Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sweet Irony


Today, January 21 2015, twenty days into my new goal of dropping my weight below 200 pounds (190 to be exact) from an embarrassing 223 a few weeks ago, I submitted a questionnaire from Runner’s World magazine. The submission answered the question: “How Did Running Help You Lose Weight?” One of the questions asked, “What is your secret to staying motivated?” or something like that, to which I responded, “By reminding myself that my mantra, learned during the months after I lost nearly 100 pounds, is ‘Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.’

The irony is, in my lovely, poetic confessional, I neglected to mention that this very day I have consumed three large chocolate chip cookies, one small one, and three small oatmeal cookies. They tasted great! And I feel like shit, mentally and physically. Maybe even spiritually.

And I didn't run. I could make excuses - I was very busy at work today. Worked through my usual lunchtime. But I made excuses not to go later, when I did have time.


I have got to get this train back on its tracks!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Photos From the WIIL 5K

The 5K run was a success, although most of the participants were already pretty darn healthy. We met a few new friends, realized our neighbors/landlords were really good grill-chefs, and that our friend Jennifer makes some awesome kabobs! Miraculously, the park was devoid of mosquitoes! And the after-run festivities were delicious, refreshing and fun!

To the right is the aforementioned neighbor-chefs Trista and Janahan and their dog, Kiera. On the left is Mark, rocking the doo-rag and camera, and in the middle, co-worker and tech-whiz, Josh - looking pensive as he contemplates the logistics of a 5K run. Squatting to tie his shoe is Jay, our co-worker and a budding zymergist.

That's me (with the patriotic doo-rag) making my "welcome speech" and "watch out for the washed out bridge". Also, to my left is Donna and husband John, with Carl behind them, Marcy beyond John, and on the right in the lovely sky-blue, the Kabob Queen, Jennifer. In the middle beyond me is our newest co-worker, Joel and beyond him, Phyllis. 

Newlyweds Debbie and Clark, burning up the trail.

Tabby, Ellie and Andrew, the youngest health-nuts of the pack. All three ran the 5K like true champions!

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Annual What If I Lived 5K Run, Walk, Stroll






My Friends, 
I did this...







…with help from God, encouragement from friends and family, and a few lifestyle changes. But NOT by running!

I DID, however, make a decision to sign up for a race (that I did not believe I could run) and I DID make a commitment to at least finish it and I DID get in better shape to do it and I DID run it…with a respectable time even.

You can too! No really! And I want to help. Please consider signing up for the first annual...

What If I Lived 5K Run, Walk, Stroll
July 27, 2013 9:00 am at 
Moir Park trails

Backyard party afterward!

5K…it’s only 3 miles…and yet it could open your eyes to all the possibilities in your life. And if that’s not enough, there’s a party afterward! So sign up, start walking, running, strolling. Enjoy the Minnesota spring fresh air. Make a commitment to your health!

This is not a race, just a fun outing to get our bodies moving and to get to know each other. I am hoping that out of this will grow a group of dedicated, encouraging friends who can embrace faith, friendship and fitness for lasting success at healthy living. 

I am asking for donations ($5 per person) to help cover the cost of food and drink. The party will be in the backyard at our home in Bloomington (about 2 miles from the park).

For more information email me at bellsong1 at gmail dot com


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top 5 Reasons NOT to Lose Weight


There are days that I love my new shape and slimmer clothes and powerful reserves of energy. But this journey has come at some cost. I have outlined below the top five reasons I have some misgivings about this new lifestyle I am living. Now I don’t know if all “thin” people deal with these issues, but they are factors to consider before diving into a get healthy regimen.

Number 5: N.F.E. Syndrome

You know how occasionally you sleep with your ear flap folded over? And how when you wake up and “unfold” it, it slowly comes back to life? And as blood-flow is restored, it fills with excruciating pain? Yeah that. It happens to me nearly every night now, occasionally several times per night!
I call this Nocturnal Folded Ear Syndrome and I have yet to figure out the whys and wherefores of it. Perhaps the geometry of my head changed—the geometry of my throat has changed and I no longer snore, much to Minda’s relief. The geometry of my chest/abdomen has changed as well and I no longer experience the chronic heartburn/GERD that used to plague me.

I suppose another possibility is that I now sleep so deeply (the lack of a CPAP mask strapped to my face is very conducive to deep sleep) I am blissfully unaware of the folded ear syndrome taking place before it’s too late. Whatever the cause, NFE Syndrome is something to take into consideration if your plan is to lose excess weight for health reasons – your ears may pay the price for your decision!

Number 4: Freezing Phalanges

There was a time, about 89 pounds ago, when I could barely conceptualize the idea of feeling cold. I seemed able to skate (not ice or roller, just slide on through) Minnesota’s winters with only a vague sense of cold. Those days are over.

Even in early spring (or late winter as the case may be – 2013 comes to mind) as I prep myself for a run or bike ride, I run through my mental list of must haves: two pairs of socks, thick gloves, knit cap if running, hoodie if riding (and of course, adjust the straps on the helmet to accommodate the hoodie’s thickness), thick but loose jacket over shirt. Sadly, it seems the cold seeking my fingers and toes like water seeks rice usually wins the battle anyway. Mayhaps I'm just getting old.

And it’s not just my extreme extremities; I feel the cold all over, like a subcutaneous layer of insulation has been eliminated in the last 18 months or so. Suddenly I am susceptible to the human experience of cold! And I feel so Mr. Roger-esque when I arrive to my office: off comes the heavy jacket and on goes the sweater (actually, it’s my Monster Dash Half-Marathon Finisher’s running jacket complete with thumb-holes). I even wear my (other) Monster Dash jacket at home. To think I used to sweat just couch-sitting. In the living room. Watching television.

Not anymore.

Number 3: Funny Looks

Speaking of the cold, is it really that odd that one would don appropriate weather gear and go running in the middle of January in Minnesota? I get the strangest looks from passersby when I run. They look at me as if I’m insane to be out enjoying the fresh, crisp air, the sights and sounds of snow-buffered streets, while they drive by bundled up in coats and stifling car heat.

Granted, in light of item number four, above, the heat is appealing, but the alternatives to running outside are horrible. Running on a treadmill, mile after mile, while staring at an enthusiasm-numbing movie on the computer screen while I pretend to enjoy myself is not what I was cut out for. Human beings were not designed to run and get nowhere! No, I’ll take the snow-flocked spruce trees, the flitting and flirting of chick-a-dees, the stunning flash of a cardinal darting through the barren tree branches, the sparkly diamond-dust snow-showers through the slanting afternoon sunset. Even the slushy piles of “snirt” beat the treadmill’s track any day—well any day over 32 degrees (I’m not that crazy!)

Number 2: High Cost of Veggies

It’s true, a handful of kale at the grocery store is pretty affordable at $1.99 a bunch. But after 5 months of daily harvesting from my garden –both green and fancy purple kale—that price seems just a touch too high.
Of course I can’t blame the cost of vegetables on my dropping weight, but since turning to conscience and intentional eating, organic gardening has become a passion of mine. And besides the low-cost of daily fresh veggies, the taste –after all the sweat and hard work—is exquisite. And priceless, making the grocery stores’ prices even harder to swallow.

Whereas shoving sugary doughnut holes in my pie-hole whilst watching Biggest Loser requires zero investment of thought or time, savoring a fresh, non-GMO, non-pesticide-ridden seven-ingredient salad (lettuce, spinach, kale, parsley, basil, cucumbers, tomatoes) from the backyard requires planning, design, preparation, building, and then—gardening. That’s a lot of thought, energy and time! Be sure you have it available to invest if you decide to go this route to get healthy!

(I should mention there were also sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes in last year’s garden, but they never made it into the house—they were consumed on the spot by whomever was the one to first notice them).

Number 1: Tick Tock

The number one disadvantage to losing all this weight, ending the 10-year dependence on Prilosec and the four-year CPAP experiment, weaning myself off the daily dose of the 3Cs (candy/cookies/cake), and trading that fix for the new addiction of running, is the incredible amount of time this lifestyle eats.

The time it takes to prep healthy food to consume, not to mention healthy snacks to ensure no backsliding. The time invested in the garden. The amount of time eaten away by running 15-20 miles a week just to get a good runner’s high. The extreme amount of time it is still taking to repair the model of healthy living for my 13-year-old son. It’s very time-expensive.

But the time lost is what saddens me the most. I wasted 40 plus years to realize this truth: nothing, NOTHING tastes as good as being healthy feels. I waited until I was 48 effing years old to start living!

But Wait, There’s More: Bonus Disadvantage

This may be unsettling for some of you, especially the ladies, but I would be remiss in full disclosure if I did not reveal all the sundry inconveniences of weight loss. So turn away if the subject of belly button fuzz bothers you.

It’s weird, I know, but I find I have more naval fuzz than ever before. I’m not sure the cause, maybe it’s the architecture of my smaller shirts—3XL down to XL—over my smaller belly, thus rendering the fuzz fibers’ favorite gathering place more accessible?

I suppose it could be all the new shirts – I rarely bought new ones when I was stuck at 3XL (especially since the 4XLs that would have fit better cost so much more and were harder to find). I suppose the new ones by virtue of their being new and unwashed 1500 times might just posses more of the fuzz-making ingredients than my old ones.

Which brings up another thing, for the men, especially to consider: these days I seem to actually enjoy clothes shopping more than say, eighty-nine pounds ago. I know, too much estrogen in the air from GMO soybeans or something.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Speaking the Truth

Have you ever seen those folks, they lumber out of a fast food joint, lighting up their Marlboros two steps from the door, their 3XL shirts and jeans stretched to the limits. Usually they wear a grimace of overstuffed stomachs or heartburn or both. They probably call themselves "Big-Boned" or "Pleasingly Plump". Or the ironic one - "Extra-Healthy".




I call them "The Walking Dead".

I know it sounds harsh, but I claim the right to call it as I see it. I was a "Dead Man Walking" not too long ago.

And maybe that's what we should all do: Call it what it is. Cut the sugar-coating. Speak the truth. With more than 35% of the U.S. adult population considered obese, speaking the truth might just save a few lives.

Of course, saying it in love makes the message a little easier to swallow.

"No Honey, you are not chunky. You are morbidly obese and I'm afraid you are going to die in your sleep tonight and I won't know how to face life without you."

"No, Babe. You're not a 'big-girl'. You are are very fat and apple-shaped and that is the most dangerous way to carry extra fat. Please do something about it so we can grow old together."

"No, Son, you're not big-boned. You are fat and unhealthy and your son doesn't understand why you can't play freeze-tag for more than two minutes. And he's starting to wonder about those cigarettes he sees you sucking on every ten minutes."

No matter how you say it, the truth might hurt. But it also might save your loved one's life. It did mine. Thank you Minda.






Sunday, March 10, 2013

Back to the Beginning

Not all the way back, not 288 pounds back.
But damn, back up to 221! That's 22 above the lowest, and the glorious day I hit my goal of sub-200!

Back on track starting NOW!



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Long Overdue


Besides getting healthy, another sign of LIVING, for me, is accomplishing my goals. And I am happy and terrified to announce...

I have published and have for sale on Smashwords, my long overdue novel, Such is Life!

I call it an overdue book because it has taken me over ten years to write (and at least that many "final" versions) before I had the guts to finally call it complete. And then I let it sit out there on the Internet, no fanfare, no bottle of champagne, no marketing plan or book tour. Just sit there in the ether waiting for my millions of fans to just happen along and find it sitting there, crying to be read.

The truth is, it scares the hell out of me to announce it!

Lots of reasons: may be construed as blasphemy - I do have Jesus Christ as a main character doing a few un-Jesus like things (not like that, just goofy things like enjoying rock and roll, fast ride in a car, hanging out with sinners - oh wait...). And it could be considered a little too autobiographical (please note: the wife in the book, Sherry is NOT Minda - don't let her tell you she is!). And it could be a really bad example of really bad writing by someone who is too dense to understand he really can't write.

But the truth is - and I say this humbly - I re-read it this week and I really like it! And I haven't touched, edited, modified or tweaked it since March (in order to read it with a clean palate). I was surprised, I was moved, and I think it might actually be pretty good.

And despite the playing around with the time/space continuum and putting Jesus in a Cardinal's baseball cap, I believe I have absolutely glorified God with this story. And that was my intention.

So, if you are so inclined, please check it out on your Nook, Kindle, Kobo, iPad, iBook, etc. Here's the synopsis:

One man's need for forgiveness is another man's cross to bear. Just ask Steven Todd. Twenty-five years ago Steven was a teen-aged druggie surviving from needle to vial in Austin, Texas. Now he’s a respectable family man, a quiet but confident  Jesus-freak and a small-business owner on the verge of major success—he’s meeting the U.S. president next week. Most importantly for Steven, his wild past is buried.

At least until his old friend and shooting partner, Randy Oliver, hitchhikes to town. Stunned to see his old friend wandering St. Louis--alive, no less--Steven welcomes Randy into his home, his family and his church.

When Randy reveals he has less than six months to live, Steven hopes to introduce him to Jesus before it’s too late. But when Randy reminds Steven of their dark secrets, secrets that could disintegrate Steven's veil of success, he makes a decision that could damn his life—now and eternally.


(This book contains a few instances of rough language reflective of the harsh lives and times of the characters.)

And here's the link to Such is Life.

And here's the coupon code to get Such is Life for half-price: AJ24A

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Feel Like a Monster!



Mark at the beginning of the race.
This past Saturday (October 27, 2012) was my second annual Team Ortho Monster Dash Half Marathon race. Of course race is a massaged word - the only person I'm racing is me (and maybe Mark H - he set his sights on beating my time next year!) My goal this was year was two level: to beat last year's time of 2:31:53 and to try to beat it to below 2:18:00.

I calculated that second number on one of my practice runs a few weeks back when I ran a "quarter-marathon" (6.55 miles) around Normandale Lake in a time of 1:09:40. Challenging myself, I said, "If I can maintain that pace, I could do the half in 2:18:00!" Of course I was huffing and puffing and subconsciously chuckling to myself. That would be a pace of 10:42 per mile, something I can easily do for several miles. But for 13 steady miles? Not likely!

The other interesting aspect of this practice run is, mid-run my iPod died on me and I ran without music for at least half the run. And realized I was running better. I resolved to run the Monster Dash without music. On race day I opted to take the iPod as an emergency measure in case I hit a wall. But I had a shortened running list with some reggae, a few Christian rock songs, and a few head bangers like POD's "Boom!" and Skillet's "I Feel Like a Monster".

Now granted the lyrics are actually a negative thing, a plea by the singer for God to rescue him from his sinful nature. And the lyrics truly are so powerful. Here's the chorus:
 
I feel it deep within,
It's just beneath the skin
I must confess that I
Feel like a monster
I hate what I've become
The nightmare's just begun
I must confess that I
Feel like a monster
I feel like a monster

But it's great running music! Power chords, loud thumping beat, and raspy, urgent singing! Love it!And it seemed appropriate for the Monster Dash!

But I digress...the day was cold! But there I was, dressed in layers, ready to beat 2:31 or 2:18 or just finish with both legs intact. I ran into my friend Jessica and her WonderFriends in the line for the porta-potties. L-o-n-g line at the porta-potties! But I learned last year, no potty breaks during the race - had to wait. Had to wait longer. Tick Tock.

Jessica (turquoise bandana) and her WonderFriends!

Finally, at the start line, shedding a few layers, I was ready to go! There was the usual starts and stops leading up to the line (there were over 9000 racers trying to cross that start line!) I crossed the line and hit the start button on my Garmin.

Strapping the Garmin on.
At mile 3, off came the cap - steam pored off my bald head - finally warming up! At mile 8 I was surprised I had not yet stopped to walk. Before this day my longest non-stop run was 5 miles. At mile 11.something, the pin on the Garmin band slipped and I stopped to walk while I fixed it - 11+ miles non-stop running! Not bad for a 50-year-old former couch slob!

So, Minda was going to meet me at the final mile mark and run with me to the finish. I had told her expect me about 2:20 at mile marker 12, so she started walking that way at the 2 hour mark. At mile marker 12 I checked my Garmin watch and it said 1:58:37. WHAT? I kept running, pushing harder just as "BOOM!" by POD started pulsing my earbuds. I was pumping my fist to the beat, ignoring the introvert in me that said "Stop it, people are looking at you!"

I was less than a quarter mile from the finish when I spotted Minda. I was swinging my arm and pointing at her in time to the music. And grinning my face off! When she saw me she freaked out. She jumped off the curb and started running with me, then said "Go! I'm slowing you down!" I bolted, sprinting past three runners before the final 10 yards. I crossed the finish line and the Garmin said 2:07:03!!

When I finally found her again she burst into tears and when I told her my finish time, she said "Who knocks 25 minutes off their half-marathon time??!!"

All I can say is, I could not and would not have done it without you, Minda Shultz! Thanks for the encouragement, the support, and the last 16 years of our life. Looking forward to many, many more with you!

My final official time was 2:07:12, so I really only knocked off 24 minutes, 41 seconds. Still, "I feel like a monster!!"

Monday, October 8, 2012

Love in the Trees!

Ahhhhhh!!!!
I thought I loved running (and I do) but I have found something even better: running through God's Country (that's Minnesota for anyone reading from Wisconsin) on the trails and fallen leaves of the Minnesota River Bottoms.



Incredible scenery, smells, sounds. Downed trees, running streams, honking geese, chattering eagles, and the ever-present and sometimes startled squirrels that seem shocked that they were caught unaware 2 feet off the trail with their noses down by a 200 pound running man. How does that happen?!
And pushing my body to handle the  shifting sand, broken ground, hills up and hills down, leaves, branches, roots and rocks. Never a dull moment. No repetition. No fumes, horns, broken bottles on the side of the road.

There is also no abundance of speed on trail running - at least not for me, at least not yet. My first mile today was 13+ minutes (I've been known to run a road mile in 8-1/2). But the body is working muscles that are rarely twitched on a long race. Even the abs get called to duty every few minutes on a rocky, downhill slide-shuffle. My hams, which seem to show up solely in a supporting role for the quads on a road run, were crying like little girls today. Even my lungs, despite the slow pace, were reminded what it meant to walk a block back when I carried 88 pounds more and cried like a girl when Minda coerced me into walking around the block!


All this extra work is intentional - I'm less than 3 weeks away from the second half-marathon of my life, and I know that trail-running is good for building speed, strength and endurance for road races.
But somewhere along the trail, perhaps as I simultaneously spun a switchback and ducked under a low-hanging oak branch as big around as I was two-years ago, I fell in love.
I think this affair may last longer than the one with the doughnuts!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sometimes

Once upon a time I was a drug addict. My drug of choice was crystal meth. I used it daily, sometimes hourly. I sometimes rationed out my supply so it would last a little longer. And I often consumed it in large quantities – after building up a tolerance and daring myself to push my luck to the absolute edge for a new experience. I occasionally consumed more than the human body should allow, and I have no doubt I am alive today only by the grace of God.
I was known to call in sick at my job to allow extended party time. Or to recover from an extended party time. Once or twice I even quit a job – by opting to not show up for my scheduled shift – in order to party longer. Rent and utility bills went unpaid when the supply ran low and needed replenishing. Moving from a trendy apartment in a trendy neighborhood to a dive roadside motel with weekly rent was acceptable to me at the time – the lowered rent allowed for more replenishing.  
I sacrificed my family’s love and ignored their concerns when it interfered with my freedom to indulge. I damaged friendships to avoid sharing my stash. And I squandered the hope for an admirable future for an exciting few moments of ecstasy that dissipated with each sunrise. And with each sunrise, reality stepped up to slap me – I was going nowhere I wanted to go and doing nothing I wanted to do, except indulge in short-lived pleasure.
The week that should have seen me kicked out of the dive motel, I asked for help and my parents rescued me.
It has been 31 years since I last used meth. But I am not cured; I am still an addict.
Last week I used my new drug of choice – several days in a row. Even hourly. I used more than my body should have been able to handle, once to the point of feeling ill and considering bowing out of my shift at work. Over the years, I have chosen my desire to indulge over the happiness of my family, and definitely over my health. I’ve spent money I shouldn’t have on replenishing my supply, I’ve gone to extremes to hide my stash to avoid sharing it.
And reality stepped in and slapped me in the face every time I looked in the mirror: the ravages of my addiction were piling up on me, pound by pound. I was an obese caricature of a 40-something husband and father.
It would be easy to snicker at the comparison – a meth-head stick-figure sticking needles in his arm versus a marshmallow man funneling M&Ms down his throat. But both were walking a thin line, one of catastrophic health issues or sudden death. Both risked the destruction of loved ones’ futures. And both were more concerned with fulfilling their selfish pleasure over their family’s happiness and solidarity.
Even now, 90 pounds lighter, exponentially more healthy, and spiritually stronger, I struggle – sometimes daily, even hourly – with my yearnings for sugary treats, for stuffing in huge quantities to fill a void that doesn’t exist, except in my psyche. Sometimes I give in to those yearnings. Sometimes I choose to allow a little “dabble” – a fun ice cream cone outing with my family. And that littel taste often unleashes a beast that screams and schemes as bad as a junkie to get more and more and more.
Yes, it’s that bad. Sometimes.
My name is Scott and I'm an addict.