Thursday, December 20, 2012

I apologize for the hiatus I have taken from blogging, life got pretty crazy there for a while.  I ended up having my gastric lapband removed and suffered from some complications.  Hopefully it is all for the better.  The road to recovery will be long, but I am driving full speed ahead.  As my new friend and teammate says, "Don't F*cking Stop!"

I wanted to start the new blogging with a post about resolutions and the Holidays.  This becomes a tough time of year for all of us, weather changes (cold and snowy here in Colorado), parties, meals, treats and sweets, and the running around that takes us away from our goals.  How many of you run from social event to social event and at the end of the night feel like you ate everything in sight?  How many of you stop training or working out because of the parties, family committments, or just an overall lack of motivation as the seasons change?  How many of you just give up, saying "I will get back to the gym, start training, or start eating right after New Years?"  And so it goes, on and on. All the sabotaging talk and voices in your head that chip away at your motivation.  So how do we quit doubting ourselves, and keep moving forward to overcome these issues and continue down the path of feeling like you are meeting your goals to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

So, as you are pigging out on pumpkin pie and laying on the couch watching football or reading the newest edition of Triathlon Magazine, realize that you are probably not the only one who has a hard time staying motivated during the holidays.  Now you must embrace it, create some tools to keep you tethered to your goals during and after the holidays.  How can we stay motivated:

1-Create Structure:  Create a road map, meaning you have your training plan detailed day by day for atleast six months out. Sketch out all the steps it takes to achieve your goal(s). Post it somewhere you will see daily.  You know exactly what you need to bring and do at each workout ahead of time. All you have to do is show up.  Hiring a coach or personal trainer will help bring you that structure as well.

2-Create a visual reminder: Show me a picture of something and I understand it completely. The image becomes etched in my head, and I will never let it go. To keep me motivated towards my goal of my spring half Ironman, I took a picture of the race logo and I keep this image everywhere: on my bathroom mirror, in my office, even the “lock screen” on my AARP cell phone. I truly believe that you need to have a picture of each goal you are going after that you can refer to all day long.  My coach also recommended writing IRONMAN SAN JUAN on my bathroom mirror in bright red lipstick, so when I get up at 4:30am for a swim workout, I remember what I am reaching for!  You don’t have to put it in a place everyone can see it — inside your closet or even your purse or wallet works too.

3-Become part of the community: What do you mean? Why? Because goals are individual and sometimes lonely pursuits. Surround yourself with people who are passionate about the same goals that you are. See them weekly, if possible.  Believe it or not, I have a hard time finding friends to train with me sometimes. I know, weird since I am a part of a huge triathlon community. So I had to find other weirdos like me who enjoy training at the level that I do. It wasn’t easy. But I also created one: thanks to my partner Carlos Hill we founded a group of dedicated endurance athletes who hit the have overcome obesity, adversity, and even are currently battling Cancer. Every time I run with them, I know they are gunning for me, aiming to reach their goals and one day surpass me. It’s the best feeling in the world. Combine that with their determination and their ways of motivating me, and I can’t imagine anywhere else in the world I would rather be.  There are several run clubs that meet for evening runs in most communities, sometimes all you have to do is look or ask. 

4-You need accountability: I hired a coach at the start of my season this year, to set myself up to train in the best and most efficient way possible. He sends my workouts to my training calendar every day, and I check in with him regularly. Sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly. He is always there, holding me accountable to my goals, every race, every injury, every step.  I can honestly say that my accomplishments in 2012 were 50% his guidence and support, and 50% my headstrong determination to never fail!  So hire a coach to help you navigate your path, overcome setbacks, and hold you accountable along the way.

As one of my triathlon friends pointed out, when i asked about his decision to work with a coach and whether I should just find a plan online, ”Pro athletes don’t show up to games without being coached… I decided if I wanted my life to be extraordinary, I shouldn’t show up un-coached either". Hands down, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Working to achieve personal goals is incredibly difficult and important work, but no matter what your goals are, inevitably we all will struggle. The closer we get to achieving our goals, the more likely we will lose motivation. Along the way, there’s a good chance we will all experience setbacks. The bigger, scarier, hairier the goal, the more likely it is to challenge our current identities, which means your current self is likely to resist change and sabotage your progress.  Don't let this happen to you.  Good luck and you can always reach out to me for support, questions, or to chat about your goals.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

IRONMAN Louisville

Well, after a devastating DNF (Did not finish) in St. George earlier this year back in May, I was determined to climb back on the proverbial horse (For me it's my FUJI D6 Tri Bike) and train harder and smarter for IRONMAN Louisville.  I have been absent from this blog as well, feeling deflated after all the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices I made to compete in St. George. Traditionally known as the second highest DNF percentage IRONMAN in the United States (Second only to St. George), I decided to tackle IRONMAN Louisville for my redemption.  I ended up severing ties with my previous coach for some difference of opinions and feeling like I was not being trained appropriately.  I also ended up having some major issues with my gastric lapband and had it completely drained, making nutrition a major factor in my preparation for this race.  Finally, during training I was having some back issues and the Wednesday before IRONMAN Louisville was advised that my MRI showed a ruptured disc in L4/L5.  I felt like maybe this race was just not for me.  But that feeling lasted only about 30 seconds before my determination, dedication, and drive overcame that feeling and I was going to make Louisville my BITCH!

About 4 weeks ago I teamed up with Eric Doehrman and E3 Multisport TriVolution in Huntsville, AL as my coach.  I followed each and every workout to a "T".  His open lines of communication, willingness to do anything to help me be successful, as well as he himself racing in Louisville gave me all the confidence in the world that I would be ready for this event.  I changed my entire race day nutrition as well, teaming up with a new product called URDriven.  There was nothing going to stop me from crossing that finish line this time.  My test was IRONMAN Boulder 70.3 and I came away feeling extremely confident.  But I knew that the back would be an issue at some point during the race.

Couple days before Race Day we went out and rode some of the course, ran some of the course, and took part in the open swim practice.  I felt my confidence building as we got closer to race day.  I was excited to meet my coach in person as well as some of the other TRIBE Members.  I had some great support with Danielle, Carlos, my mom, Betty my mother-in-law, my dad, my step-mom and many other friends that I have met along the IRONMAN journey.  We laughed, joked, and traded secrets to success.  I was ready.  I was here.  Now it was time to rest, as the big day was coming.

Race morning I awoke feeling great.  Brought everything down to transition and anxiously awaited the time trial swim start. It was amazing to see all my friends and family there to support me at the start.  We got up to the start and I attempted a half-assed cannonball, not my specialty by any means.  I hit the water and swam as hard as I could.  About 1000m into the swim I had some pain that developed in my left shoulder, the one that was previously separated by the hit and run accident when running before St. George.  I mentally blocked it and completed the swim in a moderate 1:33.  Out of the water and into transition I quickly transitioned over to the bike, hearing cheers from my friends and family.  Everything seemed to be rolling along so smoothly.  I rode hard on that course, pushing myself, enjoying the downhills and cursing the uphills.  I paced my teammate Chuck for most of the race, doing my nutrition and making sure that I was urinating.  I didn't want to dehydrate and with the heat there were plenty of people on the side of the road and with medical.  I remember a gentleman sitting in a camping chair saying "stop bitching about our Kentucky hills".  I told him I was from Colorado and he told me to "Bitch away"!  The ride went amazingly smooth.  I noticed on my second loop of the course a large amount of people on the side changing tires.  It was only after the race that I was told that someone had thrown tacks on the course and there were people that were waiting for bike mechanics on the course to bring them tubes because they had 4 flats during the course.  I rode through LaGrange clapping and singing along with the fans, it was amazing the amount of people just out cheering and screaming for us as perfect strangers. For me, I just remembered my mantra of having fun and started the countdown.  70, 80, 90, 100, only 12 miles left to go and I would finish the bike portion and hit the ground running (Yes pun intended).  I flew into transition and again had a quick transition over to the run portion. 

I exited transition feeling OK, back was a little stiff but that quickly loosened up and I was running 8:30/miles.  I crossed the bridge and headed out of downtown to the 8.5 mile turnaround point.  I was feeling great, hitting every other aid station to drink and use the cold sponges to keep cool.  I also soaked my arms in the barrels of ice water the sponges were in to help keep cool.  I had my hand bottle of URDriven.  I was at about mile 11 when I passed Deb on her mile 5, and it again reassured me that I was going to finish.  I rolled into special needs, bent over to take my shoes off and throw in some foot powder when all of a sudden my back tightened up and spasmed.  I drank my coconut water, ate my Stinger Waffle and I walked out of special needs for about half a mile trying to stretch out the back and hope that it wouldn't prevent me from finishing.  I would not let it play any mental games with me.  It finally seemed to loosen up a bit and I continued the run/walk intervals.

The second half of the run seemed to have more walking than running, and it was here that I was able to meet some of the other amazing athletes out on the course.  I met a woman who was 100 pounds overweight and trying to lose it while competing in her first IRONMAN.  I met a gentleman 64 years old trying to get into Kona, and many of those I had met through the Facebook group.  The volunteers were amazing, calling our names and motivating us to finish.  It was about mile 23 that I decided I only had a 5K left to finish my first IRONMAN and receive redemption from St. George.  I said goodbye to those I was walking with and I sprinted in for the last 3.1 miles.  According to my splits I ran those last 3.1 miles at a 9:00/mile pace.  I saw the finish line, I saw my family and my friends, and I knew as I uncontrollably fist pumped across the finish line that "Richard Kalasky from Morrison, Colorado you are an IRONMAN!

The 2227 finishers of 2012 Ironman Louisville appear to have tackled the harshest conditions of the last four years, with a 14% DNS rate, an incredibly high 14% DNF rate, and the highest average time since 2009: 13:41.  I finished in 13:31.  Now I am ready for whatever race comes into my path.  2013 will bring me to Tempe, AZ to compete in my second IRONMAN.  Bring on IMAZ!  I want to send out a special thanks to everyone, especially my amazing IRONMATE Carlos for enduring the many sleepless nights, the early 4am wake ups to hit the bike or pool.  The long bricks on the weekends.  The loss of our social life.  In the end, it was all worth it to see you as I crossed that finish line.  To all my other friends, especially Danielle for making the trip to be there to support me.  My parents, especially my Dad who hadn't seen me compete yet.  And my good friend Deb Condo for training with me and signing up to help me with my redemption!  And finally, my Coach Eric Doehrman and E3 Multisport for giving me the tools to help me be successful and cross that finish line. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Recovery....Why is it so important?

Well if there was one lesson learned from IM St. George, it was to make sure to not overtrain and being an active participant in allowing my body to rest and recover. Athletes who participate in endurance sports are subject to injuries different from those suffered by other athletes. Most of the endurance sports injuries are the direct result of pushing the body to its limits over an extended period of time. When an athlete participates in an endurance sport, the continual, intense strain on the body almost inevitably leads to injury. In general, the best way to treat endurance injuries is prevention. Injuries of this kind are most often caused when the athlete pushes him/herself too far or too hard after insufficient warm up, training, and recover. Even when pushing endurance to its limits with this kind of extreme sport, it's important to treat the body properly.

I know that I definitetly overtrained, pushing myself too hard after IM San Juan, not allowing the body, especially my legs to recover.  Instead the very next weekend I was in St. George riding a rather aggressive bike course and taking part in extensive brick workouts.  If sufficient rest is not included in a training program then regeneration cannot occur and performance plateaus. If this imbalance between excess training and inadequate rest persists then performance will decline. Overtraining can best be defined as "the state where the athlete has been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery". The "overtraining syndrome" is the name given to the collection of emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms due to overtraining that persists with athletes for weeks to months.  I was fatigued and became moody, easily irritated, had altered sleep patterns, became depressed, and lost the competitive desire and enthusiasm for the sport.  I knew I was in trouble when May 5th rolled around and I wasn't excited for IM St. George.

Developing an effective recovery strategy is essential to peak performance and injury prevention. Fatigue and energy depletion occurs after Ironman Triathlons, Marathons, Ultras and other endurance sport training and events, long bike rides, climbing, hikes, or after long periods of physical activity. Although endurance athletes have acute recovery needs, developing a recovery strategy and overcoming fatigue is important to all athletics.  I now know that recovery is as important a part of your training and the achievement of your athletic goals as the actual training session. Make sure that you take your recovery as seriously as your training.  Training takes a serious toll on your body. Muscles are broken down and weakened, your glycogen supply is exhausted, and sweating depletes your body of water and electrolytes.

Key components of proper recovery are widespread. 
  • Rehydration is mission critical. Begin hydration immediately after your training or event and continue hydrating until your pretraining or event weight is obtained
  • Beginning within 20 minutes after a long workout, have small meals of carbohydrates every 30 minutes for 3 hours, to restore glycogen and glucose to healthy levels.
  • Amino acid and protein uptake is three times fasster and greater than normal after a good workout. Milk, yogurt, or a tuna fish sandwich are good quick protein sources. Protein is not typically used as a source of energy for the body; however, when caloric expenditure  is high, the body will turn to proteins to  supplement its energy needs. This reliance on proteins  for energy is exacerbated when an athlete’s diet  is not adequate to maintain energy balance and/or carbohydrate intake is low. After endurance exercise, protein synthesis has been shown to increase 10%–80% within 4–24 hours.  Due to the rise in protein catabolism during activity and protein synthesis after exercise, appropriate daily protein intake is important. Endurance athletes should focus on consuming adequate quantities of protein daily to achieve a positive protein balance, which is important for muscle maintenance and recovery after daily training and competition.  ‎1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilo of body weight actually.
  • Electrolyte rebalance should begin immediately by consuming natural sources of electrolytes such as milk and bananas
  • There are several ways to reduce inflammation including (i) icing , (ii) compression garments, (iii) elevation, (iv) massage, (v) stretching, and (vi) hydrostatic pressure, where the weight of water (eg. ice baths) reduces inflammation.  Foam roller, rolling sticks, portable TENS Units, as well as ART are also effective means of helping the muscles, ligaments, and tendons recover.  ART is Active Release Therapy and ART is a movement-based soft tissue massage technique used to treat problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. This technique resolves chronic injuries quickly by creating length in scar tissue; it is this scar tissue that shortens muscles, binds nerves, and adds to tendinitis pain. All these injuries create the kind of pain that can make you inactive.  The massage element combines active stretching while the therapist provides a tension to the stretch targeting the tight, scarred tissue.  Accupuncture and Dry Needling are also viable options.  Research to see what may be most effective for you.
  •  Sleep, rest and relaxation are essential to recovery.  
  • Taking an easy short walk, run, swim, hike, or bike ride is a good way to encourage recovery.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

IM San Juan Coming Out of the Water
IM San Juan Bike
So after an amazing race in San Juan, I left to join a friend and train together in St. George for the upcoming St. George Ironman in just a short 41 days from now.  While I was not 100% and my legs felt like jello, I was able to muster a 2 mile swim followed by a 88 mile bike ride, fighting back full leg cramps riding up Eagle Mountain, the wall, and Veyo.  Hitting cattle crossing #1, I blew a tube and had to stop and change a flat!  Review of Day 1 of IM St George training. 2.0 mile swim in 1:25 1107 calories burned. 88.05 miles on the bike in 5:53 7750 calories burned. 1 flat over Cattle crossing. Cramps in both legs atop Eagle Mountain and the wall.  Today I was the most disapointed in myself I have ever been. I let my head get in my own way! My legs felt like jello the whole ride.   I started to question whether or not I could do this.  A several points I told myself I couldn't do it and was going to drop out.  I guess now that I finished it, time to baby my legs in an ice bath, epsom salts and spearmint, and lots of pizza and carbs.

Day 2 had a 60 mile bike ride, riding the full bike loop I felt a little better but still not 100%.  Spent the previous night enjoying a spearmint epsom salt ice bath and my roller stick.  I felt as though I was killing the course today, Eagle Mountain, the wall, and Veyo, this time with 20 mph headwinds, a ten degree temperature drop, and overcast skies!  Keep in mind my TT Tri Bike is still in shipping and repair from Puerto Rico where it was scratched during shipping.  I was able to build my confidence up and realize with my bike and fresh legs, that I can do this!  Review of Day 2 of IM St. George training.  I am listening to my body. I'm done. Time to recover and train smart for St George in 5 weeks. Today ended rising 53 miles, basically one loop of the course with 20mph head winds, 10 degree temp drop, and overcast skies in 3:40 averaging 17mph burning 5555 calories and taking the wall like a badass. It is no longer as scary a course as I first thought. On the run my left IT flared up and my body pleaded for me to stop, 7.75 miles after getting lost in Dixie State College campus in 1:14 and burned 967 calories.

Headed home tomorrow for a dry needling treatment and sports massage.  Taking a few days of rest and recovery and then will be ready to start training and tapering for St. George.  Take care everyone and train smart!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ironman San Juan 70.3

I had an absolutely amazing time in Puerto Rico, a training 70.3 to get me ready for IM St. George coming up in a short 5 weeks.  While I feel somewhat comfortable with the swim and the run, the bike still scares me.  It is a tough, uphill course with very little forgiveness.  I am headed there again this weekend to train on the bike, unfortunately I won't have my TT bike as it is still being shipped back from San Juan but should be a great training nonetheless. 

The swim was open water in a lagoon, very salty which helped with the buoyancy and hot, water temp was around 78 degrees at the start.  It had a slight current but was otherwise smooth, as I reached the 1100m mark, I noticed I was swimming with a manatee.  Pretty amazing.  After we crossed the 1200m buoy, the current became a little stronger and the waves from the opening to the Atlantic rocked us, making me somewhat sea sick.  I completed the swim about 7 minutes slower than training at 41:38.  With about a quarter mile run from the water exit to T1, I transitioned to the bike.  I have never felt as comfortable on the bike as I did that day.  I must thank my coach, Jeff at PRSFit in Estes Park Colorado for the amazing workouts and preparation.  I averaged 22mph on the bike, which was hot and mostly flat with two rather challenging hills towards the end.  My feet went numb around mile 40, from what we are guessing was swelling from the heat and humidity within the shoe.  Bike time was 2:52.  T2 to the run was somewhat challenging with numb feet, I regained feeling and subsequent pain around mile 3 as we turned the corner to hit the first of the challenging hills on the run course.  It was about a 9% grade for 100 yards directly in the sun with a headwind towards the Atlantic.  Once at the top it was beautiful and level until we took the first downhill to run along the water.  Turnaround to head back up was a 1.5 mile steady uphill on uneven blue cobblestone paths.  Tourists trying to navigate the fort around us made traffic somewhat difficult as well.  I was really starting to feel the heat and my first run split was 9:55.  Second run split I pushed myself, throwing ice down the tri kit top and bottom to keep cool and throwing down as much cold water and gatorade as I could get.  Second run split was an 8:22, much improved as I wanted to reach my 30 minute PR from IM Augusta last September.  While I did not reach that PR, I was able to PR in PR by 15 minutes and gain a much needed confidence boost with St. George just around the corner.  I learned alot about nutrition in this race that I can take forward with me.  All in all 5:44:44 and I felt great afterwards meeting some great new friends along the way.  I must take a moment to thank my incredible Ironmate, Carlos, for being there to help push me when I just thought I couldn't make it any further.  Sharing in his excitement for me and where I have journeyed to, makes it all that much better.

So now comes the scary part, atleast for me being a Paramedic.  I noticed on the plane ride home that my legs began to swell and become extremely painful even with my compression sleeves on.  When we landed in Denver after 12 hours of travel on planes and from sea level to home at 8500ft above sea level I was up all night in excruciating pain and discomfort.  I was obviously retaining water, almost 15 pounds from the time we left San Juan to the time we made it home at midnight last night.  This morning, I was finally able to output some of the water and have been doing so at about 200cc's every 30 minutes.  The swelling has gone down and I once again have ankles.  I took a spearmint epsom salt bath, elevated my legs, and am using full compression socks.  All of which I believe helped.  I also took the advice of some athletes on Facebook to elevate my legs in a 90 degree position up a wall and milk some of the fluid out.  I have also decreased any sodium intake and increased vitamins and minerals to help push out or reabsorb the fluid.  I think tonight is a recovery night of elevation and epsom salt baths.  Training can resume tomorrow with an early morning swim and then a weekend of riding and running in St. George.  As it gets closer I get more and more scared, but it will be one hell of an accomplishment.  Thank you to everyone for your continued support and I hope to be able to thank you all again as I cross the finish line in St. George on May 5th.

French Fries that are healthy! This can't be true!

What's lower in carbs than a sweet potato but tastes just as awesome? Butternut
squash! These are baked, not fried, to save even more fat and calories

1 butternut squash
(about 2 lb. -- large enough to yield
20 oz. once peeled and sliced)
1/8 tsp. coarse salt, or more to taste

Optional dip: Ketchup (Or try something Gluten Free)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray.
Peel squash and slice off the ends. Cut in half widthwise, just above the round section. Cut the round piece in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Cut squash into French-fry-shaped spears, using a crinkle cutter if you've got one. Thoroughly pat dry. Lay spears on the sheets and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20 minutes.
Flip spears and bake until mostly tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Makes 2 servings
1/2 of recipe: 125 calories, 0g fat, 158mg sodium, 33g carbs, 5.5g fiber, 6g sugars, 3g protein

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yes, I know it's been a while!  Life has been going at full speed for I don't know how long!  As I approach Ironman San Juan in a week, I am excited to see that I have been able to help, motivate, and push others to reach their goals!  I am proud of my group of friends first, and clients later.  This weekend we prepare for what for many will be their first running event, the Runnin of the Green in Denver.  I can't express how happy I am to see the successes of others.

Today marked another great day in my journey, as I was once again invited to be part of Team MARATHON Bars.  I look forward to yet another race season of promoting such an awesome brand.  Make sure you check them out, or contact me for samples!  Continue to train hard and I will be posting more as I get ready for the first of 4 Ironman events in 2012!  STAY ON!  KEEP ON! in 2012!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What is motivation and why do I not have it?
Motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst, getting to the gym to get in shape, or reading a book to gain knowledge. The best, most applicable definition I found for motivation comes from, "motivation is that thing in the back of your mind that drives you, no matter what seems to be stacked against you". Well if that is in fact the case, then why do some people lack overall motivation and give up? Don't we need to be motivated to survive? Does motivation give us the survival of the fittest?

According to psychologists, motivation involves the biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces that activate behavior in all humans. In everyday usage, the term motivation is frequently used to describe why a person does something. Motivation has much to do with desire and ambition, and if they are absent, motivation is absent too. Often times when we perceive we are failing, we lose that desire and ambition subsequently losing our motivation. We now lack the push, the initiative and the willingness to take the necessary action. Hence why we give up on those actions; getting in shape, eating right, quitting smoking, no matter what the circumstances are, when we lose motivation we set ourselves up to FAIL!

Motivation becomes strong when you have a vision, a clear mental image of what you want to achieve, and also a strong desire to materialize it. You can materialize your motivation by giving setting yourself up for success, setting small obtainable goals for yourself to build upon. This guarantees your success and follow through. In this situation motivation awakens and pushes you forward, toward taking action and making the vision a reality. Motivation strengthens the ambition, increases initiative and gives direction, courage, energy and the persistence to follow one's goals. A motivated person takes action and does whatever it needs to achieve his/her goals. A motivated person is a happier person, more energetic, and sees the positive end result in his/her mind.

Motivation is one of the most important keys to your success. When there is lack of motivation you either get no results, or only mediocre results and end up giving up. Whereas when there is motivation you attain greater and better results and overall achievements. Compare someone who wants to lose weight and get healthy who lacks motivation and who doesn't eat right or do any physical activity, to someone who is highly motivated and who watches what they eat and portion sizes and devotes many hours to physical activity; they will get absolutely different results. It amazes me how often I hear from clients who have had bariatric surgery or are dieting that send me a food journal with things that clearly should not be consumed (fried chicken wings from KFC, diet coke, or M&M pancakes, yes these are real items found on food journals) and either workout very little or don't incorporate any physical activity into their plan whatsoever and then can't understand either why they are not losing weight or are in a plateau.

Components of MotivationThere are three major components to motivation: activation, persistence and intensity. Activation involves the decision to initiate a behavior, such as deciding to lose weight and get in shape. Persistence is the continued effort toward your goal even though obstacles may exist, such as incorporating a workout into your schedule when a significant investment of time, energy and resources are needed. Finally, intensity can be seen in the concentration and vigor that goes into pursuing your goal. For example, one person might coast by without much effort and lose 5 pounds in a month, while another person will workout regularly, eat appropriately, and take advantage of meal planning classes and support groups.

Extrinsic Vs. Intrinsic MotivationDifferent types of motivation are frequently described as being either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic motivations are those that arise from outside of the individual and often involve rewards such as stepping on that scale and seeing weight loss; crossing the finish line of you first 5K, marathon, or Ironman; and social recognition or praise from friends and family. Intrinsic motivations are those that arise from within the individual, such as doing a complicated cross-word puzzle purely for the personal gratification of solving a problem. Which type do you rely most on? Do you do things for self-gratification or do you look for the motivation to come from others around you? What happens when those around you don't support you or question you?

What can you do to enhance your motivation?Awaken the power that will push you toward accomplishing your dreams, small and big! Here are a few suggestions:

1. Set a goal. If you have a major goal, it would be a good idea if you split it into several minor goals, each small goal leading to your major goal. In this way, you will find it easier to motivate yourself, as you will not feel overwhelmed by the size of your goal and the things you have to do, and the goal would seem more feasible and easier to accomplish.
2. Understand that finishing what you start is important. Hammer into your mind that whatever you start you have to finish. Develop the habit of going to the finish line.

3. Socialize with achievers and people with similar interests or goals, since motivation and positive attitude are contagious. Associate with motivated people, who share your interests.

4. Never procrastinate anything. Procrastination leads to laziness, and laziness leads to lack of motivation.

5. Persistence, patience and not giving up despite failure and difficulties keep up the motivation to succeed.

6. Read about the subjects of your interest. This will keep your enthusiasm and ambition alive.

7. Constantly affirm to yourself that you can and will succeed.

8. Look at photos of things you want to get, achieve or do.

9. Visualize your goals with happiness and joy.

Remember, if a certain goal is really important, you need motivation to keep you going.

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookie

Thank you to HONEYMILK for this amazing protein cookie recipe!

Prep Time: 20 minutes     Cook Time: 20 minutes     Makes 10 servings

1/3 Cup Mashed Sweet Potato
1/3 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1/3 Cup Turbinado
2/3 Cup Garbanzo Bean Flour
2/3 Cup Soy Flour
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Pinch Ground Cloves
1 Pinch Ground Ginger
1 Pinch Ground Nutmeg
1 Pinch Allspice
3 Tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Spread or Yogurt Spread
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/3 Cup of Honey Flavored HONEYMILK
1/3 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup Raisins or dried berry of your choice

1.   Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
2.   Combine all dry ingredients, except turbinado, through a sifter in a medium sized bowl.  Once sifted add the turbinado and combine well.
3.   In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients including sweet potato and pumpkin.
4.   Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine to form a batter.  Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
5.   Using an icecream scoop, place batter two inches apart on a non-stick baking sheet or silpat.
6.   Bake for 20 minutes
7.   Set aside to let cool

You can add a small scoop of non-dairy, sugar-free homemade ice cream.  This makes a great sugar-free, gluten-free high protein snack you can have throughout your day.  Serving is 2 cookies.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Nutrition has never been as important as is it today.  People are becoming more and more attentive to what they are eating and what will help them stay as healthy as possible.  There are a few things that I recommend to all my clients.  Stay away from Gluten, the effects are not worth it.  You will feel so much better when you remove it from your diet.  Secondly, incorporate about 75% of protein into your meals and leave about 25% for complex carbohydrates, remember, anything white is bad for you!  Finally, I believe in a regimen of daily vitamins.  Along with a good multivitamin, fiber, iron, B-12, and calcium with vit-D, I recommend the following be a part of your daily nutrition routine.  These can be easily found at your health food store or online from
Importance of Fish Oil in your everyday diet and nutrition plan……
·         One major health advantage that one can obtain from the use of Omega-3 fish oil is that it helps in the reduction of triglycerides by up to 50 %. This is important and may help prevent heart disease as well as the onset of diabetes. Considering this health benefit - even the FDA approved and recommended certain fish oil supplements recently.
·         Another benefit of Omega-3 fish oil is that it can reduce high-blood pressure in a person very effectively because of its ability to expand the blood vessels.
·         Many people with depression and other known mental health problems have been found to have lower levels of essential fatty acids in their blood. Recent studies show that fish oil may be beneficial in the treatment of depression.
·         Decreases pain and inflammation… Consuming Fish oil moderately decreases exercise-related inflammation.  Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly EPA, have a very positive effect on your inflammatory response.
·         Studies suggest that the fatty acids found in some fish promote ideal brain function…Increasing the amount of omega-3s you consume may improve one’s memory and general IQ.
·         A growing body of evidence to the effect that omega-3 fatty acids can help to prevent the promotion and progression of certain cancers. They stop the alteration from a normal healthy cell to a cancerous mass, inhibiting unwanted cellular growth and causing apoptosis, or cellular death, of cancer cells.

      ·         Omega 3 fish oil believed to be beneficial for treating rheumatoid arthritis in some people.
·         Fish oil can slow down or reverse the process of atherosclerotic plaques.
Why is a B-Complex Vitamin important to help me lose weight and stay active???
There are basically eight essential vitamins that comprise Vitamin B Complex. They are : Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide or Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine or Pyridoxamine), Vitamin B7 (Biotin), Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) and lastly Vitamin B12 (Cobalamins or Cyanocobalamin). This combination of vitamins is necessary for the processes of the body to function properly. This group of water-soluble vitamins plays an essential role in cell metabolism, immunity and nervous system functions.
·         One of the Vitamin B complex benefits is energy production. With Vitamin B1, the carbohydrates that we consume are converted into glucose. After that, Biotin, Vitamins B2, B3, B5, and B6 help in converting the glucose into energy. This is why if a person has a deficiency in these vitamins, fatigue and lethargy could be felt by him.
·         Another of the Vitamin B complex benefits is promoting of healthy nervous system. The Vitamin B5 that is included in Vitamin B complex helps in the correction of the adrenal glands’ functioning and in the production of substances to regulate the nerves and hormones. More so, Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 assist in the correction and the regulation of the nervous system’s functions, which includes the functioning of the brain.
·         Good digestion is another benefit of the Vitamin B complex. It helps in proper digestion and healthy production of hydrochloric acid (HCL) which the acid breaks down carbohydrates, fats and proteins more efficiently. Deficiency in Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6, digestion could be seriously impaired and one could have severe digestion problems as a result.
·         Also another Vitamin B complex benefits is alleviating of stress and anxiety. They are very useful and beneficial in helping to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and stress caused by the hustle and bustle in life especially for busy executives that have tons of workloads to complete and working parents that need to juggle between work and family. Because of stress and anxiety caused by various factors, many individuals couldn’t sleep well and that is where Vitamin B1, B3, B6 and B12 will assist in alleviating sleep problems as well as normalizing sleep patterns to allow such individuals to handle stress and anxiety.  A deficiency in any of the Vitamin B Complex vitamins can lead to feeling stressed, anxious and depressed.
·         There are more Vitamin B complex benefits that you can have by taking natural vitamin b foods that are rich in B vitamins (e.g. whole grains, beans, bananas, brewer’s yeast, etc.).  Watch out for the gluten though!
·         It can help you not only in making your nails, hair, and skin healthier and also giving you a great general well-being and superior health benefits.  we need the following B vitamins to ensure the good health of these structures - Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B12, Biotin and Choline. Deficiencies of any of these B Vitamins can lead to dry, grey skin, dermatitis, wrinkles, acne, rashes, falling hair and weak, splitting nails.
B Vitamins are water-soluble which means any excess will be excreted through the urine. This also means that B Vitamins need to be taken on a daily basis, as the only one we can store is Vitamin B12. Taking a high dose Vitamin B Complex (50mg - 100mg) daily can turn urine a bright fluorescent, this is perfectly safe and normal so don't be alarmed!  Keep up on your daily water intake of at least 64 ounces.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Break the Fast" to Shed the Pounds....

The Importance of Breaking the Fast:

Adding breakfast to your eating pattern is a major step to improving your overall health and fitness lifestyle.  Some people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but the practice is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss. Skipping breakfast is strongly linked to the development of obesity. Studies show that overweight and obese adults, even children, are less likely to break the fast each morning than their thinner counterparts.  By eating a healthy high protein breakfast each morning and recharging your brain and your body, you'll be more efficient in just about everything you do. Starting your day with a good breakfast boosts your energy, increases your attention span, and heightens your sense of well-being. You’ll be in better control of your emotions. A good breakfast is one that provides at least one third of the day’s calories. Studies recommend eating within the first hour of being awake each day.  Your semistarvation can create a lot of physical and intellectual problems as well.

According to research, skipping meals, especially breakfast, can actually make weight control more difficult. Breakfast skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal or nibble on high-calorie snacks to stave off hunger. It is often a late sign when you feel hungry or your stomach "growls".  Several studies suggest that people tend to accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals than when they eat the same number of calories in smaller, more frequent meals. To people trying to lose weight, especially bariatric patients, skipping breakfast may seem like a perfectly logical way to cut down on calories and lose weight. It's important to educate others about the importance of the morning meal and the role it plays in maintaining good health and preventing obesity.  Preparing a good breakfast can be as quick and easy as some Greek yogurt with agave nectar or a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter. Below is a great, quick egg recipe you can use to jump start your morning metabolism and start burning those calories before you even begin to exercise!  Time invested in breakfast is much more valuable than the few extra minutes of sleep you might get by bypassing the morning meal. 
And remember, Health is by Choice...not by chance! The choice is yours. By adopting a better diet and wiser lifestyle habits, you can live longer, feel better, and enjoy a healthier, more productive life.

Simple, easy ways to add Breakfast:

• Start Small. If your not a breakfast eater, begin with whole wheat toast and/or a piece of fruit. In a few days, add more food.

• Choose Fruit for Breakfast. Fruit gives you fiber. Fresh fruit is the best choice. There are many to choose from: oranges, grapefruits, apples, bananas, grapes, kiwis, mangos, melons, berries. Eat two servings of fruit every morning. Canned fruit is NOT a good choice, typically high in sugars/syrups.  Look for fruit in juice instead.  Add dried fruit to your cereal.

• Eat High Fiber Hot Cereal. Hot cereal is the best choice, but there are several brands of cold cereal on the market that are high in fiber and low in sugar. Oatmeal is a favorite hot cereal, I usually put a teaspoon of agave and peanut butter along with a banana. Try a seven grain cereal and experiment with different grains such as millet, brown rice, quinoa, corn grits for a variety. Try cooking grains in a crock pot overnight and it’s already the next morning. Or cook up a large batch and re-heat the next day. Make your own granola. Add a high fiber cereal to your favorite low fiber cereal. Gradually increase the amount of the high fiber cereal and decrease the amount of the low fiber cereal. For example, if you like cornflakes, add Wheat Chex to the cornflakes. Each morning add a little more Wheat Chex and a little less Cornflakes.

• Choose Whole Grain Bread. Eat two slices of toast in the morning or a whole grain bagel. Spread with fruit spread or applesauce or your favorite nut butter.

•  Greek yogurt, plain.  The fruit typically high in sugars.  Take the plain and add agave nectar.

• Instead of scramble eggs try scrambled tofu. You’re in for a great surprise. Scrambled egg whites with a side of bacon is a great way to start your morning too!

• The sky’s the limit. The only limitation is your imagination. Make it a priority. Eat breakfast.

Quick 7 Minute Microwave Egg Scramble:

This recipe makes a very light, fluffy scrambled egg. The salt and paprika add extra flavor, but doesn't overpower the other ingredients and can be omitted.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1–2 minutes
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon salt (To taste)
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon margarine or light spread
  • In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the milk, salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • Place the margarine in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high heat for 30 seconds, and then for 5 seconds at a time until the margarine melts (total cooking time should be 30 to 45 seconds).
  • Pour the egg mixture into the bowl, stirring.
  • Microwave the egg on high heat for 45 seconds. Stir to break up the egg a bit, then continue microwaving for 30 seconds, and then for 15 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until the egg is just cooked through. Serve immediately.
Scrambled Egg Variations
A few additions can transform basic scrambled eggs into a hearty meal that will easily serve as a lunch or light dinner. For cheesy eggs, add ½ cup shredded American or other processed cheese to the eggs after they have begun to thicken. For a heartier dish, add ½ pound of cooked and drained bulk sausage or bacon to the thickening egg mixture. And to create Denver-style scrambled eggs, cook ⅓ cup chopped onion, ⅓ cup diced green pepper, and ⅓ cup diced ham in the melted butter before adding the eggs to the bowl.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gluten Free Pizza!

Gluten-Free Pizza
For tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with added purée
4 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar or artificial sweetner
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

For pizza crust
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup white rice flour*
1/3 cup chickpea flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup whole milk or plain soy for lactose free
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, from 1 (1/4-ounce) package
2 teaspoons sugar or artificial sweetner
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

For topping
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
4 large fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

You can also add any additional toppings, verify they are gluten free!

*Be sure to use white rice flour; brown will result in gritty pizza dough.

Special equipment:
Special equipment: pizza stone or heavy baking sheet, baking peel or heavy baking sheet, parchment paper

Make tomato sauce In a 4-quart nonreactive saucepan over very low heat, stir together tomatoes and oil. Bring to simmer, cover partially, and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 1 cup, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in sugar, salt, and oregano, cover. Keep warm or refrigerate, covered, up to 5 days.

Make pizza crust In bowl of electric mixer, whisk together tapioca flour, white rice flour, chickpea flour, sorghum flour, xanthum gum, and salt.
In small saucepan over moderate heat, stir together milk and 1/4 cup water and heat until warm but not hot to the touch, about 1 minute (the mixture should register between 105°F and 115° F on candy thermometer). Stir in yeast and sugar. Add milkyeast mixture, egg whites, and 2 tablespoons oil to dry ingredients and, using paddle attachment, beat at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until dough is very smooth and very thick, about 5 minutes.
Remove racks from oven, set pizza stone or heavy upturned baking sheet on bottom of oven, and preheat to 400°F. (Preheat at least 45 minutes if using pizza stone or 20 minutes if using baking sheet.)
Have ready two 12-inch squares parchment paper. Scrape half of dough onto each square and form each half into a ball. Coat each ball with 2 teaspoons oil, then use oiled fingertips to pat and stretch each ball into 9-inch-diameter round, 1/4 inch thick, with a 1/2-inch-thick border. Loosely cover rounds with plastic wrap and let rise in warm draft-free place until each pizza is about 10 inches in diameter, about 20 minutes.
Using baking peel, transfer 1 crust with parchment to preheated pizza stone and bake until top is puffed and firm and underside is crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Using baking peel and discarding parchment paper, transfer baked crust to rack to cool. Bake second crust in same manner. (Baked crusts can be made ahead and frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap, up to 1 month. Thaw in 350°F oven until hot, 4 to 5 minutes, before topping and broiling.)

As I continue to travel along the path of changing from Overweight to the Endurance Athlete, I have found my body is continuing to evolve as well. I recently have found that I have severe GI issues with soy products and gluten. So in my search of food alternatives to continue to fuel my body and the training for my two upcoming Ironman events in 2012, I have found some interesting snack and meal ideas online. So you ask, what is gluten and what are the effects on the body? Gluten is a term used to describe a group of plant storage proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and certain oats. It is responsible for the elastic quality of dough that is considered desirable for baking. More recently it has been added to a number of unlikely food products including ice cream, salad dressing and ketchup, where it is used as a stabilizing agent.

Ingesting gluten leads to irreversible damage of the lining of the small intestine. This basically results in weakening of the immune system since essential nutrients and vitamins are not absorbed. Given below are some harmful effects of gluten.

Abdominal Bloating
Abnormal Stools
Calcium Metabolism Disturbance
Impaired Growth
Intestinal Malabsorption
Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Muscle Wasting
Offensive Stools and Subtle Cramps
Poor Appetite or Irritability
Poor Muscle Tone (Hypotonia) and Joint Swelling
Recurrent Oral Ulcers
Severe Weight Loss or Gain

As I removed gluten from my diet a few months back, the amazing transformation in my energy level and lack of irritability was profound. Unfortunately, if I ever re-introduce it into my diet I pay the ultimate price! So as endurance athletes, how can we fuel properly while removing the gluten from our diet? Finding easy snacks can be a challenge when living gluten free. Here are some ideas. Please share yours!

1.     Carrots, apples, or celery slices with: Hummus, salad dressing, cream cheese, or peanut butter.

2.     Hard boiled eggs

3.     Sprouted peas and lentils. (great by themselves or with salads for a protein boost)

4.     Corn (tortilla) chips with salsa or bean dip

5.     Trail mixes - nuts, raisins or other dried fruit, seeds, chocolate chips. Bhuja makes some really nice mixes all gluten free. My favorite is there spicy peas that I mix with almonds and raisins.

6.     Smoothies – Start with a liquid: water, milk, rice milk, nut milk, coconut milk. Add any fruits such as kiwi, strawberries, frozen bananas (my family's favorite), blueberries, etc. You can also peanut butter, almond butter, protein powder, flax seeds, chia seeds, cocoa, yogurt, or some greens. I typically use Hemp Milk, frozen berries, Acai berry, almond butter, a probiotic, and Hammer Whey or Soy Protein powder mix

7.     Cubed deli meat and cubed cheese (double check that they are gluten free)

8.     Popcorn

9.     Yogurt (not the frozen kind)

10. Easy, sweet nuts: Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and a dash of salt. Mix with 2/3 pecans or walnuts. Bake at 300 degrees until it bubbles (about 15 minutes). Delicious! Tastes just like pecan pie to!

Finally, I have found Hammer Nutrition Products, to be gluten free and very well tolerated by my sensitive GI System. I highly recommend their products for the endurance athlete with a sensitive tummy! I wish everyone successful training, STAY ON!!! KEEP ON!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I can't......Or can I???

Lately, I have seen a lot of people that have no belief that they are capable of doing anything they set out to accomplish. After what I would call an "off year" in 2011, I was determined to make 2012 my year and so far it's been a success. I have battled with obesity and health problems for years and I finally won that battle.  I lost 140 pounds and freed myself of any and all health issues.  I competed in 2 full marathons; a Sprint, Olympic, and half Ironman Triathlon; and multiple other endurance running events, something that 2 years ago I wouldn't even have dreamed of doing.  I am working hard to train for two 70.3 Ironman Competitions (Puerto Rico and Boulder), and my first 140.6 Ironman in St. George, Utah.  I am still considering whether or not to do Louisville, KY.  I am training 120+ miles per week and 20-30 hours per week.  I feel great, feel like I have control of what I am doing and the direction that my success is leading me.  I value the opportunity to work with such a great training organization in PRSFit and Coach Jeff.  I made valuable and lifelong friendships with members of Team MARATHON Bar.  I know that over the next few weeks as I prepare for IM Puerto Rico and finally get my new Fuji D6 TT Tri bike out on the road, that I will be pushing myself even harder. I never thought I would be swimming 2-3 miles a morning and not drowning!  I am still trying to recover from literally running into a parking meter while training in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Seriously, though off the subject, who still uses parking meters :) 

Friends, let me tell you if you want something, you and only you can make it happen.  The resources are endless.  Drop the "poor me and I can't attitude" and drive your own success.   I promise you, it works!  How many of us ever live our lives to full potential, how many even step out of our comfort zone once in a while and try to make a change?  We get cozy in life and with our daily and weekly routines, we can almost set our clocks by what events happen throughout the week.  We get comfortable with our excuses.  We lose the little bit of motivation we had to begin with.  We start with the "well next week I will start" statements.

While I know there is no easy solution to convincing ourselves we can, I suggest you just flow with the opportunities that come along.  If it feels right, do it, if it doesn't then just let it go and wait for something else to come along.  But don't give up completely and look for excuses as to why you can't do something about it.  Keep yourself in control of what you choose to do, this includes your own happiness. You can only control your destiny so stop worrying about everyone else's!  Be your own inspiration and while you learn to inspire yourself and push yourself forward to achieving whatever you desire, be a positive driving force to those around you.  Be an influence for someone else to make the changes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bariatric Surgery, I cheated didn't I???

Severe obesity is a chronic condition all over the world that is very difficult and often extremely expensive to treat.  We have all tried the diets, paid overpriced gym memberships, hired personal trainers and weight management coaches, joined Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, you name it!!! On average, a person will pay 25% of their annual salary to a plan to lose weight and get healthy that they eventually will fail.  In the United States we spend $41 billion on weight loss options, while Americans spend $168 billion on fast food.  Where is the disconnect?  Can you now see why for one reason or another we have all failed?  These "plans" have sent us crashing down with a burning flame. Then comes the discouragement and disappointment of not achieving an unrealistic goal that we set for ourselves.  But should we just sit back and feel sorry for ourselves? 

For some people, weight loss surgery -- or bariatric surgery -- can help by restricting food intake or interrupting digestive processes.  But keep in mind that weight loss surgery is a serious undertaking.  You should clearly understand the pros and cons associated with the procedures before making a decision.  While some doctors and patients feel as though this is a "magic bullet" that will make everything better, all they are doing is a major disservice to their patients.  This is not a magic bullet that makes everything better.  It takes commitment, hard work, and a desire to change previous poisonous behaviors.  I should know, 2 years ago I underwent the first of 3 bariatric surgical operations to help get my life and health back on track.  Surgeons now use other techniques that produce weight loss primarily by limiting how much the stomach can hold. Two types of surgical procedures used to promote weight loss are:
  • Restrictive surgery: During these procedures the stomach is made smaller. A section of your stomach is removed or closed which limits the amount of food it can hold and causes you to feel full.
  • Malabsorptive surgery: Most of digestion and absorption takes place in the small intestine. Surgery to this area shortens the length of the small intestine and/or changes where it connects to the stomach, limiting the amount of food that is completely digested or absorbed (causing malabsorption). These surgeries are now performed along with restrictive surgery.
Through food intake restriction, malabsorption, or a combination of both, you can lose weight since less food either goes into your stomach or stays in your small intestine long enough to be digested and absorbed.

I was always an active person, playing every sport that I could, transition from season to season and sport to sport.  My parents, traveled all over the great state of Georgia to get me from practice and competitions, purchasing all the latest and greatest equipment, and making sure that I had all the tools to be as successful as I could.  So then, why was I so overweight and unhealthy as an adult?  I ate good, exercised, did everything I thought I was supposed to do.  Bought the books, the memberships, and killed myself with P90X (Literally killed myself, that program is an ass kicker)!  Moving from Georgia to Colorado, I started to learn to embrace a healthier lifestyle, again becoming active in sports and fitness and focusing on better eating habits.  But no matter what I was doing, I kept gaining weight.  While living in Crested Butte, Colorado at about 9,000ft above sea level, I finally had the "epiphany" that something was going drastically wrong with my health.  I was rushed to the hospital with a hypertensive crisis, basically my blood pressure was high enough that I could have had a stroke, all at the young age of 33 years old.  My sleep apnea had become out of control and I was suffering from pulmonary hypertension and the beginning of left sided heart failure where fluid was beginning to build up around my heart and lungs.  My pulmonologist decided that BiPAP was not enough, that I needed to walk around with supplemental oxygen while breathing and functioning day and night.  I walked out of the hospital that day and said ENOUGH!!!  I made an appointment to attend a bariatric surgery seminar with Dr. Michael Snyder and the Denver Center for Bariatrics and little did I know that night in Denver would not only change my life, but save my life.  I can't help but get a little emotional as I sit here and type this.  I attended the seminar and at the end I raised my hand, "Dr Snyder, I am 33 years old, on BiPAP, supplemental oxygen, and nearly stroking out, HELP ME PLEASE!!!"  I started the process and about 30 days later and hours of research and questioning anyone I could, I went under the knife for the first time to have a gastric lapband placed.

So while I went off on a little tangent there, I have to go back to the "magic bullet" idea.  I learned to call bariatric surgery my tool.  This tool is no different than someone who uses Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, etc.  They are all tools to help us lose weight.  But with these tools also comes the commitment and behavior modification.  Whether you are on a diet or you had surgery, you still can't eat the same bad foods you did before but in moderation.  You can't sit on the couch watching Biggest Loser eating BonBons and Chicken McNuggets and still lose weight.  You have to change your eating habits, portion control, types of foods you eat, sugar intake, etc.  Eating is a learned behavior. Often, people eat under stress. You have to find the reason why you had the bad eating habits to begin with.  Are you an emotional eater?  Did you just not make the time to cook a healthy meal and went for the easy, pick up on your way home fast food?  Think of it as also your tool to adjust your lifestyle.  There is nothing selfish about taking some time for yourself, especially if it means getting your health back.  Sit in on a support group, find a buddy to work with (very similar to a sponsor at AA), someone that can help you be accountable for your actions and help you make those lifestyle changes.  I try to be that person for many other bariatric patients, whether they are having surgery, had surgery already, or have to explore other non-surgical options.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  You didn't become obese and unhealthy overnight, and you certainly aren't going to lose the weight and gain back your health and wellness overnight, but DON'T GIVE UP!

Finally, I talked about the first of 3 bariatric operations.  I had my lapband placed 9/17/2009.  Within about the first 5 months I lost 70 pounds.  But I sensed something was wrong.  In February of 2010 I had what we thought was a leak in the port of the lap band and I had it replaced, a port revision.  Well, that wasn't the issue.  The band itself had sprung a leak.  Although my fitness had kicked into high gear as I started training for my first full marathon, I wanted to make sure that my lapband was working correctly.  I hit the 100 pounds lost goal, started my tattoo sleeve, and in March of 2010 had my entire lapband replaced.  My tool was once again working properly.  While I was sure that I had learned correct eating habits and had a great training and workout routine, it was comforting to know in the back of my mind that my tool was once again 100%!!!  I kept to my plan, finally on October 17th, 2010 I made it to 140 pounds lost as I lined up to start my first full 26.2 Marathon, the Denver Rock n Roll Marathon.  I no longer suffered from any medical conditions and I felt great, like I had gotten my life back.  Last week I had a sleep study and 2 years ago I averaged 180 episodes where I quit breathing in my sleep per hour.  Today, I average 4 and my pulmonologist is astonished at what I have transformed into.  Since that day I have competed in 4 full marathons, 16 half marathons, 27 10K's, 32 5K's, 1 Half Ironman, and am training for 2 more half Ironmans, and my first 2 Full Ironman competitions.  I feel blessed to have gotten my life back and do not feel for one minute that I cheated  by having bariatric surgery.  My article published on about Overweight to Endurance Athlete, I was called a cheater by someone.  I had to work to get to where I am, and those of you that know me, know that I work every day to stay where I am at.  Again, it is no "magic bullet"!!!  And I must thank each and everyone that has supported me through my journey.  I am truly thankful.  If you are interested in bariatric surgery, no matter where you are, please visit  and you can see my transformation firsthand!!!