Time to FOCUS in 2015

focus(NOTE: I apologize to those that might have a hard time reading the banners, they are a part of my yearly theme of “focus” … hence the font. So, if you can’t read what’s on the banners might I suggest a good eye doctor for you?)
(ANOTHER NOTE: This comment may be directed more towards my mother than anyone else, but still the offer for a great eye doctor referral is still open.)
(YET ANOTHER NOTE: I kinda apologize for the length of this article. It practically became a book. I was planning on having it posted yesterday, but I was thinking about asking Father Time to write the forward, but he decline in lieu of prior commitments at Times Square in New York City).

Oh, 2015 … are you really already here? Gosh, sometimes I swear it should still be 2012 … not 2015? Where does the time fly? Is this the process of aging that everyone hates? It’s like you sneeze and all of the sudden you’re six months into the future. Maybe I am a time traveler with allergies and haven’t yet controlled my powers?

Okay, maybe not. But, the thought entertained me for a good 10-15 minutes. And, I might have also tried to make myself sneeze.

I digress. As usual.

I have a love/hate relationship with resolutions. I respect them and I see the need for them, but I feel like when a new year comes we all make these goals to accomplish and then by mid-February we’re done with them. Ask the local gyms they can vouch for that decline.

I’ve been stuck in that cycle as well. It seems as though as I age I’ve recognized that resolutions are more a tradition than they are an opportunity to improve ourselves. Resolutions seem like the time we fault find ourselves and list everything we find wrong with ourselves and then make these goals/resolutions/commitments to stop those habits

But, do they change? Not always, especially if you’re truly committed to that change. Especially, when those new resolutions were just you pointing fingers at yourself than a desire to change. But, of course I am talking in general not as fact. There are people who change habits and improve themselves … which is awesome.

That’s why the past couple of years I’ve taken a different approach to my resolutions. Instead of making new goals that I have no intention of actually doing or getting around to, I’ve gone for a theme. More of a state of mind, because I’ve found my goals are more than a one year quest, some of them take much longer than 365 days.

Then I take that theme and focus on the areas I want/need improvement in my life. Generally, they are the same year in and year out. There’s running, fitness, spiritual, career and social, etc. But, I really just try to put myself on a path of self-improvement going forward into the new year.

This year nothing much has changed in regard to my approach. There might be some urgency in some areas (read: career and social). But, without further adieu here are 2015 focuses …


running

LONG TERM GOAL: Run 180 races over 13.1 miles before age 40.

This has been my long term running goal for a few years now. Not, since I started my running journey though. Initially, I just wanted to run a half marathon, then that lead to wanting to run 12 half marathons in 2012, then of course that lead me to wanting to run a marathon. After that my goal was to run 100 races over 13.1 miles before I turned 40.

But, after I cranked out more than 50 races in 2012 and 2013 I decided to up the ante. I thought about 200 races, but 180 had more meaning to me considering the fact that I’ve lost 180lbs. which has changed my life around 180 degrees. It was just fitting. Plus, it was still a good challenge.

This last year I ran a lot. I ran over 30 races and a number of other long runs throughout the year. Between January 1 to November 1 I didn’t run on a Saturday only once. That’s a lot mileage. Over 1200 to be exact. But, I am at 84 races towards my goal. Which leaves me with about an average of 16 races per year towards my 40th birthday. Not bad.

I know that within the next few years I’ll be slowing down once I start a family and have kids. I’ve been kind of planning ahead towards that. I just want to get as much done now as I can before that all begins. I would kind of like to get that down to a 12 race per year average by the end of the 2015 because I think a race per month would be manageable once I have that kind of responsibility.

But, the goal is still 180 races and I am still very much on pace to reach that goal within the next six years.

MY 2015 FOCUS: I have a couple focuses with my running this year. One, is I want to run about 20-25 races. NO MARATHONS. And, if it is a marathon it would only be sweeping one. As much as I love marathons, I also hate them. They take too much time to train for and I feel like pooh for at least a week or two after running one.

But, another reason I don’t want to run a marathon this year is because I am still focusing on getting a sub-two half marathon time. I didn’t include this on my running focus, because I few it more of a long-term fitness goal since it requires training inside and outside of the gym as well as in the kitchen. So for more on that read the section below.

Another focus of mine is to hit my 100th total race on my birthday, August 15th. I am planning on running the Park City Half Marathon on my 34th birthday (hopefully along with some family and friends … trying to talk my siblings into running it with me!). I have no particular reason other than it would a special day to achieve that milestone.

So, in order to accomplish that goal and make sure I hit 100 races on my birthday I am going to have to plan ahead. Unlike past years I am not going to be able to run anything and everything. Sure, I’ll have some leeway, but I have 15 races between now and August 15th to get to that goal. I am going to have to sit some races out unfortunately.

But, I am not super bummed about that. I still plan on being around the running, so instead of running the race I want to volunteer at them or just go and cheer on my friends. One thing I also REALLY want to do is go and take pictures at the finish line of a marathon. I’ve always wanted to do that. The emotion at the end of these beasts is special and I want to capture some of that.

Anyways, after August 15th just know I will race pretty much anything. Anything goes. Gotta get to the 12 per month average and 180 goal.

FITNESS

LONG TERM GOAL: Sub-two half marathon

This goal eludes me. It frustrates me. Yet, it motivates me to no end. There have been times where I could taste it (tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough if you are wondering) and other times where I thought I would NEVER EVER reach it (if you were to taste this, it would taste like poop or chocolate Twizzlers … they are really one in the same).

I made this goal back in 2013 and worked HARD towards it. I got my body weight at good level, I really balanced my time in the gym with my running and I tried to eat a balanced diet. Going into 2013 my half marathon time was 2:23 and by the end of the year I ran 2:08 at the Nebo Half. I got so tantalizing close for me.

Then this past year I had the same goal going into the year. But, something happened. I started training for a marathon. I had taken the previous year off from marathons and unknowingly learnt this year that the mixture of marathon training and speed half marathon training doesn’t mix well for me. At all. The focus of marathon training is really more mileage based than speed work. Sure there are runners out there who’s bodies can do that. Mine can’t. I’ve accepted that fact. And, I am fine with that.

But, ever tortoise deserves a day where they feel like the rabbit, right?

And, last year, I just never gave my body the opportunity to recover from my (four) marathons and constant running. Sure, this sounds like an excuse … and … I guess it is. But, it’s been a frustrating year in regards to my fitness, because I’ve been having problems with my thyroid and testosterone as well. My thyroid once out of whack is (thankfully) back on track, while I am still figuring out my testosterone levels. I am going to a specialist now to figure out why my testosterone is low (the short answer is that in runs in the family). But, needless to say my treatment with testosterone medication was not the answer back in June. It just further complicated matters.

And, with that came 25-30lbs. of extra weight I didn’t want or ask for me. It never made sense to me why I was running 20-30 miles a week and I was still gaining weight. It wasn’t like I was a carbloading and recarbing at the Olive Garden every Friday and Saturday night? And, being someone that is conscious of their weight it’s frustrating. I know my running to strength training ratio from probably too skewed and I will need to balance out better, especially while working to get my testosterone levels normalized.

But, I’ve got to have faith in the process and with the diagnosis, while at the same time take more control of the situation. In the end it’s me who makes it or breaks it, not the doctor or some new drug.

MY 2015 FOCUS: The focus for my fitness this year is balance. Not just balancing out the running by not running any marathons, but balancing it out with the time that I spend in the gym. I am no longer going to be running miles to run miles. I will be focusing on running deliberate miles. I will be running race miles, race pace training miles, recovery miles and of course some fun miles as well. But, there won’t be any more 15, 17 or 20 mile runs. My body right now doesn’t want that and quite honestly can’t take it either.

I really want to focus on strengthening my core and strength. This means a lot of circuit training and lifting. I don’t lift much and that needs to change. I also plan on doing some cross training cardio as well. The biggest one being a stair master. I’ve seen how that’s helped some of my friends with their running and I want to add that into my regime. Sure, I can run outside here on the hills of Bountiful and probably get the same outcome … but … for now there’s that whole snow thing going on.

In regards to my testosterone I am planning on staying the course for now. I have an appointment with a specialist next month so we’ll see what happens. I am fairly certain they won’t put me on back on testosterone since I still plan on having kids and the meds can make you impotent. So there’s a possibility they might put me on hCG. But, we’ll see.

I can only imagine how exciting that was to hear about my health problems. Just stay tuned next time for a detailed report of my latest vacation to Casper, Wyoming. Now that’ll be exciting! There will be plenty of pictures of me at the local Pizza Hut and playing in a local creek.

I digress … as usual.

But, the focus is really being balanced and more deliberate in the gym, on the roads, with the doctor and especially my food. Which leads me into my next focus.

food

LONG TERM GOAL: Cook and eat REAL food

I wasn’t really planning on giving food it’s own category. It could easily be grouped into the ‘fitness’ or ‘running’ category. But, food is such an important aspect of health and fitness that it really has to be it’s own category. There is just so much more to it than eat in moderation, eat healthy foods and don’t eat fatty foods. And, learning that in it’s own right is a process.

But, I have an interesting relationship food. Over the years since my weight-loss journey began I’ve learned to respect it. For a number of years food was a drug to me. No matter what the emotion was there was a need for food. Happy? Food. Sad? Food. Anxious? Food. Hungry? Food. Full? Yes, food. Depressed? Even more food. Bored? Oh gosh, don’t get me started. I basically ate at every whim of emotion. And, I don’t think I am overstating that fact.

It’s been a process though getting over that. I’ve had to change my relationship with food to one of necessity not merely amusement. But, at the same time I’ve learned that I can’t deprive myself from everything either. That’s why for the most part I’ve followed the 80/20 diet rule. I eat well Monday through Friday and then have a free meal on Saturday or Sunday. I’ve also learned the power of a taste. I don’t need a whole bowl of ice cream to enjoy ice cream. A spoonful is sometimes all that would suffice. There are many other tips and habits that I’ve picked up along the way that I don’t feel the need to go over … BUT … needless to say, my relationship has changed with food. And, it’s for the better.

But, at the same time I know I can do better. We all can, right?

My relationship with food right now is kinda strange. I’ve turned myself into a boring eater. I am very systematic through the week. Every day I eat my protein shake, two hardboiled, two bananas and then usually either two mandarin oranges or some other kind of fruit. My lunch usually is leftovers from the night before … usually chicken and vegetables. And, then dinner is again leftovers or something simple before heading to the gym.

I don’t cook as much as I used to. I used to cook a lot of omelets and scrambles or whatever you want to call them. I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I just try to watch calories, but as far as the food source and what I am eating I don’t pay much attention to it. Which, is sad, because I do enjoy cooking. I just usually cook for others. The Rice Krispy Treats I make? I usually only take a square and then give them away. Though there are times I want to devour the whole thing.

Needless to say I know I need to eat healthier especially more fresh, natural and REAL food. Because, I know if I want to hit those running and fitness goals I’ve got to start with the plate in front of me.

MY 2015 FOCUS: The focus is really in the sentence above. I am focusing on eating REAL food. This means cutting out a lot of the processed food in my diet and focusing not just on eating fruit and vegetables, but knowing where my food is coming from. This also includes cutting out sugar. Not all, but most. Especially the highly processed sugar.

Let’s be honest processed is basically crack. There’s enough research out there to prove that it has the same effect on people. So why are we, and myself include, still loading ourselves with it each and every day? Sure, you might think you’re not loading up on it because you don’t eat candy, soda or whatever sugary vice.

But, the truth is … sugar is in everything? Companies add sugar to basically everything and anything. Why? Because it is so addictive! Not to mention the sugar, but they also add many ingredients to aid in that addiction. Then on top of that there’s the cheap ingredients and dyes that no person should really add to their bodies. Do you wonder why we have an obesity epidemic? Do you wonder why we’re one of the sickest people in the world?

It’s because we eat crap.

Actually, that’s not fair to crap. Sometimes I think we eat worse things than crap. But, I’ll step off my soapbox on that for a moment.

But, this is why I want to eat REAL FOOD. I don’t want to be a slave to sugar or some tricky dicky food company that tries to make me addicted to their food. I want to fill my body with good nutritional food that will in turn change my body into a powerful hardworking machine. Think of it like trying to fill up your car with Coke or Mountain Dew? It won’t run properly … or at all. So why not fill up with the best gas available? Why not make it run efficiently and smoothly? Our bodies are the same way. And, I want to treat my body likewise.

So my focus is twofold (I really kinda love that world) I am going to eat more real food and cut out a lot of crap while also reengaging myself in the kitchen. I want and need to cook more. I think that kind of goes hand in hand with eating real food so I’ll kinda be forced into doing that.

But, I am also kind of done with eating boring. Sure, I do love my daily bananas and hardboiled eggs, but there’s so much more food beyond that. There’s so much more food beyond sandwiches, omelets, boring leftovers and the likes. I want to cook more and refine myself in the techniques.

I think I am basically saying, I want to be the next Julia Child.

Okay, maybe not.

But, I am going to focus on cooking delicious good real food so I can fit those running and fitness goals sooner than later!

CAREER

LONG TERM GOAL: Create a comfortable career for myself that will provide me opportunities to help other people while raising and caring for a family. 

I don’t talk much about my current job. I do that for a couple reasons. One, my boss has asked me not to. And, secondly, I don’t want to. But, needless to say, I am ready to move onto something more challenging for my skill set. I’ve been at my current job for the past five years and I have had that feeling now for at least the past year and a half.

I’ve also been looking, but it’s really tough to find a job these days. Actually, more than that, it’s tough just to get an interview. I’ve had a few interviews, but nothing beyond the initial stage or phone interview. It’s frustrating, but I can only imagine the number of applicants each position gets and I am sure there are a number of people more qualified than me.

But, that’s still not an excuse to let the beginning of a career lay dormant. It’s also not an excuse to start getting creative. Who says that I have to go to companies or employers to hire me? Why can’t I get their attention and have them come to me instead?

I have a clear vision of where I want to be in the next 10 years or so. I want to have a career that not only will pay well, but will enable me to comfortably provide for a family. I don’t want to worry about expenses, bills, etc. I don’t want to live in excess either (though I do want a urinal in the master bathroom). I want security.

But, at the same time I also want to reach that goal in a career or pathway that will put me around people. I am a people person (if you couldn’t figure out already). I thrive more in a job when I am able to be around people by helping them become better people or individuals. It doesn’t even really matter what that area is … I just love people.

And, the more that I want to reach and attain that goal, the more I realize that I can’t wait for someone to hire me into a position like that. I need to create that opportunity.

MY 2015 FOCUS: My career long-term goal is pretty broad and odds are I’m not going to achieve it overnight. Heaven knows though I’d love that (anybody making an Idaho Lottery ticket run?), but that’s not reality. That’s not now. And, my focus needs to be now with the future in the horizon. I’ve got to be deliberate with my steps and go for it.

So, my first focus is finding a new job. I am aiming to find something that is within my skill set, but not necessarily in my immediate skill set. Does that make sense? I was a Communications major in college and while I would love to work in that field, I don’t necessarily have to. The magical thing about communications is that you can pretty much apply it anywhere.

That’s why I am not limiting myself to certain jobs or positions. I am however looking outside of higher education, mainly because I’ve in the system for over 10 years now. I need to get out of it and diversify my experience.

I know I will find something that fits me. I just need to spruce up my personal website and resume and go out there and be proactive. But, enough about my job.

The other focus that I really need to buckle down on this year is my book. I’ve been in the process of writing my weight-loss/running story for the past few years. I get a couple chapters done and then I rewrite it. I’m kind of a perfectionist in that regard and I need to slow down follow the process. But, really, I just need to realize that the first draft isn’t the final draft.

But, I really want to have my book done by the summer and to a publisher by the end of the year. I’ve always felt that my story has been meant to be shared. That’s one reason why I have this blog. But, the audience I could reach with a book would be much greater. The opportunity to touch or affect one person’s life with the book is worth doing it for me.

I have a couple other book ideas that I want to work on, but that’s not my focus next year. It’s finishing my weight-loss/running book. Because I know that will also open up many new opportunities for me for me to reach my ultimate career goal.

spiritual.fw

LONG TERM GOAL: Attend the temple once a month

This has been a goal of mine for the past couple of years. And, while I am … okay … at attending the temple, I am also not that great at attending the temple. There’s a lot of peace, happiness and clarity that comes into my life when I attend regularly. Not, only for me, but for those who I am doing work for as well.

Plus, I don’t want to take advantage of the temple. I live 3.1 miles (yes, a 5K!) away from the Bountiful Temple. There should be no reason why I can’t commit myself to attending it once a month. It’s about a two/two and half hour time commitment. So, why can’t I do this?

MY 2015 FOCUS: This really is more of a goal than a focus. But, in order to reach this goal I really do need to focus on the temple and what it takes to be worthy to be there. And, the focus isn’t really that tough to figure out either. It’s actually quite elementary … or should I say … primary?

  1. Pray
  2. Read Scriptures
  3. Attend Church

Yep, the simplest of answers. But, the key is being consistent doing those three things. Praying to me is second nature, while reading scriptures regularly is somewhat tough for me. Church is easy, though I will admit paying attention (or sometimes even going) to Sunday School is hard for me.

I am sure these excuses are pretty common.

But, there really is power in doing them, because by doing them it strengthens your relationship with your Heavenly Father and gets you more in tune with the spirit. Which really prepares you for the temple.

You see how that is all connected?

Since I will be attending the temple at least once a month I really would like to go to some of the local Utah temples. I have been only to the Salt Lake, Bountiful, Jordan River and Provo temples. I want to get to the Ogden, Oquirrh Mountain, Timp and even Logan temples. And, I think the Payson Temple will be dedicated this upcoming year … so add that one to the list.

So many temples to enjoy and 12 months to enjoy them. This is one focus and goal I can’t and don’t want to avoid!

SOCIAL

LONG TERM GOAL: Get hitched

I don’t think there’s much to really expound on with this one. It’s probably been my long term social goal since ‘Nam. Well, okay since the beginning or the Iraq War to be exact. But, still that’s over 10 years of working on that goal.

There are many reasons why I am not married. A lot of it had to do with my maturity level (me immature? heavens no!) and desire to wait until after I graduated from college. A college education was important to me and I knew from other’s experiences that getting through school after starting a family is extremely hard. I just didn’t want to put myself through that.

But, most recently, I think my reasoning had more to do with getting my life at a place where I could not just provide for a family financially, but also emotionally, physically and spiritually. As much as my journey has been about running and weight-loss it has been equally if not more about finding myself as a person. But, not just finding myself, refining, changing and becoming the person I want to be and need to be.

This is why I have a hard time writing my book, because I kind of feel like the weight, running and individual refinement is all equal in importance and my perspective of the three changes constantly. But, that’s also life I’ve found out. I’m not going to reach one certain point where I can see I see and understand it all, now I can write my book.

Life is an ever evolving lesson.

But, the past few years I have felt more ready then ever. Sure there’s some trepidation in being 100% gung ho about it. I mean, you’re putting yourself on a pedestal to be judged, scrutinized, measured up and whatever else women do to determine if you’re worthy of their time. Sure, it’s all about the game of dating, but it sucks sometimes feeling so vulnerable.

But, that’s life. And, I’ve learned that vulnerability can also be a great teacher and motivator to your character. So, as awkward as it might feel to go through that process, it’s good for you in the end.

See why I kind of hate dating? It’d just be MUCH easier if you met a girl and she said, “I like you, let’s get married.” And, then you respond, “okay, I like you do. How about next Tuesday?” And then … BAM … by next Tuesday you’re married.

Gosh, this is making arranged marriages not seem that bad, eh?

MY 2015 FOCUS: As much as my running friends would hate to hear this, but one of my focuses next year is to socialize with people that don’t hang out running every Saturday in short shorts and Speedos. (okay, my running friends don’t run in Speedos, but I am fairly certain that’s what my friend Tim is wearing underneath his kilt … just don’t ask me to look or him to show us). I really need to diversify my socializing. I should find a local Rice Krispy Treat or PEEP support group I could join? Maybe even take up a hobby like bird watching … or bird hunting? Or how about watching others bird hunt? I don’t think I could shoot a bird?

Well, oh, I could always take up deer hunting! That would be something I know I would enjoy. The less deer on earth the happier a place it is. It’s a proven fact (check the encyclopedia, it’s somewhere there in the middle).

But, the point is simple. I need to balance my social life between the running community and … non-running communities out there. As much as I want to marry a runner, odds are my future spouse won’t be a runner. Which I am fine with, because I could easily convert it later on.

In addition to socializing outside the running community … or should I say … balancing it with the running community? That sounds better and less like I am abandoning my friends. I need to actually go on dates. So one step I’ve taken so far is signing up for LDS Singles again. They were having a 30% special on Christmas and I jumped onto it.

I love how LDS Singles targets singles on family and couple holidays. They send out emails with the offer which sounds like a great idea, but it’s the equivalent of throwing buckets of salt over a bleeding heart (oh, if I ever become a musician I am using that line in one of my songs). Plus, it makes you seem pretty pathetic because you’re not married yet and everyone else on the holiday is happily married and/or dating.

Don’t get me started on their Valentine’s Day promotion.

Anyways, I am going to be more proactive in the dating scene this upcoming year and I would like to go on at least one to two dates a month (if not more).


Welp, now that you know WAY more than you ever wanted to know about me. I think it’s time to close off this book of a post.

I really am excited about what 2015 has in store for me. On my drive into work this morning I just felt this big sense of excitement that great things are around the corner.

The biggest thing I need to remember, and what we all should remember, is that those goals, hopes and dreams aren’t going to come to us. We have to be the ones going out there working towards them. We really are the owners and operators of our lives and I hope we always remember that.

So here’s to a happy, successful, dream-fulling new year! Let’s make 2015 the best yet!

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