Three AM Musings

I’m on day three of my new “get up and walk two miles before work” program, and I’ve noticed an interesting pattern. The first few moments of consciousness have me lying in bed, contemplating not getting up. I am not one of nature’s morning people, despite my work schedule. Left to my own inclinations, three AM would be a thing that I see because I haven’t gone to bed yet.

And then I get up, usually before the alarm in my phone goes off. See, in an effort to not wake my wife up, I have the silent alarm on my FitBit set for 3 AM and the alarm on my phone set for 3:05 AM.  It works out pretty well, I think. But I get up, and I get dressed, and I start walking.  Usually I’m listening to my podcasts and playing Pokémon Go as I walk, but I’ll probably mix that up next week and get back to Zombies Run as well.

Anyway, I’m out walking. It’s dark out, and quiet, and warm but not hot. The only sounds (other than my podcasts and music) are my feet on the pavement, and the wind, and the distant sound of traffic – and there isn’t a whole lot of that at 3 AM.  And by the time I’m up the low hill to the complex clubhouse, I’m glad I didn’t stay in bed.

Then I’m across the street and past the Methodist church, and I’m crossing another street and walking past Kroger, and suddenly I’ve covered a mile and it’s time to turn around and head home. And I haven’t seen another human being the whole time, just a few cars with black-looking windows reflecting the streetlights.

Walking home feels even easier. I’m sweating a little, and paying attention to the changing textures of the ground beneath my feet. Concrete resists my weight. Asphalt seems to spring and rebound. Grass and dirt yield and compress beneath me.  Tiny rocks crunch and skitter.

Then I’m home.  As I shave, I realize that I’m wide awake and ready for the day – far more so than if I’d hit snooze and dozed for another 40 minutes.

If I’d realized it would be this much fun, I’d have started it last year.

Before the Crack of Dawn

Because of the way my schedule works out, I realized last night that getting up and going for my 30 minute (building up to a) run wasn’t going to work in the evenings.  I want to spend time with my family, after all, and I get up crazy early in the morning.  So, going for a 30 minute speedwalk on the treadmill after my son goes to bed doesn’t leave much time for things like spending time with my wife.  Which is, when you get right down to it, something that is far more important than exercising.

So, I got up this morning and went to the little workout room in our complex.  At 3 am.  And it was surprisingly nice.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was staggering a little for the first few steps, and blinking sleep out of my eyes, but it woke me up nicely.  I managed to put in 1.75 miles on the treadmill, plus another third of a mile walking to and from the workout room.  So, it was a good morning.  Even if I’m not used to being that sweaty at 3;30 in the morning.

After that, hitting the rest of my walking goal should be a cinch.  The other exercise goals, though?  Not so much of a cinch.  I’ve clearly allowed the muscle tone I’d developed to fade away, and I can feel my situps and pushups in my arms and shoulders and gut.  I’m not in pain, precisely, but I can clearly tell that more exercise is needed.  Which I got, simply because the pool is open and my son is insisting (not unreasonably) that we go every night (another reason that the treadmill probably won’t work out in the evenings).

So, all told, it was a good first day back to my exercise program.  Here’s to many more!

The Best Sign of Progress

“Are we walking home today, daddy?” my son asked me, when I picked him up from kindergarten yesterday.

“We are,” I told him.

“Yay!” he gushed.  Then, on the way home, we chatted about anything and everything.  What happens to people when they die.  Whether a motorcycle could beat an AT-AT.  What we’re going to have for dinner, and whether or not he can play before he does his homework.  He finds “treasures” – rocks and sticks, and tried to bring them home.  And we swordfight with other branches that he picks up – when he isn’t throwing them like spears or just showing me how far he can toss them.

I love these afternoon walks with my son.  They’re a pure reminder of the fact that I’ve made a whole lot of progress, and that I’m in better shape now than I was when he was born.  I can carry him around when needed, and give him piggyback rides and wrestle with him – all things I struggled to do, two years ago when he was a lot lighter and I wasn’t.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said all of this before, in more than one post.  But I’m saying it again, because he and my wife are my reasons for keeping this up – even when I’m feeling tired, or discouraged, or frustrated by lack of progress.  Because they remind me that I’m not just doing this to lose weight.  I’m doing it to have more moments like this, and to be able to spend more time with them.

It’s a great feeling, knowing that I already can.

Walking

The nice thing about all the walking I do these days isn’t the opportunity for weight loss.  I mean, sure.  That’s why I started it, and that’s what I’m hoping will come out of it as I get myself back on track with my goals.  But it really isn’t the best part about walking.  Weight loss is a side effect, these days.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned the nature trails at my place of work.  They’re really quite nice, particularly when you consider that I work in a call center for a national financial firm and that they could have just set us up in a windowless concrete box somewhere.  But, instead, I can get out and wander up and down trails that lead through trees and over a (usually dry) creek bed, and that end at one point with a spectacular view of the nearby town.  And there’s a lot of flowering shrubs and trees and parasitical plants, too.  Dogwood and honeysuckle, mostly.  They beat twelve kinds of hell out of my sinuses if I don’t keep up my allergy medicine, but there’s a subtle sort of perfume that fills the trails.  Not heavy and cloying, either.  Just enough that you take a deep breath and you think to yourself “I’m glad I’m outside.”

I hit those trails on my breaks, weather permitting.  Sometimes – like now, because my legs are a little sore from the exercises I’ve been doing – I try to talk myself out of going for walks when they start.  “I’m tired,” I’ll say.  Or, “I’m sore.”  And I’m sure that I don’t want to go, and that it’s going to be a chore, and that I’ll hate doing it.  But then I get outside, and the weather is just warm enough and just cool enough to be pleasant, and the floral scents hit on a gentle breeze, and I can feel myself unwind.  I start walking, feeling the concrete sidewalks give way to the shifting gravel of the trail, and I start to relax.

Sure, I walk for exercise these days.  But also, I walk just to walk.

15,131

I wasn’t successful with my calorie budget yesterday, not by a long shot.  But I did hit my walking goal and then some.  15,131 steps according to my FitBit, which it calculates out to be 7.63 miles.  So, yeah.  I feel pretty good about that.

Part of the secret is the new “family walk” program my wife and I have instituted.  Every day, after dinner, we’re going to pack up our son and our dog and go for a walk.  Some days it’ll be around the neighborhood, and some days it’ll be at a park.  Yesterday, we went to Woodland Mound, and had some drama.  See, my son wanted to walk our dog – something we were hesitant about because the dog is not the best with strangers.  He’s a 17 pound Cocker Spaniel mix of some sort with four teeth left in his 12ish year old head, but he thinks he’s a wolf and barks and lunges at strangers.  But, since there was nobody around, we let my son take him and run to the nearest tree and back.

Unfortunately, my dog got all excited and tried to run around my son.  This resulted in him tripping and scraping his knee.  He was fine, more or less, until he saw the blood oozing out.  Then he panicked and started crying and wanting to go home.  So, while mom held him and comforted him, it fell to me to walk back to the car and fetch the first aid kit.  An alcohol wipe and a bandage and a couple of hugs later, and we were back to walking.

Crisis averted.

Things Are Turning Around

All right, so I wasn’t perfect last week.  So what?  You know what happened when I got on the scales on Saturday?  I was down 1.8 pounds.  That, right there, is progress.  And that progress didn’t come from perfection.  It just came from actually trying, from working hard and not giving up because I didn’t quite do everything.

Part of me, of course, is saying stupid things.  “You could have done better, if you’d just hit your calorie goals.”  “You could have lost more, if you’d just walked more.”  But that voice isn’t important, and it isn’t carrying the day.  Sure, maybe I could have done better.  But “maybes” and “perhapses” and “if onlys” and a $1.50 will get me a 20 oz Coke Zero out of a vending machine.  They aren’t worth anything, is what I’m saying, and I’m not going to indulge them

Now to do it again this week.  Because, as I keep trying to remind myself, I’m doing this for health, not just for weight loss.  I’m changing my life, not hitting a target and then stopping.  And I can see that life change, even if I haven’t yet hit my final goal.  Because I’m more than a hundred pounds lighter than I was when I started this project more than two years ago, and I’ve kept it off despite distractions and stress and illness and injury, and that is success.

Actually, I Feel Better Now

Yeah, I know.  I got a little ranty, yesterday.  Is “ranty” a word?  Well, it is now.  It is now a word, and it is a word that well describes my mood from yesterday.  “Frustrated” would be another good word, but “ranty” works.  I think I’m over it now, though.  Why?  A couple of reasons.

First reason:  my amazing wife, who reminded me once again (because I really need the reminding right now) that this is a process, not a race.  And that there’s no shame in being busy, and in “only” maintaining a 115 pound weight loss.  Because there’s no “only” about that.  Also, she reminded me that she loves me no matter what weight I’m at, and that made me all happy and damnit I’m not getting a little teary!  It’s just some… some grit!  Yeah, that’s it!  Grit!

Seriously, though, she’s an amazing woman.

Second reason:  I believe I mentioned a couple of months back that I’m in a competition of sorts with a friend of mine.  He doesn’t have as far to go, but we support each other in an adversarially-friendly way that actually works pretty well and that only doesn’t end in blood because we are good friends.  Well, he texted me after reading my post and let me know he’s having a little bit of a struggle as well.  And that was nice.  Not that he’s having trouble, mind, but that he took the time to remind me that I’m not the only one having trouble.

I’ve got great family and friends, and they’re a huge chunk of why I’m still trying.  Damn, but I’m a lucky man.