January 4, 2013

Looking back at 2012

Well all, sorry I haven't posted much since I returned home to the US of A. I guess you can say that's it's all been just as I remembered and just didn't have anything new to add to this blog. That's a good thing. [smile]

These days I'm not much for resolutions and such (I'm just trying to live the moment) but I thought I would look back to at least one area where I made a difference last year and hope to continue far into the future. And that is my health.

Weight

I know it was my own fault but gaining weight in Mongolia was relatively easy - the winters are long and its easy to stay inside doing not much, and food is high in calories to compensate for the colder climate. Add working pretty much 24/7 for four years and you might understand how I could get to a larger-than-normal size. I'm not sure how big, I didn't have a scale, but I'm guessing it was about 230 pounds. And this for a guy who was named "King PeeWee" when he was eleven for being the smallest kid at summer camp.

I started in 2011 and continue to this day taking more of an interest in my weight. I was able to loose over 50 lbs and now hovering around the 170s. Hoping to take that down even more as the spring weather gets here.

I know everyone has there ideas on how to loose weight but for me it was simply just cutting calories. I had a doctor once tell me that losing weight was 10% exercise and 90% cutting calories. I guess I'd have to agree.

I cut portions in half, everything. Ate from a smaller plate and bowl. And I even had a spoon that was be as small as a baby's. Instead of a fork, I used chopsticks to slow myself down from shoveling it in and overeating. I cut out high calorie things like bread. And it came off relatively quickly, almost 3 pounds a week. Now all I have to do is keep watching it and keep it from coming back.

One new idea I've found recently is to look at food as fuel - you wouldn't put bad gas into your car, so why put bad food into your body. Well, you get the idea.

Running

One thing that did help was running. I've run in the past, but mostly for training for soccer. Mostly for exercise I preferred cycling. I never thought running was fun. But, in Mongolia, without a bike, it was one thing I could do because all I needed was a pair of running shoes. I started out slow, doing a C35K - couch to 5 kilometer - program where you start out by walking a lot and running just a little bit. Slowly I got to the point where I could run the whole five kilometers.

I had a few relapses where I would gain the weight back and stop running. But I already knew in my mind what worked and just needed to get back on that horse. When I got back to the USA this past July I did get back on that horse. And decided to try a marathon.

Yes, I know crazy. Most people start doing 5k and 10k races, then after a few years, try a half-marathon. And once in a lifetime, they bite the bullet and give a full marathon a shot. I don't know why, but I just decided to skip all those steps and jump in the deep end so to speak.

In November, I ran in the North Face Challenge Kansas City Marathon in a time of 4:42. It was a lot of running taking many months to prepare. I'm happy I did it and completed it. Not sure if I'd do it again, but I'm glad to cross it off my list of "to do's".
Total about 760 miles
Dailymile.com

And I couldn't have done it without all the support and encouragement I got from friends on Dailymile.com. Here is a social website where 100% of the comments are beneficial. I've never met these "friends" in person, but online they were always quick to congratulate me on the high notes and pick me up on the lows. I owe much of my success on their support and I will forever grateful.

Bodyweight Exercise

Another part of training that I discovered was bodyweight exercise: exercise that requires no equipment other than your own body. Being in a foreign country with little access to exercise equipment let alone a gym made doing physical exercise difficult. But all the running advice I found said that to be a strong and injury-free runner, you needed a strong core. The wonderful thing about bodyweight exercise is that not only is your "equipment" always with you, the exercises themselves tend to be dynamic, not only making you stronger but also improving your balance and coordination. Every day there is more and more on the internet about bodyweight exercise, so I won't list all that I've tried but recently I've found FitnessBlender.com to be a good one for videos you can do at home.

Future

So, that's my look at the past, now let's look at the near future. Because of winter and the healthy need to run a little bit less, I've increased my bodyweight exercise which is great. I hope to continue getting stronger, with increased balance, coordination and agility.

But I guess you could say now that I'm a RUNNER. I can go out for five miles and feel alright with it, enjoying it instead of dreading it. [smile] And while I'm not sure I want to put in all the time required to train for a marathon again, a half-marathon wouldn't be half as bad. So, I signed up to run the "Rock the Parkway Half Marathon" in April.
So, here's hoping that your 2013 is a healthy one too. And who knows, maybe I'll see ya' out there on the road running a few miles. Just look for the thin guy. [smile]