Canal Run Burpee Challenge

OK – this is short and sweet. I’m gonna try to up the ante and get some donations in for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. After crossing the finish line I will do one half-burpee for every $10 donated to The V Foundation on my online fundraising page from now until 10 AM Saturday 10/5/13. See the video below if you don’t know what a burpee or half-burpee is. I will count the $45 already donated, so I’m starting with 4 burpees. Let’s make this happen!

We’ll be getting video proof which I’ll post by Monday.

Wanna see me do burpees after running a 10K? Visit http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/SoTHISIsFitness/ccm13


If $100 is donated, 10 burpees, if $1,000 is donated…100 burpees.

Make me regret this.

DON’T FREAK OUT!

Health and fitness isn’t just about the body. Stay with me here. Mind, body and spirit are all linked together. Your body can be in ultra-marathon shape, but if you don’t believe you can do it, or you only think you can run a mile and you’re gonna crap out…guess what’s going to happen. Each of the three – mind, body and spirit – can affect the other…in a real, visceral way. So why am I getting all philosophical on you?

Stress is one of the WORST things you can do to your mind. If you are constantly over-stressed it can and very well may have a physical effect on your body. On this Motivational Monday morning, I want to have a little chat about stress, and why it is that Rule #1 of your day should be “DON’T FREAK OUT!”

I’ve thought about a lot of different ways to approach this topic. I suppose I kind of have to be careful because some people tend to get very worked up about things that, when you come right down to it, really aren’t worth the agitation. I’m sure you all know someone like that – the people who take everything way too seriously…who tweak and get bent about the most trivial things. Many of us (hopefully most of us) understand what things just aren’t worth the stress and worry…but what about the things that DO matter? What about the bills, the lack of time in the day, the myriad obligations we have and are responsible for, the mile-long to-do list…it’s all just so much. Sometimes some of the problems we face seem so insurmountable and the pressure put on us by others is so intense that we don’t know what to do with it.

I’ve pulled the definition from Merriam-Webster below:

Stress: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.
further defined as:
 a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation

Mental tension. Worry. When these are amplified and made to be extreme…all it will do is impair your ability to solve issues. Notice in the definition above that stress is defined as a physical (body), chemical (mind), or emotional (spirit) factor.  Stress really does affect you mind, body and spirit…the dictionary even says so! No matter which one of the three stress-factors you are experiencing…it will carry over to the other two areas. If you are physically strained your mind will believe you can’t do it. If your mind believes you can’t do it your spirit can be broken. If your spirit is broken, your body won’t respond to its full potential. It’s a cycle that can be hard to break out of.

img from PBS.org

I was having a conversation with a like-minded co-worker the other day about this topic, and we agreed on something – stress isn’t worth it. Getting stressed out about all the bills you have to pay and your lack of funds to pay them with doesn’t magically make your paycheck bigger. Getting stressed about how you don’t have enough time to accomplish everything you need to doesn’t make the clock stop. Stress does not solve problems…it can’t! Some tension and worry can encourage you to give attention to a problem or to come up with a solution…but excessive worry and tension only serves to cloud you, clutter you, and put you in a kind of mind-lock where you can’t focus well enough to clearly think and come up with a solution.

Not only does stress not magically solve your problems, it actually creates more. You may become more irritable, you may have a hard time losing weight or even GAIN weight (or lose weight depending on your body). Your hair and nails may become more brittle and prone to breakage and your hair may shed more (ladies…sound familiar?). Stress can make you feel constantly overwhelmed – and if that’s the case, eventually all this stress can build up and you might blow up on someone. At that point, it might not matter what’s been stressing you for so long…it becomes about that last straw that broke the camel’s back – all of a sudden someone who did just enough to send you over the edge is catching an earful (or worse!).

I thought that quote was pretty relevant in such a situation. “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it” – Sydney J. Harris

The best advice I can give you is – Don’t Freak Out! Relax, take a breath, and calm down. Once you do that, you can start to come up with constructive ways to resolve whatever issue you are facing. Sydney J. Harris (an American journalist) had it right! The BEST time to relax is when you feel like you don’t have time for it. When you are bogged down by stress, scatterbrained, and ready to pop…you definitely don’t feel like you have time for ANYTHING. That is when you need to stop, breath, and re-focus. If someone tries to tell you that you don’t care because you aren’t stressed…brush it off. You don’t have to be stressed in order to care about something. I would argue that calming down, breathing and relaxing shows you care MORE – you’re putting yourself in a position where you can actually be productive and use your noggin, right?

The mind is a powerful thing – if you focus your energy in a positive way you can overcome any obstacle, issue, trial or tribulation. You  can find a way to pay those bills. You can budget your time, dismiss the unimportant tasks, and get everything accomplished. You can lose 100+ pounds and take back your health, do that pushup not on your knees, climb that mountain, run that marathon…there is nothing you can’t accomplish!

Just remember to take time, relax, breath, and DONT FREAK OUT.

Do It For The V

I’ve been talking a lot about all these road races I’m doing in the next two months – the 5K (from Sunday), the two 10K’s, and of course the half-marathon. I’m fortunate so many companies have signed on to sponsor me – they have made it possible for me to do these races and to continue to do work for a great cause (please be sure to check out the sponsors page and see who’s helped me out – they’re all great!). I’ve only made a small announcement on Facebook, but the big news is –

I’m fundraising for The V Foundation For Cancer Research!

Yes, this campaign of runs is a fundraising campaign, and the fundraising officially started a few days ago. You can visit my online fundraising page here if you’d like to make a contribution. All of my training, My Story, and My Transformation has made this possible.


So…what IS The V Foundation and why do I (you) care?


 The V Foundation’s mission statement, found on their website, is:

The V Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to saving lives by helping to find a cure for cancer.  The Foundation seeks to make a difference by generating broad-based support for cancer research and by creating an urgent awareness among all Americans of the importance of the war against cancer.  The Foundation performs these dual roles through advocacy, education, fundraising, and philanthropy.

The V Foundation was founded in 1993 by former NCAA basketball coach and N.C. State Athletic Director Jim Valvano with the assistance of ESPN. It was announced in a tear-jerking speech at the 1993 ESPY awards (seen below).

Basically, Jimmy V was diagnosed with terminal cancer and wanted to help find a cure. Going through it from the patient side of it, he realized just how slowly cancer research fundraising ended up benefiting the actual patient, so he sought to speed up the process. Jimmy V passed away just two months after his ESPY speech, but 20 years later The V Foundation is going strong, making an impact, and working hard towards realizing his ultimate goal of finding a cure.

So what exactly am I doing to help?

I am running four races to raise awareness and raise money for The V Foundation. One of them has already happened, the other 3 are all in the month of October.

9/22/13 – Tavern to Tavern 5K – Cambridge, MA (finished 200/722 – time: 23:51 – 7:45 min/mile)
10/5/13 – Canal Run For The Troops 10K – Buzzard’s Bay, MA
10/20/13 – 31st Annual Boston Firefighters Local 718 Memorial Road Race 10K – Dorchester, MA
10/26/13 – Cape Cod Marathon Half – Falmouth, MA

I’m currently fundraising through word of mouth and online through social media. You can, again, reach my online fundraising page here:
http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/SoTHISIsFitness/ccm13
 I’m in the process of brainstorming a fundraising event to hold locally. More on that soon (I hope!).

Why The V Foundation?

I know there are a million charities out there I could be fundraising for and some people have asked me how/why I chose The V Foundation. The answer is very simple: My college fraternity – The Delta Chi Fraternity, Inc. – partnered up with The V Foundation in 2006. Almost every philanthropy event I did as an undergraduate member of my Chapter was to benefit The V Foundation…needless to say I had a lot of exposure to it and what it stood for. After raising over $2,800 for Dana-Farber through my Falmouth Road Race run, I thought it’d be nice to do something similar for the first charity I ever really worked with and that I had such ties to. All money raised through this campaign will be donated to The V Foundation on behalf of The Boston Area Alumni Chapter of Delta Chi.

So why should I care? And why should I contribute?

These days it seems like everything causes cancer. We’re figuring out every day that something else we’ve gotten used to can give us cancer! Even some of those who do their best to avoid carcinogens can be struck by the disease, and unfortunately, nearly everyone has a friend or family member who has been touched by some form of cancer. Cancer has stumped the world’s top scientists for years, and the research necessary to learn more and figure out how to beat cancer takes a lot of time, training and equipment which, of course, costs a lot of money.  By contributing to fundraising for organizations like The V Foundation, we can help build up the funds needed for grants to help researchers who are working so hard to find a cure.

Please help me make this a successful fundraising campaign!

On behalf of The V Foundation for Cancer Research and The Boston Area Alumni Chapter of The Delta Chi Fraternity, Inc. I thank you all in advance for your help, support, and generosity! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask – Darrell@SoTHISIsFitness.com

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/SoTHISIsFitness/ccm13

Lose Your Limits

Now that I’ve undergone such big changes and my body has transformed so much, I’ve gotten a better understanding of both my pre-fitness mindset and my current boundaries and limitations. The funny thing is…they go hand in hand.

On this Motivational Monday morning, I want to have a (relatively) brief and (per usual) candid chat about knowing yourself, being in touch with your body, and learning your limits. I hope many of you will come to find what I did – it’s all in your head.

When I was 300 lbs part of what was holding me back was The Fear Monster. I was afraid to get up and go, I was afraid of failure. I wasn’t really sure what my physical limits were…where my boundaries lay…but I figured the bar was pretty low. I knew how easily I got winded and I wasn’t too keen on finding out just how little I could really do. So I just assumed I was pretty limited in terms of physical fitness. No running a mile, no heavy lifting, no endurance to speak of…nothing.

Then I started getting fit. I started pushing it, going until exhaustion…and then continuing. This was a big step for me…I had never tested my boundaries…never challenged my limits. But I had to get through the workout. I had to keep up with the people in the video. I had to look impressive for Megan or at least look like I was making progress. Slowly but surely the little victories came…I could do regular push-ups instead of on my knees…I could do the jump a little between lunges instead of having to step quickly through them…progress is progress, right? Slowly, I kept getting better. I even tried going for a run!

Then Something Happened Last Week – 
I finished Body Beast…and I started getting onto my endurance training calendar for the half-marathon I’m running. I went out for a run, and decided to do a fast 5K. Just go and see what I can do. I was cookin’. I got back home and crossed my little “finish line”…and Runkeeper’s audio cues came on when I “stopped” the run – my pace had drastically improved. I’m not talking like baby steps progress, good for you, rah rah rah…I’m talking WHOA…who kicked on the afterburners? I got 8:22 min/mile average – that’s about a minute and a half off my usual mile time. I had no idea how I went that fast or maintained that pace over 3.1 miles…but I did it.

The Next Day I went on a longer run – I had planned on 8 miles but only had time for 5, so I went. As I was running I heard my Runkeeper audio cues over the music of my playlist…telling me 9:15 min/mile, 8:56 min/mile, 8:57 min/mile…um…EXCUSE ME? I was doing it again! This time, I was going farther…could I maintain that past the 3 mile mark? Was it possible?

YES! I did 5.06 miles in 44:36. That’s an average pace of 8:49. You’ve got to be kidding me! The bottom line here is…my initial perceptions have gone out the window…totally shattered. My boundaries have been pushed off a cliff. I don’t actually know what my limits are now, but I’m convinced I can continue pushing them and improving. People like to say “no, that’s impossible” “no, there’s no way I can do that”. Nonsense. One of my favorite quotes out there…is about the word “impossible”.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration, it’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” – Muhammad Ali

We create our limits in our minds. I firmly believe that, given time and training, anything is possible. Our bodies are amazingly adaptable and will take as much as we are willing to throw at them. The human body can morph from 300 lbs and sedentary to 160 lbs and running ultramarathons. The body will learn to do what you tell it. If you just take the time and train, you can do anything. That’s how professional body builders get so huge. That’s how these people who run 100 mile races get that kind of endurance. That’s how I got where I am. I whole-heartedly believe that, and I hope others will come to figure it out as they too push their limits and learn their potential.

The mind is an incredibly powerful thing – if you believe you’re sick, and you believe it hard enough, your body will manifest that and you’ll get sick (it’s an actual medical thing). If you believe you can’t do something, you simply won’t be able to. If you believe that you can’t run, you will never make it past the first mile. But if you let go of the mental roadblocks you’ve created for yourself and just…well…try…you’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish. In the last week I have had so many personal milestone accomplishments…its like all of a sudden I broke through to a new place. My body is more flexible, I found  core strength I didn’t know I had, I can run faster…all because I just let go of all the mental roadblocks and limits that I thought I had.

Lose your limits.  

I challenge you not to focus on what you can’t do, or what you think you can’t do…but to work on being better than you were yesterday. Reach a little farther, go a little faster, experiment with  a little more weight…you’ll find that over time, as you try harder and harder, you will go farther and farther. You will shatter your own perceptions of your ability. No matter how out of reach something might seem, just remember –

It won’t come to you…you have to work for it.
So get out there and GET IT!

Body Beast – Results and Recap

Another program finished, another round of “after pictures” and measurements. I’m pretty stoked, not gonna lie. This is the reward after every workout program…results. There is nothing quite like seeing the fruits of your labors. I usually just post a bunch of pictures on Facebook and call it a day, but I decided, this time, to do my “after recap” in the form of an article talking not just about my results, but the program itself.

So, I’ll dive right into my results (since that’s the best part!) then cover a little bit about Body Beast.

Results (only listing changed measurements):
Weight – 188 lbs (from 197.8)
Biceps – 15 in. (from 13.8!)
Waist – 32 in. (from 34)
Chest – 39 in. (from 40.8)
Thighs 23.5 in. (from 25.3)
Calves 17.5 in (from 18)

Neck and hips stayed the same, but I wasn’t really expecting any movement there – tough for those to get any smaller. Overall…wow! More fat was cut all over, and my biceps blew up! Now…before we delve into this…take a look at what those kind of changes look like when done by building muscle while at the same time cutting fat –

All I can say is…wow! A year makes a big difference, huh? So how about some from before and after just this program? (blue shorts are after, neon are before)

So, what happened?
I tried to eat in such a way that I would, essentially, be cutting and bulking at the same time – only adding lean mass (muscle) while at the same time burning fat. While it can be difficult to see some of the differences between before and after bodybeast (yellow/black and blue shorts) I think I can safely say…it worked! I leaned out a bit more, cut inches in some places and added inches in others (biceps), and I can see more tone and definition. Could I have added more muscle if I ate differently? Probably. But I was being careful. Having been so big before…I wanted to make sure I stayed on track and didn’t go back up. I’m not ready for TRUE bulking (which I’ll talk about in a later article). I couldn’t handle it mentally…I’d get unhappy really fast.

So What’s So Special About Body Beast?

Body Beast’s “thing” is it uses dynamic set training. Dynamic Set Training changes things up – you do several types of sets:
traditional “single sets” (eg. 10 reps x 3 sets)
“super sets” (two exercises back to back (eg. 10 reps incline bench then 10 reps incline fly = set 1)
“giant sets” (three exercises)
“drop sets” (final set is really two – 8 reps heavy weight immediately drop to 8 reps lighter weight)
“force sets” (5 sets of 5 reps back to back to back with ~5 sec rest in-between)

It forces your body to work harder, use more muscles, and get bigger. Sagi Kalev, the program’s creator and the big jacked guy in the video, says that if you do it right and eat right your body has no choice but to get bigger. I’m inclined to believe him, seeing my results. The program is split into three phases – Build, Bulk, and BEAST. Build gives you a foundation to work up from, Bulk packs on the muscle with heavy lifting focusing on a single muscle group, and Beast is sort of a combination, designed to help you lean out a bit, get some tone and see the definition you’ve been working for over the past couple of months.

Every workout program out there is all about getting slimmer, tighter, losing weight…if you want to gain weight, build muscle, and get BIG…Body Beast is for you. Next time I’m ready to bulk and get some serious muscle on…I will be coming back to Body Beast. It’s a monster!

So Now What?

Now it is time to put away the pre-workout, leave the iron on the rack, and go back to cardio-land. I’m beginning the serious endurance training for the Cape Cod Marathon Half. I’ll be doing a combination of running training, yoga and a new BeachBody Program – Focus T25 (from the creator of INSANITY). I’ll try to post some periodic updates to talk about how that program is.

Just remember – If I can do this, anyone can. That includes YOU.