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Monday, January 27th, 2014 | Author: Casey Criswell

Tis winter time and with winter time comes germs, colds and all that nasty stuff. Despite how healthy I may try to be? It’ll still catch up to you! The week of the 20th through the 26th was a complete wash for exercise, for a couple of reasons.

First, I already knew it was going to be a light week. I went to the Dr. for my annual physical on the 17th and got a whole lot of good news and one bit of bad news. I’ve been fighting off some shoulder pain on the right side, as I’ve posted before, and the Dr. let me know that she feared it could be the start of a rotator cuff tear. Not good. The starting plan is ice, heat, ibuprofen and no lifting! So I was prepared for that time off from the gym. Then, to top things off, I got sucker punched the following Sunday with the start of a nasty cold. By Monday it was getting worse and by Wednesday, it was full blown! So, no running either. While I was going to try to run by the end of the week, the phlegm ruled all so there was no activity to be had.

As you can imagine, but the time today rolled around, I was pretty much climbing the walls. However…the cold has other plans! I realize I’m kind of…bull headed…when it comes to running out side the cold. I mean…it makes my cushy suburban self feel hard core …or something. But, even I have my limits when it dips below zero. I hate the dreadmill mind you, but I eeked out a mile and a half. Tomorrow will be a bit more. I followed it up with 7 miles on the elliptical at the gym though, so it’s all good. I get mixed views on if the elliptical is actually worth a crap or not, but I was sweaty and worked off some anxiety, so it’s all good. Even if it’s not as good as the real thing or even the lifting…it keeps the exercise regular, and keeps the gym a habit. That’s what’s important in these times where you’re forced off the routine.

Elliptical Trainer
00:56:50 227

http://runkeeper.com/user/CinemaFromage/activity/297508136

Running
00:20:30 | 1.5 mi | 13.3 min/mi 95

http://runkeeper.com/user/CinemaFromage/activity/297378950

Category: Fitness, Running, Weight Loss  | Comments off
Monday, January 13th, 2014 | Author: Casey Criswell

Ah…the long run. It’s been so long!

I know, I know, it sounds like bragging to say that from the guy that runs 4 miles a day before work. But, it’s the truth! During the warm months, I start to trend towards 10 miles on my Saturday Long Runs. Here in the cold months, I’ve been concentrating on leg work in the gym since it’s just harder to be outside for extended periods of time when it’s 10 degrees out! With the amount of weight I’ve been pushing on Squats and Deadlifts, my legs are jelly by the time Saturday comes around and getting my standard 4 to 5 miles is a lot of work.

This past Friday saw me getting to work late while I was helping Colleen out with some stuff, so I didn’t have time for my usual morning jog and lunch time gym trip. So, I figured since the weather was warm (the 40′s!) it was a good day to give it a go. I was a little worried at first. My legs were still complaining by the time I got to around 4.2 miles and I couldn’t get my rhythm. I was still stopping to walk to much and I thought there was no way I could make it much past 5. Eventually though, muscle memory kicked in and I was able to get into a rhythm and before long, I was on my way with little problems.

A big factor I noticed; I forgot how much of a head game distance running is. My first 45 minutes was spent worrying if I could make it more that five miles and I learned a long time ago, that’s when you lose the game. In a half marathon, once you hit that 7 mile mark and start to think, “oh god, I have to run another 7 miles!”. It doesn’t go so well. When I started to worry about that 5 mile marker, I realized I was defeating myself and set myself to concentrating on day dreaming, podcast planning and a lot of other things that kept my mind busy. Even concentrating on song lyrics helped a lot. It wasn’t long before I was completely tuned out and lost in thought. That’s the key to successful distance running.

Thanks to that run, I’ve got my next podcast episode topic planned out. So there’s that!

Running
- 01:22:11 | 7.6 mi | 10.8 min/mi
- http://runkeeper.com/user/CinemaFromage/activity/290413097

Category: Exercise, Fitness, Running, Weight Loss  | Comments off
Wednesday, January 08th, 2014 | Author: Casey Criswell


New year, new progress pic.

Well, as much of the rest of the midwest, my workout schedule is a mess this week! Blizzards will do that for ya. But, it’s okay though. We’re back at it and in good fashion as well.

I haven’t posted since Friday, but I’ve gotten my exercise in. Saturday and Sunday were both run days which were okay, but getting ready for the storm and such didn’t leave much time for logging. I used the hour and forty five minutes of shoveling on both Monday and Tuesday as my workouts for today too, and well… who wants to read about that? Everybody else is suffering through the same!

But, here we are, back to the grind. Since I’m looking at at three day week (of my usual four day split) I opted to drop chest day this week. That’s been the one I made sure to keep for awhile now, but my shoulder’s feeling pretty rough after all the shoveling the past three days. Rest is a good thing, so let’s hope it works for the shoulder! It’s been nagging me on the 225 bench recently anyways, so probably for the best.

I went with back day today, which is where I stick the first of my squat days and it was a damn good squat day. I managed to get 265x5x3 which was tough, but great. 265 is where I was at when I hurt my knee the last time, so we are officially caught up on the squat front. My goal this year is to squat three plates a.k.a. 315, so we’re on a good path to get there. The rest of the week will be shoulders, since I’ve neglected those over the holidays and my deadlift/arm day. Shoulder days feel light, but I’ll be running, so it’ll all work out.

Running
- 00:47:00 | 4.2 mi | 11.1 min/mi | flat
- http://runkeeper.com/user/CinemaFromage/activity/288979889
Barbell Squat
- 135 lb x 5 reps
- 185 lb x 5 reps
- 225 lb x 5 reps
- 265 lb x 5 reps
- 265 lb x 5 reps
- 265 lb x 5 reps
T-Bar Row
- 180 lb x 12 reps
- 180 lb x 12 reps
- 180 lb x 12 reps
Lat Pulldown
- 140 lb x 12 reps
- 140 lb x 12 reps
- 140 lb x 12 reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
- 65 lb x 8 reps
- 65 lb x 8 reps
- 65 lb x 8 reps
- 65 lb x 8 reps
- 65 lb x 8 reps (PR)
- 65 lb x 6 reps
Seated Cable Row
- 70 lb x 12 reps
- 70 lb x 12 reps
- 70 lb x 12 reps
Straight Arm Pulldown
- 57.5 lb x 12 reps
- 57.5 lb x 12 reps
- 57.5 lb x 12 reps
Weighted Hyperextension
- 25 lb x 10 reps
- 25 lb x 10 reps
- 25 lb x 10 reps

Category: Exercise, Fitness, Running, Weight Loss, Workout Log  | Comments off
Friday, January 03rd, 2014 | Author: Casey Criswell

Deadlifts that is!

I’ve been really keen on deadlifts lately. I had stepped away this summer. I was laid up for a bit with a knee injury from bad squat form which had slowed me down a bit. Plus, I had tweaked my back trying to pull too much on a deadlift with again…bad form, so I was pretty scared of it. Not to mention, I like to run a lot of miles in the summer time and deads are not conducive to that. But, it’s a frosty winter out there and I can manage my usual 4-5 miles with jelly legs, so it feels good right now. I figure a winters worth of heavy lifting will make for some good speed gains in the spring. But, I’ve been gaining ground quickly since I’ve come back to deadlifts and I have LOVING it! Two weeks ago, I pulled 325, but couldn’t get five reps. Last week, I pulled 345, but could only get two reps. This week, I wanted to get a full work set of 325 and it came up pretty solidly, so I decided to go try 335. I was shocked I was able to get a full working set! Can’t wait for next week!

My schedule is out of whack this week, so I through in a shoulder lift then went for my usual Friday arm stuff. I’ve been trying to squat twice a week as well and since I hadn’t hit it yet, I went and head and did my three sets of squats too. That was a bit rough.

I was sad this morning. We’re in the middle of winter here in Indiana and we’ve got a severe cold front coming. This morning it was -1 below and I didn’t want to risk it. I tried to jump on the dreadmill, but after sitting in the garage for the better part of a year, I couldn’t the belt to turn on! This is an extra bummer as Colleen was ready to start back to her walking every day, so now she’s out too! I’m going to see if replacing the fuse fixes it this weekend. Until that gets fixed and the temps get back to above 0 degrees, I may be having to pull double duty at the gym for a bit to get my running in. Not ecstatic about that.

Barbell Deadlift
- 135 lb x 5 reps
- 225 lb x 5 reps
- 275 lb x 5 reps
- 315 lb x 5 reps
- 325 lb x 5 reps
- 335 lb x 5 reps
Barbell Squat
- 255 lb x 5 reps
- 255 lb x 5 reps
- 255 lb x 5 reps
Standing Military Press
- 65 lb x 6 reps
- 95 lb x 5 reps
- 115 lb x 5 reps
- 145 lb x 5 reps
- 145 lb x 5 reps
- 145 lb x 5 reps
Hammer Dumbbell Curl
- 40 lb x 8 reps
- 40 lb x 8 reps
- 40 lb x 8 reps
- 40 lb x 8 reps
- 40 lb x 8 reps
- 40 lb x 8 reps
Triceps Pushdown
- 67.5 lb x 12 reps
- 67.5 lb x 12 reps
- 67.5 lb x 12 reps
Machine Preacher Curls
- 45 lb x 12 reps
- 45 lb x 12 reps
- 45 lb x 8 reps

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Thursday, January 02nd, 2014 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve been toying around with the idea of a podcast dedicated to fitness, weight loss, health coaching and more for awhile now. I’ve had a lot of success in my 120 pound journey and really…I’d just like to share what I’ve learned and hope to help out others that are just starting theirs. But…I’m not 100% confident in this. This is stepping outside my comfort zone, topic wise. We’re going to test the waters here.

I mention it in this episode a couple of times, and I’ll mention it again here. I do not claim to be an expert at any of this. I’m not a fitness guru, I’m not a diet expert and I’m not even done with my own weight loss journey. I have problems, speed bumps and mental issues with the whole process as well. But, I’ve learned a lot and I’d like to think I can help out with others who are hitting some of those speed bumps for the first time. Really, I want to show you that somebody such as me, Joe Schmoe, can do this. So can you.

So, here’s my little experiment. This episode is heavy on *my* journey, because I thought it would be good to start off with introducing my own history so that listeners know where I’m coming from and what I’m doing. Future episodes will cover a number of different topics that cover the gambit of weight loss, fitness, weight lifting, anxiety, stress and just simply dealing with approaching the big 4-0. Essentially, a lot of the things that I tend to wrestle with myself on a day to day basis.

I plan on sticking to a short 30 minute or so format. Some may be shorter, some may be a bit longer. Schedule wise, they may be a bit sporadic to start as well. Like I said, I’m struggling with not being 100% confident in this project and well…that’s a mental beast I wrestle with a lot. Confidence. We’ll see where it goes. I do plan on having guests quite frequently. I hope to see people from all over the spectrum, such as health coaches, nutritionist, trainers, runners and more.

Give the show a shot, let me know what you think. I hope it helps you out, here at the first of the year when we’re running hot and heavy after our New Years resolutions. Feedback is always welcome, feel free to email me at zenatforty@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @CaseyBGH. To add to that, feel free to contact me at any time with any questions you may have, or even suggestions for topics to cover on the show. If I don’t know the answer? I’ll find the person that has it and we’ll see what we can find out for you.

Without further adieu…Zen and the Art of 40 Episode 1 – Introductions

http://zenatforty.podomatic.com/

Category: Exercise, Fitness, Podcast, Running, Weight Loss  | Comments off
Thursday, August 08th, 2013 | Author: Casey Criswell

So, caveats; I’ve never ran trails before! While I’m happy to report that after all my training, I wasn’t in over my head…It was definitely more rugged than I expected! I stuck to my plan of walking the hills, running the other stuff and it went pretty well. I started cramping up pretty bad at about mile 10.5, I’m 100% sure it was because I’m not used to the steep (for me) hill climbing. But, I ran till it hurt too bad, walked till it stopped and repeated. For me, while that’s not the way I’d pictured finishing in my mind, i never reached a point where I thought “oh lord I can’t do this”. Instead, my mind set was, “This is kicking my butt, but it’s freaking awesome, holy crap my calves hurt, but i’m going to finish this sucker!”

All in all? I’m pretty ecstatic. I’ve been running pretty much exactly a year, so I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. Plus? When I started running last July? I was 299 lbs, down from 351 lbs. Considering I finished a trail half having never ran trails at a svelte 237? I couldn’t care less if it took me 3 hours!

Things I learned;

Wow, trail running is awesome! I was jumping over logs, leaping culverts, heck I jumped a sink hole! IT WAS SO COOL! Way crazier than road racing!

Central Indiana has a pretty great running community! I had marathoners and such cheering me on the entire way. Felt good

I’ve got some hill work ahead of me!

Holy crap, my shoes sucked for muddy trails. Gotta fix that.

My nutrition & hydration plans? Pretty solid I think. I felt good, other than the hill cramps.

I chickened out on running the Indy Mini. I’ve run 13 mi. around 4 times in training before the race, but the ‘half’ name scared me. Now? I put that phobia behind me in grand fashion. Plus, I finished a trail half. The road half I want to do in October is going to be pretty manageable now that I now I can tackle a trail half!

So, great day! My legs are STILL sore as heck though, but it’ll work out! Plus, I won a free water bottle by knowing Andy Gibb sung Shadow Dancing! Hard to beat all that for a good day!

Category: Running  | Comments off
Thursday, June 20th, 2013 | Author: Casey Criswell

The weight loss beast has been a fickle mistress this week. I hit a new low of 237.4 over the weekend, but then I’ve been holding hard to 240-239 for the better part of the week. This is mostly just stubbornness on my body’s part, as the diet and exercise has been spot on. It’s just one of those ugly things you have to contend with, especially as you start to get towards the end of your journey. That last sentence, “…you start to get towards the end of your journey” has been the train of thought that helps to keep these weeks where the weight is being a nuisance manageable. When I weighed in on Saturday at 237.4, there was a thought starting to take shape that I couldn’t quite put my thumb on. Then, I took some updated comparison pictures to enter a contest with MyFitnessPal, and that thought came full circle; I’m under 40 lbs to my ultimate goal of 200 lbs! It’s hard to get discouraged when you look at it like that.

That brings me to another thought; the importance of progress pics. I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’ve lost the weight and taking lots of progress pictures has been one of the most important tools in my toolbox. As a person going through the journey, you simply can’t see the change often times. You look at yourself every day, so it’s hard to notice the gradual shift in how your body looks. It’s even harder to let go of that mental image of your former self. Even today, I look in the mirror and if it’s a slow week loss wise, all I can see if the fat that is still there. It may sound odd to somebody outside the process, but problems with things like body dysmorphia exist and can be a pretty big blow to your mental state of mind. With progress pictures though, you can place your current self side by side with your old self and then, even your own brain cannot hide the fact that you’ve come so far! I’ve taken a lot of pictures in my year plus long journey and I’ve had to use them quite often to quell that nagging voice of failure in my mind. Every time you place them side by side, you can get an instant shot of confidence and mental well-being, and that’s usually enough to help you buckle down and push away that bag of chips you were contemplating, just because your weight was up and you figured what’s the point of trying any more.

Those situations are going to happen. It’s important to have the proper tools to be able to combat that.

And finally, while on the topic of people asking me how I lost weight, what’s my secret and such, I may have clearer answers for you on that subject here in the near future. Throughout my weight loss journey, one of my best and oldest friends Garry King has been taking the weight loss plunge alongside me. We’ve managed to lean on each other when times got tough, temptation was high and the scales were just down right frustrating. Garry’s had as good as success as I have and he’s also had a lot of people asking him about how he lost his weight as well. Between the two of us, we see a lot of misinformation out there on the weight loss process, a lot of information that can scare people off, or teach them unhealthy habits that will only work for the short term. So, Garry and I have been talking and we’re thinking there’s going to be a new podcast here in the near future to address all of those issues. So far, it’s looking like it will be a bi-monthly cast and will cover everything from calorie counting, exercise and emotional eating. We don’t pretend to be experts on the subject, but we know what worked for us quite well. We also know the importance of making a lifestyle change vs. a temporary diet and it’s that line of thought we hope to share!

With that, I’m out! It’s time to go finish breakfast #2!

-Casey

Category: Running  | Tags: , , ,  | Comments off
Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 | Author: Casey Criswell

Here as of late, I’ve been fighting a losing mental battle with running. I still love it, don’t get me wrong. The problem comes from my attempts to cross over into the long distance territory. I’ve knocked out a good handful of 12 and 13 mile runs without much problems but here recently when trying to reach out to the 15 mile mark, I’ve fallen apart mentally a good half way through. There are some more factors at play here that are probably the actual culprit, but I’ll get to those in a minute!

It’s taken awhile, but I’ve gotten my physical self built up to the point that I can handle the long distance run. I’ve found lately though that as I set out to try and top my previous best mileage, It gets into my head early on just how far it is that I’m trying to run. Fifteen miles is the current landmark I’ve been striving for. When I’ve set out to do 13 miles, I’ve had it set firmly in my thoughts that I’m going to do it just to prove my doubts wrong and it never truly enters my mind just how far it is I’m going! With 15 miles however, every time I cross the 7 mile threshold (roughly halfway), I can’t stop thinking that as I’m working pretty hard for breath and my legs begin to get sore, that I have to turn around and repeat that distance I just did. It’s a dumb mental error, but it’s once everybody fights, especially newbies such as myself. And yes, I’m aware that running 7-10 miles is nothing to scoff at! :)

The part of this mental battle that I’ve been proud of, is that instead of getting discouraged after falling apart on these longer runs, I’m actually able to look at that constructively and realize what the actual problem is. That problem once again, is my brain and starting to let self doubt creep in. So, it’s a problem I can actually work on and try and develop some tools to actual make it easier to deal with when I’m out there on the road. One such tool I’ve been trying to use is music. I listen to music all the time, but generally it’s my generic upbeat playlist filled with songs I’ve listened to a million times. Early on when I started running, I used up beat music a lot. Things with a certain beat per minute that I could keep my pace too was pretty helpful. I find these days that I don’t need it quite as much. I’m able to maintain pace when I need to. So, my latest trick is to avoid the playlist and turn to full albums to listen to on my long runs. Oddly enough, it’s not the up tempo albums I used to like filled with screechy punk and metal music that helps, but it’s actually mellow melodic stuff that seems to do the trick! This morning, I set out with one of my favorites, the above pictures “Rainy Day Music” by the Jayhawks. I’ve listened to this album a million times, but it’s laid back and relaxing and listening to “Don’t Let the World Get in the Way” as the sun was rising was…dare I say….zen like. Other recent running faves as of late have been things such as Iron and Wine’s “Ghost on Ghost” or Sufjan Stevens “Come on And Bring the Illinois”. The key for me is, instead of being jarring and heart pumping, these mellow tunes help me zone out and get lost in my thoughts as I jam out, as opposed to constantly worry about pace and mileage. It’s been an eye opener for sure and all around pretty relaxing!

I mentioned other factors that have affected my long runs and the biggest that I wasn’t prepared to deal with? Heat and and humidity. This past Saturday, I gave myself a touch of heat exhaustion which kind of sucked. I ended up taking two different naps that afternoon and still felt pretty crampy and wrecked despite it all. This Saturday wasn’t as humid, but it was 80 degrees. The previous Saturday, the humidity was down right brutal! The fact is, when I started running last July, it was hot but I was barely able to make it a mile at a time back then. All of my distance running started in the winter and throughout the spring, so I’m just not acclimated to running in the heat and humidity as of yet! Again, this is another factor in myself that I actually find comfort in; actually being able to look at the problem objectively and realize where the problems are. In the past, I would have just gotten frustrated and gotten angsty over it all!

Category: Running  | Comments off
Friday, June 07th, 2013 | Author: Casey Criswell


Important note: as my wife pointed out, yes I look like a dork with my shirt tucked into my shorts! I don’t work out with them tucked in though, that was just for progress pics! I swear!

End Week 11:

This week saw the end of Week 11 of a 12 week body building split I’ve been working on, and I like to see that the change has been a bit noticeable! It took some time to get into the groove with this split, but now that I’ve been at it awhile, I like it quite a bit. This program started out as a 4 day program, but as I started to up my running miles, I realized that leg day plus running was pretty much frying my legs. I talked to a couple of the trainers of the gym and they agreed that I’m probably okay without out leg lifts for a bit!

So, my current split is three days. I have a chest day, a back day and a shoulder/arms day. This fits in well with my 25 to 30 miles of running a week as my legs stay pretty fresh for those miles. (Plus, my legs carted around 350 lbs for years, so they’re pretty built!) My original plan was to do this program for 12 weeks, then go back to the Starting Strength program that I did in the beginning, but the problem is that SS has you doing squats three days a week and dead lifts every other workout. That’s simply never going to work well with all the running. So, I’m thinking I’ll stick to the current split and start to substitute in some different lifts for the ones I’ve been doing. The main concern is that they say you should change up your lifts every 12 weeks or so, so I figure that will be enough to help.

I never thought I’d get into something anywhere close to body building, but I’m enjoying it. I’ll never be a bodybuilder, as that’s not what my ultimate goals are. The biggest thing is, when last I dropped a lot of weight, down to 214 lbs some 10 years ago, I was skinny, but I was what you would call skinny fat. I’ve never had any ‘muscle’ to speak of. So, I figured this time it’d be nice to at least look fit when I dropped all the body fat and so far, that feels like it’s working. It’s working to me at any rate!

A good Week.

In the end, it’s been a good week on the weight front. I’m to a point in my journey where I’m trying not to rely so much on the number on the scale and go more by body fat and appearance, but it’s hard. I’ve been fighting a plateau for a solid month, maybe a month and a half; it has been a tough one. Today though, I awoke to find that I have finally pushed beyond that point when I weighed in at 239.8! 241 has been the sticking point for so long, it was pretty exciting to see something below 240! I say it’s been a tough one, but I’ve never been despondent over it. I know by now that consistency is the magic key to weight loss and I’ve kept right on trucking. So I know it would break, just not when.

In addition to that, with school now being out so no daughters to get up for school, I’ve been able to transition my running to the mornings before work, and this has been a HUGE boon to my mileage! The evenings were okay, but it’s hard to squeeze an hour run in there sometimes. You’re tired from running around at work all day, you’re hungry, you want to relax and doing something easy for a bit. Let’s not forget that it’s getting to summer time it’s downright hot some evenings as well. Now in the mornings, I’ve found myself eager to get up and get going. It sounds cheesy, but there’s something pretty motivating about running with the sun rise that’s hard to explain. So far this week, I’ve racked up a little over 18 miles from Tuesday to Friday. Saturday, I plan on heading out early for my long run and I’m going to try for a new personal best, so we’ll see how that goes.

So, there’s this week in a nut shell! I hope yours has been a good week as well! Feel free to add any of your own successes in the comments or even ask any questions.

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Thursday, June 06th, 2013 | Author: Casey Criswell

Recently, I was asked by the HR department at my company to write a letter about my journey and how the company provided Wellness Programs helped me in my success. I was happy to do so, as the Wellness program did quite a bit to help me get to where I’m at. Once the letter was done, I was asked to share the letter our Wellness Coordinator if I felt comfortable doing so. After some deliberation and though, I figure I might as well share it. At this point in my journey, I’m starting to morph as a person into something far healthier and happier and maybe even bordering on something that may closely be called an athlete.

My goals, dreams and aspirations have changed during this unfinished journey. I’ve got big, crazy ideas that I’ve dreamed of doing for years, but always assumed I’d never accomplish due to my size. All of those excuses are gone now, so I’ve adopted a ‘what the hell, let’s try it’ attitude towards it all. Along with this, I finally feel happy enough with myself that it’s time to start writing again, so I figure as I set off on these new goals and dreams, why not knock the rust off the old writing chops and get those back in shape here at the old CF as well.

So, to kick off this 2nd stage of Operation No More Mr. Fat Guy, here’s my letter. Hope you enjoy.

***********
In 2010, I had reached a point in my life where I was no longer happy with life and myself, and reached out to the CNO Employee Assistance Program and sought out therapy. At the time, the Employee Assistance Program was the answer to all of my problems; through this I was able to identify that I had an anxiety disorder and through their help, seek out the treatment to fix my anxiety and in turn my depression. This then lit a fire in me to better myself all around.

With the stress, depression and anxiety in hand, I decided to further improve myself. I was unhappy with my pack a day smoking habit and I was unhappy with my weight and size. Through the therapy however, I knew that it was best to take on these battles one at a time, so I set forth on my own power to put my smoking habit behind me once and for all. This too was a success, as I haven’t had a cigarette since November 2nd of 2010.

With smoking finally and truly out of the way, I found myself much happier and a fair bit healthier. My latent stress and inability to deal with it was still there in the background though. Instead of handling my bouts of stress with cigarettes, I turned to food and things got worse. My weight continued to grow until around February of 2012 where I found myself at 351 pounds, my health starting to decline, my blood pressure sky high, and a sense of self-loathing and hate when I saw myself in pictures. It was not a happy time, despite the progress I had made in other aspects of my life. At this time, I vowed to stop eating poorly, begin to exercise and nip my weight problems in the bud before I neared the 400 pound mark, the thought of which was bringing the depression back on its own.

In that month of February, I made a good start. I was eating better, but still far too much. I was walking and feeling proud of myself, yet still not dropping weight due to the amount of food I was eating. I was frustrated, but kept pushing on. One day in March, I happened to be taking a break at my desk, reading up on weight loss and diet tips, when an email popped up in my inbox. It was from our Wellness Coordinator letting the company know that the on-site clinic at our office was starting a weight loss program that was free of cost, but was taking a limited number of entrants. Up until this time, I was trying to figure out how I could work in the cost of Weight Watchers to join the on-site group that our company coordinated, but then the invite for FUSE with its key word “FREE” flashed before me and I replied with my wish to apply right there and then, knowing I needed help. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knowing myself, I wouldn’t get very far without guidance, so I felt good knowing I was making the right choice.

Going into the FUSE program, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured we would be given a diet, and being told that I would be meeting one on one with a health coach throughout the program was intimidating at first. I was not feeling 100% confident in sharing the details of what I considered a very humiliating problem with a complete stranger. The first thing our coach told us on the first day of the group? That they were not going to give us a diet. We had to choose a diet that we felt like we could stick with for life. This thought was jarring at first as I expected they would be giving a diet much like Weight Watchers, but it didn’t take long for me to fall in synch with the truth of the matter; that I was changing my lifestyle, and not just dieting. The FUSE program started to gel for me for certain.

Sitting on the far side of the program, now down to 243 pounds with more yet to lose, I see where the FUSE program teaches weight loss in a healthy way. They teach that losing weight is not so much a diet, but changing your lifestyle to something you can maintain over life. This is a factor that is a huge stumbling block for many, including myself in the times I tried dieting before. I quickly came to see the FUSE program as something more akin to therapy than a weight loss group. They are teaching you the proper tools, tools that you weren’t aware of, so that you can fight this battle yourself. So many other diet plans give you strict guidelines and tell you to do this and nothing else, whereas FUSE teaches you how to live a healthier life, and to be happier with yourself and your choices. Healthier in weight, health AND mind.

Another key aspect of the wellness program is our access to one on one health coaching through the clinic. This is attached to the FUSE program; however you can utilize these services outside of the weight loss program as well. While the group meetings for the FUSE program were a big part of my success, the one on one health coaching has been the biggest factor of my success. There are times in the weight loss journey where all seems lost. Your weight will plateau and you will become frustrated and want to give up. Your health coach is there for you to sit down in complete privacy and air out these frustrations. They let you get them off of your chest, they help you learn the proper tools to be able to work around these issues, leaving you rejuvenated and confident that you can press through. For me, the coaching provided by our wellness program is the key ingredient to my success. There’s been so many times that I have felt upset or even overwhelmed or under confident; my coach has been there every time to talk through every one of these issues and to help me find the best course to be able to combat them. The key here is that she teaches me how to do these things, rather than tell me that I have to do it this way. This leaves me educated so that the next time I come across the same feelings, I know how to combat them.

When I had my first doctor visit for FUSE, I was 345.6 pounds. I had a BMI of 47.6. My Blood Pressure was 130 over 86 and my LDL cholesterol was 121. I was pretty embarrassed to say the least. I had started cutting out bad food and walking a good month before this time. The only stats I know for sure from before the start of FUSE are that the very first time I stopped in at the clinic to weigh myself, I was 351 pounds.

Today, I am a different person. A new, better, happier and fitter person! My most recent weigh in found me at 243 pounds. 108 pounds down from where I started in February of 2012. At my last biometric screening, my blood pressure was 120/64. My LDL cholesterol is now 88. My BMI is 35.9 and getting better every day. I have a resting heart rate of 49 bpm.

My weight loss journey has changed my life. Parts of my depression in the past stemmed from a fact that I was 38 years old, living the life of somebody much older. My family and I didn’t go out and do much as far as activities go. I found myself making excuses to not take my daughter to the pool because I was tired and the thought of being seen with my shirt off was terrifying. We never went camping or hiking because I felt fat and exhausted. I felt trapped at home and this brought my self-esteem down constantly. Now, we are far more active. I come home from work, I no longer feel like I need to take a nap. I get home from work; I’m ready to go do whatever. At work, I no longer feel exhausted and irritable all the time with a need to spend my lunch hour napping in my car in the parking lot. Now, I’m ready to go and too much idle time at my desk makes me feel nervous and twitchy! The excuse to run and do tickets to fix peoples computers is welcome, just because it’s a chance to move!

As I said, I am no longer the man I once was. I am no longer on high blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medicine, antidepressants or even anti-anxiety meds. In fact, the only medicines that I take regularly these days are my allergy medicines! In this past winter, I didn’t even catch a cold, or my annual sinus infection! I’m far happier, no longer snippy with my family and seldom find myself depressed or anxious. When I do feel those come on? I head out for a run, or to the gym (where I receive a discount thanks to the CNO Wellness program as well) and all of those feelings fade away. Most importantly to me, I no longer feel like an old man stuck at home. I feel like a man who is preparing to turn 40 looking better than he did at 30, chasing dreams that he once held as a kid but figured he would always be too fat to obtain. These days, I have 5 races under my belt, I find myself preparing for my first marathon or two and running 25 to 30 miles a week. Things I thought I would never be able to add to my list of accomplishments.

I firmly believe that without the help of the CNO Wellness programs, the FUSE programs and the ongoing support of my Health Coach, I may have been somewhat successful on my own. I wouldn’t be near as far as I am today with such a new outlook on life, healthiness and self-worth. Without them teaching me, I don’t think I would have had the resources to make the choices that I now make without second thought!

Thanks for that.

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