For a number of years I had taken up running every now and then, but never adopted a steady routine for the betterment of my own health. I purchased my Nike+ Sport Kit in 2006 with every intention of becoming serious about my cardio, but as luck, web surfing and Judge Judy episodes would have it, I succumbed to excuses and chose the relaxation of my sofa, TV, and laptop. During these years of intermittent physical activity, I also had my fill of calories via heavy portions either at home or at restaurants. I was successful in convicing myself that my half-assed attempt at physical fitness was sufficient, so I never felt the need to strive for anything more. In such bliss of self-afflicted ignorance, I was content, I was satisfied, I was whole...I was wrong. Overall, my weight loss pattern was up and down as I dabbled here and there in cardio in addition to weight lifting. The worst part came when I decided to focus solely on weight lifting and protein shakes while completely disregarding cardio altogether. I bulked up to Shrek dimensions and was not pleased with the result, but still too lazy to do anything about it.
It was late August 2010 and I had returned home from another weekend vacation at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with my close friends with a lowered self-esteem. Seeing pictures of myself with the group at the beach house and the shore really put things into perspective for me. The potential for man boobage was extremely obvious on top of the chunkiness that resided in my thighs, midsection, face and neck. As much as I loved my father, I sure as hell did not want to end up reflecting his image at that point in my life of being 29! (Sorry, dad!) I could recall from previous years when a female colleague claimed that I reminded her of Michael Clark Duncan from The Green Mile and when a TRENT SENSE YouTube subscriber compared me to Cole Train from Gears of War...not my best moments. Instead of sinking into my own private hell of self-loathing and pity, I made my mind up to get the f**k up and get moving...LITERALLY!
Over the next few months, I took on a strict fixation to my own personal mission of physical redemption for my body that involved cardio seven days a week and a 1200 calorie diet. I am the first to admit that this was not the healthy route for the average person, but I needed a jolt of change to my lifestyle...especially amidst the stress of being jobless and dealing with issues on the homefront. Taking on my iPod nano and Nike+ Sport Kit was indeed a challenge at first with recurring shin splints in the first couple weeks, but I pushed through it! At this time, I believe that completing 4 to 6 mile runs was the initial goal. What had further inspired me was seeing a magazine insert about Al Roker completing 5 miles in 1 hour. At that point, I made it a daily goal to achieve the same, but I ended up running 6 miles in 1 hour!! As time went on into the end of 2010, I had worked myself into the range of 9 miles per run!
During this period, I succeeded at going from 240 pounds to 200 pounds, but was not losing anymore despite my continued runs into 2011. I had hit a plateau, and the surest solution was the re-introduction of weights back into my daily fitness routine. This cardio/weightlifting duo with my strict diet from early January to May had caused for my body to be transformed with increased muscular definition and a weight loss to 170 pounds!
I DID IT! I had not only achieved the best shape of my life, but I had surpassed my physique from the early 2006 period when I was working out a few times a week! I was even in much better shape than when I was in the US Air Force in 2000! My silhouette was slender like the Na'vi on Avatar, and certain parts of my body took on a sinewy appearance with bulging veins! For the first time, I could honestly claim to have washboard abs...and have others support such a claim with boundless enthusiasm! I could confidently complete my daily 10 mile runs shirtless through the streets of Downtown Norfolk and Ghent and appreciate turning heads and exchanging greetings with fellow runners. Yes, in so many words, I felt like the "hot stuff" Donna Summer had sung about and was at liberty to sing along to Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy"...and I had no qualms about it, even though I did maintain a bit of modesty to not seem like a complete moron. The worst thing about this physical transformation was my pants dwindling to only two pairs of 32 inch waist jeans after all the other pants and shorts at 36 to 40 inches were no longer a suitable fit for me. A great benefit was having the security to abandon my strict diet altogether and eat whatever I wanted as long as sensible portions were adhered to. In the midst of all the excitement of achieving such a milestone for myself, I did not realize my body had taken on the fitness routine as second nature to the point where I feel withdrawal on days I didn't run.
Upon posting physique pictures to Twitter and Facebook, I got questions asking how I accomplished such a change. For myself, the answer was a strict diet and daily weight training+cardio...but there were other crucial factors: STRESS and DRIVE. There were inevitable situations in my personal life that could not be helped, and taking on a fitness routine was definitely a godsend in providing an outlet. Weightlifting and running are enjoyable activities that calm my inner spirit much like meditation, so I have come to prefer being alone. As much as I hate sounding like an anti-social hermit in this regard, there is simply a concentration required that would be thrown off in the company of someone else. In the midst of relying on this outlet to maintain my sanity, there was an inner determination to keep pushing myself to my final goal. Recording daily logs of my running progress via Nike+, RunKeeper, SportsTracker, and Garmin Connect seemed like overkill, but it held me accountable for my own efforts. Being able to see improvement over time with timing and distance really inspired me to keep up the momentum. I should also mention the confidence boost received from physique photos taken before and during my continued fitness mission!
At the end of the day, the most important ingredient in achieving any goal is drive. In addition to the obvious physical transformation, I am also proud of the fact that I accomplished it WITHOUT a gym membership or home treadmill! I held myself responsible for my own goal and chose not to depend on anyONE or anyTHING else to reach it. In sun, rain, Miami humidity, Ocracoke Island mosquitoes, snow, icy roads, and even slight sickness, I kept pushing myself to just do it even when I did not feel up to it! Now that I am maintaining a 175 pound weight with a great muscular definition on a daily basis, I am glad to say that the effort has paid off in more ways than one. My weightlifting and 10 mile runs have become a way of life to which my body has become acclimated, and I would have it no other way!
TRENT SENSE blogger/YouTube host
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