Tag Archives: 5K

So, what do you do when you fall short of a goal?

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I created this meme in February, shortly after reaching my goal weight of 260, down from 329.  Now seven months later I have to ask myself another question: “What do you do when you fall short of the goal?”

Sunday was the Quad City Marathon.  At 7:30 a.m. on Sunday a few thousand people gathered at the starting line, which was just a few blocks from where I was sitting as I prepared for worship.

That was not the plan.

I was supposed to be out there.  I was supposed to be taking on my next great challenge.  I was supposed to be conquering the half-marathon.  Instead, I was in my office, going over my outline one last time, making sure I had my sermon ready.

I consider preaching a tremendous honor.  I always find it remarkable that over 200 people are willing to gather and listen to me talk for 20 minutes.  I understand that there is a lot more than that going on in worship, but it is still a very humbling experience.  As an Associate Pastor, I usually jump at the chance to preach.  It is probably my favorite thing to do in ministry.  Yet on this Sunday, I was a little disappointed.  I did not let this affect my preaching, but I knew I was only available to preach that Sunday because I had fallen short of a goal.

In May I finished a 10-mile run in Chicago.  It was a great experience.  I met my goal of finishing the race in under 100 minutes.  Shortly after the race, I decided that I could go farther.  I set a new goal – run the Quad City Half Marathon.  Up to that point, I had made a habit of crushing goals.  Finish a 5K? Did that in June 2012.  Run a full 5K without walking? October 2012.  Run a 5K in less than 30 minutes? March 2013.  I even won a running trophy in June, something that I had not even considered possible.  I watched the movie “Spirit of the Marathon,” and was convinced that there was nothing that could stop me from the September half-marathon.  “Who knows?” I thought with much gravitas. “After I knock of the half in September, the Chicago marathon will be doable in October.”

Then the summer happened.  Vacation, lack of regular schedule, and various excuses hit me.  The next thing I knew, I had lost a few minutes off of my 5K, gained 10 pounds, and running 13.1 miles seemed impossible again.  I had a pretty good winning streak going, but streaks were made to be snapped right?

It hurts, but this will not defeat me.  I had a setback, but I will continue.  Since writing about my backslide in the middle of the summer, I have gotten back to running and lifting more regularly.  I’m back down five pounds, meaning I’ve kept under my goal weight for seven months.  I have a chest cold right now, so I’m not pushing the cardio-vascular, but I’ve gained strength during my cold.  I signed up for another race next Saturday.  It’s an 8K (roughly 5 miles), a distance I’ve never done.  I’m probably going to run another 5K at the end of October, and my goal is to set another PR.

Getting back to my first question; I think the answer is remarkably similar to what I did all those times I reached my goals.  “What do you do when you reach a goal?” The answer was simple. “Celebrate.  Then catch your breath, lace ’em up, and set another goal.”  What should I do after falling short of my goal?  Reflect. Then forgive myself, lace ’em up, and set another goal.

I didn’t run the Half Marathon, but there will be another.  I’m pretty certain that The Chicago Marathon will be run in 2014, and Chicago is beautiful in October.

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September 26, 2013 · 4:34 pm

The anatomy of a backslide

y intersectionThis feels like a crucial moment.  Right now.  I feel as if I’ve reached a crossroads.

For the last 16 months I have experienced a spiritual and physical transformation.  From January 2012 through June 2013 I lost 80 pounds.  By paying closer attention to what I ate, and dramatically increasing my exercise, I transformed my body.  I went from size 44 pants to having some 38 pants feel big.  My XXXL t-shirts now look like garbage bags on me.  My doctor stopped my cholesterol medicine.  My blood pressure has gone down.  According to this chart, my resting heart-rate is “Excellent.”  As I have undergone this physical transformation, I have also experienced a spiritual renewal.  My writing, preaching, and prayer life improved.  I found new energy, focus, and drive.  I discovered my mission statement to Love God, Live Well, and Do Good.

My work at church blossomed with new relationships, avenues of ministry, and a vision to create a new participatory worship experience.  My blogging life expanded with the launching of the Pulpit Fiction podcast.  I was invited to speak at the Lion and Lamb Festival, and I felt a need to open a FP Shop.

As I got my personal discipline in order, it felt as if all the other pieces were falling into place as well.  People started asking me if I was going to change the name of this blog.  I kept the name for various reasons.  I never considered that one reason might have been the unconscious fear that this was all temporary.

The world of weight loss and fitness is littered with stories of people losing weight, transforming their bodies, saving their very lives, only to backslide. Many people have shared stories with me about their own adventures in yo-yo weight loss.  I promised myself that it would not happen to me.   Last summer I had an extended plateau.  This was expected.  After losing about 30 pounds in three months, I spent the summer months gaining 2 pounds.  When school started in the fall, I rededicated myself to working out and tracking my calories, and I promptly lost another 40.  When I reached my first goal weight of 260, I kept going.  At the end of the school year, I dipped under 250.

Then the backslide started. This is how it happened:

The school year ended, disrupting my routine.  During the school year, my workout time was built into my day.  I dropped my daughter off at school, I went to the gym, then I went to work.  Four days a week I had a built in date with the gym.  I ran three days a week for nine months. As I approached my first 10-mile race at the end of May, I was running about 15 miles a week.

Annual Conference and Vacation Bible School.  In addition to the lack of routine, I had two major events disrupt my whole schedule.  These two week-long events in June took up an inordinate amount of my time.  I could have gotten to the gym before sessions.  I could have gone for runs after VBS.  I didn’t.  Instead I spent two weeks active, but with virtually no cardio vascular exercise.

I stopped tracking.  Lose It! is a great tool for counting calories, but it is a pain.  My weight loss started almost immediately after using it.  Last summer I stopped using it for awhile, and stopped losing weight almost immediately.

I didn’t gain weight.  After two weeks of not working out and not using Lose It, and amazing thing happened.  I actually dropped a couple of pounds.

At the Railroad Days 5K, I placed second in my age group with a time of 26:28.

At the Railroad Days 5K, I placed second in my age group with a time of 26:28.

I ran fast.  Since June 1, I’ve run four times.  One of those runs was a 5K that I finished in 26:28, my personal best.  I also won a prize for my age group in that race, a first for me.  I ran another 5K on the treadmill this week in about 26:30.  It turns out that my fitness level is at a place that it could sustain a short break.

The Fourth of July.  Two cookouts.  Lots of bratwurst, chips, baked beans, creamy cole slaw, chips, cookies, pop, beer, and chips.  Did I mention that I ate a lot of chips in the last week?

The combination of events created in me a sense of complacency.  After almost a year and a half of changing habits, it took about four weeks for me to slip.  This morning I found that I have gained 10 pounds in the last two weeks.  What’s worse than the weight is how I feel.  For the first time in months, I feel fat.  I feel tired.  I feel like making bad choices.  I feel like staying home is easier than going for a run.  I feel like getting a quarter-pounder is better than making myself a grilled chicken salad.  I put off getting up early to get to the gym.  I put off tracking my food, and working hard to stay under budget.  I put off working on refocusing the mission of this blog.  I put off planning a new way to experience worship.  I put off trying to change the world and settled for less.  It has only been a couple of weeks, but it ends today.

I share this because I’ve been told I inspire people.  I am constantly humbled when people say that to me.  Today I offer not inspiration, but a warning.  Backsliding happens.  It happens slowly, sometimes imperceptibly.  It happens when we get busy, or when routine gets disrupted.  It happens even when we’re feeling fine, and all outwards signs indicate everything is going well.

Right now I’m struggling.  I’m tired.  I’m a little worried.  Yet I never thought this would be easy.  I’m not ready to give up now.  I’m not going back to the person I was, for I have been made new by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I’m confessing my weakness, and I’m praying for guidance and endurance.  I believe God can still use me despite my recent backslide.  God’s still working on me.  God and I have new goals and a new plan.  Today, right now, I have a new chance to love God, live well, and do good.

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#Fat2Fit Update

All my life, I’ve been on the hefty side.  I was an offensive lineman in high school and college.  I’ve never been a great athlete, or had an Abercrombie-like physique, but I grew up healthy and active.  In college, I played a lot of basketball and lacrosse (but I always preferred to be on the ‘shirts’ team).  Even through seminary, I took regular long walks, played on softball and basketball teams, went to a gym regularly and remained in decent shape. My first driver’s license listed me at 6’2″ 235 pounds, and when I graduated seminary I was about 260.  After becoming a senior pastor in a small town, I promptly put on about 30 pounds.  I stopped going to the gym.  I no longer played on any teams.  I sat a lot, and ate a lot. When I started my blog in 2008, I weighed Three Oh One.

For three years writing this blog, I would exercise  in streaks.  I would workout regularly for a few months, get stronger, and stop putting on weight (I seldom had any weight loss to speak of).  Then I would get sick, or get really busy, and I’d find excuses to stop going to the gym for months at a time.  In the meantime, my cholesterol remained high, my weight would creep up, and my health suffered.

In October 2011, I joined a gym here in Moline.  When I started, I couldn’t jog on the treadmill for two without terrible pain in my feet, ankles, and chest.  For three months, I was in a great routine of going to the gym three times a week.  Yet in February 2012, I went to the doctor and found myself staring at a scale that read 329.

Once again, I rededicated myself to getting healthy.  This time I had a tool.  With the Lose It! app on my nook and computer, I started tracking everything I ate.  I realized that the last four years was simply a steady increase in weight and size.  When I would exercise, the increase would stop, but I never did any significant weight loss because I never significantly changed the way I ate.

I didn’t make any drastic qualitative changes.  I simply made better quantitative choices.  I logged everything, and found myself craving salmon instead of burgers, and vegetables instead of french fries.  When I stayed under my caloric allowance, I lost weight.  In three months, I lost about 40 pounds.  I went to the doctor again, and found that for the first time in my adult life, I was in the healthy range in cholesterol.  My clothes fit again.  I felt better and stronger.  For the first time in my life, I had clothes that were too big on me.  I have some jeans from last winter that look absolutely ridiculous.

Since dropping down to 288, I stopped paying such close attention.  I stopped using Lose It! and kept working out.  The for the last four months, I stopped the weight loss.  I realized that this wasn’t a problem I had conquered once and for all.  I still have a lot of weight to lose, and I want to lose it.  I’ve started using Lose It again.  Since keeping track, I’ve been under my caloric budget for 13 of 14 days.  It feels good again.

The remarkable thing is, I feel like when I am disciplined in my eating, I am more disciplined in other areas as well.  When I control my appetite, and don’t succumb to every craving, there is a positive ripple effect that is far-reaching.  I know a lot of this has been about weight, and a number on a scale.  I know that the scale is only part of the story, but for me it is an important part.  I feel good.  I am still fat.  I still make fat decisions all the time, but I’m working on it.  God is working in me.

For four years I’ve been The Fat Pastor.  At times that has been more true than others.  Right now I believe I am closer to being The Fit Pastor then I have ever been.  I appreciate the support of my friends on facebook, my twitter followers, the people of my congregation, my friends, my family, and my amazing wife.  I don’t know if I’ll ever change the name of this blog.  I’m sure there will always be fat in my life that I would like to trim.  With the Holy Spirit strengthening me, I have trimmed a lot of fat already.

I will always be striving to live well and do good.  Thanks for striving with me.

Fat is not the opposite of thin.

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The workout begins when you want to quit

workout beginsYesterday was my 35th birthday.  It was important to me to get to the gym.  I’ve actually gotten to the point where going to workout is a treat, not a chore.  As I was jogging on the treadmill I set the pace to my usual 5.5 mph.  For the last few weeks I have set it at that pace for the first mile, then set it down to 3.5 for about an eighth of a mile.  Then I finish with long stretches of 5.5 with some 3.5 walking in between.

In the last month I’ve run two 5K races.  My goal at both of them was a 12 minute mile pace, and I achieved that both times.  Now I’m ready to set a new goal.  I want to jog the entire 3.1 miles.  Yesterday as I approached the completion of the first mile, I was preparing to punch the speed down to 3.5.  Then I thought of this saying.

“The workout begins when you want to quit.”

I don’t remember where I first heard that, but it struck a chord.  I realized that for me to improve, I couldn’t keep doing the same thing.  If I want to grow, I have to push through the barriers that I create.  So I kept going.  I was ready to slow down, but I didn’t.  That’s when the workout started.  That is when the growth started.  That is when getting stronger happened.

I pushed through and found myself jogging past 1.25 miles.  Then I thought about stopping.  Again, I had to keep pushing.  When I finally started walking, I had run for 2 miles.  I completed it in 22 minutes – by far my fastest pace for that distance.

A good friend and I have signed up for two more 5K races before Halloween.  I’m hoping to do at least one more.  My goal now is to run a full 5K without slowing down to walk.  The next step is making a two mile jog routine.  The next is to not let the routine be the limit.

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July 10, 2012 · 3:02 pm

5K Results: 1214th overall, 89th in age division, 1st in weight class*

On June 9, 2012, I ran in my first 5K.  I ran as a part of Team Hope in the Susan G. Komen Quad Cities Race for the Cure.  It is something that I’ve been blogging, tweeting, and status updating about a lot in the last few months, so I thought I’d share my experience.

I took my shirt out the night before the race.  I should have been in bed.  I was a little worried because I had just spent the last few days at Annual Conference, at which I did a lot of sitting, a little walking, and no running.  My last run was Monday, and the race was Saturday.  I had hoped to get a run in on Wednesday or Thursday, but I got back to the hotel exhausted each night after conference.  Plus, on Monday night I re-tweaked my knee and strained my calf.  It wasn’t exactly the week of prep I had been hoping for.  I laid out my shirt and bib, drank a few glasses of water, and went to bed shortly before midnight.

At 6:30 my wife and I are up.  We get our girls up, and we arrive at our team’s meeting place at about 7:30.  I had a bunch of glasses of water, and one little breakfast wafer.  I’m worried that isn’t enough food for before a race.  I don’t like to workout on an empty stomach, but the anxiety suppresses my appetite.  There are a few extra things I have to put on – the shoe chip, the number bib, and the “In memory of” paper.  On it, I write simply “Aunt Jean.”

As I walk from our church to the starting line, I start to get emotional.  I see other teams.  Teams with names of survivors.  Teams with names of women that have died.  I see one 10 year-old-boy whose “In Memory of” paper simply says, “Mom.”  I wipe a tear from my eye as I think of all the women that are represented here.  I feel a surge of energy as I think of the women in my life.  I have their power.  My heart starts to race like it did before a football game.  “It’s game day,” I think to myself.  I’m excited.  I’m ready.  I start to think of my Aunt Jean, and I feel a twinge of guilt because I know that I’m not doing this for her.

I am running in memory of her.   I am inspired by her.  I am strengthened by her, but I do not do this for her.  I kiss my daughters as the people that are with them make their way back to the “Strollers” part of the starting area.  I am waiting in the “joggers” section.  If this moment were all about Aunt Jean, I would be with them.  I would walk easily with my girls and hold their hand as we were united in solidarity.  I’ve done that kind of walk before, and I hope to again.  That’s not what this is about.

I am running for myself.  I am running for my life.  I am running because I want to be better, feel better, and live better.  I am running to be a better husband and father.  I am running because I want to see my girls graduate college.  I am running because I want to be a better pastor.  I am running because I want to be a witness, no, I want to be evidence, that transformation is possible.

It hurts a little to think in such a selfish way, but it is true.  On the way to the race, my daughter asked me, “Are you going to win, Daddy?”  I chuckled and said, “No, sweetheart.  It’s not that kind of race.  There will be lots of people that finish before me.”  ”

“Who’s going to win?”

“I don’t know.  I’m not really trying to win.  I’m not trying to beat anybody but myself.”

“What do you mean?”

“I only want to beat my old self.”  I’m not sure if she understands when she asks, “So are you going to win?”

“Yes,” I say.  “Yes I am.”

I’m standing with 8,500 others, getting ready to start.  The people are packed in, and there is a lot of energy.  A survivor says some things that I can’t listen to.  The national anthem is sung, and goosebumps raise on my arms.  We start.

The pace is extremely slow at first, and we are a good 100 feet from the starting line.  My wife and I are together as we walk toward the starting line.  She has never gone 5K before.  She’s hoping to finish in an hour.  I’ve done it a few times on the treadmill, and six years ago I ran a 5 mile race in St. Louis, but six years is a very long time.  In February I set a goal of 40 minutes.  I have since updated that goal to a 12 minute mile pace.  It takes awhile to get to the starting line, and when we do we let go of each other’s hands.  I start to jog.

Before the race

The energy at the start of the race is high.  There are bands playing.  There is a high school cheer squad.  There is heavy traffic as I weave between people still walking.  I finally make my way to the edge of the street and try to get into an even pace.  My mouth is full of cotton by the time we reach the first watering station.

When we reach the mile marker, there is a turn-off for those just doing the walk.  I keep going.  My first mile is under 10:30, which is pretty fast for me, and I get a little worried.  Usually when I’m on the treadmill I walk when I get to the first mile.  I keep going.  I might not be doing this for Aunt Jean, but I can feel her power.  I push and tell myself to keep going.

It is a fairly hot day, so I decide to jog on the shady side of the street.  I’m astonished at how many people continue to line the course.  We pass another band.  We pass some front yards, and I give high-fives to a bunch of people as I jog by.  I pause for 30 seconds to walk at one water stand.  I pass a guy in a clown suit cheering us on.  I pass an extremely large woman hip-hop dancing and cheering with a microphone.  We run through a Mexican neighborhood, and people are on their porches playing Latin music cheering us on.  The support may seem silly, but it helps.  I know I’m not alone.

I pass the second mile marker at about 22:30, 1:30 ahead of my 12 minute mile goal.  It starts to hurt.  I walked twice for a total of 45 seconds in my first two miles, but we make a turn and head directly into the sun.  After a short time I start to wonder how they picked a course that is uphill both ways.  I walk more.  I jog more.  I see the really good runners doubling back, running against traffic just for fun, I guess.  “Show offs,” I mumble between heavy breaths.  I walk more.  Every time I start to walk I see my girls.  I jog more.  I see their smiles.  I remember my oldest daughter counting out my sit-ups at the gym when she was two.  I tell myself “you are strong enough.”  I tell myself, “For them.”

At the end of the long straight away there is a turn, and  the third mile marker.  I’m at about 35 minutes.  I have something left.  I stop jogging, and I start running.  I run hard.  I kick my legs, and as I make another quick turn I see the finish line.  Now I am flying.  A woman next to me starts to run too.  We cross at about the same time.  The official clock reads 37 minutes, but I know it took at least a minute to get to the starting line.  Somehow I reset my stopwatch during my final kick, so I’ll never really know my exact time, but I know it is right at a 12 minute mile pace.

I almost collapse at the end.  I catch my breath, grab a cookie, and a bottle of water.  I want to hug my daughters.  I want to tell them that I won.  Instead, I grab an extra water bottle and turn around.  I go back to the final 50 yards and wait.  I don’t cheer anyone on because I have no energy left.  Then I see her come around the turn. I go to her and take her hand briefly and say, “You can do this. We can do this,” and she nods.

She starts to jog again.  I jog alongside her.  Now she can see the finish line, and she starts to run.  I run alongside her.   She runs harder then I’ve ever seen her run.  We started this thing together.  We finish it together.  I give her the bottle of water, and she drinks.  She catches her breath, and we hug.  For a moment I think we’re both going to collapse.  We just lean into each other and cry.

We finished the race.  We met our goals (she crushed hers – she actually finished at a 15 minute mile pace).  We have done so much more.  We have transformed our lives.  We have changed our bodies.  Together, we’ve lost about 60 pounds.  Together, our clothes don’t fit quite the same.  Together, we are healthier and stronger.  We started this thing together, we still have a long way to go, but I know that we are going to finish it together too.

After.

Eventually, we find our daughters.  They aren’t too keen on hugging us because we’re soaked in sweat, but they both accept a couple of salty kisses.

My oldest asks me, “Daddy, did new, strong, healthy Robb beat old, unhealthy, fat Robb?”

“Yes,” I say, and I laugh because I know she gets it.  “Yes he did.”

*There actually are no rankings for weight class, but if there were – I’m pretty sure I would have won the 275 pounds and over category.

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