Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Personal Fitness and Health

Most often, I use this blog to talk about whatever strikes my fancy.  Recently, it's been a way to keep all you good folks updated on what's happening with Tabby's fight against cervical cancer.  And while that is currently the most important thing going on in my life, I got inspired to do a short-ish entry on my personal battle with weight loss.  Why?  Because it's my blog and I can.  Also, because the last few entries have been damned depressing (rightfully so) and I wanted to put something positive up.

A little history:  When Tabby and I got married, I weighed 142 pounds and has six percent body fat.  Six.  As in "almost none."  I was very lean, could eat anything I wanted, and still fit in a pair of pants with a 27-inch waist.  Those were the days.  Over the years, (19 of them, in fact), I saw a gradual increase in weight brought on by a multitude of factors, the biggest one being I simply love food and didn't exercise self-control.  I like to blame Tabby's cooking, but if I'm being honest, I did it to myself.  I packed on about 100 pounds of shame.  That's right, at my biggest, I weighed in at 240 pounds.  For a guy that's only (slightly under) 5'7" that's a whole 'nother person.  I came to a monumental decision that is still affecting my life, but in a positive way.  I needed to be more healthy.  In light of current circumstances, I really needed to be more healthy.  So I took a few steps.

First, I quit smoking.  It's been close to three years now, and I'm not picking it back up.  I did, however, substitute food for cigarettes, which resulted in the afore-mentioned ballooning of my weight.  Then I decided it was time to make things better.

Step one:  Gym membership.  The university for which I work (AKA:  "The Day Job") has a "wellness program" that allows employees to take 30 minutes of their day for personal wellness or fitness requirements.  My boss was kind enough to allow me to add those 30 minutes to my lunch hour, which allowed me an hour and a half to walk to the Student Recreation Center (which is the most kick-ass gym a guy could want), work out, shower, and get back.

Step two:  The workout.  For me, it's strict cardio for now.  The elliptical is both my best friend and my most hated instrument of torture.  Every day, I walk to the gym, follow the "fat burning" setting, and flat-out run for 35 minutes.  By the time I'm done, my shirt is soaked, my lungs burn, and my legs ache, but that's a good thing.  I think.  I follow it up with about 10 minutes of intense stretching of my legs.

Step three:  Bonus workout.  To begin with, I still am the assistant coach of the Texas State University Karate Team.  I'm a 4th degree black belt in Kajukenbo, and have the reputation of being somewhat of a sadist where workouts are concerned.  When I show up for class, it's all business, and I work the students until I'm sure they'll be sore in the morning.  I do the same workout they do, putting my body through the ringer until I, like they, are soaked with sweat.  On days when I don't go to the gym (because it's in another town), I try to get out and walk two or three miles through my neighborhood.

Step four:  Calorie counting.  It's a well-known, but often despised, fact of weight loss that, in order to lose weight, a person has to expend more calories than he is taking in.  If there's another way of doing it, someone please tell me what it is.  To that end, I downloaded a calorie tracker on my phone and enter in EVERYTHING I eat every day.  I also add in my exercises.

So how's that working out for me, you ask?  Starting from a weight of 240 lbs, I'm now down to 200 lbs, with an end goal of 180 lbs.  I've dropped several inches in my waist, my kilts fit better, and I can now walk across campus without getting winded.  I can also now out work (almost) every kid in the karate class, which, considering I'm going to be 42 years old in two months, is no small feat.  There are other benefits that I didn't count on.

  • Food actually tastes better.  Not sure if that's from not smoking, the weight loss, or a combination of the two. 
  • I have a better mental outlook.
  • My knees and hips don't hurt as often as they used to.
  • My back doesn't hurt as often or as much as it used to. 
  • I have so much more energy. 

I guess my point here isn't to preach or say that everyone needs to get on the fitness bandwagon.  I'm saying I did what was right for me.  My body, though far from perfect, is still a work in progress.  And if this little blog entry inspires just one person to maybe get up and try to improve their physical health, then I'm glad to have provided that service.  

I wish everyone who reads this long life and good health!  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing that. Knowing that you are taking such good care of yourself makes me happy, and reminds me that I need to take better care of myself. Meeting you has been such a positive influence in my life. You really do inspire me to be a better me. You're a force of nature. You rock!