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


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.


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.


Accidentally Skinny. Purposefully Healthy.


Love Yourself


Love Yourself


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.



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.


I Need Help


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.



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.




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.



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.


Turkey Trot 2015


Turkey Trot 2015

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving holiday. I know I did. I ran the South Park Turkey Trot in Charlotte the morning of Thanksgiving. I had a great time. My official chip time for the race was 41:30, 3:14 faster than last year. Instead of writing about it like I usually do, I made a video. I hope you enjoy it!

2015 Turkey Trot Video


Dealing With A Dismal Performance


Dealing With A Dismal Performance

So, I had a somewhat dismal performance yesterday when I ran the 10k. When I was searching for a race, I wanted to run a flat course in hopes of getting a faster time. I chose a 10k in Charleston, SC. The race company, Race 13.1, also offered a 5k and half-marathon option. I do have to say that the race company was a great host. Registration was easy. There were followup emails but not too many. My inbox was not flooded with other race promotions. I even got a few text messages on my phone about important information regarding the race.

I decided not to get a hotel room the night before. The reason for that was that I could not drop the kids off until 7 or 8 on Friday night (my wife had to work). I also had some things I had to finish around the house. So, I decided that I would just go to bed early and get up around 2:30am. My goal was to be out the door by 3am, get to the race site, pick up my bib and sleep for another hour or so in my car. It didn't completely work out that way. I managed to be in bed by 10:30 and woke up at 2:50. I was in my car at 3;10. The drive was easy. I made it to the race site by 6:30, picked up my bib and took a short 20 minute nap in my car.

I had a good feeling about the race up until five minutes before the gun went off. I knew it would be tough to come in under 50 minutes but I thought I could come close. As soon as started running, I knew I could not sustain this pace for the rest of the race. I started at a 7:30 minute pace. The race was on trails. That was another factor that I wasn't completely used to. I'm used to running on pavement. By the first mile marker I knew I wasn't going to meet my time goal. I had completed the first mile in 8:30.

There was one time where I had just passed the halfway point where I had to stop because I thought I was going to get sick. The more I got into the race I got, the better I thought I was running, but my average pace never came down. It just kept creeping up. I felt pretty strong the last two miles, I just wish I felt like that for the whole race.

I was a little upset with myself for missing the mark by so much. I think if I would've finished around the 52 minute mark, I wouldn't have felt so bad. I have no one to blame but myself. My training has not been on point the last three weeks and that was detrimental to my race performance. And, unless I can stay in a hotel the night before, I'm not going to go to a race that I have to travel to. And, it's not going to be a trail race either. 

I wouldn't say that this was a disastrous race, I just came in much slower than I expected. I came in 22nd place overall out of 120. More than anything, having bad races like this shows me what I need to work on. It also tells me that I can't skate by with minimal training. Minimal training will get you to the finish line but not much more than that. I'll just take this as a valuable lesson so it does not happen again.



Feeling Frustrated

I sit here a little frustrated with myself. I ran a total of four times and did one 25 mile bike ride over the past two and a half weeks. Part of the reason is that I had been feeling some pain in my knee. It started about a month ago after one of my speed workouts. It would hurt while running but the second I stopped, it went away. Yesterday was the first time in weeks that I felt great after a run and I was pain free during the run. 

The past two weeks have been pretty crazy. I let my schedule get in the way and I didn't make time for my workouts. Work has been pretty crazy and the list of things that needed to be done at home has been never-ending. I have been trying to paint some of the rooms in our house after the kids go to bed, which has caused a shift in my sleep schedule. Needless to say, I have woken up very late several times in the past couple weeks.

As frustrated as I get when I don't work out, I always put my home life first. My job comes second. I don't want to neglect the things that are most important in my life. My family comes before everything else. The weekends have always been a time for me to do my long runs but now that my wife and I have different work schedules, I can't do my long runs on the weekends. I carve time out in my schedule to get one in during the week. There are times when I arrange for someone to watch the kids if it's something that I can't do during the week. I try to keep this to a minimum though. Having four kids, It puts a lot on our family. There are definitely times when my wife and I want to go out to dinner by ourselves and would rather use our family for those instances.

As you may recall, I have stated in previous posts that I am running a 10k this month with the goal of finishing in under 50 minutes. I am signed up for a race next weekend. I'm not 100% sure on how it's going to go considering how the past two weeks have gone. The goal remains the same. I feel strong and ready to run. My knee doesn't bother me. I'm going to put a few more easy training runs between now and then. I have no doubt that I can run the full 10k, the question is whether or not I'm going to able to do it in under 50 min. If I don't, I'll just have to try again. I do plan on running a couple more races this fall just for fun. I plan on running the Turkey Trot in Charlotte again this year on Thanksgiving. I found that to be a really fun race. Then I plan on running a half marathon in December. 

I've been running for the past three years and I really enjoy running. I love the way I feel afterwards. I love the alone time during the run. The thing is that I still have to make myself do it sometimes. I have to make time for it while not neglecting any other parts of my life. Finding that balance is difficult and I'm constantly having to adjust my schedule here and there but it's all worth it in the end. 



You Can't Out Train A Bad Diet

I know several people that can eat whatever they want and maintain a normal weight and run well. I'm not one of those people. I've had people tell me "You're skinny, You can eat whatever you want." The thing is that I want to be at the top of my game. And that means that I have to watch everything I eat. You may have heard this before but it's something that I've become a firm believer in, you cannot out-train a bad diet. I've been going to the same gym for the past year. Everyday I see the same people there. While there are some very fit and athletic people there, there are some individuals that you can tell their diet is no where near where it's supposed to be compared to the amount of working out they do. These guys can throw up all kinds of weight on the bench press. They spend twenty to thirty minutes on the treadmill. They're at the gym for hours and they look just the same as they did a year ago. I'm not trying to put these people down, what they're doing is much better than nothing. My point is that one cannot achieve the look they want with just working out. 


When I say diet, I mean the way one eats. I'm not talking about a fad diet. Fad diets do not work. They are for the short term, everyone eventually gets back to their old habits and their old weight. I 'm a proponent for just eating healthy. When I wanted to lose weight, the only thing I looked at was calorie intake. While there are some calories better than others, let's just say that a calorie is a calorie for now. Everyone's caloric needs are different but the average person should be taking in around 2,000 calories per day. For the few months that I was watching my calories, I was taking in roughly 2,500 to 3,000. I was logging all my food. This is a great way to really look at what you're eating. It will also make you think twice about eating that candy bar. During this time, I ran my fastest half marathon and my fastest 10k. There were days that I very easily hit my caloric goal. There were times when I was near 2,000 calories by the time lunch rolled around, and I wasn't eating that double cheeseburger from that fast food place down the street. 


My taste buds have obviously changed over the past couple years. Not only that, there's the fact that I may get sick if eat something I shouldn't. The thing is, and I've said this to my wife on several occasions, If I miraculously overcame my celiac disease and lactose intolerance, I would not reintroduce them into my diet (especially dairy). Some may disagree but I've seen the benefit to not have some things in my diet and would not want to go back. There are times that I see a picture of some junk food and think that it does look good but I know it's not good to eat it. Even being a plant-based eater, there is still a lot of junk food out there for us. I choose to not eat it or keep it to a bare minimum. I don't really have any cravings for junk food anymore. Whenever I think about eating something that's unhealthy, I ask myself, "is this going help me reach my goal?" Most of the time the answer is no and I leave it on the shelf or throw it out. 


Does this mean that I never have any junk food? The answer is no. Every now and then I will have some potato chips or some starburst candies. These occasions are rare. I read a great article the other day about eating things in moderation and how it doesn't work. The link is down at the bottom of this post if you want to read it. It basically says that if you eat one thing everyday that's outside of your diet, It all adds up and it's not helping you. The other thing that should be taken into account is the amount of calories burned in a workout session. If I go on a run and burn 500 calories, that doesn't mean I burned an extra 500 calories. Just in my normal actives of walking or playing with the kids, I could've maybe burned 200 calories. So, it would be more like me burning an extra 300 calories. That's actually not a lot calories if you look at it in food value. 


I purely look at food as nutrition and it's purpose, to fuel the body. I try to be as careful as possible with what goes into my body. I don't even like buying those fake processed vegan "meats." Just because they claim to be vegan doesn't mean it's good for me to eat it. While I think they're great for people that are transiting to a plant based diet, I think that they're meant to be eaten sparingly just like anything else. I'm not trying to get anyone else to convert to a plant-based diet but I would encourage everyone to eat foods that are whole and healthy (and as close to their natural state as possible). I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything. So, if you're doing the exercise and want to see the results, next time you eat, ask yourself "is this good for me?"

Why "Everything in Moderation" Doesn't Work 

Jonathan Ross



You Do You


You Do You

You're going to run into resistance in whatever you do that's out of the ordinary. When I first started on my weight-loss journey, everyone saw it as a good thing. Here I was dropping weight and getting healthy. After a while though, I started hearing, "You're getting too skinny" or "Are you sick or something?" The reality is that I really could not help it. In removing certain things from my diet, I lost weight automatically. Not only that, exercise became part of my life. So, even though all my numbers and stats (BMI, body fat, cholesterol, etc…) are in great shape, I still get resistance for having lost so much weight. 


From the time I started running and losing weight, my goals have been changing and becoming greater. I've gone from trying to run a 5k to wanting to run an Ironman. The majority of people are supportive of my running and my goals but I do meet resistance. I've been told, "Do you think you should be running that much? You couldn't really run when you were a kid." That comment came from a family member. While it hurt, I used that to fuel my passion for running.  I have plans to run a few half Ironman races, then a full Ironman all while throwing in a marathon or ultramarathon here and there.  I'm not going to let the fact that I used to be fat and unable to run dictate how I live my life today.


On the subject of family members, I have another family member that does not believe that I am lactose intolerant. He does not understand that I get sick whenever I ingest a dairy product. The other day, while at Olive Garden, I wasn't paying attention and grabbed my son's milk instead of my tea. I took three swigs of milk before I realized what I had done…I know, dumb. Needless to say I started feeling the effects about an hour later and paid the consequence for the next 24 hours. When I told the story of me taking three swigs of milk, they looked at me with a look that said "You don't look sick to me." I had to explain to them, for the umpteenth time, that it is a digestion issue. I think that they think that I may be a little sensitive to dairy and that I'm just being extreme about avoiding dairy. 


When I told my family I was adopting a plant-based diet, you would've thought I told my parents I was moving to the other side of the world and never going see them again. I didn't even tell anyone for the first week or two about this change, so I really didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal. It's not like I was trying to convert everyone. I decided to go plant-based solely for health purposes. There are people though that meet this with resistance. I'm told that I need to eat meat and that I need more variety than just plants. In reality, I'm doing great. I feel better than I ever have before but people want to tell me everything i'm doing wrong. 


You may meet resistance or pressure whenever you tell someone your plans. I don't let it bother me. It actually makes me want to do it even more. There are plenty of people that run ultramarathons, Ironman races and a group of those athletes do it on a plant based diet. I know that it can be done. If you notice that when I first plan on doing something or set a goal, I try to keep it a secret (as I did when I first wanted to do a triathlon and when I went plant-based). I think the reason for this is that I'm scared of failing and don't want anyone to say "I knew it!" I realized that this is the wrong approach to take. If something doesn't work out, who cares. If you have to adjust the timeline for your goal, that shouldn't matter. As long as forward progress is being made, that's all that counts. I'm still having to change my goals and rearrange races to fit my training and my life. I saw a post on Facebook the other day that said "If your dreams don't scare you, you're not dreaming big enough." So, if you meet resistance when you tell someone your plans, don't let it bother you. You know what you want and you'll get it. Don't stay in the same place that you think the world wants you to be in. 



It Starts Early

Today's post is a little different than the usual. The other day, I ran across a video on Youtube that hit me hard. It was made by Strong4Life.com, which is run by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. Take a look at the video (it's not long) and come back to read my thoughts on it.



Rewind the Future Video


I found that video pretty powerful. While I never ended up on the operating table in a hospital, I feel like that video was me. If I would've kept my bad habits up, it would've only been a matter time. My unhealthy eating started from a very young age. 


I was always a picky eater when growing up. I would not eat any vegetables and my favorite places to eat were Burger King and McDonalds. When my mom cooked anything with vegetables in it, or anything healthy at all, I would refuse to eat it. She would end up cooking me something different from everyone else. While her heart was in the right place, it was setting a precedence for the rest of my life. 


No matter what the situation, I was always the fat kid. Whether it was school, sports, church...anything, I was always the fat kid growing up. It made my life miserable. I absolutely hated being the fat kid. As much as I wanted to play sports, I was horrible at just about everything, and I absolutely dreaded hearing the phrase shirts vs. skins. My weight was a major factor in how I interacted with people. It made me shy. I would never start conversations with people. It would always take me a long time to warm up to people and never had a lot of friends. The friends I did make, though, were always close friends.


By the time I was 25 years old, I was tipping the scale at 272 lbs. As far as I know, that's the highest I had ever been but it's possible that I could've gotten higher. That was a period in my life where I rarely ever stepped on the scale. I remember going to the doctor and he sat me down (just like in the video) and told me I need to lose weight. He told me that I needed to lose at least 60 lbs. My cholesterol was at 200. All my numbers were reaching unhealthy levels. I just blew it off. I thought to myself, "Sure, I'm overweight, but I'm just a big guy. My numbers aren't that bad." These are the things I kept telling myself to make myself feel better even though, deep down, I knew I needed to make a change. 


Looking back, I could not believe that I did not take these warnings more serious. I was only 25 years old!!! Had I not made the changes that I made, there's no telling how many different medications I'd be on right now. About the time I developed a lactose intolerance was the time that I felt like I threw in the towel in regards to my weight. I thought that would never be normal and gave my hope of losing weight. 


This video shows that the food we feed our children from a very young age can have an impact for the rest of their lives. I can relate to this video. And I know that I want my children to grow up as confident and healthy human beings. Life is hard enough as it is, there is no reason to add another stressor to it. It's my responsibility to help them develop healthy habits at an early age.



Setting an example

This blog is meant to encourage people to be more active and healthy. I feel like I have found something that I'm very passionate about. As much as I encourage strangers to be healthy, I want my own family to be healthy. I'm sitting here on a Sunday afternoon watching my seven year old daughter's cheer practice. She doesn't cheer for her school, she cheers for a private gym. As I watch her and her team, I realized what a benefit this has been for her.

My wife had been a dance teacher for many years. She had to stop when she started nursing school a few years ago. When my daughter was about 18 months old, my wife started taking her to dance classes. Anna did dance until she started cheer a little over one ago (she also had about two years of gymnastics mixed in).

Putting her in cheer at a private gym was a big decision. Not only was it a big time commitment but also a big financial decision. On a normal week they hold two practices. When competition season rolls around, they practice up to four times a week (for at least two hours). Some may say that it may be too much for a child but I believe she has benefited greatly from being on this cheer squad. My wife and I are always encouraging no matter what. And we always make sure that her schoolwork does not take a back seat to cheer.

Last year, Anna was new to the sport. She was shy and not as skilled as some of the other girls. She was on a team that had a mixture of talent and spent a lot of the year in the back when doing the routine. This year, it's almost the complete opposite. She has grown by leaps and bounds as far as her skills go. I see her emerging as one of the leaders on her team. At a couple points during the routine, she's front and center and teammates even look to her for cues.

While being on this cheer squad, she's also learned to deal with disappointment. Not every practice goes well. They don't place in every competition. Last year was definitely a roller coaster as far as competitions go. The team never gave up and never settled. When they went to nationals at the end of the year, I saw the best cheer routine they had performed all year. Then they performed it again the next day. The year could not have ended any better, they ended up winning nationals. More importantly, we saw how much Anna has grown in that year. And we continue to see it now.

I believe it is so important for our children to see their parents also active. My son has tried several sports and didn't seem to find his groove until he tried gymnastics, He was always the type to enjoy soccer practice or ice skating while he was doing it, but he would never want to go to practice or say he did not enjoy it afterwards. After his first day of gymnastics, he came back so excited and wanting to do it every day. My three year old daughter has been begging to start ballet lessons (she starts next week).When she sees me getting ready to head out the door to go for a run, she asks if she can run with me.

I have never been athletic in my whole life. I was never good at soccer, coming from an Argentinean family, saying I didn't want to play soccer anymore was about the worst thing a son could say to his dad. I'm so glad that I found running while my kids are still young. I want them to see that their dad is active and can keep up with them. I may not be skilled in the same sport that they may be but I want to be a positive example in their lives in many ways.



Big Changes

I hate that I did not post more to this blog this week. It was an okay week as far as workouts go. I got a couple five mile runs in and a bike ride. It was hard to get a good bike ride in being down in Florida. There was so much traffic and so many traffic lights that I felt like I could not get up to a good speed. When I did get up to a good pace, it didn't last because I had to stop at a light. And the roads were horrible. Road bikes don't do so well in construction zones.

The other thing I worked on was my fear of open water. Twice, I got out in the water but not to really swim but to just be out there and get used to treading in deep water. For some reason I get uneasy in deep water. I'm not sure where that comes from, I'm assuming it's just from my experience from my last triathlon. When I'd swim out to deep water, my first instinct was to immediately swim back to where I knew I could stand up. Instead, I would just tread water for a minute or so. Then I'd swim just a little further out. I noticed that I had to really concentrate on my breathing. I don't know what the big deal is. I feel like I'm way over thinking things. Maybe it's a fear of what might be lurking in the water that I may not be seeing. On the other hand, I really don't want to see anything that may be lurking in the water. Maybe I just need to dive into open water and swim.

Overall, it was not a bad week for working out. I don't feel like I made huge progress. This week, my plan is to get back to doing some speed work. I have a 10k next month that I need to complete in under 50 minutes. Being on vacation is tough when you have personal goals that you are trying to achieve. I once heard that you can undo all your hard work in just six days. Even though it may be tough, the effort is worth it in the long run. I didn't veer from my diet too much.

You all know that my diet is what attributed to a good portion of my weight loss. I made a drastic change to my diet a month ago. I did not want to say anything because I wanted to test the waters. I removed all animal product from my diet. Yes, I went plant based. It was actually a decision that I had a lot of trouble making but after some time, I decided to take the plunge and do it. I felt like it was something that can maybe push me to the next level athletically. This is what works for me. I'm not crazy about the label of being vegan. I feel like there is a connotation that comes along with that word. That, and I feel like someone could be a really unhealthy vegan (like someone that eats chips and skittles). Plant based is more descriptive of how I eat. With that being said, I feel great. I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything. The longer I've been on this diet, the easier it gets and I actually don't miss meat as much as I thought I would. So, even though it's something that may not be popular, I'm so glad I tried it.


Pacing Myself


Pacing Myself

I'm on vacation this week. We always come down to St. Pete Beach Florida once a year to visit my wife's brother. Coming down here is something we look forward to all year long. We love it down here. Vacation sometimes hinders my workouts but not all the time. If say I'm going to go for a run in the evening, I usually end up not doing it. We have been getting the kids down for a nap in the afternoon because they're usually so tired but I'm pretty wore out at that point too. I try to plan my workout the day before. If I wait to until I wake up, I'll probably end up pushing it off.

Last night I set my alarm for 6:30am. That is early for being on vacation, but my kids wake up by 7 am usually. For some reason, sleeping in is not an option for my kids. I woke up but didn't get out the door right away. I got outside at about 7:20 am. The sun was trying to come out from behind the clouds but it was mostly overcast and it was raining. I started my run unclear of how long I actually wanted to run. At first I thought 3 miles, then 4 but ultimately decided to do 5. I figured that this week, by base runs should be at least 4 to 5 miles. I have the time to run while I'm here, I might as well put in the miles.

As I ran, the skies got darker and darker and the rain came down harder and harder. I had toyed around with the idea of running on the sidewalk on the street but decided to run the beach. Beach running is not as easy as running on asphalt. It seems like it takes more energy to pull your feet up to take the next step. Not only that, you're running on even ground that kids love to dig holes in. So, I knew I wasn't going to be running at a record pace but it's good to train on a different surface.



My run went as expected, not super fast but not extremely slow either. I ran the five miles in under 49 minutes. I had a little trouble turning my GPS off so it had me going a little longer and a little slower, but that's alright. When I first started running, I always tried to run faster than I had the time before. It got to the point where I was pushing my body too hard. There is still part of me that wants to push myself every time I go out there but I'd rather have a good run at a good pace than risking injury. It's something that I have to tell myself all the time. There's a time to run your very hardest and then there's a time to just put in a good run and get the miles in. This can help you get mentally prepared for that long race. I use this with cycling too. I can do all the high intensity intervals in the world but if I don't have long training sessions in the saddle, it wouldn't do me any good for the longer races that I have planned in the future.

I'm hoping to get some good workouts in this week. It's supposed to rain a good bit this week but I'm going to work around it as much as I can. I have my bike down here, so I'm looking to get connected with group that knows some good routes. Look for a few more blog posts this week.




Finding Motivation

Today was really hard for me to get motivated to work out. The wind was knocked out of my sails after going over our budget. It looks like I may not be able to do the half Ironman race in November. With a race fee of over $300 and travel expenses, it will be very expensive.



I'm the type of person that has to set a goal to work towards. I have a hard time training just for the sake of training. There are people that run on a regular basis that never put a race bib on in their life. That's not me. I like the challenge of having a set deadline for my training. There were times where I've had to modify my race schedule because of one reason or the other, but that deadline is always there. With the thought of not having the half Ironman this fall leaves me feeling a little lost in regards to my training. That leaves me with the only goal of cutting my 10k time down by two minutes.

It was hard for me to find the motivation to run today. Instead of going to the gym, all I wanted to do was go sit down at a restaurant and eat lunch. Even sitting outside the gym in my car, I was debating on whether or not to go in. I managed to turn my car off and walk in. I ran three miles on the treadmill, took a shower and left. Although it was tough to get motivated to work out, I'm glad that I did.

As hard as it was to find the motivation to work out, there are a couple of  factors that drove me to do it. The first was that I did not want my running to fall off. I'm also not 100% sure that I'm not running the half Ironman this fall. I would not want to start skipping workouts on the off chance that I am able to run that race. And lastly, I still plan on running the 10k. I definitely don't want to let that go.

Everyone has something that motivates them and moves them to do things. The goal of working towards a race is what works for me. For others it may be a weight loss goal or just the way one feels after a good run or work out. There are certain motivators that move all of us. These motivators help us accomplish small successes every day. 



Setting goals

Setting small goals along the way will help you achieve much larger goals. We all hear about the people that set out to lose 75 lbs - have never run a day in their lives - and sign up for a marathon that's six months away. I don't consider that the norm. I think it's absolutely incredible that these people can achieve these goals. For me, that seems unrealistic considering my wife and I both work full time.


When I first started running, I started adding mileage too soon. I started out the first week running one mile, then two the next, and three the next. I ran my first 5k three weeks after I had started running. I started to experience Achilles pain. I'd have to ice my legs down after runs. Then I set a goal of running a half marathon with the next couple months. As I pushed my mileage up, I started feeling different pains in my body. My knees were what were hurting me the most. Even buying new shoes didn't work. The day after I had my first 10 mile run, I could barely walk. Every time I would go up the stairs, it felt as if my knees were going to buckle. I had a piercing, needle-like feeling through my knees. I realized I was pushing myself too far too fast. 


I backed out of running that half marathon. I took a week or two off from running to give my body time to heal. When I got back in it, I ran three miles. That's it. The next day I felt great. I took the next three months and never ran more than three miles at a time, three or four times a week. That gave me a solid base to build on. When fall rolled around, I was ready to start training for my first half marathon. The training plan I used had me adding a mile to my long run every week. I finished my first half-marathon 1 minute and a half under my initial goal. 


My long term goal is to run an Ironman.  I hope to achieve this within the next two years. I have several smaller goals that I have set for myself to accomplish in the mean time. Racing in a half Ironman this fall is one of them. I also plan on running the Cooper River Bridge Run in the early spring next year. I ran that same race this year but had issue with the way runners were sorted into their starting corrals. When I signed up I put myself in the category of runners that would do the race in under an hour. The problem was that there were people signed up for the same category but a mile into the race, they were already walking. 


While I enjoyed running the race, I told myself that I would try to qualify to get seeded the next time I ran the race. For next year, I need to provide proof that I can run a 10k in under 50 minutes. I am almost there. I can pump out four to five miles at a pace of 8 min to 8:15 min per mile. There's a 10k in October that I plan on running in hopes of coming in under 50 minutes. 


Setting short term goals helps with the long term goals. Set a long term goal and short term goals that will help achieve it. I have to remind myself that I should not compare myself to those that went from couch potato to running ultra marathons in six months. It doesn't do me any good. Everyone's situation is unique and I'm doing the very best I can to achieve my dreams.  



How did I do it?

How did you do it? How did you lose all that weight? That's the question I get the most now days. I will say that it was not my choice. As I briefly described in my first post, I had some issues that arose. I believe that my body got to the point where it could not stand all the junk I was putting in it.

I wrestled with weight my whole life. I was always a big kid and had horrible eating habits. I weighed 100 pounds in the second grade. By the time I was in third grade I weighed 130. And 180 pounds in middle school. I could keep going but I think you get the picture. While growing up, I always thought I was just a big guy. I made excuses for myself. When I got into my teens, I tried to control my food intake. It would work to an extent but it never did the trick. I never lost as much weight as I would've liked. And when I did lose weight, I couldn't keep it off.

Then things got really unhealthy for me. In mid to late high school, I became bulimic. Yes, guys can be bulimic too and no, I have never admitted this to anyone other than my wife. Any time some one would ask me if I was making myself throw up, I would flat out deny it or make up some excuse as to why I threw up. The problem got much worse when I got to college. I would throw up just about every meal my freshman year. I came home that next summer looking sick. I knew I was doing a tremendous amount of damage to my body and I would try to stop but I felt like I couldn't. It was something that I struggled with for many years. To this day, If I eat too much I feel sick and those feelings come back.

I want to fast forward a couple years. It is 2012 and I'm on vacation with my wife and kids at Disney World. I remember I bought a new bathing suit that year and when I put it on to go swim with the kids, I looked horrible in it. It was extremely tight and I had the worst muffin top you'd ever seen on someone. I hated the way I looked in it. I wore it once and that was it for me. While on vacation, my oldest daughter gets the stomach bug. So, then I get it along with everyone else. I cut out all dairy while trying to recover and was feeling fine. When I reintroduced dairy, I got sick again. This cycle went on for a few weeks until we figured out that I was lactose intolerant. I did a little research and I found out that lactose intolerance usually comes on later on in life and can be caused by a sickness. Cutting out dairy doesn't mean cutting out just milk. It's cutting out butter, margarine and anything cooked in those things. A lot of beaded chicken has milk in it. And just about every piece of bread or bun served in a restaurant has milk in it. As you can see, my options were limited now. There was one bright side to this, I started to feel great for the first time in my life. I was roughly 260 pounds when I started my dairy free lifestyle. Every now and then I would try something with dairy in it to see how it affected me, and it would make me sick.

I lost about 40 pounds in the first few months of being dairy free, That's when I decided to kick it up a notch and start running. The weight kept coming off. At 220 lbs, I set a goal that I wanted to get down to 195 lbs. Even my wife thought that I might be too skinny at that point but I was going about it in a much healthier way now. Eventually, I made it all the way down to 180 lbs. That's where I stayed for about a year. I then ran across a book called Racing Weight By Matt Fitzgerald. I went on a website of his and calculated what my optimal weight for running races and triathlons would be. It calculated that I should weigh 164 lbs with 7% body fat. I thought that there would be no way that I can lose roughly another 20 lbs.

In January of this year, I joined in on a weight loss competition at work. Most people thought I was crazy, and looking back, I was. I was going up against guys in the 250 lbs - 300 + lbs range. The winner would be the one who lost the most weight by percentage of body weight. I figured I had a chance because I didn't have that much to lose. And the prize money was $1,000. Needless to say, I did not win. At the beginning of the contest I weighed 174 lbs. On the final day, I was down to 155 lbs. Way past what I was shooting for but I knew that I would probably gain some weight back.

During this weight loss competition, I had my annual physical. I told the doctor that I've had some G.I. problems in the past. He said he wanted to run some blood work to see if I had Celiac Disease. When the blood work came back, it indicated that I did have Celiac. Not only that, I was very deficient in Vitamin D, which is another indication. They sent me to a gastroenterologist and he said the same thing.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the small intestine cannot digest gluten properly. It is a genetic disease. This is not a fad or the latest diet. In Celiac patients, gluten breaks down the lining of the small intestine to the point where it cannot absorb nutrients from food. The only way to treat this is to maintain a gluten free diet. I almost didn't believe the doctors when they told me I had Celiac but once I went gluten free, I could tell a huge different. I started eating gluten again for a couple of weeks thinking that they were going to run a few more tests on me. I got even more sick when I started eating  diet with gluten in it. I felt so lethargic and sick that I could not wait to go back to being gluten free. Since going gluten free again, I have gained a few pounds back. That's actually normal in Celiac patients because the body is now absorbing all the nutrients properly. I now maintain my body weight in the 160 - 163 lb range.

My views of food have changed dramatically over the last few years. Yes, I could've taken a pill to aid with the digestion of lactose but I chose not to. I decided that that was going to be the moment that everything changed for me. I use food as a fuel for my body and nothing else.



Making Time

I'm back, everyone. I'm sorry for my long absence but I figured I should get back on the horse.

It's been quite a busy summer. Work has been ridiculously busy lately. My wife started a new job in the spring and her schedule has been completely packed. Throw four kids in the mix along with their activities, and you have one tired husband and father. Even with all the stuff we have been doing I wanted to post what I've been up to.

One of the purposes of this blog is to show people that, even though we all lead very busy lives, we can all achieve our goals. Everyone has something that they want to do. One of my goals in life is to complete an Ironman race. Last year I set the goal for myself that I would complete one by the time I turn 36 (I'll be 34 in about 2 weeks). I always hear people talking about how they don't time to work out or they're too busy. The reality is that there is always time. We have to make time for working out or doing whatever it is that we want to do. I realized that the other night when I said to myself that I haven't had time to write on this blog. That's not the truth. I had the time, I just decided to do something else with it. There were plenty of times where I just sat and watched tv or scrolled through Facebook for the hundredth time in one day. The thing is that I did not make this a priority.

Having four kids and a very busy schedule makes it hard for me to find time to work out. My wife is a nurse and works at a local hospital. I am a building inspector in a neighboring county, My kids are in 2nd grade, kindergarten, preschool and we have a toddler. On the days that my wife and I both work, every minute of the day feels like it's accounted for. If I'm idle at any point, I'm wasting time. My wife and I get up around 5:30am (I know, that's not super early for people that are training for a race but bear with me for now). We wrestle the kids out of bed and get them dressed. My wife heads off to work and I pile the kids in the car and we are off to the babysitter's house. I get the kids there by 7am, Then it's off to pick up my county vehicle. I try to start work between 7:30 and 8 and usually take a 30 minute lunch on those days, Like I said before, every minute counts. When I'm done working, it's a mad dash to get to my personal vehicle so I can get the kids. After that, we head home, cook dinner, and then I put the kids to bed. That's a condensed version, which doesn't include the days that my daughter has to be at cheer practice. Needless to say, we are a busy bunch.

No matter how busy we get, staying active is something that I feel like is very important to me. I need to make time for my workouts or my dream of being an Ironman may never come true. Some days I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to workouts. I used to spend a couple hours on Saturday or Sunday mornings on the saddle of my bike. With being out of town and crowded work schedules, this hasn't happened for me in the past few weeks. There are times when I supplement this with a stationary bike workout at the gym on my lunch hour. There have been plenty of times when I woke up extra early (sometimes like 3:45am) to go for a run. That gets difficult if my wife works several days in a row. Sleep comes at a premium then.

I do a good bit of my workouts at the gym. I try and schedule my long runs and bike rides for the weekend. I'm not crazy about having to train on a treadmill but sometimes it's all I have to work with. I can go to the gym, run, take a shower and go back to work. I actually did most of my training for two months leading up to one of my half marathons and set a new PR. So, it has worked out for me in the past. This upcoming weekend will be tough because my wife has to work all weekend long but I will figure something out.

We all have some sort of goal we want to work towards. For me it's a race, for others it may be a business venture that they've always wanted to start. We need to make time for these things in our life. We can start small, we don't need to go all out. I would love to be able to run 5 or six miles every time I run. My schedule doesn't allow me to do it... but it may allow me to run 3. And 3 is better than 0. That's the same reason why I haven't been posting to this blog, I felt like I needed some big, interesting story but I don't need that. I need to start small and let this blog grow into something bigger. We always feel like we need to go all out when we want to do something but, in the end, we do nothing. Setting small attainable goals will help us achieve our major goals in the future.



Rough Waters

I've been training for a triathlon for the past month or so. My main goal is complete a half iron distance triathlon by October of this year. For those of you who may not know, a half iron distance triathlon is composed of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. Since it's been almost two years since the last triathlon I've done, I decided that I needed to do at least one this summer to get back in the swing of things. I picked the Tri Latta sprint race. The sprint distance is the shortest type of tri. This race consisted of a 750 meter swim, 17 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. I was thinking this would be a piece of cake, I would soon find out that it would not be.

I prepared all my stuff the night before the race. I pumped the tires on my bike, oiled the chain, packed all my gear and practiced clicking in and out of my clipless pedals. This would be the second time using them out on the road.

I woke up at 3;45am. The race was held in Huntersville, about an hour away from where I live. I arrived around 5am. After getting my timing chip, body marked, and the necessary trip to the Port-A-Jon, I started setting up my stuff. I racked my bike, set out my shoes and all the gear I would need for the race.

When the time came near, I walked down to the lake. There were people warming up in the water but I decided not to. They soon called the first wave. As soon as the gun went off, I walked over to the waters edge, knowing I was in the next wave. The water was surprisingly warm, reports said it was 88 degrees. The countdown was on, I had five minutes until the gun went off.

There were thirty to forty people in my wave, the red swim cap wave. When the gun went off, it looked like a free for all. I saw nothing but arms, legs, and water splashing all around. As I got further out in the water, I felt less and less comfortable. This was my first official open water swim. I've always heard that swimming in open water is so different from swimming laps in a pool and I was quickly finding that out.

Not being able to see under water, my instinct was to keep my head above water. About a third of the way down one side of the buoy, I was already feeling very tired. I was trailing far behind and I soon realized I was the last red swim cap, everyone else was already making the turn to head back to shore. It was at about that time that I realized that the next wave was coming up behind me. I had a swarm of thirty to forty people swimming all around me. I started to panic. I had never felt like that in my life. The only thing I knew to do was to stop and tread water until I felt the anxiety pass. I thought about calling one of the lifeguards over but was a afraid of being disqualified from the race. It was at that time that a lifeguard on a kayak called out to me to try to make it to his boat. I managed to swim over there and grab on. He told me I could hang on and catch my breath for a minute. He then asked me if I wanted him to call the boat over to take me back. I thought about for a second but decided I was going to keep going. I thanked him and I started swimming again.

I made it to the halfway point but felt even more exhausted then I had before. I really didn't think I was going to make it. It was then when another lifeguard came over and told me to catch my breath while I hung onto her boat. She asked me if this was my first triathlon, I told her that that this was my first open water swim and that I can usually swim long stretches in the pool just fine. She then asked if I usually swim with my face in the water. I said "yes." She told me to swim like that. Even though it did not feel right, I need to swim with my face in the water because swimming with my head up and out of the water would wear me out much faster (I found that out pretty quickly). I told myself that I would give it one more try and if I felt like I couldn't make it, I would call the boat to get me out of the water. I thanked the lifeguard, put my face in the water and started swimming. I made it back to shore. Even getting caught up with another group of swimmers, I did not feel panicked. It took me 32 minutes to complete the 750 meter swim. That's more than twice as long as it takes me to swim the same distance in a pool. As exhausted as I was, I dragged myself out of the water and made my way to transition.

In transition, I drank a good bit of water and scarfed down a granola bar. I threw my bike shoes on and rolled my bike out of transition. I did not feel much better on the bike at first. My whole body was so exhausted from the swim that the first half of the bike ride felt very sluggish. The second half of the bike ride was when I was starting to feel better (maybe the granola bar started kicking in). I felt faster and stronger.

I made it back to transition in a little over an hour, which is about right for me. I usually ride at a 15 to 16 mph pace. I was excited to get my running shoes on and go. Running is my thing. As I got out on the trail, my calves felt like they were going to cramp up for the first quarter mile. As soon as that went away, I was able to pick up the pace. All of the people that passed me on the bike course, got passed on the run course. I did the 5k run in just over 29 minutes. I consider that pretty good considering how fatigued I was for the first part of the race.

My overall time for the race was 2:18:33 (including my transition time). As upset as I got at myself for having such a bad swim, I can say that I learned a lot. I learned that I need to trust my training. The first thing I did when I got out in the water was try something I had never done before. Race day is not the time to try something new. I'm glad I had the experience and that it happened in a sprint and not a longer race.