Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Give Yourself the Greatest Gift

Four (4) years ago Christmas 2010 was my first cheat day. 

I was still a mess, I was still 33 pounds heavier than I am now, but I had given myself and my family the best gift I could ever give them (aside from Jesus, the reason for Christmas) – which was my health, energy and vigor.

That year (2010) I had turned 50. I had a one year old son (and four older girls). One day in the fall, shortly after my birthday, I needed to pick up my son, but I found I couldn’t bend over and get him, I had to bend to the side to do it. I knew then I had to change things. Really, I knew before then.

Though I was a fat kid (no, not chubby, fat) I had actually been very active as an athlete through my high school and college years (even running cross country in college). I was a fitness fanatic and was in great condition.

 In my early 40s I had gained some weight (about 10 lbs or so heavier than I am now) and got Tony Horton’s first full workout series from Beach Body (Power 90) and lost the weight and gained some muscle.

Then we had three more kids. I had two years where I was virtually unemployed, working contracting gigs where we could find them. The job market changed dramatically, and where once I could work from home, I was now required to go into the city (Boston) for most of my jobs – which paid less – and incur either public transportation expense or gas and parking expense. Additionally, I was travelling a minimum of 1.5 – 2 hours EACH way to and from work. We were squeezing pennies and so I squeezed my food budget. My lunch was typically a chicken patty of some kind with Ramen and a half bag of mixed veggies.

50 years old, weighing 195 - Those were 36 inch waist pants, that I had to UNBUTTON.

Needless to say, between the stress, the travel, the lack of exercise and the poor diet, my weight skyrocketed. In no time I was up to 195 lbs. Maybe not too bad on a guy 6’2” but on a guy 5’6” (ish) – well you can see the picture, it looked like I had swallowed a beach ball. I know at one point I had published a video talking about design and I looked at my head and thought “Oh my God! I look like a swollen tick!” – I almost didn’t recognize the guy in the mirror.

So, there I was, suffering later in life weight gain and at the worst time (with a young family) loosing energy and endangering my health and ability to provide for them. I couldn’t ignore the problem any longer – I had to make a change.

I ordered a book I had just heard about, Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Body. Ferris (in case you don’t know who he is) became famous for his book “The 4-Hour Work Week”. He’s a well known bio-hacker, and he had come out with this book with a simplified eating plan and some basic exercises that could be done in a few minutes a week. I jumped on it.
I got the book in mid-December and devoured it (it’s gigantic by the way) and decided that it was then or never – I had to make the change. So, the first week of the rest of my life was the week leading up to Christmas (on a Saturday that year) and that was my first week of change. My first cheat day was Christmas.

I lost 30 lbs just by changing what I ate. By the way, your nutrition plan – that is “what you eat” or your diet – is the most important part of any program for better health. Those around me and those I train and consult with know my maxim “you can’t out exercise poor eating”.

An interesting thing happened then. Because I was loosing weight, because I realized that my work situation was conducive to my health or my family, I felt lead to make some changes. I didn’t know how it would work out, I didn’t know where it would have me end up, but I knew that I needed to make the changes regardless. So I started looking for how.

In a miraculous occurrence of timing and opportunity, during the spring of 2011, we found ourselves moving from the cold temperature climate of New England to the Queen City of Charlotte, NC. My job situation changed, the environment I worked in changed, the home we moved into actually had room for all of the family without all being on top of each other (we had 8 people living in 1,200 square feet, plus some space in my partially renovated basement), I was working 20 minutes from home. I saw my kids in the morning, I saw them at dinner, I got to put them to bed. I could spend time with my wife.

Yes, we were blessed. I know things don’t always happen that quickly (remember the 2 years of virtual unemployment – one in which I paid more mortgage interest than I actually made that year… somehow), but because they had, I also had time to get better physical condition in addition to having lost the weight.

Since then, I’ve become more fit and more active and become a certified personal trainer. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’ve lost and kept off another 5-10 lbs (a. It’s not quite as easy when you get older b. I also got injured twice and had to completely stop working out for the last quarter of both 2011 and 2012 so I put a little weight back on because of the inactivity – but then was able to get back on track. NEVER QUIT! :-D )

My goal is to help people to change their lives by helping them regain their health (no matter their age) so they can live out a full and complete life to the best of their ability. I did it at 50 - I know you can do it too.

52 & 54 (left to right) after the 2012 & 2014 Warrior Dash, weighing 160 lbs

So why the big story? Why the life history? Because I want you to understand how it all started. How taking the action on the week before Christmas to change how I ate changed the entire course of my life and the life of my family.

Don’t wait. Don’t wait for the new year. Don’t wait another week, or even another day. Make the change now. I’ll be here to help and to cheer you on.

To all, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

To your health –


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