2011: A Year In Review

I don't really consider 2011 starting until the end of May. Why you ask? Well, two big changes happened in my life at the end of May: 1) I started this wonderful little slice of the Internet I like to call, Weight Off My Shoulders.

2) I was finally cleared by my doctor to resume all activity. Resume activity from what? Well that lovely back injury - herniated disc - that led to a microdiscectomy on January 28, 2011.

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2011 started out at a low point for me. The back injury I suffered really sent me into a little depression. I was cruising along activity wise and weight loss wise during the 2010 (okay not as much weight loss wise, but definitely workout wise) and being forced to stop it all blindsided me. I have realized over time that I neeeed those endorphins. They really do help stabilize my mood, help me react to situations in a more positive way and really overall just keep me levelheaded. :) Not to mention, the gym/heading out for a run is the only alone time I get at the gym ... and we all need some me time.

Thankfully I have a very understanding wife who put up with me during that whole period ... even when I didn't want to deal with myself. You never realize how important your back is until it is taken away from you. You drop a sock? Nope, can't bend over. You want to roll over in bed? Nope, not unless you want to take the extra 15 minutes it takes to slowly, but surely inch your way over. (My wife finally did get me one of those grabby things that helped me pick up everything I dropped :))

My doctor finally laid down and the law and I went under the knife on January 28. I cannot put into words how much better I felt when I woke up in the recovery room. Tingling down my leg? GONE! Ability to point my toe and not have it get stuck on the sheet due to lack of strength in it? BACK!

Oh glory glory day!

The biggest thing I learned during the whole ordeal: NEVER take moving/exercising/living for granted. For that whole time, I was stuck in the house or allowed to hit the gym - to walk. Just walk.

Since being okayed to return back to work, I haven't allowed myself to accept any excuse not to work out - unless I had to work for 16 hours and the gym was closed before or after, etc.

But enough of the unhappy time of the year, let's focus on June and beyond.

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The final six months of the season can be broken into three main categories: 1) running, 2) weight loss and 3) social media.

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"Running Changes Everything!"

Since the beginning of June, I completed 14 road races, which works out to roughly two a month. I managed to knock off about four minutes from my 5k time and completed my first Half Marathon since 2006. Wow! I am extremely proud of myself for what I have accomplished in a short amount of time.

I have a complete recap of my running adventuresĀ in 2011 here.

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"Weight Watchers makes me believe"

I fell in love with Weight Watchers as soon as I began in November 2009. I lost about 20 lbs in the first two months of joining and things really started changing from there. I started focus my attention more on working out and eating right than going out to bars or restaurants. It seems as if I sacrificed a lot of people when I made the lifestyle change, but I had to do it for me. (To those that have stood by me through the journey, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!)

In 2010, I found it difficult to balance my busiest time at work and WW. I wasn't able to attend meetings and realized I couldn't succeed without the accountability of the weekly weigh-ins. I ended up losing about 9 lbs that year. I would lose then gain back, etc. It wasn't consistent.

But once my injury happened, I knew that without working out - I needed to focus on my eating habits otherwise all my hard work would be out the window. I mean I managed to lose about 10 lbs while being injured - not many people could say that.

I began 2011 at 186.4 and I am ending 2011 at 159.2. That is an impressive 27.2 lbs weight loss this year and a weight I cannot remember being at ever before.

This year ... it clicked. I was able to attend meetings almost every week thanks to having Weight Watchers at Work and this dear space of heaven on the internnet kept me accountable - not to mention twitter, facebook and a small group of people I text my weigh-ins to each week.

In addition, I focused on completing all 5 of Weight Watcher's healthy guidelines every day and let me tell you my body feels the difference.

In 2006, I dealt with, and still deal with, a bad eating disorder. I turned to my wife the other day and said, "How did I go through that time not eating? I mean for months I lived on crackers." Now, I don't fear eating as much because I know I am fueling my body for my workouts and runs. Weight Watchers makes sure I am getting all the nutrients and protein I need. That is not to say there isn't a day that goes by I don't think about where I have come from, but I am trying to live in the moment. Think about the now.

Never in a thousand years would I have thought that I would be sitting here after having lost 50 lbs, having hit my first goal weight, having hit the 55 lb loss, to set a new lower weight loss goal. I sit here 58.2 lbs lighter than the 217.4 lb person that walked into that first Weight Watchers meeting. I am just 4.2 lbs from my new weight goal.

Now on the horizon? Thoughts of being a Weight Watchers leader and pass on the knowledge that I have gained, and continue to gain, during this weight loss journey.

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I never thought I would be such a social media nerd...

I joined Twitter for work, but it has given me so much more in the few years I have been active on it. Twitter opens the door for new relationships that motivate me, push me and pick me up when I need a friend. (Shoutout to my Weight Watchers, #plankaday, #7daychip/#30daychip, #FFCheer &#FitFluential families)

I have found countless Twitter challenges that have helped push me in my workouts and weight loss journeys. I have been able to inspire others with my words and stories.

Through Facebook, I have found people who are also battling the bulge (giggity). People who are going through exactly what I am. People that can push me, support me and in return I can do the same for them. We don't even need to be in the same city, state or even country!

The biggest change for me this year was this little space. I need to thank my wife for pushing me to start this blog. This has given me a space to share my successes, my failures, my struggles and my triumphs. So thank you all for allowing me to take up this space on the world wide web. ;)

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So I think my top three moments in this year would have to be...

3) Completing the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on August 14 less than eight months after having major back surgery.

2) Being chosen by Time Out Chicago to be featured in their recent fitness magazine.

1) Having a wife that stuck by me through the tough times and was there to celebrate the highlights with me ... and a couple of cute pups!

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So 2011, you started out rough, but ended on a pretty high note ... Here's to hoping 2012 keeps that note going higher and higher!! :)