Archive for the 'Q&A Posts' Category


Just what is it that makes you re-start? This is a long one about getting back on track.

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 In response to a food “relapse” that I had a few days ago I receivedso many wonderful and encouraging responses.  Interestingly, many of the response I got focused on the positive side of me getting back on plan and moving on.  Out of all the comments I received, one of them was more of a question although it was still very encouraging.  Here is an excerpt from the comment:

“My comments echo what everyone else has written ……. but what I’m REALLY interested in is this: I feel the same as you do about eating unplanned for/off-plan food. ONE difference between us is that you curb these binges …….. and get back to business. I have/do not……… JUST WHAT IS IT that makes you re-start when you have a good hearty lapse.”

I was so inspired by this question that I wanted to write a post on it.  This is such a relevant question for everyone, whether they are on the health journey or not.  This is a question everyone asks themselves in some shape or form.  We all have our goals but we also all have our old way of life.  That old way of life is on the inside and it wants to come out, yet it is contrary to our new life.  Think about it:  You want to quit smoking and the old way wants to keep smoking.  You want to lose weight but the old way wants to eat whatever it wants.  You want to build stronger relationships but the old way wants to be selfish.  Anyways, I am going to stick to the weight loss/health journey. Continue reading ‘Just what is it that makes you re-start? This is a long one about getting back on track.’


How to buy the right running/walking shoes for your feet

My beloved shoes

My beloved shoes

For any runner, whether they run 100 miles a week or 5 miles a week, shoes are essential.  It is not just the shoes that are essential either, it is the fit of the shoes and the way the feet that use them work.  I did not know this before.  I just went to the most inexpensive and convenient sporting goods store and purchased some shoes.  This is not a good idea.  I know it seems like it is no big deal, but the heavier you are and the more you run, the more important having the correct shoe is.  It is not like the saying, “if the shoe fits….”  It might fit, but it might cause you heart ache as the minutes turn to miles.

Since I started running, I have went through a couple of different types of shoes.  They all seemed good, but as time went one and I found the best shoe for my foot, I realized that the shoe has a big impact on our entire bodies.  I have found that the improper shoes that I used at first made my hips hurt, my toes black, and my ankles sore.  Now I am in shoe heaven with the pair in the picture.  Here is my advice on how to buy shoes that will make your feet happy.

  1. Only go to a specialty running shop that is willing to watch you run or walk.  They will do this via a camera on a treadmill or by watching you run down the parking lot.  This is the essential first step in buying good shoes.  These stores know about running and walking so if you are not a runner, don’t worry about that.  They will still have the knowledge and expertise to help you.
  2. Bring in an old wore out pair of shoes when you make your first visit to the above store.  The knowledgeable staff at these types of stores will know right away how your foot works by looking at the wear on your sole.
  3. Figure out an estimate of how much you run or walk and let them know up front.  Also let them know about you goals so they can get you a shoe that will grow with you.
  4. Make sure they measure your feet and buy at least one size bigger than that.  My toes always turned black after long runs or a marathon.  I even bought shoes that were one size bigger.  I found that my feet grow 2 sizes over a 5 hour period of running.  Account for this. 
  5. Ask about their return policy.  Where I buy my shoes, if you don’t like them you can bring them back anytime and they will give you a pair that works.  Make sure you let them know exactly what did not work so you save yourself the hassle of another return.
  6. Break them in slowly.  This is more of a function of breaking your feet in slowly, but just use them a little bit at a time for the first week.
  7. Don’t use them for more the 500 miles or 6 months.  Shoes break down and they will not support you as intended if you use them when they are wore out.  Some shoes (softer ones like mine) may only last 300 miles.

Here are a couple of links to more expert advice on how to fit and purchase running/walking shoes.’s how-to buy running shoes

Informative article discussing pronation, fit, and how-to’s how-to buy the best walking shoes for you


Swimming vs. Running: Q&A

Swimming and running.  Sounds like the making of a triathlete.  Any activity that you like and can stick with is the best one for you to do.  If you enjoy it you are more likely to do it, but one reader wanted to know how swimming and running compared to each other.  Here is the question:

I’m wondering how much swimming equates to how much running. I’d love to run but I look like a duck!

Swimming is actually a great activity for runners to do because it is a wonderful upper body activity.  It works muscles that you barely touch as a runner.  So if you are a runner, consider slipping in some swimming.  Obviously, both activities can get you where you want to go health wise, but one of them is the king calorie burner.  You guessed it, running.   Here is how the two compare as far as calories burned is concerned if I were to do 1 hour of each.  You can see how many calories your body will burn using a lot of different activities here.

Jason runs moderately for one hour:  839 calories

Jason swims moderately for one hour: 508 calories

Now if you hate running and don’t want to do it, 508 calories is way more than not doing any running or exercise at all.  About six and a half days of this would take off a pound of fat if you ate right.  We always talk about running around here so I am going to post some of the benefits of swimming for us:

  • Swimming builds endurance
  • Swimming builds cardiovascular strength
  • Swimming builds muscular strength

The only thing that swimming is not the best at sometimes is losing a lot of weight.  The water has a cooling effect on the body and burning calories takes a heat exchange.  To learn more about swimming check the resources below:

  • For more information regarding activity and the weight loss/healthy lifestyle, subscribe HERE.

Calorie burners: swim and run

More benefits of swimming


Want to quit in the middle of your run? Learn how to keep going

Coach Dean

Coach Dean

Warning.  Expert advice in this post.  This is another answer to a question I recievd during the last Q & A session.  It is a topic that we all deal with during our daily exercise and activity.  I am so glad that Coach Dean Hebert agreed to field this question.  He really knows what he is talking about when it comes to running, exercise, and sports psychology.  You may have read my post regarding the awesome encougement I recieved from him at a time when another “coach” really discouraged me.  There will always be those who try and keep us from achieving our dreams.  Coach Dean is one of the people who build us up and help us achieve our personal dreams.  If you need help with designing a good running/exercise program, he can help tremendously.  Here is the question that I recieved during the Q&A session:

“I’d like to know how you keep going during training, and don’t just go ‘that’s enough, I’m stopping now'”

Here is Coach Dean’s aswer

This is actually a more profound question than it appears on the surface. Certainly, physically there are certain limits depending on our general present condition. To push slightly beyond them is in fact how we improve conditioning and not just maintain our condition. That is good. On the other hand, reading our bodies and knowing when to back off because we don’t want to overdo it and get injured is quite another thing. My experience though is more often that people do not push themselves. We are accustomed to being comfortable. Discomfort is not something most of us seek out.

Which brings me to what is usually at issue: the mental aspect. As a Mental Game Coaching Professional I work with people constantly on this and related issues. The first point has to be that exercise itself has to become a value of the individual and not merely something being done out of guilt, or being done for someone else. These yield very short term motivation. So, what makes someone keep going is a deep down knowledge that they are better for sticking it out – physically and mentally.  Related to a “value” for working out is doing the type of workout that best suits the personality of the individual. Not everyone should be running (I know, that seems like heresy for a running coach to say.) But, waning interest and burnout are highest with individuals not matched personality-wise to their workout of choice.

So, with all that, let me also introduce that sometimes it’s OK not to push through. Illness, stress and general fatigue can greatly affect one’s motivation to complete a workout on any given day. If it is a random once in awhile thing, I would not worry much about it and just chalk it up to a bad day. Your goal is to just have the best bad day possible – as I tell my athletes. Do not succumb to the no pain no gain approach to training.

Now, perhaps more to the meat of your question: what specifically can be done to get through workouts? Continue reading ‘Want to quit in the middle of your run? Learn how to keep going’


How do yo balance your fitness life with being married? Q&A

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Being a married person carries with it a variety of time constraints.  This is a normal part of the knot being tied.  For this Q&A session at run4change, the first question to come in was regarding this wonderful aspect of life.  Being married and losing weight all at the same time.  How did I do it?  First of all, my wife always wanted me to lose weight.  Not so much before we were married, but later on when she began to think of having her husband die young..  She never focused on the looks of it but rather the health of it.  That is when she began to desire it.  So I always had her support.

I also need to be honest about my struggle with balance, not only with fitness and marriage, but in all aspects of my life.  I tend to the extreme.  I go for it really hard in what ever I am doing.  I get things done very well, but I have the tendency to leave other important things behind.  Running is a prime example.  It was no problem at first, but as the races got longer so did the training.  Finally, this last summer while I was in the bulk of my training for a 100 miler, it all exploded.  Audrey was missing me, I wasn’t getting anything that I wanted done around the house done, and I had absolutely no free time.  This hurt my wife and I feel really bad for that.  I gave up the 100 miler to be with her more and to live a more balanced life.  Here are a couple of things that I changed in order to attain more balance between fitness, weight loss, and marriage.

  • I focused on what was actually the most important things and calculated the costs.  For me, the 100 miler was an ultimate dream, but at what cost.  I realized I was not willing to pay the price to attain the 100 miler at this time in my life.  So I focused on the most important things like:  keeping the weight off, to keep eating healthy, go to my meetings, and exercise regularly.  I had to realize that a 30 minute run on Tuesday would get the job done and that I did not have to run 3 hours.
  • I began to let my wife chose the places we went out to eat more often.  This was more balanced and added more variety.  It also forced me to learn how to eat at places that I did not have a plan for.  Before this, I was very stringent on where I went and it probably really sucked for my wife.  I remember getting in a fight because I thought we should go to Subway for our special dinner. 🙂
  • I started doing fitness activities that my wife wanted to do for recreation.  Skiing is a good example of this.  I did NOT want to go skiing.  My wife really wanted to learn and explore it.  So in the name of love and balance, I went along with it knowing that it is another way to get my activity in.  I liked it once I went too.

Recap:  I am horrible at balance but I am learning how to do it more as my journey continues.  Finding balance between fitness and marriage is a function of focusing in on the truly important things on your journey and trying to incorporate your spouse anyway you can.


Weight loss, loose skin, surgery, and remedies: Q&A
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Losing 130 lbs takes a lot of bulk from under your skin.  I have loose skin as a result of my weight loss.  I don’t like it much, but it is worth it.  You would be surprised at how many people don’t ask this question.  It is like it is taboo or something.  It is, I must say, pretty embarrassing; but it is a reality of becoming healthy after you haven’t been for so long.  The pic to the right is a good example of loose skin.  No, I am sorry,  It is not my loose skin.  I took pictures of mine but I was just to embarrassed.  Mine does look very similar though. Here are the questions that I received regarding the loose skin.





  1. So has your body adapted to your weight loss by toning  up the extra skin or do you still have access skin?
  2. Ok, yes, tell us about the skin! I am starting to look like an old (emptier) saggy bag!
  3. Regarding the flappy skin, do you think you’ll have surgery to remove it?

My body has adapted some but I am sorry to tell you it has not adapted as much as I had hoped for.  I am very disappointed in this and constantly ask for reassurance from my wife about it.   One weird thing that has happened though is that I can tell how dehydrated I am by feeling and looking at the loose belly skin.  As I said, my skin looks similar to the picture above except that mine is bigger.  When people get loose skin from weight loss, it is not just skin.  The flap contains glandular material, cells, and skin.  I learned that from watching many surgeries.  I also have some loose skin on my inner legs and (HAHAHA) butt cheeks.  It is funny because I never had a butt in the first place.  The skin is not noticeable in these areas and it is minimal.  I am not expecting the skin to reduce in size anymore.  It has been over a year now.  Don’t forget to keep reading.  Good resources and more of my story below. Continue reading ‘Weight loss, loose skin, surgery, and remedies: Q&A’


Dealing with friends and family who are not on the journey: Q&A

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Although we are on this journey towards health, we have to come out of our little cocoon sometimes.  Friends and family invite us over or invite us out for a fun evening.  What do we do?  How do we live out our journey when we are with those who are not on the journey themselves.  That is the question I received during this last Q&A session.  Here is the question:

“How do you tell your friends or family when they think they are doing the right thing, but they aren’t really?  Let me explain…. How do you (and other people) make your friends and family understand the new way you eat?  I can’t get it through to them, and I find myself turning down invitations.”

This is an awesome question and I am sure that every person that is on the weight loss and health journey has to answer it at some  point.  Here is my answer and the answer of another wonderful blogger. Continue reading ‘Dealing with friends and family who are not on the journey: Q&A’


Easy answer questions: Q&A


How much weight do you want to lose?

  • This is a short and simple Q&A post.  At my lowest I had lost 133 lbs.  That put me at 173 and I think it was a weigh-in on a day where I was pretty dehydrated.  My ultimate life goal for weight is to stay below 185.  Right now I weigh 184.  I want to get down to 175 for my 40 mile ultra marathon in May.  So I would like to lose 9 pounds by then.  This is not for health reasons though.  Ten pounds is a lot of weight to have to carry 40 miles in one 7 hour push.  That is why?  I am pleased to stay below 185.  Thanks for asking this question and being a great contributor to this blog.

How many hours do you spend working on your blog?

  • A lot.  It is hard work but so well worth it. I just love you guys. 🙂

Is your wife cool with the no TV choice?

  • Yes.  As many of you know, we don’t have TV.  We do have A tv, but we don’t have the channels, etc.  We watch movies.  That is pretty much it.  I really like movies.  When I had regular cable the last time (about 8 years ago), I watched it to much.  I learned that the average person watches 13 years of TV before they die.  I figured I could get a lot done with 13 extra years. I do watch it if I go to my mom’s or my sisters also.

What do you do when you don’t get time to exercise as much as you want to?

  • When I don’t have time to exercise that much, I do what I can.  Even if that equates to only 10-20 minutes of running.  If it ends up that I don’t have time to do it at all, I make sure to stay within my daily points allowance for that day.  That has worked for me pretty well.

Do you tell everyone you see that you have lost 130 lbs?  I would be telling them all!

  • No, I don’t tell everyone.  My wife says I tell a medium amount of people about it.   I usually only tell them when the subject of running and/or weight loss comes up.  I do tell a lot of people about it via blogging and the WW forum since it is always relevant at those times.

Ok, that is all for this post.  Those were the questions that offered the opportunity for a quicker answer.  I thought about stretching it out to more posts but I just couldn’t make you wait.  I am not patient for surprises.


Do you do it with your wife? Q&A

2008 Portland MarathonDo I do it with my wife you ask?  And how often?  Thank God for my wife because if it wasn’t for her, I never would have started doing it: Exercise that is.  This Q&A question is about my wife a little bit and if I exercise with her.  Here is the question:

Does your wife run with you?  What suggestions do you have if you have a spouse that does not exercise with you?  Did your wife ever deal with a weight problem?

Yes I do.  I run with my wife as often as I can.  She has been  a champ.  She as been running pretty consistently since I met her and has finished 2 half marathons.  Every week she runs pretty much. She often joins me at the end of my long runs and finishes up wit me.  We also do a lot of week day runs.  My wife has never had a problem with being over weight and she is a very balanced and healthy person al around.  She is a moderate eater and I envy that.

My advice to anyone who’s spouse does not exercise is make sure YOU exercise.  You need to take some time for you and only you.  Focus on you for a little bit.  I am not saying to turn into this selfish self-help person who’s self realizations cause family neglect and broken lives.  I am just saying take a couple of hours a week for yourself where you exercise and plan your eating.  This will make you a better wife/husband in the end anyway.  You can do it.  You don’t want to neglect your family of spouse.  They are important to you.  Another thing to do is gently, ever so gently, encourage your spouse to move more and live healthier.  You can do this by never making them feel like you want them to lose weight because they are ugly.  You want them to be healthy.  After all, you both take care of each other in your own little ways.


Clearing up muddy waters: low and high intensity activity

ultramarathonI would like to start out by saying I am sorry if I brought about confusion regarding lower intensity exercise and I thought I should be a little more descriptive about it.  I feel very bad that I might have confused people into thinking that low intensity is the only way to lose fat.  It is not, but it is the only way to improve endurance.  High intensity will not improve your endurance if that is what you are after.  Sorry.  Here is a post that explains the the plain truth regarding low and high intensity workouts.
Throughout my journey of weight loss I have had one very very focused goal.  The number one goal was not to just lose weight.  MY GOAL FROM THE START WAS TO FIND SOMETHING THAT WAS SUSTAINABLE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE SO THAT I COULD LIVE A HEALTHY AND FIT LIFESTYLE WEEK AFTER WEEK, DAY AFTER DAY.  Keep this in mind please as you read this post.
Here is what prompted this post:
…… My first trainer told me to stay in the target to burn fat, … and he was having me do 60-90 minutes of target heart rate cardio 4 times a week. But my current trainer says she wants me doing a mile 4 times a week, as fast as I can push it, and we’ll build up the distance later. It irritates me getting this conflicting information, but I do seem to be burning more fat now than I was before….”

Ok.  The higher the intensity, the more calories burned.  This is true and there is no getting around it.   It is also true that the higher intensity limits the amount of time spent doing the activity.  It is self limiting because of what is called, “lactate threshold”.  Once you hit this point, you cannot keep going.  Sprinters use a pace so that they have used up all energy in 100 meters.  Marathons use a pace where they use up all energy in 26.2 miles.  Although the sprinter is burning calories faster and more powerfully, the marathoner has burned exponentially more calories.  Here is a chart from regarding high and low intensity activity and their respective calorie burning potential. Continue reading ‘Clearing up muddy waters: low and high intensity activity’


Time for another Q & A post: Ask whatever you want to!

questionmarkSince there are a lot of new people making visits and enjoying the readers comment and encouragement.  I thought it might be a good time to set up another question and answer session.  Ask me anything you want.  I am going to list the previous questions that have been answered.  If your specific curiosity has not been satisfied, ask away.  Don’t be shy either, I like to answer the questions and people love to read the answers.  Who knows, your question might really help someone out.  So just go for it.  Here is a list of the previous questions and there answers:

So those are the previous questions.  What do you want to know right now?  Ask about loose skin, running, WW, etc.  No holds barred, no rock left unturned.  Go for it.  Just use the contact form below and enjoy  the fun!


No heart rate monitor, use this method to stay in the “fat burning zone”

 Not everyone has the extra cash around to blow on a heart rate monitor type watch.  Also, not everyone wants to have to observe and check a heart rate monitor while they are battling through a workout.  So are they to just stay home.  Heck no.  There is another method that can be used to determine if you are working hard enough, too hard, or not hard enough.  It is called the perceived exertion method. Since I have lost the HR strap for my watch, I have resorted to using this method along with running pace to determine my current workload.  You can do it too and I will teach you how today.  This post is in response to a comment I received on my little article about using heart rate monitors.  It brings up a valid and beneficial question.  Here is the comment:

“A fantastic article, very informative and useful. I don’t think I can afford to purchase a heart rate monitor right now, is there any other way that I can gauge heart rate? I’ve heard a little about perceived rates of exertion, but I’m not very familiar with this. Perhaps you could fill us in, maybe in a follow up post?”

So if you don’t want to watch a heart rate monitor or manually monitor your heart rate with you fingers, here is what you can do instead.  It is not a perfect science, but over time you will get the hang of it and be on your way to better health and fitness.



Here are the run4change how-to’s of perceived exertion:

  • The common talk test:  If you can talk to an exercise partner while you exercise.  You will be breating harder but you can carry on a conversation.  This is the level that I call endurance training.  It isn’t the most comfortable thing to be talking like this, but you definitely CAN talk.  I think your HR is aroun 60-70% if you can talk comfortably.
  • Singing test:  If you can sing along with you Ipod, you may not be working hard enough.  Singing takes more oxygen so if you can do it comfortably then you should pick up the pace.
  • Burn test:  If your legs are buring during your cardio, you are working harder than you need to.  Anyway, if you legs buring, you probably can’t carry on a conversation.  You legs only burn when your muscles have no more sugar left to burn which means you are getting anaerobic.  You want to stay aerobic with you exertion.
  • Huffing and puffing is a sign that your exertion is high.  That’s no problem but you don’t need to be exerting yourself that intensely to lose weight, but it will increase your fitness.

Also keep in mind that as your fitness level increases, the percieved exertion method is not as useful.  It is always useful for normal cardiovascular exercise, but if you are wanting to work more intensely (example: speed and hill training for runners, etc) toward a time specific goal it may not be the proper method.

Short percieved exertion explanation: this link has a more down to earth chart and explanation.

How to use the percieved exertion method by sports medicine.


Weight loss and exercise with your heart rate in mind


My friend over at  posted a comment on one of my posts regarding different heart rate zones. I thought it would interesting to do a post on it. When we exercise, it makes our hearts work harder to get blood (which holds oxygen and nutrients) to our muscles so that we can do what we are doing.  That is why we breathe hard.  Muscles need oxygen to do what they do so we huff and puff to get more oxygen into our blood so that the blood can in turn supply the muscles.  Different heart rates produce different training and weight loss effects in our bodies. Here is a simple little break down:

  • Recovery/Easy= Your heart rate should be between 60%-70% of your maximum heart rate.  This would put you at a nice and easy pace running.  Absolutely no huffing and puffing.  In this zone, you will primarily burn fat as well as developing your endurance and aerobic capacity (the ability for your muscles to use oxygen to burn fat for energy).
  • Aerobic/Getting harder= Your heart rate should be between 70%-80% of your maximum heart rate.  In this zone, you will be breathing harder but still able to carry on an intelligible conversation.  Not just one word sentences.  When your heart rate is between 70% & 80%,  you are still burning primarily fat after about 45 minutes as well as getting your lungs and heart stronger.  Aerobic training conditions your heart to be able to pump more blood with each stroke and trains your muscles to use what they get more effeciently.
  •  Anaerobic/Now it’s really getting hard= Your heart rate will be between 80%-90% of your maximum heart rate.  At this level, your heart is really going for it.  Your muscles are also going to forego using fat for energy (fat produces energy slower) and starts using the glycogen (sugar) as the primary source of energy.  Although this is exercise, you don’t really need to work this hard to burn fat and lose weight.  Also, at this level, your muscles will use up all the sugar pretty quickly.  As the muscles eat the sugar, they produce the evil pain the *ss, lactic acid.  Lactic acid is the chemical that you feel burning in your muscles.  Lifting weights is anaerobic, and you always feel the burn in the last reps.  When running at an easy pace, it can take many many hours before the lactic acid comes because you are burning fat instead of the sugar.
  • 90% and beyond= Don’t even go here.  In fact, running at a heart rate of over 85% for to long could increase your chance of injury.  

Hopefully this is useful for everyone.  I do almost all of my exercise with a heart rate between 65%-75%.  That is the “zone” in which I lost all my weight, got several PR’s in marathons, and finished the 50 miler.  There are many companies who make watches that will take your heart rate for you.  They have alarms even that will tell you if you are to low or to high.  I used one from the start of my running, but I lost the heart rate monitor part of the watch after a while.  I am pretty good at knowing how hard I am running now though.  Below is a link to the company who made my watch.

Polar USA.  They make a nice watch for many different types of exercise, not just for running.

You can get more detailed information and maximum heart rate calculations at this coaches website.


Q&A post 8: Slogging Through Day to day weight loss!
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This may seem like a weird topic or just  a bland kind of question, but it’s not.  This topic is very important to our weight loss journey.  Day to Day, that is how we live, that is reality.  New Year’s resolutions abound, but sooner or later the “day to day” routine hits us.  It happens to me.  It always hits me at 3 month intervals it seems.  I say to myself, “This sucks!  This food and exercise is just boring.  What happened to the fun and excitement?”  To comfort myself and all of you, THIS IS NORMAL!  This is life.  We aren’t at the weight loss Disneyland.  We are in our life walk.  Some days are good, and some days are bad.  We get depressed,  joyful, sick, well, etc.  Sometimes we get news and it totally breaks us, whereas on other days we get news that makes us feel like a million bucks.  We gain, we lose, we stay the same.  Day to day baby!!!  How and the heck do we stick with it through thick and thin? Here is the question that you sent in:

 “How do you stick with it…slogging through day to day and sticking with stuff…, whether it’s diet or running or whatever?”

My answer to this is simple.  Once again, I learned this from my wonderful teacher, Willard Tate, years ago. Take joy in the routine of life.  Appreciate and try to enjoy the smaller things that our weight loss journey has to offer us.  Maybe it is just that you spend 10 extra dollars to get that yummy pineapple.  Maybe you just sit down on a bench when taking your walk and just check out the beauty that surrounds you for a moment.  It is ok to be bored.  So many people think that if you’re bored something is seriously wrong.  Don’t believe that for a minute.  There can be peace found in the day to day boring routine.  Stability can be had in our weight loss journey.
This is how I stick to it.  I just keep walking and walking and walking.  Sure, as I said before, I get frustrated and bored and agitated at the monotany sometimes.  I have learned to really enjoy so many small things now.  A great way to appreciate the fact that you are on the journey is to write down 10 things each day that you a grateful for.  Write them down.  Try to think of things that your efforts have accomplished and write those down.  Remember, they don’t have to be big things.  Just think, you woke up, you took a shower, you ate some yummy stuff, you listened to music…………………..  Simple but priceless!

Q&A post 7: Should I worry about long term damage to my body because of running?

knee-jointI have to say that I just love these questions.  I relate to them so well.  You may not believe it, but I have asked these questions before also.

This particular question asked by a wonderful visitor is one that I have worried about and asked myself.  I was so worried that I contacted a coach for ultra-marathoners to get his advice.  Here is a link to the question that I asked.  It was posted on the coachs’ blog.

Now to the question that I was asked:

“Hi Jason, I wonder if you think about the long term wear and tear of running on your joints?”

Yes, I have wondered about my joints/body and the impact running has on them for the long term.  I have agonized over it to the point of my wife getting upset with me for stressing her out.  After some research, I feel confident that I am not hurting myself.  I think that I am producing a stronger, healthier body by running.  Exercise that produces impact (like running) is good for your joints and helps them to build up stronger than before.  Of course, I have at times had sore or painful joints, but this is just common for all exercise.  I got it when I lifted weights also.

The other important thing is that everyone is different.  Each of us has our own “injury points”.  It is genetics, running form, and predispositions all mixed up into our own person little bodies.  Understanding these injury prone areas on our bodies is very important.  This is why journalling our running and its effects is important.  We need to discover our “soft spots” and monitor them constantly.  If they flare up, we ease back.  We take a day or two off from the activity.  We make sure we heal.  If we do get injured.  It is of utmost importance that we take the time off that we need to appropriately heal.  FYI, my “soft spots” are my hips and the sides of the bottoms of my feet. 

Here are some links to a lot of info. on this subject.  Medical research, interviews with Docs, etc.   Jeff Galloway is the first link and Runner’s World is the second.

Running is ok/good on the joints!

Here the runner’s world opinion on the subject!


Q&A post 6: Music while running? What to eat for pre-race meal?

power-barWell Sir, I thank you for joining in on the fun with this Q&A post. Your question has been a topic of thought for hours upon hours for me as I learned more about running and race preparation.  At the present time, pretty much all races that are sanctioned by USA Track & Field require that the racers do not wear ipods, head phones, etc.  It is a safety issue for them.  This is a serious issue of debate and some marathons refuse to abide by the rule (Portland Marathon being one of them).  Most people who listen to music during races hide it somehow anyway.  Now to your questions:

“Do you listen to music while you train and/or in a race and if so, what do you listen to. Second: What do you recommend eating the night before a race, specifically a 5k, and the morning of.”

  • I listen to music quite a bit when I do my weekday runs.  It helps me to get going, get excited, and stay at it.  It breaks up any boredom that may attack my runs.  I only listen to music sometimes when I do my long runs on the weekend.  These runs are from 3-6 hours long.  I try not to bring music on these so that I train myself to just get into the rhythm of running where you are almost like a machine.  I listen to a wide variety of music on my ipod.  I have a lot of 80’s stuff, I like Led Zep. and Pink Floyd a lot when I run.  Also, 311 is a great band for me when I run.  I never listen to music in my races.  I just take in the brute reality of running the race.  A lot of people do though.
  • What I ate the night before and the hours prior to a race was something I worked really hard at perfecting.  I think I got it just right for how my body works.  Honestly, there are many theories and ideas out there, but I think that there is ONE TRUTH TO STAND BY FOR YOUR PRE-RACE MEAL (Night before).  Don’t change a thing.  Never, ever, ever change your normal routine for a race.  You know what you like to eat at night, you know how it makes you feel, and you know how you will react to it.  At marathons there is always a big spaghetti dinner the night before, and in the morning you see people throwing up because that changed their routine for the race.  Do your normal thing.  You are smart and healthy, you know what works.  As for just prior to a race, I always ate the power bar that you see in the pic. around one hour before.  It was a mild snack of about 200 calories, but it hard both complex and simple carbs.  One hour prior worked best for me, but I have read that around 3 hours prior is optimal and that the meal/snack should be around 300 calories.  One thing about a 5K is that in the amount of time it would take you to finish, you would be fine not eating anything just prior.  As the races get longer, fueling prior and during becomes more important.  For your 5K though, eating a nice healthy snack that won’t upset your stomach and that you have tried before training runs would be perfect.

Q&A post 5: Weight loss struggles present and past!

david-and-goliathThanks for getting involved followmyweigh.  You asked for a post on the struggle.  Man, we sure all do have our moments don’t we?  I chose this picture to the left because it is David and Goliath.  It is a good picture of what we all go through when we’re fighting for our lives, for our health, and for our families.  During our weight loss journeys we encounter barriers, road blocks, hard times, etc.  Followmyweigh calls them STRUGGLES.  Here is the comment:

“I’m interested in the struggles aspect!”

I have two major struggles when it comes to weight loss and weight maintenance.  Honesty and Monotony

  • Honesty during my weight loss journey was a definite struggle.  It still is a struggle.  Let me put you inside my mind for a moment so you can see what I mean by honesty.  At times I think like this, “UMM, should I eat this.  Nah, well it is about 6 points for the whole thing but I am just gonna take a bite.  Oh that was good.  How many points was that I wonder.  Come on, it was just a bit, don’t count it.  You don’t even have that many points left for the rest of the day.”  So there it is.  Inside the thoughts of a guy who lost 130 lbs.  This is such a struggle for everyone I know who wants to lose weight.  We love to lie to ourselves about what we eat.  We try and pretend we don’t eat it.  My WW leader always says that a lick, bite, and taste still has points.  I have a hard time with this. The best thing to do is to stop the guilt.  Guilt brings in the fear and the fear keeps us from writing or tracking our food.  We need to keep track of what we eat, don’t let guilt bog you down.  I am not honest because I don’t want to be guilty of messing up.
  • I struggled with monotony big time.  It almost broke me actually.  I am doing better at it now, but it is still hard.  I have a tendency to figure out what I need to eat to make the program work great, and then eat THOSE things.  Not much else, oh no.  I stick right to what I know works and works well.  Sure it got 130 lbs off my body, but it is also not to healthy or livable.  You may not be as extreme as I am, but most of us get into a rut of some sort at some point in time during our journey.  The only way to fix it is to change things up.  Get into the unknown territory again and start fresh with new food and new meal ideas. Like I said, this is not my strength and it is a constant battle.  I am happy to say that I am getting better at though.

Q&A post 9: How long did it take me to lose 130lbs?

100 lbs of fat Image credit:

I know that this Q&A answer is out of order, but it was a nice and concise question that called for a nice and concise answer.  The answer is simple statistics.  Here is the question:

“….so how long have you been on the fitness journey to get you from 307 to were you are now? Is there anything you would have done differently?”

Ok, I want to start off by saying that what happened to my body won’t happen to every “body”.  At least not as fast.  I lost a lot of weight pretty quick, but don’t give up or get discouraged if you don’t lose like I lose.  We are all different, walking in the same journey.

  • Journey start date and weight:  December 13th, 2006.  I weighed in at weight watchers for the first time at 307.6 lbs.  Afterwards I went and ate a half-pound bacon burger, large fry, and a large coffee/chocolate milk shake.  That is not to mention the snacks I ate once I got home.
  • Started running on: April 5th, 2007.  I had lost around 60 something pounds at this point and could just barely run/walk 2 miles on the treadmill.
  • Reached doctors goal: around September I think.  My doctors goal was 210 lbs.  He actually wanted me to weigh 155.  I told him he was insane and left to do a lot of research and take my body fat.  I went back and told him what I found and he made my goal 210. 
  • First marathon:  October 5th, 2007.  Finished the Portland Marathon in about 5 1/2 hrs.  I weighed 194 going in.
  • My goal: was to weigh 179 like I did when I was a sophomore in high school.  I reached this goal 1 yr later on December 13th, 2007.  My body fat went from 51% to 11%.  My cholesterol went from 307 to 151.  Pants went from 46 to 32.  Shirt went from xxx to medium.
  • 2 years later:  Was able to maintain my weight within 10 lbs on Dec. 13th 2008.  I currently weigh 185.
  • Would I change anything:  I don’t think so.  The only thing I wish I could have done was finish my 12th marathon in one calendar year.  I was not able to make it to my 12th because of work.  I attained 7 marathon finishes and 4 ultramarathon finishes in 1 calendar year.. Other than that, the journey to now was more than I could have ever asked or imagined. 

Thanks for asking this question.  Answering it has inspired me a lot.  I will keep on my brother.  Thanks.


Q&A post 4: Runners block and staying motivated

Peterson ridge 60K

Running questions are popular!  Thanks for submitting this question.  I believe that so many of us struggle with these thoughts before or during a run/jog.  Especially when we are just getting started with running in general, but thoughts like these are not reserved for only the beginner.  Oh no, we all get these thoughts.  Good insight.  Here is your question:

“I have some sort of mental thing going where — WHILE I’m jogging — I’m talking myself out of doing it. Did that ever happen to you – how do you stay motivated during the run/jog?”

I am going to answer this question in two very different ways.  One answer will be from the “I am just starting running” view point where there may be no confidence and the other answer will be from the “ultra runner” view point where you talk yourself into keeping on even though it hurts.

  • When I first started running, I did try and talk myself out of doing it.  Sometimes I succeed other times I didn’t.  So much of that “internal conversation” was due to the discomfort that I experienced physically.  This discomfort then brought about that “internal conversation” where I told myself, “See, I am not in good enough shape to do this.  I can’t do this. It is not supposed to feel like this is it.”  This is especially true on a treadmill, track, or other venue that uses loops.  Every time you get to the start you want to stop.  On a treadmill, you are so close to comfort that it is also easy to talk yourself into stopping.  (Nothing against treadmills by the way.  I like them)  The best way to overcome this sort of situation is walking.  Let’s say you are getting ready to go for a jog.  Prepare yourself ahead of time (you already know that you will probably try and talk yourself out of it) for the moment you talk to yourself, and decide before hand that you will tell yourself, “Hey, I can always just walk.  I am getting out there and if I can’t or really don’t feel like running, I will walk.”  This change it all for me.  I realized that staying out there longer burned more fat, and that if I was going to talk myself into stopping, I should just walk until I felt better instead and in turn burn more fat.
  • From the ultra running perspective, you absolutely must prepare yourself for this “internal conversation”.  It is going to happen no matter how good of a runner you are and no matter how fit you are.  There will come a point that you want to quit, a point where it hurts to much, a point where you think you made a huge mistake by trying to run that far.  What did I do.  I told myself again, “Ok, I am just going to walk.  Then I will just make it to the next tree, and then the next tree, etc.”  That is how you do it.  After a while you just learn that you can keep going regardless of your feelings.
  • I stayed motivated during a run by running in a place I like to be or with a person I like to be with (my wife).  Sometimes I use music when I run, but I never do for my long runs because I just want the run to be a run.  I stay motivated also by thinking about my goal that I am training for and by thinking about how much better I feel while running now as compared to when I started.  It does get easier.

Q&A post 3: Over coming obstacles to weight loss!


I like the deep questions.  Thank you for your help in making this Q&A post so interesting and exciting.  I got your question and will do my best to answer it.  Your question was:

“I was wondering what obstacles did you face during your weight loss/exercise journey and how did you overcome them?

Fantastic question.  I had many obstacles, as do we all, that I had to overcome during my journey.  Many of the obstacles I am still trying to tackle.  Sometimes obstacles keep coming back and sometimes you beat them up and they are gone forever.  I am going to list my major obstacles and how I dealt/deal with them in a straight forward format.

  • Fear–  I was so afraid to start my journey because I feared I would fail.  I overcame this by having a partner in the opening battle.  That partner was my sister.  Shoot, we were both scared I guess, but we stepped out anyway. I hated the way I looked and feared I would always be that way more than I feard the journey.
  • Change-I don’t like change much and if I was going to lose weight and keep it off I had to face the fact that I needed to change.  There was no way around it.  I overcame this by making a decision to be uncomfortable in order to attain my weight loss goals.  It was uncomfortable but I made it through.
  •  Hunger- Oh yeah, now we’re gettin’ down to business.  On WW you never have to be hungry, but when you’re used to eating 12 pieces of pizza and now you are eating 2; come on now.  Two pieces maybe brought fullness, but I wanted to be stuffed.  I overcame this with veggies.  On WW veggies are free.  I would eat them right when I got home because I would be so hungry at this time.  I ate salsa and pickles all the time.  If I wanted to feel more full, I would just eat more veggies.  I also always ate a lot of veggies before I went out to eat.  Potatoes are pretty good at this too, they have points but the fill me up.
  • 3 month point- I always quit all my diets at this point.  I was scared that I would do it again so I planned ahead of time.  I announced the great victory of surpassing 3 months to my WW group.  I planned on making it a special thing with my wife too.  I made a HUGE deal out of going just one day beyond three months.  This kept me going.
  • Emotional eating– I have always tried to medicate myself with emotional eating.  I constantly fight with this obstacle.  I thought I should talk about an obstacle that I still battle with.  I don’t just want to eat when I am sad either.  Any emotion that is more intense than normal brings on the urge to eat.  I overcome this on a case-by-case basis by stopping and thinking about what I am about to do.  I tell myself that the food probably won’t be that good anyway, I will feel guilty 5 minutes later, and it just might start that cycle that takes me all the way back to 307.6 lbs.  This usually does it, I don’t do it.  Not everytime though.