Week 86: Back on Track

I mentioned last week (Week 85) and the week prior (Week 84) that the deep freeze in Columbus drove me to basically hibernate and to not be as active as I should be. I am happy to say, after 2 weeks of less than stellar performance, I started getting back on track this week.

Weather Makes a Difference

There were 2 mornings this week when I woke up at 5:15 and discovered that the temperature outside was nearly 50 degrees. This 50-degree weather follows a week where we had single-digit high temperatures in Columbus. As a result I continue to learn how much the weather makes a difference in a fitness lifestyle.

Instead of last week’s hibernation and hiding from the weather I actually was able to have early morning outdoor runs twice this week. One of the runs was in the rain but that didn’t bother me at all. I just put on a rain jacket and went out in the rain.

The result was 2 great runs on Wednesday and Thursday and an amazing view of the rain soaked and densely foggy Schiller Park – have I mentioned that I love fog? The decision to go out and run despite conditions not being perfect was even the inspiration for this weeks Reflections on Leadership article.

Foggy morning run at Schiller Park

Unfortunately this means that I ran on consecutive days which I try very hard not to do because my body needs time to recover. Remember the “aging athlete” comment (http://www.operationmelt.com/2018/09/23/week-66-i-dont-give-myself-enough-credit/) from my doctor? But it seemed to work out ok this week with pretty much zero pain.

Me killing it on my morning run!

Though I usually only report my metrics a week behind I am going to pause to brag about running 17 total miles this week. That is way more than my 10 miles per week goal!

Music Makes a Difference

During my Thursday morning run I rediscovered that music makes a big impact on my performance.

I was nearing the end of my run and was in the final leg of my run around the park. Just then shuffle found some of my favorite running songs. The music pushed me to run another full lap around the park which added about another three-quarters of a mile to my total run. I ended up running over a 5k and being a little late for work – totally worth it!

This was just one of several instances this week when music made a big impact on me and my mood, my performance, my focus or my emotions. I am an incredibly music driven and its impact on me amazes me every time!

Killing it in the Gym

Not only did I get back to running this week I also killed it in the gym on Saturday morning for almost 2 hours.

My #Sweaturday workout this week … torched about 1500 calories in 2 hours!

I did a short, light warm-up run on the treadmill. Then I spent 40 minutes doing a weight lifting circuit that started with some body weight exercises including push-ups on a Bosu ball, deadlifts, bench press, cable chest presses and more. Then, just when the average person would have said “I’m done,” I got back on the treadmill for a 5-mile run.

I ran for an hour and hit a distance of more than 5 miles. I had planned to stop at 45 minutes but then, yet again, a string of great music played on my running playlist and pushed me further.

Almost Here: Operation Melt the Book!

My book is essentially done!

I have a couple of more edits to fold in and then we will call the first edition ready to sell. It has been an exciting 2 weeks of finishing the cover design, finishing my acknowledgements, adding a final chapter about bringing the weight loss journey to a close. Plus ever edit results in a new export to ePub format and it is a real book! I have thoroughly enjoyed watching this book come to life and am excited to share it soon.

Here is something that a lot of authors would never do – I am going to give you a semi-real-time view into my plans and thoughts. I have spent some time working on my rollout plan and have the basics figured out. My plan is to publish the first edition within the next 4-6 weeks in eBook format only. I am planning to start selling through OperationMelt.com for a short period of time first and then to expand to iTunes and Amazon and maybe more. I am going to let the eBook sell for a while and learn from the reviews. Then, after 2-3 months of eBook sales, I am planning to release the second edition in both eBook and paperback.

Hopefully by this time next week I can announce a target release date and maybe even start taking pre-orders. But that may be a little ambitious because there are still some mechanical and other aspects that I need to try to figure out this week.

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (1/28-2/3):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 198.3 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 4 miles
Total walk/run miles: 26.8 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
Yoga 1+ times per week: skipped due to weather
One race per month: January 5k complete on 1/1, no February race scheduled
Continue to track & manage calories: 3,121 calories under budget

Week 85: Deeper Freeze & More Hibernation

I talked last week about how the super cold weather led to me choosing to essentially hibernate instead of staying active with my exercise goals. Guess what? The temperatures in Columbus fell even further this week and this wasn’t the turnaround week I had hoped it would be.

Fortunately I did manage to get into the gym on Friday and Saturday so that is something. Plus the temperatures in Columbus are forecasted for a big turnaround today and will be near 50. I am going to celebrate the glimpse of warmth with an outside run. I just have to avoid the melting snow, slush and remaining ice and stay safe.

While I didn’t have many meaningful fitness updates this week I did have a couple of interesting experiences this week.

I Look Good!

Throughout this journey people have told me that I look good and have frequently given me compliments – no that is not a #HumbleBrag. But there has never been a time where I thought “yeah, I am looking good” because that is just not how my brain works. In fact I don’t believe there has ever been I time when I looked in the mirror and thought that.

On Friday I caught a glimpse of myself in a full-length mirror and everything was just working. I was wearing good fitting jeans, a slim fit shirt and a nice sweater. It all just came together and I really liked what I saw.

I looked good!

So I tried to get a good picture of myself to share and I just couldn’t replicate the lighting and perspective I had. I even tried taking a picture in a restaurant bathroom where the lighting was good and had an embarrassing moment when somebody walked in. But the following pic is the best I came up with from all of my tries.

Don’t I look good? You don’t need to answer that because I know the answer!

Before & After & After

During the last week of January a year ago my wife and I worked to create some good before & after pictures from my journey. I was really starting to show physical changes from my weight loss and I thought it would be a good time to show some side-by-side photos. You know, like ya do in a journey like this.

In my weekly blog on 1/28/2018 (Week 32: I am killing it!) I included the following side-by-side / before & after picture. This was taken at Barcelona Restaurant before I started my journey and then 32 weeks into it.

This week was exactly one year later and we happened to be sitting in the same seats – creatures of habit I guess. So I thought it would be a good time to share an updated version.

One year can make a big difference and I couldn’t be happier with my progress.

Some added fun in this pic is the progress of my posture. I think it looks like those evolution of man photos that show the progress from caveman to modern man. Or is that just the way my broken brain works?

Book Progress

Finally I am pretty excited because I made lots of progress with my book this week. I have fixed some layout things and created at least a working draft of my cover art. I added some additional visual elements in the book and have the eBook version close to ready for a launch. I just need to figure out a solution for how to prepare the print version too.

Stay tuned as I expect some big news here soon!

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (1/21-1/27):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 197.7 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 3 miles
Total walk/run miles: 23.6 miles (one of my lowest ever!)
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
Yoga 1+ times per week: class cancelled due to weather
One race per month: January complete, no February race scheduled
Continue to track & manage calories: 851 calories under budget

My Layoff Anniversary

I know that Wednesdays are my normal Reflections on Leadership day but not this week. Today I am going to post a special edition of my blog saluting a milestone day in my life. Not to worry though because I will finish my How Not to Be a Jerk series (see part 1 & part 2) tomorrow.

One year ago today I was in the middle of a personal transformation with my weight loss journey and that is when my life took another unexpected turn. The result was that I turned was already a big transformation into a truly life-changing experience.

One year later I wanted to share how my life has changed.

My Tuesday surprise…

“We are making some organizational changes today and, unfortunately, you are one of the people who is impacted. We are eliminating your position effective immediately.”

That is how the meeting started on that cold Tuesday morning at the end of January. Then, in a matter of minutes, my ten years at my company was done. We finished the paperwork and I was walked out by my HR partner leaving the building for the last time.

It would have been pretty easy to be angry, sad and hurt at that moment — but I wasn’t!

My company had simply made a difficult, financially-driven business decision. They needed to eliminate several positions to match the size of the staff with the available budget. Plus they treated me very fairly on the way out. I was grateful for my HR partner of many years who had to deliver difficult news and did so in an empathetic and respectful manner.

It was the best possible execution of a crappy situation.

My surprise reaction…

As I said I wasn’t angry, sad or hurt, my reaction was a little more unusual …. I was excited and almost a little giddy! 

I was ready to move on and the universe knew that. 

I was no longer satisfied with my job and was ready for a new challenge. I was being given a rare opportunity to pause after ten years in stressful roles at the same company (on top of 10 years of continuous post-college employment before then) and take a breath. I had a few months to explore, reflect, de-stress and consider the next chapter in my career. 

Put simply I was at a turning point and was given the gift of time!

Now what?

So I had some time on my hands and needed to decide how I wanted to manage it.

I knew that I didn’t want to panic and immediately jump right into a new job. While I wanted to look for a job I wanted to choose wisely and look for something that was perfect for me, no compromises. But I also had other things that I wanted to do separate from just looking for work.

I decided to take some time and give myself a sabbatical – though I didn’t initially figure out that was what I was doing or immediately start using that term.

If you don’t know what a sabbatical is here is one particularly relevant definition I found online: a sabbatical usually refers to a full-time employee’s extended leave or career pause of at least two months. In general, employees use it to complete some body of work, such as research or writing. Sabbatical comes from the word Sabbath, which literally means “rest.”

What were my goals?

Like any other aspect of my life I wanted to se some goals for this time away. Some of the things I thought that I wanted to accomplish during my sabbatical included:

  1. What next: Get closure from the old job and figure out what I wanted to do as my next chapter.
  2. Job hunting: this was definitely still a priority because a sabbatical can’t last forever.
  3. Network: related to my job hunt but really bigger than that I wanted to reconnect with people I hadn’t talked to in a while.
  4. Hit my goal: I wanted to finish my weight loss journey. I was already down about 80 pounds versus my goal of 100 so I wanted to finish my “over 100 in under a year” journey.
  5. Run: Train for my first 5k.
  6. Write: Write my book to tell the story about my weight loss and how I did it.
  7. Live: I wanted to take some time and just live life without having a tight schedule every single day.

I say all of that but I was also completely ready to jump right into a new job if the perfect thing fell into my lap. Unfortunately I had no idea what the perfect thing was so that was going to be unlikely!

What did I do?

So I shared the goals that I built for my sabbatical and now I want to share what I did and how I spent my days over the nearly 5 months I had off. Most importantly there was not a single day where I wasn’t active and focused on my goals. This was not a vacation this was a gift of time that I didn’t want to squander away!

  • Wake up early. Just because I wasn’t going into an office didn’t mean that I let myself sleep in every day. I set my alarm every night and got up early every morning. I had things to do!
  • Daily workout. Nearly every day I would start at the gym with a workout. These workouts ranged from a quick treadmill session to multiple hour full body sessions.
  • Tending to business. Each day I would spend time sending and reading emails from my network, looking at open positions and tracking progress against my project plan. Yes, I created a project plan for my sabbatical.
  • Meeting with people. I tried to schedule a breakfast, coffee, lunch or drinks with somebody nearly every day. I continued to interface with people from my network daily. I even continued the mentoring relationships I had with people and helped people wherever I could.
  • Writing. Almost every day I would write. I wrote my book. I relaunched my Reflections on Leadership series. I blogged and shared my expertise everywhere I could.
  • Walk, run, explore. Many days I would spend time walking or running around the streets of Columbus and at our metro parks. I got fresh air and exercise and kept moving.
  • Sought knowledge & inspiration. I would find ways daily to soak up more knowledge and/or to find sources of inspiration. Reading, podcasts, art, music, journaling and much more. I even went to the Columbus Startup Week conference to learn about how to start and grow a business. I wanted to grow my brain and shrink my body through this time.
  • Cooking and tending to the house. I would often cook lunches and dinners and take care of housework because I wanted to make sure I was doing my part at home especially because I wasn’t working and my wife was.

This was a busy time in my life and, for the first time ever, I was busy with things that were important to me and were my priorities.

What did I accomplish?

All of this focused effort and keeping myself busy every day resulted in lots of accomplishments during this time. I am pretty proud of everything I was able to do.

  • Got a new job. Let’s start with and important fact that may be pretty obvious – I got a new job. I joined a consulting firm in a project working for the State of Ohio. This project lets me use my knowledge, experiences and skills to help drive innovation for a project management office. I get to help our government accomplish big goals in new ways.
  • Achieved my weight loss goal. On March 13 I stepped on the scale and it told me that I had achieved my 100-pound weight loss goal. That was an amazing moment! It meant that I not only achieved a personal BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) but I did it in only 75% of the very aggressive timeline that I gave myself at the beginning. But I did NOT stop there, I continued focusing on my weight loss and was down a total of 117 pounds at the end of my sabbatical. Plus I had started working with a personal trainer halfway through this time and started seeing myself change shape and improve my abilities.
  • Became a runner. When I started my sabbatical I was beginning to mix a bit of running into my walking but I would never have referred to myself as a runner. By the end of my sabbatical that had all changed. I was a runner and could comfortably complete a 5k run and more. I was ready to run in my first organized 5k which was the basis for the next accomplishment.
  • Hosted a 5k. I mentioned that I wanted run my first 5k. After becoming a runner and training I decided to approach my first 5k the way I approached the rest of my journey – I did it my way. So, the weekend after returning to work, I hosted and ran in the Operation Melt First Time 5. About 15 people participated in this race which was a fundraiser which raised about $650 for Central Community House.
  • Launched Operation Melt. I had already started OperationMelt.com and a blog when my sabbatical had started but it was pretty limited. During my sabbatical I really established my blog and associated social media channels. I built followers and really began engaging with others to help them achieve their goals.
  • Launched Reflections on Leadership. In my old job I sent a weekly email to my team called “Reflections” that would share my ah-has from the prior week. As I was nearing the final days of my job I had stopped producing these emails. During my sabbatical I relaunched this as a public series about my reflections on good and bad leaders. I have produced an issue weekly ever since.
  • Wrote a book. Once I hit my 100 pounds lost goal I wrote my book about my journey. The goal of the book is to tell my story, share my process, share my lessons learned and help other people experience the same success. The book just finished the editing process and needs just one more chapter to wrap up since my weight loss journey is done. Then I need some help with layout and production and then I will launch!
  • Explored the city on foot. Almost every day I spent time walking and running around the city and explored nearly every inch of the inner city area by foot. In total I walked and ran 863 miles over this time. Some days I covered more than 10 miles!
  • Rekindled relationships. I rekindled relationships with many people in my network who I hadn’t talked to in a very long time.
  • Supported friends going through struggles. I am happy to say that I was also there for several friends who were going through work and personal struggles during this time. I like to think that I made it a little easier for these friends to succeed.

In short I became a runner, an athlete, healthy, a superhero, a writer, a consultant and a better friend, a blogger and much more during my sabbatical. I don’t know many other people who can say that they accomplished all of this in just over 4 months. I am super happy with what I was able to accomplish during this time.

But there is one more thing…

I made a new friend!

During this time I had one other big accomplishment – I made a new friend. I made friends with somebody who I hadn’t been friends with for a while and had become kind of estranged from over the years.

I became friends with me!

I learned a lot about myself during my sabbatical. Most of all I learned that I am pretty amazing and I have lots to offer this world. I learned that I have superpowers the primary of which is my ability to achieve goals.

As a manager I used to say that getting let go from a job can be the best thing that ever happened to them. I mostly believed this but I never really thought it would happen that way for me – my job was too big a part of my identity. But that all changed over the nearly 5 months I spent hanging out with myself.

I can honestly say that getting laid off and spending time on this life changing sabbatical was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Week 84: Winter Hibernation

Winter has hit Columbus and this was a cold snowy week. There were snow emergencies which delayed the gym opening and cancelled yoga my class. But the biggest impact of the weather on my fitness journey was a little bit different and less legitimate.

Finding an Excuse

Yes this week was cold (mostly morning lows) but not that cold. Yes this week was snowy but not that snowy. Yes there was ice on the roads but they weren’t that bad.

Unfortunately I used this weather as an excuse to stay in the house and essentially to hibernate.

I didn’t go to the gym or do my yoga class on Sunday though it was cancelled and I also didn’t do yoga at home which I could have done. I didn’t go to the gym on Monday, a holiday and day off where I could have had unlimited time for a workout. I didn’t have any exercise on Tuesday either and just went to work early.

On Wednesday I got back into the game a bit with my weekly training session and it was a pretty good one. I did a moderately long and stupid cold walk on Thursday. Then I did an after work workout on Friday. So I thought I was getting myself back on track.

Then I had an early meeting on Saturday so I did no workout at all and didn’t do my long run. I didn’t do yoga on Sunday (2 weeks straight) and didn’t leave the couch Sunday morning at all. So the result was a weekend without exercise and a week without a long run.

Making the lack of exercise worse I paired it with not being very diligent about tracking my Saturday night calorie consumption. I know I went past my daily calorie target I just don’t know much. So it was a double whammy of bad decision making.

I know it isn’t the right choice but I found an excuse to give myself permission to take my foot off the gas this week. Looking ahead at the upcoming week it is going to be very cold which means there is a risk of a repeat of last week.

The only thing I can do is to do my best to do better during the upcoming week. I absolutely forgive myself for this week’s bad decisions (which I enjoyed by the way) and am looking forward!

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (1/14-1/20):
Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 198.4 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 11.4 miles
Total walk/run miles: 32.9 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 2 workouts
Yoga 1+ times per week: class cancelled due to weather
One race per month: January 5k complete on 1/1
Continue to track & manage calories: 4,734calories under budget

Week 83: Slowing Down to Go Faster

This was another week in a post-weight-loss world for me.

I have already deviated from the “new normal” routine I talked about last week because I needed a few extra recovery days from my long run last week. I also skipped yoga this weekend because of a big winter storm that dropped tons of snow on Columbus. So it wasn’t the best week for my new routine.

Fortunately I did stick to some of my new routine this week. I had a good training session on Wednesday. I did a short run on Friday. Plus I had a killer workout for over 2 hours on Saturday including weights and running over 7 miles. So it wasn’t a lazy week by any means just not the week I had planned.

So far maintenance mode has been a mixed bag for me. In some ways it is uncomfortable because I am no longer pursuing a goal and it feels like I am in neutral. It just feels strange to not be focused on my weight after the journey I have just finished. But I am only 20 days into the new phase of my fitness journey so it will get easier.

On the other hand not focusing on my weight has enabled me to focus more on other goals. While working on these other goals I am learning some valuable lessons along the way.

Slow Down to Go Fast

A few years ago an executive I worked with said “we have to slow down to go faster.” It was an interesting point of view on focus and prioritization. If we focus our energy on the highest priority work and avoid the distractions we get deliver faster.

I learned this week that the slow down to go faster concept applies to running as well.

On my longer runs, greater than a 5k distance, I tend to stick to a pace of 9-10 minutes per mile. At this pace I end up getting tired after 2 miles or so and need to slow to a walk for a bit to recover. The net result is a total pace of mid 12-minute miles and a fair amount of pain after a 10k, quarter marathon or a half marathon.

This weekend I tried a slightly different approach to my long runs by slowing down to go fast. I ran over a quarter marathon on the treadmill this weekend just like last weekend. But this weekend I slowed my running pace down a bit to 11-minute miles. The result was that I was able to keep running longer without having to slow to walk as frequently.

Because I slowed my running pace my total average pace was 11:23 which is 1 minute and 10 seconds faster than my half marathon! It was also about 35 seconds faster than a nearly identical run just one week earlier.

I have learned this week that the pursuit of a faster distance running pace, like many other goals, can benefit from slowing down to go faster.

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (1/7-1/13):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 196.8 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 12.4 miles
Total walk/run miles: 41.2 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 2 workouts
Yoga 1+ times per week: 1 Sunday yoga class
One race per month: January 5k complete on 1/1
Continue to track & manage calories: 4019 calories under budget