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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

T.M.I.! Who still says that?

Social Networking, Web 2.0, the Twitterverse, we are living in the too much information age. I see the triumphs and tragedies of people I rarely even thought of before my belated joining of Facebook. Is this connectivity good? The question is irrelevant. The level of interconnectedness is. Even though it is too late to ask if it is good or bad to know the name of a high school acquaintance’s friend’s dog’s new puppy, I do think more connections to more people are mostly good. However, people choose to share things nobody else would like to know, things about their health, their hygiene, and their unseemly predilections.  We all want to be a celebrity in our own social circles. When the paparazzi fail to stalk our families and us on vacation, we whip out our phones and post unflattering pictures to our profile pages. Just as we can easily find out what color eye liner, (or maybe even panties) Lindsay Lohan wore to her latest court hearing, no personal tidbit is too trivial to share with our family, friends, and people we used to know. I feel left out. I have decided to make “TMI! Who still says that?” an irregularly recurring feature. I too will share things about myself that will be for nobody’s betterment but my own. I have decided to start out with my weight.

I weigh 222 pounds. At least I did on Saturday. I am fat. I have decided I would like to not be so fat. I have been seriously considering loosing weight for the past two or three years. I have even exercised a few days at a time. I have changed my diet, and changed it back. Last Saturday I decided I would resume progress towards my weight loss and fitness goals. I will weigh myself every Saturday evening at roughly the same time to mark my progress.

Despite my unsightly girth, I am not a complete blob. I am an avid hiker, and relatively active with my four children. I have not always been walking cellulite vat. I was athletic in high school. Half a lifetime ago I ran too many 5k’s to count, could swim two miles, had completed a century bike ride, backpacked hundreds of miles, and was good looking enough to trick my wife into marrying me. My weight shot up over the past third of my life. Graduate school, a stressful job, young children, a slowing metabolism, love of eating, and general laziness, are the major contributing factors to my current state.

I have again adjusted my eating habits and food choices. I have also begun an exercise program. Recently, I have also begun watching documentaries about extreme physical endurance challenges ranging from a straight through hike of the Appalachian Trail to biking the continental divide along the Rocky Mountains from Canada to the U.S.-Mexican border. I want to do something crazy like that. The mental toughness aspect is what is appealing to me. Could I finish something like that? Obviously, I could not physically do anything like that. I am going to start by getting myself in marathon shape.

Monday I ran. I put on my shoes, fired up a fitness-tracking app on my phone and hit the road. I started out walking because I couldn’t figure out how to get the GPS tracker part of the app to work. Then, it took a while to get the app to run and my music to play at the same time. I have an arm sleeve that I can slide my phone in and wrap around my arm while I run. While I was shoving my phone onto the sleeve the bossy woman’s voice inside the app kept berating me. “You have gone zero point zero miles,” she mocked, drawing out the zeros for maximum effect. I think she is related to Laverne, the woman’s voice inside my car GPS.I named this voice Gretchen. Once the technical difficulties were resolved I began to run. I began running. I was doing it. Look out Forest Gump, here I come. After a little while my chest began to burn. My lungs were trying to climb out through my throat. I was dying. I was dismayed. Why did I start running in the first place? Because stopping felt so good, I remembered. I had told my wife that very day that if I had to run a 5K, I could do it. I knew I had not gone very far at all. Gretchen chose this moment of doubt to pounce on me, “You have gone zero point four eight miles.” Almost a half-mile is all I had run. I decided that if I was going to die running, at least I had life insurance. I kept going. I gradually began to feel better. I ended up running two miles that day. I could have gone farther, but I was still figuring out my route. My pace was pathetic. I finished knowing that if I had to, I could finish a 5K, I could probably even run the whole thing, however, I would finish long after everyone else went home.

Tuesday I ran again. I did not have any technical difficulties. I still felt like I was going to disgorge my lungs through my throat at the half mile mark, but this time I recognized that the half mile mark is the middle of a hill. I felt good about my pace until I saw a turkey vulture circling overhead. I hoped he was after the squirrel remains I had recently passed, but I couldn’t be sure. I was getting used to Gretchen’s thinly veiled disgust at my running prowess. I had decided to run a little farther. Gretchen told me “You have gone one point six miles.” My lungs no longer were trying to climb out of my body, but I had a rock in my shoe and my shins were betraying me. I was determined to press on. Elvis’s “Devil in Disguise” came on my playlist. He sang “. . .you walk like and angel . . .” The word “walk” ricocheted around my head. “Elvis is telling you to walk” my inner Mephistopheles told me. (I named the part of my conscious self that is always trying to get me into trouble or make me quit good things Mephistopheles in high school upon discovering it was a name for the devil. Don’t judge.)

I succumbed to temptation and walked for about a tenth of a mile. Who am I to question Elvis? I did not take the rock out of my shoe. I was tougher than that. I ended up going two point two miles, two point one of which I had run. I had also improved my pace by almost thirty seconds. My pace is still too slow to post publicly. When I got home I took “Devil in Disguise” off of my playlist. Elvis wouldn’t get me the next time. I also decided to try a new to me exercise, a plank. My wife introduced it to me. It sounded much less painful than it is. For the uninitiated, “the plank” requires you to get on your knees, bend down and put your weight on your forearms, then stretch your legs out as if you are going to do a push up. Your head is pointed straight ahead. You hold the position as long as you can. Here is a link with a picture and description:
This ingenious position led to previously unknown pain in my neck, arms, and abdomen. I held the position for a minute. Before I finished my body was shaking.

Today, I am sore. Muscles I forgot I had hurt, I am having a hard time walking around. I have been coughing as my lungs try and relearn what it is like to feel exertion. I have a blister on my foot where the rock was in my shoe. I am going to go back for more tonight. Maybe, I will ride my bike instead of run. I’ll see what Gretchen thinks.

Please feel free to leave your comments of support or scorn.
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