Cleaning up

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I managed to pick-up a cold earlier this week and I chalked it up to everyone and his brother from my workplace being sick. If I didn't know better, I'd posture that my office is actually an infirmary filled with salaried patients who are carrying and sharing things like walking pneumonia, whooping cough, and countless other infectious diseases - everyone is coughing, hacking, sneezing, wheezing, and looking just miserable. I tried to fight it as best I could - I washed my hands a dozen times a day, wiped down every shared surface with Lysol wipes, used hand sanitizer, doubled-up on the vitamin C, but I still caught something... ugh.

To make matters worse, Mack (one of the cats) also came down with a really nasty cold as well. She'd been sleeping nearly 24/7, coming out only to eat a little, drink a little, and every so often to stare at me with her "I'm so miserable," look. We actually sat staring at each other for a number of minutes - me on the couch, sore throat just scorching; her on the floor, eyes running and green goo coming from her nose.

And then the humidifier kicked-on, and I wondered, "What if the humidifier made us both sick?"

It didn't really dawn on me that the humidifier could've been the culprit until that very moment. I pulled my Lasko humidifier from storage just a few days earlier, filled it with water, and set it to "high." About 2 days later, Mack was sick. About 2 days after that, I was sick.

So, I busted out the internet and did some research. Turns out you're supposed to clean a humidifier pretty regularly - like at least once every 2 weeks. Whoops! I'd never cleaned it (although I got it in January of last year, used it for 2 months, drained it, and then stored it in a box until last week). Hmm.

I learned that you're supposed to use a bleach/water solution to disinfect the tank, the reservoir, and any areas that hold water. A white-vinegar/water solution used after the disinfecting will help break down any scale or crusty mineral build-ups. And, you're not supposed to "run" the humidifier with either solutions in place - you disassemble the humidifier, clean it, rinse it super well, replace any filters, reassemble it, and enjoy the clean humidity.

So, I set about cleaning the dickens out of the humidifier and was shocked to discover how gross the inside of it was. I took time to wash everything with soapy water prior to using the bleach solution, and I used a toothbrush and some srubber pads to make certain I removed any crud from every visible area. I soaked the reservoir and tank in the bleach solution for an hour or so, rinsed everything, and then repeated the process with my vinegar solution.

A quick trip to Menards yielded a new filter (and for just $4.99). I reassembled everything, filled it with fresh cold water, and fired it up. It certainly smelled more clean, and now, 2 days later, both Mack and I appear to be doing much better. You might want to take a moment to clean your own humidifier - it's pretty easy and if it helps keep you healthy, it's worth the effort. Oh - I also learned that a lot of the commercial treatment products/additives may be harmful to your health, so if possible, take the time to use the soap, bleach, vinegar approach.

Here's my nice clean humuggity machine:


I also cleaned the rest of the apartment from top to bottom - windows, cupboards, floors, light switches, the refrigerator/freezer, the stove/oven, dishwasher, and so on... Everything was moved, vacuumed behind, and thoroughly cleaned. It's so nice to have a clean place!

And finally, speaking of cleaning, you're all aware of my efforts to manage my diet/exercise/performance/composition ratios. I've talked about a bunch of plans and so on, and for the most part things have gone really well. But I'm trying to perfect and extract the last few bits of performance from myself - I know my ideal racing weight, but it's really difficult to maintain it. I usually undereat for a period of time, then overeat for a day or two - rinse/lather/repeat. It's really frustrating.

So, a while back, I bought a book called Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. I read it, loosely mapped a plan, but never really followed it - I just didn't quite "get it" at that time. Matt is an elite coach and athlete, but I couldn't buy into his theories - I was convinced that eating less calories was the key to maintaining my racing weight (based on his theories, I would've needed to double my calorie intake to maintain my ideal racing weight). His theories seemed counter-intuitive, and my body is pretty calorie adverse - I can perform really well on a small number of calories; adding calories causes my weight to rise and my bodyfat percentage to increase as well.

It's terribly frustrating, because most nutritionists, coaches, etc. all preach that "carbs are king" for endurance athletes, and that endurance athletes of my size would need to eat around 2800 calories per day, just to maintain their current weight. I can all but guarantee that if I ate anywhere near 2800 calories per day, I'd balloon up by 20-30lbs in no time flat. Apparently my metabolism hates me.

Well, he recently came out with a follow-up book called Racing Weight: Quick Start Guide - A 4-week weight loss plan for endurance athletes, and I was intrigued. I read some reviews about it and decided to give it a visit.

While many of the underlying principles are identical to his original book, he has modified the approach, so I decided to give it a go. I sat down a few weeks ago to read the book cover-to-cover and to map out an appropriate plan. Some of the theories are still complex, but this most recent book offers more of a "step-by-step" plan which I found really interesting and (potentially) helpful. Here are some of my calculations in progress:


I've been following the plan "to-the-T" for just over a week, and so far, so good. I have absolutely no cravings for any of my normal vices (donuts, cookies, cake, popcorn), and my composition figures appear to be starting to head in the right direction. We'll see how it goes as time progresses.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on January 16, 2011 3:14 PM.

Another pot-luck entry: The break-up, Temperatures, and The elusive white whale was the previous entry in this blog.

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