Before.. during… and closer to after…

I found it interesting to look at the pictures and correlate them to where I was along the way.  I didn’t really feel any different until I hit 100.. for some reason that was a magic number for me; I felt like a totally different person.  Of course, I *really* looked like a different person after I shaved my d-bag goatee 🙂

Aric through the year…

I see you over there….

Dear Fat Guy,

I see you over there on the Elliptical.  It’s ok; don’t worry, I’m not judging you.  I’m proud of you.  I know *exactly* what you are feeling right now.  I see that you are sweating like a hog; feeling like you look like a fool; embarrassed by the slow pace at which you are moving.  I know what its like to walk into the gym for the first time, and see all the “meatheads” and feeling the hot glare of their judgmental eyes.  Here’s a little secret for you:  many of those same meatheads were fat guys just like you.  They went into the gym for the first time and felt embarrassed that they didn’t know how to use any of the machines or free weights.  I know that I felt that way!

If you would just look around, instead of focusing on your feet while you workout, you would see how many people are watching you in awe.  I realize what a huge step you have made just by showing up and facing your fear.  You have begun your transformation already.  You aren’t accepting a life of passivity.  Every hard breath you take will be a bit easier than the one before.  Every step you is a little bit lighter. Each drop of sweat is shedding a little bit of your former self.  Be proud of what you are doing; and tell everyone about it!  Every push forward is a step toward a stronger, healthier you; one who knows that anything is possible.

Enjoy how hard it is now; and how much work it is.  Eventually you will look back and say to yourself “I cannot believe that I could only jog for 2 minutes at a time and felt like death”  Fitness and good food choices will be the new normal for you.  A trip out for a greasy cheeseburger will be a special treat, not an every day habit… AND YOU’LL LOVE IT.

I believe in you, and I want you to believe in you as well.  You’ve started your journey, now you just need to keep going.  Don’t stop and you will get there!


Time for some new goals!

Its about time to catch up on progress and to start thinking about setting some new goals.  I have been keeping track of my food for 302 days straight.  I have been logging everything I eat, every exercise I have done and have weighed in every single day.  If you have been paying attention to anything I have said; you would know that I’m a firm believer that keeping track of what you are eating and weighing yourself regular are key to success.  I have been using (well, more specifically, the iPhone app) to track all of my eating, weighing and exercise.  If you want to get started, this is a great way to do it.  Its free and has a very supportive community.  If you do sign up; feel free to “friend” me (turbodog14); and I will cheer you on!

So, lets recap the goals that I had set and see where I am at:

  1. Size 38″ Pants by August:  DONE!  I’m currently wearing a size 38 comfortably!
  2. Not be a liar on my driver’s license weight by end August:  DONE!  I currently weigh 224 (down 4 lbs from the 228 on my driver’s license).  Please keep in mind that I haven’t changed my height or weight on my driver’s license; ever.  So yeah, I weigh less now than I did when I was 16
  3. Run a 5K by the end of summer:  DONE!  I ran the Unlimited Performance 5K in Sycamore on June 9th (Happy Birthday Mom!).  Read about my experience HERE. In fact, I’m currently running a 5K 3 times a week; and am trying to push up to a 10K… Maybe do the Pumpkin Run in October?


I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to think of some new fitness and weight loss goals.  I am trying to focus on short and medium term goals.  I’ve found that trying to set a long term goal and to put date parameters around it is very difficult when it comes to my own personal weight loss journey.  I would rather set an aggressive short/medium term goal and really push for it.

  1. Drop another pants size by December 31: and with that finally buy a few pairs of pants
  2. Achieve a “Healthy” BMIby December 31 (more on this below).
  3. Finish a 10K by December 31st


Once I hit my driver’s license weight a few weeks ago, I really stagnated for a couple of weeks and it was really frustrating.  I realize that the stagnation was a result of being lazy about food.  I was still working out and running hard; but I just wasn’t as disciplined as I usually am about food.  Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t start pigging out; I just was not a precision eater, like I have been for the past 302 days.  I went up by 5 lbs in that short time.  I found that if I want to see where the “end” of this journey is, I am going to have to stay focused and to have concrete goals.  The good news is that when I hit 228; I went from “Obese” to “Overweight” on the BMI chart for my height.  That was sobering.  I think I look pretty damn good, but even according to my doctor; I’m still overweight.  In fact, when I went to visit him last week he was very impressed with how I have done and how far I have come, but mentioned that if today was the first day that I had ever met him he would encourage me to eat right and exercise to drop a few pounds.

At my height and body frame, the top end of the “Normal” BMI weight range is 195.  I’m pretty sure that I haven’t weight under 200 lbs  since Junior High.  That is completely insane!   So, in order to hit an insane goal; I need some insane motivation!   With the help of my lovely wife, we have set up a little wager.  We are both going to strive for “Healthy” BMI. The actual number to lose to get to a  healthy BMI is a little higher for Michelle; so we adjusted the final weight number for her to make it more fair. So, the first person to hit their magic number (mine is 195, hers is @%&$!) by December 31st is the winner.  The stakes are high.  The winner gets to decide on a weekend get away for us… either the winner plans it, or the winner can make the other person plan it.  It is entirely up to the winner how to handle it.  I’m thinking that it might be fun to go to the NFL Pro Bowl in January…    In order to make sure that we are keeping pace with the required weight loss (which comes out to around 1.5 lbs per week); we have set up check points every 7-ish weeks.  If you hit your number for the check-in you get a mini-prize.  The winner of the check point gets an additional prize as well.

That should keep things interesting and motivated until the end of the year!    What is your motivation to keep going?

I have said it many times:  If I can do this, so can you!!  Get started and just keep going!!!

A “New” Me!

So, as I have been doing since October 17th, 2011; I went to the gym last night for my thrice weekly workout.  I see basically the same set of people every night that I go.  I like to refer to myself as the “formerly fat guy”.  There is the “girl who wears too much make up”, the “staffer who won’t stop hitting on every girl that walks by”, the “used to be a fat girl, but now is smokin hot”, and then there is the collection that I like to refer to as the “Meatheads”.


The Meatheads are a special group of dudes who wear their under armor shirts a little too tight; and their shorts a little too short and like to warm up with bicep curls.. then max out with bicep curls and cool down with more bicep curls.  Now, don’t get me wrong; they are all put together the right way; muscles on top of muscles and obviously they have been at this for a while.  Their work really pays off.  I can’t help but laugh when I see them flexing in the mirror while trying to look like they are just stretching.  I’d be lying if I weren’t just a little envious of their physiques.


Last night was slightly different for me.  You see, last week I decided to shave my goatee.  I haven’t been without facial hair in probably close to 16 years.  Michelle has only seen me without facial hair once; when I accidentally shaved it off before a friend’s wedding (OOOOOOPS).   I think that maybe I was hiding behind the facial hair.  I’m not sure why, I just always felt comfortable with it, and thats “who I was”.   I think the shaving was more symbolic of my metamorphosis into something new.  I’m creating a new life for myself and at the center of that is being healthy.  Why hide behind the d-bag goatee anymore!  Who knows, maybe I will grow it back.. just so my kids will recognize me again!  HA!  So, when I got to the gym and went to work on the dumbbells one of the meatheads came over to me and said “Hey, you shaved, it looks great. You look 10 years younger”.  So, I was totally in aww that one of the meatheads recognized me and complimented on how I looked.  That was pretty cool.    I then realized that if that meathead was writing a blog; maybe I was one of his “guys” that he would refer to with quotes around a description to be funny.


What should my “nickname” be?  I’m partial to “formerly really fat guy”.. but I’m open minded..


Anyhow:  This is what I look like now:

I did it, didn’t die and will do it again….

I mentioned a few weeks ago (So… about running..)  that I was going to run a 5k and in my goal setting discussion way way back I started down the path of what I want to accomplish and some of the medium and longer term goals.

Well, June 9th; I did it.  I ran in the Unlimited Performance 5k, in Sycamore.  It was a very well run event and was extremely well organized.  Even noobs like me could figure out where I needed to be and how to handle things. Michelle ran with me, and did an amazing job of urging me on throughout the run.  There is no way I could have done it without her.   Also, it was really awesome for my sister Corie, her hubby Rick, my cousin Dawn and her son Noah along with my mom Caren and of course the ever present Austin and Clark to all be there to cheer us on!

A few observations:

  1. I was much more nervous about figuring out where the start/finish line was and at least having some idea what the route was like than I was about the actual running.
  2. Running in the country seemed harder than running in the City. It probably had more to do with the fact that there was WIND slowing me down (not that I was fast; but still!)
  3. Why would anyone want to CHEAT in a 5k run?  There were two girls who would run a bit, then walk and gossip (which is totally fine); but then they decided to cut short a round about and just turned around.  I was embarrassed for them.
  4. I’m glad I made it through without my calf acting up; so maybe that’s healed for good?
  5. Why in God’s green earth would they serve dry bagels at the end?  I get the bananas; that made sense.. but the bagels turned to dust in my mouth.  It was rough.
  6. Note to self:  don’t park at the top of a hill that you have to walk up after you have just run a race.


My results are below.. I’m as slow as molasses; but I did it.. and I’m going to do it again.  Michelle is picking our next 5k.   I also have my sights set on the pumpkin run in October.  Though, the jump from 5k to 10k in just 5 months seems a bit daunting.  I mean, I went from 0 to 5k in 4-ish months.   I’m terrified, but I’m not going to stop!

Our Intrepid Runners shortly after the start!
The Race Finishers!!! (and Austin!)


The results:


Aric Roush Chicago IL




13 30-39




Michelle Roush Chicago IL




11 30-39




Oh No!! The Scale Isn’t Going Down, What Am I Doing Wrong?

This is a common complaint amongst those who have undertaken diet and lifestyle changes.  “I’m doing everything right and the number just isn’t dropping” or “No matter what I do, I’m just not losing weight”.   I have heard it many time from friends who are in the same position I was in 9 months ago.  Heck, I said it myself 100 times… “I’m eating right, I’m exercising, WTF; why am I not losing weight”.  Its disheartening and frustrating.  Michelle said it right and continues to tell me:  “it took you 30+ years to put on the weight.. its not going to come off over night!”.  She is so right.

You have to keep at it.  Its not a “30 day miracle diet” or something you do for a week to fit into your skinny jeans.  You are changing your life; it takes time for your body to adjust to not being a fat-guy(™).  There will be ups and downs along the way.   Just keep working at it, you will get there!

What strategies have you used to keep going?

Weight Loss Chart
My weight loss journey from beginning to 6/8/12

The Contributors of My Success Vol 2: My Family

Today, I’d like to talk about perhaps the most important contributors to my success, my family.  And by family, I mean my lovely wife Michelle, the boys and all of my extended support network.  Each of them have contributed to my success and I am thankful for every bit of it.

The biggest contributor in anything that I have been able to accomplish has been Michelle. She has been the person who has challenged me most to keep going, even when I don’t want to keep going.   But aside from the fact that I love her and want to be around for her and the boys, she has contributed in many practical ways that have allowed me to focus on keeping it up for these past 7+ months.   First, she has “been there, done that” with fitness and weight loss. She has managed to drop 40+ pounds after each of the boys were born and continues to be a workout maniac.  The fact that she knows what is possible and has the formula for success has been a huge boost.  Keep in mind that she is also a health education professional (currently!) gives her a unique perspective as well a communication style that works well with my often juvenile behavior.  She is a workout maniac.  I have often said that if we could combine my ability to ensure that I track everything and eat well with her “gym-rat”; we could make the perfect diet/exercise specimen.   More importantly however, she knows WHAT to do and how to teach it to me.  When I started out at the gym, she made little index cards with exactly what I needed to do written down on them.  I took those cards with me every time I went to the gym and referred to them.  It was the recipe for success.  All I had to do was cook it!  Far and away, the best thing she has done for me was to be my biggest cheerleader.  She has kept me on an even keel.  She was very good about not letting me get too excited about a good week or a good day and making sure that I celebrate milestones and achievements.   As much as she says that I did all the work, I recognize that there is no way on earth I would have been able to do this without her love and support.

My boys have been big contributors as well. Even though they don’t realize it at all and have never even recognized that “daddy is a lot smaller now”, they have made a huge difference.  Every time I am on the infernal treadmill, closing in on exhaustion and wanting to quit, I think about them and how they would want to know that daddy doesn’t ever quit when things get tough and he doesn’t ever just give up.  They keep me going.

Lastly, YOU have played a part in me getting here.  One of the things that I promised myself that I would do is tell EVERYONE what I am doing and how I am trying to do it.  And your encouragement, challenges and high fives along the way have helped push me along.  Yeah, there have been many times driving past the donut shop that I have wanted to just drive through and get a fistful of delicious donuts, but I didn’t.  I felt like I would be letting a lot of people down.  Thank you for that!

So, now you are thinking.. “But Aric, I don’t live with a trainer, who knows about nutrition and can tell me what I need to do; how on earth can I possibly do this?”  You can do exactly what I did; I went to my doctor and asked for help.  Yeah, Michelle had been going on and on about exercise and nutrition; but I didn’t actually believe her until I met with Dr. Pohlman and Cassie Vanderwall ( from the Rush Hospital Nutrition Clinic.  Dr. Pohlman and Ms. Vanderwall both laid out a sensible diet plan that consisted of eating RIGHT and how much I should be eating so that I can sustain a healthy weight for the rest of my life.  Of course, this validated what Michelle had been telling me all along; so really, I should just listen to my wife.


In Short:
See your doctor.
Ask for help.
I will cheer you on!

The Contributors of My Success Vol 1: My Work

I wanted to put together a list of the things that I felt have really contributed to my success as I have really battled trying to get healthy.  I feel like there is no way that I could have come this far without the support of my family and friends and today I am going to stress the importance of a good, healthy work environment on getting and staying healthy.  Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor and am not a work force expert; I am merely reporting my observations and reflections!

In order to really understand the importance that having a positive work environment had on my life you need to understand where I came from and just what a toxic environment can do to your health.  As many of you know, I was the Director of IT at the City of Chicago – Office of Emergency Management and Communications for several years after rising through the ranks from just being a tech guy all the way to the corner office.  If you aren’t aware, the OEMC was (while I was there) the premier 9-1-1 center in the world.  We utilized technology across the business to streamline any process that could affect someone’s 9-1-1 call.  Think about that for a second.  In Chicago, when someone called 9-1-1; they called *MY* system.  The system that I and my staff were responsible for maintaining was the lifeline for millions of people who called when they were having a personal emergency.  Talk about pressure!  Frankly, that was one of the things that I loved about the job.  Many people spend their whole lives looking for a career where they can “make a difference” in the world.  I literally had that every single day for 10 years.  Where my every decision, procurement, hiring/firing could have an impact on a complicated system that was only used by people having the worst days of their lives; during an emergency.  You want to talk about feeling like a superhero when things go well; I had that.  I was the manager of the Yankees.. having a job that only a few other people could claim.

Let’s talk about the price that I had to pay for that satisfaction and responsibility.  It’s funny now, looking back on it; but there were many times when Michelle and I lived in the condo downtown; and I wouldn’t get home until 8pm; and that was just a normal day.  That meant I would be spending 13-15 hours at the office, dealing with the usual mundane problems, dealing with the bureaucrats, dealing with over-stressed micro-managing executives, and eventually dealing with the political pressures that trickled down to my level.  I used to spend 6 hours every Saturday just trying to weed through the 500+ emails that I didn’t have time to deal with during the week.  That meant that I didn’t have any time to exercise at all; and my health became a much lower priority in the grand scheme of things.  I ate like crap; managing to stuff into my piehole whatever snack/treat/garbage I could bother to find in my fridge at work.  My weight ballooned and my self esteem fell to epic lows; all in the name of having a career that “made a difference”.  Yeah, it made a difference all right…. A difference in my life and accelerating my own death.  Never mind that stress that my work habits put on my wife having to take care of small children without me around to help.. all in the name of “making a difference”.  Frankly, I’m shocked she didn’t leave me.  I was an embarrassment to myself and my family.  Yeah, I had a great career… but I almost lost everything that really mattered.

Fast forward to the end of January 2011. I spent the 2010 holidays stressing about work and the constant stress of being the only guy who was there with any knowledge of how things worked and with any historical frame of reference, I found that I was being pulled into lawsuits against the City as an expert and was really the only person who could have answered some of the questions that were being posed and I got fed up.  I left the City and struck out to see what else was out there.  I had a nice long vacation; did some IT consulting work that was fun; but finally settled in at Lextech in September of 2011.

Let me say, it was a shock coming to work here.  I had a closet full of shirts and ties that I wore every day for 10 years.  My first day here, I wore a dress shirt and dress pants with no tie… I felt naked.  I’m surrounded by teams of application developers wearing shorts and appropriate t-shirts (well, except on inappropriate T-Shirt Thursdays).  The people here are relaxed and friendly and every single one of the people at Lextech are amazing at what they do.

When I started at Lextech, I was shown just how a supportive team and good work environment can mean to your outlook.  I felt empowered to make decisions and to not have to constantly be looking over my shoulder for the next dagger in my back.  I was given responsibility to run the operations day to day and was tasked with managing customer experience and interaction for all of the projects that I manage.  Now, keeping in perspective the environment that I had come from, where the pressure was intense and mostly external and impossible to manage; coming here was like a vacation.  The pressure that I feel is pressure that I put on myself to keep the teams going to to alleviate the stress on them.  I can handle my own pressure; because I know what I can do and I know how to do it.   One of the developers told me a while back that my job is to keep the pressure off the developers and to shield them from having to deal with customers and that is exactly what I do every day.  Keep the guys who do the work from having to worry about the politics and (sometimes) unreasonable expectations.  It was nice to be recognized for doing well what I try to do.

With regards specifically to my health and weight loss, Lextech has allowed me the freedom to do the unthinkable:  actually take an hour to eat a healthy lunch.  *GASP* The shock and the horror.  They realize and I am slowly realizing that the next email that I  need to send can often wait an hour for me to get some fuel in my system or to get up from my desk to take a break.  When I decided to accept the offer to come work at Lextech, I was very upfront about why I left the City and why I wanted to work with a small, but rapidly growing company.  I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family, and I would put their needs above work.  The team here has been very accepting of the fact that I try to leave the office around 4 every day; so that I can get to daycare to pick up the boys.  It is one of my favorite things to do and it lights up my day no matter what has happened when they jump for joy in excitement to see dad.  They allow me the freedom to fit in exercise into an already tight family schedule.

And finally, Lextech has given me the perspective that I was sorely missing.  Family and loved ones are really more important than work; and realizing that has changed my life more than anything else.   There is no way I would have been as successful as I have been in this journey without my Lextech family.

Ps:  I didn’t write this at work; I just delayed publishing for during business hours 🙂  I’m far too busy to write things at work!

Basketball again!

I have a deep love of all things hoop. I watch NBA, college, anything on tv around basketball.  In my younger days, I used to spend 4-5 nights a week hooping it up in one way or another….  then, I blew my knee out and went through several years of rehab.  It was really that time in my life that learned how to over-eat and over-indulge and over-sloth.  Once my spirit was crushed by knee injury; I just never went back to it.  And once you stop and stop for real, its really hard to go back.

With all this weight loss and renewed interest in my own fitness I set a short term goal of playing basketball again.  At Lextech, the guys that I work with have been playing every Tuesday.  I decided that this spring was going to be my grand comeback to the game that I love.  I’m in decent enough shape having started running and lifting weights; I just hadn’t had much opportunity to actually pick up a basketball to actually practice shooting.  I knew that I would be terrible; but the only way to start it to do it.

This past Tuesday, I met up with the guys and we played some 4 on 4 half court.  I was right…. I’ve become terrible.  I suppose with 10 years of sitting on the couch and not actually playing I expected it.  But let me tell you; I was so happy to be out there, taking a pass into the post and taking the worst, most off balance shot you had ever seen made me so happy that I could have cried.  No matter how bad I was and how slow I moved I knew that I was taking a step in the right direction.

Of course, all this joy of being able to play there are some really important lessons that I feel like I have to pass on to you, gentle reader:

  1. Don’t wear new basketball shoes for the first time going to play; your feet will hurt and bleed
  2. When you are old, like I am, make sure to ice your knee after playing
  3. Don’t wear socks that are too thick for the new, uncomfortable shoes you should have never put on in the first place
  4. Stock up on ibuprofen.  You will need it

All in all, I can’t wait until next week; when I’m sure I will be better than I was this week; and I cannot wait for the next game… bloody feet and all!  By the way, I won the MVP trophy for the week.  Apparently, I didn’t embarrass myself and played ok.   As a right of passage, all players on the Lextech Tuesday basketball night are given a nickname… I shall henceforth be known as “Orange Crush”  (thanks to the bright orange t-shirt I was wearing)