How many pounds of weight lost is too many? For me, I’m not sure that number exists. If you recall from my post about July weight loss, I had made my original weight loss goal. It took me over a year to lose 20 pounds. I still felt puffy, so I figured I would continue on. But continue what? I’m not on a diet. I just eat right. I had even cut back a bit on exercise from last year, although I still posted a respectable average daily step/bike crank total in August.
After swimming 9 miles in July, I scaled back to 7 miles in August. So how did I lose 3 more pounds in August? I don’t have COVID or any other deadly disease. I’m starting to think it may have to do with one of the two mystery supplements I started taking at the beginning of June. They weren’t a mystery to me, but I have been teasing them a bit in this blog. Well, it’s time for their big reveal.
Anyway, I have been blogging a lot about water since I have been swimming across Lake Michigan this summer in my backyard pool. After swimming more miles than expected in July, it became mathematically apparent that I would likely make my mileage goal by the end of summer. I started to think about finishing with a flourish or grand gesture, and I had one in mind.
I was aware of this event as I had considered competing in it in my younger days.
I certainly couldn’t finish the 5K (3.1 miles) unless I was being towed by a boat. But I had done a mile open water swim in July, so I am pretty sure I can slog slowly through the 2.5K (1.55 miles) course. Oh, you’re asking why it is called the Big Shoulders swim?
Editor’s Note: Nobody asked.
Well, Chicago was called the City of Big Shoulders by poet Carl Sandburg. Of course, he also called Chicago the Hog Butcher for the World. I think the swimming race organizers chose the better name.
July was a real up & down month weightwise for me. Up is not the direction I want to go, but 2 personal trips, 1 business trip, and a family birthday party throw my eating and exercise plans off a bit. I was up a couple pounds, down a couple, up, down, up, down, etc. But the final result for July was down 3 lbs, and I made my goal weight set at the beginning of the COVID lockdown.
It wasn’t because of my steps. They were down, under 10,000 per day, but purposely so.
Out of sheer boredom, I have been trying to schedule some open water swimming. But Saturday, my attempt to actually swim across the actual Lake Michigan was actually rebuffed as Lake Michigan was actually closed! Actually! I took our youngest daughter to stay with our oldest daughter on Saturday for a sister-bonding sleepover, and we stopped at beautiful Montrose Beach in Chicago on the way for a quick swim.
Montrose is a beautiful urban beach, complete with sand dunes. But on Saturday, it was closed because of a brisk wind from the northeast creating some dangerous riptides. I still wanted to give it a try. Where were the “my body, my choice” anti-vaxxers when I needed them to back me up?
Anyway, we walked and relaxed a bit on the beach instead of swimming. I had already gotten some laps in my pool, and after a half mile on Sunday (that’s 175 laps!), I find myself here in Lake Michigan.
As I teased in my last post, I was tempted after my swim last Saturday. Being America’s Friend, I was speaking to a total stranger despite the stranger wearing very tight shorts and sporting a somewhat satanic beard.
I was also wearing very tight swim shorts, and they were quite wet. We were both standing just outside the women’s locker room. And then the stranger tempted me to do something I haven’t done in years. He slipped me his card with his contact info. If I gave in to the temptation, I would meet the stranger again on the 1st of August for a dalliance into what I can only describe for me as … forbidden fruit.
The stranger had tempted me with this irresistible offer.
At my age, with a pandemic still raging all around, when there is something I want to do, I know I best do it quickly or maybe never have the chance. I mentioned in a recent post that I want to take my swim across Lake Michigan out of pools and into open water. I wasted no time and did just that this past Saturday.
I found a great lake to do an open water swim, but not a Great Lake. It wasn’t a good weekend to head to Lake Michigan (one of the 5 Great Lakes) to swim, because we are fostering 2 puppies. Who wants to see puppy pictures and video? Well, maybe if you’re nice and like this post, or better still, beg me, I’ll post some puppy stuff. Anyway, I found a great lake just about 40 minutes up the river from us that was hosting a morning open water swim in beautiful, crystal clear waters. Take a look …
Take a look at your calendar, and you’ll see that summer is half over. Unless you live in Canada. Summer’s already over up there. I wonder if it’s already over in Chicago. We’ve had some cool, rainy weather recently, which makes my pool quite chilly and my motivation low to swim in a frigid pool. Today is just such a day. My toes are turning blue at the thought of a pool swim today. Regardless, here we are, halfway through calendric summer, and I’m halfway across Lake Michigan at just over 11 miles into the swim.
I can’t get too bored and stop swimming. I’m figuratively in the middle of the lake. If I stop, I’ll figuratively drown! So, on I swim. But I have to spice things up. I think I need to take this swimapalooza on the road. Sure, I swam in hotel pools the past two weekends in Nebraska and Minnesota. Pardon me while I yawn. I yearn for open water. I feel the need to get some mileage in Lake Michigan itself. I will let you know if I muster the motivation to head to the greatest of the Great Lakes and actually swim in it.
If you have to deal with cool, rainy weather, what better way is there than to curl up with a good book? If you don’t have one, I suggest you settle for my well-reviewed, crappy book.
No, I didn’t misspell “fasting.” That’s FATSing, my trademarked and patent-pending weight loss schemescam system. It’s not a diet. It’s a weight loss system. You see, after giving up a month ago on any significant weight loss this summer, I lost 3 pounds in June using my FATSing system. That puts me within 3 pounds of my original goal of losing 20 pounds set over a year ago.
FATSing stands for Fitness Awareness Testing System. And then I stuck an “ing” on the end for no apparent reason. The way the system works is this …
I’m on schedule considering I missed a couple days at the beginning of June as I tried every gasket and washer in my cache of plumbing supplies to eventually successfully stop a leak in one of the pool connections. 22 miles is still possible if I average a quarter mile each day for July and August.
I know what you’re asking. Am I scared being in the middle of Lake Michigan? Sure, I’m terrified, but that’s normal for me every day after I wake up. And if you look at the map, you can see there’s land close by as I’m near that big peninsula jutting into the lake. That peninsula has a piece of Jim Flanigan history linked to it which I will explain.
Although I was on a short business trip this week, I continued my swim across Lake Michigan by using the hotel pools, despite their confusing rules. For example, there was disinfectant spray all over the place in the workout areas. I get it. I support it. Until everyone gets vaccinated (get vaccinated!), we need to continue to take precautions. But what was I going to do with this spray in the pool area?
There really wasn’t anything for me to wipe down by the pool, but after some thought, I knew just what to do. I dumped the bottle into the pool. It seemed like the only logical thing to do.
The second pool had me confused as soon as I walked in and went to take a towel.
While on my recent business trip, I decided to take a walk on a treadmill in the fitness room of my hotel. Here’s the problem … I couldn’t figure out how to get there. It appeared that the elevator would take me to the 7th, 5th, 3rd, or 7th floors.
I took the stairs. Nobody takes the stairs in hotels with elevators. I don’t blame them. Elevators are fun. I like jumping in the elevator while it is moving. Yes, I got one stuck once. Oops.
Anyway, the stairs led me straight to the laundry room on the first floor. Oops, again. I saw a door and headed toward it, hoping it would take me to the hotel lobby. Nope. It was an exit. There I was, standing outside in St. Louis … the murder capital of the USA. Oops, thrice.
So, I made the bold decision to take this sage advice printed on my hotel room key packet.
Well, not literally, but also not figuratively or metaphorically since I will actually be swimming. Maybe cumulatively is a better term. I should explain first about Lake Michigan for non-Midwestern United Staters.
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes.
What makes them so great? Well, they contain 21% of the world’s fresh water, duh! You can swim, surf, boat, fish, and not worry about jellyfish or shark attacks.
Except land sharks. They’re all over. Big nuisance.
I have personally enjoyed 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, so here’s my Great Lakes Ranking with reasons.
#2 Lake Huron – Gorgeous and slightly less chilly than Lake Superior.
#1 Lake Michigan – The only Great Lake that the US doesn’t have to share with Canada. Also, some gorgeous beaches, especially on the Michigan side. And the way that Lake Michigan is situated north-south makes for great sunrises seen from the western shore and great sunsets seen from the eastern shore. It’s also the warmest Great Lake, especially around Chicago.
And so, I have decided to swim across Lake Michigan this summer. Here’s how I’m going to do it.
It’s important to vary your workouts to keep them interesting. I have some wonderful walking routes that take me down paths to creeks, through the woods, and over hill & dale. However, Dale always complains when I walk over her.
But this morning, the thought of trodding the same paths bored me. I decided to take a couple normal paths through prairie and woods, but then come home via the local business park. Wow, doesn’t that sound exciting? Well, it didn’t disappoint as the first interesting thing I saw was the miracle of life taking place. I took this picture …
There are those who experience some weight loss, can’t seem to lose any more, and accept that they may have to be comfortable at that weight. But who has 2 thumbs and won’t accept that?
That’s right. For the second month in a row, I have maintained weight but not lost any.
I know, and I agree. My dreams of losing 10 more pounds by the end of summer are gone. That is just unrealistic now. Maybe if I can try for a pound a month June through September, I can get to a slightly lower weight than at the end of last summer. Would that be cause to celebrate?
I normally like to wait a day or two after the end of the month to announce my weight loss for the month. I check my weight for several days in a row before and after the last day of the month to verify that I actually did lose weight that month. But here we are a week into May, and I’m still not sure. My weight bounced around like a ping pong ball at a college fraternity beer pong tournament. Up several pounds one day and down a pound the next. A week into May, and about the only statement I am comfortable making is that I didn’t lose any weight. I’m still staring at losing 10 pounds by the end of warm weather in the fall.
My weight loss plan was at a serious disadvantage in April with Easter coming early in the month. My plan to deal with all the chocolate in the house at Easter was to eat it all as quickly as possible. Success!
Easter was quickly followed two days later by the local election that I lost but still won. Yes, third runner-up was enough to be elected. I felt like a kid at a rec league soccer tournament where everyone gets a trophy. But I think it’s official now that this came in the mail …
And it didn’t, but I still succeeded … sort of. As I have explained in prior posts, I was pretty sure I would gain weight over the winter. The key for me was to try and limit that weight gain. By late summer of 2020, I had lost 17 pounds through spring and summer. As soon as cooler weather in early fall arrived and I took our pool down, I almost immediately added back 2 pounds. I went into the winter months of December through February hoping to minimize my weight gain. I wanted to show some progress from 2020 to 2021. It didn’t help that I could not bring myself to go to the health club all winter while a pandemic raged out of control in the US.
I was limited to walking outside, our treadmill, and our elliptical machine. I never got around to setting up a bike on a stationary trainer like I wanted. Mild winter weather allowed me to still walk outside in December and most of January, but then winter hit here with a vengance in February. We had about 3 weeks straight of incessant snow and frigid temps. I was relegated to shoveling/snowblowing outdoors when necessary (which seemed to be daily) and walking/ellipsing indoors. Take a look at how my steps in February shrank for the third month in a row …
When we last left our plucky dieter (me!), my diet plan for January & February was for me to gain 2 pounds each month in order to lose weight. You can read and try and make sense of that logic in the complete post HERE, but the gist is that it is inevitable that I will gain weight in the winter, so I need to control my weight gain, unlike in years past when I have inflated like a balloon at a kid’s birthday party by the end of winter.
That is me after most winters. Oh, but not this one. I planned to limit my weight gain which would allow me to start Spring weighing less than a year ago. After only gaining a pound in December, I planned to add 2 pounds each month in January and February. Then I could start March at 9 pounds less than last year. I lost 17 pounds in 2020 before the cold weather hit, so if I could lose just 15 additional pounds this year, I would be very happy at being down 24 total pounds from my peak in early 2020. Whew, I did not realize there would be math required with this post.
So, what did I do to only gain 2 pounds in January? Well, I exercised less. Take a look …
Happy New Year to you all as I wrap up my Twelve Days of Blogging. When last I checked my weight in an act of public self-shaming, I had gained 2 pounds back from my summer & fall 17 pound weight loss. I hatched a crazy plan to gain less than 5 pounds per month during the 3 winter months, and I would then start Spring 2021 weighing less than last year. Even nuttier is that’s the plan I’ve decided to follow – weight gain. It’s the only plan I have. Winter weight gain is inevitable for me. The best I can do is minimize it.
I knew December would be hard. By the end of the month, my diet had turned almost exclusively to a focus on the 4 holiday food groups of cookies, chocolate, caramel, and eggnog. My workouts had faded as Christmas activities and a bathroom renovation took precedence over self-care. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie …
The last time I updated you on my efforts to reach my weight loss goal of 20 pounds (for those of you still living in medieval times, that comes out to 1.43 stones), I had fallen short in September. I was stuck at 17 pounds at the end of September after really working out hard that month. With cooler weather coming, I faced the prospect of no more swimming workouts in the convenience of our backyard pool. I am simply not up for a nice winter swim as some are.
Canadians, eh? And I cannot handle this exercise below freezing …
It was an odd Thanksgiving Day yesterday with 3 of our 5 kids staying remote due to COVID concerns. We did a Zoom meeting with the remote kids, which seemed more normal than I expected. But before that, I took a walk with Lola the dog to the neighborhood creek.
She loved it. I liked it. I would have loved it had she not pooped 3 times on the walk. How is that even possible? It’s not like she was eating along the way. Well, we had a mostly enjoyable walk, minus the ubiquitous pooping, and I was bemused seeing these trees along the way to the creek …