Back in my Army and West Point days, I never thought of marching
and carrying a ruck in fitness terms. It
was a necessity. What you carried on
your back is what you brought into combat. The more you put in, the more you were weighed
down. The less you put in, the more you
ran the risk of being ill-prepared.
Recently, however, I realized the fitness benefits of rucking for civilians. I started carrying a weighted ruck in preparation for the Shadow West Point March back that happened last week. The March Back coincides with the annual 13-mile march back of the United States Military Academy’s Plebe Class at the conclusion of summer Cadet Basic Training. I and about 15 fellow members of the West Point Society of Central Texas finished the march last week. The March included loaded Rucksacks and the Texas Heat! See the picture below. The Weather Channel even filmed a piece about us! I will let you know when it comes out.
Rucking has many benefits and is my latest fitness obsession. There is even a community of Veterans that go
on rucking events. It is called GoRuck
and raises money for Veterans dealing with PTSD. I am currently training for the next major
event near Austin.
Here are the five major benefits of Rucking:
Impact. Unlike running that puts stress
on your joints, rucking is low impact especially if you pack your ruck
It burns 3 times the calories that walking does (even more in Texas
Carry your Hydration. A ruck provides a convenient compartment to
store water and remain hydrate. I fill
up the bladder from my Camelback in my ruck.
It adds weight and prevents me from passing out int the Texas heat!
I bought my rucksack for less than 40 dollars on Amazon. There is no need to get a specialized
rucksack unless you want to. To weight
it down, I just evenly distributed 5 lbs. weights that I already had in
Fun and social.
I loved marching with fellow members of the Long Grey Line and being out
Marching with a ruck is not just for the military. Pick up your ruck, lace up your shoes and
march back to health!
When people start on a weight-loss journey, they talk too much. They talk about the latest diet they are trying or the latest fitness craze that they are meaning to get to tomorrow. But talk is cheap. You need to listen to lose! Listen to your heart, listen to your body, and listen to others.
Listen to your heart. The you that you are meant to be is one heart beat away. So, listen what your heart is telling you to do. Do not turn to things that stress you out. The latest fitness craze does nothing if your heart is not in it. It just stresses you out and will cause you to stop when you are discouraged. Instead, do what you love. Also, be thankful for what you have. A thankful heart is a stress free, restful heart. Stress is often the reason for losing sleep and gaining weight. Lastly, strive for a goal that inspires you. Your heart needs to be in it to win it!
Listen to Your Body. Your body knows what it wants. That is the reason too many hamburgers and fries give you indigestion. Feed your body with the good stuff. Choose vegetables and fruit over candy and sugar. Remember, just like listening to someone, you must listen to your body closely to understand what it is saying. You may think is saying I need sleep when in reality your body is saying I need to exercise and get energy, or I am dehydrated, and I need water.
Listen to Others. Some people are struggling as you are and may have caught on to something new that you have yet to discover. Others may have won their battle with weight and have inspiring stories and important teachings to tell. Also, when you have met your target, listen to others to pass on your lessons and to provide you with a reason to stay on track.
Like all things, you learn more through listening than talking. So close your mouth, open your ears to Listen, Learn and Lose!
I recently read Pivot to the Future, a new book by Accenture’s Omar Abbosh, Paul Nunes and Larry Downes. I highly recommend it for all IT professionals and, less expected, for individuals seeking weight loss. The concepts in the book can help those striving for a happier, healthier life!
Pivot to the Future highlights the key elements
of Accenture and its client’s recent success. The key point of the book
is to show how Accenture and other top tier companies are releasing trapped
value by continuously conducting a Wise Pivot. A Wise Pivot is leveraging
the lessons of the old and applying them with the tools of new in releasing
As I thought about it, I
applied this concept in my weight loss journey to build a better, more fit and
engaged me! The new tools that I applied
were the research and technology provided by WW and others to drive into new habits,
new thoughts, and new ideas while leveraging the old!
1. A New Take on Habits – In every bad habit, there is the seed of a good habit. Charles Duhigg explains this in his phenomenal book, The Power of Habit. Each habit consists of a trigger, a method to get a reward, and a reward. The key concept is it is sometimes hard to change the trigger or reward, but you can achieve it in a different way. All you need to do is pivot to a new method of achieving the reward and its manifestation.
One example of how I did this
was my addiction to Diet Coke. Even
though it is called Diet Coke, it is not good for diets (although somewhat
better then leaded coke). I used to drink 4 – 6, 16 ounces of Diet Coke’s
a day, which was not good for my heart condition and weight at the time (358
lbs.). After studying this habit, I
realized the reward I was getting from drinking Diet Coke was an energy boost
to momentarily take away fatigue and satisfying my craving for carbonation. I soon realized my fatigue was attributable to
a lack of hydration. I therefore
switched out Diet Coke with sparkling water that better reduced my fatigue and
hydrated me! Now instead of consuming double or triple my daily allowance of
sodium and caffeine, I am satisfying my fatigue and carbonation fix while
hydrating! I Pivoted to the New through
my examination of the old (read more on this here https://weightlossleadership.com/2018/04/13/fat-to-fit-again-the-power-of-habit/).
2. A New Way of Thinking – Another key element where you can seize on the old to achieve the new is thoughts. We often focus on negative memories when we are dealing with a problem. But likely there is an equally compelling positive experience to counter the negative one. The key is finding the positive and discarding the negative. Two ways to emphasize the positive and disregard the negative is mindfulness and keeping a gratitude journal. These two new practices have often helped me to find a positive example to counter the negative ones racing though my head. Also, it is important to remember that each failure is a lesson to propel you forward! Here is added insights on how to change your thoughts and change your life. https://weightlossleadership.com/2018/07/01/stop-the-negative-talk-and-take-a-walk/
Ideas from the Old Each old idea holds the root of the new!This
is as true in wellness as it is in business.
Here is an example of an old idea turned new idea in health.
Calorie counting has been an element of weight loss ever since people have sought to lose weight. However, we have subsequently learned that not all calories are created equal. A calorie of protein satisfies more than a calorie of saturated fat. Likewise, it once was thought that a good dose of fiber could counter the ill effects of sugar (not true).
The way I blend the old idea of calorie counting with the newest research on wellness is to use WW’s Smart Points. Since I began, 4 years ago, WW has changed their point system three times; each time incorporating the new research of weight loss with the old discipline of watching what you eat. Each change built on the former one and research to build a better path to wellness. Instead of chasing fads, I believe mixing the new with the proven tenets of the past to build a better future!
You too can change the old you
into the future healthier you. Use these
three concepts to create a healthier you and a better world.
Counting calories, exercising, and mindfulness are all
common tools for weight loss. But one
critical tool that people sometimes fail to consider is music. The right song at the right time can drive
through that last mile. It can take your
mind away from the stress and away from late night refrigerator raids. Lastly, a timely tune can inspire you through
the hardship, the self-loathing and to a new you.
I can testify to the power of music in curbing the calories
and the negative thoughts. I could name 100’s
of songs that kept me going in my 170 lbs. weight loss journey. More importantly, music has been instrumental
in keeping the weight off.
Each person is different.
My songs may not be your songs but here are my Top 5.
Theme from Rocky – This one is my favorite song for two scenarios. First, it is hard to stop going no matter how tired you are when you here the first note of the Rocky theme. Many times, I was on my last leg only to go another mile after hearing Rocky. Second, I have a food strategy based on the Rocky theme. The equivalent of an Apollo Creed, first round punch is my weekend eating habits. In my case, I tend to eat too many Smart Points (unhealthy calories for you not in WW) on Saturday after a long week and my Saturday weigh-in. I usually end up with very few weekly Smart Points by Sunday. That is when the first chime of the Rocky song comes into my head. The rest of the week I eat healthy, exercise and gain back some of the weekly Smart Points. The whole time that I am doing the Rocky strategy the tune is running in the back of my mind. If you want to use this strategy, here is a link to the Rocky Theme. https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=liPSTWdYiKs
Don’t Stop Believing, Journey – There were many reasons for me to give up when I first started losing weight. Tipping the scale at over 350 lbs. with sleep apnea and a heart condition to boot, it was hard to believe I would ever turn it around. Roadblocks and obstacles stood around every corner. But, that is when I would crank up Journey and run through the stirring chorus “Don’t stop believin’, Hold on to that feelin” . The feeling and dream that I held on to was I could again be healthy. NEVER stop believing! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcjzHMhBtf0
One Thing Remains, Jesus Culture – This may be the least traditional weight loss song, but to me this is the most important. Self-hatred and fear were two things I had to overcome both in getting healthy and life in general. When you don’t know were to turn, you should seek love. To me, Jesus is love. And as the song goes “His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me”. This has become my favorite song when facing the negative thoughts and fears running through my mind. I am forever grateful for our Life Teen Minister for introducing it to me. Another benefit of this song is I sing it so loud when it comes on that I am sure to drop a pound or two. For you have not had an opportunity to hear it, here is a link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KXsMCJgBQ
Shake it Off, Taylor Swift – My cycling instructor Corey often mashes up songs with those of Taylor Swift to inspire us. He says that Taylor Swift goes with everything and he is right, especially when it comes to weight loss. Besides the song being so danceable that you must move, its lyrics are compelling. To paraphrase, if you have a bad day, instead of eating a bag of M&M’s just shake if off! I included a link just in case you were heading to the refrigerator now to drown your day! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfWlot6h_JM
YMCA, Village People – This is a no brainer. First, it talks about going to the gym! So, if you are thinking about staying on the couch, just turn this oldie up. Second, it is even more danceable than Shake It Off and it comes with its own choreographed dance moves! Last some of the lyrics resonate including the initial ones “Young man, there’s no need to feel down. I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground. I said, young man, ’cause you’re in a new town. There’s no need to be unhappy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeADaAg0f_w
Get happy and lift yourself off the ground! Find your own songs or use these to melt the
pounds and become healthy!
Most people try anything and everything to lose weight when first starting. They will try the latest supplements, liquid diets, eating only select foods (cabbage soup anyone), the hottest fitness craze, eating at only certain times – you get the picture. Let’s do A through Z and sticks to the wall and un-sticks my diet.
I was a proponent of the more is more approach for years and it didn’t work. Over the years as my weight climbed and my hope failed, I tried everything, many simultaneously, from being a vegetarian (failed because M&M’s are not meat!), popping Green Tea pills, cleansing in various ways, the latest exercise craze, and on and on… Then I discovered two things. Weight Watchers (WW) and the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18077875-essentialism . Both teach the same thing – Do less, but better. The key to weight loss and a better, more successful life is by correctly assessing the few important priorities, focusing on these priorities exclusively, and dumping the rest. Mr. McKeown provides how to do this in his book and WW in its classed for a Essentialist’s Playbook for Weight Loss.
You can lose 170+
pounds like me by not doing everything but these three things:
Track everything you eat or drink. The best way to know how to lose weight is to
track what you eat. By consciously tracking
your food intake, you will better understand portion control and the trigger
foods you need to avoid. You use this
along with weekly weight tracking to find out what works and what foods to
avoid. That way you focus on what works,
rather than trying everything that doesn’t!
Be kind for yourself. You can’t focus on what is important if you
are unhealthy in body or your soul. It
is therefore important to focus on your health both mentally and
physically. Take time to journal
positive thoughts, rest, and relax. A
few minutes a day of being kind to yourself will not only help you lose the
stress that sabotages most people’s health.
Take time to exercise. Study upon study have shown that sitting is the
equivalent or worse to smoking for health.
It does not take much to get the exercise your body needs and craves. Get up for 10 minutes every hour and take a
walk. Also, block out 30 minutes in the
morning to recharge and energize.
Bottom line: You do
not need to do A through Z to lose weight and be a better you! All you need is the essential 1-2-3! Go out and practice Essentialism to gain a
new body and soul.
The above is my take on e.e. cummings’ classic “In Just Spring” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47247/in-just after my first run in Spring. Everyone wants to get out and lose those 10 pounds of insulation gained during the Winter months. But before you go out and become the little lame woman or man, here are three rules to follow In Just Spring.
Take it Slow – It
is always tempting to walk that extra mile or two when the weather gets warm
and the bluebonnets are out. That is
exactly what I, my wife, and our dog Boots attempted to do on the trails on Brushy
Creek. Even with a stop at a sandwich
shop for a quick bite, we ended up struggling to make it back to our car. We ended up dragging our 70 lbs., huffing
Bernese Mountain dog the last few yards.
We are still recovering!
The lesson learned is simple. Do not overdue it with the first flowers of spring. In the winter it is a struggle to get out and about (read how so in this blog https://weightlossleadership.com/2018/12/09/baby-its-cold-outside-but-exercise-anyway/ ). Now that the weather is more conducive to exercise don’t try to catch up all in one day. Take your time to slowly build up your miles, so you too don’t become the little lame woman or man (or dog!).
Do the essential –
A corollary to the first rule is to focus on the essential. In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined
Pursuit of Less, Greg Mckeown says that the key to success to health and
life in general is to do “less but better”.
When waking up after our winter fog, it is tempting to try everything at
once to get fit. It is understandable, we
are excited to get swimsuit ready for the summer. So we take up the latest diet, try a myriad
of fitness fads, and buy the newest exercise equipment from Amazon. But it is better to focus of the
essentials. Track the food you eat
diligently, get plenty of sleep, and focus on the now. Don’t do everything! Do the essential well to
enjoy the Spring and the new you.
Be in the Moment – The flowers are in bloom and the sun is out. It is time to focus on the now and enjoy the new life of Spring. One way to take it slow is to take in nature. Sit on a bench. Take a picture. Lie in the bluebonnets like Boots the dog! Clear your mind of anxiety and enjoy the blooming beauty all around you.
Follow these rules to avoid becoming the little lame, middle-aged
woman or man. Spring into the season and
a new you!
The key to improving your health and losing weight is your environment. We in the 21st century live in a toxic environment. Artificial food, false friends, and feelings of discontent lead to stress, weight gain and self-medication. To embark on a journey toward health, we need to put away the fast food, vitriol and anxiety of everyday living to embrace real food, real experiences, mindfulness and thankfulness.
I know I lived in that environment up until a few years back
and experienced its negative consequences.
With ready access to Quarter Pounders, Diet Cokes, and M&Ms, I doubled
my size and diminished my disposition.
These unhealthy eating practices were exacerbated by too much face time at
work and Facebook for leisure. The
result was an unhealthy, grumpy middle-aged man who could not walk around the
block. Something had to change! Only when I started to change my environment
did I change my life!
There were three aspects to my environment that I decided to
change in January 2015. Weighing more
than all but three of the heaviest players in the NFL with a goods deal less muscle
tone and height, I had to take the following actions to change my environment
and restore my hearth:
Changed my food environment. The first aspect that I set out to change was
my pantry. There were several nemeses
that I had to swap out. The first was
Ice Cream. I was an absolute ice cream
fanatic. So much so that I created an
acronym for my Ice Cream addiction – ICR.
This is how it is used. Once my
kids could drive, I would call out – “Hey, Kyle can you go on an ICR. Get me a large M&M blizzard and get
something for everyone else.” ICR if
you have not figured out yet is Ice Cream Run and it supplemented the ice cream
I already had in the freezer. In
addition to Ice Cream, I kept a pantry well stocked of chips, peanut M&Ms,
and a big 1-gallon plastic container of mixed nuts. All available for ready access whenever I
became stressed. This had to change so I
sought out alternatives.
I initially replaced my DQ Blizzard with Skinny Cow Ice Cream sandwiches and eventually Non-Fat Greek yogurt with Banana’s (I still stay away from Ice Cream totally since it is a trigger food). I replaced peanut M&M’s overtime with WW Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie flavored bars that are individually wrapped, the same calories of a two peanut M&M’s and less likely to gouge on by the cupful! I replaced chips with a crunchy, healthy alternative that absorbs Salsa just as well – Broccoli. I dealt with my Mixed Nut affliction in a similar way that I did Peanut M&Ms. I swapped out the tub full of Mixed Nuts from Costco with individual packets of smaller size that are less likely to gouge on in fits of stress eating. These and other food changes got me one third of the way to a better environment.
2. Changed my social and work environment. The next thing I needed to do was change up how I spent my time. During the day and into the early evening I was spending time locked to a desk in conference calls or directing my team. At night, I read the latest political debates late into the night on Facebook. Both resulted in too much work time and not enough downtime. Additionally, the constant diatribe of uncivility on social media was stressing me out. I could feel the cortisol racing through my veins as I dealt with the next work issue or latest political debate.
I decided to take two measures to change my
social and work environment. First, I vowed
to get up and move for 10 minutes each hour and to block out 1 hour for working
out in the morning. Additionally, I
vowed to leave no later than 7 PM unless the world was ending. At first, I thought these actions would
detract from my work effort, but I was wrong.
Instead, it fostered communication between my team and I and provided me
with the respite to come up with better actions.
The second thing I did was make a determined effort to spend less time on social media and to spend that time on positive feeds. I accomplished this in two ways. I monitored and reduced my time reading social media. When I could not reduce it as much as I hoped, I decided to change my feeds and to listen to mindful podcasts. I actively sought out positive Facebook groups such as Spreading Positivity and liked their content. Over time, my Facebook feeds have changed because of this determined effort from politics to positive messages. Many of these serve as inspirations to my blogs! I have switched my environment from Trump to Tranquility!
3. Changed my internal environment. The most important environment to change to get healthy is the internal dialogue running through your head. The change in the social and work environment helped a lot in this endeavor, but I was still having negative thoughts. To counter them, I took up meditation and mindfulness. I have used the Headspace application as well as the Christian Meditation blog to get mind off the problems running in my head to the progress I am making in my heart!
Changing your environment is the first step to changing to
the new you! I did it and so can you!
Recently there has been a lot of controversy on the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Now, I am not going to get into the controversy. No. Instead, I decided to use the melody, which I love so much, and make new lyrics that are appropriate for those losing weight!
Here is the song with the lyrics directly below:
I really should go play,
But it’s cold outside,
I got to get away,
But it’s cold outside,
I need to exercise,
So, I don’t get fat,
What do you think of that?
I have to go, go, go,
But my body says no, no, no,
I really should go and do my exercise,
But I despise,
The cold, the cold, the cold, THE COLD!
Most of us hate to exercise when it is cold outside. But it is a necessity if we are going to keep on our weight loss journey. So, how do you get your exercise in, when you don’t want to go out? Here are five tricks of the trade.
Bundle up and play! A key to good health is getting sun. So, the first thing is to layer up and get outdoors. Winter is a good time for high calorie burning especially if you are in Minnesota which I will be in a few weeks. So, layer up and have some fun with winter sports such as cross-country skiing, and sledding (as long as you are climbing up the hill after sledding down!) Take advantage of these great sports that are only available in the winter (or early spring and late autumn when you are in the frozen tundra up north).
Romp around in your romper! Those Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Jack LaLanne fans out there know the power of the romper. The founding father of exercise, Jack, and Abe Weisman, Tony Shaloub’s character on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel show us how it is done old school with simple calisthenics. Whether you are in the warmth you are home or in the Catskills as Abe, old school calisthenics can get your heart pumping. If you have YouTube,you might even want to one of Jack’s old TV routines shown here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4A3mdG5zbQ
Take your Dog for a walk! Some dogs are conditioned to walk in the cold. Boots, our Bernese Mountain Dog, gets way more active when its get’s colder. As you can see from his thick coat and bear like appearance, Boots loves the cold and can walk a lot further when it is 30 degrees than 100 degrees in Austin. So, take care of your body and take your dog on a walk to escape that pesky cat.
Dance fever. This last one comes from my daughter Kate the Great. When she gets done from a tough day teaching high school, she goes home, turns on the X-Box and “Just Dance”s. Whether with an X-box game or to some Venmo videos of Taylor Swift (I personally love “Shake it Off”, dancing is an excellent way to shake off the pounds!
These are just five ideas to keep in shape during the winter months. There are many more like chopping wood for your own fire or hot yoga, but these will suffice for now. Bottom line: Don’t get old, just because it is cold. Exercise and have fun!
Wellness and work usually are not thought to go together. Phrases such as “You will work yourself to death” and “work/life balance” have slipped into our lexicon. The Japanese even have a word for it – Karōshi which translated literally means work yourself to death. Beyond these terms, most have experienced stress eating or skipped workouts because we were either too tired or had an early morning call.
I used to think like that! I was the literal work iron man or so I thought. Before I changed my ways, I would work 16 hours days while eating Plucker’s fried wings and macaroni washed down with cupfuls of peanut M&M’s and Starbucks. I thought I was masterful but I was being mastered. It did not work out. By the end of 2014, I was an over-stressed, overweight, and disgruntled man trying to keep my head above water. I was neither felt well or worked well.
I began to realize that it was neither work over wellness or wellness over work. The key to working at your peak is to enact wellness that works! What do I mean by wellness that works (beside it being the new name for Weight Watchers)? It is the synergistic effect that wellness and work can have on each other. Get more healthy and you can work more efficiently. Work more productively, then you have more time for wellness. Sounds too good to be true? Well, my story is a testament to the potential positive effects that wellness and work have on each other.
Let’s roll back to where I started off – the end of 2014. I had put work over wellness for many years. The end result of this exercise occurred in October, 2014. I was walking out of the delivery center at 3 AM – the last man out the door. Tired and sleepy, I missed a step, tripped and was knocked myself out. When I came to, I could not lift myself off the ground with all the weight I was carrying. I ended up crawling until I could get to the bumper of my car and use it as leverage.
Then and there I vowed that I needed to do something different. So among other things (joining WW, going to the doctors), I enacted Don’s four rules for wellness that works:
(1) Well rested, well tested, never bested! – The first thing that I did was to get more sleep. Sounds easy? It wasn’t. At first, I thought I would miss something if I was not on each and every late night call. I was driven to be in the know and show the “manager’s flag” on every call.
But that attitude was making me unhealthy and also was not the best leadership style. Sure it is important to get on critical calls at critical times for support of your team and to add to the solution. But not every call and not all the time. Hovering over everyone makes them think you do not trust them and may even detract from the solution. It also makes you tired and unable to think.
It was really hard at first checking off the phone after providing guidance. But when I did, three things begun to happen. I sometimes came up with the answer as I rested and slept on it. My team realized I trusted them but was there when they needed me. Lastly, I was overall less stressed and unkind during the day. My team appreciated my new disposition and I appreciated feeling better. Bottom line: when anxiety starts to creep, go to sleep!
(2) Workout and Work Go Together! – I used to know this back in my Army days but forgot it as a consultant. As a soldier, we were paid to work out each morning. It was a necessary and important part of our job. Being fit helps you not to quit!
But as a leader in the private sector, I forgot that important point. My convenient excuse was that I couldn’t work out because I had to go to work. It was only after I again realized that you can work out while working and that working out helps you work that my life begun to change! I begun to block out time at least three times a week to workout and refused to take calls at that time. Also, I got an app on my iPhone that notified me every hour to do a simple set of exercises for 3-5 minutes. The best way to get rid of stress is to sweat it out. It also helps you stop the negative talk in your head as I wrote in this previous blog Stop the Negative Talk and Take A Walk.
(3) Work Hard, Play Hard! This is an old saying and a good one. But I give it a slightly different bent. Most people think you first must work hard to get to play. Others note that when you play too hard, you can’t go to work the next day! But you can have fun at work and playing hard can make you work harder. Take sometime to talk and joke with your team to break up the day. Find a hobby that helps you unwind. For me, I love Karaoke. I sometimes even sing in the woods, as this blog attests Why Not? I’m Singing in the Woods!
(4) Join Wellness that Works for wellness that works! The last rule is perhaps the most important. If you want to learn additional ways to increase your wellness and you work productivity, join Wellness that Works (the organization formerly known as Weight Watchers and still goes by WW). The weekly meeting provide more lessons on how to mix wellness with work such as mindfulness and goal setting. I could go on and on about WW (and I did in this blog The Why’s of Weight Watchers!), but rest assured it is wellness that works!
I will end with a picture that shows that work and wellness can go together. Here is me at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin taking a call that ultimately resulted in us getting additional work. The old Don would have take the call in the hotel and skipped the time with my daughter. Instead I took it from the top of this mountain. If I was not well I could have not climbed up to get reception and do my work! Be well, do work!
Over the last few months, I have been training to be a Spin Instructor. The thought that I could be a spin instructor a few years back was unimaginable. Cresting at 358 lbs., I could not ride a bike for more than a few minutes without one of two things happening. Either I would throw out my back, or so much pressure would be applied to a certain area that it would become numb, worse yet.
I only started to do spin after I had dropped some weight. Then, I fell in love with spinning. Part of it was the music, part of it was the exhilaration, but most of it was my instructor, Corey Ellis. You can read more about this hero of health in this blog. Heroes of Health Series, Episode 2 – Corey the Cycling King
I knew I had to go that extra step after finishing 4 hours of spinning during Lifetime Fitness St. Jude’s Fund Raiser – Ride for a Reason. I decided to get certified as a Spin Instructor. The added benefit is I get to be trained to Corey. See the picture of me, Corey, Kaisa, and another cyclist after the Race for the Cure.
On October 20th, I will get the chance to teach part of a Spin Class for the first time and I am totally stoked. I have come up with my Simple Set (a series of spinning intervals timed to a music) that speaks to both my weight loss journey and obstacles that we all need to overcome in life.
I have come up for a title and a subtitle for my Simple Set. The main title is For Excellence We Strive. The secondary title is called “Don’t Stop Believing, Even When You Are Living on A Prayer, Because You Could Be on The Edge of Glory” (a careful read will tell you the name of my songs!). Here is the meaning of the two titles.
The main title is “For Excellence We Strive” for two reasons. First, it is the motto for my class at West Point, the class of 85 (more later). The second reason is during the training, the cyclist will have three opportunities to strive for excellence only to be beat it in the next interval. Why? Because the excellence of today is the mediocrity of tomorrow. You must always strive for excellence, and when you achieve your goal, it is not time to revel and become complacent. No, it’s time to strap on your cycling shoes, clip in, and race to beat your previous best!
I will not repeat the second title but instead tell you why I picked the three songs:
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey. This first song represents the start of my weight loss journey and simulates climbing up a hill that slowly ascends. As you make the first few steps on the path to health, it is important not to stop believing you can do it. Even though the climb is getting harder after the first few moments of success, you need to keep pushing.
Living on a Prayer – Bon Jovi. This second song is prefect for the mid part of any weight loss journey. Three times in this song, you climb up as you pray that you overcome the next obstacle that is in your way. And three times, you reach the exhilaration as you find success; only to meet the next hill. I also picked this song because it has the lyric “Oh your half way there, oh Living on a Prayer”. I remember my half way there moment on my weight loss journey. It was at my 30th West Point Reunion when I had lost one half of my weight goal (see picture below)
Also, many times as I got stuck, I was Living on A Prayer. Praying that I would not give up. Praying that I could do it. Praying for a New Life!
On the Edge of Glory – Lady Gaga. I will not lie. I picked this last song as a tribute to Lady Gaga after seeing her performance on a “Star is Born”. But, then I realized how well it fit. Ask any Lifetime member of Wellness that Works (the organization formerly known as Weight Watchers) and they will tell you the last few pounds to your goal are the hardest. But it is essential not to stop when you are on the Edge of Glory. The song is perfect for this last set because during the verses you climb large hills but then at the end you feel the exhilaration of the chorus as you spin out at 110 RPMs!
So, there you have it. I am on the Edge of Glory and hopefully I will achieve it on October 20th. If interested, message or text me when we solidify the exact time. It will be at Lifetime Fitness Austin (still trying to figure if it is North or South).