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Fitness at 47

I just turned 47 years old. When it dawned on me, the other day, that I’m now closer to 50 than to 40, it kind of depressed me. I’m not ready to see 50 years old coming. This isn’t right. I can’t be getting this old. I’m not done with my 20s, yet.

Since my 46th birthday, last July, I determined I wanted to bulk up with just a little more muscle. I didn’t want to get all bodybuilder “swole”; I just wanted a little more meat on my frame. So over the fall and winter, I did my P90X regimen, including the weight lifting, and I increased my caloric intake, (especially protein). Come springtime, I had put on 10 pounds.

With the arrival of spring, I started cutting back on the calories, and started doing more cardio, including running. (I don’t like running in the winter cold; I only run in the warm seasons.) I knew I’d finally have my six-pack abs for my 47th birthday.

As the pounds melted away, I was disappointed to learn that apparently the 10 pounds I had put on during my “bulking” phase was not muscle. Come to this birthday, my weight was back to exactly what it was last year, and my body looks exactly the same as it has since I originally accomplished my fitness challenge. I mean, exactly:

P90X Insanity Results 47 year old body

Apologies for the poor focus :-(

It’s frustrating. I wanted just a little more muscle size, and just a little less fat layer. I worked damn hard this year — just as hard, (and I thought, smarter), as I have any year since I started this effort to get super fit. I’m not saying I’m unhappy with my fitness level. Nor am I complaining about being “skinny.” This is not a whining post. I’m just relating information from my experience.

Getting six-packs abs is hard. I’ve done extreme exercise at least an hour a day, six days a week, for four years. I’ve carefully watched my nutrition, counting every calorie I’ve ingested. And still I haven’t been able to resolve that last thin layer of fat that would reveal well defined abs. I’m not unhappy with my results, at all, but I really was hoping and working hard to get the visible six-pack.

Anyway, even without getting the sharply defined six-pack, being fit is awesome, (compared to how I was before). And I’ve learned some things about the human body’s physiology and biology that I didn’t know before. Or, rather, that I didn’t really, truly understand — *get* — until going through this effort. Here are some things I’ve learned about a body that I didn’t truly realize until experiencing it for myself:

  • My body can vary up to 3-4 pounds in weight in one day, from morning to evening. I’ve “lost” 3 pounds while sleeping over night. And then “found” them again the next evening. This is why you should weigh yourself always at the same time, only in the morning. Sure, I know I’m eating food all day, and that’s adding weight into my body, but it’s weird to have it seemingly just “evaporate” while sleeping for 8 hours.
  • I get cold easier without the body fat to insulate my internal temperature. I didn’t appreciate how well fat really does keep warmth contained.
  • I can feel my wallet in the back pocket of my jeans when I sit down. And sitting on chairs or bleachers without a cushion is very uncomfortable. This is something you’d think would be subtle only, but it actually is very noticeable, and a bit annoying if you’re used to a nice cushiony buttocks.
  • Clothes fit so much better on a skinny/lean body. This is something I’m sure everyone knows is obvious, but it’s even more important than I expected. Everything is just more comfortable.
  • And finally, when you realize just how hard and long you have to exercise to burn off calories, (like by using a heart rate monitor), it gets easier to say no to dessert and unnecessary foods. Knowing that doughnut will require 30-40 minutes of really hard work, (not just a walk around the neighborhood), helps keep a diet.

So, this is my traditional annual birthday/fitness update post. I’m maintaining my level, and I’m still very happy with how I’ve handled my mid-life crisis. Now if I can just keep this up while the big 5-0 grows larger on the horizon, maybe the half-century mark won’t hit me so hard.



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Burning Calories

A few weeks ago I bought a heart rate sensor to calculate my calories burned during workouts. It’s a Polar H6 with Bluetooth connection that works through a (free) app on my iPhone. Now this isn’t a advertisement, or even a review for this particular item. Though I love it, and it works great, it’s the only one I’ve really used extensively, so I can’t honestly compare it to any other brand.

It monitors my heart rate, calculates the calories I burn while exercising, and even tracks the distance and speed I’ve run by GPS. This thing has opened up a whole new aspect of fitness for me. It lets me see exactly how well I’m doing with every workout, whether lifting weights in my den or running laps around the lake trail. This, coupled with my 4-year routine of counting every calorie I eat, is helping me take my fitness to the next level. I wish I had gotten this a couple or more years ago.

With this, I’ve learned that my P90X and Insanity workouts burn from 400 to 600 calories per routine (40-60 minutes). An hour of running (with some walking here and there during) burns 750-800 calories. Just yesterday, Saturday, I ran around the lake trail 3 times, for a total of 7.25 miles over 86 minutes, and burned a whopping 1120 calories.

Running Calories

That evening I also did a core/abs workout routine for another 500 calories. That’s over 1600 calories burned in one day! This is the most I’ve managed in one day. Second biggest daily burn, (a week ago), was just over 1,000, and third place, (two weeks ago), was just over 800. I don’t think I could manage, (read: survive), more work in one day, though I am curious to try some time.

Seeing these numbers really helps with motivation. I often find myself pushing just a little harder or a little longer to reach a calorie burn milestone. Knowing I managed to work off that damn ice cream dessert I shouldn’t have had helps settle my mind. Granted, it would be better to know I’m burning off some of that fat over my six pack abs, (which I’m trying hard to reveal), instead of burning off just that stupid diet mistake/failure. But at least I know exactly how much I’m burning. The numbers support how hard I’m physically working with my exercise regimen.

If you are trying to exercise to get fit, a heart rate sensor/calculator is a great addition to whatever gear you use. I’d say a sensor/calculator is as important as any dumbbell or sneakers you might buy. I’m totally hooked on mine, and I can’t imagine working out without it counting my work for me. It is now an indispensable piece of exercise equipment for me.



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An Unusual, but Calm Saturday

Friday night, Calfgrit13 went to an overnight “lock in” at Adventure Landing with a friend’s church group. His friend’s family picked him up from here at home after 8pm, and he spent the entire night playing laser tag, video games, driving go-carts, and generally doing anything to keep from falling asleep. Although CG13 says he did sleep for about an hour, in a chair, laying his head on a pillow on a table.

Saturday, Wifegrit had to work, so she got out of bed at 5:30, ate breakfast in the kitchen, took a shower, got dressed, and headed out to the hospital for her 12 hour shift in the mother/baby unit.

Calfgrit9 woke up before 7:00, came into our bedroom to let me know he was up, and then went down the kitchen to eat breakfast. I just continued to lay in bed for a while, until CG13 got home at about 7:30.

CG13 was tired, but happy from a night of fun. That was his first all-nighter. He has been to, and had, sleep-overs with friends before, but usually they do end up sleeping at least some of the night. As soon as he got upstairs, I put him right to bed. And he fell right to sleep.

This Saturday was a make-up school day for one of the snow days they had off earlier in the year. But we were letting CG13 skip this so he could participate in the lock-in Friday night, and sleep in Saturday. CG9, though, was going to school. So we got his stuff together in his backpack.

To kill some time until time to go, we shot some basketballs in our driveway. We have the basket up at the official 10′ height, so CG9 has to really get his whole body into every shot, and he does a pretty good job. He misses as much as he makes, but that’s pretty good for someone only 4′ tall and about 60 pounds.

At 8:45, I walked the little guy to school and wished him a fun time. It’d be only a half day, so I’d pick up at 12:35.

After that, I thought I’d get out and run an errand while CG13 continued to sleep. I went to Target and picked up a couple of items, and went to IHOP for a waffle breakfast. Then I went back to a quiet house. Perfect opportunity for a little personal quiet time. A mid-morning nap is a wonderful thing.

My phone alarm woke me up at noon. I got up, stretched, checked on CG13, (still sleeping), straightened up the kitchen, then headed out to walk to the school.

At the school, I stood out in the grassy “walkers’ point” with many other parents and waited for the bell to ring and the kids to be let out. I chatted with the dad of CG9’s friend for a bit, and then the kids came out. CG9 had a good day, and we talked about it on the walk back home.

CG13 had a trumpet practice at 1:30, so I had to wake him up before 1:00. We picked up lunch at a drive through on the way to the music school and ate it in my truck. CG9 and I sat through CG13’s practice, and then we all headed back home.

Trumpet Practice

CG9 was anxious to get out and play with his neighborhood friends, and CG13 was wanting to just hang out alone in the house. He was still tired from the long night awake. And I was thinking about going for an afternoon run around the park lake behind our house.

At home, CG13 went up to his room. CG9 took their cell phone and went across the street to play with friends. And I changed into my running clothes. I stuck my head in CG13’s door to tell him I was going out running. I called CG9 on his phone to let him know, too. Then I took off.

Park Lake

The sun was warm, the air was fresh, and I ran and ran and ran, (with a couple of walk breaks, too). I ended up going for over an hour, [brag]burning 983 calories[/brag], according to my heart rate monitor. I wanted to keep going, to break through 1,000 calories, but CG9 wanted to bring his friends inside our house for a board game. (They can’t have friends inside the house unless there is a parent inside, also.) So I ended my run and let the boys inside.

While I had been out running, Wifegrit called to say she was getting off work early. Yay! She ran an errand right after and then came home. When she got here, we hung out a bit, sitting on the front porch, talking. Then we went inside and I made chicken and stuffing for dinner. We had a nice meal at the kitchen table. Afterward, the boys and I played an hour of Minecraft — I created a new survival server, and we had a big ball together.

Then we herded the boys into their showers. When they were finished, Wifegrit took over getting them into bed while I took my own shower. Yes, I had been a bit post-run stinky for a couple hours by this point. Such happens sometimes when one thing happens right after another during a family day. But I was all clean and fresh for bedtime.

Although it had been a very unusual Saturday, what with one boy sleeping in half the day, the other going to school, the wife working part of the day, and me getting over an hour of free running time, but it was a pretty good day. A pretty good day.


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Official Rugged Maniac Photos

Having referred to my running the Rugged Maniac obstacle run in my previous post, I just realized that I never posted my official photos from the race.

Near the end of the run, there is a fire obstacle — a line of burning wood you have to leap over. You can feel the heat as you pass over it, but it’s the smoke and fumes coming up at you as you’re breathing heavy from the run that gets you.

Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac


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