I started this blog back in 2008 after I began a journey of diet and exercise with the goal of losing 90 lbs. and gaining my health back. Well as of 5/9/2009 I have met and exceeded all of my wildest expectations during this life changing journey.
In the beginning of this journey, I had simply set the goal of reaching 185 lbs., which to be honest I wasn’t sure I was capable of doing. I hadn’t been below that weight since I returned from 3 years in the Netherlands back in 1985. I was a victim of the “processed food revolution” and probably the “fast food generation” as well. When we lived in Europe, we ate fresh food and exercised daily simply because we had no other options.
Your average refrigerator in the Netherlands is like the size of the average college dorm room fridge and since we didn’t own a car when we lived there, we relied heavily on trains, buses, walking, and bicycles to get to where we had to go, including work. Because lack of space in the fridge was an issue, we literally shopped everyday for fresh produce, bread, cheese, etc. Other than canned goods, very little was stocked and not fresh.
I more of less went back to that diet routine when I started this journey except I cut out all of my bread, potatoes, and pasta for the first year. I have since added them back to my diet in the whole grain forms. Since riding a bike to work everyday wasn’t feasible in my case for safety as well as weather related issues, I started walking. And walk I did. Three plus miles every day.
As time wore on into my 8th month, I found myself running small pieces of my daily walk and continued to increase that until by December, I was pretty much running the entire 3 miles every day. By January, I started to see flyers and advertisements for the Fifth Third River Bank Run, which is the largest event of it’s kind in the US and is held about a half our from my home in Michigan. They have 5, 10, 25K run, and 5K run/walk events for that day. This year there were over 16,000 participants. It caught my curiosity and I decided to add a goal to my weight loss journey, and that was running a 10K (6.2 miles).
Now if you are a runner, that might not sound like much but for a guy who less than a year before was obese and 278 lbs., running across the street wasn’t something I would have easily considered! I chose the 10K as my goal because I basically ran 5K everyday by this time and that didn’t seem like much of a challenge from a distance point of view. In February I signed up and paid my entry fee. I then started convincing my younger son (27 years old) who was also working on losing about 50 lbs. to run it with me which he finally agreed to do.
On May 9th, 2009 I ran my first ever 10K. My goal was to finish, and assuming my knees allowed me to do that, finish in less than an hour. I was learning about proper footwear during this time and wore out two good pair of Asics shoes during 5 months of training for it. Not having ever been a runner, I made plenty of mistakes. I ended up running through 4 months of shin splint pain, ankle pain, knee problems, you name it. Ibuprofen was my dear friend! My motto became “just run through it” and I even had it embroidered on the back of my and my sons race day hats because that was all I could do is “just run through it”.
I tried to make a few 7 mile practice runs once a week leading up to the day of the race and each time my left knee would start hurting anywhere between 3 and 5 miles. If the pain got severe I would just stop and go back to walking the rest of the distance when that happened so I didn’t injure myself in a way the could ultimately prevent me from participating in the race. The first time I ran 7 miles, I was so “geeked” it’s funny to think about now, but at the time I couldn’t believe that I was capable of the feat at all. I had finished the full 7 miles a couple of times pain free so I knew I could do it but the last two times I tried before race day, the knee pain prevented me from finishing. I kept myself to 4 miles or less per day leading up to the last two weeks prior to the race.
When race day arrived I found myself to be nervous! The atmosphere surrounding an event like this is amazing. I weighed myself the morning of the race and found I had hit another goal that day! I had hit the “century mark” for my weight loss and weighed in at a paltry 178 lbs.! So cool! My current weigh loss goal is 170 by the end of this year but to be honest I’m more into a weight maintenance mode more than weight loss mode for now. I’m still eating very smart but I’m no longer so carb restricted as I was when I began my journey.
Even though we planned to run the race together that day, I strongly encouraged him to run his own race which he did because he being 20 years younger than me and still in better shape would be running too slow for him at my current pace. I am currently around the 9 minute mile mark currently and he is closer to 8. I hope to get down to 6 minute miles at some point when my knees cooperate better. At 8 AM we were off! I found myself feeling great and in total control of my run for the first half mile and then…it started to rain!
Luckily the temperature that day was about 55 degrees so it wasn’t so cold that it was uncomfortable, but running in the rain for me at least, really stinks! Wet and soggy shoes are not very enjoyable, especially when you are running in a large pack that is kicking up water with every step. About three miles into the race I was feeling pretty good and the pace clocks told me I was on my goal pace, but then it started. My favorite knee pain. I decided since all I had done was for this day, walking was not an option so I said a prayer asking God for the strength and “just ran through it”.
I finished the race (first goal) and did it in 56 minutes 45 seconds which was less than an hour (second goal). My knee hurt and I limped for the next two days but I didn’t care because it was worth every minute of it to have realized the end of that portion of my journey and to have reached 3 goals on one day! Thank you God for giving me the strength to resist cupcakes and pizza, to stay focused and faithful to my exercise routines, and for the new found health I’m enjoying!
So what’s next? You might think “well that’s it” right? You’ve hit your goals and life goes on? Absolutely not! I think now more than ever it’s important to stay with my goals, set new ones and make sure I don’t fall back into the trap that got me here in the first place. It’s way too easy now that I’m thinner to think I can get away with eating the wrong foods. It would be just as easy to get away with exercising a few days a week instead of the daily routine that I’ve developed as I made this journey but I simply can’t do it! I don’t want to be another statistic that ends up just being fat again. I’ve worked way to hard to get here to stop now. Does that mean I can’t enjoy some pizza, a handful of Doritos, or other treat? Nope. I can and will do that from time to time because I’ve earned it, but I’ve actually found that I lost my taste for much of that stuff and actually prefer other healthier items most of the time. Fresh strawberries and bananas topped with a packet of splenda and a little whipped cream tastes just wonderful to me and is less than 200 calories for cup. It’s plenty to satisfy my sweet tooth and good for me.
Going back to my “what’s next” statement, here’s my answer. I feel that I can reach 170 lbs. but plan to take the rest of this year to do so. That’s roughly one pound per month for the next 7 months from where I am now. I have already set a new goal of a 2nd 10K run in late June with the goal of beating my time of 56:45. I would like to be at least near the 50 minute mark for the run. That would be a one minute reduction in time per mile. And lastly and I think most importantly now…this goal is my favorite…I want to enjoy being thinner and the energy I now have!
I encourage you to stay with it. The over weight and un-healthy you is still just “one pound ago” if you start now!
Wow, awesome! I too have had a dramatic weight loss after realizing my unhealthy lifestyle and laziness were making my life miserable! I began my journey on April 27/09 at 280 pounds and through hard work and a severe alteration in mindset I managed to drop 80 pounds by September 1/09 and another 20 pounds by Christmas '09. I've since lost another 5 pounds and along with my regular exercise/workout routine I have recently begun running about 5 miles a day (and loving it!). It's great to read similar success stories like yours! Keep up the good work!
Tom it's great to hear from another who has done the same for sure! Thanks for sharing your experience and it's nice to find another who does some running too. I just finished my first 25K this past Saturday in 2:33:26 and now on to next year and a better time! Thanks and talk to you again I hope Tom.