Monday, February 28, 2011

A Special Monday Motivator

This past weekend marked 19 years since my childhood and college buddy Kevin tragically lost his life.  It dawned on me that sometimes it takes thinking about what is important in life to get focused and motivated.  Kevin was an active, athletic guy who had a bright future ahead of him.  He lived his life.  He was a high school state qualifying wrestler and a small college defensive end at the Division III level.  I often wonder what my life would be like with him still in it, but on this Monday, I'm motivated by how short but sweet life can sometimes be.  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Born to Run....

He's off an running.....75 days across the United States by foot raising money for Action for Healthy Kids.

I'll be joining Dean when he passes through Indianapolis on April 17th for a short 5K stint of his amazing run/fundraiser.  

Please consider going to my fundraising page and making a donation to help Action for Healthy Kids, a non profit fighting childhood obesity and undernourishment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Report Card

It's been a few days since I've had anything to share mainly because I'm still nursing that damn groin injury.  If you read my previous post from Monday, I talked about focusing on three things.  Well, here's my personal assessment as the week draws to a close.  

1.  My Diet:  A-
I vowed to eat Paleo 100% for the entire week, and I've done mostly that.  My thinking was that if I want expedite the healing of my groin, then I needed to eat foods that do not cause any sort of inflammation or add to the inflammation already going on in my body.  Aside from logging my food, I can tell you that the only food I've crept back in is one bowl of oatmeal and I added pure maple syrup to it yesterday.  Grains are known to cause inflammation.  You can read about that here.  

2.  Stretching:  C
Why is this so difficult for me to do?  It's simple.  It does not take much time.  I need it just like eating well and exercising, and I know I will be injured the more I neglect it.  My answer:  I have to remember that I need to do it even when I'm not working out.  I returned to Crossfit the other night and took it easy, modifying any movement that would put strain on my groin.  I took time to stretch a fair amount before the workout, but of course, I raced home afterwards so my wife can get out the door to go do her thing. So I neglected my post-stretch which is probably the best time TO stretch.  I have done some light stretching even when not working out, but not like I need to.  If my teacher were reporting it would say, 
"Craig is a pleasure to have in class, but he needs to really get organized with his stretching."

3.  Yoga:  A
Monday, since I was off for President's Day, I subscribed to Yogatoday.  While I'd much rather go somewhere to do yoga, I don't need another expense and another thing to schedule around the family, so I decided to do the online thing.  While it's not optimal, it is better than nothing.  I held my commitment in that I did it and plan to do it at least once per week for a month.  It's ten dollars a month for unlimited access to countless yoga videos.  However, it's very difficult for me.  I made myself start at the Novice level as I am very inflexible and need a review of some basic movements.  I find that after about 30 minutes, I lose focus and it becomes uncomfortable.  Hell, they say downward dog is supposed to be a rest position?!?!?!  
I have a long way to go, but I like the relaxation, spiritual side of yoga.  Very relaxing amazingly enough.  

So I'm going to add a new section to the Report Card:  

4.  Rest/Recovery:  
Perhaps I should just call this Being Smart.  As much as I love working out, I know that I'm in the middle of one of the worst injuries I've had in quite some time.'s a stupid one in that it was totally avoidable.   I've been very good about returning to exercise and listening to my body.  Last night was the third time back at it and I went to Crossfit with every intention of doing the complete workout.

Here was the WOD (Workout of the Day) from yesterday.

Skill:  Accumulate the following:
1:00 of L-Sits
2:00 of HSPU hold
3:00 of Hollow Rock
4:00 of Plank (face down or on side) holds

Wod: 5 rounds for time of:
21 OverHead walking lunges w/45 lb. bar overhead
21 Burpees

If you are not accustomed to Crossfit, the Skill stuff is all core work.  I omitted everything except the Plank as my groin was pissed for even trying the others. Because the 45 lb. bar added extra strain on my injury, I bagged it and decided to sub in 30 step ups to a 20 inch box instead.  So my WOD became:
5 Rounds for time of...
30 step ups (20 inch box)
21 burpees
TIME:  18:27
I got a great sweat.  I worked at a steady pace, and I just listened to my body.  

Teacher Comments:  "Craig tends to want to do more than he should and sometimes needs an extra reminder not to be stupid with his injury.  I know he really wants to compete in the Fight Gone Bad WOD this weekend, so I hope he'll be smart and wait for the next time this great workout comes around.  I hope he will continue to make strides in listening to his body so he can make a full recovery."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday's Motivation

As the month rounds third and heads for home, I'm struggling.  I've not done anything remotely close to exercising since last Sunday.  At the ripe age of 38, I joined an indoor soccer team made up of members from Crossfit Carmel.  We have not been too successful in the win category, however we all enjoy playing and competing.  When I was a teenager, I ate, drank, and slept soccer.  So......down by several goals, last Sunday I decided to drill a shot from 30 plus yards out.  

It was in this position....

As I felt my groin tear like a head of lettuce on both sides, I spent some time like this....

It's a week and a day later, and there is no way I'm able to exercise how I would like.  So I figure I have choices: 

1.  Fall of the wagon and continue creeping things into my diet that don't belong.
2.  Focus more on my diet than ever before.
3.  Start stretching every day.
4.  Get going with some Yoga b/c I've been saying I want to do that for awhile now.

The correct answers....

2, 3, and 4.

Number 2

I'm not GOING on a diet, rather I'm going BACK to my strict dietary lifestyle for the structure I need.    I've let some foods creep back in very small moderation.  i.e. a couple of Girl Scout Cookies (by the way...the Samoa should be THE ONLY Girl Scout Cookie), bread and cheese on a sandwich, beer, and oatmeal.  The oatmeal does not sit very well in me in the morning.  It never has.  Perhaps it's also the almond butter I put in it.  I like dark, heavy beer, and I have had a couple the past two weekends, and both times, I was full quickly.  Not a bad thing at all, but I had a distended, bloating feeling like I've never had before with beer.  Strict Paleo for me for the next week.  100%.

Number 3
I must stretch!!!  MUST, MUST, MUST!!! I'm not sure I'll end up like this guy, but ya' gotta start somewhere.  Stretching is very difficult for me.  It's boring.  It hurts, and I'm less than a beginner.  However, I know if I want to keep working out at the level I've been, this is non-negotiable, and I am the only one standing in my way.  Stay tune for more on this including resources, I hope.

Number 4
I'm going to start yoga.  It's better on the body.  It helps with multiple issues:  flexibility, stress, mobility, endurance, and strength.  My wife has taken to hot yoga, but I sweat so much they may not let me back in the place.  I think I'm going to save a buck and start here.  Stay tuned as I will report back. 

So.....several months back I told myself I wanted to train for a half marathon and get below 2 hours.  I hope this injury has come along as a wake up call, as I'm going to let it heal while still finding ways to keep fit and maintain the path that I've been on.  I'm doing all I can do look at things this way.......

Stay tuned........

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Running Across the United States

It's almost Spring and the snow and ice have both melted.  Indiana saw temps in the 50's the past week which was a huge motivator for me.  I'd like to thank all the friends and co-workers who have shared their story with me so far.  If anything, you've been a big inspiration to me as I continue to need smacked around to stay on track.  

It's been a tough week for me as I suffered a pretty significant groin injury playing indoor soccer last weekend.  It was stupid of me to go out as hard as I did with little stretching, and the result is being pretty immobile for a week.  A few chiropractic adjustments and tons of fish oil later, and I hope to be back to working out later this week.  I don't think I want to rush this part of my body, huh?!

So I became a bit dejected over the week.  I've let a few "indulgences" slip into my diet.  Work has been a bit stressful at times, and I've caught myself straying from my focused path prior to being injured.

ENTER:  A new purpose.  I've mentioned Dean Karnazes, the ultramarathon runner before.  He's something else.  Call it what you want, but in my book this guy has put running and wellness on the map.  Currently, he is running ACROSS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA to raise money for a huge, HUGE cause.

Check out the info. here.....

So I've decided to join him for a measly 5K stint in Indianapolis on April 17th.  The time and location are to be determined, so I'll keep you posted.  However and MORE IMPORTANTLY.....My goal right now is to raise AT LEAST $1,000 for Action for Healthy Kids.  This organization helps raise money to help fight childhood obesity and undernourishment, something I believe is a crisis in our country.  I sure hope you would consider donating to the cause.  As many of you know, I don't do these kids of things half-assed, so expect more posts to come.

You can get straight to my donation page by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

This is exactly the kind of thing I needed at this point in the year and at this point in my path to remaining healthy throughout the winter months.  It's hard!!!!  But.....finding little things like this helps re-energize me to getting back on track.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Teacher's/Coach's Testimony to Getting Fit

As February is about half over, I've tried to find as many success stories as I can.  The people I've found are people I know and they've all accomplished some pretty awesome health and fitness goals.  All of them exercise differently and all have gone about their journey with healthy foods very differently.  That is what I love.  There are so many sound, healthy ways to achieve your food wellness.  

This next story comes from a fellow school colleague of mine who I can not say enough about.  It has been great to be chatting with Todd and watch someone approach him and say, "Man Todd...How much weight have you lost?!?!!"  What's even more great is to see Todd's reaction.  He has some great things to say, so I hope this one is as motivating as the rest.  He has lost significant weight and he's done it by moving more, eating less than he was and eating the right foods.  I've noticed that the folks that have been guest bloggers here have all figured out that everyone knows that eating less and exercising more leads to better wellness, but once they figure out HOW to eat well, it all kicks in.  Well, Todd's done that and it's been very cool to watch how excited he is.  Enjoy.......

A Teacher's/Coach's Testimony to Getting Fit
Lazy, hypocritical, and selfish.  That is a harsh yet very real description of the lifestyle I have practiced when it comes to my health habits.  You see I am a physical education and health teacher.  I am also a football coach.  I lead a club at school that meets once a week which encourages students to exercise outside of school time.  I have been married for 11 years and am a father of 2 boys.  To all of these people I am SUPPOSED to be a role model.  I am SUPPOSED to show them how to live.  I am SUPPOSED to practice the health advice I am giving them.  Neither my poor choices of food nor the random at best scheduled physical activity were things anyone should have modeled after.  I had become lazy.  I was hypocritical because I was telling others to become healthy yet doing nothing about my own health.  I was being selfish because I was putting my wants and needs ahead of those who were SUPPOSED to look up to me. 
With support and motivations coming from all sorts of angles I have recently turned the corner.  I feel I have a new way of looking at my job and myself thanks to several events in my life.  In the fall of 2010 at the tail end of the football season I was pressing down the scales at 295 pounds.  I also found out I have high blood pressure.  I immediately made some changes in my diet.  I also began working out on a more regular basis by using some cardio machines and lifting some weights.  My motivation was also to lose some weight.  A month or so later I was invited to go to a gym with a co-worker/friend which I accepted.  The introductory assessment of my fitness level was revealing to me but not a shock.  My upper body strength, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility in various areas were all way below acceptable.  The gym had a great motivational philosophy written on the wall and this encouraged me to take the next step.  I knew that after that day I really wanted to seek after the athlete in me that was hiding inside. 

There are three big steps that I took after that day.  The first was joining a gym and deciding I would need to workout on a much more frequent basis.  I have been lifting weights, participated in cycling/spinning classes, been running outdoors, and play volleyball once a week. 

The second step I took was after finding out a friend of mine was already a member of this gym we joined forces and now hold one another accountable by telling one another we will be there in the morning to workout with one another.  We workout together 4 days a week and I work out at other times without him as well.  To add to this step I would like to recommend the book “Never Let Go”, by Dan John.  This is a book about lifting, living, and learning. 
The third step I took was taking a deeper look at how I was fueling my body.  I had no knowledge of what “paleo” meant 3 months ago.  After hearing about it I decided to pick up a book and see what it was all about.  I would say my eating style was 90-97% paleo for a solid 35 days.  While experimenting with this I found the foods filling and my weight loss goals were being met.  I also have a few more recipes to fall back on. 

While going through all of this I began to see that my role model status to all the people previously mentioned needs to be taken more seriously.  My own family will follow my health habits.  When my sons join me in a dvd workout at home it makes my day!  The whistle blowing coach hiding behind a stop watch has been relieved of his duties.  Why?  Because he WASN’T doing his duties.   My students will listen to their teacher when he joins them in a rotating station style workout.  Running beside and cheering the kids during a 3 minute run that is sandwiched in between an ab station and multi task dumbbell station feels great!  The CDC 
website has a wonderful presentation which shows how quickly obesity progressed in the 90’s.  I took a deep look at myself and decided I needed to be able to do the things I am asking my students to do.  Hopefully by being more active I will encourage these students to live a more active lifestyle.

            Almost on a daily basis compliments come my way about how I look.  A week ago I donated 7 pairs of slacks because they no longer fit.  After a spin/cycling class I go work out because I feel I am not finished.  I wouldn’t call these things lazy, hypocritical, or selfish.  I would call them leading by example, never letting go, and knowing a better me is out there. 


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Reality and Realizations of a Working Mom

This next guest blogger hails from across the hall from me at work. THIS story is from a person with real resistance to eating well and exercising.  In fact, you will read below that she working out.  She is a mother of two toddlers, a school professional, wife and she has talked for a couple of years about wanting to feel better.  She gave me full reign to reveal that she's an excuse maker, that is......she would tell me day in and month out why she could not do something different with her diet or exercise when the reality was just too hard for her at the time.  In fact, her excuses were about as full proof as an adolescent's reasons for not turning in their homework.  Well.....she reached her breaking point recently and here is her story.  I'm quite proud of her accomplishments (and not b/c she's much more easy to get along with at work now!)  

Eating, Exercise and Feeling Better According to a Busy Mom and Wife
When my friend, colleague, co-worker asked me to write “my story”, I thought…”What story?” I have no story when it comes to dieting, eating, etc. But then I thought about it some more and I guess I do. 

Where did my eating habits start? Well, I thought back….My parents come from ethnic backgrounds, mom Italian, dad Polish/Lithuanian. Both sets of grandparents right off the boat at Ellis Island. Therefore, I grew up around A LOT of food. Yummy food. Home-cooked food. Real food. Fattening food. (not all, but some).

A few things stand out in my memory about how I was raised eating-wise and what has shaped (or hindered) my eating. First, I cannot remember a time, not one, that we did not have a basket of Italian, French, or some type of bread on our table with any meal, be it dinner, lunch, snack or otherwise. Bread was an absolute staple in our home. My mother could not even eat Chinese food without bringing out the bread. I remember her saying, “I just need a little bread with it”. That was my mom and her sisters (my aunts). We. Ate. Bread. Yummy, delicious Italian bread, often homemade. My mom and aunts would make bread and pasta from scratch. Big huge sheets of dough they’d roll out and put through a pasta maker “thing” that cut it into noodles. They grew tomatoes in our garden, canned them, then used them for the pasta sauce. It was great, whole food. But, it was carbs, carbs, carbs. 

Secondly, I cannot remember a time (other than Lent, which was when my mom and aunts gave up sweets) that a meal, particularly dinner, did not end in coffee and sweets of some sort. It could be pastries, pie, cookies, something. It was considered rude, an absolute travesty, bad manners, unthinkable not to have sweets and coffee in the house. Additionally, when you visited people or people visited you, you HAD to present sweets and coffee for the guests. To not do so was, by all accounts, ill-mannered to say the least.

So, my point---we ate white, delicious bread ALL THE TIME and sweets ALL THE TIME. The “craving” for something sweet after a meal runs deep in my veins. It’s all I knew. It’s what I “participated” in my entire life.

So, all that suggests I probably struggled with weight my whole life. Actually, I was the smallest kid for my grade, always trying to gain weight, look “bigger”. I couldn’t gain a pound when I tried. I was active—a dancer, gymnast. All through college this was the case. I would eat whatever I wanted, however much I wanted and not gain a pound. I went to college weighing a 100 lbs. Left college weighing maybe 108 lbs. and was about 108-110 lbs. the rest of my pre-child bearing life. Never considered “dieting” or even changing how I was eating. It just never occurred to me.

Pregnancy with both my children was hard. Lots of restrictions, preterm labor scares, no exercise, not a lot of stairs, had to be off my feet, blood-clotting disorder…yada yada. Point is, I let myself gain a lot of weight particularly with my second pregnancy—almost 60 lbs!! So, after my second daughter I weighed a whopping 135 lbs. Which for me, well, I had never seen those numbers on a scale before! It didn’t melt off like I thought it would. I was tired. Not just tired, exhausted. I did end up being diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and medication helped me start to feel better. However, I knew I needed some semblance of a plan for my eating. I just sort of felt like I was “flailing” when it came to eating. I know how to cook, even like cooking. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t, but as far as what I should be eating to achieve some kind of goals or what I should be eating to make X, Y, Z happen…no clue. I’d read a lot, hear a lot, talk and listen to my coworker a lot about food, eating, etc. but never put anything into action. I had always felt too overwhelmed by it all.

I knew I needed to work out and would sporadically here and there (this was true before kids as well). However, two children, full time work, really takes its toll and I don’t love working out. So, it was easier to let this piece go and just not fit it in. I wasn’t obese. I wasn’t even “fat”, really.  So, while I wasn’t where I wanted to be (wearing my pre-baby clothes) at 125 lbs. I wasn’t really someone people would look at and say “she needs to lose weight”. So, motivation was not coming to me. 

This past summer  I got motivated to begin shedding the last 10 lbs. or so of “baby weight” or whatever it was keeping me out of the pre-baby pants I wanted to wear.  Enter Crossfit, which I started do July-October upon the recommendation of my friend/coworker.  It was hard, different. Results were amazing and quick—which was good for me b/c I’m not patient.  People noticed. And while I dropped only about 4-5 lbs, I definitely looked better and felt pretty good (minus all the soreness, pain, etc.) I didn’t change my eating much, although did more portion control.

Once the fall hit, I couldn’t keep up with life, so to speak….and the cooler weather, kids’ activities, birthdays, etc. got in the way. I dropped Crossfit altogether. Enter the holidays! Cookies, cookies, cookies.  I basically binged and ate whatever I wanted. So, mid-December Craig begins talking to me about doing the 30-day Paleo Challenge in January. I agree. Realistically, and in my mind, I planned for 2 weeks max and I did not truly believe that I would see/feel results. Plus, I thought it absolutely ludicrous that I would make it through my daughter’s birthday without eating a cupcake!?

Nonetheless, after a major Costco and Whole Foods run, I planned meals to a T-esp. for the first week. I was “religious” minus a couple dinners/gatherings here and there. I have no will power and usually do not stick to “restrictive” diets. I had no desire to return to the rigors of Crossfit so I chose to start doing Hot Yoga at a place near my house instead.

A few amazing things happened:
1) After the very first day, I noticed I wasn’t hungry and I wasn’t fatigued at 3 pm.

2) I realized I can stick to something and even when I “cheated”, the very next day I went back to my “program” and it worked! I didn’t want to “fall off the wagon” completely. I actually t I would---sweets, I still struggled.

4) I found alternatives for things I like that are better for me and my body but which still satisfy an “urge” for that food such as Paleo Pancakes. Most importantly, I was still eating stuff I loved…meat, seafood, vegetables…Plus, there was fun and satisfaction in finding alternative ways to make things (at least for me).

5) I lost 9.6 lbs.

Some challenges:
1) Planning and time. The food prep/time for that is taxing esp. with my family situation. I had to commit to spending time on the weekends making sure I had food prepared or very close to ready to prepare for the week-specifically, my weekday morning breakfasts. However, I’ve gotten into a bit of a routine on that and now it’s a little easier.  No planning, meant NO GOOD FOOD. Period. Lack of planning for me meant I would fall off the wagon.  So, I really had to work and commit to that part. There were many Sundays I wanted to just take time to do nothing, but instead cooked in the kitchen all in the name of having food for the week. I was always glad afterwards, but the during part was often a struggle.

2) The sweet cravings—reminiscent of my past.

Lastly, I have to respond to a post by Craig about how finding Paleo substitutes for things is not the best idea/method—one should stick to it or eat the “real thing”. While I understand the sentiment and reasoning, for me, the substitutes have all but saved me from continuing to eat white flour, bread, gluten, processed sugar, etc. For example, I don’t have the will power to eat “real” pancakes just once a week in moderation. I don’t. However, I’ve learned to love and prefer Paleo Pancakes and they are so much better for me. I’ve found an alternative for something that is so much healthier. For me, it is not about sticking to “Paleo” just for the sake of doing so or because I think eating strictly Paleo is the only healthy way to go. It is about being healthier, getting away from the starches that were overwhelming my diet and keeping me from making progress towards my weight goals, and feeling better eating more lean protein and vegetables and fruits. That being said, I have eaten some “non-Paleo” things and still do occasionally. On things that I can’t “control” well, I eat substitutes that I like and don’t feel cheated. I think the substitutes are a good thing and have worked for me. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

One Guy's Take on Getting Fit

Today's post comes from a colleague and friend of mine.  Joel grew up an athlete, wrestling being his primary sport of choice.  I came to know him a few years ago as he and a couple of other colleagues would ask me to join them on their weekend runs.  HA!  Me?  Run with YOU guys?!?!  You guys are half my size, elite, and marathon runners.  But for some reason, I went one day.  I learned that it's not about the fact that I can't keep the same pace as him/them.  It's the camaraderie that comes with the company.  I quickly realized I had a lot to learn about running, something I thought there was not much to.  Wrooooooong!  And so, I came to know Joel as more than one of the best read and written people I've ever met.  I found someone from whom I could learn.  We've run a handful of races together....well.....we've driven to a handful of races together.  Nonetheless, during the drives and water cooler chats, I came to realize that Joel had to work to get where he is much like all of us out there.  And so here's his take on how he lost a significant amount of weight, began eating right, and how he has sustained it.....years later.  I hope you can glean something from his experience and apply it to yours no matter where you are in your journey.  So........enjoy.

Getting Fit According to Joel
As I was preparing to step to the starting line of my very first 5k race, I saw a former teacher and coach from my high school.  He looked skeptically at me in my shorts and t-shirt on that hot June morning.  After we said our pleasantries to one another, he called me out, “I never thought I’d see you at a run. You hated running in school.”  This was a fact I couldn’t dispute.

I was a natural athlete in school.  It came pretty easy for me, but I certainly didn’t do much to go above and beyond when it came to conditioning.  After school, like many others, I put athletics behind me.  I went to college, became overweight, started working, became more overweight, overscheduled myself, became even more overweight.  I fell into the same trap that many do.  I had a million and five excuses for not trimming down and not exercising.  I was too busy with work.  I was busy at home starting a family.  It’s no lie.  I was busy.  But that wasn’t really why I wasn’t exercising.  The truth was that it was too damn hard, and I just didn’t want to do something that was hard.  Work was hard.  Being a good husband was hard.  Becoming a father was hard.  Why should I do something for recreation that is hard? On the other hand, lounging is easy.  Watching TV is easy.  Reading a book or magazine was easy.  I deserve a little down time.  That was my reasoning.  

Eventually this reasoning collapsed, and I became an avid runner.  Why?  That’s not an easy question to answer.  I find myself sometimes telling people that it was easy for me.  I just decided to lose weight and get fit and went and did it.  That’s not really the complete truth.  It wasn’t so much flipping a switch as it was flipping several switches over time until the last switch got flipped, and I just went out and got busy.

I had tried several times to establish an exercise routine and slim down.  I failed.  Many times.  The thing that finally made the difference for me was changing my focus.  All of my failed attempts started with my desire to lose weight.  I would lose some weight, but after a short time I would lose focus and return to my old ways.  What finally worked for me was to change my goal.  When I dropped from 235 down to 170, my focus wasn’t on losing weight.  I had decided that I wanted to be a runner.  I wanted to be a hiker.  I wanted to be a rock climber, and a skier, and a kayaker.  I wanted to have a life outdoors.  I decided I couldn’t do this at the level I wanted until I got in better shape.  So, that is what I did.

My exercise taught me about my diet.  I found that the more I ate the less I wanted to work out.  Also the more I ate the harder the workout was to finish.  I listened to my body, and it didn’t disappoint me.  For a while I became a little too overzealous.  My mantra became, “the hungry lion hunts best.”  I’ve mellowed over time, but I still try to listen closely to what my body is telling me.  I still try to moderate everything.  I skip the soda and the fast food (most of the time), but I don’t feel like I miss anything.  I try to keep my breakfasts and lunches very regular, so my dinners can be very large and filling.    

I found out a lot about myself by making the commitment to the daily practice of exercise.  The first thing I learned was that I missed being an athlete.  When I started running regularly, it had been over a decade since I had considered myself an athlete.  I didn’t realize how much I missed it.  I love the daily practice of being a runner.  I also learned that I really love doing something that is hard.  And I love it because it is hard.  Because when I finish something that would leave others in a heap, I feel this huge rush of satisfaction that I’ve done what others wouldn’t or couldn’t.  Finally, I learned that I missed having time to talk with myself.  In our busy lives it’s easy to keep your nose down and keep working and forget to take time to listen to yourself.  I’m not a spiritual person, but I found that running is the closes thing that I’ve found to prayer that really works for me.  It’s a chance to be silent and listen to myself or just listen to the birds.  And that is worth all the sweat that I put into it. 

I didn’t have a response to my teacher at the start of that 5k, and I’m not sure I do now.  But after running a couple of marathons and countless races of all distances and terrains, all I can say is that I’ve fallen in love with running.  It has become an important part of how I define myself and how I see the world.  I’m getting ready to lace up now.  Maybe I’ll see you on the trail.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Addendum from a Childhood Coach

If you did not read my previous post titled "Motivation from a Childhood Coach", I featured a guest blogger, a high school coach and teach of mine.  I have to say, this was one my favorite posts to date.  If you have not tuned in lately or at all, I've been taking February to post information on the topic of motivation as this is the time of year when many of us tend to lose steam, focus, or our commitments we promised ourselves at the dawn of New Year's Day.  The following is a follow up email from "Coach" as he felt he left a portion out that he thought hit home his views on motivation.  Again, I think you can apply the following to any part of your fitness journey as everyone's path ebbs and flows.  It's the ebbing with which we need help.....and motivation.  So I've titled it....

Addendum from a Childhood Coach

............Because we do not always reach our goals the first time we try it is important to keep in mind Abraham Lincoln's comment to U.S. Grant, " I do not care how many times you have fallen, I care only how many times you rise up." An Oklahoma wrestling coach put it another way, "There never was a horse that couldn't be rode, nor a cowboy who couldn't be throwed." While the grammar differs the thoughts are the same...Pogo clarified it by pointing out that,"We have met the enemy, and they are US."  Each of us is the weakest part of the system, we all fail, the key is getting up and getting back at it. That was an essential part of motivation for me.

......stay tuned for another guest blogger, a friend and colleague of mine, a marathon runner who battled his own issues with food and fitness.  No matter what your level of fitness, you will want to read this.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Motivation by a Childhood Coach

I received an email a little over a week ago from a childhood coach and teacher of mine from high school.  We were "friends" on Facebook and he emailed us alumni with whom he had connected in search of information about our alma mater.  Since I did not ask for permission to reveal his name, I'll refer to him as "coach".  
Coach is collecting information about the first 50 years of my high school back in Cincinnati, Ohio with the hopes of writing a book.  Finneytown is still a small suburban community on the near west side of town.  My graduating class was about 150 students in 1990 and the school has maintained its size since to my understanding  It's a small school and community.  At the time, the school owned a rich soccer tradition with a handful of state championships in 1974, 1976, and 1981 and sent many a player on to play at the college level.  It was a privilege to wear a blue and red soccer uniform.  Enter Coach:  The JV coach for those years....the Athletic Director and wrestling coach for many of those years, and one hell of a history teacher.  A stout man with not a hair to his scalp, yet a full beard, one did not cross him.  As freshmen, we were unsure of him at first, but relished his idioms, advice, and motivational tactics.  We respected him.
Ahhh....the good ol' days.  I ate, drank, and slept soccer back then.  It often kept me motivated to go to school.  So as Coach and I exchanged emails last week, we shared our takes on education (my current professional field), the history of Finneytown soccer, and life.  So I asked him if he'd offer up his take on what motivation means to him because as I look back, he is one of the great motivators I can recall in my life.  
So Coach.....thanks for your article, for motivating me, and for recent words of encouragement.  You've had an impact on me.....21 years later!  
I think Coach's essay can apply to anyone who is looking to push themselves to do something more than than think they are capable.  No matter if it's starting to eat right, starting to work out more, or trying to qualify for an Ironman, the following can serve as helpful.  I've highlighted certain parts in purple that I think can stand out no matter what you are trying to accomplish.  I hope you get half as much out of it as I did.  Quite frankly, it made my day.
by a Childhood Coach
It seems to me that the key to motivating anyone to do anything is to let them develop in their own mind a reason why what is being considered has a benefit to the individual. In team sports and in employment project groups it is pretty easy to focus on the benefits to the group based on common effort and commitment to a goal. A problem often occurs when reality sets in and exposes the individual limits within the group and at the same time the strengths of the other competitors. That is why those who focus simply on  final outcomes become disillusioned and slide into the comfort zone of accepting loss or dropping out totally. The problem lies in how we define SUCCESS.
It seems to me that SUCCESS is a process not a finite goal. To motivate it is important to set many individual goals, each of which can be addressed individually and by meeting them move the group forward. This is perhaps obvious to you and may seem to be overly simplified but to me it is meaningful. The record of those teams and companies etc. that are held in respect are those that have done just that. They have set significant immediate goals that when achieved lead to their larger goal. Lots of teams do it but the great teams are those that keep doing it year after year.
Vince Lombardi’s Packers come immediately to mind. Here the coach established a series of goals for the individuals and group as a whole and pushed, cajoled, persuaded, the individuals to buy in to the system. Mostly they bought the personal goals as well, and even the raving individuals like Paul Horning, were willing to defer to the total objective. Things were pretty simple. “Green Bay Sweep” to the right and then to the left and then Bart Starr would loft a pass to receives who were often uncovered. Everyone knew the sweep was coming. They told you it was coming and simply defied you to stop it. Few did because the Pack had made the total individual and collective commitment to the success of that play. By doing this, motivation became internalized to achieving the other short term goals and resulted in over a dozen seasons which people called SUCCESSFUL More importantly the system became a standard. John Wooden at UCLA did the same thing in basketball. Dan Gable did it at Iowa with wrestling.
How does this fit with the runners mentality? It is the INDIVIDUAL INTERNALIZATION that is the key. The individual must find those short term goals that move him/her forward with the belief that by so doing they will come closer to their higher goals. How do you make the “burn” fun? How do you get yourself moving when it is icy or scorching? It is by training yourself to strive to achieve the achievable immediate goals. One step at a time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Spring Break Motivation

The view from my kitchen window.......

My view for Spring Break and my motivation to get through this winter......

 Hilton Head or bust!!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Motivating Music

We are an XM Radio family.  Never did I think in a million years places would be charging $2.45 for a large.....err....."Venti" (come on...really?  It's Indiana!) coffee let alone pay for radio, but I love my XM radio.  My go to station:  XM 45: The Spectrum where I broke down and downloaded music from a group that I keep thinking about.

"I'm gonna live I'm alright.  I'm gonna die it's alright. I'm o.k." has been motivating the past several weeks, so I bucked up and bought the whole album for a steal at $7.99.  

It's not Metallica, Springsteen, U2, or R.E.M., all go to's for me when working out.  However, sometimes the best motivating music to "get moving" in whatever way you "move" is something not so loud, angry, or political.  (Don't get me wrong friends.  If the Edge runs for President, I'm lobbying to be his campaign manager.  I'm like those girls at the old Beatles show at a U2 show.....

Well....not quite, but on the inside I am.

I used to think the music I needed to motivate me to work out needed to be loud and heavy...that all still works sometimes, but as I was running more and more I discovered I needed tunes that helped me relax while I ran longer distances.  I wanted rhythms that helped me "go somewhere" to take my mind off of whatever was crowding it at the time.  And now that I've been at Crossfit for the past 7 months, I realize I don't even hear the blaring tunes screaming from the speakers so what does it matter.  Now, I still like that stuff once in awhile.  i.e. when I'm creating my own workout in the garage.  My latest carrot dangling in front of me is a band my good ol' buddy Jim keeps throwing at me.

"Rawk and Roll" as they like to say.

Recent music that motivates (me)
(lyrically and musically)
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
The National
Plain White T's
The Kings of Leon

Any more, I'm more of a singer/songwriter/acoustical folk person around the house, but.......

The Foundation of My Musical Motivation
Bruce Springsteen
Talking Heads
The Police

Favorite Album to Date

Leave me a comment and let me know what music motivates you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ultramarathon Motivation

If you haven't heard of Dean Karnazes, you should.  He is the Michael Jordan of ultramarathon running, something that is out of my brain's capacity to comprehend.  But since I have made a point to keep my eyes open for more things that are motivating this month, I could not pass up a chance to share this with you.  His book, Ultramarathon Man is worth a read, and he's written a few more since then, but Live with Regis and Kelly is giving Dean great pub.  Check it out here....

Dean plans on passing through my neck of the woods, Indianapolis, and I just may sign up to run a leg with him for a great cause.  I think I'm motivated.  You can check on this map if he will be near you.

My long, lost college buddy Brian was always doing something to crack me up back in our days at Hanover College.  Aside from calling me in the middle of the night to see if I started a paper, he would run crazy distances at a young age while the rest of us were just going to bed with a hangover.  I saw the Dean Karnazes video on his Facebook page, and remembered that Brian, a teacher by day, is attempting to run across all 50 states separately, but who in the world has done such a thing?  You can see for yourself here.

You should buy his book about his 4,800 mile run across the U.S. on the Great American Discovery Trail.  I sure miss those days as he's moved to the other side of the world....well....Arizona.  He brought laughter and a different view of the world to my daily college life.  Hope you are reading Brian.  "Tis yawa life!"

So if you are thinking, "That stuff is crazy.  These guys are nuts.  They are full of themselves" well.....I choose to look at it as motivating.  To see humans push themselves to do things they did not think possible only makes me take a look at myself to evaluate how I can accomplish things I never thought possible.  Without Dean Karnazes and my good ol' friend Brian, life would not be as interesting let alone motivating.  So I say, bravo!  


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