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    Posted February 20, 2013 by
    The Woodlands, Texas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments

    Don't hate running, to lose weight


    Staying healthy during my adult life had been pretty easy through my late twenties. Living in Austin Texas for college, it was easy to stay active and healthy. I moved to Boulder, Colorado, for graduate school, then to State College, Pennsylvania, for work, and was able to walk or ride my bicycle pretty much everywhere in those small towns and found it easy to stay fit. Just going to and from work was more than enough daily exercise to stay healthy. As I moved to larger cities and spent more time in the car commuting, my weight started to increase and my diet and exercise didn’t change to accommodate the lifestyle change. That pattern persisted through 2007 when I hit my peak weight of 310 pounds.


    In 2007, after a routine physical exam, I had the ‘Aha’ moment, or what I call the ‘Fitness Catalyst’ moment. My doctor told me I was borderline for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar and if I didn’t change my diet and get exercise, I would have to go on medications for the rest of my life. Not long after that doctor’s visit, I set out to get into better shape. It took me about a year of running, going to the gym and significantly changing my diet to get into a good routine. My wife Cynthia, also a runner, was a constant source of encouragement. By the end of 2008, I weighed 225 pounds (a loss of 85 pounds). Currently, at 235 pounds, I feel great and I’m working to continue my weight loss and determined to continue living a healthy lifestyle. I’m excited to be running in my fourth half-marathon, in March, in The Woodlands, Texas.

    In 2009, I ran my first race, a 5 mile Thanksgiving Day race. It was also in 2009 when I came up with the idea to write a novel. Most of 2009 was spent writing an outline of the story and jotting down notes on funny ideas and scenes that I wanted to include in the story, but it hadn’t yet become a story about running. In 2010, I was told by a friend, “You and your wife sure must love running. You’re out there running all the time.” I replied, “She love’s to run. I don’t love to run. But I don’t hate running.” And it was then I realized the story I wanted to tell would be a funny story about love, relationships, and running. Don’t Hate Running is a funny love story that takes an irreverent spin on the half marathon experience to look at how insecurities, bad communication and trust issues can threaten to break apart a marriage, even when love is not in question. Within the story are some useful messages about fitness and losing weight. As one reviewer put it, “...this story hides the bitter pill of fitness advice in a heartwarming story full of humor and romance. The main character starts off as an out-of-shape mess and you laugh at him and feel sorry for him at first, and then you pull for him and then you realize, even though it's fiction, that if he can do it you can too.”

    My editor, who did a fantastic job, initially wanted me to take out some of the fitness details, like on counting calories to lose weight and on how many calories are burned doing different exercises. She felt that level of detail wasn’t necessary for a story like this. But I pushed back and incorporated the information into the story, in a funny way of course, as I wanted there to be useful information on losing weight, for people who wanted to take that message away from the story. The story also deals with the main character’s (Guss Zamdra) emotional struggle with food, something to which many people, like myself, can identify. Guss Zamdra struggles with the concept of not having to eat everything on his plate. Guss loves to eat, but he doesn’t want to love food anymore. There are some other useful bits of information on running in the story, such as the importance of getting properly fitted for running shoes and having the right running accessories to prevent painful problems that can come with running long distances, but all told in an entertaining way.

    Almost everyone who’s read Don’t Hate Running tells me they laughed out loud in several places. I love it when people tell me the book made them laugh out loud; emotional well-being is just as important as one’s physical health. I’m also starting to hear more readers tell me that the book has inspired them to take up running and get healthy. One of my readers told me that after he read the book he went out and got fitted for a new pair of running shoes and is watching his diet so he can lose weight. If that message of, “It’s never too late to get healthy,” gets through to people, then to me the book is a success and my journey to better health has not only been good for me, but for others as well.

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