so i’ve lost a bunch of weight. i need to find something tangible besides running and weight lifting to continue down this path and to increase my overall level of fitness. in steps Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

i’ve wanted to study martial arts for a while but my weight scared me. i thought i couldn’t do it, i thought i would get hurt, i thought i wouldn’t succeed and would make a fool out of myself. turns out only one of these is true! nothing makes a big, strong 30 year old man look like a fool faster than losing a wrestling match to a smaller 17 year old kid in about 30 seconds..

i remember watching the early UFC fights and marveling at Royce Gracie’s incredible wins. i remember wondering how that normal looking guy was able to destroy opponents twice his size without hitting them. it was then that i decided i wanted to study the same art some day.

fast forward to a few weeks ago. i was in a slump with my fitness. i was losing focus on food. i decided to look for something to do and remembered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. i also remembered that my wife’s friend from high school was involved in a BJJ gym pretty close to us. we contacted her, i took a free class and i was hooked.

last night was my 4th (maybe 5th) class. it is an incredible art and a humbling experience. i can’t help but think how awful it would be to try to do this 100lb heavier. my fitness is decent these days but the workout still kills me. i never wrestled in high school and i never played any sports, so this is all new to me. boy am i in for it.

the first few classes were tough because i knew absolutely nothing. i didn’t know any grips, i didn’t know what “guard” and “side control” really meant. i had never been choked or put in an arm bar. it was a baptism by fire as i was tossed around like a rag doll. i thought my size and strength would be benefits, but this isn’t about being a beast – it’s about technique.

last night was especially tough. i was the only white belt in class. i was completely worked over by 2 high school kids as well as by my wife’s friend from high school, who happens to be about 5’2″ tall and maybe 130lb soaking wet. i was choked, cranked, thrown, crunched and just plain beat up.

sounds fun huh? some people think it’s crazy, but i love it. i am hooked. it is my path to self discipline and fitness. i’m so excited to be doing this that i’m planning on working my tail off and competing in an upcoming NAGA tournament here in Georgia. lucky for me there is a class for age 30+ white belts with less than 6 months of experience. do i have a good shot at doing well? you bet. my confidence is high because i know most people i’m competing with are in the same boat as me and don’t know much. well i plan to know more, work harder and want it more than the rest of them.

the humility gained from being choked out by a 17 year old who weighs 50lb less than me is quite the lesson. it makes me realize that it’s all about the chess game that is Jiu Jitsu. being mechanically minded has helped as i feel like i can dissect the game and learn how to get to the end in the most efficient manner possible.

follow along here as i blog about my training, my mental state, any injuries (i’m sure there will be some!), and preparation for the tournament. i’m thankful to have intelligent, thoughtful, encouraging and tough instructors to guide me through this process.

if you’re interested in training in the NW metro Atlanta area then check out http://www.tekniquesbjj.com and come join us!

yesterday i ran my second Warrior Dash in Mountain City, GA. i ran it last year with my buddy andy and we had an incredible time. i was in much worse shape but i pushed through and made it happen.

this year was a different story. first and foremost i ran it with my lovely bride. she had never done anything like this before and i think this is probably the dirtiest she had ever been in her life! we had a blast and will definitely do it again. being in better shape really helped. i was able to really push through the race and i scampered over some of the same obstacles that scared me last year. now that i’m lighter and stronger i am much less afraid to climb walls, scamper up cargo nets and crawl around on my hands and knees.

yesterday i was about 70lb lighter than when i ran the same race last year. i was also much stronger, much faster and had greatly increased stamina. it made a huge difference and really paid off in motivating me to take the next steps in my fitness journey.

that being said, today starts the last phase of my weight loss. i have 20ish more pounds to drop and i’m back on the ultra strict, ultra scientific plan to make it happen. it’s been a good day so far and we’ll see how it goes the remainder of the week. in my experience the first 3 days stink and then everything is OK. hopefully i can make it 3 days without snapping at anyone!

while i’m doing this i’ll be juggling final training for the peachtree road race. kristy and i both are running it this year for the first (and probably last) time. it’s something i need to do, but i think i only need to do it once. 60,000 people doesn’t sound like much fun to me. who knows. i will drop the 20lb during this training and settle in at my goal weight. the extra weight loss will help nicely when fighting the early july heat in atlanta. should be fun!

after that i’ll get to work on the 2011 Southern Odyssey relay race training. this isn’t until October, but i’ll need to do some intense training. i’m probably the least fit (definitely the least experienced) person on the team, and a 200mi 48hr relay race should test my abilities.

sometime later this year i’ll find a half marathon to run, and next year i’ll run a full marathon.

i’ve come a long way from the 2010 Warrior Dash. Can’t wait to see what this year brings!

here’s the typical workout i do 5 days/wk. i’m no expert, but it’s given me some very visible and tangible results.

i want to note that i don’t work my legs, at least not yet. carrying around 300+lb for years means my legs are pretty dang strong.

STRETCH  – always stretch! i do some quick stretching before i warm up

WARM UP – i walk at a brisk pace on the treadmill for 3-5min

STRETCH – i spend about 10min stretching. i stretch my legs very well, my back, triceps, hips, neck and forearms.

RUN – 3 days /week i run 1.5-2 miles at this point in the workout. the other 2 days i do a tabata run- 30 seconds at a very fast pace, 30 seconds rest, 10 cycles of run/rest. this interval training does wonders for your stamina and speed. typical treadmill speed for the 1.5-2mi run is somewhere between 6.5 and 7mph. i do my tabata runs at 1-2% incline and at 8mph.

LIFTING – i’ll break up the lifting into individual exercises

SEATED CURLS – 25lb dumbbells, 10 reps each arm, 3 sets

DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS – 25lb dumbbells, 10 reps, 3 sets

note – i do a set of curls, immediately go into a set of shoulder presses, rest 10 counts, then do another set etc for a total of 3 sets

TRICEP EXTENSION (MACHINE) - 100/110/120lb, 10 reps, 3 sets (increase the weight 10lb each set)

BENCH PRESS - i use a plate loaded machine for this one. don’t know what it’s called specifically, but it gives some lateral motion that a bar doesn’t. when lowered your hands are farther apart than when raised. 35/40/45lb, 10 reps, 3 sets (increase the weight 5lb each set)

ROW – i vary between the machine and bent over dumbbell rows. machine? 100lb, 10 reps, 3 sets. bent over? 45lb dumbbell, 10 reps, 3 sets each arm

SHOULDER RAISES – 50lb dumbbell in each hand, 10 reps, 3 sets

SIT UPS – i use the sit up bench and do 50 sit ups, hands behind head with fingers interlocked. then i do 30 more with alternating twists at the top

OBLIQUE MACHINE – 72lb (weird i know..) 15 reps, 2 sets each direction

RUN – lastly i bang out another 1mi or so on the treadmill at a fairly easy pace, usually about 6mph

youtube is a great resource for learning about these exercises and more. proper form, especially when using free weights, is very important. check out the videos at ScottHermanFitness for some great info on form and good ideas.

every now and then i add an exercise to this routine or shake it up a bit. i never do them in the same order. soon i’m going to change things up a bit so my body doesn’t get complacent and my workouts remain productive.

i’ve seen good results in the mirror and have had to up the reps and weight over the last few weeks to keep up with the increased strength.

try it out, be careful, and have fun!

i’ve told this story before, but in case you haven’t heard it, i’ll tell it again.

when i was a kid we did a 1mi run as part of our “presidential physical fitness” testing program. i couldn’t run the whole thing. i think i might’ve been one of 2 or 3 kids in my class who couldn’t. it really did a number on my self confidence.

since then i’ve dreamed of being a runner. literally. i would have dreams at night of wearing the little shorty short running shorts, strapping on some cool looking running shoes, and running for hours at a time. not running from anyone, not running a race, just running. freud might say my subconscious knew what was going on (i was an out of shape fatty destined to die young) and this was its way of trying to give me a wakeup call.

i started running a while back when i was heavy. it was hard and it hurt. i injured myself. i didn’t do it right. i quit.

fast forward to November 2010. i was on the cusp of making a big change and had lost a few pounds. i wanted to run again. this time i did some research and learned about barefoot running. if you have no idea what i’m talking about, read this website and you’ll see what i mean. my buddy johnny b, a kettlebell nutcase who went through a health journey of his own a few years ago, wears the vibram five fingers shoes and recommended them highly. i figured i’d give them a shot.

i finally found some in a store (i really wasn’t looking all that hard..) on our thanksgiving trip to see my wife’s family out in augusta. i bought a pair of VFF KSO’s and started learning how to run in them.

first impressions, and remember i was 290ish at that point in time, were that they sucked. no cushioning. pain in the calves. but i expected that and pushed through. 2 weeks later i had no more calf issues, had figured out the forefoot striking thing (read the harvard link) and was cruising in the KSOs on the treadmill on a fairly regular basis. they were also pretty awesome for lifting weights too. i noticed sometime in december that ALL my ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain and lower back pain had gone away. your mileage might vary, but these suckers corrected some major issues i had been dealing with for a while. maybe i can do this running thing after all.

since then i’ve run quite a few miles in the VFFs and i love them. but i “ran” into some issues. i hate running in them on pavement!

once the weather got nice i did a few 3-5mi runs on the silver comet trail which happens to run very close to my house. i was moving slow and was uncomfortable. the lack of support in the VFFs is their key feature, but it induced some subconscious fear that i’d step on a broken beer bottle or a rock and be in some serious pain. thinking ahead to the 5ks and 10ks i want to run this summer i decided a more substantial pair of shoes for us on the pavement was in order.

about a week ago i visited one of my favorite places, Big Peach Running Company, to look at some shoes. i knew i wanted some “minimalist” type shoes that provided a little more support and protection than the VFFs but not the moon boot cushioning of most running shoes. they had a ton of options, i tried them all on and ran in them, and settled on the New Balance Minimus Road. they’re light, they don’t provide much support, and i felt like they would protect me while running on pavement. boy was i right.

that day i took them home, strapped them on, and ran a quick mile around my neighborhood. i was back to running confidently and was able to run at a good pace without thinking too hard. i decided that i love these shoes.

note: see the sharpie hash marks? that’s how i keep up with the mileage i put on a pair of shoes. each has represents a mile. they say these should be good for 200-250mi. most running shoes are good for 500 or so, but the lighter materials and lack of extra support and tread lessen the life of the minimus roads. a worthy tradeoff in my mind. plus, the sharpie marks look cool and other runners always ask questions while i’m stretching :D

so now that i’m light(er) and in the best shape of my life i bang out 15-18mi/week either on the treadmill, in my neighborhood or on the trail. i finally feel like i’ve “made it” and can call myself a runner. next up? i have some 5k and 10k races scheduled this summer. i hope to run a half marathon before the year is up. next year i hope to run a full marathon.

dreams do come true!

i’ve decided (with the encouragement of some friends) to tell a little more of my story and blog a little more frequently about my continuing fitness journey.

first, however, let me share some photos i took at the gym the other night. i’m down to about 218 and am starting to really feel like i’m in good shape. i’m currently hovering around 218lb with increased muscle mass. i’m stronger, faster and have more stamina than ever. i’m not so concerned about what the scale says, rather i’m concerned about my performance and my body composition.

here are some before and after shots.

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anyway, i’m down about 90lb so far. my goal is to get to 200, but i don’t know if/when it will happen. i’ve been lifting weights quite a bit and my muscles are responding well and growing, which has stymied the number on the scale.

here are some random thoughts on the whole process..

how bad do you want it??? – i crossed a major hurdle early on when i decided i wanted to be in shape, happy, healthy and strong MORE (much more) than i wanted to eat that piece of cheesecake or the plate of french fries. the mind is a powerful tool. USE IT.

you don’t get fat overnight – one double whopper meal at BK doesn’t make you fat. 32 years of bad decisions stacking up does. my health is a war that i intend to win and you don’t win wars without winning the battles and skirmishes. every time i put food in my mouth it’s a battle and i have to win. split the fight up into simple, easy to win activities. it’s easy to eat right when you think of it as a one-time win/lose proposition. if you think about the big picture it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up.

science! – i’m a construction professional who deals with engineering all day long. formulas work. math works. science works. this is nothing more than science! develop a plan, stick to it, and you will see results. it’s pretty simple – force your body to burn fat by burning off more than you consume. consume the right mixture of foods so your body has good, clean, healthy energy to burn. your body doesn’t store trash. the stored fat is pure, 100% unadulterated ENERGY. when you’re burning it off your body thanks you because it doesn’t have to deal with the trash that comes along with the typical high calorie intake. once you get over the initial hump, which is truly difficult to do, then you will feel better than you ever have.

food is fuel, nothing more – when i eat now i look at food as fuel for my body. i have fitness goals that i want to achieve. i fuel myself to accomplish those goals. unhealthy attitudes about food, including use as an anti depressant or stress reliever, contribute to an overall poor outlook on health. fuel yourself with healthy, pure, natural foods and you’ll make progress. eat a bunch of boxed, bagged, processed crap and you are operating outside of your design parameters.

health is contagious! – i feel and look better than i ever have (at least in my own mind!). that’s awesome and all, but the BEST result of this is seeing friends and family become inspired to make changes that contribute to a healthier lifestyle. start small, work your way in. going balls to the wall and making a drastic, cold turkey change like i did works for some but not everyone.

you are unique, your journey should be also – no one is the same. sure, some certain principles of this are universal, but there’s no utopian magic bullet that will make you healthy. i believe the mental change is the key to this, but the mechanics and details on how to achieve results are different for everyone. as long as you make a healthy change and move forward you’re doing a good thing – even if progress is slow. change at your own pace.

talk! – you have to have someone to talk to. my wife was integral to this process. she’s one of those people who can eat whatever and not gain any weight, but i’m not that person. sure, she doesn’t fully understand all the internal conflict that goes with being fat and making a change, but she listened, prayed with me and for me, offered advice from a different perspective, and did whatever she could to help me change. i owe much of my success to her. my teammates were incredibly helpful as well. i knew they understood and we were all in it together. find some support – you’ll need it. you need someone to call, text or email when you’re weak and don’t feel like sticking with the plan. we’re not meant to do life alone and we’re not designed to deal with struggles alone.

WORK HARD – my dad taught me what work ethic is all about. it permeated all areas of my life but this one. once i applied that ethic to my personal health and goals things changed. make time for yourself, make it a priority, and put the work in. it’s not going to fall in your lap.

be safe, be smart – consult a doctor. get a trainer to help you figure out the gym. even if you think you have it down, get some help from the experts. making a big change can be hard on your body – it can be just as hard as being fat, sometimes even worse. don’t try to go from fattie to osama bin laden slaying Navy SEAL overnight.

don’t get stuck on numbers – sure, you need to lose weight. sure, seeing the scale read off lower numbers is awesome. don’t get stuck on that, however. i’ve been banging out 15-18mi/wk of running lately and lifting weights 5 days/week. my muscle mass is increasing. since muscle is heavier than fat this proves i’m losing fat because i’m not gaining weight. i want to be at 200lb but i’m not hung up on that because i see massive changes in my body. i can lift heavier weights. i can run faster/farther than every. this is what you’re after! if you let the numbers rule then you’ll be bogged down in details, worried about that .2lb that showed up from nowhere, and you’ll go nuts. do this to extend your life, improve your quality of life, to be an example for your kids, and to be able to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. freeing yourself from stress and obsession over “weight loss” and scale readings will push you toward success.

keep looking back here for more posts!

i’ve strayed from posting lately because i haven’t had much to say. when you’re busy you don’t typically have time to share much about what’s been happening. well, now i have something to share. something important.

in may 2010 right around my 31st birthday i stepped on a scale and, after it got over the shock, it told me that i weighed in at a whopping 306lb.

let’s put this in perspective.

306 lb = 643 big macs
306 lb = almost 8 average 5 year old boys
306lb = about 4 aluminum wheels from a tractor trailer
306 lb = about 37 gallons of water
306lb = 2,892 hershey’s kisses
306lb = about 1/8 of your average cow

i could go on, but the bottom line is I GOT FAT. very fat. most men who stand 6’1″ tall and weigh 306lb are fatties and i was no exception.

i decided that day to make a change. i started doing some research, i joined the gym, i had successes and failures, and i got down to 282.5lb in january 2011. that’s a respectable loss of 23.5lb. not too shabby. obviously i needed to lose more weight.

through a stroke of pure luck i was chosen as a contestant on my local radio show’s morning program in a fat loss challenge.

on jan 24 i weighed in at 282.5lb. our team worked diligently with a local bariatric doctor and the pounds started dropping. i started feeling better and it snowballed into full blown life change.

yesterday, the final day of the weigh in, i stepped on the scale and it read a CRUSHING 231lb.

that’s right, i lost 51.5lb in 5 weeks. our team of 3 took the win!

i look better and feel better than i have in years. i’ve lost 6″ off of my waist since last may. i’m down an entire shirt size, soon to drop another. i’m not stopping either. though our team won a bunch of prizes, the most important prize (though i look at it more like a gift..) is a commitment from our doctor to work with us at no charge until we reach our goals and to help us maintain a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle. the doctors also are continuing their work free of charge with the gentlemen on the opposing team, which speaks volumes of their character and passion for health and the fight against obesity.

at the rate i’ve progressed i anticipate i will reach my goal of 200lb by mid april. at that time i’ll move into a maintenance phase and begin working hard with a trainer (one of the other prizes we won!) to build up 10-12lb of muscle. i don’t know how long it will take, but by the end of this year i expect to be between 200 and 215lb with low body fat, high strength, renewed focus and confidence like i’ve never had.

i’ll be blogging here about the remainder of the journey, which means my entire life. i am a believer in health and fitness. i have proven to myself and to others that developing a plan and sticking with it works. i will spread the gospel of weight loss and fitness. my entire focus has shifted and i am incredibly thankful for this opportunity.

finally, if you’re in the Atlanta area and you want to learn how to change your life like I did and am continuing to do, call Dramatic Weight Loss center at 770-394-9991 or check their website at http://www.dramaticweightloss.com. not only will Dr. Mansfield, Scott, Amanda and the team help you overcome the physical obstacles, but they will help you overcome the mental obstacles as well, which are definitely the most challenging aspect of the fight.

here are some photos so you can see proof of my journey. there are more to come including some of the professional shots we took yesterday.

initial weigh in – 282.5lb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week 1 – 263lb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week 2 – 256.5lb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week 3 –  249lb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week 4 – no picture – 243lb

week 5 – final weigh in – 231lb

lately ive been working my butt off. literally.

over the last few weeks i’ve lost a bunch of weight. i’m on track to have lost 20lb total by the end of this week.

i’ve learned that it’s all about the planning. from packing meals for work to planning for workouts and tracking every bit of food that goes in my body, it’s all part of a plan. it’s like the old saying – if you fail to plan then you should plan to fail.

well kids, i’m not going to fail. by october i’ll have lost almost 60lb if i keep on track and work hard. my life is getting easier as i get in better shape. i’m about 1/3 of the way there and i feel awesome. can’t wait to feel what it’s like to be in shape.

anyway, i have a few specific goals in mind for this journey and i can’t wait to meet them. my first milestone is 20lb lost and it’s just around the corner.

it always makes me think when people say “happy memorial day”.

on one hand i’m happy and thankful that men and women have risked (and sometimes lost) their lives in keeping us free and safe.

on the other hand i am sad for the loss of friends and family.

i’ve posted before about my friend who was killed in Iraq some years ago. my emotions on his death are mixed. there are a lot of people who knew him a lot better than i did who miss him dearly. that being said, i FIRMLY believe that the sacrifice of our military men and women is what keeps this country great.

let’s pledge today to support our men and women in uniform, to remember their sacrifice and loss, and to never take what we have for granted.

last night i had a killer workout – something i plan to do often over the coming months for the rest of my life.

on Sept 25 i and 3 other guys are running in the USMC Mud Run in south carolina. it’s an extra insane version of the Warrior Dash. believe it or not there are races that are supposedly even crazier, but we need to take baby steps :)

i have lots of motivation to complete the necessary preparation for the race. in short, i want to lose weight, get in shape, feel better about myself, open up some opportunities that aren’t currently available, and, perhaps most importantly, i want to have fun!

so here’s a short recap of the workout. i hit the treadmill for 45min. most of it was a brisk walk, but i ran hard for the last 5 minutes straight. then i hit the weights working on my arms, chest and shoulders. they need the most work. after i got home and rested for a little bit i went on a 1/2mi run and pushed about as hard as i could.

i know it doesn’t sound like much, but you have to start somewhere. i feel like i’m starting from scratch, but that’s ok. at least i’m starting!

i recently turned 32 years old. wow. not much more to say.

life has been hectic as of late, but that seems to be the norm. things are moving and God is moving – i just hope i am smart enough to take the ride with him. i hope to be more focused on posting here both for my own benefit and to spread the word about some important things going on.

i’m transitioning to a new project at work (thank goodness!!!) and life is great on that front. this new project will allow much more time for me to take care of myself both physically and spiritually. i am about to embark on a life-changing quest for fitness. my fire was stoked when my friend Andy and I ran the Warrior Dash last weekend. it was an incredibly good time, but it illustrated my continuing need to get in better shape and take care of what God has blessed me with.

Marah Water is taking off. i don’t even know where to begin. the launch501c3 conference was amazing, and it answered tons of questions. my weeks since then have been packed with discussions and meetings. just yesterday our first board member joined the team – hopefully the others will follow soon. lots of “God things” are happening, our network is growing, and opportunities are presenting themselves almost daily. we’re obviously on the right track. see updates at http://www.marahwater.com

the kids are wonderful. growing up fast, learning, and being all around nutballs. ricky can write his name now and you should see the pictures he draws! he is an amazingly sweet, thoughtful and cautious kid. rachel is in love with daddy and daddy likes it! she is all about pink, princesses, laughing pizza, and dancing. she’s all girl, but she’s a handful too – she has to be when dealing with her big brother.

kristy and i both are working through the process of going back to school. i’m about to apply for a PhD program at Georgia Tech. i don’t know how it will all work out, but it seems like a good idea. we’ll see.. kristy has had a heck of a time getting her paperwork sorted out, but we’re getting there. we decided to hold off on a summer start since it just didn’t feel right.

i’ll be posting more often to discuss life in general, leadership lessons, humility and fat guy fitness. i hope you’ll come back!

oh, and i’m writing a book. more on that later :)

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