Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two weeks in

It's been two weeks now that I've been sticking to my guns and eating right. There have been a lot of little challenges in these two weeks but doing the right thing has become its own sort of stress relief. It's hard to describe but the mental focus it takes to stay on track is partially fueled by the chaos I'm feeling in my work life. New boss, new responsibilities, new team members -- a lot going on.

My clothes fit a little better, I'm that little bit more self-confident, and the scale is reflecting my changes.

While I'm exercising regularly in the form of walks around the campus at work, it's not the same as a rigorous workout regimen. With two weeks of solid diet under my belt I feel like it's time to start thinking about the workouts. I'll be looking at some changes in this area next week.

My biggest concern right now is sustainability. I'm overcompensating right now, eating too few Calories rather than staying at the level I "should" eat to be losing weight at a healthy pace. If I go 100 Calories over that magic number I get panicked. I know I need to find a middle ground.

I'll get there.

What's strange is that the things which should motivate me (long, healthy life, energy to keep up with my daughter, and so on) aren't necessarily the things that got me going. I'm motivated by the fitness of my friends and co-workers, and not wanting to be the person left out. This doesn't surprise me; it's always been this way for me. Just interesting to note that having a baby didn't change that....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tapped like a keg

I've read that only 5% of the eligible donor population gives blood. For most of my life I've been part of the majority. Today I switched sides.

I grew up in a faith that held blood sacred, and so would not consume blood or blood products, nor allow them in their bodies via transfusion. You can imagine that giving blood was similarly forbidden. I left that faith behind long ago, but that strong taboo remained in my subconscious. Coupled with my unease around blood and needles, it was easy to just skip it every time the call went out.

The cries of the needy eventually got too loud to ignore, though. The experience was relatively painless, since they come right to my building to hold the drive. From picking up the information packet to walking back to my desk took 70 minutes. I was a bit more lightheaded than I expected to be, otherwise it would have been even sooner.

(In reference to my previous post on fitness and diet you'll be happy to hear I ate a packet of raisins instead of cookies afterward.)

The whole experience got me thinking, though. A lot of the indoctrination I received as a child contained rational components. If you imagine a society that lives a certain way, it's easy to come up with reasons why certain religious commands make sense. And yet I was able to reason my way out of them, fairly easily, as I became an adult. But "God demands you hold blood sacred" is inherently irrational. There's no societal benefit hiding in the wings, nothing but a remnant of ancient superstition interpreted as divine law.

I reasoned my way out of all those superstitions years ago. And yet I skipped every blood drive my company hosted, for over a decade.

But today I took a stand for reason and for the rational betterment of the human race. It felt good. I was so busy being happy about that, that it didn't occur to me until later that the pint I gave could someday save someone's life.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The power of 48 hours

Last weekend was pretty much perfect. The summer weather was ideal: dry, sunny, warm but not oppressive.

On Saturday I went to the annual summer cookout hosted by an old college friend. There (and the holidays) are the only times I reliably see this circle of friends all together. Sure there are occasional parties, football games, and so on, but everyone tries to make these twice-annual events.

Reflecting on the day, later that night, I realized just how much some of my friends have embraced their fitness, and how much I've let mine slip. It was a catalyst of sorts, coming at the same time I stumbled onto some old fitness journals, some old spreadsheets.

For the two days since then, I've done what I used to do -- eat 3 healthy meals, have fruits for snacks, and limit my junk food indulgences to carefully controlled portions. I've tracked my food intake and activity levels online.

I've gone to bed feeling without feeling full. I've finished meals feeling merely full not stuffed. In just 48 hours I've reminded myself what a healthy normal lifestyle feels like. 48 hours is nothing to write home about, I know. It's just two days. Call me back in two weeks, right?

We'll see. For now, it's been a good two days.