DRY – How I Became Healthier and Lighter, and Experience A “High” A Few Times A Week

Sadly, I had not focused on my health the past few years. The crazy hours between 3 kids and a growing company had taken the toll on my health and appearance. I decided that walking into Spring 2010 it was time for a change. I had reached an unhealthy 199 lbs. and did not want to cross over the mind startling 200 lb. mark.  This is weight unhealthy on a 5’9″ medium-sized frame.

Within a few short months of this, I had lost a substantial amount of weight. In September, I ran into a friend I had not seen in 18 months. His words were “You are freaking me out! I didn’t even recognize you.” The total as of today is over 40 lbs. The amount of weight is important and could be considered a great success, but it’s not what I actually care about. Weight was merely an indicating factor. It was never the goal.

FWIW, I stopped caring about my weight at the start of this journey after reading “Born Round” by Frank Bruni.

I feel much better. I have significantly more energy and think clearer. I am taking care of myself and more focused.

So, what has been the “secret” to the weightloss success? Sorry folks, there is no magic pill. I did simple things that I now call DRY – diet, running, and yoga. Here is the breakdown and tools that helped me:

Diet – First, I want to be clear that I do not mean “diet” by the following definition:
“such a selection or a limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight”. I mean “diet” as defined by “food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health”. Therefore, I focus on a few key critical factors of my diet – calories, protein, and cholesterol. This is not about restriction. This is about balance and providing nutrition.

I watch and document the food I consume. Every drop. Every nibble. Every meal. It’s amazing to watch how the nutritional elements, especially calories, add up. It does hold me accountable and forces me to be honest with myself. For calories, I aim for approximately net 1800 calories per day. Therefore, if exercise burns an additional 1000 calories, I add this back into my caloric consumption for the day. Often this is difficult

  • Tool Used My Daily Plate from Livestrong.com makes the tracking of nutrition and exercise manageable and relatively easy. The website is free, and the iPhone/iPad application is $2.99. It contains a database of almost every food, including menu items from every national restaurant, and exercises to calculate calories burned. Want to know how many calories and protein grams a Taco Bell Fresco Chicken Soft Taco has or how many calories per minute are burned doing Hatha Yoga? They are in there. When a food or exercise are not, one can manually enter the calories.

Running (Phase 1) – I am now running 3-4 days a week, even in the cold weather of Saint Louis. If you follow my twitter feed, you may have noticed how addicted I am to this. Most weeks, I am averaging 25-32 miles per week. For 2011, I have a personal goal of 1500 miles, 1 half marathon, and 1 full marathon. This would have been unimaginable a year ago.  I once told Courtney that I would rather walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding with blisters on my feet from running than being pushed down the aisle in a wheelchair due to ailments caused by not taking care of my health, such as Type II diabetes.

Given that I had not run anything more than sprints in a few years, I started with the Couch to 5K (C25k) exercise program in late February/early March 2010. It is a 9 week program that consists of 3 workouts per week and helps condition a beginner to run a 5k. Each run progressively challenges the runner without overdoing it and risking injury. It is critical for the body to be conditioned properly for any new activity. The muscles, joints, and heart are not designed to be jump started like a car battery.

  • Tool UsedC25k iPhone app. The C25k app costs $2.99 and guides one through the program and makes the timings on each run thoughtless. Just start it, select music, and go!  One can always print out the program for free and use the Clock app.

Running (Phase 2) – After I finished the C25k routine, I focused on my form and started actually enjoying running. I was able to quickly start adding miles to runs, overall miles per week, and number of runs per week. In October 2010, I met my goal of running 100 miles in a single month. The last 3 days of the month, I added over 20 miles and felt great. It’s safe to say that I have experience a “runner’s high” on any run past 2-3 miles.

I can not stress form enough when running. I firmly believe this has been a huge factor in the ability to add miles safely and without injury!

  • Tool UsedRunkeeper. I love this application. For the month of January 2011, the Runkeeper Pro version is free for iPhone and Android. This application tracks your runs (and other distance based activities) via GPS. It records and calculates pace, time, calories, etc. The calories can easily be plugged back into Daily Plate as a manual entry for exercise. Activities are plotted on a map and all activity is synced between the website and mobile phone.

Yoga – I was recommended yoga by a friend (and customer) 4 years ago. After doing some research, I decided to give it a try in late May 2007. I immediately fell in love with the physical and mental aspects of it. It also had the added benefit of helping address some (genetic) back issues I have.

Courtney and I turned Tuesday evening yoga into a weekly date night. Every Tuesday you can catch us at the a yoga class at Jane’s House. They conduct classes in a predominantly hatha style and offer something from beginner to advance.  My goal in 2011 is to increase yoga to 2-3 per week.

  • Tool Used – None, just a great teacher and studio! Once again, the calorie count was added to Daily Plate.

I hope this posts and these tool can help others.  Leave a comment or hit me up on twitter if you have questions.

3 thoughts on “DRY – How I Became Healthier and Lighter, and Experience A “High” A Few Times A Week

  1. Excellent post. Anyone looking to get in shape in a realistic and effective the way should follow this advice.

    It all sounds similar to what I’ve been doing too. I stacked on a load of weight from being too focused on work.

    Calories in and out and nutrition is what I am also trying to focus on. I go off track sometimes, but the whole experience has taught me so much about nutrition and exercise. Still lots to learn. It’s the best approach, crazy diets are a waste of time (and mostly all they do is radically change your calorie intake but mask it as some made up science).

    I’ve got a Garmin 405 to measure my running. I tried runkeeper, but the GPS on my iPhone is unreliable. I think that if you’re in any way into gadgets these are great motivators.

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