Been a Long Time, Part II!

longtimeii

Been a Long Time, Part II!

I‘m going to echo the first line of my last blog entry – “Yea, it’s been a long time.”  

Why?  

Well, I guess the blogging craze has dropped out a little, but matured, both in general and for me personally.  There’s still always 

been a place for it and always will be, and now it’s growing into new things, of course.  And also now it’s re-surging I believe, in a different way.  

So here I go jumping back in a little anyway.    

I guess I’ve just gotten out of the habit of blogging anything, and a hell of a lot has changed in my life since the last entry too.  But I’m going to try to post an entry once in a while, I’m thinking I am going to do some reviews of equipment that I have, and things like that.   

  Changes  

After B’elanna died we got a Boxer, Archer (the white one).  We had already had one Boxer, Chakotay, and really liked the breed. 

And recently we have a new kitten, Spock.  Spock is from a litter of kittens and mother who showed up at our place and who we coaxed close enough to catch them all.  We then found homes for all of them except one mostly white kitten who we fell in love with and kept – Spock.  

Also, my father sold his property, his whole farm, to the Amish.  Big thing for him, but also for us as they are now our neighbors.  It’s hard to imagine living as they do, and it’s a big culture-shock for us.

I’m also a telephone contact for them, though this went from them assuring me that it might be one call a year to a few times a month and then to me driving them and their relatives and friends places and picking up people and stuff.   So one day I kind of tried to put a stop to that by not necessarily answering the door if I don’t see a car in the yard.  My new personal policy, of sorts.

Yea, okay, maybe rude – but, despite what some of the people in Jefferson County think; they’re just human beings like the rest of us and if you let them take advantage of you then they will.  It all got excessive.  No offense but, geez, their sect should allow them to buy a phone for emergencies at least…

  The Biggest Changes  

But probably one of the biggest changes is that we also changed our whole lives with a whole new attitude, loss weight, do lots of exercise, and have much healthier eating!  

I can’t tell you how it all started, really, and neither can my wife.  We just started slowly I think, and we didn’t talk about it and plan it out or anything.  I can’t even tell you which of us started because it started so slowly.

We tend to work off from each other’s ideas and habits (which I believe is what a good partnership of any kind should be like).  

I just know that I had went up well over 200 pounds (I don’t exactly know how much – and it also fluctuated daily and I didn’t exactly check my weight that often, I didn’t want to see it) and even though I was still quite active during the nice times of the year; I could feel the weight pulling me down in general.  And more and more as time went on.  

If I bent over to tie my shoes I could feel the pressure of it pushing the air out of my lungs, I could feel the fat belly pressing against my legs and not allowing me much movement, to use just one example.  And I didn’t like how I looked or felt.  I could feel how unhealthy I was.  

And having a family on my mother’s side of fairly overweight people with all sorts of weight-related health problems, including diabetes and heart problems – well, it makes you think.  Makes you think real hard.  

Jenny, my wife, had gotten quite large and in fact had always been overweight her whole life.  I was always pretty thin until the last decade or so.  Growing up on a farm I’d always been thin, scrawny, wiry, but fairly strong (at least I thought so).    

But after gaining weight I was fat in the belly, the chest, the ace, and the neck yet I still had thin spindly arms and fairly thin legs, except where they were fat on my thighs somewhat.  There was some muscle under there from the biking I had always done, but still thin at the bottom, thick with fat at the top.

So again; I don’t know how we started losing weight and getting healthier, we just did.  

I only remember deciding to give up soda (cola).  

I started it slowly, and even started by doing things like watering down the soda sometimes, or trying to switch to slightly more healthy drinks.  Sometimes I’d drink water instead.    

Jenny was surprised at this a few times when she noticed that I was doing it, as I had always been a real big soda drinker.  

But right around the same time we both started changing how and what we ate, and our exercise and lifestyle, so I can’t say that I started it, we just kind of did in parallel, and feeding off each other’s progress.  

Like I said – I remember stopping drinking soda but I don’t think that’s what started both of us; we just did it a little at a time.  That seemed like the best way, instead of a huge change.  

I immediately started losing weight once I completely stopped drinking soda, even without making any other changes.  For me personally this really encouraged me.  It was amazing, the pounds just dropped off.  And while I mentioned above that I have always been a soda drinker – I was never real super crazy like some people are.  Usually one or two sodas a day, that was it.   But it was crazy how much weight I was losing just stopping that much soda intake.  That tells you something significant right there.  

We both started watching our weight over time and before long we had gotten a treadmill, a Sole F63, and was trying to get more exercise in general.  

We worked up from there by getting a Wii and a number of exercise-related games for it.  The two of us spent many hours, together as well as separately, working and sweating.  We started small and worked up.  The Wii was an integral beginning part to our changes, and though we rarely use it now it was certainly worth it to get that exercise that interactive physical gameplay did for us.   The Wii is a great machine, it encourages you to get up and do things but in a videogame environment.

Later we picked up some exercise DVD’s of various kinds and levels, which opened up a whole new world for us.

We got more and more of them, trying them and doing and re-doing our favorites.  

We also continued to watch our food intake and slowly started eating healthier food in general.  

An exercise room was the next thing we worked on, building it ourselves using a portion of our cellar which only was used for some storage.  In the pic below you can’t quite see the whole room, a few more things around the edge there, it’s small but works nicely for two people (and two dogs).  Cozy and quick to warm up in the winter.

You might find this strange and I really need to get an updated video on YouTube showing it (edit – here’s the blog entry and YouTube video) – our dogs have gotten so used to running on the treadmill that I don’t have to say a word; as soon as we go into the exercise room Chakotay goes and gets on the treadmill and waits.  If we’re using it I have to make him get off it. Otherwise I start it up, he walks on it (as I slowly increase the speed so he’s jogging, then slow it down at the end) and when I press the STOP button and it stops, he gets off by himself and Archer comes over and gets on and waits – all without me saying one word!  Chakotay also has gained a bit of extra weight and the exercise is great for both of them during the Winter months.

Anyway, after we got the exercise room finished we moved the treadmill down to it from where we had been using it, and got a Bowflex too.  I moved my stair-climber and rowing machine down there also, and I made a pull-up bar and a wrist roller.  Over time we also supplied the exercise room with a TV, Dolby Surround Sound with radio, DVD player, and a hookup to our antenna system and Dish Network (which also includes XM radio – yea!).  I’m working on adding a weight bench attachment to the Bowflex currently, and I got a few pieces of free weights from a local Freecycle site.  Later we bought more free weights, they’re certainly a great supplement to the Bowflex weight training.  

P90X was also something else we acquired, and we both dove into that.  It was hard at first, Plyometrics was a killer but amazingly, over time, we both got strong enough to do it all with Jenny just now getting into doing the weight training part of it.  

Tony Horton is the greatest – firm, helpful, funny, and an inspiration.  I also do Insanity and lots of Bob Harper’s stuff, like this one.   Insanity IS indeed insane.  It is very, very, VERY hard and I could only have worked up to it after getting very fit, and then doing P90X over and over and over again many, many times before it.  I’d consider it only for those who are very physically fit and fairly advanced.  But I am proud to say that I can keep up with the twenty-something’s on the disc.   Some of it is still sweat-producing heart-pumping hard, but it’s hard as in ‘good hard exercise’ now.  Not hard as in ‘I’m not fit enough to do this!’.  

Another great thing about the weight loss was Jenny’s severe sleep apnea completely disappeared once she lost a significant amount of weight!  Gone, completely, no more machine, no more problems.  

I lost over fifty pounds myself, but did I mention – Jenny lost over 225!  I’ve been and continue to be so proud  of her.  You can read her blog about the process here  

And it really surprised me when I heard family members and friends say how they never thought that she could do it.  I didn’t think anything of it, I knew she could.  I knew I could.  There was no question.   It’s one of the things that surprised me, people not thinking she was capable of it.   Check out her blog if you get the chance – lots of pics, including those from when she had to have the operation to remove the extra skin (yuk – not for the weak-stomached).

Another thing that has surprised and still surprises me is how some people are so sure that all of a sudden  we’re going to gain it all back!  And backslide.

Sure, a lot of people who go on diets gain the weight back.    

And you know what?  Of course you’re going to gain it back if you watch your food intake, decide you’ve lost enough and look good enough, and then just start eating the same way again and stop any exercise!  

Of course you’re going to gain it back, how could you not think otherwise?!  

You have to make a change in how you eat and exercise, a permanent change, not a temporary one.  That’s how you get and stay healthy, and maintain a healthy weight.   Seems pretty self-evident and common sense to me.  

Another kind of strange reaction to our weight loss is those people who say ‘I didn’t think you were overweight before’.

Huh?  It seems kind of obvious, look at the before and after pic.  My double chin was even getting a double chin!  And the before picture was taken a number of years before I even started losing weight so I had gained even more  weight after that pic was taken, whew!  

Heck, my hat wouldn’t even fit my head.   I could just feel that oppressive weight pulling me down every day.  It’s hard to imagine what my wife felt.

Are we so used to the ‘average’ American being so overweight that it doesn’t look abnormal any more?  In 2002 a government study showed that the average weight for an average American male is 191 pounds!  What?!  More than half of US men are over 180 pounds according to a newer study.  

I’ve also had people who said I was now too thin, usually said behind my back of course.    

Wow, this is mind-blowing to me.  My arms and legs are bigger and thicker and stronger and more muscular than they ever were in my whole life, as is all of the muscles in my body, I believe   I’ve lost a lot of my belly (still got some stubborn belly fat to lose) so I’ve dropped a number of pant sizes, yet I’m obviously not thin.  I feel great, good weight, in great shape.  Again, I have to repeat it – are we so used to the ‘average’ American being so overweight that it doesn’t look abnormal any more and someone who is at a very healthy weight seems too thin?  

Jenny’s also had a person, or maybe more, who insisted that she must have had weight-loss surgery to lose that much.  Insisted that it can’t be done.  Wow.  

And, unfortunately  I’ve had a few people who acted like I was going to chastise them because of their current weight.  

To me, being healthy is the important thing.  If you’re overweight and unhealthy you should look at your life.  But if you’re somewhat overweight and fine with it, and healthy, then who am I to tell you differently about how you should be?  

It does bother me that some of those who are significantly overweight and in the public eye are quick to tell everyone that we should all be happy with who we are.  

Good idea in principle; but when you have an unhealthy amount of weight that we know from all medical research is unhealthy then it seems like the wrong message to issue a blanket statement to everyone like that.   Hey, if you’re happy with setting yourself up for health problems later (or sometimes sooner) in life than fine; but with the epidemic of obesity and morbid obese people in the US, it doesn’t seem like a good thing to be preaching eating whatever you want until you’re unhealthily fat from the rooftops.  

Fitocracy.com

Fitocracy.com

For starting this in my mid-40’s and only being at it for a couple of years – I think I’ve done well.  And I’ve worked hard, damn hard every single day.    

I might mention here too, one thing that helped me target what I needed to do once I lost the weight and wanted to continue getting even healthier and more athletic, was the social exercise website Fitocracy.  Great site, great group of members there to motivate each other.

I’m at what is medically considered the correct weight range for my stats, and I’ve put on tons of muscle, am more muscular than I have ever been in my life, more flexible (and it’s amazing how being more flexible can affect ALL aspects of your life – don’t discount stretching and Yoga just for the flexibility part of it, not to mention other benefits), more able to do all kinds of things I couldn’t do before or couldn’t do well.  My resting and exercise heart rate has come now significantly.  Good to have a nice heart rate monitor, like the Garmin 

Garmin GPS Watch and Heart Rate Monitor Strap

Garmin GPS Watch and Heart Rate Monitor Strap

series of GPS/Heart Rate Monitor watches, especially if you’re going to do the intense cardio exercises like P90X‘s Plyometrics or the extremely intense ones in Insanity.  

I’ve also found that my body seems to be damn fine at recovering from injuries, and not getting sick now.  

When I was young I got sick often; colds, flu’s, etc – I caught them all and it took forever to recover from them.  

Now I haven’t had a cold in possibly two years or at least a year and a half.  Which is the most unusual thing for me.  Sure, I might have an off day, a day when I don’t feel strong maybe because maybe my body is fighting off a cold, or is tired.  

But you have to know when to take a rest, drink lots of fluids, rest completely or at least cut down on exercises for that day, and maybe put a little recovery/vitamin enhancement in your water (like Propel) or eat an extra helping of vegetables and fruits that day – and that’s the day for it.    

Me, running in a Cape Vincent run

Me, running in a Cape Vincent run

I know some people exercise way too much, one of the secrets of doing intense exercise is to take breaks – at least give the arts of your body that you’ve exercised hard a break.  

I’m also biking as much as I can now, getting my distances up to a max of 45 miles!  My personal record is a run of eight miles (on my 46th birthday!) but normally run three to six.  No marathon, but pretty good I think.  Considering the average American probably couldn’t run a mile I think I’m doing okay.  

Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving morning we’re running a 5k Turkey Run that benefits the YMCA, no big thing for either of us anymore.  We’ve done a number of runs this year and at one of them I even got first place in my age group, and in another Jenny got first place for women overall!    

I remember when I was a kid in high school, at what usually is the peak physical condition in a person’s life; I could barely make it through running one mile, and I was walking by the end.  

Yet I wish I could have started this whole thing earlier.  Instead of in my middle age.  The nice thing is there’s no upper age limit to getting fitter, gaining muscle or flexibility – it just takes a little longer and sometimes you have to ease into it instead of diving in.   So, enough about me.    

I hope this has shown that no matter how much you weigh and in how badly out of shape you are you can still make yourself over, better than you have ever been.  And it doesn’t take a lot of money.  It doesn’t take going on a tv show.  It doesn’t even take getting a personal trainer or going to the gym.  If you’re reading this you have access to the Internet and can find everything you need to get started. 

Other Things

We finally got a faster Internet here, via a Virgin Mobile’s Broadband Mifi.  You may have read about our trials and tribulations in previous blog entries, with trying to get something besides dial-up here.  

The Virgin Mobile’s Broadband Mifi works okay, but not the best.  But for those without any other options it’s better than dial-up.  

I’m using a hacked router using DD-WRT to make a connection to the MiFi to distribute the signal, both wireless and wired, throughout the house; thus overcoming the limitations of the router somewhat.   There’s no limit to how many devices can be connected, and the range covers almost the entire house and par of the outdoors now.

As you may or may not have noticed I have changed the blog template, logo graphics, and arrangement and added some ads.  Sorry, but times are tough and despite what some people think – reading an ad won’t kill ya 😉   So, watch for upcoming blog entries as I review some of my favorite stuff, and make changes to the blog.

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