Thursday, January 14, 2016

you can change direction, but don't change course

Every now and then life will throw you a curve ball, or a change up:

  • New job
  • Moving to a new city
  • Moving into a new house
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Getting divorced
  • or any of a hundred others...

You'll have a perfect routine set up, where you're eating well, getting your exercise in, and making progress towards your goal, when suddenly - BAM! and it all gets messed up.

Here's the thing - Don't let it get messed up.

There are dozens of body weight exercises you can do anywhere, and a couple-few 20 minute workouts each week is all you really need to stay fit and healthy.

Eating a moderate amount of real food should be even easier than finding time in your new schedule to workout. But it's up to you to be successful.

"Go further than yesterday."

- Chris Butterworth


300 posts ago: this one thing can make or break your day
200 posts ago: Fit-20 workout 07-06-12 - burpees, pull-ups, dumbell swings
100 posts ago: my car won't start - the yin and yang of emotions


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

breakfast comparison - 3 choices out and about

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day", so I've heard since I was a kid. And while I totally agree with that sentiment, it's not because of what you might think - not so much because I want to fill my body with nutrients so I can start my day off right...

No, I can start my day off just fine without eating first thing in the morning. I've even written about the benefits of delaying eating breakfast.

For me, breakfast can be the meal that makes or breaks my calorie numbers for the whole day. A moderate breakfast of 350 calories (or so) leaves me a lot of flexibility in my choices for lunch, snacks, and dinner. On the flip-side, I usually break my calorie budget on days when I put down a 600-calorie breakfast. So, eating a "good" breakfast goes a long way in determining whether or not I'm going to win that day.

Here are some calorie comparisons of common, quick breakfast options while you're out and about:

Einstein Bros Bagels - Sesame bagel (300) with a shmear of cream cheese (150-300). Eating a full bagel with a big shmear of cream cheese is going to cost you 600 calories! However, eating half of that meal while saving the other half for tomorrow gives you a very reasonable 300 calorie breakfast.

Eating half a bagel with a big pile of cream cheese is one of my favorite eating-out (or people bring food to work) breakfasts. It's a filling use of 300 calories - enough that I don't need to eat again until lunch, but without giving me that full-belly, need to take a nap feeling. Unfortunately it can be difficult to stop at half, especially when it tasted really good and there's another half just staring at me.

Will power goes a long way on this one. Eating half for 300 calories is a great breakfast; eating the 2nd half for 600 calories - not so much...

McDonald's - Sausage McMuffin w/ Egg. This little treat isn't too far off the chart at 450 calories. But be mindful of the 860 mg sodium content, and reaching for the side of hash brown will cost you an additional 150 calories.

This is one of the few items I can eat at McDonald's without feeling a heavy gut after eating, but I still don't have a craving-desire to eat one of these very often. Plus, it's hard to not order a hash brown with it, and once I do that I've just used up 600 of my daily calorie budget.

Krispy Kreme - Maybe you stop for a melts-in-your-mouth donut on the way to work, or maybe somebody brings a box of them into the office. Either way they're pretty hard to resist. An original glazed provides 200 calories' worth of goodness, while a chocolate iced glazed will set you back 250 calories.

Eating 2 Krispy Kreme originals for 400 calories isn't the worst thing in the world - especially as a once in awhile treat, but I find they aren't the most filling calories, and I'll be hungrier sooner than I would be when eating other breakfasts. Plus, it can be hard to stop at two, and that third one's a budget-buster!


The biggest takeaway here is that knowledge is power. Knowing how many calories are in your breakfast budget, and how many are in your breakfast, is a key ingredient for a successful day.

- Chris Butterworth


300 posts ago: running in the cold is hard
200 posts ago: portion sizes have become gigantic
100 posts ago: catching up to your goal - the tortoise or the hare?


Saturday, January 2, 2016

3 types of resolutions

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2016!

Millions of people will be making new year resolutions this year, trying to make themselves into a better version of themself. Unfortunately, today being January 2nd, probably about half of these people have already failed.

Here are some simple thoughts about the three different types of resolutions (goals):

Quitting: Trying to quit a 'bad' habit is the hardest of all the goals. Stop smoking, stop drinking, stop checking facebook, etc. These are excellent goals and will definitely make for a better, more healthy you.

The challenge is because they never end. Everytime you have a craving, you have to fight it off. And then, if you have another craving even 5 minutes later, you have to fight it off again. (It's kind of like the terminator in that regard.)

Don't take these goals lightly. Yes they are worth going after, but only if you have a full game plan in place and you're completely dedicated to winning.

Multiple Process Goals: Something like losing weight, which is an excellent goal and one which will have many positive impacts on your life, but it's not as simple as it sounds.

You'll probably have an 'eating' component, and an 'exercise' component, and each one of those can have sub-goals and daily opportunities for success or failure.

Single Task Goals: These goals are straight forward, easy to identify, count, and track. An example would be something like 'exercise 3 days per week'. You can plan for this, do it, and check it off your list.

These goals might not be easy, but they are more likely to be successful, because they can be tracked at the task level.


You can be successful at any goal you choose, as long as you can break that goal down into actionable (and trackable) events, and then you go after it with passion and dedication.

Happy 2016!

- Chris Butterworth



Monday, December 28, 2015

holidays, resolutions, and 2016 programming notes

Here we are at the midway point between Christmas and New Year's - smack dab in the middle of The Holidays. I thought I'd share a few quick thoughts today:

Holidays - I hope you enjoyed a great Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate), and that New Year's will be fun and safe. I write a lot about diet and exercise as means to health and fitness, but physical fitness alone doesn't get you to the finish line. It's also important to be healthy emotionally, and spiritually. This is a great time to celebrate, explore, and connect with your family, your friendships, and your faith.

Resolutions - the social webs will be filled with resolution advice, so I'm not going to bother with details you can find a hundred times over. But I do want to stress a couple points:

1.) Choose Resolution(s) that matter. Whether it's one simple thing, or a complete lifestyle overhaul, choose a resolution that will make a difference to your life, and then see it through will all the energy, focus, and passion you can conjure. Be resolute in your success.

2.) Start Anytime. If there's something you want to change in your life, why wait until next week? Start today! Or start any other time.. If something strikes you in March, or over the summer - simply pick a day and get after it. Give it all you've got - no holds barred. Success doesn't have to start with January 1st.

2016 Programming Notes - This will be my last post of the year. I finished 2015 eight posts shy of my writing goal; the problem is that my goal was way too low. I've been asked by a number of people to write more frequently, so I will try to do that in 2016. However, because there are only so many hours in the day (and I'm not willing to give up any more sleep or any more workouts in order to write more), there will have to be a trade-off:

In 2016, look for more frequents posts, but also for shorter posts. My typical post has generally been 800 - 1,000 words, along with a photo or two and several highlighted links. I think I can convey the meat of most topics with a shorter, text-based article. At the very least, let's give it a try and see how it goes.

I'd love to hear your feedback in the coming months - let me know what you think..

Farewell, 2015. We enjoyed your time.

Welcome, 2016. We're looking forward to another terrific year!

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: fit-20 workout - July 4th edition

100 posts ago: making your own trail mix


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

checking in on my fitness plan

I've been challenging myself to the same weekly goal since mid-September (you can read the challenge here). Now, 3 months later, seems like a good time to reflect on what I've learned:

  • Big success will come when you have enough little successes to keep it company. Running a couple miles in the morning doesn't feel like anything Earth-shattering; heck, it's not even worth sharing on social media. But the results add up:
  • I had previously only run 50 miles in a month once before; I've now done it two months IN A ROW! (and I'm getting close to the mark for this month too!)
  • On a weekly basis, I had clocked 10 miles only 20 times, with the last one being 67 weeks previously. I have now run 10 miles 9 weeks in a row and 12 of the last 13!
  • You can't short-cut success, anymore than you can wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon. But a short run, everyday, adds up to a lot of miles.

Running in the Cold
  • Is Hard - my very first post on this blog was titled "Running in the cold is hard", and I still think that's true. But I've learned a few things this winter which have made it easier:
  • Gear Matters - As the morning lows have dropped from the 60's through the 50's and 40's and down into the 30's, I've been able to wear the right gear - which makes the cold a little more bearable.
    • Ear Band - a simple, inexpensive fleece headband to cover my ears has made a world of difference. I can't explain why I've never used one of these before.
    • Layers - base layer long sleeve, short sleeve t-shirt, long sleeve microfiber running sweatshirt, long sleeve baggy cotton t-shirt, and I'm out the door! When the temperature is mid-30's or less, I'll skip the last cotton t-shirt and replace it with a heavier cotton sweatshirt. For bottoms, I've been fine with track pants all the way down to 32 degrees. (my coldest run so far.)
    • Gloves - warm hands are a big deal (almost as much as warm ears), but I didn't like wearing gloves. Luckily my long sleeve microfiber running shirt has really long sleeves, so I've been pulling the sleeves down over my hands, and it works great.
    • Feet / Socks - I generally run in Luna Sandals (more on that here), and I rode the cold weather all the way down to 32 in my Lunas. However, that last week of 36, 35, 32 sucked, and my toes were numb after 10 minutes of running each day. I've since decided that anything lower than 38 degrees deserves socks and "typical" shoes.
  • Patience, and Savor your Victories - when it's really cold outside (or wet, or windy), I know before I even start that I'm not going to break a speed record that day. So I give myself permission to run at whatever pace my body wants to run. The victory comes from taming the "lazy beast", keeping the streak alive, and adding miles to my body's fitness, and from doing something all my friends think is crazy. (Maybe I am crazy, but I get a bit of pleasure from knowing I'm the only one out there getting it done.)

Consistency Wins
  • Before the Run - Sometimes I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. Simply rolling my feet over the side of the bed is a huge victory. However,
  • After the Run - I have not once, repeat - not one time, finished the run and thought I would have been better off with another half hour's sleep. I might wish I had gone to bed earlier the night before, but I've never felt like the run was a bad idea.
  • Pace - it's difficult to explain how much better I am at running today than I was 3-4 months ago. My fastest times are faster than they were, which is to be expected. But what's unexpected is just how much easier running has become. My "slow" runs today, where I'm just cruising along at a fairly easy pace without breathing too heavy or exerting myself too much, are at about the same pace as my "fast" runs used to be.
  • Endurance - My 2.25 mile baseline course around the neighborhood - it used to feel like a workout and today feels like a warm-up.

  • It's been 13 weeks - that's a long time compared to one week, but it's a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. That being said, it's a great start.
  • I'm not a marathoner, and I'm not even very fast compared to the "real" runners out there. But I feel a lot more comfortable running than I used to, and I'm getting faster.
  • Add to all this running that I'm able to do more push-ups and pull-ups than I could 3 months ago, and I'm more flexible than I was, and that my weight has remained constant while at the same time I've been able to increase my meal portions - and it feels like a win-win-win.

I think I'm going to stick with this program for awhile longer - maybe I'll revisit this post in the spring..

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: links I like 07-03-12


Thursday, November 12, 2015

30,000 steps

Last month we did a lot of walking on our vacation - a lot of walking. My wife's pedometer read 30,000 steps one day, and I'm not even sure that was our longest walking day.

The walking site tells me I walked 15 miles that day, which means I blew through about 1,875 extra calories, if we assume 125 calories per mile. But that doesn't tell the whole story of the day - I could still have either gained weight or lost weight, depending on how much I ate.

So, let's see how I did:
  • Breakfast (600 calories). I brought a bagel with me and grabbed a mocha from the hotel's Starbucks.
  • Snacks (900 calories). I ate a few energy bars during those in-between times. (mid-morning 225, noon-ish 225, 5:00ish 290.) I also had a few handfuls of some of my boys' sweets.
  • Lunch (500 calories). We ate a late lunch, and I split a plate with my wife.
  • Dinner (1,200 calories). We ate dinner at a restaurant, where I enjoyed a full meal - and licked my plate clean!
  • Total Consumption for the day: I consumed about 3,425 calories.
  • Total Calories Burned for the day: I walked off 1,875, plus my normal 1,900 calories per day at rest. Overall I burned about 3,775 calories.

This means I burned off 350 more calories than I ate. 350 calories - that's all - on a day when I walked 15 miles! This helps to make a few points:
  1. It takes a lot of exercise to outrun your daily eating, but it's possible.
  2. I was able to slow-drip food all day long, so that I was neither hungry nor full throughout the day.
  3. Restaurant meals are too big. Even with 15 miles of walking, splitting lunch was the difference between net loss and net gain; I would have eaten more than I burned if I had ordered my own lunch. And that restaurant dinner.. I would have been way on the good side if I had eaten a non-restaurant dinner.

Most of us aren't able to walk 15 miles in a day; it simply takes more time than we have available. But the lessons learned can be applied to our everyday lives.

Move a little more. Eat a little less. Snack strategically. And be careful in restaurants!

- Chris Butterworth



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

just because it's there

Does your office supply bagels and cream cheese in the mornings, or have a table-full of snacks in the lunchroom?

Bagels, muffins, and danishes show up in my office's kitchen like magic every other Monday morning.

Does your significant other love baking desserts? Brownies, cookies, apple pie a la mode? Yum!

Maybe lunch was catered and there's a full spread.

Or a candy jar at your co-workers desk, always beckoning. You don't want to offend her, right?

Or you could have another helping of that terrific dinner, or an extra slice of pizza.


You don't have to eat it - just because it's there.

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: Fit-20 Workout - sprints, renegade rows, squats

100 posts ago: choosing the right workout partner