Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Century Mark Down, One To Go

Holding my breath, I stepped on the scales at the doctor's office this morning. Thanksgiving was less than a week ago, and while I didn't gorge myself, I've been surprised too many times to be over confident.

Survey says ... 269.

That means that since June 22, 2010, I have lost 86 pounds. And, from my heaviest weight ever, I am down ... drumroll, please ... 101 pounds!!! I finally hit the century mark, but I still have one more to go. Here's why.

A few years ago, I lost 50 pounds or so on one of my many previous weight loss jags. As always, however, I got discouraged, quit trying and gained all but 15 pounds back. That's where I stood -- or waddled, whichever the case may be -- when I went to Houston last year.

So, yeah, while I've passed the century mark from my heaviest point ever, my goal is to drop 100 pounds since that day in the shuttle simulator. It will happen, sooner rather than later, I hope. I'm giving it my best shot.

Please know that I'm not trying to brag on myself. I'm not. Yes, I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish, but it's something that I struggle with every single day. It's so hard sometimes, I feel like a fraud. When I got up early this morning, it crossed my mind not to go to the Y. I was too tired and too sore from running yesterday. I went any way.

My point, I guess, is this. If I can do it, anybody can.

Monday, November 28, 2011

No. 54

Let it be here and forevermore known that I might just very well be the greatest father in the world. You ask why? Fine. Here's Exhibit A, my friends.

The boys didn't want to go to bed Friday night, so I made them a deal. As long as they watched "The Andy Griffith Show," they could stay up as late as they wanted. At first, my bright idea went over like a lead balloon. Words can't fully describe their horrified reactions, and when I announced that the shows were in black and white, it really hit the fan.

Still, the deal was on the table. Andy Griffith or bed.

For a little perspective, most of you know that I truly do love TAGS. After Jeanie and I were married, I made it my mission in life to tape every episode. I had it down to a science. I'd check the TV listings a week in advance and set the VCR accordingly. It took more than two years to track down each show, and to this day I can remember the show that completed my set -- it was the one where Opie was conned into selling the miracle salve.

When the DVDs came out in season sets, I bought them -- and when the complete series came out in a mega-collection, I got it, too. I've made the pilgrimmage to the Andy Griffith Museum in nearby Mt. Airy, where I met Betty Lynn, the actress who played Barney's love, Thelma Lou. She's the cats.

I won't even go into the summer I taught Sunday School lessons centered around various episodes of the show, or how I've offered to trade almost anything up to and including my children for a radio once owned by Frances "Aunt Bea" Bavier. So far, no dice.

So, yeah, I kind of like "The Andy Griffith Show."

Still fussing, Adam loaded the DVD. Any show that centers around Barney is pure gold, so I started off with the one where he joins the choir. Within minutes, Adam and Jesse both were laughing and giggling like it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen on television. Come to think of it, it probably was.

The show ended, and I asked if they wanted to watch another one. They couldn't wait, and I knew, right then and there, that I had 'em hooked. Best of all, when they finally did go to bed Friday night, Adam had one last parting request.

"Can we watch more Andy Griffith tomorrow?"

Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss ...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dressing Anyone?

You more than likely know the feeling.

It's Thanksgiving, and you really like everything -- everything -- that's on the menu. You get a dab of this, a little bit of that and a whole lot of something else. And then you do it again. And sometimes, again and again and again after that.

With me, my worst weakness on Thanksgiving has always been really good, moist dressing. There have been times when I've downed nearly an entire pan by myself. I literally could not say enough was enough. Thanksgiving dressing was one of my many, many Kryptonites.

Here's the thing I've discovered about myself and trying to lose weight. You don't necessarily have to give up a lot of the foods you truly like, but you do have to train yourself to say "no" every once in a while.

Is it OK to have a large Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard? Probably not.

A Wendy's double cheeseburger with Biggie-sized fries and chocolate Frosty? Again, there are better choices.

But you've GOT to have dressing on Thanksgiving, right? Right?

Yesterday was Turkey Day, and we headed to Cracker Barrel with Jeanie's mom, dad, sister and her family as we do every year. As always, I ordered the traditional turkey and dressing ... with two sides of more dressing. And when the waitress accidentally poured a bit of Dr Pepper (did you know that there's not a period after the Dr in Dr Pepper? You do now!) in one of my servings of dressing, she brought me yet another.

For those keeping track at home, folks, that's four servings of dressing. Could I have downed all of it? Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Did I really, really want to? Believe it or not, no, I didn't. I ate one and a half of the portions, got a to-go box for the rest and ate it for dinner last night. Neither time did I even come close to feeling uncomfortably stuffed.

Really, the key to losing weight is not so much about self-denial as it is moderation. If I can do it, anybody can.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Did It*

I cut it close, but I made my goal for the 5k Saturday! I finished in less than 30 minutes in chip time, gun time and on my iPhone app. That was as hard as I had ever pushed myself ... and the hardest I had ever been pushed.

Time after time, I had been told to pace myself at the start of a run. Start out slower, then build momentum as it progresses. However, as soon as the gun sounded, I was all but at a full sprint. It felt good to be passing people left and right, but I paid for my enthusiasm, big time. Less than halfway into the run, I was shot. My legs felt like lead.

The whole way, I had a wingman ... a wingperson, if you will. Less than a mile in, instructor Crystal Joyner -- the original Attila herself -- started peppering me with encouragement. I talked to myself, and Crystal answered.

I told myself, "Rick, do not stop and walk."

Don't talk like that. Do not use the word "walk" again.

OK, try this on for size. "Rick, do not stop and quit."

Stop it. No matter what you do, keep going.

As we turned onto the last residential street, I felt like I was almost at a stagger. I did not say it out loud -- the Lord only knows how Crystal would've reacted if I had -- but I thought to myself for the first time that it would be OK if I did not finish in less than 30 minutes. There was almost a mile left and a hill that seemed easy enough running down, but going back up this late in the ballgame felt almost impossible.

It didn't matter to Crystal, not in the least.

I know you don't want to hear this, but you've got to pick up the pace if you're going to finish in less than 30 minutes.

There was no way I could have gone any faster than I already was. I was toast. Even with Crystal's encouragement, I was this close to stopping and walking. But then I saw the finish line. I had a choice to make. I could stop, walk and catch my breath or I could keep moving one leg in front of the other. I knew that if I could see the finish line, Adam and Jesse could see me.

And after coming this far, I did not want them to see me walking.

I crossed the finish line, utterly pooped. On my iPhone, I clocked in 29:26. Officially, my chip time was 29:48 and gun time 29:58. That's cutting it as close as it could possibly be cut. Still, it was under 30 minutes, right?

Friday, November 18, 2011


The training is over. For two long -- and really, oh so short -- months now, we've been working toward tomorrow's race. And, yes, we've come a long way.

That first class, we ran and walked a lap of the track behind the Y, rested, and then ran and walked another lap. Then, we were done. Our instructor, Julie, was sooooo nice. We went our merry ways, thinking that this was going to be a breeze.

Then, Attila showed up.

Crystal took us through the woods -- The what? The woods?!? The heck, you say!!! -- up the hill from the soccer fields and then a couple of laps of the track. And, still, we weren't done. Wait a second, Crystal said. Before we head back, we're gonna do some sprints.

Sprints? Really?

Remember the signs on the track that told us where we could walk, and the ones that told us to run? Remember how they where there for a week or two, and then mysteriously, they were gone? Remember how we sat in the lobby of the Y the night that it was raining, thinking no way in the world we were going to run outside?

Then, Attila showed up.

We went outside, hit the service road, got soaking wet and in the process, became Team Attila.

It was Crystal who got bored with the track behind the Y and told us to meet her at the one in town. When she mentioned Progress Lane, I knew we were in trouble. To this day, I can hear her yelling at me all the way up the hill on Progress, and then again as we headed up the last hill toward the courthouse.

Go. You can do it. Go. Don't you dare quit. I know it's hard, but do not give up.

Crystal missed her calling. She should have been a drill instructor. The time changed and it was dark by class time, so surely, she would go easy on us. Nope. Brandy picked us up some blinking red lights -- my son, Jesse, called it my tail light -- and off we went in the dark.

Julie, somewhere along the line, got serious on us. Do five laps and pick up the pace each time around. C'mon, you've gotta be kidding me. When I told her that she "used to be the nice one" and she thanked me, again, I knew we were in trouble. Julie became an official Attila.

Jennifer became the Queen of the Service Road. Up one hill, down the next and then back up again. Mary ... CAR!!! The amazing thing was that Jennifer never stopped running from the front of the pack to the back, continuously circling like a vulture ... no, wait ... like a really good 5k instructor. Jennifer was Attila, too.

And Wendy, the quiet one, always smiling, almost apologetic as she was about to kick the ever-lovin' crap out of us. It was Wendy who first put us on the 5k course itself, and it was Wendy who took us to the other service road, the one from McDonald's to Billy Reynolds Road and back, the one with Mount Everest at one end and K2 at the other.Wendy, an Attila? Oh, yeah. You betcha.

For me, that was the toughest session. The strangest was the last one, in the dark, on the track behind the Y, using flashlights to hopefully make sure we didn't wind up in the ditches.

I don't know how tomorrow is going to turn out. I want very, very much to finish in under 30 minutes and this is the first time I've set a goal for myself that I'm not quite sure I can meet. All I can do is give it my best shot and see what happens. That said, I'm looking forward every bit as much to seeing how Mary, Debbie, Mandy, Brandy and Leslie do.

Here's the deal, ladies. Tomorrow, at some point during the 5k when you start getting tired, ask yourselves this question -- W.W.A.D.?

What Would Attila Do?

Monday, November 14, 2011

No. 53

Adam has won a nationwide writing contest sponsored by Scholastic!

He wrote a letter from the viewpoint of a child who had gone through Hurricane Katrina, and the details he used impressed the judges. Just imagine ... someone, somewhere within Scholastic, publishers of Harry Potter in the United States, has heard of my son! I wonder if he could possibly put in a good word for me?

Believe it or not, when Jeanie texted me to absolutely, positively head to school to have lunch with the boys -- Adam had something REALLY big to tell me -- I was working on putting together some writing contest entries of my own. Hopefully, some of Adam's winning mojo will rub off on his old man.

That's not all. Jesse has started a newspaper for his class. Other kids in Mrs. West's room submit stories, and he has placed himself in charge of laying it all out. When he has a "good" day, Jesse gets to work on the paper.

How about that?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Smokin' Hot

For the first time in my life, I was told last night after my 5k class that I was smokin'.

And I was, really.

After the time change last weekend, this was the first time we'd had to face running in the dark. Where were we going to go? Everybody got lights? How about reflective stuff? A vest, maybe. If I get hit by a truck, will our beloved instructor Crystal figure out a way to make me keep running?

We made our way around town, and when we got back to where we started, it was "just" 2.8 miles. So, naturally, Crystal made us do a lap of the track at the park to round out our target three miles. The very best compliment I can give her and our other instructors is that they will not allow us to take the easy way out. We laugh about it and call ourselves Team Attila in their honor, but it's exactly the kind of push that we needed.

When we finished, somebody looked at me and started laughing -- not that THAT'S out of the ordinary. Evidently, there was steam coming off my head from where I was sweating in the cool night air. I started to pull a Pastor Tommy and ask everyone to pray for their "smokin' hot" running buddy, but decided against it.

This morning, after working out at the Y, I went to weigh. I lost two more pounds, so the total is now 84 since June 2010 and 99 from my heaviest ever.

From left to right, that's Leslie Gough, Brandy Whitaker, Debbie Taylor, Crystal Joyner, Mandy Marxen and Mary Hitchcock.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thirty Minutes

The goal has been in the back of my mind for a few days now, but I've not really mentioned it out loud to anyone until now.

In a little more than two weeks, Team Attila will be ready to rock and roll at the Nov. 19 Yadkin Go Far 5k. This event last year was the very first 5k I ever did, and I finished in a little over 47 minutes after walking the entire distance. This time around, I plan to fare a little better.

Here goes. I want to finish in 30 minutes or less. There. I said it. It's out there for everybody to see.

We did the 5k course on Saturday, and I made the distance in 32 minutes, 53 seconds. Then, last night, the ladies and I hit the track behind the Y and I did 2.7 miles in 24:40. Tack on another half mile, and at that pace, I maybe, maybe, maybe could reach my 30-minute goal.

Thirty minutes. Hills be danged. I'm going for it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another Before Photo

This was taken six years ago at a birthday party for my father in law, Tom Reavis.

Pictures like this one, my "before photos," are why I head to the Y on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday to lift weights.

They're why I do my best to keep up with Crystal, Julie, Wendy, Jennifer, Mary, Debbie, Mandy, Brandy and Leslie on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

They're why I hope the ten of us -- and whoever else wants to join the fun -- can continue training, maybe for a 10k.

They're why I jog on my own on Thursdays.

They're why I eat salsa with a spoon instead of a basket and a half of chips.

They're why I order broiled shrimp instead of fried, grilled chicken instead of a double cheeseburger and grilled chicken taco salad instead of a steak California burrito topped with cheese sauce.

They're why I check the fat grams and calorie counts on virtually everything I pick up at the grocery store.

They're why I can't help but remember the girl I once dated who told me that I looked like I was pregnant. I can't imagine why I ever let her get away ...

They're why it's sometimes awkward for me to take a compliment, because I know all too well how easy it is to fall off the wagon.

They're why I'm forcing myself not to dive headlong into the Halloween candy bucket that's sitting not 10 feet away from me at this very moment.

They're why I try to park at the top of the hill at Adam's soccer games, instead of in lots waaaaaaaaaaaaay closer.

They're why I'm still trying, after more than a year now, to lose weight. This time, I have not given up.