Review: From Fat Boy To Fit Man

From Fat Boy to Fit Man : Eli Sapharti

Shortly after beginning my journey to a healthier lifestyle, Running Wife passed along a link to a Facebook fan page that she thought I might enjoy.

The page is run by Eli Sapharti, who has also penned a book about his journey titled From Fat Boy to Fit Man: A “One Step at a Time” Story of Success. After following the page for awhile and finding that Eli’s posts really clicked with me, I decided to grab a copy of his book and read it cover to cover on a recent flight to London – which is laced with irony given Eli’s story and the events that led up to his realization that he needed to make some changes.


Eli takes us on a journey from where he was – out of shape, barely able to walk up a flight of stairs – to where he is now – over 100 pounds lighter, running half marathons, and sharing his story of success with men and women across the world. Like many of us, Eli had tried every fad diet and quick fix under the sun, but it wasn’t until he truly saw himself that things began to click.

With the realization of just how fat and unhealthy he had become, Eli committed to himself that he had to do something to change the path he was on. He started small and continued to build upon his success, one step at a time. The pounds began to melt away and he slowly began to realize that his new lifestyle was making him healthier and happier than he ever dreamed.

Along the way, Eli shares the stories of two people that have leveraged the process that he has used to change their own lives. Whether you have not yet started your own journey or are well down your path to success, you will find more than a few nuggets of gold in this book – and a handful of moments that will bring a tear to your eye as you recognize yourself in similar situations.

If I didn’t know better…

As I began reading this book, I could not help but think that somehow Eli had morphed into my life and wrote a book about me – with the exception being that I have not yet reached my initial goal.

The similarities were eerie – nearly identical starting weights, former smokers, experiencing an anxiety attack on the highway while driving, and the trigger for our epiphany being a comment from someone that truly made us open our eyes to see what we had become. The fact that Eli and I share so many similarities in our story allowed me to truly immerse myself in the story and had me nodding with acknowledgement as he shared his thoughts and feelings about his struggles.

An unexpected treat

One thing that caught me a little off-guard as I began reading the book, yet I truly began to appreciate and enjoy the more I read, was how the book is actually presented.

Rather than being a straight story of Eli’s journey, the story is presented as an interview between the co-author, Jason Wood, and Eli himself. It was interesting to see the dynamic between them, and as the story progresses you begin to see that Jason has a new understanding and appreciation for what Eli – and those of us in similar situations – has struggled with, as well as how he relates his own struggles to the process that Eli has implemented.

In addition to that treat, another piece of the book that I truly enjoyed was how in between each chapter or section, Eli includes a quote – some are of the inspirational or motivational variety, while others are more thought-provoking.

One step at a time

Earlier I mentioned that Eli and I share a number of similarities in our journey, and that holds true with the concept of taking one step at a time which I have written about previously.

When I began my own journey – which thus far has seen me lose over 50 pounds and gained the ability to complete a 5k in under 40 minutes – I made one huge change compared with all of my prior attempts to lose weight and improve my health. And that huge change was actually something very small, depending on how you look at it of course.

In the past I would always approach my zeal for fitness as a big bang approach – cut out all the crappy food, exercise like a mad man, and follow a strict plan – which of course would last for about two weeks and then the wheels would fall off in a fit of binge eating at 1:00 AM.

This time around, I started by making one small change at a time and slowly introduced additional changes as each prior change became a habit.

That is exactly how Eli took control of his life and found success as well. It sounds like such an easy concept – and truthfully it really is once you are ready and willing to accept it into your life. In addition, it is a concept that you can customize to fit with your life right here and now, no matter where you are at in your journey to a happier and healthier you.

Wrapping it up

While I may already be half-way through my journey to my initial goal, I still found Eli’s book to be an excellent read. I’ve been stuck in a bit of a plateau lately, and reading the stories from Eli, Rick and Jennifer has enforced the need to keep pushing through to reach my goals.

Regardless of where you are along your own path to success, I highly recommend this book as it will demonstrate that there are easy things we can do to improve our health and happiness – although those easy things are sometimes extremely difficult to do.

Reading this book has enforced the importance of having supportive people in your life and I am very fortunate to have that in Running Wife. One day I hope to meet Eli and shake his hand, as unbeknownst to him he wrote a story that very closely mirrors my own and for that I am extremely grateful as it supports the changes that I have made in my life.

If you find yourself in need of a supportive hand, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or Running Wife as we are happy to help in any way we can. You can reach us here, as well as on Facebook or Twitter.

Addicted to Fitbit Flex

The other day I had mentioned to RunningWife that I was contemplating the purchase of a Fitbit tracker to keep tabs on my daily activity – after all, I’m kind of a technology nerd so having the online tracking really appeals to me. Being the amazing and supportive wife that she is, by the time I got home that night there was a gift waiting for me on the table.

I’ve had my Fitbit Flex for a little more than two weeks now and I absolutely, positively LOVE it!

The setup was a breeze and the integration with the app on my iPhone was a snap. But Fitbit may have created a monster!

Syncing On The Minute

When I first started wearing my Flex, I was syncing with the iPhone app all the time. And I mean all the time.

Walk from my desk to the printer at work – gotta check my steps!

Go to the bathroom – gotta check my steps!

Get out of bed and go downstairs – gotta check my steps!

I think you get the idea. It was like when you buy a stock for the first time and you’re constantly checking the market to see if you’ve made money or lost money. Or for anyone that has operated a blog before, it is akin to the constant check of Google Analytics to see how many visitors you’ve had on your site.

As time goes by, I imagine this will subside to some degree but it is so easy to quickly check how many steps you have in at any time. The nice thing about having that instant ability to check your steps, miles and minutes of activity is that you can quickly tell whether you need to kick it up a notch or two.

You’re Not Passing Me!

While checking your steps can be addicting, I have found that the real addiction has been how the natural competition with others has motivated me to be more active. As you connect with people on the Fitbit community, they will be displayed in your Friend Rankings.

The Friend Rankings are, as you can likely guess, a listing of the step totals for all of your Fitbit friends. The total is a rolling 7-day total, so as each day ends you might find yourself rising or dropping on the list. Now the really beautiful – and fun – part of this is that you can cheer your friends for the progress they are making and the goals they are achieving.

But the evil genius part is that you can taunt your friends too!

There have been more than a few nights where I am settled in for the night, pleased with the progress that I made that day, enjoying a little TV and then it happens – someone passes me by in the step count and sends me a taunt.

Oh no you didn’t! (Wag your finger and shake your head while saying that for the full effect.)

Seeing that taunt will get you up off the couch so you can do some more walking to add more steps to your daily total and pass the person that just passed you, so you can then throw their taunt right back in their face! Juvenile, perhaps – but it really can motivate you to keep as active as possible.

Long Term Benefits

Ultimately, the important this is to be up off of your butt, leading an active and healthy lifestyle. As time goes by, the appeal of the Fitbit Flex may wane (although being a little geeky I love having the stats to track over time – ask RunningWife about all of the spreadsheets I create, ha!) but before that happens you will have created a habit.

A habit of exercising.

A habit of eating healthy food choices.

A habit that will last you a lifetime, and will very likely extend your lifetime.

Since introducing the changes that I have been making to lead a healthier lifestyle, I have lost 19.5 pounds and am excited to exercise each and every day. I’m looking for ways to get up from my desk at work and be a little more active. Sitting on the couch all night after work is no longer the desirable choice.

Coming downstairs and realizing that I forgot something actually makes me smile now, as I get to run back up the stairs and add a handful of steps to my daily total.

Ultimately, the change to a healthier lifestyle has to come from within and you have to conquer the person in the mirror. But for me, I have found that the Fitbit Flex has been a huge catalyst to making those changes easier and a lot more fun!

My Husband’s Wife Is Awesome

The other day we shared an awesome t-shirt that we had found with our Facebook fan page, and everyone really loved it – and wanted to know where to get it!

For those that didn’t see the t-shirt we had posted, take a look:

Wife Is Awesome T-Shirt

Awesome, right? :)

If you’re interested in getting one for yourself – you know, because your husband’s wife is awesome too – you can order it here at Red Bubble. We found a few different varieties of this shirt on other sites, but this is the one that we liked the best.

Let us know if you order one and we’d be happy to feature you rockin’ your shirt on our Facebook page!

Critical Lessons Learned At First 5k

Do Over

June 1, 2013 – The day I learned a few critical lessons about running a 5k, and wish I could do over.

When I registered for my first 5k, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Remembering back to Running Wife’s first 5k, the vision in my head was that it would definitely be difficult but that ultimately it came down to just putting one foot in front of the other until the finish line.

Boy was I wrong.

Well, I was right that it was difficult but I was completely, 100% without a doubt, wrong in my simplistic thinking that it would be a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Shame on me too, as the primary reasons that I had such a hard time were things that I was aware of beforehand, but somehow thought I would be impervious to for no real reason.

#1 – Running On Elliptical ≠ Running Outside

Oh man, I was warned but scoffed at Running Wife.

Yeah, yeah. I knew that running outside was going to be different than running on the elliptical machine, yet I grossly underestimated just how different it would be. The majority of my training leading up to the 5k was done on our elliptical machine, and I was cruising through 3+ miles without a problem.

It actually felt good!

As race day drew closer, I started to mix in some sessions outside to start preparing for what it would be like. It was definitely harder but I thought that I would be fine on race day. Based on my scientific calculations, I estimated that I would breeze through the first 1.5 to 2.0 miles and then might need to slow my pace.

Well, let me tell you…I was not fine and after the first 1/2 mile, if my pace would have slowed any more I would have been going backwards.

There truly is no comparison between running on the elliptical and running outside, and I learned a true respect for that fact. The hard way, unfortunately.

#2 – Don’t Blow Your Wad Too Early

That sounds dirty, huh.

A lot of the information I had read about preparing for your first 5k stressed the importance of setting a reasonable pace at the start line, as one of the most common mistakes was starting too fast and being completely out of gas half way through the race.

Again, I had this information but inexplicably ignored it completely.

Maybe the rush of heading off with the pack of runners in my wave clouded my judgement; or maybe it was a deep desire to impress Running Wife with my athletic prowess. Whatever the reason, by the time we curved through the first few turns and the long straight-away, I was gasping for oxygen like a fish out of water.

My wad was blown and we were barely into the race.

Despite thinking that I was setting a reasonable pace at the start, I clearly had no point of reference and started off way too aggressively. As we passed through the first obstacle, I honestly felt like I would be getting carted out of the venue in an ambulance.

Wait a second…obstacle?

#3 – Keep It Simple For Your First 5k

Completing the trifecta of mistakes, I brilliantly selected an obstacle laden zombie 5k run as my first ever race.

Now, I don’t know if you have ever done one of these, but let me explain.

Throughout the course there are strategically placed obstacles; think Dirty Girl or Mud Run but without as much mud. In case that isn’t enough, they also have zombies roaming around the course waiting to “infect” you by stealing the three flags you are given at the start. These zombies come after you and you need to dodge, duck and roll away from them to stay safe.

Yeah, I was infected by the third obstacle! (And then became a human shield.)

The hilarious part is that before the race, I was visualizing myself finishing the race with at least one flag and earning the Survivor medal. Not. Even. Close.

In hindsight, I should have planned better and participated in a plain old vanilla 5k race for my maiden voyage into the race world. You know, the kind through the paved streets of a local neighborhood where the homeowners sit out in their lawn chairs and cheer you on.

Had I not committed mistake #1 and #2 above, maybe the zombie run would have been okay for my first race. But when you combine all three things together, I didn’t stand a chance.

So What Does It All Mean?

Looking back on the experience, I think I can safely say that running sucks!

No, really. :)

As much as I’d like to say that I loved the experience, I really didn’t. However, I think a lot of that has to do with how ill prepared I really was and the fact that it was a somewhat embarrassing display of fitness on my part.

But ultimately, deep down in the depths of my being, I honestly don’t think that I will ever love running the way that Running Wife does. She thrives on running; can’t run enough. She has done so many 5k races, 10k races, and a half-marathon that I can’t even count them – and she wants to do a marathon.

Maybe I will feel differently when I run a standard 5k race; you know, the kind without obstacles, zombies and who knows what else.

Somehow I doubt it though.

That doesn’t mean that I am hanging up my running shoes, just that I don’t think I am going to make a sport of signing up for races and running like crazy. I’ll continue to incorporate running – or maybe I should say jogging – as part of my exercise routine, but I’m not going to enjoy it!

Stay tuned to see how this plays out, as once I get in better shape and can handle a 5k run better, maybe I will get addicted to the thrill of finishing a race and striving for new personal records.

Just don’t hold your breath.

Keep Your Eye On The Prize

Light at the End of the Tunnel

When I began this couch to 5k journey, there was an unspoken history of past attempts to get in better shape, lose weight, and lead a healthier lifestyle. Unspoken because obviously those attempts resulted in failure, otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am now.

But is it really failure?

Yes and no. In the sense that those attempts did not result in the ultimate goal, yes it was a failure. However, there were many lessons learned during those times and that has contributed to my shift in mindset that has me in a better place now.

A Long Road

As the picture above represents, the journey to where I am going is definitely a long road with plenty of detours and alternate paths along the way.

Putting myself into that picture, over the last week I have found that I stopped along that long road and was distracted by the happenings taking place down one of the many corridors leading away from my end goal.

There have been changes at work, helping family clean up after flooding, and of course the events surrounding the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

Keep Your Eye On The Prize

There is no question that all of these things are mere excuses for the fact that I only exercised once this past week. However, there is one key difference between now and all of those other attempts to improve my lifestyle; those attempts that resulted in failure.

I’ve accepted that I don’t have to be perfect.

It sounds silly, but in the past when I would find myself straying from the path I had defined, I would mentally view that as a complete failure and throw up my arms in defeat. I would revert to all of my old habits – lounging on the couch, eating far too many snacks, and generally not doing much of anything.

At least I gave it a try“, I would think.

Now, I have accepted that this long road I am traveling is going to have detours and there will be times that I don’t stick to the plan.

There will be times where I don’t exercise according to schedule.

There will be times where I eat things I shouldn’t eat.

And it is okay!

The important thing is to minimize these times, refocus myself, and keep my eye on the prize. It isn’t a failure. It is life. It is an opportunity to recognize the triggers that lead to these changes in the plan and learn how to adjust. It is a time to celebrate progress rather than dwell on setbacks.

Speaking of progress, despite the above mentioned stop on my journey, I still managed to lose one pound this past week and am progressing towards my first milestone!

There is light at the end of the tunnel!