Ahead of the Blerch

Before my most excellent son, William, was born, I trained for, and raced a couple sprint-distance triathlons. They were a lot of fun, and I miss those days. At the time, let's just say I had very little knowledge of how to properly train, and I had virtually no contact with other endurance athletes until the day of the race. I could finish a sprint triathlon (and, I was proud of the accomplishment), but it's not like I was really in shape for it.

Here in eastern Kansas, though, I am around a LOT of endurance athletes, and it has been a really positive summer for me. For the first time since high school, I believe I'm getting out ahead of the Blerch.

Right around the time I got married (nearly 10 years ago), I got really lethargic, played too many video games, and ate horrible food. I worked an office job, and I drove to work. At one point, I tipped the scale past 200 lbs. (I'm 6'2" tall), and I bought a comfy pair of 36-inch-waste pants. It was a pretty pathetic time in my life, and it's painful to see pictures of myself from that period.

Three years ago, I moved to Kansas to take a great job. I bought a house with the explicit intent to either walk or ride my bike to work every day. The company, the community, and my co-workers all tend to encourage a lot of physical fitness.

Early this spring, my employer offered a free course in how to lose weight and make simple, easy changes to your lifestyle that enables you to keep it off. After a few of my coworkers had gone through the program, I saw visible results in nearly every one of them--even people who weren't that heavy before the program.

I decided to give the program a try (mostly to encourage and support my wife who also followed the program). I set what I thought was a silly goal: lose 15 lbs. (I weighed 175 lbs. at the time). The 15 lbs. came off before the program was over, and I felt like I could drop a few more pounds. I ended up losing an additional 10 lbs.

If you might be interested, I highly recommend the Naturally Slim program. The real game-changer here is that it isn't a diet. It's mostly common-sense stuff that when you put it all together results in a few small changes to your day-to-day life (that feel more liberating than burdensome).

I'm stoked that I lost the weight, but the big win is I started sleeping better at night, and I had all this extra energy. Once your body readjusts its sugar/insulin cycle to non-American-excessive-consumer levels, it turns out to be a pretty high-performance machine.

So, I got back into running. And, doing longer bike rides--beyond my tiny 2+ mile commute. And, for the last three weeks, I've been swimming three days a week.

I'm already in much better shape than I was six years ago when I was racing triathlons. I plan to run a half-marathon in October, and I only have bigger goals after that.

One really nice tool I've been using (that I didn't think I would like) is Garmin Connect. I'm now using three different gadgets: my wife's Garmin Forerunner 10, my Garmin Edge 500, and my shiny, new Garmin Swim. I upload data from all three devices to the site, and it really gives me a lot of feedback on how I'm doing. I haven't really explored all the features available to me, but it has provided some awesome motivation. I feel like I'm able to be more prepared, and I'm able to compare myself more directly to other endurance athletes--something I've, effectively, never done (even when I could have a rough estimate with race times).

I feel like, finally, I've left the Blerch behind. I want to swim, ride, and run harder and faster all the time, and it feels great.

Probably the most important lesson I've learned is that your diet really does matter. I always wanted to just control my weight/health with exercise. But, that only got me small/unnoticeable gains. Now that I eat less than half as much food (and, generally, much better food) and exercise rigorously six days per week, I can feel and see the differences in myself.

Now, all I need are some closer mountains so I can put all this aerobic capacity and endurance to some more enjoyable uses.

For those that like seeing lots of data, check my Connect profile.