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Life Lessons from the Ogden Marathon

Starting Line

Yesterday, I ran 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 4 minutes. It was a brutally difficult run at the marathon in Ogden, Utah because it was raining nearly the entire time. In fact, when I finally crossed the finish line at 11:20 a.m., I looked so exhausted and cold that they took me into the medical tent to warm up and make sure I wasn’t dying. When the medical volunteer asked me, “So what’s going on with you right now?” I answered matter-of-factly, “Well, I’m cold and exhausted because I just ran a marathon in the rain. Other than that, I’m just fine.”

While I beat my previous personal record for a marathon time by nearly ten minutes, I was REALLY hoping to get below four hours overall and I fell short by FOUR lousy minutes. If had just run about 10 seconds faster per mile, I could have achieved it. What could have made the difference for me?

Results 
Well, I’ve thought about that, and naturally, that’s why I’m writing this blog post. Marathons give you LOTS of time to think. I mean, can you imagine running without stopping through the entire Super Bowl or one of the extended editions of the “Lord of the Rings” movies? That’s a long time to be alone with one’s thoughts (which usually consist of thoughts like “Man, this is painful” and “Why am I doing this, again?”)

Yesterday during the long race, I decided to focus my thinking on life lessons that I could gain from the experience. The first and most obvious lesson is “Don’t run marathons. Especially in the rain.” Seriously, though, here are five valuable life lessons I learned:

#1 Be Prepared
How does one prepare for a marathon? The answer is lots and lots of training runs. I did log the appropriate number of miles over the past four months in preparation for this race. In fact, a couple weeks ago, I ran 50 miles in one six-day period with a 20-mile run as my longest run. However, during most of those runs, I averaged about a 10-minute mile pace. In order to finish under 4 hours, the average pace needs to be 9 minutes and 10 seconds per mile. I didn’t do that kind of pace on the majority of my runs. The old adage rings true: “You perform how you practice.”

Aside from pace training preparation, I should have been better prepared for the race itself. The weather forecast consistently called for rain on the morning of the marathon. I knew it was coming and I foolishly neglected to prepare for it. Just having a $5 poncho and a jacket would have made a world of difference. But in my haste to get to the starting line, I didn’t bring those things. While the rain was fairly light for most of the race, the consistent cold and wet conditions really made it tough. My feet were wet and uncomfortable, my clothing was soaked and I honestly couldn’t feel my arms and hands for most of the race. Just a little more preparation would have made my experience immeasurably more enjoyable.

Life Lesson: You can’t control your circumstance (rain, puddles, cold), but you CAN control your preparation. As the boy scouts will attest, being prepared is crucial to a successful experience.

#2 Stay with the Pacer
In marathons, there are people who are designated as pacers who help you know how fast you need to run in order to achieve a certain overall time. Armed with a GPS watch and a sign that states their designated pace (3:45, 4:00, 4:15, etc.), these pacers who run the race are quite helpful. At the starting line, I found the guy holding the 4:00 hour sign. He was easy to see during the race because his sign was topped with red and white balloons. I told myself that I needed to stay near him, preferably ahead of him. I was ahead of him for about half the race, and then I got slightly behind. Instead of pushing myself to immediately catch up, I allowed myself to drift ever so slowly behind him. At first I was only 10 seconds behind, then 20 and then at the end, I was a full four minutes behind him. If I had never allowed myself to let him get more than 20 feet ahead of me, I would have reached my goal of a sub-four hour marathon.

Life Lesson: In any goal you wish to achieve, find a mentor / example you can follow and stay as close to him/her as possible. Whether that’s a workout partner that helps spot you and pushes you to do better, or the example of spiritual leader you wish to emulate, stay with the pacer.

#3 Do Not Carry Extra Baggage
At about mile 16, my brand new Ogden Marathon shirt was soaked through and was sticking to my chest uncomfortably, so I finally took it off and carried it in my arms the final ten miles. I wanted to ditch that shirt on the side of the road so badly, but I also wanted to have that shirt as a memento of my experience, so I stubbornly clung onto a cold, soaked shirt for the next 90 minutes. Carrying that shirt in my arms may or may not have affected my overall time, but it certainly was annoying. In hindsight, I probably could have ditched my shirt and then found a staff member at the finish line who could have given me a replacement one.

Life Lesson: Don’t hold onto unnecessary baggage. Whether it’s a grudge, a bad habit or your favorite sin, it’s important to just let it go. Don’t let it weigh you down. Life is already tough enough. Don’t impose on yourself unnecessary burdens that don’t benefit you or those around you.

#4 Enjoy the Journey
The course at the Ogden Marathon was breathtakingly beautiful (pardon the pun). Mountains, hills, canyons, lakes, streams, quaint farms and cloudy, misty vistas. It was so green and wet due to the rain, I felt like I was in Kauai. The descent in Ogden Canyon and the nature trail in town were so beautiful. Of course, it was hard to enjoy the beauty as much while I was freezing, exhausted and in pain. However, looking at the beauties of nature and focusing on how incredible this experience actually was, made the difficulty of the experience easier to bear.

Life Lesson: There is beauty and joy to be found in EVERY situation, despite significant adversity. If you only focus on the destination, you’ll miss out on the joy in the journey itself.

#5 Endure to the End
There were times, especially near the end, when I just wanted to stop running. Many people were walking those last couple of miles. I can certainly appreciate their choice to do so. But I had a goal to achieve, and even though I knew that I would not make my original goal, I still was determined to do the very best I could – and for me, that meant to not stop running even if that meant running very slowly. 

Life Lesson: Marathons are hard. Life is hard. Many times you’ll want to quit, to “throw in the towel.” But if you persevere, you’ll be rewarded with a great sense of accomplishment and feel empowered.

Medal

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Health

 

Healthy Eating for Life

Over the past 20 years I have gained at lost 25+ pounds FIVE different times. I would work really hard to lose the weight over several months and then slowly gain it back over the following year.
 
In 2011, I lost nearly 40 pounds with the help of two of my brothers, who also each lost a significant amount of weight. We promised each other never to gain the weight back and we set in place a rigid accountability system in which we reported our weight weekly and paid $$ penalties for not making our weight maintenance goals. In many ways it was a good system, encouraging us to quickly lose any weight that we had gained on vacations or during particularly gluttonous weekends.
 
However, our system had a fatal flaw: it encouraged a regular binge and purge cycle. I would starve myself Monday through Thursday and then eat whatever I wanted Friday, Saturday and Sunday. By Monday morning, I would be up 3-5 pounds and would begin the starvation / carb deprivation again.
 
I have come to the realization that this is an eating disorder. Like a bulimic, I would binge and purge but instead of vomiting, I would use starvation, carbohydrate deprivation and excessive exercise to purge after a binge on sugary, processed foods.
 
I have an addiction to sugar. Unlike many addictions where the substance is sometimes difficult to acquire, in my addiction, the substance is readily available at every turn; it is socially acceptable and often encouraged at most cultural events. This, despite the fact that it is killing our country — an obesity epidemic is upon us.
 
Two weeks ago, I decided to break this pattern and focus less on my weight and more on healthy habits that I can live with long-term. My new plan has already greatly reduced my sugar cravings and has made me feel more energetic and healthy. The plan focuses on portion control and nutritional balance. It cuts way back on simple carbs and encourages more consumption of plant-based foods, lean proteins and water (for proper hydration).
 
  
 
Here’s my daily eating plan:
 
Breakfast
Two glasses of water
One serving protein (peanut butter, eggs, yogurt, sausage, etc.)
One serving fruit (banana, berries, orange, etc.)
One serving carb (whole wheat toast, oatmeal)
 
Morning Snack
One serving vegetable (celery, carrot, pepper, etc.)
 
Lunch
Two glasses of water
One serving protein (meat, cheese)
One serving vegetable (salad, tomatoes, etc.)
One serving carb (whole wheat bread, baked potato, etc.)
 
Afternoon Snack
One serving protein (nuts, yogurt, cheese)
 
Dinner
Two glasses of water
One serving protein (chicken, fish, beef)
One serving vegetable (salad, tomatoes, etc.)
One serving carb (pasta, rice, potato, etc.)
 
Evening Snack
One serving fruit (apple, orange, banana)
 
This equals 12 servings of good, whole food spread throughout the day. It includes serving of a plant, a protein, a complex carb at every meal. I get three snacks daily, including a veggie in the morning, a protein in the afternoon when I start to drag, and a fruit in the evening to stave off cravings. A typical serving of carbs and proteins is 200 calories. Fruits and veggies are not as calorically dense, so they have 100 calories on average. The total amount consumed will be about 1,800 per day.  
 
Two “treats” per week (desserts) will be allowed as long as I’m in compliance in the other areas.
 
I will continue to do 45 minutes of cardio and resistance exercise daily and seek opportunities to walk and move throughout the day. I also will strive to get eight hours of sleep nightly.
 
None of this is earth shattering. It’s all common sense. My weight maintenance plan focuses on moderation and balance. And two weeks in, I’m already feeling the benefits!
 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Health

 

Maintaining A Healthy Weight

About two and a half years ago, I embarked on a fitness journey with my brothers Aaron and Nate. Our goal was for each of us to lose a significant amount of weight and then keep it off permanently. At our family reunion in July 2011, after we had reached our weight loss goals (about 130 total pounds lost between us), we actually signed a pact that we would never allow ourselves to gain the weight back. The program has been modified several times since then, but essentially our mutual accountability program is as follows:

Each Friday, we report to each other our weight, waist measurement and body fat percentage. We have each agree to a weight we will not exceed. If we go over that weight on a Friday weigh-in, we get one strike and pay a $5 penalty. If you’re still over the next Friday, you add a $10 penalty. And if you get a third strike (three consecutive Fridays of being over the weight threshold you committed to) you pay a $200 penalty. So far, no one has paid the $200 penalty, although I’ve paid my fair share of $5 and $10 penalties. The money goes into a pot and the person with the fewest strikes wins the money in the pot each quarter. So far, I’ve only won the quarterly pot once. But the program has helped me keep off nearly 40 pounds that I lost back in 2011. It hasn’t been easy.

For a while, I fell into an unhealthy pattern of just “letting loose” after my Friday morning weigh-in and just eating whatever I wanted to eat on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, only to have to starve myself Monday through Thursday to get back down to my target weight. It wasn’t fun.

So I’ve recently developed an eating plan that I think is sustainable for the long-term. My goal is to keep myself within a range of 158-160 consistently and not fluctuate more than 1-2 pounds during the course of a week. Accordingly, my plan seeks to limit portions sizes, encourages exercise and limits unhealthy choices, while keeping enough flexibility that the program is sustainable. I’ve stuck to it for two months now and it’s helped me stop the pattern of bingeing and purging. I haven’t crossed my 160 upper limit on any Friday weigh-in.

The first thing I’ve done is to categorize all food into three categories: unlimited, limited and restricted:

Unlimited Food
Fruit
Vegetables

Limited Food (no more than two servings of each daily)
Meat
Dairy
Whole wheat bread/tortillas/pasta
Nuts

Restricted Food Serving Size = Approximately 200 calories or about the size of a fist
1 cup pasta
1 cup white rice
2 slices white bread
1 hamburger bun, hot dog bun or hoagie bun
2 small biscuits, roll or muffins
1 baked potato
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 small serving French fries
1 small bag potato or corn chips
2 small slices pizza
1 small bowl ice cream
1 slice pie
3 small cookies
1 slice cake
Other desserts
Sugary soda
Smoothies

Each restricted food serving must be earned by 20 minutes of vigorous exercise (defined as sustained heart-rate above 100-beats per minute). Each 200-calorie credit is burned by the exercise, thus reducing the negative effect.

Ideally, two restricted food credits would be earned and used daily (since I exercise about 40 minutes each weekday and 80 minutes on Saturdays.) Credits may be borrowed from the previous or following day, provided that exercise has been or will be done to earn those credits. Any restricted food credit usage outside of these parameters results in a $5 penalty payable to my brothers.

Free days may be used on vacations or holidays. On those days, exercise isn’t required and the above restrictions are relaxed (gotta live a little, right). However, strict restrictions must be put back into place immediately after the vacation and/or holiday in order to lose any weight gained almost immediately. I believe that if you allow the fat to stay around for a while it’s harder to lose. Your body starts to think that it’s the “new normal.”

Anyway, it’s something that has worked well for me that I thought I would share.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Health

 

Run Forrest Run!

My two big races are over and I feel a great sense of accomplishment and relief. Back in January as I commenced my diet that resulted in 30 pounds of weight loss, I decided I needed a fitness goal that really challenged me. I have been running with my dog Buddy for the past 7 years consistently (6 days per week, 30 minutes a day), but had never pushed myself to something greater. As I talked to a few friends who had run marathons, I concluded that if they could do it, why not me?

Training
I began training in February, but the cold and windy mornings made it difficult, not to mention that my serious calorie and carb restriction left me with insufficient energy to properly train. I decided to take a few weeks off of marathon training to wait for better weather and focus on losing weight. By the first part of April, I hit my initial goal of 30 pounds lost (roughly the weight of my three-year-old son) and I resumed my training. I remember after running my first 7-miler, I was sore for days and injured my Achilles tendon. I couldn’t imagine being  able to run 26.2 miles!

But I was told that if I just logged the miles, I’d be able to do it. Over the course of 10 weeks, I went on 20 runs over 7 miles (with several in the 14-19 mile range). I ran mostly along trails such as the Jordan River Parkway (by Saratoga Springs, Thanksgiving Point and in Bluffdale/Riverton area), the Porter Rockwell Trail on Draper’s bench from the Point of the Mountain to Draper Park, and the Lehi trail from my house in Traverse Mountain to downtown Lehi. Since my training pace was about 11:30 per mile, these long runs took a great deal of my free time. But I really enjoyed the training, especially when the weather was good. I got the “runner’s high” also known as natural Prozac, and I got to see some beautiful scenery while contemplating my life (and memorizing my lines for my play by listening to a recording I had made of the lines on my iPhone).

During the training, I often had pains in my left knee, right ankle and right groin, but I pushed through the pain and my body strengthened. By the time I ran my longest pre-marathon run of 19 miles, my body was used to the distances and my recovery time was a fraction of what it had been after my first long run.

First Marathon
On Saturday, June 11, after 10 weeks of serious training, I felt ready for the Utah Valley Marathon, my first.  I was so nervous. Could I really run 26.2 miles? Would I be sore for weeks afterwards? Would I be injured? Could I make it to the finish line in less than five hours?

That morning, I got up at 3:00 a.m., showered and put on my marathon gear, including my racing bib with timing chip and my $100 running shoes. I drove to downtown Provo and caught a marathon bus to Wallsburg, a tiny town Southeast of Deer Creek Reservoir. We arrived at 4:45 and huddled around campfires for an hour before beginning at 6:00. I started out with a 9:30 pace and I felt really good. The first section was gorgeous, the weather was ideal and it felt exciting to be running with all of those other racers.

As I approached the halfway mark in Provo Canyon, I realized I was on pace to finish in 4 hours and 21 minutes, or just about a 10-minute mile. That energized me and I pushed hard for the rest of the race. However, the last six miles on University Avenue in Provo were brutal. I was tired and wanted to slow down. But my goal of finishing with an average pace of less than 10-minutes per mile propelled me onward. And I thought I was on track to hit that goal until I realized that a marathon isn’t 26 miles, it’s 26.2. Realizing that I had to make up about 2 minutes over the last six miles was disheartening. It would mean I’d have to run each of the last six miles about 20 seconds faster than normal at a time when I wanted to slow down, not speed up.

At mile 24, I realized I wasn’t going to make it so I slowed down a bit. But at mile 25, I decided I would forever regret not making the final push. So I ran as fast as I could. I remembered the scripture from the Bible that I had read that morning:

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

I began whispering to myself the phrase, “Run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” Over the next several minutes, the whisper grew into a loud chant that helped me create a cadence for my faster pace. It energized me, so that when I saw the finish line, sprinted to it. My older kids ran out to join me in the last 200 yards and we finished the race together. My time was 4:20:57 with an official pace of 9:58 per mile. Just about one minute more total time, and I would have missed my goal. My last mile was my fastest, and I realized that the difference between hitting my goal and missing it happened in that last mile. That little additional effort made all the difference. What a great feeling I had that morning as I crossed the finish line and celebrated with members of my family. That afternoon, I treated myself to a full-body massage and a swim at Alta Canyon with the kids.

By Tuesday I had completely recovered from the soreness. I thought I would be sore for weeks, but since I had trained so well, I bounced back quickly. And that was good, since I had another serious fitness challenge awaiting me…

Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay
A friend of mine invited me to participate on his 12-person relay team in the Ragnar Relay Race just one week after my marathon. The entry fee is usually about $100 per person, but his company was covering most of those costs and they had a last-minute drop-out. He asked if I wanted to join and I agreed, not knowing fully what I was getting into. I didn’t run for five days, allowing my body time to recover. I did go swimming twice, played racquetball and golfed 36 holes, but no running!

The race began in Logan on Friday morning, June 17, but I was part of the second shift, so my race began at Liberty Park in thte town of Liberty in Odgen Valley. I was runner #11, so my leg of the 192-mile relay race wasn’t until about 6:30 that night. It was a brutal run on Trapper’s Loop on the road from Pineview Reservoir to Snow Basin Ski Resort. It was uphill the entire way with a 935 foot elevation gain over 3.2 miles. But I got it done and it felt great.

We arrived at Morgan High School at about 8:00 that night and laid out our sleeping bags on the grass by a nearby river. I attempted to get some sleep, but didn’t get much. At 11:00, it was time to load up for the next van exchange at East Canyon State Park. My next leg began at 4:50 a.m. Saturday morning and was 5.5 miles of relatively flat terrain around Rockport Lake, which I completed in a 10-minute per mile pace. This was after having sat in a truck for 4 hours while waiting for my teammates to complete their portions of the run.

We arrived at South Summit High School at 7:00 a.m. and I dragged my sleeping bag and pad into the dark and silent gymnasium where dozens of exhausted runners were slumbering. I slept hard for two hours and then woke up, showered in the locker room and ate breakfast. It was the best sleep and the most welcome shower I had had for a very long time.

My final run began that afternoon at 2:17, from the top of Wasatch Mountain State Park down into Deer Valley Resort. It was a 1735 foot elevation drop over 7.3 miles. It was a leg killer, but oh so fun because it was fast. I pushed hard and finished this extreme downhill leg in less than 9 minutes per mile. We then made our way as a team to the finish line at Park City High School where we all crossed the finish line together and got our medals. It was a great feeling!

We had a great team of really cool people. The scenery and weather were excellent. The only downside is that we didn’t get a lot of sleep and there was way too much time sitting in a van waiting for my turn to run (10 hours in between runs), but it was a blast.

And now I’m going to rest…

Nine of our 12 teammates on the Atlas Title team at the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay.

Me at the Ragnar finish line.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2011 in Health

 

Is a marathon really 26.2 miles?

I’ve been jogging off and on for exercise for the past decade. My regular daily running habit began in the spring of 2004 when we adopted a six-month-old Border Collie who we named Buddy. This black and white dog has been my running motivation and inspiration for the last seven years. (Isn’t he handsome, dignified and almost regal-looking in this picture taken last fall.)

 Together, Buddy and I have jogged more than 5,000 miles. We both love it (except on cold dark mornings in December, January and February). And yet, even with ice and snow, or rain and sleet, we somehow manage to get out six days per week and jog for 30 minutes. Our pace isn’t impressive: about 2.5 miles per day or about a 12-minute mile. On days when I don’t really feel like going and want to blog, email, Facebook or reconcile my finances instead, Buddy kind of hangs around me and any time I shift positions, he thinks that maybe that means I’m getting ready to get on my jogging suit (which is black and white to match the dog — coincidentally) and grab the leash for our next jogging excursion. He’s not push or obnoxious, he just subtly lets me know that it would mean a great deal to him if we went out jogging together. And those kind and hopeful brown eyes really get the to me. So we’re pretty consistent.

However, while our leisurely daily jogs are nice, I’ve decided that it’s time for a stretch fitness goal; one that will really push me to the limit; one that will give me a chance to cross something off of my bucket list. A full marathon. Not a 5K, a 10K or even a half marathon. I’ve decided that I may as well go for the whole thing.

I started training in January and did four “long runs,” but for the past few weeks, I’ve stopped doing the long runs and focused on losing weight that will slow me down. That fat loss required some serious calorie restriction, so I haven’t had the energy to go on long runs. I’ve lost 25 pounds since January 1, reduced my gut size by 7 inches and lowered my body fat from 25.6% to 19.6%. I’m now ready to resume my marathon training in earnest. Yesterday, I committed myself financially by paying my entry fee to the Utah Valley Marathon on Saturday, June 11, 2011.

There’s a great video on the marathon at http://www.utahvalleymarathon.com/

I chose this particular course because it’s mostly downhill, but not too steep (from Wallsburg past Deer Creek Reservoir down Provo Canyon and ending in downtown Provo). So it’s a relatively easy marathon at a great time of the year. The race is 12 weeks from today. My goal is to finish, and do it under five hours. Sure, it’s not a particularly lofty time goal, but I’m starting to realize that just finishing is going to be pretty hard.

A few weeks ago, I ran 7.5 miles. It was hard and I was pretty sore afterwards. A marathon is more than three times that amount: 26.2 miles. I believe the name comes from Greek history in which a messenger ran 26.2 miles to deliver a message to Athens during the Battle of Marathon. According to the story I heard, the messenger ran that long distance, delivered the important information and then he keeled over and died. I hope that won’t be the case for me. I’m certain that the way to avoid injury and death is to do the proper training and nutrition. I’ve also been told I need the right shoes (which are not going to be cheap.)

So if any of you long-distance runners have any advice for me as a novice, please feel free to share.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2011 in Health

 

The Battle for Middle Earth

 I’m fat.

I’m at risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. I want to change. But I can’t seem to make it stick.  Here’s a quick summary of my major diets over the past several years:

  • May-Aug 1996 – Lost 35 pounds (from 201 to 166) – Low calorie, low fat, TONS of exercise
  • Jan-June 2004 – Lost 33 pounds (from 204 to 171) – Low carb
  • Jan-May 2007 – Lost 20 pounds (from 198 to 178 ) – Low carb
  • Aug-Sep 2007 – Lost 11 pounds (from 196 to 185) – Low carb
  • May-Oct 2008 – Lost 30 pounds (from 197 to 167) – Low carb

I lost between 6-10 pounds twice in 2009 doing a low carb diet. In 2010, I lost weight 7-10 pounds two times doing the HCG diet. But the weight came back when I went back to “eating as usual.” Unfortunately, I started 2011 at 194.

I am happy to report than since January 1, 2011, I’ve lost nearly 11 pounds and three inches off my middle. I’m down to 183, but my ideal weight is in the 160 range with at least 4-5 more inches off my middle.

So what am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get it off and keep it off? Exercise hasn’t been a problem. I jog six days a week for 30 minutes each day quite consistently, and have been doing that for nearly seven years. I suppose I need to do some strength training and that will help, but I hate gyms and I don’t like pain… 

I’ve decided that one major reason I can’t seem to keep my belly fat off is because I haven’t fundamentally changed the way I approach food.

I need to lose the fat and then monitor my food intake carefully for the rest of my life. I can’t keep going off and on diets. I have to change my lifestyle permanently. Maybe you do too?

Obesity is an epidemic. Diabetes is becoming such a major medical problem that it could easily bankrupt our health care system in the coming years. Forty years ago, obesity rates were 13% of Americans. Ten years ago, obesity rates had jumped to 23%. Today, American obesity rates have climbed to 33%! Why? I think it has a lot to do with our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

However, I am convinced it has a lot to do with the USDA food pyramid’s focus on grains and other simple carbs. In the decades that the food pyramid has been emphasizing this plan of a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, obesity rates have skyrocketed. This can certainly be attributed to the availability of processed foods. Corn and associated products (subsidized by the government) are in everything. Our grandparents’ generation knew that breads, pastas and starches (like potatoes) were foods that pack on the pounds. Why do you think cattle at feed lots are fed a corn and grain instead of grass to fatten them up? It’s because simple carbohydrates are quickly converted into glycogen and, in turn, into fat stores. What’s more, they spike our insulin levels and make it that much more difficult to release the fat our body stores.
 
Our current American eating patterns are totally contradictory to thousands of years of human evolution. We’ve evolved eating a high protein diet rich in nutrients and healthy vegetables. Only in the past few decades when the agricultural industrial complex came to power have all these high-carbohydrate foods become staples of our diet. They are so available because they are cheap and subsidized by the government. But they are contrary to our body’s natural way to process food. Thus the dramatic spike in obesity rates in recent years. It’s killing us as a nation.
 
Some suggest that it’s all about “calories in” and “calories out.” I am certain that it’s not that simple. It’s not just a will power issue. Often naturally skinny people say that it’s just a person’s lack of self-control that causes them to be fat. And while I’m sure there’s some truth to that, there are a lot of complexities in the body’s chemistry and the way insulin regulates the body’s fat reserves that makes it extremely difficult for many people to lose weight.

Many studies have shown that people on a low-calorie, low-fat diet experienced less fat loss than those on a low-carb diet that did not have a specific calorie restriction. That’s because dietary protein and fat satiates us much more than carbs, so we naturally reduce calories because we’re not hungry. (Eating eggs for breakfast vs. a bowl of cereal is the perfect example of this — you get hungry more quickly with the bowl of cereal, even though the calorie input is the same.)  
 
So is the credibility of what I’m saying compromised by my confessions above? That low carb living isn’t a viable long-term solution since it’s not a realistic lifestyle? I’ve been on a yo-yo because I’ve allowed myself to get in “diet” mode and then get OUT of diet mode. Long-term health and weight maintenance REQUIRE a lifestyle shift, and that’s where I have failed. I work hard to lose some pounds and then go back to “eating as usual.” This simply doesn’t work. I am a living example of that. I’ve lost the same 30 pounds three times now. I’ve lost the same 10 pounds at least five times now.

This current weight loss I’m engaged in is the last time for me. I’m not going back. That’s because besides being ugly, belly fat is SOOO detrimental to my health. It significantly increases my risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

My brother Aaron is a fitness guru, and he’s helping me design a plan to lose the belly fat and then do what I’ve never been able to do before — find a realistic maintenance plan in which I can slowly add back carbs and find that perfect nutrition balance that allows me to stay trim. I’m not getting any younger, so now’s the time to make the change. Permanently this time.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Health

 

Whew, what a summer!

Labor Day Weekend always feels like the end of summer for me, so this weekend we decided to play hard. From Friday to Monday, we watched three movies, ate at three restaurants, went swimming twice and even stayed overnight at a resort. I am exhausted from my relaxing weekend! And since it was the last weekend of summer, I thought about what I did over the past three months to accomplish some specific goals. Just for fun, I counted up some of my activities and, according to my diary entries from Memorial Day to Labor Day, I did the following:

Swimming
I visited the pool 28 times, including 16 visits with my kids, 10 visits on my own to swim laps and two visits with the scouts. Most of the visits were to the South County Outdoor Pool in Riverton, but I also visited the Crestwood Pool in Sandy, the South Jordan Fitness Center and Marv Jenson Recreation Center in South Jordan, Cowabunga Bay in Draper, East Canyon Resort in Henefer, the Hyatt Place in Denver, along with pools at my siblings’ condos and Sherwood Hills Resort in Wellsville.

Hiking
I went on 10 hikes this summer, although a couple would probably be better classified as walks. In June I hiked to Timpanogos Cave with Parley’s fourth grade class and then hiked to the top of Grandeur Peak with my brother Matt, followed by a hike with my brother Dan on the Lake Blanch Trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon. In July, our family hiked on the trail around Payson Lake and then the next weekend, my son Parley joined me on a hike to Dog Lake via Butler Fork. I did a hike every Saturday in August, including a trip to Huber Grove in Midway, a hike with Robin and baby James to Ghost Falls in Corner Canyon, a strenuous climb up to Cardiff Pass in Little Cottonwood Canyon with my brothers Dan and Nate, and a hike to Red Pine Lake with the scouts. The final “hike” was on the trails at the Sherwood Hills Resort yesterday. Good times.

Tennis
Over the past nine years, I have lived very close to a park with a tennis court. I love to play tennis, but since it requires making arrangements with other players, I have seldom played over the past decade. That all changed this summer as I found a couple willing tennis partners and played 15 times, including a couple of games with Parley who got a tennis racquet for his birthday in May.

Golfing
I had intended to play more golf this summer, but time and budget constraints didn’t allow for it. (I was busy doing other things, as you can see.) I did manage to hit a bucket of balls at South Mountain and at Riverbend. I also played a round of golf at Riverbend on July 4th and at Fox Hollow in American Fork last Saturday. Perhaps there’s still time to golf before the season ends.

Camping
We did four camping trips this summer including one night at Payson Lakes in July and one night in Wasatch Mountain State Park in August. The other two were in Riverton – one in our backyard in June (does that count) and the other in the field behind our church in August. (I also camped one night at Potter’s Ponds with the scouts and a night in the dorms at Snow College in Ephraim for youth conference.)

Add to all that jogging with my dog 30 minutes per day, six days per week and I’d say it was a very active summer. I wish I could say that all this physical activity resulted in my losing a bunch of weight, but lamentably, summer BBQs and cold desserts have prevented that. I guess the good news is that I haven’t gained weight; I continue my weigh-ins with my friend Mike and that has helped. I just wish I could get skinny and stay there! Anyway, I am currently forming my game plan for fall/winter physical fitness, which likely will include weight lifting (yuck) and racquetball. We’ll see…

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2009 in Health