Figuring it all out

Looking Forward

“Why, hello. Haven’t seen you here in a while…”

I don’t know why I haven’t posted in so long. I’ve opened this blog page, tried to type, came up with some solid draft ideas, and then lost steam. I kept trying to come up with some epic post with Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mac” blasting from the heavens as I return to my blogtastic glory.

But life doesn’t work that way.

The blog has been such an important part of the past almost decade of my life. Not only did it serve as the trailhead of my weight loss journey, it shaped my skills as a writer. I also hoped that it would help encourage others to become healthier. Not out of any selfish hope, but because I knew how much better my life was inside and out once I made that change in my own life.

“So…why did you stop blogging, Nathan?” 

I think I stopped writing because I was ashamed of gaining some weight back. When I weighed 225, I dealt with some dark stuff. I hated how I looked. With a capital “h” hated. I felt like I was this rubber band that was stretching myself out to new links, but deep down I knew that I would snap back one day. And it did, but it could have been way worse.

Somehow, I think that stunted my weight-loss growth. I think instead of confronting some of those issues (you know…when you realize that you feel feelings that aren’t always happy) so I resorted back to food instead of confronting them.

What I’ve realized this week is that you really don’t truly grasp the concept of self-preservation until you’re 29 and a half. Whether you like it or not, you figure out that you have to watch out for yourself. Whether that’s your job, your friendships, or your health. I’ve pushed myself really hard in my late 20s and it took its toll on my health. I was really hard on myself. In fact, that has been on every job evaluation I’ve ever had. I wasn’t trying to be perfect, I was trying to do it all. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I did because I got to work on some amazing projects with some amazing people, but I’ve finally realized that it’s OK to take a step back.
Not every fight is my own.

“So…what now?”
Well, I am going to start writing again. I still wear the FFK moniker as a badge of honor. I love inspiring others. I feel that it’s what I am called even at a spiritual level. If every day of my life isn’t spent helping others, then what’s the point?

For years, I have pushed other people to embrace and promote the personal brand they want others to see. I haven’t been doing that. For the past three years, I’ve been this weight loss has-been. Now, it’s time to practice what I preach. It’s time to keep moving forward.

Extracurricular Living

Throughout my academic career, I was a pretty average student. Sure, I won the Taylor Elementary Geography Bee in 1998 because I knew that soda was made with corn syrup and is one of the top commodities produced by the US, but I wasn’t always the top of my class…or…ever the top of any class. In fact, Mrs. Lewis, my AP US History teacher in high school, told me one time that I was a B student and I always would be. (The wonderful faculty of Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, Texas, ladies and gentlemen.) Now granted, I had some pretty awesome teachers as well like Mrs. Walters, who thought I was a pretty strong writer, and Mr. Davis, who helped me build a deer blind (which was big enough to be considered a tiny house by today’s standards) but overall, I was still just a funny fat kid who was always ready with a ridiculous joke or a comedic fall-out-of-the-chair routine in Ms. Tirey’s class that would have made Chris Farley proud.
Then…I got to college. A fat kid’s time to shine.
Artist rendering of Nathan MacDonald as an adult

Artist rendering of Nathan MacDonald as an adult. Not to scale.

Growing up, everyone told me that college is where you become the person that you’re going to be for the rest of your life. I was ready to finally flutter out of my cocoon and become the awkward butterfly I was born to be. Before I knew it, I was a part of the Freshman Action Council, I was singing in the college choir and eventually, I was pledging a social club (basically a fraternity at a Christian university. Same amount of weird pledging activities but with Bible verses) oh yeah, along with a social life, a part time job and a full load of classes. (Sing Song was thrown in there somewhere too. But that’s for another blog post. Here’s what I’m talking about. Yes…this is a thing. And yes, that is Megan directing. And yes, that is me as an obese Mickey Mouse.)

 But, to paraphrase Uncle Ben, with great time-sucking activities, comes great drop in GPA. I wasn’t a stellar student in college either; it was almost as if that Mrs. Lewis had accurately predicted my future. I left college with a lot of practical experience, but with a transcript that resembled a terrible pick of letters in a game of Scrabble. No vowels (or A’s) to speak of. I wanted graduate school to work, but I knew it was a long shot.
When I finally got in to grad school at Florida State, I flourished. I was on top of my assignments, I worked on group projects with brilliant colleagues, and for once, I was successful at this whole school thing. Consequently, I began my weight lost journey and lost 50 pounds in about a semester.
Why the sudden change, you ask? I didn’t let my extracurricular activities get in my way. I had spend my entire academic life focused on the wrong things. If I had put half as much effort into studying as I did at buying weird CD’s at Hastings, I would have been a pretty great student. Instead, I let the inane obligations of my college life take charge because they weren’t studying, which was hard for me. Up until grad school, that was my life in a nutshell: I didn’t want to work hard towards something because if I failed, it would have been a waste and I would be embarrassed like the time I broke a chair in the fifth grade in front of Brianna Allen, my elementary crush and my friend, Isaac Bray. Trying hard had gotten me nowhere. Why start now?
For the past year, I have let extracurriculars get in the way of my life. I worry about work instead of working out, I eat out to suppress my stress about finances and I watch TV instead of blogging. I do everything I can to avoid eating right and working out consistently and I have paid for it by gaining 30 pounds over the past year. Since October, Megan had I have been eating a heavily plant-based Nutritarian diet (I’ll talk more about that in another post soon) and at one point I had lost close to 15 pounds in about a month! Instead of continuing that momentum, I let my extracurriculars get in my way like not making a healthy choice while eating out or skipping a work out to go to a happy hour. Before I knew it, I was back to where I started and then some.
When I let my extracurriculars build up, I become lethargic and I just become numb and aimless. Losing weight and getting fit is a lot like a race with a finish line, you have a goal in mind so you train for it with purpose. Recently, I’ve been like a boxer beating the air.
So this week, I have re-framed my way of thinking and have created more of a structure for my life. Next week, I’m going to start for the Seattle Rock n’ Roll Half in June and for another awesome half in October (more on that soon!) Last night, I did interval training with a group of awesome friends for the first time and I’m going to use that as the anchor of my training this time around. I’m also going to start riding my spin bike when I’m watching TV, something that I used to do when I was at my lowest weight (not a coincidence). Finally, I have retooled my view on food. While I am going to Austin, the food mecca of the world, next week for SXSWedu, I’m not going to go all YOLO every meal. I am going to indulge, but I’m going to balance it with healthy meals too, along with a few runs thrown in.
I know I have been quiet on here for what feels like the last year, and I’m sorry. I haven’t made time for the FFK because frankly I have been embarrassed about how things have been going. Now, I know I’m not going to be perfect, but I am going to strive to write something ridiculous like this post once a week from now on. I’m still going to post my weigh in’s on the FFK Facebook page and I’ll throw in a Wordless Wednesday here and there. Thank you all for being amazing readers, supporters and friends over the years. You are all amazing.

First Thursday Weigh In

Hello kids!

So The Biggest Loser started tonight and it’s…wait for it…

ALL FORMER JOCKS!

That’s right, after a season that ended with a crazy, and incredibly controversial, twist, this season is deviating from the average joe troupe to former athletes. This is going to be interesting for a lot of reasons. I guarantee there will be a lot of bruised egos, some annoying contestants, and some AWESOME transformations. I’m curious to see how this season goes and how it’s received by an audience who, from anecdotal and personal experience, were possibly bullied by people like them. (Again, I realize that comment might be a little general, but as a kid who was bullied by jocks, I don’t think I’m completely off base.)

Alright…Shifting gears.

On Sunday, I decided to change up my weigh-in date for a few different reasons. Namely, I didn’t think the number on the scale was telling the whole story (not that it ever really does. At the end of the day, it is just a number.) So on Sunday, I weighed in at 262 pounds (tailgating took its toll, y’all) and I knew that it was a little inflated. When I got on the scale this morning, I didn’t think I was going to lose even though I had worked out almost every day and had incorporated a lot of fruits, veggies, nuts and beans, into my diet. This morning, I weighed in at 255.6 so I lost 6.4 pounds! HUZZAH!!!!!!

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After that loss, I’m really ready to hit the ground running. I wasn’t perfect today, but I still ate an amazing salad for lunch and I walked a ton around campus for work! I’m definitely making some headway. I know this might sound crazy, but I feel like if I can string together two weeks with losses that I will mentally get through this funk I’ve been in. Henrietta and I have been had some killer wins thanks to Daily Burn, but now I just need a few wins on the scale to tie it all together.

Here’s to another awesome week!

Day 50: French Cooking and Other Awesomeness

The Amy’s Baking Company episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Wow.
I know that I’m a year late, but still…it’s awkwardly magical.

Anyway, let’s talk about food and stuff!

So this weekend was our sixth anniversary. Not only have I been incredibly blessed to be married to my best friend, I have had the best supporter and encourager in the entire world. Megan MacDonald, you are the cat’s pajamas. I love you.

After six years of wedded bliss, we have taken up cooking as couple. It has been quite the delicious pastime. So when we were trying to decide on how to celebrate, went decided to try to tackle the holy grail of cooking: Boeuf Bourguignon from Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking with a dessert of crème brûlée. Now, we knew this wasn’t going to be an easy feat. In fact, it was going to be a six-hour ordeal. But we knew that it was going to be totally worth it. And holy Moses, it was. Think about the most tender roast beef, add a richly delicious wine sauce along with carrots and pearl onions and you’ll have a a pretty good idea of it. Oh yeah, and the crème brûlée tasted like angel’s wings.

Here are just a few photos of the awesomeness!
image_3 image_1 So tomorrow, I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled blogging! That is, UNTIL FITBLOGGIN’ THIS WEEKEND!!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHHH I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!

See ya tomorrow.

Trying to Get it All Aligned

“When the mooooooooooooon is in the seventh house
and Jupiterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr lines with Mars…

Wait…that’s not what I mean…

You hear it all the time “get fit in the gym, lose weight in the kitchen.” While I have fought with this notion for a long time, I’ve seen how true it really is through out my weight loss journey. With that, it’s been easy to have one component of that statement down and have the other one completely lopsided.When I lost my first 100 pounds, my eating was at the forefront of this journey. Sure I worked out, but making smart decisions helped peel off the weight. Some time after that, I lost sight of that. I got caught up in the fitness side a little too much and it seemed to throw me off because I didn’t know how to refuel properly with my eating. Then, I started training for my first half marathon which kind of put my weight loss dead in the water because, contrary to popular belief, you don’t always lose weight when you train for long distance races like half marathons. So right now, I’m not training for a specific race. I’ve put on about 15 pounds since December so I want to get that off ASAP to get my weight loss momentum going.

Since I’ve been working out regularly, usually a combination of running and circuit training classes 3-5 times a week, I feel awesome and actually strong for the first time in close to forever. In the past, I’ve been quick to beat myself up when I want to go work out in the “bro den” (the part of the gym that has free weights, benches, awkward grunting) because I don’t feel like I belong. But how can I make progress if I don’t work out in there? (I’m going to talk about more on that in a post I’m working on. Stay tuned.) Anyway, the point is that good things are happening. After working out regularly like this for the past ten weeks, it would be really hard to stop. I just love it too much!

So now that I’m in such an awesome place with my fitness, I’m really working to change my eating. I’m eating fruits and veggies like they’re going out of style and I’m incredibly intentional about drinking water (#alltheclearpee).

But I’m not perfect…
Can I still pound down a bag of potato chips? Yessir.
Do I hoard candy sometimes like those spoiled brats in Willie Wonka? Sure do.
But…Do I immediately regret it? Now more than ever.

I really hate that feeling of regret after a mini-binge, so I’ve been trying to combat that with just abstaining as much as I can. I tell myself that I won’t miss it in 5 minutes because all they are are just impulses. For example, we walked by a cupcake store in Tallahassee and I thought I really wanted one.

I knew I had two options:
1) Keep walking and go on with my day
or
2) Go in, spend money on a dessert that I’m generally kind of ambivalent towards, and then sulk because I could have spent those Weight Watchers points on bacon.

So, I’m making progress with my eating! I really feel like I’m on the verge of everything lining up for some serious weight loss awesomeness.

Speaking of weight loss…

I lost 2.8 pounds this week! After losing 3 pounds or so two weeks ago, I gained it back last week. (Between kidney stones and traveling, the MacDonalds have been a little cray…) This week, I wasn’t perfect at all. In fact (and if you try to troll me on this, so help me…) I had McDonald’s for the first time since we’ve lived in Tallahassee. I drove to Jacksonville twice this week and I really needed some coffee and breakfast. So, I had an Egg McMuffin and a hash brown. It was 12 points. I counted it and I moved on. I also ate at Hardee’s for breakfast one day and I counted it too. So I wasn’t perfect, but I counted my points and I exercised to bring balance to the Weight Watchers force. This past week was once again proof that when you count regardless and exercise, everything will fall into place.

Count all the points

 

Vacation Reflections (So Far)

Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” -Matthew 9:17

Since I have gotten off the plane on Wednesday, my inner foodie has been released like a gluttonous kraken. “YOU CAN AND SHOULD EAT ALL THE THINGS!” said my inner gluttonous  foodie kraken. “YOU ARE ON VACATION SO YOUR BODY IS IMPERVIOUS TO CALORIES AND WEIGHT GAIN!”

This past weekend, I ate a lot. My meals were as followed:Friday: three meat plate of greasy BBQ
Saturday: greasy Mexican food from a place that I haven’t eaten at in four years
Sunday at lunch: even more greasy BBQ
Sunday at dinner: a fantastic burger with bourbon bacon onion jam and other greasy topping
Monday morning at 3:39 am: vomit central

I ended up getting food poisoning from one of these items. My guess is the medium-cooked fantastic burger. (I haven’t eaten a medium-cooked burger in a long time. I usually avoid undercooked ground beef unless it’s organic. Even then I’m a little leery.) But to me it was more than that. It was body saying “this is not you anymore. You can’t abuse me like that any more.” For most of my life, I lived with the consequences of becoming physically ill from food as long as it tasted good when I ate it. I wasn’t just addicted to food, I abused my body with it. That’s not me anymore. I’m not the guy that can clear a buffet, I’m the guy that tries to count his Weight Watchers points and makes healthy decisions. I’m the guy people don’t recognize anymore (that happened multiple times in Abilene). I’m the guy who has friends tell me how proud they are of me. I’m a new wineskin.

[PRODUCT REVIEW] Hanadas!!!

(I was trying to think of a clever title like “Raise Your Handana if You Like Handanas!” or something like that. Awe well.)
Like most of you know, I live in Florida. A hot, humid, and incredibly sunny, state that can make life miserable. While I did grow up in the furnace known as Texas, it was a dry and miserable heat, none of this “oh hey, let’s go live in a sauna from May to October” business. What I’m trying to say is…I sweat. A lot. Even though I have lost 125 pounds, I still profusely sweat like George Constanza eating Kung Po (George likes his chicken spicy!) What’s worse is that sometimes (well…all of the time) sweat gets in my eyes and it hurts so much that I have to stop exercising for a few minutes. This happened countless times on my long runs when I was training for my half marathon. IT SUCKED.

After this happened a couple times, I finally tried a few different things.
I wore a hat. Fail.
I wore a sweatband. Fail.
I wore a bandana. Fail.
I wore my hood up on my hoodie. Fail.

Nothing seemed to do the trick. Then, I found the Handana.
26 years ago, Katie Niemeyer suffered from a horrible disease called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome that caused her skin to blister out in to second and third degree burns all over her body. Unlike a lot of patients afflicted with this condition, Katie survived with minimal scarring and she wasn’t blinded from it, which is common. However, SJS did make her eyes very sensitive. So like me (except for the fact that I’m just a crybaby and Katie is a stud) when she was able to exercise again, getting sweat in her eyes was incredibly painful. Since she was training for an upcoming marathon, she needed a solution.

Handana 2
That is when she invented the Handana! A moisture-absorbing sweatband that wraps around your hand! The Handana is like a glove with a space for your thumb and your fingers. It’s soft. It’s durable. And man, does it mop up your sweat! I think the biggest advantage of the Handana is its mobility per se. You can absorb any sweat on your body that you can reach. Definitely awesome for me since I can’t stand having sweat on the front and on the back of my neck.

Product Testing Time!
You may not know this, but I’m a HUGE Cook’s Country and America’s Test Kitchen fan. One of the coolest things they do on the show is product testing. Since this is my first equipment review, I’ve taken their testing model to review the Handana. So, I tried the Handana in three sports that I regularly do: racquetball, spinning, and running.

I could wear it with my Polar watch with no problem too!

I could wear it with my Polar watch with no problem too!

In racquetball, you sweat like a maniac. It’s useless to try to wipe the sweat off of your shirt…because it’s full of sweat too. I wore the Handana on my non-racquet hand, not because I was worried about gripping the racquet, but because I knew I would need it. It mopped up the sweat perfectly. A great thing about it is even if you’ve used all the places on the Handana, you can go over it again and it still feels dry. No gross sweat-on-sweat action here!

Spinning is another thing I used the Handana for. At first, I was a little worried about gripping the handlebars on the bike, but that wasn’t an issue at all! It perfect for a quick swipe here and there to feel human again.

Post-race photo. Photo Credit to Andrea Wolf of Wolf Industries.

Post-race photo.
Photo Credit to Andrea Wolf of Wolf Industries.

Finally, I used the Handana for running. Lots and lots of running. It was perfect for those times that I needed a quickly swipe the sweat on my forehead to prevent it from getting in my eyes. This kept me from having to stop which in turn kept my run times accurate. I used the Handana during the Tallahassee Half Marathon, which made sweat one less thing to worry about. That way, I could worry about other things…like my calves cramping or my toenails falling off.

Overall, I have been impressed with the Handana. If you think about it, it just makes sense! When I first read about it, I was worried that it would be a nuisance, but it feels like you’re wearing nothing at all! Nothing at all! Nothing at all! (Stupid sexy Flanders!) Frankly, my only complaint is that I needed a size smaller. I thought I would need an XL Handana, but in reality I needed a large. It wasn’t an issue, but it was just a little too loose for my liking.

So, now that you know all about Handana, go to www.myhandana.com and check them out! They are available in five sizes and a copious amount of color combinations from red and black (like mine) to burnt orange (ewww) and black. Also, be sure to like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter! Start your own Handana story today!

Note: I have received products from Handana. All thoughts and opinions are honest and are my own.

Day 872: Half Marathon Recap

I woke up at 5 am the morning of the race. I sat on the couch with my feet propped up, drinking a cup of coffee. I sat there and asked Megan if she ever thought we would get this far. I thought back to our old, 400 square foot apartment in Abilene and thought about how uncomfortable my life was. How getting off the couch was a chore, how no shirt every really fit well no matter how much I would try to stretch it. I realized how those burdens aren’t holding me back any more. That’s when I started to cry. It was just an overwhelming feeling of joy to reinforce that freedom. When you’re morbidly obese, your life is restricted whether you know it or not. Now that I know this freedom, I will never go back to that old way of living, because that wasn’t living.

Yes...there were a few other runners.

Yes…there were a few other runners.

Becky and Erin came by the house and we made our way to FSU. It was a beautiful morning. A little cold, but we had all ran in worse. The crowd was huge, but still not as bad as the Turkey Trot in November. Everyone was ready to book it.

The sirens blared. It was time to run. Feet, don’t fail me now.

The first mile: piece of cake!
Second mile: hey…this isn’t so bad!
Third mile: what a beautiful day
Fourth mile: I’m actually running with some athletic-looking people!
Fifth mile: just kidding…the real athletic people just passed me because they have already reached the half way point.
Sixth mile: WHERE THE @#%#$ IS THE HALF WAY POINT???

 

I cropped out the marathon runner in the background.

I cropped out the marathon runner in the background.

Then on the ninth mile…misery. I hit a physical wall like you wouldn’t believe. My toes were forming a blister for the first time, my IT bands started to get sore, then the calf cramps kicked in, which never (and when I mean never, I mean even when I was 357 pounds and running 5 miles) ever happens when I run. I had thrown my body into confusion. Mile 9 is when this Sunday morning race turned into a battle.

My mantra became “I will finish…I will finish…I will finish.” Every other step was a struggle. A normal stride followed by a cramp, a normal stride followed by a cramp. Along the way, I met some nice people like a first time half marathon runner like me who was struggling. We talked, I cramped up, he kept going (I somehow still beat him though. We met up after the race.) Then there was the girl who ran up next to me, put out her first and said “pound it!” So I did, followed by me stopping to stretch out.

Before I knew it, I was already at mile 12. The miles had just peeled away. I could see Doak off in the distance, but I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet. After throwing down cups of Gatorade and packets of GU, (which were interesting) I kept going. Every motion forward was a struggle, but I knew I was closer to the finish.

Still not sure how this photo came out so well.

Still not sure how this photo came out so well.

Finally, I reached the track. The last little chunk of raceway left. After running on miles of concrete and asphalt, running the last almost quarter mile on a rubber track felt incredibly wonky. It was like running inside of a bouncy castle. I could hear all the cheers, my race was finally drawing to a close. I felt amazing.

Final time: 2:11:50.59. I was 434th out of 728 runners. Fastest time? 1:13:40.43. Next half, I’m breaking the 2-hour barrier.

 

Check out my groundhog bling yo!

Check out my groundhog bling yo!

I hear a lot of people who’ve lost a lot of weight, both bloggers and even people on The Biggest Loser, say “I did it to prove everybody wrong! I’m doing this for all of the people who said I couldn’t do it!” While I thought that way for a while, I realized while I was training for this half that I shouldn’t be looking at it like that. I should be doing this not for the people who said I couldn’t, but for the people who said I could. I did this race for every one of you who have liked my hundreds of running statuses, who have dropped me a line telling me how proud you are of me, and for all of those who tell me how I have inspired them to change their lives. I was able to do this race because of you. You, dear reader, have been my fuel to carry on. For that, I thank you.

Day 693: Gaining Confidence

Hello!

I can’t flipping wait for college football. It’s only a few days away and it feels like flippin’ Christmas morning.

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So sorry about not post the last few days. We went out to beautiful St. George Island for the annual Musicology beach trip. We swam with dolphins, ate delicious food and hung out with great friends.

Yesterday I was going to post, but then I fell asleep while watching an episode of Doctor Who. On Sunday, I had a massive non-scale victory. Our church is putting together a softball team for a city league and our first practice was yesterday afternoon. The last time time I played softball, I was embarrassing and when I say that I mean I felt embarrassed when I was playing. All during undergrad, I was the intramural team joke. I had fun and I made people laugh, but in all reality I was a waste of a player. The last time I played softball, I went to swing, I farted in mid-swing and struck out. I uttered “I hate my life.” While I meant it in a humorous way, the reality was that I was in a dangerous position. I was on the cliff of my life taking a turn for the worst. Sure, I was a pseudo-active 350-pounder, but I knew I was one injury away from gaining a lot of weight because that’s what happens when you’re that size.

As I was saying…so yesterday, I was a little worried about how it was going to go, but I that all changed when I went up to bat and clocked it. In our scrimmage, I was 5 for 5, had an RBI and had 4 runs. I was whipping around the bases like crazy. It felt awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I’ sore as all get out today, but I feel awesome. Earlier this week, I thought about what would happened if I did gain a significant amount of weight from just being laxed about food. After being actually competitive in sports affirmed the doubts I was having. This work is paying off, I won’t lose sight of that again. See ya tomorrow for a weigh in that could go either way.