Hi again,

Ready for your Friday dose of inspiration to get your weekend off and running?  It’s another chapter of our healthy habits blog, featuring my friend and college classmate Brent!

A lot of the things Brent shared with me were super important and things I hadn’t even really thought of – like knowing your “numbers.”  If you don’t get regular physicals, how would you know your true health data?  Be responsible and take care of yourself.  Brent is setting a great example for his son, who will be old enough to participate in our triathlons in 2013 – watch out boys!

Brent – you are such an inspiration to me and to lots of people out there.  We love having you as a volunteer for our events and are grateful for your commitment to health and the next generation!  Read on to learn more about how Brent completely changed his lifestyle and models that healthy lifestyle for his family and friends.

Brent at the finish line of the Great Midwest Relay from Madison to Chicago

1. What made you realize that you needed/wanted to make a change in your life to be healthier?

I realized I needed a change when I saw the numbers. I saw my cholesterol go through the roof, my blood pressure was climbing, and I was so unhealthy that my liver was showing signs of disease due to my bad habits. My genes aren’t good but my habits weren’t either. I was eating whatever I felt like without any concern for what it was doing to me.

2. What was the hardest part about making the change?

The hardest part was planning ahead of time to make sure I made healthy decisions instead of letting my bad habits take over. My job is always changing with no routine and I’m constantly traveling by car. So I studied the fast food menus to find low calorie options while on the road. Kwik Trip sells fruit. It’s cheap, healthy, and convenient. Fast food places have low calorie Turkey Burgers. Just pass on the fries. Find what works for you.

3. What has been the most positive/biggest result since adopting your new lifestyle?

All of my numbers improved. I went from having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, light liver damage, and high blood sugar levels. Within 4 months of running and eating better, everything was back to normal. I was able to lose 30 lbs. and keep it off. The best side effect was I had to buy new work clothes. The old ones didn’t fit and I was more than happy to replace them. I was also more confident and don’t hate shopping nearly as much as I once did. I’ve also had more energy than I ever could imagine. I feel like the energizer bunny.

I’m really excited for the example I’ve set for my 2 year old son. While watching the Olympics he looked at me and said “Daddy look, they’re running. Connor and Daddy go running? I go put my shoes on!” It was 8 o’clock at night and I convinced him to wait until the morning. We set out for the high school track and did a lap. He finished and I asked if we should go home and see Mommy or do it again. He looked at me, smiled, and excitedly said, “Do it again!?” I was so proud he did 2 laps at such a young age. He’ll be eligible eligible for the 3-6 year old division next year. You’ve been officially warned!

4. Is there anything you would share with others who are struggling with reaching their fitness goals?

Stick with it. I started and stopped running each year for 4 years. I finally wanted it enough and fell in love with it. Once I started to see some changes I was more motivated to stick with it. A key for me was surrounding myself with a healthy community. A lot of people laugh at the idea of being on Twitter but it’s a great resource for healthy recipes and you can interact with people that have or are trying to go through the same transformation as you.

5. What would you say is your “recipe for success?”

I like to keep a food diary. There is a great website called www.myfitnesspal.com. You can log your food and see how many calories you are eating throughout the day. I had no idea how many calories I was actually eating in a day. After using it I have not had a Qdoba burrito unless I’ve run 15 miles or more. They even have an app that lets you scan a bar code with your phone and it loads the nutritional for you. I learned quickly that all the exercise in the world can’t outdo a horrible diet. Sometime I’d train in the morning, sometimes I’d train at night. It all depended on my ever-changing work schedule. Just get it done. But start slow. Nothing is more deflating than an injury. And no one told me that soreness goes away. It takes a couple months but it really does pass.

I use DailyMile and Twitter to find support from other people. I ordered a Runners World subscription as a reminder of the lifestyle I wanted to live. I even roped my friends into doing races with me, including a 12 person overnight running relay from Madison to Milwaukee to Chicago (197 miles, see the above picture for the happy finishers!). For Christmas I asked my wife to train for a half marathon with me instead of a present. A huge step was getting fitted for running shoes and getting a great pair of socks.

I also found this great organization to volunteer for that gets kids active and raises money to combat child hood obesity :) C’mon out and volunteer for an event. You’ll love it.