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Tim 115 pounds lighter running the Bridge the Gap Half Marathon.

As I’ve been preparing myself for my first 5K at Bridge the Gap this Saturday, I’ve found myself in need of something to boost my motivation. Let me tell you — I found exactly what I needed.  I’m honored that Tim Cassidy has agreed to share his truly inspirational story with me, and with you, the readers of my blog.  Enjoy this guest blog by Tim Cassidy:

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By Tim Cassidy:

Before starting my current career, I grew up working on a ranch and working for the U.S. Forest Service cutting down trees.  So, I was very physically active whether that was wrestling steers, stacking hay, cutting trees, stacking logs, or whatever it may be.  I graduated college and started a career where I sat at a desk.  I went from being able to eat whatever I wanted and keeping somewhat under control, to leading a more sedentary lifestyle.  I won’t kid you: I was never a small guy, but I was a lot more in shape.  So, after three years of sitting at a desk I quickly went to being over 300 lbs.  The company moved me twice so health wasn’t on the top of my list.  I was offered a third position move to Des Moines, IA I decided I had gotten to a point that something needed to be done.  I started hurting all over on joints, pain in my chest, and just plan out unhealthy.

In April 2008, I started to do something about it.  My starting weight was 312 pounds. I didn’t have much of a plan.  Luckily for me, I had a coworker that worked out every morning, so I tag along to get started.  It wasn’t pretty at the beginning; in fact it was plan out ugly and embarrassing.   My first time on a tread mill, I’d covered not even a quarter of a mile, and I was breathing so hard that I sounded like a grizzly bear stuck in a barbed wire fence.

I made dietary changes.  I stopped drinking all soda and stuck with coffee in the mornings and water the rest of the time, and, except for an occasional alcoholic beverage, that was it.  I quite eating all candy, deserts, snack food, and all other sweets.  I only went out to eat if it was a business function, holiday, or family event (this was probably the hardest part for me because Des Moines has Taco Johns and it is my favorite restaurant ever, and I hadn’t lived around one for 6 years).  I had a small breakfast in the morning, yogurt at 9 am, small lunch of protein/vegetables, an apple at 3pm, and a small dinner.  It took time to get my body used to not over-stuffing at each meal.  I got used to getting up a 4:30 a.m. for my workout, and eating healthy the first year.  I went from 312 pounds from April 2008 to 250 pounds by May 2009 when I ran my first Bridge the Gap to Health.  I ran the 5K with a goal to finish in under 30 minutes.  I finished in 30 minutes and 31 seconds.  My time was a little heart breaking, but motivating.

After finishing the race I decided I would run the half marathon the next year. I don’t really know what I was thinking at that moment, because that is over 13 miles.  My training became more intense.  I ran five days a week, four short runs and one long run.  I gradually worked the distances up as the year went on.  I ran into a few setbacks with an ankle roll, pulled muscle, and dieting issues.  I actually got to a point of exhaustion because I wasn’t taking enough calories for all exercising I was doing.  I learned a lot about taking in the right carbs, sugars, potassium, protein to be a runner, and that became an important part of training for my half marathon.

Three months prior to race I cut all liquids besides water out and stuck to a strict diet.  The day of the race I weighed in at 194 pounds.  That was a total loss of 118 pounds by race day.  My goal going into the race was to finish in 10 minute miles.  After working through the crowd at the beginning and battling my nerves, I finally settled into my pace at about mile three.  The temperature of 37 degrees was in my favor, because I did all of my training outside, even through the winter. From mile 3 to mile 10, it was normal running for me.  I covered the ground quick and easy and had no issues.  At mile 10 the pain started kicking it, starting with the ankle I rolled, pain with every step worsen as the time went on.  The last mile, my pulled muscle from early in the year starting tightening and it made it a struggle to focus.

All of that pain went away as I saw the finish line a half-mile away though.  Finishing the race wasn’t just a relief, it was also extremely emotional.  My 2-year goal of hard work and dedication came to an end and had paid off.  I finished the race ahead of my goal of 10 minute miles. My official time showed an average of 8 minute and 19 second miles.

Training for Bridge the Gap and losing the weight has made an amazing difference in life. I now have the energy to do whatever. It’s great being able to play with my nephews and nieces without breathing heavy.  I can work on the farm and keep up with everyone else.  I feel better all-around.  The confidence factor has come slower though.  A lot of people are amazed how I look, and comment on me looking so much better.  It has taken me almost a year later for me to see that same thing.  I watched myself as a big guy my whole life and it came off slowly over 2 years, so the change was gradual for me.

My advice to people who would like to be more active and get healthy is this: Anyone can do it, it takes time, dedication, hard work, and a mindset of success.

Original Post May 13, 2011

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