Saturday, March 31, 2012

Husband, Parent, Coach, Employment

Happy Saturday everyone!  Perfect conditions for a run this morning - partly cloudy, mid 40s, low humidity!  Did an 8-mile run this morning in my best time ever.  This weight loss is starting to work for me...

So...  One of the questions I get asked a lot is:  How do I juggle working full-time, being a Cross Country and Track coach, chase a rambunctous (spelling?) 5-year-old-boy around, be a good (I hope) husband, and still manage to squeeze in half-marathon and marathon training?  Well, it's not exactly easy, but once you get into a routine it's actually not too bad to manage.

The one thing that stinks is getting up at 5:30 a.m. during the coaching season.  This might seem easy for lots of other people, but for a night owl like me I absolutely, positively detest it.  I hate mornings.  Not a morning person at all.  I was going to start taking my runs early in the morning to get it out of the way, but that ended the moment the alarm clock went off at 4 a.m. and my hand slammed the snooze button multiple times.  So when do I get it my week-day runs?  When I get home from track practice, which is sometime around 5:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. or so.  So basically I wake up, at work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., hustle to track practice (which the assistant coaches start at 2:45), wrap up practice around 4:45 p.m. to 5 p.m., hustle home, run 4 to 5 miles, eat dinner, play with Little Guy and spend time with my wife.

What makes everything bearable is the support system I have - particularly at home.  Heidi has started running and she fully supports my endeavors.  She has actually started running with me so that's a big positive.  It makes up for time that would otherwise be lost if I were running by myself.  I think I'm extremely lucky to have a wife who runs with me.  Around my area, you don't see very many couples who do this.  The Cross Country kids are also great.  I think they like seeing the ol' coach strap on the running shoes and tackle the course with them - particularly during the hot, humid days of August and early September.  At least, I think they like it...

After working a full work day, running also serves as a sort of "therapy" for me.  For me, it's a really good way to decompress and process what happened over the course of the day - particularly if it was a busy or bad day at work.  I actually look forward to the week-day runs.  It's "running therapy" as it's known in the runners' circle.

So, is it a lot work juggling all these duties (heh heh, I said "duties!")?  It sure is.  I'm usually whipped by the end of the day, and by the end of the coaching season I'm pretty much toast.  But what makes it bearable is that I enjoy what I do.  Work is okay.  I have some good co-workers who make the days bearable to be at work.  I love coaching.  I love teaching kids the sport of running and I really enjoy watching them improve over the course of the season.  And I've finally discovered the joy of running again.  So, yeah, the rigors I put myself through both physically and mentally - particularly during the coaching seasons - is well worth it.  You have to enjoy what you're doing.  You have to have a positive outlook on things.  You have this, and you can make it through the days, weeks, and months with no problem.

So here's my Zip-ah-dee-do-dah Tip of the Week:  I learned this lesson the hard way this morning.  If you're going out for a run in which you know you'll be gone for over an hour.  Always remember your water bottle.  I didn't bring one this morning and was regretting it around mile 6 of an 8-mile run.  I used to never run with a bottle unless I was going 10 miles or longer.  I'm not sure if it's because I was sick or what, but I will never go without water again on the long week-end runs.  Something else I try and do is gauge my water intake.  For example, I know Disney has water stops every mile.  During my training runs I'll only take water in at every mile.  I try and adapt to the water zones of every race I run.  It gives me one less thing to worry about on race days.

Until next time...  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Urgh, Do I HAVE To Follow Josh?

Geez did you read what Josh wrote?  My gosh... how do I follow that?!?

Well I will keep it simple.  My time off from running has helped.  My form is crap but I don't feel pain and I am back into double digit miles for the weeks.  I had a chance to run at the Shore this past weekend but dragged my feet and didn't get up in time before my drive back to WV so instead my long run was along route 11.  Not nearly as scenic.

My supplementing the running with weightlifting and core work was the way to go.  I have NO IDEA why I didn't lift last year but it was a stupid mistake.  I feel stronger after only a month and I am convinced it is why I am not hurting in the knees.

The diet is going well too.  My weight loss has not been as dramatic as some, but I think the lifting is offsetting the weight loss.  I am down about 10 lbs this month, give or take the day.  But my waist is back to about where I was before the Chicago Marathon in October '11 so I am happy about that.  Cutting out wheat and gluten was a great diet choice for me.  Any diet where I can eat all the meat, eggs, cheese, pickles and pistachios I want?  Sign me up.  I am also limiting my beers to only a few (two-three) on the weekends and thats really because I still have some great craft brews I have not gotten to yet.  In fact...


Are you a runner who really craves sweets during or after a run?  If so, I fully recommend Breckenridge's Agave Wheat.  The flavor from the agave almost completely overwhelms the traditional wheat taste, but that familiar wheat taste is there, make no mistake.  If your only idea of "wheat beer" is Blue Moon then you will be completely surprised.  About the only thing this beer has in common with Blue Moon is wheat and the fact that they are both from Colorado.  You will also get about 16 grams of carbs after you are done with your run in case you are looking for another reason to try it.  To further highlight its refreshingness (I lay claim on that word), its bitterness level is only a 9.  To put that in perspective, an American light beer is in the same bitterness range, while a Guinness Stout is about 50 IBU's.  Don't worry, if you are reading this and you are a HopHead, we will be drinking some heavier stuff as the year goes one.

Okay folks... til next time just remember... "Proud and defiant we'll slay the giant, let us seize the day!"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How Do You Begin...Again?

July 2011 with my 2 boys and my baby girl
Sorry I'm late to the party. But allow me to explain myself. You see, I sit and stare. I stare at the blank screen. The cursor flashes at me like a red light at an intersection in a small midwestern town at 3 in the morning. I’ve got my hands gripped tightly on the wheel, there’s not a soul to be seen and yet I don’t make a move. I watch the tumbleweed roll across the intersection, but I’m paralyzed. As I stare at the cursor I am convinced I can hear it tic and toc like an old grandfather clock reminding me that time is passing me by. Eventually, it is as if the cursor speaks to me in short bursts in rhythm with it’s flashing. At first, with encouragement, “C’mon, let’s go.” “You can do this.” Then with a tone of irritation, “You agreed to do this, the boys are counting on you.” Finally, I hear the drill sergeant “Get off your ass and get started!” “LET’S GO!” I try to make the connection between my head, my heart, my fingers and the keyboard, but I just sit and stare. My wife, my kids, the cat, even the four 1 week old kittens we are fostering and bottle feeding (don’t ask) are asleep. Finally, I slowly push down on the gas pedal, I try to type, I try to express myself, but I cannot get this unrelenting mantra out of my head. It is marching around my brain like a goose-stepping fascist military parade “How do you start? Where do you begin?” “Where do you begin? How do you start?” And then it hits me. “Maybe I don’t want to start?” I have tried to start this blog nearly a half a dozen times and I failed. I could give you a laundry list of reasons why I haven’t written my introduction. But maybe the honest truth is that it is easier to sit here, stare and do nothing. You see I am not just starting, I am starting again.

I am a 37-year-old husband and father of 3 living in Boston (yup home to the granddaddy of them all, this year’s 150th running of the Boston Marathon). I have struggled with my weight my whole life, spending most of it straddling the fence between overweight and obese. Like most people who struggle with obesity my weight has gone up and down more than the price of gas. But also like the price of gas, despite the ups and downs, the trend was clearly upward. I am a veterinarian. Actually, I am a veterinary cardiologist (yes that’s right a dog and cat heart doc) and I spent the most potentially athletic years of my life (18-30) in college, veterinary school, an internship and residency. At the time, I felt as though I had no money to eat well and no time for exercise. As a working husband and father of three little ones, I now understand that I actually had plenty of time to exercise and enough resources to eat well. But it is what it is, I am where I am now and I cannot change the past. I really started to pack on the pounds during my residency in veterinary cardiology at the Animal Medical Center in New York City (2001-2004). Yup, NYC, home of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With each passing year I looked more and more like the blimps that floated through Times Square on the 3rd Thursday of each November. I left the residency and NYC in 2004 for the suburbs in NJ. My wife gave birth to our baby girl in 2004. We ultimately moved back to my wife’s hometown – Boston, MA – in 2007.
June 2008

When I began my first “real job” after my residency at the age of 30, I was working hard, yes, but there was plenty of time for exercise. But much like this blog post, I didn’t know where to begin. I felt like Jane from the Jane’s Addiction song “Jane Says” “I’m gonna start tomorrow / I’m gonna kick tomorrow / Gonna kick tomorrow.” I was Jane and my addition was food. With the constant over eating and absolute lack of exercise, I was being walked ever so slowly to an early grave. It may have been a longer walk than the inmates on death row, but there is no question I was a dead man walking. The “Tomorrow” Jane speaks of finally came in January of 2009. This is when I had my moment of enlightenment, my moment of clarity.

January 2009, 270lbs of love! Ugh.
My wife has a wonderful memory and remembers so many details from her past, I, on the other hand do not. My wife remembers the color of shirt she wore on the 4th day of 3rd grade. I cannot remember what I ate for dinner last night. But I will remember this moment for the all eternity. I was in the YMCA locker room just finishing “open swim” with my then 5-year-old daughter, 3 and 1 year old sons. As we were changing I caught a truly unflattering view of myself in the mirror and I literally thought, “Oh, my God. Is that really what I look like?” I avoided looking in mirrors as much as possible during those years, but I could not escape this image. I was obese and horribly unfit. I had a BMI of 36, I touched 270lbs on the scale and I was so sad with what had become of me.

That moment changed me forever. It was if someone had given me truth serum. I saw myself for what I was. I could see my world more clearly than ever. It had taken me 34 years to get there, but I finally realized that the winds of change were here. I had run out of excuses and now was time for a change. So I began to make more healthful food choices, I counted my calories and I started walking and exercising on the elliptical. Then eventually I began a run:walk routine (inspired by the ever amazing and gracious Jeff Galloway). Even though I had finally started to make a change, it was clear that it was not going to be easy. Going to the gym was always humbling and was often emotionally difficult. If you have ever been the “fat person” in the gym, you know what I mean. If you have not, count yourself fortunate. After about 3 weeks of exercise, I was on the treadmill and I kept catching this very attractive woman looking at me. At first I thought, “Hey, I’m making progress! ‘Looking good Billy Ray! Feeling good Louis!’ (“Trading Places” For those of you who missed it see video) I’m getting looks from the ladies!” Then I caught a glimpse of myself again in the dreaded mirror and quickly realized that I looked horrible. I was struggling and it looked like I was one French fry away from cardiac arrest. I realized the only reason the woman was staring at me was to try and figure out at just what moment should she call 911. Nonetheless, I persevered. I had the wonderful support of my wife and family. I continued to make progress. I started to participate in some local races. I walk/ran a local 5 miler, then my wife and I ran the Goffstown 5 miler in NH. 
Goffstown Gallop 5miler Summer 2009
Cailin and Josh Jan 2010 at 26.0 miles WDW Marathon
This was where we met our friends and AllEars Teammates Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean (Team AllEars is a team of people who compete in races during the Walt Disney World marathon weekend while raising money for breast cancer). At this point, I had my sights set on the Walt Disney World Marathon in Jan of 2010. Despite some orthopedic setbacks, my wife and I ran:walked the Walt Disney World marathon in Jan 2010 as part of Team AllEars. The WDW marathon was the race that fortified my addiction for endurance events.

Summer 2010 Boston Urban Epic Sprint Tri
Cailin, myself, JP and Jen after the Half WDW Marathon Weekend 2011
I won’t bore you with the details, but 2010 was a great year. I trained for and ran the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT. In the summer I started training with the great Coach Jeff from Team PRSfit. I had a terrific summer. Coach Jeff guided me through the Falmouth Road Race, a couple of sprint and a couple of Olympic Distance triathlons. I was losing weight and gaining fitness. Mentally I was beginning to feel like an endurance athlete. I, “the slow fat kid”, was becoming an endurance athlete! I was having a great year and decided to train for the 2011 Disney’s Goofy Challenge – the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. Again I did this as part of the wonderful Team AllEars. My wife ran the half marathon that weekend and I ran most of the half marathon with my closest of friends JP and Jen. I had a minor orthopedic setup back during the half, but I was able to run the full with great friends Dominic and Stan from Team AllEars and had the time of my life. During the full marathon, my wife was the best Sherpa! She always found me out on the course when I needed her most - a bottle of Hammer sports drink here, a banana there, a gel just when I needed it. She was my savior. Despite the distance (39.3mi in 48hrs), I can honestly say it was the greatest sense of accomplishment I have had as an endurance athlete.

Jamison and Josh Post Goofy WDW 2011

The 2010 racing season had ended on such a high note with the 2011 Goofy challenge and I was so excited to run Goofy again in 2012. But it was not to be. After Disney’s marathon weekend I began to focus on the upcoming summer tri season. I had thrown my hat into the ring for a June ½ iron distance tri (70.3mi). But while on vacation in Mexico in Feb 2011, it all came to a screeching halt. Everything I had gained I was about to lose and I never saw it coming. I was blind-sided. I herniated a disc in my back (L4-L5 on the right). I would spend the next 6 months on the sidelines trying to recover. Everyday was painful. There were times throughout each day when the pain was tolerable and other times during the day when I would have rather had my leg amputated. The pain was often immense. Most days, I could not make it through the shower without being in tears by the end. Standing and walking was tortuous.

So I tried to get well. I rested, I went to physical therapy, I did acupuncture, I went to see the chiropractor, and I had 3 steroid injections in my back. Nothing helped. So I ultimately ended up in the surgeon’s office. We scheduled the surgery for Aug 1 at 8am. I was so unbelievably scared of the anesthesia, the risks of surgery, everything. I was petrified. But I knew in my heart this was the right choice. I was put under general anesthesia and when I awoke, I was told everything went very well and that I should make a full recovery. The rest of that day I was on some great pain medications and I was euphoric. Fourteen hours after surgery they finally let me stand up. I was so excited. I even tweeted “I’m about to take my first steps in training for my 70.3!” But as soon as I stood up, I had the EXACT same radiating pain down my right leg that had me so incapacitated the months prior. The resident assured me that this was not that unusual “post-operative swelling/edema and inflammation” he said. But the pain persisted 1 day after surgery, 1 week after surgery, 2 weeks after surgery. At the recheck all the surgeon could say was, “Well, that was unexpected” The follow-up MRI demonstrated that my lesion had not changed! The disc was not fixed, the herniation was still present. I still had an anatomic reason for my pain! Another steroid epidural did very little. My surgeon clearly wanted nothing to do with me and he did not want to take me back to surgery. He told me there was nothing else to do but give it time and consider a spinal fusion in 4-6 months. Spinal fusion? When there was still a herniated disk present on the MRI? I couldn’t understand. I had 2 other “spinal physicians” tell me off the record that it looked like I needed another surgery. So I found another surgeon, a kind and compassionate man. It took me nearly 3 months to get an appointment and by the time I went into his office, I was in such extreme pain, I could not sit still for the physical exam, the repeat MRI or the 5th epidural steroid injection. I was in so much pain, I would have opted for partial paralysis if it meant they could make my pain go away. 

So 12 weeks after the 1st surgery, I was back in the hospital for round 2. Again, surgery and anesthesia went very well. In recovery, I was 100% pain free. A feeling I had not had in over 10 months. It was as if someone had turned off the pain switch. I went home and was as happy as could be. Unbeknownst to me, it was still not over. 1 week after discharge from the hospital, I developed the worst headaches I have ever had. Upon standing, I would become uncontrollably nauseated. Within 30 seconds of being upright, I’d want to vomit. I’d go back to a prone position and the headaches would resolve. Another MRI revealed I had a torn dura and I was leaking CSF (cerebrospinal fluid - the fluid that surrounds and coats your spine and brain). This is a reported complication of the surgery. But it is reported in less than 0.5% of all disc surgeries. The CSF was leaking into the muscles and subcutaneous tissue around my incision. I had a palpable bump on my back over the sight of the incision. So back again to surgery we went. The day before Thanksgiving, I was taken back to surgery to repair the leak. Upon waking from the anesthesia, the headaches were gone.  I was finally on the path to recovery. The next day was Thanksgiving and, hospital food and all, I had never been never so thankful.

This is the palpable bump on my back from all the fluid.
It has been 4 months since my last surgery. I was told to wait 6 weeks before starting physical therapy. I started going to physical therapy in January, but honestly it was very difficult to make the time (3 hours a day 3 times a week). Business and family were very busy which made my visits inconsistent at best. Then we went away to Mexico again in February and I have not been back to PT since. The reasons I have stated for not going to PT are just excuses and I know that. The real reason is that it is hard, both physically and emotionally. Under the best of circumstances, it is painstakingly difficult to begin. I am finding out now, that it is even more difficult to begin again. I understand the work that is ahead of me in order to gain back my fitness and to lose the weight. I understand this now better than I did 3 years ago when I first began my journey. Yesterday I weighed in at 227 lbs. Although this is a far cry from the 270 I saw 3 years ago, it is still a flabby 21 lbs heavier than I was when I ran the Goofy Challenge a year ago. Having an understanding of the work I have to put in is overwhelming. It is paralyzing. I sit and stare at my calendar. I am once again Jane, “I’m gonna kick tomorrow.” But this time it’s different.

Post op 2011.  I've gotta long ways to go, but I'm ready.
Because I had the ability to swim, bike and run, taken away from me for over a year, I now understand how truly special it is. I understand the pain and frustration of the thousands of injured endurance athletes that would give anything to swim, bike and run, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they cannot. I know there are millions of permanently disabled people around the world who would trade all of their worldly possessions just to be able to walk down the street. I know there are millions of people who are weakened by radiation therapy or nauseated from chemotherapy who pray that someday they will be able to walk to the bathroom without an IV full of anti-nausea medication. I’ve had 3 back surgeries in less than 4 months. But that is in the past and I’m done feeling sorry for myself. I understand that what I went through, although tough, pales in comparison to the struggles of many. On Friday, I found out my mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be 61 in May and I cannot begin to imagine what she is going through emotionally and what will lie ahead of her physically. She has already fought and beaten lymphoma when she was in her 20s. But unfortunately the radiation therapy she had for the lymphoma left her with a predisposition for breast cancer. She is just at the beginning of her journey and we do not know what her treatment options are. While we do not know specifically what the treatments will be, there will be days, I am sure, when she will be exhausted from her treatments. There will be many a day I know when she will be emotionally spent. There will be days when she will want to go for a walk, but cannot. I may not be able to do the things I used to do 14 months ago, but I will not waste my second chance at health. I will do my PT for my mother. I will train and race for her. The time has come to begin again. I will swim, bike and run for all of those who cannot. My name is Josh and I am a triathlete and a marathoner, but I am just beginning…again.

Please join me and my friends on this blog and following our journeys.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


There!  Hopefully my blog title got your attention!

So, why do I blog?  I was asked this question a few times over the past few years (I also did a coach's blog for a local newspaper).  Better yet, why do I blog when I know that not very many people read it?  I'll try my best to explain...

First and foremost, it keeps me honest.  I know my wife is reading this (hi, pumpkin!  I love you!), and this in turn, helps keep me honest in my training and diet.  I know there's someone watching out for me and making me delicious, healthy dinners.  And I know there's someone watching out for me to make me feel a little guilty about going for that second glass of soda or my son's leftover candy.  I know there's someone watching out for me and who notices when I lost a little chunk of weight.  And I know there's someone watching out for me when she notices my work clothes are fitting a little looser.

Secondly, I just hope I can inspire someone else to make a lifestyle change.  Even if it's just one person.  If I can do that, I would've accomplished my mission with my blog.  Again, I know I'm not reaching too many people, but I always hold out hope that someone new just happens to stumble on my blog and I can be of some help to that person - no matter how much or little I impact them.

So, in the end, does it bother me that my blog probably only does reach three people?  No, not really...  I've really developed a good "support team" around the home front.  Many thanks to my family for their support.  Got to give a shout-out to the neighbors for their kind words, and also to the parents of the kids I coach who have noticed the weight loss.

But anyway...  How's my training going?  Pretty crappy actually.  Last Monday, I was able to get in a good 4-mile run in before I got sick with a nasty cold.  Had to take the whole week off and ran again this past Monday.  What happened?  I got nasty side effects from the anti-biotics that I will NOT go into detail about.  Hopefully I can get a decent run in tomorrow (Friday) and start fresh next week.  So basically, we'll say in the span of two weeks, I got in 2 4-mile runs, no lifting, and that's it.  The good thing is that my weight has at least maintained.  If anything, I put on maybe 1 pound of what I lost...

My weekly training tip:  When you're jogging on the road - and you're like me and run the same route at the same time of day - keep oncoming traffic in mind.  What I mean is, if someone driving makes an effort to move over and give you space, give them a wave.  Most times, they'll wave back.  If you're like me, you start seeing some of the same cars over and over again.  Than they might start thinking "hey, these jogger nuts aren't so bad," and they'll start moving over for OTHER joggers as well.

Until next time...  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Who's Got Two Thumbs and Forgot to Post His Update Last Week???

That's're reading his stuff now!  Sorry about that - in my delusional mind, I know the throngs of readers out there were on pins and needles, wondering if the previous week's weight loss was just water weight or the removal of rocks placed in my pocket at the initial weigh-in.  I'm happy to report that, as of today (Tuesday), I was down another 4 lbs!  I actually am seeing a 24X on the scale now...the next goal is that long-ago-seen "23X".

I would likely have been down more, but I felt like I was losing a little too quickly, so I added  a few more carbs for a bit (refer to my last post on here regarding ketoacidosis).  I allowed a couple of days where I added quite a few carbs (yes, even the evil high-glycemic index ones as wifey and I had one of our semi-annual date nights).  Luckily, I kept it somewhat within reason (not going completely crazy), and it wasn't too difficult the next day...

...and then last Saturday happened. 

Sheri made a Tastefully Simple recipe that I have decided will work perfectly as my carbo loading breakfast the day before my first marathon.  These muffins would have made Paula Deen proud.  I put it into my calorie counter, and it locked up on me (I think that was its way of mourning for me).  For those who are doing Wheat Belly, South Beach, Atkins, know how it feels when you cheat and have something loaded with enriched flour and sugar? 

Yeah, 2 hours later, the cravings hit me like I haven't felt in a LONG time.

We were over at my in-laws' house, and I was absolutely starving.  I should have just reached for the cheese sticks in the fridge, but they have a goodie drawer that was calling my name in a lovingly tone.  I channeled the Tasmanian Devil, tore into the drawer, and ate nearly everything in there!  Sure enough, an hour or so later, I was tired and starving.

Oh, and for you wheat belly fans out there...I have been able to cut my GERD medication in half...every other day now.  Well, I was able to do so before I had a couple of meals with a lot of wheat products in it. 


I had an accidental good-news event occur this past weekend...was putting on a belt and, without thinking or trying, I was able to go to a smaller hole when buckling.  WOOT!!!!!!

On the activity front - I've been doing a lot more around the house.  Once I get below 240, I'm going to start the lower-mileage running back up as I'm guessing my boys will want to do our local town's 5K in a few months.  I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of stuff as I haven't checked in on the Daily Mile web site since December (no, I haven't even uploaded the WDW half).  I can't wait to start getting those updates again on that site.

Current weight: 249

Total lost: 9 lbs in 19 days.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Succumbing to Sickness...

Happy Running everyone!  Hope you all had a chance to enjoy at least a couple days in the beautiful weather (at least, here in central Maryland)...

So, what have I been up to in the past week.  Pretty much absolutely nothing.  This past Monday morning, I woke up with a little tickle in my throat.  Monday afternoon, I managed to get in a really good 4-mile run.  After that, it was all downhill from there health-wise.  As the week progressed, I started becoming more congested, more sore, and my throat felt like it was on fire.  This whole week, I'd go to bed around 10 p.m., wake up around 6 a.m., come downstairs, fall asleep until around noon, wake up for lunch, fall back asleep for another couple hours, eat dinner, vege(table) in front of the TV for a couple hours, and repeat the whole cycle.

What's so frustrating about all this is that I was/am really starting to make progress in my weight loss. I hate establishing some really good momentum only to have it broken by something totally out of my control.  It's frustrating reading on FB on everyone else getting in runs in awesome weather and feeling GREAT.  It sucks watching from my window all the runners and walkers on the walking path behind my house.  It stinks not being able to update my profile on "The Daily Mile."

I finally broke down and went to the doctor's yesterday.  They ruled out strep, which is always good.  The doc's not sure why I've gotten worse over the past couple days instead of better, so she gave me some antibiotics to knock out whatever I have.  As of this morning, I feel somewhat better but still pretty tired.

There has been one good thing that has come out of all this.  I did manage to drop another pound.  As of this morning I'm down to 185 pounds.  For that, I'm really thankful I've incorporated weightlifting into my work-out regime.  I'm guessing the muscle I've built up (or recovered) over the past few weeks have helped increase my metabolism.

So, I will take this week-end and rest and recover as much as possible, and hopefully Monday start fresh.  Long breaks usually bode well for me, so I plan on coming back stronger and, well, rested.  All of this leads me to my weekly Zip-ah-dee-doo-dah Tip for the Day:  Wash your hands as much as possible.  This is something I'm always preaching to the kids I coach.  Wash your hands whenever you can, for it gets rid of all the germs that build up on them as the day progresses.

Until next time, stay tuned...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Step 1... Establish the Plan

Some of you know I took most of January and February off from running to allow some aches and pains and some injuries heal.  I also took time to continue my quest to find the ultimate beer (more on that later) and to eat just about whatever I wanted.  Needless to say I was not in peak performance shape headed into March.  It is now time to get back into gear.

My training approach headed into prep for the Virginia Wine County Half Marathon in June is revolutionary one... one that I am sure no one has ever thought of...  DIET AND EXERCISE!!!

For the exercise, I am not relying on running only.  I am alternating between running and lifting weights.  I "work out" 6 days a week (when reading this I recommend whenever you see "work out" you should say it in your head like in LMFAO's Sexy and I Know It, it only makes the entry better).  My lifting "work out" days (see?) are Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Instead of doing super sets I focus on circuit training.  If you have never done circuit before, essentially a circuit is a combination of 10 unique exercises with 10 reps of each.  I only allow 30 seconds in between exercises and two minutes in between circuits.  Below are my "work outs"

5 Minute Warm Up on Bike or Stairmaster
Core Work (Exercise Ball Crunches, Leg Lifts and side lifts with a 45 lb plate)
Leg Press x 10
Bench Press x 10
Lateral Pulldown x 10
Shoulder Press Machine x 10
Barbell Curl x 10
Tri Pulldown x 10
Leg Extension x 10
Dumbbell Upright Row x 10
Leg Curl x 10
Lateral Fly Machine x 10

I do two of those circuits after the warm ups and core work.  When I "work out" (I still think the joke plays) on Wednesdays my warm up is the same and the double circuit looks like this...

Leg Press x 10
Dumbbell Bench Press x 10
Sitting Dumbbell Shoulder Press x 10
Dumbbell Hammer Curl x 10
Dips x 10
Leg Extension x 10
Dumbbell Shrugs x 10
Upright Dumbbell Bench Press x 10
Leg Curl x 10
Row Machine x 10

On Fridays I do my "burn outs" which are a combination of each circuit and I do 15 reps instead of 10.  Needless to say you are tired afterward.

I have added running back into the mix.  I run 3-4 miles on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays to build my base miles and I will begin to add distance in April and May so I am ready for my half marathon in June.

As for diet?  I have adopted Wheat Belly as my guide.  I will add detail to wheat belly later but it is essentially wheat free, gluten free, low carb.  It has taken discipline this 1st week on the diet.  But there are also rewards...  Check out my brunch from this morning...

This wonderful dish was two Sweet Caramelized Onion Chicken Burgers (all natural, gluten free from Burgers By Amylu) topped with two eggs.  460 Calories, 25 grams of fat, 58 grams of protein and only 4 grams of carbs!!!  Yummy!

Until next time kids...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Food overall is my weakness...

     Well, overall, the past 6 weeks or so have been a pretty good success for myself.  I've dropped from 201 pounds down to 186 pounds as of this past Wednesday.  This is the lightest I've been since 1994 - the year after I graduated from college.  To put things in perspective - when I graduated high school in 1989, I was a hair under 150 pounds.  Than between my junior and senior years of college, a roommate/teammate of mine introduced me to weightlifting.  Yep, that's where most of my weight gain came from.  By the time I graduated college I was around 175 pounds.  And I guess I didn't help things much when I stopped lifting around the late '90s and became semi-lazy, turning all that muscle into FAT.  Ugh.
     So, how did I reward myself for the weight loss?  Pretty much with an extended weakness of the mind.  As you may I have guessed, I regressed pretty bad with the eating habits.  I broke off the Pizza Hut buffet for lunch on Thursday, and I topped it off with a pizza delivery that same night (yeah, I like my pizza...)  Today, I broke off a $5 foot-long sub from Subway, followed by dinner from Five Guys.  Man, I feel like crap - both physically and mentally.  It's not that I wanted to do this.  Outdoor Track started up last week, and I've basically been pulling 12-hour work days between my regular job and coaching.  Plus, my awesome wife has been busy getting her Silpada business off the ground.  Come late this week, we are both TOAST.  So needless to say, neither of us felt like cooking.  (Plus, I also ran out of my healthy lunches during the middle of this week).
     Am I using these as excuses?  No.  I take full responsibility for my eating actions.  But at least I can say I stayed away from the soda for the most part.  Can I and should I do better?  Yes, definitely.  And I will.  My wife and I are pretty much into the groove now for the spring season, so I should be better from here on out.  I shall stick to my hybrid diet of eating better and less during the week, and allowing myself one splurge day over the week-end.  It's worked so far, so I'm gonna stick with it until otherwise.
     But in all this mess, there have been some positives...  Due to the weight loss and my new stride, my pace has increased dramatically.  Before, I was averaging around 11:15 or so for my week-day 3- to 4-mile runs.  Now, I'm down to around 10:20ish or so.  For my long week-end runs, I was around 11:30 to 12:00 or so.  I'm now down to sub 11:00.  I'm really proud of my last week-end run of eight miles.  I meant to do six, but I felt really good after six and tacked on a couple more.  My splits were 11:14, 11:03, 10:50, 10:44, 10:32, 10:25, 10:19, 10:08.  Each mile faster than the last.  I'm really proud of that.
     Tomorrow (Saturday), I plan on doing a 10-mile easy run, and hopefully burn off the food disaster from today.  I'm glad I incorporated weightlifting into my work-out program because I'm thinking that's helped out with the metabolism...  Maybe to help out with my eating problem, I should do what Ben Stiller did in "Dodgeball":  attach electrodes to my nipples and give myself a shock any time I start reaching for a slice of pizza or other types of junk food!
     Now for my weekly Zip-ah-dee-doo-dah Tip for the Day:  Always remember your form on the hills.  No matter how tired you are, if you maintain good form you will reach the top of that hill that much quicker.  You don't necessarily have to lean into the hill, but maintain a good knee drive and arm drive.  Get up on the balls of your feet (or the middle part of your foot at the least). I know sometimes people get too tired to even think about form, but the way I approach that attitude is no matter how you feel, you're going to be tired either way whether or not you use proper form - so you might as well be tired while using the proper form!
     Until next time...  Stay tuned... 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mush...1 week check-in (Well, it started out that way)

Well, here we are one week into the plan. For those who may just be joining in on the blog, I started a weight loss regimen (You can read about that here).  The goal was to follow the South Beach plan on March 1st.  I realized a problem with my plan early on, however...I really should have mentioned this to my family - my wife, in particular.  She's definitely more of the planner in the household when it comes to setting up meals, and springing my plan on her 1 day before I was going to start wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done.  I thought I heard her mumbling something about "should have listened to my parents about him" and "reason number 479".

I initially thought about going all-in, full-bore with the plan, starting with "Phase 1"...for you Atkins followers, think of Phase 1 as the induction portion of the diet.  Basically, the idea is to quit carbs cold-turkey for a couple of weeks in order to start getting glucose levels to a more stable level.  It's also a period of fairly rapid weight loss, as water weight, along with actual fat, is shed off fairly quickly.  It is only for a couple of weeks, however, in part because the food choice is somewhat limited and going any longer could burn someone out on the diet quickly, and in part because there are potential health risks with burning a lot of fat for energy - namely ketoacidosis.

(NOTE...this is one of those A.D.D. moments I warned you about)

I know of several friends who are also embarking on a weight loss program that includes restricting/elimination hi-carb items, particularly wheat.  For those who are starting the journey of the Wheat Belly diet (or any low carb diet), make sure you read up on ketosis and ketoacidosis as it could be a potentially VERY dangerous side effect.  I've read quite a bit of the book by Dr. Davis, and I don't recall him mentioning this anywhere in the text.  While the literature about the changing genetic composition of modern wheat is very interesting (and I hope to start reading about research of this in places like the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association), a lot of the weight loss occurs through the same channels that other low-carb ideas do - namely reducing carbohydrates (especially those with a high glycemic index), eliminating the cravings, and ultimately getting your body into what is called ketosis, which is the processing of fat rather than carbohydrates for energy.  IMHO, so long as you are not diabetic or have kidney problems, ketosis itself is not a bad thing, and I think most people would agree with that if you are trying to lose weight.  One of the byproducts of burning fat is the creation of ketones (thus the name "ketosis").  Ketones are usually just eliminated from the body the normal way; however, if they are not allowed to be eliminated from the body, they can build up and ultimately cause ketoacidosis, which can be potentially fatal.

One of the things that I always do when starting a low-carb plan is to head to my local drugstore and buy ketone strips.  After a couple of days of the lower-carb eating, ketones are usually present, and the strips will detect them.  The stricter you are with carbs, the more ketones typically are present.  Again, this is usually a good thing, but you need to make sure that your body is able to keep getting rid of them.  If you start seeing "moderate" or"large" amounts of ketones registered on the strips (by color coding), please be careful!!!  MAKE SURE YOU ARE DRINKING MORE WATER THAN YOU NORMALLY DO as this helps flush the ketones out of the body and reduces the chance of a buildup of them (and, subsequently, reduces the chance of ketoacidosis). I think this is extremely important, whether your following Wheat Belly, South Beach, Atkins, or any low-carb plan.

Okay...back to weight loss.

I decided not to go strictly Phase 1...I know I could have lost 8-12 lbs in the first week, but I wasn't ready/willing to go that far again, especially as this decision impacts not just me but the rest of my family.  I went with a modified Phase 1-Phase 2.  Sheri (my wife) is awesome with this, and we're looking around for lower carb meals that we can all eat (as much as we can make a picky 7-year old eat).  We went to a couple of restaurants over the past 7 days, and I'd eat the top of pizza and skip (most of) the crust, or I'd eat the meat/condiments of a fajita and skip (most of) the tortillas.

The end result?  In the first 7 days of the diet, I'm down over 5 lbs!!!!  I'll take that as a huge success, considering that included a lot of Phase 2 dining and a couple of cheats (the freshly-baked brownie in the kitchen was calling my name incessantly, and the only way to silence it was to eat it).  This is with no additional exercising, other than taking the stairs to my office at work instead of the elevator.  If/when I get down another 10 lbs or so, I'll bring the running back into the schedule.  It has been nearly 2 months since I've been out there, and it is absolutely driving me crazy not to be running.  I hope that the time off has given my back/knees/IT band enough time to heal up and that the weight loss will reduce the load on them as I pound the pavement.

With that, I hope to see a sub-250 weight for the first time in several months with the next update.

Current weight: 251

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Have you seen this person?

Have you seen me?
My name is Josh.  You may have seen me wandering the streets of Boston speaking in a highly sarcastic tone.  If your pet have ever had open heart surgery that may have been me, elbows deep in Fido.  If you see me please tell me to check into the blog... the guys are worried.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Please Allow Myself to Introduce... Myself!

I forgot to introduce myself!  Here I am getting ready to update my progress and I totally forgot to tell you who I am!  Well here we go…

My name is Jamison and I have a problem.  I talk about running.  A lot.  Too much so.  You know how people who convert to Catholicism will probably talk church more than a “Cradle Catholic” will?  Well that’s me.  I am not a runner by design.  I hated running growing up.  HATED IT.  “Why should I run?  I play baseball” (actual quote from Jamison Reynolds).   I figured as long as I could run fast, 90 feet at a time then I would be ok.  So where and when did my “conversion on the road to Damascus” take place?  Sorry for all the church references by the way, but its Friday during Lent and I am sitting here eating a salad instead of the pork egg foo yong I am actually hungry for.

I have two amazing children.  They are why I run.  My conversion was not a single moment of time… no instant revelation of wisdom, but a series of events that led me here. 

First, Patrick was born in 2005.  You see when my wife was pregnant with Patrick I plumped up a bit.  By a bit I mean by 30 pounds.  I was fat (for me).  I was staring down the barrel of a pant size that started with a 4.  I couldn’t have that so I started lifting weights and dieting.  I added cardio two days a week.  I decided I wanted to run a half marathon to prove I was healthy.  Well I never ran the half marathon due to life getting in the way and honestly… I really didn’t care, as long as my weight stayed below 200.

In 2009 Benjamin was born.  I had stayed under 200 but was more “doughy” than I wanted so I thought I would again… say I was going to run a half marathon.   Then Benjamin got sick.  I don’t want to get into the specifics, but for a moment we thought we may lose him.  The leukemia scare turned into an autoimmune reality and we were in a whole new world.  While in the hospital with him I read about a running team getting formed by one of my favorite Disney fan sites and I joined.  I knew I needed a group to keep me focused.  I also knew that I had to stay healthy.  I needed to be there for my family.  I refused to be a lethargic dad.  I was gonna coach and play soccer (even though I hate the sport),  coach baseball, chase the boys through the house… not yell at them from the couch.  I was going to run a half marathon to prove that I could and to use the half marathon to validate my healthy lifestyle.

Well at mile 8 of the 2010 Walt Disney Half Marathon I realized I was hooked.  I wanted more of this.  I wasn’t done.  That race was not the end of some journey but the beginning of another one.  Since then I have run numerous 5, 8 and 10k’s, a warrior dash, 9 half marathons, 3 full marathons and a Goofy Challenge.  My running team (Team Allears) has close to 100 members, has raised over $140,000 in the fight against cancer and has led to some of my closest friends.  I have an amazing wife who supports my habit and two beautiful, HEALTHY sons.  I have life that I am thankful for every day.

So what am I going to contribute to this blog? 1)I am going to lose weight.  I am currently 198 pounds and plan to get to 180.  I will do so by lifting weights, dieting and running.  I will post my plans and progress here. 2)I am changing the way I run.  I am currently like many of you… I use clunky shoes to run in (currently Nike LunarGlide’s +2).  I am also constantly in pain and injured.  I am going to switch to a minimalist approach and track my progress here.  3)Two of my loves in life are music and craft beer.  You should plan on seeing some entries on those too.  I’ll try to limit my entries on my 3rd love which is politics… but no promises.
OK, back to your regularly scheduled programs…

Mush - Day 1

Okay…so I’m ready to start my “Day 1” of the weight loss with March 1 rolling around. I’ve thought about lots of possible ways to lose weight as I've gotten advice from a number of people: I’ve contemplated just working out; I’ve had success in the past doing a South Beach style diet; I’ve been intently reading about a wheat-free diet in a discussion that Team AllEars members have been having on a board (I ended up getting the book to read it); I’ve thought about tracking calories; I’ve looked into eating normally until around 5-6 pm and then stopping; I’ve even looked into a fruit-only diet (Okay, I haven't, but I have been reading the Steve Jobs biography recently, so I'm going to count it). I decided that I’m going to go with South Beach for now - I've lost around 50 lbs following it once - and, while doing that, keep track of my calories (sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll talk about calories and calorie counters in a post on here). After I take off around 10-20 pounds and hopefully get my IT band issues cleared out by not running, I’ll start jogging again and hope to get several 5-10Ks in this year.

I know that, many times, people will have a “before” picture, where they hold a newspaper from that day and a wear a fairly revealing outfit. The goal is not to look too good while showing the body fat (you know…frowning, hair messy, poor lighting, etc). I had a newspaper, but I didn’t have anything revealing. I found some old shorts and tried putting them; unfortunately, I stretched out the waist, and they fell off - it was definitely revealing.  I got some speedos to wear, but they snapped off when I tried to put them on and nearly killed my wife as they flew through the air at an astounding speed (we settled out of court).  I went with sweats and a t-shirt and had my wife take my unkempt...frowning - and her $600 camera broke (we settled out of court for that, too).

Okay, getting serious here for a minute, I decided to just go with a recent photo of myself from Marathon Weekend. This one is a painful one to look at.

Photo Courtesy of Laura - from Team AllEars


So here I am. Day 1. I’ve weighed myself, and I’m at 256 lbs and have measured my neck (18.5), waist (48.5), chest (49), arm (15), and thigh (24.5). The hope here is that, by posting these numbers, I'll have more accountability to have them get smaller...I’ll (gladly) let y’all know of any changes in the right direction. I’ll try to post an update every week on here with the (hopefully smaller) numbers.

Here we go!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Soda is my crack...

Lets see here…  Not quite sure where to start since it’s been awhile since my introductory post.
     Well, since I started training again in late January, I’ve lost 12 pounds!  It was kind of weird, though.  I was stuck at 195 pounds for about two weeks or so.  Then one day – bam! – I was down to 190.  I really can’t explain it - and I’m not going to try to figure it out - but I’m not complaining!  My clothes fit a little looser, I’m down another notch on my belt, and I’m running a hair bit quicker.
     So, how am I accomplishing this?  I’m pretty much sticking to the program I laid out in my intro blog.  The big difference in my eating habits has been here at work.  Instead of springing for the free, cholesterol-loaded, fat-laden lunch at work, I’ve been bringing in my own.  These are usually the Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, or some sort of other healthy frozen lunch (whatever is on sale that week!)  I’ve also pretty much cut out the chocolate and candy my supervisor so devilishly brings in.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll sneak an occasional piece, but not as much as I was before Christmas.
     Home is a bit more of a challenge.  My mother-in-law lives with me, and she has a mega sweet tooth.  Enough said.  Some days it’s really tempting to delve into her stash, other days it’s not so bad.  My biggest enemy is still soda.  Back before this past Christmas, I would easily knock out a 2-liter bottle in about 2 or 3 days.  We were buying at least three 2-liter bottles every week, if not a little more often.  After I got back from Disney in January, I pretty much cut down the soda until I was only drinking it on the week-ends.  Now, I’ll have about two or three glasses during the week.  It’s something I just can’t help.  There are certain meals I need to have soda with, for some reason.
     And speaking of certain meals, last week wasn’t such a good eating week for me – especially at home.  Last Wednesday, it was Chipotle.  Thursday was McDonalds.  Friday was pizza.  Saturday was wings.  It’s not that my wife and I meant to eat like trash those days.  Life was pretty hectic last week for us.  But I did take solace in the fact that my portion s were smaller than what they usually are.  And yes, these are all meals that I must have soda with.  Soda is my crack.
     So, it’s pretty darn obvious what I need to start doing.  My next weight goal is 185 pounds.  I’d like to get down to that by late March.  I’ll have to cut down on the soda, and I’ll have to eliminate the week-day runs to McDonalds.  I’ll still eat a “pleasure” meal every week-end.  I can’t change that.  That’s my reward.  That’s what drives me.  And from what I understand, it starts getting a little tougher to lose weight after you lose the initial 10 to 15 pounds.  Must. Be. Mentally. Strong.
     In closing, I’d like to start closing my blogs with some sort of tip in regards to running.  As most of you know, I coach high school Cross Country and Track.  I’ve started incorporating a lot of what I’ve been coaching and preaching to my kids into my own work-outs.  Some you might find helpful, others not so much.  Some might be obvious, others not so much.  And yet others I might repeat throughout the course of the year just to emphasize it…
     So here’s my first “Zip-ah-dee-do-dah, Tip for the Day!”  (Anyone remember that from the resort TVs back in the early 2000s?):  Try shortening your running stride.  This was something I picked up on from a successful distance coach in New York.  If you want to know the full monty of it, send me an e-mail.  The first day I shortened my stride, I took off about 10 to 15 seconds per mile on a 3-mile training run.  It works.  It really takes an effort for the first few weeks to do this, but after awhile it becomes automatic.  Start using it with your week-day runs, and when you feel comfortable with it, use it on your week-end long runs.  It really does make a difference.
     Until next time…  Stay tuned…