Journey to the Ironman: A Blind Date with Passion

Written by Jonathan Mackintosh

So I mentioned in my previous post, that my journey to getting healthy was driven in part by Passion. Passion sounds romantic when it comes to building towards a goal, but what happens when passion is not easily conjured out of the air?

When I started this journey in the Summer of 2011, my wife and I had a 5 month old little girl. For those of you who are parents of small children, you can understand how life can get a bit “interrupted” by 20 lbs of crying midnight madness. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter exceedingly, but new parents can attest that you are at the mercy of insanity that first year. Passion for the journey to getting healthy was far from a reality, simple survival was the goal.

I certainly had desires to be different, I believed that I had the potential, but I wasn’t “passionate” about the process it would take to get there. How do you feel passionate about something that is big, scary and lives under your bed at night? No, I was freaked out about the sacrifice it would take, I was scared of failing again, I was scared that this was another yo-yo diet session and I was afraid of the effects it would have on my family.

Blind DateI equate the process, loosely, to a blind date. To go on a blind date, you are somewhat at the point of desperation, can’t find your “soul mate” even though you have tried many times to make it happen. You may have found the dating process to be arduous and daunting so you can’t imagine this will be any different. Yet, you meet the date anyways. Not because you have a passion for dating and not because you have a passion for the person you are meeting, but because you desire the potential outcome. For the sake of the story, somewhere during the initial awkwardness you see a glimmer of hope. Slowly your apprehension gets out of the way, you begin to build a relationship and it slowly stops feeling so much like an uphill struggle.  Passion takes over and you stop looking at it as a journey towards something and realize you have arrived.

So I have a point. Hopefully. Exercise, eating healthy, being disciplined, these were means to an end when this all started. I looked at them as part of the uphill struggle to get healthy. But I also saw it as temporary. I would do this, it would produce these results and I would be done. That’s how I started. I had always said I hated running. It was not my thing and as a 6 foot 2 inch 275 pound man, I didn’t think that was the way to ease into anything. So I took baby steps.  I found something I halfway enjoyed (biking) and worked it into my routine. As I got past my initial fear of exercise, I began to desire diversity and took on the “big scary monster”, running. As time progressed, I hated it less, learned to like it and eventually even saw trickles of a long-term relationship in the works. Eventually I looked around and realized that this means to an end, had become a passion.

That doesn’t mean there still aren’t tough days when I don’t want to get out of bed. It just means I no longer see healthy living, running included, as a temporary fix, and now recognize it as a long term relationship.

Training

In the coming weeks, my passion will certainly be put to the test as I take on the Ironman training. Currently, I am building the base exercise structure that prepares me for the more intense training regimen. My brother (who is crazily joining me on this endeavor) and I will be working through the fairly well known program, 13-weeks to a 13 hour Ironman.

Our weeks leading up to it primarily consist of core focused workouts including, weight-lifting and plyometric training. See Core Performance Training for more details. We also work in swimming, biking and running to ensure our endurance is up to snuff when beginning the main program. I will be sharing more details as the training intensifies.

Nutrition

I mentioned I am using the Nussentials products for nutritional supplements during my training. I had been primarily using Less as my protein shake after workouts, adding non-fat milk and vanilla Greek yogurt to the mix. I have been very satisfied with my workout recovery.  I was finding though, that I was feeling extremely tired during the day and suspected that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients from my current diet, so I added in Nussential’s Core product. The added B12 in my diet, plus all the other nutrients, has vastly improved my post workout energy and I no longer find myself nodding off in the middle of conversations with my wife. Always a good thing to avoid.

Recipe

As previously promised, I am sharing with all of you my absolute favorite meal of all time. It happens to be incredibly healthy too, so it’s the feel good recipe of the year.

Follow the link for the Sweet Sassy Sausage Soup (created by Reba Mackintosh, my wife)

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Journey to the Ironman: A “Big-boned” Kids Dream

This summer, I will be heading out to Coeur d’Alene, ID to participate in my first Ironman Competition. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what that is, I am fairly certain it is the craziest thing I may ever do. The Ironman is a triathlon but the distances are increased, 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. Back-to-back-to-back. I may be an idiot.

That being said, this represents more to me than simply a test of my physical abilities; it is the culmination of a 2 year effort to change my life.

To give some background, I have been overweight most of my life. Not severely, but enough to develop the burden of insecurity that turns self-perception so ugly. I am still a young gun (just shy of 30) but a childhood of dealing with the issue is a hard thing to shake. I have had my ups and down, losing enough weight to feel temporarily thin, but life (and dessert) sneaks up on you and I gained it back with a vengeance.

Before

Before

Two years ago it came to a head. My wife and I had just had our first baby (a girl). We were 6 months in and I was smitten with her, playing, laughing and loving life with my beautiful girl (and her mother). But the creeping burden of obesity continued to play a role. I didn’t want to look at pictures of me holding her, I had constant back pain and I was consistently out of breath from playing with my baby. These were becoming road blocks to me being the dad I desired to become.

I wanted a change.

I didn’t want to simply lose weight, only to gain it back again, I wanted to change the way I looked at health for the rest of my life. I wanted to change the way my family looked at health, I wanted to be physically able to engage with my family and most importantly I wanted to represent a healthy confidence to my daughter and my wife.

The need for support cannot be overstated. I approached my wife, who clearly (though always lovingly) saw the effects of my insecurity, and asked her and my daughter to join me in change. With a grace that far exceeds my comprehension, my family committed to stand beside me. Step one complete.

Now fast forward 1 1/2 years. I have lost 70lbs, competed in an Olympic distance Triathlon and completed a marathon. I am still not quite to my target weight (gained a couple back due to injury and baby number 2), but I am certainly in the best shape of my life.

In short, I have done it by changing my perceptions, my behaviors and finding a passion. I have done it by moving out of isolation and into a support network.

After

After

My journey is not over yet. I have set out to do something that I never imagined I would be able to do. I assumed I was locked into obese obscurity, destined to trend heavier as time went on. That feeling of predestination has changed but the challenge is still there.

Over the next several months I will be sharing my Journey towards the Ironman with you, including the good, the bad and the ugly. Within that journey, I will be reflecting back on the past 2 years and the lessons learned in sweat and fire.

I have chosen to partner with Nussentials and the NuChallenge, not just because I believe in the products, but because it represents the community support that was, and continues to be, essential for me to reach my goals.

I am proud to join in the NuChallenge as one story among many.