Monday, September 29, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
One whole year.
One year ago today I was laying in a hospital bed. The night before I had experienced chest pains that were not going away and getting more uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is an understatement....it was starting to hurt. It was beginning to hurt enough to overcome my stubborn denial of symptoms that have been creeping on me for months and tell my wife that I thought I needed to go to the hospital. Once in the emergency room, a routine test of my blood showed a glucose level of over 500. They admitted my ass immediately and spent the next couple of days trying to lower my blood sugar and put me through all kinds of tests to see what shape my heart was in.
They did angioplasty and put a stent in one of my arteries. The doctor told me that most men in my condition and at my age just die. The classic clutching of the chest and being dead before you hit the floor. He said I was lucky. My blood glucose was beginning to come under control but I would have to take insulin to keep it that way. They told me I was lucky I caught it before serious damage had set in.
I didn't feel lucky. I felt like I dodged a bullet. I felt like I was given an undeserved chance to do something to change what I saw as a very nasty, short, and painful future. I lay there in that hospital bed thinking of my father and how a heart attack robbed that man who enjoyed so much of life and killed him off a little bit every month until he was gone.
I saw my future and I didn't like it one bit.
Now....one year later....things are much different. I don't smoke. I don't do junk food. I exercise, every day if I can. I see a doctor every three months. I take blood glucose readings and my medications religiously. I've lost around 25 lbs of fat around my belly. Though I may someday have to again use insulin, for now I manage very well with out injections
It would be cliche to say I was reborn. I knew all this stuff to take care of my body before the heart attack. I had good intentions of starting to live the life I knew I should...someday. I had even made attempts to begin this journey....many attempts....all short lived. It took coming face to face with my own mortality at the age of 56 to shake my complacency.
right in my ass, where I needed it
Monday, September 08, 2014
There's a lot of advice out there about what type of exercise program or which kind of diet is the answer for becoming physically fit. Pretty much all of them will actually work if you just add the one secret ingredient that almost nobody ever talks about.....consistency.
You have to exercise. I mean really exercise, not just move around. You have to push yourself to where it is past uncomfortable and there is pain the next day. Muscle growth requires it. Muscle growth also requires eating good nutritious food. Low on the fats and carbs so that you aren't expanding your belly while growing your biceps. You have to do this day after day, week after week, month after month.
How long do you want to be fit?
It's really easy to start a goal. No problem getting the motivation to want to lose weight, to gain muscle, to look fit and healthy. That's what sells books and drives gym memberships. Wanting is easy. Doing is not all that hard either..at first. It's the doing every day when the difficulty starts to set in. It's getting up in the morning and going to lift weights even when you feel like crap. It's going to the gym and doing an intense cardio when it's dark, cold, and wet outside. It's walking past the donuts that somebody brought in to work that morning. It's eating portions of your favorite foods rather than eating until it's gone or you're stuffed. It's not about free days or cheat meals or any other little psychological excuse you give yourself to fail .
It's about doing what you say you are going to do all the time because you want it and you know that it will come no other way from no other person.
It's about consistency.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
I've never been anywhere near what somebody might call a jock. Athletics is just something that wasn't that big a part of my life.....mainly because I sucked at sports. When you don't have natural athletic ability as a child, the various coaches in school tend to either brush you off or taunt you for their own amusement. I'm reminded of the first school coach I had; twisted sadistic asshole who had absolutely no business being around children (eff you Coach Summers...wherever your rotting soul is at). As a result, school pretty much squeezed any love of sports right out of me and I spent my years in the band while avoiding anything resembling physical exertion.
Oh...I had a bit of a revival in boot camp. I didn't have much of a choice about physical exertion every day. The drill instructor was a sadistic asshole too, but he didn't play favorites and was a sadistic asshole to everybody. Once out of boot camp though, I didn't do any "exercise" unless I was ordered to do so and, once I left the Navy, nobody ordered me to do anything. These were the years when I was still a scrawny 120 lbs and my body could burn several hundred calories just walking to the fridge.
That changed. My attitude toward physical exertion didn't. Result - year after year, pound after pound added, until I became what is clinically called morbidly obese....or in layman's terms.....fat as a hog and twice as ugly.
So naturally I dove into a gym and started working out with a passion.
It took a while. I had to get over the fear of even stepping into a gym. This is something that a lot of folks have, especially if you have never been into one or it's been a very long time since you have stepped into a gym to workout. You feel very out of place. It's an alien environment full of strange machines occupied by large and fit people....athletes......jocks.
"but I'm not one of them"
I found out that's not true. I have an inner athlete that was waiting all these years to break out. We all do. The body likes to be active. The brain rewards itself with feel good chemicals when we work out. Our muscles were made to move but sometimes we can forget that when they are neglected long enough.
Get off your ass. Go exercise every day. Tap the inner athlete and lock away the outer couch potato.
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
I try to be understanding and tolerant about that too because I was such a heavy smoker for so many years. It is actually somewhat embarrassing to know now that I reeked of tobacco smoke without even realizing it but....even with that understanding.....I can't stand the odor of a smoker. Makes me sick. Gives me a headache to be near them. I'm having the conundrum of trying to figure out a polite and tactful way of informing smokers I work with about this problem.
"Damn you reek!", while holding my nose and fanning the air would probably hurt a person's feelings and I don't want to do that. As I said, I was a smoker too and was oblivious to the smoke cloud of stink that hovered around me through the day. I can hold my breath, but not for more than a couple of minutes at a time and it makes conversation difficult.
What to do? What to do?
I'm pretty much coming to the conclusion that I may just have to be up front and direct about the whole thing....like the asshole ex-smokers that I always hated in the past. Fortunately, it's becoming more and more a smoke-free world every day.
Can't happen soon enough for me.
Monday, September 01, 2014
A question I've been asking myself for the past few days. Where am I going?
I guess I've been thinking about this because I zipped past another birthday, number 57. Three more and I will have to change the title of this blog. I've never really given much thought to being on the down side of fifty and staring straight at the huge six-oh. I frankly didn't think I would be alive this long. I was almost right..and that is another reason that I'm mulling over where I am going with all this fitness and health stuff.
Nearly one year ago I went into the hospital due to increasing chest pains that even my noted denial couldn't ignore any longer. It was a near total blockage of the left anterior descending artery. This is called the "widow-maker"...the heart attacks that cause men my age to drop dead on the spot. If I had not gone in to get it repaired, I probably would not had made it to the end of the month.Scared the shit out of me. Scared the shit out of my wife. On top of that problem, it was discovered that I have Type II diabetes and my blood glucose level at the time was dangerously high.
I was a mess. A walking disaster. I was also deeply into denial about the warning signals my body was sending to my blissfully ignorant brain. Yet, there is nothing quite like coming face-to-face with the very real possibility of your own death. I was sooooooooo lucky. Even though I had abused my body for years and pissed away countless chances to do something about it; I still had one chance left. Only one chance though. Something deep inside told me that it was probably the last one I would get.
So I quit smoking. Cold turkey and never looked back. I so wish I had done it decades ago because it was the single most important thing I have ever done for myself. My wife joined me in that achievement and now we both enjoy the pleasure of not being addicted to those damn cigarettes. Once I rid myself of smoking, exercise became much more effective. Diet followed with my giving up lots of junk that I use to regularly shove down my throat day after day. I learned portions. I learned to pay attention to carbs, fats, and salt. I monitor my blood sugar like a hawk. I found a doctor and see him regularly.
Not really. Dying is pretty easy though.
And I am not going that way....not yet....not for as many more years as I can get.