Life advice from Josh: Tell your friends you love them

Tell your friends that you love them. Family should be a given. But tell your friends. They’re your friends because you do, really, love them. They’re special to you for a reason. They know you and they love you because of it. You can often tell things and share with friends what you maybe can’t with family.

Elise lost a friend last week. This was a friend that Elise had known for years. They grew up together. They’d been through thick and thin. Life has since happened and they hadn’t been in touch lately, but there was a lot of history among the two. I heard Elise, from the other room, when she received the news and I’m having a hard time remembering the last time that I’d heard Elise cry so hard. And it was the death cry. The ultimate cry. And it was devastating.

She was a friend of mine by extension. When Elise told me that she was dead, my memories with her flew through my head like fast-thumbing through a picture book. It hurt me a lot, but it hurt Elise far worse. The empathy made me cry. My memories made me cry. Seeing and hearing how it stomped on Elise’s heart made me cry. And hearing Elise say, “If only I’d….” Called. Emailed. Texted. Told her I loved her. One last time. Those fleeting opportunities that we all endure that seem better-spent on life-at-the-moment can’t outweigh a simple gesture to tell your friend that you love her.

“I wish I’d….”

Tell your friends that you love them.

BQ means being quiet

I had a really bad 20-mile run today. It was supposed to be a 23+ mile run and it went from starting out pretty okay, then quickly turned bad and bonky at around mile 15. I’d psyched and prepped myself all week to go on a good long run on Saturday. I woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday morning and just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just knew I wasn’t supposed to go on a 23+ mile run. So I took Maly with me, she on her bike, on a ~10 miler instead.

Today I knew I had to put in my long run. I was going to stick to my 23+ miler. And for whatever reasons, at 10:30 a.m. when I’d finally set out, there was some hesitation. Some trepidation. I usually start my runs (regardless of distance) anywhere between 5 and 6 a.m. Today’s long run was starting at 10:30 a.m. Started that late in the morning means traffic. Traffic’s distracting and means you have to wait at intersections. At 5:30 a.m., there’s not that much traffic, so more often than not, I can blow through an intersection.

The first 13 miles or so were okay. I don’t look at my Garmin watch anymore when I run. I’ve adopted a running mantra to just run how I feel that day. If my body and heart are fast, I’ll go fast. If it’s a slow day, I’ll go at it slower. Today started somewhere in between. But there was this little monkey on my back the whole time. The monkey was trying to whisper in my ear, above the drone of traffic, “you’re not really liking this, are you?” I love running. Running is seriously the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. I usually wake up before my alarm and the first things that pop into my head are, “how far? What route? What music are we listening to?”

Today’s run was one of the very, very, very few and far betweens that just wasn’t fun. I had fuel and water with me, but those just didn’t keep my spirit elevated. It was a bad run. And it wasn’t fun. I wasn’t feeling it, at all, the whole way. I stopped more times that I care to recall. I had to stop at mile 15 at a gas station and exchange my only $5 bill for a bottle of water and a convenience store turkey sandwich. That gave me a little pep, but had to stop at the next gas station to exchange my remaining 22¢ for two pieces of gum. I was out of straight-up, high octane glycogen. I’d ran 20+ miles before on less fuel. And I, again, just chalked it up to a bad day and a bad run.

I cut my run short by 3 miles after stopping, walking, or sitting more times. I logged a 20-miles-on-the-dot run, but I wasn’t happy or proud.

I walked into the house on wobbly legs and heavy heart and scarfed down whatever was available on the kitchen counter. And then I hit the shower. While in the shower I thought I was either going to pass out or vomit.

Elise came into the bathroom and I told her that my new plan is to not concern myself with qualifying for the Boston Marathon. And she agreed. She’s held her tongue for months. Her thought has been that I shouldn’t try to qualify for Boston (“BQ”) at my very first marathon.

I’ve flapped my gums, and Elise has told people that my plan has been to BQ when I run the Houston Marathon on January 17th. It’s a lofty and aggressive goal. I’m aggressive and competitive, but I feel like I’m getting to the point where the fire in my belly to BQ is outshining and blinding my overall love of running.

So, I’m redacting my cockiness. And maybe it’s overzealousness, too. So I’m going to forgo the plan to BQ, and, instead, run the Houston Marathon. I don’t want ruin that first experience for myself. And qualifying for the Boston Marathon was just kind of an on-a-whim notion that I considered when looking at qualifying times as the family and I were driving through Oklahoma last year. It’s a coveted race, and I think I’d like to run it one year, but it’s not like it’s been on my bucket list my entire year. I’m just going to run how I feel that morning, because that’s how I like to run. That’s how I love to run. If I BQ, I BQ. If I don’t, that’s okay. I’m fine with that.

Life advice from Josh: Exercise

I should preface this by pointing out that I’m not a doctor, trainer, coach, dietician or weight loss expert. I’m like most folks and I got to that point where I looked in the mirror one day and really just did not like the shape of the guy who was looking back at me. He was flabby. I’m a pretty small-framed guy, so fat doesn’t really distribute well on me. Excess fat positions itself as love handles and man boobs on yours truly.

So I decided to do something about it. I’m not an ease-into-it kind of guy. I went in full force. And, like they all say, the way to getting into shape (and losing weight, if that’s your goal), is diet and exercise. I can make a suggestion that makes that formula 50% easier. Exercise. The diet part will naturally follow if you commit to the exercise part.

I started running. And I started out slowly. I started by running one mile. That one mile didn’t kill me, so I went out the very next day and I ran another mile. Since that second day and second mile didn’t kill me either, I went out the third day and ran two miles. I pushed myself. I had a goal to lose weight, so I was going to push myself to achieve that goal. I didn’t have a specific number of pounds in mind that I wanted to shed, but I was going to keep running every day until I no longer jiggled when I ran. And I knew, realistically, it was probably going to take at least one year of hard work before I noticed the change in myself. So I committed myself. Every. single. day. And that’s what it takes. Exercise and a commitment to your goal.

I didn’t focus on my diet. I’d already maintained a relatively healthy diet (I rarely drank cokes, Starbucks, no alcohol, etc.) – you know, square meals kind of stuff. We’re pretty good about cooking at home. We generally make healthy choices at the grocery store. Elise and I truly try to make nutritious grocery and meal preparation decisions. We’re not perfect, and we admittedly indulge. And we do our fair share of eating out. We love pizza, tacos, Chinese food. But I knew that the choices I made at meal time were the calories I’d be battling at run time. So I consciously created a caloric deficit. Caloric deficit means you burn more calories than you consume. If I’d need/burn 2,000 calories a day just by existing, and I’d burn 300 calories by running two miles, I’d only consume what I’d guess to be 1,800 – 2,000 calories a day. My body would need fuel from something, and after it’d burned off available glycogen (carbs/sugar), it would start burning the fat. And it’s NOT a fast and easy process.

And as I continued to focus on my commitment to running, my body naturally began craving fuel to endure and survive – not the junk that I’d ordinarily eat out of boredom or for taste alone (chips, gummy bears, bacon). Presently I’ll run between 6-20 miles on any given day. And my brain, body and taste buds genuinely want salmon, sweet potatoes, berries, Greek yogurt and whole grains. I actually kind of have an aversion to red meat now. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat the hell out of some barbecue, but my gut will hate me for it if I over-indulge. I guess my point is that your body is a really cool machine that’s capable of amazing things. If you treat it and run it like a high-performance machine, it’s going to crave and need high-performance fuel. It’s going to tell you, “quit jacking around and pouring this crap down my gullet. Give me some stuff I can really use to win this thing, dammit!”

Listen to the machine that is you. Start slow. Start by walking at least 30 minutes. Then go for an hour. Then run. Or join the gym. Or take a martial arts/spin/yoga/pilates/barre class. Whatever. Find your thing. This is your journey. And understand and realize that it is a personal journey. Take your time. It’s a process and the infantile stage of building the machine. I love running because I’m a loner and running requires nothing more than some shoes, shorts and good music (for me).

Log your miles or workouts. Log the food you eat and the calories you consume if you want to commit and get hard core about your diet. Drink lots of water.

You have to commit. No excuses. Don’t think you have time? Bullshit. That’s an excuse. You have to make the time, not make excuses. Your machine doesn’t care about time.

Commit, machine.