Thursday, April 30, 2009

Carlton's defining moment

Operation Bootcamp Day 3

After work last night, I stopped by Apostrophe lounge for the weekly Pop Life party, sponsored by Creative Loafing and the Sol Kitchen.

I arrived about 12:30 a.m. and CL editor Carlton Hargro was still there. (Drinking water.) He had to be at Latta Park by 5:30 a.m. for Operation Bootcamp, and I knew he was going to be hurting today.

He was.

"Today showed me I think I'm going to get through this thing," he said. "After three hours of sleep, I got my (rump) up and boy I didn't want to go. I DID Not want to go. I was trying to think of excuses."

Carlton told himself: "If you keep doing what you've been doing you're going to stay the same way. Just go."

He did.

Today was upper body day. They used big rubber bands, circuit training and running, Carlton said. They did lots of crunches and core work, such as planks. Organizers split up the veterans and the rookies. He was glad. He could not have survived if today was like Tuesday, he said.

"Carlton rocked today," said bootcamp's Christen Lewis.

She said today's workout was called Guts & Guns.

Carlton said he convinced himself to workout this morning with plans of napping before work, but he felt too energized to sleep.

"This was a defining day for me."

Carlton sweats beer

Creative Loafing editor Carlton Hargro said he was sweating beer after his first day of Operation Bootcamp.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hiking trail connects Carolinas

Crowders Mountain is my favorite day hike. It's a quick getaway from Charlotte, and a great place to set the tone for a romantic evening. Assuming your baby doesn't mind physical exertion, a hike to the top followed by a picnic overlooking tree tops can be an excellent prelude for the evening.

The determination of thousands of volunteers means the hiking options around Crowders is even better. After seven years of shoveling and digging, Friends of Crowders Mountain and other nature enthusiasts created the 8 1/2-mile Ridgeline Trail. It connects Crowders Mountain State Park with Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park, which are in South Carolina, according to a Charlotte Observer story. The network of hiking trails is more than 45 miles long.

Being broke makes you skinny

Creative Loafing editor Carlton Hargro is doing a 30-day fitness bootcamp to shed at least 10 pounds so he can dress better.

Carlton said he wasn't always overweight. He used to play tennis and run track – a long time ago. Now, he can do 10 push ups (maybe). When he lived in Atlanta, he walked everywhere, but in Charlotte he drives.

He said he started gaining weight when he was 29, and got a good job as a web producer.

"Being broke, helps you stay skinny," he said.

He ate out often and started gaining weight. In two years, his weight ballooned and never went down.

Ten pounds to go.

David Poole's death is time to reflect

The sudden death of Charlotte Observer NASCAR columnist David Poole made me evaluate my life and health. Poole was only 50, and he loved his job and his family.

I do to, but in these stressful times work overshadows everything. I've spent the last few years consumed with work and I neglected my health. Now, I work with the constant fear I could join the ranks of the unemployed. It's crazy.

As Sophia said in The Color Purple: "It ain't worth it. It ain't worth it."

In Charlotte, police have seen an increase in suicide threats and attempts this year compared to last year. At the same time, wholistic healing practitioners have seen an increase in business. And the YMCA reports usage has increased.

These days, I've readjusted my attitude toward work. I have no gray hairs, and my goal is not to get any because of stress.

I used Men's Health's Belly Off program to rejuvenate my workout. I attended meditation classes at Myers Park Baptist Church through the Vajradhara Buddhist Meditation Center of Charlotte to get my mind right. Once I get used to my new work schedule, I'll return to yoga. (I promise Phyllis, I'm coming back.)

What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Eat more, lose weight

The centerpiece to many fitness plans is a healthy diet. In Operation Bootcamp, Carlton Hargro is learning that changing his eating habits can be as hard as the working out.

The eating plan for Operation Bootcamp is like many others. Eat six small, healthy meals a day.

On Monday, Carlton ate cereal for breakfast, a salad with grilled chicken for lunch and two servings of yogart. He said he found himself eating at 10 p.m. trying to fit in all of his meals.

"I ate like two big meals a day (before)," he said. "My lunch sometimes was gigantic. Dinner would be gigantic and then I might have some beer or wine. There's no way I can do this with beers on my stomach."

I suggested he try Men's Health Belly Off eating plan, which allows for one beer at dinner. I used it - with liberal substitutions - and the entire Belly Off workout to lose weight after years of drinking caught up to me. The site even has a printable shopping list and recipes.

"Yesterday was nothing"

Operation Bootcamp Day 2

Carlton Hargro was feeling pretty good after his first day at Operation Bootcamp at Latta Park. On Monday, he jogged/walked a mile in 11 minutes, completed 26 pushups and 26 bench dips, and he didn't do too bad on the crunches.

Monday was the fitness test. Today was the real workout.

"Yesterday was nothing," he said. "Today was out of control. The only thing that kept me going was my pride. I can't think of the last time I was that tired and in pain."

Was he tempted to quit?

"I would never quit something like this," he said. "Me and a bunch of women, what would I look like quitting?"

Carlton said they probably did 100 pushups today. The group did calisthenic circuits. At the end of each exercise, such as leap frogs, they did pushups, squat-jacks ( squat/jumping jack combo) or crunches.

"I am never going to get this out of shape in my life," he said. "It was horrible."

Carlton was so exhausted and in so much pain push ups felt good -- push ups.

"The feeling I have today is the reason I don't want to work out. It's so painful. It's not fun, but this is what I have to do," he said. "Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't sit on my couch and drink Newcastles for five years."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Carlton and the ladies get physical

Operation Bootcamp Day 1

Standing in the parking lot of Latta Park, Carlton Hargro's eyes grow wide. He chuckles. Operation Bootcamp instructor Christen Lewis is giving the participants their first assignment - run one mile.

"How much time do we have?" Carlton asks.

It's the first day of the 45-minute fitness bootcamp at Latta Park. It's the first day of Carlton's journey to a healthier lifestyle and goal of wearing clothes from Banana Republic.

Carlton says he doesn't know when he last ran a mile. He's one of a handful of newbies at the camp. He's the only guy. One woman wants to get in shape to wear a bikini. There are also three brides in the class hoping to get in their wedding dresses. Others are repeat customers, one of whom is preparing for an upcoming half-marathon. This morning is a physical test to get a baseline for each participant.

The women and Carlton would perform a series of exercises then write their times and number of exercises completed in a logbook. At the end of the month, they will repeat today's test to see how far they progressed.

First up, the run.

Carlton steps to the start line, a lamp post. Christen says "Ready, set, go."

He and the other women gamely jog into the darkness. About halfway around the park he walks. He finishes with a light jog back to the lamp post.

Time? Eleven minutes. Not bad for a guy who can't remember the last time he ran a mile.

"Oh my god. I'm a alive," he says breathing heavily.

Next up: push ups, sit ups or crunches and bench dips.

He has to do as many of each as he can in one minute. He completes 26 push ups, 26 dips, and 35 crunches.

"Woo! These numbers are impressive," he exclaims as he logs his stats.

He also can't remember the last time he broke a sweat.

Wiping perspiration from his forehead, he says, "That's pure beer coming out."

Carlton goes to bootcamp

It's 5 a.m. and I’m heading to Latta Park to meet drinking buddy Carlton Hargro. After much prodding, cajoling and teasing from friends, Carlton is getting in shape.

Today is first day in Operation Boot Camp, a 30-day outdoor fitness camp. Carlton won the workout after buying a raffle ticket at an event by Skirt magazine.

"I never win anything," said the editor of Creative Loafing. "I said, 'I think God is trying to tell me something'."

Carlton, 38, is worried about injuries. A friend recently did a bootcamp, and she’s on crutches now, he said. His goal is to lose at least 10 pounds. That’s a reasonable goal if he trains hard and changes his diet. He plans to give up alcohol for the month and eat healthy.

"I'm really determined that whatever success I have, I'm going to keep working out," he said. "I don't want to look like the Rock, but I want to be healthy."

His ultimate goal is to slim down so he can dress better. The oversized T-shirts and jeans are getting old.