Week 104: 2 Years Later

It has officially been 2 years since my decision to get fit.

Just two short years ago I was allowing my health and fitness to operate on autopilot and that got me to 325 pounds. That’s when I decided I decided that enough was enough and that it was time for a change.

I decided that I was going to lose over 100 pounds in under a year and I wasn’t going to give up anything I liked. I wasn’t going to follow some fad diet. I was simply going to focus on the basics and trust the process. Essentially I was going to use project management and data to conquer my long-time obesity.

Two years later and you already know how it turned out. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Now I am entering my third year of focusing on being healthy and happy. My focus has shifted a little bit to maintaining my own progress while helping others achieve their own goals. While it was a lot of hard work it still stuns me how easy it was to tackle one of my biggest problem areas and sources of embarrassment. I am sad that I waited so long to try and just as easily could have never tried. That would have been tragic! I don’t want anybody else to fail to try and I want everybody to be successful with their biggest goals.

I want to build a world where no goal dies of loneliness.

I am doing my part to make this happen. I am committed to helping provide the inspiration, motivation and tools needed to help people use project management to live their healthiest and happiest lives. This started with my blog, continued with my book (Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year) and I have lots of other things in the works. Plus my new day job will be focused on using project management to help people live healthier.

Project management can change lives why can’t it change yours?

Maintaining… Mostly

I am entering my third year and I am still going strong. While I have moved into “maintenance mode” I haven’t stopped tracking my daily food intake, exercise and other key metrics and I don’t know if I will ever stop that. The easiest way to make sure not to slip back into autopilot is to be aware of my numbers every day.

My numbers haven’t been amazing over the past six months but that is just how it goes sometimes. My brain isn’t wired to be ok with numbers going the wrong way but it is important for me to keep reminding myself that this is a journey and that I have to look at all of the numbers together in context.

My average weight has ticked up a few pounds. I am currently averaging 200-202 pounds per day versus 198-200 pounds about three months ago.

A portion of my weight uptick can be attributed to my increasing muscle mass. I know my muscles are getting bigger and I am getting more definition. One way I know this is that, big surprise, I am tracking my numbers. My biceps are growing at a rate of about half an inch every three months. So I know that some of my weight increase is “good” weight”

Unfortunately not all of my average weight increase is connected to muscle growth. I know that a portion of my uptick is related to trying to maintain the appropriate balance between calories in and calories out. That is a daily effort now that I am not actively creating a big calorie deficit in my diet. I know this is the case based on my latest body fat percentage measurement. Over the past three months I have increased about one percent body fat to 13.8%. This one percent isn’t completely apples-to-apples because it was measured after a workout instead of before but I have increased at lease half a percent.

Maintenance is definitely not easy but it is a heck of a lot easier than losing 130 pounds in 18 months. It just requires continued tracking of my numbers, adjustment when needed and for me to be patient with myself.

Second Annual 5k

As a celebration of my first anniversary of my decision to get fit I hosted and ran in my very first 5k race. A group of friends and supporters joined me to run an informal 5k that was also a fundraiser for a local nonprofit, Central Community House. This was a great way to celebrate such a big achievement and to “officially” kick off my running career.

Fast forward one year and I celebrated my second anniversary with another Operation Melt 5k race.

About 10 friends and supporters joined me for a repeat running of the same 5k course.

We all had a great time and raised $280 for Central Community House. That is just under $1000 that we have donated in 2 years!

My personal results were very good too! I cut my average pace time from 10:35 per mile to 9:32 per mile, over one minute in a year. Unfortunately I ran a little faster than my body wanted me to run (the downside of being competition driven, right?) and ended up with some pain afterwards. So I just need to rest my body for a few days.

After the race some of us headed out for a big brunch at one of my favorite restaurants.

My thoughts have already started turning to next year’s Operation Melt 5k. Save the date for 6/13/2020!

Year 3

Now I am moving into year three of my Operation Melt journey and trying to figure out what comes next. I am working updating my goals for the second half of this year and my third year of my journey.

I know that I want to continue to maintain my weight but I am already doing ok with that. I also want to keep growing both in muscles but also in my skills, my confidence and my impact to others. I need to find my ideal running pace and force myself to stay there – which means that my personal records need to become a thing of the past.

I am not sure what the future holds but I know I am going to be setting and crushing goals for the rest of my life!

Thanks for reading… check back next week for more.

Week 103: Pivotal Moments

A pivotal moment is a time when an important event occurs that marks a change in direction of something. This “something” could be a story, could be a nation’s history, a career or could even be your life.

Today marks the start of a week that has proven to be filled with pivotal moments for at least three straight years.

Pivotal Week: 2017

It was this week in 2017 that I made the decision that changed my life.

I decided that I was going to reverse a trend of lifelong obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year and that I was going to do it my way. This was certainly a pivotal moment in my life as I transformed myself physically and mentally and led to me discovering a calling.

Pivotal Week: 2018

During this week in 2018 I celebrated the one year anniversary of my decision to get fit. I had lost about 120 pounds by this point having met my 100-pound goal in March. But I had decided to keep going.

I celebrated my one year anniversary by achieving a different goal – my first 5k race.

I had started running a few months before my anniversary and wanted to run my first 5k race. But it just didn’t feel right to sign up for a random 5k as my first time, I needed to do something a little different. I needed to do my first 5k the same way as I had done the rest of my successful journey at that point: my way!

For my first 5k I decided that I was going to host my own. I hosted my first Operation Melt 5k race and ran it with a few of my closest friends and supporters. Plus we made the race a fundraiser and raised over $600 for Central Community House. But, most importantly, I finished my first 5k and did so with a respectable time.

The anniversary of my decision to change my life and running my first 5k were just the beginning of the pivotal moments during this week in 2018. I was also just concluding a five plus month long sabbatical after being laid off from my job of ten years.

During my sabbatical I finished phase 1 of my fitness journey and finished writing the first draft of my first book – Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lost Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year. But it was much bigger than that. This sabbatical was unbelievable impactful for me because it was timed perfectly with my fitness journey and I needed some time to reacquaint myself with me – which worked marvelously!

When I say I had just ended my sabbatical this means that I had I new job. During this week last year I started my consulting job for the State of Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services. This project, scheduled to last for a year, involved me helping improve the level of project management maturity for the IT function within the agency. A task that was right up my ally.

Pivotal Week: 2019

For the third straight year this week has proven to be a pivotal week in my journey.

As a starting point I am celebrating the second anniversary of my decision to change my life. Since the beginning I lost a total of 131 pounds before starting to gain more weight in the form of muscle. I have completed two half marathons (Columbus Half Marathon and Cap City Half Marathon) cutting my time by more than twenty minutes between the two. I have successfully dead-lifted more than my body weight, I have bench pressed over one hundred pounds and achieved a body fat percentage of twelve percent – this places me squarely in the “athlete” category. While I am technically in “maintenance mode” with my weight loss journey I have continued tracking everything and I have continued to resist autopilot!

My book has launched that tells my story, shares my approach and shares my lessons learned along the way. I honestly believe that anybody can be successful with their goals (fitness and non-fitness) if they follow my same approach and manage it like a project. I am so passionate about this that I have started a business to help other people achieve their big goals. I have developed a vision statement for my business and my life “to create a world where no goal dies of loneliness” and I am doing this by helping people use project management to accomplish their goals. My love of and passion for project management has clearly been rekindled along this journey.

Next weekend I am hosting my second 5k race. After running more than ten organized races I am coming back to where it all began. I am reassembling a small group of supporters to run an informal 5k on the Scioto Trail and, once again, raising funds to support Central Community House. While it appears that the event is going to be a bit smaller that doesn’t make it any less important to me. This 5k is an opportunity to not just celebrate my accomplishments but to also celebrate the big goals of others.

Finally I am also experiencing another pivotal moment in my career.

My project at the State of Ohio is coming to an end. Over the past year I have been able to add significant value to our government and I am leaving things is a better place than where I found them. I am happy with the work that I did. Alas it is time to move on. On the Monday after my 5k I am starting a new consulting project at OhioHealth. I will have the opportunity to manage more projects dedicated to helping people (the population as a whole!) improve their health – something that is very important to me!

Without a doubt these three years of pivotal moments have had quite the affect on my life. Each one of them have certainly lived up to their designation as “pivotal” because each of them have led to changes in the direction of my life. I am a happier, more confident, contribution-focused person than I was before pivotal week number one.

All of this leads me to ask a big question: what pivotal moment will I be experiencing in just 52 weeks from now?

Thanks for reading… check back next week for more.

Week 102: Approaching 2 Years Since the Decision That Changed My Life

The next two weeks wrap up year two of my Operation Melt project. What started as a goal to lose weight evolved into so much more and really turned into a life-transforming experience.

To be sure, I changed myself physically and transformed from obesity to an amateur athlete. But it was bigger than that. I changed how I look at my own health & fitness but also how I look at my contribution to the world. Through all of this I know that I am having an impact that is bigger than me.

At the end of the day isn’t that what we are all looking to do?

Two Years Ago

It was two years ago today that I made a series of choices that lit the fuse that started my Operation Melt project.

It was a Friday and I had just finished a horrible week at work. Several projects that my team was managing took terrible turns. I had relationship struggles with some peers that were causing drama. There were some performance issues in my team that I was not doing well with addressing. It had been weeks since I felt like I had a win. All of this leading me to the conclusion that my time to depart was drawing near.

After work on that Friday night I met my wife and some others out for drinks. This became an extended happy hour and I made poor decisions. Those poor decisions led to me feeling terrible the next day which turned into multiple days. This all drove me to make my first doctors appointment in much more than a decade.

As I describe in Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, this doctors appointment was my “moment.”

Your decision to make a change and to commit to getting fit is your moment. It is that moment in time when everything changes. It is pivotal and can literally become the decision between life and death. Your moment can be the decision between happiness or status quo. 

Over the next two weeks I expect that I am going to be very reflective about this whole journey. There will be thoughts where I mentally kick myself for taking so long. There will be reflections about the exciting events that happened along the way. The negative parts of the past two years will reappear in my thinking – yes there were negative events over the past two years.

All of this reflection will lead up to the big day, June 15th. The day that I made the decision to change my life. That is the day I had that doctors appointment and decided that I needed to make a change…. and then did!

I will celebrate my Operation Melt anniversary day this year just like I did with the first year anniversary. I will be hosting a small 5k run with some of my friends (click here to join us!) in honor of my journey and the journeys every one of us are on every day to make our dreams come true.

Other Notable Events

This was a really big week in my life and in my Operation Melt journey. Unfortunately I am not ready to share the biggest developments just yet. I will be sharing over the coming weeks but just not yet. I only bring it up as a way of saying that this was a really big week for me.

Unfortunately the week started and ended with big weight fluctuations driven by high sodium. Through the long Memorial Day weekend my weight spiked 6 pounds – I was well over my 200-pound maximum desired weight. Then it came back down through the week to where it started. Then I had high sodium days on Friday and Saturday and it went right back up. It is so frustrating how sensitive my body is to sodium!

Another odd setback came this week: I learned that I was under-estimating my portion size on one of my daily foods. I assumed that I was eating 2 teaspoons of peanut butter each morning and I discovered that my portion size is actually 2 tablespoons! Yikes, that is a big difference!

It is hard to say where else I may be under-estimating portion sizes. Pair that with having less cushion in my daily calorie target because I am in maintenance mode and I think I am going to start developing an issue. Being the project manager that I am I decided to implement a strategy to mitigate this risk and I reduced my daily calorie target by a couple of hundred calories. That should help provide some contingency for any other areas of under-estimation.

This calorie mismatch issue was a good reminder that this is an ongoing journey and that I need to be ever-diligent and prevent autopilot from ever taking over again!

My deadline for my bench press goal is rapidly approaching: I want to bench press 100+ pounds by 6/15 after starting at just 55 pounds in September. Well, as I shared last week, I have hit the 100 pounds goal already but now I am pushing myself further. I don’t just want to struggle through lifting 100 pounds in a crappy manner, I want to make it good. So I am continuing on this journey and pushed it up to 105 pounds this week!

I spent most of this week trying not to run. After Monday’s long run I had some pain and discomfort from overdoing it and needed to give myself some rest. This tends to be a struggle for me to do but I did ok with it. Then Saturday rolled around and it was time to run! I did a solo quarter marathon through foggy downtown Columbus at a pretty slow pace but it felt great!

Thanks for reading… check back next week for more.

Week 101: My Calling, More Goals Met, 5K

Last week I talked about how my journey has turned into more than what I lost I has been about what I gained too. I gained a calling (or did I discover it).

Operation Melt started as a way to share updates about my weight loss journey to help keep me accountable. Then it grew into a platform where I could tell my story in various ways including sharing some of the tips and tricks I have discovered along the way.

Once I learned that people were starting to benefit from what I was sharing it all started to change. I learned that my voice, my story and my approach are inspirational, motivational and instructional to some people to help them achieve their own goals. This is what inspired me to write my book and is what keeps me motivated to keep sharing content every day.

Calling

My calling is to help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

I almost went my whole life without even really trying to fix a problem that has annoyed and embarrassed me since I was I kid. It turns out that the solution was completely within my hands, was attainable in less than a year and was a journey that I enjoyed. Now I am living a life of fitness and confidence instead of a live of obesity and embarrassment.

This story repeats for people every day. While the goal that I achieved that started Operation Melt was getting fit it could have been anything. It could have been going to college, getting a new job, starting a business or countless other goals. It is the same challenge every day. People have goals that just stay inside their brains and die with them. They never even try to achieve them.

That is what I mean when I talk about goals dying of loneliness.

This doesn’t mean that everybody will be successful with every goal at every attempt. Failure will happen. But I believe that it is complete acceptable and admirable to try to achieve a goal and fail. That is how we learn and at least you had the courage to try. Not trying is the problem I want to solve.

I recently read the book Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life by Laura Gassner Otting and it had a big impact on me. One of her key points is that we are all searching for “consonance” in our lives and careers, that feeling that what I am doing aligns with who I am. It comes down to four key components: calling, connection, contribution and control.

After reading Limitless it became clear to me why certain aspects of my career mean so much to me. Being a project manager is a direct connection to my calling. I use project management to help people achieve big professional goals that are expressed as projects. I also use mentoring to help people achieve their own personal and professional goals. I use continuous improvement and technology to help teams and companies improve their probability of being successful.

It all started becoming clear once I discovered my calling.

The Journey Continues

I could never have discovered my calling without my Operation Melt journey. But you may be asking yourself: isn’t that journey done now? I hit my 100 pounds and then 30% more. I ran my half marathon. I wrote my book. I am happy to say the answer is no.

I continue to set and work to accomplish new fitness goals daily. To be sure, I am still focused on maintaining what I accomplished and not moving backwards. But I am not just playing defense in my fitness journey, I am on full-on offense too with new goals.

This week I achieved another one of my goals. I had set a goal to be able to bench press 100 pounds by June 15. I started at just 55 pounds back in September when I set this goal. This week I was able to bench press 100 pounds for three repetition a full four weeks ahead of my goal date. I am going to keep working on being able to do more reps but I did it.

By the way I also set a personal record for squats the same day and have run more than ten miles this week too!

It is critical for me to continue moving forward in my fitness journey.

For too long in my life I have checked things off my list never to look back. That is not how I am going to operate. I am going to keep focusing on making the things that are important to me better every day. That is where my ongoing goals come into the picture.

Fitness Loft Collaboration

I have been a member of The Fitness Loft Columbus for about a year and a half now and love it. They are my go-to for any exercise that I can’t do outdoors and I have been working with a trainer, Teresa Moore, there for more than a year. They have definitely helped me take my fitness journey to the next level.

This week The Fitness Loft started helping take Operation Melt to the next level too. They officially became the first brick and mortar location to buy Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year in their gear shop. Then they told their followers about it on social media.

It is exciting to make my first bulk sale of my book. But it is even more exciting to see my book on shelves where people can see it every day. The more people who see the book the more likely it will be able to help somebody who needs it.

Plus this is just he first of several upcoming collaborations between The Fitness Loft and Operation Melt. So stay tuned for exciting new announcements!

Operation Melt 5k

Just a reminder that the second annual Operation Melt informal 5k is coming up on 6/15. The time has move up to 9a due to some conflicts with some of the runners.

This is completely informal 5k (e.g. no medals, t-shirts, run at your own risk, etc.) that celebrates the second anniversary of kicking off my Operation Melt journey. It also celebrates fitness and accomplishing our goals. It is a small group, it is a very laid back environment to walk or run and it benefits a local non-profit, Central Community House.

Central Community House provides a number of services but has a focus on helping get families out of poverty. As somebody who grew up in poverty I can tell you that this is an absolutely worthwhile focus. Plus nothing is a bigger contributor to obesity than poverty.

Thanks for reading… check back next week for more.

Week 100: Staying Focused

Goals are powerful!

When I started my fitness journey I wasn’t sure that I would be able to stick with it and be successful. That is why I approached it with project management and data. I knew that would help improve my odds of success because it is how my brain works. This was an important goal to me and I wanted to be successful with it. I didn’t want to let myself get in my own way.

You know how the story ends and this week marked 100 weeks of staying committed to my fitness goals.

My life has changed so much through just 100 short weeks. As I have said again and again, this journey hasn’t just been about what I lost. It is even more about what I found. I found my voice, I found my confidence, I found a calling and I found me. I can’t wait to see what the next 100 weeks bring!

On a related note this morning marked 701 days of logging everything I put in my body. This was one of the most important contributors to my ultimate success because I gave me data. It helped me measure my daily performance. For you long-time followers you know the importance of measurement in my life. I am a believer that things that you can measure are things that you can manage. By measuring my daily food intake and my exercise I know that I am staying focused and staying on track.

After 700 days of being intentional about my health and fitness I can comfortably say that trusting it to autopilot is done. It isn’t hard to get fit and stay fit but it does require a commitment and discipline which means it has to be a priority. Clearly I have made my commitment to my fitness goals a priority in my life.

Anybody can make their dreams come true through five simple steps:

  • Commit to a S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goal and decide to be successful.
  • Build a plan that works for you – work with your natural tendencies and don’t try to follow somebody else’s plan.
  • Measure progress every day. Literally every day and literally measure.
  • Be prepared for things to change and go wrong and learn from those experiences.
  • Don’t go it alone! Take partners who will help you and try to help others

That’s it. That’s how to be successful at making your dreams come true. You just have to commit to your goal and follow those steps every day.

Here are a couple of additional highlights from my week.

Saturday 5k with a twist

One of my goals this year was to run one race per month including two half marathons. So far I have done pretty well with that goal. But I hadn’t scheduled a race for May yet. That’s when I learned about a creative new blog and concept called the Just Me 5k.

Essentially the Just Me 5k embraces the fun of running, of setting goals and of participating in 5k races without any of the race day inconveniences. Things like getting up at 6a, waiting around in a crowd of people and such aren’t there. It is just you, your bib, your race and your victory complete with your medal.

This weekend I completed my race with the help of my very own Just Me 5k goodie bag including a custom bib. I ran my 5k at Indian Lake through the small town of Russell’s Point.

I am not going to tell my whole Just Me 5k story here today. But make sure to follow the Just Me 5k blog for an upcoming guest post with my story.

Operation Melt 5k

It’s official… the second annual Operation Melt Informal 5k is just a month away. We will be running on 6/15 at the Scioto Audubon park in the brewery district. See full details at OperationMelt.com/5k/.

The Operation Melt 5k started as the Operation Melt First Time 5k last year. I had decided that I wanted to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my fitness journey by running my first 5k. But I also decided that choosing a random 5k to sign up for just wasn’t consistent with how I was approaching my journey.

So I did it my way!

I hosted my own informal 5k at the Audubon park. A handful of my friends and supporters joined me and we all ran together. We didn’t have shirts, bibs, medals, security or anything, it was just a group of friends running together to celebrate fitness and goals. We also all made a donation to Central Community House and raised over $600 to support them.

I am definitely looking forward to doing it again this year and hope you will join me.

Thanks for reading… check back next week for more.

Last week’s stats (5/6-5/12): 

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 199.9 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 12.5 miles
Total walk/run miles: 39.9 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
One race per month: January, March, April, May races complete. June & July planned.
Continue to track & manage calories: 2,524 calories under budget