Hopping Down Off The Wagon

I have the impulse control of a coked-up gecko, apparently.

So here’s the situation: you may have noticed that, on Saturday, I attended some sort of a party with my four-year-old. That party was a birthday party for the daughter of a friend. Like all birthday parties for small children, there was cake and other foods in attendance. I didn’t make a pig of myself, but the party started at noon and by 1 pm I realized that there was no way I was making my calorie intake goal for the day. Something about hot fudge cake and cupcakes just wrecks me. Sunday rolled around, and I was back on the wagon right until lunch, when we went out to City Barbecue for lunch.

That wagon looks mighty fine, sitting over there waiting for me to climb back up on it.

Really, though, things weren’t as dire as all that. Sure, I didn’t track my calories. I also didn’t eat a pint of Ben & Jerrys for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day (and I do love me some Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food…). I just got a little slack – not that I’m excusing myself for that. “Getting a little slack” is how the “not bothering to meet my goals” problem starts.

All of this reminds me, though: I never *did* discuss my goals. Here’s the current ones:

  • Walk five miles a day, as tracked by my FitBit.
  • Climb ten flights of stairs.
  • Engage in a light workout three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).
  • Eat no more than 2400 calories per day.

All of those are, I think, utterly doable. And as they become easier, I’ll be stepping them up.

Oh, and if any of you out there have a FitBit and want to challenge me to one of their contests (Goal Day, Weekend Warrior, whatever), just friend me through FitBit. I do love some competition.

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Unbelievable

i’m sitting at a water park right now, cursing my sore legs and watching my son in disbelief. He’s four, going on five (I think I’ve mentioned that), and he hasn’t stopped moving in two hours. Heck, I don’t think he’s stopped running in the past two hours.

No deep observations here. It’s just funny, you know. We have so much energy as children. Where does it all go?

Well, come to think of it, I drowned all my energy in ice cream and cola. Here’s hoping I get it all back!

ADDENDUM:  Twenty minutes later, all that energy broke. I ended up carrying him back to the picnic table for the birthday party we were attending. Carrying a forty pound human being a quarter mile is a good workout!

And, naturally, now he’s running around again. Go figure.

It’s The Journey, Not The Destination

Having reread that last entry, it makes me sound a whole lot more grim and hopeless about my goals than I actually am. I mean, yeah. I told the truth about not really believing I can do this. But that’s not the whole story. See, I’m really not looking at that 218 lb goal as what I’m trying to do. What I’m trying to do is all based on today. I’m walking four to five miles today. I’m climbing ten flights of stairs today. I’m eating no more than 2,400 calories today. Let the future take care of itself.

And it’s actually quite a bit of fun. Let me tell you a story to illustrate this.

One of the things I do to get in some extra exercise is walk to pick up my son from daycare. We live about a quarter of a mile from his daycare, if I take the shortest route, so that gets me at least a half mile of walking. Usually more, because I’ve been letting him choose the route we walk home on, and four-year-olds rarely choose the most direct of paths.

So, we’re walking home. And he’s got his Batman car, because he got to take it to his daycare for show and tell. And he’s pausing every few feet to try to get it to roll down a slope. And we end up walking everywhere. Down a hill by his school, to go play with his car in a (dry) storm drain that had a long ramp. Up two small flights of stairs, so he could laugh and laugh as he tried to roll his car down the stairs. Down another hill behind our condo building, so he could race Batman down the sidewalk. And then we found sticks, and played at swordfighting for a while (shhh… don’t tell my wife…). And then we finally made it home.

That “half-mile walk” took me 40 minutes and 1.10 miles, and I loved every minute of it. But it hit me that, two months ago, I’d never have managed that walk. I’d never have been able to have that experience with my son. My legs would have given out halfway through, and I’d have had to make him go home.

You’ll probably read me complaining about things, from time to time. Because my legs do hurt, and I still don’t really believe I’ll succeed. But, I also don’t care if I succeed or not. All I really care about is moments like that.

A Leap of Faith

I don’t actually believe I’ll meet my goals. I don’t actually believe I can lose two hundred pounds.

Doesn’t that sound like madness? This is, after all, a blog about health and weight loss and my journey to achieve the same. And yet, here I am on the second post, saying I don’t believe I can do it. Why would I do that?

Because I’m trying to be honest about this. I don’t believe I’ll reach that goal of 220 pounds. After all, I’ve started a lot of weight loss attempts in the past couple of decades. I’ve probably lost the same ten pounds twenty or thirty times. And then I’ve found that ten pounds again, often in the company of friends who came to stay. I get very excited about things for a short period of time, and then lose interest because I get bored. Or I get tired. Or I make an excuse for putting off the effort until “tomorrow” (and it is never “tomorrow”…). Failure breeds a very specific attitude, an attitude that says “I failed once, so clearly I’m a failure and will never succeed”.

So what gives? If I don’t believe I can achieve my goal, why am I trying?

My wife and I were actually talking about this very topic last night, which is – at least in part – what inspired this post. She’s in a similar place, with goals that she wants to achieve but that she doesn’t believe she will ever actually achieve. At one point during the conversation, I looked at her and said: “You believe in god. Why can’t you take a leap of faith?”

Faith is a curious thing for me to be talking about. I’m a skeptic and an athiest, after all. But… well… I cannot think of a better word to use to describe why I’m doing this. My goal is one that is possible, after all. There are no physical reasons why I can’t lose weight. All that’s holding me back is fear, and the memory of failure. And so I’ve taken that ‘leap of faith’, and trusted that if I spend each day doing the small steps I’ve outlined for myself then the big goal will take care of itself.

So call it faith. Call it hope. Call it whatever you want. I can do this. I’m going to do this. And maybe, at some point, I’ll even believe it.

Getting Started

As of Sunday, I have officially lost 40 pounds.  That’s the good news.  The bad news, of course, is that now I weigh ‘only’ 378 pounds.

Hi there!  My name’s Richard Gant.  I’m a husband, a father of an active four-year-old, a amateur writer and guitarist, and a stockbroker.  And, as of July 15, I weighed 418 pounds.  That was… disconcerting, when my doctor’s scales gave me that news.  I mean, sure.  My pants were excessively large around the waist, but slightly tight because I didn’t want to admit I’d gotten larger.  And I had high blood pressure, and I was on two different medications to control it (I still am, to be honest).  But I didn’t think of myself as fat.  In my head I was still 18 and bicycled everywhere.  That doughy guy in the mirror, who resembled a slightly melted hard boiled egg on toothpicks was a stranger to me, and one I avoided looking at whenever possible.

And then my doctor told me that I had enough early warning signs that, if I didn’t actually have type II diabetes, I should still start living like I did.  The good news, he said, was that my blood sugar was at a level where I could easily control it with my diet.  But for the next 30 days, he wanted me to check my blood sugar four times a day and fax or email the results weekly.

I freaked out, just a little.  After all, I’ve watched my mom go largely blind from diabetes and I didn’t want that!  And that day, I resolved to do something I’d given lip service to in the past but had never actually carried through with – I’d get myself healthy.  I’d reduce my calorie intake, I’d exercise more, and I’d track it all.  Because I have a wife I love and a son I adore and I want to be around for both of them.  But, and I’ll have to be honest here, mostly because I wasn’t going to go blind!

Selfish?  Perhaps.  But it was the fear of blindness that got me going.  Now, since that day, I’ve worked hard on recasting my motivation.  I’ve put the emphasis on getting healthy, with my actual weight as a scorecard, and I’ve focused my reasons on my wife and my son.

And now, 39 days later, I’ve lost 40 pounds.  Twenty percent of the total I need to lose.  I’m already feeling better, but I’ve got a long way left to go.

But heck, I’m changing my life.  So, technically, I’ve got my whole life left to go.