Weights and Measures: Day 1, More Than Just Weight

This is how 206lbs (93.44kg) looks like on someone that’s 5’10″ (178cm).  It’s not pretty.  Being overweight causes a lot of problems like increase risk of hypertension, stroke, diabetes, cancer, low self-esteem, etc. I really let myself go since October 2013. Stress and a major dip in mood took a toll on me.


Friends and acquaintances tell me I look good and I’m at a good weight.  Fortunately for them, they haven’t seen me shirtless or naked. I’m in need in a transformation.  I need to become the health and fit individual that I know I can be.  That was then. Today is a new day to move forward.

Other measurements tell a more complete story than weight.  The scale does not account for many things. Below, I listed the measurements that I am able to take at home so I can give myself a more complete picture of where I am today.

Height: 5’10″ (178cn)

Weight: 206lbs (93.44kg)

Blood Pressure: 132/90mmHg

Neck: 17″ (43.2cm)

Chest: 44.5″ (113cm)

Upper Arm: 14″ (35.6cm)

Forearm: 12″ (30cm)

Waist: 41″ (104cm)

Hips: 39″ (99cm)

Thigh: 25.5″ (67.8cm)

My ‘ideal’ healthy weight is around 156 pounds (70.8kg) with a range of 129 pounds (58.5kg) to 173 pounds (78.5kg). This does not account for my composition is for fat and muscle.  It’s an easy data point to record but there are better ways to measure health.

A better measurement to focus on is my waist.  A waist line over 40 inches (101.6cm) increases my risk for disease. My waist should be less than half my height which would be 35 inches (89cm).

A metric that I can measure from the outside that gives me an indication of what’s going on inside is my blood pressure.  My blood pressure is high.  My blood pressure should be below 120/80mmHg. I can improve my blood pressure by working on my diet, exercising, and eliminating excess weight.

I have been able to run or walk everyday for the past week.  I still struggle with food. I take it one day at a time. Check in 21 days to see my progress.

Where are you today with your health?  What do you need to do to accomplish your health goals?




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How to Becoming Authentic and Genuine

I felt like a fraud and inauthentic for months now. I haven’t been happy with where I’m at in life.  I’m simply not living the life I intend on living.  I’ve allowed too many distractions to drift from my goal. Because I let outside influences take control of my life, I exist in a life that’s not meant for me.  It has to change and that change begins with me.

I need to:

  1. Live my life the way I intend it to be.
  2. Live my dreams right now. I’ve deferred my big picture dream too many times.  Although I currently don’t have many of the physical aspects of my dream, I can think and feel like the person in that dream life. I can create the habits and activities the dream me does everyday.
  3. Stop doing things I don’t want to do. It’s a time waster that sucks away all the energy that could be used to make me happy and build my dream.
  4. Say YES! There have been too many times that saying no has prevented me from gaining new experiences and opportunities. I just need to say yes.
  5. Allow myself to say no. See number three.
  6. Zigzag when everyone tells me to go linear. A lot of people like to offer advice and tell me what I should be doing.  Most of it doesn’t work for me. Most people don’t take their own advice so why should I?
  7. Believe in myself and have faith in my skills. Doubt has killed more dreams than failure ever will.  I might as well believe in myself, reach, and fall than asking myself, “What if?”
  8. Say it’s okay to be a little bit impatient because it forces me to act when nothing is going my way.  I just sit and wait and nothing happens.  I need to take control of a situation so things can get better.
  9. Give myself to take advantage opportunities.  I put myself in a position where I’m not prepared to take advantage of an opportunity because I had an excuse, I wasn’t prepared, or I was afraid.
  10. Let go of certain fears. Fear is good when it keeps me alert and on my toes. There are certain fears that just don’t make sense like fear of authority, fear of the unknown, and fear of realizing your awesomeness.

All I really need to do is live life the way I intend on living it and be true to myself.  It’s really that simple.  Execution can be a bit harder.

What are your tips on becoming more authentic and genuine?


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Solutions to Get Better (Feeling Like a Fake, Part II)

Coaches need coaches to become better coaches.  Last semester, I decided to see a counselor at the Family Therapy Clinic.  I’ve been struggling with school and my mindset. I didn’t want my thought process to be the main cause of my academic downfall. We talk about a variety of things during our sessions.  We talked about what happened to me the past week and my social anxiety.

As you might have read yesterday, I felt like a fake and started hiding under my bed covers.  I barely got things done because I barely remember the knowledge I received in the past three years.  I started to shut down and started to dislike life.  I fell into a state of sadness, self-doubt, and self-loathing.  I explained what happened to her and we came up with a few solutions to help me work make my mood better.

  • Setting up boundaries to make more time for schoolwork.  My time gets pulled all over the place. I go and do the things that aren’t important or over do it like training multiple hours for a race. I need to find a quiet and clutter free place to study and do homework.  I have to say no to people asking me to do things for them.
  • Creating a set of checklists of things to do for the week. This will prevent me from straying from the path I need to stay on.  If I drift away from my goals, I can use this checklist to refocus myself.  It will help me maintain those boundaries I set up because I KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO GET DONE.  It’ll be easier for me to say no to requests I get to do stuff.
  • Break assignments down into small steps and take baby steps. Breaking goals into small steps is a habit for me when it came to my running.  I have to develop the routine to do this with school. It’s one of those skills that I never developed. The assignments won’t be as overwhelming as I perceive them to be if I can hack away at them bit by bit.  To get my assignments competed, I’ll spread the task out throughout the week to make them small achievable goals. The assignments will turn into small molehills that can be completed.
  • Get my assignments done and submitted.  The assignments don’t have to be perfect. They need to get completed in a timely fashion and unload the burden.  I think it’s important to have these wins as it boosts my self-esteem and mood.  It fuels me and prepares me for the next set of goals.  For example, I felt like crap the past few days because I felt like a loser. Things began to change when I completed (just barely) a draft of my first essay in my American Literature class.

Another thing we talked about is my anxiety with talking to authority figures.  It’s one of the reasons I don’t talk to my professors. I need to re-frame my thoughts around authority figures. It’s something we will discuss more in our next session.  Last semester’s academic disaster could have been averted IF I kept in constant contact with my professors and talked to them about my concerns.  I should be maximizing my utility with them as I am paying for part of their salary.  Re-framing it in this way makes talking to them less scary.  Although we didn’t assign activities for this, I decided to talk to all my professors before my next session with my therapist.

I don’t want my mental processes and behavior to cause me to fail in my life and I’m glad that I took the time and resources to get this sorted out. A coach needs a coach to coach them to be a better coach. I will be better for this and in a position to help other people live the life they intend to live so they don’t feel like a fraud or a fake that I feel like.

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Feeling Like a Fake

I haven’t made ground since I wrote about my big bold goals. My weight hasn’t budged much, I’m struggling with my classes, and my finances are a wreck. I feel like a fake or a fraud.  I just don’t feel like this should be me.

My heart sunk when I attempted to do my economics homework.  I struggled through all my homework. It’s frustrating.  It seems each semester I lose knowledge that I learned. I earned A’s and B’s in all my fundamental classes. I earned a B in statistics and an A in calculus but I’m having a hard time with Econometrics and Basic Economic Math Methods.  I really don’t know what to do right now because I’m moving ever so slowly though my school work.  I’m falling behind and inadvertently missing deadlines. It’s so frustrating.  When I get a job after graduation as an analyst, what will I tell my boss if I can can’t get my work done on time?  It makes me sick just thinking about how little I know at this time and what little time I have to review all my work. I feel so worthless and like a fraud that never amounted to much.  It makes me sick.

I barely passed the DietBet games I joined last month.  My weight barely budged.  The snow has impacted my workout.  I exercise in spurts or find time to mall walk.  I get stressed with different elements of my life and I binge eat to make myself feel better.  This undoes everything I’ve worked for.  In addition, people tell me what I should be eating instead of letting me focus on my plan and what I need. This is not a sustainable system.  I feel like a fraud because I used tell me that I’m inspiring for running marathons, losing weight, and keep on going.  The smallest thing gets in my way.  I used to enjoy running in the cold.  I found a way to stay motivated to get healthy and strong.  Today, I feel like a fraud.

My finances are still a wreck.  The biggest progress I’ve made on this is entering my purchases and income into my budget so I know where all the money goes and come from.  I found more places to cut back like my cell phone and cancelling a number of subscriptions. It’s that darn income part that’s ruining me. I’m in between a rock and another rock pressing against me. If I take more hours at my retail job, I have less hours to work on school and my health.  That negatively impacts my ability to learn and find a better job with a better skill set. I can’t make use of the personal finance knowledge I possess if I don’t have money coming in to deploy into the plan.

This has been snowballing into an avalanche. I’ve been feeling negative the past two weeks and quite sad. I just can’t traction or a rhythm going to I can get things done.  I feel so unbalanced. Instead of taking small daily steps, variables in my life force me to make big pushes to catch that neglect other parts of my life and the cycle continues.

I don’t want to blame anyone for my problems.  I just don’t know how to get out of it.  What can I do thrive?

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Renovating the Daily Diet

A key component to living a healthy life is maintaining a good diet. My daily diet is horrible.  It’s high in calories and low in nutrition.  I eat too much.  I drink too much. It’s a mess. I need to revamp my diet. It’s said that abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym.  A quality life begins with quality food. My mood, fitness, and health ties into food.

Going cold turkey on all my favorite things does not lend itself to anything sustainable for me.  I’ll miss certain food. I will crave it so much that cave and over indulge in it. I need it to be simple and effective.  I’m willing to do this slowly so I can make this a long term habit.

I’ll be revamping my diet the way I’d renovate a house.  I wouldn’t gut the house I’m living in to make it better.  It would become overwhelming and unlivable. I’d improve it one room at a time so it won’t be overwhelming.

I want to make it simple. I want to make healthy decisions easy. By taking small conscious daily steps, I’ll see improvements over time and develop healthy habits. I will improve my diet by one meal or snack each week.  By the end of the month, I will have a newly renovate diet and lifestyle.  Eventually, I’ll be able to be fueled properly for any activity I am subjected to and have the necessary nutrients to build and repair my body.

The Process

The main outcome is to create healthy food habits. I’m going to accomplish this by taking small steps and not overwhelming myself. I’ll start by focusing on renovating one meal or snack at a time and then renovate a new area the week after.  This will make planning my meals much easier.

To begin the renovation, I’ll be working on one room while prepping the room I’ll be working on the week after.  The room I’m working on will be preparing the actual food I’ll be eating.  The room being prepped for next week will be using a nutritional meal replacement.  The schedule goes something like this.

Week One:

  • Breakfast- Meal Replacement/Supplement
  • Snack- Old
  • Lunch- Old
  • Snack- Old
  • Dinner- Old

Week Two:

  • Breakfast- Renovation
  • Snack- Meal Replacement/Supplement
  • Lunch- Old
  • Snack- Old
  • Dinner- Old

Week Three:

  • Breakfast- New
  • Snack- Renovation
  • Lunch- Meal Replacement/Supplement
  • Snack- Normal
  • Dinner- Normal

Week Four:

  • Breakfast – New
  • Snack- New
  • Lunch- Renovation
  • Snack- Meal Replacement/Supplement
  • Dinner- Old

Week Five:

  • Breakfast- New
  • Snack- New
  • Lunch- New
  • Snack- Renovation
  • Dinner- Meal Replacement/Supplement

Week Six:

  • Breakfast- New
  • Snack- New
  • Lunch- New
  • Snack- New
  • Dinner- Renovation

I’ll concentrating on portion control, nutritional density, and ease of cooking.  I can eat what I want as long as as I have the portions (and calories) under control. The nutritional density is important to let my body perform its best.  Ease of cooking is important because I don’t want to spend too much time prepping and cleaning after each meal.

I may adjust the plan if I see that something that’s just not working or it’s working very well.  I need this to work with other aspect of my life.  I have to make sure there’s just enough variety so that I’m not bored but not so much variety that it becomes an overwhelming mess.

Are you working on trying to eat better or you already eating better?  What have your challenges and successes been?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Lessons at Lapham Peak



After a few years of teaching myself how to cross country ski, I finally took a formal lesson on how to ski.  I believe in learning things on your own. With that learning, we need someone to critique and guide us to make sure we’re on the right path so we don’t develop bad habits or patterns.

On Being Self Taught

Many things can be learned independently.  I learned how to cross country ski by myself through books, online videos, and personal experience. This self-education allowed me to take full advantage of the lesson I took on Saturday.  With the added instruction from the lesson, I can fold it back in to my personal experience so I have another frame of reference to learn new things on my own and sharpen my skills.

Formal Lesson From an Instructor

I took a semi-private lesson with Dan LeBlanc at Lapham.  He covered gliding, push off, poling, and drills.  My form had a chance to get a quick check while I learned something new.

The instructor started the lesson by asking what our background is with skiing and then let us know what he will be doing with us.

We ditched the ski poles so we can focus on how we moved our body and legs.  New skiers rely on our poles too much and we lose energy by improperly using them.  I’ve practiced in the past without them but this was the first time I knew what was right without comparing it to another way I was skiing.

The scooter drill helped me get a feel of gliding on only one ski.  For approximately 100 meters, he glide on my left foot and and push with my right.  It gave me a feel of pushing off and balancing on one leg. We needed to have flexed knees and not be so tall and rigid. He showed us how to swing our arms. It propelled me forward and allowed me to push off on my skis better.  He had us ski up and down the path. I was getting it.  Everything I’ve read and saw is beginning to come together.

Pushing off and gliding with cross country skis is kind of like trying to juggle two girlfriends (or depending who is reading this, boyfriends).  You can’t date or juggle both of them at one time without getting into some kind of trouble.  If I allow one ski to glide freely and the other push off, I can ski smoother than I do now.  I shuffle less when I keep this in mind.  I would go between shuffling and proper technique prior to this tip.  When I ski and notice myself shuffling, I tell myself, “Girlfriend. Girlfriend. Girlfriend…” until I get back into a rhythm and good technique.

Finally, he showed me where to place my pole and how to push off.  Each drill showed me balance is essential. This lesson saved me another month of trying to learn on my own.  It also gave me the confidence I need to keep on going back out to ski.

Will I take more formal lessons?  Yes.  It helped me a lot and I hope to take ski lessons on roller skis when I’m not in a running cycle for running.

No Excuses

After taking my Saturday lesson, I returned to Lapham Peak on Monday to exercise and apply what I learned from Dan. It was so cold (-8F) that day that my school cancelled classes.  Matthew and I debated whether we should head out or not.  We decided to ski because this could be the weather we might be facing during the Birkebeiner.  I needed to absorb what I learned from my Saturday lesson.  Matt and I needed to figure out what clothing we needed to ski.  What layering system would be adequate? How will our bodies adapt to the cold? What other gear do I need? How can I avoiding hypothermia and dehydration.

We skied for an hour and then took a break at the Evergreen warming shelter.  Each time, we learned something new.  I learned that I need to warm up my core so my hands don’t freeze.  My hands felt tingly. They felt like they were turning into ice. Once I started skiing, they began to warm up. I discovered my Buff dams up with ice and it’s hard to breath through it.  I switched from a Buff to my Pearl Izumi balaclava but it did the same thing.  On Saturday, I had to many layers and got too hot and sweaty. My clothing seemed to be just right for the conditions. I think the only thing I need to add would be toe warmers and hand warmers.  Hopefully, Birkebeiner will not be -8 Fahrenheit on race day.

I learned that I have less excuses not to train. In seemingly bad weather, I just need to respect mother nature and prepare for the conditions.  If this were a run, I’d probably do what I did and plan for the worst.  If the temperatures were too horrible to train, I can find a way to train.

I learned a lot at Lapham Peak over the past few days.  I learned how to ski better by taking lessons.  I learned that my self-learning is effective.  Finally, I learned I have no excuses not to train. Extreme weather didn’t stop me.  I just had to prepare to address it.  If there’s a will, there’s a way.

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Starting From Scratch

I let myself go the past three months.  The weather got frightful.  I went down a dark road sometime in October with my mental health. I discovered I have to start from scratch. A jog on a tread mill beat me up.  Mall walking made sore the next day. That’s okay. It’s time to get back up, brush off the dirt, and keep on moving forward.

We fulfill big dreams with small steps forward.  My big dream is to get healthy and qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon. I need to get faster, stronger, and lighter. First, I need to take the initial step to restart and think about the small.

I began walking at one of the largest malls in the Chicagoland area.   I began a few weeks walking the mall to walk a few laps before and after work.  It’s baby steps to build momentum to create something bigger.  It’s actually kind of fun to be a mall walker.  I can window shop, people watch, and get my steps in.  Soreness after the first day of walking took me by surprise.  I have a long road ahead of me.  It’s okay.  Small actions create big results.

The Student Recreation Center at NIU is a workout facility located 20 minutes from my apartment by walking or 5 minutes by car.  The biggest struggle with this option is waking up early walking to the Rec Center to use the equipment and space when the other students are still asleep in their warm beds.  NIU rounds out the top 21 coldest colleges in the nation. I see it every morning through my window and dread my walk or bus ride to campus.  I have a solution!

If I don’t want to go into DeKalb’s windswept frozen tundra to exercise at NIU’s Rec, I can work out at home using Hip Hop Abs, or TurboJam. I’ve watched them and they’re entertaining.  I have to stop wondering what the roommates will think if they hear me moaning and groaning in my room.  I pay rent along with my roommates so I need to claim my time in the living room to get my workouts done. Not only will I get a workout at my apartment, I’m taking an exercise class held close to the economics classrooms.

Every good coach needs to be coached or continue their learning.  I learned how to lift weights in high school but I feel my knowledge is incomplete.  It’s also nice to have a second set of eyes and thoughts analyze my technique and synthesize a solution to correct it.  I decided to take a weight lifting class at school.  The class teaches form and execution of resistance workouts.  This class will keep me in the mind set and slowly master each exercise.  Towards the end of the semester, we’ll be crafting and executing a workout plan. I think this is important for me especially since people ask me a lot of questions about beginning running.  Not only will this class commit me to exercising at least two times a week, I’ll learn or verify my knowledge.  It’s one thing to learn out of a book or out of experience.  It’s totally different type of learning getting taught by someone else.

Once the winter passes, I can finally head outside to go run.  This has been the most brutal winters for my running.  I loved running in past winters but this one is quite different.  There’s seems to be more ice on the ground, more wind, and less space (too much urban snow). Actually, it reminds me of the winters when I was growing up in the Chicagoland area years ago! I just happened to start running when the winters were warmer.


So I don’t do myself in, I have to make smaller steps and earn small achievements.  I don’t want to hurt myself over doing it.  I also don’t want to beat my body down where I get sick OR I need an extended period to recover. My goal is to lose only a pound or two a week until April 29th.  That shouldn’t be too hard if I stay focused on my dreams.

I don’t have excuses not succeed. Knowing this is an important. I possess all the tools I need to be successful. Reminders of my dream and developing a daily habit to make things automatic will keep me going.  If it doesn’t, maybe this big dream isn’t the dream I really want.


That comic is from XKCD.

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