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, 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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

If only ...

I ran another 5k today, and set another personal best (35:34). That felt pretty good. It was really sparsely attended, which was probably due to the weather, but it had to be a disappointment to the organizers. That was a real shame, because it was obvious that they had worked really hard to pull it all together. I've occasionally been on the planner/organizer side of an event that wasn't well attended, and I remember how I felt. I appreciate all of the hard work and I hope they'll continue to do this event in the future.

You would be surprised how many people are already doing things like this to help people get healthy. I don't think anyone can ever say "I'd get into shape if only I had some help." Competent support is available all over the place. Sometimes you have to look for it. Most of the time you'll have to let someone know you need it. But you can't say it's not there at all. There are no valid excuses.