Thursday, August 30, 2012

Can It Be?

This is a picture of me in 1998.

It was the year I got married, which I kind of mark as the beginning of my downward spiral into fatness. My wife's cooking is amazing for one, and I guess I figured I had a woman, so I didn't need to try so hard anymore.

I don't really know what I weighed then, but my guess is between 220 and 235. As an experiment, I've shown this picture to many people over the last week, asking them if I am skinnier now or if I was still skinnier then.

Everybody says it's hard to gauge, and they can't say so for sure, and they're probably just being nice really, but they have pretty much all said that I am as skinny as or skinnier than I was then.

Can it be? It's pretty exciting. My weight is 233 right now, which puts me right in the range. So, I suppose it could be true. I've managed to take off the 60 pounds I gained after getting married.

Only, I'm not done yet. I still have a lot of gut to go. I need to get to about 200 pounds or so. That's been my goal all along. So, this post isn't George W. on the aircraft carrier saying mission accomplished (which of course wasn't true anyway). It's just an interesting fact, and a mile post on my unfinished journey.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blood Test

Remember a while back when I was having that health issue? If you have been reading the blog for a while, it might sound familiar. I had this problem where I was just worn out and sore all the time no matter how much I rested. I was even getting unexplained swelling in my ankles.

The doctor thought it was probably something called dilated cardiomyopathy. We did some blood tests, and that seemed to be the most likely thing, especially when my C-Reactive Protein level was at 7.5. Normal is between zero and three. 7.5 means your heart is in some kind of distress.

An X-ray showed, however, that my heart was normal, not enlarged. So, we were at a loss. The doctor said to come back in a few months to re-try the test, and see if the levels had come down at all.

I was really irritated, because I still felt like complete crap. It was like that line from the Howard Jones song, "Doctor says you're cured, but you still feel the pain." I suffered through several more weeks of the problem, dosing it with Tylenol to keep the pain down to a minimum. And then one day, I didn't take Tylenol, but I still felt fine. And that continued until now.

So, just last week, my wife and I decided to try the workout program that is called "Insanity." It's really intense, especially in the cardio parts. The makers of the workout program say more than once in their literature that you must check with your doctor before starting the program. This is not just a disclaimer, they say, we really mean it.

So, considering the fact that I had recent history of cardiac problems, I figured I'd better actually finally get around to calling the doctor back and having him run that test again.

He was upbeat, figuring that what I'd actually had at the time was a virus that kicked my butt for a while until I finally kicked its butt on out. We ran the test, and he called me the other day to say that my test came in at 1.5. Normal levels is between zero and three. So, I think 1.5 is about as exactly normal as possible.

Doctor says I'm cured. And now I don't even feel the pain.

Well, that's not quite true. I feel plenty of pain with each session of that "Insanity" workout.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Zombie Walk 2012

Rish and I went to a Zombie Walk in downtown today. It was a lot of fun.

We've been meaning to go to it every year for at least three or four years in a row, but we always don't find out about it until after it happens. This year, we made a special effort to discover when and where before it was too late.

There were a lot of people there. I overheard one of the organizers talking about it at one point, and they said that it was double the size of last year's walk.

There were an awful lot of really good costumes. Some weird stuff, and some very funny stuff. Here's the pictures that I took:

The baby eating the brain is a particular favorite of mine.

Rish was an extra in a zombie movie a few months ago, and he saved his costume to use particularly for this.

I brought along my youngest daughter, and Rish brought along his nephew and niece. His nephew, the little guy, was fawned over an awful lot by the other zombies and the random passers-by as well.

Little kid zombies are cute.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Running Start

After winning the last weight-loss contest at work, the other less-successful folks in the contest decided that it would be a good idea to continue on with a second round. I was flush with cash, so I couldn't turn down the entry fee of $20. After taking everyone else's money the first time, I felt that I owed it, even if I didn't expect to be able to win the second go around.

And I seemed to be right. My weight loss stalled completely. I hovered at 245 despite doing exactly the same things as I had previously done. Well, I wasn't doing exactly the same things. My weekends tended to be...how could I put it?...splurgy? Spluge-tastic? I would gain back all the weight that I lost during the week, and took the proverbial one step forward and two steps back.

In early July, I decided it was time to change things up. I hadn't been exercising at all since I had that issue in April where my body was just aching all the time, and the doctor thought I might have a heart condition. Time had passed, and all the symptoms had subsided, so I decided to get back on the proverbial horse.

I started running each morning. It was much easier to do than it had been in the past, I suppose because I wasn't carrying the proverbial millstone around my neck. I was forty pounds lighter than I was in March. Imagine running with a forty pound backpack on, then stopping, and taking the backpack off. How much easier would it be to run now? It was great!

Of course, I'm not, and never have been, a runner. I've never run long distances. I played football in high school, where the whistle blows the play dead ever ten or fifteen seconds. You go real hard, then take a rest. You don't go and go and go and go...but that's what running is. So, it takes a lot of getting used to for me.

I discovered that my iPod has a stopwatch on it, so I've been using it to clock my runs each day. Unfortunately, since it's not standard from colon to colon, time is hard to divide up. What is 17:19 divided by a mile and a half? I know if I ran today faster than yesterday, but I don't know how long a mile takes me.

Eleven minutes and change is my fastest time for a mile, and fourteen minutes or so is my slower average (although, in my defense, that was on a longer three mile jog that I putted my way to that time). Some days are harder than others, but I'm steadily improving. And I'm improving in two ways, both speed and distance.

Today I ran four miles. Cue triumphant music! To put that in perspective, that's the longest distance I've ever run in my entire life. And better yet, I didn't poke along at a sluggish pace of fourteen minutes-a-mile either. I did an even 12:30 per mile.

I plan to keep pushing it, both in distance and speed. Maybe one day, I'll enter a 5K, and win it.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, the running jumpstarted my weight loss. I've come down another 12 lbs. in the last month. And even on days that I go splurge-tastic, I still don't gain. So, I'll be out there running every day.