Friday, November 12, 2010

The Switch - Part 2

Wow, it's been along time coming for this post. This one has been a long one in the making. While I always knew what I wanted to write for part 2, I had yet to experience it. Now I have. At some point in the past year, the switch that I referred to in part 1 went back to being off. It has taken me since then to start to turn it back on. It's not quite all the way there yet but I've made good progress.

They always tell you that the hardest part about losing weight is keeping it off. Now I know that's true. I don't know why I didn't get it before. I've seen plenty of people lose weight only to put some or all of it back on within a couple years. Common sense tells you that you got the weight off, it should be a no brainer to keep it off. What did me in is the holidays. Not that I just let myself loose to eat everything in sight but I decided I wasn't going to worry about watching my calories or getting in regular exercise sessions until after New Years. Then I would get back on track and make up any ground that I had lost. The problem was, after New Years, I hadn't lost any ground. I was the same weight I was going into December with considerably less effort and a much more satisfied palette.

After that it was a down hill slide. My wife has been very good about getting me motivated and keeping me active but she always had resistance from me whenever she would offer to watch our son while I go workout for an hour and a half. I'm not quite sure what my trigger was this time but I've come to terms with my slide and have started to climb back up the hill. Ultimately, in the last couple of months, I've gained about 15 pounds. I'm now working on getting that off and more but the determination seems to be back. If only I could figure out what got it back, then I could keep it going. Oh well. I'm just going to ride this wave as long as I can. Maybe this time I can figure out a way to keep that switch in the on position and I'm going to start by keeping my routine going through the holidays this time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Switch - Part 1

Whenever I meet someone new and they find out about my weight loss, or if I run into someone I haven't seen in a while, I inevitably get the same question.   How did you do it?  As time has gone on, and after fielding this question more times than I can count, it has really started to get annoying.  I know it's just my own neurosis that sets me off, but if you think about it, it's really an obvious answer: diet and exercise.  Ten bucks says you've never heard that those two things can lead to weigh loss.(sarcasm)

I know that in this day and age, when someone loses a significant amount of weight, say over 100 pounds, one of the increasingly common methods is surgery.  This is the one reason why I calmly answer the question instead of berating those who ask me.  I'm not a big fan of surgery but I'll save that for another post.

So, you might be wondering, what should people be asking?  The question isn't how you lost the weight, but why.  The reality is that people have pretty much always known, whether you want to admit it or not, how to go about losing weight.  It's all over the media or any information you read regarding healthy living or weight loss, unless its for one of those diet pills or supplements I suppose.  The thing that changes is why you finally start following what everyone has been saying versus ignoring them and living life the way you want to.

Along with weight loss, there was one other major change I've made in my life with regards to health: quitting smoking.  I was a regular smoker for about 12 years.  A couple years before I started losing weight, I quit smoking cold turkey.  Now here is where you should ask why as I've already told you how.  For me, the answer is to help someone else.  My girlfriend at the time, soon to become my wife, had wanted to quit and she asked me one weekend, over a cigarette, if she would quit smoking, would I.  I said sure.  At that point, I was bound and determined not to smoke.  I had flipped the switch in my brain that told me I really don't need to anymore, even though at the time I still enjoyed the habit.  The point is that there is something in your life, some experience or epiphany, that happens that makes you set your mind to accomplishing what you want.  That goes for quitting smoking, losing weight, picking your nose or whatever.  I guess that adds one more thing to the 'how' answer, which is determination.

Now to the weight loss.  If you've watched my Today show video, there is a brief description in the overview about what the trigger was for me.  To be honest, those were the straws that broke the camels back.  You see, my switch had been flipping for years, but one doctors visit and one experience with a morning routine was what pushed it all the way over.  After that, diet and exercise were easy to get motivated for.  The switch had finally been flipped.

More to come with The Switch - Part 2.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Running: How I Hate You...or Do I?

Four years ago I couldn't take a nice stroll around the block without my feet hurting.  It took a while but as I got out more and more, my feet could handle longer distances.  Before I knew it, I actually ran a full mile without stopping.  What a day that was.  My first 5K run was an exciting morning.  All those people going at the same time.  It certainly pushes you harder.  All those feelings were relatively short lived.

About a year after the 5K, I quickly lost interest in running.  Through pain and repetition, I started to grow weary.  It got to the point where I would loath going for a run.  Shit, I still do.  Just the thought of it is enough to send me to the couch with a bag of chocolate covered pretzels.  Fortunately, I was able to explore other alternatives that allowed me to keep up on exercise, else things would have surely got poorly in the weight loss department.

The last couple years, like jilted lovers, running and I have grown farther and farther apart.  It's the end of February and this year I'm currently averaging 1 run a month.  Last year I was doing about once a week.  Something has changed recently, however.

A couple months back I had done some reading about barefooting.  It's essentially doing all the same activities but with no shoes on.  My personal philosophy regarding footwear is 'The less I have on my feet, the better.'  I spend most of the time in the warmer months barefoot and a good chunk of the cooler months too.  In reading about barefoot activites, I came across a link to Vibram Fivefinger shoes.  I was a little skeptical at first but after reading through a mountain of reviews, I was starting to yearn for my own pair.  When I started looking into how much they cost and seeing time and again that nearly every retailer was out of stock, I wanted them even more.

Finally, I found a place in Michigan that had the size and color that I wanted.  When I got them and put those things on, I knew immediately that I had a new favorite shoe.  Being someone with wide, flat feet, walking around knock kneed, all I've heard when shoe shopping is all about arch support.  Vibrams have no support.  They are pretty much like a foot condom.  They make running on man made surfaces easily bearable and give you better traction but it truly does feel like you are running barefoot.  Recently I finally took in them that would put my feet's endurance to the test.  A nice little 4.6 miler with my wife as she trains for her next half marathon.  I was amazed at how I felt on this run.  As soon as I started feeling a little pain on my feet from the impact, adjustments to my stride would occur naturally.  I ran better and easier than I ever had.  I was actually getting excited again about running.  Granted you use some slightly different muscles when running barefoot so you have to get used to it.  My calf muscles and I had a long talk afterward.  We're back on speaking terms now.

I'm not sure when I'll get back out there running on a regular basis again but I can honestly tell you now that I won't be dreading the boredom or monotony, at least not for a while.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Enter The Norman

Any of you who have known me for a long time might know me by my old internet persona and image, that of  That site has been down for sometime and over the last several years, my life has changed quite a bit.  Going from a bachelor with nothing to spend my money on but fun to a married home owner with a wife, son and 2 dogs has been a great journey. 

One of the central themes around my life that has replaced boozing and partying (man, sometimes I miss those days though) is exercising and trying to get in shape.  I've gone from weighing nearly 400 pounds during the summer of 2006 to the mid 230's.  While I've been hanging out there for a while, the time has come for another push to make it down to under 220.  Funny how much harder I have to work to lose 20 pounds now versus 50 pounds 3 years ago.  For those of you that haven't seen it, you can see the change as documented on NBC's Today show.  While you might think I would have a healthy exercise routine bashed into my head by now, I don't.  I truly love just lounging around on the couch watching TV or dinking around on the internet doing all sorts of random things.

Initially, I started running as my main form of fitness but I found that I just got bored way too easy.  Last summer, I started cycling again after a 20 year hiatus.  That, I must say, has been a blast.  So much so that I have registered for the Seattle to Portland classic, a 204 mile ride over 2 days.  My longest ride so far has been 35 miles.  That hasn't been too bad but I shudder to think what my butt is going to feel like after sitting on a bike seat for 50+ miles.

Anyway, I am hoping to keep up with my growth and experiences through this blog.  As my beautiful wife will tell you, I am great at starting things but not always sticking to them.  Hopefully this won't be one of those things.