THE ARTIFICIAL DIET
At Jos.A.Bank men’s apparel store at Hamilton Commons in Noblesville, Ind., Chris Day begins to try on a new three-piece suit. In the reflection of the mirror, Day sees a man who stands tall and for the first time in a while, sees someone different. His clothes actually fit, and they are no longer swallowing his figure. Two of his close friends noticed recently that Day’s clothes were massive in comparison to his body. His clothes were so big that they could be wrapped around him. The two offered to take him shopping to upgrade his look. That afternoon, Day walked out of the store with two brand-new full suits. Down 70 pounds after following a vigorous workout routine, Day was suddenly struck by reality. “At that moment I realized that the change I had made was significant. The way that I felt when I put on the suit and when I looked at myself in the mirror I felt like a whole new man. It created a realization for me,” says Day. He continues to thank his two friends till this day, not for the money, but for the experience.
Since 2010 Day has shed more than 100 pounds and with his dedication he has earned himself a sponsorship through a chocolate milk company by the name of Refuel. “I am very driven by goals that seem impossible,” says Day. In 2010, Day weighed over 300 pounds and quickly realized that he wanted a different lifestyle for himself. Since then, Day has completed a half Ironman triathlon this past July, which included a 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles of biking and a 13.1 mile run. Day is now training for a full Ironman competition this summer in Louisville, KY. For training purposes and weight management, Day continues to compete in local 5K races frequently with his family and friends.
In the Day household he is nicknamed the “human garbage disposal” because he usually eats all of the leftover food. “In our family we don’t believe in wasting food,” says Day. It all started at one specific dinner setting when Day’s five-year-old daughter said to him, “Is that what made your tummy so fat?” The same evening, she proceeded to drum and tap on Day’s stomach and chant “Daddy’s belly, daddy’s belly.” This was a moment that has changed Day’s life. “I was beginning to run out of excuses,” says Day.
Formerly a high school band director and now a financial advisor at Edward Jones in Yorktown, Ind., Day’s career choices have played a role in his weight management. In high school and college, Day was always very active in sports and other physical activities. Once he became married and began having children was the same time that he began working at Edward Jones. Going from being on his feet all day as a teacher to sitting at a desk in the office contributed to Day’s weight gain. In 2007, once his son was born, Day and his wife, Molly, decided to change to a different lifestyle. “One night, I was sitting on the couch and I began looking at fitness websites,” says Day. “That was the night that I decided that I wanted to run a marathon.” Little did Day know, a resource that would later contribute to his weight loss was right around the corner. A YMCA was built less than a mile away from his home was where it all started. “It was hard being the fattest guy in the room at the Y and it was really difficult to remind myself that I was there for myself and not anyone else. When I looked around the room everyone was just so fit, but it was just more in my head than anything,” says Day. Starting off small, Day implemented a fitness plan. He started by running for 90 seconds, then walking for a few minutes and soon starting the process over again. “I couldn’t even walk ten minutes without feeling winded, so it took a while to build everything up,” says Day.
Standing at about 6 feet, Day now weighs in at about 205 pounds and plans to lose more weight through triathlon trainings. “I began using an app called My Fitness Pal and begin holding myself accountable. The great thing about that app is you don’t feel handcuffed to fit a special diet,” says Day. He currently exercises every day for an hour to an hour and a half. His workouts usually consist of running several miles around his neighborhood with the range of miles varying by day. With the use of technology, such as the My Fitness Pal application and Day’s Garmen wrist watch he is able to track his progress easily. On some days Day may run four miles, while the next day he may spend three to four hours running 16 miles. The Garmen wrist watch is a GPS training wrist watch used by many athletes. “I am very analytical when it comes to tracking my progress, and the data is really important to me,” says Day as he pulls up various charts on his computer.
Although Day didn’t used to have a lot of confidence, now he feels a great sense of accomplishment after losing 100 pounds. “What I learned later is that although I was usually one of the heaviest people in the YMCA weight room, a lot of those people looked at me with admiration because I was actually taking that first step,” says Day. He may be the heaviest person in the room or may complete the race in last place, but the sense of pride that he feels is priceless. “Competing with others who are more advanced can be challenging both physically and mentally. When the results come out at the end of the race, and it tells me that I am 49 out of 50 it can be disappointing,” says Day. “I’ve had to really learn to separate the competition factor and make it a competition for myself. This means racing against the clock, not the person next to me.”
Andrew Griffin, an independent personal trainer in Indianapolis, has been a personal trainer for four years and has witnessed many plans for a healthy lifestyle. He says that it all starts with the first initial plan of expectation. “Before beginning a workout program I have to get a clear picture of their goals and the underlying reason of why they want to accomplish it. The shallower the underlying reason, the more likely you are to quit when times get tough,” says Griffin. There are also mental aspects involved with weight loss and it is the difference between weight loss and fat loss. “What we should focus on is body composition,” says Griffin. “The scale doesn’t do a great job of showing what’s really happening in the body. It can be misleading. A better way to monitor your progress would be to look in the mirror. You’ll see little changes in definition quicker which let you know fat is coming off.”
In order to track his progress, Day created a blog on September 29, 2009 called “I Advise U.” The blog was created at the very beginning of his weight loss journey and has changed paths since the start up. Initially his blog was meant to be an advice column, but as time went on the blog became an exhibition of Day’s personal journey. He writes about his upcoming races, his family, and what keeps him motivated. As a self-proclaimed music junkie, Day often mentions the music on his playlists that keep him enthused during the race including Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and Kanye West’s “Stronger.” Many of the songs chosen for his playlist are because the tempo matches Day’s cadence during races. One post mentioned Day’s first triathlon. He finished with a time that he did not feel comfortable with, and by the end of the day he ended up in the emergency room. The memory that he will always have as his first triathlon involves being diagnosed with hypothermia and dehydration as he was halted into an ambulance truck.
During tough times when Day finds himself losing motivation, he has his own personal support group at hand, his family. Day’s wife Molly was the one who encouraged him to pursue triathlons through her work with Ironman. To date, she has lost over 75 pounds. Not only is Day’s wife involved in changing to a healthier lifestyle, his children has also been involved. His eldest daughter is on the swim team and runs in the summer with a group. “It is interesting to see them pick up on things. Definitely without the support, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Day. LeAnne Greene, the Branch Office Administrator at Edward Jones has worked closely with Day for the past eight years and has observed his evolution in the past three years. “Chris is really motivated and once he put his mind to the idea of becoming healthier, it took off from there,” says Greene. “He is always looking for another race so that when one is done, he has another one already lined up.” Greene was once shown a photo of four men at a golf course and Day asked her if she recognized anyone in the photo. Greene says she had not, but then later realized that Day was actually one of the four men in the photo. “When you see someone every day, it is hard to recognize change because it is not something that you rest upon daily, but once you look back and reflect on those changes, it’s magical,” says Greene. Day’s inspiration has even encouraged Greene to form her own fitness plan to manage her weight.
Since Day has gotten the attention of the Refuel, a chocolate milk company, he has no problem staying motivated. On a sunny Saturday afternoon in the sin city of Las Vegas, Day and his wife Molly are spending their afternoon visiting the vendors at the Expo of the Vegas Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series. Being the very social person that Day is he wandered over to a vender table just out of curiosity. He asked the representatives what exactly was going on and the woman replied that they were filming commercials for chocolate milk. Instantly, Day was given an iPad to sign up and learn more. The requirements for each participant were to say why they liked chocolate milk and to tell their personal story. “I’ve got a story,” says Day. “I pulled out my phone and showed them one of my fat pictures and began filming my commercial.” Confidently, Day displays his charisma skills in front of the camera and encourages others to become active and live a healthy lifestyle.
The commercial was aired on the Refuel chocolate milk website for about a month and Day gathered all of his friends and family to vote for him. “I’m just blown away by this,” says Day. “I can’t believe that someone is willing to give me money, clothes and pay for all my race entries for the year is remarkable.” Upfront Day has received his cash prize, sponsorship clothing and has been entered into races that total over $1,200. Day says that money isn’t everything, but it definitely makes this hobby a lot more interesting. “It’s humbling and overwhelming, but at the same time there is this sense of responsibility to succeed because I am carrying the name of a company,” says Day.
Currently there are only 40 people in the U.S. that have received the Refuel chocolate milk sponsorship. About five people are chosen per month and the participants range from all different ages, abilities and genders.
Training for a full Ironman in August 2013, Day reflects back to his first race at Prairie Creek Reservoir in Muncie, Ind. Day heard about the race the day before on the radio. The next morning Day attended the race, cash in hand, ready to compete. With no prior preparation for the reservoir’s hilly landscape, Day did manage to finish the race. “The internal feeling of accomplishment is what was more important to me than anything,” says Day. Despite feeling completely exhausted from his first race, Day researched the race once he arrived home and found out that there was a race every month. “I now have my wife, two of her friends and her friend’s children participating in the monthly races,” says Day. In the May race, with now family and friends, Day was eager to show off his endurance. “Although April was my first race, this race was one of the most meaningful because it seemed like the beginning of something special,” says Day.
With strict physically training, Day has a very interesting way of watching what he consumes. On a day where exercising does not take place, Day keeps his daily calorie intake at about 1,500. On a day where exercise is included, Day keeps his daily calorie intake at 1,500 plus whatever he burns. He calls it simple math and with this strategy he plans to lose about one pound per week. “Technically I can eat whatever I want because I burn it off throughout my workout. I don’t feel handcuffed to some sort of special diet. I just hold myself accountable for what I eat,” says Day. Throughout Day’s blog, he mentions that he still enjoys McDonald’s every now and then and snacks such as cookies. He hasn’t given up on being the ordinary family man.
Once Day completes his upcoming full Ironman race in August, he plans to participate in other marathons and maintain his level of fitness. He doesn’t see himself becoming significantly faster, running wise, but he hopes to still participate in local and national events. “The next graduation of a full Ironman would be multi-day triathlons and destination racing, it’s an excuse to travel,” says Day laughing. Walt Disney World has a raced called the “Dopey Challenge” where participants get the opportunity to run through the Disney parks and hopefully have an chance to win one of six medals throughout the five day competition. Day hopes to get involved in races like these in the future.
Not all races end with a happy ending. On April 15, 2013 the annual Boston Marathon in Massachusetts ended in powerful explosions as runners sprinted through the finish line. According to the New York Times, three people were killed and over 100 were injured. “As a runner, the marathon is one of the most grueling things we can put ourselves through. We train for weeks and months on end to prepare for this single event, and the Boston marathon is the pinnacle race for most marathoners,” says Day. “At the time of the bombing, those finishing were at the end of the qualifying times and most were charity runners, doing this for others. I'm horrified. I couldn't do what I do if not for my support system and network of fans.”
Despite the overwhelming activities that occurred at the Boston Marathon, many races are still being held. On April 20, 2013 Day competed in his fourth marathon in Carmel, Ind. within five hours and two minutes. During the race, Day experienced a great deal of pain in his ankles, calves and back. “Mile fifteen brought exactly what I had hoped for, my family,” says Day. In the distance, his wife and children stand at the marker, smiling, waving and cheering. “I looked at Molly, in the eyes and said ‘I just need you to be proud of me. She kissed me and said ‘I am proud of you now keep going!’” says Day. In a blog entry about the Carmel Marathon by Day, he says “I must finish this post with a huge thanks to my amazing family who allow me to do these crazy activities, but especially to my wife, who already gave me a full body massage. I love you Molly.” Day says that his motivation for the race was dedicated to the innocent victims that were killed in the Boston Marathon race. “While the impact of today's events will weigh heavy on my mind and heart, they will NOT change who I am, what I do, or how I do it,” says Day in a blog post on the day of the incident.
Now that Day has accomplished many of his goals with the support of his family and friends, he likes to share his knowledge with the world. Very often, Day is questioned by those around him on the secret to his weight loss. Day gives three pieces of advice to those looking to start their own weight loss journey and those who want to begin living a healthier lifestyle. One must have self-discipline. “It doesn’t happen quick or overnight. It took me seven years to gain the weight and sometimes it takes just as long to lose it,” says Day. He also believes in celebrating the little victories in an appropriate manner. “The problem in my previous lifestyle is that I would reward myself with food. You have to find other ways to reward yourself. My wife loves to go shopping,” says Day. One also must be willing to change their attitude. “I lived as if my life revolved around food. Once you can break that habit of only eating when you’re hungry and not at the specific times we are accustomed too is when great things can happen,” says Day.
Day shows his personality, drive and compassion everyday through his running. His family is simply amazed by his significant change and ambition. “My children always tell me how proud I they are of me,” says Day. “Molly inspires me and I am in awe of her patience.” The moment Day decided to change his attitude about his health was when the spark ignited.
March 23 (face-to-face)
April 2, 2013 (face-to-face)
April 16, 2013 (email)
LeAnne Greene (Chris' secretary)
April 2, 2013 (face-to-face)
Andrew Griffin (personal trainer)
April 7, 2013 (email)
April 10, 2013 (email)
Day, Chris. "I ADVISE U." Weblog post. Carmel Marathon Race Report. Blogger, 20 Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
Day, Chris. "My First Triathalon." Web log comment. I ADVISE U. Blogger, 4 Sept. 2010. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
Eligon, John, and Michael Cooper. "2 Blasts at Boston Marathon Kill At Least 3 and Injure More than 100." The New York Times. Nytimes.com, 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.