Appendix Two: Before I Started Running

I started this particular project in January 2012. I weighed 218, and had been there for at least 5 years. I’d been over 200 for a long time. I’m 5’11, which meant that my BMI put me at the bottom edge of obese.

My dad died June 21, 2011. He’d always been heavy. Six months after he retired, he had the first of two strokes. Eventually he had congestive heart failure. I didn’t want a stroke. I didn’t want a heart attack. As much as I loved him, I didn’t want to be my dad. I wanted to finally change.

In the summer of 2011, I tried running. For a day or two. And my knee hurt. Enough to go to the doctor which led to a colonoscopy. That didn’t find much of anything during the colonoscopy. It was routine. But when I asked about the impact of running on my knee, the doctor said, “ride a bike.”

I borrowed a stationary bike, but didn’t really ride much. I watched Biggest Loser, I read Bob Harper’s books, but I didn’t make many changes. Until January 2012.

On 1.12.12, I wrote in my journal, “Because I want to weigh 210 on March 12 and I weigh 218 now, I have to lose a pound a week.” March 12 was our 29th wedding anniversary. Choosing that as a date and resolving not to tell Nancy about my plan made it an act of love, which gave me a little boost of incentive.

Here’s what I had to do.

  1. Decide that losing weight for me isn’t primarily a spiritual battle. It’s about exercising more and eating less and smarter.
  2. Decide that it is about health, not weight. I had to change the way I lived, not just lose weight.
  3. Look closely at why I do things. I realized that I snacked a lot. So I had to start asking myself some questions. When do I snack? Why do I snack? What am I afraid of?  Why am I nervous?
  4. Replace the action with a healthier action. It’s one thing to say “don’t snack”. And, having discovered that I snack because of stress, it’s not helpful simply to say, “don’t stress.” What helped me was saying, “I know I snack, I know I stress. Have these to eat.” Have them at the office on my desk.

I knew from research that almonds were a reasonably healthy snack. So I started eating almonds, those I hadn’t liked them in the past. Miniwheats would give me fiber and had a lot of crunch. So I started eating them out of the box. Baby carrots are more expensive than buying a bag of carrots and peeling them myself. But convenience was important.

  1. Frosted miniwheats. And then, in a moment of toughness, I tried plain shredded mini-wheats.
  2. Reducing choices helps. For 90% of days since January 12, 2012, I’ve had an egg or two with toast for breakfast, with a multivitamin and glucosamine. For four years, I had oatmeal for lunch with a diced apple and string cheese. For supper we have whatever Nancy fixes, which will be moderate portions, lightly sauced. And shredded wheat and blueberries or a banana with 1% milk for nightime snack.
  3. Find a real goal that mattered to me.
  4. Not tell people what I was doing.
  5. Walk for 30 minutes at least 8 times a week with Nancy.
  6. A variety of exercise at home. Riding, some free weights, 100 pushups a day for 3-4 months, until I got a ganglian cyst in my wrist, three months of at least 20 situps and 20 pushups, and other things. And then in 2015, I started running.
  7. Freedom to eat at holidays, though not gorging. I realized that I am living more healthy so I can enjoy some things, too.
  8. Reading and applying a lot on habit formation.
  9. Recruiting a couple of encouragers. For example, I asked Josh Schwartz about my pushup form. He approved. And then would ask me how I was doing. And then gave me weights. I borrowed weights from a few people. And Nancy and our kids were huge fans.

I didn’t join a gym. I didn’t buy anything other than a couple used free weights. I haven’t bought diet foods. I hadn’t run into health issues, so I didn’t need any special diets. By eating steelcut oats and not buying lunch at work every Thursday, I’ve probably saved money. And I don’t buy donuts for the office anymore.

Except I have bought a bunch of new clothes. 3333-inchaist instead of 38. Medium polo shirts instead of XL.

I lost 50 pounds by the beginning of 2013. In September of 2013, I started to climb. I gained about 12-14 over the next six months. Since then, I’ve settled in at about 170-175, depending on the status of my running.



Not Sprinting Copyright © by Jon Swanson. All Rights Reserved.

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