Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Laser Focus

Someone asked me if I could submit before and after photos of me and what I did to lose the weight I've lost. I have had the hardest time finding a photo of me to submit for the before photo. Which is really ironic considering one of my hobbies is photography. But I avoided being in front of the camera like the plague.

I may use this photo of me from Maui 2008 (I'm on the far right). I'd already lost about 35 lbs by the time this photo was taken so I was at 265. Ugh.

My mom gave me a trip to Maui for my 40th birthday that year. My birthday is in May but we (my mom & her boyfriend & my sister & brother-in-law) went in October. This photo was from a bike tour that I took down Haleakala, the volcano on Maui. I'd already been bike commuting for 4 months so I was pretty sure I could do it. It was a good trip - sight seeing, a luau, snorkeling, beach lounging, and the bike tour. But I didn't do everything I'd wanted to do like taking surfing lessons, zip lining, and hiking. I was not in shape enough for those! So I do regret that my one and only visit to Maui was then and not now, when I can do so much more. Sigh.

Still, better to be where I am now than where I was back then. I have to duplicate that pose for the after. I still don't look forward to having my photo taken but I'm not as adverse to it as I used to be. I wish I could use a race photo though. Like one of these from the Buffalo Run.

As for how I lost the weight...people ask me that all the time but no one likes to hear the answer. It definitely wasn't one thing but the thing they all have in common is laser like focus. I had to make losing weight my first priority and not let myself get distracted. Here's what I did:

1. I let myself eat anything I wanted but counted calories.
2. I started eating healthier - more fruit & veggies, less white bread.
3. I let myself have one weekend day where I could eat what I want for one meal.
4. I ate something chocolate every day.
5. I began bike commuting to work and walking or riding to the store.
6. I added running in to my workout routine.
7. I added some strength training into my workout routine.
8. I kept charts of my weight and workouts.
9. I set big goals to keep me on track.

I tried not to think of it as a "diet". More a lifestyle change (1 & 2) and I used 3 & 4 so that I wouldn't feel deprived while I was losing weight, 5-8 helped me stay on track, and #9 helped when I was tired or discouraged or tempted back to the old ways.

But really, the thing that helped me lose weight was focus and always keeping my eye on the prize. You would be amazed at how often people try to sabotage your goals. "It's just this once." "One slice of cheesecake can't hurt you." But it's not just once - it's Donut Wednesday, and left-overs on Mondays (someone brought in a whole German Chocolate Cake yesterday!), and it's hot cheese dip for so-and-so's birthday, and it's eggs and chorizo for breakfast because it's Friday, and it's the monthly birthday celebration, and it's a bake sale, etc. And that's just at work. And that's not even all of it. I'm telling you, there is crap in here every day of the month! Do you now how hard it is to be "good" when you are faced with this stuff whenever you go into our kitchen (not even in the kitchen, sometimes they set up tables just feet from my desk)? And people encouraging you to be bad? Sometimes they really piss me off.

So I would just say to myself will this (eating a donut, etc.) help me reach my goal weight? Will driving to work make me healthier or riding? Is this cake/cookie/hamburger/etc. worth it? I tried to focus on what I was doing and why and how things I ate or didn’t eat or did or didn’t do would affect my goals. Sometimes, I chose the “wrong” thing but I think I was good 90% of the time. But it took focus.

I think that same focus is helping me with my running and marathon training. No, it’s not all there is but sometimes, if you are trying to reach a goal, a PR, a dream…that has to be a priority and it has to be your focus. That’s just the way it is. They don’t just happen, you have to make them happen. It may not be easy, it may not always be fun. But it is definitely worth it when you’ve had your eye on the prize and you get it.


  1. Amazing determination and focus to achieve your goal.
    Very inspiring, I'll pass a link of your blog to my friend who is trying to lose weight and get back to his racing weight!

  2. I am Rick's fat friend, a sack of potatoes overweight! I agree about focussing on your goal to achieve success. 90% is more realistic than 100% and as you have shown brings results.I am trying to get fit to compete at running once again: it's no fun being at the back in races! I have cut down and just started eating 2/3rds of my normal amount of food and cutting out sweets and chocolates and having less fat but more fruit and vegetables. If you can fill up on more of the good stuff there's less room for the bad.
    It's a long hard road ahead.

  3. Good Luck Jon! It's well worth the effort. Especially, the getting speedier part.