Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
For 1-2 days, do not…
- use a straw,
- eat hot food,
- tilt your head forward, and
- eat food that has “particles.”
For 1 week, do not…
- blow your nose,
- eat “sharp” foods,
- forget to swish nasty mouth sanitizer,
- allow your tongue to feel around your stitches, and
- forget to swish salt water around your mouth after eating.
For 1 year, do not…
- eat difficult to chew foods without first cutting them up,
- use your teeth as a tool,
- forget to brush and floss (in fact, this is important forever), and
- worry about your front teeth falling out (because, you see, they’re already gone, and replaced with something shinier (though temporary))!
A few months ago, in the middle of the night, I woke up. Not for the normal reasons, like a weird dream, or having to pee, or having slept on my arm such that it fell asleep and is now screaming, “Pins and needles! Pins and needles! Pins! Needles! AUGH!” But for a completely new reason. I couldn’t breathe. The heavy wheezing woke Mike up, and he frantically asked if I was okay, while I could not respond. Eventually, it died down, and I went on pretending it never really happened, save talking to a friend about it briefly, but downplaying it the whole time.
Fear is a special thing. It makes you pretend something never happened, even though you know it did, and you know it probably wasn’t normal. So I suppressed it and went on with normalcy.
Then about a month or so ago, before we moved, I had some girls over my apartment to help distract Kelly from the fact that Paul was at his bachelor’s party. Much video games and girly vodka drinks were had, and it was a pretty good time. Then, as I was pouring new drinks for two of us (or maybe more, who knows), it happened again. This time I was surrounded by people hovering. One married to an asthmatic, one an asthmatic herself. The wheezing did die down, and I was able to take a few deep breaths and tell them that it happened once before. Eventually they convinced me to use my sister’s inhaler. Turns out Albuterol makes your heart race, so that was… fun…
I spent much time muttering, “I don’t want it,” and “Can I give it back now?” But no, I could no longer ignore this. I made an appointment to see my doctor. That appointment happened last week.
My doctor is really nice, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of her. She keeps chiding me for being scared of her, but really, there’s nothing I can do. I fear doctors. A lot. So much that it took me several tries, and some strong reminders from my friends, to actually call to make the appointment.
So, after the chiding for my raised blood pressure and fidgeting hands, we moved on with me telling her why I was there in the first place. Initially, she had the tell-tale eye roll of a doctor who just hates WebMD for planting ideas in peoples’ heads. “Why do you think you have asthma?” So I told her about the wheezing, and that my sister who has asthma said it seemed quite familiar. The look on her face instantly changed. Now she was mad at me for not going straight to the ER. She explained that apparently an attack like that can send your lungs into a weird state for months.
If I’m afraid of my regular doctor, I’m petrified of the ER. And I’ve been there a couple times…
So, apparently, I might have asthma. I’m seeing a specialist next week, that ought to be interesting. Apparently, I’ll be breathing into a magical machine that knows if you have it or not. Wheefun.
This morning, as I was coming up out of Arlington station, I came upon a lady taking a puff out of her inhaler. I watched several people pass without acknowledgeable, and realized that only a few months ago, I would have done the same thing. But now, I had read WebMD, and listened to my doctor get nervous for me. I had the fear. And I could see some of it in her, whether I imagined it or it was real, it didn’t matter.
I asked her if she was okay, and after a few deep breaths she said she was. We talked about how insane the four flights of stairs and the long hallway are for the escape from Arlington station. The construction there is taking far too long. She could really use an escalator.
Once we emerged – she stopped a few more times to catch what little breath she could – she swore to me that she’d be alright, and she headed off in a path orthogonal to mine. I wonder how many people suffer an asthma attack never being asked how they are. Are we so desensitized to what is actually quite a real illness? And why, for that matter, do so many people have it?
I don’t want it.
Can I give it back now?
When someone tells you that they have good news and bad news, which do you ask for first? I always go for the bad, so the good can make up for it and leave me uplifted. I don’t know what that says about me or my personality, but it is the truth.
Yesterday at the gym was a day of reckoning. Every 10-12 weeks (depending on whether or not I got a deal), I get measured and compared to the previous measurements. It can be both exciting and nerve wracking. The measurements include weight, body fat percentage (done by pinching device, which is less than accurate, but it’s always the same device, so it is at least relatively accurate), waist circumference, hip circumference, thigh circumference, and upper arm circumference.
Over the last twelve weeks, I have lost only 2 pounds. Yes, I know, I didn’t gain weight, so it’s pretty good. But considering that on other spans I’ve lost as much as 10 or 12 at a time, it feels crappy. I have also lost 1% of body fat. Not too bad, really, but nothing special, considering how many percents I have. Meanwhile, all of the circumferences have stayed the same. The same! Ugh.
Due to this, and the fact that I’ve been cranky lately, Donna has me on probation. I must write down what I eat again, like I did for the first three months or so of the program. I must tally up calories and fat grams and fruits and vegetables and protein. I must make sure I have not been screwing up. This is not so bad, because I really don’t think I do that bad. I have had a couple bad weeks recently due to the fact that I bought Girl Scout cookies… I only eat the lemon ones (the low fat ones!), but low fat means nothing when you eat eight of them in a day… Bad Diane.
The worse news is that she wants me to up my cardio. Honestly, I don’t like running on a treadmill. It’s boring, monotonous, and sweaty. I love running outside, that’s fun, pretty, and sweaty. Yeah, the sweat is a constant, but it’s tempered by the pretty trees in the summer. Anyway, I was previously doing 64 total minutes of treadmill a week. I will now be doing 100 total minutes a week. Yikes!
Okay, now that the bad news is over, I have good news! I’ve saved a bunch of money by switching my car insurance to gecko.
Uh… no. Not that. God, that’s a terrible joke. Why did I say that!
The good news is that I graduated. I graduated off of the chest press machines. I can officially bench press the empty bar! I know that probably sounds wimpy to all of you body builder types. It probably sounds wimpy to you non-body-builder types. Let me tell you, though, that empty bar is heavy! But I did it. Two sets of 10. (Also a wimpy number, but it was my first try!)
Today, my chest and biceps are mad at me. In a good way. Tomorrow, I must do 40 minutes on the treadmill. I will survive. I will succeed. I will hit my goal. And then I will buy a leather coat. A very nice leather coat. And when you see me wearing it, you will know that I have hit my goal. And you will be proud of me. Because I will be proud of me. This day will come. I will win. My body will work the way I want it to. I. Will. Win.
I had to add a weekly out-of-office Outlook meeting for Thursdays a bit of a while ago. See, the company I work for has pretty flexible hours. There’s core hours from 10:00 ’til 3:00, and you have to work 8 hours (plus unpaid lunch) so long as it spans across that time. I generally go for 7:15 – 4:00, with 45 minute lunch. Give or take the time it takes me to get the hell out of bed.
Everyone in the department knows that. So they feel bad when they schedule meetings for 4:00 PM. But it wasn’t stopping them from doing it. My calendar looks clear. Why not, right?
So, I rebelled. But only on Thursdays. Every Thursday, my calendar has me out of the office starting at 4:00 PM. No one will stop me. No one will be scheduling a meeting. I’m gone.
Where am I at 4:00? In my car, on my way back to the burbs. I drive down the road, past my apartment complex, and into the Gold’s Gym parking lot. Thursdays are my days for meeting with Donna, my trainer.
It’s been a little over a year since I decided to bite the bullet and kick myself into shape. It was not a New Years’ Resolution. It was not a spur of the moment idea. It was something that had to happen, and I finally stopped lying to myself.
I’d been a member of the gym for over a year before my first meeting with Donna. I would go through spurts of gym attendance followed by spurts of severe laziness. I lied to myself and tried to convince myself I was actually getting thinner. I guess it was better that I stopped gaining weight for a while.
That while didn’t last. Neither did my spurts of gym attendance. I ballooned up to my highest and most disgusting (to me anyway) weight. I thought I could kick myself back into shape, so I made the week between Christmas and New Years “work out like it’s your job week,” since I didn’t have to work, but Mike did. Some days went well, others I just wimped out and rode a stationary bike for 20 minutes. Better than nothing, but definitely not good enough.
So, around the 9th (if I remember correctly) of January, I was at the gym pretending to be a good girl, and I spotted a sign in the locker room. It was printed on Gold’s Gym Gold paper, and it started off with some kind of eye catching font telling me that fad diets aren’t the answer. Amen to that! I’ve never believed that any kind of fad diet would have a long term effect. I’ve watched my mother lose and gain and lose and gain with fad diets ranging from Weight Watchers to the “eat grapefruit before every meal” diet.
I read that whole sign; and it told me about a 5-part program. It told me that exercise alone wouldn’t help. It told me that nutrition is not dieting. It told me that supplements can help. It told me that weight training and cardio are both necessary to drop the fat. And it told me that I didn’t have to do it alone.
I nervously marched myself up to the front desk and asked about the program. The front desk guys had obviously not been trained in answering these questions, but they worked together to explain that 10 pounds of fat (not weight) loss (or muscle gain, for muscley-types) were guaranteed. He then asked me if I knew which trainer I wanted, I told him I didn’t, and he picked Donna at seemingly random. (I later found out that the front desk guy was her son, but who cares, I love her.)
I called her, and we set up our first appointment. She measured me, she weighed me, she talked to me about food, I got emotional about how important this was, and we made plans for the next appointment. She helped me schedule out a week of exercising. She made me commit to it. She helped me plan out nutritious food in small amounts scattered throughout the day (5 small meals, not 3 huge ones). She made me promise. She explained that there could be some give, that I didn’t have to be perfect, that eating dinner out once a week wouldn’t kill me if I didn’t stuff my face. She explained everything to me, and made me feel like this was truly possible.
I didn’t just lose 10 pounds of fat in the first 10 weeks. I lost 12 pounds of weight. I probably lost more fat; due to my starting to gain muscle mass.
This was something I had to do. I was going to do. Nothing was going to stop me.
One year later, I still refuse to miss a meeting with Donna. I do what she tells me to (give or take the occasional cheating… but she forgives me). She’s really nice and fun to talk to. She makes me want to do it. She makes me believe in myself, even when I went through seemingly endless plateaus.
One year later, I am partially addicted to the program’s sponsor’s protein shakes. I can’t imagine eating huge meals any more. Eating large amounts of fat or skipping a day at the gym makes me feel sick. I have almost become a health nut. A health nut who occasionally eats ice cream, but at least it’s low-fat or a small serving (or both, if I’m being especially good).
One yar later, I can run up a flight of stairs without having to stop half-way to catch my breath. I can snowboard, if poorly (I can not imagine fat-Diane trying to do that). I learned that I like to run and jog outside. I can lift weights that I collapsed under a year ago.
One year later, I’ve lost 34 solid pounds, at a sustainable rate. Thirty-four. I’m down 2 pants sizes, 3 dress sizes, and some nebulous amount of shirt sizes (I’ve never really found consistency in the sizing of shirts…). Shopping for clothes, which I still do occasionally hate, doesn’t make me nauseous. I’m healthier. I’m happier.
I’m not done. I’m not fully cooked. I’m staying in this oven until the last 24 pounds are gone. But I’m going to kill them, with Donna’s help, and we’re going to make sure they never ever come back.
After I parked my car, I kept it running for a few more moments so that I could finish listening to the song that was playing. I do this so often that I don’t really know what song it was that particular time. I like music. Deal.
I feel weird taking pleasure in getting a good parking spot at the gym. I mean, how lazy can you really be when you’re about to work out? So, every time I get one of the good parking spaces, I have a moment of silent celebration followed by puzzlement at my oddity. On Monday, I got the third spot from the door and silently celebrated and contemplated the meaning of existence.
When I finally shut off my car, I gathered up my backpack and water bottle and made for the entry. I beeped my car locked, and chatted quickly with one of the trainers who was also on her way in. I knew she was a trainer, but for some reason, I didn’t act as if I did…
“Here we go again,” she muttered.
“Yup. Great way to top off a Monday.” I didn’t know if I was being sarcastic or serious.
“I work here.”
“So… great way to start a Monday?”
“I just came from my other job.”
“Then, I stand by my first statement.”
“I like it here.”
Why she said that last statement is beyond me. I don’t see her around the gym all that often (I think she normally does her appointments in the morning), so I filed the conversation away and marched right into the building, keys still in hand. I swiped the membership card that dangles from my keychain along with the grocery store cards, pharmacy cards, and other tracking devices, and smiled at the guys behind the front desk as I walked by.
One of the newer front desk guys likes to poke fun at me. If I’m not smiling, he chastises me in an attempt to flip my mood. If I am smiling, he taunts me. He’s recently started teasing me about my socks. (Recent foot covering features have included a variety of argyle, some floral print, and fun stripes. Today, my feet are covered with stitched vegetables.)
I went into the locker room, changed, and stuffed my crap into locker #42, just like any other day. I weighed myself (1/2 a pound less than last Thursday – neat!) and filled my water bottle. Then I considered my options. I could “run” (where “running” is more like jogging with the occasional sprinting and more than occasional fast walking), but I’ve kind of got bored of running. I could ride the stationary bike, but I always feel like that’s a cop-out. In fact, I usually ride the bike when I’m not feeling so great because it’s less work. Having knocked out those options, I settled on an elliptical machine. I picked one and started her up.
“Pick a program”
“23… clear… 226”
I then started… um… “ellipticalling?” “Pedaling” maybe? Whatever. Moving the elliptical while staying stationary. I had debated picking up a magazine, but instead I decided to try something different. I have heard that some people while running or performing other such repetitive exercise get into a kind of “zone.” I decided I wanted to try to do that on purpose, so once I got into a rhythm, I closed my eyes and started imagining snow. Just as I was starting to fall into a winter wonderland where I felt no pain…
“You sure got right into it, didn’t you?”
My eyes snapped open, I looked up, and there’s that front desk guy walking by. I nod, not willing to actually speak for fear of coming out of it, but it was too late. I looked down at the clock on the machine, and it informed me that 4:35 had passed. “Not bad,” I thought, as I took a sip from my water bottle. “Not bad at all,” *gulp*.
I was beginning to become aware of my surroundings, and that just wouldn’t do, so I placed my water bottle back in its holster and re-closed my eyes. Snow flakes. Rolling hills covered in snow. Snow-coated trees. Winter wonderland. Hey, isn’t that Frosty the Snowman over there?
Yes, I understand how odd it is that I decided to actively try to gain a passive state while exercising. But it was just as much of an intellectual exercise as a mechanism to try to get myself to enjoy the activity. I wouldn’t necessarily call the idea a success, as I “came-to” (for lack of a better phrase) several more times before my twenty minutes had passed. Still, though, I think I would like to call the experiment a plausible success.
I will be trying this again. Worst thing that happens is I get bored of the elliptical and I go back to the treadmill (where closing ones eyes could result in serious disaster). Best thing that could happen is I learn how to meditate through exercise and I redevelop my love for moving.
My favorite video games are definitely the SSX games. I love “slashing” down mountains doing “Ã¼ber” tricks and speeding by people with my “boost.” It’s all kinds of button-smashing, racing, reflex-using fun. I’m even pretty good at it. Not especially spectacular, but I am keeping up with Mike as we progress through the levels in the newest one (SSX4).
I was playing it last night for a while, as Mike was hung up at work for a long time. I beat the crap out of a four-jump 150,000 point level, and came in second in two event races. I had to give up on a “stay on the snow” challenge, though. I can’t help but fly through the air in this game!
My obsession with this video game, starting with SSX3 a while ago, then traveling back in time to SSX Tricky before going back forwards to SSX4, caused me to say, out loud, something I might learn to regret. “I want to learn how to snow board!”
Mike got very excited when I said that. Mike grew up in Vermont (*cough* Canada), so he went skiing constantly when he was growing up. There are pictures of him around his parentsâ€™ house wearing all kinds of ski gear at the ripe old age of like 5. Sometimes, he longingly talks about his skiing ability; I get the vibe that he misses the mountains a lot.
Meanwhile, I have absolutely no experience. I’ve never skied, I’ve never snowboarded, and I’ve never even ice skated. I’m a total winter sports noob. In fact, I’m kind of scared by the whole idea. It’s not the mountain, nor the snow, nor the snowboard, nor the trees… it’s the ski lifts. My fear of heights totally gets the better of me there.
But once I said that magical sentence (“I want to learn how to snow board!” – in case you weren’t paying attention), it was all over for me. Mike keeps saying that I can’t take it back. He’s gotten his sister on board, and we’re going to go get winter gear from the new Dick’s store soon. He’s just so excited by the whole thing! I guess I can’t disappoint him now.
So, the plan is that we’ll go someplace that has a training package. We’ll rent stuff, and not get season passes, in case I hate it. But we’ll do it early enough in the winter so that if I like it, we can keep going. Whoaboy. What have I gotten myself into?
I think about this, and I think about what I looked and felt like last year – before I started on my nutrition and exercise program. There’s pretty much no way. I don’t think I would have had the stamina to last two hours, let alone a whole day. I used to get winded walking up a flight of stairs.
Now, though, I think I can do it. Actually, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I know I can do it. And it’s a good idea! I could use some nice out doors activities to keep myself moving and dropping off fat.
I saw someone the other day that I haven’t seen in nearly a year. He truly couldn’t get over how well I’ve done. We talked about it for quite a while – what I do, what I think is helping me, and my attitude. I know that the change in the way I eat is hugely substantial (eating 5 smaller meals rather than 2-3 food-fests). I know that my cutting down on unnecessary fat is a big deal. I know that relearning how to
run jog is essential. I know that the resistance training has built up my metabolism to a huge amount. And I really know that I couldn’t have done any of it without my super awesome trainer. But without the attitude I’ve taken up about the whole thing, I wouldn’t have even met my super awesome trainer. It was like I just woke up from a haze and realized that I must take care of this.
Whoa… what a tangent…
So, now I just have to work up my courage and wait for the snow. Then the mountains will call my name, and bring me to them. And I will gracefully (HAHA!) fall down the mountain with the aid of a plank fastened to my feet. I will be the “shred champ!”
But I won’t try to do standing back flips like I can do in the video game.
That would go poorly.
The first week of January this year, I started a diet and exercise plan to knock off some nagging weight that I’ve gained in the last four years or so. It was not a New Years resolution. It was not a whim. It was something that my brain had finally realized was necessary.
I was kick started by a poster hanging in the locker room at the gym that I went to about once a week to pretend to exercise. It talked about how exercise or diet alone won’t be as effective, and how training could increase the likelihood of success. It was probably some brainwashing to get me to spend money, but it was successful. I decided at that moment, as the sign hung on the mirror, refusing to move out of view as I washed my hands, that it was time to do something and mean it.
I marched my fat butt up to the front desk and asked to talk to someone about the program. I learned that they guaranteed 10 pounds of fat loss or 10 pounds of muscle gain, which ever you preferred to aim for. That description – separating fat loss and muscle gain – had me believing that this program was for real. I signed up to meet with Donna as soon as she was next available.
Through the next several months, I worked on learning how to eat less but more often, how to lift, how to keep my heart rate up, all sorts of interesting things. And I took everything seriously. (Well, except for the vitamins. I’ve never been good at remembering to take vitamins – just ask my Dad. He’s tried to feed them to me my entire life with little success.)
Story time over. Fast forward > >> >>>
I’m currently down 31 pounds, with 27 remaining to lose. My current exercise routine is supposed to have me doing full-body resistance training on Mondays, running or doing other cardio on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, meeting with my trainer for more resistance training on Thursdays, and doing something (usually more running) on Saturdays. It’s really not that much of a time commitment – never more than an hour a day. But for some reason I have been having the most impossible time getting myself to run.
I used to run at the gym directly after work on those weekdays, until I discovered “the outside.” I actually love running outside. It’s soothing and I can listen to my iPod playing Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot. I had actually started to get pretty good. I was finally able to run a half-mile without dropping to a walk.
In the last two weeks, however, something in my brain has turned off. And I’ve failed to run for the past two weeks of Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This is not good. I’ve been so good at keeping up with the entire program for so long. I’ve gotten so many complements from my trainer for being so insistent that following this program is necessary to my future existence.
But now, I feel like a failure. That’s so funny to say. I still do the other three days of training just as I’m supposed to. But I can’t seem to get my butt out the door to run on weekday nights. What the hell is up with that, anyway? I think I’m going to, all the way up to maybe 3PM, but by the time I leave work, I’m just like, “Eh… get me home now.”
I can’t seem to get the jump from cerebrally knowing that I should go to actually going. It’s so bizarre. I don’t even think the jump used to be there at all before. I just did it before. I didn’t think about why, how, or how long it was going to take. I just ran/cycled/jogged/elipticalled. (Elipticalled isn’t a word is it…)
There’s a song that plays on my radio in the morning rather often. It doesn’t really apply, but some of the text does, “I’m giving up giving up.” I have to stop stopping, and just go.
Today is Thursday, so I have my appointment with Donna. I never miss that, nor would I even dream of it. I’ll be there early, I’ll stretch a little, and Donna will teach me new and interesting ways to beat myself up. I’ll leave feeling absolutely awesome (if a bit sore), and head home for a shower. I’ll be happy. If I could just remember how good it feels when exercising, I could just do it.
Or maybe I have to stop thinking about it. The gap between thinking and doing has got to go.
Bonus points to anyone who can identify the origin of the title of this entry without resorting to Google.