Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wilderness Athlete, Wrap up of my 28 Day Challenge

I want to emphasize that this is one of the most personal posts that I have ever written.  This is something fairly difficult for me, mostly to my pride, but I am striving to show background into why I am doing this diet, in hopes that I can honestly portray my feelings to my readers of why this is important to me.  Please bear with me!

Time sure flies by, today is the 28th and final day of my 28 day challenge.  Before I share with you my results of this incredible program, I wish to provide you a little background of why I really chose to reach out to Wilderness Athlete about partnering with them to try the 28 day challenge, and to highlight it on this blog.  I know this is a little off of what is normal for SUH&F, but I have come to realize that more of us than ever are concerned about good nutrition, and being in shape for not only the hunt, but for life in general.  My number 1 goal: if I can motivate 1 person to get up and put a plan into action on better fitness and nutrition, then  I have been successful with these posts over the last 4 weeks.  This has in no way been solely intended to support a sponsor.  I hope you see that reflect in my words today.

Over the past 4 years as much as I may have tried to hide it and brush it off, I have known I am overweight.  Not morbidly obese by any means, but at least a fluctuating 10-20 pounds over the 220 pounds I should be, at the least.  It's something that is pretty impossible to hide from in my profession.  As a wildland firefighter, top notch fitness is a must, and is highly expected of a crew lead as one of my jobs is to motivate the crew to PT (physical exercise) hard each day.  While I have little trouble keeping up when it comes to hiking into a fire, working a chainsaw all day, or swinging a tool, it gets harder each year to keep up with the college aged folks we hire when it comes to running, speed hiking, and a real physical workout.  I do my best, and feel like I push myself, but a couple of weeks of lost PT here and there always seem to set me back. 

The "before" photo. Not the best but the tight shirt says a lot.
My other problem that was obvious; I love food.  The problem is I do not eat right.  As stated before, I don't graze much.  I'm not saying I hork down cookies and candy, my trouble is I'm a meat and potatoes guy.  Not a good balance, and again, I like food, I know I have been over eating, eating too late, and not choosing healthy.  My other big problem is soda.  It's not like I'm a guy that downs a couple of 44 ounce drinks a day, maybe a 32 ouncer though.  The big problem here is the imbalance in what I should be eating.

The first wake-up call came last year as I prepared to have my gall-bladder removed.  The doctor in his matter-of-fact way told me that I really didn't need more than a 6 month or so supply of fat, and I was sitting on 2 years worth.  Ouch!  Well, good news is you loose that quick after surgery.  Bad news is the next 2 months were busy, but not the good physical kind of busy, so it nearly all came back.  The other wake up call with this was that my blood pressure was approaching the higher end of normal.  Not cause for alarm, but obviously an indicator that I needed to change things now before it became a problem.

The lowest blow came this summer.  I was becoming more self conscious about how bad I was getting anyway, so it wasn't like I wasn't expecting it.  On our crew not much is sacred!  We joke and laugh a lot, if there is a chink in your armor someone most likely will find it.  You have to be able to take what you dish out.  So, after I jumped ahead in the score one day one of my crew members said something I didn't entirely catch at first, and I could tell he didn't want to repeat it.  After a little heated "persuasion" it came out.  He joked (please excuse me if this offends you) that the seat belt tight against my shirt made me look like "one of those tiny pregnant girls with a big belly and little boobs".  This is hard to share and admit, but he was right.  I can't tell you how hearing that felt, and if you are reading this I hope you do not feel bad about saying it, I'm over it, and I probably needed to hear it.  I'll be honest, at that point I wanted to crawl in a hole and give up.  What did everyone else think of me?  In a world where perfection is focused on so heavily, what kind of first impression was I giving, especially in my profession?

Well I can answer that.  As I was more aware of myself, and traveled to other fires that year it was easy to see.  Doubt, lack of inclusion, and even looks of disgust.  Keep in mind, we are only talking 10-15 pounds off of where the doc said I should be.  To reaffirm the negativity, others in the fire organization that I considered good friends had begun to talk and ridicule, and still are, most of which was not said to my face.  OK, none of it was.  I can't begin to tell you how much of a low I hit as close friends and co-workers, those I look up to and admire, started in on it.  People always think it never gets back to the source, I'm here to tell you it does, and the pain is indescribable as you would think those would be the folks to lift you up and offer advice or support.  I can see why people that struggle with weight often slip into depression and just give up on loosing the weight, as the support network disappears and you also begin to give up on yourself.

Through the winter this weighed on me heavily.  One thing I will say though is that nothing has driven me more in my life than people saying I can't do something.  I have a fairly good record of proving the idea that I "can't" wrong.  So I made my goals to work out and eat better.  Before starting Wilderness Athlete I had maintained a weight at or just near 230 all winter, better than past winters for some time.

So I heard about Wilderness Athlete, and other people's success with it.  My brother was my final selling point, as he told me how coach Poulsen could get anyone in shape, and Wilderness Athlete came from him.  He helped produce Brian Urlacher, what does that say?  It speaks for itself!  Review after review, more good, more positive.  But the cost worried me.  This is where I approached WA about trying the 28 day challenge and sharing what I have shared as I gave the program my all.  I feel good about saying over the past 28 days I have done just that.  But I think I have definitely received more of the benefits from it.

So, I set a lofty goal of 220 pounds after the 28 days, realizing that 225 has always been a wall to me.  Well, I powered right through that wall, like I never imagined I could do:

221.6!  Well, it's a pound and a half short of my goal, but it's still a surprise to me!  That's an average of 3 pounds per week, and nearly 12 pounds in all!  What isn't shown her is that I'm down nearly another 2", bringing the total lost in inches to 9 1/2"!  Keep in mind, some people get shocked at that number, that is from a combined tally of several different measurements (chest, waist, hips, upper thigh, lower thigh, calf, biceps, forearm).  While it's not enough to be getting tons of comments, I can feel it, and I can see it.  Am I there yet?  No, I still have a ways to go on the stomach and chest.  In fact, due to mostly running and hiking most of it has came off of my legs, hips, and stomach, not much in the upper body. 

A ways to go, but much better!
Is this a wonder weight loss product?  In my mind no, not really.  It's not a magic pill that makes you loose weight.  This is about nutrition, the results are up to you.  But I can say, I have never lost that much weight in that short of amount of time by exercise alone.  Most importantly is the way I feel.  Dieting is hard, it's hard to stick to, it's hard to fight the cravings, it's hard to fight the pain of exercise, and it's hard to fight a busy schedule in life.  Life itself has been my greatest challenge, finding time to get it all done.  It has taken a bit of sacrifice, extra hours up at night doing homework, a supportive wife encouraging me along the way, but it has all paid off.  I'm looking forward to kicking off 1 more 28 day challenge this week!  Everything arrived last night, just in time!

So what did I do this week to loose 3 more pounds?  Well, I upped everything basically.  Work was more demanding this week, lots of hiking, and even a full day of dragging a drip torch and carrying a pack as we were out burning.  That was a huge plus to get away from the desk.  I added another 1/2 mile to my runs, which I am doing every-other day.  I basically had 1 day in 9 days since my last post that I did not work out.  If I wasn't running, I was at the gym.  At work I tried to find the hard way everywhere to exert more energy.  The great thing is that I'm starting to get rid of the pain in the legs to where I think if I wanted to I could run every day.  The pain is the big reason I go for every other day.

Again, sorry about the before and after shots!  I'm not going to take a bunch of photos with my shirt off.  It will look like an albino was in a Tijuana knife fight!  Scary stuff!

The other side of that is nutrition.  I didn't have a shake for every meal.  Again, the "Lean Loss" is doing it's job, I don't feel the need to eat all the time.  When I do, it's smaller portions, less starch, no sugar, less salt, and not eating after 7 PM.  When I eat, I stop when I start feeling full, I don't power through it like I used to.  I go to bed a little hungry, and that's what we should be doing to prevent our bodies from storing it at night.  This sounds like I didn't even use the products, but they have their place, and I love them.  Let me break them down:

Hydrate and Recover/Energy and Focus:  
These items are amazing!  I mix the 2 in the AM as soon as I'm up, creating the "Blaze:  Within minutes I'm feeling the energy, and that laziness of the morning and not wanting to workout is gone.  This is what is providing the energy and the drive for the day.  I love the vitamin boost, the energy, and the taste.  There is no crash by the way.  I do throw down another Hydrate and  Recover at lunch, to keep the fire burning, and to fill the stomach so I won't fill the need to eat as much.  I throw one in here and there after or before workouts, or maybe when I'm studying late at night to keep the energy going.  When I am done with the hardcore diet I'll keep these 2 products going anyway, the benefits are awesome.   What a replacement for soda, doing my body wonders and I love the taste.  Cutting soda has been big in this process!  What a blend to promote energy, and to take care of your joints and muscles!  Keeps me focused and alter all day!

Meal Replacement Shakes:  I've only sampled strawberry and chocolate, I think I'm preferring the strawberry!  I love these shakes, I leave out a bit of water to make them thicker, and make up for it by drinking a bit more water after.  I have one in the morning, 15 minutes after the blaze, and I mix things up depending on meals from there.  Sometimes it's lunch, or if I had a bigger lunch I make it dinner.  The flexibility of this program is what I love.  Just remember, no eating after 7 PM!  In the morning I mix in the Green Fusion.  Vitamin packed, this takes care of the "grazing" problem to a large extent.  All of your veggie and fruits required daily in a small scoop.  That being said, I am doing better on eating the greens I like throughout the day and with meals as well.

Lean Life and Multi-vitaminI take 2 Lean Life with the morning blaze, and 1 before lunch with the Hydrate and Recover.  They provide a great source of nutrients as well, but most importantly controls that appetite.  I know the multivitamins are doing the job!  Two of these in the morning helps me feel great all day, and helps fight off what ails ya for sure!

So again, to those that are a little afraid to try WA due to cost or just because it's "another one of those diet schemes", Wilderness Athlete is far from!  Look at the cost and your regular grocery bill, I can attest to the fact that I am not spending more.  Most of our regular food bill has went to just buying for the kids.  I'm also using leaner meats, more elk, more deer, more chicken.  Our costs for groceries this month shrunk considerably, offsetting the cost of the WA products.  But the only way you will know is to try.  I'm not going to sit here and promise you it will work, the most important component to the formula is YOU!  Before you try it I would suggest making up your mind to commit to a physical workout plan that raises the bar each week.  It will work if you prepare yourself and commit, and follow Mark Poulsen's directions to a T.

 Looking to just get in a little better shape, or condition for the hunts?  Then there's not much to it, 28 days and your normal, active routine will help you immensely, but just imagine what it will do if you raise the bar as well!

This shirt is looking a lot better than last year!
Now, I imagine some of you are saying "well, it's easy for you!  I can't do what you are doing".  Let me tell you something, it is by no means easy for me.  This is a bit hard to talk about as well, I don't reveal this very often, again as I wonder what people I work with will think.  To begin with, I have had knee trouble since I was about 20, I fight that pain, that is nothing new.  It makes running very difficult at times.  A more correct diagnostic of having IT Band syndrome (this is the easy term, ITBS for short) has helped me treat it properly.  Basically the IT band muscles on the outside of the knee become inflamed and it hurts pretty bad.  A cortisone shot and a set of stretches now helps this.  My largest challenge, however lies in a past injury.  In early October of 2007 I was severely injured when an ATV flipped over backwards and landed on me.  The result was a skull fracture, broken nose, several broken ribs, and a compression fracture to my L1 vertebrae.  After a week in the hospital I spent 5 months in a "turtle shell", along with a long road of physical therapy.  While it was never a question of if I would walk or not, there question was there about career choice.  I pushed myself through the pain to get back into doing what I love.  Then I gained the weight.  Why?  Partly because I do feel limited in what I can do before the accident.  This is where proper nutrition becomes more vital to me.  Sure I can run, but I don't see myself running distance races by any means.  I live with the pain daily.  There's not much to do about it, I mostly keep it to myself, heck, my wife would be surprised to read this.  Working out quite often hurts!  The more I do it often, the better the pain management, but there are the days where I just don't want to do it.  My point: if I can muddle through the pain I really feel like anyone can.  I'm nothing special, if you reach down inside you can find the motivation to change, even if it's making a negative in a positive as in my case.

In the end, I don't want to hit my goals just to prove my critics wrong to boost my pride.  I'm doing this for me, I want better for myself.  In hindsight, through the hurtful words and pain, I'm glad I have heard what has been said, it has been the motivator.  I'm not going to be the kind of person to go confront others on it, or be bitter about it.  What's done is done, I'll make it my positive.  But after experience such I would urge others that if you truly are a friend, reach out and offer that support and advice if you see someone struggling.  I hope that above all I have accomplished this today.

We all need help now and then.  If I can do it, you can.  Wilderness Athlete has been a great motivation, a great support and guide in getting it done, and I urge you to at the least give it a try.  Personally, if you plan, commit, and give it your all you will be impressed.  I want to thank everyone at Wilderness Athlete for giving me the opportunity to work with you, and I look forward to continuing to support you as you have me.  I also look forward to continued use of WA products!  I can't wait to try more of their products as I condition for hunts this fall! 

By the Way, did I mention their Spring Training package?  A great bundle, at a great price!

If you want to test the waters at a lower price, try out the 10 day challenge!