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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.**

Top 10… No, Top 12 Weight Loss Tips: A Collection Of Things I’ve Learned Along The Way

I have recently gotten a lot of questions regarding the weight loss and “How did you do it” always comes up, so I wanted to put together a list of the “Top 10 things I’ve learned” during my weight loss process. It has tuned into 12 because I tried to cram too much into the original 10…

This is what worked for me, and it’s the the way I look at things. I am putting all this out there with the best of intentions, feel free to pick and choose from everything as it you see fit and I hope some it works for you and helps in any small way. Maybe you’ll like all of it, maybe none of it. But my hope is that you can at the very least pull a few nuggets out of this that are of actual value to you…

As always if you have any further specific questions, please let me know and I will be happy to do whatever I can to help out.

So without any further delay:

Top 12 Weight loss tips from a 115 pound loser…

1. Get your head right

Accept that you are what you are…for now. This is probably the hardest part of the entire process for most people because it involves a lot of pride swallowing and acceptance of facts that are less than pleasant. And it can be a tough pill to swallow; as matter fact, it downright sucks. But even though it may suck, the fact remains that: yes, you are overweight, heavier than you want to be, and that is not going to change unless you do something about it. There’s no sense in beating yourself up about it too much, what’s done is done and after all, you recognize that fact that where you’re at now isn’t where you want to be and you’re doing something about it. And the simple fact that you recognize this is substantial, and insanely beneficial. You’re not ignoring anything or just hoping things will change, you’re stepping up and taking action. So it is what it is for now, but not forever. Everybody has to start somewhere. Where you are right now is your starting line, the place that you move forward from.

2. Be honest

This is another thing that’s really hard to do. This is especially true when you have eating habits the way I did, and by that I mean habits that were less than stellar. And by less than stellar I mean I would stuff my face with pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I would eat a lot, and I would eat often.

Since the only person you’re really answering to is yourself, it does take a little bit of… scratch that- takes a ton of dedication and honesty to accept and log that you had a whole slice of pizza instead of a half to make the calories look better. (or ate two slices and not just logging one) In the end, if you’re not being honest, then you’re lying. And the only person that you’re really lying to is yourself. And really, what good comes of that? If you’re going to do this, you may as well do it. Otherwise you are wasting time and nothing will change.

Even if you do lose some, odds are that without making any real changes, you will retain your old poor eating habits, and with the poor habits still in place, the weight will come back. So don’t be a liar. You’re better than that.

3. Be driven

I’ll be the first to admit, this entire process is kind of a bitch. It is so, SO much easier to sit on the couch than to go and run outside or on the treadmill. It takes you having something in it to keep you on point and get you moving. I can tell you first hand, temptation (and laziness, and sickness, and unforeseen problems, and real life, etc.) is frickin’ everywhere. It’s all waiting there for you to open the door just a little so it can creep in and derail you. It’s happened to me it will most likely happen to you too. It really is about having the chutzpah to keep pushing, stay focused and not losing sight of the end goal. I can tell you first hand it IS worth it.

4. Be accountable

This ties in with being honest and being driven (actually, most of these points tie in to one another) but for me, the act of putting myself out there for everybody to see was absolutely key to the process- hence the blog you are reading today. At first, my reasoning was that I had started to lose weight dozens, literally dozens of times ‘in secret’ (didn’t want to say anything or put it out there because I was embarrassed about what people might say or think; didn’t want to fail and then have to face everybody and explain what happened, etc.), but without anyone or anything to be accountable to, it was way too easy to give up. Happened every time. So my original reason for telling all friends and family what I was doing and how I was planning on doing it was essentially to force myself to keep going, even when I hit the inevitable wall. That, and plus I wanted to have a written record of everything once I was done. The unforeseen benefit of being so publicly accountable is the overwhelming outpouring of love and support that came (and continues to come) from everyone on a daily basis. Putting it all out there is a risk for sure, you can’t hide behind anything and the possibility of coming out of this failing and looking like an ass is always there, but the fact to not lose sight of is that people out there, especially your friends and family want nothing more than to see you succeed.

One more unexpected benefit that I honesty never saw coming is that I have been inspiring others to do the same as me now. I definitely get it, and how do you think I got the idea to lose weight and do it with running in the first place? I saw someone else’s blog on the internet one day while I was searching for some inspiration, and consequently, was inspired. (by the way, the guy who first inspired me and planted the seed for me to do this the way I did was Ben of www.bendoeslife.com, really good blog and –obviously-, very inspirational story) But like I said, I never initially set out to inspire others, I really was just sick and tired of being so fat and unhealthy and knew I had to do something about it. But unforeseen or not, I have been talking to more and more people who have told me that my story has inspired them and looking for more info about what I did and how I did it. (thus prompting me to create this list) I have to admit, it feels fantastic.

I haven’t felt this good about something that I’ve done and how it affected others in a really long time. I was sincerely motivated so much by all the support that came to me as I was pushing to lose that it doesn’t make any sense to me to not put that support back out there for everybody else. I say it all the time, but we’re all in this together.

5. Write it down/ log it

In my opinion, if you are looking to lose weight, this is one of the single most powerful things you can do. It only works if you are honest with yourself, of course. If you eat half a pizza and log 2 slices, you’re not doing anybody any good and just lying to yourself. (See “Be Honest” above)

Nobody is judging you (except you), so just write it down. If you have never done this before, I can guarantee you will be surprised to see what goes into your mouth over the course of a day or a week. You can learn a lot, I know I did. I learned a lot about food, about calories, (and what foods are higher/ lower in calories than you may have thought)- and in turn, what foods are “worth it” and which aren’t. I also learned a lot about myself and my eating habits. All very essential pieces of information if you are looking to change habits and adopt a healthier eating lifestyle. If you don’t know where you are starting from, how the hell are you going to change? To clarify, what I mean by “I learned a lot” means that I learned about what foods I was eating that were really high in calories, which were good lower-calorie substitutes, and just as important as calories is portion size (one thing you will realize is that the portion sizes that we are all accustomed to are pretty much all jacked up. When you see what “one serving” of chicken or rice or mashed potatoes really is, you are going to think that you are going to starve and wither away to nothing -although that is a very loose interpretation of what we are trying to do here, right?)

The other thing I wanted to mention (because I’ve been down this road too many times) is not only write it down/log your food, but do it now. I mean immediately. As its going into your mouth, hell, as you’re making/ ordering it. Seriously, don’t wait until after you have dished out the plate and eaten everything to go back after the fact and be like “well, it was about a half a cup of mashed potatoes I think”, because you will be wrong. I know for a fact I screwed it up every time I did that. So just do it. Yes it’s a pain to weigh and measure your food. It takes the “sexy” out everything to pull out a little food scale or a measuring cup and dish out your delicious dinner in measured, sensible portions. But you learn what 4 or 6 oz of chicken is. You learn how to recognize what a half cup of rice looks like. And let’s face it, if you knew this stuff already, you probably would not be reading this blog post in the first place, (just like if I knew this stuff before, I would not be writing any of this either) …and even if it does take the “sexy” out it now, I can guarantee you that when you are fitting into clothes that are multiple sizes smaller than the ones you are wearing now, you will realize where that “sexy” went to.

6. Establish routines

I look at this one two ways, because I had to establish routines of both When I ate, as well as What I ate.

For the “When”, I decided after a lot of research that things needed to change. I HAD to eat breakfast every day (which I never did before), and I also wanted to incorporate some snacks into my routine. It’s been said that this maximizes the chances of success, and god knows I needed all the help I could get. So I started eating breakfast every day. (I’ll talk about what in a second), and I scheduled in a mid morning and mid afternoon snack as well. It has helped to keep me full and satisfied all day and has worked out well for me thus far, so I’m sticking to it.

And as for the “What”; well, I am self-admitted creature of habit. Especially in situations like this where I am making changes and trying to achieve specific goals while eating. I find a few solutions that accomplish what I am trying to do and ride them out as long as I can. For example: I knew I had to eat breakfast. I am not, however a big fan of getting any less sleep than I already do, so it had to be quick and easy, and preferably able to be eaten in the car as I drive to work. Say what you want, this is real life, folks. I needed it to be as low-impact, time-wise as humanly possible. Allow me to introduce the smoothie. It allows for variations in flavors, but the basic concept is always the same, some milk, some yogurt and a whole lot of fruit. They are fast, taste really good, and best of all, I can hold it in one hand. I have also gotten addicted to Clif Bars. They are an energy bar that is made from soy and oats, are organic and taste a whole hell of a lot better than that description would ever make you think it would. Plus, it’s an energy bar, so it gives you a little kick in the ass, too. So the breakfast for me is a Clif Bar and a smoothie. Every damn day. And you know what? I love it. Not just saying that, for real. I don’t want to wax poetic here about the mundane details of all my new eating habits, I just wanted to give an example. If you DO have any questions about what/when/how I am eating now, feel free to ask and I can go on at length about it…I also have one particular lunch spot that is absolutely awesome, but I am planning a post in the very near future all about them, so I won’t really launch into it now. (but if you get the chance and you don’t already know, check out Bryn and Dane’s: www.brynanddanes.com)

7. Exercise

If you really want to get serious and see results faster, you’re going to have to move that ass. I am not saying you cannot lose weight through diet alone. I have a friend who has done some pretty amazing things through changing his eating habits; but that being said the amount of calories you can burn through exercise can give you a great boost on the scale, not to mention the impact it has on your fitness level. (also not to mention your mental well-being too. For me it’s great stress relief and gives me a chance to just “unplug” for a little bit) It really helped me in a number of ways. I burned a ton of calories, it helped me on the scale, and I generally felt better about myself. Especially when I started to see some progress in my body and fitness level. It made me feel like I was doing good things and making actual forward motion. It’s amazingly motivating to know that all the sweat and pain are going towards some real tangible benefits.

I know that I have used running, so that’s where I always fall back to, but what works for me may not be what’s best for you. The running is not the point, per se. If you can’t run, or don’t like to run, or whatever, then don’t run. Do the elliptical, ride a bike, walk, go swimming…whatever. Just get yourself active and burn some calories. Build up your cardiovascular and you’ll feel better about yourself and what you can do. Again, it is great for you on a couple different levels, and insanely motivating once you start making some gradual progress.

8. Have a plan, and then re-assess as needed

This one could also be titled “Don’t be too proud to change”.

I am a huge proponent of setting out a plan. It’s the way I work best, gives you a goal to work towards, and makes commitments you need to live up to. It gives everything a more formal feeling and forces you to do enough research to actually formulate the plan in the first place. It requires you to think ahead and I feel like it keeps me on track. So here’s where my advice gets contradictory. I’m sitting here telling you to set a plan and stick to it. Be dedicated and don’t waver.

I am now also going to tell you to not be so proud or set in your ways that you can’t change the plan once it’s set. Things are going to happen. It’s just the way it is. The best laid plans are completely doomed to be blown into bits, for any number of reasons. Perfect example: in my original plan, I was all set to run a 10K in mid-may. In theory, it was perfect. I had enough time to follow the running plan and work my way into that distance. A couple of weeks before the race, I realized that there was absolutely no way in hell I was going to be able to do it. I just was not even close to the distance. So I had to take my pride and put it on the shelf, re-assess and change up the schedule. Not only that, but real life has a tendency to get in the way as well. The 5K that I was looking forward to the most I had to cancel on the day of because my daughter came down really sick the night before. I really wanted to be there, but that little girl is the most important thing (and the reason I am running in the first place), so what can you do? Shit happens. The best we can do is deal with it, remember the end goal and keep on moving.

So be structured, stick to it, but don’t be so structured that you can’t mix it up…

9. Eat more often

This sounds counter-productive. I should clarify. Plan your meals to include some small, responsible snacks to help get you through. Some people can go all in and split things up evenly so they are eating 6 equal, smaller meals a day. I tried it once or twice, but I am more of a “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” kind of guy. Just feels more normal to me, so I’ll eat breakfast on the way into work (6:30-6:450 ish), then around 10:00 I’ll have an apple or orange or something like that, just to hold me over till lunch. Around noon/ 12:30-ish I’ll do lunch, and then another piece of fruit or a handful of nuts like Pistachios and some cheese around 3. Again, nothing crazy, just something to hold me over till dinner. Dinner in the evening and then some sort of dessert at night. It may not seem like a huge difference, but the extra snacks in the day that may take a little away a little from the size of the “big” meals go a long way in terms keeping you full. That, and it makes you think ahead. I really believe the more you are thinking ahead, the more planning you are doing (whether you want to or not), and the better your chances of success.

10. Drink a lot of water

A lot. I mean a shit ton of water. I’m sure there are studies out there that can cite the specific reasons why it’s so good for you, but I have always just been a big water drinker because I like it. Once I heard all the reports telling me to drink 8 glasses a day, I was already on board that train; no need to justify why I was doing it to be honest with you. I am not familiar with these specific reasons why it’s so good, but I loosely know that I feel like it keeps things moving in my system, I stay hydrated, and it helps me to feel full. If I am ever feeling like I want to eat a little something, often times I can knock back a bottle of water and next thing you know I’m feeling full again. I’m not suggesting that you go chugging water for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not telling you this as a full-time weight loss strategy; but as a part of a reasonably planned daily regiment, its good and it worked for me. I have been assured, however, that this is a very important step in the weight loss process. So do it. If you really need me to, I’ll look up the reasons why it’s so good for you and report back later, but for now, just do it. Get those 8 glasses in. Yes, you’ll pee a lot; but I’ll take the trade off of peeing a lot for losing pounds and inches any day.

11. Celebrate the victories

(Not with food, you’re not a dog*)

* I wish I made that up myself, but I read it a long time ago on a motivational website called http://www.believe-toachieve.tumblr.com, and have been holding onto it waiting for the perfect time to break it out…this was that perfect time

The road you are heading down is a big deal. You are going to be working hard at it and it’s not one of those things where you can work on it for a couple of hours a day and then forget about it. Oh no, this is a 24/7 effort you are going to be putting forth, please remember to reward yourself when you hit the milestones. It’s important. But don’t do it with food. One of my hurdles that I learned to overcome was that the way we celebrated anything and everything was with food. A dinner date with Jenn, the family all together at a restaurant, friends over to watch the game, it all revolved around food. When I hit 100 pounds, I got myself a new pair of running sneakers. I wasn’t technically at the mileage to justify a new pair quite yet, but as a way to pat myself on the back, I ordered them up anyway.

You do the same for yourself, it will help to keep you going when times get tough, make you appreciate the milestones a little more, and also give you a tangible reminder to the milestone itself. (my blue running shoes that I love so much are my “100 pound shoes”)

12. Prepare. It’s all about preparation.

So here’s the deal. Eating crappy foods is easy, and it’s cheap. But it’s also what put the fat on my ass in the first place. I like to think that this is the universe’s cruel trick. I’m not sure why it is so much more labor intensive and expensive to eat healthy choices, but that is the way that it is and I don’t make the rules, I just find ways to make the best of the situation at hand. I would rather pay more for good, healthy food and have to make it myself than get the cheap unhealthy stuff that can come in volume. For example, who really needs a container of cheese puffs as big as a bongo drum?

With all this purchased, healthy food, you have to take the time to prep it all. But again, doing this is making you plan things out, and be cognizant of what you are putting in your mouth. Now I’m a planner by nature but it’s really good to know the “what” and “when” I am going to be eating so I can take a calculated approach and plan out my day accordingly. I am all about making things easier on myself, because the more I plan it out and then get it prepped, the less time I have to think about it and the more likely I am to stay on track. It’s a way to stay in control and focused. If you are preparing things in advance, both mentally with a plan and physically with the actual food itself, you are taking control of things and leaving less up to chance. The less you leave up to chance, the more unknown variables you can cut out, then the better off you will be and the less likely you will be to go off track. I can generally tell you on any given night what I will have for breakfast and lunch (and often dinner as well) the following day. It’s the stuff like that that keeps me on track.

Now I know all this represents a major change in both mindset and daily day-to-day actions. Do I think that if you need to drop 10 pounds you need to adopt all of this and make radical changes to your lifestyle? No. But bear in mind all I can do is convey the experiences that I went through and I’m coming from the perspective of someone who had drop over 100 pounds.

For me, it was a scenario of drastic times call for drastic measures. I knew I had to change things up, because continuing to do what I had always done was not an option, since doing that is what got me fat in the first place.

I am not claiming to be an expert, a doctor, a nutritionist, or anything else (see below), other than a guy who has been through the process and wants to share my story and help others as they try to do the same thing.

(Disclaimer: I want to say that I am in no way a professional, expert, or any other form of authority on the matters of food, exercise, and weight loss. I can only relay my experiences and opinions. I know -and stress- that these are my personal opinions and experiences and realize that in all likelihood they are unique to me and me alone. Since everyone is different, everyone can and probably will have a different experience and have success using what works for their unique circumstance. Do not take my words as a replacement for a doctor’s opinion)

I hope any or all of this helps, in any way possible.

Until next time, Take it easy.

Andy