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").

Friday, May 31, 2013


One of the cool things about being two months into the program is all of the weird compliments you get. Here's two I've received just today:

1) Someone told me I was working hard and looking good, which was nice. Then it got a little weird ... she said that if I ever dared to put the weight back on, she would be so angry that she would have to hunt me down, butcher me, put an apple in my mouth and barbecue me. That might qualify as one of the strangest nice things I've ever heard.

2) A friend at work told me that someone in his department had asked him if I had cancer. She had noticed that I had lost a lot of weight in a short time frame, and didn't want to congratulate me if the circumstances were unpleasant. Having put my foot in my mouth many times, I really appreciated her sensitivity and tact.

Today was also my "one on one" with CeCe. I'll let you in on a little secret about her ... she's just a big ol' teddy bear. Of course, the villain in Toy Story 3 was also a teddy bear (Lotso). He ruled the toy room with an iron fist and made the others obey his every whim. CeCe is also demanding and she wore me out. It was the single most demanding hour I've had in FWSW to date. It also felt really good to finish it and know that I did it. As hard as CeCe can be, she is also quick to praise a job well done, and her "attaboy" at the end meant a lot to me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Too muscular

My sons watched Toby's latest FWSW video (S06E05) and thought it was pretty cool. My youngest son said that the soundtrack sounded like a Lord of the Rings movie. He's not far from the truth ... one does not simply walk in morning workouts. Sometimes I think the ability to turn invisible would be a nice ability to have during a workout. I'm paying close attention to my fellow FWSWers to see who makes a comment about a "precious" so we can find out who our Gollum is.

On another note, we were back in the pool today. For many folks, that's their favorite workout, but it's definitely my least favorite workout. I want to go at it hard, but it's really hard to do that. I feel like Spiece should compensate me for my fine work as a pool filter (I'm pretty sure I swallow as much pool water as I sweat during the workout.) And then there's treading water ... it's tough, and apparently it will only get tougher as I continue to get less buoyant (i.e., less fat). I've heard alumni say that Rick has a real hard time treading water because he's so muscular. I'm sure that's my problem too ...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Double check

Today, I was walking down an aisle in a public place and I noticed a woman walking towards me. That isn't unusual. As she passed me, her eyes did a "down and up" appraisal. That was unusual. I can't remember the last time that happened.

I've replayed that brief moment in my head a few times, and I'm trying to be realistic. I don't think it was a lustful look, and I'm willing to admit that I might have seen something that wasn't there. But dang it, the more I think about it, the more I think that she was checking me out.

Please understand that I in no way intend to advocate stuff like construction workers doing catcalls and other forms of harassment. That's not what this is about. Having said that, I will say that, at 43 years of age, it was flattering to warrant a second look.

I've never really considered myself a superficial person. I prefer to wear plain, boring simple clothes. I don't spend much time in front of a mirror. I'm bald because it's low maintenance. And while all of those things are true, the last two months I've caught myself taking a double look in the mirror. I now like how I look, and it's been a long time since that's been true.

The best part is that I'm only halfway to my goal ... it's only going to be get better!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Daft Punk

Just a little warning ... I've got a very special blog entry coming up soon. I've been waiting to write this one since my first week in the program. I've had a goal in mind, and I'm getting close. Don't panic ... it'll be here soon enough. I'm just whetting your appetite.

Now that my stamina has been steadily improving, I'm frequently setting new goals to raise my performance level. For instance, I know I can crank out 300 flights on the stepper. It's hard, but I can do it. I also know that I can jog/run for at least three straight miles (at about an 11:45/mile pace). I feel like the subject of that old "Daft Punk" music video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2cYWfq--Nw) ... harder, better, faster, stronger ... that's me.

What I want to start doing now is improving my time. How long will it take me to run a ten minute mile? (Ok, smart alec ... I know it will take me ten minutes to run a ten minute mile ... I meant "how long will it be before I can run a ten minute mile?") When will I get 100 flights in fifteen minutes? I really want to push the boundaries here.

I'm kind of an old-school video gamer, and have been since the early 80s (I once scored over 1,000,000 on Pac-Man when I was in the eighth grade). Old-school video games were all about getting a high score and putting your initials on the machine. Perhaps I should start carving my initials in the stepper every time I set a personal best. Do you think Tom will mind?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Open it up

Weigh-in today ... 3.2 lbs lost since last weigh-in. That puts me at 34.8 lbs lost overall, which is 14.55% of my original weight. I'd have loved to seen another pound or two, but this is a good loss.

I think I've figured out how to describe the mental/emotional roller coaster I've been riding for the past few weeks. It's like I've just bought a really cool sports car and I want to take it out on a long country road to open it up and "see what it can really do." The difference is that the new car is my own body.

I chose to go for a run yesterday ... a real run. I've never done that before. I was curious how far I could go without taking a walk break. Last week, I went a full mile for the first time. Surely, I could top that ... and I did. I hit the one mile marker and thought, "maybe I can keep this up till 1.5 mi" ... and then I got there and thought, "maybe I can keep this up till 2.0 mi" ... and then I got there and thought, "dang, Sherman! I can do all 3.1 mi" ... and I did.

The comparisons to a new car continue: I need premium fuel, I have my own "new car"-like aroma (from both sweat and diet), and ... well, I am a machine. I look forward to finding out what other surprises I've got under the hood. I suspect I'm pretty much the human equivalent of a 1969 Chevy Corvette Stingray (7.0 L V8, 435 bhp and zero to sixty in 6.0 sec).

(Two brief disclaimers: 1. I'm not sure why I called myself "Sherman" ... I've never done that before. 2. I'm not a gearhead. I googled the stats on the car.)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nearly Amish

After work on Friday, I went straight to Spiece and did my workout (it was a great workout, by the way). When I got home, my wife informed me that our plumbing was out of whack. It was backing up into the bathtub and had spilled into an adjacent room and flooded several square yards of carpet. The plumber was at our house for about three hours trying to fix it. Turns out we're going to need just shy of $1000 to fix the problem.

Because it's the holiday weekend, we can't get a hold of the proper authorities to mark lines in the yard so an excavator can come dig down to our pipes so the plumbers can do their stuff. My kids have commented that it feels a bit Amish to be on tight water rations. Washing dishes in tubs, going to the neighborhood laundry mat, and showering at Spiece wasn't exactly our first choice for holiday fun. So far, we're taking it in stride and it's not been nearly as frustrating as you might suspect.

What does this have to do with FWSW? Well, our health insurer has a program where overweight folks are given an incentive to lose weight. If you lose 10% of your body weight, they'll give you $500. That's a nice incentive. My wife and I have just recently crossed that threshold and filed the paperwork to get our reward. Nice, eh? $1000 for losing weight ...

Can you see where I'm going with this? All that weight we've lost so far is actually going to fund our new and improved plumbing. That's a lot of money and had we not received this windfall, it would have been difficult to come up with that much cash on short notice. Now, I was hoping to do something else with that money, but instead I'll almost literally flush it down the toilet. As long as it doesn't came back up into the bathtub, we'll be just fine.

One more thing ... so far in this blog I've given thanks to my wife, family, friends, coworkers, mentor, trainers, nutritionists, etc. I sincerely and greatly appreciate all they've done so far; however, there is someone I've neglected to publicly thank or acknowledge. I feel stupid for having waited this long to say something, so I'll correct it right now. Thank You, God for bringing me through this program so far and I know I couldn't have done it without You.

In His providence, God provided me not only with a much healthier lifestyle, a thinner waist, and great new friends through FWSW, but He used all of those things to meet an unexpected expense. This would have been a huge problem for us, but it's truly a blessing. It cracks me up to think that God allowed us to pay for these repairs with our own fat. Rick has said, "sweat is my fat crying." I offer this corollary: "a working toilet is my fat saying, 'I paid for this!'" I hope that every time I flush my new working toilet (Wednesday!), I will briefly pause to remember that I know an awesome God.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I tried to steal his blues ...

Did a Zumba class with my wife this morning. She really loves to dance, so this is something she really enjoys. Here's my perspective ...

I think the instructor is what makes the class. If you've got a lousy instructor, it's probably not very fun or intense. Our instructor was cool. She's got a lot of enthusiasm and character which makes the class enjoyable. She also does the entire workout with us, so instead of telling us how to do something, she's showing us how to do it. She also does a chirp and whistle kind of thing throughout the workout. I'm not sure how to describe it, but she kind of sounds like R2-D2 when she cues us to switch to another move.

If you're really coordinated, I suppose it is even more fun, but I wouldn't know. I can't dance (insert Genesis musical cue), so I do rough approximations of the official movements, which is allowed. It's not easy, but there are enough reps for me to figure it out eventually. And while it's inspired by dance, it's not really dancing either. You don't need to know how to do much to make it a good workout.

Quality of workout? Personally, it's a little outside my comfort zone, so I prefer some of the more traditional workout classes. I work up a sweat, so it's a good workout. There's a lot of fun music and good variety in movement, so it can be a great "change of pace" workout. I'm also doing it with my wife, which makes it extra cool.

I do know that in just about every class I've taken at Spiece, girls outnumber the guys by a long shot. I'm talking like ten or more to one in several of the classes. I usually feel a little weird when the instructor says "okay, girls do _____ ... (brief pause) ... and the guy can do it too." If you're a single guy thinking about getting into shape, maybe knowing this ratio is just the thing you needed to motivate you to kick into gear.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Guess what? I'm a machine! Oh yeah, that's right. I said it. I'm a machine. I have recently realized that my stamina is massively improving. I am capable of working harder and longer than ever before. Just a few weeks ago, my idea of running a mile was to jog for a bit, walk for a bit, jog, walk, jog, etc. But yesterday, for the first time in my life, I ran a mile without stopping once to take a walking break. I was even planning on taking a few such walking breaks, but I discovered that I didn't need them! I was a machine!

On the stair stepper today, I wanted to get 200 flights of stairs in under 40:00 minutes (37:54). Not only did I beat my goal, but I kept going until I hit 300 flights ... in 56:56! Why 300? Well, it seemed like a good, manly number. Upon completion, I stood there on the stepper and yelled, "Then we will fight in the shade!" Gerard Butler would have been very proud, and I'll be rocking similar abs by the time this season is over.

Compare to my first time on the stepper (seven weeks ago): 40 flights in 15:00. I hated that machine because it seemed impossible, but now I'm the machine. It hasn't taken very long for me to make noticeable progress ... and progress is addicting. I'm pushing myself to see what I'll be able to do next. I'm sure it will be cool ... and hopefully it will involve wearing a leather loincloth and waving a spear at pesky Persian invaders.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Two things today ...

1) EJ had us run a "sled relay" ... which involved pushing a weighted sled back and forth across patio carpet. It's hard. It's even harder when Rick jumps on the sled for a ride. He kind of reminded me of either a mermaid nailed to the prow of a Viking ship or Jack on the Titanic ... either way, there's something glorious about a bald man with big smile.

2) I'm going to stop calling myself a "contestant" (don't get me wrong ... I'm not quitting). From now on, I'm "pre-alumni." My mentor and the other alums have been so cool and helpful. They're working hard and showing us how it can be done. The encouragement means something different coming from them. While I sincerely appreciate encouragement from CeCe, Mari, etc., I can't fathom any of them weighing over 240 pounds. For all their awesomeness, it's harder to identify with them. When Amber says "you can do it" I struggle not to be a little skeptical. When my mentor says I can do it, I know I can do it.

Before I started this program, I wasn't sure if I would last a week. Over half way in, I'm now motivated even more to finish. I want to be alumni too, and I'm going to work my butt off (literally) to get there. After doing the group public workout yesterday, I had a small taste of what it meant to be a mini-mentor (which is cool for a guy that looks like Dr. Evil). So, to help me focus on that goal, I'm going to start calling myself "pre-alumni." Watch out season seven ... Frank the Tank isn't going anywhere!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hobo scarecrow

My clothes have been fitting less well over the course of this season. I was a big fan of the "baggy" look because it helped to conceal my weight, but lately I've been sporting an excessively baggy look. It's the same clothes, they just don't fit as well any more. I had popped the button off of almost all my dress pants, so I would have to wear a belt to hide the missing button. Now the pants won't stay up without a belt, and my belt needs a new hole punched in it ... and not on the side of the belt I'm used to punching holes! I don't want to buy new clothes yet, so I'm stuck wearing old stuff. I go to work looking like a hobo scarecrow ... and I like it. These were clothes that fit me just fine thirty pounds ago, but not any more. It helps me appreciate how far I've come.

The other day, my wife pulled a shirt out of the back of the closet and asked me to try it on. I'd tried it on once before ... about four years ago. She saw it on a clearance rack and thought it would fit me. It's a nice shirt and I was all "cool" ... and then I tried it on and I was embarrassed. I couldn't even button it. It went into the closet and had sat there until just the other day. At my wife's urging, I tried it on again ... and it fit quite comfortably. I looked svelte! I looked good!

I wore that shirt to work the next day and several coworkers gathered around me and commented that I was dressed nicely (I picked up the gently implied "for a change"). I told them the story of the shirt and got a few nice comments. It felt good to get such positive encouragement from people I respect.

Unfortunately, I wasn't wise enough to leave it there and said what popped into my head ... "this is my sexy shirt!" It went from cool to awkward really quick.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Doesn't lie

Regarding yesterday's blog entry: my wife told me I should remove the line about taking a poo before weigh-in. She was concerned that I might give you (the readers of this blog) the wrong idea. "What if someone thinks you're saying that taking laxatives is a great way to lose weight?" For the record, I didn't say that. Don't try that at home.

Here's a little advice about weighing in ... Rick has repeatedly told us that the scale doesn't lie. The key to getting at that truth is to stay consistent, which includes working out (if you're not burning calories, the scale won't have a tale to tell about your tail), weighing-in (always us the same scale, in the same place, at the same time, etc.), and recording your progress (write everything down).

Also remember that the scale isn't stupid. You can't fool it by artificially forcing yourself to sweat during a workout right before a weigh-in. That's not really weight loss. It's not healthy and you'll quickly gain those few ounces right back. Remember your goal is to get healthy and not to just lose weight.

It's not all about the scale. Weigh-ins can be a great encouragement, but it can also drive you crazy. The bottom line is that you know if you've cheated on your nutrition or had a lazy week.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Weigh-in tonight ... it was a good number: 6.2 lbs lost for the week. That's my best loss since week one, and I'm feeling pretty good about that. I had a really good poo before the weigh-in, and I'm sure that didn't hurt.

On my way home from Spiece, I stopped by the dance studio where my wife was in the middle of a lesson. I opened up the door, stuck my head inside and tried to get her attention discretely (which is very hard to do in a neon pink shirt). Everybody kind of stopped what they were doing momentarily and looked at me kind of funny. I shouted across the room, "I just had to tell Rose that I lost 6.2 pounds for the week!" A lot of random strangers politely murmured congratulations while waiting to resume their interrupted dance lesson. I know a few of the folks there, and they were a little more enthusiastic in their comments. My wife? I distinctly heard her say, "you butt!"

She always knows the perfect thing to say.

We're competing against each other in this little adventure, and I finally passed her in total percentage lost. If she had been "wow, I'm happy for you" but sounded a little deflated, then I would have felt bad. Instead, I think it's awesome to see her competitive fires are stoked. She wants to beat me. As long as she's hungry for victory, we're going to keep feeding off of each's intensity and devour our goals! (Why did I just go on such a weird run of food metaphors?) I don't know if I can sustain numbers like this, but I'm going to keep trying.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I'm not trying to go overboard on dream entries, but I had another dream last night. (And let me assure you, these are real dreams.) I had dropped off my son at a birthday party and was going back to get him. They had served McDonald's food, and my son came out carrying a bag with what he hadn't finished (half a cheeseburger and some french fries). When he got into the car, I absentmindedly reached into the bag, grabbed a few fries and popped them into my mouth. No sooner had I swallowed the fries when I realized, "I'm in so much trouble! Alissa is going to kill me!" (Alissa is one of my nutritionists, and you should hear her talk about french fries.) I woke up in a cold sweat. It felt so real that it actually took me a little while to realize that I didn't have to record imaginary dream food in my nutrition journal.

This is a major change for me. I actually care about what I eat now. It matters to me. For dinner tonight, I ate bison steak with mushrooms, onions, broccoli and melon (prepared by my lovely, awesome wife). It was so much more enjoyable than a few stolen, fictional french fries.

On another note, my wife and I ran a 5K today and both of us set personal bests. I shaved eleven minutes off my time from the 5K I ran last month. Seriously! I'm collecting my bibs from these races and I'm tacking them on my wall at work. After I get a few more bibs, people will start thinking that I'm a track star ... and I aim to make sure they're not mistaken.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


I started shaving my head about ten years ago. I'd wanted to try it earlier, but my wife always objected. She thought people would think I was a neo-Nazi (seriously). When I finally got the "go-ahead" I went for it and have been shaving my head ever since.

About a year into the bald era, I had a dream in which I was bald. I'd had other dreams when I was physically bald, yet I had hair in my dream. Now I'm not into interpreting dreams for all sorts of meaning, but I do figure that when I finally turned up bald in a dream, I was indeed a truly bald man.

Last night, I had a cool dream (most of my dreams are cool). My wife and I were teenagers in Santa Monica. Her family owned an arcade (like Flynn's from Tron) on the Wharf and I was a multi-sport star at the local high school. We came from two different worlds. We knew each other a little from school, but really started liking each other after hitting it off at a church youth activity. Her family objected to our developing friendship, but that wouldn't stop us. One night, her brother Chris met me after football practice. He said his parents wouldn't object to me seeing Rose at the arcade, and then he said that he thought I was good for Rose. He gave me a bag of tokens and left. I went down to the arcade and started playing Ikari Warriors with my free tokens. After a few minutes, Rose came over and joined me. She leaned over and whispered into my ear, "I can get us all of the free Pepsi we want." And then the credits rolled ... (I kid you not ... this dream actually included a credits scroll).

What does this have to do with FWSW? Rick has said on numerous occasions that we are becoming athletes. Our training has equipped us to work harder and longer than ever before. I've heard him say this several times, but had yet to think of myself as an athlete (notwithstanding the blog entry from 5/16). Last night, it happened. I was an athlete in a dream. Silly? Sure. Cool? Absolutely.

(For those who are wondering, our real dating story was nothing like this. And yes, I was bald as a teenager in last night's dream.)

Friday, May 17, 2013


Just the other day, I saw a story about a guy that hired a wizard to cast an invisibility spell on him. It cost him $500, which is a lot of money, but it was not a frivolous expense. He paid for the spell because he needed to rob a bank. It was a genius plan, don't you think?

Somehow he got caught. Maybe the security guards saw piles of money floating in the air, realized a wizard was invisibilizing people again, and tackled the would-be thief ... or the more likely explanation is that the spell didn't work as well as he thought it would. I like to laugh at people like this. It makes me feel better knowing that I'm not that dumb ... then I caught myself doing something very similar.

Yesterday we had our workout in the pool. As I might have hinted at elsewhere, I'm not a strong swimmer. Rick was taking people out of the regular workout to swim laps. The only other time I have ever swam laps was the last time Rick asked me to swim laps, but that was cut short because we ran out of time (bummer). I desperately did not want to be asked to swim laps. I knew I couldn't do it. So ... I did the FWSW equivalent of paying a wizard for an invisibility spell. I used the old "I'll be invisible to Rick as long as I don't make eye contact" trick. Surely, if I can't see him, he can't see me, right?

It didn't work. He either saw an odd pair of empty swim trunks mysteriously floating around the pool ... or he saw me anyway and told me that he wanted three laps. And guess what? For the first time in my life, I did not one ... not two ... but three laps! Booyah me! It wasn't easy (and yes I took a few breathers), but I finished it. Booyah me, indeed.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Track superstar

This is going to come as a shock to most of you, but I was not a four letter sports star in high school. I know, I know ... I look like I started at point guard, was an all-city safety, led the swimming team to a state championship, and anchored the hockey team's first line. You might find this hard to believe, but I was not an athlete in either high school or college. I was president of the computer club, captain of the Scrabble team, and was widely regarded as *the* guy you wanted on your Pictionary roster ... but those stories for other days.

I was on the track team ... for about as long as it took me to write this blog. Seriously. A few days after track season started, I saw the coach and innocently asked how the team looked (why I did that remains a mystery to me). He told me I should join the team because he still needed a few more athletes. With a personal invitation like that, I showed up wearing something that might have made me look like an extra from Flashdance (cut me some slack ... it was 1985).

He asked what I could do, and I said, "anything you need to me do, coach." I felt like a stud saying that. He said he needed a miler and wanted me to run four laps around what looked like a very long track. I took off, and my first lap was impressive. I was a blur. By the time I started my second lap I thought it was important to conserve my strength (and my pounding heart), so I walked a little. I'm not sure how long my third lap would have taken had I finished it, because I started thinking about how impossible it was to run a whole mile. When I got to the third turn on that third lap, I just kept walking straight. I didn't look back and I didn't even tell the coach where I was going. Being on the track team sucked.

I'll be completely Frank with you (get it? it's my name and it means "earnest" too ... it's a play on words). I often have moments like that. Times when I just want to quit. For example, just about every time I get on that stepper, I want to call it quits about three minutes in. My legs already hurt and it doesn't feel like I can do it, but I know that if I can suck it up and get to about the seven minute mark, I'm usually good for a full 45 minutes or so. I just have to clear that first block. I've run miles and miles on the treadmill in the last few weeks, and my fastest times have never been my first mile, but rather my second or third.

If you're thinking about taking this fitness journey, but you have experiences like my track career, let me encourage to power through that first and second and third moment of doubt. You are so much stronger than you think are. You can go further than you think you can go.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remember me?

A few days ago I got an email from my mom. She had reconnected through Facebook with some old friends, including a girl I knew in middle school. She said some very nice things about me, and I was flattered to learn that I was remembered so kindly. It was thirty years ago! Over the years, I've got several of those "you may not remember me" messages, and most of them have had a pleasant memory attached to it. It's cool to learn that so many years later an act of kindness did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

So, Rick, Tina, EJ, CeCe, Amber, Mari, Amy, Alissa, Jennifer, Toby, Michael, Caleb, Morgan, Stacy, Taylor, Pastor Mark and so many others ... I don't want you to wait thirty years to hear that you guys mean a lot to me. You've helped me make some important and necessary improvements to my life and I am a better person for knowing you. I'll probably still poke you thirty years from now and ask if you remember me ... I really hope you drop a "Frank the Tank" somewhere in your reply.

On a related note, a coworker of mine asked me several questions about FWSW today over lunch. He wanted to know about the type of workouts and if the trainers would accommodate someone who couldn't swim, etc. He's been reading the website, watching the videos, checking the blogs, etc. He's doing his homework and is thinking about applying next year. How cool is that?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Out of character

I actually registered for two different 5k races today. One is this Sunday and it looks pretty normal, but the second one is "Color Vibe" ... it's a "race" that's more fun than competitive. While you're running the race, people will pelt you with little packets of color. Everyone comes out looking like a tye-dye experiment gone horribly wrong. A bunch of FWSW folks are unofficially entering together, and you're welcome to join us (http://www.thecolorvibe.com/). My whole family, including my wife and two sons, are going to do this with me.

Here's the crazy thing: two months ago I would have never signed up for a 5k, even a fun one like this. A 5k anything just sounded wrong (to a computer geek like myself it needed to be a distance that was a power of two ... jus' sayin'.) Now, not only am I doing this, but my whole family and a bunch of friends are doing it as well. Those who know me know that me doing this kind of thing is (was) completely out of character. FWSW promised that there would be more changes than just a diet or exercise, and it's true. That I'm looking forward to these events is not the old me.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mister Sir

I felt pretty rested this morning, so I wanted to tackle my own personal stair-stepper challenge again. I've been ramping up with a goal of hitting 200 flights and went 162 flights in forty minutes. I shattered my personal best ... again! It felt really good. After work, I went back a little early before the weigh-in and decided to push myself a little further. I was hoping for about 175 flights, but then I thought, "why not try for 200 in 45 minutes?" I've got a series of interval plans I'd figured out and went straight for the big mountain. My first 100 was yet another personal best (21:58), but that didn't stand for long because I beat it by a tiny bit on my way to 200. Time? 43:55!

There's not a lot of stuff that I feel really good at when it comes to the workouts. Between my ignorance of most things fitness-related, my lack of general coordination and just feeling so dang stiff all the time, I feel pretty clueless a lot of the time. I still need to concentrate to get a task finished. But when it came to my quest for 200, I knew how to calculate a plan that would get me there. It felt really good along the way knowing that my plan was spot-on. I actually felt competent! That stair-stepper machine knows my name now ... it calls me "Mister Sir."

I also had my best loss since week one ... 5.8 pounds! Boom goes the dynamite! That put me at 25.4 pounds for the competition, which is over 10% of my original weight. Weigh-in felt good ... but not as good as kicking that stepper's butt.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hi mom!

In honor of Mother's Day, I'll tell you a little about my own mom. She's awesome. I know we're supposed say that kind of stuff about our moms, but in my case it is absolutely true. She is a godly, compassionate and wise lady who sets an incredible example for everyone else. I'm really, really proud of her and being her son is an honor and a privilege. Like I said, she's awesome.

With that in mind, what I'm about to say will be a bit embarrassing. We (the rest of the family, including my dad and siblings) love to play little pranks on her. Because today is her day, I won't go into detail on the kind of stuff we've pulled, but she falls for our shenanigans often enough that we're encouraged to keep trying. After we do get her real good, she usually says "all I did was trust people that I love." She's insightful like that.

One of my favorite "momisms" is from when she was trying to solve a problem. She would say, "I may not know what the answer is, but I do know some of the things that the answer isn't." That's been particularly relevant to my experience with getting in shape. When I started, I didn't know how to do much, but Rick, Tina and the others started us off with a lot "don't" guidelines. If that sounds like a negative, I assure you it isn't. As one who has spent the past 25 years mucking up my own health I needed to plainly hear what some of the answers weren't. If I wanted to get in shape, Big Macs aren't going to help, exercise would, drink lots of water, etc. As I've sat in nutrition classes, I've often heard my mom's voice in my head echoing what I was learning. I told you she's an awesome mom ... her words continue to encourage and strengthen me ... and she lives a thousand miles away.

I love you, mom!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coming soon ...

Quick clarification from yesterday ... I said that a lot of stuff isn't "fun" about FWSW. I wanted to make sure that didn't sound ungrateful (hence my comments about being thankful and appreciative), but I accidentally left something out. I have had some pretty intense feelings of satisfaction. For example, I'm not having fun when I'm on the stepper, but it does feel real good to set a personal best. Just throwing that out there.

I hit the rowing machine today. Mostly it was all about looking for something different and the rowing machine qualified. I went 5k in a little less than thirty minutes. It felt like a good pace for my first time. While I'm pulling away on that thing, I wondered how likely it was that someone would soon steal my idea for a social networking site and become a mega-billionaire (The Social Network reference). I guess it's just a risk I have to take if I want to get fit. If I'm going to keep doing this rowing thing, I'll need to get some MP3s of a pirate beating a big ol' drum to keep pace (Pirates of the Caribbean reference).

And with those two movie references, get ready for The Lone Ranger movie ... starring Armie Hammer (the actor who played the Winklevoss twins -- both of them!) and Johnny Depp (the actor who played Jack Sparrow). In theaters on July 3!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not fun

I'm often asked about FWSW. Friends, family and even strangers ask ... often. I guess there's something about a svelte, bald man in a neon pink shirt that screams "ask me about FWSW!" Everybody asks the same questions: how long is the program, how much weight have I lost, what are the workouts like, etc. While most of the questions are fairly predictable, I'm surprised that so many folks ask if I'm having fun.

I usually say "no." For the most part, it hasn't been fun. I don't enjoy sweating on the stair-stepper, waking up for early workouts, doing planks, etc. Don't get me wrong ... I'm thankful. I know this is a privilege and I really, really appreciate the opportunity I have to do this. But is it fun? Not really ... it's hard work.

So just last night, I was talking to someone about FWSW and the inevitable "are you having fun?" question comes up. I gave my standard answer, and he came back with "that's a shame. I've been through the wringer too and a few years ago I weighed eighty pounds more than I do now. I had to find things that made it fun. If you don't do that, it will get really hard to stay motivated. It's easier to keep working hard if you're having a good time."

That's when I realized parts of FWSW have been a lot of fun. I'm making great friends, and I love my teammates. (Go Pink!) And I look forward to writing this blog at the end of each day. I'm not required to write as often as I do, but it's good for me. Working hard gives me something to mention here. I'm afraid that when I run out of material, I'll run out of steam. So, I guess this blog is more for me than you. I hope you appreciate it. I do.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Little feet

Today, I was all over the place in the morning workout: with Mari, then EJ and CeCe, then Rick. I think I burned quite a few calories just going from station to station. I thought the cardio stuff with Mari was rough, but "Jacob's Ladder" was brutal. Rick has a new toy (the aforementioned ladder) and it looks vaguely like a torture device from The Princess Bride. I don't understand how to it sucks the energy out of you so quickly, but it does. I felt mostly dead.

What stands out most from today was doing planks with EJ and CeCe. EJ told us to drop, so I dropped and assumed the position. CeCe is walking up and down the line and I'm thinking, "please keep moving. Don't stop here." She stopped right there ... next to me ... and shouted out a good 'ol "Frank the Tank!" Then she started correcting my form. I am usually conscious of arcing up too much when doing planks, but my problem this time was going swayback.

CeCe stayed right there with me the entire plank helping me out. My arms were quivering and I just wanted to drop to the floor, but she stayed right there. I didn't want what would happen if I dropped, so I kept grunting it out. I held it for what seemed like forever while CeCe stubbornly refused to see if anyone else needed her assistance! My field of vision had collapsed into only what I could see a few inches on either side of my trembling hands. Guess what I was thinking as EJ called "time" and the plank was finished?

"CeCe sure does have little feet."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Yo, Adrian!

There's a lot of variety in what we do during workouts. There's push-ups, planks, wall sits, burpies, toe taps, jumping jacks, running up and down the stairs (inappropriately called "the party train"), sprinting, etc. We do these various exercises in one to five minute intervals.

During this morning's workout, Amber had a few of us jump rope. I think this particular interval was about forty-five minutes long. I'm absolutely positive I was killing it for the first forty-four minutes. Unfortunately for me Amber was walking around the room checking on other contestants, and I don't think she saw me when I must have looked like Rocky did when he was working out in Mickey's gym.

Eventually, I was thoroughly pooped. My heart was loudly thumping out the bass line to "Gonna Fly Now" and I was momentarily reduced to doing something I'll call "bouncy bouncing." It's possible that it looked slightly less manly than Rocky did while working out in Mickey's gym ... but I didn't stop moving, which I'm told is very important.

With about ten seconds to go, Amber looked in my general direction and saw me toiling away with the jump rope. We made eye contact ... and then she chuckled. I'm sure it was because she had just remembered a funny joke she had heard earlier that morning.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Calmed down

Raise your hand if you threw a temper tantrum in your blog yesterday ... (raises hand) ... yep, I was a little ticked yesterday, and I vented right here. I'm not proud of it and even thought of removing it, but if you're still reading this, you want to know what it's like to do something like FWSW. That's what it was like yesterday. Some days just feel like a kick to the head.

Even though I was a ding-dong about the whole thing, everyone still encouraged me. Michael (my mentor) really brought it home with a candid heart-to-heart after this morning's workout. I've said it before, and you'll hear me say it again, having the right kind of support makes a huge difference. His words came across so clearly because he's walked where I walked. As FWSW alumni, he's been in my shoes.

Here's the bottom line: the old me (pre-FWSW) couldn't do any of the things I've done so far. I've come so far that that old fat me is gone and replaced with a little less fat and fitter me that could complete a 5k (barely), or do 100 flights of stairs, etc. Here's the cool part: the me that waddled the 5k is also gone and has been replaced with an even leaner, fitter me that is capable of even more. Remember how I was so proud of 130 flights in 40 minutes last week? Well, that me is long gone too and has just been replaced another me that just did 152 flights! My goal is 200 flights in 40 minutes, and some sleek Adonis future me is going to do it.

So, fortunately, the me that threw a fit yesterday is gone just like the others. I'm sure you remember him, but don't get too attached. He's history. And so am I.

(Final note -- for some reason, I've got Weird Al's "I Think I'm A Clone Now" playing in my head ...)


Monday, May 6, 2013

Not feeling it

I walked into this week's weigh-in full of confidence and swagger. I knew that I had lost at least four pounds ... maybe more. I knew that my nutrition was good. I had worked harder than I had previous weeks, including setting several personal bests in multiple areas. I had ran farther and longer on the treadmill than I ever had. I hit the stair stepper several times, including one stint for 130 flights. I was prepared to hear Rick say some ridiculous number for my loss total.

It was ridiculous alright ... 1.8 pounds. That sucked and it makes me furious. I can't believe all that work led to what feels like nothing. I know all the "cheer you up" comments (I've said them to others) ... you're putting on muscle, you're *looking* thinner, a loss is a loss, etc. ... I don't want to hear any of that, because it feels like an insult.

I could understand this better if I had slacked off here and there, but I didn't. Not only did I break my personal best records ... I shattered them! Without exaggeration, I did things this past week I had never even attempted before in my life. If multiple personal bests result in just 1.8 pounds ... well, it doesn't feel worth the effort. My worst loss came on what easily felt like my hardest working week.

They told this would be hard ... that we would ache and want to quit. I've felt that over the first month, but then I'd go in for a weigh-in and hear numbers like 7.6 or 4.4. That would make me feel pretty good about things. Beat me up if you want, but as long as I get that great number, I'm okay with it. Right now? I'm not cool with it.

I'd love to tell you I've already learned some amazing lesson from deep inside my gut. I want to tell that I'm feeling like Rocky and that I'm going to get up off the mat and beat the crap of Ivan Drago, but I'll be blunt and candid ... I'm not feeling it right now. Just not feeling it all. I'm not quitting, but I'm not feeling good about continuing either.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Less of me

"I look forward to seeing less of you!" Under normal circumstances, hearing that would be a blow to my ego; however, since I've been losing weight this past month, it's now a compliment.

It's also created an unusual situation where I feel obligated to make sure I'm not short-changing anyone on enjoying my presence. For someone to get the same dose of me, it's necessary to make up for my missing mass by taking about 7.5% longer to complete a conversation (having lost about 7.5% of my original weight is where I got that number). It's not easy to come up with that much new filler, so I tend to recycle bits of previous conversations. As I continue losing weight, I'll feel the freedom to continue to expand the amount of your time that I need. By the end of this program, it will take me at least ten minutes to have an eight minute conversation. As I said, my weight loss has created an unusual situation ...

Seriously, I expect being healthy to come with a whole new set of problems. Some of them I can anticipate, but I'm sure that I need to stay on my toes. It's great that a lot of FWSW alumni are investing in us. Those of you thinking about getting into shape, look for people that have already walked your path. They're a valuable resource.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Team Pink

If you don't know much about my team, let me introduce you:

There's Morgan. She's one of the younger contestants this season and is full of energy. She is usually at the front in our workouts, and she goes tirelessly and at full speed. She's our Energizer Bunny.

Caleb is a machine. He looks quiet until the workouts start, and then it's like a switch was flipped and he transforms into some incredible singing, shouting, calorie burning machine. He's a no-excuse guy who works a real hero's job. So, we've got a transforming, machine-like hero? He's clearly our Optimus Prime.

Stacy is married with two kids and teaches school. I can understand how difficult it is for her to do FWSW, and she's killing it. In my opinion, FWSW is harder on moms than dads, so I'm even more impressed with her success. She is indefatigable! I've thought about this one for a while, and I think she's our Wonder Woman.

Taylor? She's our Statue of Liberty. I know that sounds weird, so bear with me. She constantly upholds a high standard that makes others want to be a part of her circle. Her example is a shining beacon. I work harder when she's watching because I don't want to disappoint her. When I grow up, I hope to match her enthusiasm and sweetness of spirit.

So ... that's my team.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Birthday party

Something cool from work: one of my coworkers turned forty this week (he is so old!) and his wife planned a surprise party for him at work. She wasn't there, but prepared the whole thing by recruiting various folks to help with all the details. There was cake, party favors, decorations, etc., and he had no idea what was going on. It was a brilliantly executed plan.

I wasn't too worried about being tempted by the goodies and was going to take an apple to the party. It turns out that I didn't need to do that. His wife knew I was in FWSW and she went the extra step to include a special low cal snack just for me. It had my name on it! How cool is that?

One obstacle people face when trying to get in shape is that they're afraid other people will make it difficult for them. I certainly was. I was always making fat jokes about myself and "bragging" about my junk food diet and no-exercise lifestyle. Early on in FWSW, I wondered what people were going to think when I claim to be making good fitness choices? Would they make fun of me or call me out as a hypocrite?

That certainly has not been my experience so far. Maybe I'm just crazily, exceptionally blessed, but everyone I know has been really helpful. Not only have my friends been great, but as I've got to know my teammates, they've been great too. If this is your fear too, remember my coworker's wife. You'll find many wonderful, thoughtful and amazing people just like her coming out of the woodwork to help you succeed. We don't have to do this alone.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Shaving time

On April 14, I ran the Formula for Life 5k at St Francis in 49:37. Not a great time, I know.

Tonight, I ran an hour on the treadmill and made it 4.5 miles. I know that's not an amazing accomplishment either, but what I'm particularly proud was my time at the 5k mark ... 42:55.

In less than three weeks of training, I've shaved over six minutes off my time!

Kissing another man

It's been a full month since our first group workout, and I can't believe the changes. I would have never guessed that I could run so far or for so long (well, it's still a walk/jog, but let's not quibble). I'm eating better, feeling better, sleeping better. Clothes no longer fit like they used to fit. It's all good.

The weirdest compliment I've received so far? My wife told me that my skin feels ... wait for it, wait for it ... luxurious. Seriously? Is that an adjective any burly man has ever wanted to hear used of himself? I didn't ask for clarification, but I got it anyway. She continued, "your skin used to be rough and scaly. Your elbows in particular were abrasive. But now? You're skin so soft. And your skin color is better too. You used to have dark circles under your eyes, but they're fading. And I can tell you're getting a lot thinner. Don't take this wrong, but when I kiss you, it almost feels like I'm kissing another man."

Ok ... not sure what to do with that. I'm glad she's noticing the improvements. I'm also glad that she stopped short of comparing me to the ugly duckling and a beautiful swan. If she were to compare me to a bird, I would have wanted to be compared to a pterodactyl. They're cool.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My favorite compliment ever

Here's a nice little follow-up to yesterday's post. Nikole, one of the alums, was looking at photos on the FWSW FB page and came across one that was taken just after Kasi's workout. Everybody in that picture is smiling ... well, almost everyone. There's one pasty, sweaty bald dude in the back looking like he'd been ran over by a bulldozer (that was me). Nikole showed the picture to her young daughter who apparently knows quite a few folks in the program. She pointed at me and said, "Is that Rick?"

Booyah me! How cool is that? It's been at least a week (maybe a wee bit longer) since I've been compared to someone with the physique of a Michaelangelo sculpture. I was standing next to Rick when Nikole told him the story. We all know kids say the darnedest things and I thought we'd all chuckle a bit. I fully expected Rick to say something very funny.

What he said wasn't funny ... instead, it made me a tear up a little (bald guys apparently are prone to this). He said, "Really? That is awesome. What an honor for me that someone thought I was you, Frank!"

Is this an incredible program or what?