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Holding Steady For Real / Long Runs Done – Got My Peeps Lined Up / Bittersweet Goodbye To My Lake

So I have said this before, but this time, there is actual truth and some time behind it.
I am holding steady at my current weight. Whereas before I had a little consistency and I thought it was lasting, every time I proclaimed to be steady in the weight department, I would drop down a little more. I’m happy to report that I have been within one pound of 208 (120 pounds lost) now for close to a month, and I think I may have finally found the balance required to keep it there. Of course, I may have just given myself the kiss of death and doomed my scale to show a different number again as well…
It’s taken a lot of getting used to, but I am getting more comfortable with eating more. I take one day off a month where I just let myself just really go for it… I use race day since it’s a day where I know I’m burning a ton of calories and it’s kind of a way to reward myself. Not as much with the actual food per se, moreso with the mental day off and not having to think/ (over)analyze any food choices / and just relax and enjoy myself. I also use that day to treat myself to some things that I would not want to go for any other day because the calories would just not be worth it. Case in point, after my Half Marathon, I really want to go to lunch at one of my two favorite places to eat in Philly. I will either be at The Famous 4th Street Deli eating a literal mountain of corned beef and eggs, or at Tommy DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal eating one of the best things you will ever put in your mouth, their (recently voted “best sandwich in America) famous Italian Roast Pork sandwich. Seriously, it’s insane how good it is. Easily over a thousand calories just for the sandwich alone but worth every single one of them… But I digress… back to the weight. I know come the xmas holiday season (once my second half marathon is over on nov. 18th) that it will take some re-adjusting again, as I will not be running my long training runs and burning 1000-2000 calories at a shot anymore., but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I plan on keeping up on my own little “maintence” routine to keep me active and sane. That schedule should provide some burn and balance to help keep me in check. But again, that is then, this is now. Here’s hoping that I can maintain the 208 for another month, and then another…

I am entering what is known to the avid runner community as “taper week”. Basically what it means is you are tapering off your training the week before a big race to rest up for the race day push. Another way to say this is that all of my long training runs are finished for the first half marathon. I’m as ready as I’m going to be, both physically and mentally. I am looking forward to some decent weekly runs, a lighter (in comparison to recent weeks) weekend long run, and then some easy runs next week to keep loose and get ready to go for my first Half Marathon. I am excited and very slowly getting less nervous and more confident. Still around 50/50, and I am so happy it’s almost go time. Let’s do this bitch. I have a great group of people to run with, and ironically (it’s actually pretty awesome, actually), the group is the same as my very first 5K back in February (well, plus one extra friend (Donna) I hope to bump into during the race). First and foremost I will be running with my co-workers Maureen and Lauren. We have all been going at this since jumpstreet and have been support for each other the whole way, so getting to reunite the group to tackle this 13.1 is going to be great. Looking forward to re-creating this picture, only without the snow, winter gear, some extra pounds, and Lauren’s closed eyes… In addition to the work crew, I have a (previously mentioned) friend Donna who I met years ago through visiting my wife (then girlfriend) up at her college where they played rugby together. Donna is another one of those friends who I kind of always viewed as already in shape, so when she reached out to me to let me know that she started running again and was planning on doing the Rock and Roll, I got excited. To be able to hang with the likes of those who were out running miles even years back while all I was doing was running to McDonalds for quarter pounders is still a little bit humbling to me. And lastly, and most importantly to me, I get the chance again to run side by side with my Uncle Mario. Uncle Mario is a more experienced runner who whose first race after completing the Philadelphia Marathon last year was to take several steps back and very graciously run my first 5k with me. He has been a sounding board and one of my biggest and most vocal supporters literally step of the way. From before I even started any of this, he’s been there for me, so to be honest it only makes sense (and really means a lot) for me to be able to come full circle and run my first Half with him as well. Really looking forward to it. 11 days and counting.

So the big move is coming up this weekend, and with it, I say a very fond farewell to my lake. Yes, I know it’s not mine. Don’t break my stones, you know what I mean. Sure, I can still drive up there, only difference is that instead of being 15 minutes away it’ll be a 45+ minute drive each way. So it’s do-able but just not convenient anymore. Especially when I have my choice of multiple options within 5 minutes of my new place (and a treadmill in the basement), one of which being a just shy of 3 mile (each direction) paved running path that is literally minutes from my house. It’s just like the lake, except there is no view except trees and the backs of houses, and it’s out and back and instead of a big loop. It fits the bill perfectly, but I have come into my own running at Peace Valley Park/ Lake Galena, both physically and emotionally, and I’m really going to miss it. I understand they run a 10K there every year, maybe I’ll look into running in that race, just for nostalgia’s sake. Something to look into for the future, at least. The Horsham Power Line Trail will be my new primary training spot and I’m looking forward to it. As much as I have grown at the lake, I’m hoping I can equal and surpass it on the Power Line Trail. Look for me if you’re ever out there. Here’s to moving on to bigger and better…

Anyway, that’s enough for now, but I will be back soon. I have this month’s photo update coming up, as well as another product review for some badass running gear from http://www.inknburn.com!

More on that soon, and until next time, take it easy.

Andy

***ROAD ID PRODUCT REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY***/ Thoughts on my changing body

Having lost all the weight that I have I am faced with a few undeniable truths that have admittedly taken some getting used to, specifically in regards to my new body (in comparison to the way I used to be and was VERY accustomed to) I have discussed all these before, but I have a point to make and it all bears repeating:

1)     First, I used to be hot all the time. Desk fan in February hot. Fog car windows up in the wintertime hot. No more. Now I am frickin freezing all the time. I actually caught myself thinking out loud yesterday that I should bring a sweater into work to keep for when they really crank the Air Conditioning and it gets too damn cold to think.

2)     Second, My ass is gone. It mysteriously disappeared. Now it’s not totally a shocker, I did set out to lose the weight. I guess I was just hoped it would be more belly and less ass to go though. My butt falls asleep all the time now when I’m sitting too long…and I have a desk job, so I’m generally dealing with a tingling backside come the afternoon.

3)     And Third, and most importantly, I used to be a rather imposing figure. I never had to worry about much in terms of physical harm. In the words of one of my closest friends (which is why he could get away with saying this) when we were talking about me forgetting to lock the deadbolt on the apartment door I lived in at the time one night: “seriously, who’s going to steal the 300 pound man?” He knew as well as I did that if I was up and looked angry, odds are most people looking to break in would pick a different target. This too, sadly, is no more. I love my new body, I love the energy I have, the way my clothes fit me and the way I generally feel now. But I still have to wrap my head around the fact I am not the giant people mover that I used to be. In the words of my brother Chris from just this past weekend when we were talking about it; rather than being the big guy in the crowd, now I’m “just another dude in a v-neck t shirt”.

This third point is where I want to settle and discuss, because while it thrills me that I am no longer easily distinguishable by my girth alone, it does present a new set of worries that honestly never crossed my mind before. I am very in tune with my body now and very aware of just how big I am (or should I say “how big I am not anymore”). This is especially prevalent in terms of when I am running; which is typically done alone and in off the beaten path areas, like the jogging path around a lake. If something were to happen to me, while I am much healthier, I simply do not have the sheer size I used to which could much more easily fend things and/or people off; especially for instance if you catch me on mile 8 or 9 of a long run. This is a concern, and while the odds are nothing is ever going to happen, the chance that something might does warrant at least some consideration.

For this reason I became interested in a company called Road ID. They make products that, as the name would imply, serve as a wearable ID that you can incorporate as part of your workout gear and have on you to speak for you, even (or especially) in the event something happens and you can’t speak for yourself. I was given the opportunity to order one for myself and then review it for you, and I am happy to do so.

So let me hit you with the basics first off: what exactly is a Road ID and why specifically do I like it? Like I mentioned, in its most boiled down explanation, Road ID is a wearable form of identification that you incorporate into your everyday workout gear. It is intended for runners, cyclists, swimmers, or basically anybody whose workout takes them outdoors. There are various different styles to choose from, a few different bracelet models, one for your ankle, one that attaches to your shoe, and even a dog tag looking necklace version. It consists of an engraved metal plate that has your info permanently etched into it (for longevity and durability’s sake) and then some form of strap to attach it to yourself. The dog tags are obviously on a chain, the bracelets, ankle strap, and shoe model are all attached to an adjustable strap to wear.

I ordered the smallest of the three various sized bracelets, the Wrist ID Slim. It comes on a rubber bracelet, much like the standard issue “Livestrong” or other “Cause” style rubber bracelet. So it’s the rubber bracelet with a tiny metal cuff on it, maybe an inch long and the same width as the bracelet itself that has all my ID info on it. In the 5 lines of text that is allowable I was able to fit: my full name, my nickname, what town I am from, my home phone number, my wife’s name and her phone number, my date of birth, some medical info, and still had enough room to throw in a little motivational saying: “Running My Ass Off”.

If god forbid something should ever happen where someone had to read this, in this wireless Internet information age what’s engraved on that metal cuff can get you access to most of my important info, especially if you are a medical personnel who has the tools to access that kind of info quickly.

To me this seems like a no brainer. Much like insurance, it’s something that you don’t ever want to use but it can be a life saver (literally) if you ever do need it. I’m not going to belabor the intent or function of this anymore; it’s a wearable form of ID that is there to protect you in the event you need it. Simple, functional, important.

Just as important as the function is the form of the product. Or in other words, even though it’s clearly an important piece of equipment,  if it either impedes your training in any way, if it’s inconvenient, or if it’s ugly as hell, people are not going to buy it/ wear it. Say what you will about the principle of the matter, it’s the truth. So let me address that as well.

The model I got (the Wrist ID Slim), as the name implies is very small, not intrusive at all, and comes on a very discrete, nondescript rubber bracelet. I actually took it off of the bracelet it came on and put it on my Livestrong bracelet that I wear when I’m running. It fits perfect and you honestly would never know it was there. After wearing it on an 11 mile run, I can say that it didn’t rub or cause any distraction on any way. It weighs next to nothing so I am very pleased in that respects.

The engraved plate is your standard dull silver stainless steel color, not remarkable or flashy, but modern enough to look current and sporty. It kind of blends in with the bracelet and did not affect my run in any way, which I suspect is entirely the point. I chose the slim because I didn’t want anything big and in your face, although what I sacrificed in size with the slim as opposed to the larger “sport” or “elite” versions is an even more obvious ID and an extra line of engraveable text. I was ok with it because I was able to stay low key and still pack in all the info I wanted to on the slim, otherwise I would have been happy with either of the other 2 bracelet options, both are cool/sporty enough that I would not mind wearing them.

Most importantly, with this Road ID, it gives my wife peace of mind.  When I’m out running she always knows roughly where I’m at, but for example, the 6 mile trail around the lake is a pretty damn big place, so pinpointing me exactly is tough to do. That peace of mind to me is worth the price tag in and of itself.

Speaking of price, this is not a “luxury item” or “break the bank” piece of gear, The price tag for my bracelet? $17.48. Seventeen bucks and change for peace of mind seems like a pretty good deal to me. Even if you go for the most expensive model they offer (the Wrist ID Elite at $29.99) you’re not talking big bucks here.

So it’s safe to say I’m a fan of the Road ID and readily recommend it. It really is an ingenious thing, so simple but very powerful all at the same time. I have already decided it’s going to be a part of my running gear from today on.

***HERE”S THE GIVEAWAY PART***

I am actually so impressed with my Road ID that I worked with the account representative and secured one (actually, a gift card big enough to cover the cost of any of their products) to give away to one reader who agrees with me and would want one of their very own.

So all I have to do is run the giveaway, and that’s exactly what I plan on doing. So here’s how it’s going to work:

To enter, answer one of the following two questions in the comments section of this blog post, or answer one of the questions in the form of a comment in the posting on the Bigandysrunning facebook page.

Since this blog is based around both weight loss and running, I’ll hit you with a question intended for each group:

                       Weight Loss Readers:

  • Since you are most likely just beginning your training and looking at longer and longer runs/workouts in your future, what kind of safety concerns might you have?  

                  And for the more established runners:

  • Have you ever had a close call on the road?

**you don’t have to answer both, just pick one**

You can also “like” Road ID on facebook or “follow” them on twitter for an additional entry. You have to like them, and then come back here and let me know in the comments though in order to get your extra entry.

And that’s it. The deadline to enter is 12:00 noon, EST on Wed, Sept. 12th. So there it is: my first official product review is in the books, I hope you like it.

**I also included some pics so you can see what I’m talking about. I have blacked out most of my personal info because….well, it’s my personal info.

 ______________________________________________________

I am approaching this review from my standard viewpoint of what I believe the core interest of this blog really gets at: that is to say I am presenting my review by looking at this product from the perspective of a person who is relatively new to the running world, has some weight to lose and wants go about losing the weight by starting to incorporate a more active lifestyle and want to know how sift through the volumes of available gear/ equipment out there.

One of the great benefits to running a blog like this one is that it puts me in a position from time to time to receive various products to use and review for you. Oftentimes, these items are provided to me free of charge. This is the only type of compensation I have ever received, and my acceptance of these items in no way constitutes any obligation to provide an unwarranted positive review. My opinions on the products are unfiltered and 100% my own.

**This product was provided to me free of charge, but again, this does not influence my review or views on the product in any way**

Also please note that these are the personal opinions and experiences of one individual (me) on my personal blog, and intended to be taken as such. I personally, and The Running My Ass Off Blog do not accept any liability from the purchase or use of any products reviewed on this blog.

**Sorry, just have to cover my ass here. These are unbiased reviews, intended only to help. I’m not going to try and sell you anything, nor do I want you to take my opinions as the final word on any product. Let me help you figure out what you should check out, and then check the stuff out for yourself to see if you like it.**

Post #100 / Looking Back & Forward / Gaining Some Balance

Post 100. The blog has made it to what I consider to be an important milestone, one that kind of sets the bar for what a “real blog” is, one that has stood the test of time for the most part and has been able to hold up in terms of both content and longevity. 100 posts. For me, it kind of represents a crossroads, a time to look back and see what has already been accomplished, and to look forward and see where to go from here.

Looking back, man has this been one hell of a ride so far. I’ve said it multiple time already, and will continue to do so since it still amazes me: I never expected to have this type of result in the speed that I did. I recognize that these results are incredible, but I also recognize that these results are not typical. I’m not sure exactly how to say it, except to say that one of my fears is that it almost lessens the impact, or takes away from the significance of what I’ve done in terms of motivating others, because if they are comparing themselves to me, it’s impossible (or damn near impossible) to replicate the results. Yes, it’s inspiring, but to someone who is just starting out, I can see how they would see it as an unattainable goal to replicate these type of results. To replicate my results over 2 times the time scale would be more realistic. But things to consider are that when I do something, I DO IT. Just jump in, feet first and blinders on. Focus on the task at hand, sometimes to the detriment of other aspects of my life. More on that later. But wow, what a trip it’s been so far. Life (and my body and mindset) as I know it is so completely different than it was when I started this whole process. Pretty incredible and I know that even though the past several months have been filled with hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, (and that’s been kind of a bitch), I have changed my life forever and the benefits will be felt not only by me, but by my family as well.

Looking forward, I am planning on adding some structure. To be honest, I have been operating on a kind of “post when I get the chance” type of model. It has served me well, but I am looking to start turning my focus to other things in my life. Things are about to get REALLY busy for me, moving (and consequently buying and selling my new and old houses), training for the races, work, family obligations, etc… (no majorly extraordinary stuff here, it’s things we all have to deal with, but it just seems like I have/ am going to add a few more balls in the air than usual), so I am going to formally put out there that this will be a weekly updated blog. One post a week, plus extras. Any races, picture updates, etc will all be over and above the regularly scheduled posts. This does not mean I am putting a specified end date on things (although if I were to do something like that, it would probably be Dec 9, one year after my first official picture update. This would give me time to run my final race of the year, post the recap, and then wrap things up.) But like I said, no proverbial “ticking clock” just yet, not sure what I will be doing, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

So after a lot of thought, I have decided that I am not going to push and try to turn this log into a thriving weight loss community after all. Full disclosure, I originally intended to make this post #100 a public declaration that I was intending to really ramp things up, try and reach out and really start to touch people that I have not yet gotten a chance to, inspire even more others to get active, and try and begin some sort of burgeoning weight loss community/ movement. After a lot of thought and some uncharacteristically honest forward-looking thought and considerations, I am really content with my accomplishments thus far and having inspired some of the people I already have (the likes of which include some very good friends of mine). I know it seems like a big shift in gears, but here’s the thing about me; I admittedly have the tendency to dream really big and leap into things without realizing the full scope of exactly what I’m doing. This type of mindset results in a few distinct consequences: 1) A lot of half planned ideas that I have started and stopped because either the reality of what I wanted to do did not live up to the image in my mind or because the scope of what I wanted to do would take up way too much time/ energy/ money (or usually, all 3 combined) than I originally anticipated, 2) A lot of things that I just kind of feel my way through and figure out as I go, because I jump into most of these kind of lofty plans feet first and totally invest myself without considering everything involved in seeing things through, and 3) Me having to sacrifice something else that I want or value in order to make sure things get completed. This has led in the past to me having to put out personal money over and above what the individual contributions from the group members should be, sacrificing time from my family and/or other hobbies, and generally biting off more than I planned on chewing. Now I know I am not in a position to bitch, because I am fully aware I am the person who puts myself into these situations all the time. But just because I have made these mistakes on many occasions in the past does not mean I am doomed to not learn from them and repeat them forever. I know enough about myself to know that I am always going to find some way to occupy myself and throw myself into. It’s just who I am and how I’m wired, but to be honest, I am always going to be going down this weight loss road and maintaining what I have accomplished over the past year but I want to really focus my efforts into being a better husband, father, and friend. I don’t feel like I’m lacking in those departments by any stretch, but there is always room to improve. I know that I can get “tunnel vision” when I’m really dialed into something that I’m doing, and it’s time to lose the blinders, relax a little, and just enjoy life.

That last bit about enjoying life being said, I am definitely looking to relax a bit and gain some balance. I have lost 120 pounds. I have actually exceeded my original intended “ideal” weight loss goal by 20%. Enough is enough. It’s time to start relaxing and enjoy the fruits of my labors. I’m not going to go bat-shit crazy and go gorging myself, but I am going to start relaxing, get my head right with eating all my calories and then some, and eventually stop leaning so heavily on MyFitnessPal to log every bite of food that goes into my mouth. I am trying pretty hard to learn how to manage things and gauge myself to maintain the same portions, eating habits, and learning when to say when so I can maintain this as a true lifestyle, not just being able to do it with a digital crutch and always having to be sucked into my iphone at all times. It’s going to take some work, as a matter of fact; I anticipate this being just as hard as anything I’ve done to date. I have basically traded one habit for another. Eating recklessly for being hyper focused on the eating. This was a necessary evil, but it does not necessarily have to be for the rest of my life. I can learn how to do things and still keep track without losing my mind and stressing out about it. Again, this is not a problem to really complain about, but when I started this blog, I did promise honesty even when it is not the most flattering to me…so here it is. The trials and tribulations of a guy who’s lost 120 pounds and now has to figure out how to deal with it. Good problem to have. So I am starting the process of forcing myself to get more comfortable with eating more and realizing I’m not going to blow up like a balloon again. It’s going to take some time but I am as committed to this as I am any other facet of the process, so it will get there and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Ok, that is more than enough for today. One last note:

Thank you very much for sticking with me and reading along as I go through this process. If there was absolutely no feedback or interest in this blog, I would have stopped this a long time ago and it would most likely be a diary (or even more likely…nothing because I would have just stopped it altogether). Instead of those scenarios, here I am with 100+ followers, 100 posts thus far and a blog that has 10,000 page views within striking distance. Not bad for a fat guy who just wanted to start running and force himself to be accountable and stick to it.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:

You all rock, thoroughly and consistently.

Until next time, have a good one.

Andy