Road to the Ironman: The Inspiration Epidemic

Written by Jonathan Mackintosh

Inspiration and passion are contagious. You inspire me, I might inspire you and we become a group that inspires others. There is a viral effect that rapidly moves beyond our ability to track.

Credit: Dr Stephen McQuaid & Stewart Church / QUB / Wellcome Images

Credit: Dr Stephen McQuaid & Stewart Church / QUB / Wellcome Images

These past couple of weeks I have watched inspiration hit my wife like a ton of bricks. I mentioned in my last blog that she had started looking at how to remove processed food from our diet, well she dove in head first and has become a serious advocate for healthy living. In our family you are not allowed to half-ass it. You are all in or you are lazy (Hence I am doing an Ironman with only one other triathlon under my belt). This isn’t a rule in our family, just the way we work.

So, we have donated our cupboards and freezer stock of processed food and started over with the basics. We make our food from scratch, we are able to pronounce every ingredient and we try to avoid hormonal overload on our meat and dairy. With three females in the family, we have enough hormones without the extras (don’t get mad sweetheart…it’s funny). The transition to this lifestyle is helped because we are able to peek into the lives of those that have gone before us, people we can relate to.

Inspiration often requires context to create action within us. If I can identify with the person, I can more easily picture myself doing what they did. The trail has been blazed. My wife finds inspiration in bloggers who have families similar to ours, sharing their journey through stories of success and failure.

Their failures make them accessible, their successes inspire action.

The beauty of the contagion is that when we take action, we immediately become a candidate to inspire others. It doesn’t mean we have it all figured out. Like I mentioned before, I am far less inspired by people that aren’t willing to express their failures. We become a trail blazer for our friends and neighbors who couldn’t identify with anyone before.

I desire to be a part of an epidemic of change. I desire to inspire others. I don’t think that’s egotistical, because my criteria is that I share my failures alongside my successes. I want my journey to the Ironman to be an accessible story for those that are in similar situations to where I began.

So here are three very real things about me:

  1. I still can’t look at myself in the mirror with my shirt off
  2. I battle with feelings of failure and depression when I take a necessary break from routine
  3. I fear what I will feel/look like in 1, 3, 5 years. Have I really changed for good?

Exercise

I have started running again. Just a little bit, but so far it hasn’t hurt my soleus muscle so I am optimistic. I will continue to slowly build my miles back in to my run, with tons of stretches and muscle rolling integrated into the routine.

I am continuing my focus on building my core muscles to create stability when the major endurance training kicks in. I am a big advocate for Core Performance Training. It has helped rid me of my lower back issues and I am sure it has prevented a large number of potential injuries. They have a great ramp up program that meets you where you are. That’s my plug.

My next blog entry will include our first week of the 13 week training program. I am extremely nervous but thrilled. I think my training is there, but per usual, I am nervous about my injury. Onward.

Nutrition

I already talked a lot about what we have changed to lately regarding unprocessed food. Here is a particular site that has inspired my wife (who has inspired me):

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/

Since our transition, I broke through a weight-loss plateau that I had been stuck on for 3 months, losing an additional 8 lbs. The bonus is food just plain tastes better.

I have also started to add in Power Bar gels during my longer duration exercises to get my body used to the substance since it will be necessary during the Ironman race.

On top of it all, I am still rocking the Nussentials stuff. The key for me has been my post workout Less protein shakes. Yesterday I was in a foul mood after three hours of training. My best guessfor  is that it was a vitamin deficiency, because after the shake my mood improved considerably.

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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.