Rebuilding My Health and Fitness


A setback is just a set up for a comeback and an awesome tale to weave. Right? It’s time for me to write my comeback story.  It’s time to rebuild my health and fitness from scratch.  I will concentrate on methodically and gradually building myself into a complete athlete over the next six months. I’m ready to move away from those nagging little injuries, mental burnouts, and frustration.

I will concentrate on methodically and gradually building of a complete athlete. Steady and deliberate progress will bring consistency I will sharpen and fine tune myself as I get closer to an event. The first major change will be in my running schedule.  There won’t be any running. I’ll be abstaining from running for the next six months. I want to go further and faster but my mind and body isn’t ready.  I think that is what happened when I did my long run while I was on Long Island. I ended up messing with my calves and tendons. To minimize my risk of injury, I need to improve systems that will support my running and athletic endeavors.  I have to get stronger and increase my range of motion.  I have to find and resolve imbalances. I also have to regain my confidence.

Improving my nutrition and making healthy eating choices is my top priority. I want to focus on my diet because it’s the low hanging fruit that will return the biggest gains to my health and fitness.  It’s easier to control what and how much I eat than burning energy through activity. A five minute food decision to withhold extra calories is faster than one hour of exercise to burn those calories.

Food provides the material my body needs to function properly, the energy for activity, and the building blocks to grow. Our ancestors were able to seek out and find the appropriate amount of calories for their environment.  You would think that we’d be eating optimally with the knowledge and technology we have.  Instead, our environment and society has caused many of us to gain unhealthy weight and forget how to eat well.  We’re still not getting the nutrients we need to have a great diet.  I want to use our knowledge and technology to eat optimally.

I want to create a sustainable eating lifestyle.  It’s going to be a process. I’m making small changes to my diet. Small changes add up. This is a long term solution, not a short term fix. I want to move away from counting calories or points to eating intuitively.  I am creating a new diet one bite at a time and one meal at a time. At home, I’ll be restricting the option for food so I’m not tempted everyday by food that won’t get me to my goals.  It will make my decision making easier and exerting my willpower doesn’t have to a struggle. The small changes I will make will have a multiplicative effect in my life.  Not only will I be healthier but being physically active will be easier.  I don’t have to haul around excess weight as I walk, hike, bike, etc.

I’m starting from scratch because of a setback but it is setting me up for an amazing comeback.  I’ll be using what I’ve learned in the past and the knowledge I’m discovering now.  Most importantly, I’m taking action now. I am making this a priority since my health and fitness touches every aspect of my life.  I’m not waiting until the beginning of next year or next week or tomorrow.  I’m doing it now because I want to do more and go further tomorrow.

What are you doing to craft a better and healthier you? What do you want to accomplish with a healthier and more capable body?

Giving Back and Forward at the 2015 Chicago Marathon

Chicago Marathon F Corral

I have volunteered with various foot races events since I started running.  It’s only right for me to do so. Races of all kinds needs volunteers to function well and smoothly.  Without volunteers, races would either be too expensive to host or poorly executed.  As a runner (and cross country skier), I am grateful for the time and energy volunteers invest into these races.  As a volunteer, I am grateful for the positive energy I get from other volunteers and gratitude I receive from some of the runners.  I get a warm glow from this energy and knowing that I helped create a safe, organized, and quality experience for everyone involved in running.

This year the Chicago Marathon staff placed me at the starting line to help supervise F corral in Wave 2 with another supervisor.  My role in this orchestra is to help lead forty plus volunteers to ensure a safe environment for participants and volunteers, direct participants into their proper corrals, instruct runners and volunteers to race information, ensure a great experience for volunteers and participants, and tear down the starting line. I was lucky enough to receive great volunteers that were ready and willing to help accomplish these race day goals.

I’ve been fortunate the last three years to have a good volunteer crew. During the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle, I was paired with Beta Alpha Psi, Gamma Pi Chapter at Northern Illinois University.  Beta Alpha Psi is a scholastic and professional society for financial information students.  They did a great job Beta Alpha Psi did a fantastic job, they went above and beyond what I asked, and stuck with me until we tore down the starting line. They didn’t have to do more than what was required. They wanted to do more than what was required of them. For the Chicago Marathon, I worked with Alpha Sigma Tau, Delta Delta Chapter at University of Illinois at Chicago, an MBA student from Lewis University, a Cook County prosecutor, and a few random high school students from random Chicago schools. This day treated me to an even better volunteer experience than the last.

My past leadership and volunteer experience created a better experience on marathon race day. I knew volunteers are giving their time without any financial compensation. I attempted to make this experience positive. I didn’t want to be the a-hole volunteer raining on their parade but we needed to get a lot of work done eventually. I told them what the timeline will be and what our assignment was. I also encouraged them to take photos at the beginning of out volunteer shift so they have a photos to reminisce over. I gave everyone their roles and this race I tried something different. I delegated leadership to individuals in Alpha Sigma Tau.

Alpha Sigma Tau was a great to work with. I gave the megaphone to Melissa so she can organize and get her sisters in line.  My co-supervisor Ecat (sp?) and I worked with the sorority’s group leader, Victoria, on assignments and the timeline. They were eager to help out.  I didn’t have a problem with them chatting too much or not working.  The women I placed at the corrals did their jobs well.  Some of them even attempted to be assertive and nice when we needed to move the participants to the front of the corral so we can fit as many people in F corral before shutting the gates.  When we were tearing down the starting line, they worked as hard as the guys I had from NIU. They were pleasant to work and chat with. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with these individuals or this sorority again. If or when I’m in a position to hire good and hard working people, I’d love to pick from this group. (If only I knew how to network effectively…)

One of my favorite aspects of volunteering as a supervisor is that I have an opportunity to meet new people and get to know them during this brief moment in our lives. Of the people that weren’t with the sorority, the person I remember most was Aaron. I really enjoyed listening to him. I wish the public would hear more stories about budding young men like him. If I remember correctly, he’s attending a Chicago Public School high school. It’s his senior year looking into colleges. His top choice is Tuskegee University. He participates in JROTC and appears to be trying to be a good person. As we talk, I can hear the respect have gives me in his words and the warmness in his voice. It gets stronger and more confident the longer we talked. I suggested that Tuskegee is a great school to pursue and a great environment to develop into a good man. I wish him the best and hope he finds a lot of success in his life.

Before tear down and clean up, one of the volunteers from another corral said to me while I was passing by that they wished that they were in my group after they saw how I treated my group. It felt really good inside that my approach can earn the hearts of people I didn’t directly with. I’ve always thought a good leader does more than manage people; they inspire people to follow them. It added evidence to my budding new confidence that I have the ability to go beyond management and lead.

I had a great time volunteering this year.  I look forward to another volunteering experience. I hope to get paired with a group of great volunteers like I did with Beta Alpha Psi – Gamma Pi Chapter, Alpha Sigma Tau – Delta Delta Chapter, and the individual volunteers that came due to the kindness in their hearts. They make the volunteer and race experience fun and enjoyable.

The Solo Road Trip

The Solo Road Trip

I embarked on a journey west of Chicago. I was at a crossroads. I needed to explore. I needed sort things out and determine what path to take in my life. Traveling alone gave me time to reflect and find clarity. It’s a place where influential  voices and opinions didn’t stain my thoughts. I headed west to explore lands on the other side of the Mississippi River and to explore myself.

The original plan was to take the Lincoln Highway all the way to San Francisco.  My heart had other plans. I listened and answered that call. I drove towards Oregon to explore the northwest corner of the lower forty-eight states. I took interstates, US highways, state byways, and gravel roads. I stopped when I was moved by something and curious to explore.  I pushed to the next destination because it was practical and necessary.  I think I am better for letting my heart lead the way.

I found joy and happiness on the road.  I didn’t expect this because solo travel can be lonely at times. Why did I find this warm feeling inside me even when I was alone? I owned my time and energy. It wasn’t shackled and controlled by other people. I had the freedom and flexibility to go any direction I want. I heard the joy and aspirations of people in good and bad situations. I met people who I would not have met if I traveled with a partner. I spent time with my brother when he came down from the mountain and hung out with Joe and Kelly, a couple of friends actively pursuing their dreams in Idaho. Most importantly, I had the ability to walk away from negative people situations and spend time with good people.

I experienced my best sleep on this trip. I woke up ready to explore and learn. I lost weight while eating a mix of McDonald’s and camp cooked meals.  I started to gain a sense of direction by understanding my internal map and compass. I began to piece together what I need to be successful. I know how a lonely happiness feels like.  (Trust me, it’s not a bad thing.  It’s a very good and pure feeling.)

It was a beautiful journey, a journey I wish I devoted more time to. The was so much to explore but so little time. The road helped me strip away the physical clutter and extraneous voices in my life In this short time. After a brief moment of clarity, I found a key piece of the puzzle buried under the other pieces. I have an image of success now.  I also know what I need to nurture the type of success I want.

The process continues at home but I don’t have  the road stripping the clutter away now that I’m back in the Chicago area. What is a guy to do? This guy starts living his life intentionally as he focuses his time and energy on living his life well.



I look at the man in the mirror. His face reflects the life he leads, and the life he witness. Is this the life he envisioned many years ago? Is he living the life he dreamed of? His eyes reluctantly tells the truth. This life is not the life he expected. It’s not as bold, as great, or as beautiful as his childhood dream. It became the life of the status quo, a life of mediocracy. It’s never too late to stop and change the trajectory of one’s life.

Improving one’s life involves accepting where you are right now, knowing where you want to go, and taking small actions focused on the life you want. Small actions creates small accomplishments. Small accomplishments builds momentum to do amazing things. Momentum can pull you through difficult times in order move in the direction you want. Momentum can drive you beyond what you thought is possible.

I feel like western society slowly strips away a person’s dreams because it’s not practical or not in line with other think your life should be. People who care about us wants us to play it safe and do it their way. Doing remarkable things are reserved for other exceptional people. My dreams and I slowly drifted apart in order to do what other thought I should do. These notions of what ought to be started grinding at me. Life wasn’t satisfying. It started to be empty. I didn’t feel like myself. I wonder what it feels like to doing what I love and what I am obsessed about. If I know where I want to go in my life, I can create a road map to guide me there. I believe everyone can do great things and are exceptional in their unique way.

What were my dreams, passions, and obsessions when I was young? What did I want to create and build in my life? I need the time to reconnect with my dreams, passions, and obsessions. I decided to strip things out of my life. Stripping things out of my life will focus my energy and remove outside influences that would sway my thoughts.

I feel like I did too many things that spread my energy too thinly. I was unable to create the momentum to build anything meaningful. The tug and pull of each endeavor made me feel guilty that I didn’t spend enough time with it. I finished my formal education last Spring. I took a leave of absence from work. I plan to go on my road trip so it’s only me and the open road.

This strip down life gives me time to stretch my arms wide open and accept things in my life. It feels good like a refreshing rain on a hot summer day. I can choose to bring it into my life or cast it aside. I can assign meaning and a perspective that is uniquely my own, not heavily influenced by others.

I hope I can find direction by stripping my life down as minimal as possible so I can reconnect with my dreams, passions, and obsession. It’ll also give me time to spend time with myself without outside influences swaying my thoughts. I hope I can look at the man in the mirror again and smile because I can see how fulfilled his life is by living the life he wanted to live.

Image Credit: The Man in the Mirror by Rooners Toy Photography

5 Reasons I Bought a Road ID

Road ID Band

I decided to buy a Road ID after my accident last year.  I’ve considered it in the past when I had close calls during road runs. I used to think that I don’t need it if I had state or federal identification on me. Now I realize the benefits of the Road ID. All the past close calls on the road and the incident on the bike trail culminated into my decision to get a Road ID. Here are my reasons why I bought a Road ID.

  1. The Road ID identifies me if I do not have my state of federal identification. There are many times where I go out for a run and I forget to slip my state identification into a pocket. I own running shorts that don’t have good large pockets to put things in. I’ll have ID with the Road ID if I get separated from my gear. During my bike rides, I often keep my wallet in a pannier or saddle bag so it doesn’t get soaked in my sweat or rain.
  2. My emergency contact information is listed. It makes it a lot easier for first responders and emergency department staff contact my love ones in case of an emergency. A lot can happen during a race or an event. Bibs can easily be separated from a participant. If I’m unable to communicate, they can find my info still.
  3. First responders and ED staff don’t have to waste too much time identifying me. When I worked as a registrar in an emergency department near my home, I had to help a nurse lift a body up to find their identification since the paramedics couldn’t find it. They can focus their time on treating me or other patients.
  4. It’s convenient. It’s a bracelet that I can slip on. It can stay on my wrist for the entire day.
  5. I find it attractive. You can customize it with different bands, badges (charms), and engraving. As you can see, bought a Road ID with a red band and engraved “Have faith and believe.” It’s a great reminder when things get rough out there to have faith in myself and believe in my abilities. Other accessories I bought are the barefoot and chain link badges as well as additional band colors.

I think the Road ID is an important piece of gear for anyone with an active lifestyle. It’s something that’s important to have and hope won’t get used for it’s intended purpose.

When you get your Road ID, how would you customize it and what activity would you use it for?

Marathon Maybe?

Detroit Free Press Marathon LogoI’ve been thinking about the marathon again.  Choosing an event like the marathon helps me focus on getting fit and healthy. It’s a short term goal to concentrate on and makes it more difficult to put off my training.  It’s my reason to stay consistent when I don’t want to workout that day. It helps me to concentrate on a date and place so I can develop a training plan.

My cousin, Chris, and I talked about his next marathon.  Ed, another cousin, became interested and Matt said he’ll do the half marathon.  Chris registered me for the Detroit Free Press Marathon as a late birthday present.  It’s a great present from a great guy. Matthew and Ed registered shortly after Chris registered us.

My goals will be a bit different than the past. After completing my first marathon, my goals switched from just simply finishing to improving my times.  My goals this year are starting the marathon at my goal weight, run negative splits, and finishing the marathon feeling good. Feeling good means being able to be in good spirits, no injuries during the race, and be ready to run another six miles after a few hours of rest from the marathon. My goal weight is eliminating about 1.5 excess pounds a week (roughly 18 to 25 pounds total) until the marathon.

What event do you have that will keep you focus? Is it a race, vacation, birthday, wedding, or something else important?  Let me know below!

One Year Since the Bike Accident


Today marks the anniversary of my accident on the Fox River Trail. I decided to go on an 80 mile bike ride to celebrate the end of Spring semester and quitting my job to travel, explore, and seek adventure. Halfway through my ride, I found myself wrapped around a tree trying to avoid a collision with a bicycle rider. It sidelined me for over a month and created another obstacle to work through while being patient. Yet it propelled me forward by teaching me something about myself and alter my outlook in life.

The bike rider was riding in the middle of the Fox River Trail. Her wheels crossed the solid line that separated the opposite lanes a few times. I thought I could ride the edge of the pavement to avoid her. Instead, I left the pavement and lost control of my bike.  I rolled down the side of the path until a tree stopped my movement. Thunk! My right forearm softens the blow before it redirects my body to slam the right side of my rib cage into the tree.  My hips where over my bike bar. I couldn’t breath. I thought I punctured my lung. I thought this was the end of my life.  It’ll end a few feet away from the trail.

Suddenly my lungs fill with painful air.  I yelled for help.  Someone finally reached me and immediately called 9-1-1 immediately when she saw me. While she was on the phone, I tried to separate myself from my bike and the tree. Starting from the top and moving down, I tested my body for feeling and movement.  Head? Check. My head didn’t hit the tree (thanks forearm!) and my neck didn’t snap violently. Fingers? Check. I can feel them and move them. Thighs? Yes. Toes? I can feel them moving in my shoes. I slowly peeled myself off the tree and separated my cleats from the pedals. My right arm was scraped up. The tree imprinted itself along the right side of my chest. No holes.  I was lucky. A few inches in any direction could have ended me.  The left drop on my bar was bent and the left brake was displaced.  My panniers were no longer attached to my bike. My bike seemed to be better shape than me. The 9-1-1 operated asked the woman if I still needed help.  I said I’ll be okay. She ended the call. I thanked her and she went on her way.

As the shock wore off, the pain began to set in and bite hard. The open wounds on my arm and chest began to sting.  Every breath reminded me of my tenderized ribs. A sharp pain appeared in my right thigh (which later became a nasty bruise) made my muscles cramped.

There were moments when I wanted to quit. A police vehicle was sitting near the trail and I thought about asking for help. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was my ego, maybe I didn’t want to make people worry, or maybe I didn’t want to inconvenience people. I just kept on going.  I paused to collect myself and rest when I wanted to stop. I pushed myself until I completed the 40 plus miles home.

AccidentTempTattooI could barely sleep after the accident because my body hurt so much.  My core muscles couldn’t support me when I tried to get out of bed or a chair. It was too painful to walk or lay down.  I was a mess but alive and in one piece.

Here’s what I learned that day:

  1. I am able to grit it out and ride through the pain. Survival and need to reach a safe place over-rode the negative thoughts that usually prevents me from accomplishing things.
  2. I am resilient and capable of pushing forward until I get to my goal despite my setbacks.
  3. Life is so fragile and temporary. I don’t know how long I have and when my life will end. It’s something I’ve always been aware of. The accident put it in the spotlight.

The accident made me take a step back but in many ways it propelled me forward once I overcame the obstacle.  It taught me something about myself and provided me insight on how to live my life.

Have you had a bad experience that ended up to be a good thing in the long run? Let me know in the comment section below!