“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22…” ~Taylor Swift
Uh. No. I’m feeling particularly 42.
About 20 years ago things were rolling along. I didn’t have to really worry about anything I ate, my body would metabolize it pretty quickly, and being tall I had a lot of distance to spread out any… spread. So things didn’t spread. I didn’t exercise, I ate whatever I wanted, and I didn’t seem to gain weight. I had heard people tell me that things change the older you get, that your metabolism slows down and you grow out instead of up.
But I hadn’t listened to them. Why would I? When you’re young you think you have all the time in the world before you are no longer young. You think that twenty years is such a long period of time that you’ll never get there, or if you do that things will still look the same. At least I thought those things. At 22 it was easy to pretend that I could keep living the way I had been living, doing the things I had been doing, treating my body whatever way and not having it rebel on me.
Then my 30’s hit, and with it some aches and pains that I had never felt before. I picked up a workout regimen, jogging around town. I still did nothing when it came to moderating my diet, but it was enough to keep me steady with my weight. Continue reading “Not Feeling 22”→
I can’t recall the last time I voluntarily weighed myself. It was probably at a doctor’s office visit last year or thereabouts, and you can see how memorable it was for me. It helped that the nurse read off my weight in kilograms because I could pretend I had no idea what that translated to in pounds. Sometimes it’s a good thing not to know. Believe me. But I do remember that the doctor said I was carrying around an extra 15 pounds above my ideal weight (whatever that means). She mentioned cardio, and whatnot, but at the time I wasn’t really up for listening to her.
I wasn’t really up for listening to her because I suffer from That’s-the-way-it-used-to-be syndrome, a common ailment of no-longer-young men everywhere. When I was a teenager it didn’t really matter what I ate. My weight was going to stay exactly the same. In fact, I could lose weight just by thinking about it back then. And that carried over into my early 20s, but by the time I got to be around 26 or 27 the gods of metabolism began taking away what they had given me. To this day I still curse their names.
It was around 26 or 27 that my metabolism began to slow, but I didn’t take much notice at first. At first it was easy to put down the small weight gain as a “fluctuation,” an outlier that would soon correct itself and everything would be back on course. I kept eating my weight in food, sure that things would return to “normal” sooner rather than later. Before I knew it my clothes became difficult to zip up, to button down, and to slither into. I was in disbelief, thinking it was the clothes that had somehow shrunk, that it had nothing to do with my own expanding physique.
Eventually, though, I couldn’t fool myself anymore. So I set a regimen for myself. But like most guys who stretched out in puberty and didn’t have to worry about trying to lose weight for a good 10 years, I had absolutely no idea what to do to accomplish my goal of dropping 10 pounds (4.53 kilograms) over the course of my 28th summer. In lieu of actual knowledge about it, I went to the tried and true: smaller portion size, and exercise. I cut my meal portions in half (even though I felt like I was starving), and I started walking around the neighborhood daily.
That lasted for approximately four weeks.
By that time, of course, I was starting to see results, so I thought I was good to go. And by “go” I mean everything going back to my normal no exercise, large portion size self. And of course within a couple of weeks I was not only back to my 10 pounds over my ideal weight, but I was an extra 5 pounds in the opposite direction. Uh oh. That was 10 years ago, and in the intervening time I have been off and on when it comes to adjusting my diet and getting physically fit. For a while I went to spinning class. For a time I walked religiously on the treadmill. I even cut out daily snacks for a small amount of time.
Yet my weight still fluctuates, going from close to the ideal to between 10-15 pounds over. I can feel it in the way it redistributes itself when I spend too much energy on any one activity. Like when I walk down the street for more than one block. Something isn’t right about that. That’s why now, 10 years after my initial experiment in weight loss and positive fitness, I’m getting down and dirty with it again. This time it’s for real (I feel like I’m doing a trailer for Expendables 4 or something).
So I got myself a FitBit. You know, it’s one of those things that tracks the number of steps you take every day. You set goals for yourself and it tallies up the numbers while you walk and exercise daily. I’m one of those people who believe in the concrete. I like to watch the numbers climb higher while I’m walking. It makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile instead of “just walking.” The FitBit app tells me I should try for 10,000 steps a day, so I’m actually going for 10,000 steps a day. It’s like a competition against myself, and those were always the best kind.
We’ll see how long it keeps my interest. I’m hoping for a long time. You know, because I’ve still got that pesky 10 pounds or so over my ideal weight that I must shed before the next bathing suit season.
“And I know it aches, and your heart it breaks. You can only take so much. Walk on.” ~U2
I went for a walk this morning for the first time in it seems like forever. It used to be a regular occurrence a few years ago when I started in the early summer and stopped in the late fall, just before the snow began to fall hard and heavy. At first it was because my doctor told me I needed something that resembled exercise to help my general health. It was about the same time we bought the treadmill, but I think that was a coincidence.
Regardless, I prescribed myself a regimen of walking for at least half an hour every night, like clockwork. This was before we had children so there was no babysitter to pick them up from, nor a time limit before bath time, so I could wander. And for a while I did just that. I started out north, generally, sticking to the sidewalks and the straight lines they provided, turning when a street intersected the one I was on, the direction a last minute decision.
On my journey I would pass by places I had never seen before, interspersed with familiar surroundings and houses that grew even more familiar the more I traveled at dusk. Others would be out and about, too, quite unlike the emptiness of a Ray Bradbury short story, playing and talking, and even just sitting on porches. They would smile and wave at me as I passed, and I would acknowledge them in return. I’m sure I became a fixture in their evening lives as they became affixed in mine, that guy who always walked by as if he were on a mission.
I would wear my headphones to block out the sounds, though, so I was never sure if birds were chirping or dogs were barking, all I knew was that they appeared and disappeared as I approached and eventually passed, opening and closing their mouths as if they were trying to tell me a secret. I would nod at them, too, as if they were old friends, even the occasional cat sitting in a yard yawning. I was equal opportunity. Then I would walk on.
Sometimes I took a different turn and found myself in wooded areas where there were more trees than anything else. And sometimes the music in my ears would match that atmosphere, all acoustic and insular but wide open at the same time. I loved those times, even though they frightened me as well. I guess I never thought about how much seeing other people comforted me on my journeys, as if they grounded me to the world in specific ways that nature couldn’t replicate. Now, looking back, I find that ironic in a way I could have never appreciated back then.
I walked to forget, and I walked to remember at the same time: to forget all the tedious moments in my day, and to remember that beauty is what I make of it, wherever I choose to find it. Perhaps it’s in the pile of leaves that crunch underneath my boots in the fall, or in the smile on the little girl’s face who waves to me from her bike, or maybe even in the early Christmas lights on the house down the street, all lit up every night promptly at 7 o’clock. It’s in the moving, the shifting, the drifting through my world and realizing that it doesn’t just belong to me.
I knew within the first ten minutes that I would not survive. My body simply wasn’t made for that kind of endurance, or if it was then I haven’t kept it in tip-top shape over the past few years. A few cookies here and there. Some cookies and cream ice cream on occasion. You know how it is. Then I decided to try and get back in shape after several years of neglect, and my body said, “Nuh-unh. No way. Not me.” After ten minutes on that stationary bike, my mind was in complete agreement with my body.
I went spinning tonight. If you don’t know what it is, spinning is the equivalent of old school stationary biking… kicked up a notch, as Emeril would say. It’s an hour of hearing the instructor yell at you as if you’re deaf. And she’s shouting things like “Now turn up the resistance,” and “Go at your own pace, but make sure you hit 100.” Um, yeah. My own pace is a sedate 45, and I was quite proud of it until I noticed everyone else in the class going quite a bit faster. Perhaps they were even hitting 100. I told myself they weren’t, to make me feel better.
It all started five years ago when we had a “health awareness” day at the school I taught at. These folks from the local gym came with eight spinning bikes, and my friend Rebecca talked me into trying it out with her after lunch. That was my first mistake. Needless to say they had to clean up the gym floor after my ride. My second mistake was thinking that it would be a piece of cake. It was not. I did everything the instructor said, but she screamed at us and challenged us to keep going past the point where I wanted to just fall off the bike and fade into the floor.
And I was sore for days afterward. My family went to a water park on the next day and I wanted to just sit in those water tubes and rest my bottom for the whole day. Instead I was chasing after my three-year old as she wanted to go on every single ride available to her. Oh yeah, and hurting with every single step I took. You see, spinning takes it out of your rear end, but also out of your legs. My legs literally felt like jello as I tried to run and keep up with the little munchkin. I told myself never again. Continue reading “Death By Rotation”→