The Road Back

Running the 2012 Battle of Brooklyn 10 Miler
Running the 2012 Battle of Brooklyn 10 Miler

Note this post appears in North Queens Runner in addition to I’m Not Grandpa

I’m back in a familiar place—in front of the keyboard writing another how do I resolve my weight gain post.  I’ve written several over the years, like this one and this one.

Keeping fit gets tougher as you get older, this year was more difficult than past years. Being a stay-at-home Dad, managing my Dad’s health care during his illness, and caring for Mom, were among the challenges I faced. A sedentary consultant gig didn’t help much either.

It’s not like I’ve been completely inactive, I haven’t been able to maintain consistency.  Every time I’d gain traction, something came along and derailed my progress.

The way my clothes fit and how my bulging belly looked in pictures, I knew I gained weight, I just didn’t know how much.  A few weeks ago I replaced a broken bathroom scale—it was a wake-up call.  Like recent pictures of me, it wasn’t flattering.

halloween party 2

The scale said 225.  Stupid scale.  This was before celebrating the Christmas holiday with the family. Two days of solid eating, lasagna, ribs, pernil, chased with beer, wine and coquito (Puerto Rican Egg Nog) and lots of desserts during Christmas Eve spent with my family and Christmas Day with Esther’s pushed the scale to 228 as of yesterday morning.

Now it’s time to fix the problem.  This isn’t a resolution post—I don’t make resolutions—I set goals.  My current goal is more about creating new habits, than resolving to lose 15 or 20 pounds.  My first goal is getting active or more accurately fitting activity time into an already busy schedule.

Over the past few days I started with slow runs, actually run/walks. Sunday Morning Esther and I bundled the baby up taking him for a long walk in his jog stroller.  This morning I woke up at 5am before things got hectic and ran for 30 minutes, it was more of a challenge since Cristian woke me up at 1:30 this morning for a bottle.

My second goal is eating healthier and smaller portions.  Although I started running again, unless I consume less calories than I burn, I’ll keep gaining weight.

Motivation is important and mine is simple, it’s not about race times, personal records, or about maintaining my brand as the Badass 50-something marathon running first-time dad, it’s about Cristian.  He’s getting bigger and more energetic and deserves a dad who is there for him.  I owe him that.

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One and Done

Esther and I pose for a picture during the Tour de Cure, a fund-raising event benefitting the American Diabetes Association
Esther and I pose for a picture during the Tour de Cure, a fund-raising event benefitting the American Diabetes Association.

A few weeks ago Esther, Cristian, and I participated in a charity walk—we do a lot of them.   For years Esther and I have been running, riding and walking for many causes.   Finishing the walk we ran into a cousin we haven’t seen in quite some time.

We caught up on how she’s been and what’s new with various aunts and cousins as she played with the baby.  We answered the usual baby-related questions.  How’s he sleeping?  Is he walking?  Then came the curveball, are you planning another child?

When Cristian was born I knew he was one and done—although the hospital staff had other ideas.  Waiting for Esther and the baby to be released they planned our next child as I was online researching vasectomies.

IMG_3567

In my mind’s eye, I always pictured two kids.  I’m the younger of two, most of my friends have two—except for my Aunt, Titi Carmen, who has seven—she kept trying for the girl.  If I suggest seven children to my better half she’d handle the vasectomy herself.

Old schoolers insist one child is easy, providing no challenge—real parenting starts with (at least) two.  I come from a big family, Mom is the oldest of eight—of course in those days children doubled as indentured servants.  I can only imagine what Titi Carmen would say if I asked her opinion.

Esther and I are both experienced multi-taskers.   Professionally we’ve mentored and trained employees, and managed the expectations of the most difficult clients.  Outside of work we’ve run over 250 races including 24 marathons and two ultras.  We’ve never lacked energy, but toddlers are the great equalizer.

mini me

Over the past months, our fragile newborn developed into a full-blown toddler— funny how that happens.  Crawling and walking were replaced by climbing and exploring.  Temper tantrums are now part of his personality and bedtime is a nightly challenge of who can outlast who.  So far we have the upper hand.

Becoming a Dad at 50 meant Cristian is probably one and done—this concerned me and still does a little.  Raising an only child is different than raising several children.  With no siblings to play with we enrolled him in classes at My Gym, twice a week he goes to story time at the local library, and we are always inviting cousins over for playdates.

Parenting at any age and family size is a challenge, most things worth having are.  Taking care of my son as I work from home affords me a luxury many parents don’t have—I experience many of his firsts with him, instead of hearing about them—although some days it doesn’t seem that way.

Raising a child is a lot like running a marathon, energy is required, but pacing is important as well.  I’m still at the beginning knowing there are hills to climb and challenges to meet, but the end result is worth it.

pigeons

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Fathers and Sons

Dad with his sons I'm on the left my brother Bob is on the right. This taken around 1984.
Dad with his sons I’m on the left my brother Bob is on the right. This taken around 1984.

I haven’t posted lately, 25 days to be exact.  That’s a major no-no for a blogger.  The ideas are flowing but the words haven’t made it to the keyboard.  Writer’s block is rough, but it’s more than that, my mind is elsewhere.

Watching your parents get older is difficult.  Mom jokes about how their lives are spent in doctor’s waiting rooms.  Over the past few years I’ve spent too many hours at doctor’s appointments, following up on test results and sitting in hospital rooms listening to beeping machines after yet another procedure.

I’ve spent two consecutive Monday nights sitting next to Dad’s bed in the emergency room waiting for a room to become available.  Long Island’s hospital situation has gotten bad.  I posted about Dad a few weeks ago.  Since then I’ve spent hours thinking about the kind of father he was and wondering what kind of father I’ll be to my son.

A family picture taken when we celebrated Mom and Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary
A family picture taken when we celebrated Mom and Dad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

During Esther’s pregnancy, we spent countless hours talking about how to raise Baby Priegue. Comparing values and opinions—we planned what we wanted for him and what to expose him to.

We enjoy an active lifestyle, so running and bike tours were an automatic.  Teaching him about his culture, a love of reading, museums and all forms of music were high on the list.  An ideal day will be a five-mile race in Central Park followed by a trip to the Museum of Natural History.

Cristian's first visit to a museum, when he's older, we will take him inside.
Cristian’s first visit to a museum, when he’s older, we will take him inside.

My Dad is my gauge for fatherhood, an old-school parent, who was our father, not our best friend.  He didn’t give us everything we wanted, but we lacked for nothing.  Dad taught me actions are valuable than words—when we needed him he was there for us.

A few days ago a friend advised me regarding parenting.  He said do what your parents did, and fill in whatever was missing.  That’s a tall order but I’ll give it my best shot.  I owe it to both my father and son.

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For Lola

That smile
That smile

Tomorrow morning Esther and I are running this season’s first race, a 5K in Prospect Park.  Despite running over 200 races between us, this one was different.  It’s not about goal times or PRs this one is for a cause, to honor my late mother-in-law’s memory.

Two years ago, Maria Hernandez, or Lola, as she was known to her friends lost her battle with Pancreatic Cancer causing a loss that hasn’t been replaced.  This ugly disease with an extremely low survival rate took Robert, Lucas and Justin’s grandmother and Cristian will never know her because of it.

pic for postLast year running became a family event as Lola’s children Esther, Bobby and Rose Marie, joined by friends and teammates signed up for the PanCan Purple Stride 5K Run/Walk to honor her memory. I paced Bobby while Rose Marie and a pregnant Esther walked the 5K.  We had a great time on a beautiful Saturday morning raising money for a good cause.

We’re back in Prospect Park tomorrow morning with a bigger group of friends and family to keep Lola’s memory alive once more.  Last year we got off to a slow start but Rose Marie, our Team Captain, took charge printing up T-Shirts and heading up the fundraising effort.

Although Esther is a little nervous running her first race in 16 months, she’ll be fine.  Mami will be looking down with a smile on her face.

If you know anyone suffering or lost someone to Pancreatic Cancer or are interested in donating to a good cause click here.  Thanks in advance.

This entry is being posted to both of my blogs North Queens Runner and I’m Not Grandpa.

Lola's children, Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby after last year's event
Lola’s children, Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby after last year’s event

 

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New Challenge—This Time It’s Personal

Weighing 220 pounds a few weeks ago,
Weighing 220 pounds a few weeks ago,

Parenting is full of challenges, mine started the first night.  Exhausted but elated I spent the night trying to soothe my cranky son who was on a hunger strike as he weaned off the epidural used during his delivery.  I remember him licking the back of my neck as we turned laps in our hospital room.

Each step in his development brings with it a new challenge.  This is nothing I didn’t know when I signed up for this parenthood thing—of course experiencing it is so much different than reading about it in parenting books or talking about it with other parents.

Esther and I after the 2013 Colon Cancer Challenge in Central Park
Esther and I after the 2013 Colon Cancer Challenge in Central Park

As the weather slowly starts warming up it’s time for my next challenge—a personal one—it’s time to lose weight.  I gained about 25 pounds during Esther’s pregnancy and a winter spent playing with our new baby and eating comfort food did little to help that.

For me this isn’t a new challenge—it’s an ongoing one.  Over the past 15 years I’ve lost 200 pounds, 20 pounds 10 times.  I’ve tried the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet and several others, they all worked for a short time but weren’t the answer, so a few weeks ago Esther and I joined Weight Watchers.

If you are unfamiliar with Weight Watchers you probably think it’s a room full of fat middle-aged women swapping recipes for low-fat muffins.  I did.  However the program works it you follow it.  I lost 45 pounds in 2013 before getting derailed by family issues.

When I joined in the past my goals were simple, lose weight and be healthier.  They still apply but there’s more to it now.  I’m the 50 year old father of an adorable son. Facing the challenges needed to raise him will require energy.  I owe it to him to be there.

My latest challenge is me against the scale.
My latest challenge is me against the scale
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