Welcome


Thoughts on fitness, health, good nutrition ... and running.


Welcome to Bald Man Running, a blog launched by Frank Murphy on January 1, 2015.

In March, 2013 I was selected as a contestant for the sixth season of Fort Wayne's Smallest Winner. Through this amazing program, I learned about good nutrition, sound exercise and accountability. By October, I would lose over 88 pounds (almost 37% of my original weight)! One of the many things I acquired through FWSW was a love for running. You can retrace my weight loss journey and discover how I became a runner by reading those entries labeled "fwsw" ...

Note: Many of the blog entries on this website predate 1/1/2015. Prior to launching BMR, I had written articles for various projects, and I have imported many of them into this blog (labeled "retro").

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Figure run

Tomorrow is my 24th wedding anniversary. I recently stumbled across a cool app and decided to use it to make my wife an anniversary card ...

http://figurerunning.com/ gives you a GPS app to track your running. So many times I've ran with other apps and thought the map of my run looked a bit like something ... you know ... in the same way you can see certain shapes in clouds. Well, this app let's you more intentionally "draw" while you run. You are the pencil! You can also "pick up" and "put down" the pencil so you can draw distinct shapes that are not connected.

Happy anniversary, sweetie! It took me 3 miles and 36 minutes to run this one out for you ...



Note: there is an iOS and an Android version the app.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Winner, winner

Here's a little trick when it comes to selecting a race to run ... if you want to win nice prizes, go to the smaller, lesser-known races. The field is smaller, and the organizers often have really good prizes to give away. Your chances of winning something cool are improved.

Matt, my eleven year old son, and I ran a 5k today. It was really cold and windy, but he chose to do it with me anyway. I really appreciate that he did this with me. He's not got a lot of experience running, but he did this anyway.

We stayed together and did a bit of jog/walk intervals. This is a great way to ease into running. We'd pick a landmark along the path and jog to it. We'd then pick the next landmark and walk to it. Repeat this cycle enough and you'll get through the whole race. Utility poles are great for this purpose.

Not only did I win by getting to run a race with my son, but my son won a really nice bike!


Time travel

My company requires employees to undergo a cardiac risk assessment if they want to use the company fitness center. You see a nurse, have some blood work run, etc., and then it takes a few days to get the results back. Today, I got those results.

Before I share those results, I want to share something else. Throughout the recent Smallest Winner season, I spent a lot of time at Spiece on various exercise equipment. Each time I got on a machine, I would punch in my current weight and age. It was exciting to watch the weight drop and get to enter lower and lower numbers ... but that age thing was a stickler. I would often joke to myself that it would have been nice if FWSW could help me lower not just my weight, but my age too.

From the aforementioned cardiac assessment, the LPN told me that I now have the heart of a 25 year old! I am also at less than 1% risk of heart disease. I may not be any younger according to the calendar, but I am almost 20 years younger where it counts ... and it would have not have happened without FWSW. Thank you to Rick, Tina, my trainers, nutritionists, and other staffers. Doc Brown has nothing on you ... together, we have turned back the clock!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sad to be in shape



My dad saw this pic, and said, "What a great picture! Your mom and I are so proud of both of you. Isn't it great to be in shape?"

To be candid, it feels almost equal parts great and sad ... to think that I waited until I was 43 years old to get into shape is a reminder of how many years I wasted.

Looking forward is great though ... and that's what I'm doing. I can't change my past, but I know the future is going to be fit!

Memory Book - "Thank You"

Tina asked each contestant to contribute something to a memory book for this season ...I chose to write mine as a great big "Thank you" to most of the folks who helped me along the way during this season. I hope that I haven't forgotten anyone. I appreciate you all so much and want you to know that I realize my success is also your success. Thank you!

Mari – Of all the trainers, you were the one who always smiled. You consistently encouraged everyone in a genuine and quiet manner. Thank you.

CeCe – You gave me my new nickname. I love being "Frank the Tank!" You pushed me and prodded me beyond where I thought I could go.

EJ – Early in the program, I needed a little extra patience and instruction. You delivered both in a clear manner and thus set the stage for further success.

Amber – You were the most enjoyably annoying person of the whole season. You can't count at all. Half the time I wanted to tell you to shut up and the other half the time I wanted to hug you in appreciation. Fortunately, it evened out in the end. Don't change a thing because I needed you to be just who you are.

Alyssa – I think you reviewed my nutrition journal the most and you struck the perfect balance between motivating and infuriating me. Where I needed to make improvements, you were straightforward without being condescending. Thank you.

Jen – Beyond helping me with nutrition issues, you also offered kind words of encouragement along the way. I appreciated your little notes and Facebook comments as I reached various milestones. Compliments from people you respect are extra special. Thank you.

Andreas and Gretchen at Summit Physical Therapy – I was sidelined for about a month with a knee injury and these two miracle workers got me back in working order. I would not have been able to run the F4F mini-marathon without their ministrations, much less finish it. My 2:05 is their 2:05!

Pastor Mark – What a bummer that you did all of the work of a contestant but with fewer perks! Your shepherd's heart was very special and needed throughout the season. God richly blessed us through your ministry to us. What a gift it was to have you along for the ride!

Toby – The epitome of cool. You do such an amazing job that you made us look amazing too, and that is no mean feat. Your work motivated me even more.

Kent Hormann – I learned about FWSW from your radio program, SportsWise. Without you, I wouldn't have applied for the program. Working out with you this season has been a real honor.

Alumni – There are too many to list here, but I'm grateful to so many of you ... Aaron, D. Tiff, Ashley, Nikole, Richelle, George, Chad, Zac and the others who grunted and sweated right beside us. You guys are what I want to become.

Michael – Dude! You've got this mentoring thing down pat. You pushed me and gave excellent advice throughout the season. You were vulnerable and humble, which was exactly what I needed in a mentor. You helped pull me through some rough patches this season, and I owe you. Thank you!

Michael – I'm listing him twice because he's so awesome. Feel free to read the previous paragraph again.

My co-workers – So many of co-workers (including ones I don't know real well) maintained a curiosity throughout the season. I fielded a ton of questions, and enjoyed doing so. This was a big motivation to me because I didn't want to fail while being in such a spotlight. Who says peer pressure is always bad? A special shout out to the Junior High Boys ... you guys are good friends. You made this season a lot of fun.

Larry – My boss has an athletic/fitness background and is particularly well-known for his afternoon workout regimen. His interest, insight, flexibility and encouragement were greatly appreciated.

Tyrone and family – I used to think that this family's obsession with distance running was unhealthy. Only crazy people would like to run as often as they do! His knowledge and leadership were invaluable throughout this season. I'm also particularly grateful for the generous gift of a cool heart rate monitor. I love that thing! I also want to thank you for carrying the water bottle when we ran together … that was the "carrot on a stick" that pushed me to run a little harder. Thank you.

Caleb – You remind me of one of my favorite football players: Chris Spielman. This former Buckeye/Lion was an all-pro linebacker that quietly showed up for work, played hard, didn't make or accept excuses, loved his family dearly and he always got the job done. Like him, you're the man!

Morgan – You continually surprised me by never giving up. I feel like you were on a roller coaster this season. There’s an old saying: "it doesn't matter how many times you fall down. What matters is that you get back up." You exemplified what that means. Thank you for pushing on!

Taylor – Your enthusiasm is infectious and genuine. You were always helpful and generous too. There are a few people that if they were disappointed in me, then it would crush me. You are one of those folks.

Stacy – I think you had the toughest road of anyone on the pink team. You killed it! You were a mom/wife/teacher/contestant combo that ran on all cylinders all season long. I particularly enjoyed talking with you during some of our evening workouts. Thank you.

Hollie Pope, Matthew Pope – You guys are so cool. You know what this fitness stuff is all about, and contributed greatly to my knowledge and motivation this season ... and then there's your generosity, which totally blew us away! Thank you so much! Go Lions!

My siblings – You guys were my biggest fans. You read my blog, asked questions, sent encouraging notes, etc. Well, let's be honest, my sisters came up bigger in this way than my brothers did, but they were still there for me in a man way. I know you guys were proud of me and I was fueled by that.

My mom and dad – You raised me right. The values you instilled in me served me well. Many times your words and examples were in my thoughts during the countless workouts. In more ways than one, you guys were right there with me throughout most of this journey.

My sons – I know you guys gave up a lot of different things when I got into this program. Thank you for understanding and supporting me. Though it may not be obvious now, you guys are a big part of why I wanted to do this program. I wanted to see you grow up and be amazing dads yourself. I hope you are as proud of me as I am of both of you.

My wife – What can I say? Dang, girl! You are amazing. Your participation in the public division gave me such a huge edge. We never fought over working out or eating right or any of those things. You pushed me, worked out with me, and helped me in so many countless ways. I also wanted to make sure I lost more weight than you did, and our competition was more fierce than anything I saw in the regular division. I really, really, really couldn't have done this without you. I love you so much!

Tina – You are without question one of the finest, classiest, high character people I’'e ever met in my entire life (trust me when I say that puts you in rare company, because I know a lot of awesome people). You actually scared me when you called to tell me I was selected for season six, because I thought there was no way someone could have so much energy and enthusiasm on the phone without being a little crazy (I was relieved to find out you weren't crazy). You were always quick to praise and vigilant during workouts to make sure we stayed healthy. I owe you more than I can say. Thank you!

Rick – Anyone can say stuff like "you’re stronger than you think you are" and "I'm going to push you and I need to trust me." Just because someone says that doesn't necessarily mean they're credible. At first, I thought your confidence in me was sorely misplaced optimism. I didn't believe you. Fortunately for me, it turns out that you know your stuff! You knew my limits better than I did, and because of that, those limits have changed for the better. Your response to finding out that someone mistook me for you will always be one of the most cherished compliments I will ever receive. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

And finally ... thank you to my Savior! FWSW has never been about just one thing (i.e., a diet plan or a workout program), but has consistently emphasized a "whole you" approach. A big part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle is the spiritual component.

God has strengthened and motivated me throughout the FWSW season. With a massive understatement I freely admit that I couldn't have done it without Him. Knowing Him is the difference between living and abundant living!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Last chance workout

Rose is an amazing woman! She got up at 4:30 a.m. and joined me at Spiece to workout with me for my "last chance workout." We pushed sleds, did party trains, hit the stair climber and more. It was simply a "best of" compilation of those things I have been doing the previous 27 weeks. I figured that I didn't need to mess with what had been working so well.

Rose didn't have to join me on this strenuous workout, but seeing as how she's been there every other step of the way on my crazy journey, she wasn't about to miss those last few steps.

I have occasionally done stupid things and made some big mistakes along the way, but I am repeatedly convinced that marrying this woman is one of the smartest, greatest decisions I've ever made.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A little flak

I've recently taken some flak for losing too much weight. I understand and appreciate the concern, but your fears are unfounded.

I assure that I am eating quite hearty meals. While I have been doing extensive cardio workouts, I haven't started weight training yet (that's on the schedule to start next week).

Yes, I've lost a lot of weight, but it have not dropped below the bottom of the ideal range for my age/gender/frame. My BMI is around 26%.

I've spent a lot of time trying to determine my target weight, and that includes talking extensively with FWSW staff. I assure you that I'm healthy and fit and that I've got here the right way. I've done nothing to compromise my health ... no pills, supplements, etc.

This was particularly evident during my recently completed mini-marathon. I did really well because I'm in the best shape of my life and it would not have been possible if I had been irresponsible.

Thank you again for your concern, but I need you to trust me on this one. I'm really and truly fine.

One more thing ... if anyone wants to check my meal journal, let me know and I'll share it with you via myfitnesspal.com. This is a great app and a big part of how I've found so much dietary success.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fort4Fitness - First Half Marathon!

Look what I did today! Thank you to Fort Wayne Smallest Winner and Fort4Fitness for an amazing experience. I just ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles)!

Special shout outs to my wife, my mentor, Tyrone, Larry, my dad, and of course a ton of others ... full kudos will be made public after the FWSW finale on 10/5/2013.

I am so blessed to have so many good people around me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

For the sake of posterity, here's my unofficial splits from today's race (taken from my GPS watch ... thank you, Wilson family).

Mile - Pace
1 - 9:31
2 - 9:25
3 - 9:24
4 - 9:27
5 - 9:40
6 - 9:32
7 - 10:01 (bummer!)
8 - 9:57
9 - 9:11 (sport beans kicked in)
10 - 9:46
11 - 9:53
12 - 9:20 (third wind!)
13 - 8:13 (on fire!)

Final time: 2:05:26 (9:34/mi pace).

Saturday, August 10, 2013

SQL Saturday shirts

Last time I went to SQLSaturday (a year ago), I got a free t-shirt and had to get XXL.

Today, I also got a free shirt ... but this one is a medium.

Booyah!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lottery ticket

I talked to Andreas (a physical therapist at Summit Physical Theraphy who works closely with FWSW) about my knee. I've running a lot lately, and it hurts. He diagnosed it as an IT band issue.

He gave me the best advice on running that I've ever heard: "when you run, run like you have a winning lottery ticket stuck in your butt crack. You need to tighten those muscles."

My first thought was, "who told him that's where I keep my lotto tickets?"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Final FWSW Entry

Well, it's the day after the mid-season finale ... and my wife and I went to Spiece and worked out together this afternoon. The excitement from the weekend has died down and we're still overweight. We've not crossed the only finish line that matters, which is getting to a truly healthy weight. It feels good to have a lead in the competition, but you don't get medals for holding a lead at half-time. I fully intend to play the full sixty minutes.

We've had a long weekend with uncharacteristic food choices. There was a wedding rehearsal dinner, wedding reception and the FWSW finale after-party. We repeatedly found ourselves trying to figure out what the heck we were doing with our calories. I could talk to wait staff and ask for exceptions in how they prepapred my food, but there was no bar code for myfitnesspal to make it easy to calculate what I actually ate.

The food was good, and was actually healthy. The real surprise for me was that "eating out" wasn't as much fun as I remembered. It was far more hassle than it seemed to be worth. On top of that, I think my wife's flank steak tastes better than the expensive fare I ate at a posh restaurant. Don't get me wrong ... it was good food and I enjoyed both the meal and the company. It just was a lot of extra work trying to track things, and I'm finding that I appreciate a home-cooked meal so much more than I would ever thought possible.

Before FWSW, I routinely ate fast food meals at least ten times a week. Seriously. Just about every lunch was McD's, Culver's, Qdoba, etc. and dinner was rarely any better. I hadn't packed a lunch for work more than once or twice the entire time I've been married. I always ate out, and I did it for the convenience. Over this weekend, I found that all the extra work now entailed in successfully eating out breaks my cardinal rule ... to do as little possible.

If you want to lose weight, you've got to watch your food. If you're going to watch your food, you've got to keep a journal. If you're going to keep a journal, you've got to do it right. Eating out makes that ten times more difficult. As crazy as this sounds, preparing your own meals is not only healthier, but far less stressful.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mid-season Finale

I know that I said tonight would be my last regular blog ... but I want to do a proper recap, so I'll probably do another tomorrow. For now, let's celebrate the mid-season finale.

Well, the public division's season is over, and my wife came in first! I am in awe of how well she has done. The public division contestants didn't have the same degree of oversight and resources that the regular contestants did. I, on the other hand, had all the benefits of a regular contestant AND her pushing me as well.

Are you curious to know who officially won Murphy Family Smallest Winner? I did. Take a look at pictures of my hot wife and you'll see what I'm talking about. I'm definitely that guy who somehow got the girl who was way out of his league. My wife is my prize and has been for twenty-three years and counting ... and what makes it even sweeter is that the quality of our lives will be so much better because we are now so much healthier.

I'm so proud of my first-place sweetheart!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Going to the gym

I ran to Spiece Fieldhouse (FWSW's home) this morning from home ... had to get up at 3:50, get dressed and hit the road.

It was really dark, but nice and cool. Morning runs are so much better than evening runs!

After this little 4.7 miles jaunt (50:08, 10:39/mi), I had an Amber workout to get through. It wasn't easy, but I did it.


Blind Weigh-in

Well, tomorrow will be my last regular blog. When this season started, I wanted to blog at least a little each day, and I will have done that. I've enjoyed recording my thoughts and I hope it's been encouraging and helpful to you. If you're thinking about trying something like this, I'll give you a few final pieces of advice ...

1) Go for it. When I applied, I wasn't too sure if I could finish this season. The manly man part of me said, "of course you can." But there was a little voice in the back of my head saying, "what makes you think that? You've never finished anything else like that before. You'll give up." It turns on that the little voice in the back of my head is an idiot. It didn't know what it was talking about. I finished my final "boot camp" workout this morning. I went for it. I finished. You can do it too. I'm willing to bet that the voices in the back of your head are as stupid as mine. Go for it.

2) Follow good instruction. Trainers and nutritionists know what they're talking about, so follow their lead. If you don't, you'll have a much harder path. They will push you and you won't always like what you hear. Tough noogies. Just do what you're qualified instructors tell you to do.

3) Don't cut corners. That includes stuff like rounding off a corner when running laps, or not getting deep enough into a squat, or not doing the full burpie, etc. If you cut corners, you cheat yourself. It's not worth it.

Is there more advice? Sure, but these three things are golden words. If you can get started, listen and focus, then you'll do well. It's going to sound a little cliche, but if I can do it, so can you.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fine dining

Short one tonight ... it's been a long day, and I want to get a good sleep before tomorrow's finale "boot camp" weigh-in.

Tonight, I ate out at a restaurant for the first time since March. I know the timing is kind of weird with the weigh-in tomorrow, but I am officiating a wedding tomorrow, and the rehearsal dinner was at a posh dining establishment. Fortunately, FWSW has prepared me to place an order in situations just like this.

I think I aced it. I ordered the salad with dressing on the side, asked them to remove the shredded cheese, skipped the dinner roll, ordered my steak to be cooked without sauces or butter, got steamed peas instead of the less healthy options, skipped dessert, and so forth. I was actually able to speak to the chef as well and explained my situation. I ate only 2/3 of the steak and was full. All in all, I believe the entire meal for less than 400 calories. The waitstaff were very accommodating and it was quite painless.

Being fit doesn't mean you can't have meals like this. It does mean being careful. I know I can do this, and will have to repeat my success of today during the wedding reception tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An old challenge

Back on 4/2, I went to the gym in the evening for my first solo workout. I spent 30 minutes on the treadmill and 30 minutes on a recumbent bike. I went 1.5 miles and 4.5 miles respectively. I also said that I would try it again at the end of the program and report my progress. I did that today.

Before I tell you my time, I'll chase a few rabbit trails. When I started this program, I thought I would spend all of my time on the treadmill and the bike because those machines were the most familiar to me. As the season progressed, I stopped using the bike (probably by week 3) and the treadmill (because I started running outside instead). I gave them up because I wanted better, more intense workouts. When I tried my repeat today, I actually did 30 minutes on the stepper as a warm-up before moving to the bike. That probably cost me some time, but I was okay with that. I wanted to burn calories more than I wanted to improve my time on the bike.

I've also been really sore this week. I've been sore ever since I ran that 13.8 miles four days ago. I realize now that I could have seriously injured myself and I'm very fortunate that I didn't. I pushed myself too hard with too little preparation and wound up needlessly beating myself up. My knees have been really tender and it wasn't until today that I felt comfortable giving them a test. I'll be okay, but I realize that I dodged a bullet on this. Let this be a warning! Push yourself but recognize your limits. You've got to be smart too.

Anyway ... my numbers on the challenge were 6.75 miles on the bike and 2.8 miles on the treadmill. Could I have done better? Yes. I'm not really that disappointed though ... that first workout only burned 380 total calories. Today, I burned 1240 counting the stepper and 720 without it. It feels pretty good to know that I can step into a gym and burn that many calories in a workout. My take-away from this little experiment is that I've become a much more capable and efficient fat-burning machine.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

First

After thinking about Lugh and Nuada (yesterday's blog) and getting jealous about their cool names (the Long Arm and the Silver Hand respectively), I decided I wanted one of those. How about Frank of the Big Guns? Works for me.

If you been reading this blog, you'll remember I talk about a lot of personal records I've set over this season. Setting records clearly means something to me, and I've recently come to realize that records can be grouped into two categories: 1) records that were meant to be broken and 2) records that can't be broken.

In that first category, I've set records for distance and pace. I was so proud of my first sub 10:00 mile, and then my first mile in the eights, and then my first sub-eight mile. I'm hoping to continue to improve. I've set a bunch of these records, and when other contestants or friends hear about them, I sometimes get a "well, I'll just have to beat that." The competition drives me, and I like it. Even if I don't hold a record for long, I know it was mine, and it feels good while holding it.

But the second category of records are awesome, and it doesn't matter who you are, you can obtain these frequently and meaningfully. What is a record that can't be broken? Doing something first. You can be the first among a team to do something, and that's cool. I've done a few of this season too, and it feels good. However, for now I want to consider personal milestones instead. For example, I've ran a lot of miles this season, but the first one I ran without taking a walk break is crystal clear in my memory. I've since ran it faster, but that first one is pretty darn special. Every time I try something I've never done before, I think "virgin territory" and I want to conquer. I want to do the never done.

Think of Neil Armstrong. Other people walked on the moon after him, and they were there longer, they covered more territory, they gathered more samples, and accomplished greater scientific objectives ... but most people need google to find their names. The guy who did it first? His name is etched in our collective minds as a hero. Be like Neil. Do something never done before, and in doing so take not a small step, but a giant leap for yourself.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Long Arm

Weigh-in was tonight, but they didn't tell us the numbers. It was a "blind" weigh-in. I think I did pretty good. I ran over 35 miles last week and did over 1300 flights of stairs. Maybe not an earth-shattering loss, but still a respectable one. That's my guess, at least.

This season is drawing to a close, and it reminds me a bit of of a mythical Irish hero, Lugh of the Long Arm (with a name like "Frank Murphy" and a love for high fantasy, it was only a matter of time before I went Old Irish). He sought admission to the court of King Nuada, but the steward of the castle wouldn't grant him an audience with the king. Lugh was highly skilled in a variety of disciplines, and offered his services as a builder, a smith, a swordsman, a harpist, a poet, a historian, a craftsman, and more. The steward refused him because the king already had someone in his court with each of those abilities. Lugh responded by saying, "I understand that, but does he have one man who possesses all those skills?" Of course, he did not. The steward allowed him to meet the king, he demonstrated that he was telling the truth and became the people's champion. Later, he led them to a great victory over the Fomorians (the bad guys). Lugh rocked!

FWSW hasn't pushed to make us excel at one thing in particular. They intentionally tried to expose to a wide variety of exercises in our workouts so that we're well-rounded athletes (see the Lugh connection now?). For instance, Amber has put us through step aerobics, dance, muay tai, and more. The intent is that not every exercise is going to equally appeal to every person. I know a lot of my fellow pre-alumni looked forward to the pool workouts, while I didn't. We're just different, and there's nothing wrong with that.

If you've tried to get a workout routine going, but gave up because it just wasn't working for you, then try something else. Maybe you got on the treadmill a few times and thought it sucked. It probably did. Don't sweat it and move on to the elliptical or rower or stepper. Maybe you tried a Zumba class and thought it was stupid ... try core or step aerobics or kickboxing or yoga or something else. Give the various exercises and classes a fair shake (two or three sessions sounds reasonable), and if it's not floating your boat, look at other options. If you're serious and persistent, you'll find something that works for you. I promise. There's more than a one way to thin a cat.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Glabrous?

I am a bald man, and with smooth scalp comes great responsibility.

Last year's winner was a cue ball, and I think the season four winner was a skintop. I'm not too sure about the other seasons of FWSW, but I wouldn't be surprised if all the previous winners were also baldies. And of course, there's Rick ... the quintessential glabrous, fit man. There's just something special about being a follically-challenged FWSWer ... we're awesome!

As this season's lone chrome dome contestant, I carry enormous weight on my shoulders. It's a lot of pressure to live up to the lofty standards of those waxed noggins who preceded me. It appears that the non-hirsute of FWSW are also a bit emotional, so I'm going to have to cry in public before the finale. It just comes with the territory of having a shiny pate. I think being depilated makes me a little more aerodynamic as well.

You know what they say about baldness, don't you? It's the phenomenon of having a face that looks so good, it's takes over the entire head.

(Credit the assist to Google for helping me find synonyms for "bald" ... where else do think I got "glabrous" from?)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pikermi

Pikermi ... it's a new word that I learned today. It's the name of a small city in ancient Greece. It's also halfway between the cities of Marathon and Athens. The modern marathon foot race is named for legendary run that a soldier named Pheidippides made from the battlefield of Marathon to report the outcome in Athens. He ran the entire distance, delivered his message, and then died.

About halfway through his run, he passed through Pikermi (what do you call people that live in Pikermi? Pikerminians perhaps?) There's a small, but growing movement to stop calling races of 13.1 miles a "half marathon" and call it a pikermi instead. The city of Marathon gave it's name to a race, so why not do the same Pikermi?

I like the idea. Saying you ran a "half marathon" sounds like you only did half of something. That's a long run. I'd rather say I ran a "double quarter marathon" or something more impressive sounding than sounding I only did something halfway.

It's a bigger deal to me now than it was yesterday. You see, this morning I ran a total of 13.84 miles. It was a training run and not an officially timed event (that's coming in September), but it was still 13.84 miles no matter how you slice it. I shattered my personal best distance by nearly five miles!

It wasn't easy. I was felling pretty good about halfway through the run, and then I got caught in a downpour. The water got into my smartphone, which in turn freaked out and fortunately wasn't permanently damaged.

I've secretly harbored this goal for several weeks now. I think I'll be dialing the distance down for a few weeks and work on improving my pace, but I wanted to complete a full pikermi before the mid-season finale. I've seen a lot of "13.1" stickers in car windows, and I wanted one for myself. I definitely don't want to be one of those guys that sport a "I did ____" bling without actually doing the (fill in the blank). Today, I qualified for the sticker, so I bought one. It's in my car's window right now.

I was tired. I was sore. I felt half dead.

I am a pikerminian.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Victory Mile, part II

Well, today was the hyped-up rerun of the one mile sprint. TJ of the "Tropic Blue" also ran his mile under eight minutes, so we were challenged to go head-to-head. Of course, that meant getting to Spiece half of an hour early ... I led about 95% of the way, but TJ wound up taking the crown with a final sprint. The official time was 7:29 for TJ to my 7:30. I'm a competitive person by nature, and its not a secret that I wanted to win. While I lost the head-to-head challenge, I still set a personal best. I would be a lot more disappointed if I hadn't given it my best shot. I'll run that sucker again in a few weeks and try to get my time down even further. My next goal is 7:12.

I also set another personal best today on the stepper. I remember the first time I completed 100 flights over two months ago. The machine fritzed out on me and I couldn't get a pic. It would have been about 36 minutes, and I was rightly proud of that accomplishment. I got it under 30 minutes on my next attempt and that's when it really started to dawn on me that the sensation of setting personal bests was addicting. It wasn't too long after that and I went 200 flights in less than 45 minutes, and eventually I got 300 flights in one hour. After pushing the distance envelope, I started pushing for speed and have since done 100 flights in 13:24 and 200 flights in 26:58. I know there a lot of numbers here and if you've not seen the machine, it may not mean much to you, but those are good numbers. Trust me.

The personal best I set today? 400 flights in 59:42. That was a response to Rick's challenge to do 200 this week. I wanted to push into new territory and leave my mark on this challenge. I felt like crap for the first 59:41, but the sense of accomplishment when I broke 400 was worth it. I'm going to repeat myself here, because it's worth emphasizing  ... setting a personal best is a great feeling. I got to have two big gulps from that cup today. Now the question is "what can I do tomorrow that I've never done before?"

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Different?

A lot of folks have commented that I look different. They say things like "I didn't recognize you at first" or "you look so different." It's nice to hear that. I can see the differences too, but I'm noticing additional differences as well.

For example, Michael and I ran this morning. For me, it was a personal best in distance ... 9 full miles. I did it in 1:29:50, which equals a 9:59/mile pace. The seventh and eighth miles were pretty rough, and the fact that I can say that blows me away. The very idea of running for eight miles and then picking up the pace for another mile after that ... who is that guy? I don't recognize myself any more.

Fat Frank from four months ago would have never even thought of trying such a thing. Slimming Down Frank pushed himself to run. I like Slimming Down Frank a whole lot better than Fat Frank, and not just because I'm thinner, but because I'm more willing to challenge myself and push my limits. I may look different (and thanks for noticing) but that's just the "skin deep" kind of looking different. It's the other ways that I'm different ... ways that aren't as obvious to others ... that really mean a lot to me.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Patches

Some random thoughts on hair from a bald man ...

I was considering going "Michael Phelps" for the mid-season finale, which is a body-building show combined with a FWSW program. I thought it would be classy if I came out all glistening with a coat of vegetable oil and wearing a leopard print loincloth. After a Tarzan yell or two, I'd  settle down and let the program continue peacefully. The only thing keeping me from doing this was my abundance of hair ...

I'm not sure how I wound up with such hairy legs, back, and stomach, but I have two theories: 1) while I'm asleep the hair on my head detaches from my scalp and relocates in the cool of the night, 2) there is no theory two (I couldn't think of another plausible explanation). I thought I would look into getting one of those waxing treatments to remove all my unsightly and superfluous hair. It would be great for the final weigh-in (I'd lose at least a pound) and I would be all shiny smooth! My mind was irrevocably changed this morning.

You see, my knees have been sore from a lot of running. At my wife's suggestion, I put some medicated patches on my knees overnight. While my hair was busy relocating (remember theory 1?), those patches slowly released soothing medication into my knees. It was glorious. When I woke up the next morning, I tried to remove them, but the adhesive was quite firmly connected to my leg hair. After several painful minutes of trying to take one off, I finally did the quick yank method.

I cried.

There was so much hair on those patches that I think I'll try to sell them at the upcoming Johnny Appleseed Festival. I'm pretty sure I could pass them off as genuine otter pelts (otters smell like eucalyptus, right?). I may be hairy, but I'd rather be hairy than teary.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Chaplain Plan

Two big milestones ...

1) Rick had everyone run a mile on our first day, and I clocked a 14:33. Rick told us then that we were going to run another timed mile at the end of the program so we'd have something for the sake of comparison. Today Rick had me run that follow-up lap ... in 7:35. I really can't believe that my body moved that quickly under my own power. Three months ago I might not have been able to do that on a bike!

2) I passed the 185 pound barrier. This number has personal significance and I want to dedicate this milestone to my dad. Here's why ...

About 4.5 years ago, I lost my job as a school teacher. The private school where I taught was struggling financially in the "economic downturn of 2008" and had to "involuntarily furlough" several staff members, including me. If you've ever lost a job you loved, you know how much it can hurt.

While I've never been kicked in the stomach by a mule, I assume it would feel pretty much like I felt for about three months straight. I was so depressed.

Looking for another job made it even worse ... I was looking for another ministry position, which is unlike other professions (there are search committees, twenty page applications, church votes, etc.). I applied for jobs all over the country and received enough rejection letters to wallpaper my study. It was rough for several months.

I decided to look into entering the military as a chaplain. I talked to the appropriate personnel and went through the requirements checklist. I was pretty close to having everything I needed except for the weight restriction. At the time, I was thirty-five pounds over the limit and they couldn't take me unless I got down to 185. With no other prospects on the horizon and a lot of free time on my hands, I decided that I'd try losing some weight. If I got down to 185 before I found another job, then it would be time to salute Lt. Murphy.

I had no clue what to do about fitness, so I called my dad. He's an advanced black belt and an Zumba instructor ... and he's in his seventies. He's the most fit old man you'll ever see. We talked about it, and he came up here from Texas to put me through a two week boot camp to get me started. It was tough, and he worked me hard. I made some nice progress in those two weeks and as he returned home, I got an interview with Brotherhood Mutual.

I wound up getting that job at Brotherhood, and I'm still amazed that I work there. It's a great company and I have awesome coworkers, but once I no longer *had* to lose weight, I fell of the fitness bandwagon pretty fast and hard. I wound up gaining another twenty pounds in my first four years at Brotherhood (all those ice cream sandwiches, cheese danishes, and fast food for every lunch probably didn't help).

FWSW was the big turn around. My dad planted the seed that I could succeed, so I suspected that I could do the exercise. Rick, Tina and the rest of the FWSW staff took the baton from dad and helped me finally hit that 185 milestone ... 4.5 years too late.

I'm now slim enough to join the chaplain corps, but I'm too old. It's a good milestone and I'm proud of it, but I'm also disappointed in myself because of the wasted opportunity. I'm ashamed that I let my dad down back then. I wish I had got fit years ago and could have been enjoying the benefits of health that are now mine. If I can maintain this healthy lifestyle, I'll be the spitting image of my fit dad at 75.

There's no one else I'd rather be like.

This 185 milestone is for you, papa. Thank you for believing in me and showing your blue-eyed son the way.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dude, where's my car?

Another month begins! With three full months under my belt there are now 55 pounds that are no longer under my belt. 5.0 pounds off at tonight's weigh-in!

I ran with Michael this morning. I'm not sure why I do it. It's a Monday and we don't have a required morning workout, so I could sleep in. To make it even worse is that instead of getting up like I normally would for a Tue-Fri workout, Michael has me there a half hour early ... so not only no sleeping in, but it's like getting extra credit with Rick!

Before we started, he said, "we'll go at an easy pace." I thought that meant 12:00 minutes per mile. We wound up averaging 9:54 per mile, which is a pretty smart clip for me. I was laboring near the end ... it felt like something was sucking the oxygen directly from my lungs. I probably lost a full pound from all of my "Tanky Hanky" maneuvers (which is what I'm not calling a "snot rocket").

Then there was the distance ... eight miles. I've done better than 9:54 on other runs, but never that many miles at that pace. To get the full eight miles, we ran the perimeter of every parking lot we entered (we ran around the Glenbook Mall). The mall cops likely thought we were a couple of elderly men looking for our car.

Was it really that bad? Pushing myself further and faster wasn't easy, but it was genuinely enjoyable. We chatted a little while we ran and the time passed a bit quicker that way. I wouldn't change my Monday morning runs at all ... well, I'll change them eventually ... we'll get that time down to 9:45 and the distance up to 8.5 ... and then we'll need to change it again after that.

Whoever came up with this mentor idea must have ate all their oatmeal that morning ... it has been a really good idea.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

My favorite thing


Tina posed a question on the Facebook page ... "what has been your favorite part of being part of FWSW this season?" I answered, "read my blog to see my answer." I have to admit that I'm sorely tempted to write "read my comment to Tina's FB post to see my answer." That would have been hilarious.

Taylor copped out and said something like, "I can't pick a single moment. They're all special." Those answers are often true, but still feels like a cop out. It's like a football player being asked about an upcoming opponent and saying something non-committal like, "we're going to compete." It's an answer, but it's not informative.

But I'm forced to give Taylor a pass on this one ... because I'm going to say the exact same thing. It's been a great season for me. I've learned so much and I've come so far. I also know that I'm not done, but I feel equipped to get where I want to be. This season has truly been life changing.

... and yet, if you're going to force me to pick a moment (try using the "don't be a cop out" line and see if it works), I would exploit a loophole and claim a type of moment rather than a single moment. And my favorite moment(s) would be ... any time I get a chance to talk about the program. There are so many good people involved in this program that I'm genuinely excited about it. I tend to enjoy talking about things that excite me. I talk about the program at work, with my immediate family, with my out-of-state family, on Facebook, at church, at the gym, and other even more unexpected places.

Let me assure you of this ... from the vantage point of a timid, skeptical contestant at the start of this program to a confident pre-alumni striving to succeed, this program changes you for the better. Well, "this program" doesn't change you ... it's the people who genuinely love you, invest in you and challenge you.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Color Vibe

My family ran the "Color Vibe" race today. It was interesting. To the best of my knowledge, the whole idea of having fun by tossing color bombs on each other was inspired by the Hindu Festival of Holi. It's a ritual where people say goodbye to winter and welcome the spring. There might even be some fertility mojo going on too, but I'm not completely sure. There's a lot of these kinds of color run events in the US, and I doubt that very many folks have made the connection to Holi. Over here, it's just fun.

It wasn't a religious moment for my family today. It was fun and made some nice memories. We got some really good pictures of the color splashed all over us. That was cool. We hung out with some friends from FWSW. That was cool too. We didn't run it as a race, but just enjoyed the nice weather and strolled the whole thing. That was also cool. My kids did a fine job, and I'm both proud of them and thankful for them. They're good boys.

While my wife and I have been fully immersed into the "boot camp" mentality of FWSW, we've been bringing our boys along at a slower pace. They're not always eating the same things we are and we aren't expecting them to do all the same workouts, etc. When we get to "maintenance mode" then we'll all be on more similar schedule regarding diet, physical activities, etc. We have tried to plan this out in a way so that the boys wouldn't resent our family's move to a more fit lifestyle.

I think there's a danger of getting into shape and being pushy about it with the ones around you. I can tell you this ... one of the reasons I was so reluctant to get in shape is because I knew people who were in shape, and I thought a lot of them were jerks. They often had a smug attitude and would drop guilt bombs indiscriminately. Not every fit person is like that, but enough are that it was one of my excuses (a lame excuse, but an excuse nonetheless).

So, I'll just throw these two thoughts out there:

1) If you're in shape, there's no need to be a tool about it. Be healthy. Help others when you can, but realize that being pushy or arrogant is counterproductive.

2) If you're not in shape and have had issues with superior-acting fit people, get over it. Your health is yours, not theirs. You don't get a free fat pass just because someone else plays the part of a fool.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Nickell Chin

Quick! Name famous people with famous chins! You've got ten seconds! Go!

I cheated and used a little googling ... Kirk Douglas, John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Chevy Chase, Huey Lewis ... and the big chin himself, Jay Leno. Most of those are famous cleft chins, while Jay's is just plain huge. I left out Jabba the Hutt, because this was a "one chin per entry" contest, and his multitude of chins would be cheating (he's not real either). The point of all this chin talk is that I have finally ascended into the ranks of rarefied chin air. I am now the proud owner of a Nickell chin.

I'm not exactly sure what others call it, but in my family we call it the "Nickell chin" because my Granny Nickell had a very pronounced chin. My mom has it, and to varying degrees, my siblings have it (my little brother once popped a balloon that grazed his chin ... his is that pointy). I guess I've had it all along, but it's been buried in several layers of neck fat. Seriously, I hadn't seen a Nickell chin in the mirror in more years than I can remember. If you look at the photo accompanying this blog, you won't see a hint of the famed family trademark.

As I've lost weight, it's been particularly obvious in my face. I'm so much thinner in the face and I can see the reemerging Nickell chin. This is not a little thing ... it's highly motivating to look into a mirror and reclaim a birthright. How many days went by and I couldn't see my chin's natural shape because I was so out of shape? I love my chin! Every time I look in the mirror, I am reminded that I come from a great family ... and that I have a new, wonderful FWSW family as well. I don't ever want to lose sight of my chin again!

Answer to yesterday's riddle ... we have THE same middle name.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A target on my back

I'm going on record as saying that I'm shooting for an eight pound loss this week. I know that I have to bust my butt to get it. I'm also aware that I could do everything right this week and just not hit eight pounds. In weeks past, I'd set goals and kind of hedge a bit to protect myself from disappointment ... but I've only got a little over two weeks to go. I'm going to put the target on my back and let it provide extra motivation.

Due to the short nature of today's blog, I'll leave you with a bonus in the form of a riddle: What do Frank the Tank and Winnie the Pooh have in common? Tune in tomorrow for the answer!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Caribbean military paranormal romance novels

Last summer, I took the wife and kids to FandomFest. It's a Comic-Con/Star Trek convention kind of thing where you can buy overpriced merchandise, get autographs of genre celebrities (for a fee) and have a good time. We met Erin Grey (Colonel Wilma Deering of the Buck Rogers TV show), Colin Ferguson (Jack Carter of Eureka fame), Peter Davison (the 5th Doctor) and many others. It was pretty cool and the whole family had a good time (seriously, even my wife enjoyed it).

One of the celebrities we met was an author who's name I cannot remember. We were told she was the world's leading Caribbean military paranormal romance novelist. I have never read her books, but I'm guessing they're kind of like Twilight, but with a lot more saluting and ganja. If they ever make those books into movies, I'll bet the soundtrack will be totally awesome. She showed me that if you try hard enough to find a niche, you can be the world's best at something.

I think that kind of mentality can help you get into shape. I try to juggle five or six milestones at a time so that when I hit a wall in one area, I've got something else I can do. For example, I still try to set records on the stair stepper (current best 100 flight time is 14:40, and I've went over 300 flights in one session as well). I've got milestones for pace and distance in running too. And of course, there's the scale.

After that horrible weigh-in, I needed the encouragement of reaching an important milestone. I hadn't taken a stab at "fastest time for a one mile sprint" in a while, so I tackled that one. My previous best was 8:54. Tonight, I ran it in 8:02. It took a lot out of me, but it felt good to get a win. This kind of thing may not work for everyone, but it helps me quite a bit. Victory begets victory. Each win is a building block in the Lego tower of fitness (savor that metaphor for a little while) ...

I'm going to tackle another milestone ... and another ... and another ...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What the scale?

It was a colossally bad weigh-in this morning ... the worst combined weigh-in in the history of the entire program. I lost 0.8 lbs. That's all.

The last time I had a bad weigh-in, I was mad. I went on a tirade and complained about a bunch of stuff. I'm not mad this time. I'm disappointed. I'm saddened. I'm ashamed. So many people are supporting and encouraging me ... investing in me ... and I let them down. I know that I didn't cheat on my diet and I exceeded the distance on the running challenge. And yet, despite my efforts the scale didn't tell the story I wanted it to tell.

When I got mad last time, I thought about quitting. That thought hasn't even entered my mind now. I'm just going to go at it harder and with more determination.

My fat better watch out because, unlike the Hulk, it would far prefer me to be angry, because when I'm angry, I'm stupid. My fat is officially on notice ... it will be begging for mercy this week, and I'm going Cobra Kai all over it (original Karate Kid reference). No mercy. I'm going to sweep my own leg.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Names have been changed ...

I'm fortunate to know people who like to run. They've been really helpful. Here's two mini-lessons I've learned recently from two of my running friends. For some reason, I feel compelled to change their names.

Steve Buscemi (not his real name) and I were talking about running and he said something that I thought was pretty insightful. The two worst fears of a runner are 1) nearing the finish line and having nothing left in the tank, and 2) crossing the finish line and having something left in the tank. I like that because it speaks of finding the balance between pushing yourself too much and not pushing yourself hard enough.

Michael W. Smith (also not his real name) and I have run together a few times. He's got a lot of experience and knowledge about running. When we run, he sets a pace just a little faster than I think I can go and I have to labor to keep up. He understands the principle mentioned in the previous paragraph. With his instruction, I've significantly improved my pace and distance several times. I've also run with my mentor under similar circumstances and likewise improved my pace and distance (and since I'm changing names around for the heck of it, we'll say my mentor's name is Steve Wozniak).

Well, this is Sherman (not my real name, but a nod to the boy belonging to Mr. Peabody ... the one with the WABAC machine) signing off for the night. I'll post my weight loss tomorrow (weigh-in is on Tuesday morning for this week).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Not Hard

It seems a little late in the program to say this, but I had an epiphany today, so that's what I'm going to share with you. Ready for this earth-shattering revelation? Here it is ... FWSW is not hard.

My wife and I ran a 5k today and we both set personal bests again (28:02 for me and 38:30 for Rose). It felt really good. We got home and were making lunch and I was thinking about all the hard work that led to that success. My moment of basking in my own awesomeness was broken by a knock at the door. It was a man asking if he could mow my yard. I used to do that as a kid to make junk food money, but this guy was just a little younger than me and said he's just trying to pay the bills for his family. He was willing to do whatever honest work I had for him. He reminded me of someone else I had seen the previous day during a evening run ... a woman wearing a Burger King uniform whom I passed on the River Green Way. At that particular spot on the path, we were over a mile away from the nearest BK.

This is how I came to realize that FWSW isn't really hard ... and I hope you know what I mean. FWSW is challenging, difficult, and yes, it's hard ... but it's a luxury kind of hard. On the other hand, driving around the neighborhood with your lawnmower looking for work, that's hard ... walking over a mile to/from work, that's hard too ... but not in a luxury kind of way.

Just within the FWSW family, we've had folks struggling with illness, injury and other personal setbacks ... and not just of themselves, but in the lives of their family as well. Life is hard and seeing truly heroic people refuse to bow under harsh circumstances makes my struggles seem so much smaller by comparison. I'm a blessed man, and I know it.

A fresh and accurate perspective is a healthy one, and once again God is using FWSW to nudge me along the path to whole health.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gluttony

I appeared on a television show with Hugh Heffner (and yes, I mean *that* Hugh Heffner). When I was in seminary, I did some research on the seven deadly sins which I posted online. Some time later, the History Channel developed a TV series on the seven deadly sins, and one of their researchers read my stuff and invited me to contribute as a "talking head" expert. They wound up using me on four of the episodes, including the one on lust, in which they also interviewed Hugh. So, while we never met (the interviews took place separately), I was on the same episode as he was. It's still rebroadcast every now and then ... or you can find them on youtube by searching for "history channel seven deadly sins full episodes". (My part on "Lust" is about 2:00 - 4:00.)

But this blog entry isn't about lust. It's about gluttony (the bit about Hugh was a hook to capture your interest). Gluttony is a well known, but poorly understood concept. The common mental image is one of fat people overeating, but it's not just that. At it's most basic level, gluttony isn't "doing something that is wrong" but "doing something that is right in the wrong way." We need to eat, but when we eat incorrectly, then we are practicing gluttony. This is an ancient definition of the term, and also includes not eating enough or being too picky about what we eat.

One of the more interesting things I learned in my studies is that the deadly sins are more about thinking than doing. They could more accurately be called "dangerous patterns of thought" rather than "deadly sins." This is because actions spring from thoughts. I have struggled with gluttony, and my nutritionists have been reprogramming my mind to equip me to win this struggle by teaching me how to eat right.

Why all this talk about gluttony? Well, I was thinking about it and remembered something I'd almost forgotten. Early church theologians wrote extensively about gluttony and they were convinced that victory over gluttony strengthened a person in such a way that it further equipped a person to be victorious in other areas of life as well. As I look back over the last few months in FWSW, I can plainly see that I'm doing more than just eating better. These victories are spilling over into other areas of my life as well. I won't go into a lot of detail here, so you'll have to trust me. Doing the right things in the right way positively touches almost every area of our life.

Note: If you'd like to read more on this, those articles found by the History Channel are still online at http://www.evagrius.net/articles.php.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The right gear

About four years ago, I tried to get into shape on my own. No real plan or even solid idea of what I should do. I decided to start running (because it seemed easy), and after that first two mile "run" (the run turned into a jog after 30 seconds and a walk another 30 seconds later), I thought it would be a piece of cake. I was still sore several days later. I had shin splints really bad. My calves, quads and hammies felt like they had been the guests of honor at a Tonya Harding convention (you young ones will have to google her to get that reference). I knew I was in over my head, so I asked my dad to help me out. That's a story for another day's blog. While my dad is totally awesome and did a great job getting my started, once I was back on my own, I lapsed badly and started gaining weight again.

That experience with running had me real nervous about FWSW. In orientation, they told us there was a lot of running and I thought "oh crap. I don't want another Harding incident." Fortunately, I got some good running shoes and that has virtually eliminated the shin splits. That really hasn't been a problem all season long (thank you, Three River Running Company). I'm starting to enjoy the running a lot more now that I'm properly equipped.

As a geek, I'm a total gadget guy and that has impacted my running. Now when I run, I try to wear certain clothing: compression shorts (for their anti-jouncing and anti-chaffing abilities), running socks (to prevent blisters), dri-weave shirt (to wick the sweat away), a light-weight hat (to keep my bald head from getting sunburned), a headband (my trademark), and nipple band-aids (to avoid the "looks like a used pencil eraser" syndrome). I also wear a smartphone to track my time/distance/route (thank you, runtastic app), and my heart rate monitor (which has both a watch and a chest strap). My wife just got me a camel-pack, which is a big water bottle that you wear like a backpack. It's very cool. It now takes me as long to get ready to run as it does it run my first mile! I wish I had the setup Tony Stark uses to change into Iron Man ... I could just walk down a little path and a robot would dress me. How cool would that be?

How much of the extra stuff is necessary? I would have to say the shoes are essential as they can help you avoid injury, but everything else is bonus. I enjoy those things, but I could still run without them. Even with a discount, good shoes aren't cheap, but it's the single best investment I've ever made in my fitness ... which is a little odd, because as much as I love those shoes, I can't wait to replace them. I'm well on my way to totally wearing these shoes out by running and running and running and running and ...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Both cheeks

When my youngest son was about two years old, we were walking through the parking lot after church, and he slipped and fell. He cried just a little and said that his butt hurt. I helped him up, brushed him off and said, "uh oh, Matt, something is wrong. I think you broke your butt." He was a little worried and asked if I was sure. I said, "yep. I'm sure. I can tell from here that it's cracked." He didn't get it immediately ...

I was running laps during the morning workout and I thought of that story and it made me chuckle. We've all heard a phrase that I will edit because this is a family blog. The phrase? "Half-butting it" ... or half-bumming, half-tushing, half-derriereing, half-caboosing ... you get the idea, right?

Well, as I was running laps, more than a few times I said to myself, "All out, Sherman (there's that Sherman thing again ... where's that coming from?). No half-butting allowed. Run with both cheeks."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

myfitnesspal

A few days ago I said that if you choose to take a fitness journey like mine, then you should write things down. That was good advice then and it still is. Let me introduce to an app that will help: myfitnesspal. You can run it from your browser, Droid, and iOS devices. It helps you track what you've eaten, what you've done in workouts, and how much weight you've lost. It's really handy and has lots of neat features.

It's also very easy to use. When you enter your food, you can just take a picture of the UPC label and it will enter all of the nutrition information for you. If you go out to eat, you can enter the name of the restaurant and the item's name, and it'll do the same thing for you. This deftly addressed one of my biggest fears about FWSW. They told us to log all of our food, and I just figured it was a diet trick ... make me write it all down and I'd probably eat less just to get out of the paperwork! myfitnesspal has made it so much easier to do that you really should look into it.

When it comes to workouts, it doesn't do quite as well. You can enter things like treadmill or elliptical, and it will estimate your calories burned. That's handy, but I find that it doesn't record many of the activities I do ... and I'd love to get credit for all of those calories burned.

For instance, I regularly write database queries that move millions of rows from one table to another. That should be good for at least 500 calories burned, but I get no love on that one. Watching a thriller on TV? I'm sure that burns at least 350 calories for a two hour movie, and even more if it's real tense, but again, myfitnesspal doesn't know how to calculate that burn either. What about rolling my eyes when I hear someone say something stupid? I've checked three times already, and all I can do is roll my eyes in frustration at myfitnesspal's incomplete database. I figure there should also be an entry for using myfitnesspal ... it's easy to use, but hey, every calorie must be counted! I want full credit for the six calories I burned firing up the app!

Seriously, it's really helpful. I give it my full endorsement. We've been taught that people who keep a food journal are twice as likely to lose weight when compared to those who don't keep a journal. If you're serious about getting into shape, then you're going to have to be serious about tracking your food.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Showing up

This week's challenge is 22 miles (up from last week's 21 miles ). The catch is that at least one outing must be a minimum of 6.1 miles. I wanted to take that one down on my first run, so it would be out of the way. Mission accomplished. 6.1 in 1:08:50. A few days ago, I did 6.2 in 1:12:14, so my overall pace was better by about two minutes. It was the longest sustained run I've ever done ... no walking breaks. It was also on a part of the Rivergreenway that was new to me, so that was also cool.

Just yesterday, I knocked out four miles at a 9:27/mile pace. Today, it was six miles an 11:15/mile pace. I know there are good reasons for today's slower time and I'm not bummed that my pace was almost two minutes/mile slower. The bottom line is that I started and finished. I'm finally getting to the point where I can read my body and respond accordingly. As my stamina improves, I'll be able to do more ... and do it more intelligently.

I wish I had something funny to say tonight, but tonight's entry is kind of like my run ... not the best one I've done, but I showed up. I started AND finished.

Big successes on this journey are made up of many little successes just like this one.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Nowaydea!

First, a weigh-in update: lost 5.2 pounds this week, which put me over 20% of my original weight. I'm almost to 50 pounds. That's going to be a really big milestone. Booyah!

Second, I was running with my mentor this morning and we tend to chat a little during our runs. I was telling him a little about a trip I took to Africa in 1988. It was after my freshman year of college that I had a wonderful opportunity to go on a six week trip with New Tribes Mission to Liberia. My team did construction work on a chapel and a school building. It was a life-changing experience for me. When I got back from Africa, I transferred to a Bible college and began to pursue a career in ministry.

My run with Michael reminded me of that trip when he asked how I was doing with the pace we were keeping, and I said, "nowaydea." In the part of Liberia I visited, a traditional greeting was (pardon the misspellings) "jhonotay," which means "how is your body?" (or "how is your health?"). The standard answer is "nowaydea," which means "my body is fine" (or "I am healthy."). In Liberia, I would walk over to single ladies on my team and say, "nowaydea" ... and they would say, "we didn't ask how you were doing." To which I would reply, "well ... my body IS fine." (And yes, I did this on a missions trip.)

That was a long time ago (25 years). I don't know why Michael's question triggered that memory, but I'm glad it did. My team leaders kept telling us write a journal of our experiences so we wouldn't forget things like that. I didn't take them too seriously and barely wrote anything down. When Rick and Tina told us to blog faithfully, I didn't want to repeat the idiocy of not writing meaningful memories down. You may have noticed I've taken this whole blogging thing pretty seriously ... I think it's been a big part of my success.

If you're thinking about jumping on this fitness journey, be sure to write stuff down. Not just your meal plans and such, but your thoughts, fears and triumphs. I'm really looking forward to rediscovering this material when I reread this blog in 2038 ... and because I'm learning how to be healthy for the rest of my life, I fully intend to stick with these changes so I can always say, "nowaydea."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Strolling along

Well, it's Father's Day, and it's been a nice one for me. My wife and kids do a good job of taking care of me, and I appreciate them a whole bunch ...

Since FWSW has started, my wife and I try to walk around the neighborhood on Sunday. It usually comes out to about a three mile stroll. While we were taking our little walk, she said, "You know what? This is the my favorite part of FWSW."

I replied, "You mean this? The walk?"

"Yes, " she replied, "I've always wanted to do this regularly with you since before we even got married. These walks are so special."

Soooo ... you can take one of two things away from this: 1) I'm a cool guy for walking with my wife ... or 2) I'm a toad for waiting over 23 years to give her something that clearly means a lot to her.

Everybody went with #1, right?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Quiet success

I think I've reached a weird milestone today ... the milestone of milestones not being milestones.

I ran 6.2 miles this afternoon. The whole family went down to the Greenway and we were going to do a little trek. The boys ride their bikes, while my wife and I jog/run at whatever pace we can go. The boys ride back and forth between us, which is cool. They've got the water bottle too. We've done this before and the plan is to go half of our planned distance, turn around and come back to where we parked the car.

I'm not sure how far I was planning on running, but once I started I thought, "why not shoot for a double 5k (6.2 miles)?" (Note: I didn't think the part in parentheses ... I'm not even sure how one would do that.) This past week I've done a couple of 5.3 mile runs, which was my best in personal distance. Adding almost a mile just didn't seem like a big deal. While I didn't set any land speed records, I still did it (finishing in 1:12:14). I know this was an accomplishment, but it was a quiet one.

To me, it's a sign that I'm growing up and settling into my new, healthy lifestyle. Rick and Tina have been helping us grow. When we started this program, we were babies. Then we became toddlers, then whatever you call kids between toddlers and teenagers. I guess we're in the midst of our glorious, awkward teenager-ness ... when do we get the keys to the car?

Friday, June 14, 2013

It's all good.

I've been working on my 21 mile run challenge. My evening run was one weird thing after another ...

First, I let my wife wear my heart rate monitor to a social dance. We're thinking of buying one for her, but thought she should try one out first to see how she liked it. She did fine ... but that meant I had to run without my HRM. I started my running feeling like Ben Tennyson (Ben 10 reference) without his Omnimatrix. I know my HRM won't allow me to turn into an alien superhero ... at least I'm pretty sure it won't. I'll reread the manual just to make sure there's not a setting I've missed, because it would suck to have an alien superhero device on my wrist and not even realize it.

Second, I bought a new belt that holds water bottles while you run. It sounds great, right? Going with the superhero theme, I felt like Batman with a cool utility belt. There was a slight problem ... the water bottles felt out of their little pouches about two dozen times. Did anyone actually test that product before shipping it? That was frustrating ...

Third, I was using my phone with runtastic to track my time and path. The battery died halfway through the run.

Fourth, as I running through the neighborhood, I neared a man with a little girl in a stroller that was walking in the opposite direction. As we passed each other, the little girl pointed at me and loudly said, "but she's not a girl." Apparently, she objected to my pink shirt.

Fifth, there's the nipple damage. I've heard that runners can get little blisters on their nipples from running, but I thought that was a myth. My nipples know now know the truth. Do they make an ointment named "nipsosporin" for this sort of condition, or are you just supposed to use the regular stuff?

So, this was not my best run ... but I didn't stop. Three months ago, any one of those little things could have pushed me into a "this is stupid" mindset and I would have quit and/or got mad. But that's the old me and the new me chose to get in shape rather than get bent out of shape. It's all good.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Body talk

I have been so physically exhausted lately. I think it is because of last week's challenge (7k on the ladder and 1k on the stepper). I usually try to rest and recover from the weekly beat downs (err, workouts) by lightening up on the weekends, but last weekend was all work. When Saturday rolled around, I was still 2000 short on the ladder and 450 short on the stepper. I spent myself trying to hit that goal.

Monday is usually a day I can sleep in a little, but I ran with Michael that morning (4 miles at 9:54/mi), then finished off my last 150 on the stepper before going to work. Before weigh-in, I squeezed in another three miles at Lutheran. On a day that I had just run seven miles, Rick announced the new challenge of 21 miles over the next week.

From there, we went into the regular weekly schedule, but it included a public evening workout with Amber on Wednesday (two-a-day with Amber ... what kind of crazy is that?). My wife did the workout too, and her first comment was "you weren't exaggerating. She's just like you said."

This morning we did the pool workout, which usually takes a lot out of me, and today was no exception. So, I sat in front of my locker after getting out of the pool and I'm not sure how long I just sat there blankly staring at nothing. I had not slept well the previous night, my body just felt abused. How in the heck was I going to make through the day?

I wound up calling into work as "exhausted" and took a previously unplanned personal day. I really didn't like the idea, but I knew I would have been far less productive than usual. My boss was gracious and understanding. I went home, climbed into bed, slept til noon then went and got a nice massage.

If you're as unfit as I was when I started, your body will complain. Most of those complaints will be because you're out of shape, but sometimes it will let you know something is wrong. Be sure to listen to your body. It will talk to you. Mine was saying, "okay, you made me do laps, burpies, wall-sits, etc. I obeyed and cooperated. Now it's my turn to call the shots. Shut it down, Sherman, and get me some rest." (I'm still kind of flummoxed by the whole "Sherman" thing.) Pushing yourself is good. Pushing yourself too far is bad. You can get hurt and then you won't be pushing yourself at all for a while.

It helps to talk to somebody (especially trainers) about what your body is saying, and when it says "rest" then rest.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pink

As I've said before, I'm death to water bottles. I'm always breaking, warping, losing, etc. those things. I'm going through about one new water bottle a week ... and these are not freebies, but nice ones ... that pay for ...

I finally got a sure-fire way to cope with my water bottle problem. I'm going to name them. I got the idea from farmers, particularly farmers with kids. They have certain animals on the farm that don't get names. After all, you don't want the kids playing with their food before it becomes food. Goat kabobs are great, but Billy Kabobs are macabre. So, I figure if my water bottles have names, I'll care more for their individual safety. I'm also going to go with a naming theme. They'll all be named after my team: pink. Here's the names I've retroactively applied to my missing bottles:

P!nk ... this was my first water bottle. It may have got the whole party started, but the pretentious use of "!" for "i" kept me from really getting attached. Fate: Warped in the sun because I left it in the car.

Mr. Pink ... it didn't want to be named Mr. Pink. He asked for Mr. Purple, but I told him it was my way or the highway. Let's move on. Fate: Dropped it and it shattered.

Pinky Tuscadero ... this one was like a female Fonzie. Fate: I left it in "the office" and forgot about it. She wasn't there when I went back for it.

Pinky ... I have no idea what happened to this one. It's around the house somewhere. Every now then while I'm sleeping, I can hear a faint "we're going to try to over the world!"

My current water bottle is the Pink Panther. It's hard not to go "dah dum dah dum dah dum etc" when filling it up. If you're going to get a song stuck in your head for a whole day, you could do a lot worse.

For future water bottle names, I've been googling. There's Pink Floyd, which I'll use after I hit the proverbial wall in weight loss. Eight different MLB players were called Pinky (and curiously, no NFL players). There's also a bunch of additional cartoon characters I could use (including Pinkie Pie for all you bronies). And then there's Pinky Lee, a 50's-era celebrity known as a "burlesque radio comic." What the heck does that mean? Apparently, Rizzo gave him a quick shout out in Grease. Hopefully, I won't need any of these new names, but who are we kidding? We all know Pink Panther's days are numbered.

Why make a big deal over my water bottle? Well, I need to drink a lot of water. I turn totally cotton mouth during workouts, and it really does help take the edge off hunger pangs. I try to refill it at least four times a day. High water intake is vital to all fitness programs.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

H2G2 II

If you're wondering why I made such a big deal about H2G2, well ... I love the book and I deeply admire the author, Douglas Adams. He was a funny, unpredictable and brilliant thinker. My biggest takeaway from Adams is that even though he saw chaos, absurdity and craziness everywhere, he refused to accept that he couldn't make the world a better place. He choose to wrest meaning and value from that craziness, and for that, I thank him. That is the attitude I have adopted throughout this season ... I have rejected the old, fat, unhealthy me and I will wrest something fit and healthy out of it.

However, there is one big area where Adams and I disagree. He was an avowed atheist and I am not. I won't describe his position here (he does that himself), but I will share my position. If you were hoping for something funny today, come back tomorrow and I'll try to deliver.

You see, I believe God is my Creator and that He's good. He continues to have a vested interest in my success. Nobody wants me to be happy more than He does. He's my biggest cheerleader.

I also believe God has wonderful intentions for me. Unfortunately, I have intentions for me as well, and we're often at odds over them. As my Designer, He knows better than I what I need and what I should do, but that doesn't stop me from thinking I'm smarter than He is. I recognize a similar phenomena in my kids. Sometimes I think they think I'm an idiot that doesn't know what I'm doing.

By thinking, saying and doing things that defies God's intentions, I had built up barriers between us. He continued to want good for me, but I wasn't cooperating. The theological term for this is sin. I know it's an ugly word that offends some people, but it simply means "missing the mark" ... and it has consequences. Sin damages relationships, not just between friends and family, but between Creator and creature. Even worse, the damage done is beyond my own ability to repair.

Remember when I said He was good? That's such a massive understatement. He sees the barriers that I've raised, and has set about repairing our relationship. He's pursuing me! The centerpiece of His plan is His Son, Jesus Christ. Without going into a lot of additional detail, He lived a perfect life and died in such a way that He conquered the sin problem. He freely offered the gift of restoration to me, and I simply chose to accept it.

My life has not been the same since. I'm not claiming to be perfect or that my life is void of chaos and sorrow. All I can tell you is that I am not alone. He repaired our relationship and I can't imagine surviving some of the things I've endured without Him. This is my story, but I'm not unique. I believe it's a story that can be true of every one of us. If you'd like to talk about it, let me know.

Monday, June 10, 2013

H2G2!

I was going to blog about a girl sitting in a cafe in Rickmansworth, but today's entry is not her story. Today is the long-promised, wholly remarkable blog! If you're a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2), you'll have caught the clever hints I've been dropping. Otherwise, this is just going to sound absurd. I'll wait til tomorrow to tell you why I'm doing such an unusual homage. For now, sit back and try to enjoy the crazy.

As the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom, you might expect the H2G2 to offer some insight into health and fitness.

1) Always bring your towel. It is the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. You'll need it to dry yourself off after your morning workouts ... if it's clean enough.

2) Get your hands on a babelfish if you can. It would be really helpful early in the program when the trainers are throwing terms like burpies, mountain climbers, scissors, planks, wall sits, party trains, and so many more. You'll eventually learn to translate those foreign terms into torturous exercises, but until then the translating abilities of the babelfish will come in handy.

3) It's said that Vogon poetry is the third worst in the universe. The second worst is Grunthos the Flatulent of Kria. I've never seen Grunthos and Amber in the same room, and I suspect they may indeed be the same person. After all, listening to Amber count during planks is more painful than the Vogon poetry I've heard, but not as bad as that of Ms. Jennings.

4) When I'm doing Burpies, it feels like I'm trying to fly. You see, the secret to flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss. If you can accomplish that, then you're flying. We've yet to achieve flight, but we've certainly thrown ourselves at the floor often enough you'd think we'd at least levitate a little.

5) Humans apparently have an obsession with digital watches, which I didn't think included me ... until I got one with a heart rate monitor. Now I understand what the whole obsessed with digital watch thing. They are indeed very cool.

6) Don't panic! Whatever you do, don't think it's hopeless. You're capable of much more than you think you are.

So, why have I been looking forward to writing this blog? Because when I got to a certain amount of weight lost, I wanted to play off one of the more famous moments in H2G2. The people of Magrathea programmed a super computer named Deep Thought to answer the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything. After running it's program for 7,500,000 years, Deep Thought came up with the ultimate answer ... 42. That's it.

This blog entry was going to celebrate the loss of 42 pounds. We weighed today, but I lost a little too much to make my goal of 42. This week was a 4.8 lb loss, which put me at 43.4 total pounds lost! I've waited all season long to make a reference to losing 42 pounds, and I skipped it. However, I figure Douglas Adams would say it's okay to go ahead and celebrate a 42 with a 43. I think it's just the kind of crazy he would have appreciated.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

pretty Frank

Ok ... I've teased this upcoming, amazing blog entry about as much as I can. I should temper your expectations a bit. It's going to be amazing in my own mind. It will be based on a story that I particularly enjoy, and if you know nothing about that story, then you'll just scratch your head and think I'm absurd. That's okay. I'm writing this particular entry for me. If you enjoy it, then we're in the bonus, but if you don't ... oh well. As a final tease, here's one more quote from my inspiration: "The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead." Profound, eh?

The other day I had a conversation with a friend that stared with the usual "you're doing so well" kind of comments. I'm finding FWSW dominates my conversations now. Some of the time it is because people ask questions ...  maybe they're just being polite or perhaps they're genuinely interested (it's sometimes hard for me to tell) ... but most of the time, it's because FWSW is dominating my thoughts. Whether I'm at home, church, work, or somewhere in between, I'm often thinking about a recent workout or an upcoming workout or a workout goal to obtain or ...

Anyway ... this friend said, "I need to do what you're doing." From there, we had a pretty, frank discussion (note the comma back there ... it's not a pretty Frank discussion, which would be about something completely different). She's considering applying to FWSW next year, and I would love to help her along the way. Of all the changes that have taken place in my life since April 1 (getting slimmer, eating better, sleeping sounder, dressing nicer, looking sexier, etc.) this has to be the most shocking development of them all. People are asking me about fitness, and that blows my mind. I know that I'm not an expert ... just a fortunate person who is getting a lot of high quality advice from a lot of high quality people.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Very well done

With all the buildup, you're wondering if the upcoming super blog will be worth it. Despite the high degree of improbability, I have the drive to deliver a great blog entry that day. I might even temporarily turn into a sofa for you.

Last night at the dance studio, I had a number of interesting moments. Most of the regulars hadn't seen me in a while, and some weren't even sure it was me. I got a lot of compliments, and that felt nice. I like getting compliments like "you're looking good" or "wow!" or ... well, you know a good compliment when you hear it.

My all-time favorite compliment that I have ever received came from a coworker (whom I will leave unnamed). She is a very polite, kind and helpful lady who happens to be from another country (which is an important detail). A couple of years ago, we were talking about a project and I started tooting my own horn a bit above my contribution (I'm occasionally known to do that). When I finally stopped talking, she said, "In my country, we are not accustomed to people talking about themselves as if they are great ... but you do it very well." I'm also willing to guess that in her country they don't laugh really loud after receiving that kind of compliment.

In that "talk about myself as if I'm great" vein, let me tell what you I what I did today. I ran a 5k in 30:40, which is almost five minutes faster than my previous personal best! I did some grocery shopping, went home, ate lunch and then went to Spiece and attacked the ladder and the stepper. I did 100 flights of steps and three reps on the ladder (750, 650, 600) which was enough to complete our challenge goal of 7000 feet! I still have 450 flights (out of 1000) of stairs remaining, but I am glad to be rid of the ladder (Rick, please say I'll never have to climb on that thing again). I know it's supposed to be a bit more restful over the weekend, but I needed a productive day if I'm going to make our Monday deadline. Guess what I'm going to be doing tomorrow?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Your groove

You may have noticed that I have recently developed a habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious. It's because I'm pretty excited about the cool blog entry coming up maybe as early as Monday!

Today was a pretty full day. I went to my morning workout with Amber, went to work, went back to Spiece for another ninety minutes of torture (errr, exercise), went home for a bite to eat, and then went ballroom dancing with my wife.

Yes, I'm a ballroom dancer. Not an accomplished one, but I do know how to do several of the basic dance styles. I used to go a lot more frequently than I do now, but I still do a bit now and then. Even still, I'm a pretty smooth lead on the foxtrot, cha-cha-cha and rumba.

My wife on the other hand is a maniac dancer. I think she has a part-time job at our studio because she puts in crazy hours. She's really good and constantly working to get even better. And while she hasn't been able to do a lot of Spiece workouts, she's burning up the calories on the dance floor. She's found something that works for her and she's maniacally sticking with it.

Some people love spin classes. Others love pool workouts or running or circuit training or whatever! One of the things I really appreciate about FWSW is that they're exposing us to bunch of different exercises. It's like a buffet, but instead of the all-you-can-eat kind, it's all-you-can-SWeat. If you've not yet found your groove in workouts, try something new and keep trying stuff until you find what floats your boat. That'll make it easier to stick with it.

Now if we could just get Amber to do a ballroom workout ...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Famous

Amazing blog entry is coming up! When you finally get to read it, I promise that you'll feel like you got hit in the head with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.

Prior to coming to Fort Wayne, I lived the life of a nomad. My family has moved fairly often, but for the last seven years we've been in Fort Wayne, and we love it here. I still haven't figured out what to call residents of this fine city. Are we Fort Wayans (like Marlon and Damon)? What about Fort Wayners, Fort Waynites, Fort Waynians, or even Fort Waynie-boppers? I'm just not sure. I've tried asking some of the long-time residents, but when I get to "Waynie-bopper" they stop thinking I'm serious and have yet to answer me.

I've also learned that a lot of significant people claim Fort Wayne as home ... there's Dave Thomas (inventor of Wendy's Frosties), Philo Farnsworth (inventor of TV and inspiration for a Futurama character), Jenna Fischer (Pam of The Office), Carole Lombard (old timey actress I know nothing about), Dick York (the REAL Darrin on Bewitched), Harry Baals (former mayor with a fun-to-say name), and Petra (classic Christian rock band). Even famous fictional people are from my new hometown: Frank Burns (MASH's ferret face) and George Taylor (Charlton Heston's character that kindly asked an ape to remove its darn dirty hand from his person).

Of course, there's the athletes ... a lot of them! There's Rod Woodson (NFL HOF CB), Dottie Collins (inspiration for League of Her Own), Eric Wedge (MLB manager), Lloy Ball (Olympic volleyball player), and at least seven active NFL players.

One day, I'll join that list of famous Fort Waynie-boppers ... and not as an inventor, TV star, politician, or musician ... but as an athlete. I'm working on the athlete part right now. The famous stuff will just have to wait ... but not for long.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

HRM

Blog entry of amazingness is just around the corner ... I keep teasing it, because if I don't I'm afraid that my mouth might seize up.

Yesterday, I got a really cool gift: a heart rate monitor watch. It's from a friend at work. His whole family is quite athletic ... to the point that their annual family get-together includes a "family 5k." Two months ago, I would have said there's something wrong with a family that chooses to run when they could do anything else but run. But after a few months of FWSW, I've got to say that I'm starting to see the appeal of such a tradition. Running feels good ... and if I were in a family 5k of my own and I beat my younger brother ... well let's just say he would never live it down. Baldy (that's what we called him when he was little), consider the gauntlet thrown.

The HRM (that's what running vets like myself call "heart rate monitor" devices) comes with a strap you have to wear across your chest so that you get accurate measurements. I'm going to guess that it's kind of like wearing a really thin bra. Mind you, I said it's a guess, because I have no relevant bra wearing experience to know for sure.

In addition to it's fitness value, the watch is a nice fashion statement ... and I'm all about fashion. When I wear it, it says to outside world that I am a lithe, sleek athlete (my wife's words). I also like looking down at it to see what my heart is doing, even when I'm not working out. Sometimes my heart rate goes up a little when I really efficient SQL query.

Sometimes I talk into it pretending that I'm Dick Tracy. Nobody has talked back to me ... yet, but one day I just might get Junior to actually answer me. Wouldn't that be sweet?

Cool gifts are cool, but cool friends are better. They've been encouraging and supportive throughout my whole FWSW journey. I know I'm a fortunate man.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

HRM w/ pic

For those of you think you've got cool friends, I'll see your friends and raise you a heart monitor. Look at this really cool gift from a friend and his family! Thank you, Tyrone Wilson, Penny Wilson and family!


I ran my first mile with my new HRM ... 10:06 ... a personal best! After reviewing the stats, I see where I could have done things a little differently. I'm shooting for a 9:00 mile. This new toy is going to make the rest of this season a lot more fun!

Note: The water bottle was already mine. I picked it out myself as a "Team Pink" thing. I dropped it on the floor shortly after taking picture. and it shattered! I am officially death to the entire water bottle species ...

Right Groin

Awesome blog is coming soon ... I'm going to tap into my fanboy, geek mentality, but that's okay. I'm confident that it'll be totally Prefect.

Not only do I love football, but I also really enjoy fantasy football. I was playing before Yahoo started hosting leagues, and have managed as many as eight teams in a single season. The key to doing well in fantasy football is knowing the injury report. It will guide your decisions on who to play, cut, pick up off waivers, etc. If you're going to do well, you need to know the condition of that third string TE in Atlanta. It's important.

For years, there was always one injury that made me chuckle and scratch my head at the same time ... the infamous left (or right) groin pull. I was perplexed how it was possible to injure a left (or right) groin. That implies some sort of highly irregular dual arrangement. And then last night, I was stepping over something, wound up doing a mini-split ... and pulling my right groin. I know now where it is.

I went into this morning's workout fearful of making it worse. Fortunately, we have a strict "tell the trainer" policy, so I talked with EJ about it. He asked a few questions, told me a few things to watch out for, and gave me alternative exercises I could do to prevent making it worse. While still a little sore, my right groin is feeling better and I'm glad that I didn't make it worse.

You know what? Being injured isn't a valid excuse for avoiding exercise. We have had several folks nursing injuries this season, and trainers can always come up with alternatives that are safe and still provide a good workout.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Winner, winner ...


Weigh-in again ... 3.2 pounds ... again. I wanted more than that, but it was enough to pass a few milestones. I'm down to 200.6 pounds. It's been a little over ten years since I've weighed 200 pounds. It's also just over 16% lost of my original weight.

Most importantly, I needed to lose at least 3.0 pounds to keep my lead over my wife (she's at 15.8%). She closed the gap a bit, so I've got to step up the workouts this week. Do you know what the winner gets in MFSW (Murphy Family Smallest Winner)? A thinner, fitter, sexier spouse.

Don't get me wrong ... I want to beat her badly, but I also realize that together we've already won so much. Every drop of sweat has been worth it.

I'm also getting close to that special blog entry I'm growing even more excited about ... it should be next week. Don't worry. As entries go, it's mostly harmless. It's something that I've been wanting to write all season long.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

In sync


My wife and I are certainly getting in sync on this whole experience. We go to church in the morning, eat lunch, take a small break, get in a workout together, and take care of shopping, laundry and cooking for the week. I can't believe how fiercely she has embraced the whole program, and I know she's working harder at this than I am.

We're losing roughly the same amount of weight (seems like we're always a fraction of percentage away from each other), but she's doing it without EJ, Amber, etc. So that's impressive. She also doesn't have the same access to Spiece that I do, so that's also impressive. She does the lion's share of the cooking and laundry (I help). She tackled Rick's challenge today and finished the 100 flights, one mile, 50 flights in 56:30. It was her first extended stint on the stepper, so I'm darn proud of that time. She's run two 5k events with me so far and is registered for two more. Together, we've lost over 70 pounds!

Could I have made it this far into FWSW by myself? I know that I wouldn't have came this far without her ... not just because she's helping me to do it, but because she's my reason for doing it.