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Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Next Chapter

I have finally decided that now is the time to move onto Phase Two of my weight-loss journey. I wanted to be able to really enjoy the fruits of my labour after my OptiFast adventure.  After my two weeks in Florida, I realized that I finally was ready to get back to the grind. I was able to enjoy the Hottest Place on Earth and it was all due to my weight loss. I have also started coaching behind the bench with Zack's summer hockey team.

It is going to be a long road, but having succeeded on such a large scale I've obtained the confidence in myself to believe that I can do anything. So, starting Tuesday, I will stringently begin to totally change my diet towards my new goals. And what are these goals you might be asking? Well, again I am staying away from numbers but I'm looking to go into a store and buy a t-shirt where there isn't an additional charge for bigger sizes. I want to buy the medium size camping chair, and I would like the option to bungee jump ( there is NO freaking chance I would do it - I mean I almost died on Space Mountain!! - but to be able to say that I could if I wanted would be awesome).

So Tuesday will be a big day in the Burmaster household as we do some grocery shopping to fill up the fridge. I'm real excited about making the jump back into losing weight, which means I will be ramping up the blogging again.

On to another topic; the Hike for Hospice 2011. As I've written about before my family is entering a 5K charity walk for the Bob Kemp Hospice where my mother-in-law spent her last days. It is a wonderful place whose staff are some of the kindest people I've ever met. It is my hope that you click on this link and sponsor my family. I'm not usually that keen about asking for money but any amount would be lovely. The walk is on June 18th and if you would like to walk with us, you can also sign up to be on our team through the link above. We are about a month away, so wish me luck!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Full Circle

As most of you know, I am in sunny Florida with my family. I am being told they are having a heat-wave down here, and make no mistakes, it is freaking hot!! The last time I ventured down this way was a little less than two years ago. I was at my biggest weight and the two weeks were unbearable!! There was no time when I wasn't covered in sweat and was I miserable the entire time. On one of our first days in the State we went to one of the Disney Parks and beyond the profuse sweating, my back and knees were killing me from walking around.

After that day at the park, I made the embarrassing decision to rent a scooter and make my way around the Disney Parks in one. It was humiliating. Here I was, a 38 yr-old man who had to rent a scooter because he was to fat to walk around "The Happiest Place on Earth"!! Add to that my inability to get on any rides with my kids and my depression level was over the top.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago and our arrival in the Sunshine State. I was still wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt from our 6am departure in North Carolina, and when we pulled up to our rented house, it was time to get changed. We brought in all of our luggage and food and everyone made a beeline to get appropriate attire. I threw on some shorts and immediately did what any man would do when they get to a rented house - make sure they have ESPN!!

Having calmed my worse fears, we decided to head out and grab some dinner and some groceries that we would need. When we got in the van, my wife remarked that I still had on my long sleeve and did I want to go change it. Being as I am massively lazy, I decided that I could bare it. It was 3pm and not only was I wearing a black long sleeve shirt, but I was not sweating!!

The true test would be our first venture to Disney, and on Sunday we went to Epcot. Now, I'm not a huge fan of Disney to begin with, but Epcot is boring as hell!! There were three rides and the rest was walking around!! The old Russ would have committed multiple counts of homicide, but other than sore feet because my shoes suck, I was able to go the whole day without having to wring out a sweat-drenched shirt or call a defense attorney!!

All-in-all, losing this weight has brought enormous clarity in to my life. It has allowed me to enjoy the major things as well as the simple, everyday things that come into one's life. Seems like I haven't got all "preachy" on you in awhile - some of you will argue that I haven't written anything in awhile.....I would have no retort for that - but if there is something out there that you haven't done or thought you couldn't do, just reach for it. There will be no happier moment than realizing that it was in you the whole time. Everything I've done over the last nine months has lead me to here, and it wasn't always sunshine and lollipops, but every failure was another chance to prove to myself who I really was. You wouldn't be reading this if there wasn't a fire in you - other people know it's there; it's time for you to recognize it too!!

Love Russ

Monday, April 25, 2011

When my journey began, I had no idea where it would take me. I had assumed the likelihood of failure would be astronomical. I had only known failure and this seemed like one more check on my board. Yet, I wanted the best chance at success in the OptiFast program, so I made some goals. I decided not to have a number goal because I had no idea what this program could do. As the weeks went on, I came to realize that I was going to succeed.

For the past few years I have had the opportunity to go to the Air Canada Centre to see the Toronto Raptors play. Zack loves going down there, and being able to take him always made me feel like a pretty cool dad. The last few times I took him it was brutal. I came home with massive bruises on my hips because I was to big for the seats. Well, on April 14th I took Zack to see the Raptors play the New Jersey Nets and we had a blast!! I fit in the seat and the stairs were a cinch to get up and down.

On Good Friday, I attend a hike with some great friends. I have been going for the last 10 years and it is a great time. The past couple of years have been quite hard. During the walk into the woods, I would need to stop more than a few times as my back and knees would be in agony. By the time we hit the spot where we would start our fire and enjoy conversation - and maybe one or two cold ones - I would be a sweaty mess. I can happily report that this year was just the opposite!! I made it back and actually remarked that I could not believe how close the area seemed this year.

The last time my family went to Florida, it was an unmitigated disaster. Within five minutes of being at our first park, I could barely walk. It was unbearably hot, I could not get on a ride with my kids and standing seemed like the most impossible task!! With many days left to spend at the parks, my options seemed limited. In one of the lowest moments of my life, I rented a scooter to survive Disney. The humiliation was all self-made, but it was there nonetheless. In less than two weeks I will be making my way to Disney yet again - you can be sure that I will be saving some money by not renting a scooter this year!!

These were the goals I laid out for myself....tangible, real rewards. I was asked a few times on the hike if I'm done trying to lose weight. It's something I've tried to come to grips with. What will be my next move? I have come to realize that I hit all the goals that I originally set out for myself and am truly happy. Obviously, I need new goals but it will take some time to figure out what those should be. I am still exercising and working on a better diet. The journey has taken me to so many places and taught me so much.

The latest thing it has taught me is that this journey will be for the rest of my life. Thankfully, it will never be as hard as those first 12 weeks. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dialing up the Crazy

It seems impossible but Zack's hockey has not ended yet. Last Thursday our family left for Buffalo for the Mount Hamilton Select Blues' big tournament away. These tournaments are a tremendous weekend, especially for the kids who get to stay up late, play mini-stick tournaments with their teammates and swim in the pool for hours on end.

In the land of the Buffalo chicken wing you can be sure that I did not spend a great deal of time worrying about food choices. There is something about hockey parents away on a tournament that turns them back into college kids. This may sum it all up for you, but Ang was doing shots!!! Seriously!! The first night we were going to head out for food but a few families were delayed. When they showed up we ordered some pizza and wings for everyone and enjoyed some drinks.

I could give you the long version and break down the Friday and Saturday menu, or I can just tell you to re-read the previous paragraph twice as it was pretty much the same thing for three days!! It was a great time getting to know all the parents on the team and I know we have made some great friends. Most of those parents are moving up to the next level but we are really hoping their younger kids make the team next year so we can have another great year, just starting it earlier.

So I'm sure your asking, "Why is Russ talking pizza, wings and loads of beer in a weight-loss blog?" Well, if you remember way back in the beginning I told you one of the big things I wanted out of this journey. I always wanted to be able to enjoy some of the great parties that come into my life, but when that party was over be able to turn off that mode and walk right back into a healthy mode. For me, the party used to never end. Prior to August, after this kind of weekend I would have come home and had pizza, fast food and junk everyday for weeks on end.

On Tuesday morning I tied up my running shoes and walked my 2.5 km to the gym, did my workout, and walked the 2.5 km back to the house. When I came back into the house I knew that I was never going back to the old me. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that you need to find you're own version of healthy. Whatever you do, it has to work for you. It can't be something that is dictated to you, but something that can enrich your life. I know my way is going to take a lot longer to get down to a "goal" weight than someone else's, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Killing Two Birds.....

I had made the decision that I would enter a 5k this year. In all actuality, I had no clue what that meant. I knew that there were healthy, crazy people who think it's all kinds of fun to run five kilometres for the heck of it. I didn't understand what it meant to them until I asked a few people what they got out of them. The over-whelming response was the sense of accomplishment they felt when it was over.

I did some investigating about entering a 5k - by that I mean I asked a friend to do all the work. Thanks Tammy!! - and found some interesting ideas. I finally decided on what I was going to enter after receiving some info from my wife. The hospice where Ang's mom received such amazing care is having a charitable walk in June. I will be entering with my wife and both of our kids.

I created a Facebook event in the hopes of having some friends join us on this hike. As a family, we have rarely done anything like this. There is one notable exception; we went camping last summer and there were some great trails. Everybody we were with had decided on doing the 5k trail and I wanted to be a part of the group. This was about a month before I was to start the Optifast and had made the decision to start some changes. To say this hike did not go well for me would be an understatement.

Before the first km was passed, I was cooked!! My back was on fire and my knees were about to explode. Well, at least I only had four left. The scenery was beautiful, the kids were having a blast and I prayed that it would all end. There was no part of my body that was not in pain. When it was finished, I found a picnic table to sit on, and it was in that moment I realized how far I needed to go. I was so embarrassed by what happened that day that I never thought it could get better...how wrong was I?

So, I will be entering the walk and any and all are welcome to join us. I would love to have a large contingent with us at Confederation Park and see if we can't raise some serious funds for a great place.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

My journey has brought me to so many new places and experiences, that every now and then it's cathartic to be reminded just how far I've come. St Patrick's Day was this past Thursday which also coincided with the first day of the NCAA Basketball Tournament - if you think I'm calling those play-in games Round 1 you're crazy!! Ever since I was in college I would watch those Thursday and Friday games with buddies and have a great time. I wasn't able to round anyone up for the tournament but I did head downtown for some drinks with a couple friends to exert my inner-Irish.

The guys I went with are the two guys I do my annual Good Friday Hike/walk into the woods, drink a bunch of beer, go to someone's house and drink more, with. I don't see these guys as much as I'd like to during the year - busy lives and all that crap - but we always have a great time. We got caught up on families and work and talk drifted to my weight loss and all the resulting changes.

While the Hike is truly about getting together with friends and enjoying a few beers, there is an actual walking element. We talked about how I had to stop numerous times last year and even had to get Zack to carry my knapsack (it's a fathers and kids hike). By the time I got back to our spot I was sweating profusely and could hardly catch my breath....it was really bad. This thing was barely 3km and I couldn't do it and this was less than a year ago.

We stayed at that downtown pub for awhile and headed to another one which was a quick, short walk - which reminded me of another bar-to-bar short walk not that long ago. I was in Toronto with my brother and some of our Barrie friends. Rather than jump in a cab we decided to walk to the next bar on our list. While all the guys were getting ready to go, I started to sweat and freak out - I knew there was no way in hell I was making this short walk without needing a shirt change and a shower.

Well, true to form, five minutes into the jaunt I was sweating like Mike Tyson in a spelling bee. I must have stopped three or four times before making it there and the level of embarrassment was of the charts. I can tell these stories now, only because I'm far enough removed and can walk a fair distance without needing to stop repeatedly!!

It was a sobering - not literally sobering, as I was quite proficient with the green beer that evening!! - trot down memory lane to recall just how horrible my life was, not that long ago. The worst part is that there are so many stories like this. Our family vacation to Florida, our week away in Mexico, our summer camping trips, all of them could have been so much better if I'd made my journey a long time ago. I don't dwell on these kinds of thoughts as much as I would have even just a year ago, but it's ok to think about where I was and really fight to never go there again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm Going to be a Trainer

As most of you know, Zack plays hockey and football. As his Dad, I am always talking to him about how he played and he always asks me what he can do to get better. HBO had a great series called Capitals/Penguins 24/7 in which cameras followed both teams around leading up to their outdoor game on New Year's Day. In one of the scenes,  Penguins coach Dan Bylsma could be seen grading each one of his players out of five after a game. Zack saw him do this and asked Ang and I to do that after each house league and Select game.

On many occasions Zack has asked me to help and be a coach on his team. There were many opportunities to join a few friends on coaching staffs at the arena but I was too embarrassed to do it. Mountain Arena, where Zack plays, has a free course for all it's trainers so they are better prepared to help any kids that get hurt on the ice. This would have been a great opportunity for me to get behind the bench with a few buddies, but more importantly, my son would have been excited to have me back there.

I had always turned down these offers because of my weight. I could not fathom having to walk across the ice to a hurt kid and potentially fall on the way. How would I get up? Would the other team's trainer have to come out to help my big ass up? How would I get to one knee to help the kid if I even made it over there? This people, is a quick gateway into the mind of a fat guy. Every choice I made was based upon whether I thought I could do it, and as I've mentioned before, my self esteem was pretty low, so you can guess how many fun things I skipped out in, just in case.

This coming up year will be a little different. I was asked if I wanted to be a trainer with a friend who was going to coach and I quickly snapped up the opportunity. I guy whose lost over 110 lbs doesn't hide behind fear and fat anymore. A guy who has walked/run 5km's regularly, doesn't shy away from a little walk across the ice. A guy who started this journey so he could have a better life and participate more in the lives of his beautiful children will tell you that this was what it was all about....