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Chris Abraham on two laps of Roosevelt Island offroad trail run

Gear and tech that’ll make me strong and skinny

fitbit surgeOK, I am not so naïve as to assume that all the fitness apps we have have strapped to our wrists, clipped to our shirts, and filling up our iPhones and Androids — but it’s not far from the truth. Over the last three months I have been so busy with actual work that I have put a pin in the obsessive calorie-counting, the obsessive step-step-stepping, the recording of anything even remotely resembling a workout onto a GPS watch, a fitness tracker, or a smartphone.

chrisfit at crossfit south arlingtonI was wondering why I was doing it for all these years now — until I stopped and quickly added 20-pounds over the holidays.  So, my obsession with Fitbit, Runkeeper, and MyFitnessPal has been an absolutely essential part of my essential weight management and health maintenance program.

And, after doing that obsessively, the secret to losing weight is painfully simple: calories in versus calories out on one hand; and, I also believe that the body processes different foods differently:

paleo chicken and broccoliPaleo, vegan, cutting out processed foods and sugars and carbs and gluten.  And I have been terrible at such things, always finding a caveat, exception, situation, or opportunity to break the fast.

That said, now that it’s time to act on all of our collective new years resolution, I am looking forward to activating all of the systems I have put into play: Runkeeper, Runtastic, Strava, Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, a Fitbit Surge sleep-, fitness-, and GPS-tracker.

fitbit work week hustle challengeThen, there’s the obvious next step: accountability.

As part of my rich fitness ecosystem of accountability and shame, I have retained a virtual trainer from DailyBurn, Melinda Harvey, and I have connected my fitness apps and my Fitbit to as many friends as possible.

One of the most amazing communities I am part of is the Fitbit Challenge community I highlighted here a year ago in Getting Lithe With a Little help from My FitBit Friends.

23685569579_c4df7c83f3_oNow, this is where I jump back into the bandwagon with both feet — and it’s been going pretty well.  I have been running pretty regularly, walking a lot, I have started going to Spin at Biker Barre in DC, and now I am lined up to start CrossFit at CrossFit South Arlington and, and maybe even some workouts at 9Round Fitness if I feel inspired.

And then there’s my daily bread: Concept2 rowing and Concept2 Challenges and the obsessive swinging of kettlebells at home.

2015 concept2 holiday challengeBut even these are communities, both online and off.  Right now, I am rowing with my Team Grotto virtual team in the 2016 Virtual Team Challenge sponsored by Concept2.

And, if you’re trying to get started running, reddit is an endless source of motivation for both Couch to 5k, running, and even general fitness and body weight exercises. And, oddly enough, there’s very little to no fat shaming no matter what you’ve heard about rampant reddit bullying.

crossfit south arlingtonMy CrossFit god friend, Dan Krueger, is logging a lot of his workouts on an app called the Wendler Log and then sharing it out on Facebook — and that’s one of the biggest component for vigorous accountability with a side order of shaming: sharing your workouts — and lack thereof — on Facebook and Twitter.

I have even started using IFTTT to share every detail or my Fitbit data, including total steps, floors climbed, calories burned, feet elevation gained, miles traveled, sedentary minutes, lightly active minutes, fairly active minutes and very active minutes — and this is published automagically every single night thanks to an IFTTT script.

fitBit IFTTT Data

RNNR - Fake It Till You Make ItI have even started a brand-spanking-new health and fitness blog called RNNR – Fake It Till You Make It in an attempt to . . . fake it ’til I make it.  And, on that note:

WARNING: you’ll probably spend more time being a hyper-sedentary geek than actually putting a couple hours of activity in every day, at least 10,000 steps onto the Fitbit, and at least 30-minutes of high-intensity activity every single day getting your sweat on (if you can go for more than a day without showering, you’re either really gross or you’re not sweating nearly enough on a daily basis).

redditFitnessOK, let’s bring this back to business: I guarantee you that if you spend at least a demiheure every day really sweating to the oldies you will surely be able scrub some stress from your life, boil out the frustrations, and armor your back against the inevitable Oy! My lumbago!

Become the tiger you are, tiger! Go git ’em! Originally posted on Biznology.

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Chris Abraham on two laps of Roosevelt Island offroad trail run

Two nice muddy laps around Roosevelt Island

Circle Roosevelt Island Trail Run Counter-Clockwise

Circle Roosevelt Island Trail Run Counter-Clockwise

My girl and I popped out to Roosevelt Island and did one 1.5 mile trail running lap and then another 1.5 mile trail running lap.

We did one right after the other so it was sort of like a 3-mile run, in total.

B and I really want to move into 5ks and then 10ks and then go up from there. 

Hooah!

I was slow but I was up to another. And she’s a 9-minute/mile runner so she was just being very lovely.

I really love the new pair of Hoka One One Speedgoats — makes my big and tall self feel very confident in the mud and much in the mild national park offroad.

Lap One

  • Activity: Running
  • Distance: 1.55 mi
  • Duration: 00:28:44
  • Average Pace: 18:33 min/mi
  • Calories Burned: 300

Lap Two

  • Activity: Running
  • Distance: 1.53 mi
  • Duration: 00:26:57
  • Average Pace: 17:38 min/mi
  • Calories Burned: 278

Oy! My lumbago!

2016-01-04 15.26.20

I threw my back out last Saturday morning. It was a sleep injury, which I started getting when I turned 40. it’s not bad, it’s just annoying. And frustrating. 

So, now that it’s 2016, I have a lot of plans. I was supposed to start CrossFit last Monday. I was supposed to start the Virtual Team Challenge with my team, Team Grotto. I really can’t blame Spinning at Biker Barre for throwing out my back but it happened. Not a pinched nerve but some sort of spontaneous back weakness. Thank God it’s not Sciatica!

I am getting better but it’s paused CrossFit for a week and rowing until today or tomorrow. I am feeling better but I really must say I feel like a car the day after the warranty expires. It feels like I have spontaneously gone to seed.

Biker Barre, owner Katie Fouts, instructor Ingrid Nelson. Rob StrongHappy new year!

But, that happens sometimes. I need to keep on resting, stretching, and getting in some nice walking and light rowing.  I might have made it worse by going on a two-hour walkabout the day my back tweaked but I know one thing: when I searched Google about throwing out your back, Google was clear on four things: ice it immediately, heat it after 48 hours, allow your back to rest — rest is essential — and lose as much weight as possible.

2016 Concept2 Virtual Team Challenge Official LogoYes, carrying extra weight is obviously behind both my weak back and also my bothersome knees. Yes, it’s a catch-22, but I have all the tools required to turn this boat around.

I’ll see you at CrossFit South Arlington, Conor! Don’t worry, Hope, Hunter, Douglas, and Scott: I’ll start contributing meters ASAP my friends! I will not abandon Team Grotto in the Virtual Team Challenge!

Walking: Mon, 4 Jan 2016 15:07:50

Colder than I’m dressed for just a walk to work.

Biker Barre, owner Katie Fouts, instructor Ingrid Nelson. Rob Strong

Spinning is awesome at Biker Barre

Chris Abraham after a biker barre spin class

Me, after a Biker Barre spin class

My girlfriend keeps on inviting me to Spin at Biker Barre in DC on Capitol Hill and I have never said no because it’s pretty awesome.  

Our favorite instructor was Lauren Rice until she moved away to Seattle for grad school — we miss you, Lauren!

Now, we’re digging on co-owner Katie Geffken, though we’ve really enjoyed Ashley Kristin Stanwick and Shelby Poduch as well.

Katie G is crazy hot. She dances and prances and it’s hard not to have a lot of fun in her class (don’t worry, my girlfriend agrees 100%). Katie’s energy is infectious and she’s very generous and helpful to first-timers.

Biker Barre co-owner Katie Geffken

Biker Barre co-owner Katie Geffken

Why do all those pretty women get to have all the fun? Spinning is fun, challenging, and a lot like a early morning pop music dance party!  Seriously, were it not for spin, I don’t think I would know any modern pop dance songs. 

Here’s some advice you need to to know before you start spinning:

  1. If it’s your first time, ask for help with your bike: 90% of every cyclist I see on the road has their saddle height and handlebars set wrong. So, don’t wing it at your first Spin class. Get to class early and as for the instructor’s help as soon as he or she is free. You’ll have a much better first experience if the bike’s set up right the first time. Take note of the letter setting on your seat height. I think I am a P.
  2. bikerBarreWashingtonDCThe lights are off, there is no performance board, and the music is loud pop: At Biker Barre, once the the ride begins, the instructors turn off the overhead lights, the only lighting offered by battery powered candles. So, don’t feel self-conscious. People can’t really see what you’re doing — and really don’t care. They’re paying attention to their own ride and the instructors. It’s really not a judgmental space at all. 
  3. The resistance knob is your friend not your enemy: when your instructor tells you to turn the resistance knob to the right, they don’t mean a full turn. Lauren Rice was really great at making it clear that turning the knob right might just mean a centimeter or an inch right. Lauren was also really good at making it clear when you need to take resistance off and how it should feel and what a “flat road” feels like versus a “small hill,” a “medium hill,” and what different positions are — here are some spinning terms for you before you go; here’s some more Spinning terms — and always remember, you will not be judged for just riding your own pace the entire time. 
  4. Drink water starting the night before: and then keep drinking in the morning. Dehydration is real, even though you might be only riding for 45-minutes, if I don’t make sure I am hydrated, I quickly bonk. My performance is nothing like a regular or the instructors
  5. JL Racing unisuitsDon’t wear baggy bottoms: since I wear a rowing singlet under my gym shorts, I often ditch my shorts when I get into class and get set up. If your shorts are too baggy, they might get caught on the seat during the workout. There are lots of up-and-downs during class — it’s worse than Catholic Mass, but not kneeling. There are several positions: out, up, down, and back. When you ride “back,” you’re hovering above the saddle with your arms out on the bars.  All this movement can catch your baggy gym shorts. 
  6. Bring cool water to class: I don’t mind room temperature water but my girl really prefers cold bottled water. There are two spots on the bars you can put your bottle and the instructors always remind their riders to drink water.
  7. solessmIMG_1195Biker Barre is set up to use SPD cleats: if you use Shimano-style clipless pedals on your road or mountain bike, bring them to class and they’ll serve you well. If you’re just buying for class, consider mountain bike-style recessed shoes so you don’t have to switch shoes when you arrive at the studio. Not all of the bikes have cages that you can use with street shoes, but many do — on the flip side of the SPD clips. I believe most stationary bikes set up Spinning have SPD clips but don’t hold me to that.
  8. Keep having fun no matter what: like Yoga, Barre, Zumba, and CrossFit, Spinning can be pretty intimidating if you don’t know all the steps. So, it’s essential to just have fun. If you bonk out, just keep spinning. If you can’t do any more push-ups, don’t; if you can’t keep up with the cadence or pace during surges or sprints, don’t — just do your best and have fun. Making yourself sick with over-exertion or from intimidation isn’t worth it.  Have fun and pretend you’re your inner 6-year-old and have fun on the bike, No matter what you do, the bike won’t fall over, nobody will make fun of you, and the instructors will always show you so much support you’ll want to come back. 
  9. You’re rewarded with a scented iced towel: when the ride is done and you transition to cool down and stretches, your Biker Barre instructor will get off her bike, take rolled white towels out of a mini fridge, and hand them out to you and everyone else. I believe the towels smelled up oranges on on Friday but I believe I have enjoyed rosemary and other lovely scents. It’s such a nice little reward at the end of every ride.

I went back to some old posts and I always joke about not stroking out:

@chrisabraham: Survived second spin class. Didn’t stroke out again. Actually enjoyed it.

@chrisabraham: For to Spin again today. 5:45 with Ashley S. Awesome. Didn’t bonk. Secret? 4 cups of water an hour before class. PS: didn’t stroke out!

@chrisabraham: Spinning almost killed me today. It was awesome. Thanks B. Katie G is a Spin murderer. She’s awesome.

Chris Abraham with his sexy gray athletic terrycloth headband

Me, rocking a headband

I wear bargain JL Racing unisuits to my classes because I don’t like it when my shirts ride up. Since rowing trou have a little bit of padding and we’re really only rowing for around 45-minutes, I am plenty good.  I also wear a silly headband and wristbands made out of either orange or gray terry.  So, with my Specialized clipless bike shoes, my silly accouterments, a rowing onesie, and a black t-shirt, I am sure I am a sight for sore eyes.

Then, when the ride’s over and I swap over to my road shoes (my bike shoes are old from when I competed and the clips are not recessed), I always create a block full of steam off my body when I leave the studio — it’s really amazing how much heat I give off after only 45-minutes of high intensity workout.

I cannot recommend giving it a go more even if you’re a dedicated cyclist.  Since you control your own pace and intensity, even someone who isn’t very fit can really benefit from Spinning. It’s especially good for people who are currently too heavy for running or jogging or sprinting just yet or for folks who have problems with high-impact workouts. 

There’s a reason why people who are into high intensity interval training or Tabata workout often choose stationary indoor bikes as their exercise of choice. There’s no limit to the amount of effort that you can dump into your indoor bike, especially when a sexy hot instructor is motivating, encouraging, and stoking you to ride as absolutely as hard as you want to in order to become the person you want to become, to have the life you want to live.

It’s 2016!  What do you want your life to look like? What do you want to look like? How do you want to feel? How strong do you want to be?