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One Year of "The New Lifestyle"

A Series of Small Changes

I apologize in advance that this is a whole lot of #humblebrag.


On April 18, 2011 I made some changes in my life.


Prior to that day I thought I'd never be thin again. I had been gaining the 1-2 pounds per year that most people do, and was resigned that it was my fate. I ran some, but I wasn't a fast (or even average) runner and I couldn't run more than 5k.

A few weeks before April 18, I listened to an episode of the Nerdist podcast. The guest was Tim Ferriss, who had written "The Four Hour Work Week" and was promoting his book "The Four Hour Body". All three of the hosts were following the diet promoted in the book to some extent, and one of them had lost 50+ pounds on it.

On a whim I bought the Kindle edition of the book and read through the weight loss section. It seemed much simpler than other diets I had heard of. Basically eat protein and vegetables that are not potatoes. No wheat, corn, rice or dairy and no beer. And you get one cheat day a week where you can eat anything you want.

No beer. That was the worst thing about the plan. At the time I was drinking around two craft beers a day. On April 11, 2011 I decided I was going to give it a shot. That last week was a "greatest hits of food", lots of burgers & fries, Italian beef and pasta.

Since then, I have stuck to the diet. I was pretty militant the first 7 months or so. I've been a little more lax the last 5 months, but its been more like having two semi-cheat days a week instead of the one big cheat day previously. I don't miss any of the food that I can no longer eat every day. I miss drinking beer whenever I want. Now I only drink on bowling night and maybe one other night a week.

I am a lazy person and very prone to procrastination. If I can drop over 15% of my body weight in a year, anyone could do it if they tried.

I am (now) a Runner

Go Fast

The biggest change I've seen is with my running ability. Prior to this diet, I had never run a 5k in less than 29 minutes. I also had never run a race longer than 10k, and that was a while ago. 

Last fall I ran 5k in 25:18 and last night I ran 24:30 on a treadmill. I want to run under 24 minutes this summer. I had no idea I could run this fast. I ran one year of track in high school, and I certainly wasn't a star runner there. Running fast makes me happier than the weight loss itself.


Go Long

As the weight came off over last summer, I looked for a half marathon to run in the winter which could be combined with a vacation. The Miami half marathon fit the bill perfectly so I signed up.

I halfheartedly trained through the early fall. I found out in late October that a half dozen of the guys I hang out with in Vegas every December were running the half marathon there during our yearly gathering. On Halloween night I signed up for the race. The half was in five weeks. I ended up running 45 miles in November getting ready.

The race itself was great, I was happy with my time and running on the Las Vegas strip was a lot of fun. There is no way I could have run that far a year ago.

I ran the Miami half marathon as well. I learned a valuable lesson don't eat Mexican food the day before a long run.


Year Two

At this point, I'm within 10 pounds or so of what I think my long term weight should be. The diet is so easy to do, that I don't see myself straying for more than a day or two when we're not on vacation. The goal over the next year will be more about lowering my body fat % than losing weight.

I would like to gain some upper body strength, because I currently do not have any. May try a personal trainer or find a program online somewhere. A friend convinced me to try rock climbing, so I'm doing that for the first time tomorrow.

My first long run is May 26. It's 10 miles & the race ends on the 50 yard line in Soldier Field.


Things that helped me:

I bought a Withings scale last May. I weigh myself every morning when I get up. It's a daily reminder to stay on track.

I have been using a Fitbit for a few years now. FYI - they don't like being washed. It's a good way to tally how active you are every day. The new Ultra model seems to be more accurate than the original model. According to their site, I've walked 3.8 million steps wearing their device.

For run tracking I have been using Runkeeper for the past year. It works great on the iPhone, it uses the GPS to map runs and gives you pace & distance info through the headphones. You can also manually add other activities to your log. Their "elite" add-on lets people follow your run in real time on their website. This only works when the cell towers aren't overloaded with 1000s of other runners trying to do the same thing.

EAS Myoplex shakes have been my breakfast choice for the past year during the week. They taste good, have a lot of protein, and take care of any sweet food cravings I may have. They are not cheap, but you can get a pretty good deal from Amazon with their subscribe & save plan.


Thank You Jonnell

I never would have been able to keep up with the diet, the running and everything else without the support of my girlfriend Jonnell. She put up with my diet restrictions initially, and has eventually come around to eating like I do (for the most part). She also got up at 4:30AM in Miami to watch me start and finish the half marathon.


One Last Thing

I am going to run the Chicago Marathon in 2013. I am putting together a little running team for the race. Shoot me an email if you want to be in the group.


Weight 4/18/2011 - 181.8 lbs

Weight 4/18/2012 - 152.7 lbs



2011 was a great year.

Got off my ass and lost a bunch of weight.

Ran my first half marathon. Ran a pretty good time as well, which I didn't expect.

There are plenty of things to accomplish in 2012.


I basically stopped losing weight in October and coasted the rest of the year. I need to get back on track. I'd like to be under 150 lbs when I hit my one year weight loss anniversary in April. Work may be a problem, being in a hotel room in Nebraska isn't going to help things. Although I will hopefully get to eat a lot of steak in Omaha.


My first half marathon in Las Vegas in December went great. My second one is in Miami on January 29, and my training has been going very poorly. Lots of knee/hip pain when I've run indoors the past few weeks. The couple times I've run outdoors have been ok, but I really have a hard time running when it's under 40F. Yeah, I've spent almost my whole life living in cold climates and I still hate cold weather.

After the race in Miami, I want to run three or four 10k+ plus races in Chicago this year. The Soldier Field 10 mile will probably be the first one in May. I'll also probably run the rock & roll half. I haven't planned the other runs out yet.


Due to not taking much vacation the past few years, I have around 10 weeks that I can use in 2012. I really want to use at least four weeks this year. Work may get in the way, but hopefully I can use some of the time at least. Current plans are Miami for the half and a trip to be with my family at a Wisconsin Dells water park in mid-February.

I'd like to go to the somewhere warm in the spring, maybe a week in the Keys in April. Next up may be a ten day road trip to Montreal and Toronto in the summer. How early do I have to make my Joe Beef reservation? I also want to take a week off in the summer to be a Chicago tourist. I haven't done that in a very long time.


I need to finally take the P.E. exam this year. Probably won't happen until October, but I need to get it out of the way. It's been an issue at work for a while. My post law school aversion to studying isn't going to help.


Weight 1/1/2012: 156.6 lbs

Starting Weight: 181.8 lbs


Post-Vegas Blues

Still in the post-Vegas hangover.

Like every year, the WPBT gathering was great. I came down with a cold on Friday afternoon, but didn't let it get to me too bad. The highlight of the weekend, other than seeing all of my friends, was going to Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan. Probably the best Spanish food I've ever had. Next year I want to check out 'e' which is their (even more special) restaurant within the restaurant. Lemongrass, a Thai restaurant in the Aria, was also very good, we ended up going there twice and were very happy both times.

FYI - The Aria was the best hotel I've stayed at in Las Vegas, it will be my go to place going forward.

Making plans for summer vacation in Vegas. Probably coming out to watch the Euro 2012 final. It's not the World Cup, but it will still be a good time to watch with the degenerates in a Vegas sportsbook.

Ran my first half marathon on Sunday night (Dec. 4). Really ran well, just a little over two hours. I averaged 9:30 miles, which is faster than I though I could run. I felt fine after the run but the next morning my knees & hips were really sore. I was somewhat surprised because I wasn't sore after any of my 9+ mile training runs.

It's been two weeks since then and I'm still not 100% back to normal. I hurt my left shoulder last week somehow which slowed me down somewhat. I tried to run on Sunday but shin splint-like pain shut me down after a mile & a half on the treadmill. I am getting a little worried about the half I am signed up to run at the end of January in Miami. I have a feeling I'm not going to be able to run inside anymore, which is bad because I really don't like to run outside in the winter. I really want to run under 2 hours in the Miami half, but if I can't run, there is no way I can do it. 

Work isn't helping either, I've had one day off since I got back from Vegas. This week is also going to be overtime-filled, so I'm not going to be able to (try to) run until Saturday. Hopefully I'll be able to go 6 miles, which is two laps around my outdoor loop.

I'm within two pounds of where I was when we left for Vegas, which I think is some kind of success. I've been pretty halfhearted with the diet thing the past couple months. I need to get back on the program, I'm around 10 pounds away from where I want to be long term.

I still really miss drinking beer every day.


Initial Weight (4/11): 181.8 lbs

Weight 12/19/11: 156.3 lbs


25 (Days & Lbs)

25 Days

Last Monday, somewhat thanks to this post, I decided to run a half marathon on December 4 in Las Vegas. This is 25 days from yesterday (when I thought up the cool post title).

I found out that a half dozen of the poker blogger people who I was going to be hanging out with all weekend were going to be running it. The course is fun, running up the strip from Mandalay Bay to Fremont St. downtown and then back down the strip. More importantly, the race starts at 5:30PM, so I won’t be missing the NFL games. So, what the heck, I signed up.


Problem 1

I had been working towards running a half marathon on January 27 in Miami. My training has been a little random. Between working OT at work and my two bowling leagues, it is hard to get on a regular schedule to run at night. I am not a morning person, so running at 5:30AM just isn’t going to happen. Up until Monday, I was running 2-3 times a week and those runs were mostly between 3-5 miles. Now I need to run, I think, 4+ times a week to get in a position to survive the half. Pretty sure there isn’t a 4 week training program for a first time half marathoner. I will be doing long runs each Saturday, 8 miles this week, 9 next week and 10 miles the week before the run. I should be able to get from 10 to 13 miles through race-day adrenaline. My longest run to date is 6 1/2 miles and my knees and hips were sore afterwards.


Problem two

I don’t like running in the cold. FYI – It’s cold in Chicago in November. So I am going to be running on the treadmill in the gym. It will be interesting to see if I get yelled at on Saturday when I run the 8 miles. I haven’t seen all of the treadmills in use in a long time, so hopefully the people working there won’t notice. Also, I don’t know how long the treadmills will let me run.


25 Lbs

In other news, I finally hit the 25 pounds lost mark yesterday. My big weight loss graph has really flattened out the past few months. I’m sure it is related to the OT & bowling I mentioned previously. Bowling brings out some of my bad habits, i.e. beer & junk food for dinner. With the OT, I’m pretty sure eating dinner at 9PM and then going to sleep at 11 is not great.

One thing I don’t really understand is weight lost vs. body fat lost. According to my fancy wifi scale, I’ve dropped 25 pounds and 15 of that was body fat. What is the other 10 pounds? Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve gained some muscle mass from the running. That means there is even more mystery weight lost to make up for the muscle. I just don't get it.


Initial Weight: 181.8 lbs


Weight 11/10/11: 156.7 lbs


Back on the Island

Three weeks ago a friend of mine from high school dropped me a line. Our 25th high school reunion was coming up, and like the earlier ones, I had not signed up to go. In his email explained why I should go this time and how much of a jerk I was if I didn't attend.

Well, the guilt trip worked and last weekend I flew back to Long Island for the reunion. I had two goals for the weekend, go hang out with my friends and eat all of the New York food I miss. 

I landed at Islip around 1PM, and I headed back to Northport, my old home town. There I checked off my first food item, a slice of NY pizza. I miss what Anthony Bourdain called the "utility slice". I found a pizza place on main street & got one slice of cheese pizza. It wasn't great but it was exactly what I missed, thin but not too thin, relatively chewy crust but crisp on the bottom and a good layer of cheese. The sauce didn't have enough oregano but it was a good starting point for the weekend.

I next met up with a friend of mine who I hadn't seen in at least 15 years and we spent some time betting the ponies at a bar in town. Being able to bet on horses in a bar is a great idea, they really should bring it to Chicago.

The reunion itself was much more fun than I thought it would be. There were around 150 people there out of our class of 600 or so.  I knew maybe a dozen people there, but that was enough to have a great time. The conclusion I came to at the reunion is people really don't change. The personalities my friends have now are the same as when I saw them last back in the early 90s. FYI - This is a very good thing. Hopefully we can meet up a little more often going forward. 

I got a real water bagel Sunday morning w/ lox cream cheese. I have found only one place in Chicago which makes water bagels, and they weren't as good as the random place I went into on Long Island. Steamed bagels are nowhere near as good as the traditional boiled (aka water) bagels.

Since my friends all had to drive back home on Sunday, I had some spare time. I headed back out to see our old house on Eaton's Neck, which is an almost-island by Northport. When I got to where the house is, I couldn't see it from the road because of all the trees in that area. I thought about walking down the driveway to look at the house, but I was worried it would look kind of creepy, so I drove back to town.

Later in the day, I checked off the last box and ate some good deli food. I ended up at a real Kosher deli. At first I didn't think about the consequences of that, then I noticed that there wasn't any cheese on the menu. So, no reuben for me. Fortunately, they did make an excellent pastrami sandwich, so it wasn't a total loss.

Somehow I gained 3 1/2 pounds over the weekend. I have no idea how it happened, I didn't think I ate or drank that much, but I don't care. When I go on vacation there is no way I am going to skip eating good food because of a diet restriction. Life is too short.

I'm very glad I made the trip back to Long Island, but next time I'm going to a deli where I can get a sandwich with cheese on it.


Starting weight: 181.8 lbs

Weight 10/24/11: 161.0 lbs