I Meditated for 10 Days and This is What Happened

I’m not a meditating type of guy. Over the years, many people have suggested this to me – for good reason. Quick tempered for all too much of my life, I could use a way to chill. Type A kind of guy, yeah, I could use some tools to get myself to relax.

As I’ve noted many times, I listen to a ton of podcasts. Many podcasts feature people I admire and a trait shared by 80%+ of them is meditation. Maybe I should give it a shot.

I downloaded the Headspace app and did the free Take 10 program. For 10 days in a row, for 10 minutes, I sat down, turned on the app and did what Andy told me to do. Spoiler alert – it worked and I love it.

Here’s the top four things that happened:

  1. My resting heart rate fell from 74bpm to 65bpm. The only thing I changed was the 10 minutes of meditation each morning. A 12% drop in my average resting heart rate is a big deal for this big guy.
  2. I can quiet my mind. Who knew? My mind is a beast that I’ve never been able to tame. I flit from one idea to the next and rarely have been able to easily center myself. That doesn’t mean I cannot concentrate on a task. What it means is in the downtime, my mind has gone off on its own and it often was not healthy. Now, I have a way to gently bring my mind back to the center, allowing for a calmness I did not believe could exist for me.
  3. When I relax, my body really itches. I haven’t looked this up and maybe it is common, but I find it odd. In a strange way, I also find it comforting because I’m able to feel such minute changes while meditating. Is this some way of connecting with my body? All I know is I itch, good, bad or indifferent.
  4. My life is better with meditation and I’m going to continue. I’ve downloaded a new app to try. If I don’t like it, I’ll pay the subscription to Headspace because I like Andy’s process and a few bucks a month is more than worth it. More importantly, I crave the serenity, the mindful process, in the morning. It is a way to start my day to make the rest of it better.

Will meditation work for everyone? I doubt it. Like most things in life, you have to want to try it. Coming at it as a bit of a skeptic, I was blown away by the immediate results. When my heart rate during the process was down in the low fifties, I knew something good was happening. Also, I am just more awake and aware before any coffee is even in my system.

I should also say that meditation, the way I’m approaching it and the type of guided routines I’m using, is about mindfulness. It is about awareness and finding a way to gain some semblance of control over my mind and body. It is not sitting in a blinding white tunic in the middle of a meadow and clearing my mind. This “guru” picture is what I always thought meditation was like. It isn’t if you don’t want it to be.

As I gain more experience, I hope to find a way to improve other aspects of my life with the tools the discipline teaches. I already believe this will be possible if I am dedicated and patient. If I can use this to stop eating that darn Portillo’s lemon cake,  then it may be the most powerful force on earth.

Sometimes You Have to Suck It Up

Last night was fun. We spent time with some great friends we had not seen in a while. Our hosts are incredible cooks. We brought a few bottles of wine. I may have had too good of a time.

We ate a lot. Thankfully, I was driving, so my wine intake was very modest. But I ate so much I could not sleep. When it was time to get up and run this morning, I didn’t do it.

I spent the better part of the morning with my two-year-old daughter, Michaela, as my wife went out for a mani/pedi. In between playing, reading, and making my little one laugh, I did ten minutes of daily meditation. After Michaela tired of daddy time, I knew my wife would be home soon and I logged on to see what the Sub-30 Club was up to.

When my wife arrived home a little after 11am, I had some choices to make. Reading the Sub-30 posts provided plenty of inspiration. The 82-degree heat and 85% humidity de-inspired.

Then I thought about my cousin and her team doing the Avon 39 walk this weekend. My cousin was out in this heat raising funds for breast cancer research. She had put my mom’s name on her shirt. To top it off, my mom’s last day of chemo was this last Friday.

So, I told myself to suck it up. (For those in Sub-30, I literally told myself #SIUP!) I threw on my gear, including the glorified fanny pack we runners call a “fuel belt” and got outside. I set out to do 30 minutes and did it. I drained water and fuel as I fought the urge to stop. Suck it up, big boy, you have no excuses.

This was not my fastest 30-minute run. It was one of my most satisfying. It was hot, hard, and sweaty. The smile I had as I finished had to look ridiculous. Good. Ridiculous is good.

One Year Later: The FatMan Learneth

One year ago today, June 2nd, I started the FatMan Chronicles. There have been ups and downs because life. Overall, the personal growth is amazing and there is a lot more to come.

This blog started out with my origin story, the whys of what got me to this point in my life. Those stories are real and contribute to my weight and, more importantly, health issues. What has changed is my acceptance of my past and hope for the future. What I did yesterday does not define my tomorrow. The future is much brighter when you are not constantly living in the shadow of the past.

The two biggest changes are that I am listening more than ever and I accept that I need a community to help move forward. As much as I like to talk, and feel I know it all, this listening thing is a big deal.

There are two sayings that mean a lot more now – you were born with two ears and one mouth and ears don’t shut but mouths do. This means I ask more questions now and don’t just sit there waiting to jump in with my two cents. Well, normally I give at least a nickel. Often a dime. OK, a hundred bucks. But I’m working on it.

Also, experts come from places you’d least expect, or maybe just never looked. When you ask questions, listen, and relax, you’ll find that those around you may know way more than you ever thought possible. My brother and I talk about this often. I constantly listen to what he has to say about weight because he’s never had a weight problem. With over 40 years of weight maintenance under his not so ample belt, he’s an expert on the subject. Just because he doesn’t write a blog about it doesn’t make him any less qualified to lend advice. I may argue he is the ultimate expert on the subject. Since he has run over 25 marathons, I listen to him on this too. Not easy to listen to your little brother but it has served me well.

This dovetails right into my other epiphany – I need more like-minded people around me. Whether it is a couple of Gomers doing a podcast or the Sub-30 Club, I have to seek out people to help move my personal journey forward.

Asking for help has never been a strong suit. I’d rather ignore issues or work them out myself. Not the best approach. Now, I ask questions, seek advice, and maybe dish a little out because I’ve virtually surrounded myself with the right people. This extends into my physical life too as discussions with friends and family often come around to health, goals, and how to make life better.

This past Monday is a perfect example. We had a little food and wine with some great friends and the subject of heredity as a factor in weight came up. It was an awesome debate. The result? It motivated both my wife and me to start tracking our intake and move more. Regardless of who is right about the role of heredity versus effort, there is a positive result from the discussion. The fact that we were even talking about this stuff is crazy to me.

And then there is the Sub-30 Club. A podcast made me look them up and my life changed. The fact that Ted Spiker wrote a little blog post that started a movement that ended up impacting a fellow big guy five years later is a testament to the power of this group. I’ve met zero Sub-30 Club members in person yet they have already helped me through tough patches in my life. The notes of encouragement, the advice, the patience and thoughtfulness that this group extends to every member is nearly tear-inducing. They get it and I encourage all of you to join us. It is not about hitting a certain number on a time clock. It is about a community of support that will help propel you to places you never thought possible. And you will feel infinite love and support every step of the way.

With the support of this group, my friends, family, especially my wife and brother, I’ve accomplished a lot in the last year. Besides the personal growth, which is the most important to me, I’ve done a few more things.

I’ve lost weight. Most would say it isn’t much but not gaining weight year after year is a victory to me. I started at 225 and I’m 219 now. I’ve fluctuated, struggled, complained, almost cried, mostly yelled but weight is down. Victory.

Running is now a regular part of my life. It disappeared for a short time but Sub-30 helped get me back on track. I want to make a critical distinction here. Sub-30, along with my brother and wife, HELPED. Ultimately, I have to do the running so I am responsible. If Sub-30 stops talking to me, I would still run. It is easier to get motivated with them on my side. The village can make the movement easier but they cannot do it for you.

Speaking of running, I’ve completed two half-marathons and a 10K in the past year. I have another half-marathon slated for October where I have my first time goal. I want to beat my PR of 2:42. Going to be tough but I’m going for it. In the meantime, I plan to conquer my 5K PR as I work to the elusive sub-30.

That October race was on the calendar and paid for before I knew about Sub-30 so I’ll miss the big meet up that same weekend at the Runner’s World Festival. I plan to be there next year. Maybe I should have told my wife first before publishing this but she’ll understand and, I’m sure, will be there with me.

The future is going to be amazing. My plans include the running goals I’ve outlined, starting daily meditation (downloaded the app today), a new logo, and a podcast, all while being a father, husband, co-worker, friend, etc. The podcast is important to me and something I’ve talked about doing for years. Without this blog and your support, I wouldn’t have the confidence to do it. Look for it to launch in the next few months.

Finally, the biggest impact this blog has had is on the small community that has come together to read it. When I started it, I said if one person reads one entry and has a single moment of clarity that helps them, then it is worth writing. Selfishly, I needed that person to be me, and it has had a tremendous impact. But something much more happened.

I heard from people almost from the get go that connected with the struggle. Some people I knew and others I didn’t but we all had one thing in common – we wanted to conquer our weight issues to live healthy, happy, productive lives. This blog isn’t about having to lose weight. It is about life and all the challenges it presents. The words of support mean more than I can express in words. When my little blog impacts others, I’m overwhelmed and humbled. We truly are in this together, so thank you for reaching out.

One blog in particular resonated with people. The one about that Young, Fit Couple who decided to discuss what they thought of me when they believed I couldn’t hear. Thousands of people read this one and I heard from so many people. It changed how I look at myself and others. My judge-o-meter has gone way down. We all have to start (and re-start, and start again, and again) so only encouragement and, at times, tough love is necessary. Putting people down does not help, ever. Lift people up or get out of the way so we can show you what we are capable of. I forgive that couple, even for commenting on my potential parenting skills. It isn’t worth carrying the grudge because I’m still moving forward no matter what they think.

I celebrated the year anniversary of the FatMan Chronicles with a nice, easy 5K (screenshot of the run below). Day 5 of a run streak I’m doing with many others in the Sub-30 Club, and my wife. Get out there and move. Be better today than you were yesterday. Lift someone up, even if that person is you. My hashtags are #authentic and #IWFC. I mean them both. Thank you for your support and let’s make the next year the best ever, for all of us!

Keep Moving Forward

I was chatting with a friend who is struggling with weight and fitness and he said this: “It is an effort to even find the effort.”

This is a feeling many of us have all too often. We are intellectually motivated, love how we feel when we move, but are constantly bogged down by the sense of constant effort.

Newton’s First Law of Motion starts with a body at rest will stay at rest unless acted on by an outside force. Man, this is so true, especially given all that we can do sitting on our ample behinds these days. Is it easier to open a bag of Cheetos and watch American Ninja Warrior or pop up and go play FatMan Ninja Warrior? We all know the answer.

Here’s the good news – Newton’s First Law of Motion goes on to state that a body in motion at a constant velocity will continue in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force. In other words, if you make a habit of moving, you’ll keep moving.

I used to make fun of the whole “it take a village” thing. Who needs a village when the motivation must come from within? I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

The village cannot make the decision to get us moving and physically force us off the couch. However, the village can encourage you when kindness is needed and kick you in the butt when you get too lazy.

The important part is you have to choose the right people to live in your little hamlet. Here’s rule number one – Chose optimists! That energy will go a long way with keeping you moving forward.

Rule number two – Find challenges! The corollary is to invite others along on that journey. Runner’s World has thrown a summer run streak challenge out starting today. Well, I accept. How many others are coming along for the long run? Together, we can CONQUER!

#IWFC

(Warning – I’m going to swear here. Possibly a lot.)

Two weeks ago, I threw a self-pity party. I put it in blog form for the world (or a dozen of you) to see. I had a written temper tantrum. All part of the process? Probably. I am trying to be authentic in life and that was a part of it.

My wife knew to leave me be. My brother told me to trust the process and keep moving forward. It’s only one metric. My friends in Sub-30 were this perfect mix of empathy, encouragement, and a much needed kick in the ass.

And it worked. I went for a run and felt better. I even came up with a mantra that I have adopted as my new personal favorite hashtag, #IWFC. I Will Fucking Conquer.

I was pumped. This is what I needed. It was exactly the type of mantra for every aspect of life.

Then life happened and I got down on myself. Work took over. I became crabby and full of shitty choices. Make no mistake, I made the choices. This step backwards was fully conscious.

Having to find a way to constantly reset and pump myself up is fucking exhausting. It is much easier to stay motivated. At least in terms of physical activity. This food thing, well, I still don’t have that solved. I like food. I really like highly caloric food. I also would like to live past 50 and be super active, so something has to give.

Over the last week I’ve come to realize what #IWFC really means to me. It means I will continue to pick myself up no matter how many times I fall (shoutout to Phillip). It means making good choices 80% of the time is a huge victory. It means that I have a lot of life ahead of me to achieve these goals IF I follow these rules.

Focus is a key. A little better every day is the key. Forgiving my failures is most definitely a key. Excuses are poison and have no place in life. #IWFC embodies the life I’m living now and in the future.

I hope others join me and hashtag #IWFC out of their posts. #IWFC is so much sweeter when you get to share the conquering with others.

Frustration Hitting Volcanic Levels

It’s been three weeks since I last blogged. I decided to really concentrate on my eating habits and other aspects of my health journey. Well, it started it out well but now I cannot even explain how frustrated I am.

I lost nine pounds in the first 11 days. Dramatic if taken out of context. I am a big guy (duh, the point of the blog) so that much weight when cutting out sugar and white flour is to be expected. Plus, there is water weight involved in the beginning.

In the next 11 days, not only does the scale not move down, I gain 2.5 pounds back. Why bother?

Why sacrifice if I can’t lose the weight anyway? And I don’t want to hear about “overall health” because without the fat coming off, I’m still in danger of major health problems. Healthy and fat may be possible but it is rare and I’m not going to count myself to be that lucky.

I’ve hit this problem in the past and given up. I think anyone who struggles with weight has been here. Most of us just give up, hence the obesity epidemic in our society. 

It’s so much easier to go ahead and just eat whatever I want. Keep running, working on my core and strength, and hope for the best. My running times are coming down. I like the hard work there and see results.

As I write this, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Right now, I really want to head out to breakfast, order a giant plate of biscuits and gravy with a side of pancakes, and eat myself into a food coma. 

I want to run. The problem is my mind is just messed up with this inability to continue to shed pounds. Looking back, I always seem to struggle to get below this 215ish pound zone. I get down to about 212 or 213, then bounce back up, get frustrated after a couple of weeks and go back to unhealthy habits.

The choices are clear – suck it up and find different ways to adjust until progress is made or give up and live like an unhealthy fat guy. I know right now the easy way, the way I’ve always taken, looks really good. I mean it looks like a road paved in pizza good. 

And the worst part, I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve written some hard blogs over the past 10 months. This one is as tough as any. When I’ve reverted back in the past, I did it in anonymity. I just did what I wanted and slowly gained weight back. I was fat anyway, so it wasn’t much of a change.

Now, I have made this more public. Granted, it’s public with mostly people I know, there’s nothing on the line except personal health, but it is still a much bigger deal in my head. I’m not afraid of failing publicly. And I could have just stopped the blog, no one would have said anything.

So, what am I going to do? I don’t know. And that’s the worst feeling of all.

Race Recap: Lincoln Presidential Half-Marathon

Two months ago, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the start line of this race. As I got ready to go, I was nervous. The crisp morning in Springfield, IL did nothing to calm my nerves.

I didn’t share my trepidation with my wife because she had enough to worry about with me out there and our almost two-year-old to keep her busy. I kept it all inside as I ate a bagel and had a glass of water. Then, I decided to look at my phone.

There were words of encouragement from my new friends in the Sub-30 Club, including Dawn who said she would see me during the race. There was a text from my brother. And it started to click – I can do this and I will get to see that smiling little face a few times while I pounded the pavement around Springfield.

I decided to go with shorts and a short-sleeved shirt with a ball cap from the get go, despite the 38-degree temps. The sun was shining and I’m a big dude, so any extra layers wouldn’t be on long anyway. Besides my hands freezing, it was a great decision because I was plenty warm by mile 2.

The race started out really well for me. I had no pain, which is unusual for me in the first couple miles and I felt great. The podcast I was listening to (Ten Junk Miles) was doing the job of keeping my mind off things. I hit my rhythm around mile 5 and put in my two fastest miles. 

I decided to have a GU and that may have been a mistake. My stomach, for the first time with this stuff, got a bit angry. The timing could not have been worse as the first of the hills hit and mile 7 was rough. My back had a twinge and the doubts started to creep in. When I saw my wife and little one at mile 7, I told her I wasn’t sure if I would make it.

I kept going. My mind started to do math and that is never good on a run like this, so I looked at my phone. Don’t know why but there was a message from Ted that simply said, DO IT!!!!! I smiled because I knew that the Sub-30 Club, my family, my kids, my friends – they were with me. 

This helped as I encountered more hills. Who knew Springfield, IL had so many hills? The one just outside the Oak Ridge Cemetery, with Lincoln’s tomb, almost had me thinking they wouldn’t have to move me very far at least. Then another reminder that I wasn’t alone occurred as I went to cross a street and I heard a woman shouting, “Go, Pete!” Seriously? Who even knows I’m out here?

Oh right, Dawn from the Sub-30 Club! She’d never met me but I’ve got a distinct enough look that she recognized me from a distance. First Ted, now Dawn. These people were with me. 

It’s not easy when you are a back-of-the-pack runner who is out there solo. I needed to know I wasn’t alone. Seeing my wife and baby girl four times on the course, the messages, the shout-out – that was what I needed.

The hills took a ton out of me. I was exhausted and afraid to take fuel, so only water for me. My goal was to finish. I knew that would happen now. My secondary goal was to beat three hours. I pushed myself a much as I could and I did it, finishing at 2:57:50.

Even though that could well be my brother’s time when he runs Boston in two weeks, no shame. Even though I was 61st out of 64 in my age group, no shame. Even though I was 501st out of 522 in my gender, no shame. Even though I was 1,126th out of 1,220 runners, NO SHAME. 

In the past, I would have beat myself up for these numbers. In the last year, and especially the last couple of months, I have learned to celebrate every step. I did the miles and finished the distance. DNS and DNF did not happen and that is a victory. If I was DFL, so what?

The race wasn’t about beating others. The race was about beating my personal demons and putting them in an unbreakable cage to wither and die. 

I could have made this race recap very short, something like – I had doubts. I went out there and figured out I wasn’t alone. I did the miles and finished the race. I did have fun. And I cannot wait to do it again. I’ll see you October 22nd in Naperville for another half-marathon. In the meantime, I have some work to do…

I’m Responsible

I’m responsible.

For the fact that I am fat. 

I’m responsible.

For every extra calorie I eat. For every bad food choice I make.

I’m responsible.

For every calorie I cut. For every great food choice I make.

I’m responsible.

For the number on the scale when it goes up, and when it goes down. Even when it does not budge.

I’m responsible.

For every single time I make an excuse to not get out the door, to stay on the couch, to bask in the comfort of laziness.

I’m responsible.

For every run I’ve taken. For every muscle ache. For every minute I pushed further than I thought possible.

I’m responsible.

For being the husband, father, son, brother, friend, co-worker I not only want to be, but crave to be.

I’m responsible.

For seeking out the best support system possible.

I’m responsible.

For accepting the support of my family, friends, co-workers, and those I have chosen to connect with.

I’m responsible.

For for the pain I cause myself.

I’m responsible.

For forgiving myself because I cannot change the past, but I can damn well shape my future.

I’m responsible.

For the life I’m building.

I’m responsible.

Because I’m worthy. 

I’m responsible.

For making sure I’ve connected with the people that helped me realize this.

I’m responsible.

To make sure tomorrow is better than today and today was &%*$#@ great!

That Was a Lie

Yes, I heard those words, “that was a lie,” in the voice of Maury Povich. My life, in that moment, was a bad meme.

Luckily, this lie is in the past and I plan for it to stay there. At least mostly. 

I conducted an experiment on myself yesterday. I wore my FitBit and pretended I was the “old” me. That meant just working, not moving with any purpose. What would happen? How many steps would I take? What would my calorie burn be?

The reason I did this is I can remember being defensive about how much I moved on a daily basis without exercise or purpose. “I move plenty!”

Maury’s voice echoed, “The FitBit determined, that was a lie.”

When I don’t make sure I move, I really don’t move. The total steps were a pathetic 3,498. Sure, it is a sample size of one, but I know that this was a representative day when I didn’t wear my FitBit on days I didn’t run.

Worse yet, I had a work dinner last night that included lamb three ways, so I ate plenty on top of not moving. (Yes, the lamb was good in all three forms, as was the rest of the dinner.) Lesson learned. Point made. 

This little experiment helped me put into focus that I can be lazy if I don’t pay attention. If I decide to just work and only care about one facet of my complex life at a time, I will sit on my ample rear and my weight will grow. I will be out of breath going up stairs. I won’t be able to get on the floor and play with my little one. I won’t be able to hike or run around outside with any of my kids.

I take this as a positive outcome. The person I’ve been for years is not what I want to be and I’m working to change that. Confronting your demons is often the only way to move forward. I lied to myself for years. That cannot continue.

The next time the FitBit runs out of battery (which happens all too often if anyone from FitBit is paying attention), I have to consciously move. The FitBit is my lie detector, but it cannot be solely responsible for how I live my life. That, clearly, is up to me.

Time to go to work. Time to make sure I move.

A Mountain of Motivation

I’m devouring motivation like an extra large pizza with the works. Whether it is from podcasts, blogs, social media groups, my friends and family, I am looking for ways to get pumped up daily.

I’ve talked about my family and friends often because they are a constant source of strength. The Two Gomers podcast and the Sub-30 Club have helped me a ton, even though they are really “strangers.” (I should add that the Sub-30 Club is amazing and everyone should check them out. I have a feeling many in this group will become friends in the coming years.) 

Then there are people you have been blessed to meet over the course of time. Bill Burke, a friend of my parents, sits at the top of this category.

Bill is a great mountain climber. His quiet determination and tenacity are respected within the community and a source of awe for a guy like me. If you want to get more details of what makes Bill special, check out his website (eightsummits.com) where he chronicles his climbing adventures.

If you go to the website, you’ll quickly learn that Bill is a bit older than most scaling the world’s toughest peaks. He is the American record holder having conquered Mt. Everest at 72 years old. Oh, did I mention he climbed that beast from both sides? That’s right, Bill has reached the summit of Everest from both the south and the more difficult north. He was on the mountain six times for those two summits.

My admiration for Bill and his amazing wife, Sharon, started almost the moment my dad introduced us. We were at my parents home and Bill and Sharon were visiting. The conversation was riveting.

After some time, we all went to look at pictures of one of Bill’s attempts to summit Everest. He went through the pictures telling us stories of the trip. There were two parts of the evening that really stuck out to me – Bill’s love of his “training partner” and his quiet determination.

First, Bill’s training partner is his grandson, Ollie. Ollie exhibits the signs of having Angelman Syndrome. Ollie clearly impacted Bill in the best way possible. The gleam in his eye as he talked about Ollie and the impact his grandson had on his life was something I will never forget. Bill’s dedication to doing more in life is clearly inspired by Ollie.

As Bill talked about his trip, the same type of reverence came through about Everest and the people he encountered along the way, especially the native Sherpa. What’s amazing is Bill did not summit that year, and at this point, he hadn’t. This is the other piece that sticks with me.

Bill explained that he came within a couple of hundred feet of the summit in 2007 but turned back because he did not know if he could make it down safely. He was not willing to put his own life in danger, but more importantly those of the Sherpa and other climbers that would undoubtedly come to help. This kind of discipline is inspiring at a whole new level.

You can tell this was a painful, difficult decision. Bill had to ponder “quitting” on the world’s tallest peak as he was within sight of it. How many of us push on when we know it would be better to turn around? How many of us could spend that kind of time (not to mention money) to be within reach of our ultimate goal only to turn around? Even bigger, how many of us would see this as just a blip and go back to try again? And again. And again.

I was an instant fan after this time with Bill. I’ve followed his adventures since. Now, at 74, Bill is back in the Himalayan mountains trying for another summit.

In 2014, Nepal opened up over 100 new mountains for climbing. One of those mountains was christened Burke-Khang. Bill was shocked by this honor.

He’s been to his eponymous mountain twice but it was not safe to summit. The mountain, by Bill’s own account, kicked his butt last year. So, what is there to do? Go back.

Right now Bill is on the mountain and hopes to summit on his 75th birthday. I’m following along and encourage everyone else to do the same.

Bill’s tenacity and grit are not those of a WWE wrestler. He is more matter of fact about how he goes about business. His genuine spirit and love of family are as inspiring as his feats on the mountain. The fact that Bill is the oldest non-Asian to summit Everest and the only person to conquer the world’s seven summits after the age of 60 is only a fraction of his life.

My parents are blessed to have Bill and Sharon in their lives. And I’m lucky to have met them. Bill’s ongoing impact on how I view “my Everest” is a little surprising to me. I didn’t realize the impact until I started thinking about what has motivated me lately. I was following his trek and it became clearer and clearer that this nearly 75-year-old grandfather that I’d met only briefly was a big inspiration for me.

I’m going to keep gobbling up motivation by the calorie-free gallon. I need all the help I can get.