It’s the lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.
– Muhammad Ali
I don’t know how many acquaintances have told me they’d love to run a 5k or marathon, but can’t because they “aren’t made for running.” I call BS.
We’ve all of us have had our faith-crushing experiences – I’ve heard them all and have used a number of them as excuses myself. Sucked at everything sport as a child? Tried “everything” to get in shape and failed? Have an injury/ache/pain that won’t let me (insert activity here)? Guilty on all counts.
“Not cut out for running?” One of my Heroes, Sarah Reinertson, didn’t decide she wasn’t cut out to become an Ironman when she failed her first attempt. She trained again and returned to conquer the grueling course in Kona, Hawaii the following year. By the way, Sarah is the first female above the knee amputee to even attempt an Iron distance Triathlon.
Do you really think your body is naturally weaker than that of 82 year olds Lew Hollander or Sister Madonna Buder, the oldest persons to complete an Ironman triathlon? (Sister Buder is a genuine nun). Do you think they wake up feeling like spring chickens and complete their grueling training regimens without aches and pains? Of course not.
Is your body weaker than that of Teri Griege, a cancer patient who trained for her Ironman traithlon with a chemo pump literally strapped to her back? No, it wasn’t an “easy” cancer – it was stage 4 and had already begun to spread.
The real gift that extraordinary people have is that they don’t accept pretend limits or invent excuses so they feel better about not trying. Our strength lies in our hearts and minds, it only shows in our bodies after we learn and apply that lesson.
If you’ve ever been inspired to achieve something, it’s time to quit pretending that you can’t. It’s time to quit pretending you know who you are and who you aren’t, because you have no idea until you dig deep and try something you’ve never thought possible. If someone else has done it, the only reason you can’t is if you don’t try.
***Follow me on Facebook for a chance to win a few bucks!***
It’s really done. As of November 18th, 2012, my journey from complete zero to Athlete has reached a huge milestone and I have become one: An Ironman. How does that saying go? “Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112, run 26.2, then brag for the rest of your life.” Sounds good to me.
It was an amazing experience and I’ve met some amazing people along the way. Here’s to my new friends and training partners – special mention to Ironsisters Jen and Trish. You’ve each lent me strength, wisdom, and love that will never be forgotten. Congrats to both of you on your IM Florida finishes just 2 weeks ago!
Journey complete? Hardly. My to do list:
And I thought, “What can I do?” … And the answer came to mind: I can still take one more step. And so at that point I decided to take one more step until I could no longer take one more step. And today we would say that is suicidal, you know. We tell people not to think that way since there is always another day to come back. Well, there isn’t always another day, because a lot of times life gives us one opportunity at something. – Gordy Ainsleigh, Founder of Western States 100 mile Ultramarathon when pondering quitting that first attempt.
Gordy had already decided that he couldn’t finish the race when he came to this epiphany in 1974. I don’t recall exactly at what point, but I think it was around mile 60 when he came to a horse dying of dehydration (he carried no water himself). Exhausted and convinced he couldn’t make it another 40 miles, he began asking himself how far he could make it. Quickly, he realized he couldn’t make it even to the next town. Gordy could only manage one more step…so he took it. Time and time again, he took one more step until he completed the 100 mile horse race on his own two feet in 23 hours and 42 minutes.
Gordy helped me out just last week when I didn’t think I could manage my own long run. Exhausted from training and still quite sore from previous workouts and lack of sleep, I didn’t think I could even start what was supposed to be my last long training run before The Grand Rapids Half Iron-Distance triathlon. But, Gordy’s words rang loud and clear:
“…there isn’t always another day, because a lot of times life gives us one opportunity at something.”
So I defied my pleading body, began my run, and by mile two I had loosened up just enough that every step was only painful instead of excruciating. Not a single step during that run felt good, and it seemed almost certain that the muscles in my legs would quit and leave me writhing on the ground in a puddle, but I always managed one more step.
90 miraculous minutes and ten miles later, my legs brought me all the way back to my car. It was neither my longest or fastest run, but finishing was a victory I’ll remember for a long time.
I don’t know if life will give me another opportunity to become an Ironman, so I’ll take every step I’ve got left in me toward that finish line. Thank you, Gordy.
I’ve been asked a bunch recently for my weight loss secret, so I posted this response on my personal Facebook page was surprised with the number of thank you messages that hit my inbox. It’s a privilege to have something meaningful to share with others!
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and notice the things you are unhappy with. Then imagine the person you want to be, taking the time to see them in detail. Now for the rest of the day, ask yourself if you’re making the same decision that person you envision would make. At meal time, do they choose foods that feel good for a few minutes or foods that support six-pack abs for the whole summer? If time is tight, would they choose to spend an hour in front of the TV with a snack, or would they get in a workout? Would they quit that workout when it got tough or uncomfortable, or dig in and get it done?
There comes a time when no workout hurts more than being unhappy with yourself when you look in the mirror.
I wish I could say that my first run went surprisingly well, but that’d be incredibly misleading. The truth is, it went far worse than I could have expected. I intended to start slow – perhaps a mile jog then some walking. Hah!
It was a cool fall evening, and off I went. Immediately, it became clear that I wasn’t going to make a mile. My belly was bouncing, my back was in pain with every step, and my heart was going to come right out of my chest. That was one city block, later measured to be 1/10 of a mile. I had run for a just over a minute, and literally my vision was getting black. I nearly passed out, and I think the only thing keeping me awake was the intense burning in my legs, and the agony in my lungs. Discouraged and embarrassed at myself, I was determined to not be defeated. I was determined to be an Ironman, like my new heroes Peter Ried and Dick Hoyt.
I had to define my immediate goals. I didn’t know much about training at the time, but I knew that trying to train for an entire 140.6 mile Ironman at that moment was futile. I had to train for the first mile. I chose to be an athlete that day. I chose to train like an athlete, to eat like like an athlete, and to live like an athlete. I finished that first run repeating my 1/10 of a mile three times, and to this day I’m proud of that workout. I had trained like an athlete.
I came to learn that not every athlete is ready for the big event. Even the pros have their off-seasons, and I decided that my off season was over. Time for training camp. Not really knowing where to start, I began buying books. The Complete Idiots Guide to Jogging and Running, by Bill Rodgers, was full of excellent insight, tips, and motivation. Of particular note was a day by day plan to get started that provided much needed guidance!
I read Runners’ World Magazine, studying both personal stories and articles. I read about nutrition and how it pertains to athletes. I learned that it’s not running a certain distance or speed, or lifting so much weight that makes you an athlete. It’s in your training, it’s in your life. A professional coach doesn’t blindly pick a benchmark for the day and tell their athlete to go do it. Instead, he chooses goals that will provide a challenge and stimulate progress for that particular athlete. I didn’t have to outrun anybody but me, and that is how an athlete trains. Make no mistake, I was not a fat guy making an attempt to get in shape, I was an athlete.
My mindset showed it. I neither deprived nor overindulged myself at mealtime, eating just what I needed. Food became fuel, and if it wasn’t going to help me get where I was going, then I didn’t need it. I wasn’t hungry all the time, either – When I start eating healthy food that provided the nutrients I needed, my body didn’t constantly beg me for more. I began weight training when my studies showed me how beneficial it is to weight loss, running, and general health. I couldn’t be told that I wasn’t a weightlifter because I could barely lift the bar. Progress was happening, and it was measurable.
Bottom line: You choose your mindset, no one else. Don’t believe that you are an out of shape person, struggling through another workout. A pro-athletes’ workout isn’t easy because he is in shape, he trains hard to make progress! Know that you aren’t any different from your favorite athlete – pushing yourself today so that tomorrow, today’s workout looks easy.
Here’s to your journey.
Like Body By McDonald’s on Facebook for new article notifications!
This one has been irritating me for a while now. I know you’ve read it: “Diet Soda Linked to Weight Gain!” or “Diet Soda Makes You Fat!”
My problem is not with the reporting of valid science, it’s that misleading readers with incomplete warnings is every bit as fraudulent and irresponsible as promoting a sugary cereal as healthy because it has “10 essential vitamins and minerals!” (We wouldn’t consider a Twinkie a “health food” even if it came with a free multivitamin, yet that’s essentially what the sugary-cereal manufacturers have been selling us for years). In the matter of artificial sweeteners, the authors of these articles are scaring their readers away from a useful tool that has helped myself and countless others defeat obesity. (I personally used to drink 8-10 cans of soda daily, and switching to diet saved me over 1400 calories per day).
I don’t think there’s any question that water should be our beverage of choice, but a lot of us do and will continue to drink soda every day. I want to help you make an informed decision as to whether diet soda or regular soda is the lesser evil for you.
The source of all of this drama is irresponsible reporters making claims that not even the researchers involved in the studies cited would support. Apparently, “Consuming Too Many Calories Makes You Fat!” isn’t exactly cutting edge news (even if it’s still more accurate). The authors claiming that artificial sweeteners and/or diet soda cause weight gain have fed mostly off of two recent studies:
Although I accept the finding of the two studies as likely, I have a couple points of contention: Acknowledged even by the researchers involved, the Purdue study was very, very small. The issue with the University of Texas Study isn’t really an issue with the results data, but rather with the biased interpretation of ambiguous results. The study indicates that those who drink diet soda are more likely to gain weight. True, but it does NOT indicate that the weight gain is a result of drinking diet soda. The author could have been slanted and written to state that people with a lifestyle that promotes weight gain often turn to diet soda to try and stem the flow of calories. Either way, we don’t know which causes which – that’s how epidemiology tends to go. No responsible author should pretend that conclusions have been drawn from these bits of research, as not even the researchers involved make such claims.
Nothing in this article is controversial or disputed in the science community – I’m just filling the holes in the incomplete reporting you’ve been subjected to. Here’s the basic facts you need to know:
True, the evidence is mounting that those who will not control their calories manually may find themselves increasing their calorie intake if artificial sweeteners are added to their diets, but the bottom line is that artificial sweeteners do not end up on your waist line – excess food ends up on your waist line. Keep track of and control how many calories you consume, and you can drink either artificial sweeteners or sugar without gaining weight. It is, however, preferable to eat calories in the form or real food with nutritional value than to consume empty sugar calories that come with well-documented consequences.
It’s says something about us (people in general) that I get frequent looks of surprise, disapproval, or even disgust when someone new learns that I eat an Egg McMuffin for breakfast at least 5 days a week. What it says it that we have busy lives, and don’t have the time to dig deeper than the quick tidbits of information put in front of us by the media (which is often more concerned with ratings than telling the WHOLE truth). This leaves us prone to believe what is most commonly repeated to us, not necessarily what is most accurate.
Why does it seem so inconceivable that a guy on a weight loss mission and training for an Ironman Triathlon would eat fast food for breakfast every day? Thanks to the “Fast Food is bad for you” brainwashing we are endlessly subjected to, I’ve heard plenty of reactions like “Uh oh, Lloyd has fallen off the wagon!” “That stuff is poison!” And “Hmmph. I thought you were an athlete!”
Fallen off the wagon? Hardly! The Egg McMuffin is a carefully selected part of my nutrition plan, and for good reason. Poison? My inability to find time to exercise and prepare a healthy diet was my poison, with very real effects on my physical health and emotional well-being. I AM an athlete, and after trying many diet methods/tricks/principles, I’ve discovered that fast food can provide a great combination of nutrition and time savings.
Since we just talked about the essential macro nutrients in my last post, you’ll understand more readily why the Egg McMuffin is anything but bad for you when compared to some popular granola cereals. Why granola cereal? Because it’s one of the most popular breakfasts consumed by amateur athletes, those trying to lose weight, and those simply trying to “eat healthy.” The numbers for the “average” granola cereal were compiled from 15 popular granola cereal products.*** Here’s the short story:
With 19 grams of muscle-protecting protein, reasonable 12 grams of fat, and just-right 30 grams of carbohydrate, the 300 calorie Egg McMuffin comes out with a pretty solid victory. The protein and fat together offset the blood sugar instability and rapidly returning hunger that comes with consuming carbohydrates alone. 40% of calories are from carbs, 25% from protein, 36% from fat (only slightly higher than the 25-30% that we shoot for). That’s darn near a perfect balance.
One cup of the average “healthy” granola cereal* slides in with a relatively puny 11.5 grams of protein. In exchange for avoiding the 5 measly grams of saturated fat in the Egg McMuffin, you’ll be rewarded with a whopping 70 grams of waist-expanding carbohydrates. Loitering amongst those carbs is 20 grams of craving-inducing sugars. 20 grams…that’s 5.5 grams more than you’ll find in a cup of Frosted Flakes**, and no different than shoveling 5 teaspoons of sugar down the hatch. What that means is that you’ll have to eat 750 calories worth of granola to get the protein packed in just 300 calories worth of Egg McMuffin (not to mention the 26 grams of fat contained in that much granola). Yes, your milk will add a few grams of protein, but even more sugar, carbs, and total calories. 60% of calories from carbs, 10% from protein, and 30% from fat.
Having fruit with granola cereal is a very common and tasty option, according to a couple informal surveys I conducted on internet forums. Fruit is wonderful in many ways, but in this case carries the meal further away from anything that could be considered balanced by adding almost exclusively extra sugars (carbs). This high ratio of carbs (especially simple carbs like sugars) causes insulin and blood sugar level highs and lows. These, in turn, make an inconsistent mess of energy levels, ability to concentrate, and hunger feelings. Nuts would be preferable addition, especially almonds or walnuts. Even better – Eggs/egg whites, lean meat.
I love granola cereal and include it in my diet with some regularity, but sadly, it is a dangerous breakfast option for those of us concerned with weight control. If you cannot live without it, avoid eating a bowl of it and measure (Yes, I said MEASURE!) 1/4-1/2 cup of it to go with some nonfat Greek yogurt, which will supplement the granola’s anemic protein punch without the extra carbs that come with milk. I love milk too, but that last thing you need to go with your bowl of carbs is carbs.
*Serving size: Granola cereals, like many products, do not have consistent “serving sizes” on their nutrition labels. Many list data for 1/4 cup, which if you’ve ever looked at 1/4 cup of cereal in a bowl, already know that it wouldn’t satisfy a toddler. I measured how much cereal it took to fill several different bowls from several different households and found that 1.5 cups seems pretty average. The numbers I’m using above are for a one cup serving – not even a whole bowl.
**According to the http://www.kelloggs.com, Frosted Flakes has 27 grams of carbohydrate and 11 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup serving. That adds up to 14.6 grams of sugar per one cup serving.
***The average numbers used were compiled from the nutrition data published from the following popular granola cereals: Bear Naked Peanut Butter, Bear Naked Fruit and Nut, Bear Naked Peak Protein, Bear Naked Heavenly Chocolate, Bear Naked Banana Nut, Bear Naked Cinnamon, Bear Naked Fit Vanilla Almond Crunch, Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Crunch, Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Raisin, Cascadian Farm Maple Brown Sugar, Cascadian Farm Oats & Honey, Kashi Cocoa Beach, Kashi Mountain Medley, Kashi Orchard Spice, Kashi Summer Berry. Values for 1/4 cup were added together then divided by the number of cereals for a true average, then rounded to the nearest 1/2 gram or whole calorie. These results were multiplied by 4 to give us the values for a one cup serving.
Rebuilding your body is like a home renovation project: First you have to demolish the old room you want to rebuild. This is done during your workouts…that’s right – workouts don’t make you stronger, they actually weaken you. The rebulding part is the body’s response to the damage that happens during workouts. Your body will attempt to rebuild itself even stronger to better deal with the stresses placed on it, if YOU give it both the building materials and “labor” to do the job. The buiding materials come from the food you eat, and the “labor” is adequate rest. I stressed “You” because your body cannot make these things, you have to provide them.
“Fast food is loaded with fat and empty calories that lacks fiber, vitamins, and minerals.”
Another common anti-fast food argument that is only partially true. It complains that fast food is lacking in fiber and many vitamins and minerals while neglecting the value of the most important nutrients – The very building materials we need to build our muscles stronger, and the energy sources we need to be active. These essential macro nutrients are Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat…fast food can provide these when the alternative is to skimp or compromise on another important part of your life. Keep in mind that my purpose here is not to promote fast food as any sort of ideal food, but rather to illustrate how it can be beneficial and contribute to a healthy, balanced lifesyle.
No food has all of the important vitamins and minerals, and the most effective solution is to use different foods to provide for different needs. Do you refuse to visit your primary care physician because he doesn’t do eye exams or dental work? Of course not, you visit him for the basics, and have a separate optometrist and dentist.
We must understand a few things if we are to make wholly informed choices, rather than choices driven by the same old bits of overhyped and narrow-focused information that’s put in front of us over and over. I’ll try to keep things here brief, and come back to each item in future entries.
1. It’s ok for any meal to be missing some things – Diversity is key, so we’ll just get them later.
2. Carbohydrates are useful, but you don’t need nearly as many as you think – I have to bring up a few things on carbs: Eating meals of only carbs has some undesireable effects on the body. The idea that we need carbs for breakfast to “provide energy for the whole day” is an old-school fallacy. First, you aren’t burning sugar when you are sleeping – you are burning energy at such a low rate it is virtually all fat burned aerobically. The body can run 15-20ish miles before running out of stored carbs…I doubt you’ll be running out at work unless you have a metabolic disorder. I’m not suggesting that we should to avoid carbs at breakfast, but there is nothing “balanced” or healthy about bagels and cereal for breakfast every day. There is so much misunderstanding and abuse of carbohydrates that it’s hard for me to move on.
3. Protein is essential! (and you probably need more than you think if you’re active) – Would you put in the tremendous effort to demolish a section of your home, then refuse to buy lumber or drywall to rebuild? Just as you cannot rebuild your family room without the building materials, you cannot rebuild you body without protein. I get a lot of protein from fast food, and there are plenty of options that are fairly low in fat.
4. Fat is not the enemy and trying to eliminate every gram from our diet is a mistake – In fact, it’s a valuable source of energy and a 25-30 percent of the calories in a healthy diet should come from fat. In fact, it wouldn’t be possible for an athlete to run a marathon or long triathlon if fat weren’t available as a fuel – the body doesn’t store enough carbohydrates. That said, some fats are better than others, and I keep that in mind when placing my order.
5. Fiber, vitamins, and minerals are important, but not more important than the building blocks. Once again, diversity is key.
We’ve all heard someone say (and probably agreed with them) that they could have time to workout and look great if they had a personal chef like many of the stars. Professionally prepared complete nutrition is out of reach for most of us, but fortunately, fast food can be part of a very reasonable compromise if we do our part and make smart choices.
I’d never suggest that fast food is nutritionally superior to a well-balanced, home-cooked meal of organic vegetables and free range meats. What I AM suggesting is that people often exclude fast food to the detriment of their overall health. Their reasons generally fall into one of two broad categories. Today we’ll talk about the first category.
“Cooking and working out take too much time, so I’ll have to skip exercise.”
In this case, one ignores the tremendous health benefits of regular exercise in order to avoid what is perceived to be an unhealthy meal. Constant media hype and dramatizations seem to have many, if not most people believing with certainty that eating fast food will rob years off your life. Even this were true, avoiding any food type like a plague is of little benefit if one’s body is not fit enough to enjoy this alleged health. For the record – The idea that if it comes from a drive thru then it must be bad for you is wholly untrue, and the meals I regularly see people eat in order to avoid “unhealthy” fast food are not going to promote a healthy, fit life if eaten frequently.
If good health is a goal, one cannot afford to neglect any of it’s three basic requirements: Nutrition, Exercise, and Rest. Unfortunately, exercise and sleep are the first two sacrifices most people make when a busy schedule becomes overwhelming. If time is a roadblock to getting adequate amounts of all three requirements, one must then split the available time up so that all three matters get some attention. Consider this: If you spend all of your money buying premium gas for your car but can’t afford to change the oil, you will end up with a broken car. As you sit on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck, it will occur to you that the car would have lasted longer had you bought cheaper gas and put a few bucks toward an oil change.
My time is stretched critically thin, and it simply isn’t possible for me to get in my three hour workouts, do the grocery shopping, cooking, spend time with my family and girlfriend, and manage my household… Not as long as I have to work 40 hours per week to pay the bills. Stopping at McDonald’s instead of cooking at home undoubtedly does more good than harm, if the saved time is used hit the gym and I take care to order what my body needs rather than which picture on the menu looks appetizing.
You don’t have to workout three hours a day to be busy. You may have to longer work hours, school, younger children that demand more of your time, or greater social obligations. Add cooking, laundry, housework, yardwork, making it to little johnny’s baseball games…it can easily be overwhelming and leave you feeling like there is no time left for yourself.
Whether your goals are to train hard for sport or simply put in a few workouts a week to lose some weight and look good, being efficient with what time is available is key to victory. A single visit to the drive thru can easily save you an hour and a half or more when you consider grocery shopping, cooking, and clean up time. Do youself a favor and learn to use all the tools available to help you succeed. Stay tuned to learn how!