Week 95: Finding Little Bits of Progress in a Week of Normalcy

This was a pretty average week for my Operation Melt journey so not a lot to share.

We did reopen our lake house this week which gives me some more variety in scenery when it comes to running. Unfortunately it also gives me a new set of challenges on the food side and I tend to snack more and eat less healthy meals at the lake. But I know how to manage that!

Adjusting to Maintaining

As you know I am in weight maintenance mode now and stopped the weight loss at the end of 2018. When I stopped I was, and still am, likely at my lowest healthy weight. That means that my body is more prone to daily weight fluctuations driven primarily by my daily balance of water and sodium.

A weight loss journey is physically and mentally tough but so is maintenance mode. Maintenance is just tough in different ways that mostly exist in my head.

For 18 months I stepped on the scale nearly every morning and saw my weight decreasing. I had set a goal, I was measuring progress every day and was rewarded with a daily dose of measurable success. This is like a powerful drug to my high competition, high achiever, goals focused brain.

Daily measurable success is not a permanent dependable staple in life.

In real life, or maintenance mode as the case may be, our days are filled with ups and downs. It is possible that you will go many days without a measurable “win” in your life. For somebody who spent 18 months with daily wins this could feel very uncomfortable. It could feel like you are sitting still or that you are failing – both are very similar in my achiever/competition brain!

Fortunately I have been able to see some wins in other areas. I have even taken my own advice from this week’s Reflections on Leadership and created some wins. But I am also working on being ok with days that really are just maintenance as uncomfortable as that is.

Lesson Learned: if you are going through a major transformation where you get to see wins daily, enjoy it. There will be a time when you return to “normal” life and the wins come less frequently. During the journey it is important to remind yourself that this is a project so that means it is a temporary endeavor and will have an end date.

Continuing My Book Journey

My book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, slowly continued selling this week. I tested my first ad campaign (a tiny one) but it really didn’t do anything but teach me how it works. I also got my first Amazon product review and I created my author page.

One area of notable book success came on Friday. I unexpectedly discovered that Amazon had listed me as their #1 new release book in the project management category. That felt like a big win to me and was very exciting.

Also my first “proof” of my paperback has arrived and I will get to look through that on Sunday evening. I am considering releasing my first paperback through Amazon’s print on demand service this week. I just need to see if I think it loses any of its impact if the interior pages are printed in black and white. There is a significant cost difference and printing in color may price it out of a convenient range for readers. Short story: I am expecting to release the paperback very soon!

Lesson Learned: keep your eyes on why you started the journey. I was getting frustrated because my book wasn’t selling faster when somebody asked me a big question. “Did you really write this book to make money?” No, no I didn’t. I wrote it to tell my story and to prove to myself that I could write a book. Most of all, I wrote it to help other people. That doesn’t require selling a million copies.

Spring Fitness

In last week’s post I talked about how it is spring time and that means fitness is easier. Well this week was even nicer and I was even more active. Every day I tried to run or at least go for a long walk. It was amazing! I covered some serious distance and, if it wasn’t for the rain this morning, I would be on track to meet or exceed last week’s totals and I ran a 10k last week!

I am very happy it is spring and that I am able to ramp back up the outdoor activities. I really missed the sun and the warmth and not having to dress in layers to go for a run! Plus spring time means it is lake time and I get views like this when running.

Lesson Learned: it is easier to enjoy the exercise when you have great weather, warmth and nature is in full bloom!

Save the Date: Operation Melt 5k

As many of you remember from last year my first ever 5k was one that I hosted. Last June I hosted the Operation Melt First Time 5k at the Scioto Audubon Park. This was an informal race of just a small group of close supporters which benefitted a nonprofit. It was no frills, no medals, no shirts, no closed course, etc. It was just a group of Operation Melt supporters getting together for a 5k run.

Big news: I am going to host my Operation Melt 5k again this year! I plan to host the race on 6/15 – which is the anniversary date of my decision to change my life. It will be at the Audubon park again and it will be an informal 5k again. I really like these small, informal races!

More information will follow soon. If you want to be kept in the loop, please make sure that you are a member of my email list.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Last week’s stats (4/1-4/7): 

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 201.6 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 10 miles
Total walk/run miles: 45 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
One race per month: January, March and April races complete, half marathon 4/27
Continue to track & manage calories: 2,933 calories under budget

Week 94: Spring Time is Fitness Time!

Spring has really sprung in Columbus. We had our first 70-degree day this weekend and I have had several outdoor runs and walks without long sleeves or a jacket. That means I can finally start enjoying outdoor fitness again and not a minute too soon.

Unfortunately I have backed off a bit too much on my exercise-rich life and need to get back into full-on athlete and beast mode. Don’t get me wrong, I am still super active but I am just not pushing myself as hard as I know I can and should. With the full emergence of spring I have an opportunity to make this better.

But, for now, I will share my updates from this week in my fitness journey.

Last Pre-Marathon Long Run

I am running the Cap City Half Marathon in just 20 days! It is so close and that is a slight source of anxiety. Have I trained enough? Am I ready? Will I have a repeat of the terrible cramps from my first half marathon? All the questions that my brain likes to focus on. The logical side of me knows that I am ready. I have run half marathons either organized or by myself 4 times since August. Just two weeks ago I ran a solo half marathon and achieved my stretch goal time. So I am pretty sure I am ready.

This weekend I ran my last long run before the half marathon. I ran the second race in the Scioto Miles racing series Sunday morning on the Scioto Mile on the riverfront in downtown Columbus. The first race in this series was a 5k that I ran on St. Patrick’s Day.

For today’s race I upped my distance to a 10k. My strategy was to run this nearly quarter marathon distance using my marathon pacing strategy. For the next half marathon I plan to alternate running and walking just like my previous half. But unlike last time, where I did one mile run followed by one mile walk, I am planning on speeding things up a bit. I am planning to run 2 miles and walk a half mile and continue alternating for the full 13.1. During my run segments I plan to try to stick right around 10 minutes per mile and no faster than 9:30 per mile. This should give me the right blend of speed and endurance.

At the October half marathon I finished in 2:44 and my stretch goal for this race is 2:30.

Today’s run went pretty well with the exception of one big mistake. I ran too fast!

When we lined up I went to my normal pace group – the 9 minute mile group. I stayed with them for the first 2 miles which sometimes meant I was running in the 8:30 to 8:50 range which is definitely faster than I wanted to run. I crossed the 5k line at just one minute slower than my last 5K which meant I was going way too fast.

I averaged a 10-minute mile for the whole 10k race. That is a great, fast pace for a 10k and I would normally be happy with that. But my goal was to practice for my half marathon and that was not successful. If I run like this in the half I will not end where I want to end or I may not end at all.

Lesson Learned: just like you can’t eat on autopilot, you can’t just exercise on autopilot. If you have gone to the trouble of building a plan, stick to it.

Also I found another interesting mental aspect of the race. During the first 2 miles I was running with the 9 minute pace group and was sticking with them. I was doing great and I was going fast! Then I hit the 2-mile mark and it was time to slow to a walk. Next thing you know all of the people I was just hanging with at my fast pace were now out of sight. Even worse, the people I was ahead of in the 10-minute pace group and beyond were also passing me. Then some of the spectators were cheering me on because they thought I was struggling and that was why I stopped to walk (reminded me of my Reflections on Leadership from 8/29 – Leaders Know their View is Limited).

My competitive side starting kicking in and it made it hard to be happy walking. I wanted to be running! I wanted to prove that I am faster than the people behind me (most of which were only doing a 5k, not a 10k) and that I deserve to be in that 9-minute pace group. I shorted myself a bit on my first half-mile walk and started running after just .4 miles.

I was not there to compete in this race I was there to practice for something bigger. But my brain didn’t like that idea!

Lesson Learned: don’t let the emotional side of your brain talk you into feeling like any less of an athlete and don’t let it convince you to abandon your plan.

One other fun detail – the temperature at the start of today’s race was 25 degrees warmer than the race just 3 weeks before!

Race Review: Scioto Miles Series

Today’s 10k run was the second race in the Scioto Miles racing series. This was a fantastic series and a great deal. The package included 2 races with your choice of distance for each: 5k, 10k, 15k. A pair of running shoes. Two shirts and two medals all for $125 (which is about the price of the shoes alone!). The goal of the Scioto Miles series is to help runners train for spring races and the Cap City Half Marathon in particular.

My buddy Steve and I ran both races together. We did the 5k together in March and I increased my distance to the 10k for today.

The racing series is very well-organized and managed by Fleet Feet Columbus. The online registration was simple. There was a pretty long window for shoe pickup at Fleet Feet in Lewis Center and 2 separate packet pickup dates at the same place. As an alternative participants could choose day-of packet pickup. This option is great because Fleet Feet in Lewis Center is a terribly inconvenient location for me since I live in the downtown area. If I were to suggest an upgrade in the process it would be to allow shoe and packet pickup at any Fleet Feet or Frontrunner location.

The course for this racing series is the running path at the Scioto Mile along the Scioto river in downtown Columbus. The course was a 5k loop that you run 1, 2 or 3 times depending on your distance. I personally don’t really like that kind of course because you cross the finish line but then have to keep going again. A total mind F for me. But this is the most logical and practical way to run this race of variable distance so it is exactly the right choice and I just need to get over myself.

The course is beautiful! I love watching the sunrise over the buildings downtown. The birds and wildlife around the river are amazing. The bird “remnants” on the course aren’t as good but what are you going to do, we are guests in their home? Plus it really wasn’t that bad, just a couple of spots to dodge. Not at all unpleasant.

As a training course this race is perfect. There is a mixture of uphill, downhill and flat terrain which is great preparation for running through the various neighborhoods that comprise the Cap City Half Marathon course.

Finally, the race starts with a half-mile kids run before the grown-ups have their shot. The kids are cute and are working hard which is a big motivator. Plus I love to see kids focusing on their physical fitness as kids so they don’t have to go through a weight loss journey in the future like I did. And some of them are pretty darn fast.

Lesson Learned: the Scioto Miles racing series is a bargain and a very well-run series that gives you the flexibility of your distance, a beautiful course and is the perfect way to kick-off the spring running season. I will run it again next year and you should too!

Goals Update: Mostly Positive

Ok, last week I said that this week would include a Q1 progress update on my goals. So here goes. Here are the “physical” goals that I shared in my 12/30/18 blog post, my primary focus was to be a fit, healthy and impressive amateur athlete capable of significant and inspiring achievements.

  • End my weight loss journey and maintain a healthy, comfortable weight between 189 and 199 pounds using the techniques that helped me be successful (tracking, good decisions). Current Status: I have mostly accomplished this. My weight went up a bit as my muscles have grown plus I am more sensitive to daily fluctuations because I am at my lowest healthy weight. But I am still, on average, in this range.
  • Continue to improve as a runner by running 2 half marathons (April, October) and average one race per month with continually improving times. Get to a 5k pace consistently under 9 minutes by summer. Current Status: I am fully on track for this! I did skip a “formal” race in February but I am really doing well. The 5k pace is right at the 9 minutes mark too!
  • Build a more structured workout routine and continue to build and shape my body while setting new personal records. Current Status: I need to get better at the structured routine but I have set, and am on track to meet, a new strength goal of being able to bench press 100+ pounds by 6/15. I have gotten as high as 90. I have seen my body building and shaping pay off and I grew my biceps by a half inch in 3 months.
  • Try new things including yoga, CrossFit, climbing and other activities. Current Status: I did yoga a couple of times but didn’t stick with it. I have a friend who wants me to try spinning with her but I haven’t yet. I have friends who want me to come to crossfit with them but I haven’t yet. I just have to do it.

I didn’t share all of my goals with you but I will update you on progress with some of the others:

  • I finished my book, started, my LLC and launched my ebook in March. That is exciting! People are buying it and I am convinced that I am really helping people.
  • I have also made some progress with my “social” goal to be a great friend who makes efforts to keep in touch with and to be a source of support, fun and inspiration for my friends.
  • Plus I work daily to make progress with my “intellectual” goal to be smart and happy by living a life of balance focused on growth, success and enjoyment while continuing to develop my knowledge of and confidence in myself. I give myself a solid B+ on this one.

Lesson Learned: I set and am working on a lot of goals. Some are fully on track while others need some more focus in Q2. Overall I am pretty happy with 2019 so far!

Book Progress

This week I launched my book on iTunes and Amazon so there are now 3 options to buy it. Each of them are linked from my book page. I have sold several copies so far and have heard positive feedback from my readers.

Unfortunately the sales are slower than I had hoped though I had no real sales goal. I just wanted to get my message out there. Plus I haven’t done any true marketing beyond simply tapping into my amazing network of friends and connections. So I can’t be at all disappointed.

Next up I am going to work to accelerate the production of the paperback. I have heard from several people that they aren’t eBook readers. Plus I have heard from people that they want autographed copies – I know, what?! So I am going to push to get the print version published soon. I just have to learn how to do that!

Lesson Learned: it feels great to launch a book and to tell your story. You just need to figure out how to make sure you are reaching your target customers where they want to be reached.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Last week’s stats (3/25-3/31):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 199.2 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 4 miles (recovery week from half marathon)
Total walk/run miles: 28.3 miles (recovery week from half marathon)
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 2 workouts
One race per month: January, March and April races complete, half marathon 4/27
Continue to track & manage calories: 2,045 calories under budget

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

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

100-pound Anniversary

One year ago today, I woke up, stepped on the scale and had a big surprise. Then I wrote the following in my 3/13/2018 blog post:

I have lost 100.2 pounds since 6/15/2017 – that is less than 9 months! As most of you know, my goal was over 100 in under a year and I did it in far less time.

I didn’t really know how I would feel the day I hit my goal. I can tell you that my first feeling was utter surprise. I expected to have lost a bit since yesterday, but honestly thought I wouldn’t be past the 99 pound mark. So, it was a huge shock!

Me, 3/13/2018

So much has changed in my life through this journey and since hitting the 100-pound mark. I am so happy I did this and can’t wait to celebrate this anniversary today.

In a very short time, a matter of days really, I will be launching my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year. The good feelings that I feel after achieving this milestone are why I wrote my book. I want to help other people feel this way after achieving their big goals.

Thank you so much for continuing to follow my journey and for supporting me along the way. While my weight loss journey is over my fitness journey and my life journey is just getting started.

I am more powerful and capable than I ever thought!