Pull Up a Chair

7:55 am in Uncategorized by Margaret

Remember when you were invulnerable? I mean those years in your late teens and early twenties when you could eat whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted and never gain an ounce. That time during which you could shake off the flu in a couple of days while not missing work. The era of being able to hike twenty miles, stay up all night talking around the campfire and still have enough energy to have some fun on the river in the morning. Yeah I remember those days but try as I might, I’ll never enjoy that kind of health again.

For me those years lasted until I was in my mid forties. I never went to a doctor and when I had to go to take a physical for work purposes or so forth, I was always marked at peak physical health. I never even got a cavity until I was in my thirties. My immune system was up for anything and I pretty much made it go through it’s paces much more than I probably should have. A moderate smoker and a regular drinker, (not to mention some bouts of harder addictions), I put my body through much more than it was designed to go through.

After watching my mom die of emphysema though, I began to believe that my nagging cough was something I should probably take note of. At the age of 46, I quit smoking for good but I made the huge mistake of ignoring my weight and I started to gain some pounds. Very shortly afterward, I took a very sedentary job as a database administrator where my primary source of exercise was walking down to the cafeteria twice a day. I started really packing on the pounds. I didn’t have much of a problem of fooling myself into believing that I wasn’t really as enormous as I was.

All that changed one day when I tried to donate blood and I was told I was unable to due to hypertension. It turned out that my at rest B.P. was 195/105! That isn’t conducive to longevity but I still didn’t act. It wasn’t until I lost my job that I began to have foot pain and several other scary signs of diabetes, like a small numb patch on my right heel that I finally took action. I spent the next couple of years trimming down and getting myself healthy again.

Now I’m working full time and my workouts are limited to evenings. For the last two years, my routinne has consisted of riding either my bicycle or my exercise bike 40 minutes a day, six days a week. It’s the most convenient way to get a workout after leaving my job. The problem is the break room at work is full of free snacks, there are several bowls that are kept filled with my favorite chocolates and people are always bringing donuts or tacos or birthday cake and the fridge is stocked with plenty of sodas and sweet teas. My weight has been creeping back up again, though at a much slower rate.

During my last visit to the doctor though, my weight was getting a little too high to ignore, even though my BP was still under control. I decided it was time to get serious again. I actually eat pretty healthily but erratically. I made a few changes, like cutting out snacks and sodas. I now make my midday meal my big one and just have soup or half a sandwich for my evening meal. This has the double benefit of not having an enormous meal sitting in my stomach while I’m sleeping and it’s easier to get my evening workout going when I don’t feel so heavy.

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I’ve also adjusted my workout routine, since it turns out that the bike riding was keeping my legs and heart in excellent health but pretty well missing the rest of my body. So now I do floor calisthenics, along with 30 minutes of hula hooping, then 20 minutes of vigorous work on the exercise bike. My weight is coming back down gradually but steadily. I’ve lost a bit more than 11 pounds since I’ve changed my routine.

It’s important to research how to reduce safely. My blood pressure monitor is much more important to me than my scale. It’s no good to me if I die of a stroke trying to get healthy. I’m sorely tested though every day with those snacks and those treats and man it’s hard to say no sometimes! Take today for example: Two people brought in donuts, one brought tacos and there was red velvet birthday cake (my favorite), and the normal snackage supply just got refilled yesterday. My will firmed up though when I spotted a diabetic co-worker, munching down a donut. Though it’s beyond me why somebody would do that to themselves, I have to recognize that I wasn’t that far from being just such an example myself. Though I worry about Jerry’s health, it had the effect of firming up my own resolve.

I’d like some exercise suggestions from the group if you have any. Doing the same thing over and over doesn’t work for long. The body gets used to the routine and you’re stuck in the rut of ever increasing repetitions and workout times, while gaining less and less benefit from it. I have a bike but not a huge budget. What has worked for you? Pull up a chair and feel free to discuss your successes and failures. Maybe together we can get healthier.