Back on track (so to speak)

I just got back from a workout at the track at the middle school a couple of blocks from my house. I ran 2.5 miles this morning, in anticipation of a 5K race that I will be running with my family on Thanksgiving Day, just three days from now.

If you’ve read this blog before, several questions may be entering your mind about now:  (1) Where has the author been for the last three and a half years? (2) Running? I thought this was about biking. (3) How’s the weight loss going?

In January 2009 I took a new job that ended up limiting my blogging time. But I also quit writing on this blog because I began gaining weight again, and frankly, that’s embarassing. When I began my weight-loss and fitness journey in 2008, I weighed about 305. I got down to 225 by February 2009–a loss of about 80 pounds. Then gradually I began slipping into old habits and by May of 2012 I was back up to 296. Not exactly a success story to write about.

A couple of things conspired in my life to help me turn things around again. My wife and I had a heart-to-heart talk about the fact that my choice to overeat and eat badly was tantamount to choosing an early exit from this life. This is important enough in itself, but now we have two grandchildren, and I was choosing to eat pizza and donuts rather than take care of my health so that I will be here to watch them grow up. Sounds a bit harsh, but it’s the truth.

The second thing that caught my attention was watching the difference in the aging process for two members of my family. My father turns 80 this week, and he swims three times a week, still walks a lot, works every day in his wood shop, and is active, sharp, healthy and fit. Another member of my family is a bit younger, maybe 77, and rarely walks farther than from his easy chair to the bathroom, needs assistance with bathing, watches TV pretty much all day, has to take handfuls of pills several times a day in order to stay alive, and will very likely die a slow, painful death in a hospital bed or nursing home before too long.  I’m in my late 50s, and I still have the opportunity to choose which of these paths I will walk. How stupid would I have to be to keep going the way I was going?

So I got the Lose It app for my iPhone and began tracking my food intake and living within a daily calorie budget, starting on May 3. I started making better food choices. I rode my bike a lot during the spring and summer, and then I decided that maybe I could try running. I had a brief running period when I was in my mid-20s–I ran one 5K race, then quit running for 30 years and got fat again. I have always excused myself from running, claiming that my knees were too bad, I was too heavy, it would be too hard on my body, etc. But my wife is a runner, and I’ve been to most of her races and seen men older than me and even fatter than me running. Back in January, at my wife’s first race of the year, long before I started my turn-around, I experienced just the tiniest bit of longing for a day when I could do what those runners were doing. It still didn’t seem possible, but the seed was planted.

Around mid-summer I attended another race with my wife, and by this time I had lost some weight, so the idea of me running started to seem less like a fantasy and more like a long-term goal. I’ve had issues with foot pain for years, so I started reading a bit about running as a beginner, and quickly realized that good-quality running shoes were essential, and most of the sneakers I had worn were cross-trainers, whatever was cheapest. My birthday is in July, so I decided to take a risk and see if maybe some decent shoes might make a difference.  So my wife and kids pooled their money and as a birthday gift, sent me to the local running sports store to get fitted for some decent shoes. I wasn’t sure I was ready to run right away, and I initially thought I would wait until October or November, when it was cooler (we had a brutally hot summer here), and after I had lost a bit more weight. But one Sunday evening early in September, I just decided to go for it, and I went to the track and did the first “couch-to-5K” workout, using another app (5K Runner) that coached me through the running/walking intervals. That first workout went really well, and I completed all 24 workouts in eight weeks. I’ve been running three times a week ever since (with one week off for a trip to the Dominican Republic). I’m signed up for my first 5K and will run with most of my family on Thanksgiving Day. I expect to finish it, and I will give thanks to God for allowing me another chance to get my health back, and for helping me lose weight again. Apart from his help, I’m convinced that none of this would have happened.

Today I weighed in at 227–I have lost 69 pounds since May 3. I have 42 pounds yet to lose before I have a BMI in the normal range, and I’m praying for the strength and discipline to get there (and stay there). And, as I noted earlier, today I ran 2.5 miles. When I started running, I could run little more than a minute without stopping. I couldn’t even do a full lap around the track. Today I ran about 10 laps without stopping. In a few days I’ll run 3.1 miles. Soli Deo Gloria.

I still might not have a lot of time to write here, but now that I’m about where I was when I left off before, I felt I should at least check in with an update.


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