Saturday, August 4, 2012

Running Sucks

When I went to Italy for six months in high school, I lost 60 lbs.  When I went back in college, I lost 40, another 40 when I worked as a tour guide.  I lost weight when I studied in Ireland and Spain.  Every time I went abroad, I would shed a few pounds.  Before I went to Belize, I fully expected this to happen.  I figured that simply being abroad (and away from all the donuts, pop, and fast food) would make the weight melt off. Plus, since I was gonna be in Belize for two years, as opposed to six months, I honestly believed I would come back from Belize skinnier than I had been since high school.

That did NOT happen.  Instead of losing weight, I put more weight on and am actually the heaviest I have ever been.  (Quick funny story - When I was leaving my parents for DC, I used their scale to weigh my bags.  I stepped on the scale and the dial went all the way past zero and back to 10.  Somehow, I had gained 35 lbs. on the road trip and crossed over the 300 barrier.  I was completely freaking out for five minutes until I realized that their scale only went up to a max of 270 lbs and not 300 lbs.  Still fat - but not over 300 lbs).

So, my plan has been to exercise a lot more once I got back to DC.  I purchased an iPod App called "Run to 5k" which provides a jog/walk program that gradually increases the running intervals so that after 8 weeks I should be able to run a 5k without stopping.  I have now completed two weeks of the runs and the program seems to be effective.  The intervals are difficult enough that I am struggling, but not so tough that I can't actually do it.  We'll see how it goes - so far my longest jogging interval is 90 seconds, but by the end of week four, they expect me to jog for six minutes.  Right now that is incredibly intimidating.

So far, I am not a fan of jogging.  I totally understand the benefits and I am definitely getting the cardiovascular workout that I am looking for, but it is just so HARD.  I keep waiting to get the mythical runner's high that every runner always talks about.  So far, nothing.  Just the other day, I posted the following on facebook:

"Things I hate about running:
(1) Running
(2) Being passed by old men
(3) Being passed by a 12 year old
(4) Running uphill
(5) Running Downhill
(6) The lady on the Couch to 5K app, who says "Run Now."
(7) Getting passed by other fat guys
(8) The sad realization that I could probably use a sports bra
(9) The way a different muscle is particularly sore after each run (today it is the outside of my ri
ght calf)

Things I like about running:
(1) Cute girls running on the trail"

I plan to try to use this blog (and facebook) as a means to hold myself accountable.  At least once a month, I will post about my weight loss progress.  Below are the goals I have set out for myself.  These goals range from long-term to short term.  I am new to this, so any suggested goals would be greatly appreciated.  Many of these goals will have deadlines, others will not.

Current statistics:
Weight - 285 lbs
Pant size - 42x30 (which are a bit tight)
Longest run without stopping: 90 seconds

  1. Complete the Couch to 5k app by October 1, 2012
  2. Run a 5k race (fall 2012)
  3. Join some intramural sports league of some sort (fall 2012)
  4. Complete a 10k race (Spring 2013)
  5. Lose 30 lbs before Katie's Wedding (November 24, 2012).  Note - if I have not met this goal on my own, I will begin using weight watchers.
  6. Lose 60 lbs before I go to Germany (May 2013)
  7. Lose two pant sizes (38x30) before I go to Germany
  8. Complete a marathon in Europe  (question - can you take sick leave when your body is literally unable to move because you stupidly ran a marathon?  Or do you have to take annual leave?)
  9. Do 100 sit-ups in 10 minutes
  10. Weigh less than 200 lbs.  (This really doesn't seem like a possibility for me.  I have weighed at least 200 lbs. since I was in junior high.  Even when I lost all that weight in Italy, I barely made it to 220 lbs.    But the upper range of a healthy weight for my range is 179 lbs.)
  11. Ask at least one girl out per month (not really a weight loss goal, but still important.  Also, can be the same girl more than one month if I have a girlfriend).
Any other suggestions?


  1. Hey buddy,

    Glad to see you enjoyed your time off. I've gotta say, I'm proud of you for taking this step, and I wish you the best of luck. I'd like to share with you what I have learned in my research. Research that was driven by my quest to lose some weight myself. My goals have been somewhat different, but the education I have gained spans the whole gammit and is not specific to me personally. First, I'll tell you that key for me is motivation. How bad do you want it? What do you expect to have by completing your goals that you don't have now? Is it more attention from girls? Is it just self-satisfaction when you look in the mirror? Is it respect from friends and co-workers? Is it just the benefit of knowing that you will have a better quality of life? It is important to be real with yourself and your own expectations. With that, I'll tell you what motivated me was my friends, and my job. I've always had very up-front, real, and matter-of-fact freinds. If I slip slightly, my best friends will be the first to tell me I'm getting to be a lazy fat-ass. My exremely close friendship with them allows me to accept this ridicule as constructive criticism, and motivates me to do something about it. If I don't they will call me continuously, and will not let me accept the fact that I have given up. You'll have to decide what your best motivation is, and seek it out.

    The next most important thing is education. I have discovered that there are 3 main areas you need to focus on to meet your health goals.

    First is diet. Not a diet. Not this diet, or that diet, as many people think of it. You don't GO ON A DIET. Your diet, defined, is what/when/how you eat. Simple. You have to change your diet. This is not a temporary thing, and is where many people lose sight of their goals. Again, you do NOT GO ON A DIET. This way of thinking means that when you reach your goals, you don't have to stick to the diet anymore, and you're all set. It doesn't work like that. You have to change the way you manage how you eat. My research tells me that there are a couple factors to consider in your diet. First is total coloric intake. If you expend more calories that what you take in, you lose weight. It's that simple. If you take in more calories than you expend, you gain weight. Now, the second point in this is the composition of those calories. Protein, Carbs, and fats. They need to be properly balanced, and the carbs and fats need to be good carbs and fats. Low glycemic carbs maintain energy levels and limit blood sugar spikes. Blood sugar spikes make your body store calories in the form of fat. High glycemic carbs (white bread, simple carbs like white potatoes, etc.) spike your blood sugar. Saturated fats should be limitied. Trans fats should be totally eliminated. You should do your research on how you should build your diet. If you get this right, you're 75% on the way to your goal.

    Next area is the type of exercise you are doing. Cardio and resistance training are both important. Please don't just do cardio (running) without any resistance training. You will just be a smaller, flabby guy. Muscle on your body burns fat. Simple. The more muscle you have, the less likely you are to put on fat, and the easier you will lose fat. This goes back to diet. The proper amount of protein is needed to build/maintain muscle. Running as well has a few different methods. Your heart rate is key. Look into interval training as well, and not just into constant, same speed jogging. This interval training burns less calories that running, but more fat (because it's a higher intensity)

    Lastly is progression. Your running app looks like it's working for you, because it is expecting you to get better and better. Again, diet is key. You've got to fuel your body properly, and ensure your body can repair itself after exercise, and can function at peak efficiency when you are exercising, so like I said, diet is key.

  2. Congratulations, Al, on joining the fold of runners!

    Regarding the things you hate about running, you really need to ignore 2,3 and 7. Running is about personal gains, not comparing yourself to others (yeah, it happens inevitably, but do your best to focus on your own improvements and setting personal records (PRs)). With time, hopefully 1,4 and 5 become things you like with running. And regarding the last thing you hate about running, odds are you are pushing yourself too hard too early. Pain is your body's way of communicating to you. Make sure to listen. Progress in the beginning will be slow, but after you start to build a runner's body, you'll see you can go a lot further a lot faster. Best of luck and maybe we can run in a race together sometime!

    Oh, and I might suggest getting a copy of Running for Mortals. Great book, especially for beginners, and it is a short read.

  3. Hey Al - I've been on Weight Watchers since April and have lost 11.5 lbs (certainly not miracle weightloss but it feels good!) I know you said above that you'd do it if you didn't reach your November goal, but here's my endorsement that you should start it now! There are always guys at my meetings, I think since Charles Barkley became the spokesman more men are joining than ever :) Anyway, lemme know if you want to chat about it sometime but I highly recommend!


  4. I feel for you, and I love your list of things that you hate about running. My list is pretty much exactly the same.

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  6. No advice, so much, but just want to add my support - good for you! DC is a great place to work to get healthy; I've got a million running routes and race recommendations there if you ever need any. And, I've been a fairly serious runner for over 15 years, but much of list your list still completely speaks to me. Even those of us who love running still hate it a lot of the time. :)

  7. I think it's pretty common to come back from overseas and have gained weight-- I sure did! I started working with a personal trainer with good results-- it's pricey, but effective and I'm learning a lot of new moves.

  8. You mentioned the couch to 5k program. You may already have something for this, but I recently started the program and am using the chubby jones podcasts. She does the voice overs with rad indie rock music, and it's actually quite enjoyable. If you search for couch to 5k in itunes her podcast should come up. Good luck!

  9. Good for you, Al. I am a fellow FSO and have lost about 60 lbs in the past 6-7 months. My only suggestion would be not to rely on running for your only cardio. I found that it was just too hard on my knees to run day after day. I bought a home rowing machine and came to love it. Now that I am on home leave, I am also using an elliptical machine at the gym, and I love that too. It's also easier to do a varied workout (such as the couch to 5K) on an elliptical than on a treadmill since you can manually speed up or slow down. Good luck!