An Update on My Daily Running Routine
Nothing worked. When I tried to starve myself, I’d start having food fantasies. Most men dream amorous thoughts. Well, instead of tits and ass — I dreamed hot fudge sundaes, bags of potato chips, and half gallons of ice cream. For me, a visit to Cold Stone Creamery was as good as a blow job.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.
I hate running.
But the aftereffects and benefits to pounding the pavement are irrefutable — life changing, in fact.
Yes, life changing.
Today marks the second anniversary of that giant first step — the decision to get healthy again. And so I thought this would be a good time to look back, learn, and reflect on this experience which I hope will inspire and motivate others to make their own life’s changes.
I love to eat. I love to drink. And I don’t particularly like to exercise. That makes me pretty much your typical couch potato.
Until the age of about 40, I never had a weight problem. I carried 180 pounds easily, and was in pretty good shape. But then my lifestyle became more sedentary and I gradually began to put on pounds. I really didn’t care much about it, that is until I accidentally heard someone describe me as “the fat blond kid.” [SEE FOOTNOTE BELOW] I guess they could have said something far worse, but that comment stung a little.
I wasn’t really fat, was I?
In May 2011 while visiting the greatest food city in America — New Orleans — I stepped upon a scale. It showed 265 pounds. I felt like an elephant. With my 50th birthday looming just a few months away, it was time to make some serious changes.
II. THE PLAN
I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating.
I have very little self-discipline when it comes to enjoying life. I presume some of you can identify with this confession. However, I’m not apologizing. I flat out refuse to skip a bacon wrapped filet broiled in butter or the special dessert just because I hope to eliminate a belt loop. I’m going to eat whatever in the hell I want and drink whenever I want, whenever I want to. I’m the boss — the merry gatekeeper of my stomach.
The problem is — when your calorie intake surpasses what you burn off, you gain weight. With my habits and lifestyle, I was headed for 300 pounds and probably an eventual diagnosis of diabetes in my not-too-distant future.
So given this collision of self-interests, my plan became to burn off what I put in — and then a little more so. READ MORE HERE
I could eat and drink whatever I wanted, gorge myself, in fact. But as long as I dutifully worked off the calories somehow, I had permission to enjoy the good life. This wouldn’t be a diet of denial, which is why so many attempts to change one’s lifestyle end up as miserable failures. What you should do is, work your ass off and then (bingo!) reward yourself. Makes perfect sense, right?
As for an exercise program, there was only one option, and that was running. I didn’t have time to go to health clubs. I travel way too often. I work strange hours, sometimes. Running has several advantages. First, it’s cheap (costs nothing). It’s can be done outdoors or indoors (on a treadmill). And, it requires no special skills or training period. To steal the Nike slogan, you “just do it.”
(This) brings me to things I almost never eat (and have never enjoyed): 1. Fast food (of any kind) — it’s all poison. 2. Processed foods that come in boxes or cans — you are ingesting chemicals. 3. Frozen anything — why eat frozen when you can get fresh just as cheap? 4. Low calorie anything (give me everything that’s real — including real butter) 5. Shitty desserts (if I order a dessert, it’s going to be something great and I might even order two). 6. Soft drinks (of any kind, especially so-called diet sodas — more chemicals and poison). By the way, a quick revelation here: I have never taken illegal drugs of any kind. Not once.
In year one, I lost 50 pounds. And I never missed a single meal or skipped something on the menu I wanted (unless I was broke — and then I just charged it on a credit card).
I plunged from 265 down to 215.
The numbers pretty much tell the story. I consumed between 3,000-4,000 calories per day (2,500 is about average for my age and weight class). Meanwhile, it takes running about 5 miles per day to eliminate 1,500 calories (depending upon speed — numbers vary). So, I should have dropped a few pounds per week. Nothing overly dramatic. But still progress.
I had no specific goals in mind. Some of my colleagues went on diets (World Series of Poker staff — Seth Palansky and Jack Effel, for instance). They slimmed down dramatically. In fact, they left me in the dust on the weight loss expressway. But while they were miserable eating shitty salads and drinking light beer, if that, I was wolfing down Matterhorn sundaes and polishing off bottles of wine. Sure, they had smaller guts than me, but they were miserable. I was still living the good life.
Actually, I’m teasing my pals here. They did weight loss their way, and it worked. Great for them. I’m proud they made a goal and stuck to it. I could not have done what they did, which is why I think there’s something to this system that’s superior to other weight loss methods. It’s because you aren’t forced to sacrifice, unless one considers working out an hour a day and feeling some genuine pain to be sacrificial.
Okay, maybe just a little sacrifice.
IV. THE WALL
And so, I’ve finally hit the weight loss wall.
It’s unlikely for me to lose any more weight at this point, unless I ramp up my exercise routine (which could be dangerous) or decrease my intake of calories (fat chance). I’m pretty much stuck in this weight class, which is fine with me. Sure, I wouldn’t mind slimming down to a lean and mean 200 pounds. But what would be the point of that?
Over the past year, I’ve kept track of my weight at various points. I’ve seen a clear fluctuation based on where I’m staying, what kinds of foods I’m eating, and (most important) how much running I accomplished. Here’s the highlights:
September 2012 — Bossier City, Louisiana (14 days) / Cannes, France (12 days) Las Vegas (4 days)…..ran 22 days and 81 miles — Start Weight: 222 / End Weight: 225 Notes: Lots of travel and good food, so I was lucky to keep my weight down.
October 2012 — Chicago, IL (12 days) / Las Vegas (19 days)…..ran 16 days and 80 miles — Start Weight: 225 / End Weight: 232 Notes: Unable to run in Chicago due to bad location, plus unhealthy food. Weight took a major hit.
November 2012 — Lake Tahoe, NV (14 days) / Las Vegas (16 days)…..ran 27 days and 108 miles — Start Weight: 232 / End Weight: 227 Notes: Perfect weather and ideal workout conditions in both southern and northern Nevada combined with healthy eating again.
December 2012 — San Diego, CA (14 days) / Las Vegas (17 days)…..ran 22 days and 88 miles — Start Weight: 227 / End Weight: 228 Notes: Weather cooperated in both places with dry conditions, plus good healthy choices for food. Holidays a non-issue as with wife’s cooking and restaurants we eat and drink like that year around.
January 2013 — Los Angeles (14 days) / Las Vegas (17 days)…..ran 30 days and 125 miles — Start Weight: 228 / End Weight: 220 Notes: LA is a great place for running and I averaged up to 7 miles per day, aided by flat elevation and sea level conditions, a huge factor in running. Also, more wonderfully healthy food options.
February 2013 — West Palm Beach, FL (14 days) / Las Vegas (14 days)…..ran 24 days and 120 miles — Start Weight: 220 / End Weight: 218 Notes: More sea level running in Florida in perfect conditions. Ran up to eight miles a few times, my longest trek ever. Surprised I did not lose more weight, but perhaps I ate too much during this period to make much of a difference.
March 2013 — Atlantic City, NJ (14 days) / Las Vegas (17 days)…..ran 23 days and 88 miles — Start Weight: 218 / End Weight: 224 Notes: Cold and windy in Atlantic City, so I moved to indoor workouts mostly. This took a toll. Also, food in Atlantic City tends to be terrible.
April 2013 — Washington, DC (4 days) / Cherokee, NC (14 days) / Las Vegas (12 days)…..ran 15 days and 65 miles — Start Weight: 224 / End Weight: 237 Notes: Here’s where my plan took a huge hit. Nearly impossible situation to run in North Carolina, combined with more fatty food turned me into a balloon. Four do-nothing days in Washington didn’t help much either. Here’s the proof that exercise, or the lack thereof, can make a huge difference — 13 pounds in fact, which is what I gained.
May 2013 — New Orleans (19 days) / Las Vegas (12 days)…..ran 25 days and 111 miles — Start Weight: 237 / End Weight: 228 Notes: Can you possibly imagine I would lose weight in New Orleans? Well, I did. Again, more sea level running (along the Mississippi River each day) combined with a healthier selection of food choices than you might imagine. I think I ate fish all 19 days. If I would not have gone out drinking with the WSOP staff one crazy night, I probably would have lost even more.
June 2013 — Las Vegas (30 days)…..ran 29 days and 131 miles — Start Weight: 228 / End Weight: 222 Notes: This was WSOP month, since I worked all 31 days and nights. But I managed to wake up every morning at 10 for my usual run. This was a nice routine. I wonder if I did this year around how my weight would fare. Oddly enough, the brutal heat (record highs in early June) didn’t make much difference and you just sweat out liquid and then put it back in again with re-hydration.
July 2013 — Las Vegas (31 days)…..ran 26 days and 118 miles — Start Weight: 222 / End Weight: 221 Notes: Worked WSOP about half of the month and sat around the other two weeks. See comments above. Perhaps because I sat around at home a lot, I didn’t lost as much as working, often on my feet running around.
August 2013 — Fargo, ND (2 days) / New York (5 days) / Las Vegas (24 days)…..ran 25 days and 108 miles — Start Weight: 221 / End Weight: 221 Notes: Started new venture with Poker Night in America, which took me to two new destinations. Still managed to keep up the routine and do the right thing. I would have lost more, but Todd Anderson is a bad influence.
September 2013 — Fargo, ND (5 days) / Las Vegas (25 days)…..ran 25 days and 92 miles — Start Weight: 221 / End Weight: 224 Notes: Didn’t run as much distance, and that probably added a few pounds. Had I pushed it more, I could have dipped below 220 again.
Today, I sit right on 225 pounds in mid-October.
So, what do these numbers show? Well, there’s clearly a cause and effect relationship between diet and exercise. Also, because I’m a picky eater, I tend to do better in places where I have a lot of restaurant choices, so I can eat healthy.
Everyone is different. What works for someone may not work for another. As my friend Dr. Arthur Reber wrote, “If there were a diet that actually worked it would have quickly displaced all the others. If there were one weight loss (and weight maintenance) program that was effective, by now everyone who wanted to lose weight would have gone on it.” READ MORE HERE
That said, I’m convinced there is something positive that comes from deciding to exercise. It’s not just physical, but mental too.
I tend to feel more alive during the day and sleep better at night. I don’t get fatigued when walking stairs. And I’m certainly much healthier when all this started.
As some of you may have read, I’ve also suffered a loss in my family recently. Such occasions do remind us to spend the time we have wisely and yet live life to the very fullest.
I don’t care what my daily schedule is — I run. I don’t care how hot it is outside — I run. I don’t care how cold it is outside — I run. I don’t care if I have a pain here or there — I still run.
FOOTNOTE: It was “Amarillo Slim” Preston who used to call me “the fat blond kid.”