Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Taking back control of my life. Step 1: Diet and exercise.



For the last few months I have been a sleep walker. An observer in my own life. I made hard decisions but at the same time I was just following my impulses. I have become detached from reality, dangerously so. It is time to take back my life. The first step has to be taking care of myself physically. The health of the brain depends on the health of the body. The brain is part of the body after all.

Once upon a time I was in shape. I was involved in a lot of physical fitness activities and I made the most of them. I made active decisions about my food choices and ate a balanced diet. Lately I have been eating entirely on impulse. To be honest, I don’t even particularly like eating most of the time. Eating is just something I have to do. I often skip lunch and sometimes breakfast. When I have to eat I eat whatever is easy and convenient. Most of the last few weeks I have gone out to eat most every night. A lot of that was because I didn’t feel safe going home but that is hopefully changing.

I can’t do this anymore. I need to fuel myself with things that make me feel good, not just in an instant gratification sort of way. I don’t like tracking calories for the sake of counting calories especially since healthy food choices are far more than that. But I do enjoy using an online food/exercise tracker (I like livestrong) because at least then I am mindful of what is going into my body.

At my last job there was a fitness competition. It wasn’t just one of those “who can lose the most weight?” kinds of contests which aren’t very fair or even necessarily indicative of positive lifestyle choices. Oh no. These were all engineers and scientists so it was a much better designed system. Many factors determined your score: % weight lost (based on your initial weight), % body fat, losing or gaining inches in your upper arms, thighs, and pectorals, or just losing inches around the waist line. This was all counted by the quarter inch by the way. I got really into this competition. Everyone put in cash and whoever won got the pot. Maybe the top 3 got something? I didn’t really go in with the intention of winning, and in fact I didn’t. But I made a lot of healthy changes in my life. I discovered a lot of fitness opportunities in my area (my favorite was krav maga. Also, I know some krav maga) and I was mindful of my food choices. I mostly didn’t lose weight but I did get slim and much stronger. I also upped my lung capacity by a fair amount.

And then I got laid off. I had to watch my money very, very carefully. I wasn’t surrounded by people who supported my healthy lifestyle. I ate a lot of comfort food. The results were pretty predictable. Then I got accepted to grad school and moved a few states over. There is a lot of beautiful nature around so I met people and went on walks. Soon I discovered this thing called roller derby that forced me into a regular exercise schedule. Things with that went well for a while but then I hurt my knee. Without derby I lost a lot of my drive to exercise. The knee injury also made some of my favorite exercises (like steep hiking) difficult. I had surgery to fix it but it didn’t work. So I have to get surgery again… I was on the way to getting that done when a few things happened. Suddenly my work schedule was very busy. My insurance changed so I had to change surgeons. I put off the surgery. I started to realize something though. My opposite ankle was starting to hurt. A lot. I was putting a lot of stress on it to compensate for my knee. Also my clothes stopped fitting me. That was the final straw. I need to get back in shape. I have taken steps to actually schedule that surgery.



Plan to get back in shape:
1) I found a hiking buddy. Actually a couple of them. I should try to take further advantage of them.

2) I need to eat better. When I have my own place again I get to have complete control over what food is kept in the house.

3) Start tracking my intake and exercise again.

4) Walking at least 10K steps a day. Which really is around 5 miles. Very doable but I won't get there without going out of my way. What is really cool is that my current employer incentivizes healthy choices. There is a points system. You can get points for certain healthy activities and if you get 400 points you get $400 off your insurance premium for the next year. Walking 10K a day for a month is worth a fair number of points and they send you a free pedometer.

5) I have joined an upper body strength training class that happens in my workplace once a week for an hour. I went yesterday and it kicked my ass. Roller derby is a leg based activity so my upper body strength hasn’t been great for a while. Post-knee surgery I will join the leg strength class as well.

6) Find a gym buddy/ accountability partner who will make sure I actually do the things I say I will. Also, going to the gym is really boring but it is probably a good idea for me right now.

7) Rejoin local fitness activities. This will work a lot better post knee surgery. I did Crossfit for a month but I couldn’t afford to keep it up. I make more money now so maybe it will be more feasible. They now offer local krav maga classes but I don’t want to do that until after surgery either. Getting back into roller derby will also be good for me, again, post-surgery.



There is probably other stuff but I need to hit it hard while I have a lot of motivation so that by the time the motivation fades I will already have made it a habit. One of the ladies in roller derby says that everyone has their own derby superpower. For some people it is speed or strong hits or good pack awareness. My strength has always been my perseverance. When I am hit down I get back up and charge the pack again. And again. And again. I don’t give up. And I won’t give up this time either.

I'll go fighting nail and teeth
You've never seen such perseverance
Going to make you scared of me...

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