Stop the Struggle

Stop the struggle

A few days ago, Lani Muelrath posted 5 steps you can take to stop the struggle and get going with your workouts on her web site. The inspiration for this piece was a discussion that came off her Facebook page. “Research suggests that 50% of people who start an exercise program will drop out within the first 6 months (Wilson & Brookfield, 2009).” Without knowing it, I have surpassed that 6 months barrier, as I now approach 8 months of eating healthy and exercising. I was able to “stop the struggle” and move forward with a healthy lifestyle. Yet, it wasn’t always like this time.

Lani cites “Motivation” being the key when it comes to exercise. I know, I made excuses before, “I don’t have time” or “I’ll do it tomorrow” were two of my favorites. She explains 4 steps to stop the struggle and get started with your workouts are

Find the why
Imagine success
Be specific
Set the date!

Each of us my find the why, I did. “Why is it that you want to get healthy, lose weight, get stronger?” Thanks to Dr. McDougall and the basis of a plant based diet I eating healthier than ever before. The results were evident in my weight loss (44 pounds to date), but more importantly in my blood tests that resulted in a decrease of total cholesterol (currently 88 points to 174). Now that my “diet” was under control and I wanted to look better.

In January I added exercise to the equation, I worked out 3 days a week using our Bowflex Revolution. When I started this way of eating, the only exercise was 20-30 minutes of walking 4-5 days a week. This allowed me to ease into weight lifting and getting basic movements down. After 5 months I decided to step up the exercise and joined the local sports club. It was my goal to work out 3-4 days a week, while adding a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio to my exercise regime. To date, I feel great. Coupled with the loss of weight, I am trying to fill out my physique. I have noticed an increase in strength and some arm muscles being defined.

As Lani says, find the why is closely related to imagine success. A day doesn’t go by I imagine how I will look and feel by the end of year (or other dates I set as goals). I can feel my body changing, I see it in the mirror, when I work out and when I sit down to eat a healthy starch based meal.

Thankfully I have a gym partner who is an experienced lifting weights. He has developed a good program that has us working specific body parts 4 days a week. The work outs vary in movement in order to strengthen and develop muscles in each muscle group. This is what Lani terms as “be specific” and being “connected to your why.” This is more evident in the cardio workout. While I do push myself with the weights, I know my limitation. I have seen further improvement while on the elliptical fitness crosstrainer as I move from 30 to 45 minute sessions.

Not sure why it’s taken 42 years to “stop the struggle” and take full control of my health. It has been challenging at time finding the motivation to stick with these eating habits or to commit to go to the gym. The rewards to date have been more than worth it! It has been a learning experience every step of the way. While I don’t look to change anyone’s specific habits or diet, hopefully people will take notice of the changes that are occurring. That at least opens the door for possible change.

WPX: Final Stretch Update

I feel like I am sitting in traffic and not going nowhere quick. That is how I compare the past 5 hours I have operated in the CQWW WPX CW Contest. This time yesterday I was putting up some good numbers, but the sun, being unpredictable has thrown a wrench into my plans.

While my time should be better spent in front of the radio, which is where I am currently sitting I have modified my goals a few times since yesterday. Hell, a few times since this morning for that matter. I am hoping to break 500,000 points as a final score. Currently I am just over 465,000 points. Typically I would say this would be a snap to get with the scoring being weighed in my favor. Unfortunately the solar conditions have taken a turn for the worst and I have one band to work, that’s 15M.

I continue to spin my dial and listen to stations I have already worked and logged. Right now I am making contact with maybe 10 stations an hour. Talking about dreadful! Still it beats being at work. Maybe things will pick up as the afternoon rolls on. Although I expect I will have a challenging time with these last 35,000 points I am chasing. I will provide a complete synopsis at the conclusion of the contest.


2012 CQWW WPX CW Goals

Starting this Friday at 5pm (0000 z) is the beginning of the CQWW WPX CQW Contest. It’s become a favorite of mine, based off my 2010 and 2009 efforts. While I had set lofty expectations in 2010, I came up well short of my goals. Compared to 2009, I doubled my contracts and tripled my final score. Still out of 36 hours I only worked 24 hours and 50 minutes, which put any idea of 1 million points behind me.

I gotta give props to many of these contesters who can go all night without sleep, many of them older than I. This was something I was unable to do last year and at 01z I called it quits. Hopefully that won’t be the case this year, as I am planning on operating through Friday night into the daylight hours of Saturday.

The SteppIR BigIR is back, erected and in good working condition. I need to make one minor repair on an 80M radial, but am looking to get the antenna tested on Wednesday afternoon. The hex beam has been unused for nearly a month and a half since my Yaesu FT-1000MP has been in the shop under repair. I did receive confirmation that the rig will arrive on Wednesday providing me 2 days to get the shack reconnected and in working order for the start of the contest on Friday.

At the beginning of April I wrote a piece called WPX on the Horizon, discussing my failure to achieve my goals in 2010 and how to be successful 2 years later. It will be the low bands (40M & 80M) that will be the deciding factor. If I can have a productive first night, then I should have a legitimate shot at making my goal of 1 million points.

This year I have set 1 million points as my goal, how I get there is of little consequence. Based on my 2012 CQWW CW spreadsheet I would need 890 QSOs, 418 PFX, which would equate to 2400 QSO points for a final score just over 1 million points. This is predicated on a prefix variable of 0.47. Based on my 2010 score, my prefix rate ended up at 0.46 but as the contest wears on new prefixes are difficult to find, but worth quite a few points.

As mentioned, it will be 40M and 80M that will be the deciding factor (4 or 6 points per QSO). I need to total 475 contacts between the two bands. If not, the shortfall will need to be made up on the low bands and will end up requiring more contacts at a lower point per contact. Not sure this would be a possibility for me since my effort will be search and pounce, without running any frequency.

Looking at the numbers, over a 36 hour period I would need to average a 24.72 contacts per hour (known as rate) in order to achieve my goal. In any contest a 24 rate is very low, especially when compared to those who will be running a frequency or using a SO2R (single operator, 2 radios) operation. My Morse code is adequate and my skill is improving, as well as my speed, but running a frequency only to have to QRZ for a call sign does nothing but waste time. If the first 7 hours of the 2010 effort is any indication (was at a 32 rate), I should be able to achieve my goal.

The factor that remains a question mark, the solar conditions. I am using N6BV’s propagation software and hoping for high conditions (SFI  100+ and SSN 100+) and planning my contest out for each hour. I don’t plan on spending much time on 10M (only planning 40 QSOs), but will check at the top of each hour. Currently I am planning my sleep schedule. Initially I had it set up for one block of 10 hours during the daylight hours on Saturday. After some consideration I am breaking it up into a few smaller breaks, hoping to be at my 36 hour limit about 3-4 hours before the contest ends. Whatever I finally decide on the sleep schedule, I am going to make it a point to stay up when the sun is down to maximize my score.

I will enter this contest as a single operator, low power, unassisted. This too could change before the contest, but I don’t see much reason to fire the amplifier up and run high power, especially for CW. With any luck I will be reporting back the fruits of my labor and grinning from ear to ear that I have achieved my goal.

90 Day Goal: Failed

On January 9 I started Dr. McDougall’s 12-day program with my wife and aunt. After completion of the program on January 21 I had made further improvements on my blood numbers, as well as my weight loss. At the conclusion, I set another 3 month goal, to get my body weight down to 175 pounds. As of today, now April 22 I am still 8 pounds shy of my goal. All things considered, I am not upset with this. But as many had written about previous on the McDougall Discussion Boards, the last 10 pounds are the hardest. I am now experiencing that.

I have identified those areas causing the 8 pound discrepancy. Topping the list, my dedication to a cardio workout. An area that will probably provide more benefits and resolve some of my other issues. Next would be the intake of those “empty carbs” from beer. I have cut my alcohol consumption back, but is it enough? That has yet to be seen. Finally my eating habits need to stabilize. Right now, I struggle with getting a balance of good meals though out the day.

When I added cardio to my health plan, I had the intention of walking 20-30 minutes 4-5 days a week while on lunch break at work. Unfortunately I am not always able to get that walk in due to job priorities. When I get home from work, cardio is nearly non-existent. Although, my wife wants to start walking in the afternoon, so hopefully together we can start a walking regime before dinner. I would like to add spinning or an elliptical to the cardio, but right now that might not be a possibility.

The beer. Oh the beer, how do I love thee? This continues to be my vice that I am trying to remedy, but with summer on the horizon and temperatures warming up I am struggle to grab anything other than a cold one from the refrigerator when working around the yard. I have been able to cut back the amount I drink on a weekly basis, but I am not sure if that reduction is enough. The problem with the beer is I believe it’s keeping my triglycerides (208) high. Beer “reduces the amount of the enzyme that breaks down triglycerides and spurs the liver to make more triglycerides” (source). Currently my alcohol habit equates to just under 1 beer a day per week, which is usually a 6-pack on my days off from work.

Outside of breakfast, I really haven’t establish good eating habits. I do eat when I am hungry, but usually the amount of food I eat isn’t enough to satiate me, so I find myself hungry a bit later with nothing to eat. Rarely do I eat out any more when I am at work, which isn’t a problem. The problem starts when I get home from work and start eating that afternoon snack, followed by dinner usually less than 2 hours later. So it seems I am probably eating too much in a short window followed by going to bed not more than 90 minutes after dinner is over.

With those issue, the rate of weight loss has slowed. Over the past 2 months, I doubt my weight of 183 has varied by more than +/- 2 pounds, which is a positive sign. Again, I don’t have to count calories or track my food with this way of eating. I have been doing for other reasons, so I can refer back to see what I have eaten and what possibly culprits I could have in my diet, if the triglycerides do not end up dropping to a healthy level.

So why I didn’t meet my weight goal I am still carrying a very positive attitude and outlook forward. This 90 day goal was nothing more than a checkpoint to gauge how I was doing. While the weight is still 8 pounds shy of where I want to be, I can look back and see that I am 33 pounds lighter than I was this time last year. Pending the outcome of my MRI, my next goal will be set for late September, as I wrote about yesterday.

WPX on the Horizon

While May 26 is still a way out, it’s not too early to start planning for the CQ WPX CW contest. It’s one of those contests that I have really come to enjoy, next to the ARRL Sweepstakes. I find it interesting, now 3 years into contesting these two contests would top my list of “most enjoyable.” CW or Morse code wasn’t a mode I really thought of using when I upgraded without submitting to Element 1 testing, since it was dropped by the FCC. Sweepstakes, before participating, I could not understand the draw to the contest, but now 3 years later, these “messages” we exchange during the contest show the importance of traffic handling and being precise.

There is more to entering a contest than winning, especially for an operator like myself with a very modest shack and equipment compared to other stations. Unfortunately due to our remodel in 2011, I was unable to participate in the CQ WPX CW. Go back just 2 years and I posted one of my best overall performances in ANY contest to date. Again, I didn’t win the contest in my category (Single Operator, High Power, All Bands), while placing 19th out of 71 operators in that category.

The best part of this contest is that you get to work EVERYBODY! It’s also a contest where the other station’s prefix (like W6 or WD6, etc) are multipliers. If you work stations on the low bands (40/80M) they are worth double the points. If you work stations on other continents, they are worth more than if I work many domestic stations. So this is my best opportunity to score 1 million points in a contest.

John, K6MM and Dean, N6BV made a presentation back in 2010 at our May meeting of the Northern California Contest Club. After seeing the numbers as presented by K6MM and the outlook for propagation, even an operator like my could put up 1 million points. I had grand visions of that goal back in 2010, but sleep got the better of me when the sun went down. From that point on I was behind the goals I had set, unable to recover.

This year hopes to be a different story, especially if the solar weather picks up in the next month with an increase in sunspots. Regardless I will attempt to put a full weekend into contesting in order to achieve my 1 million point goal. Getting back to the band information, as long as I can stay awake, the low bands (40/80M) should be worth their points in gold. Even 6-8 hours when the sun goes does should provide me with the push I need to make 1 million points. The great think about this contest is I only need to make 27 contacts per hour and I will achieve my goal.

Currently I have working up the details on a spreadsheet I use for where my antenna will be pointing, possible contacts per band, broken down into different categories based on points. I also have to figure out a sleep schedule, which could be during the day, as opposed to night time when points are at a premium. Still some work to do before the contest arrives, but planning is always a key when it comes to contesting.