Week 82: New Normal Takes Shape

This was the first full week of 2019 and my new post-weight-loss normal is starting to take shape this week. I am working to establish a more structured fitness routine to ensure that I am pursuing all of my goals but doing so in a healthy way instead of risking overdoing it. But in general this was a thoroughly uneventful week

New Weekly Routine

As I mentioned I am working on building a new weekly routine for my fitness goals. Some of the main goals of this new routine include:

  • Run 10+ miles each week but never run on consecutive days.
  • Get into the gym and lift weights 2-3 times per week but don’t target lower body workouts the day before a long run.
  • Include at least 1 active rest day per week.
  • Focus on flexibility and joint health through yoga and stretching.
  • Give myself freedom to adjust the routine based on how I feel and other things happening in my life like early days at work or races.

With those goals in mind I have sketched out the following routine. I have built it around one long run each week on Saturday and a personal training session every Wednesday. Then I pieced in everything else around that.

  • Monday: gym or active rest day
  • Tuesday: short run or long walk
  • Wednesday: personal training day
  • Thursday: short run or long walk
  • Friday: gym or active rest day
  • Saturday: long run of 3+ miles or more as I prep for half marathons
  • Sunday: yoga

So that is the routine as it stands now. I am sure it will continue to evolve as I live with it. For example I am already thinking about taking a break from running for most of this coming week due to so pain I have from my long run. So we will see how it changes over time.

Treadmill Long Runs

On Saturday I did my long run of the week – 7 miles. Unfortunately snow hit Columbus and this is what I woke up to on the morning of my long run.

So running outside was not in the cards. This meant that I needed to take my long run into the gym and do it on the treadmill.

What I relearned this week is that long runs on the treadmill aren’t great. It is more boring on the treadmill and harder to adjust speed up and down in a natural way. I was slow, I was sluggish and I had more pain after the run than I usually do. But I did the run and continued to make progress towards my next half marathon.

Unfortunately I will probably have to keep doing treadmill long runs because winter has arrived.

Stats Tracking

Starting this week I am tracking a different set of stats at the end of my weekly blog posts.

My previous stats of calories in, calories out, etc. were all focused on losing weight. Now that I am done with that I need to update the stats to focus on the things that I am focused on now. I have included an initial stab in this week’s update but I am planning for them to change over time.

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (12/31-1/6):
Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 198.3 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 12.36 miles
Total walk/run miles: 33.5 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
Yoga 1+ times per week: 1 Sunday yoga class
One race per month:
January 5k complete
Continue to track & manage calories: 2626 calories under budget

Week 81: 2019 Starting Strong

The first week of 2019 is in the books and it was my first week after concluding my weight loss journey. It feels a little weird not focusing on losing weight and I will admit that my brain isn’t quite into maintenance mode yet. I will get there but it is quite the mental adjustment.

2018 Personal Records

I am going to start with last reflection on 2018. I want to list my personal records / bests from the year because these are the numbers to beat in 2019.

  • Total weight lost to-date: 132 pounds
  • Best 5k time: 28:03 (9:02 pace)
  • Best 10k time: 1:01:20 (9:50 pace)
  • Best half marathon time: 2:44:48 (12:35 pace)
  • Fastest Run (1 mile+): 9:13
  • Longest distance run: 13.44 miles
  • Highest monthly running miles: 72.08 (March)
  • Average monthly running miles: 49.93
  • Best deadlift: 205 pounds x 3 reps
  • Body Fat: 12%

I am not expecting to beat all of these personal bests in 2019 but I am going to do my best to crush as many as possible!

Starting Strong

This year my New Year’s Day was a bit different than years past. Instead of sleeping in, starting the day off slowly, lounging on the couch and regretting my choices from the prior night I made a different decision. I used the first day of the new year to make progress towards one of my goals – to run one race per month.

On New Years morning I ran the First on the First 5k hosted by OhioHealth. I joined about 1500 other people who got up early and ran a 5k race in 40 degree weather. This same race had below zero wind chills the prior year so we were pretty lucky with this years weather. This was a very well organized race with great energy and I am so glad that I made a different choice to start this year.

It wasn’t my best performance but I did significantly better than all of the people who didn’t start the new year working on their goals. I ran with a bit of a cold which complicated breathing so I was slower than I wanted to be. That meant I had to slow to walk more than I wanted and also ended up in a bit of a coughing fit at the finish line. I didn’t set or tie my personal record but it was my second fastest 5k to date.

Ramping Up

My plan is to run the Cap City Half Marathon at the end of April and my goal is to do better than my Columbus Marathon pace. That is almost 4 months away so I have plenty of time to train and get myself ready to perform. But it means that I need to get moving. Plus I am trying to acclimate myself to colder runs so I can keep running outside and Saturday’s run helped.

This weekend I started to increase my running distance for my weekly long runs. I did an 8.2 mile run on Saturday that ended up being a tour of Columbus’ urban parks – Schiller Park, Columbus Commons, Bicentennial Park, North Bank Park, McFerson Commons and Goodale park. It was a good way to spend my Saturday morning.

I did need to use my marathon strategy of a walk / run mix but I did a lot of running and only a little bit of walking starting in mile 4.

In all my pace was 11:35 which was a full minute faster than my Columbus Marathon pace. So I am improving and just need to keep it up.

First Week of Maintenance Mode

As I have said over and over this was my first week after concluding my weight loss journey. So far my brain isn’t comprehending the idea that the weight loss is over. I averaged 500 calories under my goal each day which is about where my prior daily target was. I was still focused on my weight every day and was still concerned about eating too much.

I know that my brain will get there but I need to build a new routine focused on my new goals. Once I get fully immersed in the new goals I will stop focusing on trying to get more out of the old goals. After all I did exceed my weight loss goal by 32% since my original goal was just 100 pounds. So I need to stop moving the goal posts and just enjoy the new me.

Today’s approach to doing that is to take an active rest day with no weights and no running but I am going to do my first yoga class. Hopefully I like it and can make this a Sunday morning routine!

My Weekly Stats

Shown below are my normal stats that I show every week but they reflect the full year of 2018 instead of just the past week. Starting next week I will start reporting a new set of weekly stats that are less focused on weight loss (calories, pounds, etc.) and are more focused on my new goal.

2019: Be It!

Be a fit, healthy and impressive amateur athlete capable of significant and inspiring achievements.

Thanks for reading!

Last year’s final stats (1/1-12/31):
Distance walked/run: 2,127 miles
Total calories burnt: 1,288,562
Total calories consumed: 784,833
Net calories: -503,729
Weight change: 55 pounds lost, 132 pounds total

Week 80: Out with the Old, In with the New Year

The time has come…. This is my last blog update of 2018 and the new year is just a couple of days away. That means that it is time to reflect on my accomplishments and progress in 2018 and share my goals for 2019. The year that is concluding was really big for me and I am hoping for just as big, albeit a bit different, 2019.

Let’s start by looking back at 2018: A Year of Transformation

2018: What I Planned to Accomplish

As I looked back at my final journal entry of 2017 I saw the following summary of my goals for 2018. I know that these aren’t exactly SMART goals but my 2018 my goals were:

  1. Continue my Operation Melt journey and reach the 100-pound mark and beyond as well as starting to tone my body. I am calling it a 77 pound loss in 2017 and I know that I can NOT achieve the same in 2018, but I can hit 25-50 more pounds and move into toning and maintaining mode.
  2. Participate in my first organized run by or at Oktoberfest.
  3. Continue expanding my commitment to writing and getting published – through the site, social media and ultimate I want to write 1 or 2 different books.
  4. Be a presenter at Project Management Professional Development Day.
  5. Change jobs and move to a new company.
  6. Continue our home remodeling and repair efforts
  7. Recommit to maintaining friendships which I have historically relied on autopilot for in the past.
  8. Figure out a new board or other volunteer organization to join where I have passion and knowledge that is helpful.

2018: What I Actually Accomplished

Very interesting to look back a year at what I hoped to accomplish this year. It is particularly rewarding when some of those goals that seemed so big when I first wrote them were not only met but exceeded.

Following the same numbering scheme as above here is where I am ending the year with each goal:

  1. Finished my 100 pound weight loss in March which was just 9 months into my journey and 3 months ahead of schedule. I am ending the year down 132 pounds which means I lost 55 pounds this year. Plus I grew and toned muscles and achieved 12% body fat which means I was adding weight at the same time!
  2. I participated in my first organized run in June instead of my September goal. But I didn’t stop there! I did run the Oktoberfest race that was my goal and many others too! In all I ran 5 official 5k races, a 4-miler, a 10k and I finished a freaking half marathon! Instead of running one race I became an athlete this year!
  3. My commitment to writing continued more than I had even expected. I did write my book about my journey and it is being edited and I hope to release it in the spring. I also relaunched my Reflections on Leadership series in a big way and I publish it weekly, I also launched a weekly Healthy Hacks series, a weekly blog update on my journey and daily social media updates. I have gone so far as to start referring to myself as “a writer” if you can believe it!
  4. I did NOT present at Professional Development Day though I applied to do so but never heard back. Guess I need to take another shot at that one.
  5. I did leave my old job at the end of January and treated myself to a nearly 5 months sabbatical where I invested in other pursuits. Then in June I started a new consulting role helping our State of Ohio government. My sabbatical also afforded me some self-exploration and soul searching time which helped me learn more about how I want to grow my career.
  6. There was a fair amount of additional home remodeling and repair but not the progress we wanted to make.
  7. I encountered some setbacks and made limited progress with my “be a better friend” goal. The various job and life changes certainly impacted my progress there.
  8. I did make a little progress with my “giving back” goal but nothing super notable.

2018: Retrospective

Clearly it was a big year and lots of stuff happened so I wanted to sum it up with a brief retrospective. The following are my conclusions about the top 3 things that went well this year and the top 3 things that I could have done better.

Top successes

  1. I achieved way more in my fitness journey than I had ever expected or thought possible for my entire life. I progressed from obese to an athlete who has accomplished major feats …. I ran a half marathon just 16 months after being 325 pounds!
  2. I learned that I have superpowers and really can accomplish anything that is important to me. I have a voice, a story and something to contribute!
  3. The support and the love of the people around me is greater than I ever knew and I am truly lucky to have such great people in my life!

Top opportunities

  1. I was a bit too self-absorbed with my transformation and I wasn’t as good of a husband, friend, mentor or professional as I could have been.
  2. Unexpected changes impacted me (and Liz too) with the loss of my job, some of our favorite hangouts and some friends with them.
  3. I fell short of some of my original goals and those created along the way and felt disappointed in myself for not achieving the bigger and bigger goals. Sometimes this prevented me from being happy with and proud of my progress even though I KILLED IT in 2018.

2019 Goals – Framework

Since 2018 is effectively done it is time to define my goals for 2019. Given what I have learned over the past 18 months goal-setting has become a pretty serious exercise for me. These goals need to be big and motivating for me because they are going to carry me through the full year. These aren’t just cliché new years resolutions that are out the window before Valentine’s day!

I want to make sure my 2019 goals are holistic and balanced and don’t just cover a single aspect of my life. So I have decided to borrow Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life as a framework for my goals this year.

 

The Wheel of Life divides all of the aspects of life into 7 “spokes” of the wheel and then I will be defining SMART goals for each of the 7 sections. Here is how Ziglar defines each section.

  • Your Social Life: This includes who you spend your time with as well as the things you spend your personal time doing.
  • Your Work Life: Are you where you would like to be in your work or career?
  • Your Family Life: Do you spend time nurturing your family relationships?
  • Your Spiritual Life: Do you make time to study and grow spiritually?
  • Your Money: How well are you doing to meet your monthly, yearly budget? Are you saving? Investing?
  • Your Mind/Intellect: Do you read books, do crossword puzzles, learn new things, study to improve your knowledge and develop yourself personally and keep your mind strong?
  • Your Health: Do you have a healthy lifestyle – regular exercise, eat healthy – to live as long as you can?

I am not going to share my goals in all of these sections in this post but I wanted to share the approach I am taking to setting my goals using this framework and that am setting goals in every section. My hope is balanced goals spanning every portion of my life versus a disproportionate focus in a single area like in 2018.

2019 Goals – My Theme

In addition to setting goals in each of the Wheel of Life sections I wanted to define an overall theme for the year. As I shared earlier, I defined a theme for 2018 late in the game.

2018: A Year of Transformation

After the 2018 year packed full of transformation I am actually hoping for a little bit less transformation in 2019. That doesn’t mean that I am planning to move backwards by any means. But even the caterpillar eventually emerges from the chrysalis, unfolds its wings and flies away as a beautiful butterfly.

I think my theme for 2019 is going to me…. 2019: Be It!

Throughout 2018 (and really my whole life) I have spent tons of energy building, developing and transforming myself. I have worked to convince other people that I belong at the table. I also had to convince myself that I was good enough.

No more! I am good enough. I am worth it. I am qualified.

So I am going to spend 2019 unapologetically being the best at all of the roles in my life. I have nothing to prove to anybody. Whether it is an athlete, a husband, a friend, a Christian or a leader I am going to be it and be my best at it!

On a side note I cannot help but think of Rocky Horror Picture Show with my theme. Very touching when Frank-N-Furter sings Don’t Dream It, Be It and that is a small part of the inspiration for this theme.

2019 Goals – Physical/Health

Given the theme of this blog I am going to go ahead and share one of the segments of my wheel of live goals – physical. In this space 2019 is going to be a bit different but will built on top of what I did in 2018.

Physical: 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).
  • 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.
  • Build a more structured workout routine and continue to build and shape my body while setting new personal records.
  • Try new things including yoga, CrossFit, climbing and other activities.

The very first step I will take in pursuit of my 2019 goals will happen just after midnight on New Years Eve. We will count down to the new year and Liz and I will kiss and toast at midnight. Immediately after that I am going to update the settings in my food tracking app. I am going to change my goal from weight loss to weight maintenance or just a very small amount of loss.

My weight loss journey is done and it is maintenance time!

Then I am going to run a 5k race just a few hours later.

That is the only goal I am going to share for now and it is going to continue to take shape over the next few weeks.

In Other News

I know I didn’t share much about my fitness journey progress this week. I will just say that it was a tough week of bad habits and holiday indulgences including way too much sodium. I had wild swings in weight. I had a bit of a cold which is less than ideal. There was a good workout and a few ok runs including more than a quarter marathon on Christmas morning. Plus I got results from my follow-up bloodwork and everything is either good or excellent!

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (12/17-12/23):
Distance walked/run: 35.6 miles (+8.3 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 22,222 (-4,410vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 17,291 (+4,989 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -4,931 (+9,399 vs. LY)
Weight change (week avg.): 0.4 pounds lost (-1.7 vs LY)

Week 79: Some Big Wins & A Dose of Reality

After celebrating the 18-month anniversary of the decision that changed my life I had a big week in my journey this week. I had some new wins and a little bit of a reality check about where I am in this journey. All of these things are building up to me defining my 2019 fitness goals.

Steering Committee Meeting

Every great project needs a steering committee of subject matter experts and advisors that help inform decision making; my Operation Melt project is no different. Throughout this week I had a variety of meetings with some people who I consider to be my steering committee.

  • I had a follow up appointment with my doctor to check in on blood pressure, weight, general health and to draw blood to check in on progress.
  • I had my weekly session with my trainer and we started with reassessing my body fat percentage and bicep size.
  • I had a variety of discussions with my wife Liz to review the results from the other meetings.

These meetings all helped me evaluate where I am in this journey and produced one of my new wins.

Body Fat Percentage Victory

In August I had my first every body fat percentage assessment with a 3-point caliper test at the gym with my trainer. At that point I had a body fat percentage of 17%. As I discussed last week this compares to a 40%-50% estimated body fat when I started this journey 18 months ago. So that was pretty impressive progress.

This week’s assessment was even more impressive. I expected that I would be down 1% or 2% at the most over just 4 months. I was wrong… I was down 5%!

I now have a body fat percentage of just 12%!

So what does that mean? Well let’s look at the following table produced by the American Council on Exercise. This chart lists the average body fat percentage ranges for various categories of people.

Based on this table my 12% body fat puts me firmly into the “athlete” category! Pretty damn exciting!

Weight Loss Surprise

My other victory this week was in the weight loss category. As I have talked about repeatedly my weight loss progress has slowed. I am trading fat for muscle and muscle weighs more so my weight really hasn’t budged much over the past few months. Plus I am at a low enough weight that I really shouldn’t expect big changes.

As you can see in this graph my weight has pretty much leveled out.

So you can imagine how surprised I was on Saturday morning when I stepped on the scale expecting my weight to fluctuate up a bit and I actually hit a new low weight. When I stepped on the scale my weight was down and I had achieved a new low weight.

My weight on Saturday morning was 193.8 which is the first time I have gotten down to the 193s and puts me over the 131 pounds lost mark. So this means that I only have about 23 pounds of fat on my body! Despite that my BMI still lists me as overweight which is an indication of the flaws in the BMI calculation.

I don’t expect this to be a big turning point or unlock to restarting weight loss but it was a fun milestone.

Back to the doctor

My fitness journey originally kicked off after an appointment with my doctor on 6/15/2017. It was only fitting that I end this year and kick off these weeks of status evaluation and goal-setting with a return visit.

To goals for my visit this week were to do a general check-in on my health and progress and to confirm that my blood pressure is self-regulating. Additionally I wanted to discuss some pains and questions I had. Finally this was the time to take some blood because my last blood work was done in that first appointment and we want to see how everything is progressing for me. I am happy to say that the blood draw was way more successful this time with less fat blocking my veins and there was not vein “digging” at all.

Overall the appointment was great and everything was good news.

  • Weight progress is obviously good since he hasn’t seen me for 3 months.
  • Blood pressure is great and the medicine is definitely gone for good – been off meds for 3+ months.
  • I will get the results of the blood in about a week.
  • He also recommended that I start taking a yoga class to help protect joints and avoid pains.
  • He gave me some advice about mistakes I am making at the gym and suggested rearranging the order of my longer workouts – I have been running too much before lifting heavy weights.

My doctor and I discussed my weight progress and stalled weight loss and he concluded the same thing as me and that is that I may be at the floor. Plus my body composition is changing significantly so there is still fat loss but it is being replaced with muscle gain and that is heavier. He said there is no real way to know because each person’s body is unique and he gave me a warning about losing more. In order to lose more weight I may end up losing some muscle and I should try to prevent muscle loss for as long as possible.

Reality sets in… an era coming to an end

It is very likely that my weight loss journey is done at the end of this year.

This does not mean that my fitness journey or Operation Melt is done by any means. This journey is just getting started and there are many  things that I still want to accomplish and lots of room to grow and improve.

There are only 8 days left in 2018 which means it is time to start setting 2019 goals. A big focus of this week will be defining those 2019 goals and I will be sharing next week. But the one thing I am planning NOT to include in these goals is additional weight loss. I will include a goal about maintaining my weight in the 189-199 range and will continue the discipline of tracking what I eat and weighing myself regularly. But I will not be trying to lose more weight.

I feels strange thinking that my weight loss journey is coming to an end. This journey has defined me and been a big part of who I am for the past 18 months. I have made so much progress and am happy with what I have done so far. There was always going to be a stopping point and I knew that the loss would end. It is just hard to believe that day is upon me.

I am looking forward to this next chapter and to defining and sharing my goals for 2019!

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (12/10-12/16):
Distance walked/run: 31.9 miles (+1.1 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 21,938 (-4,731 vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 15,908 (+3,822 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -6,030 (+8,553 vs. LY)
Weight change (week avg.): 0 pounds lost (-1.8 vs LY)

Week 78: 18 Months Later

This week (Saturday) marked the 18 month mark since I decided to start my fitness journey. After 18 months I am a very different person than when I started. So I am going to reflect a bit today.

Where I Started

I started this journey after going to an appointment with my doctor in June of 2017. Theis is how I summarized the situation in my journal afterwards.

I am now focusing on losing weight, eating better exercising more and de-stressing because I am tired of being so overweight. It has annoyed me for years and I just have to address it. The time is now because I hit an embarrassing level at 325 pounds. Plus, I am over 40 now and need to get into some healthier habits or face terrible consequences – my dad died at 59 after a really rough 10+ years of suffering, my grandmother died at 63 after years of suffering. I don’t want this to be me. Finally, I want to improve my health and confidence … it it is all about self improvement.

I started at 325 pounds which means my body fat percentage was about 50%. I had a resting heart rate in the high 70s. I was averaging about 3000 steps per day and a calorie intake I can’t even begin to estimate. I had terrible self-confidence and lots of bad habits. Plus I had scary high blood pressure.

That is when I set out to lose over 100 pounds in under a year.

Where I am Now

I achieved my 100 pound weight loss goal in March which was just 9 months into my one year planned timeline. Since then I have kept going until I lost over 130 pounds. I have kept trying to lose weight since then but my body has pretty much told me that I am at my low weight. I just don’t want to admit that to myself. But my body fat percentage is down to 17% or less!

Along the journey I became a runner. I ran my first organized run, a 5k, on the anniversary of starting my journey. Since then I have run a total of 5 5k races, a 4-miler, a 10k and a half marathon – and those are just the organized races. I try to run as much as I can.

Beyond becoming a runner I have also become a frequent exerciser. I have set and met weight lifting goals including deadlifting my body weight last weekend. I have engaged a trainer and am working almost every day to improve my fitness and my body. This week I participated in my first group workout class and it was a doozy!

In short I have become an amateur athlete!

I am very much in tune with my body. I know everything that goes into my body. I know pretty much every calorie that I burn. I monitor my resting heart rate daily – averages mid 50s, sometimes lower. I watch my blood pressure – which is now completely self-regulated and in normal range. I weigh myself daily and am pretty good at predicting day-to-day weight fluctuations.

Finally my mind has changed just as much as my body. I have a lot more self-confidence and know that I can accomplish any goal that is meaningful to me – it is my very own superpower. Every day I try to do things to inspire and motivate other people to accomplish their own goals. I share everything that I can and want everybody to know how great it feels to do what I have done. I continue to look for ways to become more and more focused on fitness as my passion and I am looking to start a business (side hustle?) to expand my reach.

I couldn’t be happier with my choice to get fit and couldn’t be more proud of what I have accomplished so far! I say “so far” because I am not done yet so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (12/3-12/9):
Distance walked/run: 29.6 miles (+6.25 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 21,250 (-4,488 vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 16,357 (+4,328 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -4,893 (+11,414 vs. LY)
Weight change (week avg.): 0.3 pounds GAINED (-2.8 vs LY)