Five Things Friday – Can We Be Honest Here?

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Have I ever done a ‘stuff that bugs me’ post? Apparently not … and as I tried to do one I realized WHY – not all that much really bugs me enough to make a worthy post. But as always, I have thoughts … some good and some not so good – so let’s just jump right in!

OK, first the picture – yeah, another selfie … but I always seem to take them in my house or driveway, so today I was different! This one I took at the end of the development across the street where they are trying to squeeze just one more house into an area with poor drainage and water table issues. It is a cool street and doing the loop is nearly a perfect mile, which of course I always think about. Then I thought rather than a shoe/short pic I would try an action shot! It is crap, but I laughed at myself and had fun, so you’re stuck with it! Now back to the post!

1. Pro Tip: Cardio ISN’T a Food Group!

OK – I have many thoughts about eating, health and so on, but here is one thing: runners are a pretty screwed up bunch when it comes to eating. We claim ‘clean eating’ then fill ourselves up with pills and powders out of chem labs; we claim we’re listening to our bodies, yet ignore them when it is inconvenient and end up injured; and we talk about fueling but then restrict ourselves to feel super-lean!

And let me be even more clear … before I stepped back a bit and did serious ‘spring cleaning’ on my RSS feeds, Bloglovin’, WordPress and email subscriptions, I would estimate I was subscribed to 3-4 blogs where the bloggers had ‘active’ eating disorders.

OK, that is fine – I have talked about my disordered eating as have many others, and I pointed out the whole series T-Rex Runner did on her struggles. Should we be surprised that people are actively struggling?

Of course not – nor should we be surprised that some of those struggling either don’t realize it or aren’t admitting it to themselves.

As fellow bloggers there is only so much we can do – make comments, send emails, mention it to others who might hold more sway … well, that is pretty much it.

My concern is when I see people on other blogs I follow, commenting on these ‘bigger’ blogs and emulating them … and falling into some fairly obviously disordered patterns (what was that book with the meals of baby carrots and plain mustard?).

Do I have a point? I actually do – I have been saying that I don’t like that there is very little frank discussion on blogs, and that all of the comments are super-nice and super-positive – and those that are critical are seldom acknowledged in any real way.

Well, WE control that! It is up to US to be more frank, more honest, more direct. And it is up to us as bloggers to at least LISTEN when someone calls us on out on our own crap.

So that is my pledge – if I think you are disordered, I will say something (gently of course); if you are being a phony, I will call you out. And if you are awesome, I will tell you that as well.

What about YOU – can you join me and try to do this?

2. And … the REST of the Story

Here is something that will shock exactly no one – not a single blogger tells us EVERYTHING about themselves; nor does any running blogger tells us everything about their running life. Sure many of us reveal personal details – and some tell things on their blogs they have never actually said to anyone else before (I know I have done this!). But it is still controlled – by us.

So what does it say when we learn something fairly significant about someone whose blog we follow through a comment they make on a different blog? Something that contradicts what they say on their own blog? Do you call them out on another blog? (personally if someone did that to me I wouldn’t be pleased), email privately? say something on their blog randomly? forget about it?

This is a tough one – because I think it is up to the blogger to control their own story – but at the same time if the thing we learn is potentially harmful (addiction, child-neglect, self-harm) then we owe it as good citizens to do SOMETHING.

What do you think? (and yes, I have specifics, but none of them were at the level mentioned above).

3. The Continuing ‘Shape Magazine’ Saga

The other day I wrote about Brooke, who refused to change the image she submitted to Shape Magazine for the ‘after’ image of a Success Stories feature. She had lost 170lbs and had loads of loose skin.

Her story has blown up on social media and was picked up by Buzzfeed, and there are now thousands of comments in a variety of places about it.

And this week it has been the comments that have intrigued me. And in particular those from other women. Now we don’t have a fair comparison, because I would estimate that the female:male ratio on comments is ~99:1 … but all of the comments from guys I’ve seen have seen have been either ‘throw-aways’ (‘wouldn’t hit it before, still wouldn’t hit it now’ was one that made me sigh and roll my eyes) or supportive.

But comments from other women have been more interesting, and I think speak broadly to how women see other women and themselves.

Some are very supportive – and much more specific than anything from any of the guys (as I would expect). They talked about the struggle and the pride and about really owning yourself – and also about standing up for something you believe in and so on.

But some are absolutely brutal. There are three basic lines they follow:
– You lost weight and that is a source of pride, but your body is disgusting and you should be ashamed of it and keep that stuff covered up.
– The body you have is a symbol of the abuse you have put your body through, nobody wants to see that – it is NOT beautiful.
– I am losing weight, and if THAT is what I have to look forward to … why even bother. I applaud Shape for not showing that disgusting and non-inspirational body.

Wow … just wow. Not only that, but there were a few commenters who took on anyone who challenged their position that Brooke is disgusting and totally wrong. One in particular basically says ‘she should be proud of her accomplishment, but put on a shirt – no one things that looks good’.

And that is the uniting element in the criticisms: ‘no one’ thinks that looks good.

Those commenters claim to speak for everyone, and while thinking on the one hand that we need to see more ‘real’ bodies, that doesn’t include what extreme weight loss looks like.

And I found THOSE people – the well-spoken ones in particular (I can easily dismiss frothing trolls) – disgusting and disturbing. Because these people tell me that the media has won. That while we SAY we want more ‘real bodies’, more ‘real life’ more ‘body acceptanece’ … what we REALLY want is air-brushed bikini bodies of people who have never been more than 10-15 pounds overweight.

And look – being severely overweight is not something that people WANT to do, and it is definitely something self-inflicted in many cases. But the reality is that the ‘obesity epidemic’ is real and a growing problem, and when you set out to celebrate the stories of people who have achieved huge weight loss, why would you NOT want to show the reality of what that looks like? I mean, think about it psychologically – if you have been picking up Shape or Self or More and seeing ‘weight loss success’ stories that are inspirational and make you think you will look like Tom Brady or Giselle at the end of your journey, and you end up looking like Brooke – you will feel like a failure.

And THAT is what I have a problem with. We should celebrate our bodies, celebrate the success of our weight loss, of our friends and family who struggle, and NEVER let ‘body shaming’ of ANY TYPE (including ‘too skinny’ shaming) occur. Speak up, and let us begin to accept people for who they are.

4. What is this HEALTHY thing, anyway?

One of my favorite bloggers, Laura, had three amazing posts to follow-up ANOTHER amazing post. This week it was Healthy Part 1, Healthy Part 2 and The Ugly Parts – and they tell a story of two important things:
– Dealing with weight, eating and food.
– Addressing the judgment that comes along with all of that.

If you have not read these, definitely check them out. It is funny, after reading ‘Unhealthy’ I was dusting off an old draft I had about what healthy eating actually means to me … but I wasn’t getting anywhere that made any sense, then Laura did her posts and I just nodded my head throughout.

Here is a question: which is healthier – Lisa having 2tbsp of fat-free half & half in her coffee, or me having a small bowl of my homemade ‘peanut butter fudge’ (peanut butter, butter to thin, chocolate flakes to mix, and confectionary sugar to sweeten and thicken)?

If you look at fat, calories, and so on the answer would be obvious. But is it so simple? What if one of the ‘healthy’ criteria was how quickly someone ended up in the bathroom? Then things change! As part of the pseudo-Paleo thing we’ve been doing with Lisa, we’ve found that heavy dairy – and particularly stuff sweetened with HFCS like fat free stuff tends to be – has a rapid response in terms of ‘taking the direct top-to-bottom’ route. (TMI, sorry Lisa!)

Also, I tend to go for a peanut butter ‘dessert’ like that when I feel I haven’t been getting enough food in me – I always get plenty of fruits, veggies, and so on – so I go for the fat and protein in those cases.

So again, it isn’t so simple to just label things ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’.

Let me twist it up – would the answer be the same if instead of my dessert I had the same amount of calories, but in the form of a small bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms? Aaah … this is where it gets interesting! Because when I was at my heaviest in 2012 I had taken to having peanut butter M&Ms as a ‘desk snack’ which I didn’t share, and by the end I was eating a ‘large’ (as labeled) bag within two days … and it is a source of shame for me, as it is about 2 days of fat and calories – and I wasn’t active. And also I have found that the processed taste no longer appeals to me.

So while the calories are the same, the mental impact is VERY different. I have fruit (apple or pear) and pistachios as my ‘desk snack’ at this point, and if I ate a bag of peanut butter M&Ms I would be consumed by negative feelings.

That is just a very small example of why we have to be so careful about labeling foods ‘good or bad’, ‘healthy or unhealthy’ – and by extension labeling PEOPLE with those words – bad eating habits, being unhealthy, and so on. It can be emotionally devastating.

And it gets back to something Laura mentioned and Abby has as part of her ‘about’ page – that ‘healthy’ isn’t a number or a weight or pant size … it is a confluence of physical, mental, physiological, and emotional elements that all work together – and we need to understand their particular symbiosis in OUR life to know what ‘healthy’ looks like for us.

5. We Really DO Have a Great Community

Throughout lent and even this past week I have seen loads of people ‘taking an online/blogging break’ or ‘doing spring cleaning’. I myself did a massive clean-up of things I tracked in all areas of interest and took nearly two weeks away and have slowed my blogging pace considerably.

And I am so glad I did – because it allowed me to regain perspective on just WHY I love this community and really want to stay attached to it. The reality I had to acknowledge was that there would always be more cool people than I could possibly follow and still maintain my job/wife/kids/home/pets and so on … so like I do in general I tried to focus on a few great friends rather than a million acquaintances. It is what works for me.

The result is I can focus more on these blogs – ‘good old friends’ like Laura and Megan, Harold, Ann, Danielle, and many more … and of course making new friends like Cori, Lauren, Running Bear, Sara, Carina, and many more!

All of these wonderful people light up my day with their posts, pictures, insights, comments and perspectives. There is no rule – at first when I started out it was one site through a suggestion of a friend (ironically I no longer follow that initial site), then I found a few through comments, and so on and so on.

And even looking at the list (and more new friends like Suze, Abby, Michele, Rachel, Beth and more) there is no common thread in terms of age, marital status, kids, pets, geographic region, or whatever … but there is one VERY important one: they are all REAL, genuine, individual voices. It is great when you read a post and see a subject and know what someone basically thinks, but still relish hearing HOW they will say it.

So yeah, basically I love you guys. You rock.

Bonus: Some honest stuff from me!

1. I will not follow your blog if you cannot buy a drink – yeah, this one sounds weird, but several months ago I had a 17-year old girl follow me and then email me to follow back. I felt like a creepy old dude because that is how old my son is. So, yeah, no. I have seen great blogs by guys and girls in high school and early college years, but in general if it makes me feel uncomfortable in that way … not gonna happen. I DO find it flattering that a few of my kids friends follow me on Instagram and like my running selfies … it is fun because they are kids we actually know and can all joke about it.

2. Lunch is my hardest meal. – ok, from light to heavy … as I have said, for years I would restrict breakfast and lunch and eat plenty at dinner. Since being a ‘real’ runner for the last couple of years I have been more conscious about my eating and eat great at breakfast and dinner and generally also at lunch. But because of how my work stuff is structured I generally eat in meetings, which means a wrap, apple and soda/water. Similar to when I was in Kentucky for work travel so much last year, the structure keeps me ‘in line’.

But if the meetings are canceled, then I will try to eat something, but am not always good about getting enough. I always have fruit and pistachios at my desk, and will head to the small plant cafeteria to see what is available, but often it is not something I am willing to eat, so I end up with yogurt, fruit and pistachios.

And the thing for me is that “something I am willing to eat”. I keep that thought in the forefront of my mind – because it is dangerous.

3. My ‘No Tech in Bed’ Challenge – OK so it was supposed to be for Lent, but I am extending it … and I would rate myself as ‘mediocre’. I have brought the laptop once, but the iPad remains the problem. It is one thing if I am finishing a game for review, but another thing when I then hit up email and web and Feedly RSS and … ugh. So … a work in progress!

4. Where I sit at work right now sucks – every project needs to find some space for seating, and it is best when you can be grouped in close proximity (I have been on projects where everyone is in a different building, and efficiency plummets), but the one I am on now … is technically a great project and important. But we are in the absolutely crappiest location in the facility, too many people in too small space … well, it is just awful. Oh well, that happens – there is no such thing as a perfect project!

5. Diet Cultsthe book is out as of yesterday, and I have it on my Kindle. I planned to have more to say about it … but my brain’s desire to read was outmatched by my eyes’ desire to close!

So what do you think about ANY of this mess? Or … how about your weekend plans?

Award Post Part 2 – Even More Stuff (you didn’t care to know) About ME!

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OK, I am a total slacker … over the last month I have been nominated for SIX Liebster and other blog awards, and been meaning to do a post about it ever since the first one from Running Boston and Beyond. My initial problem was that I did one of these posts back in February, and felt like I was spent in terms of personal reveals … but now I am ready to give it a go – and these nominations each have plenty of interesting questions so you can learn even MORE stuff you didn’t care about!

Running Boston and Beyond

Let’s start with Kelli from Running Boston and Beyond (and yes, she did run Boston in 2014)! She is a 40-something wife and mom who loves running and her family and has a great blog – definitely check her out!

1.How did you choose your blog name?

I initially had a blog since ~2006 called ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ where I wrote about stuff I couldn’t post on any of the game review sites I wrote for … and had basically zero readers. So when I got serious about running went beyond what I could comfortably write about for Gear Diary, I needed a new outlet. I was getting older but not ‘over the hill’, and my new focus on ‘serious’ running was a different take on a familiar habit – so not really ‘turning the corner’ or ‘changing course’. So more “Running Around the Bend” … and I landed on WordPress rather than Blogger (where I also have an account) because that name was in use on Blogger.

2.What is your favorite thing to write about?

If you read my post ‘mostly the miles are boring’ you know that running isn’t my favorite topic; nor is cooking and eating – again, because I eat pretty much the same things for 12 or so meals every week (breakfasts and weekday lunches).

But if you read this blog even occasionally you know my favorite things in the world are my wife and kids … so writing about stuff we do together is my fave thing in the world.

3.Why did you start blogging?

I started doing ‘game reviews’ back on USENET in the 80s before the web, then started writing for early websites – again gaming opinions. Then as time went on I started writing editorials and other opinion-based stuff – and from there I found the limits and needed to express myself more. Like I said, at first I was basically writing for myself, and left it behind for a few years.

But last year, after ‘becoming a runner’, and having gone through a long running streak, and done it all mostly posting to Facebook with some stuff written for ‘official posts’, I again found the limits (or rather, they were pointed out to me). So I kicked back into my blog, started using that in my comments … and just over 7 months later here we are!

4.What kind of workout makes you feel the best after it is all over?

Running … is there another kind?

5.What is your favorite post workout recovery food?

Smoothies! Seriously – in the cold weather I like water and later some coffee, in the warmth it is water and then something cold like a smoothie. Or homemade peanut butter ‘fudge’ (melt a bit of butter, stir in peanut butter, add some confectionary sugar and chocolate syrup and stick it in the freezer!)

6.What motivates you?

Love.

Sounds odd, but love for my wife, for my kids, for my friends, and for myself is what motivates me.

7.What is your “A” race or biggest fitness goal for 2014?

I still want to run an Ultra … but aside from that just PR everything I do (no biggie, right?). But really – if I am still running 5+ miles 5+ days a week by the end of the year I will be incredibly happy.

8.What is your favorite motivational song?

Maybe it is because I saw it in theaters in 1976 when I was 10 … but Bill Conti’s ‘Rocky’ theme still gives me chills. I don’t use music for workouts, though.

9.What is your favorite “fun” thing to do besides run/train/work out?

Aside from stuff with my family (already mentioned), I would say music. I am still finishing setting up my old studio again and re-adapting my song files to the new configuration (which is simultaneously fun and annoying) … but eventually I will share stuff here.

10.If you could give your 16-year old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Focus more on being happy, and stop caring what other people (including your family) thinks.

11.Are you going to pass on the torch and nominate 11 fellow bloggers?

Can I ignore this one? Seriously I am not going to for one main reason – I already skipped out on it last time because everyone else had already been nominated. Still true.

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The Gluten Free Treadmill

Next we move on to Laura from The Gluten Free Treadmill. Now I am going to embarass Laura by saying that she is absolutely one of the most wonderful people I’ve met since blogging and a truly treasured ‘internet friend’. She writes about powerful and important stuff and we share loads of common thoughts on things. I have loved seeing her site continue to gain traction and followers – well deserved!

1) What is your spirit animal and why?

I have always been the ‘bear’. Solid, strong, even-tempered and ready. I had a teddy bear from when I was in the hospital at 4, and later on Lisa gave me one for when I was traveling. Even though my size is no longer ‘bear-like’, I will always be the bear.

2) What is your happy place?

On the couch with Lisa, drinking coffee or wine. My ‘personal’ place would be out on a run.

3) What is your favorite ethnic cuisine?

Chinese food of all types, from junk at the mall food court to gourmet stuff in a big city to more exotic stuff to things we make at home. Love the flavor profiles and ingredients and pretty much everything about it.

4) What was your favorite food as a kid?

Steak, from an early age.

5) What is your favorite food today?

Hmmm … would have to choose between sweet potato and … yeah, steak.

6) What are you typically doing on a Wednesday at 11:30 AM?

Something related to work … specific to most of the last two months or so on my new project, either at my desk or in our development clean room … likely thinking about lunch!

7) Why do you blog?

Because I have felt the need to express myself in the digital world ever since that was a possibility. I have always found writing a cathartic outlet, yet never had an interest in pursuing it professionally (to the chagrin of my AP English teacher in high school) … so for me blogging was a natural. And more recently I have found less of a desire to do reviews and more desire to ‘do my own thing’.

8) What do you do when not blogging?

Well, my job at Corning keeps me busy about 50 hours per week, and I have a very busy life with Lisa and the boys and the dogs and the cats. Music, video games, house-related stuff and so on take up the rest.

9) What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned to date about nutrition/food/health?

Food is fuel. Get rid of the good / bad labels, the ‘meat is murder’ mentality, and just figure out what best fuels the life you want to lead … and stop judging yourself and others.

10) What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned to date about something other than nutrition/food/health?

Honest, open communications is the key to everything – it is more important than talent, intelligence, or looks.

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Life Between the Miles

Then I was nominated by one of my more recent blog discoveries, Sara from Life Between the Miles. She is from Massachusetts, recently ran the Boston marathon, is married with a cute little boy, and writes a fun and honest blog I look forward to reading all the time.

1. If you could spend the day with one famous person, who would it be and why?

On the one hand, I would love to get the chance to talk to a whole variety of historical leaders, freedom pioneers, artists and musicians and ground-breaking scientists … but on the other hand I can never choose just one because what I would ultimately want is to understand the person behind the story. I place very little value on ‘fame’ or ‘wealth’ and even less on pure ‘celebrity’, so spending time with a person because they are ‘famous’ has no draw for me.

2. What is an attribute you admire in others?

Honesty. In crowded engineering fields, saying ‘I don’t know’ can be seen as weakness, so people will sometimes pretend to know things they don’t. In my personal life I’ve had many people say things for no reason that are clearly not true (why?). Yeah, for me it all starts with honesty.

3. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would be the 3 things you would take with you?

OK, I am assuming Lisa, Danny and Chris is cheating?

4. If money was no object, what would you choose as your career?

I would still be working, but would push the measurement science side harder. When I was younger I thought music store or studio, or book store, or teacher or something … but none of those really appeal to me enough to mitigate the downsides.

5. What is YOUR greatest achievement?

While professionally my direct contributions to the first 1GHz microprocessor technology, or significant work in the development of the technique of Scatterometry for sub-100nm semiconductor measurements are probably my ‘biggies’ … for me it is marrying Lisa, as even having our boys stems from that.

6. Why did you decide to start blogging? *answered in the first group*

7. What is your biggest pet peeve?

People who have no regard for others.

8.What is your favorite pizza toppings?

When I was young I used to get onion, pepper, hamburg and linguica … now I would say just cheese.

9. What is the theme song of your life?

Miles Davis Bitches’ Brew – within that 27 minutes there is everything I love about music; elements of classical, rock, funk, soul, free jazz, fusion and so on.

10. If you had $1,000 that you could spend on anything, what would you spend it on?

Funny thing that as such a techie I am also not very materialistic … so I don’t immediately think about some new gadget. Instead I think about paying off things like the one car payment or working down the mortgage so she the kids are done with college we will be more free to choose our path forward.

But since I should really choose stuff … I would get Lisa some Hoka One Ones to support her ankle and redo her Pandora bracelet so it fit better … and myself some running gear, and the rest for some clothes and shoes for the boys.

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She’s Going the Distance

Next the hilarious and sarcastic dude Cori from She’s Going the Distance (yes, like that Cake song). Both she and her fiance Cameron have great blogs I enjoy, and I look forward to reading about their wedding later this year (yes, I am a total sappy romantic type):

1. Do you have a night before or race day ritual that you HAVE to do?

Nothing on the creepy superstitious level, just make sure my crap is ready and try to get some sleep.

2. Do you love your job?

Yes I do … like the line in Real Genius ‘I love solving problems’. Today I helped a young engineer figure out a critical experimenal problem on her project, taught her some statistics and more details about some software. She was super happy and grateful … which makes it all worthwhile!

3. Why did you start blogging? *answered in the first group*

4. What is your favorite running shoe brand?

Right now I am loving Saucony – I’m on Virratas now, but I just saw Amazon clearanced the Kinvara 4s as they prep for the 5! Might have to grab a pair cheap!

5. Ice cream, popsicles or milkshakes?

#alltheicecream

6. Where’s the last place you traveled?

Glorious Troy, NY! The trip to RPI and my fraternity was worth enduring Troy, as I wrote about the other day!

7. Power song to run or train to?

Music for running?

8. Beach or Mountains?

Beach! We watched one of those ‘house hunter’ shows the other night just because it was all beach houses!

9. Are you afraid of heights?

Not at all – I seek out heights and rollar coasters.

10. Favorite show on tv currently?

I tend to ‘lose track’ of shows fairly easily, so for me it has to be something we all can enjoy. Right now we’re doing Grimm, Castle, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock and Hannibal. The BBC shows are less frequent, and the others we watch on Hulu more often than not due to schedules.

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Run Salt Sun
Next came Lauren from Run Salt Sun … or just #mamaSalt, who has gained quite a bit of success both as a speedy runner and a ‘mommy blogger’ – though she is not typical of that breed (thankfully). She has an adorable little girl, and a husband who loves her in spite of her running ‘problem’ 🙂

1) Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

The Count! I was just 3 when Sesame Street launched on PBS (when there were all of a half dozen stations between UHF/VHF), so I mostly know Big Bird, Kermit, etc. But the Count was always a fave.

2) How do you feel about treadmills?

Aren’t those the things they make lab rats run on for experiments?

3) Are you good at math?

My job is as a statistician and metrology (measurement) engineer. Does that answer the question? Ask my family … I torment them with math,

4) What is your favorite brand of running shoe?
5) Coolest celebrity you’ve met?

For me the coolest thing was riding the elevator with jazz guitar legend John Scofield in the late 80s – I was going to see him play that night, so it was cool to chat in the elevator and he was awesome.

Also, at a wedding of one of Lisa’s friends we got to see Chet & Nat – two Boston news icons.

6) What is your dream job?

You know … I really have no idea. I am pretty happy where I am, no desire to move, and get to spend enough time with my family. Seeing so many people try small businesses has shown me that is NOT what I want … and really most of my hobbies I am happy with as hobbies.

7) What is your favorite kind of pie?

Lisa makes a killer apple pie (yes, despite being allergic) with a sugar cookie top-crust. Yeah, probably that.
8) How many brothers and sisters do you have?

I have one of each and I am the middle child (explains a lot, really). Both of my siblings are divorced at this point (within the last few years), and each has had significant heart issues. My brother lives in NJ and my sister in MA.

9) Why did you start blogging? *answered in the first group*

10) Do you take selfies at races?

Sometimes afterwards, but generally I have some part of my crew so they take pictures of me.

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thesecretlifecoachofdc

And finally Abby from thesecretlifecoachofdc, who is a fun and energetic young blogger with a great philosophy that “all aspects of a healthy lifestyle (fitness, nutrition, social, mental, sleep, etc) are intertwined”. All about balance!

My Questions for My Nominees

1. What are your three favorite things to do in your down time?

– Spend time with my wife and boys.
– Go for a run.
– Make music

2. What is your life motto?

I had one ‘find excess within moderation’ that I liked a lot when I was younger … and while I haven’t ever really been a ‘live by a motto’ person, I still like it.

3. What is your dream job? *answered in the previous group*

4. If you described yourself as a color, what color would you be and why?

A bright vibrant blue … because it is my favorite color, shows energy with a certain coolness, and has higher photon energy than all of those ‘warmer’ colors!

5. If someone wrote a book about your life up until now, what would the title be?

“Why the heck are you contemplating buying this boring story about a happily married, well employed middle-aged family man with no addictions or tragic flaws?”

6. Who would you choose to play you in a movie?

Another weird one – and again no clue. Many people I might have chosen ages ago I feel have aged poorly (James Spader), or are too good looking (George Clooney) and would seem arrogant. I dunno – who would YOU think?

7. If you could be a professional athlete, what sport would you choose to be a pro at?

Running for sure – it used to be basketball but that has lost its allure to me, whereas I would be fine being a pro runner, traveling around meeting other runners, and getting to enjoy all of the incredible races.

8. Who do you look up to the most in life right now?

My wife – she has had to go through many things in her life, yet she approaches every day with bright eyes and an open and loving heart.

9. What is your favorite thing about blogging?

The people – definitely the people. Sure I like writing and reading stories and perspectives and all that – but ultimately it is the people BEHIND the blogs that I find intriguing.

10. What stores do you frequent the most (online or in-person)?

Online I am very much an Amazon person for … well, everything. In the real world I would love to say it was someplace more glamorous or gourmet … but it is Walmart. Because it is close, convenient, and cheap.

11. Favorite book right now?

Fave is always tough … but I am re-reading the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko. They are translated from Russian and a decent fantasy series. I started re-reading it because the English translation of the latest book is coming out later this year.

Though if I had to choose a singular favorite it would be ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut. It is a book that I read and re-read, and it always either shows me something different or strikes me differently.

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My Final Thoughts

As I finish this I realize how much more useless crap I could talk about – so I started a ‘random facts’ post that I will do some time in the future.

I mentioned that I wasn’t going to nominate anyone – since this cycle started a few months ago I have been reading about all of these different cool things about bloggers. Pretty much everyone has had at least one Liebster post, so I couldn’t find anyone to nominate!

But – if you are reading this and have not done a Liebster post, or you want to do another one … consider THIS your invitation. Here are the rules:
– Pick 10 questions from the ones above.
– Answer them.
– Link back to this post so I can see you’re post.
– Nominate someone if you want.

And that is it! Happy Thursday everyone … we’re getting close to the weekend!

Throwback Thursday – The Zoo Crew

Zoo Crew 1

Some of my greatest memories from college are wrapped around my fraternity and the great friends I had there. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding, so there will be a big celebration in late April that I will be attending – and as a result my times at the fraternity have been in my mind quite a bit lately.

Theta Xi fraternity was founded at my alma mater (RPI), making our chapter the Alpha chapter and making us feel connected to not just the history of our chapter, but also the overall history of the organization.

But that isn’t why we’re here …

I have a bunch of pictures taken through the years, many on my classic Kodak Disc camera. I also accumulated a few from others, and since two of my best friends (Ken and Jeff) were really good photographers – and Ken took a photography class that gave him access to a darkroom and development equipment – I ended up with even more.

The ‘collage’ at the top is a set of those, and was hung on my wall for a while, and has been safely stored since. You might notice at the bottom right a set of evenly-spaced holes on a tear-off strip. If you don’t know what this is, please setop – you’re making me feel old!

Here are the pictures one at a time:

Zoo Crew 3

My caption was ‘The Big McNugget’ … yeah, not a small guy, and really in need of a shave.

Zoo Crew 2

Ken being Ken. We all know those people who CAN actually pose for a nice picture, but has much more fun putting on a bit of a show. I would say that ~75% of my pictures of Ken featuer ‘personality in action’.

Zoo Crew 5

Jeff – or JT as we called him – could grow a major beard back in high school, and sported one throughout college. He also had a green jacket and overall look that earned him the ‘terrorist’ label back before that was something you just wouldn’t say.

Zoo Crew 4

The crew and the Zoo Mobile – this one Ken took of us out shopping in the Albany area. It is JT, myself and Nigel. Nigel transferred in and quickly became one of our best friends, and the group of us – including Pete K and some others – were inseparable. He definitely played up his British accent for the ladies, and so it is too bad that he left owing the house a decent debt and has basically not been heard from since. I had a brief exchange several years ago after I found him online, but that went cold as well.

We are leaning against what we called the Zoo Mobile. It was a little beater that Ken bought, and it really needed some help in terms of appearance, so we decided to really do it up! It was over summer break and … well, you can see the results.

To this day most of us are still in contact, and many of us will be back in Troy in late April. That particular weekend is overflowing with other family things (Proms, music events, etc) which makes leaving more stressful, but I am completely ready and excited to get to hang out with old friends, none of whom I’ve seen in 5 years, and many of whom I haven’t seen in more than 25 years!

So what special college memories do you have? Do you do any reunion things?

Thought For Thursday – When Changing Body Shape, Make Sure You Have a ‘Body Image Partner’

Hyundai-Drive-Time-44-500x375

When you look at the image above, what do you notice after the cool car on the right and mountains in the background? For me, the answer was I didn’t like how the residual fat/skin at my ‘love handles’ showed up … but for my wife her comment was that she couldn’t believe how huge the size 32 pants looked on me.

OK, let me frame the context a bit. The picture was taken in August of 2012 … and I was still in the midst of losing weight, and here is the scene: – I was down about 75 lbs (from 275 to 200) at that point.

In early April I was pushing out of a size 40 waist – worse still, they were the type with the stretchy expander waist. I would have been a tight fit in standard 42s at that point. Between then and when the picture was taken lost 75 pounds and 10 waist sizes, and had yet to run even my first half-marathon, with my marathon still more than a month away. At my physical just before this trip my primary care doctor was thrilled and actually discussed that I needed to fuel properly to keep up with my high running mileage.

Yet when I looked in the mirror I see only the problem areas, and as I say I saw only fat in the picture above. And while I am better now than I was a year or so ago … it remains a struggle/

The problem is that weight and body image don’t always go together. I KNOW I am in the best shape of my life and shouldn’t be losing more weight … but tell that to the evil little body image self-doubt demon inside my head! And it is a common thing, as noted in an old MSNBC article about ‘Phantom Fat’:

Even though Kellylyn Hicks has lost about 85 pounds over the last year and a half, and gone from a size 24 to a tiny size 4, she still worries she won’t fit into chairs.
While out shopping, she fears that she’ll bump her hip into a shelf and break something. A few years ago when she was heavier, she accidentally knocked over and broke a wolf figurine and had to pay $60 for it.
And every morning when she looks in the mirror while getting ready for the day, she sees her former, heavier self. “My brain says, ‘Yep, still fat.’”
“It’s been really hard to change my self-image,” says Hicks, 37, of Chesapeake, Va. “I still feel like I’m this enormous person who takes up tons of space.”

Thank goodness I have a strong body image partner in my wife. We have been married nearly 22 years, and at this point we are honest with each other – if something doesn’t look good on her I will tell her, and when I put on some weight or showed signs my thyroid was out of whack she made sure I knew. Because one of the core principles of our relationship is honesty – not rude and blunt, but caring and tender. We know that sometimes we need someone to look and say that it is time to lose weight or not to buy that piece of clothing or whatever – and know that the person is doing it from a place of love and caring.

Numerous studies, including the one referenced in the MSNBC article, note that success or failure in weight loss is often due to the body image a person has AFTER losing weight – and how their partner deals with it. It the person loses weight through healthy nutrition and exercise and is met with resentment by a partner unable to lose weight, there can be difficulties. Of course, that is a two-way street – if someone who has lost weight suddenly goes around telling everyone to modify their diet to lose weight, that is something will also cause issues.

So if your plans include losing weight, gaining weight, getting in better shape, building muscles, or whatever – make sure you talk about it with your spouse, partner, best friend or whoever you want to provide honest feedback. You want to be sure you can get a reality check at every step of the way, as this is the best way to ensure success – and it has been shown that the better you can accept your body image, the better success you will likely have after making a desired change in your body shape.

So how do YOU address your body image issues (if you have them)? Do you have a ‘body image partner’?

Retouching Video Shows the Power of ‘Unreality’

Before After Photoshop

We all know that when we look at models in magazines or online they have been touched up, and even the actors and actresses at award shows have gone through hours of preparation specific to making them look great on camera under those specific lighting conditions. Seeing a stage actor walk off the set is a quick reminder of the un-reality of that situation.

Seeing photoshopped images next to the originals is a very powerful lesson – but we still tend to allow ourselves to believe that the ‘after’ image is real and should be our goal.

Late last year track & field athlete Lauren Fleshman walked the runway for Oiselle as part of NY Fashion Week a mere 3 months after giving birth, prompting some discussion about how ripped and toned and tanned she looked so soon after having a baby. But as she revealed in her blog … she IS thin and fit, but most of it had to do with intense prep as well as some oil and spray tan!

when my pics from the NY Fashion Week Oiselle Runway show were posted, a lot of people commented that it was pretty crazy to have my body change that much in three months. And yeah, it was a little crazy but in real life, people don’t walk around spray tanned and flexed. Out of the thousands of photos taken at the runway show after all that tanning and primping and posture-holding, one or two of them looked good. A lot of them looked pretty gnarly. Weird facial expressions, lumpy bits, zombie walks…but nobody would ever know…

I definitely recommend checking the entire post out, because it shows the REAL reality as opposed to just that one iconic image of her on the runway.

Again, we know we can’t compete with airbrush, spray tan, and photoshop, but how many of us look at pictures like that and think … well I will never look like THAT (well, aside from the whole obvious gender thing … you get my point!)

This week a new video has been making the rounds I wanted to share – it is a music video in French with the singer slowly being photoshopped over the course of a song. By the end the singer is barely recognizable as the same person from the beginning – an they do a brief flashover of the original image to drive that point home.

How do YOU deal with maintaining perspective in an increasingly unreal world?

Image Source

Running Blogger Weight Loss Stories Remind Us Of What We Don’t Know

My beautiful picture

In case you can’t tell, I am the 350+lb guy on the left

This week as I have struggled to complete the second and third part of my ‘running story’, I have come across two different posts at a couple of my favorite blogs that tell stories of weight loss and body image from bloggers I wouldn’t necessarily associate with weight loss struggles. It reminded me of how my own weight loss history and body image differs from the perception many people have of me – and how it illustrates that there is often so much we don’t know about people.

Here is a bit from my ‘Weight Loss Story’ journey:

In terms of eating, it is easy to look back and say that I was doing ‘calorie restriction’ at an extreme level. I would have a slice of unbuttered toast and a half grapefruit without sugar for breakfast. Salad with non-fat dressing and rice cakes for lunch. And a very limited dinner – at times I would have one food group per day for dinner. All while running a couple of miles and playing basketball for about 20 minutes daily.

I was fascinated with the feeling of being hungry, convinced that it meant I was losing weight and doing the right thing so long as it was just a hungry, empty feeling and I continued eating 3 meals per day.

Cori at She’s Going the Distance (now TRY to get the song out of your head) wrote about how she found herself 30 lbs overweight and how she struggled with the weight and feelings that came from eating things she knew were unhealthy:

I’ve been asked before if I was ever “fat.” The answer is no, however, I was overweight and unhealthy for my body, height and frame. The picture above might not look that bad, but i was 30 lbs heavier than i am now, a full bra cup size larger and 6 dress sizes larger. Like I said, I wasn’t 100 lbs overweight or anything, but 30 lbs of pure excess weight is a lot when you’re not doing any type of exercise (and I gained it quickly in about 6 months).

The problem was I knew I was eating bad, eating late, and not exercising. The turning point (cause you know everyone has that A-ha! moment) was when I tried to button my “fat jeans” and they barely made the button hole. I turned to my then boyfriend and asked, “Have I gained weight?” to which he replied, “I mean, you’ve gained weight since we started dating.” <— yep, we broke up very shortly after that.

Laura at This is Thirty wrote a couple of great articles over the last couple of weeks – one about food judgment and the other about how she lost 100 pounds! Here is a bit of the first post, where she talks about taking weight loss too far and not focusing on health:

“When I was losing weight, the very thought of food was constantly lurking below the surface – it became a pervasive, almost threatening presence. For me, counting calories was an addiction – and nutrient deficient foods became my drug. Because of that, telling me that I was eating the wrong things or that I was hurting myself by putting artificial sweeteners into my body wouldn’t make me change my eating habits. But it certainly exacerbated my hyper-focus on food”

That reminds me of a conversation I had long ago – where someone said that they would love to find a food that tastes good, was filling, and basically traveled from your mouth to your butt (sorry!) with as little interaction with the rest of your body as possible. And while I didn’t say so at the time, isn’t that pretty much what MOST people looking to lose weight would like? Sure we want to eat healthy, certainly we want nutrition … but there are times when we would just like to feel nice and full … but without any consequences.

Life, unfortunately, doesn’t come without consequences. The good thing is that deciding you are going to eat one meal until you are so full you can’t move doesn’t come with permanent life-altering consequences – it just means you dumped a ton of calories into your body and need to deal with it.

But back to weight loss and body image – I remember seeing friends at a fraternity reunion in the fall of the year I lost weight (1989). Actually one of my ‘little brothers’ brought it up in a conversation last week as he was talking about how many years it took him to visually identify me as the ‘skinny Mike’ rather than ‘fat Mike’. At that 1989 reunion, my body was still ‘reshaping’ (consequences of extreme weight loss) so a common theme was my head looked too big for my body.

Through the years I have met loads of people with whom the topic of weight loss came up – and seldom do any of them look at me and easily believe I once weighed 375 pounds. They just can’t envision it. Which is good, but it doesn’t alter the reality that I still carry that person inside of me every day. I have had many people – even those who knew my history – make blanket statements about obese people and defining characteristics (similar to the professor at NYU recently).

It really has opened my eyes to the power of perception to shape reality.

We all have our own stories when it comes to weight, perception and body image. I have shared mine and will continue to do so, and I love the stories from Laura and Cori. I encourage anyone reading this to share there own on their blogs (or here) or to link to ones they have written – or even ones from other people that they’ve read. Sharing our experiences helps us all grow.

Also, since I am enjoying following so many of you on BlogLovin’ I wanted to get myself involved …

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Five Reasons Never to Take Fitness Advice From Me

You-cant-out-exercise-a-bad-diet

This might seem a bit weird, but bear with me for a minute. First, anyone who follows running, fitness, or healthy eating blogs knows that many of these are written by people with little to no expertise in these fields. They have love and passion, and perhaps some talent and knowledge – but in general they have jobs in other areas and have slowly gained expertise and as bloggers want to spread that expertise.

For the most part that is harmless … but sometimes when people get a voice – they get POWER, and it makes them think they suddenly ARE experts. That isn’t me, and if I read your blog, you can be sure I don’t feel that way about you. Because I have no problem contacting someone directly when they veer into the ‘danger zone’ … I alluded to one such exchange about winter running safety.

The other reason I am writing this is because in 2012 when I started losing weight and running in public, I gained a lot of attention at the small Corning development facility where my project was located. People asked me about ‘my secret’ and those who were trying to lose weight approached me looking either for support or insight … and those who ‘fell off the wagon’ were embarrassed and avoided me. Again I suddenly found myself in a position where people looked to me for ‘expert advice’!

Let me be clear I don’t have any such illusion! Far from it – in fact, I have a mantra “what works for me … works for me”! And that is why I wanted to talk about why you shouldn’t look to me for health and fitness advice

1. I am not an expert of any type. To be more specific:
– FITNESS – I am a runner. I belonged to a gym for two years. I belonged to a Nautilis gym for 3 months in my freshman year of high school. That is the entirety of my fitness credentials. Impressive, eh?
– NUTRITION – While I have always loved fresh fruits and vegetables, to say that I have suffered from disordered eating my entire life would be an understatement. When I first started losing weight 25 years ago I did it through exercise and pretty significant dietary restriction. And honestly every time I slacked during the years that was my answer – tighten up my running routine, and cut back on eating.

These past two years have been different. I am eating the largest breakfasts of my life, normal lunches, and moderate dinners. I have played around with quinoa, flax, and on and on. My eating is a work in progress, though I truly believe that some of my new habits will stick with me forever – like my love of fruit and vegetables.

2. I can JUST run … and nothing else – this is a three-fold problem:
– Boredom: most people would get bored doing the same thing again and again.
– Injury: continue to pound the same muscles again and again … and you are more likely to get hurt. A mixed fitness plan is a much better idea for most people.
– Lack of cross-training: without mixing up your workouts, it is more of a challenge to hit all of your running goals.

3. My running regulates my diet naturally – I have lost 25 pounds or more 5 times in my life at this point. And 4 of them looked like this: start running 4-5 days per week, eat better, done. (the other time involved getting on thyroid meds and joining a gym. When I start running I crave healthy foods and find unhealthy food unappealing. So while I have always done some amount of ‘I run to eat’, that is more confined to a bowl of ice cream at night than anything else.

4. I have never hit a frustrating plateau – I have many folks I know who are stuck at that ‘last 10 pounds’ or unable to get into a running routine, or whatever. So when I go back to the Bloom County ‘Eat less and exercise’ comics, it just works for me – and as a result I really feel I lack the skill set to help someone struggling at the end. Are they over-training, undertraining, snacking too much, eating too little? I dunno …

5, I have never had a running injury – at first this might make you think ‘hey, that is a reason TO ask you for advice, I want your secret!’ But the reality is that while I have tremendous sympathy for those suffering exercise injuries, I lack true empathy because I have not experienced an inability to get up and go running; as a result I am useless in terms of developing strategies or coping mechanisms.

So there you have it – reminders of why I should not be a fitness or nutrition resource for you. As I said at the beginning, there are loads of people who – like me – are not really qualified to be handing out advice. Most of them are very clear that what they say is about what works for them – but beware those who do not!

Is Being Called Skinny a Compliment or an Insult?

Skinny vs healthy

I hope I don’t need to convince anyone that ‘fat talk’ is a terrible and self-esteem destroying habit, and one that is encouraged and perpetuated everywhere throughout society. This hits young girls and women hardest, but is not exclusive to them – boys and men are bombarded with images and messages that tie body shape to self worth on an increasing basis. From a very young age we are taught that a great deal of our overall worth is tied to our appearance and whether we are ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’.

As someone who was very obese when I graduated college and overweight for pretty much as long as I can remember before then, I will ALWAYS think of myself as fat – even though most of the last 25 years I have hovered close to 200 lbs. I am NOT fat, but that doesn’t concern that little voice inside of myself.

So when the word ‘skinny’ – and better still ‘SO skinny’ came my way THREE TIMES early this week … I was thankful, respectful, and uncomfortable. It was intended as a compliment – people from out of town who hadn’t seen me in a while were visiting as part of my old project and were remarking on how I looked, because the last time they saw me I was much closer to my early 2012 high of 275lbs . The comments were all positive and I took them as such, but I keyed on the word ‘skinny’ – because rather than looking ‘healthy’ or ‘good’, ‘skinny’ means ‘DEFINITELY NOT FAT’.

The problem is that I LOVE being called skinny, even though it isn’t a healthy thought.

It isn’t healthy because ‘thinspiration’ is disordered thinking, not a healthy pursuit.

It isn’t healthy because I am a runner and restricting means starving my body of needed fuel.

It isn’t healthy because I am a runner and improper nutrition puts me at a much greater risk of injury.

It isn’t healthy because I have a strong history of heart issues on both sides of my family, and although I was ‘cleared’ this year, not eating properly puts extra stress on your systems.

So those are some of the reasons I KNOW it isn’t healthy. And because I know that, and because I know that my weight and eating will ALWAYS be an issue … I am constantly vigilant. I monotor my eating – to ensure I am getting enough. This week I was eating almost the exact same stuff as I did just before Christmas, but felt hungrier – and so I was eating an EXTRA apple mid-afternoon to address that.

THE REALITY is that I am BY FAR the healthiest I have been in my life. I am in pretty incredible shape – I have changed up my eating habits to ensure the best intake of nutrients and balanced healthy foods I have ever done, I have maintained my running condition such that I remain in ‘half-marathon ready’ condition. But I am also the thinnest of my life – my pants are the smallest size I have ever worn, and all of my dress shirts now are fitted.

I have learned so much about myself, my body, my eating and my brain these last two years. I have never approached running or eating quite this way, and I like the results – my normal pace for my morning runs used to be 50% slower than it is today. And in the past I would work a ‘restrict & treat’ balance that was really not a good idea.

My goal is to maintain my running, my eating, and my health. I want to keep at it so these habits I have develop remain through my life – because I truly believe that I am adding years to my life through these healthy pursuits (or at least not taking years off!).

Which is why I had a big smile and unambiguously positive response when I saw a colleague yesterday from the project I worked on last year until August, who said:

“I don’t even have to ask if you have kept up with your running and eating … you look great!”

Fortunately I knew the person had dropped about 20 lbs so I could return the compliment, but I have to ask – is there a better compliment? I mean, who DOESN’T want to look great?

What do you think? Do you consider ‘skinny’ a compliment? How does hearing it make you feel?

Teacher’s McDonald’s Weight Loss Journey Reminds Us of the Power of Choices

Teacher Loses 37 Pounds on McDonalds Diet

The movie Super Size Me made for interesting entertainment, but I think that most of us realize it is sensationalized to make a point about the results of a healthy person abandoning exercise and eating the most popular foods in our country without regard for caloric content. Which is an extreme version of the lifestyle many Americans lead.

But what happens if someone who doesn’t count calories or exercise takes on a McDonalds-only diet?

And further, what happens if it is a science teacher who enlists his students to help him stick to a 2,000 calorie per day plan? And then starts walking 45 minutes per day?

Well … over the course of 90 days he lost 37 pounds and brought his cholesterol under control.

Here is the video from KCCI’s report:

The teacher entered with a different hypothesis than Morgan Spurlock – that he could eat his choice of feed at McDonalds so long as he was smart with his intake and balanced out the rest of his day. For example:

Cisna said a typical breakfast would be two egg white delights, a bowl of their maple oatmeal and a 1 percent milk. A salad for lunch would be followed by more traditional value meal at dinner.

“So this isn’t something where you say ‘well he went to McDonalds and he only had the salads. No, I had the Big Macs, the quarter pounders with cheese. I had sundaes, I had ice cream cones,” he said.

Looking at the meal choices – egg white omelette, low-fat milk and a salad for lunch – tells me that is a significant change in his dietary intake. That is how he lost an average of moer than 3lbs per week and dramatically changed his cholesterol.

The moral of this lesson isn’t to eat more at McDonald’s, Cisna said, but to pay attention to your daily nutrition and what you eat.

“The point behind this documentary is, ‘Hey, it’s (a) choice. We all have choices. It’s our choices that make us fat not McDonald’s,” he said.

Cisna said he isn’t surprised at the weight loss because he wasn’t exercising or watching his calories before but he is surprised at the large improvement in his blood now that he’s capping his nutrients at the recommended daily levels.

For instance, he said his low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, dropped from 173 to 113 during the 90-day experiment.

But really, just how much of a surprise is the result? Once again I go back to Bloom County, where Mile advises Otis to ‘eat less and exercise’, while Otis wants to embark on some wild fad diet.

Had the teacher continued not exercising, and eating three meals to the same fullness level as he was currently … I don’t think we’d see the same result. But that wasn’t the point – what the teacher was saying was that it was possible to get his life together even while eating McDonalds food.

In other words, life is about the choices we make. But as runners and pursuers of cleaning eating and healthy lifestyles … we already know this.

The question I have is – will it stick? He made a dramatic change for the experiment … but will he keep to eating a low-fat, healthy breakfast and salad for lunch? Will he continue his walking? I certainly hope so – but as many know, making the dramatic change is hard enough … but sustaining it once the ‘glory glow’ and praise wears off is even harder.

Throwback Thursday – Where I Was Two Years Ago

January 2012

While I know it is silly in many ways, I mark 2013 as my first full year as a ‘real runner’. I say it is silly because 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of when I started ‘jogging’. And while I did a post on the beginnings of my ‘runner story’, I still haven’t finished the ‘middle years’ and ‘current years’ portions (but will soon). But like most things over time, there are ups and downs through the years of my running.

For example, around 2000 I was traveling back and forth to Philadelphia one week a month for a course for work, and had to compress four weeks into three along with my hour-long commute each way. My eating was terrible and my exercise routine was broken – so I put on weight up to 240lbs, the most I’d weighed since 1989. These things happen …

Right before we moved to New York my thyroid died and I gained weight. Getting meds and joining the local YMCA helped me get it quickly under control, but as the family schedule changed I left the Y and didn’t really get my running routine locked in … so I gained weight.

As I entered 2012 I had the normal resolutions about weight loss and exercise … but no real plans to make it happen. That is why I am always suspicious about resolutions – without a goal set they are easy to get lost. Another resolution was around music – I had let my guitar, bass and keyboard skills languish and hadn’t been composing … but what I really wanted was to get my guitar skills back up to snuff again, and even go beyond. I got a number of gift cards and credits and other things … and was able to get the guitar in the picture – which is a Joe Pass jazz guitar. It is gorgeous looking with serious tone.

The picture shows me in January of 2012 with the guitar, weighing close to 275 lbs – but less than I did when I started losing weight and running in April 2012. If you look at any other picture of me on the site you will see the huge difference – which at this point is 100lbs. In some ways I don’t like seeing these sorts of pictures, but at the same time it is important looking back as a reminder.

I have always thought that moving forward requires looking back to understand where you were and why you don’t want to be there anymore. What are your thoughts on this?