24 Apr

April 24th, 2002

I’ve been trying to increase the amount of exercise I do over the last few days. I have been fairly successful; I have made myself walk a half-hour a day over the last three days. And, even with this little bit of exercise, I’ve already noticed a few pointers that I can pass along to you!

  • Exercise gets easier the more you do it. The first few times that I exercised, I felt like I was going to drop dead right there. But the last couple of times I’ve been out there, exercising has been MUCH easier. It has been easier to get myself to the workout room. I have had a little more energy after I finish the workout, too. I know exercise can really suck sometimes, but the more one does it, the easier it gets.
  • Don’t have unrealistic expectations! It is important to realize and admit that you may be out of shape. Don’t expect to be able to keep up with people who are in shape. Don’t expect to be able to work out for three hours. Understand your limitations, and work within them.I really realized this when working out on the treadmill. People who are in shape run on the treadmill; I can’t do more than walk. While people who are in shape may set the pace on the treadmill to 5 or 6 miles an hour, I can’t set it to any more than 3 miles an hour. And I cannot keep up that pace for more than 20 minutes or so before I have to slow down for a while. I needed to realize that this is okay.

    When I first started trying to work out (two weeks ago), I had to set the treadmill to a 2.5 mph pace. Which really annoyed me. I’ve read most everywhere that an average man can walk at a 4 mph pace without really taxing themselves. And here I was, only able to do a little better than half that. What’s wrong with me?

    The answer, of course, is that there isn’t anything wrong with me. I am just out of shape, and, on top of that, I am carrying a lot more weight than the average man. The average man weighs around 170lbs; I am carrying 150 more pounds than that. I bet that, if we strap a 150lb backpack on the average man and have him try to walk, he would have a hard time keeping up a 4 mph pace, too. Again, it comes back to realistic expectations.

  • Don’t be embarrassed to be working out! This especially holds true if you are working out in a public place. I work out at my place of employment; there are often three or four other people in the workout room with me. When I see people in there, I start to imagine all the things that they must be thinking about me. I get embarrassed about the shape that I am in. If someone giggles or laughs, I assume they are laughing at me, even though they are probably just telling each other a joke.Embarrassment can be a major stumbling block to someone trying to lose weight. It is very easy to give in to the feeling of embarrassment. Embarrassment can quickly erode motivation in even the most determined person. It is something to watch for, and to act on quickly.

    I have a few ways of dealing with embarrassment. The first, and often most effective, is to simply remind myself that I am not omniscient. There is no way for me to know what someone else is thinking. It is actually a little bit vain to assume that other people are thinking about me at all. The second is to try to block out the fact that the other people are there. This doesn’t always work, but when it does, it is VERY effective.

    The third way is to go with someone I know. When I first tried to lose weight, my buddy Cindysue would go to the pool with me for water aerobics. It is much easier to go into a situation like that with a friend or compadre.

  • Have a distraction handy! Exercise can be very tedious when you first get started. I wonder how many people can actually exercise just for the joy of exercise. Lord knows that I can’t! I need to have something distracting me while I work out. My distraction of choice is music. I have my non-skip CD player with me at all times, I create my own compilation CDs with an energetic mix of music. When I work out, I am always listening to music. It makes the time go by faster, and helps me keep my mind off of what I am doing.I strongly recommend that you use something to distract you when you are exercising. Listen to music. Read a book. Many rec centers and health clubs have televisions set up for this express purpose. Use something as a distraction; it will make it exercising easier.
  • Drink plenty of water! I cannot stress this point enough. Allowing oneself to dehydrate is both dangerous AND counter-productive. I am not a doctor, nor do I work in the medical field. I cannot explain how this is dangerous, I only know that it is. What I can talk about, though, is its counter-productivity.Those of us who are overweight tend to not like to exercise because we don’t like feeling like we have no energy. It’s a feeling that we aren’t used to, and that we don’t like. Not drinking enough water when one is exercising can actually increase this feeling. The more dehyrdated one is, the more worn out one will feel during and after exercise.

    The recommendation is to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising. And I whole-heartedly recommend this recommendation. It really makes a HUGE difference. Being well hydrated and staying well hydrated during a workout adds to a person’s energy level. I don’t get tired anywhere near as quickly if I am drinking water during the workout. Be sure not to skip this step!

I could probably think of a few more if given the time, but I’ve babbled enough!

– Miguelito

22 Apr

April 22nd, 2002

Weight: 321
Difference from last entry: +/- 0

Oops! I hope that I didn’t scare anyone here. My last entry is rather depressing, talking about the horrible figure that the scale at work showed me. And then, I disappear for over a week! In the past, when I’ve had major setbacks, I tend to disappear, sometimes for months at a time. I hope I didn’t scare anyone!

Actually, I am just kind of lazy. I didn’t want to post a journal entry without an “official” weigh-in. I can’t do an “official” weigh-in using the scale at work unless I sign a form and hand over an ID at the security station. That seems like far too much work to go through just for a weigh-in. So I didn’t put a journal update because I was too lazy to walk up to the security desk. That’s the kind of week I had.

The week before was actually something of an accomplishment for me. I actually got some exercise in! I walked for 25 minutes on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week (the 10th, 11th and 12th). I had a regression last week, not doing any walking at all. But I am trying to make that up this week. I spent the first half of my lunch today walking. I made myself keep going ’til I had a mile under my belt. All in all, I am pleased with my efforts at working exercise back into my routine.

I’ll tell you, there is no better way to judge just how bad weight gain is for a person than to start exercising again. A short walk, which a year ago would’ve barely had my breath quickening, now has me sweating profusely and completely breathless. Walking 25 minutes is a huge exertion on my part; it completely drains me. Just a year ago I could do 40 minutes and then spend some time lifting weights after the walk. Now, I just can’t do it. I am completely out of energy, and have to rest.

In a situation like this, there are two ways that a person could respond. One is to get embarrassed or depressed about the shape I am in and stop exercising. I have been tempted to do this; actually, that is probably exactly what happened last week. The second way is to continue working out, hoping to eventually get myself back into shape (or, at least, into better shape than I am in right now). I am hoping that this is what I am starting again by working out today.

You may notice that this sounds a little wishy-washy. And that is because it is. I cannot commit to anything right now. I am in a strange state of mind. I know what I should do, yet I have a hard time actually doing what I need to do. I know I need to avoid eating the apple pastry that is sitting on our breakfast nook. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t go ahead and eat it anyway. It’s a weird situation to be in; it’s even weirder because I’ve been stuck in this situation for a very long time. It is hard to remember the time when I wasn’t stuck in this.

Speaking about that time, I also am of two minds on the subject of my previous success losing weight. Once upon a time, I was able to lose a hell of a lot of weight. I kept myself under 250 pounds for a couple of years. I am rather proud of that. That was a long time ago, though. And, as the years pass by, I have to wonder if my previous success was a good or a bad thing (as it relates to my current attempts to lose weight).

It could certainly be thought of as a good thing. It is an example, proof that I have the will power within me to gain control of my life. As WeightWatchers would say, this is a trophy in my trophy room. I can take this trophy out every time I am feeling depressed or feel that I need some inspiration, and hopefully draw some inspiration from my past accomplishments.

But this could also be a bad thing. Because, no matter how good the accomplishment was, the fact is that I have gained everything back that I lost. Instead of being a trophy that I can look at for inspiration, this could be a 1,000 ton weight hanging over my head, reminding me of my failure, of my shortcoming.

So what is it? Is it good, or is it bad?

This is where my beliefs come in. Or should come in. Taoism is a religion (or philosophy, if you are argumentative) of balance and harmony. Taoism teaches that EVERYTHING has its good and bad sides. The key to everything is finding the balance of the good and bad (light and dark are more appropriate terms) and living in that harmony.

To apply this belief to the question of my past success: I can use my past success to give me inspiration in times of depression or low-motivation. However, I can also use anger of my failure as inspiration, also. As long as I can actually find the balance and harmony there, everything will be okay.

And my general rule is that, once I start talking about spirituality in a journal entry, it is time to stop typing. So I will stop typing right now. I hope everyone is having a wonderful spring!

– Miguelito

10 Apr

April 10, 2002

Weight: 321
Difference from last entry: +10

Okay, my idea was a simple one. I wanted a scale that was a bit more
reliable than the one in our house to serve as my “official” weigh-in scale.
Our house scale can be a bit flaky at times; the unevenness of our basement
floor makes the scale even less reliable. I noticed that, in the fitness
room at work, there is a doctor’s office-type scale. I figured it would be
completely harmless to start using this scale as my new standard. I even
naively thought that maybe, just maybe, it would show me to weigh a bit less
than our home scale.

So I went into the fitness room, changed into exercise clothes (t-shirt and
gym shorts) and then hopped up on the scale. I set the big weight to 300,
then started moving the little weight up. And up. And up. Finally, the
balance hit center. The little weight, however, was moved up to 21. Which
means that, according to the scale, I actually weigh 321, not the 312 that I
thought.

Harmless? Not even a little bit. I was immediately struck by a wave of
depression. I didn’t know what to do, what to think. *321* I wanted to deny
it; I wanted to assume that the scale has to be off. It has to be broken. It
has to be weighing too heavy. *321*?

But the more I considered it, the more I realized that the scale probably
was right. I feel much heavier, much more bloated, than I ever have in my
life. Before I started trying to lose weight, I was right around the 300 lb.
mark. And even then, I didn’t feel like I do now. I can feel the weight on
me; I can feel it hindering me in every movement, in every breath. I suppose
I could try attributing that to age, but I am only 6 years older than I was
at that point. Surely 6 years couldn’t make that big a difference.

So I stood there, staring at the scale, trying to figure out what to do
next. And there really was only one answer. I got off the scale, walked over
to the treadmill, and started to walk. I managed about 35 minutes before I
ran out of steam and had to cool down. (My lunch was also almost over, so I
didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter.)

And the walking helped. The exercise was beneficial; it helped me get things
into perspective. It also *really* wore me out. I definitely get a lot more
tired with LESS stress now than I did even a year ago. But I digress. The
walk helped me to realize that I cannot get stressed about my weight. The
damage has been done, the weight is there. What I have to do is find a way
to turn my feelings from depression and anger into motivation. Motivation to
keep walking. Motivation to watch what I eat. Motivation to undo what I have
done to myself over the last couple of years.

– Miguelito