That One Decision

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That One Decision

We are one decision away from changing our lives. I read that Facebook comment feed about teens that were charged with murder. That comment really stuck with me. Then I thought, how it works both ways. Both positive and negative.

I thought I made the decision thousands of times, the one that was supposed to change my life for the better. Only to find myself stuffing my face with garbage food because it tastes good. “I’ll start tomorrow.” Every time I told myself I’d change my eating habits and my lifestyle, I knew deep down that nothing would change.

I was aiming too high. I was going from couch potato to trying to do an hour of straight cardio. Cardio that wasn’t sustainable. To eating in a calorie deficit so great that was unsustainable. I never really wanted to eat healthier, I just wanted to out train the horrible diet. When the diet aspect of it failed, I’d just revert back to purging. I’d feel horrible guilt for losing control of my eating habits that I felt purging was the only way to make myself feel better, even though it was throwing my body into an even more unhealthy state.

When I first started experimenting with removing dairy from my diet, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t want to do it. I tried alternatives at first. I tried taking the pills that block lactose (which worked only part of the time). I remember asking myself “what am I doing? And what do I need to do to get it right?” Deep down, I knew that I needed to cut the dairy out completely. When I made that decision, I knew I was serious. I knew it would happen.

We make decisions all day long. Some affect our lives greater than others. Sometimes we try to convince ourselves to do something that we’re not mentally ready to tackle. The decision I made initially was large enough to affect my life but small enough to be doable. I had no clue that one day I’d be running marathons and ultramarathons. That decision lead to a chain reaction of events that completely changed my life. Unlike those teens I mentioned at the beginning, listen to your  gut feeling. If there’s something in your life that needs to change, do it.

 

🌱 Eat plants. Keep running. Small successes turn into big achievements. 🏃🏻‍♂️

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A Lifetime of Damage

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It's going to hurt. Maybe not all the time, but it's going to hurt. I had braces on as an adult. It's not something I was crazy about but it's something that I knew that I wanted to have. It was not necessary but since I had lost all this weight, my teeth were the next thing that I felt needed to be fixed. I had a gap on the top and overcrowding/overlapping on the bottom (the best of both worlds...I guess). When I first started this process, I thought, no big deal. I'll get Invisalign and wear them for a while to straighten these teeth out. After a consult with the dentist, I found that my teeth needed more than a plastic mold, they needed full on braces. When I went to the orthodontist, they said I also had to have a tooth pulled due to overcrowding.

For the first two weeks, I was in so much pain that I had doubted my decision. I should've left well enough alone but it was too late to turn back. During this whole process, I would notice a little something here or there but nothing major. For the first few months they didn't even attempt to close the gap where my tooth had been pulled. I wanted that gap closed ASAP. The thing that I didn't know Is that they had to line up all the other teeth just right before they were able to close that gap.

It took two and a half years to get them off. The process was long and arduous but well worth it.

This is a lesson we can all apply to many other aspects of our lives. Whether it's a new way of eating, working out, running, or even our career paths. We all wanted to come out of high school or college making $50k or $75k a year. But in reality, we're lucky if we come out making half of that. We need to put in the hours and effort before we can reach a certain goal. It's uncomfortable to be the one who doesn't eat like everyone else; to be the oddball when ordering at a restaurant. It's uncomfortable to be the one to say no to going out because you have to hit the gym or the track.

Just like my braces, it's all a slow process. Every time I went back to get them tightened, I felt the pain and discomfort seeing little to no visual changes. I lost the majority of my weight in the course of a year. It didn't happen overnight. For the first four months, I didn't even weigh myself. I just knew that I felt so much better than I ever had before. So often, I see people going on the crash diets for several weeks and they loose weight but it's not sustainable. If you take it slow, it may be a tedious process but it's sustainable and worth it. You may not see the results from day to day or even week to week but they will come. And when they come, they will stay. At that point your mindset has changed so much that there's no going back. I've see this true in so many aspects of my life, not just weight loss.

If we make the change for the better, it will be uncomfortable. It may straight up hurt sometimes. I think about all the times I felt pain when I had my braces tightened but saw little to no changes in appearance. That pain was an indicator that progress was being made. No one goes into the orthodontist saying that they want their teeth fixed in the next 21 days. So, why is it that we think we can go on a diet for 21 days to fix the body we've been abusing for decades?

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🏃🏻Keep running. Eat more plants. Small successes become great achievements over time. 🌱 

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From Close Parking Spots to Moutnain Tops

Welcome to Leadville! 

Welcome to Leadville! 

I hopped on a plane on Thursday. This was the first flight in many years for me. And it was the furthest west I've ever traveled. Destination: Denver, CO. My final destination was about two and half hours southwest of Denver to a town called Leadville.

 

Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the United States at an altitude of 10,152 feet above sea level. This small town has a population of just over 2,000 people year round. What was once a mining town is now a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Runners, cyclists, hikers and campers are attracted to this town during the summer months. There is a series of running and mountain bike races ranging from a 10k to the 100 mile races.

Coming down from Mosquito Pass. Leadville is located in the valley visible in this photo. 

Coming down from Mosquito Pass. Leadville is located in the valley visible in this photo. 

I woke up at 4am eastern time on Thursday and made it to the airport for my 7:30am flight to Denver. I got on the plane without a moment to spare. I arrived in Denver at 9 am local time. That's where I met up with a few others that were running that weekend also. After picking up a rental car, we headed to Whole Foods for lunch and to pick up some food that wouldn't be available in Leadville.

I have met friends online that have lost weight. This trip was organized to meet up with all these people. These people all have amazing stories and have overcome major obstacles to get where they are today. Many couldn't walk up a flight a stairs a couple years ago and here we are in Colorado about run up a mountain at high altitude. To meet these people was surreal, it's like meeting your favorite celebrities in person.

We spent all day Thursday and Friday hanging out and walking around Leadville. We ate tons of great plant based foods and had great conversations. Some conversations were very colorful, some that only people that were overweight would really understand. All this while, we all had this race on Saturday looming over our heads. I don't think anyone knew what to really expect the next day.

There were 12 to 15 of us running. Most were running the heavy-half marathon, which was 15.5 miles with 3,000'+ of elevation gain. Then there were 4 of us running the full marathon, 26.2 miles with 6,333' of elevation gain. The air was filled with excitement at the start line. After taking tons of pictures and the national anthem, the gun went off.

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Our entire group at the starting line.

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The run starts immediately going uphill. And keeps going uphill. After mile two and where the marathon splits from the half, that's when the mountain running started. Every time I felt like I was getting to the top, the trail would turn and go further up. This went on for the first six miles, with the exception on one downhill portion.

 

During this race, my feelings were all over the place. On every climb, I felt like I wouldn't finish. On the downhills, I felt really good and thought I'd finish in a decent time. This is the first race I had where those feelings shifted so much. Typically, I hit a mid-race low that may last a couple miles but I get over it and finish. This race had me guessing until I had 5 miles left.

On my way to the top, Mosquito Pass (13,185' above sea level), the winds were blowing at an excess of over 50 mph. It was blowing so hard that I actually got blown into a snow bank. The switchbacks up to Mosquito Pass (13,185' above sea level) seemed endless. When I summited, I had 4 hours left to finish the race. I was pretty exhausted at that point but I knew I wanted to cross that finish line. I made good time back through the checkpoints. My time significantly slowed when I hit a major climb with just over 6 miles left in the race. The climb was brutal and it had a lot of people demoralized and panting for air.

Crossing the finish line with my son's 'gator.  

Crossing the finish line with my son's 'gator.  

30 minutes later, I made it to the final checkpoint. Race volunteers told me I had 5.3 miles left and two hours to finish it. That's when I got happy and knew I'd finish. I knew there was only one more uphill climb but it was nothing like what I had just done. So, I got to running at a decent pace.

I can't explain the feeling of not only crossing the finish line but crossing it with all my friends waiting there for me. This was not just a race, this was a bunch of former fat guys taking on a challenge that they never even imagined they could do. Just a few years ago, we would circle the parking lot to find the closest parking space to the grocery store. Now, we voluntarily ran up a mountain at high altitude.

None of us won any money or got the podium but we all walked away completing a challenge that seemed unfathomable just a short time ago. I gained so much from this weekend spent in Colorado. What were once considered friends are now family. What was once considered unattainable is now achievable. There really is no restriction on what one can accomplish with the right mindset. When I was out on that mountain, I told myself many times that I would never run this race again. Well, I lied, I plan on going back next year and doing it all over again (and faster)!

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Finish line picture with the race founder (and the shotgun). Theres about 2,000 lbs. of weight lost in this picture.

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I've Gained...Big Time!

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I've Gained...Big Time!

I was sitting at my kitchen table earlier eating my rice and vegetables. The kids had finished their lunch, cleaned up, and were off playing. I decided to scroll through Facebook. Having lost a lot of weight, I'm friends with a lot of people that lost weight themselves. Someone had posted a before and after picture of himself. I commented on how he doesn't even look like the same person anymore. His response to my comment was "So glad we decided to wake up and live!"

This comment really got me thinking of what happened when I lost weight. As you may know, I never set out to lose a massive amount of weight. I just wanted to feel better. The weightloss was just a byproduct. What I never knew was that it would open so many doors that I didn't even know existed. I never knew people ran long distances - or that normal people climb Mount Everest or do triathlons! I once heard someone say "It's not what I lost, It's the life I gained." This experience has changed my whole mindset. I didn't just get my life back. I gained a life I never thought I'd have. I always thought growing old and having a suitcase full of prescriptions was the norm. 

The life I lead now is 100 times more fulfilling than the one I led as a someone knocking on the door of 300 pounds. Part of me hates that I wasted so much time just being "normal." Although I can't go back and change the past, the quality of life I have now more than makes up for it. I once heard someone say, "Why would i eat healthy? To live an extra year or two?"  What about all the years before that? I'm reducing my chances of being in a wheelchair, nursing home, of having to take 12 different medications a day, and many other things that seem to be considered normal nowadays. I don't want my family to have to take care of me because of my selfish decisions. It will come to a point where our own decisions will affect those closest to us. I don't want to be a burden to the loved ones around me. That is why I'm so passionate about this. It's not about living an extra year or two. Its about the quality of life we lead until then.

I say this all the time, If something happened to me today, I would not regret this lifestyle for a single second. People think that I may not enjoy life because I don't eat a cheeseburger every now and then. I've eaten enough cheeseburgers for an entire lifetime and I can say that I'm enjoying life so much more now than I ever did before. Our lives shouldn't revolve around our plate. Our plate should revolve our lifestyle.

🌱Keep running. Eat more plants. Small successes become great achievements. 🏃🏻

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Thrive

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Thrive

I was listening to a podcast earlier and someone said the word “Thrive.” Immediately the word survive popped into my head. My next thought was that many people think my way of eating is surviving but in reality, I'm thriving on this diet. Then I started thinking, how many other aspects of life can we apply this to. This is relevant to marriages, friendships, kids, family, work, and many other things.

As I scroll through my social media feeds, I see the highlight reel of everyone's life. I see countless selfies and captions such as “Work hard, play hard.” I see people living for the weekend. There are people doing the bare minimum. This post is not to put anyone down but it's meant for you to question what your goals are. I'm not talking about running a 5k or climbing a mountain. That's actually the easy part. I'm talking about pushing yourself to newer and higher expectations. So often, I see people posting gym selfies and they look just as soft as they did a year ago. If your goal is to burn off calories so you can go out and drink twelve beers later on, then be honest with yourself. It's ok to do that. Just don't post about killing it in the gym because that's not your true intention. I may post a gym selfie, but my intentions are not to get big. My goal is to incorporate weights so I can get stronger.

In that same respect, I like my job. I really enjoy what I do for a living but do I want to be doing the same exact job 10 years from now, making the same money? Absolutely not. Everyday is a step towards another goal.

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As a society, we've become lazy. I spent the last three days in Atlanta, GA at cheer competition. I got to watch my 9 and 5 year old daughters compete against some of the toughest cheer teams in the nation. Yes, it was difficult. The traffic was horrible. Doing hair and makeup is a chore. And yes, I do hair and makeup. Then there’s the fact that we have to entertain our two other boys that don't want to be there. On top of that, there's the financial aspect to it that would make anyone cringe. It's a completely insane thing to want to do but the reward is well worth it. Seeing your children thrive in that environment is priceless, not just as a team but as a person.

Parents hate to be bothered. They don't want to drive a kid to practice more than once a week. They don't want games to be out of town or for them to last too long. As soon as the kids says they don't like something, they pull them out. I'm not saying to make kids do something they don't want to do, but at least give it a good try. My son went through three different sports before we found out that he loves swimming but we made sure that he gave all those other sports a good try before we pulled him out. It's no wonder why people quit things so easily. As kids we're taught that it's ok to do something for a little while with little intensity. And if it bothers you, it's ok to quit.

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I'm going to use me as an example right now. I hate the water. I'm not too scared of it but I absolutely hate the thought of jumping in open water and swimming a mile. Why do I do it? Because I said I'd do it. Because I like the way I feel afterwards. I've been there and the feeling of not following through on something I said I'd do, it's a horrible feeling. It doesn't go away.

We need to get out of this rut of trying to make everything as comfortable as possible. We're letting relationships suffer. We're letting ourselves down. Most of all, we're raising the generation to wander aimlessly. Most parents have a dream of their kids going to college and landing their dream job. What happens after that? What happened to building those soft skills in our kids? - the skills that you can't write down on a resume because they're deep down inside of you – the skills that can only be seen by knowing that person and witnessing these character traits. Those skills don't come from doing the bare minimum. The don't come from a textbook or a classroom. They come from hard work, experience and forward progression.

Don't just survive, THRIVE!

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Go For Ultra

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Go For Ultra

“Have you ever ran a marathon before?” I got this question a lot throughout my training for my first 50k. The answer to that question is “No.” I never ran a race longer than a half marathon up until that point. I’ve been itching to run a particular 50k race and decided to pull the trigger. Back in November, I registered for the Badwater Cape Fear 50k. This race offers two distances, a 50k and a 51.4 mile race.

I started training immediately. I started off well, but ended up getting sick for a couple weeks in December. Once better, my long runs started going really well. Until I was in a car accident in early February. I got hit by a drunken driver and got side lined for two more weeks. This created a push for training in the last couple weeks before the race. At this point, my Iliiotibial (IT) band was giving me problems. With all this, I debated on pulling out of the race but decided to forego my long runs and focus on rehabbing my leg.

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The Badwater race is held every year on Bald Head Island, NC. The island is only accessible by ferry. I headed down on Friday, it's about a 4 hour trip from where I live. With the ferry running late, I made it just in time for packet pick up. After a mixer (to meet the other runners) and a ferry ride back to the mainland, it was time to get all my stuff ready for the race on Saturday.

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The next morning started at 4:30am. I grabbed the two drop bags I made the night before and headed out of my hotel room. I delivered one drop bag to where it needed to be and headed towards the ferry. The 6:00am ferry was packed with runners. There was still quite a bit of time when we docked, so this was the time to make sure we had everything in order before the race. All the runners that were on the ferry congregated in the small coffee shop on the island while we waited. It was there that we sat around telling stories of kids, jobs, training and other races.

A little after sunrise, it was time to head to the start line. On went my hydration pack. And after a couple pictures at the start line, it was time. The first 10.5 miles of this race are on the streets (although there are no cars allowed) on BHI. Then there's a 1.5 mile section on a trail through the Maritime Forest. And the rest is (you guessed it) on the beach, about 20 miles.

CRAMP! 

CRAMP! 

At mile 12, my calf started cramping and didn't let up for the rest of the race. My mid race slump came between miles 18 and 22. The sand was soft, my IT Band was acting up and my leg was cramping. My pace had slowed considerably. At that moment, I swore this was my first and last ultra marathon.

I made it to the turn around at mile 22. I was really unsure of how I'd finish. I managed to take some ibuprofen for my knee, some electrolytes for my cramping and some water. After a quick bathroom break, I was on my way back down the beach. About a half mile away, I realized that I didn't eat anything at the turn around. I had some food with me, so I wasn't completely worried. It was at this point that I realized that the sand wasn't as soft as it had been before. The tide was going out! I assessed my situation. I asked myself, “what hurts?” And “am I able to run at a decent pace?”

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I got into a good groove of running and power walking. I popped my earbuds in for this last stretch of the race. My spirits were lifted and I had no doubt in my mind that I'd finish. I was able to enjoy running the beach that had previously dampened my spirits. As I was about a mile or two away from the finish line, I saw several people that I had met that weekend (they were on their second beach loop for the 51.4 mile race). I shook hands with them and they congratulated me. That's when I knew it was real. There wasn't much that could happen that could wipe that smile off my face.

Almost there! 

Almost there! 

After dealing with my IT Band syndrome, a calf cramp for 20 miles and sustained winds of 25 mph, I crossed the finish line with a time of 7:39:45. While this is much slower than I had anticipated, I feel like I earned that finisher medal. Badwater and AdventurCORP put on a great race. There's a reason why they're known for putting on some of the toughest races on the planet and this one was no exception. I can't wait for the next one!

Done! 

Done! 

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Food Culture

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Food Culture

I went out to eat with my family on New Year's Eve. After running about thirty minutes late, my wife and I made it to the restaurant with two kids in tow. It actually worked out great because the rest of the family had just been seated as we were walking in. After saying our “Hellos” and giving hugs, we sat and ordered our drinks. Soon, thereafter, the wait staff came back to take our food orders. I was the last one asked what I’d like to order. I answered “Thank you but I’m not eating tonight.”

It was almost like the air got sucked out of the room, well, for those who heard me say it. Then, it was like a game of telephone where one person told the person next to them until everyone at the table heard. Next came the inquisition. “Why aren’t you eating?” “You need to eat!” “They have things you can eat here.”

The truth is, that there were things on the menu that I could eat. I’ve eaten there many times. The thing is, I just didn’t feel like eating what they had. I was hungry but I would've rather waited until I got home to make something that I knew I’d enjoy eating much more. I didn’t want to spend money on a plate that I wouldn’t fill me up and nourish me like what I had home.

This experience got me thinking about how much food has become a centerpiece in our lives, in our social gathering, it’s become an identity of sorts. This is not the first time I go to a restaurant and not order anything, My wife has become used to it and doesn’t question it. Why is it that we can’t have a good time without food being the centerpiece of a gathering of friends and family?

Don’t get me wrong, I eat. I eat a lot. And I like eating but it’s not a focal point of my life. There was a point in time where I absolutely enjoyed eating. It was to the point where it was going to kill me eventually. Food should provide nourishment for the body but society has turned it into a ritual, where we can’t function as social creatures without food being the focal point.

After everyone got over the fact that I wasn’t eating, it was an enjoyable visit with my family. We had great conversation while everyone ate and I sipped on my water. I don’t try to exclude myself by not partaking but I don’t think we need food to have a good time, to fellowship with the people that we care about.

I feel like our relationship with food and our relationship with people are backwards. While, I believe in eating for nutrition and nourishment, our focus has become more on eating and not the relationships we have with the people around us.

 

Accidentally Skinny. Purposefully Healthy.

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Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

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Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

I sit here not really knowing where to start. I feel like I need to address the fact that I did not finish my last triathlon. I feel like I need to address that I have taken some time off from running and I feel like I need to address on how nutrition affects my daily life. I’ve always thought it was very important but it becomes more and more apparent to me over time.

The days leading up to my triathlon last month were not the best days. I typically take the three or four days before a race and rest as much as possible, get a good amount of sleep, hydrate well and fuel right. Before a race of that magnitude, an athlete would begin tapering about 10 to 14 days before the race. Tapering is when you start reducing your training before race day, no real long workouts. This is the time when your body gets good any recovered from the previous weeks (or months) of training. I probably only tapered for a week or so this time. My nutrition and hydration was on point up until the day before the race, which is the most critical. I tend to get very nervous before a race, typically a distance I’ve never done before. So nervous that I get sick to my stomach. This time was no exception. The nerves started getting a hold of me by Friday morning. This nervousness made made me lose my appetite. I did eat, but I couldn’t eat that much. Along with this, I did not hydrate well at all.

The nights leading up to race were not very restful either. I was getting about five hours of sleep. The night before was even less. My wife had worked that day, so I had to get the kids to grandparents’ and relatives’ houses, to where they were spending the night. I managed to leave around 9PM. And arriving to my hotel around 11:30 PM. I managed to be asleep by 1AM and was back up at 5AM. I should’ve known then that I was setting myself up for failure.

I felt good in the water. The anxiety of swimming in open water was not a factor. I swam 1.2 miles in the pool nonstop but was much different in open water. That 1.2 miles in open water seemed never ending. It took me a good fifteen to twenty minutes longer than it did in training but I was just happy to get it over with. About fifteen miles into the bike leg, I started feeling sick, like I needed to use the bathroom. I was drinking water, but not nearly enough and it was getting to the point that I felt like I couldn’t stomach anything. My water was warm at that point and the bars that I had to eat on me were more like mush in their wrappers. The miles passed slower and slower. By the the time I got to the 40 Mile mark, I had nothing left. I threw my bike down into the ditch and hunched over, heaving into the ditch. The people from the aid station came over to wait with me until help came to pick me up. I actually laid on the side of the road, somewhat unaware of where I was, in and out of consciousness. Temps were almost at 100 degrees and I was overheated.

Could I have trained more??? Definitely, but I felt like I was physically ready. This is a classic example of how rest and nutrition has a big impact on what I do. There have been so many times where I didn’t get enough sleep or didn’t eat quite right but still managed to push through a race and finish. I managed to get by in those one to two hour races. This 70.3 was unforgiving.

Just this past week, I was in the gym with my trainer when about half way through, I started feeling sick again. I went outside to get some fresh air and I look down at my arm and it’s trembling uncontrollably. I realized that, once again, I have not fueled right throughout the day. I had only taken in about 1,500 calories and it was already going on 9pm. So, I cut it short and came home to eat.

As I mentioned before, I have taken some time off from running but I think I better save it for another post. I eat the optimal diet for the things that I do. I need to take it seriously and listen to my body. If nerves get to me again, I know that I still need to eat and fuel right. I’m looking to redeem myself because I feel like I have a huge DNF (did not finish) hanging over my head. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. The past few weeks have really taught me a lot in way of nutrition. It goes to show that you’ll always be a student. I do know one thing, my diet has never failed me, I have failed my diet.

Accidentally skinny. Purposefully healthy.

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I'm Not Sexy

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I'm Not Sexy

I'm not sexy and neither is my story. Ever since I lost 110 pounds, I've met some of the most incredible people, most being through social media. Everyone's story is unique. Every now and then, I find myself comparing myself to these other stories.

There are so many people out there with incredible stories. People that are spreading the word about healthy eating and leading active lifestyles. I'm just a guy that lost some weight. I didn't get an ultimatum from my doctor telling me to get healthy or die. I didn't have to take a handful of pills every night. I wasn't diabetic. I was probably pre-diabetic but didn't know it.

It got to the point where my body had had enough. I knew I had to make a change. My body couldn't take all the junk I was feeding it. Once I made the change, I realized I've been sick my entire life. The things I experienced throughout the first 30 years of my life, the things that I thought were normal, I found out were not. The aches and pains, the gastrointestinal issues I'd lived with all my life were gone.

I really didn't have any reason to start losing weight, I decided to make that change. I could've just started taking medicine to ease my gastrointestinal problems. And it would've worked. And I'd probably weigh over 300 pounds now. After all, I wasn't that old. I was 27 the last time I had seen the doctor and all my numbers, other than weight, were just under the “dangerous” threshold. I thought I was healthy.

My advice to anyone looking to get healthy is do it before it gets any harder. Don't wait for a bad report from the doctor to get healthy. You don't need to be diagnosed with diabetes to straighten out. Don't add to that collection of prescription pills you need to take every night.

My story is unique. My before and after pictures may not be as dramatic as others with a weight loss story. My medical history may not be as extensive as others. But TO ME - my weight loss was drastic. FOR ME - my changes were essential and life-saving. It's given me a quality of life that I never could have imagined.

Small successes become big achievements over time.

Accidentally Skinny. Purposefully Healthy.

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Life Doesn't Adjust To Me

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Life Doesn't Adjust To Me

I'm not really sure where to start this week. My training has been really up and down over the past few weeks. I'll go through spurts when I'm doing good and really on track. And then then it's like I'll fall off the wagon.

We took the family to Disney World last week. While I didn't get a ton of actual training in, I did train. I also walked between five and seven miles in the park. I was able to swim laps in the pool that we had at the house. It may not have been stellar training BUT I did get it in.

As I'm getting closer to my race, I'm actually feeling a little more and more nervous about the open water swim. I don't train in open water and something about that has me slightly freaked out. I don't really know why. I'm even considering switching races to one that takes place at a lake, instead of the ocean.

With all that being said, this is pushing me to set some goals for this week. Like I've stated before, I'm not a morning person. I usually squeeze in a run at lunch or maybe when I get home from work. With my wife working so many days in a row, that's been really hard. My goal is to wake up at least an hour before she leaves, to get a run in. It worked this morning. I woke up at 3:45, ran 3 miles and got back before my wife had to leave.

The next thing I'm going to do is look into getting a swim coach. Even if it's only for a few sessions. I'd like to get out into some open water. The swimming itself doesn't scare me, it's just something about being out in open water.

While this post may be less than motivating, I wanted to let everyone know how my training was going. I want to be real with everyone about my struggles. Having four kids, all under the age of eight, and a wife that works a schedule opposite of mine would make it very easy for me make excuses. That's not something I'm going to settle for. Running a half iron triathlon is a dream of mine and I will make it happen. This is the point where I have to change things. I have to adjust to accomplish my goals. Life is not going to adjust to me. And not doing is not an option.

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One Year Without Beer

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One Year Without Beer

There are many things that I thought that I could not get through life without. Cheese, meat, bread, and alcohol are just a few things on that list. Small changes over time become major changes. May 24 marked the one year anniversary of me drinking my last drop of alcohol. While, I don't think I was an alcoholic, I definitely did abuse alcohol when I did drink. One year ago, I managed to get drunk and make myself sick, causing my friend to have to take care of me. It was an awful feeling. I used to be able to drink a lot but since my weight loss, it seems like I couldn't figure out how much alcohol my body could handle. I'm not here to make any excuses. This post is not meant to talk about my experiences with alcohol. It's about my experiences without alcohol.

At first it was a scary thought, terrifying. What would people think? Would they judge me when I say that I don't drink? What would I drink when I do go out? How could I go to a NASCAR race and not drink? That sounded insane to me. The reality is that I knew I liked being sober and fully enjoying all the activities that I participate in. So, as insurmountable as it seemed, I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol all together.

One thing I didn't consider at the time was that I already knew how to eliminate things from my diet that I thought I couldn't. As hard as it was, I managed to live through eliminating dairy. Then I got diagnosed with Celiac Disease. There goes anything with gluten. I had already been through this process twice already (removing meat and eggs came pretty soon after this). So, I decided to make the plunge. I didn't want to be the one that people had to take care of when it came to going out and having some drinks.

I can say that at first, it wasn't easy. It's weird going to a restaurant or bar and everyone is ordering alcohol, and I'm not. I felt even more weird when I would get put on the spot by being questioned about not drinking. My friends have always been very understanding and once I explain why I don't drink anymore, it's all good. Now they have a designated driver.

For the past four years, I've watched what goes into my body. Very rarely would I drink during the week, I never wanted to consume empty calories. So, extending the no drinking rule to social situations wasn't that hard. I love being able to go out with my wife and friends, and waking up the next morning just as refreshed as I do any other morning.

This post is not meant to tell everyone that they need to stop drinking alcohol completely. That's not my mission here. After many years of me drinking, I'm okay with me not drinking. It wasn't as great an obstacle that I thought it would be. What we consume is fuel for the body.

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Discipline and Motivation Are Two Different Things

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Discipline and Motivation Are Two Different Things

In talking with people day in and day out, there is a misconception about me. Everyone seems to think that I always want to run, workout or eat right. In reality, that's not true. There are some things that are easier than other for me but I'm human just like everyone else.

I got a message this week from someone asking me how do I “kick myself in the pants” when it comes to getting back into a workout routine. I wish I had a really good answer for this question but I don't. When motivation is lost, we have to rely on being disciplined to get things done. I know, it's easier said than done.

This past week has been absolutely crazy. Our bank account information was stolen along with several hundred dollars. Then my car broke down. And all of this happened within 24 hours. Not only that, this past Wednesday was my wife's birthday. To say the least, we were pretty stressed out and working out was the last thing on my mind.

Wednesday also happens to be the day I hit the gym for my personal training session. A couple hours before my session, my trainer contacted me and asked if I needed to reschedule our session because of my wife's birthday. I read that message and sat there for a minute going over every single excuse that I had for not going but I realized that none of them were valid. It wouldn't do me any good to skip that workout. We were not celebrating my wife's birthday, we were going to wait until the weekend. I would've probably made food and sat in front of the tv. So I went to the gym. And I want to tell you that it was the best workout I've ever had but it wasn't. I was tired. I felt weak. I hadn't fueled right. It was a struggle. With as bad as I felt, I actually made progress on the weights.

No one is immune to the stresses that life puts on us. How we react to it is what matters. When the motivation isn't there, we need to stick to our routine. If I don't run or work out, I know that I'll regret it. Trust me, there's been several regrets this past week. As much as I write this for everyone else to read, I'm writing this for myself too. I need to push myself just as much as anyone else does.

There are a few things that I put in place to help me along the way. I have a trainer that expects me at certain time every week. I register for races that force me to train. There's a group of cyclists that rides every Saturday that I try meet up with as much as my schedule allows. One of the reasons I started this blog was to hold myself accountable. I knew that if I put myself out there, I would have to do it. Even with all these things in place, I still struggle with training. I go through slumps like everyone else.

So, when you feel like you're in a slump, just know that everyone goes through it. When motivation disappears, be disciplined and crush your goals. 

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Am I Being Extreme???

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Am I Being Extreme???

No, not really. I just want everyone to know where I come from and what my thoughts are when it comes to nutrition and my kids. This stems from a picture that I posted on facebook just a couple days ago. I got several comments from both ends of the spectrum, both vegan and non-vegan, which I expected. None of it bothered me. I found most of it to be funny. To give you a little background, both of my daughters are involved in competition cheer. My oldest is eight and my younger daughter is four. The gym was having “kick off” party that evening. Parents were told to bring some food for all the girls that were going to be there. I was told to bring dessert. While I was at the store, I picked up some watermelon and some vegan cookies.

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I had tried these vegan cookies before and really enjoyed them. My daughter loved them too. While I knew that I’d catch flack for bringing a vegan dessert to the girls party, I didn’t really care. Being one of the founding memebers of C.L.E.A.N., I feel like it’s my duty to help steer kids in the right direction. And not just mine but as many kids as I can. I want all kids to live long, healthy lives. I knew that the girls at the cheer party were not going to be fighting over the watermelon and the cookies. Many of them probably went for the cakes and chocolate chip cookies that other parents brought. I just wanted to present a healthy option for those that wanted one.

My children are not vegan. I am the only one in my household that is. Other than my wife, no one else in my family has expressed any interest in going vegan. When I cook for my children at home, I do not feed them any meat. My oldest daughter has expressed interest in going vegetarian, which I’m fine with. I don’t want to feel like they are being forced to do anything. The one thing I do want them keep in mind is that I want them to be healthy and to have good eating habits. I know too many people in their thirties on meds that you only saw people 50+ years old on just a few years ago. A healthy diet may seem extreme but it isn’t, having open heart surgery is.

Nutrition is something that I feel is very important. It has given me a quality of life that I never imagined. When I eat well, I feel great. I remember walking out of a restaurants and feeling awful but thinking of how good the food was. Food is not supposed to do that. Food should make you feel great. When I feed my kids, I cannot in good conscience give them something that is bad for them. Especially when it’s something that I would not eat myself. I’m trying to instill good eating behaviors in my children. Not to say that they never have any junk food or never will but I try to keep that to the bare minimum. This blog, my social media pages and my involvement with C.L.E.A.N. have put me out there as a health and wellness advocate. I believe it’s my role to lead by example.

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Push It

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Push It

Push it. And by “it” I mean yourself.

Don't settle for good enough. If I settled for good enough I would be sitting at 235 pounds right now. When I cut out dairy, that was the initial weight that I dropped down to. I took that and used it as a jumping off point. I didn't just want to run a 5K, I wanted a half marathon, I wanted a triathlon. I pushed until I got those things done. Now the goal is to go longer distances, get faster and stronger.

When I work, I work hard. In the gym, I work until I know that I don't have anything left.  When I run a race, If I don't feel like slightly queasy after I cross the finish line, I know I haven't done enough. I know that I could've given it more. I need to know that in everything I do, I give it my all. 

There's no shortcut. It takes hard work. The fitness models and the people you see in the media, they worked for that. They weren't born like that. I get people all the time saying “Oh, I wish I could eat as much as you eat.” Yes, I eat a lot but you also have to look at what I eat. I had one guy tell me that I should weigh more than him because of the volume of food that I ate. I was sitting there eating bananas while he was scarfing down sausage biscuit after sausage biscuit. He didn't take into account that I'm eating fruit. He had no idea that I was going for a 5 mile run just a couple hours later. He didn't know the effort that I put into being healthy.

- Rich Roll

- Rich Roll

When I was heavy, I'd see people out or on fitness magazines and think to myself “I'd like to look like that.” And, yeah, I'd hit the gym every now and then. I'd get on some sort of exercise kick and drop 20 pounds. I never pushed myself though. I never changed my eating habits. On the contrary, I probably ate more and worse than when not on an exercise plan. In reality, the results come from what you eat. So, I always said I wanted to look a certain way but I never really did anything about it.

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By pushing what you think your limits are you'll find that you're capable of much more. I read in a book somewhere that when your mind tells you you're done, you're really only 40% done. So when you feel like you're done, keep going, you'll really surprise yourself.

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I'm Okay...Really, I'm Good.

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I'm Okay...Really, I'm Good.

Skinny, gaunt, emaciated. “Are you okay?” “Are you sick or something?” Since my weightloss transformation, these are things that I hear all the time. While, I don’t think they are the most appropriate things to tell someone, I don’t really get upset about it. This post may come off as a rant but I just want to let everyone know how I feel about this.

These comments don’t bother me all that much because I know that I’m healthy and that’s what matters most. Many do not agree with the way I eat but it’s what I choose to eat. I choose to be healthy. I choose quality of life. I spent the majority of my life sick and overweight. I was taking medicine to treat one thing but causing many other health problems. It was a domino effect.

At my yearly physical, all my tests came back great. Just a few years ago my cholesterol was at 200. At that time, I was ecstatic that it wasn’t any higher. I always told myself that I was the healthiest fat person you ever met. Looking back, that was probably the biggest lie I ever told myself. My cholesterol is now down to 116. I am a negative risk factor for heart disease. The only thing that i’m slightly low on is my vitamin D, which is due to my Celiac Disease.

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I also get a lot flack for my diet. Apparently being a vegan is not manly. I tend to think that not being there for my kids in the future is not the manly thing to do. I want to reduce the risk of as many health problems as I can so I can enjoy life with my children for as I can. There are people that want to argue with me as to why I should eat meat or, even better, the reasons for why they eat meat. Every single conversation ends with “Well, I’m a carnivore.” Just about all these conversations are started by the other person. I’ve had trainees at work ride around for a week before they even figured out that I don’t meat. This is a personal choice of mine and I benefit greatly from being on this type of diet.

I want to thank everyone for following my blog and my social media pages. I really do appreciate every single person on here. I just want to tell everyone that I’m doing great. I want to encourage everyone to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Find something that works for you. Set small, short term goals and crush them.

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Accidentally Skinny. Purposefully Healthy.

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Love Yourself

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Love Yourself

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I was at the gym the other night and I saw something that I had never seen before. It was me. I caught a glimpse in the mirror of myself and for the first time in my life, I actually liked what I saw. I didn’t look any different than the minute before that. Or from when I left the house. Nothing was different. I’m not saying that I’ve reached my peak physical goal and that I have the body of a Greek god. There are definitely things that I still need to work on but for the first time ever, really I liked what I saw.

 

There are so many times that I’ve walked by a mirror or caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window, where I thought, “I look horrible” or “Do I really look like that?” That mentality may come from having low self-esteem, or the bullying I endured as a child. I have never been happy with the way I looked and the way felt. Even after losing weight, I would still see the fat me standing in the mirror. I had dealt with body dysmorphia for so long that when I would see a picture of myself after I had lost weight, I didn’t recognize myself. There have been several times while looking at pictures, I’d do a double take because I didn’t think that was me in the picture.

 

It takes a long time to undo the past. There are things that I still want to work on to get my body in shape. My physical goals are always changing and moving. It seems as though my mind is just now catching up with my body. When I had this moment in the gym, I don’t think it was just a feeling of outward appearance, it was inward too. It was a sense of accomplishment. I’m proud of the healthy lifestyle that I lead. I want others to experience the same thing.

 

There are so many things in our everyday life that give us negative feedback. The thing is that most of the time, this negative feedback is created in our own minds. We hold ourselves back. We have created this image in our mind of what we look like and what we can and can’t do. The moment that something happens in our everyday life, the mind says, “See, I was right.” When, in reality, that chair you sat in earlier at the restaurant, squeaks no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you weigh 120 pounds or 220 pounds. I still have these thoughts.

 

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The mind is our most powerful organ. We need to focus on the positive and build on it. Take these negative thoughts and use them as motivation. I know that I still have things that I need to work on but I'm happy where I am and where I came from. I wish it was something that I could share with every single person that I come in contact with. Our goals are attainable, we just have to want it bad enough.

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I Need Help

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I Need Help

This post is for everyone who’s in the same situation that I am, BUSY. I know that I have very little down time and the spare time that I do have is precious. I work a normal work week and my wife works in healthcare. Her schedule varies from week to week and works very long hours. On top of that, she has a very long commute. On the days that she works, getting all four kids to where they need to be is all on me. The times when I’m not around, that responsibility falls on my wife. We share the workload of raising four kids and running a house.

Most of our days, outside of work, consist of running kids to and from school and other activities. Three of our four kids go to three different schools. Mornings are crazy around here and evenings are filled with the preparation for the next day. This makes it very difficult to find time to work out or squeeze in a run.

Finding a good support system is critical for accomplishing the physical goals you set for yourself. By system, I mean finding people to help you when you need it. I rely mainly on my wife as she does me but that doesn’t mean we don’t get outside help. We rely on my parents, her parents and my aunt. This help has been vital to not just our workouts but our daily routine. Without this support system, we would get much less accomplished.

My wife and I switch off when it comes time to run or workout. On days that she’s not working, I may come home and she will go to the gym (or run) while I make dinner for the kids and feed them. After that, I get them ready for bed. When she’s done, I’ll head to the gym or for a run while she fixes something for us to eat. This works the other way around, too. This doesn't happen every night, our kids are not down to one parent all the time.

When it comes to asking other people for help, we do our best to not inconvenience anyone. We try to make it as easy as possible. There are times when my wife comes home very late. If my parents are available on nights like that, I’ll ask them to come over and watch the kids while I workout. I make sure that the kids are in bed and asleep by the time they come over.

There have been other times when I’d go out for a run after my my wife gets home from work. So, you might see me running around the neighborhood at eleven o’clock at night. Other times, I'll run at four in the morning when my wife is getting ready for work. I may not always get the mileage in that I would like, but at least I’m able to put in some.

It’s definitely not easy to juggle working full time, kids, activities and achieving personal goals. It does take some help. It’s not a bad thing to ask for it sometimes. Just remember to be mindful of others when you do ask. I would never ask anyone to take off work so I can get my long run in. Make it as easy as possible when you do ask and always practice gratitude. Being appreciative of others help and showing it goes a long way. You may need their help in the future.

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Time to Reevaluate

I hope everyone has had a great holiday and new year. This time of year is when we think about the past year and what the new year holds for us. We always want the new year to be better. I like to think that I'm building on what happened last year. There is always room for improvement, doesn't matter what the situation. You can use that approach in your relationships, physical goals or improvements you want to make for yourself.

I'm not one to actually declare resolutions at the beginning of the year. I feel like it's just destined to fail. I set goals that may change or evolve. So, what might start as one goal ends up as something totally different.

You're probably asking "Why is he writing about resolutions now? We are twenty plus days into January." It's because by now, most people have already broken their resolution or they've settled into a good routine. They know what they're capable of accomplishing this year.

I started out this year with the goal of running everyday in the month of January. I fell short of my goal just 14 days into the month of January. I felt like I had tweaked my knee and felt like I shouldn't run the next day. Am I bummed about it? Maybe, but I feel like my status as a runner doesn't hinge on whether or not I run everyday.

Just two days after my run streak came to an end, I ran a solid 5k race. Not super fast but good enough to take fourth place in my age group (out of 63). If I knew I would be competing to get top 3, I would've definitely pushed harder but I can't be upset with that performance. If I would've kept my run streak going, I may have been miserable for that whole race. That would've been awful. 

Now that we are well into January and heading into February, it is a great time to reevaluate goals. Take what you've learned about yourself over the past few weeks and build on it.

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Find Something You Love and Do Something Else

Makes sense, right? Running is something that I absolutely enjoy. It’s something that I get better at as time goes on. It makes me think that I can do just about anything else, physically, and do well at it. But, I’m wrong.

 

 

I joined a new gym over the Christmas holiday. I showed up last night wanting to do a quick workout, I wanted to lift. When I got there, there was a circuit training class going on. I thought I’d be able to work out without getting in the way. Being that it’s a local, independently owned gym, it is smaller than the larger chain gyms. The circuit training class was so big that it took up the whole gym. I had no choice but to join in the class. The class was a mix of cardio and weights and worked on all major muscle groups of the body.

 

At first, I thought doing a circuit class would be a piece of cake. I mean, would I even be sore at the end of it? Would it even raise my heart rate all that much? After all, I do run half marathons...right? Well, I was wrong.

 

While, I’m not completely sore to the point that I can walk or have a hard time sitting down, I feel the effects of last night’s workout. During the first station in the circuit, I started feeling it. I knew I was going to get a good workout. This was the first time in years that I do any leg workout. The reason being that I never wanted to make my legs sore when I knew I had to run the next day.


I made it through the circuit training class and I really enjoyed it. Each round was a little longer and more intense. What I really liked about it was the change in exercise it was from my norm. And it showed me that, just because I run and can run for a long time, doesn’t mean I can kill it in circuit training. So, when you find that physical activity that you love, throw in something different, change the routine and have fun with it.

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5 Ways To Get a Jump Start on Your Goals For The New Year

It’s that time of year. That time where spare time is scarce and stress is high. The next few weeks will be filled with parties, gifts, get togethers, family and lots of delicious food. It’s the time of year where a lot of people let go of goals and push them back to January. Here are a few ways to get a jump start on your physical goals for the new year.

 

 

Start a Routine

Get into good habits now. A lot of people have the mentality that they will start their exercise or healthy eating after the business of the holidays is over. Getting into a healthy routine now will keep you from starting behind the eight ball later on. My thing now is getting up very early in the morning for my runs. My runs are getting longer and if I try to put them off for later on in the day, they’ll never get done. I’m trying to train my body to get up early again. If you’re plan is to walk more, go for a walk after dinner every night. Participating in an exercise routine 3 to 4 times per week will give you a head start on those new year resolutions.

 

Sign Up For a 5k

Signing up for a race always holds me accountable. Even if you plan on walking part of it (or the whole thing), It sets a deadline and a goal to work towards. There are plenty of race distances out there. A lot of 5k races offer a 1 mile fun run. That’s a great way to get the whole family out there. Keep it fun and sign up for something that is doable.

 

Eat Healthy Meals

During this time of year, with all the parties and get togethers, we seem to seem to have an overabundance of cookies and desserts everywhere we turn. Incorporate healthy eating habits during the day, so when it’s time for the party or get together, having a dessert or a couple of cookies is not going to be that big of a deal. Eating fruit as a snack between meals will make you feel better.

 

Use Your Calendar For Workouts

Utilize your tools to your advantage. When I schedule a work out on my calendar, I’m more likely to do it. I set up an alert with it and let’s me know when I need to work out. I also use a task manager app on my phone. It also sends me notifications when something needs to be done. I find it highly annoying to have a red notification alert on my screen.

 

Set Your Goals Now

Don’t wait until New Years day to set a goal. Have it in mind now and start working on it. As humans, we tend to put things off. Starting now means you won’t have to work off an extra 5 pounds come January.

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