Friday, January 21, 2011

Mentors and Inspiration

Sometimes, during the daily grind of life, it is hard to keep to the high road.  It gets hard to keep studying to better my work situation, keep following a Primal diet and exercising to improve my health, and to be an effective parent and husband.  So it’s nice when you come across a few people who can provide you with knowledge and a kind of desire to keep moving in the right direction.  I have a few people in my life right now that have provided me with such wisdom and inspiration.

I think is important for everyone involved in a fitness journey or a journey of self discovery to be open to people who can provide some kind of guidance, or a desire to start a program, or important some wisdom to help move you along in this world. 
I have a few recent mentors that I have had the good fortune to cross paths with.
  • Coach Ken Balvin : Ken has been helping me with my running for years.  He’s been a marathon and Tri-athlete for a long time. He has always been telling me to slow down my long runs, don’t worry about complicated running mileage formulas, don’t need to put in high mileage, run fast (sprint) every so often when you feel like it, and enjoy your runs. – Sound familiar?  It sounds like something my next mentor would say. 

  • Mark Sission:  I have never meet Mark Sission and only know him from his blog and his books but he has really opened up my mind to a way we are suppose to be living.  The funny thing is, his diet ideas and his fitness ideas are not new and revolutionary.  I’ve read parts of some of the studies mark always cites on his site and book and I knew about the whole fat versus carb thing. Ken Balvin had been telling how to run “Primal” for years. For some reason,  I did not understand or want to follow what I believed about diet or what  Ken was really saying until I read Mark’s Primal Blueprint.  Mark has a great way things and and helping me to make them part of my personal life. 

  • My wife, Wen Xiaomin.  She is really the grease and the glue that makes my wife work.  At her urging, I have pursued and passed numerous IT certifications that I should have gotten years ago.  She challenged me for quite a few years to lose weight, exercise more and properly, and to take control of my health. Her instance is what lead me to try and find ways to take control of my weight and health. Her mantra has always been: We need to stay healtyh for the boys.  You need to better yourself so you are not an embarrassment to your sons.  Her words ring loud, clear and true today.  And on top of all that, she is a great Primal cook!  --I’ll have some of her Primal Chinese meals posted soon.
My last bit of inspiration is actually a little story about something that I witness last weekend while judging a Texas High School Powerlifting (THSPA) Meet in Venus, Texas.

I was judging the smaller lifters: 114, 123,132.  Anyway, there was this lifter who must have been a freshman.  I think he was a freshman but he looked like he was in middle-school.  He had a baby face, was still short and small (but not really skinny.  He just did not look really developed yet).  The inspiration from this young lifter came during his second deadlift attempt.  The bar was loaded at 230 lbs.  He approached the bar slowly and quietly.  All of the coaches from his small school gather at the back of the platform and so did a few of his fellow teammates.  This usually signals that that is a big an important lift, both for this lifter personally, and for the team results. Though you’d never know it was a big lift from the expression on his face. He looked a little timid.

He walks to the platform, grabs the bar and starts his pull.  The weight comes up off the floor slowly and starts moving up his knees.  The bar is moving really slow. I was waiting for him to either stop the deadlift, or start hitching.  But he kept pulling it and finally locked it out.  I gave him the down signal and he politely put the bar back on the floor.  His teammates and coaches were cheering for him loudly in the back but this young lifter just stood there, looked at me, gave a heavy sigh and wiped the sweat of his head and then turned and  walked off the platform with no celebration.  I chuckled and smiled.

So here’s the inspiration for me.  He knew he had a tough road ahead, he approached the weight calm, focused, and then stayed patient during his task until it was completed.  When he completed it, he still stayed focus and started looking to his next big challenge.  Obviously he was focused on the journey of working hard and not on the end results.  This is how I am trying to approach my Primal journey:  Stay focused on the journey of good health over a lifetime, not just on arriving at a particular body weight or fitness marker.

I can’t believe it took me 46 years to learn it from a freshman powerlifter!
Grok On!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Primal Blueprint and Primal Blueprint Fitness Results at 6 Months

I just turned 46 and, I weigh less and feel better now then I did when I was in my twenties!

In June of 2010 my four year-old son asked me why I was so fat.  I was a little shocked at his question.  At that time I weighed 230 (5’ 10”) and had really not considered myself to be fat; a little overweight, but certainly not fat. So, I got to thinking about his question.  Kids that young are pretty honest and call it as they see it, so I must really be fat!  Huh, I must be in denial! Time to get serious about losing a lot of weight this time.

At the time of my son’s question I was running about 15 – 20 miles per week (mpw) at about 80% –85% of my max heart rate about 4 times a week.  I had stopped Powerlifting about 6 years ago and stopped any weight training all together about 4 years ago.  Looking back, I seem to remember one of my wife’s questions, “Honey, you run so much and you’re not losing any weight, why?”  I dismissed that question and figured that if I just ran faster and farther my weight would magically control itself. … Right?  After all I was exercising a little and was reasonably healthy, or so I thought.

Primal Blueprint

So I started doing some research into some weight lose techniques and ways to change my lifestyle so I could keep the weigh off long-term.  I did not want to do some short-term miracle diet and have the weight come back later.  I needed a lifestyle makeover, not a diet.  During this research I came across and the Primal Blueprint.  Eureka!  I read the Primal 101 posts on MDA and decided I would start my journey on our vacation in Estes Park, Colorado in the beginning of July.  We would have to drive about 12 hours and then be in the middle of the Rocky Mountains National Park.  That sounded like a great place to start a lifestyle change. I stopped eating grain during vacation, and things were going well so I decided to order the book and go whole hog when we returned to Plano.  I told my wife of my plans to stop eating all grain and cereals and to increase my fruit and veggie intake.  She was very skeptical at first until the weight started coming off.  I started at 225 lbs. in July.

228 lbs. in May 2010

By the first week of October I weighted 205 lbs. for the first time in 17 years!

205 lbs. in October 2010.

Today I am at 190 lbs. and feel great.  The best part of this is how my family has reacted.  Since I have eliminated grains from my diet there is no more “junk food” in the house. My son, who is now 5, stops asking to eat junk (chips, crackers, cookies) and both he and my wife have cut way back on their grain intake. We are all eating healthier and are more active!  To me, that is the real success of my journey!

195 lbs in November at the Dallas running Club (DRC) Half-Marathon
 Primal Blueprint Fitness.

I have changed my running to follow the Primal Blueprint Fitness (PBF) guidelines.  Instead of running my old way for distance, time and pace, I now try to run 3 – 5 hours per week while keeping my heart rate between 55 – 75%, even if it means walking. I don't worry about pace. This has improved my race times (which I now consider PLAY!) immensely.  I ran a half-marathon in April 2010, before becoming Primal, and finished in 2 hours and 8 minutes.  After that run I was extremely sore and could hardly walk for a week.  I ran my last half-marathon in November, after becoming Primal, and finished in 1 hour and 53 minutes.  The best part was after the run I felt fresh and was not sore at all. 
I sprint on Mondays, get in 3 - 5 hours of low to moderate aerobic activity a week, have gotten to at least level 4 on four of the 5 Primal Essential Movements (still working on pull ups) and am really enjoying all of the different WoWs!  My favorite WoWs are Cave Burpees (100 burpees are tough and I was sore for almost a week!), Easy as 1,2,3, The Fight and Flight, Aurock Stalk, Bringing Home the Kill and Automobilty.  I  have even increased my hip and ankle mobility, which is something I have struggled with for many years.

My son now tells his friends that his Dad was fat but he's skinny now!