Too fat to run?

This morning a friend at work approached me to ask my opinion on something that had happened to her the night before.  It appalled me so much I had to write about it, so you guys will get to hear my opinion as well.

She was at the gym running on the treadmill (run/walk interval training) and when she finished she was approached by a young woman who worked at the gym and the woman told her “You know you shouldn’t be running.” asking for clarification my co-worker asked “Is it because treadmills are bad for your knees? Should I be running outside instead?” to which the woman replied “No, you shouldn’t be running at all, you’re too fat to run.  You need to lose another 50 pounds before you should start running”.  Of course, this was devastating to my co-worker who has worked hard and has already lost 15 pounds, but this woman, no matter how “well intentioned” her advice was WAY off base on SO many levels.

First and foremost, she gave her “advice” in the most insulting way possible with absolutely NO tact.  If that was her opinion that’s fine, but she should have had a good reason for it, such as an injury concern or something of that nature.  Not just being “too big”.. that’s not enough of a reason.

Second, as someone who started running at 355 pounds I can say for a FACT that my co-worker is NOT too big to run, and as a matter of fact NO ONE is.  You don’t have to run far or run fast to be a “runner”.  And if you absolutely cannot run, you can WALK.  We all walk everyday, but walking for fitness is different than walking around a store or walking at work.  If you walk with purpose you will walk faster, walk longer and walk further.  You can increase your heartrate with just walking if it’s brisk enough.

Lastly, to lose weight you have to do aerobic exercises.  Exercises that will get your muscles exchanging CO2 and burning calories.  You have to increase your heartrate to pump all that blood to the muscles, and also your heart is one of the strongest muscles in your body and just getting IT pumping burns calories regardless of what you’re doing with your legs.  Running is one of the BEST cardio exercises.  It uses those big huge muscles in your legs which are a FURNACE for burning calories.  You can’t tell someone they need to lose weight to run.  NO, you need to run to lose wieght! It’s that simple.

Don’t let ANYONE (including your own inner voice) tell you that you are too big to do ANYTHING especially not exercise.  Otherwise you will never be able to make the change.  Run, walk, cycle, swim whatever works for YOU. DO IT.

Like the Nike ads say… JUST DO IT.

2012 Year in Review

I’m publishing my Year in Review a couple days early this year since I’m going to be busy this weekend through New Years and may not get a chance to publish before then.  2012 was an amazing year as I grabbed the bull by the horns with both my running and my weight loss and made some dramatic changes in my life.  It will be a year I won’t soon forget.

Races:

2012 was certainly the year of the race.  This year I completed 15 races including 6 5Ks (3.1 miles), 1 trail 5K, 2 8Ks (5 miles), 3 10Ks (6.2 miles) and my first 3 half marathons (13.1 miles).  If you want to check out the recaps of these races with pictures you can click the Races tab at the top of the page which will take you to the race recap page.  Here’s the list in Chronological order of what I accomplished this year on the race circuit.

Jan 1 (Midnight) – Running the Lights 5K -Clemmons, NC
Feb 4 – Winter Flight 8K – Salisbury, NC (First race longer than 5K)
Feb 18 – Fitness, Friendship and Fun 5K – Kannapolis, NC
March 4 – Rock and Roll New Orleans Half Marathon – NO, LA (First Half Marathon)
March 17 – St. Leo’s 10K – Winston Salem, NC
April 28 – Law Enforcement Memorial 5K – Winston Salem, NC
May 12 – Shelton Vineyards Running the Vines 10K – Dobson, NC
May 26 – Spring Folly 5K – Kernersville, NC
June 16 – Rhythm and Run 5K – Kannapolis, NC
July 21 – Beat the Heat 5K – Winston Salem, NC
Aug 4 – Vineyard Stomp Trail 5K – Stoney Knoll Vineyards – Dobson, NC
Sept 15 – Run 4 the Greenway 8K – Greensboro, NC
Oct 20 – RHABA Fast and Flat 10K – Rural Hall, NC
Nov 4 – Rex Healthcare (City of Oaks) Half Marathon – Raleigh, NC
Dec 1 – Mistletoe Half Marathon – Winston Salem, NC

All this came on the heels of only running one race (a 5K) in 2011.  The race bug bit me and bit me hard.

Along with all these races was a whole lot of training mileage.  I logged about 100 miles of training for each of my three half marathons, as well as maintenance mileage to just keep me going.  Keeping a new race on the horizon, even a short one like a 5K, made sure that I could not stop what I was doing and to push me onward.  I set a goal for myself this year of 732 miles (2 miles per day X 366 days).  I’m not going to reach that, my injury riddled December knocking my mileage down to almost zero, but I’m going to get pretty damn close.  Depending on what kind of mileage I get this weekend, I should hit somewhere between 690-700 miles.  This is an astonishing increase after only logging 115 miles in 2011 (Granted, it was only from Aug-Dec).  I don’t know what my goal for 2013 will be, probably not a number/mile goal. Maybe a race goal.  3 more Half Marathons.  More than 3? We’ll have to see.

Weight Loss:

Of course the purpose of all this running was to lose weight.  Although, I got to the point where I enjoyed it and it was no longer a chore.  I also had to adjust my eating habits, which I began in the later part of 2011 when I joined MyFitnessPal in October.

On Jan 6, 2012, my first weigh-in of the new year, I weighed 282.2 pounds.  This matched the weight I had achieved before joining MFP and before gaining back 20 pounds to 302.  This, at that time, was my lowest adult weight.  I had been over 300 pounds dating all the way back to High School.

This past Sunday (Dec 23rd) I weighed in at 237.4 pounds.  That’s a loss (for the year) of 44.8 pounds.  That’s an average of 0.86 pounds a week.  This is much less than the “2 pounds a week” MFP proclaims you can lose using their calorie counting system, but it’s also nothing to sneeze at.

From my highest weight of 355 pounds in the fall/winter of 2009, I have lost a mind boggling 118 pounds. This continues to astonish me.

Fitness Endeavors:

Along with running I’ve picked up a few other fitness related items based on the availability at the YMCA of which I am a member.

I started practicing Yoga in December of last year at the insistence of several of my running friends (notably, all female) who swore by it for the stretching which is vital for preventing injuries.  I’ve now been practicing for a year, and I’ve noticed huge differences in my flexability, but Yoga has also been an amazing stress release and taught me to control my thoughts, control my breath and calm myself when things get crazy.  The deep breathing exercises (similar to the ones we used to do in marching band) has also greatly increased my lung capacity and endurance.  I barely breath heavy at all when I run anymore, much less the frantic huffing and puffing I used to do when I first started.

If Yoga exposed a weakness, so to speak, it was a lack of upper body strength.  I struggled with what are supposed to be some of the easier poses like Downward Facing Dog, and Plank.  I don’t remember exactly when I started, but I began a once a week, light weight lifting routine using the weight machines at the Y.  I’ve noticed a marked change in my arms, shoulders, neck and chest.  I’ve also noticed recently, that while it did take a while to see a result, I now can hold poses like Down Dog longer than I used to be able to, so definite progress there!

One of my friends from Yoga class nagged me for a while (in a good way) and convinced me to finally come to a spin class with her.  I had done spinning once at my old Y and absolutely hated it, and was hesitant to try it again.  I finally gave in and started it around April, after my first half marathon training was complete and I had time for some cross-training.  The spin class at my new Y is the Les Miles RPM class which uses an enthusiastic instructor and loud music to rev you up and give you a “beat” to follow.  I fell in love right away, and even though the class completely whipped me, I loved every minute of it and have continued to come back for more “punishment” weekly.

Friendship:

After getting over the nervousness of group exercise classes and embracing the social aspect of gym life, as well as the social aspect of fitness websites DailyMile and MyFitnessPal, I’ve been able to break out of my shell and become much more social than I’ve ever been in my life, including joining the local running club, the Twin City Track Club.  A large part of this shift is also the increased confidence in myself from losing weight and becoming more physically (and mentally) fit.

Big shout out to my old friends Tim and Amanda (who got me into running and got me on MFP), and to my new friends Jen (my first running buddy), Cathy (who dragged me from Yoga to spin), Heather (who cheered me on in New Orleans), The running family of Landis’s Kathi, Brian, Briana and Caramia (who are always open for dinner and a run anytime I’m in Kannapolis), Lisa (who shares my love of running and all things Disney) Rob, Robert, Jill, Emily, Steve, Carmen, Lesha, Hernan and everyone else in the Twin City Track Club.

And thank you to all you out there who read my blog, whether I know you or not, have met you or not, you keep me going with your encouragement!

Personal:

I was hesitant to mention this on the blog, but it is relevant.  Some of you who have read my blog for a while know I was married, with several references to my wife, her family and particularly the painful death of my father-in-law that marred my 2010 year in review.  My wife and I are no longer together having separated in September of 2011 and after the required one year waiting period our divorce was finalized in November of this year.

I mention this for two reasons… the first is that her leaving me (she literally walked out, came home from work one day and she was gone, despite the fact that I knew she was leaving, it was still sudden) was the spark that started this whole snowball rolling.  I realized after years of trying to help and “fix” other people I had neglected myself to the point of serious unhealthiness.  I decided to take care of ME before I started worrying about others.  I joined MFP, took up my running again which had fallen by the wayside, and started this journey to where I am now.  I’m not ashamed to say that a little bit of “How do you like me now?” is the flame that burns for my motivation to keep going.

The second reason is that for those of you who did know I was married, or thought perhaps I still was, I didn’t want there to be any confusion or scandal when in the next couple of days I introduce you all to my new girlfriend.  She’s coming to visit me and run a race with me on New Years (same midnight race as last year) so I’m sure she will be making her blog debut shortly.

Looking Ahead:

2013 looks to get started the same was 2012 did with the midnight New Years race, so hopefully that will be a sign of good things to come as I follow on the heels of this amazing 2012.  I still have some work to do, and a little bit of weight still to lose.  I’m also going to be running my 4th Half Marathon, in Disney in January which I’m very excited.  There’s also another fairly exciting adventure in the works for 2013 but you’ll just have to stay tuned for that.

Happy New Year!

Weekly Recap 7-9-12 to 7-15-12

Well I had another kind of rough week, got into a midweek funk that I pulled myself out of by the weekend.  I skipped yoga on Wednesday because my knee was hurting, and frankly didn’t feel like going.  Felt awful on Thursday and forced myself to do a miserable 2 miles on the treadmill.  Friday I went to lift weights and then my Saturday long run was a struggle, but not because of how I felt, just long 5 miles in some brutal humidity.

Starting weight – 259.4
Monday – Spinning – 50 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 3 miles
Wednesday – REST
Thursday – Run – 2 miles
Friday – Weightlifting – 30 minutes
Saturday – Run – 5 miles
Sunday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Total Mileage – 10 miles
Ending Weight – 256 (3.4 pounds lost)

Ok, so normally I get worried with a big loss since the next week is usually a gain, but I think is this case, this is an adjustment from last week’s gain which was from bad food and alcohol and probably a lot of salt levels/water retention etc.  So it melted away as my body adjusted back to normal, and then tacked on a normal loss on top of it.

The exciting part?  This puts me at 1 pound away from 100 pounds lost. I’ve been trying to break through this wall for over a month and I knew it was gonna give me a struggle, but maybe finally, finally it’s coming off.

NSV (Non-Scale Victory) of the Week:  I went to donate blood after my tuesday run.  (I knew better than to donate before).  I asked the ladies if this was OK since I was obviously fresh from working out, dripping sweat.. they said it was fine, just make sure I hydrated.   So I drank several cups of water before they called me back.  Being a bigger guy, and also being 0+ they always ask me to do double units.  The last two times I’ve donated I’ve been rejected for my iron being too low.  This time my iron was way high enough to give doubles, so NSV #1, a huge indicator of my better, healthier eating habits.  Second, after I donated, I walked over to the canteen area, did not feel woozy at all, and so I sat and drank my small cup of soda, ate my cookies, made sure I sat for a few minutes and then left.  In the past, I’ve always felt fine after I sat a minute, but have been a little woozy straight out of the chair, and that was only giving a single unit.  So NSV #2, I’m healthier, and better hydrated as well!

Weekly Recap 6-25-12 to 7-1-12

Had an interesting week this week.  Upped my mid week mileage from 3 to 4, completed my tempo run on Thursday that I flamed out on last week, so that was good and then had my fun volunteering/spectating experience at the Ultimate Runner this weekend.  That was both inspiring and terrifying, those were some FAST runners.  5 minute mile fast.  Holy snot.

Starting weight – 258.6
Monday – Spinning – 50 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 4 miles
Wednesday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Thursday – Run – 4 miles (tempo)
Friday – REST
Saturday – Run – 5 miles
Sunday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Total Mileage – 13 miles
Ending weight – 257.8 (0.8 pounds lost)

I’m still not willing to call this plateau dead, I think it’s gonna fight me tooth and nail still, but two weeks headed down is a great way to finish up June and move into July.

Good Eats of the Week – Couple good things to choose from, but I have to pick the sandwich from Bob’s Big Gas Subs and Pub from the Ultimate Runner after party.  Named (appropriately enough) the Triathlete it had roast beef, ham, and turkey (the tri), havarti cheese, chipotle mayo and avocado.  It was toasted and all bubbly and melty.  I normally don’t care for avocado, but I didn’t even notice it on here since it was just one slice per sandwich.  The bread was amazing and obviously freshly baked and the whole sandwich was fantastic!  Washed it down with some free beer for an all around great dinner.

Weekly Recap – 5/6/12 to 5/13/12

This week was an interesting week.  I was gearing up for my 10K so I played around with my running mileage a little bit.  I intended to do 4 on Tuesday and then 2 on Thursday, but Tuesday I had a work catered lunch and a wedding shower on the same day and running later than normal on a full stomach made me feel tired and nauseous.  Managed to get in 3 miles and then called it a day.  My race was good but BRUTAL.  Very hilly course, but I ran the entire distance.

Starting weight – 263
Monday – Spinning – 50 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 3 miles
Wednesday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Thursday – Run – 2 miles
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Race – 10K
Sunday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Ending weight – 262 pounds (1 pound loss)

Kind of surprised to see a lose this week with the way I ate, but also a little bit disappointed I’m having to lose back weight I had gained the week before.   My race went well and I didn’t run nearly as slow as I felt like I was going, so I guess it was a good week!

Weekly Recap 4-23-12 to 4-29-12

Well, another successful week culminating in a fantastic 5K race Saturday morning and then some much needed yoga stretching this afternoon.  I also tried an interesting new thing for dinner tonight, which I will blog about tomorrow.  My mileage was a little lower this week since the race was only a 3 miler.  I’ll be bumping up my mileage the next two weeks in preparation for my 10K on May 12.  Here’s a look at the numbers.

Starting weight: 263
Monday – Spinning – 50 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 3 miles
Wednesday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Thursday – Run – 3 miles
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Race – 5K
Sunday – Yoga – 70 minutes
Ending Weight –  261.2 (1.8 pounds loss)

Kinda surprised to see another solid weight loss this week, as I’ve mentioned before my 4 pound loss weeks always seem to be followed by a gain, but that big loss was also coming off a month long plateau, so maybe that helped keep the downward trend going.  I should hit 255 (100 pounds lost) right around my birthday at the end of May.  That will be a nice birthday present to myself.

Weekly Recap 4-16-12 to 4-22-12

This was a fairly uneventful week, but not in a bad way.  Getting everything done, doing my homework, didn’t have to skip anything.  Great Saturday morning run with Jen to cap off the running for the week and then a nice yoga practice this afternoon to relax on a rainy, dreary Sunday.  Very nice weight loss this week, tempered somewhat by the fact that some of it is the same couple pounds I’ve been gaining and losing for the last month, but not all of it.. lost some extra on top of that.

Starting weight – 267.2
Monday – Spinning – 50 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 3 miles
Wednesday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Thursday – Run – 3 miles
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Run – 5 miles
Sunday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Total mileage – 11 miles
Finishing Weight – 263 (4.2 pounds lost)

So the weight loss is huge, and hopefully finally broke out of the 265-267-265-267 cycle I was on there for a couple weeks.  But this is also a significant weight because 265 marks 90 pounds lost.  WOW.  I’ve lost a small child.  Or a big child I guess.  Depending on the age of said child.

Yoga Progress

I was thinking a little bit after last nights practice how far I’ve come in my yoga practice in a little over 4 months.  When I went to my first class (Dec 1,2011), I felt kinda silly, didn’t know what I was doing and was the only guy in the class.  But I stuck with it, went back a second week and then when we did the hamstring stretches it dawned on me, this is why my running friends swear by it.  I’ve been going back ever since, and recently started going two nights a week for extra stretching.  Here’s what I’ve noticed that has changed, some physical, some mental.

Increased Confidence: I don’t feel goofy in yoga any more.  I am happy to go, and I look forward to it, and I know even if I mess up a pose and look silly, someone else in the class is doing the same thing and the point is we are TRYING.  I lift my arms and my shirt rides up and my belly hangs out, but that doesn’t embarrass me (although it does annoy me, and the shirt problem has yet to be figured out).

Increased Flexibility: At the beginning of the class in forward fold, I can almost touch the floor with a slight bend in my knees.  Towards the end of class when we are warmed up I can touch the floor with my finger tips, with a slight bend in my knee.  When I was stretching before a run last week I could reach out and grab the toe of my shoe.  This has not happened before.  (In a quirk of standing vs sitting, I can’t even get remotely close to my toe while sitting).

Challenging Myself: About halfway through my half marathon training (I believe in January).  The Wednesday night yoga class at the Y switched from being Yoga 1 to Yoga 2.  With my training schedule fixed, Wednesday nights were the only nights I could do yoga.  I debated between dropping it or continuing on, but I stuck with it.  Now I continue in Yoga 2 and don’t have any problems with it.  It was a rough transition, but that’s ok.

My Breathing is Better:  Yes, the cardio has a lot to do with it.  You get used to it after a while.  But I don’t huff and puff like a dying whale when I run anymore.  And maybe yoga doesn’t have anything to do with my lung’s endurance (10 mile runs usually help with that) but yoga has taught me to THINK about my breathing.  And use breath to push through hard parts and so when I get to a tough part of a run and start huffing real bad I will slow down (my breathing, not my running) and take a couple big deep breathes and refocus and keep going.

My Balance is Better:  This is one of those things I don’t notice so much in real life, but notice it a lot in yoga practice.  It’s a lot easier to get into the balance poses and a lot easier to hold them.  On our hiking trip, I held Tree Pose for a very long time while Gray took multiple pictures with both his iPhone and my camera.  Granted, I was wearing boots on very soft ground, which gave me a very nice base to sink into, rather than barefoot on a hardwood floor with just a quarter inch thick mat, but I held it for a fairly long time in the last class as well.

I can do things now I couldn’t when I started:  This is just basic overall progress.  When I first started I had to drop my knees to Kneeling Plank during the sun salutations, now I can hold myself in Plank, and I can slowly lower myself to Chattaranga, rather than just plopping down.  It seems like every class I go to we try something new, so I’m constantly learning new poses, but also re-learning old ones, learning to do them the right way without the variations.  There’s nothing wrong with using a variant, but it’s nice to do a pose the way it’s intended.

And with that, I wish you Peace and Blessings, Namaste.

Week 5 Half Marathon Training Recap

Tough week this week, been tired and sore all week long after my 5 mile Sunday (last week’s long run) then my 4 milers from Hell on Tuesday and a tough Yoga class Wednesday.  Whewww.  Took my long run real easy today and ran with a friend at an easy pace.  Was a good time though, kept the conversation flowing and 5.1 miles and an hour 27 minutes flew by.  Also gained weight this week, but I think I’m seeing some water weight fluctuations.  My big loss last week was almost even bigger, since early week was looking at a 5 pound loss but I “gained” some back over the week, so obviously water weight.  Not surprised I gained a little of it back, but still down versus two weeks ago.  Probably lose again next week and start going back and forth.  Here’s the tale of the tape.

Starting weight – 282.2
Running (4,4,5.1) – 13.1 miles (hey what do ya know! half marathon distance this week)
Cycling – Crosstraining – 5.7 miles
Yoga – 60 minutes
Ending weight – 283.3 (1.1 pound gain)

The 5.1 was from Jennifer’s 10K training who I ran with this morning (my schedule was 5).  I just noticed when I added it up it totaled 13.1 for this week.  Nice week long half marathon! (Now just to do it all at once). :)

Changing the way we see food.

It happens to all of us who have made this lifestyle change sooner or later.  A complete reversal of the way we look at food.  Sure, it starts out innocently enough, lower calories, have a single cheeseburger instead of a double, and that works for a while, but then it changes.  Food becomes more than just food.  it becomes fuel.  The things they say about sugary sodas and pure sugar candy  being empty calories is true.  You need more than just energy calories, you need protein, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals.  You have to feed your body, especially as you increase your workload and exercise load such as training for a half marathon.

It struck me this morning in the kitchen, as I looked around at some of the things in my kitchen, things I wouldn’t have touched six months ago.  Two different flavors of Kashi cereal full of nuts and granola and “fiber twigs”.  Kashi 7 grain pita crisps (which I am snacking on now with some hummus).  Ground turkey.  Turkey burgers (which are delicious).  Sweet potato fries.  Weight Watchers Ice Cream.  Even Michelob Ultra, low calorie beer, which I used to laugh at but now it makes perfect sense.

Low calorie is great, but it has to have some substance.  Take the Kashi cereal.  It actually has more calories in a half cup serving than a sugary cereal.  But, in exchange for a couple more calories you get a ton of protein and fiber to energize you and keep you full. What do you get from your 110 calories of Lucky Charms? Sugar. Carbs. No protein, no fiber, hungry again in an hour.  The sweet potato fries, higher carbs and higher sugar than white potatoes, bad right? No.. less calories, lower fat (in prepared/frozen fries obviously raw is no fat), higher protein.  Also, most vegetables are freebies.  They are mostly fiber and water.  Pickles? 0 calories.  Salsa? 10 calories per 2 tablespoons.  (Yes, you gotta go easy on the chips, but load up on the salsa).  My salad? 25 calories for the lettuce, so just go easy on the cheese, light dressing and croutons and maybe 200 calories.

I read labels now, and I don’t just compare calories. 300 calories of protein beats 100 calories of sugar and I know that now.  Not all low cal foods are created equal, and I know I’ve complained about this before, low sugar foods are high fat, low fat foods are notoriously high carb.  I’ve started leaning towards things that are more overall healthy, like Kashi, Fiber One, Special K etc rather than something that is only low in one macronutrient.  Like Snackwells.  I used to love them.  Low fat cookies right? *shakes head* Just as much sugar and carbs as a chips ahoy.  Reduced Fat Chips Ahoys? Oh yeah.. love those… not….. good…… I haven’t bought a single pack of cookies since I joined MyFitnessPal.  I ate what I had in the house, logged their calories but bought no more.   I still eat potato chips when I make a sandwich at home, but I don’t eat them as a snack.  Now I am more into chips and salsa, cheese and crackers (good protein), pita and hummus like I just had.  My one sweet thing I have in the house right now is some Weight Watchers Ice cream sandwiches.  140 cal, 1.5 gram fat… not too bad.  I’m eating more lean protein.  Fish and Turkey.  Not nearly as much beef, and chicken only occasionally.  I have frozen 4 ounce Tilapia filets in my freezer. Bake em up in the oven, it’s like 120 calories, even with a coating of bread crumbs it’s less than 200.  Good unsaturated fats, although tilapia is not a particularly fatty fish.

My diet has completely changed.  And it shows in 70+ pounds of weight loss.  If you want to make a change in your life, you have to change your relationship with food.  It’s not easy.  I’ve been at this over 2 years and some of these revelations have only come in the last 2 months.  But you can do it. We all can.

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.

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