My Journey to Health – Running


patpic2Back in June of 2012 it was tipping the scales at 208lbs my doctor told me that I really need to control my cholesterol and blood sugar, I was becoming dangerously close to being pre-diabetic.  I sat looking at my doctor and it was if her voice started to fade and all I could hear was the Lost in Space robot screaming Danger Will Robinson! over and over in my brain. Shaking out of my stupor I sat and talked to my doctor about my options, she knows that I’m one of those people who doesn’t like drugs, so her suggestion were more on diet and exercise. Because of my age and genetics my body was no longer processing sugars like it used to.  One of the big culprits was my love of Calrose white rice. Being (partially) of Asian descent I ate gobs of this wonderful hot steaming glutinous food, if anything was a drug to me it was RICE… Rice, Rice, is so nice I love to eat the luscious RICE! I’m not a 100% sure it was the biggest thing causing my high sugar and weight but cutting it, extra sugars and carbs in general out of my diet defiantly made a big impact.

Even though she told me that I could eat 1 cup of white rice per day (I did ask if that was cooked or uncooked 😉 ) I decided that I would cut out rice totally. It was one of the hardest things that I have done in a long time. After all I was raised from a baby eating rice. It took about 6 months before I didn’t care if I had rice or not.

I tried to run but found out really quick that my knees couldn’t take the pressure so I started walking every day. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months my body started to transform from a jolly blob of wiggling blubber to a more compact me, that’s not to say I wasn’t still equipped with highly huggable love handles but I did manage to reduce down from a waist line of 38 to 35 and from 208lbs to 187lbs in 6 months. My aggressive walking schedule had me walking upwards of 5 miles per day give or take; I mapped my progress using the paid Plus version of MapMyWalk which helped me push myself to improve. My walks also started getting to the point I didn’t feel like I was getting a good workout anymore even though my evening walks were mostly hills. I found myself doing little burst runs; and it felt good.

There is a high you get when you know that you’re better than you were before… Better… stronger… faster just like Steve Austin the Six Million Dollar Man. By now I was rolling into my 7th month and time to have my labs done a week after my labs I met with my doctor; she was ecstatic with my results my sugar levels had dropped to normal and my cholesterol had dropped to acceptable levels. She told me that she was so surprised I had taken her advice, when I told her why wouldn’t I she said that so many of her patients don’t.

I told her about my walking schedule and distance and mention that I was going to start running. She put the brakes on me and said that she wanted me to do a stress test first and if it was clear I could start running. Two weeks later I took my stress test and got the all clear.

I would walk still during my work day at my breaks and lunch as normal but when I got home I started my run. I wasn’t able to run very far at first so I did a run / walk routine; nothing formal or even measured intervals; I simply ran till I couldn’t, fast walk till I recovered and then ran again repeating this until I did about 1.6 miles (up and down hills) within about 2 months I found myself running more and walking less. I pushed my walk/run from 1.6 to 1.8 then to 1.94 and that’s when it happened. I was hill running as normal but this time at night and did something wrong and ended up with a calf (Gastrocnemius) muscle tear in my right leg. That was it I was out of commission. This is when I discovered I was addicted to running, I hated that couldn’t run or even walk, I didn’t feel good when I didn’t run. I feared losing all the progress I had made over the months. Because of this feeling I kept attempting to run before I healed completely and continued to reinjure my calf I finely got a clue and kept off my calf. After two months I was back on my run/walk this time wearing Zensah compression leg sleeves, a product my nephew recommended, I was doing great and getting back in the routine, that is until like accidental overdose of gamma radiation interacted with my unique body chemistry I became the Hulk and at the end of a near 2 mile run/walk I broke into a full blown sprint reinjuring my calf bad. I was out again this time for four months not because I didn’t get better but because my fears became a reality I became lazy and unable to get myself motivated to run again even though I knew I was ready and healed. I found an excuse and always rationalized I would run tomorrow, it was always tomorrow.

It wasn’t until after my next annual physical would I get into the grove of things again, I had regressed; my doctor looked at me puzzled and I’ll have to admit disappointed in me even though she didn’t say it I could read it in her face and expressions. My cholesterol and blood sugar was back up and to make things worse she found inductions of Dyslipidemia; Having to explain and admit to my doctor that my laps was due to my own laziness on diet and exercise was difficult because I had to admit to myself my failure. My doctor though took it in stride and provided direction and exercise recommendation. I must tell you that I have, thus far, under played the impact my doctor at Sharps Rees-Stealy has had on my life; she ‘rocks’ she is the reason I’m am as healthy as I am today and I know for a fact has saved my life though her efforts, she’s my motivator, my biggest fan (besides my wife) and someone who truly cares about the wellbeing of her patients. This is another reason was hard to admit my failures because in letting myself down, I’m letting her down and that really bothered me.

That night I ran, it felt as though I was starting again from the beginning. I was disappointed took everything I had in me to just make it 1.6 miles. I had a hard time getting motived to run even though I needed to. I ran two maybe three times a week for the next two week. One morning sitting at my desk a corporate email popped into my inbox “Join us Veteran’s Day Weekend for a CSA 5K!” I’d never run a 5K, I haven’t run in a organized competition since I was in High School some 38 years ago. Sure ran in the Navy for training and some of those runs I would wish never to again; full packs and combat boots –  holy shit, can’t even imagine doing that again. Anyhow, I decided to do it because I knew once I committed I had to complete it or be marked as long as I was employed by CSA. I had less than 30 days to prepare for the race.

Having to run the 5K turned out to be just the thing I need to motivate me, was not about to give up knowing all of my workmates knew I was running. Even when I was running the first time I never ran 3 miles. I ran and pushed myself harder than before eventually I made it up to 2 miles day in 19 minutes I was doing great and then it happened two weeks before the race my back went out LOL oh shit! So I babied my back for a week and had no choice but to run the next week, I needed to be ready.

For some reason running a 5K seemed daunting, I kept telling myself its only 3.2 miles. The day of the race came and when I got to the race area I was the first racer there which was interesting, I didn’t even know how or where to put my bib; for that I didn’t even know the paper that had my number on it was called a bib; I watched to see what the next racer to come did with his and had my ah ha moment.

The rest of my workmates showed up and after bit of visiting and picture the race was on. Somehow at the start of the race I ending up right on the starting line someplace I had no intention of being. So I burst in to the run wasting valuable energy because I didn’t want to be run over by the faster racers. Eventually I was able to make it to the side where I could draw down my pace. I wasn’t nervous about the race at all, I guess because I wasn’t racing other people I was racing myself and man did it feel good to run with all these people; people you didn’t know both runners and spectators urging you on; you feel a part of something.

I came in 54th of 174 runners in 30.36 a 9:51 minute mile in my age group I was 5th of 19.   awardsI was hooked! Two and a half weeks late I ran another the Spooky Poopy 5k supporting the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America.

The biggest thing I found out is that I CAN run more than 5k so 5 to 6 times per week I now run no less than 5K.

Like I said I my biggest road block on this journey to health was getting over the first hump whether that’s changing how and what you eat or starting a running routine or possibly in my case both. Another road block I found is people, for some strange reason there are those that don’t want you to succeed. They make ‘innocent’ jokes, pose questions and make remarks in a effort to undermine what your are attempting to do for yourself, I can only guess because they don’t have the guts or will to improve themselves and by you working toward you goals forces them to see their own failures.

If you’re reading this blog for advice I really don’t have any I can provide. I’m not a trained health professional and other then running 5 to 6 days of the week I don’t have a training routine I can provide. I’m just a normal guy trying to figure out things as I go. If you like me over weight and out of shape the only thing I can tell you is what has worked for me; read labels! Cut out EXTRA carbs and sugars, find substitutes that don’t come with negative health impacts for instance I use pure Stevia as a sweetener sure it’s not white but it’s just a sweetener, or use if you have issues getting it (like I do) keep some commercial Stevia around like Truvia you can find at the local grocery. Keep away from anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup and MSG. DON’T Drink DIET sodas and the like. If you like fruit try eating your serving through the whole day rather than in one setting. WATER, Drink water, water all day water water water! Water will clean your system, water will keep your organs hydrated, water will keep you from being hungry, water is one of the biggest and best things you can do for your body. After a run I use Coconut water to put electrolytes back in to my system followed by at least 32 oz of water sounds like allot but that’s only two of those 16 oz water bottles. On days when it’s too cold or wet to run Jump Rope (don’t laugh) I’m serious my doctor challenged me to just jump rope for 5 minutes. That crap is HARD!

Really that’s my whole thing I still have small love handles but I’m down to 181lbs at the time of this writing, it works for me I’m sure there are bunches of room for improvement but I can’t afford a personal trainer so I just use what common sense I have. Just remember; you only have to make it to the next step /that’s it/ and you know what? YOU CAN DO IT!

Now I’m working toward my next goal, The President and Chairman of the Board of the company I work for talked me in to doing a Disney Run in Florida in 2016 it a 5k, 10K and Half Marathon… Oh man what have I got myself into this time.

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One Response to My Journey to Health – Running

  1. Pingback: My Journey to Health – Running | Usabaker's Blog

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