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FitLink Newsletter: February 2, 2009 - Change You Can Believe In.

Interview with IronM1972, a true success story

We spoke with FitLink member IronM1972 who used to be 365 pounds and smoked three packs a day and now weighs 225 pounds and runs 6 miles a day. His story is one of discipline, consistency, and satisfaction from his new-found energy and improved health. He may help and have an impact on those wishing to make a life change to improve their health. Here is his story:

FitLink: When did you know that you were truly ready to make the change and do the steps necessary in order to acquire better health?

IronM1972: I don't like to call it a 'New Year Resolution', but that's when it happened. I signed up for a gym membership and got started. A few comments had finally gotten to me. I think I just wasn't ready to die in my 50's like all the men in my family from strokes, heart attacks and cancer. I quit smoking about three months after I started working out. I remember my sister-in-law asking me why I still smoked, and it dawned on me then to quit. I get a much better high from running than I did from smoking!

FitLink: When you first began making these changes, how soon did you start to feel the effects of your better habits and your weight loss?

IronM1972: After I lost about 30 lbs, my blood pressure started coming down and I wasn't so tired anymore. I started feeling good about myself by dropping sizes in clothes. My pants size was 52 and dropped to 36, and my shirt was 4 x and now I just wear Large.

FitLink: How did you go from being a non-runner to running 6 miles a day?

IronM1972: My whole goal at first was just to be able to walk for an hour. After I accomplished that, I kept trying to walk as fast as I could for an hour. After I had lost about a 100 pounds, I started jogging a little here and there during the walk until finally I could jog the entire hour. I remember the first time I jogged 10 minutes straight. I was so proud of myself. Walking is where I met my marathon partner. He was running on the treadmill next to me while I walked, and asked if I wanted to start running on Saturday mornings. He was trying to get a group together but it ended up just being the two of us. He became my inspiration to run, and we ended up running the Akron Marathon together.

FitLink: What changes did you make in your eating habits? Did you have a rule of no-bad-foods or did you allow a little leeway so that you did not feel deprived?

IronM1972: At first, I did the no-carb thing. It worked for dropping the weight, but when I started running, I had to learn to eat like a runner. So, the old enemy "carbs" had to be my friend again. When I started to eat foods that allowed me to have more energy and be more active, I learned to cut the crap. I do allow some junk food once a week as a reward. I eat small amounts throughout the day to keep the hunger at bay and the engine (i.e. metabolism) running. Starving only makes me binge, so eating one meal a day does not work.

FitLink: How did you feel once you were "mid-way", as you call it? Did you sleep better, have noticeably more energy during your day, feel more confident...?

IronM1972: I felt a lot better . I used to have sleep apnea and now sleep peacefully. My blood pressure became normal, my resting heart rate decreased, my feet and knees didn't hurt as badly, and my back started feeling better. And by that point, I could tie my shoes.

FitLink: Did you ever feel like you were "falling off the wagon" and losing willpower? If so, what did you do?

IronM1972: I hate to say it, but I never fell off the wagon. I enjoyed my new-found lifestyle way too much. I am addicted to working out.

FitLink: What was the hardest part about losing weight?

IronM1972: The ups and downs; one week I would lose 5lbs, the next week I would lose nothing. After a while, I figured it out: the weight loss came in 'floods'. So, I just had to hang on and continue what I was doing until the next 'flood'. People make it sound like diet and exercise are an exact science and that you will lose 2 lbs a week if you stick with it. That's not how it works.

FitLink: Did you record your progress or keep a food log?

IronM1972: I recorded my weight loss on a calender at work and weighed in every Monday. My advice is not to weigh yourself every day. That will drive you nuts because of water weight fluctuations.

FitLink: How important do you think it is to have a support network while trying to live a healthy life?

IronM1972: Very important! It is hard to eat healthy food while someone eats junk all the time around you. The hardest thing for me was when I lost the first 30 pounds. No one even noticed; now I know it's hard to tell that someone is losing weight until they look totally different. But watch out: the people who made comments before will come up with new ones to help soothe their own insecurities.

FitLink: What would you tell people who want to make big changes in their life but aren't sure of how to start?

IronM1972: Start slowly and find what you like to do. Stick with it. Know that there will be stuff that you want to do that is bad for you. I had no idea I was going to love running, but it was easy to be accepted into running. You don't have to be the best. The only rule in running is never have both feet on the ground at the same time.

Thank you for sharing your story, IronM1972! Look for his updates on his profile. He is training for the RiteAid Marathon in Cleveland in May 2009, and then the Columbus Marathon in October 2009. His closing words?

"Thank you for doing a story on me. I hope that my story will help someone. There are so many good things in life to enjoy, and being healthy helps you along the way to find new experiences. Looking back, I see myself as a prisoner to a couch and a t.v., and now I am free."

Did You Know?

You can invite your friends to FitLink very easily by just clicking the "Stay Motivated" button on the left side of every page. Just enter their email address and it will be emailed to them from your email address along with a one-click link to FitLink. Having friends to check in with and keep tabs on you is the best way to build a support network so that you live a healthy life every day.

Focus Muscle: Lats

Your back is comprised of many muscles besides the Lats (Latissimus Dorsi), including the Rhomboids, Trapezius, Posterior Deltoids, and Erector Spinae. You must train your upper, middle, and lower back for optimum back health. Paired with strong abs, the Focus Muscle from the last newsletter, a strong back can lead you through more productive, painfree days. When you stretch your back, pay particular attention to your lower back (i.e. lumbar curve) since that is the area where most people are excessively tight. A tight lower back will lead to tighter hip flexors which pulls your pelvis forward and can bring on a pile of problems.

New FitLink Workout: Buff Back Workout

Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions, then move on to the next exercise. Wait 45 seconds between sets.

Lat Pull Down Row Back Extension Torso Twist
Shoulder Press Rear Deltoid Fly

If you do not have access to machines, you can easily do this workout with an exercise tube (Tube Back Workout) or without any equipment (Bodyweight Back Workout).

Shapely Tip:

Before you go to bed, decide when you will make time for exercise the next day. Even if you can only find ten free minutes, you can find time. If you don't make time for it, other things will take priority and the whole day may slip away from you before you notice that you didn't exercise.

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

This is not your typical chili-it's doubtful that you'll miss the meat, and your body will thank you for the extra vegetables. It is a perfect way to warm your body and fill your belly with nutritious food while it is cold outside.

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Port Wine
  • 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of ground Cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small Vidalia Onion (or favorite onion), diced
  • ¼ tsp of ground Chipotle pepper
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 4 regular-sized carrots
  • 2 small heads of broccoli (2 cups)
  • ¼ cup green peas
  • ½ can San Marcos Chipotle Salsa (Authentic Mexican)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cans of beans (i.e. 3 cans kidney beans, 1 can black-eyed peas)
  • 1 large can hominy

Saute onion in olive oil. Press garlic and add it. Stir, then add port wine. Saute onion until clear. Cut red pepper into small pieces and add. Add sea salt, can of crushed tomatoes and can of diced tomatoes. Stir. Combine chili powder, cayenne pepper, ground Chipotle pepper, and ground cumin then stir in. Add Chipotle salsa. Chop carrots and add. Let them cook for a few minutes while you chop the broccoli, then add broccoli. Add the 4 cans of kidney beans and hominy. Serves 8.

Thanks to glutistightus for this recipe! Have a great recipe you want to share? Submit one of your favorites to be published in an upcoming newsletter.