Saturday, December 29, 2012

“Don't give in to your fears. If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart.”
- Paul Coelho, The Alchemist 

Do you have goals to make changes in 2013?  If so, what will you be doing different in 2013 to make sure you succeed if you failed in 2012?

If you want to have different results this year, you will need to approach it in a different way to make sure you get to where you want to be at when December 2013 rolls around.

Friday, December 21, 2012

During my entire childhood I was overweight and obese.  However, I was always active.  I played baseball and all sorts of sports every year.  Why was I fat?  It was due to my very bad eating habits and never controlling or changing them.

24 Years Ago...I joined the high school football team, but I quit after the first day because I was so sore from the running and the activities I did on the previous day.  It was not easy moving around at that weight at that young age. It was a rude awakening to the high school life, but I still never gave a real effort to lose the weight.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

" He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."  - Benjamin Franklin

Week of 12 of 18 of the ING Miami Marathon training is in the books.  When I previously had looked at the schedule for this past week, I knew it was going to be a challenge to stay disciplined, because I was going to be on vacation, but I was determined not to fail.

Now that the vacation is over, I am satisfied because I did not miss any of the runs from my schedule.  This was the first time during any type of vacation in my life that I did not skip a scheduled run or exercise routine.  Previously I would give in to the temptation of relaxing too much and enjoying myself during this time away from "normal life".  However, I could not afford that since I knew I had to complete each run to get me closer to my goal time for the marathon next month.

What I wanted to share with you were some tips on how you might be able to keep exercising during your vacation.

Determine Where Your Workouts Will Take Place
Will it be at a gym?  If so, do the research beforehand and select a location close to where you will be staying if your resort or hotel does not have a fitness center.  Nowadays, there are many 24/7 gyms all over the country like Snap Fitness that will allow you to purchase a one week pass during your stay nearby.  It cost you like $20, but it will be worth it if you use the facility.

For my vacation, I had to look up if the area near me was going to be safe to run and how long the distances were. Luckily for me, most of my runs took place with the scenery below.  Yes, I had to do numerous 2 mile loops to complete the distance for the day, but I couldn't complain since I ran along sand and palm trees.  If you will be running in the dark, please be sure you bring reflective gear and flashlights.

Set a Schedule Before You Leave On Your Trip

If you are going to be gone for 7 days, determine which days you will be exercising and what days you will rest.  In your typical at home week, if you workout 5 days, then follow that type of plan during your vacation.  There is no reason to try to do more and set yourself up for failure.  Do less?  Why?  If you feel good, do what needs to be done, no excuses.

When will be the best time for you to workout?  First thing in the morning? During the middle of the day, at night?  This will also have to be setup prior to leaving.  Pick a time that will make you succeed, not fail or interfere with family obligations.

I did my runs first thing each day, because it was best for our family schedule.  Why?  Two reasons...One, it was over with and I could not make any excuses of being too tired from walking around all day at the Disney parks.  Or that we had to cut something short due to me having to go back and run.  I knew if I wanted to do my running at night, I would not of succeeded because I would just want to go to bed from the long and busy days of walking and standing.  Two, it allowed my family to schedule whatever they wanted for the day and my priority of running did not interfere with that.  On the last day of vacation my son wanted to go to Hollywood Studios one more time (to play Toy Story for the 5th and 6th times even though we had to wait in line each time for 30-60 minutes) before we came back home.  What this meant is that I would have to wake up at 4am to do my stretching and 12 mile run and be back in time to pack and be at the park by 8am.  Was I upset?  No.  Could I have just done my run the following morning in Chicago?  Sure, but I wanted one more run in Florida to prepare for the ING Miami Marathon.

Allow Some Days Off

As stated previously, do not overdo it.  Make sure you take some days off and let your body  rest.  However, only take them off if they are on your schedule.  Try not to move around your schedule because before you know it, you will have skipped some important workout days.

During a lot of vacations, people will end up having a very busy schedule and will do more in a day than at home, therefore rest days become more important during a vacation.  Plan them and use them wisely.

Communicate Your Schedule

Communication is key for many parts of life and when you insert a exercise plan during your vacation and telling your family what that is, is also important.

Why?  They deserve to know what you plan on doing each day and they will usually hold you accountable too.  One morning, I was tired and wanted to stay in bed a bit longer.  My wife turned over and asked why I was still in bed (at 4:10am) if I had to go run 16 miles and be back in time for us to go to Universal Studios?  She was right, I needed to get up and going if I was going to meet my goal for the day.  Luckily she knew what I had to get done because I might have just slept in and skipped an important run in the humid weather in Florida.

Stick to the Plan 

If you do not have any race or running goals to shoot for to make you follow your schedule, then just stick with it because you will feel better when you get back home.  Nutrition and diet typically will never be perfect during a vacation, so you might as well feel good about doing all your exercise sessions while being able to enjoy yourself during your time away from home.

My food intake was far from being perfect during this vacation, but I also knew I was walking 3-5 miles extra each day and that I did deserve to relax a bit about food.  Therefore, what my main objective was for this long vacation was to complete each run and relax a bit on nutrition.  Did I overeat at each meal and let myself go?  Absolutely not.  However, did I have a dessert each day compared to 1 per week when not on vacation?  Yes I did.  No big deal because I was not going to worry about that during this trip.

Happy Holidays, enjoy your vacation or "staycation" during the last two weeks of the year.  However, be sure you keep exercise a priority so you do not have any regrets when it is over and have to add some more weight to lose as your New Year's resolution.

By: Fred Lechuga

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Success is not to be measured by the position someone has reached in life, but the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed." - Booker T. Washington
I am now in week 11 of 18 for the training of my second marathon.  I am so glad to see that I am past the halfway mark of the 18 marathon schedule I obtained from Running About Website.  The excitement of getting to the starting line is starting to develop.  However, I was reminded this weekend during my 18 mile run that this is where the real work begins.  It was a challenging run because it had been a while since I had run that type of distance.  There were times I just wanted to turn back and go home, but I fought through and felt great a couple of hours after my protein and fruit smoothie made in my Vitamix blender.

Following a schedule someone else assigns to you is never easy.  It takes discipline to stick with it and to have blind faith that the hard work will pay off at the end.  You will question some of the mile choices they set out in the plan, but for the most part it is best if you follow it unless you are ill or hurt.  If you ever decide (which I hope you do) to run a 5K, 10K or any type of race, you will be able to find numerous of plans online.  However, none of these sources will inform you of the mental games you will deal with.  Voices will come up and tell you that you can not do this.  Your mind will want to give up before your legs.  However, as you keep pushing away the "naysayers" in your head, you will realize that you are strong and you will get over these small humps during those weeks. The result will be that you will become mentally stronger and be ready to conquer the race you signed up for.  It will also assist you in other avenues of your life when challenges appear.

If you are not familiar with training for a marathon, the typical plan will be for 16 or 18 weeks.  The first few weeks the miles are low, but they slowly increase as time goes on and by the halfway point, the daily and weekly mileage volume begin to add up. This is where you realize if you have what it takes to complete your dream or goals and get to the starting line.

When I went through training the first time around, it was not easy.  When it was all over I realized the training was the most challenging part of the entire adventure, the race ended up being the fun part.  Training takes a lot of prioritizing and juggling of family schedules to successfully complete each training session each week.  Plus with your first marathon or any other race, typically the only goal you have is to finish the race.  No goal time or cutoff is in your head, all you want to do is get to the end and wrap the hard earned medal around your neck.  The greatest part when you complete your race is that you will feel like you can accomplish anything.  Yes, at first you may think "Never Again", but once that goes away, you will be asking "when is the next race?"

This time around I have a goal of getting under 4 hours and I specifically want to be around 3:53.  I have no problem posting my goal because if I don't get that time, I haven't failed, I just need to find a better way to get to my next goal. If I finish injury free and healthy I will be satisfied and prepare myself for the next journey and new goal.

If you have never entered any type of race/run, I challenge you to do this in 2013.  Every time I have run one of these races, I have been inspired by some of the people who had the courage to sign up and get to the starting line. I have seen people over 300 lbs running/walking to the finish.  That never entered my mind, I didn't enter my first 5K until I was around 250 lbs.  At my half marathon in November there was a gentleman in his mid 50s who had a physical issue where his left leg was dragging a bit, but yet it took me 10 miles to catch up to him and I was going at a 8:27 pace...that guy was simply amazing.  Therefore, if these type of people are brave enough to push their bodies to the next level, what are you waiting for?

By: Fred Lechuga

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. - Lao-Tzu


Drastically reduce or eliminate the sugary drinks from your daily routine as soon as you can.  There is no nutritional value whatsoever in any type of soda drinks, juice drinks, sugary coffee drinks, energy drinks, etc. This is what they call empty calories because they provide no positive purpose for you to consume and just give you calories that you eventually will need to burn off.  Replace as many of your drinks with water.  Water has no calories and is good for you.

You don't like water?  How is that possible?  It has no flavor.  Too boring?  Add some lemon or lime juice once in a while.  Slowly build up your daily water tolerance to 1/2 the number of ounces of your weight.  So if you weigh 200 lbs, you drink 100 ounces per day.  Don't want to drink that much, you can lose weight and you will not have to consume the high amount.  I still shoot for 120 ounces each day because I feel less hungry and just feel better when I drink a lot of water.  Picture above also lists all the benefits of simply drinking water.


Take walks, it doesn't have to be a run.  Walk 1 block the first day, if it is hard.  Go back the following day and make it 2 blocks.  Before you know it by the end of the week or in 2 weeks you will have build it up to 1 mile.  Once you get there, maybe you try to walk faster and beat that time.  Then, walk further as your next challenge.

Don't want to walk?  Ride a bike.  It doesn't matter what it is, just add aerobic activity to your life and you will slowly see and feel better.  Walking is boring?  Have your wife/husband or friend take walks with you.  Talk about your day during the walks and you will see time fly by.  He/she doesn't want to do that?  No big deal then you can entertain yourself by downloading an audiobook or podcast.  Now you will be able to educate or just make time fly by during these walks or runs.


If you haven't done it before, look at all the ingredients in a "protein" or granola bar or any other convenient food you use for snacks.  The majority of these snacks contain items you can not pronounce and that are known not to be good for you that they still sell to you.  Feel free to Google some of those "things" on your wrapper when you get a chance and you will see the side effects or how there is no health benefit.  No matter what, sugar is usually one of the main ingredients and that is something you eventually want to eliminate or reduce anyway.  In the future, I will reference and provide links to more sources that have much more information about how our country allows these unhealthy ingredients to be in our foods where other countries have already made them illegal due to health risks.  You think these big companies and government are looking out for you, don't bet on it.

Therefore, since one of your goals might be to get more healthy, simply attempt to replace these convenient snacks with fruits and vegetables that you enjoy.  You will physically and mentally feel better and you will also know you are at least reducing unknown ingredients in your body.

Take all these changes in steps.  All we are talking about right now is improving, not perfecting your health situation.  Maybe you begin by getting rid of 50% of your soda consumption for a few weeks.  Or maybe only have one convenient snack per day vs. 3.  It all does not have to happen in 1 day or week, take steps toward your goals and you will eventually reach them.  Replace bad habits with new good ones, stay strong and you will eventually see and feel results you are striving for.
 Disclaimer: I want to be clear, I am not a nutritionist, no physical trainer and no type of physician.  I do not even want to come across as a person who knows it all.  I am just a person who has learned quite a bit (still educating myself) during my weight loss journey and reading a lot.  I simply want to share my knowledge with people to see if it will assist them improve their life.