Monday, November 24, 2014

chicago lakefront medal

"I know you are an ultra-marathon runner, but you should no longer run" is what my orthopedic recently told me.

A few weeks ago, my orthopedic reviewed my x-rays and MRI and broke the news that my right knee that has given me issues since after my 50K in April is due to me having bad arthritis.  Really bad.

Monday, November 17, 2014

child obesity

In an Huffington Post article earlier this year, it was reported that childhood obesity has increased over the last 14 years in the U.S. to 17.3%.  The study covered children from ages 2 to 19.  

Some people believe that the current generation of kids have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.  All of this information may be true, but I am not sure how much people are paying attention to it and/or taking action to prevent it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

before and after weight loss picture

As I stated in my last post, I want to begin sharing stories of other people who have implemented changes into their life to become and live healthy, overcome personal struggles or conquered a goal they never thought was achievable.  I am willing to interview and write about any type of fitness story you believe was a success and will possibly help and motivate at least one person out there.

The first post in the "Success Story" series comes from Justin who I met on Google+.  He was willing to discuss how he used running to lose weight but also the challenge to balance life and to be sure he runs just enough to continue living a healthy and active life without overdoing it.  In the interview below he shares some great advice for new runners to embrace and possibly apply to their life.

A lot of what Justin says in this interview I can relate to.  I have learned that running too much can be "unhealthy".  However, there is a line you need to push your body to, to experience all the physical and mental benefits you get from running.  There is nothing wrong with going past that line once in a while, but I truly believe if you stay too long on the other side, that is when runners get injured and burnt out.

Please visit his website if you enjoyed hearing his story and want to learn more about him.  

Hope you enjoy this and please contact me if you would like to be featured in a future post.  Remember, if your story can influence one person's life, you will have made it worth your time.

Tell us about yourself...
My name is Justin Virly. I'm a high school teacher. I teach Economics and Geography and have been for just about 5 years. I live in Townsville, Australia, but was born and raised in the Toronto area of Canada. I moved here almost 7 years ago to finish up grad school.  I'm recently married as of July, no kids yet but that should be in the works within the next little while.
I've recently started blogging (No me and no you), mostly as a way to develop my writing skills in somewhat of a controlled and deliberate manner. I'm also interested in learning a little bit about analytics, programming and design, branding and everything else related to establishing a presence. Although, the writing thing is the primary focus.

What was your childhood like, were you an active kid?
I was very active as a kid.  I played a lot of baseball from age 4 until age 16. From 12 to 16 I was competitive at a relatively high level representing the city and traveling a fair bit in tournaments. Baseball occupied every weekend and 5-6 hours during the school week. My summers were almost 100% baseball.
I would spend days riding my bike with my friends like most kids did, but the evenings were always games or training.  I also played a lot of basketball in high school, but was never as good there relative to baseball.

When did you begin running?
I didn't start running deliberately until I was 21. By "deliberately" I mean running being the main activity, beyond gearing up for other sports. It's been 8 solid years as a runner, though I do take weeks and even months off from time to time. I tend to fluctuate in desire. I can clock 30+ km a week for 3 months and then just not feel like it for the next 2.

Why did you start running?  
To lose weight, mostly. Although I was really active as a kid, when I was 18 I fractured my foot playing basketball and was in a cast for 4 months. I spent those 4 months sitting and eating. I then went to university which consisted mainly of nocturnal studying and bad food and drink habits. All throughout high school I was in around 190 lbs., but the year I graduated university I was 274.
Running was the first bit of exercise I started doing to lose weight, although I also bought one of those "6 weeks with a personal trainer" deals at the local Goodlife Fitness Gym so I could properly learn how to put together a routine.
The other reason I started running was that I just admired runners. Despite the tiny shorts and ugly reflective clothing, I was always impressed by the determination, but more so just the idea that they loved it.

I love when people do things that are good for them, but especially when those things aren't typically fun and action packed. No, I'm not saying running isn't fun, I certainly love it, but it's monotonous and time consuming.
It also doesn't involve group interaction or "excitement" the way most other sports do. The average person can understand why basketball, soccer, or any other sport is fun. Running puzzles the average person, but these people do it, and find joy in it. I always thought that was awesome.

Much like people who do yoga, meditate, read extensively, write for leisure, or paint. Where everything these days needs to be loud, full of action, chaotic, destructive, expensive or fast paced, there are a few activities, like running, which is a stable, simple and peaceful way to spend time, and I always wanted to be like those people that did it.

weight loss and running
(Justin's story was featured in his local newspaper.)

What benefits have you seen from running?
As I've alluded to earlier, I lost a fair bit of weight running. Granted running was combined with strength training and proper eating, but that was the biggest benefit by far because it leads to many more.

Related to what I admired about runners, is the idea of mental fortitude. I have always associated distance running with an inherent mental toughness. It's taught me perseverance and patience. It's allowed me to be at peace with my thoughts and appreciate the world around me. Going to new places, exploring new trails or just trying new methods are all ways I can mix things up. Running with or without music, counting my steps or breaths, or just looking around and allowing my mind to wander.  

Running allows me to collect and organize my thoughts and really help me "iron things out" internally.

What are your biggest running accomplishments?
In 2010 I ran the Gold Coast Marathon. It was the only one I have ever run, and likely could be the only one I ever do. I loved every minute of it, but absolutely despised the amount of training. As much as I enjoy running, I just am not the type that enjoys 10 to 15 hours a week of running leading up to the race. To be honest, I don't like the idea of spending 10 to 15 hours a week of doing any one thing.
The race was fantastic though. I don't remember my time exactly, only that I wasn't able to beat 4:30. My goal was to beat the "Oprah Time". I came pretty close though. I think I finished at 4:40 something.
On top of this though, the thing I am most proud of is just being a runner. I like being able to tell people that I can run, sometimes for over an hour straight. I like that I can honestly say I find it relaxing, meditative and generally therapeutic, many are confused and don't understand it. And that makes me like it even more.

How have you fit running into your life?  How do you balance it with other priorities?
I really just try to keep it flexible. I run when I really have the urge and that's about it. Since the marathon I haven't kept up with training plans or routines. Despite the incredible amount of holidays I get as a teacher, when school is on free time is a bit scarce, which means I don't have a very regular schedule.
My wife and I are also one year into our first home, which is a tiny 70 year old cottage we're renovating and expanding. And as I said, we're a newly married couple so there's a lot of work involved in sorting out and establishing the type of home and family we want to raise, and the foundation of marriage we want to build.
So, this means I generally just run when I feel like it. This usually means early morning or night runs. I live in a pretty hot climate so doing anything in the sun for a prolonged period of time is pretty treacherous. And due to the aforementioned time constraints, flexibility is key. Sometime I go out for a 15 minutes in a moment where I'm a bit antsy and feel like putting excess energy to good use.
Other times I will look forward all week to the 1 hour 10km session I have on the weekend. I find that this allows me to keep things going without the stress of a strict workout plan and more importantly, the disappointment in missing a workout.

Why do you keep running?  What is the hardest part of running for you?
I enjoy running more than most other forms of exercise. Even with basketball, which I play more than anything else, after 30-40 minutes I'm over it. Running can keep me entertained for longer than anything else. 

The hardest thing is being aware of the trade-offs. My knees are pretty bad and despite my efforts to take proper care of them, I can feel them worsening as time goes by. I've tried other forms of lower-impact exercise like swimming, beach running, and walking, but nothing gives me the same joy that running does.

Do you do any other type of exercise?
For the last couple of years I have been adapting the Primal Blueprint (coined by Mark Sisson) into my health regime. The foci are built around "Lifting Heavy Things", "Sprinting Once in a While" and "Moving frequently at a slow pace". To me, this translates to body weight exercises such as pushups, squats and pull-ups, sprint training and short interval runs, and as much walking as I have time for. 
I'm currently going through an internal struggle with my distance running as Primal fitness argues against the need for it and actually points towards advising against "chronic cardio" of that nature. Long story short, I love running, but do subscribe that my habits are more about that than about needing it as exercise. I'm also very aware of the pounding my knees continue to take.

Are there ever any days you don't feel like running?  How do you overcome them?
Absolutely. I usually just don't bother on these days, but remind myself the importance of living healthy so that even if I don't run for a while, that means I should be extra diligent with someone else related to my health, primarily, my nutrition.
In times when I feel like I really want to push myself, or if I made a commitment or something, I load up a new album or set of podcasts I've been meaning to listen to.

Do you have a saying or mantra you like to review on a daily basis that keeps you motivated?
Perfection. I don't have anything specific for running, but more a life thing. Perfection of course is impossible; we all have our flaws and weaknesses. But, that doesn't mean you can't be someone you are truly happy with and proud of in every possible way. It may not really be perfect but we can achieve a personalized sense of perfection. If the main things we want for ourselves are health, financial security, to be well educated and close to God...well, we can. We just have to do them. Running is something I want to do. It gives me benefits I want to have and brings me closer to the type of life I want to live.

What keeps you motivated to keep running?
The Google+ Running Community helps a lot. It's great that you and everyone else on that forum contribute so heavily and care so deeply about it. It's important to have people to share passions with.

What is your go to song(s) for running? What are your favorite podcasts?
I think unlike most runners, I don't have too many specific songs or a specific genre I prefer to run with. I generally listen to the same music I listen to under normal conditions as opposed to have specific running lists. My favorite acts range from U2, Keane, Jay-Z, Kanye West, The Killers, TV on the Radio, etc so I'm usually happy to just hit shuffle and see what comes up. 
I'm actually more of a podcast person because I have many interests and I find them educational. My staples are the BS Report with Bill Simmons for my sports, the Primal Blueprint podcast for health and fitness and Android Central for my tech news. 
I find with music, I get more distracted by time, perhaps due to the changing of the songs. This tends to make the run less enjoyable relative to a podcast, or simply going with no music and just honing in on a peaceful, lucid thought cycle.

If you are a reader what is/are your favorite book(s)?
As much as I try, I'm coming to terms not being one for fiction. I've started, but not finished about every mainstream classic series there is from Harry Potter to John Grisham - although I do like Lee Child's Jack Reacer series. 

I am really big into lifestyle/self-help/history booksDr. Gordon Livingston is a former military doctor (served in Vietnam) and is now a psychologist. He has several anecdotal books that I've really come to love.
My favorite book of all time is the "Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch.
Scott Jurek's "Eat and Run" is another keystone in my library. I just really love anecdotal stories of interesting people that have accomplished fantastic things. I like taking bits and pieces of their outlooks on life and working them into my personal goals. 

What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin running or a beginner runner?
Embrace it as a permanent part of who you are. Setting goals and ticking them off is great, but, with that comes an inherent sentiment of "this is temporary and when I get to the end I'll stop". Don't run. Be a runner.
This is probably a better way of explaining my "perfection" rant. If you are able to condition yourself, even if just artificially at first, to be a runner, the pain at the beginning, or any failed goals will dissolve quickly. You won't beat yourself up over a skipped workout if you have truly accepted being a runner. It doesn't matter if you don't like it now. It doesn't matter if you aren't running today. At some point you will, because it's just who you are.

Want to Support the Website? We now have various ways.
AMAZON: If you make any type of purchases on, please use the banner at the top of my website.  (Save it as one of your favorites to use for future purchases.)

You can also buy from our blender affiliates like Blendtec or Vitamix.  They are powerful, high quality blenders that you will absolutely love and will bring healthy foods to your life.

We also have Ride Fit, Road Runner Sports, Performance Bike and Spartan Race as affiliates that you can make purchases through when visiting this website.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I have enjoyed sharing my successes and struggles over the last couple of years on this website.  However, as my 2 year anniversary is coming up, I am hoping to share other people's successes on this website (along with my own stories)

The best feeling in the world is people emailing or chatting me about how one of my posts helped changed their lives.  How I was able to motivate them to run their first race or to change their eating habits, etc.  Now,  I want others to experience that same feeling.
share your story quote

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

  My Running Mistakes

I was stubborn...because I was a runner.  

Are all runners stubborn?  Maybe.  Determined?  Probably. 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, When I look back at the 10+ years of running, at times I know I was definitely guilty of running too much and beyond what my body was capable of. 

I really wanted to be a great runner.  Once I fell in love with this form of exercise and the freedom I felt on those runs, I wanted to make it look easy.  I talked myself into believing I could be a respectable marathon runner after not running for the first 25 years of my life. 

thomas edison quotes

Friday, October 10, 2014

today's footprint is tomorrow's legacy

For many years, food was my addiction.  Eventually, I think I replaced it with running.

It is now my belief that running can turn into an addiction.  Many endurance ethusiasts are living like this, but have not realized it yet.  Just like any addiction, running can negatively impact your life.

If you are a runner, ask yourself, "Why are you running?".  Come up with 5-10 reasons, leave them in the comments or in a social media response because I would be interested to see what people come up with.  If you love running, my guess is that it would be easy to think of 5 reasons.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Running saved my life and eventually almost ruined my life.

This will be the theme of most of my upcoming posts.  This new post is a follow up to my previous post about what bad habits I think runners need to stop doing.

At the end of this post, I also include my current "status" on running.

I was never anything close to a professional or a very good runner.  However, I have had some extra time to evaluate what I was caught up in during the last 10+ years of running.  Now over the next few posts, I want to share my lessons learned.

motivational quote enjoy the journey

Friday, September 5, 2014

Still searching for that perfect sweet that is guilt free and does not greatly impact your fitness and health goals?  

Well, there may never be a perfect dessert or sweet available if you are strict with your diet, but below is a product review for Zen Evo Dark Chocolate and it might be a good alternative to have handy when the sweet cravings come around.

Zen Evo Dark Chocolate was previously known under the name of "Elite Dark Chocolate" and my old review can be found here.  Once the name change became official, they contacted me to see if I wanted to do another review and I said sure since I loved the original item.  They also let me know about their "Team ZenEvo Worldwide" program which I provide details about toward the bottom of this write up. 

As a thanks for supporting this blog and reading this post, the company has offered to include a discount code that I can offer to my readers.

Just like in the previous post...If you are a Mr. or Ms. "I eat 100% clean and never any sweets" type of person, then there is no reason to read this post.  However, if you like to enjoy life by having some sweets once in a while, you may want to read the post below.  Who knows you might even think this is a perfect post workout carb reward. :-)

In the re-branded product, they still have 3 great options (Fit, Vitamin D and Energy) and the good news they still taste wonderful.  The majority of the ingredients are the same so the original great tasting results should not of been affected.  

best dark chocolate
The 3 "flavors" come in their own packaging and on their website, they offer each one in 7 day and 30 day supply options.  In the packages, each square piece of candy is individually wrapped which keeps it's freshness.

(Descriptions below are from the packaging.)
Zen Evo Dark Chocolate - Fit
The "FIT" option is made from world's finest french chocolate and is infused with Raspberry Ketone and Green Coffee Bean Extract (50% Chlorogenic Acids).  Perfect for weight management and an antioxidant boost.
dark chocolate fit

Zen Evo Dark Chocolate - Vitamin D
The "Vitamin D" option is made from world's finest french chocolate, infused with Vitamin D3.  This is perfect for increasing your Vitamin D intake, great for overall health and an antioxidant boost.
dark chocolate vitamin D

Zen Evo Dark Chocolate - Energy
The "Energy" option is made from world's finest french chocolate.  The highest quality of herbs have been added for multiple benefits: ashwagandha, maca, ginseng, caffeine (equal to 1 espresso).  This is perfect for sustained energy and an antioxidant boost.

Nutrition Facts
All three Zen Evo Dark Chocolate options include natural ingredients, 58% cacao, made by hand and gluten free.  All three options have the same nutrition fact details:
Serving Size = 1 piece
Calories = 47.5
Total Fat = 3.25g
Sodium = 3.75 mg
Carbs = 6 (.75 fiber, 4.5 sugars)
Protein = .5
dark chocolate nutrition facts

Taste Review
Some people may be turned off by this product because it is dark chocolate, however, I still recommend it to all chocolate eaters because it only contains 58% Cacao.  This is considered dark, but on a cacao scale, it is not too dark and makes the taste not bitter at all, in my opinion.  As I have said the past, I used to stay away from dark chocolate because I always wanted the real sweet stuff I ate while growing up.  However, over the last year or so I have grown to like it and can even tolerate up to 80% cacao dark chocolate.  

Now in regards to the taste Zen Evo Dark Chocolate...each version was great!  Just like the old version, there is no aftertaste at all, no upset stomach and side effects for me.  Over the last few weeks I would have a piece after dinner and for me it prevented any late night cravings.  
 The size they have created for these individually wrapped pieces of candy seem to be the perfect size.  It satisfies me and it doesn't make me want to have more and more.  A 30 day supply will last 30 days for me if not longer.
Overall the product still tastes great!  It is a perfect reward at the end of a long working day or on the weekends.  For me, it hits the "sweet tooth" craving perfectly!  Especially since it is not so sweet and it doesn't tempt you to want to eat the whole bag like some of the other popular brands.
In regards to the health benefit claims...Like anything else, those are claims, facts and notes being tagged to a product.  Each person reacts to ingredients differently.  It will be up to you to determine if you see any benefits.  However, my whole take on any benefit claims for any product is...If the product tastes good and even if there is a slight chance of a health benefit, Zen Evo is a better choice than the sweets you typically see at stores.

If you give it a try, let me know what you think and leave a comment below.

Or have you come across a sweet treat that fulfills your "needs" that you would like to recommend?

Of course all opinions and comments above are based on my tastes, needs, health, etc.  If you try this product in the future, it may be different for you.
Thanks for reading my review and the great news now is that for a limited time, if you order online and use "fred20" as the discount code in your order, you will receive 20% off of your entire order!
Team ZenEvo Worldwide
If you are interested in being an ambassador for Zen Evo Dark Chocolate, please send an email to company will just expect you to take photos of yourself and your team wearing the shirts, eating chocolate, and hanging out with folks for us to use in our social media campaigns.

Next week I will provide a status of what I have been up to in my "fitness life".

Want to Support the Website? We now have various ways.
AMAZON: If you make any type of purchases on, please use the banner at the top of my website.  (Save it as one of your favorites to use for future purchases.)

You can also buy from our blender affiliates like Blendtec or Vitamix.  They are powerful, high quality blenders that you will absolutely love and will bring healthy foods to your life.

We also have Ride Fit, Road Runner Sports, Performance Bike and Spartan Race as affiliates that you can make purchases through when visiting this website.