A year ago I started getting serious about trying to get better physically. It had been several months since I’d finalized my divorce (Final October 25, 2018). I was in pretty much the deepest funk of my life. As I have mentioned in the past, I grew up in a religion that believed that marriage was supposed to be forever, not just “until death do you part” but “for time and all eternity”. The very idea of “heaven” was a continuation of an ideal, loving family.
And while I’m no longer a believer, that emotional imprinting stuck. So the failure of the marriage (regardless of any “fault” involved) hit me like a personal failing. Add in that my health was “meh” at best. I was pushing 270 lbs (at 5′ 9″–that’s 122.5 kg and 175-176 cm for your metric folk). I kept my shoes loosely tied so I could just slip them on and off like loafers rather than having to bend over to deal with them. I tired easily. My feet hurt when I was on them for more than a few minutes, even with custom orthotics.
Here’s a picture from 2017 which gives you some idea of what I looked like (I was experimenting with “Viking Goth” so the makeup and the outfit):
However, at that time a couple of things had happened. First, my daughter had taken up ice skating. It was something I had done back when I was 18 or so and I thought I’d be able to show her a couple things and see if she likes it before committing to a class (which would mean $$$).
Oh, was I so wrong. As I have mentioned before, ice skating is not like riding a bicycle. I ended up on my rear end, at least half a dozen times making just one lap around the rink. It was bad. I would fall…a lot. And falls hurt a whole lot more than when I was younger. I got stubborn, though, and decided there was just no way I was going to give that up. Not going to happen. No way, no how. I used to have fun at this and I was damned if I was going to let it beat me now.
So we got my daughter into her classes. And during the public skate session, I struggled along on the ice with her.
Then, a scheduling conflict arose between her ice skating classes and another activity. We looked around for an alternative and found it at Fuel Tank at Fishers (Indy Fuel Tank). They had classes on a different day of the week which resolved the schedule conflict. But they also had something else. They had adult classes. And, since the age for “Adult” started at 15 (with my daughter 14 turning 15 that year) we could take our classes at the same time.
Oh, I was so there.
So I started in “Adult One”. My daughter started in “Adult two” or “Adult three”, something like that. But I was getting on that ice. Now, I mentioned foot pain up above? Well, it was worse, a lot worse, in ice skates. I ended up spending 2/3 or so each class just sitting trying to let the pain subside. I’d skate across, doing whatever we were doing in that class, then stop and rest. Try again. Rest again. And in public skate? Once, maybe twice, around the rink, stopping halfway each time to rest.
Before I even got on the ice, simply bending over to try to lace and tighten the skates compressed my gut to the point where I. could. not. breathe. I had to bend over, lace one or two hooks, sit up, breathe, and repeat until I got the skates on. It was pure misery.
But I can be…stubborn.
I kept at it. I added other exercises at home. Throughout the day I’d take a minute or two to do an exercise: pushups, squats, a sort of half-squat where I’d keep my back strictly upright (mimicking posture for skating), etc. The calendar on my phone numbers the weeks. And that’s what I used as a guide. Whichever “number” the week was, that was the number of reps I did. Week ten, ten reps. Week 11, 11 reps. And so on. The progress is modest, certainly, but inexorable. After all, there are 52 weeks in a year.
I also started working on my diet. I kept a food diary, a comprehensive one. I also set goals. I do a mostly keto diet these days. I say “mostly” because I don’t worry much about “clean” vs. “dirty” fats or “free range” or whatever other stuff people come up with looking for some magic formula. No, I simply set target levels of what they call “macros”–protein, fats, and net carbohydrates (that’s total carbs minus the indigestible ones–fiber, sugar alcohols, that sort of thing that don’t provide calories). I started modest in terms of reducing carbohydrates, 50 g per day. Later I reduced that to 20-30. Protein appropriate for my activity level (and I may need to adjust that) and enough fats to provide my target calories for the day.
And it worked. The weight has been coming off, quickly at first, then tapering off a bit later. My energy level is up. The foot pain is mostly gone (a bit during skating, but nowhere near as bad as it was. During public skate I do more than an hour of solid skating. I not only take my half hour class without having to stop, before that I help teach the kids in the “Snowplow Sam” classes.
My health is better. My blood pressure is down. The episodes of shortness of breath I used to have (and, indeed, had had for years) have mostly gone away. Here’s what I look like now (201.6 lbs, that’s 91.4 kg to you metric folk).
On the whole, it’s been a pretty good year.