Wednesday, April 17, 2013


December 31, 2012
The "Free Lunch" Weight Loss Plan v.019

On the 5th of December, I set what I think is a new all-time personal best of 44 minutes and 57 seconds to climb 200 flights of stairs.

The stars aligned. I got a good night's sleep (which is rare since I am an insomniac most nights). The sun was out. I mowed the backyard and weeded the front yard to some degree. I was therefore in good spirits. I worked out to the second episode of the first season of Alias. It was apparently motivating enough to knock exactly 4 minutes off my best time. It took me just 40 minutes and 57 seconds to climb 200 flights today.

It is not a coincidence that the time ended in 57 seconds again. Call it a 3 second safety buffer. I started off at a 50 feet per minute pace. At first I thought I could get down under 45 minutes (with the intent of slowing down at some point). That's how long the episode was (no commercials, Comcast On Demand). 44 minutes started looking doable. I then started shooting for 43 minutes. Hope rose that I could do it under 42 minutes. And lastly, I really pushed near the end to make it just under 41 minutes. My pace varied from 47 feet per minute to 53 feet per minute (the final push at the end). I averaged 48.8 feet per minute.

Under 40 minutes was right out. First, I weigh about 6 pounds more than the last time I made a serious attempt. Second, I was alone in the house (my girlfriend had errands to run). Third, there is no phone in the room with the stair climber (to call an ambulance in theory, lol). Fourth, I don't have health insurance at the moment.

I managed to give myself a temporary dehydration headache. I drank a 12 ounce glass of Gatorade before I started. I drank another 12 ounces as I was climbing. I followed it up with yet another 12 ounces after I was done. That was definitely not enough liquids. Once I realized that I was on a record pace, I didn't want to stop to get more fluids though.

I felt like Ted Stryker attempting to land a plane. Let's just say that I don't think I'll ever get over Macho Grande. ;)


Alongside the path of the Niesenbahn is the longest stairway in the world with 11,674 steps. It is open only once a year to the public for a stair run.

Holy mother of...

Spring has finally sprung. It hasn't shown up in my weight yet, but I've been exercising a lot more over the past week. The day before yesterday I watched the first episode of the first season of Alias while working out (at a much slower pace). There are a LOT more episodes to go! It is very likely that I'll be climbing well more than the minimum 20 flights per day in the coming months. Once again, 20 flights remains my minimum though. It keeps me in the game and allows me to climb as many as I like whenever I like. Over the past few months, I've only been doing the minimum. It was clearly enough exercise if today is any indicator.

There was very little pain (other than the slight dehydration headache which was entirely preventable). My legs are not sore right now. The limiting factor was my cardiovascular system. It was the air I could breathe in and how fast my heart was beating that mostly decided my speed. I'm definitely not a believer in the no pain, no gain theories, especially when it comes to exercise. All it takes is modest and consistent exercise each and every day to make a huge impact overall. Baby steps! 20 flights a day seemed like a chore when I started. Now they seem trivial. It takes just 4 minutes now (or 5 minutes if I'm feeling especially lazy).

Give it a try. You might like it. Walk up the street once a day. Climb some stairs. Just do something that you think you can do each and every day for the rest of your life, even if it seems trivial. You will not regret it. I sure haven't. Anything is better than nothing.


Stagflationary Mark said...

As a side note, I was not in good spirits because I enjoy mowing the backyard.

I was in good spirits because I had finished mowing the backyard. ;)

mab said...

Sounds like you picked a hell of a day to mow the back yard!

I'm definitely not a believer in the no pain, not gain theories

Surely, you're not serious! Shun the non-believer!

Stagflationary Mark said...


Sounds like you picked a hell of a day to mow the back yard!

And to quit drinking... and to quit smoking... and to quit sniffing glue... and to quit amphetamines!

Surely, you're not serious!

I am! And don't call me Shirley! (That is my mom's name though. No joke!)

Shun the non-believer!

You do know that there is no actual Candy Mountain, right?

Hey, that reminds me. I have a theory about what is causing this economy to seemingly prosper again. Magical Liopleurodons! ;)

mab said...

Did I call you Shirley? I don't recall that. I may have called you Serious, but definitely not Shirley.

Anyway, just so there's no confusion here, I want you to know that I know you're not Shirley....or Serious. You're Roger Murdoch, the co-pilot. It's right there on the name tag.

AllanF said...

Call me pedantic, but I've always been bothered that your Free Lunch™ weight loss plan doesn't involve skipping lunch.

It's really the Boring, Common-sense, What Everyone Knows, but No One Does™ weight loss plan.

Stagflationary Mark said...


A name tag?

It's a big name tag with writing on it, but that's not important right now.

Stagflationary Mark said...



It needs a catch phrase.

Who coulda BoC-WEK-NODe!

EconomicDisconnect said...

Wow, that's some serious stair stepping son!

Stagflationary Mark said...

It was surely serious, lol.

122 flights today so far. I sauntered at a leisurely 30 feet per minute watching the third episode. :)

Craig Brandenburg said...

Let's calculate your average wattage!

1W is kg * m^2 / s^3. (1W = J/s. 1J = kg * m^2 / s^2.)

Assuming a lift weight of 209 lbs (, a climb rate of 48.8 ft/min, and gravity at 9.78 m / s^2…

209lbs = 94.8008kg
48.8ft/min = 14.8742m/min

94.8008kg * (14.8742m/min * 1min/60s) * 9.78m/s^2 = 230.W

230 Watts, or 2.42W per kg of body mass. Good job!

And to dispel the doping allegations before they start, as well as to give some perspective for your numbers: the top cyclists in the Tour de France can put out nearly 6W/kg for a 40-minute effort.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Craig Brandenburg,

Well, you know I love physics! Thanks for doing the math.

I'm tempted to calculate how much water could be boiled @ 230 watts in 41 minutes. I'm thankful that my body opted to sweat instead. :)

Craig Brandenburg said...

Mark, considering that for every 1 Calorie you put into the actual work, about 4 more Calories were wasted, so it's a good thing your body sweats. 1KW is hot!

By the way, what kind of stair-climbing machine are you using?

Stagflationary Mark said...

Craig Brandenburg,

I'm using a 14 year old Bodyguard Quantum LS. It wasn't cheap but then again it is holding up really well. The diagnostics say that it has 16 days of exercise time on it.

Every piece of exercise equipment before it eventually failed. That includes several cheap stair-climbers (several just fell apart, another got insanely louder over time), an aerobic rider (metal bar fatigue after 900k reps), and a health rider (joint failure after 100k reps).

I loved the aerobic rider by the way. It offered a gentle and whisper quiet workout. Many calories were burned on it while watching Seattle Sonics games. It's replacement (health rider) had a serious design flaw. I was tempted to take it to a welding shop to get it fixed. Metal should not rub against metal. There was a fine dusting of metal accumulating below a certain joint and oiling it could not prevent the problem. The lower end aerobic rider did not share that problem. Eventually the support for the handlebar formed a crack though. I can't really complain. It lasted a long time. It was probably the best exercise purchase I've made on a cost per hour basis. I also definitely kept the weight off.

I've never discarded old usable exercise equipment. Perhaps I'm just too stubborn. If I bought it, then I'm going to use it until one of us breaks. ;)

Rob Dawg said...

Dude, waiting for this exponential FAIL:


Rob Dawg said...

Oh an Mark...

Learn to weld.

Rob Dawg said...

To the sky Alice:

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rob Dawg,

There's definitely been an exponential trend failure in my posting activity!

Sorry about that.

I seem to be in a "turn my computer on" once a week whether it needs it or not mode, lol.