Here's the skinny: I've been near 300 lbs. for years and need to lose weight. I'm married to a wonderful lady, and we have a family. One of our boys often asks if I'll run with him. I've always had to tell him, "No." In August of '09, my wife learned about a couch-to-5k running program, and I agreed to try it with her. This blog chronicles our progress on that training program. I hope I'll soon be able to surprise my son by telling him, "Yes, I'll go running with you!"

Monday, August 31, 2009


I'm calling myself FatManRunning. At a medical appointment on Friday, August 28, I weighed in at 300 lbs. That's a return to that weight for me, after dropping from a high of 348 lbs. back in 1998/1999 and making a slow drop to the sub-300 mark. When I was at that high point, I was considered "morbidly obese" (at least twice my "ideal" weight), although most people thought my weight was nowhere near 300 lbs. (I'm very thick torsoed, but not ball or pear shaped in any way). The lowest I got was about 280, but then I've bounced up and down in the 290s for much of the past three years. When I hit 280, it felt good to say I had lost 70 lbs. without resorting to surgery or crazy diet fads. Little changes had paid off, but I find myself a bit older now, and more concerned about my health.

Before diving into my history, let me present the short form of my story: because my health demands that I lose weight, I agreed to join my wife in trying a "Couch to 5k" running program. This blog will chronicle my (hopefully, our) efforts, and will exist mostly to serve as a historical record. If, by chance, other readers find it, perhaps it will provide some inspiration, or at least a set of lessons to help them on their way.

We're calling this Operation Secret Plan because we've not told our kids what we are doing. We want to surprise them, especially our runner, by participating in a 5k run. They know we're going out to exercise three times each week, but that's all they know.

I'm still in the sub-40 age bracket, but I developed type II diabetes and sleep apnea during the past decade. At first, changes to my eating habits kept my blood sugar levels down, so I was able to go without medication, but the averages have been climbing again for a while. B ack on the medication I went, and the dosages have been getting higher. I've been using a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine for years while I sleep (its a device that forces a constant stream of air into my nose while I sleep to keep my airways open), but I long for the freedom of sleeping without it. That condition has improved markedly from when I was first diagnosed (when I was still in the 330s and was not exercising much at all), so it is not as serious as it once was, but I still wear the mask every night. If I continue to lose weight, I might be able to ditch the machine.

Weight loss will also be the key to determining how long I survive with diabetes. Studies have shown that certain chemical factories in abdominal fat play a significant role promoting the insulin resistance that characterizes type II diabetes. Insulin is used by the body to help regulate blood sugar levels and to help muscles use sugars for energy. The bodies of people with type II diabetes produce insulin, but their muscles begin to resist insulin's role in helping them get energy from sugar. Because of this resistance, sugar levels build up in the bloodstream, and, over time, these elevated sugar levels can cause significant problems in the body, including damage to the eyes, neuropathy (a lack of feeling in the extemities), and kidney failure. At present, I'm awaiting my most recent set of lab results to find out if I'm experiencing early signs of kidney problems. My doctor has made it very clear that every 10 pounds I lose helps to lessen my body's insulin resistance. If I lose enough weight, I may effectively neutralize my diabetes. I would not be "cured" since something in my physiology has already changed, but I would be able to minimize the amount of time and directed effrot that is currently required to monitor and manage my condition, and I could long delay the more destructive stages of the disease well into old age.

About 15 months ago, I changed jobs so I could get away from 12-15 hours of weekly commuting. Because I now work closer to home, I started biking to work regularly, and through all seasons. Although my weight initially dropped after I started biking every day, it leveled off again. Sure, I'm in better cardiovascular health than I was before I was exercising regularly, but I still need to drop the weight.

My wife found information about this Couch-to-5k training program through an online friend. She's been wanting to lose some weight, too (though she's nowhere near sharing my obese condition), so I was impressed by her determination. She recently started biking regularly, and has been riding more miles some weeks than I ride. She told me a bit about the program, and I thought it sounded pretty interesting. The concept: begin by alternating walking and jogging for about 20 minutes a day, increase the amount of running each week, and--viola!--nine weeks later you are ready for a 5k run.

"That's not too far," I reasoned to myself. Before I realized what I was saying, however, I spoke up and said, "Maybe I'll do it with you."

Of course, it helps to realize that I had experienced a brain fart at the moment and mis-converted the kilometers into miles. My miscalulation was off by a factor of two. Thankfully, I didn't realize my mistake right away.

So, this afternoon, instead of enjoying a nap on the couch, I found myself in a store trying on running shoes. We have a son who loves to run, so we knew (from shopping with him and talking to his coach) which brands to investigate. I also have had enough life experience to realize that a cheap pair of tennis shoes would likely make us both miserable, and cause a premature end to the program. We each ended up selecting a pair of Asiscs running shoes.

Tomorrow is day one.

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