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I recently read a blog post of an acquaintance of mine where the poster came clean about having gained back nearly the 100 lbs lost over the previous few years.  This was particularly hard for the blogger because the blog had become a source of inspiration for so many trying to lose weight and get fit.  What was the main reason for the weight gain?  After watching food intake and running regularly, the blogger stopped doing both.  Having reached the goal weight, the “scaffolding” was put away.

***

Recently it was suggested by some people who have a direct impact on Brooke’s education that certain support services be phased out or removed.  The argument was made that she didn’t need them anymore, evidenced by just how well she was doing; that the scaffolding was no longer necessary.

***

There are short-term projects, there are long-term projects and then there are life-long projects.  In both the short- and long-term projects, eventually, usually with some hard work, one will reach a goal, bask in the glory of achievement and then move on to the next goal.  The supports used for attaining that goal can either be passed on to others or put away for the next time they become necessary.

But then there is the lifetime-goal or maybe more appropriately, the lifestyle-goal.  I don’t mean Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” kind of lifestyle, I mean the “way you live your life” kind of lifestyle.  These kind of goals, if different from the way we currently live our lives, demand changes in the way we go about doing things.  They require us to buy into a system so to speak; to drink the kool-aid.

***

A few years ago I set a goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  Using a variety of tools that included core work, interval training, tempo run and many others, I accomplished that.  For quite some time afterward, I did not feel the need to push myself as hard.  I still ran marathons (halves, fulls and ultras), but my approach to them changed.  I simply wanted to be able to enjoy them and spread the enjoyment of them to those around me.  I was able to put away some of those tools that I had used so intensely during BQ-training because I no longer needed them.  I will pull them out again, in the near future, as I attempt to qualify for Boston again in either 2014 or 2015.

In the meantime, I do continue to run on a regular (and currently daily) basis.  Why?  Because I know that unlike qualifying for Boston (which is a specific point in time goal), I also want to live a long, healthy life and be physically able to care for my wife and children as long as I can.  Physical fitness is NOT a “point in time” goal.  It is a lifetime goal.  Therefore that “scaffolding” that helps me build my fitness is not just scaffolding – it becomes part of the permanent structure.

***

Brooke has autism.  She will always have autism.  She will acquire skills and develop the ability to adapt over the course of time, but autism will always be a part of her.  Those skills and ability to adapt come from the scaffolding that is put in place around her.  It’s true that eventually she may not need all of the supports she receives and someday I hope that she will be able to live as independently and be as societaly productive as any of her neurotypical peers, but the tools will have to always remain present in one form or another.

I don’t see the logic in taking away support because the support is working as some administrators might suggest.

The same goes for fitness and health.  It’s one thing to join a gym, take a class, change the way you eat or whatever works for you to achieve a fitness goal – just remember what got you there.

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From October 7th to December 31st of last year I ran a total of seven times.  Granted, some of those runs were 20+ mile runs, but that’s seven runs in eighty-six days.  That’s just over one run every two weeks.

Not a lot of running.

***

A day or two before New Year’s my buddy Doug posted a link on Facebook to a Crow Athletics Streak Challenge – run or walk at least one mile every day for one hundred days.  I have never been a fan of streaking, that is, the concept of running as many consecutive days as possible.  I’m a firm believer in the necessity of rest and I have a hard time believing that one can run and rest simultaneously.

But this piqued my interest – not because of its uniqueness, people streak all the time, but simply because of the personal nature of its timing.  I struggled off and on with motivation for almost all of 2012.  Even while I was training for Sugarloaf last winter, it was still a fight to get myself out the door.  I yearned for that time, not so long ago considering I’ve only been running for four years, when my legs were out the door before I was even aware of it.  2010 was a banner year for me.  I ran four marathons over the course of eight months; I pushed myself harder with each race, training with an eagerness that was fueled by hunger.

After qualifying for and then running Boston 2011, that drive slowly began to shrink.  I continued to enter races – Around the Lake (July 2011), the Vermont 50 (September 2011), NYCM (November 2011), but the training, the motivation continued to dwindle.  After being left out of Boston 2012 by a mere 30 seconds, I rallied briefly last Winter in an attempt to qualify for Boston 2013, but despite my decent training cycle, my lack of miles over the previous 12 months caught up with me.  At mile 20 of Sugarloaf 2012, on pace for around a 3:13 finish, the wheels came off the bus and I finished with a respectable, but non-BQ time of 3:23.

Despite the fact that 3:23 was my second best marathon time ever, my mojo was officially DOA.  I found other ways to encourage others to run.  I recruited and ran runners in at the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon in September (running a total of twenty some odd miles…barefoot), I pulled off what would have been a fun, silly stunt for New York 2012 by getting Katy Perry to donate 25 blue wigs to Team Up with Autism Speaks runners, but even in doing so, I hardly ran.  Yes, I ran some in October to help #teamLuau beat #teamBecca on the Gorilla Suit throwdown, but I was also helped tremendously by other runners and biker donating their miles.  I was still having fun running, but I just wasn’t doing a lot of it.

***

But then I saw Doug’s post.

Run at least one mile (or more) for one hundred days.

***

God, I hate streaking.

***

Hmmm.

I ran six miles on the first of the year.  It was like starting a cold engine.  I had run once in December (on my birthday) – 4.3 miles to celebrate turning 43.  Before that I had run 30 days earlier on Thanksgiving – 3.1 miles in a personal Turkey Trot.

My legs were not ready for my New Year’s run.

But I did it.

The following day I put in 6 more.

***

I am NOT streaking!!!

***

On the 3rd, I put in a quick 4-spot, feeling good about my 7:30 pace.  During my run I began to think about a promise Doug and I made a while back – to attempt a sub-10 hour Vermont 50 this year.  I ran an 11:04 on essentially no training in 2011. Sub-10 was going to take some work.  As I hit the 2-mile mark in my run and turned for home, I realized that that work started with building a base.  Before I really started to train this summer, I would have to put some miles behind me.  It didn’t matter how long my runs were this winter, I was just going to have to run…a lot!

***

The following day I went out for 4 miles and came home having run 6.  My legs were tired from 4 consecutive days of running, but just like starting your car on a cold winter day, my engine, my drive, was warming up.

***

I wanna run tomorrow!  But am I streaking?  I don’t know!

***

I put in a short 3-miler because of time constraints, but the point was I ran.  Then yesterday, before going on an all-day road trip, I got up early to put in a few miles.  I was planning on 4 or 5 miles and came home having run 7.  I will be squeezing in a short run at lunch today.

Am I streaking?  I really don’t know.  But the turning of the calendar and the concept of this challenge, if nothing else, has at least turned the engine over.  I still believe in rest days, but I also, as a trainer-in-training, believe that we have to do what we can to find our motivation.  Sometimes that motivation is a size 6 dress (well, not for me); sometimes that motivation is an old pair of jeans; sometimes that motivation is a number on the scale; sometimes that motivation is being able to play with your children…sometimes, that motivation is something as silly as a streak.

What are YOU using as motivation this January to get your body moving?

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It’s that time of year again – New Year’s Eve.  It’s when everyone is coming down the homestretch of the Holiday Season – a time filled with plenty of food and drink, one last party and, for many, a lot of weight gain.  It’s also a time when people start to make resolution proclamations.

“I’m getting in shape this year!”

“I’m losing weight this year!”

“I’m getting into that size “fill in the blank” this year!”

And the masses then join a gym or buy some running shoes or “go on a diet”, all of which lasts a week, maybe three, and then it’s back to the same old same old.  By the time April or May rolls around, shoulders are shrugged and thoughts turn to “maybe next year.”

So what’s the problem?  And what, more importantly is the solution?  The problem is simpler than you might think.  The problem is not that people lack motivation, it’s that they lack education and guidance.

Saying

“I’m getting in shape this year!”

“I’m losing weight this year!”

or even

 “I’m getting into that size “fill in the blank” this year!”

doesn’t give you a well-defined goal, not even the more specific third one, because all of these goals are unspecific on how you want to get there.

The question anyone who is making a fitness New Year’s Resolution should be asking themselves really is, “what is my goal?  what is it that I truly want to achieve in terms of fitness/weight loss?”

“I want to get in shape” can mean so many things – what kind of shape?  at what cost?  The same can be said about “losing weight”.  There are all kinds of ways to lose weight, some are long-lasting healthful methods, some are…well, not.  Both can get one to a goal of losing weight and/or getting “in shape”; one can get you there rapidly, the other can get you there and keep you there indefinitely.

Once you’ve defined what it is you are actually trying to achieve, the next question becomes are you willing to change.  If you are trying to alter your physical make up for the better, undoubtedly, you will need to change some habits, and change can be hard.

That’s where it all falls apart every year for the majority of people.  An unfortunate result of our on-demand society is that we have become more and more a people who demand results immediately.  We then assume that if we don’t get the results we want immediately, that whatever we are trying must not work or must not work for us.

We start to make excuses –

oh, I’m just not shaped like that. 

oh, I’m big-boned. 

oh, I tried that and it just doesn’t work for me.

oh, it was uncomfortable.

Really?

Well, to be honest, for a small percentage of the population, that is true, HOWEVER, the overwhelming majority of people who use these excuses are simply unwilling to put in the time to change and they think, incorrectly, the excuses will make them feel better.  Now, before you jump on me for calling people lazy, please go back and note I wrote unwilling, not lazy.  Change takes sacrifice and sometimes people are unwilling to make certain sacrifices to achieve change – and that’s okay.  BUT, you have to realize that a choice has been made not to change.  Owning this choice instead of making excuses goes a long way toward inner peace and happiness.  If you can’t commit to change, then enjoy where you are and embrace it.  Mental health and inner peace is just as important as physical health/fitness.

Here’s the bottom line – hard work pays off; consistency pays off; a healthful diet pays off.  You put those three things together and your results are guaranteed.  For some, those results begin to appear on the scale and in the mirror within a week; for others, the visible changes don’t appear for a month or two, but something to realize is that the moment you make a change for the better, good things are happening inside you…immediately.

So is this the year?  Where to start?

The first thing I tell people is to start tracking what they are consuming.
You would be amazed just how much you actually consume throughout the day without thinking about it.  The mere action of tracking, truly committing to tracking you intake, will make you think twice about the variety of snacks that may cross your lips.

There are quite a few food tracking apps, but the two I found easiest to use are:

My Fitness Pal:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

and Lose It!

http://www.loseit.com/

The thing I like about their apps over others is that they are user-friendly, allow you to enter recipes and create meals, and have access to bar code scanning for easy input.  The apps also allows you to set weight loss goals over a period of time.  The apps though should be used as a guideline, not treated as gospel.  Once a week it’s a good idea to eat whatever the mouth and stomach desire.  One can’t live in a perpetual state of denial (meaning denying yourself “goodies and treats” – a topic for another post) without eventually feeling bitter.  The 90/10 rule works pretty well for most – for every 9 healthful meals, eat & drink something ridiculous!

The second thing I tell people is that they must perform regular physical activity.
This can come in many forms.  I have always found running to be the most affective, particularly for achieving physical fitness while pursuing weight loss, but physical activity can include swimming, biking, taking the stairs instead of taking an elevator, walking, even enjoying the company of your spouse or significant other (I know people get squeamish talking about sex, but it should be noted that a 150 lb person having sex for 15 minutes burns almost 75 calories – that’s nearly 300 calories per hour or the equivalent of a brisk walk or a 10 mph bike ride, but more fun).  The point is, there are many ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life.

For those short on time, I did a little experiment this Holiday season.  Some of you may have heard of Tabata – it’s a method of exercise where you do a full body exercise for 20 seconds at 100% followed by 10 seconds of rest.  You repeat this cycle 7 more time, completing the exercise in 4 minutes.  It is intense and if you do it right, you pretty much want to throw up at the end of it.  It is effective, but it is not fun.  So doing a little research I came across HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  It’s actually been around a while, but I was so into my running I had not really checked it out.  The concept is to perform high intensity full body actions for a short interval, followed by a shorter interval of rest – it is similar to Tabata but not quite as intense.  Right before Thanksgiving, I decided to see if this kind of quick hit training could make a difference.  I chose to use the burpee as my full body movement of choice.  If you don’t know what a burpee is, click —>>>HERE<<<—.

I did five sets of 28 burpees with one minute of rest between sets.  Within each set I would do a 7-7-7-7  routine to mix up different kinds of burpee variations.  For those counting, that’s 140 burpees.  I was able to complete the routine in less than 15 minutes.  I did this 3 times a week and I purposely did not run during that stretch except on Thanksgiving (had to do a Turkey Trot – 3.1 miles) and on my birthday (ran 4.3 miles for 43 years).  That’s a total of 7.4 miles from November 22 to December 31 – essentially a non-factor.  So what were the results?  Despite eating my share of holiday food, less than 45 minutes of work a week allowed me to actually drop 4 pounds and lose a small percentage of body fat.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens when I bring running back into my routine tomorrow.

The third thing I tell people is get some proper sleep.
Sleep is when the body resets itself.  It’s when it heals.  A solid 6 – 9 hours of sleep is absolutely necessary for achieving good health.

Finally, I tell people to stick with it.
It’s hard when you don’t see immediate results.  I get that.  What I try to remind people is that change IS happening.  Slow change is more permanent, because your body and your mind are getting into habits that will stick.  Stay the course, believe in the program and you WILL be rewarded.

So is this your year?  Do you have a specific goal?  If you really want to change, make it a priority and stick with it until the end of March.  This is a trick of sorts though, because if you DO stick with a regular routine until the end of March, you won’t stop because the routine will have taken over.

Good luck with your 2013 health and fitness goals!

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So I keep hearing these commercials on the radio for special pills that will guarantee you lose “up to” 30 pounds in 12 weeks.  2 1/2 pound a week if you take their pill daily.  Just take their pill…it’s guaranteed.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?

Sounds easy don’t it?

Sounds too good to be true, right?

BECAUSE IT IS!!!

What is easy to miss while being mesmerized by the ad is that as a woman, you need to follow a strict diet of less than 1350 calories per day.

Guess what happens if you eat only 1350 calories per day (aside from being somewhat hungry)…you lose a little over a pound a week!  If you throw in a little exercise, you lose even more!

This is kind of like Mitt Romney saying his economic plan promises 12 million new jobs over the next four years…guess what?  Most independent economists say that 12 million jobs will be added back to the labor force no matter WHO is elected President.

…but I digress.

The bottom line is that smart, healthy weight loss must come at a price, and that price is a little sweat and a lot of discipline.  If you starve yourself in order to lose weight three things will happen:

  1. •You’ll be hungry.
  2. •You’ll slow your metabolism down which means you will burn calories at a progressively slower rate.
  3. •You’ll gain the weight back and more when you go back to eating the portions you ate before because of #2.

So what is one to do if not create a caloric deficit?

Here’s the thing – you DO want to create a deficit.  Although it is more complex than simply calories in vs. calories out, the basic principle holds true.  The key is to create the deficit while not starving oneself and slowing down the metabolism.

How?  There are three keys:

  1. •Proper diet – not a diet in the “I’m on a diet” sense, but rather an approach to food that gives you nourishment while making your body work to digest and absorb its nutrients – unprocessed and unrefined foods, lots of veggies and fruits, plenty of fiber.
  2. •Physical Activity – you don’t have to be a gym rat or a running fool (like me) to boost your metabolism through exercise.  Walking, jogging, biking, playing tag with your kids, dancing with your partner…60 minutes a day of some sort of activity is all it takes.  You can even break it down into 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, etc – get creative.
  3. •Sleep – this is often the ignored part of maintaining a higher metabolism and optimal health.  Believe it or not, 7 – 9 hours of sleep a day is a great way to burn fat.  There’s a lot of science that I won’t get into here, but the bottom line is that getting the required amount of sleep not only promotes fat loss while you are sleeping, but helps you avoid snacking on junkfood in the afternoon when you start to fade.

Don’t waste your money on the magic pills.  Their effect, in my opinion, is more placebo than any magic ingredient that gets your metabolism flying – and those that do?  Be careful about just what those ingredients are doing to your system.  1350 calories a day isn’t much. 1200 calories is the minimal amount of calories a bed-ridden woman needs simply to survive.  You get the picture?

Eat well, move 60 minutes a day and get some sleep.  Try it for a few weeks and see what happens.

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A lot of people have tried to change their unhealthy lifestyles into healthy ones – whether it is changing the way they eat or starting a new exercise regimen, the goal is the same: becoming a healthier, stronger, happier person.

Without fail, those people stumble; they fall off the wagon and pig out on junk food, smoke a pack of cigarettes or sit on the couch for a week. An overwhelmingly large percentage of those people will then decide that they’ve failed in their attempt to change and meekly go back to their unhealthful ways.

***

Cue open palm slap to forehead!

***

I’m here to tell you that stumbling is good; that failure is the path to success. If you don’t fall off the wagon early on in your attempt to change, then you’re doing a disservice to yourself.

As humans we need to overcome obstacles. The greater the obstacle, the greater the satisfaction when we achieve our goal; the more precious we feel our accomplishments.

If change were always easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. So when we fail for an hour, a day, or a week, we are only adding to the greatness of our eventual success.

And that is what we MUST believe in – our eventual success. Because whether you fail for an hour or a day or a week, if you can get back up, dust yourself off and begin moving forward again toward that goal of a healthier, stronger, happier you, then you are not defeated.

Am I espousing purposeful failure? Heavens No!!! But I am advocating not giving in to failure; not being afraid of failure – because I believe that ultimately you must fail to truly succeed.

If you fall of your wagon, grab your totem, take a deep breath and start anew.

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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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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

This one is for the mommies and the daddies.  The uncles and the aunts.  The grandparents and family friends.  And for those who may one day become any one of those things.

***

Watching the cycle all over again…~2033 and beyond.

Spoiling little ones… ~ 2033

Motherhood… ~2033 – 2035

Wedding Day…~2031 – 2033

Engagement…~2028 – 2032

The first job…2023 & 2025

College graduation…2023 & 2025

First day of college…2019 & 2021

High school graduation…2019 & 2021

Driver’s License…2017 & 2019

First Boyfriend…hmmm…maybe that happens when the wife finally allows me to buy a shotgun and a rocking chair.

What’s your reason to run? Or swim? Or bike? Or walk? Or generally live a healthy lifestyle?

I have two:

Brooke & Katie

I am taking care of this old body of mine because I don’t want to miss a single milestone.

Are you?

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