Friday, November 27, 2009

Healthy attitudes about food

Although I got through Thanksgiving without ANY damage on the scale, (that's right, holding steady just 3 pounds away from the 270's) reading through some of the content in my next level of Calorie King, really has me thinking about my incorrect attitudes towards food. Yesterday was a good example. To be honest, going into yesterday's Thanksgiving celebration, I was DREADING sitting down to all that food. I played the whole thing out in my mind in the days leading up to it as a "battle". Thanksgiving dinner is the enemy and I was either going to be able to avoid it or I was going to leave and go to Subway. :)

According to Calorie King, these are unhealthy attitudes towards food and actually make weight loss and weight control more difficult. CK suggests several general guidelines for a healthy attitude towards food. One is to "respect my food". Food is there to nourish my body and provide fuel for all the things I want to do in life, like being a good father, and doing a good job at work, and running.

Second, I shouldn't "resent" food or see it as a problem that needs to be overcome. I can enjoy my food and enjoy mealtime. I always thought of my best memories growing up being around food and mealtime and considered this to be problematic and one of the main reason I overeat. Church picnics, family get-togethers, even dinnertime with my mom and dad, big meals on Sunday afternoon followed by a nap...these are NOT bad things. I can still enjoy these times and stay in control of my food. And it won't send me into a tailspin to indulge in a reasonable portion of a special treat now and then. For example, yesterday, I enjoyed a piece of what's known in my family simply of "Nana's chocolate dessert thing." Having a piece of that and in a little way remembering Nana and Thanksgiving's growing up and how I felt loved and how I belonged to a family. How in the world could any of that possibly be a bad thing?

CK also states the obvious. They say to be the "boss" of my food. For so long, food has had control over me instead of the other way around. And finally, be creative. Jan and I did some of this yesterday. We improved on tradition and did something different for our Thanksgiving feast. We had a BIG, beautiful fruit tray to snack on while we were finishing up the final tasks for the main meal. Jan also put some mixed nuts and dried cranberries out which is a great way to get a head start on feeling satiated before the main meal. Instead of indulging in my HIGH fat garlic mashed potatoes, I roasted a simple pan of sweet potatoes with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a sprinkle of olive oil. It was scrumptious. So, be creative.

So, while I'm working on healthy food, I'm also going to be thinking about having healthy attitudes towards food.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I finished my first marathon on Jan 14, 2007 in 6:48:30. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I thought I killed a lot of giants that day. Unfortunately, some of them were just playing possum, living to fight another day. I spent much of the end of 2007 and 2008 giving back all the ground I had gained. It was just a little over a year ago that I realized (again) that I am actually in a WAR. It's a spiritual war, an emotional war, psychological, and physical war. I'll tell you one thing, I'm ready for the war to be over.

I do believe I am at war. I do believe my adversary is as real as they come, more real than any flesh and blood or temporal opponent that we face here. And I believe he wants to destroy me and he'll use everything in his arsenal to accomplish that and to prevent me from becoming the man that God created me to be. One of the strategies the adversary uses is to create strongholds in our mind, incorrect thinking patterns that take hold of us and affect our feelings and emotions as well as how we respond to life. For me, with my health and my personal well-being it's been thinking like, "Overeating is not that bad. After all, you're a good father and husband. You work really hard and give of yourself to your family and your church. You can worry about your health later. It's just that your family enjoys eating and it's really just good family time to go out and eat and enjoy yourself and all the smells and tastes of good food. Your career is worth it. The stress is worth it. You just get this project done and you're going to be respected at work. The stress is worth it. Honoring God means DOING MORE!!! Take on more projects. Volunteer more at church. More, more, more!!! And your education is important, more important than your health. You have to go back to school to be in the vocation God has called you to. Work, study, sleep. When it's all finished, you'll be able to take care of you. Taking time out now to just 'take care of you' would be selfish. God has big plans for you. Hey, you have good blood pressure and good cholesterol numbers. You can't be in that bad a health. Losing weight is HARD. You can't do it alone. Your family won't eat the same things you do. They're happy being heavy. You're just putting them on a guilt trip." See how evident it is once you put it into words that this thinking is so flawed and frankly RIDICULOUS yet the adversary, some 15 years ago, saw this as a chink in my armor. It was a way he could get to me. It was an area of my life, even as a Christian, that I had not and in some respects even now surrendered completely to God.

Surrender. Now that's a word you don't hear too often when speaking of war or battle. Surrender. Give in. Cease all efforts. Seriously? You mean QUIT? Yes, the one thing about the Christian life that I find so hard and yet is the key to victory, is that the war is already won. I can try and strain and push and try and contend and contest and try and exert and labor and try and to the world, it looks like I'm a warrior. I'm a hero. I'm an inspiration. And that makes me feel good...until I realize that I'm not winning. I can't win. I have to surrender...surrender to Christ. It's not until I can completely surrender and just give it over to Him that I can have victory. You see, on the cross, Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for me. And when he rose from the dead, in an instant, he conquered gluttony, and slothfulness, and shame, and every destructive weapon the adversary uses. He conquered DEATH itself. The war is over. Any efforts on my part are in vain, useless. All I have to do is surrender all my ground, all my territory, all my life to HIM. You see, part of me wants to hold on to my own ground. This is my territory. But that's a lie. Holding on to self is nothing more than ceding to the adversary. True victory only comes through Christ. I think I'm finally realizing that, after all this time.

So, victory over obesity, over gluttony isn't just around the corner for me. It isn't something I have to strive for any more. The battle's been won. I just have to surrender and let Him finish this work in me. Man, that was easy. :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Goal Setter

I've always used Calorie King in the past as simply a food log. I've never really read the CK "program" or done the "plan". But I figured since I pay for the whole thing, I may as well read their step-by-step program and use some of their other tools besides the food diary.

One of their articles talked about setting goals. Of course I have weight loss goals but CK talks about setting other goals, specific goals about habits and lifestyle that help you get to your weight loss goals. The tool has you describe your goal, then state why the goal is important to you. You spell out the steps it will take to achieve the goal and then comes the good part. You MUST specify a REWARD for achieving your goal. Oh, and, uh, it's not a FOOD reward, people. :) You can set a frequency that you want CK to check in with you where you can record if you are on track or off track. E.g. you can check in daily or weekly, or whatever.

I set two goals using the tool.

Goal 1
To go without fast food for a month. (I'm not talking about Subway. I'm talking about KFC, Popeye's, McD's, pizza, etc. The BAAAAAAD stuff.)

Why is this goal important to you?
This is one of my biggest barriers to consistent weight loss. I think I really lack consistency. I've got to pick one thing and be consistent about it. This will prove (as I have in the past) that I have it in me to be consistent and disciplined.

What steps will you have to take to achieve this goal?
- Leave work every day with a snack.
- Run when I can in the evenings. This will make it less likely to stop for junk food.
- Have snacks in the car for after run.
- Text or call Jan/Catherine/Will when I'm tempted.
- Take water with me everywhere I go and/or keep water in my trunk.

Reward for achieving this goal
Take a day off work and go to the movies.

So, that's how it works. And every day I log into CK, I update my progress on that goal. Pretty cool. I set one other goal and that was to park on the top floor of the parking garage every day and use the stairs exclusively for the rest of the year. If I do that, I'm rewarding myself with some new running shorts. I know these are little things but the point is getting into the routine of setting goals, specific goals, writing them down, holding yourself accountable, and then rewarding yourself when you achieve your goals (with something besides food).

Rockin' the Alamo (Part 2)

Race time!!! The time FLEW by while we were waiting for the start and I was so glad that we got to the start village as early as we did. I have no idea how it went for the rest of the masses trying to get over there but my experience was stellar. I did hear that there were long lines at the shuttles but it's hard to make any judgments about the process since my experience was so good. I understood that last year was a fiasco as shuttles were still arriving 1 hour after the start of the race. I don't think that was the case this year. So if you had to wait in a long line, I think that's just the nature of running in a BIG race. If you want to park a block from the start so you can sleep in, pick another race. Or register as an elite and get escorted to the start. That may be hard.

About the only think I did differently on this run was take Endurolytes before and during the race. I really have no idea how to take these and with what frequency. I figured I'd play around with them. I took two before the race and two caps at two points during the race. More on this later.

I hit the port-a-can shortly after arriving and then again just as the lines were forming. By that time, it was starting to get light out and we were starting to see LOTS more people milling about. Even though I was starting to get excited, I tried to just calm down, relax, stay off my feet, and basically chill up until time to enter the corral. Fortunately, all the corral entrances were from the side and you could enter and exit at will. It's not like some corral starts that I've heard of where you have to enter through barriers from the rear and once you're in, you're in. In no real hurry to get in the corral, we kept our spot on the curb until we just couldn't stand it anymore. Catherine went her way and Amber and I headed over to the UPS bag drop-off trucks. Bag drop-off was very well organized. There was no wait, and it was very clear where to leave your bag. Oh, and another thing. I forgot two very important pieces of equipment, band-aids for the nips. I was really fretting about this and then I had a brilliant idea. Two words...Medical Tent. I walked up. They were eager to help me. I asked for two band-aids and the volunteer obliged. This was turning out to be a perfect day...

...Except for the weather. By 30 minutes before start, it was already in the upper 60's and quite humid. I definitely resigned myself to the fact that today was going to suck weather-wise and that no records were going to be broken. For a number of reasons including my inconsistent training in October as well as the warm and humid conditions, I knew I would get nowhere near my PR. But it is a RACE. And I don't treat races like training runs. I treat them like RACES!!! So, I reviewed in my mind what would be a reasonable expectation for a finishing time. I landed on anything under 3 hours. That's 13:45 pace for 13.1 miles.

Before we got in the corral there was enough time for another potty break. Plus, we heard the Houston Fit Fall folks were over on the baseball diamond so we went over there to wish all those peeps good luck. Elisa was being a good girl and was off her feet, getting ready for her marathon debut. Alan, Doreen, Anna, K, and a bunch of others were chillaxin' so we all did some trash talking and took some pictures and that was that.

We were still strolling around when we heard the gun sound. No hurry!!! It was another 40+ minutes before we would start and the corrals were such that you could go in and out at any time. I got a bottle of water to down my Endurolytes and we jumped in our corral. Luckily as our corral moved up, all along the starting line, there were rows of port-a-cans. Believe it or not, I had to go 3 times over the next 40 minutes before we got to the start line. I can't know for sure if it was possibly the Endurolytes or if I drank too much sitting around before the race or some combination of the two but I've never had to go so many times before a race. I'm so glad they had the potty's along the way to the start. And there were no lines at these potty's so it was a very quick jump out, do your thing, and jump back in.

The start was GREAT. I thought it would be crowded but they let a minute or so lapse between corrals and it spread people out. I never at any time felt crowded or jammed up. Of couse at some of the turns, EVERYONE wants to take the shortest route but I kind of just picked my line got through. Amber and I were running together and had little trouble running side by side. When it was time to pass, we just took turns taking the lead through the gaps.

I took it real easy on miles 1 and 2 and still managed right at my goal pace, 13:42 and 13:41 respectively according to the Garmin. After getting warmed up, 13:13 and 13:26 min/mi pace felt really easy for miles 3 and 4. I lost about a minute and a half on mile 5 due to another required restroom stop. The port-a-potty's on the course ALL had lines so I scoped out an opportune place to duck behind an abandoned building, out of sight of course and took care of business. Also, before finishing mile 5, one of the GREATEST cheering sections of all times was positioned on the sidelines. Evidently, one of the local nursing homes brought out around 20 or so of their residents and they were on the sidelines cheering us on. It was such an inspiration to me that just about EVERY runner stopped their run, came over to the side and for a brief moment, in such a small way, touched the lives of those sweet souls. You should have seen the smiles on their faces. The fact is they touched MY life even more. I fought back a few tears as I crossed the 5 mile mark in 15:07.

Mile 6 was 13:10. There was a pretty nice, gradual hill in mile 7 and I decided to walk up it instead of burning out which resulted in a 14:24. When I got back to level ground, I knocked out a 13:24. I was feeling a little fatigued but stayed strong through mile 9. I ended up seeing Jan and stopped for a smooch and some chit chat and lost a little under a minute on my target pace but no worries. At around mile 10, I started walking some and shortly after that, pretty much lost it. I got nauseated at a water stop and wondered if it was from the Endurolytes back at mile 7 or what.

Once I realized sub-3 was out of reach, I kind of lost it mentally. Don't get me wrong. I was going hard and I DID leave it all out there but it was tough mentally. I have to admit there were a lot of negative thoughts swirling around in there. The last couple of miles, I did play the "I'm running to that stop light" game and I did make it to every waypoint as I promised myself. Miles 11 and 12 were in the 16's but I dug deep and picked up my pace a full minute for mile 13 and ended my finished the last stretch (.1) at around 14:30 pace. My finish time was 3:12:18.

There was a lot to take in at the finish. I almost walked past my medal. My legs were really cramping and my right let was twitching and cramping. I got my medal and a COLD towel and proceeded with the rest of traffic into the finish line area. There was really a ton of food, everything you could possibly want but I was feeling like crap. I managed to smile for our picture but that was it. I walked past ALL the goodies and was just looking for a place to sit down. They didn't want us sitting down until we got through the food area so I kept moving. I did come across what sounded good to me and that was chocolate milk. I grabbed a bottle and it was good. Could have been colder. All I could think about now was walking back to the hotel and how hard that was going to be.

Amber and I got our bags and I cop'd a squat for a few. I got up and headed toward the exit. Unfortunately, we had to go DOWN 2 flights of stairs and then back UP two flights of stairs to get out of the Alamodome complex. My right let was really cramping up. If it wasn't my calf, it was my shin. It really hurt. Good thing is I actually loosened up a little once we got onto Market St. and started the walk back to the hotel. I made it back to the hotel and was never happier to have a place to SIT down than when I got to the room. It was HEAVENLY.

The only thing left in this report is Lessons Learned...stay tuned.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rockin' the Alamo (Part 1)

Jan and I just drove in from a fun-filled weekend of romance in San Antonio (oh, and throw in a little HALF MARATHON for good measure). Yep, between a whole lot of smoochin' which constituted by far the highlight of my weekend, I spent Sunday morning in less than ideal weather conditions, running the San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon.

I'm not going to report on all our extracurricular activities. Those are for us to keep to ourselves. But I will give a race report. My goal for this race was frankly to finish and more importantly, I was going to use this as a dry run for Houston. In this respect, I'd say I considered Sunday's effort a success. In the back of my mind, though, I really did want to break 3 hours. And that goal was really a fall-back goal, knowing the weather was going to suck. Still, I wasn't as worried as much about my time as I was just practicing my race weekend routine.

We hit packet pick-up and the Expo on Friday afternoon which ended up being a good call. It took about 3 minutes to pic up my packet, get my shirt, and make it into the expo. It was a lot of fun having Jan with me. It's something I've really missed since I started running and now with Jan's recent interest in health and fitness, she really got into being at the expo. Unfortunately (or fortunately), when Jan gets "into" something, it usually means spending money. :) The FIRST booth we hit at the expo, Jan picked up a really cool, stretchy waistband pouch that can hold a BUNCH of stuff. The guy working the booth pulled out like 5 Gu's his driver's license and a credit card, and his iPod. Anyway, I have to admit, it really was cool. We hit the Rider sandals booth where I was going to pick up a new pair of flip flops to flop around with after workouts and races. I got my pair and then met up with Jan and looked in her bag. She bought TWO pair. O-K!!! Glad you're excited, dear. She ended up with a couple tech shirts, and a 18 month subscription to Women's Running magazine. Anyway, I'm glad we went on Friday because from what we heard, a lot of stuff was gone on Saturday. For example, we got a big stack of Subway coupons at the Subway booth. On Saturday, they were all gone. :) Subway anyone?

Friday night we had a wonderful visit with Jan's cousin and his family who live in San Antonio. They made a runner-friendly dinner for us with baked chicken, salad, and a nice vegetable casserole with potatoes and shrimp. We got back to the hotel and got a GREAT night's sleep.

Saturday morning, Jan slept in while I went on the hunt for the nearest Starbucks which ended up being just 2 blocks from the Westin where we were staying. It was so nice sitting down on the Riverwalk, enjoying my coffee, texting and Facebooking on the cell phone. While I was sitting there, who walks by but Jon Bingham, "The Penguin" himself. We chatted only briefly as I figured he was busy and I failed to get a picture with him. Stupid!!!

The goal the rest of Saturday was to stay off my feet as much as possible so we lounged around the hotel until lunch. We found a Subway on the map just a few blocks from us so we walked on over. On the way, we found a deli that was doing a lot of business. It's called Shilo's and it turned out to be a great find. The split pea soup was to die for. We walked back to the hotel with really nothing else planned for the rest of the day. We did want to hit the expo one more time to see some Houston peeps that came in on Saturday. We headed back for another round and hit pay dirt. Walking in, I ran into a couple friends from work. We saw Felix, Will, Anne, Jill, Laura, Anna, Ralph, Doreen, Catherine, Amber, Chance, and a bunch of others. We met some other folks from Houston. Some people from Clear Lake recognized my USA 10-miler shirt and we chatted for a while. Of course, Jan bought some more stuff.

We met up with Steve and his family for dinner and an average restaurant, not one I'd frequent again, but at least I got a light dinner in me and some good water. I finalized with Amber and Catherine our plans for the morning. Catherine suggested we beat the crowd and I'm glad we did. We left the hotel at 4:30 and were on what was probably the first shuttle over to the start village. We arrived with LOTS of time to rest and relax and talk trash before the start. I'll take that any day over fighting crowds and stressing out wondering if you're going to get there in time. The 3 of us found a curb and cop'd a squat on PRIME real estate. We were just across from the port-a-cans, a hop, skip, and a jump from our starting corral, although Catherine's corral was just a wee bit close to the start than corral 25. We were right next to our own trash can, and front row to what ended up being a very entertaining show. See, we were seated right in front of a speed bump and we were in stitches. As people would walk by, almost without fail, they would stumble over that bump. All these graceful athletes, tall, short, elites, it didn't matter. The hump was no respecter of persons. Suffice it to say, that kept us entertained for the better part of an hour and a half until it was time to start getting serious about getting ready to race.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I read an interesting nugget of sports psychology in December's Runner's World. It was one of those little sidebars that take up space after an article. The recommendation from psychologist Neal Bowes was to be process-focused rather than outcome-focused.

For example, the outcome-focused runner focuses on "a highly ambitious, perhaps unrealistic, time goal. The process-focused runner bases her time goal on "training runs and recent races. She also focuses on mind-set, pacing, fueling, and nutrition." Another example: outcome-focused runners "measure race-day success in terms of times and placing. If you miss a goal time, you feel like a failure." The processed-focused runner "measures race-day success based partly on times and placing, but also on the experience-what you can learn and how you can apply it to future races."

I'm taking this with me this weekend. My main goal for this race is to be a practice run for Houston. I'm going to take note of things like hydration on Saturday, what I eat on Friday AND Saturday, how long I spend on my feet at the expo on Saturday, what time I eat Saturday night, laying out my stuff and packing my bag, did I forget something?, bathroom breaks, getting up early, sleeping late on Saturday, all those details. And during the race, I'm going to concentrate on my effort, not my pace. I have some half marathon experience and I remember the effort it takes to not leave anything out there but still have some for those last couple miles. I want to hit that effort for this race, no matter what the final time is. One unknown I'm using for the first time is Endurolytes. I've never taken them on a run before. I got some on Thursday and I'm going to pop a couple halfway through. It looks to be a warm one so I'm thinking that sodium replacement is going to help. Of course, there's always the chance, trying something new, that it could cause me problems. If it does, I'll learn from that.

Then when it's all over, I want to PARTY. I've never really been around after a race when the middle of the pack is finishing. It's often the case that lots of people have already left by the time I cross the finish. I'm kind of glad I'm doing the half in that respect. At least some halfers will still be around and a good bulk of full marathoners will just be finishing. I'll be there for all the hoopla!!! Man, I hope I see a bunch of Houston peeps. That's going to be great.

So, we're about to get on the road. See you guys at the expo or the race. If you're not on Twitter, GET ON!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I remember when...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bill's account of his amazing 50K run last weekend. It was written very well. I started browsing my blog, randomly reviewing posts from 2006-2008 and I came to the realization that I've lost my writing skills. I actually enjoyed going back and reading some of my old posts. Some were entertaining. Others were informative. A few really expressed what I was thinking and feeling at the time. What happened? I think I must consider that Facebook, texting, cell phones, Twitter, all these modern modes of short, immediate, instantly available forms of communication have somehow dulled my communication skills, at least my skills as a writer. Like any other skill, I'm going to have to practice to get it back. Look for a lot more blog posts in the future.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

It was a LAPSE not a RELAPSE!!!

Back in 2007, after knocking down a PR at the Koala Half Marathon and finding myself well on my way to a sub-6 hour marathon in January, something happened. Work was crazy (and I mean CRAZY), I got busy, the holidays came, blah, blah, blah, . I dropped off the radar. I started gaining back all the weight I had lost. I stopped running. And spent the better part of the next year falling back into all my old habits and gaining just about ALL of the 75 pounds I had lost. I had a major RELAPSE!!!

Disgusted with myself, I got back on the wagon and have worked very hard this past year to FINISH what I started back in 2006, to get healthy and lose all this FAT. After some success, about a month ago, I started getting busy, concentrating on work, stretching myself too much, blah, blah, blah and started down the same destructive road that I traveled in 2007. I can't understand my behavior other than to just say that I'm a food addict. A compulsive eater. A self-destructor. A habitual starter who never finishes anything. I think deep down inside, I don't believe I can do it. I don't believe I can actually accomplish the goals that I've set for myself. With all this STUFF staring me down, the only thing I have going for me is my absolute disgust with where I was and how I felt back in 2007-2008. This time, fear, despair, disgust, anger, all these "Dark Side" emotions made me stop and take inventory of where I was headed. I promised myself, Jan, my kids, and God I wasn't going back there and by golly, I'm NOT!!!

So, I got some help from Catherine who is as much a life coach for me as she is my nutritionist. I got my shoes back on and got out and ran. I CLEARED my calendar of just about EVERYTHING between now and January 17 so that I can focus on my health and fitness. I let some really close friends know exactly what I'm going through. I'm pulling my support system as close to me as possible. And I'm praying. I think by God's grace that I'm back from near disaster. I'm back to HIGHLY motivated and feeling good. Looking back at this last 6 weeks, it's going to look like a blip, just a LAPSE, a temporary setback.