Archive for August, 2014

Team,

I have decided to dedicate at least one blog per week to an issue I find both concerning and personal.  Obesity is on the rise in the United States and I consider myself to be a statistic (albeit former) of this growing epidemic.  Obesity IS a preventable disease in this country and I feel as someone who has begun the escape from the “fat prison” it is my obligation to bring awareness and share as much as I can about preventing and helping others overcome this disease.

One out of every three Americans is now considered to be obese, and during the early 21st century, America often contained the highest percentage of obese people in the world.  The highest percentage!  What!?  As one of the world superpowers, one of the most industrialized and wealthiest countries on the planet…and we somehow have allowed ourselves to be the fattest!  Not good.  Until 2013 the United States had the highest percent of obese people for large nations until Mexico surpassed us.

In 2008 (and just extrapolate that out another 6 years) approximately 17% of our nations children were considered obese, 32% of men, and 35% of women.  One third of our adult population was in crisis as near as 6 years ago.  Statistics do not show a downward trend of that and has been cited as being the cause of 100,000 – 400,000 obesity related deaths in our country.  Man, there are a lot of we can and will pass away on, but to lose your life over something that can be prevented is too much of a shame. 

There are too many stats in regards as to the cost to Americans dealing with this disease so I am not going to go into all of those.  My point here is to bring awareness.  Many of you reading this are already beginning to transform or have been leading a healthy lifestyle…not all of this applies, but we all know someone suffering from obesity, child or adult.  We all do. 

I was one of those and it took a long, long time for me to recognize the dangers to not only myself, but what it was doing to my family.  As a “Previously Fat Guy” I know how it feels to be around those fitter than me, people who could buy regular sized clothes, or were confident to get in the pool, or tuck in their shirts! (Rosie O’Donnell said once, “Confident people tuck!”). Not a fan of Rosie but those words hold true.  When you feel good about yourself you do things that represent that.  Tucking my shirt in was a big one for me.  It meant I was making progress on my fat loss journey.  It was more telling than the scale in my own opinion.  I also measured progress by the holes on my belt. 

However, many people stuck in that obese category feel trapped and most will tell you they are lonely as well.  That doesn’t even address the myriad of health issues, uncomfortable aches and pains, embarrassing situations that come along with being obese.  If you are lucky nobody pokes fun at you to your face but obese people are a target and that does not help ones self -esteem.  Trust me.   I went many years not wanting to look in a mirror because my face was fat. Try shaving with no mirror – I switched to an electric razor to solve that problem  Instead of dealing with my weight and health I switched razors…nice.

The Obesity Action Coalition does a great job trying to combat obesity through education, solutions of all types, and through programs aimed at eliminating fat biases ( http://www.obesityaction.org ) particularly among children.  If you have a chance, visit their website and educate yourself about the dangers of obesity and maybe, just maybe we will all take the time to help someone in need. 

This is a very preventable issue and I hope people can see that if I can get up and decide to make a change for the better, others can to.  Its not easy, in fact its hard, very hard.  But oh so worth it.  So I ask a few things of you here…

1. Encourage someone to start making healthy lifestyle choices…whatever they maybe…anything is a step in the right direction.

2. Educate yourself a little bit on the causes and solutions for obesity.

3. Don’t be a afraid to share your concerns with someone you know or love who is suffering.  Many obese people are intimidated to ask for help and feel trapped and are waiting for someone to give them the nudge they need to make a change.

4.  Be kind…you know what I mean.

Jeffrey “Previously Fat Guy”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So, the 2014 Louisville Ironman finished yesterday.  Several people I know competed and completed!  very awesome to watch and follow them throughout the race.  Even more awesome to feel that motivation to continue my journey to that event next year.  Congrats to all that entered, competed, and completed.  Inspiring to say the least.

I keep saying “Today is day one of my training”  I guess I have to get to day two at some point!  So today I say is Day two!  I busted out a 6.1 mile run, mildly hilly, very humid, dodged a ton of traffic!  As I ran I thought about some of the Facebook posts about the Louisville IM and saw the excitement of participant and spectators throughout the whole event and yes, I will admit, I pretended I was finishing the IM as I ran down Anderson road this morning.  So if anyone saw me with my fists raised over my head and waving to the imaginary crowd, I was not delusionary, just lost in my own little moment for a second.  I can safely say I have my finish line pose down!  Something else that I saw posted was that someone made note that it was easy to admire the professionals and their own physical accomplishments but even more we have to admire the others, the everyday people who have regular jobs, balancing life, and training and still manage to complete this extraordinary feat of racing. Inspires me even more to work hard to get there and even more so…it makes me feel part of a unique group of people, everyday people getting out a preparing for something this big.  I truly believe I can do this.  Next step is completing the Chicago Half Marathon on October 25th.  Anyone want to join me?

Anyway, 6.1 miles today…goal is 30-35 miles this week on foot.  I just have a itch to run this week don’t know why.

Weight was still hovering at 205 (Grrr!) I am taking suggestions in this area.

Had an awesome juice this morning that my fantastic wife prepared:  oranges, lemons, spinach, red and green pepper, ginger, and she snuck some baby carrots in!  This juice was great and very energizing after my run.  I highly recommend it!

Nothing tremendously profound today other than get out and do something, walk, run, ride…something.  You will feel better if you do.  Eat well today and try something new, a juice, a healthy snack, ditch the soda today for water.  Make one improvement over yesterday and start or continue that road to a healthier fitter you.

Jeffrey “Previously Fat Guy”

 

 

 

 

 

Training update:  Road to Ironman 2015

Weight: 205 (still)

On Tuesday when I was running with my buddy Dan he asked me since the YMCA tri was over if I was in “full half marathon training?”  I said no, that I was waiting until next week to decide how I wanted to prepare for the 10/25/14 race.  It will be the last road half of the year, the tri’s are over for me for the year, and other than maybe a November 5K an the Huff 50K in December I don’t have specific race plans for the rest of the year.  Not because I don’t want to but work and life preclude me racing as much as my passion allows.

I know its sound like I may be getting deep here but bare with me.  After the run Tuesday I began thinking about what Dan had said and light went off in my head (no comments).  I came to the realization that I had always been preparing for each race individually, which, we do when we compete, but it struck me that as I change my lifestyle to reflect a healthier, fitter, more energetic me, it becomes less about the races and more about the journey to finish them strong and build upon the knowledge I gain in-between.  I have learned so much in my two year adventure to transform myself from sick and fat to healthy and competitive.  My nutritional knowledge, admittedly still minimal, my training knowledge, and my self-awareness have never been more in tune. 

When I train, run or cycle (swimming is still more of a life and death splash fest from one end of the pool to the other) I am in another place mentally and emotionally.  My buddy Jim said not to long ago that he would rather be on his bike than any other place.  I knew what he meant.  Those few hours training daily have us focused on one thing, getting better, stronger and faster (ok three things), but not just physically but mentally as well.  I am speaking for myself here but training helps me grow.  There is something very cathartic about hitting a PR or just pushing your body to the next level even if that is just another feet on the run or one more hill on the ride. 

The races are the check points for me not the destinations.  They tell me if I prepared correctly or if I just prepared better than before.  Prior to my first tri I would have had no idea what a transition area was or how to navigate it…or the importance of treating it as another critical component of the race.  Yea,  15 minutes of transition time in my first 70.3…that kills your time.  Two years ago I thought you could run in whatever shoe was in the closet, never even thought about how to or if you should hydrate on a run.  I’m still figuring out how to eat properly without crashing my bike.  All of it is “The Journey.” 

This journey has taught me a very important lesson about patience.  My progress is marked by seconds, pounds, and aches!  I learned that I got unhealthy over a 20 year timespan, but it can change overnight…just in itty bitty microscopic changes you may not see for days or even weeks.  My family has been instrumental in my success.  Encouraging me, acknowledging my progress and hard work, showing up for races when they only get to see me for a few second passing by and at the finish.  My wife Karin, who puts up with my, “Hey I need to register for a race!” texts, or “I am at the bike shop and I need (insert any of 1000 items we need for the bike)…”  All of that is so important for me to succeed.

I see all the posts about some of my Southern Indiana Triathlon Teammates preparing and heading off to the Louisville Ironman (jealous).  I am excited to be on track to join them next year.  I see determination in their faces and know, even in my limited time in the sport, how hard they have worked to compete in this race.  The race will pass and they make memories but I dare say they will remember the path they took to get there..the good and the bad.  They will learn and adjust to be better next time.

So I say to everyone who is reading (all, like,7 of you!) remember its about the journey.  Enjoy the journey, learn from it and praise yourself for taking it.  Your are today, a better, fitter, healthier (mind, body, and spirit) you than you were yesterday.  I am excited this is my life.  I look forward to my training and my races.  I look forward to sharing what I learn with you and I look forward to seeing everyone at the starting line.

I rambled and digressed…but it was on my heart,

Jeffrey “Previously Fat Guy”

 

Ok team,

Another triathlon in the books, the 2014 YMCA Spirit, Mind, Body triathlon.  To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect.  I had ridden part of the course and previewed the run portion once (on my bike).  I chose to compete in the Olympic distance.  Sprint distance (1/2 mile swim, 15 mile bike, 5K run), a duathlon, and a team competition were also options.  My first triathlon was last month, and I gutted out an entire 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) to initiate myself into the sport so I assumed (we all know what happens when you assume) the Olympic distance would be merely challenging but not crushing.  I was almost right.  It was challenging in every sense of the word. 

My personal challenge is the swim and for this distance is technically only .2 miles (though some claimed to measure it at 1.1 miles) shorter than my previous tri.  This first discipline really pushes my endurance to the edge. The bike route was a great out and back with some challenging (ahem!) hills after the 7.5 mile mark (thank you Anna Demerly for yelling at me on the category 10 hill coming back, to “not stop pedaling”…believe me, my mind said pedal, my legs were saying @#$$%!!!  But I did improve my bike time and came in under the goal I set.  Route support was great and I really appreciated the volunteers that the encouraged me personally as I rode by. (Maybe I looked like I needed it more!).  The run was a 5K out and back that the Olympic competitors ran twice…again…some nice “little” hills to traverse but not frightening.  The coolest part of this run were the kids on the backside of the route handing out water and cheering.  I am calling out the runner in front of me that refused the high fives from the two little kids at mile marker 1…you are way to serious to not high five the kids…dude! I don’t know your name but if anyone knows who the skinny runner in dark shorts is…smack him! 

This was a great race to have in my training towards 2015.  Great distance, showed me where I have improved and where I still need to work.  Transitions (time between swim/bike and bike/run) improved by over 50%, that was the biggest improvement.  The encouraging spot was that I finished the run only 3 minutes off the goal I had set which means I was running the 10K slightly slower than my normal 10K pace.  I know where I could have pushed myself harder and probably shaved 2-3 minutes. 

This was another race first so I am neither happy or sad with my times…it was about setting benchmarks for 2015 and exposing my weaknesses for improvement.  Somebody asked me after the race what was the hardest part, I said, “the swim/bike/run part!  Its hard to explain.  I don’t look at it as three disciplines but one multi-faceted discipline.  They all have to work together to finish.

The YMCA put on great event.  Definitely on the list for 2015.  MY one slight disappointment is that as I was finishing my bike portion, I so many sprint racers leaving.  Our tri community is not a large one and we don’t stop and make sure we are supporting each other through the finish (back of the packers need love to!).  Its a big deal to get out and compete.  I am going to give a small shout out to the Southern Indiana Triathlon Team…I know there are other equally as awesome groups but it means a tremendous amount to me to have people that I only know as members of the team, see me and cheer me on or encourage me. 

And in particular, Anna Demerly, Scott Culiver, Steve Roelle…(there are more, I am just drawing a blank), not once have you three ever failed to encourage me or ask me how I did.  Thank you.

This was a great race.

Jeffrey “Previously Fat Guy”

Ok…training this week was subpar.  Two reasons caused this, work schedule and easing off for the YMCA Mind, Body, and Spirit Triathlon tomorrow.  I fully understand the need to physically tapper and prepare for the race but I struggle mentally in not being active and in my normal training routine.  Anyone else struggle with this?

I got three days of running in.  Short runs in my new Cloudrunner ON shoes.  Really liking these shoes.  https://www.on-running.com/en-us.  I have moved back up a bit from my zero drop shoes as my calves for various reason (I don’t fault the shoes) just haven’t adjusted to longer runs.  To have calves this size fail me is perplexing to say the least but understanding the physiology of how training , nutrition, and the mechanics of endurance running all fit together helps me get a better idea.  So if you are curious about these shoes check out the link they explain it better than I do.  I will be writing a longer review of them after a few more miles.

Race weight looks like it will be about 204-205.  Not great but holding, 188-187 is the target.  I have some work to do and after this race am focusing on specific performance improvement and muscle strength for cycling.  Funny thing, this morning I read an article on beginner triathletes who were primarily runner prior to tri’s and it talked about struggling on the bike and gave some great pointers on cycling improvement that wont sacrifice the run training.  Actually, the thought is cycling will help maintain and improve the run with less running…go figure.  I know, hard core runners will have to adjust but only during tri season.

Looking forward to the Olympic distance tomorrow.  It will be my second tri, the first 70.3, so this should be in my wheel house if I get through the swim!!  My training partner Dan will smoke me in the water and on the bike so my only hope to finish in sight of him is on the run…this means you calves!

Nutrition has been spotty.  Not unhealthy but I did not dial it in as tight as I wanted.  Tonight I am not going to veer from my normal routine and tomorrow the only change I am making is hydrating more on the bike.  I will have 48 ounces with me so I think that should suffice for 25 miles.  I am out of my Nutrilite energy chews that did me well last race.  Tony Bacon if you have any sitting around I will pay top dollar for the citrus flavor! 

Mentally I am feeling focused.  I had many changes this past month and things are settling down.  This is the last tri of the year for me…road races and a ultra-trail run left…I look forward to the 2015 tri season.  If you can come out to the race and cheer us on please do.  If not…any well wishes here or on Facebook are most appreciated!

Jeffrey “Previously Fat Guy”

 

Sunshine Delight

Posted: August 13, 2014 in health/nutrition

Sunshine Delight!

I have talked recently about juicing and some of the benefits I believe we can get from it. Well this morning my wife knocked it out of the park with an awesome juice we are calling Sunshine Delight. We love putting together different combinations of veggies and fruit to get our juice on. Sometimes they are great, sometimes not so much. Today was a great day! So here it is

1/2 pineapple

1 cucumber

2 oranges

1 apple

1 lemon

1 yellow pepper

This yielded about 32 ounces of juice awesomeness! If you are new to juicing or a veteran juicer this is one you need to add to your recipe book. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Arguably, one of the toughest aspects of getting healthy is staying motivated to see the tiny results we hope to see over long periods of time.  We quickly forget it took months, even years, to get to our current unhealthy states yet we want instant results…

Any expert will tell you consistency is the key.  Its been stated that it takes 30 days to form a habit…so goes it with working out.  We have to develop habits over time that will yield the results we seek.  That all begins with our minds.  We have to accept the fact we want to change for the good and begin making plans to achieve what we want. Then put it all into action and stick with it.  Easy peasy right?  Not so much.

I venture to say all of us at one time or another have committed in our minds to a work out plan, diet, or “New Year’s Resolution”.  The caveat came when we failed to execute those thoughts.  I struggled for many years to get a plan together that “worked” for me.  I had many reason why I couldn’t work out, eat right, whatever.  The problem was never my plans, those usually were pretty solid.  It was me, my attitude and my actions that kept me from succeeding.  I failed each time before I even began.

Nutrition is the biggest key for  me and I believe for many.  If I asked you, “Would you knowingly put diesel fuel in your gasoline engine?”  You will tell me no.  Why?  Because it will wreck your car and be costly to repair.   So I asked myself, “Should I knowingly put junk fuel into my body?”  You get the picture.  Bad fuel will result in bad results, poor health physically, and mentally.  Without proper nutrition you cant concentrate and focus.  The beauty of this is it is simple to eat healthy.  You have to change you habits (see comment above) but by eliminating the junk, chips, soda, cookies, large portions (yes…large portions!  Overeating even healthy food does you no good.  Your body can only process so much at one time. Give your body what it needs and no more and it will respond back in kind.)  Healthy eating will give you an energy that will help to keep you motivated to continue building these habits.  Nutrition was the biggest hurdle for me.  When I am eating right, I always feel ready for a workout.

Keep it simple.  We have all heard that.  If you are new to working out don’t sign up for the Kona Ironman next month!  Take it in steps.  Find something that is convenient and works into your schedule. (You will be surprised at how much time you find to work out) minutes to an hour a day amounts to 4% of your day.  If you cant give 4%…well.

Try and find a partner or a group to work out with.  Accountability goes a long way to helping you stay motivated and on track.  I run or bike almost every day with my buddy Dan.  We have both had days we did not want to work out.  But both of us know how important it is to the other one and barring a few days with injury or illness we both make strong efforts to be there to help the other stay accountable. 

Set goals.  I cant emphasize this enough.  Without goals you can easily become overwhelmed with everything.  Write them down, check them off, treat yourself when you accomplish them.  One of my biggest helps is that after a race of any kind, I allow myself to eat…no limits.  I take that one afternoon to treat myself to my comfort foods and then I go back to my clean eating.  Am I perfect?  No, I do sneak treats no and then.  But I have built up strong healthy habits that allow me the occasional cheat without getting me off track.

So there you have it…keep it simple, have some accountability, set your goals.  There is a bunch of hard work in-between all of that but that really is the foundation to making progress. 

Jeffrey “PreviouslyFatGuy”

 

Juicing…as in making fresh fruit, veggie juice concoctions to start your day out with a great boost of healthiness.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a doctor, though I know some.  I am sharing what works for me and what I have learned about nutrition and training along my journey.  Take what you like and ignore the rest. 

I like juicing.  My wife and I have been juicing daily in the mornings for some time and both agree that it does make you feel energized and full in the mornings.  It has been a great addition to our diets and my training routine.  So let me point out a few things:

1. You can “juice” just about anything….fruit, veggies. Some require a little prep but most can be dropped right into the juicer without much effort. Some things need peeled because their rinds can have a bitter taste or are just not really edible (pineapples for example). I am not going to discuss types of juicers here.  There are many and I found budget and style really are the deciding factors, though some are notably better than others.

2. A mixture of fruits and veggies makes the best flavor combo in my opinion.  More fruit = sweeter.

3. Juicing is not making a smoothie…smoothies are awesome and I love them and my post workout routine includes a smoothie…but making a smoothie is blending not juicing.  That is a whole different post.

4. Juicing is not necessarily a meal replacement, though it can be, but I am not suggesting that here.  Some people do “juicing” challenges and they do replace a meal to help kick start weight loss or “detox” their systems. I use it to supplement.  I wont say I don’t go out the door some mornings and all I have had is my juice but that’s not the idea.

Juicing is a great way to get a ton of vitamins and minerals you may not normally get throughout your normal day of eating.  It also allows you to consume some fruits and veggies you have traditionally avoided! 

Here is a great website that can give you some good ideas about how to start juicing and a ton of recipes to try.  I am a fan of green juices and love to add a bit of ginger to them.  My wife has different tastes.  There are juices for everyone.  Regardless of your end goals, I think adding regular juicing to your daily routine will benefit you in many ways.  Give it a try!

http://juicerecipes.com/recipes

Jeffrey “Previously Fat Guy”

Coming next: Training update on my Road to Ironman 2015

 

So today I engaged in some interval cycling.  My riding buddy Mike has been doing them for some time and arguably he is a better cyclist than me.  So, doing the math I figured it was time to bite the bullet and get down to the business of being a better, more efficient cyclist. (That translates into not being dropped on the hills anymore!)

The ride was short, less than an hour form the time I left my house and got back.  19 miles total…13 of it under interval workout.  We utilized a 30/30 principle meaning, 30 seconds of all out intensity and then a recovery of 30 seconds which amounted to continued pedaling but only at about 50% intensity.  Other than a brief “super high intensity” moment when the black Chow chased us, we maintained a great rhythm. (we opted for the category 5 hill on the way back rather than “dog alley”).

The blessing: I really felt like I got a great workout, utilized some muscles that probably needed some work and maximized my time on the bike.  It is easy to cycle with little or no intensity.  It was good to get out of the normal routine of just putting fast miles.  And I think it also set a benchmark for my own endurance and where I need to be to keep up with the group and tackle the hills efficiently.

The curse: This something that has to be done consistently.  Like anything else.  It also made a statement for me that if I want to be better, more efficient, and more competitive I have to utilize interval training.  It is hard work and my legs and lungs said a few not so nice things to me afterwards!

I addition there are some definite benefits of intervals training:

1.You get faster (running, cycling)

2. Builds cardiovascular strength

3. Burns calories

4. Allows you to train harder with reducing the risk of injury or burn-out that many endurance athletes face from time to time.

There are many variations of intervals, so play with the concept if you don’t already incorporate it and see what kind of results you can get.  I think you will be surprised.

Jeffrey “Previously Fat Guy”

P.S. Coming soon – some great juicing ideas!  Stay tuned!

OK got a great run in this morning. 5K only (and I say “only” because my training runs are normally longer than that unless I am pressed for time). This was great inaugural race for the local high school band fundraising. Over 300 people registered. A fast hilly little course with a mixture of track and road surfaces.

Humidity caught up at about 2.5 miles but despite all of that I busted out another PR. 24:11. I tried to keep up with the few sprinters that started but they quickly dropped me. So I settled in and ran a fast pace for me. I knew it was fast because my breathing was pretty labored but my legs felt good.

I say all of this because two years ago I couldn’t run at all. To the mailbox was about my distance. My first 5K race I did in about 36 minutes September of 2012. This year I have managed to drop over two minutes of my 5K time since 01/01/14.

Why am I sharing? One, because when we hit goals we need to share. Maybe not all of the details but let others know so they can help encourage and keep you accountable. Two, because I didn’t try to get faster this year (yes I wanted to) but my focus was my overall fitness level. That’s what I believe got me to this point. I focused on whole body wellness, solid training (and cross training) and the results came on their own. I never train that fast and to feel my body respond to what I asked of it was a great feeling.

Set your goals big, focus on the “ZERO” and your results will come. Be awesome today!

Previously Fat Guy