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.

The Year in Review

So.  2016.  What can I say about the year that we’re about to leave behind?

dumpsterfire2

That’s sure what it feels like, doesn’t it?  Lots of famous, popular people died.  Politics upset a whole lot of people.  Nazis have stopped scuttling for cover when you turn on the lights.  That sort of thing.

It hasn’t been all bad, though.  Not really.  There’s a number of lists of good things that happened this year, and here’s my favorite.  And it doesn’t even mention the New Horizon probe flying past Pluto, or Juno rendezvousing with Jupiter.  Or the fact that I’m almost 30 pounds lighter than I was on January 1, or the fact that even though I didn’t have the same success I had in 2015 I’ve kept the weight off.

It’s easy to listen to the news and get discouraged.  It’s easy to learn that childhood icons passed away, and get depressed.  It’s tempting to obsess on the things you wanted to achieve, and not to see the things you did achieve.  It’s utterly human to hear bad news, and think that things are worse now than they’ve ever been and that they will never, ever get better.

But they do.  And they will.  And they have.

I’ve lost 30 pounds this year, and kept it off.  I live in a world where my son only knows about chickenpox from television, and has never even heard of measles.  I’ve taken up contact staff spinning and contact juggling as hobbies, and I’m walking long distances for fun.  I can do 20 push-ups, and all of my stretching has made my joints far less stiff than they once were.  I sleep better, and I’m eating better, and I feel better than I have in a long, long time.

It’s been a good year, overall.  So let’s let’s see it out in style.

 

Holidays All The Way Down

Originally, I was going to call this post “Two Days After Christmas”, in a nod to my last blog entry.  But then I thought about calling it “Two Days After Hanukkah” instead, because that particular holiday started on December 24th this year.  But then, the way my brain works, I started thinking I should look for a holiday that was two days from today, but that would have made the title either “Two Days To Kayin New Year” or “Two Days To Tick Tock Day“, neither of which would have made sense.  However, I also learned that – assuming the internet is to be believed – yesterday was a holiday named “Second Day of Christmas” in the Netherlands, which I’ll choose to believe is called Tweedekerstmis until informed otherwise.  Which will probably happen within the next few hours.

Anyway, it was a good weekend.  Plenty of time spent relaxing and visiting with family, and playing odd board games with my son, and drooling over the recipes in the lovely new cook book that was one of my gifts.  Oh, and according to my scale, I lost five pounds over the holiday weekend.

Wait, what?

Yeah.  See, I weighed in on Saturday at 310.2 lbs – a thing that did not make me a happy man.  But then, last night, something struck me.  I’d been on steroids for the past 10 days, as part of my treatment for bronchitis, and as of Saturday it had been only 24 hours since I took the last pill.  And steroids cause you to gain weight.  So, out of curiosity, I got on the scales this morning.

305.6 lbs.

So, yeah.  I’m actually 1.2 pounds lighter than I was before I started taking the steroids.  That felt good.  Really good.

So, have a Happy First Day of Kwanzaa and a Solemn Zartosht No-Diso, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!