Worldview: The Rambling Road: A time to run and a time to not

Some of you may recall my post from a few months ago now about what I termed “medicinal running”. Granted, I said I was going to provide regular updates, but didn’t, so I figured I would provide them all at once.

From a therapeutic standpoint, I believe the running was doing what I intended, albeit slowly, just like everything else about my current ordeal. I got to the point where I was slogging (jogging very slowly) about half a mile 3-4 times a week. Not spectacular, but it was something.

You’ll notice I said was. While I was able to maintain the 3-4 times a week for about two months, I proceeded to develop an injury in my left foot that got progressively worse until I stopped. I’m okay to walk, and once it stops hurting, I can run 2-3 more times before it starts hurting again.

The moral there, I suspect, is that I’m just too heavy to run right now. That said, I have more than tripled my walking steps average over the same period, and I’ve lost 9 pounds during the same, so this hasn’t been a total loss. If I continue to lose weight, I plan to try running again at some point and once I have better shoes.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: A wheeze on the wind, or the sound of a fat boy running

So, it turns out that, after years of trying to ignore it into going away, the simple fact is the best way for me to jump start the process by which I’m not going to be perpetually fat, tired, and sick is by running.

Yeah, I know, running…

To be fair, I used to run. For a few years in my 20s, I ran 2-3 miles nearly everyday. Then I stopped. That in itself is a long story, but one that likely helped set the stage for where I am now. Now, 20ish years later, I’m going back to the thing I once did, I guess.

One day, perhaps even soon, I hope to document the research that led me to that conclusion so that, at the very least, it’s out on the internet for anyone else searching for answers to judge for themselves, but for the moment let’s suffice it to say that running engages the specific biological pathways that help reduce fat around the liver, which fat is likely one of the main culprits of my complaints.

In several important ways, this running is going to be, lacking a better way of describing it, medicinal running, and the best way to describe this phenomenon is to do so by what it’s not going to be. Unless something in my own psychology changes, this running isn’t going to be about 5ks or marathons, not about PRs or ever increasing distances, and not about proving myself in any other way but one.

Along with a controlled diet and plenty of walking to complement the running, this effort will be about weight loss. It’s a ham-handed standard, I know, but the fact is that at my current weight–295lbs and counting, for those keeping track at home–it’s the single most effective way for me to measure whether what I am doing is achieving my primary goal.

I appreciate every piece of advice I’ve already received about this undertaking, and I always want to hear more of it, but please understand that I hear and evaluate any of it through the filter of what I already know I am trying to do. It may be that something you say helps me advance that cause, and I want to hear it, but please don’t be disappointed if I decide it doesn’t fit with what I am trying to do. It’s not that I haven’t listened. It’s that I am very focused on what I am trying to do.

To that end, I also plan to post a weekly update documenting my progress so that interested parties can keep track and so that I can have a log of what I’ve been doing for my own use. If you are keeping track and don’t see that update, please ask. I need the accountability.

For now, this is what it is: a fat boy running for his life. Literally. Stay tuned to see how it works out.

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Walking away

Don’t worry: I’m not quitting.

No, instead, this blog is about a realization. It’s one I’ve stated here before, yet at least for me, I’ve realized it in a new way.

As far as my physical health is concerned, walking is going to be what saves me.

Once upon a time, I was a walker, a rambler in the truest sense of the word. Starting in junior high, I started walking to school any day I could, a journey of several miles. Once high school was upon me, I walked except when the weather was the worst for four years despite the distance.

Along the way, I developed an affection for trail hiking that carried me into my mid 20s. Then, a lot of life happened–the details don’t matter so much–and I kind of quit. It wasn’t a sudden thing, just over time, I walked less and less and hiked less and less, until I wasn’t doing it at all.

Since I got sick a year ago, on the days I’ve been able to walk, I’ve felt better, but walking every day has been a challenge for a variety of reasons. My new realization is that I’ve failed to deal with those reasons, and that is what is keeping me from walking.

I’ve decided to change that. First up is dealing with one of the colder Ohio winters in recent memory. It turns out that, since I got sick, I can’t stay warm like I used to. Cold weather takes it out of me, so walking in the cold is a struggle. That’s also an excuse. We have the technology for that, and it’s time I started using it.

So, next week, I have an extreme sports designed balaclava, cold weather over-mitts, and wind-pants arriving. They should do the trick most days when the temperature is below freezing an help eliminate one more excuse.

Next up will be rain gear. And, before you know it, I’ll be rambling along again like days of old.

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: When excuses aren’t excuses

A more bitter part of me wants to demand that, before anyone gives anyone with a chronic or enduring illness advice about what they should be doing, they should have to live through my past couple of weeks before giving it.

Now, before anyone panics, it’s just been a tough couple of weeks. I’ve been caught in what I call an “autoimmune loop,” first triggered by allergies, then flowing into everything from debilitating insomnia to blood sugar spikes and crashes. Good times…

I will grant, that having endured that, I’m particularly sensitive when people start throwing around, “Well, all you have to do is…” advice. I admit it. It pisses me off. After spending two weeks feeling like you’re a combination of drunk, high, coming down with the flu, and hopped up on way too much caffeine, that kind of advice hits wrong.

But I’m also listening, and in the course of listening, I have my own advice. I understand those of you trying to help people like me mean well. You sincerely want me to feel better. You believe you have answers, and the fact is that you do.

You’re also not listening.

Almost every conversation I’ve ever had with someone who believes they know how to fix me revolves around a single premise: everything I have to say about why their advice is a struggle is an excuse. I’m here to tell you, no, it’s not.

Yes, I can be doing more than I am. Yes, sometimes, I have to push through the terrible consequences of my current state of health in order to make it better than it is. That is true.

It is also true that, when my blood sugar crashes while I’m walking around the grocery store, so I have to cling to my cart like a lifeboat, and thank God my wife is with me to drive me home because I might not have made it otherwise, and I’m still shakey more than 24 hours later, it’s not an excuse. This stuff really happens. It really does limit what I am able to do. I have to keep in mind that every expenditure of effort I make comes with a cost I have to pay, sometimes for days. That’s not an excuse. It’s reality.

All I am asking you well meaning people to do is to understand that. Modify your expectations by the reality of the health I have right now. Not the theory of how healthy I could be. Not with a guilt trip about how I’m unhealthy because I did it to myself. With the fact that, right at this moment, what I’m experiencing is what is.

Help me with my reality. That will actually help.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: A matter of motion

A little over four years ago, I bought a Fitbit One. I bought the device because I was just on the tail end of having lost 65 pounds, dropping from around 340 to 275 over the course of a couple of years. That weight loss was mostly the result of specific dietary changes, especially the near elimination of soy from my diet as the result of an allergy to soy proteins.

My theory behind buying the Fitbit was to help me keep the progress of that weight loss going and to help me achieve a minimum level of fitness. Four years later, that very same device tells a tale, and its not one I wanted to hear.

It turns out, way back in 2013, I did a lot of research into what a “minimum level of fitness” would mean for me. After all that research, I concluded that around 5,000 steps a day, a mere 35,000 steps a week, would meet the goal I was trying to achieve.

Now, I know what the multitude of “experts” say. I read many of them, and I concluded that, and the end of it all, your mileage may vary as far as their expertise is concerned. My conclusions were based on me and my fitness level at the time, and I’m sure, if I had followed my own advice, it would have made a difference.

You see, the story that Fitbit tells me is that, based on my own determinations, I should have walked about 7.5 million steps by around now. Instead, as of today, I’ve walked a mere 2.3 million steps. Even allowing for the fact that I didn’t use my Fitbit at all for six months last year, the fact is that I’ve walked less than half the amount of steps I determined I should have to achieve a minimum level of fitness for me.

The fact is that I am a quintessential example of the modern sedentary lifestyle. Sure, I run a farm, but my physical output comes in fits and starts, and for a while now, not as frequently. And the fact is that this reality starts with not bothering to walk a measly 5,000 steps a day.

It would be easy for me to make some kind of grand pronouncement here about how I’m going to change all that, but I’m not going to. The story my Fitbit tells me is that the changes I need to make to be even minimally fit are hard, and what it is going to take for me to achieve that goal may be beyond my grasp right now.

But, now I know, and knowing is its own kind of power.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Discontentedness

It’s no secret to those who know me that I am a discontented person. As far back as I can remember, I never recall a time where I was satisfied with anything I’ve done, known, or been involved in. That discontent is what has driven me to pursue education, experiences, and even entire careers.

Knowing that, it then surprises me that my otherwise discontent never seemed to apply to my physical state. For most of my adult life, I’ve accepted weight gain and the creeping malaise of health that goes along with it for what it seemed to me to be: an inevitable sign of aging and poor luck. I’ve even gone so far as to argue against fitness in some absurd justification of being less than what I could be.

Yet, now that I have been laid low by illness, my discontentedness has come into full effect. I am not satisfied with anything. I want to fix it and fix it the best way possible. The issue now is that I’m not quite in a position to act. Ironic, isn’t it?

Nevertheless, I believe my discontentedness will be the thing that drives me forward. As hard as it is proving to be, I will not be satisfied until I master this thing.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Time calculus

There was a time when I was that person who claimed I didn’t have time to exercise. To me then, exercise was a waste because the other things I was doing with my life seemed far more important. In fact, I was that person not all that long ago. But today, as I was walking, I came to a sudden epiphany that my view was myopic in a specific sort of way.

The fact is, for the year and a half before I ended up in the hospital, my health was deteriorating whether I was willing to admit it or not. I lost some or all of many days to illness and fatigue to the point I was no longer able to do the things I needed and wanted to be doing.

If we imagine that state resulting in a loss of four hours of productivity a day as an average, I lost something along the lines of 2,190 hours of useful time due to bad health. And that was before I ended up in the hospital.

In that hospital, I lost six full days, an additional 144 hours, and since I have been home, my productivity has been minimal to the tune of a couple of hours a day, meaning for the last 30, I’ve easily lost 240 more hours beyond that.

In total, since the true beginnings of this current episode, I’ve easily lost as many as 2,574 hours of productive time, and that’s probably a conservative estimate.

In contrast, since I have returned to walking again, I’ve spent about an hour each day. If I were to simply stick to that amount of time, it would take me more than seven years to “waste” the time I’ve already wasted walking.

And, as anyone exercising knows, fitness is not a waste. Rather, since I have returned to walking, I am getting stronger, my head is clearer, I am less fatigued, and I am more certain of my recovery than I have yet been.

So, even when I reach my eventual goal of two hours of exercise a day, I will really be gaining hours more of productive time rescued from what once had been the time waste of my poor health.

I get the logical explanation isn’t for everyone, but the nature of this realization makes me even more eager to continue. I will improve because of what I am doing, and that can never be a waste.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Grocery rambling

When you’re trying to rebuild your stamina, every little bit helps, and so it has become a thing that going to the grocery is part of my weekly undertaking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also there to buy groceries, but the extra steps and just being out help me improve from one week to the next.

The take away? Don’t underestimate the little stuff when pursuing your fitness goals. It all adds up if you keep at it.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Natural motion

One of the ways I am increasing my daily activity is by using a concept called natural movement exercises. You can research the internet on the topic, but basically put, the process involves repeated sets of transitional actions like getting up from laying on the floor, standing up from a chair, and the like.

You might think these would be easy exercises and wonder what the point is, but if you’re at all out of shape, you’re likely to discover they’re not easy at all and are going to be the first step toward fixing the problem.

I have started a routine wherein I do about five minutes of these exercises every hour (I use a timer on my phone to keep me honest). My goto exercises are getting up from a laying position on the floor, crouching and standing, and walking up and down my stairs. The number of repetitions I do varies depending on my stamina at the time.

I can already tell the difference in the fact I am doing them in two particular ways: first, I am more mentally alert that I would otherwise be, and second, my back does not hurt as much as it normally does.

Granted, these kinds of exercises are not a replacement for dedicated exercise like walking, but throughout the course of the day, they help teach my body to be more active and, therefore, to use energy better. In the long run, especially as I am more able to do other kinds of exercise, these activities will help promote overall health.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Abnormal weather can mean a new normal

I have to admit that I am looking forward to the weather coming at the end of this week and next week, even if it as abnormal for this time of year and represents what will likely be an early spring and hot, dry summer. Selfishly, warmer, dryer weather means better chances to get outside and walk, and that’s something I really need to do.

The weather also has me thinking about my garden and the springtime activities on the farm. We have a lot of work to do this year, and the earlier we get started, the better.

What kind of things does the arrival of spring make you think about?

DLH

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