Posts Tagged ‘success!’

Why do you think many diets or exercise plans fail? Yes, beyond the fact that quick fixes are not sustainable. Think about what happened that last time you started a diet or made a New Year’s Resolution. You start with an end in mind – perhaps a goal to “lose a few pounds” or to “become a distance runner” someday. Let’s start with diet:

The first day, you have a modest breakfast, a healthy lunch (or so you think) and what seems like a good dinner. And do so for a week. Yet, when you step on the scale the following week, you have actually gained a pound! What could have gone wrong? It IS hard to say. Perhaps your meals weren’t as modest as you thought. Since you weren’t previously a salad eater, that “healthy” salad may have been loaded with hard-boiled egg, bacon bits, cheese, meats, rich salad dressings that were calorie dense additions to those already delicious croutons on top.

What about the running / exercising approach as a resolution. Things always go well at first, don’t they? The gyms are notoriously packed the first half of January every year. Then there seems to be a slow dwindling of the people who arrive on a regular basis. Even getting a personal trainer is not a guarantee. Some people with less limited financial resources that me can retain a trainer for a long time as someone to hold them accountable for their efforts and progress. Let me try to save you some money and point you in the right direction.

Your first visit to a personal trainer – when they are interviewing to be your trainer (aka selling you a package of training sessions) will involve a tour of all of the types of equipment in the gym. Some of those with improper form might be pointed out, noting that you have to be careful not to do a certain thing so you do not hurt your back, etc. They sit down with you in a small office and ask about your goals. This is where they do something very valuable for you: They help identify what EXACTLY you hope to accomplish. You may want to lose or gain weight, become stronger, run faster, look good in your new gym clothes, who knows, but they will ask the right questions so that you COMMIT to a future version of yourself. The really good salespeople will help you visualize this new-and-improved version of you so that you don’t know how you’d possibly leave without signing up for their ongoing assistance. I’m not saying not to do this, because I learned a lot from Kevin when he helped me about ten years ago after I lost my first 50 pounds or so. He helped me understand how to do things beyond the equipment.

If your budget doesn’t allow for such a thing, there are endless other options, but they all involve one common thing: TRACKING. Tracking just means keeping score consistently so that you can make course corrections and keep your efforts moving you towards your goal or goals. In order to know where you’re heading, you goal should be SMART. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive goals.

Here’s how it works: You goal should be specific, i.e. “I want to lose twenty pounds in five months.” You have said how much weight you want to lose, good. Not just identifying that you want to thin down a little. This goal is also measurable because you could do weekly weigh-ins and see if you are moving forward. For the goal to be achievable, that is subjective, but you will know (in your heart of hearts) if you are setting the bar too high. Remember that extreme behavior shifts are typically very difficult to sustain in the long run. Most diets that exclude certain types of food or severely restrict calories ultimately result in the weight coming back. Take small positive steps by tracking your food intake and just looking to see what things that you normally eat may be causing you to maintain a higher than healthy weight. I remember Coca-Cola being the first thing to go when I tried WW on-line. It became OBVIOUS that this was something with no nutritional value that simply added calories to my day.

Make sure your goal is relevant. If your goal is something you don’t really care about, you won’t try hard to reach it. You have to feel the need for the goal, to have a strong reason WHY you are seeking the goal in the first place. And, finally, time-sensitivity is critical to goal-setting. I’ve been down this road many times in the past. I want to lose some weight. Ugh. Let’s go back to 20 pounds in five months or 20 pounds in a year. Once you set a reasonable, attainable, period of time it becomes math and common sense to make an actionable plan.

Let’s say my goal IS to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks for the sake of keeping it simple. That would be losing one pound each week. Whoa, that sounds too scary, so I am going to say 10 pounds in 20 weeks. That means you would lose one pound in two weeks. And, like I touch on earlier, tracking what you eat with a food journal or an app or website like My Fitness Pal, can help you identify trouble spots and evaluate progress. My Fitness Pal (MFP) helps you calculate how many calories to eat to reach this goal. Here’s how it works: One pound is created when you eat an extra 3,500 calories – calories in addition to what your body requires to function based upon your size, gender and activity level. The same works in reverse. Once you have eaten 3,500 calories less than your body requires, you will lose one pound. If your goal is to lose a pound in two weeks (14 days), simply divide 3,500 calories by 14 days to reach a daily deficit of 250 calories. Even without tracking you might quickly decide that the Coke and handful of candy that you have during your workday might be adding up to 250 calories. And, if you could simply replace that soda with water and pass on the candy…it can be that simple. Habits are tricky things.

It is always good to consult with your doctor before changing your diet or exercise patterns. Please do not try to match numbers with the weight loss shows on television like Biggest Loser. These are unhealthy endeavors and the contestants are very closely monitored in a closed environment in most cases.

Track your food if you want to lose weight. You will see patterns. Track your runs if you want to run a distance race. Just make sure that your define your goals as S.M.A.R.T. goals so that you can make a plan that measures (tracks) your progress towards your goal.

A couple of resource links that I used to help for weight loss and/or training for a race:

My Fitness Pal http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ There are great community forums here. I am phipps3113 on MFP.

ONTRI http://www.ontri.net This website guided me through training for my first half marathon in 2004, my first marathon and my first few triathlons. They have free or paid plans. I always used the free ones. There are great forums with lots of people willing to help, just like on MFP. This gives you a place to log what you accomplish so you can see how you are doing.

Please tell me what your goals are. Goals in your head are just fantasies. Get it in writing, make yourself accountable by telling the world. If you aren’t ready to tell everyone, send a message just to me. I’d be happy to help.

Snooze…snooze, yawn, stretch and slowly slide out of bed. I am not late. This is the Lost Dutchman. No crazy lines. Park and walk for a while, but get there in time for a minimal wait at the porta-johns and start the race.

I wore my crazy orange shoes. I don’t wear them often because they broke me in good the first time I tried to run in them. Within a mile-and-a-half they removed the skin from atop a toe ON EACH FOOT! I am such a softy, seriously, I had to take the shoes off and complete the last 3/4 mile barefoot. The cars driving by must have really thought I was strange – running barefoot and carrying those crazy orange shoes.

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Today I came armed with socks. I even put some body glide on top of my toes (just in case). I hydrated heavily yesterday AND this morning. I had a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and about one cup of my green smoothie. I have been having green smoothies every morning for about six weeks now. It has become a forever habit. I will write a post about my smoothie very soon and tell everyone what I put in it in case you need a nudge to get started. Remind me if I forget, thanks.

I looked at the starting area when I arrived ten minutes or so before go time and thought how cool that you are not forced into corrals based upon your race number and predicted finish time like some other races. I looked at the sign next to the front area that said 5:00 pace. Woa, how cool would it be to someday line up in there and BELONG there!?! I glanced back and saw my friend 9:00 and I looked back at 6 and 7, but I was thinking about 8-minute miles. That doesn’t seem that fast, right? 13.1 times 8 gets me to 1:45…

Let’s see how it goes.

I miss the start taking a quick pit stop, but that clears the area a little and head out fording the sea of energetic runners. After 3 or 4 minutes I see my wife, Lynn, and wish her well. I will see her again on the way back. I thought about my number again, 8.

There was a good downhill in the fourth mile, so I tried to bank as many seconds below 8 minutes as I could in anticipation of being tired and dealing with hills and the morning breeze starting to pick up later in the race. I tested my pace, but didn’t have much extra to give, so I focused on cadence. Quick turnover to keep the steps light. I did not want to make that fatal flaw of taking too large of a stride in a slow cadence and actually slow myself down even more. I was slowly passing people, one-at-a-time, through the entire first half. I hit the turnaround at 52:26 and my fear became real – I had used half of my self-allotted 1:45 and I had uphill, wind and tiring legs to contend with.

Quick feet, Mark, focus.

I saw my brother-in-law at mile 7 (he was at 6.1 and doing very well). I encouraged him and kept moving. I saw Lynn around mile 7.6 and she asked me when she’d finish (I of course rounded up – she beat my prediction).

I had considered taking a Gatorade or Gu, but that wasn’t how I did things. I drank water at each aid station. At mile 8 or 9 they had bananas and that’s how I do things. Thank you!

Things slowed down when I made the next turn. That incredible downhill from the outward half was now up AND into the wind. I considered slowing and getting behind a couple of different people and drafting. I couldn’t spare the seconds as I lost 49 seconds over miles 10 & 11. Then I saw the big hill. Brain takes it all in and informs body that there is no way.

Step step step step step. Fast and light.

The banana from the aid station is now in my bloodstream and sugar helps me subdue my negative thoughts. I dumped water on my head at the last two aid stations and that helped take overheating out of the picture. I enjoy the scenery and pass more people now that I am back within the 10K course. Lots of people. No worries. I move left to the center line like an 18-wheeler getting ready to pass on a two way road. I rode that line for almost a mile. RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE!

Hello Mr. Hill.

The hill seemed to stare back at me. I pulled aside another runner with the green race number like my #1638 and described how I felt. He said it was mental. “You’re right, thanks!”

I accelerated into the hill.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I was winded and the last half mile looked pretty long with my new 170-something heart rate going on. I remember thinking 220 minus my age is EXACTLY WHAT MY WATCH SAYS. Let’s get ‘er done already.

I was happy to cross the finish line – it made me smile big now, writing this, at 1:44:56. My official time was less, but it was really cool to beat that seemingly unattainable 1:45 and just under an 8-minute pace. I am convinced that my new found plant power is always improving my body. Slowly reversing the damage done by years of abuse by food and drink.

This is the first of many milestones and I invite you all to come along for the ride. I will teach you everything I know so that you can feel what I felt crossing that line yesterday.

Small positive steps and intentional change will take you to the goals you never dared dream. My best half marathon was my first – 1:54 in 2004. Ten years older and ten minutes faster. I want the next ten minutes in less time than that.

Here’s to you runners and runners-at-heart. Pursue your dreams. Aim high –  I love that saying:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.― Norman Vincent Peale

Peace.

Green smoothie time!

Green smoothie time!