Thursday, September 20, 2012

Losing 50 Before 40....A Tale of Loss and Inspiration

Odds are pretty good that if you've ended up on this page, I owe you and many other NOT listed below a DEBT OF GRATITUDE!  As you'll read below for some time now fitness and heathly living have been on my mind.  It's been a 3 yr journey, much of which caused me to question common logic altogether.  For example, during this journey, I went from thinking it was only my journey alone, to realizing actually it was only BECAUSE of support from people like you, that I achieved my goal......My Goal: Lose 50 pounds before turning 40 years old.

So without further delay, here's the story, but only after thanking:

Stacey----unwavering support and encouragement from my personal supermodel
Kate and Preston----my motivation plain and simple
Faith--try doing anything without God is like going to war without ammo.  I can do all things through Him.
My parents and in-laws and extended family----couldn't ask for better ones.  Marathon runners, triathletes, swimmers, cancer survivors and rock climbers.
Shelly Minke----every journey begins with a first step.  She was there with perfect timing.
Kori and BJ Bliffert---Full Throttle is our second home.  We love your friendship, humor and professionalism.
Erin, Chris and Kayla---trainers at FTA that motivate us and our children to be better

Scott and Deborah---Crossfit fanatics and inspiration daily
Jason and Heather---physically intimidating and mentally insane.  Lol
Cahill Family----FTA members and our family twins
Ward Family----always up for a challenge to get in the mud and get dirty
BJ, Angela, Suzanne, Martha, Amanda, and Lauren---my fellow N TX KB club addicts
5 time champion Sergey Rudnev----saying that he dominates kettlebell sport is like saying Michael Phelps is just an OK swimmer.  Honored to have had time with you.
Fellow gym and bootcamp friends---Ian, Whitney, Vanessa, Braeden,  Meagan, Janet, Stephanie Parkhill, Georgia Munson, Vicky, Ariana, Brian, Jennifer, Steve Smith and Alma.
So many others that have offered support and encouragement, if I forgot you, my apologies.  You probably screamed at me to get moving when I needed it most.


October 2008
"If you don't make some changes, you'll likely be diabetic in 3-5 years.....".

The words hung in the air. I just stared back blankly.  I was sitting on the exam table and my doctor and friend Christopher Crow was reviewing the results of the Berkley Heart Lab study I had taken weeks earlier.  I remember thinking "maybe this is what it's like to have a moment of clarity?"

I mean it wasn't like I was THAT outta shape, right? After all ROUND IS A SHAPE, right? I felt fine....well, most days.  Truth was I didn't feel fine.  I had already been diagnosed with sleep apnea due to my weight, after any strenuous activity I was sore, irritable and tired for 3 days after and I seemed to pickup a cold and cough on average every 6-10 weeks.  

"Make small changes.  Meet with our nutritionist here and start an excercise program",  Dr. Crow advised.  At 6' 00" 235lbs, 17 1/2" neck and a 40" waist, I paid my co-pay and walked out feeling pissed, depressed and overall dejected.....but mostly scared.  DIABETES!!!!!  I knew all about my Maternal Grandfather's battle with the disease and my Aunt's lifelong career at Duke Univ. in counseling diabetics.  My cousin and Mom live with juvenile diabetes and diabetes insipidus respectively daily. But me?  Hell NO, I ain't going another lb further. I'd bet anybody that $20 co-pay was the best investment I've ever made.  Ironic coming from an investment advisor.

And it took me a year to get off my ass and execute on it.....a whole year.

August 2009
We'd just returned from family beach vacation in the Bahamas.  We'd eaten bad, drank worse and I looked in the mirror in late August and remembered Dr. Crow's advice.  Going thru the huge stack of mail acquired over a week away was a flyer: 

BOOTCAMP!  5am M W F and 6pm T TH, Griffin Parc Middle School, $150 mo. Contact Shelly Minke if interested.

So I emailed this Shelly Minke bootcamp lady and called her later.  Monday was Labor Day so I'd start Wednesday.  

What I didn't realize was that this instructor was going to be the perfect match for someone as out of shape as me.  Shelly Minke was and is still a very close friend.  Her class will challenge anybody.....anybody.  Come on out and have a turn.  Do the right technique and form, don't cheat, do more reps and LISTEN to her and you'll burn some calories and won't be able to walk correctly for 3 days, I promise.  A mom to 3 boys she amazed me arriving early and ALWAYS POSITIVE and UPBEAT for class.  She uses humor and high level energy to run class and she'll call you out if you coast or cheat.  It's a true blessing I met her in August 2009.

First class: At some point I entered a state of "out of body" mindset thinking "my heart can't possibly beat any faster".  I saw white hot spots in pools of burning fire on the horizon and tasted blood......and worst of all the only other classmate that day, a cute short haired blonde named Nikki, was lapping me!!!!!  After an hour I had survived.....barely.

Fast forward: by November 2009 I was doing 5 classes a week!  I'd made some great friends and best of all IT WAS FUN!  Focusing on diet and using to track EVERYTHING I consumed, weight was falling off.  I was 210lbs and felt better daily.  But it was getting harder to drop weight at the same pace.  Little did I know this would be a trend.

February 2010
As is the case with most anything in our marriage, Stacey is better than me.

She has patience, me---none.
She watches her diet, yeahhh----put a Big Mac and fries in front of me and I'll show u a magic trick.  She can run for days and I can't run out of sight within 3 days.

So naturally when a Groupon arrived touting a gym she'd found recently and joined, I relented, figuring "I'll do bootcamp AND this new gym".  It was called Full Throttle Athletics ( and they promoted something called a kettlebell.  Kettle corn I was a big fan of, in fact we were best friends.  But a kettlebell?  Again little did I know what a life-changing encounter this would be.  

By March I was having my ass handed to me daily at both Shelly's bootcamp and FTA. I continued to drop lbs and one day BJ Bliffert at FTA approached me with a question.  "Do you want to increase strength, lose weight and get better?" Well, duh. So I began dead lifts, squats, bench press, chin ups, HEAVY WEIGHTS.  I had flashbacks to high school and was loving it.  By June 2011 I hit 185 lbs in the un-air conditioned Full Throttle gym in 109F heat....bring it.  Meanwhile, Stacey's body fat % was a shocking 18% and dropping.  Her Hamilton DNA just isn't fair. In Fall 2011 BJ told me "I'm going to work in more kettlebells for your workout."

And so it began. My love hate affair with the kettlebell.  For a hundred years, The Russians have perfected a total bodybuilding tool.  The kettlebell involves various weights of kg in a rounded ball with a handle on top.  Technique is everything as you work to clean, swing, jerk and snatch a kettlebell.

September 2012
As I sit here in the 95F sun of San Jose del Cabo making good on my self-promise to share my story, I think about what my life consists of now.  I own more workout clothes and shoes than regular clothes.  I look forward to a good run or bike.  We have 6 different kinds of protein in our house.  And I consume more veggies in a day than I did in 2 weeks a few years ago.  109F heat, who cares....hand me the 20kg bells and get the hell outta my way.  Our kids participate in 3 conditioning classes per week at Full Throttle, and as I sit here on my Macbook, the bookmarks at the top are 80% fitness and diet, 20% hunting/ fishing.  I know----they should be 100% hunting/ fishing!!! :-)

I've heard people say that fitness isn't a destination, it a journey.  But now I'd correct them:

Fitness isn't a destination.  It's a journey shared best with friends.

Thanks again to all of you and I'll see you at the gym or on the track on Monday.