traffic can affect the other businesses (stores and restaurants) in the mall. Notice that most malls try to have at least one "anchor" business that can pull in people in hopes they'll go to other shops?
  • Since its already here, there's no more shipping stuff. Also, Amazon can sometimes over-package things - that's more junk and clutter in the house until it ends up in the landfill.
And yet, that $10 saved can go to more whole foods like apples, tangerines, oatmeal, etc., which I will have to buy locally. I'm not foolish enough to think that they'll be selling those at cost, but I'm sure the profit per transaction will be much lower than the Myoplex. Also, with the price of fuel going up, I might have to up my gas budget in then new future.

Decisions, decisions...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meal preparedness.

There’s an old saying, “he who fails to plan, plans to fail.” No idea who said it, but its certainly true enough. I’m sure its tossed around for great and grand ambitions, a golden brick of advice for the next Donald Trump or Colin Powell. For me, on the other hand, its very down to earth, and is something I’ve been trying to implement with my weight loss.

I’ve been on Weight Watchers for about eight months now, and have lost 14.4lbs thus far. While not as impressive as the latest fad diet, that’s a steady 1.8lbs a month average, and a healthy rate of loss. That, combined with increased physical activity (thank you to everyone who worked on EA Sports Active 2 for the 360/Kinect) has been very good for me, even getting my blood sugar own!
One thing I’ve had to deal with is the simple fact that if I don’t prepare my lunches ahead of time, like the night before, I am very likely to cheat. I’ve eaten at Jack in the Box more than a few times wondering, “why can’t I quit you?” It slows down my progress and honestly isn’t that great for my wallet, either.

So, after putting some weight back on, I got juiced up again to get back on track. After dinner is done, I’ve been taking the leftovers and preparing my lunch then and there, adding in some veggies to help make it more filling without adding Points. Bagging some fruit means I’ve got snacks ready, too. On top of that I’ll get my breakfast ready ahead of time – putting oatmeal in a bowl along with some water means all I have to do is microwave it in the morning – nothing to think about, nothing to worry about, its just there.

A recent trip to GNC resulted in me buying a bottle of their Total Lean 25 shake. It tastes okay (chocolate), is fairly nutritious, and helps me keep on course. It makes a nice “dessert” for my lunch. I picked up a nice shaker bottle from Vitamin World that works wonderfully – a screw on bottom holds the powder until I’m ready to make the shake. From there its fill with water, add powder, then shake. Everything mixes well and I’ve got a nice, pre-measured boost to my lunch.

I remember back when I was in Georgia using Myoplex Lite and really enjoying that. Even have used generic diet shakes in the past as well. I think that's one thing I can readily recommend for guys - look into meal replacement shakes. They're expensive up front, but per-serving they're cheaper than fast food meals, you're getting good nutrition, they're quick, and you know exactly what you've got. If you've got a store that sells them by the packet, get a bunch and try them out. There's no sense in buying something purely based on the nutritional label if you can't bring yourself to actually drink it!

Mind you, have real food too. You need the fiber, the bulk, and honestly real food is more satisfying to eat with all those flavors and textures. But a shake is a lot better (and cheaper) than a McDonald's combo meal in the long-run!