Failure Provides the Education for Future Success – and For That, I Am Thankful (PART 2)

Last week I briefly discussed my primary goal for 2013, and the reasons why I really came up short in the overall mileage category (as of November 30th, I have logged 1,002 miles in 2013 – which is nowhere near where I wanted to be). My second goal for the year is to drop to 185 pounds by the end of the year. While I am working my way closer to this goal, I am not there yet. As you’ll see – I’ve done some things right…and I’ve really done some things wrong.

Goal #2
During the first half of 2013, progress was almost non-existent because I did not have an established nutrition plan – and putting one together would mean cutting out stuff I liked. So guess what I did….that’s right – absolutely NOTHING.

As fall turned to winter, I began to actually make an effort to lose some pounds by lowering the amount of crap food that I regularly consume (cookies, pop tarts, ice cream and soda). I began to replace this stuff with things like salad and gallons of Chateau Bloomberg (otherwise known as New York City tap water).

While I know this is now the “most wonderful time of the year” (as the old holiday song goes), I’ve been walking around a bit crankier than usual due to my cravings for all things chocolate and artificial. However, the result of all of my effort has been a decent amount of weight loss that a growing number of people have begun to notice. While I know I’ll never look like some Olympic marathoner poised to take gold in 2016, I re-dedicated myself to this effort late in the year in the hopes of giving myself the best odds available to complete my bigger athletic goals in the coming 18-20 months.

I’ve always been sensitive about my weight, but I’ve historically done nothing constructive to address my internal issues with how I look and feel. Since I’ve begun my distance running kick in 2005, my training has offset my poor eating habits and complete lack of discipline, resulting in me maintaining the approximate weight that I grew to when I first became a dad…which was more than 50 pounds from what would be a great fighting weight for me. At my heaviest point, I believe I weighed approximately 254 pounds. I lacked energy. I lacked confidence. I simply did not like how I felt…and distance running only helped me keep off gaining additional weight – it did not really help me lose the excess I had put on to begin with. I was stuck in neutral.

When I decided to set some serious, demanding goals for myself in 2013, I knew that losing the excess weight would be one of the keys to hitting my other targets…or missing them completely. I wanted to run 2,013 miles in 2013 – and to give myself the best chance of achieving this and mitigate the risk of significant injury, I needed to weigh less than I did at the start of the year. I wanted to run a sub-7 minute mile and a sub four-hour marathon – and I would have a much better chance at these speed goals if I wasn’t carrying so much excess bulk along the way. I wanted to complete my first triathlon – a one mile swim, 25 miles on the bike, and then a 6.2 mile run – and crossing that finish line would be much easier if there simply was less of me to lug along. For me, losing the weight was incredibly important primarily to increase my overall athletic performance. The way I saw it, with progress comes the other stuff – like regaining some of the self-confidence I lost and enforcing a healthier overall lifestyle.

While I am not at my goal weight yet, I believe that I am well on my way to hitting it. I have the goal weight of 185 pounds in sight, as I hover right near the 200 pound mark. While I am not where I want to be, it is still technically possible for me to hit this goal by the end of the year. The next 30 days will tell the tale. Just like the marathon, getting to my goal weight – if done correctly – will take discipline and time. I can now look back at where I was and actually see progress…and that increases the chance of achieving some challenging 2014 goals.

Where Did I Go Wrong?
This one is easy. I screwed up this goal in 2013 because…….
• I did NOT have a plan – so I had no plan to stick to.
• I ate whatever I felt like, whenever I felt like it. From January through October, I did not do what I needed to do to give me the best chance of succeeding.
• I did NOT pay attention to portion size. Ever.
• Diet Coke was a food group.
• So are oreos.
• Since I had no established nutrition plan, I paid no attention to portion size, and my food groups were absolutely FUBAR, I had no way of knowing how many calories I took in daily versus how many calories I actually burnt.

The Lessons Learned
OK – I am NOT a doctor. So lesson learned number one: I should have consulted a doctor at the beginning of the year, and asked for his/her help to develop a proper nutrition plan.

Lesson number two: HAVE A PLAN. As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is a wish.

Lesson number three: write it down. If you eat it, document it. Once I began to do this, I began losing weight. I purchased something called “Body Media”, which is what the contestants on the TV show The Biggest Loser use to crack calories. It came with an armband that counts the number of steps I walk daily, the amount of time logged and calories burned doing any form of moderate or vigorous workouts, and the amount of calories I take in by logging specific items consumed during the day. It even counts the amount of time I sleep. Don’t ask me how this little square electronic gadget measures all this stuff, because I have no idea. Maybe this elastic armband was forged in fires of Mount Doom, cursed with some form of foul ancient drow elf magic. All I know is that the daily practice of trying to burn more calories than I consume on a daily basis has become a habit. I sync, via Bluetooth, data gathered by the armband to my Iphone several times a day to see where I stand. My diet has basically turned into a video game.

I’m just glad that I have an Iphone to use to track my daily activity. It’s an amazing piece of technology. Its……my…..precious…..