Friday, May 1, 2015

7th Place Means I Win

As usual, it's been a while...
...but here we are.

I had honestly debated coming back to share my feelings on here, but when something is constantly on your mind...and your friends tell you that your Facebook statuses are too long and that you should have a blog...maybe it is time to come back.

So, for those of you "in the know", I have been an avid and committed Crossfitter for a year and a half.  It's something that somewhere along the way, it became a passion.  It became something I looked forward to every day after work.

When I started to think why I loved it so much, it came at a time when I needed community.  I had fallen in love with running at a time when I needed to be by myself.  I was living and breathing work (being a live-in professional), and running was my escape.  It was the time that allowed me to pound the pavement and escape the every day.  I became strong and faster and achieved a few PRs along the way.

Then came this year's NYC Marathon and Disneyland Avengers Half.  I hadn't trained nearly enough for them and both races were pretty painful for me.  I remember having an emotional breakdown at Mile 20 of the NYC Marathon and telling myself that I just didn't want to do this anymore.

Upon reflection, that's when I discovered that I had fallen out of love with running and in love with Crossfit...because I didn't want to be solitary anymore.  I wanted and needed the community that Crossfit offered.  I had just moved home, leaving friends and communities in Monmouth County.  I was by myself enough...running would only force me to be MORE solitary.

So, when someone runs, they have a goal.  They train for half marathons or marathons...they train for PRs...they train for with Crossfit...what was I training for?

I wasn't really sure to be honest.  When I started, I couldn't even thing of setting a goal...I just wanted to get the basics down...and even when I got the basics down, it was a matter of improving on the bascis.  You get one weight about you add 10 more pounds to see if you can do that weight?  And now that you're going heavier we need you to work on your form.  It is a never ending cycle of needing to improve and get better.

But, with my second Crossfit Open upon me and being able to test this year to see how I compared to last year's Open WODs...things were clicking.  I was getting more reps in...I was lifting heavier...I felt more confident in my form and my abilities.  For a few WODs here and there, I was putting RX to my name.  And in a Crossfit miracle, I finally "got" Double Unders...and I could keep them going! They hurt...but they get done.

Then a friend of mine suggested I sign up for the Festivus Games. I did some research and the idea was genius.  Festivus Games are a world wide Crossfit competition held in boxes across the country for Novice and Intermediate Athletes.  Oh my goodness - I am a Novice or Intermediate athlete!!!  I knew it was my type of competition because they outright say "No Firebreathers allowed."  I mean, I love Firebreathers in the gym, but there is no way in hell I am competing against them.

So, I'm not going to go step by step through my preparation, but I knew Novice was a good choice for me.  I practiced all the announced WODs so I had a baseline...and a time/score/rep count to beat once I was in the heat of competition.

Game day arrived.  As usual, I was the FIRST person there.  Novice Male 1.  Oh, awesome, I had planned to do Row So Hard first...but the WOD Gods had something different in mind.  I was assigned to start the day with Quad Buster.  It sounds IS painful.  I did my best, but deep down I knew that this was definitely going to be the weakest of work outs.  Front squats kill me...but man...I am a lemur during bar over burpees.

With Row So Hard, I knew I stood a chance to actually kick ass on it.  I was in the first heat of Novice athletes...And I knocked it out in 5:49.  1000m row and 50 14 pound wall balls to a 9 foot target..Almost half a minute faster than my original time.

Then...I watched and waited.  I stood there and watched the athletes compete like I was an excited kid waiting for the Hot Light at Krispy Kreme turn on.  Now, I am not one to rub my victories in others' faces...but you can be damn well sure I was as giddy as a school girl as more and more Novice athletes competed and I had finished faster than them.  This was happening.  I was competing and I was holding my own.

Then the waiting game for WOD #3.  I had prepped and I knew that if I moved quickly...I may have a chance.  Either way, I needed to prove to myself that I could do it.  This is what I had been training for.  A chance to show off my skills and my strength.

With the final WOD, 6 minutes came and went.  My judge looked pretty dang impressed.  I looked at my cheering squad (my buddies from Crossfit: SOAR - Beyond Your Limits) and they had a look in their eye.  They think I stood a chance at Top 5.

Now, this is where I start to panic.  I had prepped for the First 3 WODs...but what if the last WOD was something I couldn't do?!

Also - I didn't want to get my hopes up.  To be fair (and not totally EMO at all), I recognized that life is going to be full of disappointments.  And as I've gotten older, I try not to get my hopes up.

But this is where I realized that I was truly victorious...regardless of the eventual outcome...I believed what my friends were telling me...Based on how hard I had worked, I believed I had a chance at the Top 5.  A year and a half ago, I had struggles with getting 35 pounds here I was, after three work outs, believing and even hoping (I know, crazy) that I would have the chance to test my mettle in the Top 5 of a CROSSFIT competition.

So, I will not lie and say I wasn't disappointed to not here my name announced as one of the Top 5.  It hit me kinda hard, and I pretended I was okay...but I was a bit disappointed.

But, I wasn't disappointed in myself.  I was confident in my performance.  After every WOD at the box, I always tell myself I could do better.  Not that day.  I know I had given 100%, my all, and left it all on the mat.

I couldn't wait to see where I had placed.  I logged on...and the score server had crashed.  I thought I was okay with never knowing my score.  I WASN'T.

And it ate at me more and more as the week went on.  Please, races have perfected it where you can pretty much search your finish time seconds after you cross the finish line.  Why couldn't this competition be the same?!?!?!?  And then the word came that Festivus may never be able to provide the Host-level scores given the server outage.

It was like putting all your time and effort into baking something (because it all comes down to food in the long run), and not being able to taste it while all your friends say how amazing it is.  It would be like running a  half marathon, feeling like you PRed, but never knowing if you actually did or not.

But, with enough whining and complaining...We finally got the results.

I came in 7th!  7th!

When I first read the E-mail, I did a dance of joy in the bathroom.  You couldn't wipe that smile off my face.  Out of the 20 something novice male athletes there, I pushed myself enough, lifted heavy enough, and moved fast enough to rank in the Top 10!  As far was I was concerned, I had won.  There was no second self doubt...just pure awesomeness and joy.

But now I know what my goal is...To make the Top 5 when the Festivus Games return in October.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Strong is the new skinny...another perspective from the scale...

I find it great timing that one of ,my Crossfit coaches, Kim, shared her story about her battle with the scale...and how sometimes the number doesn't always mean what society thinks it means...

A few days after I had shared about how I am stronger than I have ever been, but not even close to my lowest weight ever.

Two great perspectives from very different people, but with the same message.

Check it out...I think we call can relate

And no...she isn't offering cheeseburgers for PR.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why I Am Changing my Goal Weight...

It's been a while!

Honestly, there's a tons of reasons why I haven't been, the Crossfits, the fact that Facebook wants people to charge to promote their shit.  Facebook = Fascist Skynet.

Also, I don't have a personal laptop typing a blog post an iPhone would probably be infuriating.

The funny thing is, I always have these awesome ideas for blog posts, but then figure out I don't have a lot to say...Case in point, race recaps.  Ultimately, I would just be telling you that I ran a lot.

New York City Half - Friggin' cold at the start line...ran through Times Square...peed a lot...didn't PR.

Brooklyn Half - Beautiful day...wasn't all that prepared...forgot my Garmin and forgot nipple tape...bloody nipples in all my pictures.  Beautiful finish line at Coney Island though.

Expedition Everest 5K - Amazing fun, would suck at the Amazing Race if my interpretation of the clues is any indication...wouldn't mind going on another solo Disney Adventure.

I've been Crossfitting consistently for a year now and have been seeing changes.  I was crafting a blog post about the "Dos and Donts Of Any Good Crossfit Box" may still happen...but ultimately it boils down to the fact that if you are going to be a Crossfit Coach, don't be a douche.

When I first started the blog, it was to chronicle my weight loss/weight maintenance journey with Weight Watchers in hopes that it would help somebody...anybody...out there trying to do the same thing.

For the last year and a half, I have been trying to get back to goal weight and have been failing miserably.  Yes, I still go to meetings.  Yes, I track.  But, I can't get back there.

This is how it's been going -

Week 1 - Up a lot (when I gain, i gain BIG...Go hard or go home is a philosophy my body apparently ascribes to)
Week 2 - Lose a fair amount, but not enough to make up for the huge gain
Week 3 - Lose an itty bitty amount
Week 4 - Lose an itty bitty more
Week 5 - Gain an itty bitty
Week 6 - Up a lot (IPA is just so tasty...and pizza...lots and lots of pizza...and Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Ice Cream)

Now mind you, I Crossfit three or four times a week, so my body HAS changed.  Clothes fit better.  I am it's not like I have fallen back into some ridiculously unhealthy lifestyle.

For those of you who don't know my history, my lowest weight ever was 180 pounds back when I was 22.  Now I am struggling to break 200.

My current goal is 189.

After some serious soul searching...and a 7 pound gain after an AMAZING road trip to Vermont (beer, hot tub, and breakfast prepared by an amazing chef)...

It's time I change my goal weight.

For me, I have always prided myself on saying I lost 50 pounds.  It's such a huge number...and an incredible milestone.

Even getting back to 189 was important to me - because I wanted to E-mail the Weight Watchers magazine editor who had corresponded with me to do a story and say "Okay, I'm ready for my spotlight now...I hit my goal...What do you wanna know?!  I'm an open book!  GIVE ME MY FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME!"

But the fact that I was struggling to get there...even when I was tracking...even when I was working my ass off in the gym and at my Crossfit box...for a YEAR AND A HALF...I needed to gut check myself.

I have also always been someone who preached "The scale is just a number", and here I was letting that number dictate how I felt about myself.  I felt good and looked good, but I still thought something was OFF because the scale wasn't telling me I was where I "should" be.

I was going crazy.

The funny thing is, I have been saying in my meetings that "I'm not sure if I'll ever get back to goal"...which I think exuded confidence...but honestly was a bit ridiculous...why have a goal if you know you can't reach it?

So, after consulting with a doctor, I have decided to change my goal weight to 199.  It's only a 10 pound difference...but it's realistic!  And that means once I hit 201 pounds, I'm free!

There's a few reasons why I chose this number -
1) I want my weight to begin with a 1.  When I first lost the weight, having the three digit number begin with a 1 was SUCH a big deal.  I had never seen that number before.
2) I have gotten pretty damn close to 200 over the past year and a half.
3) I can still be confident in myself being able to say that I lost 35 pounds.
4) If I want to lose more weight I can, but I don't have to be panicked about it as I continue to pay week to week because I am so far over goal.

Most importantly, I think it's realistic.  My life has changed drastically since I first lost the weight 10 years ago.  Things are just different.  And if Weight Watchers has taught me anything, it is that the number on the scale is just a gauge with which corporate Weight Watchers determines your paying or free status...but how you feel about yourself is the TRUE success metric for Weight Watchers.

I am feeling revitalized and refreshed and ready to tackle this new challenge, because I believe there is an end in sight.

Also, as a side note, I'm running the NYC Marathon again.  So if you aren't 10 of the people that I already know who actually read my blog - please consider donating...

(And if anyone needs proof that Crossfit and Weight Watchers works, I no longer look like a stuffed sausage in my Team Boomer tank)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Setbacks are just set ups for a comeback... usual, it's been a while. 

And I am warning you right now...if you like clear and concise blog posts...this one is NOT for you...

I guess I could be a more faithful blogger.  For example, I've been telling myself I should post my Walt Disney World Marathon playlist...and then I realized I had a story for  I'm not sure even I have time to put that to paper.  If you are dying to know what I had on my 1st Marathon playlist, I'd be happy to post it.  Expect a lot of dance music and "Glee" covers.  Sorry, not sorry.

 At this point, I've been a marathoner for almost 3 months.  Sometimes, I'll just look at my medal plaque...and just remember what an awesome weekend it was.  Then I realize how lucky I am to have experienced so many amazing things.

Oh, speaking of Disney...Walt Disney World has gone DOPEY!!!!  Yes, folks...for 2014, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend has gotten bigger...and yours truly could win SIX medals...all I need to do is just run 48.6 over the span of four days.  Easy, right?!? 

No, I just vomited in my mouth.  So, this year, if you run the 5k, the 10k (starring Minnie Mouse...Meh is all I have to say about her), the half marathon, and the full marathon...You successfully complete the Dopey Challenge.  Part of me is really really really really really kinda turned on by the idea of collecting SIX MEDALS...and being part of the inaugural year...

...but then I remind myself it's 4 days...of having to get up at the ass crack of run...a lot.  10k - I can handle (that's 6.2 miles for those not in the know)...I can probably do the half the next day...But then running an additional 26.2 miles the day after?!?!?  Even doing the GOOFY challenge makes we want to die a little inside...

So, there is a still an incredibly insane part of me that wants to take on this monumental undertaking...but then I think of the pain and mental anguish I'd feel...Not to mention, I can't imagine wanting to do anything but sit poolside, shoving my face with pasta and/or beer between runs.

So, I will be in Disney for WDW Marathon weekend (registration starts April 9th)...and right now, I think I'll register for the 10k (But really...RunDisney...Minnie?!?!?!?) and have to decide between the half or the full.  I am ALWAYS looking for travel/running buddies.  However, you need to be good at the whole planning thing.  I just pay the money and train for the races.

...with that being said, so many other awesome things have been going on in my life...

I will be running the Tower of Terror 10 Miler again with Jenna...It's going to be our annual tradition.  And since I was talking about vomiting in my mouth...
...I will be departing for Disney early in the morning immediately after my little sister's then run 10 miles in 80 degree heat (100% humidity, probably) at 11:00 PM dressed as Hercules. 

I believe this is where the young'uns would type something like "YOLO", right!?

...Crossfit is actually going AMAZINGLY well.  Although I still have yet to master the Power Snatch (go ahead...giggle...I do it EVERY.SINGLE.TIME)...I am getting it.  I am giving myself time to understand what I am doing there.  I am not giving up.  I even got a few Double Unders...I think it clicked for me one day after class...I had actually been successful at doing the WOD...It was push presses and pull ups or something...and the weight wasn't anything incredible...but I did it.

And I sat there and said to myself "If you aren't an alpha male, why you are you trying to lift alpha male weight?!?!?!" 

It's true.  I'm not there to compete on a world stage.  I'm there to build strength...I'm there to be part of a fitness community...and I'm there to learn.  And if I give myself time, it will come to me.

And for the first time, I actually felt like part of the community.  The competition level workout was a 500m row, a 400m run, and then 50 Double Unders.  I haven't mastered the Double, apparently, if you do single jump ropes, you need to multiply the amount of Double Unders by 3.  That's 150 jump ropes...AFTER rowing 500m and running 400m.  And we had to do it three time...

...and Mary looked at me and said "Let's do it."  And we did.  And I kicked its ass...and to have someone else cheering me on is truly what it's about it...Instead of having someone yell at me about form (which is completely okay, too, because that's where I know I need the most growth)...

It is also important to point out that with Crossfit and my AllState 13.1 Half-Marathon/Long Branch Half training (more on that later), that I feel and look the best I ever have...

So...I remind myself of this saying every time I step foot in the Box (go ahead, giggle about this one too...)

...Ya know, I'd like to shake Earl Nightingale's hand...

So, we feeling inspired?!?!?

...well, this is where the blog takes a tumble...but then uplifts you again...Stay with me, people.

For the first time since May 2011, I weighed officially as a Weight Watchers member and employee over goal.  And we aren't talking a few ounces over goal.  We are talking 7 pounds over goal (almost 4 pounds over the highest I can be.), in this information age, I went back and forth on whether I should share this fact.  It's something I'm not necessarily proud of, but I also realized (in the span of a number of car rides where I talked out loud to myself about the whole thing) that it's something I'm not ashamed of either...

I also need to make sure that this is viewed within the context that it happened -
  • I have been tracking.  I've been making the best choices I can, most of the time.
  • I have NOT been sitting home, on my couch, eating pints of Ben and Jerry's for dinner like I used to.
  • I may have gone out too frequently and not been as attentive to program while I was out, enjoying adult beverages.  However, the next day, I refocused and treated every meal as a new beginning.
  • I have been faithfully training for the NY/NJ Challenge and I have been consistently going to Crossfit.
So, with all this being said, even on weeks when I would give myself an A+ as a Weight Watchers member, I was still hovering over goal.

...there's a number of things I needed to consider...
  • My increased activity, and building muscle, may have something to do it.  HOWEVER, I am fully aware that muscle does not weigh more than fat.  A pound of fat and a pound of muscle...still weigh a pound.
  • Maybe my nights out caught up to me and I wasn't able to shed the weight as quickly as I used to.
  • I actually attempted to weigh in earlier that week, and was only .8 over the highest in my range.  In retrospect, I should've taken it.
  • I weighed in the morning after running a half-marathon...and having Chinese food for dinner (tracked and accounted for.)
...Ah yes, the half marathon...and this is where it all gets put in perspective...


...cute AND can last longer than 2 hours...
So, could I legitimately beat myself up after running my fastest half marathon?!  And like I said, I look and feel the most fit I ever have since I've lost the weight.

So, I need to put this in perspective...and the truth of the matter is, and everyone has been saying it, the scale isn't always the indicator of success.

Ultimately, I know what it will take to get back to goal....and I'm not talking the highest in my range...I am talking my actual goal weight.

The other thing that I needed to remind myself is that I will always be a Weight Watchers member...There may come a time when I won't be a Weight Watchers employee.  I need to make sure that I am putting myself first as I strive to maintain my weight loss.  Yes, it is a requirement for me to stay employed...but it is a requirement I put on myself so that I can be happy.

...and being a member, for life, may mean that some months are harder than others...I see it every week in work...sometimes, LT members have to pay.  I'm NO different from any other Weight Watchers member out there just because I work for them.  Yes, do I strive to be at goal to be a constant example to members who attend my meetings...absolutely.  But, I also think it makes me more relatable when I do struggle.

...Ultimately, I got this.  The scale doesn't dictate who I am.  It may be cliche, but what the scale says is failure, not feedback.  I am striving for progress, not perfection.  This set back is merely a set up for the quite amazing comeback.

So, god willing, I'll be alive for another 30, 40, 50 years...and Weight Watchers will always be part of my life.  As long as I can say I've been Lifetime at goal more than I haven't...I'll be okay.

And I've been at goal for almost two month doesn't change all the amazing things I've accomplished since I shed 50 pounds... won't change that I have run 6 half marathons... won't change that I hit my PR this past Saturday... won't change that I am a marathoner...and will be a 2 time marathon come November... won't change that I am a 32 waist, when I used to be a 38 waist... won't change that I FEEL and LOOK the best I ever have... won't change that I finally have confidence...(yeah, as a 30 year old, good to finally get some of that, right?) won't change that I will be on TV talking about my weight loss ('ll have to come back when it airs for the full experience write up...)

...and it can't take back, that for the first time ever in my life, I will be comfortable wearing tank tops this summer...after some important manscaping... (and I apologize in advance for the jankity dressing room the point that I took it, I had ZERO plans to share it...but, I mean, hey, I look kinda cute...)

...yes, gents...I'm single...
See you next month,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The One Where I Meet a Survivor Winner and Run my First Marathon...

I am not one to use hyperbole believe me when I say that this past weekend may have been one of the BEST.WEEKENDS.OF.MY.LIFE!

No, seriously.  What started out as a Disney vacation turned into something truly...well, since it was Disney...MAGICAL.

But before I recap my first full marathon experience...and let's be honest...if you're going to run a marathon, might as well be through the Disney parks...

...let's talk about what happened before.

Now, for those of you who don't know me...I am OBSESSED with the TV show "Survivor."  I have seen every single episode.  I could recap for you some of the best and worst moments and probably tell you every single winner.  In college, me and my friends would host "Survivor" premiere and finale parties.  I furiously text my friends as episodes are going on.  I am PASSIONATE about the show.  I experience rage when contestants I hate don't get voted out and I experience amazing joy when a contestant I've cheered for and liked from episode 1 wins...

Now, imagine how I felt when I was presented with the opportunity to not just MEET a "Survivor" winner...but hang out with him.

There I am, using a gay social networking app...Disney cast members all over the place...some creepy old men...lots of other marathoner runners...and there's a familiar face.

Holy shit...that can't, no, no, it's Todd, the winner of "Survivor:China."

Todd is my THIRD favorite "Survivor" winner...Third to Tina Wesson and Sandra Diaz Twine.  And here he is.  Now, here's where the cynicism sets in and I say to myself - "Self, it's probably just a creepy fat guy who Googled cute gay Survivor contestants" and threw that pic up there...

...but, I also know that I would regret missing out on an opportunity to meet one of my favorite.Survivor.contestants.ever.

So, I message him...and he responds...and swears it's him.  Next thing I know...we're texting...he's calling me...and we agree to hang out at my resort...grab a few drinks...swim...whatever...

And I.AM.DYING!  Literally dying.  What do I say?  What if I act like a total fan girl?  What if he hates me?

...and next thing I know, I'm meeting him in the lobby of the Port Orleans: Riverside.

And since we're being honest here...It was awesome.  He is probably one of the most genuine, honest, and kindest people I have ever met.  It's rare that I just feel at ease with someone.  Not to mention that he was completely willing to listen to my rants and raves about "Survivor."  It's rare that someone will buy into my craziness. But I think it takes a unique person to allow people to just feel at ease.  It helps that he is incredibly, incredibly cute.

Before one of the biggest moments of my life...ya know, running 26.2 miles through all 4 Disney I am, drinking Angry Orchard and LI Teas with someone that Diana and I were OBSESSED with when his season aired...and another big moment in my life is being created.

Here is photographic proof - and yes...I'm wearing home-made jorts...don't judge, they flatter my legs..

I mean...that smile on my face is genuine.

So, we're sitting at Muddy Waters...and Todd brings out his Bucket List that he wrote in 9th grade...and he has all these amazing things crossed off...two of which were "Interview for Reality TV" and "Meet Jeff Probst."  And it happened!

I mean, it was inspiring.  You have this kid, who at the age of 22, managed to beat out 15 other people to win a million dollars...and is now able to do a job he loves and live in a great area.  All because in 9th grade, he wrote how much he wanted to get onto reality TV.  He made it happen.

Here I am...30...not always happy with my job...who has only made one half-assed attempt at getting on the show.  I always tell myself how much I can't do things...and how no one will like me...etc..etc...I always have an excuse.  How can I not feel motivated to do more?  I want to do an awesome video (how do I condense myself into 3 minutes?) and I want to look at putting together a legit bucket list.

And the funny thing is, I remember years ago, I attempted a Bucket List.  I remember typing "Run the Walt Disney World Marathon" and I backspaced it because I said to myself "I don't think I'll ever be in a place to do that."  I replaced it with "Run the Disney World Half Marathon"...and years later, I am hours...HOURS away from running something I never though I'd have the ability to.

Now, on to that whole pesky Marathon thing...

26.2 miles...that begin with a 2:30 AM wake up call...

...and then a shuttle ride where all I keep saying to myself is "Eric, you are an idiot...why are you doing this?  You have no business running 26.2 miles.  They are going to have to carry you across the Finish Line.  Really, just start crying and ask the shuttle to turn around.  Get back into bed, sleep until noon, drink your body weight poolside...and then jump out of the bushes, frighten someone, and steal their medal.  This is such a stupid, stupid, stupid idea..."

...and this conversation repeats itself as I make the 15 minute the start corral...and that smells like a combination of fear, regret, and human urine (because apparently, both male and female runners have ZERO problem relieving themselves in the plain view of everyone...)

I'm in Corral D.  There is still time to just turn's probably less than 26 miles to my, I can still say I ran for the weekend, right?

Corral A starts...then B...then C...

I am experiencing a combination of excitement, utter fear, abject misery, some disbelief that I friggin' met TODD FROM SURVIVOR, and five million other emotions about this adventure I am about to embark on with 67,000 other people...

Alright, I'm moving...and HERE WE GO!  So it begins.  No turning back.  However, maybe, if I pass out at Mile 13.1, they'll give me credit for running the half?!  I'll still get the Donald medal.

In preparing for the race, I programmed almost 7 hours of music on my iPod.  I was shooting for an overambitious 5 and a half hours to finish, but nothing wrong to be prepared with enough songs to get you through. 

...and normally, I plan out my runmix, so certain songs line up with how I think I'm going to be feeling at that point in the race...but, this time, I knew I just needed to trust the shuffle.

So...Disney has already played "Go the Distance" from Hercules to get it started...I click the shuffle button...

...and I am kicking off my first marathon experience with "Fighter" by Gym Class Heroes and Ryan Tedder. that moment, I knew I'd be able to do it...

...and it is abundantly clear that the running and iPod gods were with me, because there were just PERFECT songs for PERFECT moments during the run...

..."Start a Fire" by Ryan Star giving me the power to start pushing myself harder at the beginning of the race and getting ahead of the crowd... I'm running on Main Street in Magic Kingdom, Cinderella's castle in the distance, all random strangers cheering me on...the Glee cover of "Heroes" comes was fate...

"I...I will be king...and you, you will be queen"

..."Scream and Shout" by Britney and coming on when I was VERY close to stop running outside the Animal Kingdom...

...and "Defying Gravity" getting me moving as I neared the 13.1 marker IN the Animal Kingdom...

..."I Got You" be Leona Lewis, "Hall of Fame" by The Script, "No Boundaries" by Kris Allen,  "Dance My Pain Away" by Wye Oak...all when I needed to smile and remind myself that I was achieving an amazing life goal...

...and even the irony of "The Animal Song" by Savage Garden playing as I am running through the Disney Conservation Center, and you have cast members holding snakes, owls, goats, mini horses...I mean, it was clear that trusting the shuffle was the right decision...

...and on a side note, I'm obsessed with Ryan Star's "Stay Awhile"...and I had that on the run mix because I needed to remind myself how awesome the night before was...and how awesome the miles ahead were going to be.

So, the actual race...well...I mean...the first 13.1 were pretty easy.  It was the whole second half that was a bit of a challenge.

Ummm...wait...where's the finish line?!

I just remember hitting Mile 14...and realizing..."This is the longest I've ever run...but you have 12.2 miles to go.  You can do it, you can do it, you can do it..."

Then Mile 16 happened.  Running on a highway.  I broke down.  I cried.  I couldn't believe I was actually doing this.  I was excited, scared, nervous...and I also couldn't believe I still had 10.2 miles to go. 

It's almost funny how you start to break down a race mile by mile, song by song.  You know what ones were the best, and you know what ones you never want to experience again.

For all started with this...

3.1 miles is a 5 k.  A 30 k is 18ish miles.  Miles 18 to 22...were bad.  Very, very, very, very bad.  Like, texting my friends with "I don't want to do this anymore, bad."  To Ray - "This is what it sounds like when doves cry..." bad.

Your arch is tacky and I hate you!
I ripped my ear buds out.  "Running Up that Hill" by Placebo didn't help much either.   I didn't even want to listen to ANY of music.  I was taking a leisurely walk at this point.  I was angry.  People were passing me.  I didn't even care about the awesome "Celebration Mile" at Mile 20 (for the 20th Anniversary)...

I hit the wall.  It happens.

What I did know is that I was closer to the finish line than I was to the start.  I was only 6.2 miles away from achieving a goal that I never thought I'd be able to.  235 Pound Eric NEVER would have been able to do this...nor would he have had to confidence to do this.

Mile 22...I decided to stop being such a wuss.  4.2 Miles left?!?!  My typical run was 5 miles!  I could do this.  A few weeks ago, I had ran 6 miles...on the the sleet and rain...against the wind.  I could do 4.2 miles in beautiful weather...

...the iPod went back on...and I trotted.  I didn't run, because my legs were ON FIRE at this point...but I trotted.  I sang at the top of my lungs when I needed to keep going.

We were nearing Epcot.  Which means an end was in sight...But, did you know that it is a mile from France to the giant Epcot ball.  When it is the last mile of a marathon, that may be one of the  longest miles I have ever run.  It's almost like the ball just got further and further away...

Now, I'd like to introduce you to Joe. 

Oh hey...Runner McHottie

Joe and I started together in Corral D...throughout the race, we just kept pace with each other.  When I though I'd pass him, I'd see him up I'd work harder to catch up.  I'd be walking, and all of a sudden he'd walk past me.  It was crazy.

So, we're running through Mexico, and Joe starts talking to me.  "It looks like we started this race together...and we're going to finish it together."  "Looks like we are."  "It was hell."  "Yes, Joe, yes it was."

It was pretty awesome, though, to have someone on the journey with you...
...and in my defense, I actually beat him because once I saw that finish line, I sprinted past my buddy to finally end the race.

So, I did it.  I crossed that finish line...and it took EVERYTHING in my power not to collapse and bawl like a baby and kiss the ground.

I didn't collapse...I didn't kiss the ground...but I did get a LITTLE emotional when they put that medal around my neck...

...but I had finished a marathon...I was a marathoner...and I did it in 6 hours and 19 minutes...Which means I set a Personal Record...and it's a PR I am completely comfortable with.

Let's ignore the fact that I'm showing you the BACK of the medal...

And I got to meet some awesome Disney characters...

I said he was friggin' creepy as hell...Jack said he was Spooktacular


I missed out on this during the half last year...Wasn't making the same mistake twice!

And here's what's inscribed on the medal - "All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them."

I firmly believe that.  Somewhere in my journey to be a thinner, fitter me...I told myself I wanted to do a full marathon.  For years, I wanted to meet someone who had been on "Survivor."  Here I am in Florida, making both happen.

What if I had decided that I didn't want to meet Todd?  What if I had allowed my own insecurities keep me from deciding to meet him?  I wouldn't have had one of the most awesome nights of my life...ever.

What if I had stopped at Mile 22?  Just within reach of that Finish Line?  I'd never know the joy of wearing that medal.

With 6 hours to think, I thought about my Weight Watchers journey.  What if I stopped going to meetings?  What if I gave up when I was 5 pounds within getting goal?  What if I decided "This is too hard...I'm just going to let the weight go back on."  I wouldn't have been in the position to finish a 26.2 mile run...and I honestly would not have been comfortable meeting my "Survivor" crush with an extra 50 pounds.

Now, after I had finished the race, I told Ray (congratulations on running the Disney Half, buddy!) that I would NEVER run a marathon again...

...then I remembered that I had to run the NY Marathon for Team Boomer in November...

...and then I spoke to my Mom on the ride from the airport...

Mom - "Eric, I know you...You are not going to be happy going backwards.  You are going to want to move forward..."
Me - "You're right...I wouldn't be happy just doing the half next year.  But don't think I'm doing the Goofy Challenge."
Mom - " aren't that crazy."

Yeah, I don't think you will ever see me in a position with running a half marathon and then a full marathon the next day.  Because my idea of a good time after a race is drinking lots of Angry Orchard and girly drinks poolside...and you can't do that if you need to wake up at 2:30 AM for the second day in a row to run 26.2 miles.

So, I have already started planning my Racecation with Jenna for the 2013 "Tower of Terror 10 Miler."  I am so serious about it...that it may mean a hungover morning flight to Florida the morning immediately after my Sister's wedding.

I will also be in Disney in January 2014 for the Walt Disney World Marathon.

And I need to keep telling myself - "All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them."

...and maybe, if I'm lucky, you'll see me on a future season of "Survivor."


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year...and Welcome Back...I hope!!!

Well...well...well...faithful blog readers (Hi Mom!  Because at this point, the fanbase that I may have started has probably moved on to reading about Kim and Kanye's bastard child...) I am back.  I feel good.  I am ready to blog again...and by blog, I mean stream of consciousness and verbal diarrhea about my weight loss/maintenance journey...and any other stuff on which I have opinions.

Now, you may ask "Eric, where have you been?"  My answer would be "My life has been insane."  I have not written ANYTHING since July...and SO MUCH has happened since then, I can't believe I didn't hog up any bandwidth with it.

As everything was happening, I would always say to myself "Self - I should blog about that."  Then I'd more than likely go to bed.  Or twiddle my thumbs.  Or get sucked into an SVU Marathon.  Angry Orchard is also something that may have distracted me from being a faithful blogger.

So, what has happened since I last put my knuckles to the keyboard...

I successfully passed Basic Leader Skills for Weight Watchers (with a perfect PowerStart score) ...ahem...hold your applause, I'll autograph your Weekly later...Fran, the trainer, said she has only given a few of those away during her time as a trainer...So, this would be an appropriate time to start doing the cabbage patch in my living room.  I also found out that other 30ish year old men do Weight Watchers...I'm NOT the only one...Larry the trainer was one. 

Here's a few things I learned from BLS -
-People see something in me.  I know, it sounds arrogant...but we all know my confidence is false and just a means to overshadow my glaring insecurities.  When I sat down with Julia, the third member of the training triumverate, we got to talking...and I said "This just feels right."  She looked at me and told me that she saw potential in me and could see me doing great things.
-If all the treadmills are full, find an empty parking garage and run up and down a few times.  This also doubles as handy Zombie Apocalypse survival training.  I would love to post the picture of the view, but I lost all my pictures when I upgraded my phone...and Instagram makes it impossible to download your pictures to your computer.
-My ability to eat 2 point bars is unparalelled.  I could not tell you the amount of those I ate during the training.  Oh yeah...and thank God they discontinued Zesty Pop Crisps.  Those things were disgusting.

I met my fundraising goal for Team Boomer for the New York Marathon...

Here's a few things I learned from meeting my fundraising goal -
-I know some incredibly generous people.
-There is nothing more empowering than seeing complete strangers give you money because they believe in something that you're doing.
-Running for something is so motivating.  I knew I hadn't trained as hard as I could have, but I was determined to cross that finish line...NO.MATTER.WHAT...but then...

...Sandy happened.

Sandy was a bitch, plain and simple.  Because of Sandy, and the fact that I needed to be on campus to care for the students that had nowhere else to go, I made the heart-wrenching decision to defer my entry into the NY Marathon for next year.  I also might have missed my one and only opportunity to stay in the Waldorf-Astoria.  Soon after, they did decided to cancel the race. 

Now, imagine this, your Weight Watchers boss has a mandatory weigh in-scheduled for less than a week after Sandy hits.  You are forced to eat in a college Dining Hall for almost two weeks, because it's the only place on campus with power (and you live about 100 feet from the beach, so it's not like you can stay home)...and you need to make sure the students are safe and cared for.

So, my food choices were pretty much limited to bacon, pizza, cookies, french fries and ice cream.  WITH A WEIGH IN IN LESS THAN A WEEK. 

Here's a few things I learned from Sandy -
-To be only .6 over goal when I wasn't in control of my food choices and/or spaces and/or something that I really beat myself up over.  But, looking back, I am proud that I was only over by .6...and I was able to knock 1.6 off by the next week.  I did what I could given the situation...Like the new Weight Watchers campaign says...I'm only human...and I did it.  (Ps - check it out -
-Sometimes, you just need a McDonald's McDouble, two snack wraps, and a chocolate milk shake.
-Walking to Rook Coffee Roasters is what one may need to clear their head...and it also restores your faith in humanity.  TWO separate people stopped to ask me if I needed a ride somewhere.  I paid it forward by buying someone their coffee...and told her to pay it forward to someone else.
-People should completely throw out their fridge and freezer every now and then.  It was actually really cool to have a completely clean slate to work with...and it helped me get in control to post that 1.6 loss.

...and, have no fear...all the money raised will STILL go to Team Boomer...and I will finish the NY Marathon...just a year later than expected!!!  NY Marathon 2013 - here I come, bitches!

I ran the Tower of 10 Terror 10 Miler with my best friend, Mami J!!!!

Here's a few things I learned from that race -
- Florida, in the end of September, at 11:00 humid as hell.  Gross, hot, disgusting, and wet...and here I am running 10 miles.  I don't think I'd ever sweat so much in my life.
-I am looking forward to running it again next year with Mami J!
-The medal is pretty damn glows in the dark and moves!
-There is something enjoyable about going down the Jaguar Slide at Coronado Springs.
-Nothing tastes better than a post-race frozen Margarita while on the Tower of Terror.

Since I last blogged, I also made a decision that I question weekly...maybe even hourly.  I question myself every morning when I pack my gym clothes...

I joined a Crossfit gym.

Now, put on your imagination pants for a second and pretend you are me again -

So, you are a 30 year old gay man.  You are a 30 year old gay man who has always had issues with his weight and has just recently begun to have some level of confidence in his body...but mainly in his legs and arms...the mid-section is still a little...well...floppy.

Now, imagine you're sitting on the Asbury beach (yeah, the one that those Speedo-wearing gays love), and you see all these wonderful bodies.  Two of these bodies have heads, and they tell you that they belong to a Crossfit gym.

You think - "Well, I guess it would be nice to have abs, eh?"

So, you attempt a trial class.  It is painful...and you get some horrible ass rash from sit ups...but, you join right on the spot because you know you can challenge yourself.  And plus...maybe, just maybe, I could get abs.  I could settle for a 2 pack at this point.  I also didn't come in last!  I finished the work out, while some guy punked out halfway through.

...and things go utterly downhill from there...

Let me tell you something about me.  I'm set in my ways.  I'm focused.  I like doing things right.  At this point, I can DO Weight Watchers.  I can run half marathons.  I can DO Body Attack (RIP by the way...Gold's cancelled it...those bastards.  If only they had advertised Body Attack as much as they advertised stupid FocusMaster.)

Right now, there are certain things involving CrossFit that I can't do.  That is what is maddening about it to me.  It's not even the's the fact that I can't get the damn form down.  It comes second nature to all these other people, but I know I overthink it.

Also, all the coaches at said CrossFit gym are gorgeous alpha males...and this king of the beta males can't even lift a 15 pound bar the right way...and to top it all off, the lift is called a Power Snatch.  I mean...this stuff writes itself - "Eric, the ex-fat gay man, doesn't know how to handle a Power Snatch."

So, when they try to help...I get angry.  I feel inadequate.  I don't want them looking at me...knowing full well that the ONLY way they can help is if they see what I'm doing wrong. 

I mean, one of the work outs, I kid you not, was the following -

100 sit ups
50 Kettlebell swings
80 sit ups
40 Kettllebell swings
60 sit ups
30 Kettlebell swings
40 sit ups
20 Kettlebell swings


...also, I forgot to mention...members of the gym also enjoy working out with their shirts off...yeah, how about that...And there's also a pregnant woman and her small sister, who are probably lifting my body weight over their heads...AND I CAN'T PROPERLY LIFT A 15 POUND BAR!!!!!!

After the Power Snatch debacle, I told myself I was giving myself one more week at CrossFit (shoot, I'm paying enough for it...)

...The next night, I waited an hour in the parking lot because I showed up too late for the 5:30 class.  I walked in for the 6:30 class...saw the Olympic rings set up, looked at the Work Out of the Day (WOD), turned right around and left.  Then I went and drank to make up for my total inadequacy as a man.

...on that ride home, I think I cried a little (yep, not a drop of alpha male in me)...and almost E-mailed the owner at a red light (don't text and drive, kids) to tell him that I was cancelling my membership.

But...I didn't.  I got home and I read a friend's blog (a friend I've never met...a WW, running friend who I have met due to the power of the Weight Watcher/running social networking community) about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

I also told myself that I wasn't always good at being a Weight Watcher...I couldn't always run a half marathon...and I sure as hell sucked at Body Attack my first few times.  I didn't step down from those challenges, so why am I going to do it now?!

So, I am writing this after going back to a Crossfit Class.  Did I do everything correctly?!  No, no I didn't.  But, I was there...and I tried.  Was I able to do a Handstand Push Up...hell no!  But, I put my damn head on the ab pad and tried...and I think I can do it.

...and when I got frustrated that I couldn't do it...I asked for help.  I listened.  I didn't get pissed at the coaches.  I mean, I've accepted that I can be a douchebag...but no one wants to be the douchebag of the class who also doesn't listen to what the coaches are saying. 

So, my goal is to go twice a week...try my hardest...and maybe one day...

I'll be able to master the Power Snatch.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Inspiration...during 9 hours in Newark Airport...

Well, I am sitting in Newark Airport waiting on word to see if I am getting to BLS today or not. It all started with my Mom getting me to the airport way earlier than needed…but I guess that’s okay, because at least I had time to let the idea settle in that I may not be getting to Chicago today as originally intended.

For the time being, I figured 1) I need to charge my phone and 2) I’d work on my blog post since I have been incredibly derelict in my duties as an occasional blogger to update. I’ve also been getting some pretty decent page views, so maybe people are actually reading this thing.

The word “inspiration” has been something that has stuck out to me ever since I was sitting in my normal Saturday morning meeting, just minding my own business. I actually have attempted to be pretty quiet during my Saturday morning meetings. I want the opportunity to be able to take what people say in and actually observe the room dynamic…and keep my yap shut. Because I know, for the life of me, that will be my biggest struggle when (and if) I get in front of the meeting room. I will need to shut my mouth and let the members talk.

So, let me start this all by saying I never set out on this journey to inspire people. Simply put, I was fat and didn’t want to be fat anymore. I also wanted to be considered attractive. Everyone focuses on how the media makes women feel with all their marketing, models, etc…But the media also puts a lot of undue pressure on men to feel a certain way. To be a guy…an attractive guy…you need to play a sport (and drink Gatorade and hang out in your Underarmour gear)…you need to feel comfortable walking around with your shirt off (probably hanging out with some hot chicks in bikinis while you’re drinking your Malibu rum on some beautiful beach)…and you need to be completely comfortable hanging out in your underwear all throughout your apartment (drinking milk while wearing Hanes…)

…Sorry, I need to rant for a bit…

I would like to take a moment as I sit in a chair for my third stand by and wait for my actual confirmed flight…United Airlines has some of the rudest check-in desk employees ever. Out of the number of staff with whom I had encounters, only 2 were kind and helpful. Everyone else has been incredibly rude and short-tempered. Now, I know that there are probably some people who unfairly took out their frustrations on the check-in attendants given the amount of cancelled flights and people needing to get to Chicago…in fact, I witnessed it. I like to think I’m not that person. The check-in attendants, the flight crew, and the pilots cannot be responsible for the weather. However, every time I spoke to someone, I greeted them with a smile. I just wanted to confirm that I was on a stand-by list (because when I went to go confirm my second stand by, I was told I wasn’t checked in…something the first stand by check-in attendant failed to do)…I was genuinely calm about the situation. I knew I was getting into BLS late, I was just hoping for a break to get in earlier because sitting in an airport is kind of boring and I wanted to get some training in before the evening.

So, with my smile, my greeting, and my firm understanding that the check-in attendants are not to blame…explain to me why I was told that I should just wait for my confirmed flight…in the rudest manner possible. This is after I had explained that I am happy to have a confirmed flight, but would love the opportunity to get in earlier and just confirm my name (since the first check-in attendant failed to do it, and rudely told everyone in the stand by line that she had their name…when, in fact, apparently, she didn’t.) And, even worse, there was a young woman in line in front of me who did not speak English well, and the check-in attendant yelled at her and said because her flight was cheaper, she was put to the bottom of the list and better start looking for a better flight.

I will think of my experience from here on out whenever I wanna reach through the phone and slap a caller in the office.

…rant over…

…so, yeah, I had incredibly shallow motives when I first joined Weight Watchers in 2002. Not to mention, guys aren’t “supposed to” lose weight or be thin. If they are bigger, they just need to grow muscle and play football. Skinny and fat guys are made fun of. It’s really a difficult challenge to be a teenage guy who doesn’t like how he looks in the mirror.

So, somewhere within the past year, I guess I did turn into an inspiration. Now, now, now, for those of you who know me, I am not a confident guy at all. I actually have a lot of self-doubt and a lot of mini-panic attacks regarding my skills, abilities and even my appearance. A lot of the time, I feel I project a “know it all” attitude to really just serve as armor against a lot of the insecurities I still feel. I’ve mentioned it before, but my self-image has not caught up to my weight loss or my fitness success. I feel like I still don’t fit into clothes right…I could still look better…I could probably lose more weight if I really tried harder. The reason I am saying all this is because I just want people to know that I did not label myself an inspiration…nor have I ever really felt I’ve taken on the mantle to inspire people. I just feel like I have an important story to tell…so, I tell it…because I will tell you I do like the sound of my own voice…and I suppose people draw inspiration from that.

So, I am sitting there in one of the beautiful purple WW chairs…and I think we were talking about turning “slip ups into success.” Naturally, the meeting turns to how important the meetings are for people to get recharged or get back on track after a rough week.

So, a member chimes in…and she starts talking about how the meetings keep her going and inspire her. She mentions how a member’s story has really kept her going. Now, I am fully prepared for her to talk about a woman who has lost 125 pounds on program and, in my humble opinion, has one of the greatest attitudes about tackling weight loss. Whenever this inspiring member talks, she reminds me of how far I’ve come and how much better my life is as a “thin” person and as a Weight Watchers life timer. Her positive attitude is so incredibly contagious, that I always feel great after a meeting.

So, the member who is telling her story…she surprises me with “And this member, he inspired me with his story.” So, wait, Kim ISN’T talking about Kara?!?! Wow, shiver me timbers. Well, there’s definitely some guys with amazing stories in the meeting room.

Then…she points at me and says my story has inspired her. I am…baffled. Something I did inspired someone else?!?!

All I can say is that I had to hold back tears. Seriously…I had no idea that me losing 50 pounds could have such an effect on people. Like I said, my reasons for joining were completely and utterly selfish…and somewhere, things changed, I guess.

But I also think my motives for maintaining are now different from when I first joined. A leader I work with every Sunday said it best – “When you become lifetime, it stops being about how much you’ve lost, but how long you keep it off.” There comes a point where people are more used to you being thin, that they don’t remember you being larger…so, no one sees me anymore and says “You look so good” or “You’ve lost so much weight”…because they know me more as thin Eric than they do as fat Eric. Those compliments were something that I used for motivation. I don’t have those anymore (although I do get a few nice ones when I post pictures on Facebook…and there are people who haven’t seen me in a bit.) That has been the biggest shift for me. I mean, I work to maintain my loss for the obvious reason that I don’t want to pay for meetings and I also would like to remain employed with Weight Watchers. But, as much as I’d like a six pack, it’s not about looking better.

I’ve accepted the fact (most days), that if you don’t like my physical appearance…then it isn’t my problem. I work my ass off week after week to keep this appearance, and that takes a lot more hard work than you being born with the perfect body.

It’s about my health. It’s about setting fitness goals for myself and pushing past them.’s about making choices that will help me live a longer and happier life. And like I said that that same meeting where I was called an inspiration – “I am ten times happier with the person I am now than the person I was before Weight Watchers.”

And as for being an inspiration…I just believe that losing weight (especially for a gay man who was never really happy with his body) is one of the hardest journeys anyone will ever have to take. There came a point in my journey, where I guess I had all the tools I needed to be successful, and felt a responsibility to share with others how I got to where I am today…

…so maybe it is only appropriate that I had the time to write this while waiting to board my flight to BLS Training. It is only my hope that I pass and I am able to continue to share my story with those who will listen…

…and you better believe that I’ll be thinking of all my Saturday Morning at 7:30 buddies when I’m presenting on Sunday.

Happy Tracking!