Fitness Update #1: Four Pounds in Five Weeks

Changing our body composition isn’t strictly about managing calories. It involves commitment, keeping a promise, believing in yourself, and developing habits that promote a healthy lifestyle. Developing good habits support your commitment to your dream and keeping your promises. A good habit builds your confidence to believe in yourself through the sum of small achievements.  Becoming healthy becomes automatic.

I set out to develop the habit of investing time to exercise and recover over the past five weeks. I eliminated four pounds in the process. I reduced my weight without controlling my diet.  I made minor changes in my morning routine to support my morning run and get me started on the right foot. No matter what life throws at me, I make an effort to carve time out of my day to get it done.

This achievement gave me this confidence to take the next step in changing my body composition.  Success builds more success.  This consistency builds the momentum to become successful. Small incremental changes and achievements add up. Before you know it, it’ll be something great.

The ‘something great’ in this phase is feeling good with a sense of accomplishment and feeling stronger despite muscle soreness. It felt good to feel muscle adapting and forming under my thick layer of flab.

To build on this success, I’m adding another workout and developing another habit. This stage will last about six weeks.

I’m adding a second workout component in next stage of my base building phase. This component builds strength and burns more calories.  I want to be a more complete athlete and runner.  Our body is a system. When its parts work together without weak links, I perform better.  Building strength allows me to be a more complete athlete and a better runner.  I don’t want have strong legs and useless T-Rex arms. It replaces the volume I lose under my skin from fat loss.  I will lose excess fat faster because burn more calories (like 30 calories more) than fat throughout the day. The muscle will protect my bones, joints, and posture.  Definition will help me feel and look good. I’ll look damn good in a suit.

I decided to do my strength training in the comfort of my home. I find this method to be ideal for me because I won’t have the usual excuses I hear from others (and in the past, myself.) You probably heard the excuses. “It’s too busy at the gym. I don’t have time to drive to the gym and workout.  The weather is nasty to get to the gym. I feel intimidated working out in public.” The list goes on. I’m getting rid of those excuses on my own terms.

I bought dumbbells and resistance bands to use for a workout program I bought. It’s a set of workout videos that guide me through workouts.  All the planning is done for me. It saves me the headache of developing a program from scratch and saves me the expense of attending a fitness instructor’s class. It’s less preparing and more doing.  I think that’s a win-win situation for me.

I want to make eating better a new habit. If I managed my calories better in the first stage, I could have lost a few more pounds. My energy levels might be higher if I improved my nutrition. My nutrition could have built a better Markemmanuel more effectively if I gave my body the resources it needed to build me up.

Over the next six weeks, I’ll be managing my calories and eating nutrient dense food. I will also time my food intake to take advantage of my body naturally operates.

I created a good habit of consistently exercising. Now, I’ll be taking the next step of eating better while adding another workout to support my goals and dreams.  It’s a long and slow process but it will be worth it in the end.  I’m making the steps to change my body composition and live a better life.

What steps have you made to improve your life that you found most useful?

Return to Running and a Race Recap

I missed race day morning while I was injured.  The day wakes up. Chicago stirs from her sleep.  The sunrise kisses the skyline. The warm glow on her face takes my breath. The excitement and nervous energy of a race disrupts the stillness of a peaceful morning. I missed it and I’m glad to be back.

I find myself standing at the corner of Monroe and Columbus waiting for JB. It is her first half marathon.  You can feel the slight dread and worry.  She’s a fitness enthusiast who wanted to cross off the half marathon off of her bucket list.  She asked a number of our former co-workers to run her for moral support and to celebrate afterward.  I signed up when the others agreed to run. One had a change of plans due to an opportunity of a lifetime. The others did not follow through. It was just me and JB. I’m broken and she was worried about the distance.

The Rock and Roll Chicago is my first race since nagging injuries sidelined me.  Over the past two years, I registered for races but was unable to get to the starting line.  I couldn’t run without teeth-grinding pain since November 2013. Late May, I found myself wrapped around a tree along the Fox River Trail in Saint Charles, IL.  The injuries caused so much pain during last year’s events.  I shouldn’t have participated in those races.  I felt fear and excitement that morning.  I miss race day morning but am I ready to complete 13.1 miles?

I strung multiple days of running for the first time only a week before the race.  JB asked me to run with her for the entire distance at a ten minute pace.  Everyone else in her group bailed on her.  I stood alone but I’m still getting over an injury. I feared that pace because I didn’t want to lose another year of running. After a brief discussion, we agreed on a plan.  I will run at least 4 miles with her at a 10:30 minute pace and the fall back to around a 12 minute pace.

The race went well.  It unfolded as planned.  After mile four, I felt good and ran another two miles with her. Music finally arrived after a six mile absence. (The stage outside the Chicago Theater and at Daley Plaza was empty.) The music motivated me to maintain this pace.  I knew I can keep this pace but why? I’m just getting out of bad injury streak. I should just enjoy and complete the race, hear the music, and love the run. After cooling down and stretching, I felt like I could run another four miles.

I’ve been so happy to finish this race. I just have to temper my excitement so I don’t reinjure myself. I completed four full weeks of quality running since July 14. I feel amazing right now. Using my body and feeling the soreness after a run reminds me that I’m alive. I really need to thank JB for getting me out on the course.  She provided the impetus to get me running again. Without her, I still would be too timid to run.



Chip Time- 02:24:14 (hr:mm:ss) , Average Pace- 11:00min/mi

5km- 34:10; 10km- 01:04:33 ; 10mi- 1:47:52; 10.5mi- 1:54:12;



Declare Your Independence

Free yourself. Free yourself from naysayers. Free yourself from yourself. Free yourself from the status quo that brings the human spirit down. We are created equal. However, the weight of burden added throughout the years is placed unequally on each individual. Unburden yourself from years of baggage people placed on you and rise to your greatest potential. You have the strength and power within you to do amazing things with your life when the yoke is removed and you can run free.

Observe. Listen. Understand. Love. Unleash your greatness on the world as you humbly assist your fellow human achieve their greatness. Judgement can not build something great nor can blame.  Judgement only leads to walls and animosity. Live a life of love and acceptance.
Be confident. Be bold.  Dream grand dreams that stir the soul and and take action. Lay a foundation based on your dreams, passions, values, and sound principles. Hold your dreams tight embrace. Nurture it, care for it, and allow it to grow.

Pledge your lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on your independence. Only when we can free ourselves can we do great things. Declare your independence from those who shackle you. Free yourself the cramped box people put your in.

We can build and do beautiful and amazing things when we are free.

–Markemmanuel F. Rodriguez

Summer Goals

I dedicate this summer to tying loose ends and begin writing the meat of this chapter of my life. The key to living you dream is to live it right now by creating achievable goals, break the goals down into tasks, and work on those tasks in a timely matter. This summer, I build a strong foundation to build success in my fitness, career, and travel.

Health and Fitness

I want to run in the 2017 Boston Marathon. I want to complete the 2015 American Birkebeiner in a reasonable time (approximately five hours).  I’ve been riddled with injuries over the three years and a recent bike accident complicates things.  It’s still painful to run. I miss my long rides through the woods and along the lakefront. I need to start slow and build steadily.  I’m essentially starting from scratch. I’ll be continuing my fitness journey by developing healthy habits. Consistency is the key to getting healthier.

Taking the first step seems to be the most difficult part of getting fit. You and I haven’t built the momentum to make exercising and eating well automatic.  Once we get off our behinds and start moving towards our goals, the momentum builds. I’ve read it takes three to four weeks to develop a habit. Each week I’ll be building upon the previous week’s successes and errata.

My fitness goal for July is to be active at least 30 minutes a day and include at least one healthy meal a day. Exercise can be as simple as walking.

In August, I will build on the prior month and increase my investment in health.

Skill, Work, and Funding

This moment in my life provides me a great opportunity to sharpen and improve my skill set. I made time invest in my knowledge base.  If I don’t use it, I’ll lose it.  Every day, I will invest a bit of time reviewing the fundamentals of economic theory and its applications.  I will spend time working on algebra and calculus problems.  I’ll be going over my econometrics coursework to reinforce what I learned.

I also need to find funding for my fabulous dreams.  I want to earn the resources by doing something that fulfilling and flexible.  I’d like to do work that reflects my dreams and values.  It could be a starter or phase one job that could lead to something bigger and better. It could be a stream of income that I build on my own.

I hope to find fulfilling work by the end of August.  I want to work on building my own business based on my interests and skills. I will treat my time as if I’m working a 60 hour work week and distribute it accordingly.

Planning for Next Year

I’ll be spending a few hours a week planning next year’s adventures and execute the plan to achieve those goals. I hope to have this planned by the end of August. I mapped out a general plan. I want to add some depth and texture to it. I’m trying to solve a puzzle with a lot of pieces.  How can I train for a marathon, travel and explore, and earn resources at the same time?  Hopefully, I can find and execute a creative solution. It’s achievable if I believe in myself.  First, I need to take the first step towards where I want to go.


Vision, Dreams, Interests

To live a more authentic life that reflects who I am and who I want to be, I spent time mediating on what encompassing vision I have for my life, dreams that I want to reach, and what I’m interested in.

I will make my decisions based on these requirements. I will measure it against my dreams. Outcomes will be judged on how it influences my interests. How does this stack up to my vision? How does this help me reach closer to my goals?


I help people become whole, lead my life as a soldier of peace, and make a positive impact on people’s lives so they can achieve their dreams.

Dreams for Myself

This is not a comprehensive list my dreams. This just a small sampling of what I want to focus my energy on right now.  They are now burning desires. These dreams will set me up to achieve other things in life and build the momentum to create more energy.

Position myself in a position to leave a positive influence in the world. The only thing that stopping me from doing great things is myself.  I want to do something great with my life and if history thrusts itself upon me, I want to be ready with a sound mind, sound body, and sound spirit.

This requires me to sharpen my skills, gain skills that I lack, and improving myself by investing the time to get it done.  I want to be a extremely well rounded person that has an expertise or two. This is the dream I want to focus most on this year.

Run the marathon distance in under three hours and qualify for the Boston Marathon by 2016. A “What if” popped question popped into my head on a flight home from Philadelphia.  I chopped off 14 minutes and 29 seconds off my disappointing. Chicago Marathon time.  It intensified a year later when I dropped another 14 minutes and 22 seconds. I lowered my time by a total of 53 minutes and 39 seconds from 2008 to 2011.  Part of me knew qualifying is possible.

Because of school and work, I haven’t put the time and consistency into my training. I’ve been consistently injured instead of consistently training.  I believe this is the time to put the time, energy, and consistency into this dream. I am getting older. I look forward to dating again and finding the right person to have a family with.  A family changes the dynamics of my life.  This may be my final shot to achieve this dream.

Go off on a great American road trip to explore, discover, and learn from the places and people in the United States. I want to see everything and try to comprehend it.  I hope it will give me a greater understand on what is right and what needs to be improved upon. The United States has been blessed to have a system to protect and sustain parts of its history and natural environment. The people in my country covers the whole spectrum of human life and thought. Where else can I visit the full vibrancy  of cultures from around the world while staying within a geographic area.  This road trip is a journey of a lifetime.

It’s time that I make this dream a priority. In a two years, I’ll be embarking on a journey that will not allow me the luxury to savor the people I meet and the places I discover. It will guide my decisions and actions when I help individuals as I will gain different perspectives on my trip.

Interests and Concerns

There are a few concerns that I’m deeply moved by.  Part of it stems from my observations as a add miles on my weary feet. They are issues that needs to be addressed.  I firmly believe that every life is sacred and each individual and group is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have a good system that enables us to make adjustments and change things for the better (and sometimes for the worse). I want to work on mitigating or solving problems of poverty, hunger, economic inequality, and the degradation of our environment.  These problems causes the symptoms our society is facing such as violence, poor health, and other tensions. I want to be in a position to make an impact on this.

Illinois is a country girl in t-shirt and jeans that amazes you when you spend time with her.  If the world just listened and admired the minute details, they’d see how beautiful she is.  It’s all the little things. Unfortunately, she had a few bad boyfriends and some of her friends put her in awkward situations.  I know how gorgeous she is and I want to let the world know how beautiful she is.  I want to work with her, build a better life. and build a better place for people to live. She is my base camp. She will always be the home I come back to no matter where life sends me.

The Philippine Islands has a special place in my heart.  I am the son of hardworking immigrants who have roots in the Philippines.  It’s a beautiful place with so much potential. Every time I visit my parent’s ancestral home, I see its natural beauty slipping away from destruction of treasures GOD bestowed on the islands and poverty stripping away the human potential that could have added to the beauty of the islands. I dream of returning to a metro Manila free of poverty and pollution. I can see myself walking into the beauty of the rain forests and other natural resources protected or sustained for current and future generation. Once I feel my work in Illinois and the United States, I would love to start improving the world with my family’s ancestral nation and expand to other places.

Knowing my vision, dreams, and interests will help me navigate through the many decisions I need to make in my life.  It will make my life more authentic. What can I do today to take me one step closer to my dreams.  How are my actions affecting the interest and concerns in life.  During my final moments, I will not ask myself, “What if?”

A New Chapter in an Old Book

A new chapter begins after a long winding journey filled with ups and downs. I traveled a long road winding road but I learned a lot from my experience. During the darkest moments, I knew there was something more. I held on to that to get me here.  The next chapter synthesizes everything I learned from the past and build the best version of myself.  I want to place myself in the best position I can to achieve my goals and realize my dreams.

Building a better me will take time, energy, commitment, sacrifices and persistence.  It requires that I prioritize what is important and focus energy for momentum to grow exponentially. I have to be singularly focused on one core goal.  If I spread myself too thin, my efforts will disappear in to the ether and nothing will be accomplished.

This chapter of transformation and growth is the time I remove personal roadblocks, build on my strengths, and acquire the resources I lack.  I will find myself accomplishing things I never thought possible and discovering things that are amazing.  I will have a successful work life, a wonderful family life, and help people along the way. I want to take time to enjoy my life.

In the end, I expect to find a confident Markemmanuel living his dreams and fulfilling his vision. I will be making most of the life I am given and will not squander it on frivolous and unimportant things.  As Aldai E. Stevenson said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”