Tag: life

… and I’m back …

After 15 days abroad — I am back! There is so, so much to say about the trip. Not only did I tour Paris, Rome, Athens and other places alongside my family, but I was able to meet cousins in Athens and Crete as well. It was a life changing trip — to say the least.

But, after living out of a carry-on suitcase and on some very questionable mattresses (one in which I broke, oops), I am happy to be home. Beyond happy. Especially spending nearly 13+ hours in the air yesterday.

The length of the trip was perfect though. Usually when I am heading home from a vacation I am not ready. But, being able to see and do what I was over the past half month — I got in what I wanted to do. It was the perfect vacation.

The hardest part about leaving was leaving behind my family that I met in Athens and Chorafakia. They were the highlight of the trip for me. In both instances our family was welcomed with open arms and an unquestionable embrace of love. Even our cousins in Chorafakia that we discovered on this trip. My feelings for them and the moments we shared are hard to put into words — it just makes me more grateful for family.

I shared a bunch of my trip on social media — some on Facebook and mostly on Instagram. I have over 200 pictures spread across both @josherwalla and @ketoshua, but I thought I’d share a few of highlights here on the bloggy blog. But, feel free to browse my pictures on Instagram — again, I have tons.

I also have tons of pictures I never even posted on social media.

I won’t recap the entire trip, but I will share some of the pictures from each location. Enjoy the pictures.

Paris

We flew into Paris on a red eye flight from Dallas. Half of our party was staying three days, while the other half was flying to Rome for a couple days (including me). After landing we crashed for a couple hours and hit the town — mainly the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower — with dinner afterwards. It was long and tiring, but fun day in Paris.

It’s the song of his people …

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Beautiful landmark, but I couldn’t find the roller coaster and adjoined casino?!

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Home is never that far away.

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Rome

Because of the long night in Paris, I only got two hours of sleep before leaving for the airport to catch a flight to Rome. We couldn’t crash at the hotel when we landed like Paris, because it was an Airbnb — so it was a very looooong day. We took a city tour bus that ended up being about a two hour nap for us. We got in the Colosseum and some other places, but we got back to the Airbnb room and crashed around 5pm for the night.

The next day was spent mostly at the Vatican City along with Trevi Fountains and eating lots of gelato. Probably too much. But, that’s debatable.

The following day we left Rome for Athens and the next leg of our trip.

When in Rome … get lost like the Hansen’s get lost.

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Mood.

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I could have stuffed my whole face with this ricotta filled goodness. But, I shared.

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Off to do Vatican things …

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One of my many goals here in Rome was to get authentic pistachio gelato. Goal met ✅

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History’s first recorded dab.

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I hope this is enough to make my wildest dreams come true …

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Athens

We flew into Athens on Sunday and met up with our family at the airport. After getting situated in our Airbnb, we headed to the Valavanis for dinner. We ATE and ATE and ATE! It was a great evening. One that won’t be forgotten. We spent about 5 days in Athens — touring Corinth, Nafpoli, The Acropolis, Marathon and around Athens.

We spent Thanksgiving Day in Athens — first with a little family Turkey Trot in the Olympic Stadium. We had a brother’s sprint contest — Freedom won. I came in fourth (which is last), but as I told my brothers — challenge me in a marathon or longer and I’ll win! We had a meal with the Valavanis that night with some amazing Greek food — the best Thanksgiving ever.

It was perfect.

We are now over Greece! We’re almost home! 🇬🇷

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Η οικογένειά μου 🇬🇷

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Ancient Corinth. There’s a lot of cool old crumbly stuff here.

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The Littles atop the Acropolis. 💙🇬🇷

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MORE FAMILY! I finally got to meet my cousin Magda! What a happy day! 💙🇬🇷

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The Panathenaic Stadium. Let the games begin …

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I don’t recall what this was called (it was all in Greek), but my cousin explained this was a traditional dish eaten in Smyrna, Turkey where our family was from before being displaced during the Greek Holocaust. It was touching having that connection to this dish. It felt like an honor enjoying it with family connected to that past. ———————————————————— #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketonics #ketorunner #athens #greece #thanksgiving #thanksgivingdinner #feast #notketo———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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Much to celebrate tonight! Bravo!

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The Littles ready to go, unlike their parents. 💙🇬🇷

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Crete

On Friday we flew from Athens to Crete. The 40 minute flight was highlighted pretty much by a 40 minute tantrum from Thalia. We might have disowned her for about 40 minutes. We spent a night in Heraklion before driving to Chania and the western part of the island where my Propapou was born.

The mission of our trip to Crete was two fold — one, see the island and, two, find any family members. We don’t much about my Propapou’s family. His life is quite remarkable — he was born in a cave on the island and then joined the army at 17 where he eventually met and saved my Yia Yia in Symra during the Greek Holocaust in the early 1920s.

On Sunday we did find family in Chorafakia — a whole clan of them! It was amazing how we came as strangers and were immediately embraced as family with a bond that was unshakable. It was amazing. Amazing. They invited us to dinner that night, but we had other plans — so we came back the following day and we ate like kings!

They shot a wild goat for us that morning and fed us some wonderful food — Greek salad, lemon rice pilaf, weed salad something or other (how’s that for a guess? It was really good though!) and other traditional Greek foods. It was perfect. It was hard to leave and many of us left with tears in our eyes for the newfound family. This was the highlight of the trip for me.

Touch down on Crete — the island of heroes. 💙🇬🇷

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Who’s having more fun, @benhansen00 or the kids?

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I’m not sure he knows exactly what he’s looking at — and, well, neither do I?

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😍😍😍

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GET IN MY BELLY LITTLE SHRIMPS! 🍤💙🇬🇷

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How to toddler proof a really, really, really nice place. Toddlers can’t climb, right?

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I felt like we experienced our own episode of Who Do You Think You Are? today here in Greece. One of the reasons we came here to Crete was to connect with family from my Propapou’s (Great Grandpa) side of the family. And, we found them! I can’t tell you the joy and tears of happiness as we discovered our Tsitidakis cousins in the hometown of my propapou. We came unannounced and as strangers, but we were quickly embraced with a familial love and warmth as we visited and compared our family lines and relations. This has been a great day. One, that’s been too long in happening. But, I look forward to tomorrow when we’ll meet again and strengthen this newly found bond! Οι οικογένειες είναι για πάντα 💙🇬🇷

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Connecting the dots between who I am and where I’ve come from. 💙🇬🇷

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Just like spanakopita, the tyropita here in Greece is diverse and delicious. We were greeted at our villa tonight with a honey drizzled tyropita. 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼 ———————————————————— #ketoshua #fitness #wellness #health #running #runnerslife #runner #run #weightloss #weightlossjourney #hashimotos #hashimotoswarrior #thyroid #hypothyroidism #workout #wod #instarunner #run4fun #runningcommunity #keto #ketodiet #ketorunner #notketo #tyropita #greece #crete #cretegreece #cheesepie #cheese ———————————————————— @ketoshua @josherwalla @joshruns180 ———————————————————— Follow my blog at www.phatjosh.com

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I can’t get enough of this island! This is home! 💙🇬🇷

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Two weeks into this trip and they’re finally useful.

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I left my heart in Greece. This will always be home. Off to Paris. 💙🇬🇷

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Paris

After leaving Crete, we made our way to Paris via Athens. We had one more day in Paris and we were torn on how to use it. Some of us wanted to do Versailles, others Disneyland, while some wanted to do the Louvre. We settled on Disneyland, but switched to Versailles last minute because it turned out rainy and cold.

Versailles was neat — over the top neat. It really made you sympathize with the French Revolution. The opulence was too much. Beautiful, but it made you thankful for our government and constitution — even as crazy as it might be right now.

But, needless to say, I was in AWE of the amount of detail on Versailles and the palace. It was nothing short of amazing.

Rainy cold day in Paris. No Disneyland. So we’re off to Versailles. I can barely contain my excitement.

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That’s a blingy gate.

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Cousins. ❤️🇫🇷

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I’m pretty sure I found a statue of one of Jonah Hill’s ancestors.

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I wonder how long it took royalty to find a bathroom, I could barely find one myself …

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A little home away from home.

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Recap

This was truly a life changing trip. I had a blast. I was able to reconnect with family — connect with others. I was able to see some amazing places and just forget about work, running and everyday life for two weeks. It was perfect.

It really makes me want to travel more. I want to see more of Europe — the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and Norway. I want to connect with family there if I can.

But, I will also come back to Greece. I made the promise to my cousin that I will come and run the Athens Marathon in 2019. That’s the goal. I want to start planning that trip, because I plan on visiting Crete and my family there as well. Greece became more than just where I’m from, it really became home for me during the trip.

It was hard to leave Greece — but, as I told my cousins — I don’t believe in goodbyes, just see you laters!

So, Europe and Greece — see you later!

The thing about Joshua Trees …

This weekend is a big weekend of running for me. I am running both the Snow Canyon Half Marathon (St. George, Utah) and the Joshua Tree Half Marathon (Joshua Tree, California) on Saturday. As I’ve pointed out before here on the bloggy blog, I am not just running two half marathons in one day, I am also running my name!

Pretty cool if you ask me. I mean, how many people can say that they can run their name in a day?

Now if I could find a Hansen race …

But, in all honesty, under “normal” circumstances I probably would be just running the Snow Canyon Half Marathon on Saturday. Doing two half marathons in the same day is kinda crazy. Doable, but crazy. But, I have to do the Joshua Tree Half Marathon.

There’s no question about it.

I just have to.

There’s a fascination, a love, that I have for the Joshua Tree. Yes, it has a lot to do with my name — but, it’s much, much more than that. There’s the whole story behind how they got their name, the plant’s anatomy and how that all relates to me. I find it very fascinating and very allegorical — not just to life, but specifically my life.

When you break down the history, anatomy and personal meaning it has to me — it makes sense. It’s been a source of inspiration to me and hopefully you too with a broken down view of it …

NAMING OF THE JOSHUA TREE

The scientific name of the tree is Yucca Brevifolia — not a very sexy name. And, if it wasn’t for a group of Mormon Pioneers trekking through the Mojave Desert, we’d probably know these yucca plants as something like — desert daggers, palm tree yucca or yucca palm.

Legend has it that as the Mormon settlers made their way westward into California the plants reminded them of the prophet Joshua in the Old Testament with his out stretched arms in supplication to the Lord. Because of the specific elevation and location that these trees flourished their sighting also signified that the half way point of their journey.

The name stuck.

The name was further entrenched into the national lexicon when President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the area as a national monument. Almost 60 years later the monument was elevated to a national park — the Joshua Tree National Park — that we know today (23 years ago yesterday to be exact).

THE JOSHUA TREE’S ANATOMY

I didn’t know much more about the Joshua Tree until I was in college. I mean, sure, I knew what it was — but, the anatomy and story behind the plant was just something I didn’t bother to learn about. Why did I? A Joshua Tree was a Joshua Tree in my mind.

When I was at Southern Utah University I had to take a biology class, and not wanting to take human biology (I kinda hate science), I aimed to take the easiest class possible — which I was told was Southern Utah Flora.

I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t easy. It was. It was a five week class that met once a week for a 4-6 hour field trip. We’d go down to St. George, Snow Canyon, Mesquite and the Arizona Strip along I-15 and a few places closer to Cedar City.

Each place we stopped our professor would stop and talk about some plants, we’d have to write them down and take a picture of it and then put it into a notebook — which was our semester final and only project.

I told you it was easy. And, yes, I got an A.

I don’t remember much from the class, besides a few yucca plants, differing sage plants and, of course, the Joshua Tree. When we stopped on along the Arizona Strip the area was home to a number of Joshua Trees — and we got the story and anatomy lesson from our professor.

He explained to us the life of a Joshua Tree. It relied on the adversity it endured in the harsh desert climate to not just take root, especially since it’s root system was rather shallow and the base of the plant large and extensive with it’s many branches. That adversity endured in infancy strengthened it and made it the sturdy — nearly unmovable — plant in it’s adulthood.

DRIVING THROUGH JOSHUA TREE

Another reason why I love Joshua Trees is more personal than the previous two. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in Southern California. A lot. Each summer my family would visit aunts, uncles and cousins who lived (and many still do) in the Orange County area. These trips would always entail a trip to Disneyland, Sea World and of course the beach. Some of my most favorite memories from these moments as a kid.

Being a large family we never flew, we always drove. And, I remember that trek from Salt Lake City to Orange County. I dreaded it. So many long hours in the car — way before the advent of DVD players, iPods and smartphones.

We would make the trip in our large red van with an individual box of coloring books, gadgets and candy (which mine was usually gone by Cedar City) and my my Dad’s box of cassette tapes of Beach Boys, Beatles, Neil Diamond and classic rock. Those drives were brutal, but that’s also where I learned my love for good music — not just classic rock — from my Dad.

Even if we split the trip up in St. George or Las Vegas it was not a very enjoyable ride for me. But, once we were past Las Vegas and we’d hit a patch of desert with hundreds of Joshua Trees I’d always put away what was distracting me and just stare out my window. Not only did these hundreds of trees mesmerize me with their twisting and turning branches, but they were “MY TREES” as I liked to call them.

Well, and then of course there was the part that they were also a sign that we were getting MUCH closer to our destination of Disneyland, family and the beach.

But, even today when I am passing through a desert area with Joshua Trees my attention is caught by “MY TREES” and I can’t help but stare in wonderment. Especially coupled with personal feelings of them now.

MY LESSONS FROM THE JOSHUA TREE

There are many, many lessons that I’ve learned and applied to my life over the years. When I was a kid the association of Joshua Trees with family vacation, California and even music will always stick with me. I feel many of those same feelings even now at 36.

But, after my class in college I started taking what I’ve learned about the Joshua Tree to heart. At that time in my life, I had a lot of uncertainty and commotion whirling around me. Knowing that I could take that commotion — or adversity — and turn it into a positive force was really life changing for me.

Realizing that, I started facing my life differently — I embraced those trails and looked for the good in them. I saw a similar partner in struggle, determination and growth. The Joshua Tree was truly “MY TREE” in many aspects of my life.

Even in the very nature of how it got it’s name is a lesson of the importance of prayer. Just like Joshua of the Bible my arms should always be raised in supplication to the Lord for guidance. I am sure Joshua could have managed life quite well without the Lord’s guidance — he was one considered one of the greatest military generals in history.

But, nonetheless, Joshua relied on the Lord for his strength, knowledge and direction not just as a military leader of the Israelites — but, the spiritual leader as well. And, there’s a lot that can be said about Joshua, but that’s a post for another day.

There are many lessons we can learn from the Joshua Tree, but the biggest thing I take away from it is — really — anatomy of the plant and how adversity in our lives can be of benefit. The adversity of life strengthens our roots, resolve and outlook. And, we should really embrace that as much as possible, because we can all grow even in the harshest of circumstances.

Because, that’s how we grow.


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A time to stop and a time to not start …

As I am writing this, I am laying what very much feels like my deathbed. No, I’m not dying — but, I might as well be. This past weekend was very difficult for me. What started as a promising running adventure out on the Salt Flats and at Thanksgiving Point — turned into something entirely different.

I started the weekend with a mini-road trip to Wendover for the Salt Flats 50K. After a poorly chosen motel — you can see the video here — I was going to run the on Friday, drive home that afternoon after my run, recoup a bit and then run the Tulip Festival Half at Thanksgiving Point on Saturday morning.

Sure, it was a lot of running, but something it was something I felt I was prepared to do with the recent ultras I’ve done in the past six months. I was figuring the 50K would take me about 10 hours and the half probably 3ish hours because of fatigue. All pretty manageable and a challenge I was looking forward to tackling.

On Friday morning when I woke up and got ready for my race I didn’t feel anything amiss. It was a pretty standard race morning. Granted, I didn’t get much sleep the night before, but nothing unusually bad compared to other races. I was ready to run — so I went about my ritual of packing my pack, reassuring I had enough fuel and fueling myself with my standard sweet potato, banana and oatmeal.

After making the trek to the starting line at the Bonneville Speedway I started getting excited for my run. I knew it was going to be difficult — ultras always are — but, I was wanting this challenge and I was just eager to get out and run. After double and triple checking my pack again — I was ready and the gun sounded at 7am.

We were off — not just the 50Kers, but the 50 and 100 milers as well.

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Since the usual course out on the salt flats was washed over from the rain gathered the previous week, an alternate trail route was marked. So, after a few miles on the causeway we landed on the dirt trails which was a pretty simple out and back course for the 50K.

There were two aid stations for us, one at Mile 11 and another at Mile 16 — which was the turnaround. For a half marathon or marathon the numbers of stations and distance between them would be an issue. But, I carried enough fuel with me that I didn’t worry about it. I hardly do during ultras — especially when you consider you’re going to always get a feast of some sort at every station.

Once I got onto the trails, the crowd had thinned out and a just a few of us 50Kers remained. The scenery was beautiful and I didn’t mind not running on the salt flats — I was just happy being where I was. I just enjoyed the moment.

Around mile 5-6 or so I ran into Coach Blu and a few of the AIIA team members who driving out to an aid station they were volunteering at for the 50 milers. It was really nice seeing them and it really gave me a boost in my spirits, because I think so much of Coach and the team.

But, it wasn’t much later when they left that my whole race kind of went downhill.

The wind throughout the race was pretty horrendous — as it always is out there. But, there were some patches where it was hard for me to get a good rhythm because it felt like I was getting bombarded by wind from every direction. It was a headwind, then a tailwind, then a headwind and then both.

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By about Mile 7-8 I started feeling pretty nausea — I was thinking it was just motion sickness from the wind. But, by Mile 10ish the nausea got bad enough that I ended up throwing.

Thinking it was just the nausea I just forged forward sipping on my water and nibbling on a banana trying to replenish my electrolytes that I just lost. But, that didn’t help. And, I ended up throwing that up not just later.

The idea of dropping the race was now being entertain, but I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. I had never DNF’d before and there is pride in that So, I started playing mind games with see if changing my attitude would help improve my race. So, I was extra enthusiastic when other runners passed me, I turned on some music to distract me and I even tried imagine the narrative of how this race was going to triumphantly play out for me.

By the time I got to the first aid station I felt better — and had a cup of Ginger Ale to help calm my stomach, which still had some lingering effects of the nausea. After munching on some popcorn and another banana, I felt good to go. And, set forward once again.

And, once again — the nausea came back.

And, once again — I threw up.

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At this point I was pretty discouraged, because I knew I was probably going to have to pull myself off the course. At Mile 14 the race director even pulled up beside me to ask how I was doing. I lied — I said I was fine. I couldn’t make that decision yet. I still had hope that everything was going to change and I would feel better. But, that feeling never came.

So I focused on just getting to the next aid station. It was a couple miles away and also served as the turnaround point for the 50K, I figured 16 miles was pretty good considering the circumstances. So that was my focus. And, I felt that if I was going to pull myself off the course it would be there that I could make the decision.

By the time I got to the aid station I was done. Completely done. I was feeling pretty weak from feeling depleted thanks to my queazy stomach, so I made a beeline to a camping chair as the volunteers offered me food and fuel my body was quite ready to accept. I just sat down and said I was done and to just give me a minute.

After a few minutes the amazing volunteers got some Ginger Ale and half an orange down me. I contemplated a banana, but I felt the half orange was a more than enough on a stomach that absolutely hated me. I just felt like garbage. So I kept on trying to keep liquids down me because I didn’t want to absolutely dehydrate myself or get my electrolytes too low.

After sitting at the aid station for about a half hour the call to the start line was made that I pulled myself from the race. It was kind of a bittersweet moment. But, at the same time the feeling of lost pride was lost in the feeling that I didn’t care, because I felt like I was going to die. I knew I made the right decision.

Instead of being simply taken back to the starting line I requested if I could go to the next aid station at Mile 22 where Coach Blu and the AIIA were located. They were going to be out there — at what I thought — until 3pm. It turned out to be closer to 1pm. But, in that moment I just kind of wanted to be among familiar faces. So one of the volunteers took me to the aid station.

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I wasn’t there long until they were packing up, but I was grateful for the time I had with the team. Coach gave me some Alka Seltzer for my stomach — and again some Ginger Ale. This seemed to help some and made the 22 mile ride back to the starting line manageable. It was nice being able to talk to him along with Jim about my DNF, because it put a lot of things into perspective for me. This just solidified that I made the right decision.

It was hard for me to dwell on the DNF as well, because I got word shortly after I got reception that my sister gave birth to her little girl, Eliza. This really helped me to further put this experience in perspective. I was so happy for Jessie and Scott, because Eliza was truly a blessing and miracle for them. They waited nearly 5 years for this addition.

After getting to my car and everything processing happening to me, I hopped in my car, gassed up and after making a short race recap video — headed home. I still felt optimistic about running in the morning. I felt that some rest, replenished liquids and adherence to the B.R.A.T. diet would allow that to happen.

Half way through my trip my Mom asked me to stop at the store to get some lettuce for her. Which wasn’t a big deal for me since the store is right down the street from me. I was feeling okay — sore and not too queazy. But, once I got to the store and went to get out of the car — I just couldn’t do it. I tried standing up, but felt like I was going to pass out.

I knew I needed to get some more liquids and calories in me — and not wanting to go back home empty handed I resolved to go get the lettuce along with some food for me. So after sitting in the car for more than a half hour I mustered the strength to walk into the store. I got a cart — not because I needed it for the food, but to just keep me upright.

I made a beeline to the lettuce and then got some bananas, a couple of Powerade, a bowl of cut melon and a bag of ice (to ice my sore legs and ankle). Once I got home I quickly got my stuff out of the car, gave my mom her lettuce and raced to the bathroom so I could take a shower and ice my legs before hitting my bed and refueling.

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But, it never happened quite that way. As soon as I got to the restroom I felt completely weak and it took everything in me to just shower. Any attempt to ice my legs and ankle were moot — because the focus now was to just shower, get in bed and eat something.

I never felt so ill in my life. I tried to shower and get dressed quickly, but without rushing too hard that I’d pass out. I really felt like I was going to die. Once I stumbled into bed, I drank half a Powerade, some melon and half a banana and before I knew it I was out. I didn’t wake up for about three hours. I was gone — I didn’t even move.

When I woke up I still felt extremely sick, but kept forcing liquids down. I was fevering over 101 as well. So I knew I needed to stay hydrated and fueled. I tried some melon and the other half of the banana, but that didn’t happen. So I just laid in bed for a couple more hours awake — but going nowhere.

I knew by now that I wasn’t going to be running in the morning. So I made the decision to DNS the Tulip Festival Half. Another decision that was difficult to make, but in the moment — the right one. I was bummed.

I tried getting up and watching some of the Jazz, but that didn’t work so well. After eating more of my melon bowl my stomach decided to reject that — and I threw up again. So, I stuck with liquids the rest of the night.

Even on Saturday my stomach wasn’t having anything to do with overly solid foods. I mustered down some broth, applesauce, bananas and lots of Powerade. But, my attempts at a fairly simple salad was meant with another upheaval of my stomach.

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At this point I was pretty sure that I was dealing with the flu and not just wind-induced nausea. And, that’s been the case this whole weekend. I just can’t hold anything down and I am just weaker than weak. My fever broke some, but it’s still slightly above average. Needless to say I feel like pooh.

I’m still processing this weekend, especially the DNF. And, I’ve been told by many runners that I’ll learn more from my DNF than from any other race — 5K to ultra. So I am taking that to heart and reassessing everything. I might cut back on some of my races this year — and as much as I want to hit the 180 race goal by next July — maybe I need to rethink that?

I feel that I am beyond seeing value in the quantity of races. 180 is just a number — and running is much more to me than that. That’s why my approach has been to quickly get it done with so I can move on. Maybe I need to prolong it and focus on the other goals sooner than later?

Anyways — I am sure I’ll be making some changes to my race schedule, especially within the next month. So, on races with a transfer policy I might just sell my bib to someone else? But, that’s all something I need to need decide on with a sound mind and careful reflection.

There is much more to life than just running — and racing. The addition of my niece is a great reminder of that belief. What’s a DNF and DNS compared to that? Nothing. Really, absolutely, nothing.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I’m still planning on running the Provo City Half this weekend. I am actually sweeping it with my friend Tricia and her daughter. I am really, really, really excited about that — and then I don’t have another race until Ogden. Lots of positives on the horizon, but a lot to reassess as well.


MY NEXT SIX RACES


I’m not going to be dateless for quite awhile. Quite awhile.

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Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 10.0 miles
Race Miles — 16.0 miles
Walking Miles — 20.12 miles
TOTAL MILES — 46.12 miles
Race(s) this week — Salt Flats (DNF) and Tulip Festival Half (DNS)

April 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 23.5 miles
Race Miles — 55.3 miles
Walking Miles — 94.95 miles
TOTAL MILES — 173.75 miles
Races in April — Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Salt Flats 50K (DNF) and Tulip Festival (DNS). 

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 205.25 miles
Race Miles — 151.42 miles
Walking Miles — 420.41 miles
TOTAL MILES — 777.08 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half and Saltair Half.


Lessons we can all learn from ‘My 600lbs. Life’

This past week has been kind of tough for me. On Monday I went to the dentist for some dental work — and after a couple of hours of poking and numbing they couldn’t get my tooth numb. So they did some other work on me that didn’t require much numbing. After about three hours of being in the dentist’s chair as I got up — my back went out.

If you ever want to feel 36 — it’s moments like those that will make you feel like 36. This whole week I have being dealing with a wretched back. A week I was planning on upping my workouts and mileage in preparation for my 50 miler in a couple of weeks. It kinda felt like leaving the car dealership with a new pair of tires and driving over a nail.

Not fun. And, very deflating.

Will this derail my 50 miler? No. Will this derail my weekend run down Big Cottonwood Canyon? No.

Sadly, I’ve been here before. It’s that whole part of being 36 and with some rest, stretches and activity I know I’ll rebound and be back where I need/want to be.

So, this week I’ve focused on what I can do. Running hasn’t been an issue, especially non-treadmill miles — so I’ve dedicated a couple of my lunches to a few “slow” runs. The movement oddly helps the stiffness. I say oddly, because I have no idea the science behind why (remember, I’m a communications major?) it is the way it is.

It’s moments and mild setbacks like these that give me pause and perspective on my journey. I always seem to go back 10-15 years and think of what Fat Josh would do compared to Phat Josh of today. Would I throw in the towel and just give up? Honestly? Probably, yeah. Well, okay, yes he would.

But, when I compare the two Joshs — I really see the Josh that acts and lives and then the Josh that exists and is just “there.” I often wonder if I didn’t make the changes when I did, where I would be right now? I know I wouldn’t be a runner. But, I often wonder would I be in the same boat as many of the people on ‘My 600lbs. Life?’

I was on that road. I was over 400lbs. with no direction or goal on the horizon. I was just there. Addiction had ahold of me and I dealt with my anxieties, fears, depression and uncertainties in a very unhealthy way. Because more often than not I found comfort in food.

I don’t try to ponder much about that road anymore, because that’s not me. And, I believe not the person I was destined to be. But, I bring that up, because I do look at the similarities of my journey with many of the people on ‘My 600lb. Life.’ Not just in how they learned to medicate through food, but in their recovery, self-discovery and weight-loss.

This past week as I have been laid out a bit with my back, I’ve watched a few more episodes of the show — and I’ve noticed more so than anything this is a show much deeper than weight-loss. This is a show about life. And, there are many things in the show that we can learn no matter our weight, fitness level, ability or age in life.

A few themes that popped out to me are …


Find Your ‘Why?’

Each episode usually finds the why fairly easily and early. Some of the whys are as simple as — to be less dependent on spouses, partners, parents or children. You can usually tell if they found a why because when they do — success isn’t far behind. The why is what keeps them on track with the diet Dr. Nowzaradan gives them and what gets them active and moving more and more each day. Invariably if that ‘why’ or purpose isn’t found — those are the ones that take an extra month or two following the doctor’s diet.

‘Whys’ are north stars. No matter the size, purpose or reason of our journey or goal, if we don’t have that ‘why’ clearly stated and focused upon — then what’s the purpose of putting our effort into it?

So find that ‘why’ and hold onto it. And, don’t be afraid that it changes or evolves as you do. You’ll notice that happens a lot to many of the patients on the show. That why will change from a simple desire for dependency to something deeper and richer.

But, find that why.

Believe In Yourself

One of the saddest parts of the show for me is seeing many of these patients struggle with believing in themselves. I’ve been there. Heck, we’ve all been there to different degrees. But, many of these patients seemed to have just completely shut that off completely in their lives.

For whatever reason some patients will have a hard time believing that they can follow Dr. Nowzaradan’s diet — and that will show in their actions. Those are the ones that either gain weight or lose far less than what the doctor expected to lose.

Now flip that same scenario with a mentality of self belief and it’s a different story. Holding a belief that you can do something leads your actions to — well — act accordingly. And, the task gets easier. It makes the temptations of derailment and diversion less appealing, because you hold the belief that you can follow the course ahead.

It’s amazing how far you can go physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, financially, etc., etc., etc. by simply believing in yourself and your ability to do what you need to do. Even if you have to fake it to make it at first (which is a completely different post for another day).

Set Good Simple Goals For Yourself

If you want a good example of goal setting — watch ‘My 600lbs. Life.’ Seriously, I love Dr. Nowzaradan’s simple approach to goals. Based off his experience and knowledge he knows what kind of goals to set for the patients. You would think for many of these patients being 600lbs or more would require wildly specific goals and expectations.

Nope.

His goals for his patients are rather simple. Stick to a 1200 calorie per day diet, get active and lose 30-50lbs (or whatever) within the next month. That’s about it. And, if the patients are true to those goals they’ll meet those goals in order to get their weight-loss surgery.

Watching the show has really made me reevaluate my goals. When I started my weight-loss journey some seven and a half years ago — I basically followed those simple goals for the first couple of months. I ended up losing between 30-40lbs. with those small changes.  Now, granted when you are 400 or 600lbs. it’s easier to get those kind of numbers — that’s not my point.

My point is how often do over complicate our goals? I fall into that trap often. I’ll freely admit. If I am not careful I will put unrealistic expectations on myself to hit certain goals, etc. And, the more complicated I make them — the less likely I’ll hit them.

That is one reason why I’ve had to teach myself (over and over again) to just keep it simple. Focus on what I can control and reasonable do and build on that — keeping the goals challenging, yet simple. Whatever the goal is — inside or outside of the gym — we do a disservice to ourselves with overly specific, unrealistic and complicated goals.

Surround Yourself With The Right People

I love how blunt Dr. Nowzaradan is with his patients. Especially return patients who didn’t hit their goals — or happened to gain weight. Invariably, he asks — who their enabler is. Especially if he knows they don’t drive or walk much. And, yeah, it’s usually a spouse, partner or loved one who’s buying the food.

I’m grateful that I had a good support system around me when I started my weight-loss journey. Besides having parents and family members eager to see me make changes, I found outside of my immediate family many who wanted to support me. Something, I didn’t expect — but look back with gratitude. I couldn’t have had success without the likes of my aunt, grandma, a number of close friends and my trainer. They were my ‘A’ team.

That’s why I feel sad for those patients who don’t have a support system. Not just like mine, but period. I know if I couldn’t have found the needed support within my family or close friends — I could find it by constructing it.

Now, I am not talking about a support system full of cheerleaders. But, a team. I wish the show delved a bit more into this subject because it’s really important for long-term success in weight-loss or any goal. The team should have cheerleaders, but also those who hold you accountable, those who are your emotional support, those who are your partner in crime, etc., etc., etc.

Sure many of these roles can be held by one person, but if you want success — meet those needs through others. You don’t have to go your journey alone. Your team doesn’t have to necessarily be your immediate family. Just find your team and build it, so they can help build you!

Long Term Success Doesn’t Come Overnight

One thing that interests me in every episodes is how many ‘trail months’ the patient has to do with Dr. Nowazaradan before they approved for surgery. I am not sure if the patients know they have to do a trail month before the surgery, but some get it — and some struggle with it. I’ve seen a few take 3-4 months to “get it.” But, I love how Dr. Nowazaradan acts in these situations — he is easy to praise and has no problem ‘getting real’ with his patient.

Being a viewer, it’s easy for us to judge these patients for not getting it the first time. And, honestly, I think shows like The Biggest Loser have helped shape that mentality for us. We want to see immediate results, we want to see big numbers right off the bat. And, while most patients do see big weight-loss numbers because of the surgery — immediate results and changes in behaviors are not reality.

But, like many of these patients we can learn from them to simply never give up. Take the licks. Roll with the punches. Be open to criticism. And, always have your ‘why’ in view to help you keep going when the ups becomes downs and the doubt creeps in (because they do).

It’s a process.

Have Patience In The Process

Just as I noted above — have patience and trust the process. Change — “real life changing” change takes time. Doesn’t matter what aspect of your life you want to change — it takes time. It takes being honest with yourself and those around you. It takes the ability to build a sound support system around. And, most importantly — it takes you to believe in, trust and expect the best — from you.


Now, I’m sure there are a lot more I could add. And, there are. But, the point I am trying to make is — big changes in life are tough. They’re not easy. They’re difficult. But, they’re doable. They’re achievable. They’re within reach.

You don’t have to be 600lbs or severly overweight to get a lot from this show. Just have an open mind and open heart. The lessons are there. Even if it teaches you compassion and sympathy — that’s a lesson the whole world could learn right about now.

What are your thoughts? Have you watched the series? What do you get out of the episodes?

Running miles and miles and miles while going nowhere fast …

Aw, treadmill running. I hate it. But, you know what? I also kind of love it. But, I hate it. Well, to be honest, I hate that I love it. Because I hate the treadmill.

[I’ll let you wrap your mind around that last paragraph for a second].

I guess what I am trying to say is this — under any other circumstances, I wouldn’t choose to run on the treadmill. But, during the winter when it’s snowing, freezing and being all together miserable — I’m inside running. Whether that’s on a treadmill or on an indoor track. More often than not — it’s the treadmill.

Which, honestly, I am not totally against. How and why? Well, it’s great mental training. I mean, awesome mental training. Last summer when I was training for my 50 miler I ran one of my 20 milers on the treadmill — in the middle of the night. Yeah, you read that right.

The thought was that if I could run 20 miles on the treadmill at a time where all I wanted to do was sleep — then I could run a 50 miler under any other circumstance. And, I guess I proved that theory correct, because I ran that 50 miler despite my circumstances in the last five miles or so.

So, since I am training for the 12 hour run at the Jackpot Running Festival over President’s Day weekend — running treadmill miles help prepare me for 12 hours of 2.3 miles of a looped course. At, least that’s the thought.

I haven’t ran many looped races other than the Revolution Run and Cory Reese’s Bakers Dozen Half Marathon. And, to be honest with you — it’s almost an exclusive trail running thing. Which isn’t bad. But, you see it with a few races in southern Utah within the state — but hardly (if any) up here in the SLC area.

And, there’s probably reasons for that — mainly because we have AWESOME wilderness and trails around the state with plenty of distance to get a 30-50 mile race in. So, these 6, 12 and 24 hour races are fairly non-existent here in Utah — which is kind of a bummer, because I actually like the idea of seeing how many miles I can get within a certain time limit.

But, anyways — enough about that.

I am running Jackpot with Jill for her first ultra and I really couldn’t be more excited. I am excited to he a part of this moment. It was fun being there in 2014 for her first marathon and it will be equally, if not more, fun to be a part of her first ultra.

Having a goal race of this magnitude during the winter months is something I am glad I have. Because, it helps keep me focused. Winter months are hard on me — between the lack of outside running, Seasonal Affective Disorder, short days and — well — the stupid snow — it’s hard to stay motivated.

This past week was tough on me, not being able to get to my 5:30am gym class because of the snow (it took me 30-45 minutes to dig out on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). And, while I got my miles in and a few home workouts (including the time shoveling) — it just isn’t the same as working out at the gym.

But, after running 15 miles on the treadmill on Saturday any thought of feeling unproductive were swept away. That was tough. Thankfully, I had some good shows DVR’d otherwise I probably would have been a mess by mile 5.

Throughout my run I kept reminding myself that these are “mental miles” and that I need to focus on that rather than speed. As much as I try to focus on “time on my feet” and “mental miles” … I always go back to speed (and the lack thereof). But, speed isn’t my goal right now. It’s about stamina and endurance. It’s about finishing what I started — and just doing it.

That’s the focus.

Plus, I’ve got quite a few races between now and June. I have 19 races before July 1st — including two marathons and a 50K. The goal is to improve my times, but finish them. Especially my longer distance races. Then from July to September the focus is increasing those times with more speed training so I can perform well at the Revel Big Cottonwood Half.

At least that’s goal at the moment.

There’s a part of me that still wants to run the marathon, but I haven’t run the new half marathon course yet — and I want to fly down the canyon because of how fast it looks. Especially since I won’t be running the Nebo Half again this year.

Welp, I am one week closer to Jackpot. And, 15 miles closer as well.

Next week I am planning on another 15-18 miles before tapering some before the February 18th race.

I can’t be anymore excited!

VEGAS OR BUST, BABY!


This kid needed no coaching in taking a picture. He's a natural. #chubbingtatum

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He's doing SnapChat. He's six, he's too young for that, right? #snapchatbabies

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For not having kids, I sure have quite a distorted sense of Dad Humor. #ineedalife

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My niece asked me to draw an eagle, so I gave her a lesson in American history. #muricaaaaa

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RUNNING MILES

63.5 miles

RACE MILES

13.1 miles

WALKING MILES

71.71 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

148.31 miles


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RACE #138: New Year’s Half Marathon

The past week or so I have been battling a bug of some sorts. It started right before New Year’s Eve and it’s just kind of “been there” the past week or so. I haven’t been too worried about, because it’s just been a cough.

But. I’ve been monitoring it because I really, really, really didn’t want to miss this race. Especially since I decided not to run the St. George Half Marathon. I didn’t want to have to make up two races.

But, luckily, I felt okay enough to run. It’s probably a form of bronchitis — so being out in the cold actually helps suppress the cough. Knowing this, I just decided to go for it. I wasn’t expecting a PR or necessarily strong performance. I knew I could grind it out and call it good.

This was my third time running the New Year’s Half. I ran it first in 2013 when the temps were 2 degrees at gun time. So when I saw temps at 8 degrees the morning of the race — I knew it was going to be uncomfortable, but it definitely could be worse.

Plus, I felt prepared. I had layered myself with about 2-3 pairs of both shirts, pants and socks — not to forget my jacket, sock monkey hat and gloves. Was this enough? Probably not. But, being a slower runner I knew I had to give myself more layers than most faster runners.

Knowing I was one of the slower runners I decided to start at the 7:15am gun time instead of the usual 8am. Not just to get done sooner, but in hopes to get back to the reception center before all of the chili was gone (priorities here folks). So I started off with a handful of other runners and friends — namely Cevan Skinner and the Henrys.

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As soon as the crowd dispersed Tammy Henry and I were pretty much left together with a couple other runners yo-yo’ing ahead and behind us. We stuck around together for the first seven miles and avoided going the wrong way a couple times (thanks to the vigilant eyes of the other runners).

I’ve only gotten lost once during a race — and that was this past July when I took a wrong turn and ended up running past a naked homeless guy — twice — to get back on the course. So with that seared in my brain, I wanted to avoid it as much as possible. Not that I was expecting to run into a naked homeless man on the Murdock Trail in the middle of winter — but this was Utah County and I’ve seen crazier.

After Tammy and I parted ways after seven miles I knew within the next two miles the course was going to leave the Murdock Trail. So I kept my eyes out for the signs. I wasn’t too worried about the signs as I was about the snow and ice on the trail. I really didn’t want to biff it. I couldn’t afford an injury, especially with a few ultra runs coming up in the next couple of months.

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Focusing on the snow and ice patches as I ran — I did what I didn’t want to do — I ran past the race signs signaling me to turn. And, of course I was oblivious and kept running happily along.

About a mile from the turn off I kind of stopped and wondering where I was going. As I looked around I saw the Timp Temple in the distance and knew I needed to get back around there, but this felt out of the way, especially being at 11 miles.

So, I stopped and whipped out my phone to compare the race map with my phone map — and I was off. I knew it. I just kind of laughed at myself and headed back to where I needed to be.

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By the time I got back to the turn off I saw a couple of runners and sheepishly got behind them exclaiming my blunder. By the time I got on the road again I was already at 12 miles on my watch — I hadn’t even reach mile 10 of the race yet. And, I just kind of dreaded the next three miles, because I wasn’t feeling well. I was colder than I should have been and just needed some fuel.

There was a gas station ahead of me and decided I’d go in there to fuel up and get warm. But, before I got to the station a runner who finished already offered me a ride back to the reception center. I was going to decline, but the more I thought about it and how I was feeling — I knew I wasn’t going to last 15 miles in this weather. It was just too much for me.

So I hopped in the car.

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Once I got the reception center I hurried and got myself warm, got some chili and visited with friends for a while. I even downed a couple of bananas (that’s 23 for the year so far — if you’re wondering). I still had a mile to run — which I finished — so I could justly call this a half marathon.

My time wasn’t anytime to call home about — but 3:22 in that weather (including my last mile) and getting myself lost and all — I am okay with the time. If anything it’s good ultra training for time on my feet. But, I just never want to run in this kind of weather again. It was tough — mentally and physically.

But, I am glad that I did it.

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I am excited for the races ahead of me. Especially my next race the Jackpot Running Festival happening in Las Vegas in February. I am doing the 12 hour run and hoping for 35 miles plus. I’ll blog more all about that.

But, for now, I am just going to focus on warming up and recovering from this cough. It never bothered me during the run, but once I got home and warm it’s been a beast. But, ’tis the season, I guess?



DAY 005/365 (Thursday, January 5, 2017): I FOUND IT! I’ve been on a #StarWars kick of late. I’ve rewatched all of the movies in the past couple weeks (that’s what happens when you have 11 days off work). Return of the #Jedi is still my favorite. Probably because I kinda remember it as a kid. Namely the characters like #Jabba and the Ewoks (there’s a band name). But, when I was a kid one of my EARLIEST memories was going to the #IceCapades at the old Salt Palace with my aunt and siblings to watch the #Ewoks on Ice. I remember being fascinated by the Ewoks and whole show. And, naturally had to have a souvenir of the occasion. This pennant has been on my mind for a while namely because of the memory and the association it also has with my late Aunt. I’m impressed at its’ condition. Though I probably will never sell it, I am kinda curious what it would fetch? Hmmm #day5 #january #2017 #365project #365days #photochallenge

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RACE #138: New Year’s Half Marathon (3:22:00), January 7, 2017. The race didn’t turn out exactly how I had hoped, I got my miles in and had an adventure and a half doing it. To save you the whole story, here is an abridged version. Ran in about 8 degree weather, got two miles off course, got a ride back to the start realizing I’d be doing 15.5 miles total if I kept course and then ran the remaining mile later. Sigh. It sounds more chaotic than it really was. I had a lot of fun running with Tammy for the first 7 miles. I ran solo the rest of the way, but probably shouldn’t have — considering I got lost. But, it was a good challenge. I’m looking forward to some warm miles on the treadmill and Olympic Oval next week. Now all I want to do is curl up my a space heater with an electric blanket while drinking got chocolate and dreaming of the Sahara Desert. ⛄️❄️⛄️❄️⛄️ #race138 #newyearshalf #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fit.phat

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RUNNING MILES

10.00 miles

RACE MILES

13.1 miles

WALKING MILES

17.03 miles

TOTAL MILES TO DATE

40.13 miles



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Coming to terms with Hashimoto’s

Hello moto.

Okay, that’s a pretty lame way to open a blog post, but I’ve had that stuck in my head for WEEKS. Not only because of the stupid commercials, because I’m constantly reminded every time I say, type, mention or research Hashimoto’s Disease.

Anyways — if I haven’t told you now then you should know now — I have Hashimoto’s Disease. After a couple years — well, probably more like 2.5 – 3 years — of trying to figure out what was going on with my thyroid. We finally figured it out. It’s Hashimoto’s (okay at this point I think I just like to type it?).

It explains a lot. The unresponsive medication. The weight-gain. The fatigue. The lack of endurance. The lameness of it all. But, when I did three months of Whole30 and followed a paleo diet — a lot of those issues were minimized. Because of the elimination of gluten, dairy and a lot of added sugar.

Hashimoto’s and gluten intolerance go hand in hand — among a couple other issues. And, it just all makes sense right now — looking back at it all.

So, here I am.

And, you know what? It kind of sucks. A lot.

When I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism all I had to do was pop a pill, do some moderate exercise and watch what I ate to see results. You really can’t do that with Hashimoto’s — it’s a complete lifestyle change. A fairly strict diet on top of the pills and exercise so you can see results.

And, this runs in the family too. My Mom and sister have Hashimoto’s — and I am sure my other sister probably has it or will have it eventually. That’s what you get when you have generations of relatives with thyroid problems — I mean, my great grandma died from thyroid cancer, so it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly in our family.

I won’t lie — I am bummed about the news, because I wish it could be as easy as popping a pill with little maintenance needed. But, it isn’t. And, while I know I can live and maintain a paleo diet — it just feel restrictive KNOWING my body can’t or shouldn’t deviate from that.

And, it’s not like I eat crappy 24/7. I’m not eating Big Macs and Ding Dongs every day or every week. And, in fact, I can’t even remember when the last time I had a Big Mac was? So — there’s that. I live by a 80/20 diet — and I am not sure now how that’s going to fit into everything?

If it sounds like I am kind of whining about this all — I guess I am?

It just sucks.

But, I’ve had a couple of weeks to let myself throw a pity party. I’ve been enjoying things I know I’m cutting out of the diet. Namely bread — and dairy. I mean — I love bread — and that’s going to be REALLY hard to let go of. Sure there’s gluten-free bread, but I’ve tried it already and — um — no. There’s no point in me eating a slice of toasted sadness for breakfast every morning. If I’m eating bread — it’s going to have gluten in it.

I’ve been researching and reading up on a lot of studies and diets for people with Hashimoto’s. It’s pretty much a paleo based diet that’s recommended by most. I don’t mind paleo — so it shouldn’t be that tough of adjustment.

But, besides following paleo — there are also certain foods that are recommended for me to eat to aid in the Hashimoto’s. Everything from grapefruit to iodine salt to Vitamin D enriched foods to copious amounts of veggies. You get the picture.

I am going to blog a bit more about all those particulars later. But, the point and focus this week to get everything in line and a regime in order. I’ve already started following a diet — as I slowly eliminate gluten — because I know that’s the hardest thing for me to give up. But, I am giving myself until Saturday to do that.

Slowly, but surely.

Anyways, I’m coming to terms with what this all entails. And, while I might be slightly depressed about it — now I know how to TRULY fuel my body. And, I have no doubt that over time — I’ll get to where I want to be with my fitness and health.

That’s what’s exciting.

That’s what I have to remember.

So no more moping around and feeling bad bout myself. It is what is. So, here it goes …

#Hypothyroidism runs in my family. So that’s why it’s surprising it took me until 2008 to finally get diagnosed. I think part of the problem was my physician didn’t believe me, because … 1) I was just #fat, 2) I was a guy and 3) I was just a fat guy. I mean, she was right there. I was pushing 400lbs when I finally got diagnosed. Hypothyroidism isn’t just a “woman’s problem.” I’m a good case in point. It’s been an issue even since I’ve been on medication. And, that’s what has lead to the discovery I suffer from #HashimotosDisease. A condition that my mom and sister were recently diagnosed with as well. I’m hoping to reverse the affects through my diet. I’ve lost a lot of my running speed the past couple of years — and I’d like that back. I want my energy levels back. I want my mojo back. And, as frustrating as it’s been to see it gone — I know it’s also coming back. I just gotta take it — step by step.

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