Treadmill walk: Day 1, Year 2020

Well, the future has arrived and with it my personal challenge to exercise every day. Most days this will mean hitting the treadmill, as was the case today. As I’ve mentioned before, there is not a lot that can be said about walking on a treadmill, as zany adventures are rarely encountered. I did notice that my pace was a bit slower than my previous 5 km workout. I guess I am tired or something. With that, the stats:

Speed: 6.5 km/h (6 km/h)
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:18 km/h
Time: 30.06
Distance: 3.23 km
Calories burned: 295
BPM: 134

Treadmill walk: Walking in the new year

After indulging in a few tortilla chips, I worked off the fat and the guilt on the treadmill. I thought about going for a run outside but it has been a monsoon all day and I generally avoid running in monsoons.

Instead I did a 5 km walk. The stats are below, with the stats in brackets being from my previous 5 km workout, which was done at a speed setting of 6.0 (easier). The notable differences are a lower BPM today, despite using harder settings and of course, fewer calories burned for the same distance because I walked for four fewer minutes:

Speed: 6.5 km/h (6 km/h)
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:13 km/h (9:51/km)
Time: 46.10 (50:05)
Distance: 5.01 km (5.08 km)
Calories burned: 433 (533)
BPM: 139 (144)

December 2019 weight loss report: Up 0.4 pounds*

I’ll explain the asterisk.

First, the bad news: I was up again.

Now to explain the asterisk. Although I was technically up for the month by 0.4 pounds, I have been trending down for several weeks and it was only due to a mysterious overnight gain of 1.6 pounds on the night of the 30th that I was up at all.

For the year to date, my total body weight did not change over the last month, still up 4.3 pounds. The accumulation of body fat also slowed, and for many days in the last two weeks my weight was in what is considered the “normal” range, so there’s that.

Looking ahead, I am reasonably confident that I can keep shedding weight, because December has already bucked the usual weight gain trend and I am continuing the same habits going forward. For example, I could be eating a big chunk of fudge right now at 8:56 p.m. as I type this, but instead I will eat nothing. Ta-da! Also, I have no fudge.

As recounted yesterday, my goal is to still hit 150. I have 21.4 pounds to go. I can do this, and without even needing surgery!

We’ll see what progress I’ve made to that end come January 31.

December 1: 171.4 pounds
December 31: 171.8 pounds (up 0.4 pounds)

Year to date: From 167.5 to 171.8 pounds (up 4.3 pounds, unchanged from previous month)

And the body fat:

December 1: 20.1% (34.5 pounds of fat)
December 31:
21% (36.1 pounds of fat) (up 1.6 pounds)

New Year Resolutions 2020: More cat, less fat

First, a review of how I fared for my resolutions for 2019. I deliberately made the goals broader and easier to attain after more or less bombing on nearly everything in 2017. Here they are, graded as if by a mean grade school teacher:

  • Drop to 150 pounds. As of today I am 170.1 pounds, which any mathematician will tell you is more than 150 pounds. A lot more. Alas. Looking at the year overall, my weight held pretty steady for the first six months. In July I finally started shedding pounds (I was also running more) and this continued until September, when the weight not only started creeping back up, it climbed even higher. The only good news after this is that by some miracle (and a treadmill) I managed to actually reverse the weight gain in the last two weeks of December, when it would normally be spiraling ever-higher. Still, short of shedding a lot of water weight tomorrow (the 31st) I am going to end up a bit heavier at the end of the year than at the start. Grade: D
  • Write something every day. Technically, I achieved this, between blog posts, journal entries, posts to social media and other miscellaneous stuff. But I wrote almost no fiction, so that still knocks a grade or so off. Grade: B+
  • Run at least once per week. According to the Activity app, I did 58 runs in 2019 as of today (I may do one tomorrow to top off the year. That means I did in fact run at least once per week! Grade: A
  • Read at least 52 books. I revised this goal partway through the year when it became obvious I would not read near 52. The new goal was 26, which I achieved. There’s a chance I might finish Book 27 before the year ends. For some reason I had a lot more gaps between books, possibly because I read a few too many bargain novels that may have been bargain-priced for obvious reasons. Grade: B
  • Eat better. A mild improvement at best. Grade: C+
  • Learn and practice meditation. I thought about this. I did not actually do it. Grade: D
  • Stretch. See the above. Grade: D
  • Redo the Complaint Free World 21-day challenge. I’m wearing the band again, but haven’t yet started the formal challenge. Still, just wearing the band has helped me to stay more positive. Grade: B

2019 was a pretty even split between triumph and not-triumph. It was a difficult year in many ways for me, so the result is not unexpected. For 2020 I am going with a slightly revised set of goals:

  • Drop to 150 pounds. I actually think I have a better shot at this than in the past few years. Really!
  • Be creative. Do one of the following every day (more than one is even better):
    • Write a blog post (Note: Jogging/treadmill workouts do not count)
    • Write some fiction
    • Draw something (not to be confused with the app)
    • Take a photo
  • Exercise at least three times a week. One of the exercises should be a run, the others can be treadmill walks or something similar. I can no longer use the weather as an excuse to be lazy and fat.
  • Read at least 26 books. I think a book every two weeks is fine and I can probably do better that that with a wee bit of effort. Maybe I’ll start counting comic books or something.
  • Eat better. I went cold turkey with my diet once before (this did not involve actual turkey), I can do it again. I think.
  • Start stretching. If I can do this, I’ll move on to meditation. Maybe it’ll be easier that way. Stretch the body, then stretch the mind. Pretty deep, man.
  • Investigate other careers. I like tech and I like helping people. I am less convinced now that I like both together.
  • Just generally improve. Try to be kinder, more thoughtful and helpful. Lead by example.

Run 645: Slow with traffic cones

Run 645
Average pace: 6:01/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 1:44 pm
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 30:14
Weather: Partly sunny
Temp: 10ºC
Humidity: 76%
Wind: light
BPM: 162
Weight: 171.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 4835 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (195 km)

Back to Burnaby Lake for the first time since November 24 (more than a month ago) and it was like I’d never left, at least in terms of pace, as it came in at 6:01/km, a rounding error away from the previous pace of 6:02/km–but technically still faster!

Most of the run was fairly consistent and I would have come in under six minutes if not for the third km, where my pace dropped to 6:10/km. This drop was due to two things: I was admittedly tired (I haven’t run outdoors much lately and it is a lot more demanding than being on a treadmill), but also because I kept gawking over to my right, which undoubtedly slowed me down. I was again staring at the clearcut mentioned in my last post on running at Burnaby Lake. It just looks so very weird now, like the whole of civilization has suddenly been revealed, the illusion that you’re running in the woods has been literally stripped away. This time, though, there was more evidence on the reason for the massive tree removal. Earth-moving equipment was in place and you could already see dirt piled up and plowed alongside the existing railroad track, indicating that the trees were removed to either allow them to shore up the existing track area or possibly expand it to include new track.

It still looks about as attractive as you’d expect a clearcut to be.

The run itself was done in remarkably mild conditions, with the temperature a balmy 10ºC–well above normal–, along with little wind and even the sun poking out a bit here and there. While the weather was surprisingly pleasant, the trail was not. Several sections–including resurfaced areas–are collapsing due to the aggressive inflow of water. Keep in mind that the fall hasn’t even been abnormally wet, too. There were numerous cones dotting the trail to mark soft spots and areas where the surface was crumbling away along the edges. The area leading up to the Cottonwood Trail was especially bad, as was the stretch immediately after it that leads to the bridge at Still Creek.

Surprisingly, despite occasional and somewhat large puddles, the area by the fields was not flooded and I escaped with my feet dry. Here’s hoping more resurfacing and shoring up has been scheduled for sooner than later.

Overall I didn’t experience any issues, just that “yep, not exactly in peak form” feeling, though my BPM was lower than the previous run, which was nice. That was probably due to being in slightly better shape (thank you, treadmill!) and also the warmer conditions meaning less strain.

It was nice to be back outside, and I did run a fair bit on the walk out from the lake, so all of my pep hasn’t yet abandoned me. We’ll see how it goes the next time when I run with actual wind resistance and stuff.

Treadmill walk: Fear of fat

Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a better title. :P

This was a now pretty standard workout, and the results are almost identical to the Boxing Day workout, so without further ado, the stats:

Speed: 6.5 km/h (6.5 km/h)
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:14/km (9:15/km)
Time: 30:07 (30:05)
Distance: 3.26 km (3.25 km)
Calories burned: 284 (279)
BPM: 133 (134)

Treadmill walk: Boxing Day boogie

I opted out of the insanity of dealing with Boxing Day sale crowds at the mall and did a basic 30 minute walk on the treadmill instead. The settings were the same as the previous walk, though I pushed a little harder (most evident on the second km, where my pace was 9:07/km).

Other than that, it was exercise on the treadmill. No dogs magically appeared for me to trip over, and it did not rain at all indoors.

The stats (previous walk in brackets):

Speed: 6.5 km/h (6 km/h)
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:15/km (9:17/km)
Time: 30:05 (40:04)
Distance: 3.25 km (4.31 km)
Calories burned: 279 (363)
BPM: 134 (137)

Movie review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

This was a bad movie and a bad Star Wars movie.

I was excited when it was announced that Lucas had sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney. Disney has been making extremely competent pop movies for awhile now, so I was confident they would do a good job here–and better than Lucas had with the prequel trilogy.

(To give Lucas credit, for all the problems the prequels had, there is a defining vision that underlies all three movies, and each builds on the other. This leaves aside the quality of execution and a lot of curious design choices, but the vision was there.)

So in 2015 we get The Force Awakens. J.J. Abrams is the director and I actually felt at the time that he was a good choice–Star Wars is big, kid-friendly fluff and with a good script and cast, it’s the kind of thing Abrams can do well. The Force Awakens borrows copiously from the original Star Wars and sometimes it works and sometimes it’s a little eye-rolling (please please please no more Death Stars or Death Star substitutes), but the new characters are engaging and fun to watch and it feels like Star Wars. Everything you want is there.

The Last Jedi is more like a modern Star Wars–less fluffy, more gritty, with more consequences. It deliberately plays against some of the established tropes, even as it copies beats from The Empire Strikes Back. By the end I was wondering how the rebellion would come back in the third movie after being reduced to what seemed like a room full of people by the end. Ho ho, if I had only known.

And then we have The Rise of Skywalker, or Star Wars as Written By a 15 Year Old Star Wars Nerd.

There are things I liked. The effects were nice. The cast, although let down by a generally awful script, remain fun to watch. Ian McDiarmid still chews scenery with unbridled glee. Some of the light saber fights were entertaining (I especially liked the one on the wreck of the Death Star, with Rey clearly fatigued).

But everything else ranged from okay to just bad. Oh, so bad.

The scenes with Leia felt awkward, because all of her dialog was generic (for obvious reasons). I would have preferred they recast her role for the final movie or just not featured her character at all (have her join with the force in an early scene or something).

Rey turns out to be the granddaughter of Palpatine instead of a scrappy scavenger who just happens to turn out awesome. Bleah.

And the lineage of Rey underlines my central complaint with the film (apart from its relentless pacing, which was more exhausting than thrilling): The Rise of Skywalker is stuffed full of plot devices that are made just for this film, that have not been built on or even mentioned in previous movies. The stakes feel non-existent because everything is just thrown at the viewer out of nowhere.

  • The Emperor somehow survives or gets cloned, despite last seen falling down some giant shaft in a Death Star that exploded seemingly minutes later. But this is actually not the dumbest thing in the movie. Palpatine’s resurrection would have worked a lot better–along with the whole “I’m stuffed full of Sith, haha!” thing–if it had been set up from the first movie and played out over all three.
  • Hyperspace skipping or whatever it was called. Why? So dumb. The last jump should have had them slam into the wall of a canyon and die, ending the movie early and saving everyone a lot of time.
  • If General Redhead had held up a sign, Wile E. Coyote-style, that said “I’m the spy!” it would not have been any more dumb than him blurting it out the way he did. It would have been better, really. Also, why did he believe Kylo Ren had to be stopped? Why did he say he didn’t care who won? Why was his character sacrificed for this dubious plot? And who was the grumpy old man who shot him? Like so many things in this movie, grumpy old man is just there with no explanation.
  • Abrams, never a master of subtlety, decides to give every Star Destroyer the ability to literally destroy stars. Or planets. Why? As Poe says, “Sure, why not?” Because it’s so cool (if you are a 15 year old Star Wars nerd).
  • Speaking of, I literally rolled my eyes when the surprise fleet of ten million ships magically shows up at the final battle. Very good timing there. Good thing it was telegraphed heavily multiple times beforehand, so it wouldn’t seem at all like an actual surprise. I’ll pretend the boy sweeping at the end of The Last Jedi was on one of those ten million ships.
  • Finn keeps saying he wants to say something, then he never says it. WHY?! It’s the last movie, have him say it! There is not going to be a Finn spinoff series, sorry.
  • Rey kissing Kylo at the end was sort of grossbuckets.
  • Rey proclaiming herself Rey Skywalker at the end also made me roll my eyes.
  • The new droid should have had a price tag on it, since it’s only purpose was to enhance merchandising.
  • Did I mention the pacing? The movie never slowed down and ended up feeling shapeless, just careening from one action scene to another, with tiny bits of character moments squeezed in-between.
  • Rose is reduced to almost a cameo for no apparent (or good) reason.

On the plus side, they couldn’t think of a way to bring back Jabba the Hutt or have someone frozen in carbonite. If only J.J. Abrams had been frozen in carbonite.

Anyway, this was a disappointing end to what could have been a great trilogy. I’ll conclude by damning it with faint praise: for all its excesses, missed opportunities and general level of dumb-even by Star Wars standards–it was still better than Solo.


Treadmill walk: Present for Christmas

What better way to celebrate the yuletide than to walk for 40 minutes on a treadmill? Little did I know how catastrophically bad the actual day was going to unfold (coal all around), but earlier when there was peace and all that, the treadmill stood ready.

For this day’s workout, I decided to bump the speed from 6 to 7. That may not seem like much, but 7 feels a lot faster, sort of an uber-walking pace that is not quite a jog. It was simply too much to sustain, so I fell back to 6.5, which the treadmill informed me is a 9:13/km pace. I maintained that for 40 minutes and don’t mind say, toward the end I was getting a little tuckered.

I also jury-rigged a platform to put my Vornado fan on and it worked quite well, even on the low setting, reducing the buckets of sweat to a mere thimble. Getting a proper shelf is definitely on the to-do list now.

And the stats (with the previous 30 minute/6.0 walk in brackets). As you can see, the pace was definitely brisker–this is pretty much in line with my regular walk speed when I go out jogging– BPM was only slightly higher and I was able to cover more ground, so to speak:

Speed: 6.5 km/h (6 km/h)
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:17/km (9:45/km)
Time: 40:04 (30:04)
Distance: 4.31 km (3.08 km)
Calories burned: 363 (281)
BPM: 137 (135)

Treadmill walk: Christmas Eve burn

I did a repeat of yesterday’s treadmill workout, eschewing going out for a run because I was feeling a bit lazy and hey, it’s the holidays. Plus having an extra day to recover after a long layoff on a trail run is a good thing. Yep!

Tonight I walked to the dulcet tones of Jonathan Coulton. I have put the previous walk’s stats in brackets as comparison, because the settings and time for both walks were the same. Note the differences! They’re not major, but even small ones are nice to see. Specifically:

  • Pace is five seconds faster. I am beginning to approach the walking speed on my runs (ie. when I walk 1.5 km to the river or 4 km to the lake), except those walks feature an incline of mostly 0%, not 10%.
  • Time: Identical. This was just weird luck.
  • Distance: Befitting my faster pace, I covered a smidgen more.
  • Calories burned: Work harder, burn more! Seeing this number go up gives me warm fuzzies. And less fat.
  • BPM: Basically the same, as expected. In time this could drop more.
Speed: 6 km/h
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:45/km (9:50/km)
Time: 30:04
Distance: 3.08 km (3.05 km)
Calories burned: 281 (259)
BPM: 135 (134)

Treadmill walks: After a run fun (?)

This was the first time I followed a run with a walk. That doesn’t sound like anything extraordinary, and it really isn’t, but I’m hoping it sets a pattern going forward where I’m putting in some exercise every day.

I walked for 30 minutes and just over 3 km at the usual settings. Compared to the previous walk, which was 50 minutes, pace was nearly identical at 9:50/km, but the BPM was lower–134 vs. 144. It still strikes me as funny how when I ramp the speed up to 6 km/h to start it seems absurdly fast, like I almost have to jog to keep up, then five minutes in, it feels like it’s going slow enough that I want to goose the speed higher.

Also, I think the fact that it is near-freezing outside and the heat is off inside (the condo seriously rarely requires the heat to be on to stay warm) meant I was able to keep the sweat somewhat under control. I still need to get some kind of fan set up.

The stats:

Speed: 6 km/h
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:50/km
Time: 30:04
Distance: 3.05 km
Calories burned: 259
BPM: 134