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Friday, March 9, 2012

Writing for the Right Reasons

A couple of years ago I started up this blog with the intention of tracking my progress towards my weight loss goals, sharing my experiences, and hopefully connecting with others in the same position. And for a while I succeeded…I lost weight, I blogged regularly and I went merrily on my way to meeting my fitness goals.

But…yes, there’s always a but in a statement like that, I stopped. I stopped blogging, stopped focusing on weight loss and stopped making the goals that I was supposed to strive for. Not sure what caused it, and really, can’t pretend that that actually matters. The fact was that I stopped. I gained back much of what I lost, and in doing so lost something intangible that I had gained; A sense of accomplishment.

I kept doing my morning workouts, but without a focus I know they weren’t what they should be. I made excuses for myself, to myself, since truthfully I’m the only one really listening, and slowly watched my successes fade.

Fast forward to today>>>>>

In January my wife (and if you don’t like that term replace with whatever description makes you happy) and I joined a fitness challenge at a local karate gym. It was a short commitment really, 90 days. Show up, work out, go home. Not much to ask for from myself and with a chance to win a prize kind of goal oriented too.

Imagine my shock. I was so far behind where I should be at this point it almost felt like I was starting fresh. I thought that that was going to be the end, no one can look back on what they’ve done, see where they were, how far they’ve fallen and still move forward. And yet, something amazing happened. I loved it! I love my karate classes, the ache the next day, the fact that in some ways I haven’t had a day my muscles didn’t ache in almost 3 months.

I realized that this is something I want. Not to get fit, not to lose weight, not even to get a black belt (and destroy an evil kung fu syndicate like Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon…though that would be so cool). Just to go to my class, learn something new, stretch my muscles and my abilities and find that sense of accomplishment again.

Don’t misunderstand me; I want to wear something other than lily white around my waist in karate class. And I believe wholeheartedly that getting to a black belt will be one of the proudest (but modestly of course) moments of my life. It’s just that I don’t believe that would be enough if I didn’t genuinely love the training itself. Because that’s what it takes to be the slowest, fattest, least fit, least flexible person there and still smile (through the sweat and suffering) and look forward to it each class.

This brings me to the point. The blog idea was great, the public accountability did help, but in the end maybe that just wasn’t enough. So for now I’m just writing because I want to, just like going to my karate classes. And if there happens to be some side benefits…well that’s good too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 1 of the return

Well, a little late with the posting, but that's OK I guess.  Anyway, not much to report about, the week went well from a scale perspective, but not so much from an eating and working out view.  I'm not sure how happy I am about that either, always feels like cheating when you lose weight for no good reason.

Nonetheless, I can see the road ahead, and I'm walking it, albeit with the occasional wander off the path and into the realm of holiday snacking...

Still, no matter how it came about, 3.6 lbs down is better than the direction I've been going for the last few months, so there's not going to be any complaining here.  Got an email from the Guelph Lakes Triathalon last week, nice reminder that I have traiing to do and a goal to set.

I figure that with the Rat Race and the try-a-tri in June I can fix my eye on a training schedule that will include running, swimming and biking for cardio, with some weights added in for variety.  I am really hoping that this year I can break the 35 minute mark in the 5K, especially now that I've proven to myself it won't kill me!

As for the mini-triathalon, doing the 10K bike ride last time with flat tires really didn't give me a good idea of what kind of time I should be shooting for.  Basically, I know that if I inflate the tires properly on my bike I'm guaranteed to improve my time, regardless of training.  That said, I think a sub 1 hour time is possible, though it is definitely in the realm of a stretch goal! 

So there we have it, 2 fitness goals for 2011 as 2010 starts to come to a close.  Both are currently out of reach, and I think both are doable with plenty of hard work.  I read somewhere that goals should be acheivable, but very difficult in order to have any value.  Seems to me that these two meet that criteria, so  let's see how it goes.

And I do think that it'll help with the weight loss motivation too, the less excess baggage I haul with me, the easier things will be.

That's it for now, Wed morning is my next weigh in, so we'll see if the 3.6 lbs was an aberration or not.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Failing like Thomas Edison

I'm back! 

OK, to be honest, its not like I really went anywhere.  I just stopped blogging, and simultaneously stopped working so hard on losing weight.  Guess what?  I gained!  Since my last blog entry I've returned back 18 of the 75 lbs I lost.

Well, good I say.  Nothing is really going to point out just how insidious weight gain is than a slap in the face like this.  Its not like we all don't realize the trap, but in my case I blithely marched into it, ignoring all the signs.  Fine, I'm not beating myself up over this.  Its done, and now I have several weeks of effort just to return to where I had gotten.

Funny point is, I read the lines above and realize just how at risk I really am.  "Several weeks of effort"?  Seriously?  If there's anything to be learned from the last 5 months its that this is not about weeks of effort, its about a lifetime of committment.  Everyone has their challenges, things they need to overcome that will be with them for their whole lives.  This is mine, and truthfully, though its really hard, I'm much better off than many others I see around me.

My challenge is managable, if I put in the time and the dedication required, I can achieve my goal.  There are many people who either can't say that or who's efforts to get there are so much greater than what I need to put out.  And so, I return.  Both to blogspace and to the goal of getting my weight below 195lbs.

Now you may be wondering about the title for this posting and how it connects to what I'm saying here.  Its based on an anecdotal story that it took Edison more than 10,000 attempts to perfect his design for an electric light bulb.  When asked it he felt like a failure he was reported to have replied "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Kinda feeling that way myself right now.  Found another way that doesn't work, on with the next!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Reporting from the Hub of the Kawarthas

Well, I'm on vacation!  And I seem to have lucked into an incredible week to be off, hot perfect July weather with cool nights for sleeping.  I've been up in Bobcaygeon for 4 days now, and its been great.   Having a bit of trouble on the diet/nutrition side though.  Unfortunately, there's something about being up here that lends itself to eating badly, and with my nieces and nephew up for a couple of those days let's just say i've passed my junk food quotient for the month and its only the 5th of July.

That's the downside, and truthfully, its just excuses, since I could just as easily grill a chicken breast as a burger, top it the same and still come out better off.  My commitment for the balance of my holiday is to clamp down and keep my eating restricted to healthy and lean options.  This is doubly important because I am so much more active up here.

Today I rode my bike 14Km round trip for a cup of Kawartha Coffee Co. coffee.  I finished last night with a kayak run after a day of tubing, swimming and other activities.  Today I think I'll have a working day, mow the lawn, run the weedwacker and split some firewood.  And incidentally, the last one is one of my favourite activities in the world, there's something so soothing about splitting logs (at least for me), and in the end you have a nice stack of wood put aside for the nightly bonfires.

Obviously all of this will be interspersed with repeated dives off the end of the dock.  Hot day, hard(ish) work and cool water, bliss!

Anyway, I'll try to do some regular updates while I'm up here to keep track of how I'm doing on the cooking front, and maybe post some of the more successful cottage recipes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Swimming, Riding, Running....and Finishing!

Well, one short week since my last posting, and one giant leap for my view of fitness.  Last week I talked about the Rat Race and how I would never have believed in a million years that I would've participated in such an event as little as 9 months ago (although my big mouth made me say I'd do it a year ago), but I did.  And I enjoyed it, a lot!

Which brings me nicely into this weekend.  On Saturday, I participated in the Guelph Lakes triathalon!  I did the Try-A-Tri race, consisting of a 375m open water swim

 a 10K bike ride

and a 2K run.

It was brutal!  My fitness levels are definitely not there yet, but nonetheless I finished.  Yup, that's right, I actually made it across the finish line.

There are a lot of reasons to feel good about having done this, a lot of personal reasons to be proud of it, but what I really want to talk about was the people there.

This may have been one of the most incredible experiences of my life!  And it was all to do with the people involved, from the police cordoning off the streets who cheered us at every intersection to the competitive triathlete riding his bike in the opposite direction who stopped pedalling to raise his hands over his head clapping and yelling encouragement to me telling me "good work" and "keep going" I have never seen a group of people so focussed on not just achieving their own goals, but at supporting and pushing everyone around them to succeed.

It didn't feel like a competition, it felt like a crowd of people all looking for the best in each other, and helping find it.  I don't know the names, and never will, of the 10+ people who stopped on their bike ride to offer to help me when my chain fell off, or the guy who high fived me as I approached the end of my run yelling "awesome job" as I headed for the finish line, but this is my attempt to say thank you, and tell you what a difference you made in my first race.

For those of you who haven't done this, I can't tell you that its easy, cuz it definitely isn't, but if my experience is any indication, you will have a hard time finding a more accepting and supportive group of people anywhere.  A Try-A-Tri is a great way to test the waters and the people will ensure that you'll do it again after you've done it once!

Many thanks to Trisport Canada, and to everyone who attended or participated, you made this an experience of a lifetime, and I can't wait until the next one where I hope to pay your kindness forward to the newbies that I meet!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Running with the rodents...

A year ago, quite a bit larger and significantly less motivated to do anything I opened my mouth in front of a bunch of co-workers before engaging my brain.  Now I'm not going to try to pretend that this is a particularly unusual circumstance, but this time I really stepped in it.

I loudly proclaimed during the 2009 Rat Race after party that I was going to run the 2010 Rat Race with the team.

Oops...I don't run, I can't run.  I'm too fat, too slow, I don't have any athletic ability whatsoever.  And now I've trapped myself.  Fast forward 11 months and a bit....Apparently all those motivational speakers actually had some wheat tucked in amongst all the chaff!  Can't is a lie.  Can't is won't in hiding.

On Thursday (sorry for the delay in posting) I ran the Rat Race.  I did a 5K run, did it in under the time goal I had set for myself and it felt great!  I'm already planning my next race.  More to the point, I did it in the company of an amazing group of people.  Everyone there was so stoked up for the race and having a blast, the team I ran with was motivated and a genuinely caring group.

Which brings me to the next point.  Tutus.

Yes, I ran my first ever 5K race in a tutu, along with the majority of my team.  Many people dress in costume for the Rat Race, but in this case it was more than just a costume.  It was a chance for us to show our support and caring for a young boy and his family Tutus for Tanner.  To show that even if we don't know someone we can still care, and given that the Rat race is put on to raise money for the United Way it seemed very appropriate.

The person who intially pitched this idea to our team explains the way we felt far better than I ever could in her blog and so I won't try to reiterate what's been already so perfectly described.  She also gets a special prop from me for being my own personal Jillian Michaels, and ensuring that I beat my time by staying with me through the whole race and pushing me when I started to flag.

It was an extraordinary experience with an extraordinary group and I am honoured to have been part of it.  It also left me with the knowledge that "can't" does not belong in my vocabulary, because Yes I Can (with a little help from my friends), as I finish with a smile!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hot weather running

Another Tuesday, another lunch time run...This time with a slight twist.  Its warm outside.  OK, its a little more than warm outside, its 27 C with a humidex of 31 (thats 81 feeling like 93 for those of you south of the border).  This is definitely lessons learned territory. 

We all know fat is an excellent insulator, and I benefit from this fact all winter long.  That said, running in this kind of heat while being "well insulated" is definitely not a benefit.  Could be one of the weakest runs I've ever had!  My abject apologies go out to my ever patient running partner, she was incredibly tolerant of my walking/gasping for air and stuck with me until I finally told her she needed to go and finish at her own pace (which I might add was twice the rate I was going at).

I'm getting fitter, that's true, and actually even a little faster, but today I learned that there are still some hurdles to overcome, and that until I get much closer to my goal weight I'm still going to see restrictions on what I can (or at least should) do.  And this is a good lesson to learn!

I've been carrying a lot of extra pounds for a very long time, and really don't remember what it was like without them.  As they are coming off, I'm finding myself able to do more and more, and I like it!  Today though served as reminder that as things become easier I need to be aware, I am still very overweight, and this will have repercussions that I need to keep in mind.

Still, 6 months ago I wouldn't have been sitting at my desk right now blogging about my run (well actually, there wouldn't have been a run to blog about), I'd probably be lying on the sidewalk half a kilometre from the office waiting for someone to collect my heatstroked butt and take it to the hospital!  And that, to me, is definite progress.

Next stop, weigh in day.  Probably get there tomorrow and write it up if I get a chance, in the meantime though, I'm going to enjoy this beautiful day, though in a less strenuous manner!