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July 5th, 2013 / Sean Willson

Family Gardening

I haven’t had a garden since I was a wee bit lad of around 6 or 7 years old but I remember fondly. We planted lots of vegetables and tons of strawberries. That huge patch of strawberries we had filled like 1/3 of our giant garden. My brother and I would sneak a few berries when playing outside and my mom made some amazing strawberry jelly. She’d can it and we’d eat it for months and months. Since then I’ve never had a garden nor helped with one. My produce always came off the refrigerator box trucks of my local supermarket like most of America.

Way back in January I started reading and researching gardening, raised garden beds, and permaculture. Heading into this spring I was torn because I knew we were doing some landscaping that would make a garden impractical this season yet I wanted to grow something. So instead of planting a huge garden at home we bought a small planting pot for some tomatoes and reused some of our other pots for some peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries (I know they like space but I wanted to try). We also commandeered some planting space at my in-laws in their yard as they weren’t planning on growing as many crops this year.

Here’s a shot of roughly where we started in our pots:

Tomato And Pepper Plants Soonish After Planting

And here’s where we are now:

Tomato Plants 6-8 Weeks After Planting

Tomato Plant, 6-8 Weeks, Up Close

Needless to say our tomatoes not only love their pot and the light but the trellis we picked up as well. I’m anticipating a huge tomato crop soon! Our cucumbers however, never really amounted to much.

Here’s a picture of where we started with the garden at the in-laws:

Family Garden Soon After Planting

And here’s an idea of roughly where it is now:

Family Garden After A Few Months Of Growth

Lots of progress and really not much work. Besides the rabbit attacks on our broccoli and cauliflower that required replanting and fencing in there hasn’t been much maintenance. We’ve had a crazy amount of rain lately so watering overhead has been minimal.

This garden is just what we needed right now. After having trouble getting going all year but hitting lots of snags along the way we’re finally kicking it again right in time for our first bounty to be delivered:

Our First Radish Crop Of The Season

Snappy with some bite, yumm! No, I’m not talking about my wife I’m talking about the radishes ;) Seriously though, this healthy food from the garden is going to be awesome and just what we need to compliment our workouts. Staying motivated just got a little easier and tastier as well.

I’m really looking forward to teaching the kids more about growing their own food. They’re a bit young right now to really understand it but they helped us plant and pick some of our first crop of radishes. We had to tell them a few times to not pull a few of the smaller ones and to not stand on the carrots but they have to learn somehow.

I refuse to allow my kids to be statistics who don’t know where their food comes from, how to feed themselves, and how healthy and easy it is to grow their own food.

Seriously, it really was easy and I have no idea why I waited so long to start a garden, even on a small scale. If you have a limited amount of space you really can still grow a lot of plants. The pot we used for the tomatoes can grow a number of smaller plants if you want and it really is simple to water and grow.

Look for more random gardening pictures and posts in the future. As I work to round out a healthier lifestyle, growing our own food is going to not only make this easier and healthier but fun as well!

July 1st, 2013 / Sean Willson

Failure Is Both My Friend And My Enemy

I’ve failed more times than I can count and honestly this time is no different. I can sit here and make excuses and tell you how hard having 3 kids is, about my family getting sick on and off for over a month, my basement flooding under 6′ of water, or a million other excuses but they’re just that, excuses. For me failure is something that first must be acknowledged (just did), then it must be understood, and finally it must be stomped on and used as a springboard onto subsequent success.

According to Wikipedia, Failure is:

The state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success … The criteria for failure are heavily dependent on context of use, and may be relative to a particular observer or belief system. A situation considered to be a failure by one might be considered a success by another, particularly in cases of direct competition or a zero-sum game. Similarly, the degree of success or failure in a situation may be differently viewed by distinct observers or participants, such that a situation that one considers to be a failure, another might consider to be a success, a qualified success or a neutral situation.

I know I’ve had some amazing successes on my fitness journey. I started at over 450 pounds back in 2000 and I’ve since finished a sprint triathlon, a 70.5 half ironman, numerous 10k, 8k, and 5k runs and countless bike races ranging from 50-150km and at one point I was down to 249 pounds in 2011.

I’ve since however gained 50 pounds back and have have failed to stay focused long enough to get back to my low. I started this year doing awesome but then failed to maintain and stay on track. I recently failed a few times, pretty quickly, to get started again … much to my dismay.

Failure is both my enemy and my friend for if I don’t fail how do I learn lessons or appreciate success?

So what did I learn this time (failure) around?

  1. Life loves throwing us curve balls in 2013. I need to prepare more for speed bumps to help get through them with less impact.
  2. Bad food quickly cascades during stressful times. When it’s hard to cook (insert sickness or flood) making bad food choices is easy, making healthy choices if extremely difficult.
  3. Even goals like bike rides or races aren’t always enough to stay motivated. Despite signing up for the Wisconsin Triple Crown I wasn’t able to stay focused and motivated through the difficult first half of this year.
  4. A very quiet fitness blog likely means a blogger that’s floundering.

I’ve failed, I’ve learned some lessons, and now it’s on to using these lessons as a springboard to future success.

I’m back to hardcore focused eating and workouts. I’m working on controlling my carbohydrates more as they tend to get out of control ( > 300g per day ) early and looking back at my past successes my carbs were pretty low ( < 200g per day ) and consistently controlled. My wife and I are also going to make time to workout and keep each other on track. We're back to cooking more and staying active regardless of the crazy obstacles the second half of this year has in store.

I'm sorry I've been quiet for so long. Look for more frequent updates again with lots of my normal workout, food, blogging, cycling, and other random banter. Thanks for sticking around and reading my blog, I hope others have had great success on their journeys.

January 22nd, 2013 / Sean Willson

Weighing In On Time Tuesday

I’m trying to get today’s weigh-in on time instead of late like last week. I didn’t really know what to expect this week. I’ll explain more in a minute, first on to the numbers.

Weighing In At 281.2 PoundsPrevious Weight — 284.0 lbs (on 01.17.2013)
Current Weight — 281.2 lbs
Change In Weight-2.8 lbs

That makes me happy and sad at the same time. I know, weird right? Let me explain … you see last Thursday I was 281.6 lbs. I know, that’s only 2 days after last weeks weigh-in but I was down a lot. My body has a weird ebb and flow to losing the weight this time around.

Heading into Thursday, if you read my last weigh-in, you’ll know I had a awesome work dinner that night. The next morning I was up nearly 4 pounds after the steak and all the fixins. What followed was 4 days of eating great and within calorie budget (which was awesome) but 4 days of being tired and not motivated which meant no workouts (not awesome). This obviously didn’t bode well for getting rid of that 4 pounds of water so it went down very slowly.

The past few days we’ve had great workouts even though they’ve been hard. I’m really not the best evening workout person, especially after a long day at work or at home with the kids. Despite all of this crazy water gain after Thursday I still managed to lose this week so that’s amazing and I’ll take it!

I’m looking forward to some killer workouts this week and seeing if I can’t get into the 270’s by the end of January.

How was your week?

January 17th, 2013 / Sean Willson

Tuesday’s Scale Day on Thursday

Well the week got away from me and if you follow me on twitter you likely already saw this but I weighed in on Tuesday. I took a picture and everything, just like I usually do, I just haven’t had time to post it, sorry.

Straight to it, here it is:

Weighing In At 284.0 PoundsPrevious Weight — 287.8 lbs (on 01.08.2013)
Current Weight — 284.0 lbs
Change In Weight-3.8 lbs

Pretty awesome progress for my second week, I can’t complain at all! What’s weird about it though is that most of that was lost at the end of last week and then I flattened out over the weekend. My losses are definitely flowing differently now without free meals or anything which is taking some getting used to.

Yes, I still get on the scale every day. It’s something I’ve always done and always will. I feel like it helps me to be honest with myself and I don’t go nuts if I don’t lose. I do question the changes though, be they too dramatic or not at all because I really do care how my body is effected by what I do to it.

My food has been dead on, like I always want. My wife’s to thank there as she continues to make some amazing meals every day. We plan the whole week out on the weekend and then she executes most of it by the time I get home from work each day. It’s been awesome for her and me as we’re both seeing great progress on the scale.

I’m consuming around 2,000 calories per day through 6 small meals usually consisting of 3 traditional meals (smaller though) and 3 smaller snacks. My staples are things like greek yogurt w/granola mixed in, hard boiled eggs, fruit, trial mix (usually at night), quinoa (in random dishes), chicken, turkey, and peanut butter mixed in random things. I honestly have trail mix almost every night as my last snack, it’s weird. Yes, it’s the kind with raisins and chocolate mixed in, I won’t lie. It is however only 1/4 – 1/3 cup so that helps. That little bit of sweet helps cover my cravings so it’s win win all around.

I’m not planning on changing anything this week to be honest. Tonight (as I’m writing this) I’m returning from a big work dinner downtown. It’s the first time I’ve eaten bad this year … and by bad I mean the food was absolutely fantastic but I’m stuffed and likely shouldn’t have eaten so much. It’ll be interesting to see how my body adapts to the food over the coming days. This is by far not a regular occurrence so it’ll be nice to get back at it tomorrow.

How was your week? Hopefully as good as mine!

January 14th, 2013 / Sean Willson

I Hate Workout Clothes

I know it’s hard to imagine someone making that statement. I mean, they’re just clothes what’s the big deal, how can I possibly hate them?

Some New Workout ClothesAs someone who’s lost, gained, lost, gained … and repeated this a number of times (15 and counting I think) clothes are my arch nemesis. I only once reached a weight where I was starting to feel comfortable in gym clothes and that was nearly 2 years ago when I reached 249 pounds. I still have those clothes and try them on often, sadly they don’t yet fit.

Part of my hatred for gym clothes also comes from the fact that when I workout at the gym I’m very self conscious. I know, that’s weird for a guy to say but it’s the honest truth. I’m not so self conscious that I wouldn’t work out but that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable while I’m there. I find it best to just put my headphones on, put my head down, and just knock out a killer workout … to ignore everyone and everything around me and just focus on the exercises.

Because of this I usually try to find the baggiest shirt & shorts I can to wear into the gym. That way I’m not worried about wearing clothes that are too tight and make me feel fatter than I am. The problem with these baggy clothes is that they’re usually cotton which is one of the worst materials to wear when you’re sweating and really pushing yourself. Cotton is ridiculously hot and clingy and shows sweat marks instantly. That’s not exactly flattering when you’re trying to not increase attention to yourself yet you’re covered in sweaty patches.

What makes it worse is that I’ve tasted the forbidden fruit of airy & comfortable gym clothes that actually match! Now I just kick myself even more for gaining some weight back and being miserable in my heavy cotton shirts again.

I don’t say all of this to scare you away from working out or to confine you to your basement. I still get out there and and make it happen, it’s all a part of the process. You see, the thing is that all of this fat self talk is just me being in my own head … at times I’m my own worst enemy. No one has ever given me a look nor have they made a comment at the gym. Quite the opposite actually, if anything I actually get support and respect for working out and getting healthy. Because of this I know it’s part of the learning process to accept myself and accept what I’ve done to my body. It’s part of the process of gaining better health and confidence in my own body.

It’s a hard thing to admit and an even harder one to accept, but most important lessons aren’t easy. If you’re letting your clothes or self confidence get in the way of working out, don’t! Get out there and just make it happen, give yourself a chance … you might be surprised with the results. Even if you do end up a sweaty cotton mess at the gym, at least there’s the microfiber light and the end of the tunnel ;)

January 8th, 2013 / Sean Willson

A Surprise Tuesday Weigh-In

I know I usually weigh-in on Saturdays but with the new year on a Tuesday and with me changing everything up this year nows as good a day as any to jump on the scale.

In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, and even though I mentioned it the other day, here’s my weight information going into January 1st.

Last Year Weight — 266.6 lbs (on 10.20.2012)
First Of The Year Weight — 294.2 lbs (on 01.01.2013)
Change In Weight+28.6 lbs

I know it’s even more crazy when you think about it only being around 2 months that I gained that weight in. I don’t think I was eating that crazy but I was eating bad, there’s no doubt there. My body doesn’t handle bad food combined with no workouts at all.

Now on to this weeks weigh-in, hopefully with a more positive message. One thing to note about today’s weigh-in, again in the interest of full disclosure, is that it’s in the morning after sleeping and is not after a workout (like previous years). I try to be very consistent in when and in what conditions I weigh-in in order to get comparable numbers.

Weighing In At 287.8 PoundsWithout further ado:

Previous Weight — 294.2 lbs (on 01.01.2013)
Current Weight — 287.8 lbs
Change In Weight-6.4 lbs

That feels really good, I have to admit. I know a lot of that was water but I also worked out really hard and ate great. My wife and I both worked out hard this week and did a vast majority of our cooking at home. My workouts for the week consisted of primarily circuit training and elliptical. We ate out a few times (2 if I remember right) but I picked healthy options like chicken kabobs with a pita and broccoli.

Heading into the second week I’m excited to see how things play out without any type of free meal. I’m hoping my body keeps on burning and I keep on losing without the ups and downs I’ve had in the past. I’m starting to feel my endurance and strength coming back. It amazed me last week how weak I felt in some of the workouts, it’s only been 2 months and I felt like I was starting over again. I actually had to stop a few workouts short because I just didn’t have anything left. That’s fine, I still had a killer workout and this week I’m hoping to push even further. In time I’ll be back to where I was and hopefully hit some new levels.

How’s your weight loss and workouts going in the new year?

January 7th, 2013 / Sean Willson

Small Things Can Add Up To Big Motivation

Social MediaA friend of mine on Lose It! posted a question the other day asking if they should re-friend someone they removed from their friends list due to inactivity. Almost everyone (including myself) said yes, why not? Unless they’ve disrespected or angered you then what harm could it do? In fact, you might be the motivation they need to keep it going this time around.

In the beginning of any new or restarted workout program even the smallest things can keep you motivated. A comment by a friend about how good you look, how your clothes start to feel looser, seeing a change (any change) for the better on the scale, sleeping better at night, that sore feeling after s workout, or even playing with your kids and not getting winded.

Now in this crazy social age where everyone is interconnected via mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc there are even more ways to get (or lose) motivation. I know it doesn’t always feel as good as someone you know IRL saying how good you’re doing but a virtual high five, kudos, or even a Like can add up. Sometimes even just posting and staying on track yourself can motivate others to say “me to, I can do that”. Just because they aren’t being social all the time doesn’t mean you’re not impacting or motivating someone.

Motivation comes in many different forms to many different people. I always enjoy congratulating people with their progress and helping talk them through their mistakes. It helps me to help them as much as I hope it helps them to realize that mistakes are natural. Not everyone is perfect at recognizing others progress but that doesn’t mean you should stop following them.

I’ve received many random messages from people just thanking me for showing them that they can do it, they can lose weight to. Often I get them at times when I to am struggling. Just because I track on things like LoseIt doesn’t mean I’m making progress toward losing. Sometimes I’m just staying accountable and other times it’s me trying to be consistent. What you find sometimes is that other people can often see more positive in your progress then you can, especially when you’re beating yourself up for something. That alone is reason enough to keep or re-add a friend.

That one time they launch the application after not using it for months and still see you making an effort, and perhaps even seeing your successes, could be the final push they needed to get them back on track. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that are the difference between success and failure.

Are you helping motivate or making a difference online?