A lifestyle change – for the better

Through my life, I’ve always had issues with my appearance, mainly my body. I can remember being young – pre-teen age – and being concerned that I was fat because I had a “gut”. We would play shirts-and-skins basketball and I hated taking off my shirt because of that “gut” that I saw myself as having. I knew that I wasn’t “fat” in that I saw people who were overweight and I knew that I wasn’t built like them, but that I also wasn’t packing six-pack abs or anything like that. I was self-conscious about my body, like probably 95% of the world. When I graduated high school, I was still self-conscious about my “gut”, but I didn’t have a weight issue; I was six-foot-two and a hundred and sixty-three pounds. There’s a team picture of my varsity basketball team and I’m standing in the middle holding the basketball, and I’m thin as a rail. I still didn’t see myself that way, but in hindsight, I was.

As I got older, I started to “grow into my height”. I hit my growth spurt around 10th grade or so, but I knew that I’d eventually gain weight and everything would “even out”. I got more around 180-190, which seemed more “normal” to my height as I got into my mid-20s. From there, my weight fluctuated back and forth around the 200 mark, depending on my level of activity and other situations going on in my life. I figured that’s where my weight should be, so I was fine with it. I got up to around 205, which I was fine with, and then new meds that I was on brought my weight down to 185 or so, which made a noticeable difference with some people I worked with. One person commented that I “didn’t look good”, but looking back to some pictures around that time, I think I looked fine.

That is, except the gut. It was still there.

About a year or so ago I went off my meds because I simply couldn’t afford them anymore. I learned to adapt with the repercussions of this in regards to my job, but weight gain was to be expected, and it happened – I ballooned up to 235 pounds, which is a good weight for a wrestler, but notsomuch for a computer geek. When I went back on my meds about six months or so ago I assumed that the weight would come back down.

I assumed wrong.

Today I’m about 230 pounds, which is unacceptable. It can be attributed to a number of things, but “diet” and “lack of exercise” are pretty much the two main factors – two I plan to change starting today.

Yesterday, my family joined the local YMCA. It’s something we’ve talked about for a while, but we didn’t have the extra money. With my youngest finishing up preschool in the next few months, he comes off the payroll and we’ll have some extra income monthly, and what better way to use some of it than by getting ourselves healthier. I’ll be working out some kind of exercise plan (with the help of some websites and iPhone apps) to gradually get myself on a routine. This won’t be easy considering work + commute takes up 6:45am – 6:30pm Monday – Thursday, so it means waking up at least a half-hour earlier (as in 5:30am as in oh hell why am I doing this) during those days if I plan on getting to the gym. The good news is that I’m excited for this, and that will help to get through the early days of getting up earlier, and hopefully by the time the novelty wears off, the routine will be in place.

As for the “diet” part, today I signed up for MyFitnessPal to track my diet and to get a better idea of what I’m actually eating and get myself out of bad habits. One major bad habit I have is related to “wasting food”. I hate throwing food away and would generally grab an extra pork chop or chicken finger that was on my wife’s plate rather than throw it in the garbage because food in the garbage = throwing away money. When you’re a parent, this gets much worse as kids will walk away from a plate 3/4 full because they’re not hungry. Throw out an almost untouched plate of food? Unthinkable. Then, suddenly, you’re eating three portions instead of one. By tracking everything you eat, you realize what you’re actually consuming, and the food that you’re eating for reasons other than actual hunger tends to not get eaten anymore. This actually came into play already today as there were bagels left in the break room with cream cheese. I grabbed one not thinking and put some cream cheese on it and began to eat it. As I entered the information into the program, I saw the actual fat and carbs and calories that I would potentially be consuming, and I ended up throwing away half of the bagel. I didn’t really want the other half of it in the first place, but I would have eaten it because I felt bad throwing away half a bagel. I didn’t feel as bad throwing away 240 calories, 31 carbs, and 10 grams of fat.

So that’s what I’ll be doing in the near future. I may keep some kind of updates on here and I might not, but I feel good actually giving this a try. The “gut” is another story – I’ll see how well the exercise takes care of it, but if it doesn’t, we may have to address that in a different way.

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