- Cullman, Alabama


June 29, 2014

Pharmacist maintain healthy lifestyle with determination, training

CULLMAN — In a darkened, pre-dawn bedroom in Cullman, Alabama, an alarm goes off four days a week at exactly 4:30 a.m. The sound wakens Chris Borden, who tumbles out of bed, groggy and with a decision to make at this early hour. To run, or not to run? This is the question he asks himself, no matter the season, no matter the weather. Well, practically. Borden crawls back into his warm bed if there is ice or a dangerous thunderstorm brewing. Otherwise, he hits the street running — literally.

This wasn’t always the case. Just a few short years ago, Borden weighed in at 300 pounds. The Cullman pharmacist, owner of Borden Pharmacy, like so many of us raised in the south, was a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy who loved Southern cooking and had a sweet tooth.

He’d tried several diets, but all of them had failed. When his wife, Kami, was pregnant with their middle child she tried a program at the Wellness and Aquatic Center called “Couch To 5K”. Kami did well after her pregnancy. The program helped her shed her after-baby weight quickly.

When she went on it again after the birth of their third child, Chris decided that since she had done so well, it might just work for him.

For the Bordens, it was a turning point.

At the same time they started the program they started walking, although not always together. “Sometimes when I would come home she would say, ‘Oh, no! You aren’t leaving me in this house with three children!’” he laughed.

“We were blessed in that our neighborhood at the time had an oval-shaped area that was one-third of a mile,” said Borden. “Every week I would add another increment.”

The upshot of Borden’s story is that he lost 60 pounds very quickly. “But I yo-yo’d for about five years, but then my wife, Kami, did the ‘Couch to 5K’ program at the Wellness and Aquatic Center.”

That’s when Borden discovered that he loved running.

He says that he has been really blessed to have started with no overriding health issues like bad knees or a bad back to interfere with his progress.

“Time and tiredness are the worst parts,” he laughed.

He started out in April of 2009, that fall he ran the 10K at Oktoberfest in 59 minutes. That run gave him a huge boost of confidence.

A year later, in September 2010, he ran a half-marathon (13.5 miles) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. His children were waiting for him at the finish line. “There’s not a flat surface in that town,” he laughed. “At that point you are just trying to finish the race, making mental notes on what you can do better next time.”

“Typically a person trains by running 20 miles at least twice,” Borden explained. “I train so that I have fresh legs for the race.”

Borden also admits to being a heavy drinker – of water. “I have to consume enough liquid to conserve energy and stave off dehydration,” he said. “A lot of people confuse being hungry with being thirsty.”

Since he started running four years ago, Chris Borden has lost 90 pounds. “I like how I feel and how I feel about myself,” he said recently.

By March of 2013, a svelte Chris Borden ran the St. Bernard Half-Marathon. He literally came from the couch to doing marathons!

As a pharmacist, Borden frequently fields questions about weight loss supplements, "Especially when people see how much weight I've lost, they wonder if I've discovered some miracle pill because of my profession. I don’t recommend diet pills, although some people recommend E-Caps, which are electrolytes in capsule form. Borden Pharmacy does not sell over-the-counter diet pills. I think its cruel to sell people a product that doesn't work. As a health professional I just don't play into the gimmickry. But talking about it to people allows me to talk about my personal success with weight loss. I like to give people encouragement."

When running, Borden says that 20-22 minutes feels like four hours to your body. He sometimes sees people giving up, but says that it’s mostly due to injury, not stamina.

“One thing I want to make clear,” said Borden. “I am not a fast runner, at best I am average or maybe even a little below for marathons. Although I am slow, I am stubborn and just slug it out. I say this for this reason: Although I will never be a fast runner, I still enjoy the benefits I’ve alluded to. In terms of weight loss, mental stamina, and self-esteem, I still get the benefits even though I am not fast.”

Running has changed Borden’s life in more ways than just loosing weight. “It is empowering to set goals and see that I’m stronger and lighter,” he said. “I still diet; the more you run, the more you want to eat healthy. Physically, the last thing you’d want to do if you run is to eat a heavy meal of fried foods.”

Now, in addition to running four days a week, Borden also works out with a weight trainer, which improves his endurance.

He has worked out some guidelines for his weight loss that he encourages people to try, but says that it’s different for each individual. His tips are easy, cost nothing, and the proof that they work is looking Chris Borden in the mirror every day as he gets ready to run.

“First, if you are serious about dieting, you should stop eating out for a while,” he said. “Later, when you are more in control that will change.”

“Drink nothing with any calories,” Borden advises. “I drink a little juice or milk now, but very little.”

“Be intentional,” he cautions. “Plan your meals so that you won’t give in to temptation in a restaurant or cafeteria at work. We can’t eat salads all the time so it’s a good idea to make up several days worth of meals at home, then pack a lunch of them each day.”

Borden practices this rule faithfully. Last week he traveled with a youth group from Northbrook Baptist Church. “One day their choices were pizza, tacos and corndogs,” he laughed. Fortunately, he had thought ahead, packed a cooler with his pre-made, nutritious lunches, and was able to stick to his regimen.

He does eat out, and will occasionally have a piece of birthday cake, but another rule he has set for himself is to plan what he will be eating at the restaurant ahead of time. “I know most every menu at every restaurant in Cullman,” he laughed. “When I get there, I already know what I want without looking at the menu, which helps me to stay in control.”

As soon as he places his order, he asks the server to bring him a to-go box with his meal. When the meal arrives, he halves it right away. This way, he controls his portions, and also has his meal for tomorrow ready to go.

Borden has seen people who have struggled with their weight. He encourages them to stay away from sweets, not only because of their high calorie count and amount of sugar, but because if you are dieting you need to get away from the taste. “If you are planning to eat an apple, don’t have a candy bar first,” he cautioned. “An apple can’t compete with chocolate and caramel, but if you stay away from sugar for a while, it’s incredible how sweet an apple or any fruit will taste.”

When he really gets a craving for something sweet, Borden is likely to pop a stick of gum in his mouth to give him just a hint of that sweet taste, but says that planning helps with cravings, and provides healthy alternatives.

“The more you run the healthier you eat, and the healthier you eat, the more you want to run,” he said.

“The best advice I can give people is to stick to their diet plan,” he said. “I think that the reason most people don’t have success is because they want instant results – but that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Realistically, our bodies just don’t respond that quickly to the changes. People should give their diet and exercise plan at least three weeks or a month to make a difference.”

Borden says that the results of his dramatic weight loss have helped him to feel younger, think more clearly, and surprisingly, that it helps him to prioritize his time.

He also says that running has also improved his temperament.

One of Borden’s mentors, Dr. George Sheehan once said, “A person should trust no thought derived while sitting down.” Borden concurs.

One of the things that keep him going each day is that he runs with a group of friends. It helps him to stay accountable, even on days when it’s tempting to snuggle back under the covers.

“The love of running brought us all together,” he reflected on the group of five friends that form their group. They help by encouraging one another in more ways that just physically. Spiritually and emotionally they help to keep things on an even keel.

 All a runner really needs is a good pair of running shoes and willpower. Borden also advises wearing good shoes, but stops short of recommending a brand. “There is a place in Huntsville called “Fleet Feet’ where they actually take a video of your gait to determine which shoe is best suited for your needs.”

As for willpower, Borden recommends reading the Bible, and a book about running called, “To Be a Runner”, by Martin Dugard (Rodale, 2011). Another book Borden refers to in his talks about weight loss is titled “Running and Being” by Dr. George A. Sheehan.

Sheehan once wrote, “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”

Borden says that he still struggles every day when that clock jolts him awake. “I still want to go back to bed,” he confesses. But he doesn’t … and the results are amazing.

“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy,” he said. “I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

Borden stresses that if you have heart, eye or kidney disease; check with your physician prior to starting any new structured physical activity.



Borden provides this important information

• Adults need 1.5 (2 liters or 6-8 glasses) or water per day

• By the time you realize you are thirsty you are already dehydrated

• If you prevent thirst, you prevent hunger

• Examples of healthy snacks; beef jerky, rice cakes, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds

• Keep a food journal

• Bottom line, being active helps your body use insulin better

• Try to exercise for 150 minutes per week (five 30-minute sessions) progressively work up to 45-60 minutes of continuous activity 5-7 days per week

• Set a goal, for instance, loosing half a pound per week

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