A before and after photo of my weight loss journey.
Exercise, Running

Fit at 40… Before and After a 30 Pound Weight Loss

This post serves as a marker for my weight loss journey as I say goodbye to my 30s and say hello to my 40s. Regular readers, friends and family will note that I’ve been running and doing pull-ups like a madman over the past 8-9 months.

At my heaviest, I weighed 166 pounds. Before, I used to joke with Rae that I had a 5-point Photoshop stroke of blubber around my body. I told her that the lean, muscular Adam was always there, but he was hidden and waiting for the right moment to reveal himself. The shock on the scale, some poor health markers and the impending arrival of our son signaled to me that the time was now to get back into championship form.

As you can see, the hard work has paid off, and the difference in body composition is dramatic. Today, I weighed in at 136.8 pounds.

I might be pushing out the gut out a little bit in the before image, but the stomach had definitely gotten a little paunchy. It's in a much flatter state now!

From the side: I might be pushing it out a little bit in the before image, but the stomach had gotten paunchy. It’s much flatter now!

The photo above shows me at two points in time: January 13, 2013 and March 9, 2015. In the first photo, I had just finished a 14.10 mile run that took at 2:28:49 at an average pace of 10:33. My most recent long run of 13.26 miles was completed on February 28, 2015, in 1:42:05 at an average page of 7:44/mile. That’s an improvement of 2:49 seconds per mile over two years. The second photo was taken this morning after a moderate 5K around my neighborhood (last two miles under 7:00/mile). Following my run, I reached 21 consecutive pull-ups for the first time. My goal of getting to 25 this year is within reach!

Strava Matched Runs feature shows a steady improvement along my regular running route.

Strava Matched Runs feature shows a steady improvement along my regular running route.

I feel more fit today than I have in fifteen years. My running times have steadily improved, pull-ups strength has increased, the waistline has shrunk from 34 inches to 28.5 inches, and my health markers are looking good. The 30 pounds of blubber have disappeared and the body that I want has revealed itself. That paunchy one pack I was sporting has now turned into a six pack (with the eight pack just starting to appear). The legs which were strong yet stumpy looking are now much more defined and lean.

There is still room for improvement. I’m looking forward to achieving (at least once) a sub-20 minute 5K, a sub-1:40 half marathon, and I’ve got four more pull-ups to get to my goal of 25 consecutive pull-ups. There’s a little fat around the midsection that I see when I sit down that I’d like to get rid of. Melting that away will help me reach all of the above goals. Finally, I’d like to be able to maintain this healthy weight and lifestyle for the foreseeable future. As a new father, I’ve got to be around for my kid over the long haul.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your kids! You can do it!

Do it for yourself. Do it for your kids! You can do it!

40 is a big milestone year for me. I’m happy that I’ve been able to turn back the clock such that I feel like I’m in my twenties again. I achieved my weight loss primarily through running, pull-ups and portion control and did not use any magic pills, special diets or gym memberships. I still eat what I want to do — I just try to eat less of what I like to eat (pizza and chips!). I kept and continue to keep track of my weight, runs, and pull-ups on a daily basis. For those of you looking to lose weight, you can do it! Find a plan that works for you which involves more sensible eating habits and regular exercise.

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My minimalist closet. On the right are all the clothes that I will wear. On the left are dress clothes and my former clothes.
Decluttering, Exercise, Minimalism

The Minimalist Closet

It’s been a week since I started my minimalist uniform project; it’s going well, but I’ve made a few tweaks into the plan. First, I decided that having fifty cotton t-shirts to wear around the house defeated the purpose of the project. So, I found a deal on an Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Short Sleeve Crew T-Shirt on Amazon1. The Anatomica is also made from merino wool, with a little lycra to give it a nice form-fitting stretch. The t-shirt in Monsoon gray color (last year’s edition) was on sale for $38.99, which is $30 cheaper than the Wool & Prince t-shirt. Sold. The Icebreaker now goes with the button-down oxford in my rotation of shirts that I’ll wear on a daily basis.

I’m a size small, but I’ll take the medium, please

This Miyajima deer doesn't care for the fact that I have worn baggy and ill-fitted clothes for many years, but I do!

This Miyajima deer doesn’t care for the fact that I have worn baggy clothes the past several years, but I do!

As I looked back on old photos of me from high school, college, and my adult years, I realized I wore a lot of clothes that were often one size too big. As I thought about why I would do this for twenty or more years, I concluded that it was to avoid accepting the fact that I had a small frame. I bought shirts in medium or larger to look bigger, but that decision just made it appear that I either (1) liked baggy clothes or (2) had little fashion sense (probably both!). Sadly, as the years went by and pounds added up, those medium shirts and jackets began to fit better.

Read the rest of this post and see the minimalist closet in action

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Doing pull-ups has really strengthened my back muscles.
Exercise

Pull-ups, Body Recomposition and Weight Loss

Last year, I weighed myself and was shocked to see 166 pounds on the scale. How did I let myself go so far? I couldn’t even do a single pull-up, which meant my strength-to-weight ratio was terribly off. My pull-up failure, coupled with my burgeoning waistline and the impending arrival of our son, prompted me to dedicate myself to a healthier and lighter lifestyle.

I began my weight loss journey in June by deciding what I didn’t want to do. I wasn’t interested in crash diets where I basically starved myself. I said no to a gym membership, since I wanted to do this as inexpensively as possible. I didn’t have time to journey into the wilderness on a week-long solo backpacking trip (which worked in the past). Finally, I didn’t want the pounds to come back again afterwards as they have in the past.

In addition to some diet changes (something I’ll talk about in a future post), I started by running more consistently, doing half-marathons from my house to Levi’s Stadium and back and my first ever self-supported marathon. I also added in the occasional bike ride, stroller runs with the kid, and swimming in our pool (during the summer), along with daily push-ups and pull-ups. I’ve always been good at push-ups; I was able to do 100 straight back in high school. As for pull-ups, our high school workout room had a climbing hangboard, and I remember being able to jump up from the bench press onto the hangboard and crank out five finger pull-ups. Unfortunately, I can’t recall how many I could do back then, so I don’t have a baseline for my high school pull-ups records like I do for the half-marathon and 5K.

Read more on how pull-ups are great!

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"Sprint" finish atop Sierra Road
Cycling, Exercise

2014 Low-Key Hillclimbs #2: Sierra Road

Saturday morning brought the second Low-Key Hillclimb ride of the 2014 season: Sierra Road. I rode this during Week 8 of the 2007 LKHC season, ascending the 3.66 mile, 1759 foot climb in 38:34. Based on my my performance last week at Montebello Road, I knew that I could beat that time; the question was by how much? I estimated that I would do about 33 minutes; if I was feeling especially strong, I figured I could make it to the top in 32 minutes.

LKHC Sierra Road: Adam, Larry, and Han

Larry, Han, and I are smiling now, but we’ll be gritting our teeth and huffing and puffing soon on Sierra Road. Photo by Alexander Komlik.

Originally, I was planning on riding from my house to the check-in point as a 8-9 mile warmup, but I ran out of time in the morning. So, I loaded the bike in the car, drove to a spot about 1.5 miles away, and slowly rode to check-in around 9:25. Stephen Fong was in street clothes and working as a volunteer for this race, along with Christine Holmes. Larry, Han, and Richard were raring to go, however, and after a quick warm-up, we all lined up in the back awaiting the ringing of the cowbell that signals the start of the race.

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Wear on the New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez versus the 10v2 Trail Shoes
Exercise, Running

New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail Shoe Review

At the beginning of this year, I replaced my venerable Puma H Streets with a pair of New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez shoes. The weight of the Hi-Rez shoes was amazing, even when compared to the already light H Streets. The sole was made up of these rubberized pods that were glued onto the bottom of the shoe. I was curious to see how durable the shoe would be. My H Streets always developed a hole along the outer edge of the shoes due to excessive supination when running. Sadly, my fears were confirmed when I saw holes forming in the Hi-Rez shoes after less than 100 miles. As with my H Streets, I tried using gaffer tape to cover the holes over the next 100 miles of running. In the meantime, I also started looking for a new pair of shoes. I came across the New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail shoe at the local Sports Basement. The 10v2 has a Vibram sole which provides more durability over the Hi-Rez.

There’s this band that runs along the top of the shoe which presses against the top of my right foot, and I had to adjust the lacing pattern on the both shoes to alleviate the top pressure.

So far, I’ve run over 230 miles with the 10v2 and the soles are holding up for now. The wear pattern is there, but no holes have formed as of yet. I figure I’ll be able to get another 100 to 150 miles out of these shoes before I need to replace them.

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Stephen and Adam share a smile following our ascent of Montebello Road.
Cycling, Exercise

Low-Key Hillclimbs 2014 #1: Montebello Road

This morning, I returned to Montebello Road for the start of the 2014 season of Low-Key Hillclimbs! Due to our touring Autumn Gem, I haven’t rode in the Low-Key Hillclimbs series since 2009. Back in 2006, I completed Montebello Road in 48:54. In 2007, fresh off of completing the Death Ride, I reached the top in 42:45. My time regressed in the rain in 2008, with me bringing up the rear with a time of 47:57. All of these were far cries from my fastest time of 39:15 / 39:30, set way back in September, 2003. Had I known about Montebello back when I started road cycling in 1997, I think I could have gotten in the mid-30s (my power-to-weight ratio was better back then). Time waits for no one, and as the years ticked by following my last LKHC appearance, the pounds had added up. Part of not attending LKHC in recent years was touring the film, but another reason was shame. I was afraid of what I had become, fat and slow, and didn’t want to see a time of 50+ minutes recorded for all to see!

4 months of running have made my legs look like this

4 months of running have made my legs look like this

Fortunately, this has been something I’ve been diligently working on rectifying over the past four months with my half marathon and marathon runs. At my peak weight, I was 166 pounds, and I reckon that I’m around 146 pounds today. The weight loss has not only been noticeable to friends and family, but to my clothes as well! Pants that had gotten to be a wee bit tight around the waist are now loose, and several of my jackets look too big on me now. Suffice it to say, I’ve been pretty pleased with my progress thus far! The big question today was how much my running regimen and weight loss would contribute to my ascent times. I was confident that I could beat 48 minutes, but I was unsure how close I could get to 40 minutes, let alone breaking the 40-minute mark. It was nice to reconnect with many of my Low-Key friends over the years. Race organizer James Porter recognized me during check-in. Stephen Fong, Richard Contreras, and Christine Holmes were other longtime LKHC riders that I spoke with or rode alongside today. I met with Stephen’s friends, Larry and Han, who made up our Grumpy Old Men (GOM) cycling team for the series. We missed having Jorge today, but he had a family outing to attend and couldn’t make it.

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Water Fountain at Shoreline Amphitheater
Exercise, Running

First Self-Supported Marathon Run Recap

It was after the third or fourth consecutive self-supported half marathon run that I realized I was actually doing training for a full marathon. I had been doing some serious running (and to a lesser extent biking and swimming) over the past two months, coupled with changes in my diet, in the effort to lose weight. My last half marathon run saw me conquer my personal best time set when I was a freshman in high school. I honestly didn’t think that I would be able to do that so quickly, but that’s what happens when you put in the effort and time towards a worthy goal.

This past week, I had been talking to Rae, Felix S. and Felix W. about the possibility of running a self-supported marathon. I had been checking out possible routes, and I found one that would take me past my regular Levi’s Stadium/Highway 237 route to Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. I decided on Friday that I would at least try to run it; up until then, the longest run that I had done was a 15.3 mile run on June 14, 2014. A full marathon would be 11 more miles! Could I do it? Felix W. had no doubt, writing to me in an email:

Awesome, Adam! I have full confidence you can do it! Today will be an exciting day indeed!

My belief was strengthened hearing this from someone who has completed many marathons, centuries, double centuries, and even the Tour Divide. With good thoughts coming my way, I woke up at 5:30 am on Saturday morning to begin my marathon preparations. While eating my morning banana, I assembled my gear for the run.

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