My Weight Loss (and Gain) Storylines

I sort of realized as I’m typing this that there were so many factors in me gaining weight.  I decided to break this up into two parts.  Part I is like the foundation of my weight gain.  Part II will be the weight loss portion.  Sorry for the long read.

Part I, Weight Gain

When I was in high school I wasn’t involved in much.  I tried skateboarding, but I wasn’t into breaking bones as easily as my friends were. It was almost like a rite of passage, the skating kids wouldn’t include you if you didn’t break your arm attempting to pull off a fakie backside off their homemade box ramp.  I just found myself wanting to ride my bike or attempt skating and surfing. Needless to say, I wasn’t the star athlete of my hometown, I was just a regular teen just finding my place in life.

As a teen I never struggled with weight or body image, I was tall, lean, and always active. It wasn’t until I started dating my wife that we both discovered we had shared a love of many things, one most important: FOOD.

We never ate at home, all of our meals were either fast food, diner, or chain restaurants. We ate what we wanted whenever we wanted.  I went from being a lanky 168 lbs. to 200 lbs. in what seemed like overnight.  None of my clothes fit and I started to become very self-conscious and started building a negative body image.  I would try to hide behind bulky jackets and clothing during the cooler months and then squirm with self-doubt and discomfort in the warmer months.  I avoided my picture being taken and stayed away from anything that would draw attention to me.  Aside from my marriage and two wonderful children, nothing else seemed to ever go right.  I had no confidence, and no spine when it came to being bullied at work.  My co-workers and superiors had zero confidence in me and I was belittled and pushed into a corner.  I just assumed this was my place in life.

The only outlet I had I was being involved with the local volunteer fire company and would regularly attend weekly training exercises and drills.  I remember my skewed thought process when it came to physical fitness and wellness.  I thought one night of intense activity was my healthy gateway to justify eating garbage throughout the rest of the week.

“I thought one night of intense activity was my healthy gateway to justify eating garbage throughout the rest of the week.”

Then it happened, well two things happened: First, it was like I had something to prove, I obtained firefighting certification after firefighting certification and just never felt satisfied.  I was missing out on my young family’s early milestones and my wife and I hit a really rough patch in our relationship.  Second, I wasn’t feeling good, I was always sick, always out of breath and just tired all the time. One night during RIT (rapid intervention team) training I was the lucky firefighter that got the role of “victim” or “downed firefighter” and had to be rescued by my peers.  As I felt my fellow team members struggle to rescue me (my weight: 260 lbs plus the added weight of fire gear: 80+ lbs), I came to the scary realization that had this been a real scenario, we all would have been dead.

That’s when I knew, something had to change.  And here’s the thing about change; it can’t be comfortable or easy.  When you make a comfortable and easy change, you are setting yourself up for failure.  When you make a change, commit to the new process and don’t look back!

“… here’s the thing about change; it can’t be comfortable or easy.  When you make a comfortable and easy change, you are setting yourself up for failure.  When you make a change, commit to the new process and don’t look back!”

First, my work was a toxic environment, the management there was inadequate at best, and the atmosphere didn’t make it any better.  I was killing myself for mediocre pay and thought working overtime was the key to making a healthy living.  My boss would play mind-games with me and belittle my contributions.  I was reminded on a weekly basis how much I cost the company, and how it would be cheaper for them to outsource my work.  I was constantly in fear of losing my job.  Being in a constant state of worry led to stress eating and mentally just wore me out.  I was tired all the time and was starved for energy.  I would consume 2-3 energy drinks a day, eat fast food and candy (because it was convenient and easily obtained), and actually thought smoking would help curb cravings.  I even took caffeine pills on a few occasions to stay awake at work and dabbled in weight loss pills to help control my eating habits.

People, are you reading what I’m writing?! Looking back, I must have been mental!  There were so many warning signs that after 5 years of slogging it out, making the decision to quit was long overdue.  When I left that job, I weighed somewhere in the ballpark of 260+ lbs., I say ballpark because I refused to weigh myself because I knew the number would bring me down.

Part II, Weight Loss

Let’s take a look at a few things:  It wasn’t until I left my crappy, toxic career behind and decided to embark on a new journey, that I discovered a few life lessons.

Life Lessons Learned:
Lesson 1. Get rid of toxicity in your life!  Whether it be a nagging boss, negative influencers in your life, so-called “friends”, watching the news, social media, think about what brings you down and let it go.  Then take a moment and think about who you want to be.  Then surround yourself with like-minded people and take the first step in what I like to call a lifestyle cleanse.

Lesson 2. You can’t outwork a bad diet.  One night of intense physical activity is not enough to keep you in shape.  On the same token, smoking, or popping pills, or weight loss gimmicks are nothing but smoke and mirrors.  Ditch the gimmicks and commit to something more tangible and real.  Join a gym and meet with a trainer to develop a fitness program.  I stress, fitness program, and not weight loss program because you need to change your mindset and not view this as a once-and-done program.  This is a lifestyle change.

Lesson 3. Pardon my French, but EAT REAL FUCKING FOOD! Stop eating junk, stop eating what’s convenient and fast, and start eating shit you can pronounce! The simpler the ingredients the better.  Veggies are your friend, and friends help you out and lift you up.  Ditch the crap and start investing in your health with real food.

Lesson 4.  Love and encourage your partner.  So much of my success comes from the love and support of my wife.  Together we supported each other’s goals and together we’ve accomplished great things.  Take a moment and express gratitude for what/who makes you feel good and do what you can to reciprocate that positive energy.

Lesson 5. Do what you love.  Running can be a love/hate relationship and I find the more I run, the more I appreciate this lifelong friend.  We have our ups and downs, and we learn from one another – just like life. Live and learn and don’t give up what you love.

Advertisements

iCare 5k

Every year a nearby food bank hosts a 5k almost in our backyard. Blessings of Hope has a huge yard sale, auction, food vendors, activities for kids, and of course a 5k race in beautiful Lancaster County. The company is predominantly Mennonite so it attracts the local Amish and Mennonite community at large. Turn out is always HUGE.

This year the 5k drew a much larger crowd as well. The course was the same as the previous year, a nice easy run on the back roads of Amish Country. There is a slight incline, at the very start, but for the most part it’s nothing too crazy and very runner friendly.

At the very beginning I noticed a lot of kids hanging around the starting line- in fact there were a lot of kids and I thought how fun it will be to blow past them at the half way mark. The announcer’s voice boomed over the handheld speaker as she yelled “GO!” and we were off. Truth be told: those Amish kids took off and I didn’t see a single one after that. Even though my first mile was complete in 7 minutes, and my second mile at 7:20, those kids were fast and long gone.

The course was beautiful as always, and the atmosphere and iCare event was a lovely experience. Even though I hit a few PRs, fastest mile (7:11), fastest 2 miles (14:31), I still finished 25th overall. I placed 3rd in my age group and received a fidget spinner medal- all-in-all, it was pretty fun.

Last year I ran a lot slower, with an average of 9:00 min/miles and placed 2nd in my age group. So this year I’d say the amount of competitors was a lot higher and the skill levels were just as high to match. This is a fast course and we saw some really fast times! Looking forward to next year!

The Hard Cider Run Returns!

Feels like I’m a little late to the game, but we’re registered for the upcoming Gettysburg Hard Cider Run! This race is a must on our list of semi-local races.  The course has its challenges, from steep inclines to rapid descents… not to mention running through a vineyard, it is 100% awesome.

Speaking of 100% awesome, if you’d like to register, be sure to sign up HERE and join in the fun. Let us know if you’re going to be there and we’ll be sure to have some cider with you!

These are a few of my favorite things – Part II

Race day is a very exciting day, in my early experience I would show up, dressed and ready to run.  Part way through the race, I was itching for an aid station for a drink, or some boost to keep me going.  This would often slow me down – ever try to grab a water from an aid station with hundreds of other runners?  Yeah, no thanks.  It wasn’t until I started to prepare for my races that I really started to enjoy the process.  Arriving prepared, not just in gear alone, can make a race day experience so much better.  5K races I generally treat as fun runs without much fuss, but on long-distance runs, and races over the 10-mile mark I generally start to think about fuel on the go.

Please keep in mind these product reviews are entirely my own, my own experiences, tastes, preferences, and do not express the views of the manufacturer. Please proceed with caution, individual results will vary.  While I have an ambassadorship with Honey Stinger, the best in sports fuel in the industry, I developed this list prior to joining them so there is a bit of a variety.

In this post, I want to focus on two things: Gel and Hydration Race necessities.
Continue reading

This week in FOOD

Since my last post we’ve been busy cooking up all kinds of awesomeness in the kitchen. And by “we”, I mean my wife- shout out to her for constantly changing the game, finding and creating amazing dish after dish.

First up, let me pause and praise the Holy Enchilada Spirit for bestowing upon us this greatness. These Venison Salsa Verde Enchiladas did not last long in our house.

Look at this amazing dish! Black beans and a homemade Mex-mix paired well with our enchiladas. I went the extra mile and topped mine with some Green Chile sauce I scored at Trader Joe’s! Recipe can be found on the Beyond 24 Days blog: Venison Chili Verde Enchiladas

Next up, and if you didn’t know by now, BREAKFAST is clutch and this Vegan Pancake recipe we found takes the crown as king. I think I mentioned this before, but we are 90% Vegetarians that dabble in vegan meals and on occasion consume meal (that’s another topic altogether). With that said, yes, those are eggs accompanying our vegan pancakes.

For the recipe, and ingredients for the amazing Apple Compote that topped those delicious flap jacks, check out the post on Dairy and Egg-Free Pancakes for more details.

Last up is an amazing vegan tetrazzini chock full of awesomeness. The mushrooms and peas in the masterpiece made the dish pop. I had warmed these leftovers for lunch after our long run and couldn’t think of a more satisfying and delicious meal.

For the recipe rundown and more, check the post Vegan Tetrazzini

As always, thanks for looking! And remember if you have some recipes you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below!

Honey Stinger Ambassador

First off, Thank you Honey Stinger for allowing me to represent your brand. I’m beyond stoked for this opportunity and already planning out the rest of my year. I look forward to sharing my experiences with your products with everyone I meet. That is the short and sweet of things. [Insert celebratory shouting and fireworks here]

Continue reading