Week 93: Runner’s Low & 2019 is 25% Over

This was an interesting week. I spent most of the week resting and recovering from last week’s long run. But I also learned some new things about the more challenging aspects of distance running.

Runner’s Low?

Runner’s high is a real thing. Though the science isn’t consistent on the root causes, a long run usually leaves runners feeling great and almost elated. Your Brain has released endorphins and you have accomplished something. If the race was hard on you the high gets even higher. I have experienced this before including when I stood in “Celebration Village” after the Columbus Marathon and tears were streaming down my face.

This week I experienced the flip side of runner’s high, the runner’s low.

As I wrote last week (link) I complete a half marathon distance run last weekend. This is my 4th half marathon distance run since August! Plus I hit my stretch goal for this months Cap City Half Marathon. It was tough but I felt great about having such an achievement!

Unfortunately after this run I experienced runner’s low for the first time. Not just was I very sore after the run, the most sore I have been after any of the half marathons, but it was also the fastest and hardest I have run. But, at risk of sounding melodramatic, I also experienced a little bit of depression.

I can’t really describe it, but for the first few days of this week I was just a little down. I was melancholy and I little emotionally meh. There wasn’t anything over-the-top bad, I just wasn’t me. It passed after a few days and I was completely back to normal. But, for those few days, I just wasn’t right.

I read lots of articles about this feeling and it is apparently very common. While I am no expert by any means, I think there are three main causes of runner’s low. The first two causes are more physiological and the third is psychological.

  • The runner’s high is driven mostly by chemicals in your blood. The result is a precipitous crash after the “high” once the “happy” chemicals leave your system and that has a real impact.
  • After the long runs it is important to take several rest and recovery days. This mean that the normal stress reliever and energizer isn’t there to keep feeding your endorphin needs.
  • Often a long run marks the end of training for a goal and that goal is now behind you. This can lead to remorse or lack of meaning because your big goal is done.

In some ways all three of these impacted me this week. The goal part was because I went for a solo run and achieved my stretch goal for the half marathon. So I either need to set a bigger goal and set myself up for possible failure or the race will just nothing special. Yes, I said that about a half marathon which is a little crazy.

The good news is that I know that runner’s low exists now. Since I know it exists I know to be prepared for it and not to worry about myself if it happens.

One side note here. Runner’s low is not depression it is just a temporary side effect of the changing blood chemistry and such. Depression is very serious and needs to be handled as such.

Book Goes Bigger

This is another big week in my book journey.

After two weeks of selling my book just on my website I am expanding this week. Later this week my book becomes available for sale on Amazon and iTunes. I hope that these expanded sales channels expand the reach and visibility of my book and results in helping more people.

Separately, I am also starting to work on the paperback because I know that not everybody likes to read eBooks. I am hoping to release a second edition later this summer in both eBook and paperback. I also hope to start doing book launch events associated with the second edition.

But please don’t wait for summer if you want to buy my book. Click here to buy the eBook to get started, it is only $5.99 and completely worth it.

End of Q1

Today is the last day of March. That means that 2019 is 25% over after today bring us to the end of the first quarter, or Q1. This means it is time to evaluate progress with my 2019 goals.

Through this week I am going to be reflecting on my 2019 goals and how I am doing. Next week’s blog post will include a Q1 retrospective. Some goals will be on track and some will not be on track. Those that aren’t may mean it is time to adjust those goals.

I encourage you to go through this same exercise this week so you start off the second quarter of the year strong. If you need help just reach out!

Why I Share

In case you missed it my Reflections on Leadership post this week was a little bit different than my normal post. This week I used this post to explain why I share so much. Make sure to give it a read if you get a minute.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the big announcement this week of my book!

Last week’s stats (3/18-3/24):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 200.4 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 17 miles
Total walk/run miles: 40.7 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
One race per month: March race 3/17, April Races 4/7 & 4/27
Continue to track & manage calories: 3,530 calories under budget

Reflections on Leadership: Why I Share

I am changing things up a little this week for my Reflections on Leadership post. Instead of sharing a true reflection on great leadership I wanted to share some reflections about myself. This post is different and important enough that I am cross posting on both my blog and as a LinkedIn article because I want it to stick prominently with my profile.

Each week I produce a significant amount of content.

  • I share my Reflections on Leadership every Wednesday. 
  • I write a weekly blog post about my fitness journey each Sunday and at other milestone moments.
  • Each day I share multiple social media posts to depict my fitness lifestyle, my favorite parts of Columbus, a glimpse of my project management life and a daily inspirational quote. 
  • I occasionally write and publish articles about a variety of leadership, project management and self-improvement topics. 
  • I wrote and recently published a book about how I used project management to transform myself through my weight loss journey.
  • My thoughts are already turning to my next book.

I understand the question many of you may be asking yourself: “why does Tony publish so much content?” Even more, you recruiters, business leaders, professional associates, friends and other LinkedIn users may be asking “why does Tony post on LinkedIn about topics that are so personal in nature.”

I wanted to take a minute to explain why it is important to me to share content. I also want to address why I post on LinkedIn about my health & fitness journey on LinkedIn – a network generally reserved for professional pursuits.

One quick note for you avid followers of Reflections on Leadership this is a different post than the one from a year ago called Leaders Share

I am an artist and so are you!

I believe that each one of us is an artist in our own way. Whether it is painting, music or countless other things we each have creative outlets that we engage in for self-fulfillment. We are all artists.

It has taken me years to discover it but my chosen artistic media is content creation. I love writing and creating content to communicate complex information in a simple way. I also love telling stories that interest and resonate with people. I do it in my professional life and I do it in my personal life. This is my art.

There is a difference between an art and a hobby. A hobby is usually an activity we engage in for fun and because we enjoy it. The big difference between this and an art is that an art form is more of a calling. Art is something that we can’t just not do because it feels like we are missing a part of us. I know my writing is an art because I can completely lose track of time sometimes when writing and the words just come flowing out of me.

Side note: writing is how I think too! When I am thinking through something, brainstorming, trying to figure out my point of view, defining a process or planning a conversation I start by opening OneNote or PowerPoint or just grab a notebook. I like to “see” my thoughts.

In short I produce content for personal fulfillment. Even if nobody reads what I write I will still write. For example I have been journaling daily for nearly 3 years and I do it just for me. This means that I don’t necessarily have to share my art (content) but I clearly do share. This is where the next point comes in.

I want to help!

On October 13, 2017 a coworker walked into my office and asked me if I had a minute to talk. He told me that my weight loss journey had inspired him to start his own and he was making progress. This was a pivotal moment in my decision to share highly personal content on highly public mediums. As it turns out this was just the first of many such stories I have from my journey.

I have always hoped that the work I do, the content I produce, the mentoring I provide, the coaching I do and many of my other outlets have an impact on people around me. That is why there was a point where I was mentoring seven people at one time and teaching a mentoring class – all of which were on top of my main job. This is why I love leadership so much. Leadership is an opportunity to make an impact on people.

I want to make a meaningful impact on people. I want to help people achieve there goals. I want to help people make their own dreams come true.

You never know when a piece of content you write or an experience you share or a moment of vulnerability will resonate with somebody. You never know when you are going to change (or maybe even save) a life. What I do know is that my stories and my continuing journey can be a contributor to the success of others. I know I have a point of view and that makes me happy to share. I am just getting started!

This is why I developed my vision statement: To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

I am proud of my accomplishments.

In addition to the altruistic aspect of sharing my story and my journey there is also another side of that coin. I am super proud of my accomplishments and there is a degree of humbly patting myself on the back.

I have done a lot of unique things in my life. How many people actually run a half marathon (less than 2% of the US population) and how many do it 16 months after reaching the peak of a lifetime of obesity? I bet it is (or close to) zero! And this story just scratches the surface because, like everybody else, my “becoming” story takes many twists and turns (poverty, wins, losses, laughs, tears).

It took me more than forty years to become legitimately proud of myself (even of my mistakes) and I am not afraid to share that with others. I want everybody to get to that point where the are proud of themselves and are able to share yet still maintain humility.

This is who I really am.

All of this brings me to my final and maybe my most important point. This is the one that really explains why I choose to share stories about my weight loss on a professional networking site like LinkedIn. This is a point that has taken me a while to understand and many people struggle with through their entire lives.

I am more than my job.

I am not just building a career but I am trying to build a life of contribution and fulfillment! My accomplishments outside of my job say as much or more about the kind of asset I can be to individuals and organizations as any certification, degree, recognition or other professional achievement.

Arguably the main (but certainly not exclusive) audience for each person on LinkedIn are recruiters and hiring managers. Most people turn to LinkedIn to find their next career opportunity or other professional endeavors. Because of this most people have learned to spin their profiles and posts as a self-marketing tool. While you can’t really blame people for doing this it becomes difficult to get a true sense of the person.

This isn’t me!

My hope is that my current and potential connections get to see the real me and not just my branding. By publicly sharing such personal content, including on LinkedIn, I am hoping that people can see what makes me tick. I want people to see these things whether I am looking for the next step in my career or not. It is important to me to be real and honest all the time and not just to sell myself.

I am passionate about my work and my various pursuits. I am a project manager at heart and I sincerely believe project management can change lives. I am living that belief every day because project management has changed my life. I have literally written a book about life-changing project management. Project management is more than just a job!

I work hard to be an inspirational, generous and service-oriented leader. In everything I do I try to help people achieve their goals. I want to help provide the right inspiration and motivation and then I want to use my coaching and mentoring skills to help empower people to achieve their own big goals. Human beings matter! I want to make an impact on people, those people can make an impact on companies and that drives results.

I am goal-oriented and a high-achiever. Through many different facets of my life and especially through my recent personal transformation I have set goals, built plans to achieve them, stayed focused, tracked progress, made course corrections and achieved that goal. Many of these goals have been major accomplishments and then I am on to the next. These are the same attributes I can bring to any role I take on in my professional life. Give me a relevant, SMART goal and I will crush it!

I am very analytical and believe in the power of data. My top Gallup StrengthsFinder strength is competition which means that I love measurable performance. Data is very important to me and keeps me motivated, it is just how I am wired. So data is, clearly, very important to me and I use data to tell stories in all aspects of my life.

I try to lead and act with humility and believe we can all do better. The vulnerability that I show in my writing and in my leadership comes from a place of humility. I know that I am far from where I can be and even further from where I started so I try to make progress and get better every day. I do this in my fitness, I do this in my knowledge, I do this in my leadership and in countless other areas. When we stop improving we stop living. I know this post may test the boundaries of my humility a bit but this is an exception, promise!

I am an accomplished communicator. Another one of my top StrengthsFinder strengths is communication and I like to make complex concepts easy to understand. I like to tell stories. This has always been a talent of mine and it is one that I continue to develop.

Like everybody else, I am multi-faceted and have broad interests which sometimes makes it tough to fit in just one box. In my life and career I have never been able to say “I’m a doctor” or “I’m a teacher” or any other clear answer about what I do and where I am going. I have skills, interests, passions, talents and goals that span a diverse range of categories. While I stop short of calling myself a “polymath” (which is a word that I just learned existed about a month ago) I do have those tendencies if not the expertise.

There are more but my humility is telling me to stop here.

Suffice it to say that I am not scared to put myself out there and be me even on LinkedIn. If this is appealing to potential connections I hope that they reach out as I love to meet new people. Maybe I can help you achieve a goal (personal or professional).

If it is not appealing. If you think I am crazy for sharing so much. If you disagree with my message. If you think I am unprofessional. I completely understand and respect your opinion. Thank you for reading my content and giving me a chance!

If you want to learn more about me just reach out. Also please consider purchasing my book – Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year.

Call to Action: there are several things I hope you take from this post. But I will boil it down to 2 things I hope for:

  1. I hope that this new understanding about why I produce and share so much content provides some context that you keep in mind and that you keep reading my posts. Plus I hope you reach out if you want to talk more about your goals and mine.
  2. I hope that others will follow my lead and have the courage to be themselves even on LinkedIn. If we are all more transparent, real and vulnerable in our lives we will each be happier and accomplish more together.

About Reflections on Leadership 

Reflections on Leadershipis my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Want to learn more? I share my Operation Melt story, my approach and my lessons learned in my new book. Purchase your copy at OperationMelt.com/book/.

Week 92: Big Week!

This was a big week in my Operation Melt journey on many different fronts. It kicked off last Sunday with setting a personal record in a 5K race, included a 3-month check-in on non-weight measurements, featured the launch of my book and a big confidence-builder run. Plus my weight started getting back to normal after being elevated during the previous week which makes me happy.

Speaking of things that make me happy, this week was also our annual March Madness Vacation. For years Liz and I have taken the first two days of March Madness off of work and spent four solid days watching basketball together. We watch it at home and we go out to restaurants and bars and watch with other fans and some of our friends. It is a ton of fun but can also turn into unhealthy decisions.

Fortunately I was able to avoid letting my vacation time become a fitness setback. How did I do it? I followed my own advice. In November I shared a Healthy Hack that I called Pay Yourself First where I talked about how to approach “bonus” days or vacation days. This is the approach I followed during these four days off and it worked well.

My Book has Launched

After a year of writing, editing, revising and preparing, my book finally launched this week!

On Wednesday I officially launched Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year on my website. My plan is to start with selling the eBook on my website for a few weeks and then I will expand to iBooks and Amazon. I am also planning, depending on interest and feedback, to release a second edition this summer as both an eBook and a paperback.

I wrote this book because I wanted to tell my story. My hope is that I can help people accomplish their big goals by using project management. We all have the power to choose to become the people we want to be, we just need some structure to make it happen.

More Milestones

After last week’s big anniversary of my 100-pound weight loss milestone this week brought another anniversary. This week was the one-year anniversary of starting to work with my personal trainer Teresa Moore and The Fitness Loft. For the past year we have worked together weekly to take my fitness journey to the next level and to look past the weight loss.

In honor of our training anniversary Teresa wrote a very kind Instagram post about our journey. Click on the photos in the slider below to read full size.

Most importantly the training is working! I can do things now that I couldn’t do when we first started and I am seeing the results.

The data is also telling the story of the progress – as you know that is critical for me! This week we did our third round of body measurements. Specifically we measure my body fat percentage and the size of my biceps. As I talked about in my post in December I had already made some big progress with these numbers. So how much more progress could I make in just 3 months? The answer: some.

In the three months since my last round of measurements my body fat percentage remains unchanged at 12%. This number probably won’t decrease much more but staying the same is a big victory. My weight has ticked up a couple of pounds but my body fat percentage has not. This means that my weight is coming from another source – muscle. This conclusion was reinforced by the numbers as my biceps have increased a half inch in just 3 months. This is pretty quick growth and I am excited to see where I am 3 months from now.

Confidence Builder Run

Finally this week I had a pretty important run. As you know I have been preparing for the Cap City Half Marathon that is coming up at the end of April. While I have completed a half marathon before, I had some anxiety about my readiness for another one. This weekend that anxiety was erased by a big confidence builder.

On Saturday I went for a long, chilly run with a plan to push myself to run ten miles or so. I wanted to try out my new marathon pacing strategy where I plan to run 2 miles at about a 10-minute per mile pace followed by a half-mile walk. By adopting this approach I hope to maintain my energy and momentum and to improve my time from my first half marathon.

Instead of running 10 miles on Saturday I ran 13.1, I ran a spontaneous half marathon. I ran from German Village to Ohio State University. I ran a lap around the “horseshoe” or Ohio Stadium and I ran back via the Scioto Trail. I maintained my pacing strategy the whole way and it seemed to work well right up to mile 12. In the 12th mile I was out of gas. I was exhausted. It was a complete mental struggle to keep myself going and, especially, to keep running. But I did it, I finished and finished with a run not a walk or the crawl I felt like doing.

Before I share my results I want to reflect on my results from my first half marathon in October. Here is where I ended on that one:

For the Cap City I set a stretch goal for myself. I want to do better than the Columbus Marathon but my stretch goal is finish in 2 hours and 30 minutes. That is a 10% improvement in my time after just a few short months and winter months at that – meaning I wasn’t running outside very often.

This weekend’s run was not planned to be a half marathon. I did not plan my nutrition for a long endurance run and made some bad choices the day before. I also wasn’t on a closed course so I had to stop for traffic lights and such. There were also a few stops for picture-taking along the way which isn’t something I do during a formal race.

So how’d I do?

I hit my stretch goal despite all of the factors that made it harder to do so. Based on this accomplishment I am completely ready for the Cap City Half Marathon and my anxiety is gone. There is nothing like a big accomplishment to boost confidence!

The only negative part of my run is that it was very rough on my body. I have more pain and exhaustion after this weekend’s run than I have after any of my other runs of this length. This week is absolutely going to need to be a recovery week. That all started by feeding my recovery on Saturday by consuming 4000 calories!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the big announcement this week of my book!

Last week’s stats (3/11-3/17):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 200.1 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 12 miles
Total walk/run miles: 38 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
One race per month: January & March: done. April Races: 4/7 & 4/27
Continue to track & manage calories: 2,384 calories under budget

Reflections on Leadership: My Favorite Podcasts

Weekly Inspiration

My Favorite Podcasts

Do you know what a podcast is? That may sound like a silly question but a year ago I was only loosely familiar with them conceptually. And I am a pretty technologically astute guy!

A podcast is essentially a radio audio (though there are videos too) program pre-recorded and downloadable from a variety of services. If you have a smartphone there is usually a podcast app built right in and connected to one of the various cloud-based services – you can listen on your computer too. You subscribe to the podcast (usually 100% free) and they are automatically delivered to your device to listen to at you leisure. There are literally thousands of shows available about any topic you can think of and they release new episodes, on average, weekly.

As I mentioned I was not a podcast listener just over a year ago. Then I left my previous job and started my 4+ month sabbatical. During this time I would go out for a walk or run pretty much every day and sometimes for hours at a time. My longest was the day (and it was an exercise “rest” day) that I decided to go for a 12+ mile walk. With all of this time I needed something to listen to and didn’t always want music.

Also during my sabbatical I was going through a significant personal transformation. I was rediscovering who I was and figuring out who I wanted to be. I needed input. I needed inspiration. I needed different ways of looking at things. I guess I was pretty needy, huh?

This is when I started listening to podcasts.

As a leader it is important for us to continue learning and expanding our minds. The top choice for how to do this is reading but that isn’t always convenient. So podcasts are a great alternative. They are a good source for your recommended daily allowance of learning, perspective and inspiration. Finding a favorite podcast or two can be an amazing addition to your walk, your workout, your commute or even to replace your background music at work.

While I don’t listen to every episode of all of my subscribed podcasts I try to listen to a lot of them. I listen almost every day to some content. My goals for podcast listening are varied but they generally follow a pattern.

  1. To keep me motivated and energized when chasing my goals
  2. To help me grow my skills, chart my path & build my business
  3. To challenge my thinking and push me to think bigger
  4. To entertain me
  5. To keep improving my project management skills
  6. To learn more about health & fitness

While some podcasts fit into multiple categories I have bucketed each of my subscribed podcasts into just one bucket below. I wanted to share my list in case something here becomes valuable to you.

Keeping me motivated & energized

Grow my skills, chart my path and build my business

Challenge me to think bigger

To entertain me

Improving my project management

  • Projectified by Project Management Institute
  • I have tried to find more here but I think this is an under-served category in the podcast world. Potential opportunity for me?

Health & fitness

  • I have recently unsubscribed from everything I was listening to here as my journey has evolved. I need new recommendations if anybody knows any good options.

There you have it

Call to Action: find a podcast that you love. Give a listen to the ones I mentioned above or go searching for ones that resonate with you. Whatever your choice just give a podcast a try.

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision…

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Join my email list to have weekly Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox: https://OperationMelt.com/mail/

Week 91: Crossing Finish Lines

I have written many times about how my brain works. In Gallup StrengthsFinder am high in the “achiever”so I like to have a continuous stream of accomplishments. I am also high (my top strength) in “competition” so I like measurable performance and to know that I am doing better than my competitors even if that just means me. My high achiever and high competition strengths mean that I love finish lines! And I had a couple of big finish lines this week plus I celebrated the one-year anniversary of crossing my 100-pound finish line!

Race Day and a New PR

Today was race day for me and I ran the Scioto Miles 5k with my buddy Steve.

Scioto Miles is a series of two races over 3 weeks on the Scioto Trail in downtown Columbus. You choose between a 5k, 10k or 15k distance for each race which basically translates to how many laps you run on the 5k course. I chose a 5k for both races but I may move to 10k or 15k for the second race because it is just 20 days before the half marathon.

This morning’s race was very cold, started at 25 degrees when I left the house. I usually don’t run my best when the temperature is under 30 so I was a bit concerned. Also the course has tons of elevation so we ran uphill a lot which is also not my favorite. But if you wait for conditions to be perfect you never leave the couch.

Right as the sun came up over the downtown buildings we were off. I tried hard to hang with the 9-minute pace group because that is pretty much my top speed for distance running and that would be faster than my personal best to-date. My best ever distance run was the Jingle Bell Run at the start of December in pouring rain .

I stuck with the pack and crossed the finish line with a new personal record… kind of. My total pace time was one second faster than in December but my total run was longer. Turns out the course was just over 5k by a few yards. But I am calling it a record.

The best part of this race is that race season is here! I had today’s race, the next one on April 7, the Cap City half marathon on April 27, my Operation Melt 5k in mid-June, the Indian Lake 5k on the Lake in early July and so on. I still need to find a run in May but that isn’t hard to do. At least 10 more finish lines yet to come!

My Book Crosses the Finish Line

My book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, is done!

After working for the past year on planning, writing, editing and finishing the book, it is finally done. It will launch this week starting with an invitation only soft launch today.

My plan is to sell the eBook in ePub format on my OperationMelt.com website only for a few weeks. Then I will expand the eBook to both ePub and Kindle format and sell through the major eBook marketplaces (Amazon, iTunes, etc) for a few months. Later this summer I will launch a second edition in both eBook and print format. But please don’t wait for the print version as it will be more expensive.

I am pretty nervous but here we go!

Data Rollercoaster

In last week’s blog (link) I talked about the ups and downs of data. Well that issue continued this week. My weight remained a rollercoaster and I was often at 200 pounds, then I dropped, then I spiked and it was maddening. Oh well, that is just what happens when you are at you low weight.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the big announcement this week of my book!

Last week’s stats (3/4-3/10):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 198.8 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 8.43 miles
Total walk/run miles: 33 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
One race per month: March race 3/17, April Races 4/7 & 4/27
Continue to track & manage calories: 2,039 calories under budget