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Making fitness a priority (and where the heck has Skatey-Mark been all this time?)

skatey-mark's picture

Hey everyone… Just thought I’d post something to explain the lack of messages from me lately… 2007 was a pretty rough year with regard to work. Early in the year, my job started demanding more and more time from me. This put a pretty serious cramp in my training, especially for the Montreal 24 hour race. Fortunately, I was able to do some “last minute cram training” and got to the point where I could do the event. However, it wasn’t long afterward that the job started sucking time away from everything else again. I consider myself very lucky that I have a girlfriend that was very understanding and accommodating of all the time spent working and training during the year. (Quite a refreshing change for me!)


Anyway, the job situation really hindered my training for the rest of the year. Tour to Tanglewood was really the first time I had skated any hills all year, and it showed! I muddled my way through A2A with some help from David, turning in a fairly mediocre time. But I finished, and that’s what really counts… :-)


It was around that time (actually a couple weeks earlier) that I quit my job of 14 years to go work for a startup company. That definitely did not help the training schedule! I was working even more hours, but fortunately the season was just about over. Of course, during all this time I struggled with my weight… All work and no exercise make Mark a fat boy! I never really got to take off the weight I put on over the previous year’s holiday season, so I was about 15 pounds heavy at the beginning of the year, and never really took it off. (You’d think all the training for the 24 hour race would have done it, but it didn’t…) In the fall, the weight really started to add up, with probably another 15 pounds but the end of the year… Close to my all-time highest weight…


At the end of the year I got another surprise – the startup company I was working for no longer had any money to pay my salary! So then began the frantic scramble to find another job just before Christmas. (Not a good time to be looking.) Fortunately, I did find something – a contract position that has really turned out to be very enjoyable. But it’s an hourly position which means I don’t get paid if I’m not working… So no holidays, sick time, etc. On the plus side, they don’t want me working much overtime, so it should be much easier to get out and skate…


Well, over the holidays I blew past my previous all-time-high and set a new record. Another 10 pounds… Not good. 2 weeks into January, I started going to the gym. (First as a guest, then finally found one close to my house to join.) At the point I started dieting and exercising again, I was 50 POUNDS heavier than I was just 18 months before (when I was in possibly the best shape of my life.) I cut out all the food and drinks that make life worth living, and the weight slowly started coming off. I lost 5-6 pounds in the first few weeks. But it was barely a dent. I figured drastic times called for drastic measures, so I bought some sessions with a personal trainer at my gym, and have been seeing him twice a week now. (I think it’s been 8 weeks now.)


We took measurements when I started, and repeated them just last week. So far, I’ve lost about 12 pounds and 5% body fat… This is really good for me, since my normal diet methodology ends up with me losing a lot of muscle mass. (It’s basically a starvation diet.) But the weight I’ve lost is pretty much all fat. In my two hourly sessions with my trainer, we do mostly weight training. After each session I do 45 minutes of cardio on the treadmill. I do one other day of weight training (plus cardio) on my own, and 2 days of cardio only (1.5 hours)… Throw 2 rest days in there, and that’s my week.


Once my weight/bodyfat gets down further, I’ll cut back on the hours at the gym. Of course, as the weather gets nicer, I’ll be able to replace some of my cardio time in the gym with skating outdoors too. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll see the trainer – I think I have maybe 4 or 5 more weeks paid for. It’s a bit pricey, but I am seeing good results. If I can lose another 5% bodyfat before my sessions run out, I’ll be very pleased! (I’ll probably still have another 4-5% to go after that though!)


Another thing I’ve been doing is getting up early to workout. It’s a lot harder for me to skip it that way. Many times, I’ll be working and be “in the middle of something” and that becomes an excuse to skip the workout. Now, though, my only excuse for skipping is laziness. I’m not a morning person AT ALL, so this was a monumental lifestyle change for me… But it ended up being the easiest way for me to squeeze more hours in the day.


In the end, what it came down to was I had to make fitness a priority in my life. Until then, my job and my girlfriend were my priorities and I didn’t think there was any time left in the day to devote to fitness. But, like most problems, there was a solution – I just had to make some changes I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. My two rest days are great because I get to sleep in… It would be nice to go back to my old ways, but I know what the consequences of that are.


The decision to start seeing the trainer was a tough one, but I’m glad I did it. It is certainly not cheap – but I asked myself “how much is my health worth?” I knew I could eventually get back in shape on my own, but this is making the process faster and safer/healthier. While I don’t get to eat or drink anything “fun”, I’m not starving myself… I’ve just cut out all the junk food basically. He also has me eating more often – 5 times a day, as compared to the 2 meals/day I was eating before. I’m still not used to that, but I’m getting there.


Things are still pretty busy, so I don’t know how often I’ll be able to post anything, but I’ll try to make some time every now and then. As for this post, I’m writing this on the plane as I fly out to Sunnyvale, CA for a business meeting. So I have several hours to kill, and didn’t feel like watching a movie or anything like that.


- SM -



skart's picture

The flipside...

Thanks for sharing, Mark! It is awesome to see the progress that you are making and I am looking forward to seeing you back on the road very soon! As for myself, I found myself on the other side of the fence... Over the winter I have been training quite a bit. I have been doing weights/plyometric gym sessions twice a week, skating track and road 2-3 times a week, biking 2 times a week and going to indoor speed practices twice a week. I would take one day a week off which would result in having two workouts a day quite often. I have ramped up my training a little bit more a few weeks before Squiggy (and before tapering before the race) hoping for even bigger fitness gains. I have to admit that I was pretty happy to set PB(s) in both one mile and 400 meters sprints on the track the week before the race. However, after analysing my heart rate data from the Squiggy race, I have realized that my maximum heart rate was 10 bpm lower than I saw last year... Unfortunately, this is a sign of me either overtraining or overreaching... I hope for the latter... I do not have psychological markers of overtraining (like depression) which makes me feel better. However, I will be taking the next few weeks really easy... I am taking this week completely off and will be re-introducing some cardio workouts back in slowly... Hopefully, by the time TRR rolls around, I am going to be back :-) Just the flip side of not doing enough - doing it too much :-)
MikeB's picture

Congrats on the gains.....

Not the gains in weight but the gains in fitness :-) From your solid dedication for fitness/health, I have a feeling you'll be more than ready to spread the knowledge on 3/29. That's coming up very quickly.
roadskater's picture

Thanks for the Time and Courage to Share Information, Challenges

Wow. Thanks for telling us what has been going on you guys training-wise. For me, the question of late has been, "Am I still too sick to skate?" Some days I wanted to go and instead I waited, glad I had done so, because just going out for drive-through hot'n'spicy vegetarian delight with steamed rice and hot and sour soup, as thrilling as it was, wore me out!

Today the sun is warm and sky blue but prudence told me to strap on the HRM and see if I learned anything from that (actually eebee suggested this, not knowing how to tell me my feelings for me). Well, my HRM said, "Is that 20 ounces of espresso missing from your cup or are you just happy to see me?" I resolved to putter about for awhile to see if the HR sank, as it was already at an easy skating pace as I stood on the porch in the sun...think about it...hmm...the great killer of workouts.

As sick as I was especially on one day, I have been intent upon not having any contact with anyone for as long as possible. However, I'm now at the point where I don't think I'm any danger of passing it on, and it's just a matter of whether my own recovery is better for waiting another day, or pushing myself to some exercise.

As one rarely sick, it is amazing how different life is. I really feel for those facing MS or some other chronic malaise. I need to bank these moments, remember how bad it was, when I'm out and free of it on the sunny roads of summer. And have some patience and actually feel it when someone says they hurt, especially those who hurt every day. And put in the extra effort for raising funds to help.

I have been craving the absolute spiciest food possible, and today those fresh jalapeños with seeds in them at Moe's are calling my name. Don't know if I'll even make it there. So maybe I'm not as spunky as I thought! I'm not much further self-aware than when I began typing, but the sun is lower! My resting HR has settled but is still high. Hmm. Maybe that left over hot and sour soup is just the kick I need. And I think it'll be another day before I test the skating!

Irrelevantly yours! roadskater

dtg's picture

Mark that is fantastic.

Mark that is fantastic. Keep up the great work! You accomplished an amazing amount in '07 - you should be proud!

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