Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From my blog at Obesity Help: Time Managment for the Active WLS Athlete

Time Management: How Do I Balance My Lifestyle Change, Home, and Fitness?      

One of the hardest things that I found pre and post my lifestyle change was time management. How do I balance everything: my family life, my professional life, eating, and exercising?  It became much more apparent as I decided that I wanted to train to compete in my first Ironman, as 30 plus hours of training became almost another full-time job. My relationships and friendships started to suffer.  I needed to make myself find that fine balance between all aspects of my life.

Time Management: How Do I Balance My Lifestyle Change, Home, and Fitness?

I have a saying that I live by and promote: “You either make the time, or you make excuses, you can’t have both.”  My clients in my personal training and endurance sports coaching business live it everyday, and it holds true for many of us that are trying to balance our lifestyle change along with our professional life and personal life.  Lifestyle change, whether you are changing your eating and exercise habits, or have undergone WLS, it is definitely a large part of who we are and our now everyday lives.  It is no wonder why so many of us were overweight, it was easy.  We didn’t have to worry about everything that we eat or make time to workout or train for that upcoming race.  This change takes work, a major time commitment, and support from those around us, and definitely some selfishness at times.

For all of us, we have made some sort of financial commitment and obtained the resources to make the positive changes in our life.  Now it is up to you to make it a successful journey.  When I first started my journey, I lost out on many things, including friends.  I didn’t know how to make the ultimate sacrifice, balancing my time.  For some the balance requires an extreme amount of family support, while for others it requires pre-planning and scheduling, much like at your job.  For one of my clients, Brigitte, “I find for me it is all about planning! Especially when the kids are in school. I have to schedule my workouts just like any other appointment.  My family also knows my weight loss is important to me, and they will join me on a lot of my workouts just to have the extra time together, which in turn keeps them active so they never have to go through what I have.”

Time Management: How Do I Balance My Lifestyle Change, Home, and Fitness?

Now a little of that selfishness comes in to play with our journey.  You have to take the time for you, take the time to make the positive changes, embrace the new lifestyle and do the things you never thought you could do.  If that means riding a horse, running a marathon, or traveling, do it for you!  For example, if you look at 24 hours in a day, getting in a 1 hour workout takes up 4% of our overall day.  You can schedule that early in the morning, during your lunch breaks, or later in the evenings.  I offer my clients a varied schedule of times and events that they can take part in.  Many gyms are open 24/7, so there is no reason why you can’t take an hour of your day for yourself.  Those that make the time are seeing the positive results.  Those that make the excuses come back to me week after week frustrated at their lack of results.  Heather, one of my running clients puts it best; “Before WLS I always put everyone before myself. I had to shift this habit and learn to start taking care of myself too. Putting the same importance in myself.”

Finally, I believe you have to have a plan.  Make sure you develop a plan and that those around you know the plan, this way family can help support you.  There are plenty of programs and phone applications that can help you track your meals and your workouts.  I build my clients weekly, customized training calendars with nutrition and fitness goals and workouts.  It is essential for your success to know what the plan is day in and day out, week in and week out.   So stop and ask yourself, what are you doing to guarantee your success?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Paying it forward.......

So this is what I call paying it forward.  After my weight loss journey, I decided that I wanted to help others that had desires to be involved in endurance sports.  Endurance sports to me starts at 5K and goes all the way to Ironman distance triathlon events.  This year has been an amazing year of events for me personally, but also for those that I help.  I have seen my athletes go from "I can't" to "Holy Shit I did".  We had 12 people finish the Colfax Marathon, 6 of which had never run a half marathon before.  I was honored as I fought back the tears seeing how happy my athletes, my friends really, were.  Sometimes I am the only one that believes in them, that sees they can accomplish anything they want to accomplish.  I struggle finding the ways to keep some motivated, while I have to tell others to slow down!  But in the end, they all shine and reach something they never even thought possible just a few short weeks before.  I am proud of my athletes, and honored to be the "chosen one" to help them reach their goals.
But last weekend was definitely different.  It isn't typically a person's fear that I am helping them to overcome.  Usually, they just don't believe they can do it, but don't necessarily have a fear of something.  For my partner Carlos, it was a whirlwind of events last week.  First off it was our 8 year anniversary and I purchased him a new car.  Surprised him with our Civil Union in the State of Colorado, and I dragged him out for his first Sprint Distance Triathlon in Boulder.  He has long been unable to swim, we generally called him a cat in the bathtub.  Growing up in Myrtle Beach, I was surprised to learn he couldn't swim.  I taught him, he quickly caught on, but he always had a fear of deep water, and deep, murky open water seemed to scare the living daylights out of him.  I truly doubted he would ever compete in an open water triathlon.  Much to my amazement, he signed up for the Sprint, and later his first 70.3 in September of this year.  We trained, albeit difficult for him with a new job, and some other responsibilities.  Race day came and we went to warm up, and he FROZE in the water!  I could see the fear of death in his eyes.  I truly thought he would pull out.
Well, he didn't.  We got up to the line and airhorn fires.  He slowly walked into the water, I could still see the fear.  He began to swim......then STOPPED.  I didn't think he would continue.  He called over a paddle boarder and asked to hold on.  I had some choice tough love words for him and told him that I had to pull him off the swim.  He fought me, started swimming and never stopped.  He swam the last 500 meters faster than the first 250.  Out of the water he comes, swimming from ear to ear, and I ran over to hug him.  I was so proud of him, he overcame his fear, never gave up, and whether he knows it or not set an example for our athletes that were there to watch!  I say all this because it shows the tenacity that people have when they want to overcome something and succeed at something they often doubt themselves.  Quitting should never be an option, give it all you got and I promise you the effort will be worth the reward.  So let this be a lesson to you, you CAN DO IT. Don't let anything stop you from accomplishing what it is you want to accomplish.  Whether it is to lose 20 pounds or 160 pounds, to run a 5K or finish an Ironman.  You can do it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Marathon 4.15.2013-My Race Recap!

This was to be one of the biggest days of my life, second only to my Ironman Louisville back in August of 2012.  I trained the hardest I have ever trained, made sure that every training session fulfilled its purpose and was meant to make me faster and stronger.  I used recovery days just as much as my training days.  The days leading up to the Marathon were some of the best, it was stress free enjoying friends, the atmosphere of Boston, and the overall experience that was the Boston Marathon.  I met my friends Berly and Corky and toured some of Boston as well as spent some time around the Health and Fitness Expo.  Carlos came into town, where we again toured some of Boston and spent some more time at the Expo. 

I also got to meet someone that, little does she know, is a motivational force behind me as well.  Melissa Black, a friend/client of mine in the Mass area.  We spent some time chatting and then drove the course, something that I must say was the nicest thing anyone could have done.  We stopped to take some photos at the Hopkinton, It All Starts Here sign.  Finally, went and had my pre-race sushi dinner!  All in all, it was a great couple days leading up to the final event.

I woke up Monday morning to feel the best I had in a very long time.  I felt ready, fully prepared, and ready to have an amazing race day experience.  Spent some time taking it all in at the start and athlete village.  Walked up to the Start and off I went.  It was by far the most crowded start of any race I have every taken part in.  There was no way that I could have kept up with my 7:05 mile pace.  I believe the first 4-5 miles were in the 8 minute plus range as I ran around people, over guardrails, around bystanders, through mud and water, and anything else I needed to dodge to get ahead of the pack.  Finally, around mile 6 it broke loose and I was able to keep my 7 minute pace.  I enjoyed every moment of it, smiling ear to ear for most if not all of the race.  I was still having the best race of my life.  Pain free, felt great through the whole race.  I stopped to enjoy a popsicle and some gummie bears to help me fuel along with gatorade and water.  I never stopped to walk, taking time to run over to Carlos as I saw him in the crowd.  As I approached Heartbreak Hill, Berly came out to run a little with me.  It was great to see her, and as I told her, I felt amazing!  I couldn't have asked for a better race experience.

As I continued to head towards the finish, passing along Wellesley College was amazing!  There were 1000's of girls holding signs that said Kiss Me I am Graduating, Kiss Me I Code, and Kiss Me I am Horny!  Their screams and cheers helped to push me to run even faster!  Finally, as I approached Boston College, I looked over to see the Medical staff of BC Eagles EMS with my MERET line of products, brought a smile to my face!  Then, as I counted down the miles, I saw the CITGO sign, knowing that I had a mile left.  I pushed even harder, hugging the left side of the course.  Finally, making that last turn onto Boylston where I could see the finish line!  I pushed hard, my face hurting from the massive smile I had on my face!  I knew the finish was near, and yes I might have missed my BQ, but I was to finish the 2013 Boston Marathon with a 12 minute Personal Best!  It was 2:30pm EST and I finished in 3 hours and 25 minutes (3:25:08).  Medical stopped me as I looked around the finish line aimlessly for Carlos.  I told them I was ok, but would be even better with 100 of Fentanyl and 1000cc of IV Fluids.  I then proceeded to get my mylar blanket, as the wind really picked up at the finish.  We then hit water and gatorade, our medals, and finish line photos!  I finally saw Carlos and walked over to give him a hug.  He walked me outside the fence to the morning clothes buses where I grabbed my bag, some food, and then headed to the change tent to put on my race hoodie and some pants.  On the backside of the medical tent and about to exit the secure zone, we heard and felt the first explosion.  I immediately looked over to Carlos and said, "In my previous career, I would be worried.  That was a bomb!"  No sooner did I say that, that we then heard and felt the second explosion.  We were exactly 2 blocks from the finish line where the first bomb went off.  With the second explosion, I told Carlos that we needed to go help and we ran to the medical tent to assist, identifying myself as a Paramedic.  We were there as they loaded the first patient from the explosion, a young man missing both legs, into a waiting ambulance.  At that point, we were told as athletes, their number one priority was to get us to safety by a Boston Marathon Security person.  We were then forced to evacuate to Boston Commons. 

Carlos and I walked around aimlessly, just in awe that this had occured.  To this day, I still can't believe that this still has occurred.  With all public transportation shut down, not a cab in sight, we walked the long 7 miles back to our hotel in Cambridge.  We tried to respond to the over 100 text messages, emails, voicemails, and countless Facebook Notifications we both had.  Still in shock, we showered and headed to Harvard Square to get some food.  Just about every place in town was closed down.  We finally found something to eat and spent the evening talking about our days experiences.  While at first I was certain that a Boston race would not be in my future, I have decided that I will race in 2014!  Bring on my BQ!  I have had several sleepless nights, nightmares, and just an overall sense of sadness since Monday.  I know that I will slowly get over it, but it takes time.  I appreciate the thoughts, concerns, and messages from all my friends.  I really enjoyed being able to share in not giving up and support Boston with my 9News Commercial with Susie Wargin.  Yet another step in the healing process.  I know that if I ran 12 minutes slower, or if Carlos had not been mugged and was at the finish line waiting on me, this message might have been different.  I guess someone was looking after me on that day.  I live to race again, I live to help others reach their goals, and I live to support those affected by this senseless tragedy. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Diet and Exercise, Which is more important?

I think one of the biggest misconceptions in weight loss is you have to crash diet, cut out everything you would usually make part of your meal plan, and exercise until you can't walk or even drive home.  But, The healthiest way to lose weight is neither crash diets nor bursts of exercise. The body likes slow and consistent changes in terms of food and exercise.   For example, someone who hasn't exercised for years shouldn't rush into running 3  miles a day or pounding the treadmill for 90 minutes. Not only will the struggle to do so leave you feeling disheartened and demotivated, you're also far more likely to injure yourself and set your fitness and mental levels back even further.  The same goes for people who suddenly start starving themselves. Diets that severely restrict calories or the types of food 'allowed' can lead you to be deficient in the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs.  Also, if you do a diet that totally restricts you, you will fail because we are not perfect!

One way to be successful, introduce changes gradually.  You should think of weight loss in terms of permanently changing your eating habits. While weight-loss goals are usually set in term of weeks, the end game is to sustain these changes over months and years, ie lifestyle change for life.  Changing your diet and limiting those bad foods, in addition adding some exercise routine, will guarantee weight loss.

If you're overweight and trying to lose weight, you can't continue with your current eating habits if you really want to lose weight.  This holds especially true if you have had weight loss surgery.  It's not possible to reduce body fat while eating lots of food high in sugars and carbs, cakes and sweets. This doesn't mean you can never have any treats, but you need to learn how to limit these foods to small quantities – say, for special occasions.  I tell my clients it's ok to have one cheat day.  That doesn't mean the whole day, but one meal that is not the ideal meal.  For me, College Football Saturdays means wings, pizza, etc in moderation.  In terms of weight-loss, you can get your body to use up existing stores of fat by eating less and making healthier choices.   This doesn't mean crash diet (anything less than 1500 calories), which usually ends up with you either getting weaker or giving up in desperation. Starving the body will not make you lose weight, it will make your body go into emergency mode and hold on to everything it receives for dear life, not knowing when its next meal may be.  Quick-fix diets can lead to a yo-yoing effect of drastic weight loss followed by weight gain, resulting in a vicious cycle. There are no shortcuts to losing weight in a healthy and reasonable way.  Eating 300 to 500 calories less per day should lead to a loss of between one and two pounds per week. This is a realistic target. It may seem slow.  Eat smaller amounts low in calories several times a day.  I eat 5-6 meals of 5-6 oz, basically every 3 hours or less.  I never feel hungry, my stomach never growls, at that point it is too late and your body is already in emergency mode.  Fat contains the most amount of calories out of all the food types (protein, carbohydrates), so a good way to achieve this is to cut down on fatty foods and eat more wholegrain bread, fruit and vegetables

Whether you are trying to lose weight through diet or you have undergone bariatric surgery, you must increase your activity levels.  Now you don't have to follow my lead and swim, bike, and run 100 miles a week, but no matter if you hate gyms – even light exercise, such as a short 20 minute walk outside, will be beneficial if done most days of the week. There are lots of ways to increase the amount of activity you do. Team sports, racket sports, aerobics classes, running, walking, swimming and cycling will all improve your fitness levels. Our Overweight to Endurance Athlete Personal and Endurance Training Programs are a prime example.  You don't have to do it alone, you don't have to do it with all those intimidating pieces of equipment or trainers screaming at you.  Find something you enjoy that's easy for you to do in terms of location and cost. You're then more likely to build it into your routine and continue to exercise, despite inevitably missing the odd session through holidays, family commitments, etc.
  • Get out and about during the weekend. Leave your car and walk to the shops. Try to incorporate longer walks into outings to the park, coast or countryside and take a picnic, so you're in control of what you are going to eat that day.
  • Every extra step you take helps. Always use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or get off the bus a stop before the usual one and walk the rest of the way.  Don't fight for that close parking space.  Park far away and walk to your location.
  • Use commercial breaks between TV-programs to stand up and do exercise, or consider using an exercise bicycle in the living room while watching your favorite program.
Finally, make sure you develop a plan.  There are plenty of programs and phone applications that can help you track your meals and your workouts.  We build our clients customized calendars with nutrition and fitness goals and workouts.  It is essential for their success to know what the plan is day in and day out, week in and week out.  Our program will text or email our clients daily workouts and goals.  They never have an excuse of not knowing what the plan is!  You can track everything you eat to every activity you do.  This holds you accountable, if you are following the plan and not losing weight, then maybe you need to re-evaluate yourself or if that plan really works for you.

It might take a week or two before you notice any changes, but they will steadily appear. Don't get discouraged.  After the first month you'll be able to see the results and measure them in terms of looser fitting clothes.  Keeping your motivation up is one of the most difficult aspects of dieting and losing weight. There will be days when healthy eating goes out the window, and there will be weeks where you may not lose any weight – or put a little back on.  The other side of this is to make sure you celebrate your goals. While there's joy enough in stepping on the scales and seeing them dip lower, be sure to mark long-term progress with a reward – such as new clothes or time off from domestic chores.  Celebrating is also a way to involve your nearest and dearest – it's up to you whether you want their encouragement in the form of gentle reminders not to eat certain foods.  My partner always asks, "Want any more?"  That is my key to stop eating or watch what it is I am eating.  But support from other people can get you through the bumpy patches.