Fat Writer Running

Fat Writer Running – The Triple Dragon August Challenge

Keep your socks on folks, because it’s Fat Writer Running business time!

The most important things in my life are my wife, my friends, and my neurotic dog monsters but after those things there are three big priorities that fight each other for my time and attention. Starting this week I’m throwing these three priorities – I’m going to call them dragons because dragons are pretty damn cool, you guys – into a cage match where they will have to work out their differences and improve the equilibrium of my life. And! The very best part is that I’m going to blog about this and tweet about it and stuff – as long as I don’t get caught in the middle of the rumble.

So, you might be wondering, what are these Triple Dragons, Erik? Are they cake? Is cake involved? I like cake. No, my friends, cake is not involved.

Like Double Dragon but 50% more Dragon-y

My Triple Dragons are Miles, Hours, and Words or more specifically, miles I run, hours I bill, and words I write. These three create a kind of sandwich with things I’m passionate about on one side and things I need to do to not lose my house in the middle. Ideally, there would be proportion in my sandwich but that’s not always possible and lately it’s kind of seemed like one piece of bread has been alright, the other has been wafer thin, and the middle of the sandwich has been made out of lava and bees and workahol. That, my friends, is not a tasty sandwich. Thus, the Triple Dragon August Challenge.

I’m a data nerd, you guys. I dream data sets and metrics and my barbaric yawp far too often comes in the form of a pivot table. I struggle with my addiction to quantifiable measurements (and my tendency to redefine my targets midway through) but for this challenge I think it will be a helpful structure. My ultimate goal is complete parity. Every mile run = an hour billed = 1000 words written. This might not be realistic or smart but that’s never stopped me before!

Starting out, here are my numbers from last week:

Miles: 14

Hours*: 25

Words (in thousands): 8

 

To make this work, my intention is not squeeze more time out of the day but to shift priorities. I want to increase my miles a mile or two a week (that’s my half-marathon training), pull back some work hours, and really increase my writing output. I’d like to get 16/16/16 by the end of August, a goal that I think is both super ambitious and absolutely arbitrary. I’ll be posting about my progress here and on the Twitter. If you’re not following me, look up @erikgrove. I might even tweet out some bonus otter photos!

 

*Yes, I bill a lot fewer hours than the average person works per week. This is a privilege I have worked hard for and do not take for granted. If you have ever been a contractor or consultant you know that billed hours <> hours worked and that there are times of feast and famine. I also spent about 10 years of my life side lining every other important thing in service to my career and I was savvy and lucky enough to get where I’m at now. It could go away tomorrow. Don’t @ me.

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Fat Writer Running – I Just Ran Nine Miles AMA

Hi all. Fat Writer Running here. I’m doing pretty good. A little less fat. Running more. Writing when I can. How are you? Have any good barbecue or anything?

The thing about running nine miles is that it takes a really long time and one of the many things I thought about while I was doing my nine mile run this morning was “oh hey I should be updating my blog about how I just ran nine miles and stuff.” So, here’s a new post, you guys.

Long Ass Run FAQs

How long did it take you to run 9 miles?

Today it took me about an hour and forty-five minutes. My average speed varies between 11 and 12 minutes per mile (5-5.5 MPH) on long runs depending on how hot it is and how many times Eye of the Tiger comes up on my running playlist.

Isn’t that really slow?

Not really. I mean, I run faster over shorter distances. I’ve done a comfortable 6 MPH for 3 miles and my overall speed is trending up. It’s not really about going super fast right now. It’s endurance training.

But I mean aren’t you a slow pathetic loser?

Wait. Are you just the shitty anxiety voice in my head that says mean stuff all the time?

Kinda. But answer me this – aren’t you just a neurotic insecure life failure?

Will you shut up if I put on Eye of the Tiger again?

Yes please. It’s the thrill of the fight.

So many times it happens too fast. You trade your passion for glory.

That’s not a question.

Rising up, straight to the top. Had the guts, got the glory. Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop. Just a man and his will to survive. YEEEEEEEAAaaaaahhhhh! EYE OF THE TIGER MOTHERFUCKERS!

Okay… moving on. Next question.

So, running for an hour and forty-five minutes seems like a bad way to spend an hour and forty-five minutes. Why are you doing it?

Well, I’m training for a half-marathon. And I like it. It feels pretty fucking rad to keep breaking my personal record. Plus, it really helps me cope with stress and be more creative and just overall improve my health and life.

Do you have any idea how many times you could listen to Eye of the Tiger in an hour and a forty-five minutes?

… No. Why would I know that?

Exactly 28 times if you were listening to the single version of the song.

The song is on my running playlist. I listen to it. It’s a catchy song.

Is it on your running playlist 28 times?

It’s not.

Life failure. What are you doing while you run that isn’t listening to Eye of the Tiger 28 times?

I’m thinking mostly. It’s meditative.

Thinking about what?

Let’s see. Story ideas. Running really helps me work through things.

Are you just saying that to justify this indulgent internal monologue on your writing blog?

Give the people what they want. And by people I mean my wife. I gotchu sweetie.

No YOU’RE indulgent.

That’s what I thought. What are you really thinking about?

Sometimes I think about how boring running is. Sometimes I think about how amazing it is. I think about how I haven’t updated this blog in a while and about blog posts I wish I had time to write. Oh. And I think about how bicyclists are the worst.

Why are bicyclists the worst? 

They’re always cycle spreading, taking up all of the multiuse path, pushing me into the bushes or out into the street. I hug the right shoulder while I’m running. I take up half of a lane in a two lane trail full of runners and dog walkers and baby strollers and we all get along great. But then a gaggle of jerks on two wheels come flying down the trail riding three of them in a row and that’s how I almost die. Also, bicyclists are generally rude. Everyone else that’s out there killing it on a hot day, we nod or smile or wave at each other like keep on killing it killer, I see you but the only thing these helmeted assholes with Tour de France delusions do is shout out “ON YOUR LEFT!” while they pass and glare at you for having the temerity to exist. They’re smug buttholes and I hate them.

Wow. Tell us how you really feel.

Maybe it’s just a Portland thing or just the cyclists on my running route. I have a lot of friends and family that cycle. I like to think they aren’t jerks. But c’mon. I see a hundred cyclists and exactly one guy gave me a Sup Dog nod in almost two hours. I know they can interact while they’re riding without falling down or something because they talk loudly and gesture dangerously while they pretend no one else uses the MULTIUSE path. What gets me is that they’re rude even when they’re stopped and standing next to their bikes. They block the entire middle of the path and they still don’t wave or smile or anything when I’m running along. Just get down off your adjustable seat and stop being an entitled pompous jerk butt.

Are you going to rumble with cyclists? Are you gonna throw down, you slow running life failure man?

I mean, all I have to do to win a fight with cyclists is go up some stairs. So. BURN BICYCLE BROS BURN

I have a note here that says I’m supposed to ask about how you prepare for a long ass run.

Yeah. That’s my note.

I see. So by FAQs you don’t mean Frequently Asked Questions you mean stuff you made up in your head while you were bored because you were running for an hour and a forty-five minutes?

Pretty much yeah. But about the preparation. I try to eat a meal a hour or two before a run so I have some energy. I also try to drink water leading up to it. I stretch a little bit. I check the weather. I find it’s a lot harder to run when it’s over 75 degrees out. The best is between 50-70. Also, I like to scout out the route I’m going to take.

What do you mean by “scout out?” 

I don’t know if it’s primarily psychological or not but it’s a lot easier for me to run a route when I have it all mapped out in my head. I know where the hills are, where the shady spots are etc. Lately, I’ve been doing my long runs on parts of the Trolley Trail in Milwaukie. I’ve gone from the junction at Roethe into Sellwood and across the Sellwood Bridge in different legs. My speed and confidence is always higher when I know what’s coming up.

Alright, that’s a little bit interesting. Anything else?

For a long run I make sure I have my favorite running shorts and shirt clean and my Apple Watch and Beats X headphones all charged up. Also, band-aids.

Band-aids?

*cough* For places.

Oh. Oh God. 

It’s not always glamorous.

New subject. What about after the run?

Water! I spend the rest of the day making sure to rehydrate properly. I’ve also been drinking Muscle Milk after my runs. I thought it was silly at first and I don’t really like milk but the protein and vitamins seem to help. Plus, it does sort of taste delicious. I also try to eat a proper meal with lean proteins, whole grains, and some fruit within a couple hours.

Does it hurt? I heard running hurts and you shouldn’t do it?

It doesn’t hurt me. I run three times a week and walk or cross train other days. I’ve been doing this consistently for 9 months with increasing distance and intensity. I think keeping active on non-running days is important. And good shoes. And not over training or pushing too hard. My knees and legs used to feel worse. The only real danger is chafing around the-

Stop. I saw the link. That’s gross.

I’ve stained a couple of shirts.

You have some serious psychological problems. You shouldn’t do this, you should just-

Fat Writer Running – How I Lost 100 Pounds Without a Fad Diet, Surgery, or Powder Drugs

 

Here’s the clickbait, folks. Here’s how I whupped ass and transformed myself from a really fat writer to a kinda fat writer. These are my secret secrets. The grocery store check out tricks. The life hacks. Just remember:

Actually wait. Forget that. Share this EVERYWHERE. Give me all the web traffic and troll comments. IT IS MY SUSTENANCE YESSSS MY PRECIOUSSSSS

*cough*

But first, some caveats. What I did is just what I did. It is not a template or medical advice or magic. My circumstances apply specifically to me and what worked for me might not work for you. And really, you shouldn’t just do what a guy says on the internet anyway. You should always make informed choices about your life and your body with your healthcare team and in consultation with none of anyone else’s fucking business. There is a lot going on with your body and your life and you are the only one that gets to make choices about it. I’m not fat-shaming or fitness guru-ing or judging or any of that. This is a very complicated web of topics and I’m going to focus on some of them in more detail in future blogs but this one is just what I did that seemed to have good results for my specific circumstances and my specific goals. Take it with salt, sugar, powder drugs, and a chaser of who does this guy think he is anyway? Oh, and there’s nothing wrong with fad diets or surgery or powder drugs. I don’t mention them to belittle them but to contrast my approach with those approaches and because I need a headline to get people clicking on the clicky thing and headlines don’t really have room for nuance. I am completely supportive of anyone that finds bliss and power eating only celery or smoking drugs or cutting a motherfucker with a scalpel just to see a new kind of red. Well, maybe not the scalpel thing. Don’t email me pictures of your murders anymore please thanks.

Anyway.

Here’s what I did:

I consumed less and I exercised more.

It’s not sexy and it’s not one simple internet trick but it worked. In future blogs I’m going to break it down more. I’ll write about how I consumed less and and what less meant for me. I’ll write about exercise. But what’s really most important is not what I did – it’s why I did it and what it meant to do it the way I did it. There were four guiding principles that really worked for me and it’s these principles that I credit with a lot of my success.

Fuck the numbers.

CONFETTI YOU GUYS WOOT WOOT

Yes, my blog clickbait specifically talks about losing 100 pounds and yeah, that’s pretty cool. I hit that milestone between first blog and this series and this one. High five, you guys! But really, fundamentally, the number doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what my clothing size is or what my BMI is. What matters to me is that I feel good, I’m healthy, and I can do awesome stuff. If you feel good and you’re healthy and you’re doing awesome stuff you’re already doing it right so you don’t need my blog or anyone else’s blog to talk you out of the good choices you’ve already made. We get fixated on things that don’t matter. What matters is how you feel, your health, and living a life full of awesome stuff. There’s a tremendous amount of social toxicity that gets in the way of that relationship with our bodies but don’t lose perspective.

There’s no finish line.

I’ve known a lot of people that have done low-carb/no carb/keto diets with a lot of success. I’ve seen most of those same people gain a lot of the weight they lost back. I didn’t want to do anything that was a temporary fix. I’ve done temporary diet and exercise routines before and saw my progress revert. I wanted a fundamental shift in my life that was never going to revert. I wanted to find a path forward that felt like I path I could commit to for the rest of my life. I needed something sustainable and balanced and I feel like I found it. There will be diversions from this path but I know what the trailheads look like and I can head back to it.

No Cheat Days.

I am adamantly and fundamentally opposed to the concept of Cheat Days. They are, in my full-throated opinion, poisonous ideas. A “Cheat Day” implies that you’re being tested and when you cheat you’re getting away with something. Who would I be cheating? This is about feeling good, being healthy, and doing awesome stuff remember. Am I cheating the feeling good part, the healthy part, or the awesome stuff part? I get it – the idea of saying to yourself “ON SUNDAYS I CAN EAT 37 PANCAKES AND LASAGNAS AND CAKES AND MILKSHAKES” compartmentalizes your hunger and shame but nah, man. Fuck that. Hunger is literally your body turning on the low gas light. Metabolism is super complicated and that gas light sometimes goes on when it maybe doesn’t need to go on but if you were driving your car around and that was happening you would get the light fixed – you wouldn’t ignore it or overstuff it with pizza. And shame? Well, shame is our puritanical inheritance. It’s the original anxiety and I don’t want to compartmentalize it, I want to understand it and let it go. So Cheat Days, to me, play into a bad relationship with hunger and with shame. It’s more sustainable and realistic to just have a reasonable amount of pancakes sometimes. I’ll definitely talk more about hunger and shame and finding a place for whatever you might want for a Cheat Day in your regular life in future blogs but I think it’s important to just throw out this idea. At least, it was for me.

I celebrate myself and eat tacos whenever I want because tacos are delicious

Trust the numbers.

Yeah. This one contradicts the first one. I contain multitudes. OLD SCHOOL WALT WHITMAN Y’ALL. For me it was difficult to sort through the psychological and the physical challenges to my fitness and well-being. An anxious mind will whisper all kinds of lies to itself and when you team that up with external pressures and expectations- khaki pants commercials, hotdog vendors shouting “hey fat guy!” from across the street, and that look of panic on someone’s face when they see a fat person is sitting next to them on an airplane – it’s just a lot. For me it was paralyzing. The worst part about losing hundred pounds is that every high five along the way sort of feels like a backhanded compliment. I’m doing great now but boy was it scary there for a while when everyone was afraid I might get hungry and confuse their faces for donuts and go full fat man cannibal. A year ago, thinking about the state of my life it seemed hopeless. I needed to do so much and it was going to be so hard and so slow and what if I couldn’t do it? My head was a mess of doubt, insecurity, and our old friend from the last paragraph, shame. Honestly, my head still is but finally, I trusted the numbers more than the mess. I recorded what I did. Everything I ate. Every step I took. I shut out the shitty lying voices and focused on the data. And then I just mathed the motherfucker. Everyone’s numbers, everyone’s math, is going to be different but if you can find the rights numbers and figure out the right math, you have a place to start. I didn’t start out with a goal of losing 100 pounds -it was the feeling good, healthy, awesome stuff goal remember. I checked my progress and calibrated my approach to my goal with numbers. If I wasn’t feeling good, did I need to eat more? Did I need to sleep more? If I wasn’t able to do awesome stuff, did I need to take some vitamins? I would try things, document the numbers, and see how it worked. In practical terms I relied on smart phone apps to track food that I ate, exercise I did, and my glucose readings, as well as feedback from my doctor. I’ll write about those tools later but the takeaway for me is that I stepped back from the subjective and trusted the objective.

 

Those were my four Big Ideas. Maybe they will help you or help you think about your own principles. Maybe not. At least you got a picture of Uncle Walt. And here’s an otter. You know why.

Fat Writer Running – On the Intersection of Body and Keyboard

A year ago, I started to get pretty concerned about dying. I’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes for just under 7 years and I’ve been fat my entire life. Last spring, with my health slipping out of my control and the serious risks it posed to my plans of not dying young, I started making significant changes in diet and exercise. Since then, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve lost – as of this morning – 99 pounds. I went from taking 4 medications every day to manage my diabetes to taking a minimal dose of only one. I have not tested outside of normal healthy ranges in months. My doctor gave actually me an award for my amazing- and rare- turnaround. I run about 3 or more miles 3 or more times a week and I’m even beginning training for a half-marathon in October. I can’t fit in any of my old clothes, and I haven’t had a serious cold or significant allergies in a year. Intellectually and creatively I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders. I’ve also felt an increase in my confidence and a decrease in anxiety and occurrences of depression. All in – on every metric, in every way, I feel better than I have in literally my entire life. I didn’t begin this to lose a certain amount of weight or fit in a particular size of pants. I began with the intention to transform my behavior and perspective from here on out and the most rewarding thing has not been the change on my bathroom scale or waistline – it’s been in my head. It’s the transformation from “I can’t” to “I can and I did and I’m gonna do it again and then some with rad rock music playing super loud, and you should join me.” It’s pretty fucking rad, you guys.

As I’ve shared parts of this story, more than one person has asked me if I’m “writing it up” and my response has been an uncomfortable “no?” I’ve even had some folks tell me that I’m “inspirational” – whatever that means. I’ve done absolutely none of this for anyone else. In fact, the changes I’ve made in the last year were completely selfish. I did all of it for me. At first I did it so that I wouldn’t die, and then because it empowered me and finally because I really like how healthy feels.

Then again, as weird as it  is for me to write about, I do have a lot to say about food, exercise, “fatness”, and a more balanced and sustainable life, and I am a writer. It says so right up there in the webpage header. So I’m going to try something new here. I’m going to write a series of blogs this summer (possibly beyond) on all of these dense and related topics. Don’t worry – I’m not going full self-help fitness blog. As with most things, I see important connections between what’s been going on with my body and what’s going on creatively. Writers are not merely brains in computer chairs. We are the expression and result of our experiences and points of view. We are as influenced by the health of our bodies as we are the health of our minds and I think –  in fact I have experienced – that a healthier body improves creative output.

To put it more succinctly – take care of your meat suit and you will become a better writer. Let me tell you how.

So, here’s what you can expect from this series:

HI THERE THIS IS AN OTTER

— Some blogs will talk about my personal experiences – what worked and what didn’t work as well for me with food, exercise, and philosophy – over the last 12 months.

— Some blogs will talk more generally about the impact of the intersection and optimization of well cared for meat suits and writing sweet, sweet fiction

— Some blogs will be a combination of both

— Some blogs will feature gratuitous otters

— All blogs will feature plenty of corny jokes because c’mon

My plan is to write and post a few blogs weekly and I have several outlined and in early drafts. While I continue to run and write top secret kick-ass laser kung-fu space fantasy two-fisted action this summer, I will bring you- and the otters- along for the ride.