SGPT Interviews Finisher of the Spanish Camino Ingles Mark Sementilli

SGPT: Tell us about yourself? Where are you from and where do you train?

My Name is Mark Sementilli. I am from Windsor, Ontario. Our city is on the border with Detroit, MI. I am 51 years old and work as an engineer. I am married with two grown boys.
Currently I train at home. I have a garage gym with some mat space in our house for martial arts, yoga, etc. I am also fortunate enough to have a section of hiking trail as well as a decently sized hill right behind my house.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?
Growing up I played hockey, competitive soccer, and participated in martial arts.

SGPT: Tell us about your fitness journey and how you got started?
After years of focusing on my boys’ activities and my career, I decided it was time to start getting back into shape. I was pretty sedentary and really wanted to make a change. Rucking has always interested me, and I happened to come across SGPT online and decided to give it a try.
I have now done a few challenges with SGPT. At first there were a few things that really drew me to SGPT;
– The option to scale everything, so I have been slowly building up to this point.
– The accountability and support of the online group, where I have learned not just from Coach Brad but from all the others as well.
– The variety and ability to do these workouts anywhere, anytime with anything. I travel for work, and I have even done these workouts on vacation. There is no reason not to get them done.
SGPT: You have lost 50 lbs training during the SGPT New Year Challenge and SGPT Tier 1 challenge. Tell us more about how this training helped you lose weight in a healthy manner?

I decided this year that I needed to really kick it up a notch, that I would commit 100% to the 90-day program, no exceptions and see what would happen. Not only would I follow the workouts for 90 days and the 60-day challenge before that, I would also follow all the clean eating recommendations as well.
What I have learned is that it’s about creating good habits, developing a sustainable system that you can stick with, that it’s all a marathon not a sprint, and that small consistent improvements each day give you exponential growth in the end.

SGPT: What was the hardest part of finishing these courses and losing the excess weight?
Since I am an engineer, I like to think of it in terms of engineering. I keep telling myself it’s about momentum. At first it was about moving every day, then that became a good daily habit that I did without question. For the 90-day challenge the hardest part was to fix my eating, but once I established new habits it became easier, more momentum. It is very easy to eat poorly, especially when you are busy with work, or you come home late. Making clean eating habits convenient was the challenge. Food prep, tricks when travelling, bringing a cooler with me on the road were just a few things I did, and my mindset was to keep visualizing what I could accomplish if I only committed to 90 days.
There was a quote I came across that I liked to think about: “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken”

SGPT: You are hiking the Spanish Camino Ingles currently. Tell us about that route and what you have learned.
The route of the Camino Ingles starts in Ferrol and goes to Santiago. It is 120 km that goes up and down the mountains with a total elevation gain of 3200 meters. It is said to take 5 to 7 days to complete, I did it in 7 days. Afterwards, we decided to continue to the coast and hike up to KM Marker zero in Finisterre. The last part of this was a challenge for me because it is 4 km up a cape with an 800 ft sheer drop and I don’t like heights! In the end I walked over 200 kms in 2 weeks.
What I learned:
– No matter how much you train, when you hike this much you wake up muscles that you never knew you had! I had to ask myself, was I just sore or was it a real injury. If I gave in to the self-talk, I would not have gotten to the end. You are capable of way more than you think.
– That you think certain things are really important to take with you until you have to carry them for 2 weeks. Backpacking this long really make you reassess.
– How happy having enough water on a hot Spanish day can make you feel and that drinking out of a famer’s garden hose is not beneath me. Never pass a chance to hydrate, fuel and rest if you need it.
– I learned that preparing for declines is just as important as inclines. I knew that there would be a lot of elevation and trained for that. What I didn’t prepare myself for was the number of steep declines there would be. This slowed me down and made me sore until I got used to it.
– Your feet are everything! Proper shoes, socks, rest, rolling them out and tending to blisters is crucial.

SGPT: What kind of boots /trail running shoes did you use for the Spanish Camino Ingles route?

I used Keen Ridge Flex Hiking Shoes. I really liked the wide toe area with a special rubber flex patch to make bending the toes easier.

SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to lose weight in a healthy manner and their first big event?
The biggest things I discovered for me was setting up a sustainable system that became routine. Planning and prep were everything for me and having fall backs. Don’t make it too complicated.
I learned the importance of balance. Once I focused just as much on diet and recovery as I did with the workouts, it all came together for me. With a bit of effort each week by planning and prepping, losing weight became a byproduct of what I was doing, not the focus. The ironic part is that this probably saves me time and it has become more and more effortless. You have talked about good and bad habits, so once I established the good habits of what, when and how I was eating the weight loss just happened. My mindset has completely changed, if I have a bad day, that’s ok, it’s not all or nothing, just make small improvements each day and the results will come, 1% mindset.
SGPT: What is your next big goal?
Continue with SGPT, lose some more weight and do a longer Camino next summer. My wife and I would like to hike the Camino Portuguès. This one starts in Portugal and ends in Spain along the coast, approximately 300 km.
SGPT: What book/ podcast are you reading/ listening to now?
I like the Mark Divine Show Podcast, Tango One Podcast (local to my area) and before and during the Camino, Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. I have read this before but the book motivates me and I felt I could use it.

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview Mark. I wish you all the best in your continued journey towards a healthy and strong life. 1% better!

Thanks for everything and helping me on this journey.

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