No Jolt January

I discuss my 30-day challenge for January where I gave up soda and juice, turning instead to tea and water. I look back over my ties to soda and my reliance on caffeine over the years.

I remember as a kid helping dad with his computer work for clients. We were the Geek Squad before Best Buy launched them as their tech support squad. I did all sorts of stuff, from building computers, to updating software, to even helping him pull networking cable. One of my favorite places for us to go do work was for a PR agency in Orlando which kept a fully stocked fridge of sodas. We had permission to raid their fridge when we were there working after hours.

Soda was just a drink to me for much of my life, almost the same as water, milk and juice. It was omnipresent at home, at school, and at work. College was when it reached a new level for me. I kept a 24 pack of Dr. Pepper next to my desk for easy access and endless drinking. I didn’t even refrigerate them, I’d just drink them warm because, well, caffeine. And also because Dr. Pepper is delicious warm (it was originally a hot drink.)

caffeineCaffeine is a powerful drug, and a crutch for many computer people. When plugged into a world which is always awake and there’s always a new door to go through, it’s very hard to find the strength to walk away and crawl into bed. So we end up clicking just one more link, or playing one more level, or chatting with one more person. And then in the morning we turn to our friendly copiously available friend: caffeine.

Well I had had enough of that, so for all of January I committed to a 30-day challenge that I called ‘No Jolt January’ devoted to purging my caffeine and soda addiction. Now, as I explained in my initial Facebook post: the goal wasn’t to avoid all caffeine – it was to avoid all soda which, since I don’t drink coffee, would dramatically cut my caffeine intake.

Now, last year I was not a ‘bad’ caffeine addict when compared to where I used to be. I had kept it to just a few diet sodas a day, but even as a limited intake it is very bad for you. Consider replacing that diet soda with just a glass of water, neither has calories, but water is just better for you: it hydrates better and doesn’t have any of the extra crap the soda does.

During my first programming gig we followed the simple methodology: “Caffeine is good. More caffeine is better.” We went out to lunch everyday and on the way back from lunch we always stopped by a convenience store. Everyday. And everyday I got a Red Bull or some other energy drink. Sometimes two. Because that was what was done.

This caffeine consumption continued, especially while I was hustling on ManaNation / GatheringMagic. I’d be up until 2 or 3 in the morning finishing an episode or editing articles before crashing for a few hours and getting up for my day job. When I went to work for CoolStuffinc, the office was right next to a 7/11 and I was quick to get an energy drink and doughnut in the morning, thus continuing the trend and addiction.

Caffeine is an addiction. You come to rely on it even when you get a good night’s sleep. And because there aren’t deaths tied to the caffeine addiction, it continues rampant and unchecked.

So, even though I had weaned back in the past year, I still had an addiction and I wanted to break those shackles. So… No Jolt January was born.

31 days without a drop of soda. The only caffeine I had was on three occasions where I had a cup of caffeinated tea. My caffeine headaches faded in just five days and after that it was simply a matter of determination. Even though I had passed through the worst of it, the years of advertising still embedded themselves in my head and I continually had urges to get a soda. I’d walk by a soda machine and think how good a Dr. Pepper would taste. At restaurants I would open my mouth to order a soda and then have to stop myself to ask for water. It was a constant battle.

I also added to this month that I would cut out juice. Why? Juice is healthy right? Well, sort of. It’s better than soda but worse than water. The majority of what you get from fruit is in the fiber and the chewy bits you get from eating the actual fruit. Also, most mass produced juice has extra additives, vitamins and sometimes sugar. So you have to make sure the juice is just juice. So, I largely cut juice out to ensure that I would drink just that much more water.

Well, over the course of January I lost a net result of 10 lbs, going from 285 down to 275. Part of that was obviously my working out and running, but its also the biggest amount of weight lost over 30 days during my march towards becoming a healthy Patrick. I attribute some of that success to No Jolt January.

So what now?

I don’t plan to drink soda again, I might have one on special occasions but I don’t need soda to function. So it is a treat for special occasions. For February I begin a new 30 day challenge: “Flexibility February,” which will be largely focused around yoga and just generally working to be more… bendy.

This post’s cover photo comes from Flickr photographer: Roadsidepictures.

30 Days of Miles

A look at my experiment in November of running a mile every day examining the weight loss and some of the events that happened during the month.

I started November calling it RuMiDaMo as a play on NaNoWriMo but after a week or so I dropped the name and just shared tweets and Facebook posts about my daily runs. What I expected was a decline in response and interest by my friends, I thought people would start tuning the posts out as they began going “There goes Trick again, going for another run.” What I found though was that while a few would tune me out, others would follow along, celebrating each milestone and victory right there with me. In fact, a handful would be inspired to launch their own month challenges, much like how I was originally inspired by Google’s Matt Cutts.

So, for everyday of November, I ran a mile. I did this using treadmills available to me, I never ran a mile on pavement outside. And I did this for a few reasons:

  1. I had to limit my excuses. If I was going to run outside, then I needed the weather to cooperate and Seattle is not exactly known for ideal running weather.
  2. I had to limit my risk of injury. Treadmills are less exercise than running on pavement because the ground is always perfectly flat. Your foot is never surprised by a rock or a shift in the pavement. And for this month, that was ideal because I was scared of not finishing my 30 days.
  3. I had never run like this before, so I needed to minimize variables. This wasn’t a lab test, but I wanted to do the same thing for 30 days, not find new running routes or test my limits beyond the scope I laid out.

So, for thirty days, I faithfully made my way to a gym either at home, at the office, or in a hotel, and I knocked out a mile run with a warm-up and cool-down period. As much as I maintained the status quo for 30 days, there were a few deviations or changes worth noting:

Longest distance run: 1.5 miles (see below)

The second day of the month I got overambitious and decided to run a mile and a half, which I was able to do. But I paid for it as I slowed down my pace for the next three days to ensure I didn’t overdo it and have to stop early on my challenge. But I know I could do 1.5 miles then, so I had to wonder after 30 days how far I could run. This was really a big thing because it became a constant struggle for the next four weeks to hold myself to my mission of a mile a day. Discovering a new personal best wasn’t worth, at the time, putting the 30 day streak at risk.

Best mile: 10:10 (5.9 mph)

For my final daily run I pushed myself and cranked out a respectable 10:10 mile which ended with me doing 7 mph for the final 1/8th of a mile, compared to my slow and steady 5.5 mph which I use for most of my runs, 7 mph felt blistering and left me gasping for air as I crossed the finish.

Most snafus: 3

In one run I had the following happen: shoelace came untied, accidental stop button trigger, and phone dropped onto treadmill. I had to stop the run three times to rectify these, but I faithfully made sure I hit my mile without issue, padding the distance a little to allow for the time it took the treadmill to come back up to speed.

Starting Weight: 295.4 lbs

Prior to my first run, I weighed in at 295.4 lbs. I wasn’t going into this with the intent goal of burning calories, but I was curious to see what effect it had on weight loss.

Finishing Weight: 284.4 lbs

Despite a work trip which caused me to regain some lost weight, and this month having the holiday of gluttony, my first weigh in after my 30th run put my weight loss at 11 lbs for the month. Not too shabby!

 

So what’s next? People wanted to know if I was going to continue running everyday, or if I was going to run further, etc. And the answer is that I happily took December 1st off of exercising. My plan is to continue to run, though I’ll be running further and thus taking days off to rest and not overwork my muscles. I’ll also be adding in weights again, probably in the form of some kettlebell exercises. But, who knows, we’ll see! I still have a fair bit more weight to lose until I’m happy, so the trek continues.

Now it just has more running in it.

Update: After a weekend of rest, I went for a run yesterday and churned out two miles. The longest I’ve ever done and, honestly, longer than I ever thought I would do. Don’t get me wrong, it was a really difficult run, and I won’t be pushing past that distance for a bit.

#RuMiDaMo

It was roughly four months ago when I discovered that my fitness level had reached the point where I could run a mile without stopping. That was a major achievement for me, and it represented an achievement so large that I ended up, slacking off, and idling in my life changing and weightless.

Enter November. The month of amateur novel writing, unshaven heathen, and turkeys. And now running a mile every day.

This month I will be hitting the gym and running at least a mile everyday for the entire month. I figure if Dean Karnazes can run a marathon every day for 50 days, I can do some hard-to-find fraction of the work and do a mile a day.

I posted about it largely as a joke, giving it the name “TriRuMiDaMo” (Trick-Runs-a-Mile-Daily-Month) to spoof NaNoWriMo, and after a few people responded that they liked the idea and were going to join in, I have officially renamed it “RuMiDaMo” (Run-a-Mile-Daily-Month.)

This also represents the first time that running has been a major part of my weightloss. Sure I’ve done it some, but never more than 2-3 times a week. So we will see how this impacts my body!

I’ll post back once I finish the month and let you all know how I do!

//Trick

P.S. – Apparently yesterday, Steve over at Nerd Fitness posted about walking everyday. GMTA it seems!