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If you can close your eyes and see the person you want to be, you can be it.

That was one of my posts the other day on Twitter and Facebook.  It came to me after watching two inspirational videos about two gentlemen who transformed themselves over the course of a year.  I hash-tagged my posts with #starttoday, hoping that somewhere, somehow, someone would be inspired to #starttoday and begin their personal transformation.  At first, my thinking was “if you want to lose weight, go out and run!” but as I sat thinking about the videos with the song “Fix You” running through my head (the soundtrack to both videos), I realized that these videos represented so much more and that the concept of #starttoday was about more than just throwing on some running shoes and going.

#starttoday is about doing something, anything to start yourself on the path of transformation – for some that mean dropping some pounds and gaining cardiovascular health.  Yes, #starttoday can mean throwing on your dusty running shoes and putting in a few miles but, it can also mean getting off of the couch, heading to the kitchen and today, just TODAY choosing to grab an apple instead of a bag of Doritos.  #starttoday can mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.  #starttoday can mean taking the dog around the block instead of to just the corner.  #starttoday can simply mean purposely changing your mindset – that this week, this day, this hour, this minute I will choose to live well; I will choose activity over inactivity; I will choose to eat healthful foods instead of junk; I will embrace the light that is life instead of the darkness.

Our bodies were designed, whether by God or by Nature, to move.  Today’s society inadvertently conspires to keep us still, idle – whether it be the TV, the computer, or the smartphone, when we are engaged with these devices we tend to stop moving.

Technology is not a bad thing.  It is a wonderful, beautiful thing that has helped bring the world together and can be used to make life easier.  We should not however mistake ease of life with complacency.  Contentment has its place, it is what we all strive for, but it cannot (and ultimately does not) come at the cost of our health.

In 2010 66% of the population of the United States was overweight, half of which was obese and we spent 2.6 trillion dollars on health care related issues.

That’s $2,600,000,000,000.00.

THAT is a lot of zeroes.  That’s close to $1,000 per person.  Would you rather be spending $1,000 on health care issue that were preventable or on items your family could use or want?  $1,000 per person pumped back into the economy could go a long way toward bringing America’s health back to where it once was – but that recovery starts with you, and your friends, and your neighbors.  I know that it’s not that simple.  Getting healthy is not that simple.  The numbers ($2.6 trillion, ~$1,000 per person) are not that simple. But we must start somewhere; we must start some time.

What better time to start than now?

Make a promise and #starttoday.

And then when you wake up tomorrow morning, do it again.

You can do it.

I dare anybody who loves running NOT to cry at 3:50 of this video.

***

Don’t wait.  Take a walk…play with your kids…jump…run…dance…make love…swim…bike…have a water balloon fight…

…and if you still don’t know how to start, just ask.

#starttoday

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I am very happy to say that you can find me today over at the Oxygen Mask Project – the concept that these bloggers have put together jives completely with my philosophy here at Run Luau Run.  Please take a moment to check out the many great posts they have put up (including mine!).

http://oxygenmaskproject.com/2012/02/06/be-selfish/

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4:10 AM – the alarm on my phone goes off – a mix of a loud snoring sound and the phone vibrating on my nightstand.

4:10 AM.

Ugh.

Am I really gonna do this?  Do I really WANT to do this?

10 miles?  Really?  It’s 30° outside.

It’s cold.

It’s dark.

I could just hit the snooze…or better yet, just go back to sleep until 6:45.

Sleep is good right?  We all need sleep, don’t we?  Maybe I’ll just close my eyes…

***

I’d rather be sleeping….but then who’s gonna run these miles?
– My post on Facebook at 4:12AM

***

As I covered my 10 miles during the predawn hours this morning, I realized just how good I felt being out there on the road.

Yes, it was early.
Yes, it was dark.
Yes, it was cold.

But I felt great.  Despite my apathy at 4:10AM when the alarm went off, throughout my run I. Felt. Great!

I talk a lot on this blog about inertia.  It is one of the strongest fundamental principles of physics – a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  I believe it also is a fundamental principle of the human condition.  One of the most difficult things for us as humans to do is to change our inertia – couch potatoes rarely get off of the couch.  Compulsive exercisers rarely stop – for fear that they might not get going again.

The key, for those of us in the middle, is to understand that inertia is real and that to go from rest to motion, we must go through what I like to call the “Toughest Ten Minutes of the Day”.  It’s those ten minutes of putting on the shorts and shoes, walking out the door and moving that in all likelihood is the hardest part of your workout…unless maybe you’re doing hill sprints, but that’s a different kind of tough.  No matter what your workout is going to be, no matter how physically demanding, the key is overcoming the mental hurdle – the anticipation of the pain or burn, the expectation of the cold air, the knowledge that this could take a couple of hours, the call of your pillow, comforter or couch.

That ten minutes before your run can be the most difficult part of your workout.  Unlike a job you may not like, you are not getting paid to run.  Unlike a class you are dreading, you are not paying to attend.  In both cases you have the extra motivation of dollars to show up.  Unless you are Ryan Hall, Kara Goucher or the like, you are not getting paid to run.  The motivation has to come from within. You have to fight that feeling that maybe I’ll just sit here instead for this workout.

I promise you, if you can overcome those toughest ten minutes of the day, whether in the predawn hours, midday or late at night, the payoff is well worth it.

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There's an app for that...

Every New Year hundreds of thousands of people vow to change their ways, to improve themselves.  These “resolutions” come in all forms, but one of the most common is about weight loss and fitness.  My friend Greg over at Pre-Dawn Runner wrote a post recently about just these sorts of resolutions and why 90% of the time, people are bound to fail at them – whether it is over-ambition, too vague goals, or simply not knowing where to start, a lot of resolutions grind to a halt before they even get started.

One of the suggestions Greg had was tracking calories.  I have had many a friend ask me what they can do to get fit and lose weight, and I almost always reply with “running and calorie tracking”.

You may have heard of and rolled your eyes at the concept of calorie tracking, thinking, “I’m not going to be one of those people who counts calories”.

If you are, I want you to stop for a second and reread what it is I suggest and what it is you say you don’t want to be.

Go ahead…

Go back and read my reply and now read your response.

There is a difference, albeit one based on semantics.  What you call “counting calories” I call “tracking calories”.

I believe there actually is a huge difference between the two.

What’s the difference, you ask?

If you are counting calories, that implies you are keeping an eye on a certain number that you are allowing yourself throughout each day.  Every time you “count” a meal, you are subtracting that number from what you’ve been told your total for the day can be.  Each passing meal, snack, or beverage becomes something that you dread and in the end the joy of eating is taken away.  At that point, you probably give up on counting calories.

Now, if you are tracking calories, you are simply keeping track of what you eat.  As the days go by, you come to realize, based on the data you’ve collected, just how much you are eating.  You may find that some days you eat more, others you don’t, but eventually, you get to a point where simply start to make better choices because you know what’s in the food you are taking in.  If tracking the calories themselves seems too time consuming (though there are apps for that) take one step back and simply keep a food diary.

The concept of tracking calories or keeping a food diary isn’t about worrying and wringing your hands over every meal or snack, but rather to give you a picture of what your habits are – which then allows you to visualize making changes for the better.  As you make those changes, the proof is right there in front of you in both your notebook (or smartphone) in black and white, on the scale and in the mirror.

It’s a lot easier than you think!

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It was 11°F out that morning.

 

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It’s 35°F outside and I’m walking the kids into school.  I’m in my usual uniform – t-shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops. 

We walk by a mom who shakes her head.

“You are ridiculous,” she says laughing.  It’s nothing new.  She’s seen me dressed like this during the Winter since Katie was in kindergarten.  I smile, saying, “I just generate the heat from the inside.”

And then it strikes me.

Maybe I’m on to something.

Maybe I’ve come up with the next trend in fitness/health/weigh loss.

But how to cash in on this ridiculous theory?

***

The theory?  It’s simple (and ridiculous, I know) – by sticking with shorts, t-shirt and flip flops through the colder month, my body is forced to generate heat so my core temperature doesn’t drop.  Generating heat requires burning calories.  Burning extra calories means eventual weight loss.  It’s that simple.

I don’t suggest going out in 20° weather and walking around like me if you haven’t done it before.  Just like anything, you need to build up to it – get your engine used to the idea of burning even while at rest.  I’ve been doing it since college, and it took me a few weeks to build up to shorts and a t-shirt level.  Most people assume that I’m from somewhere waaaaaaay up north when they see me walking around mid-winter like it’s a nice, summer day.  Actually, I grew up in South Florida, which, to me, explains why I’m more comfortable this way.  I grew up in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops (when I wasn’t barefoot).

My freshman year in college (in New England) I experienced my first real winter.  That winter, as my gaggle of buddies moved from one fraternity party to the next, I realized just how much of a pain winter clothing was.  Overcoat, gloves, hat, scarf…all of it had to come off when you got to a party.  Then you struggled your way through a sea of people to get a beer, only to then work your way back to your winter clothes to put them back on and move to the next party to do it all over again.

What. A. Pain.

So I stopped bringing the overcoat.  And then the jacket.  Then the scarf, the hat and the gloves.  Even then, when I would get down into the packed fraternity basements, I would still feel overheated, so I finally went to shorts and flip flops.

I haven’t looked back since.

***

Now, before you start with the “you’ll catch a cold” or “you’re gonna get sick” routine that most of you “layerers” say, understand this – cold temperatures do not make people sick.

Germs, bacteria, viruses – they make people sick.  Cold weather will make people’s noses a little more runny due to heat differential, who then wipe their noses with their hands and then touch the things that you eventually touch.  Those that are already sick end up spreading their germs by not keeping their hands clean.  So don’t keep the layers on just because you’re afraid of getting sick.  Just keep your hands clean.

***

So who wants to try a science experiment with me and strip for the winter?  20 minutes a day.  That’s all you need.  And you don’t have to do it all at once.  Use the 30 seconds it takes to walk from the parking lot to the grocery store; the 10 minutes it takes to walk the dog for his morning poop; the 5 minute walk from your train to your job.  Just 20 minutes of cold exposure a day and see what happens. You might find a revved up engine, renewed energy and maybe even a little weigh loss.  If you think of it, take a picture of yourself out there among the “layered” and post it to the Run Luau Run Facebook page.

Happy stripping!

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Why do you run?

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This video is old, but I saw it just the other day for the first time.  It made me think of my ongoing struggle to get back into the swing of things.

This video is relatively new.  It was posted by a doctor who is advocating exercise in a very simple, easy to understand way.  The statistics quoted should be enough to get you up and moving.

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I hope that you will take the time to watch both videos.

As we get into the thick of the Holidays and the spirit of giving, I can’t help but wonder how many of you aren’t thinking of/giving to yourselves, forgetting that, as much as you want to be able to take care of those around you, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be good to anyone.

As daunting as it may sound, taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you have to train for a marathon, like Roger, the gentleman in the first video.  As the second video points out, just 20+ minutes a day of walking can reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure by nearly 30%.

30%!!!

What I like about the first video is not that the guy ran a marathon (though that is awesome!) – no.  The thing I was most moved by was that he latched onto a reason to get himself moving.  Sometimes, doing it for ourselves is not enough motivation.  We seem to disregard the concept of self-care, or at best put it low on the priority list.  Sometimes what it takes is a cause, a reason.  Roger found that cause in his niece and because of that, he was able to find the courage, the strength, the reason to keep going; and he is now a transformed man.

If you are struggling, and self-motivation isn’t enough, do it for a cause, a reason – your daughter, your son, your mother, your dad, your sibling, your spouse, a friend or do as my friend David does in this —>post<—  about charity.

I have never bought into the concept that we are destined to remain the shape we have lived with or are currently in – I was a lollipop until after college (big head, toothpick body).  You can change your body, mind and soul.  They go hand in hand in hand.

Find a reason.  Find a cause.

After they thank you for your efforts, you’ll inevitable thank yourself.

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Why do you run?

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Another Hazard?

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I went to the doctor’s office yesterday.  The last week or so I’ve had this water-logged feeling in my lungs and have been suffering from what I can only describe as fatigue and lethargy.   In addition, as I explained to the doctor, my throat feels “hairy”.  It had become bad enough that I spent Tuesday morning in bed because I felt so bad.

Finally, Jess firmly insisted that I needed to go see a doctor.  Pneumonia has been going around and she didn’t want me to put myself at risk for no reason.

So I went.

The doctor did all of the usual things – heart rate, blood pressure, ears, mouth, throat culture.  Then, because I was complaining about some shortness of breath and a heavy chest, she ordered an x-ray to make sure I didn’t have anything seriously wrong with my lungs. Everything came back A-OK – aside from slightly elevated blood pressure (a genetic trait I inherited from both parents) everything was not just normal, but better than normal.  Even my hacking lungs came back perfectly clear on the x-ray.

***

Some of you may remember a post I wrote back in March about the Hazards of Running. Well, I’ve got one more to add after my visit to the doctor.  After examining me thoroughly, the doctor said the reason I felt so crappy was that I was in such good shape.

Huh?

Right.  I didn’t get it initially either.  The bottom line was that all the running and push ups and healthy eating had created such a well-honed machine that a little bronchial virus threw the whole system off kilter.  Essentially, if I were overweight, eating processed foods and smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, my body wouldn’t notice a minor virus taking up residence in my lungs, but because my system is cleaner and leaner than most, I got sidelined by what is pretty much just a cough.

Ah, the price for feeling good all of the time.

Maybe it’s time to start eating Twinkies and smoking Camels again.

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Why do you run?

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how do you see yourself?

Running is/isn’t easy.

Running a 5K is/isn’t easy.

Running a marathon is/isn’t easy.

***

Over the last three years I’ve made many friends in the running community – runners of all shapes and sizes, skills and experience.  Physically, for some, running is a natural gift; for others, it is a concerted daily effort.  For some, running is easy; for others, not so much – but surprisingly, it doesn’t always break down along the “physically gifted/not so gifted” lines.

Running is a physical activity that taxes your muscles, heart and lungs.  The faster you go, the harder your body must work – your muscles burn, your heart beats faster and your lungs strain to keep up with the demand for oxygen.

But what if I told you that running is more mental than anything else.  What if I told you that being a “good runner” was more about what’s between your ears instead of how strong your legs are or how much blood your heart pumps or how much air your lungs can take it.

Running comes down to two things – discipline and joy.  Do you have the mental discipline to put one foot in front of the other and can you find the joy in each one of those steps.

If you can consistently do both, happiness, particularly in how you see/feel about yourself, is not too far behind.

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Therapeutic

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Not all is solved.

Not all is better.

The big guy upstairs is still on my shitlist.

The same problems that were there before are still there.

But MAN does a nice, hard 8 mile run go a long way toward making one feel better.

I had planned on a short 4-miler, in part because I just haven’t been running lately, I mean AT ALL.  But once my legs got moving, I just wanted to keep going.  They (my legs) knew I needed it.  After taking it relatively easy for 4 miles, I slowly picked up the pace.  It was hard keeping myself in check. The anger, the aggression, it all needed to be let out, but with so little mileage lately, I didn’t want to injure myself, particularly with New York just two weeks away.  After running mostly in the mid-8’s, I just let it all out – starting from about 4 1/2 miles to the end of mile 7 I ran sub-7’s.  I grunted, I yelled – I could feel the tension flow out of me.

As I cooled down for the 8th mile, I laughed, realizing just how much I’ve missed running, how much I need it.

By the end, I was spent.  That’s what a lack of running will do to you.

I need to get back to doing this regularly – it’s my therapy.

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So, Martin “#2” Kessman is suing White Castle for discriminating against his 290-pound frame, claiming that, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, he is having his civil rights violated.  I haven’t seen one word yet about WHAT his disability is.  If Mr. Kessman is claiming that his sole disability is his weight and the accompanying morbid obesity, then I shake my head in utter disappointment.  In a world where people must deal with real disabilities, whether they be physical, mental or processing difficulties, how can a man who has chosen to eat his way into his condition have the nerve to claim a civil rights violation.

Kessman claims, “The Americans with Disabilities Act is applicable – not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people. I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

Did he really compare himself, a man that as far as we know is simply overweight, to a pregnant woman or to handicapped people?  Really? (and Marty?  are you saying that handicapped people aren’t normal?  Careful Buddy.)

He says that he doesn’t like that he can’t fit into the booths of the White Castle he used to go to (more on that in a second).  He went on to say that not being able to sit in the booths was “extremely embarrassing [especially] to have to experience in front of a restaurant full of customers.”  He continues by saying that when he did try to squeeze into a larger seating area, he slammed his knee into one of the metal posts under the table and hurt himself.

Now, this is a man who has been eating White Castle burgers for over 50 years.  Supposedly he has been eating at the same White Castle since 1959.  I would imagine that back then, as a young man, he probably fit just fine into the booth style seating.  Wasn’t there some point in his life when he realized that maybe, just maybe the booths were getting a little tight?

But I want to get back to this quote from the New York Post, “I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

This quote, or rather the intention of this quote is what is wrong with America right now.  When noticing that he was pushing beyond the maximum capacity of the booths, he could have taken different steps to remedy the situation.  Asking White Castle to remodel their restaurant is NOT one of them.  Anybody who reads this blog knows what Marty could have done.  But instead of taking responsibility for his lifetime of poor eating habits, he decided that White Caste had to accommodate him.  I don’t buy it for a minute that he was concerned for pregnant women or those with true handicaps.

I am a firm,FIRM believer that society as a whole should make an effort to accommodate those members that truly are disabled.  It is our way of showing that we value life, all life.  But when jackasses like Marty make a mockery of that compassion because they are lazy, I really get upset.  It cheapens the compassion shown to my baby girl; compassion that I am so grateful for.

My daughter Brooke works extremely hard to fit herself into the world around her.  To quote an amazing parent, she is a hair dryer kid in a toaster brained world (READ IT, IT WILL GIVE YOU INSIGHT).  It’s not easy for Brooke…ever.  Society though makes an effort to include her in their world, to accommodate her, and for that I am extremely grateful.  But my point is that we work very hard to make sure that she is returning the favor of accommodation by trying to do the same.

What accommodation has Marty made?  What has he done on his part to make things easier for the situation?

Marty loves his White Castle.  He just can’t say no.  In fact, despite boycotting going into the White Castle, he now send his wife  to  pick up the burgers and fries for him. He says his traditional meal is No. 2, which offers a little less bun and a lot more cheese. It includes two double cheeseburgers, medium fries and a small drink.
Good effort Marty.  Good effort.
This lawsuit, to me, is just as ridiculous as the mom who sued McDonald’s because she just couldn’t say “no” to her kids when they asked for a Happy Meal.
Both Monet (the mom suing McD’s) and Marty should try a little self-discipline.
Oh, and Marty?  Maybe along with cutting down on the number of times per week you have the #2, how about you try a little walk in the evening and adding some color to your meals (that’s vegetable NOT condiments).

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