Rest, recover, refocus, reinvigorate

This was week 140 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. I launched the Operation Melt blog as a way to share my journey to both keep myself accountable and to help you as you work to crush your own goals. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you to succeed in your own journey.

Top 100 Self-Improvement Blogs

Before I get started this week I want to take a second a celebrate an accomplishment.

Earlier this week I was notified that Feedspot.com, an online blog aggregator and ranking service, selected OperationMelt.com as one of the top 100 self-improvement blogs on the web. I am very excited that my blog, that started as a way to hold myself accountable and to help others, is having an impact!

Thanks Feedspot!

Rest, recover, refocus, reinvigorate

One thing I learned throughout my journey from being a 325-pound obese guy to a fit amateur athlete (yeah, I used the “A” word, I’m a runner now) is the importance of rest. Taking rest days in between your hardcore exercises gives you body a chance to recover and rebuild. In body building there is even a belief that your muscles only grow during the rest days. I don’t know if I completely believe that but there is sound underlying logic and a good message.

If athletes (or anybody on a fitness journey) don’t take time for rest and recovery there are significant consequences. First is the increased risk for injury. Early in my journey I skipped rest and gave myself a minor, yet very painful, injury with shin splints. But, even without injuries, there are other consequences including decreased performance levels and loss of effectiveness of the exercise.

You cannot achieve your peak performance without taking time to properly rest.

Two years ago I learned that the value of rest doesn’t stop in athletic pursuits. When I was laid off from a job of ten years I decided to take some time off after twenty straight years of continual employment. I was lucky enough to have a few months of severance and I planned to try to use it all. Yes, I would look for my next job during this time, but I used the time as a sabbatical to prioritize other things.

After my first few weeks of rest time during my sabbatical my brain started changing. I spent my days exercising and really accelerating my Operation Melt journey. I wrote my book (grab your copy here) during my sabbatical. I trained for and organized my first Operation Melt 5k. I reconnected with my college that I loved but had become a stranger. I beefed up my blog and social media presence. I reconnected with friends. I spent time hanging out with my wife and often had dinner ready when she got home. Most importantly I rekindled my friendship with myself. If was an amazing time in my life!

I learned that rest isn’t just about recovery. Rest also helps you refocus and reinvigorate your energy to really step it up when the rest is over.

Rest is so valuable that it gave me an idea leading to a special announcement today.

This week begins the Christian season of Lent. This starts on Ash Wednesday and continues for the next 40ish days. It is traditional that Christians who observe lent will give up something that is meaningful to them during this time as a sacrifice. This year I have chosen to give up two things for Lent.

The first thing I am giving up for Lent is my scale. This is going to be really difficult for me after 140 weeks of weighing myself nearly daily. This is definitely going to be a sacrifice for me!

The second thing I am giving up for Lent involves Operation Melt. Starting Ash Wednesday I will be giving up my daily social media posts and my weekly Operation Melt blogs. I will spend the next 6 weeks reflecting on how to best refocus and reinvigorate my energy when I come back.

After Lent I want to make Operation Melt better and more impactful than ever but this requires some rest to make this happens.

Does this mean you won’t hear anything from me for 6 weeks? Absolutely not. Over the next 6 weeks I am going to repost some of my favorite blogs from the past 140 weeks. Today’s blog marks my 249th post and there is some gold in some of these posts. So I am going to share some of my favorites over the next 40 days. It is time for the Best of Operation Melt!

Plus, on both social media and my blog, I do reserve the right to share a random post if something big happens or I achieve some major milestone.

Please enjoy my Best of Operation Melt while I am taking my time off. And get ready because, when this rest time is over, I will be back with energy and focus like you won’t believe. We WILL build a world where goals never die of loneliness!

Competing only with myself

This was week 139 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. I launched the Operation Melt blog as a way to share my journey to both keep myself accountable and to help you as you work to crush your own goals. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you to succeed in your own journey.

Competing only with myself

In 2020 so far I have been doing a lot of work with my trainer to get me to the point where I can do pull-ups. This involves a lot of shoulder, arm and, especially, back exercises. It also involves doing assisted pull-ups in each session. For those who have never seen an assisted pull-up machine, it is basically a stool that you put your knees on while doing pull-ups on a bar and the stool helps lift you up with a variable amount of weight. This means that you aren’t lifting your full body weight.

After lots of hard work I was finally able to get under 100 pounds of assistance this week. That means I am able to pull up over half of my body weight. At 95 pounds of assistance it was tough and I actually grunted at the end of my second rep as I was pulling hard with everything I had. But I did it, two full pull-ups with only 95 pounds of assistance.

I was pretty proud of myself and celebrating a little bit. That’s when I looked over to see somebody, who maybe weighs more than me, effortlessly doing 10 unassisted pull-ups. Really?!

There was a time, not that long ago, when this would have completely ended my celebration and it would have brought me down. I would have thought to myself “why I am celebrating, that person is way better than me and I have so much more work to do!” But not this time.

Instead of letting this bring me down I reminded myself that I am not in competition with the other person who is further ahead in their journey than I am. I am only competing with myself and, if I do better this week than I did last week, I am winning!

In every aspect of our lives there is going to be somebody better at something than we are. There are way better project managers than me. There are way faster runners. There are better leaders. There are better mentors. There are far better writers and way more suucessful authors. And, yes, there are people who are better at pull-ups. But this doesn’t mean I am losing. It just means I have the opportunity to get better and, if I do get better, I am winning.

We only lose when we stop improving ourselves not when we aren’t as good as somebody else.  Each of us has our own journey and we can’t compare that to others. So let’s choose to be athletes in all of the important aspects of our lives and work to achieve peak performance over time.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope that my experiences and my tips can help you achieve your own big goals. If we work together we can build a world where goals never die of loneliness!

Making it work

This was week 138 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. I launched the Operation Melt blog as a way to share my journey to both keep myself accountable and to help you as you work to crush your own goals. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you to succeed in your own journey.

Making it work

As I have said before one of the keys to getting and staying fit is exercise. Fitting in exercise every day is one of the clearest paths to success, particularly when paired with smart eating decisions. But exercise takes time and that’s tough sometimes.

All through this week I have started being shown my Facebook memories from two years ago. That was a pretty important time in my life. I was in the midst of month seven of my original goal of losing over 100 pounds in under a year and I was already at almost 90 pounds lost. Plus I had just been laid off from my job of ten years and was starting to use my severance as an opportunity to have a sabbatical. I was taking my first real break in almost a decade since graduating college.

During my time off I had lots of flexibility in my schedule. I would start almost every morning with a trip to the gym. I would spend some time on the treadmill and then time lifting weights and probably spend close to an hour at the gym every day or every other day. Then I would spend my late mornings working on the job search. I would grab some lunch and would spend time writing my book in the early afternoon. I would also usually work in about an hour or two of walking and podcast listening through the day.

I had ample time for as much exercise as I wanted. I had tons of flexibility and it worked great. I hit my 100 pound loss in the ninth month of my journey and just kept going. But what worked for me then doesn’t fit into my schedule now. I simply cannot fit two or three hours of exercise into every day today in between work hours, commuting and living life.

Fast-forward to today and I am still getting plenty of exercise. I fit in usually 2 trips to the gym per week for treadmill runs and weight circuit training including my weekly session with my trainer. I usually get 1-2 runs in per week including a long run usually on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Plus I try to fit in a long walk nearly every day for between two and five miles depending on my schedule and what else is happening. I do tons of walking and it remains my top form of exercise in addition to my chosen form of meditation, decompression and learning time via audio books and podcasts.

The other thing I do to fit in exercise is try to find places where I think outside the box. For example I participated in a team-building exercise for work this week. The even was held at COSI (for those unfamiliar that is a massive science museum and activity center in downtown Columbus) which is exactly two miles from home. So I worked from home in the morning instead of driving a half hour to the office and a half hour back for a 4-hour work day. But working from home means that I don’t get the normal level of exercise associated with walking around at the office. I pretty much sit in one place so not the healthies day.

Knowing I needed to find a way to fit in exercise into my day I knew that I needed to do so in a creative way. So, instead of brewing coffee at home, I took a brief walk early in the morning to get coffee at my favorite shop in the neighborhood. Then I came back and worked through my meetings and to-do list for the day. When it was time to go to COSI I decided just to walk there. A two-mile trek through my neighborhood and downtown Columbus was a great way to fit exercise into a day that was going to be a little lower activity and a little higher calories from happy hour. The walk, despite being cold, windy and snowy, was great and I got a great workout for the day.

My entire fitness day turned out just fine because of fitting in exercise a times that worked for me.

Whether you are trying to fit exercise into your life or pursuing some other goal you need a plan that works for you. Adopting somebody else’s diet, exercise routine or any other strategy for achieving your goals likely will not work for the long haul. You have to be true to yourself and the realities of your life and build your plan around that. And beware that your plan will change over time so it has to work for you where you are today.

If you make your plan work within the realities of your life your goal is way more in reach.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope that my experiences and my tips can help you achieve your own big goals. If we work together we can build a world where goals never die of loneliness!

I still get nervous

This was week 137 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. I launched the Operation Melt blog as a way to share my journey to both keep myself accountable and to help you as you work to crush your own goals. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you to succeed in your own journey.

I still get nervous

Happy groundhog day! Hard to believe that February is already here and one-twelfth of 2020 is done. I am definitely making progress with my goals and I hope you are too!

Earlier this week I had an ah-ha moment that the Cap City half marathon is just 12 weeks away. That means I need to be ready to run 13.1 miles by then which is going to require some work because I haven’t had a long run yet in 2020. I haven’t been lazy or slacking off on exercise but I just have chosen not to go outside into the cold for a long run yet. Though I am planning to do so today because the weather is supposed to be really nice.

Something interesting happened though when I had my 12 weeks away ah-ha. When I figured out how close I was to race day I started getting nervous.

Over the past two years I have run 3 organized half marathons and 7 total (including full distance training runs). I have run a 10k. I have run 2 4-milers. I have run probably a dozen or more 5k races. Plus I have completed maybe a hundred or more solo runs of varying distances. I am not concerned about my ability to successfully complete any of these distances including a half marathon.

Despite my confidence in my abilities I still get nervous before any race. I get nervous because my goal is bigger than just finishing the race. My goal is to do my best.

Doing my best in a race doesn’t mean that I want to win or even win my age group. I don’t even have to set a personal record – nearly impossible to set a new record with each race. Sometimes I set race-specific goals or try new things like running at a specific, consistent pace and I intentionally go slower. So doing my best is a standard I set for myself entirely inside my own head and isn’t necessarily something that gets reflected in the race results.

I just want to perform at a level that I walk away proud of at the end. When you think about it this is the best that any of us can hope for and is the key to happiness.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope that my experiences and my tips can help you achieve your own big goals. If we work together we can build a world where goals never die of loneliness!

It’s just too much

This was week 136 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. I launched the Operation Melt blog as a way to share my journey to both keep myself accountable and to help you as you work to crush your own goals. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you to succeed in your own journey.

It’s just too much

Just over 950 days ago I started my fitness journey. I made the decision to lose over 100 pounds in under a year while not giving up things that I like. I decided to turn to data, project management and improve the balance in my life. It was a simple concept but it wasn’t easy and requires a lot of work.

The human body is very complex and achieving balance requires you to manage a bunch of things. These things add up.

Starting with the basics: calories in, calories out. Tracking and logging all of the food I consume and drinks I put in my body requires effort. Estimating or measuring portion sizes, learning about preparations and how much that impacts the calories and nutrients is complicated.

Tracking my calorie output is also a fair amount of work. Yes my personal fitness tracker that I wear every minute when not in the shower makes it easier to track activity. But I need to ensure that I am planning for when to exercise and making sure that I am properly offsetting high calorie consumption days with high calorie burn days.

That is just the highest level of what I try to track and balance every day. But calories in and calories out is just scratching the surface. The nutrition aspect of the calories I am consuming really matters to me now. I want to maximize protein and make sure I am getting enough fiber. I want to continue to minimize sodium and try to limit myself to 1500mg per day (which ain’t a lot!). Then there are the carbohydrates. I haven’t been very focused on carbs at all during my journey but they make a difference when I am training or prepping for a long race and are something I like to watch but not manage at other times.

Then there is hydration. I want to make sure that I am consuming plenty of water, 140 ounces or more, each day to make sure that I am counteracting what I sweat out. I also try to make sure that I am moderating my alcohol consumption as it isn’t healthy at all but I don’t want to give it up completely, just manage the intake. Plus there is the caffeine which is a struggle for me because I love coffee.

On the calorie expenditure side of the house is the exercise. I want to make sure to exercise 7 days per week and achieve 10k to 15K steps per day on average. I run and track all of my runs and am working to build my speed. At the same time I need to monitor my heart rate while running to make sure that I am not overdoing it – that was a new ah ha as I have watched my average heart rate increase on runs when I am really pushing myself. Plus I track race-over-race performance to see if I am getting better.

Beyond the calorie burn aspects of exercise there is the body building aspects. I am tracking my workouts and weight lifting. I have goals about what I want to be able to lift on bench press and other exercises and I want to be able to do pull-ups. But I can’t just jump right into those things and need to ensure adequate warm-up and that I am balancing the areas of my body that I am working on. To do this I track my body fat percentage about every 6 months as I do with bicep measurements.

But all of this fitness effort takes place with a human body that has other things going on.

Starting with, arguably, the most important, my heart. There is my heart rate, both resting and active, that I track. I try to correlate day-to-day changes my resting heart rate with the factors that might have impacted it. One factor is sleep, which also gets tracked, the quality of which can drive my heart rate up or down. I also keep an eye on my pulse through the day to try to spot those activities that relax me and slow my heart rate vs. where I see increases.

The heart pumps blood but that blood goes through veins that is where the blood pressure comes in. I don’t want my blood pressure to be too high and out of control which goes back and forth of whether I self-regulate or use medication. But I also don’t want it to go too low or else that can have bad side-effects. There is also a natural blood pressure increase during exercise and the speed with which it recovers is an interesting sign of overall heart healthiness.

Those are just a few of the things I track about the physical side of my journey. I could go on and on about other aspects such as website traffic, social interactions, book sales and more. Not to mention equipment, race fees, shoes, etc.

All of this data can quickly become an obsession. I could spend all day, every day tracking, charting, correlating, analyzing and managing it all. I could set little experiments to try things and see if I can influence things positively. Then I could try to normalize the data based on the impact of the added stress that I introduce from measuring it all.

There is just so much that I cannot always balance it all. I can’t spend the time to make it what I want. I can’t keep boring people by talking through every little insight I have. I just have to do my best and continue improving every day.

The concept of progress not perfection has become increasingly important to me. Living a life where I perfectly balance all of the aspects of fitness is just too much. I have tried. The best I can hope for is that I am moving the right direction and not driving myself crazy.

Plus I have to remind myself of my 2020 vision: start loving where I am and the progress I have made, stop trying to fix myself but continue improving every day. This means I need to control my data obsession.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope that my experiences and my tips can help you achieve your own big goals. If we work together we can build a world where goals never die of loneliness!