January Check-In: It’s been awhile

Each month I’m going to do a check-in, as a way to chart my progress and assess where I’m at, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Laughing Gif

So maybe I have missed a few months. Last time I checked in I alluded to some of the hardships and time-consuming personal obligations that dominated the better portion of my 2017. Dealing with ill family members, family that had to move out of their longtime home in a dramatically short period of time and a host of other soul-crushing issues left zero time for self-care, fitness, and any real attention to how I ate. The only times I ever really thought about what I was going to eat played out typically in the same type of way.

“Oh shit, I need to grab something to eat before I go do these 100’s of tasks for the day. What can I grab on my way to the train/car/subway?”

The answer was always bagels. I’m so sick of bagels.  As 2017 gave way to a new year, like many folks I was excited by the symbolism the calendar change held. With many of these stifling obligations, at least in part, now behind me I looked with (very cautious) optimism towards a new opportunity to get my healthy habits back on track.

fuck 2017

The new year has not been all that bad, but it hasn’t been all that great. I try, most of the time, to be a bit more mindful in what I consume, but in all honesty I’ve splurged quite a bit. As January began to creep away I’d continue to find myself saying, “I’ll start on Monday” or “Tomorrow is when I get back on track so let me just eat this thing today.”

can't stop eating

These empty promises to myself persisted up until yesterday. With some motivation in my belly and the time to set a course of action, I mapped out an initial plan to press the health reset button in my life. I created a healthy meal plan for the week and researched some workout programs that would be good for beginners. [I’m starting from the ground up!] I decided on a program and started it yesterday, excited about following the next thirty days. I made myself some overnight oats to ensure I had some pretty nutritious food to eat and was excited for the week.

This morning I woke up and the previous night’s motivation still persisted. I grabbed my oats and preemptively logged the day’s food into MyFitnessPal. Then as I was riding a more-crowded-than-usual subway something hit me. I began to feel dizzy, nauseous and sweaty. The good thing was that if I passed out it wouldn’t have mattered because the subway was so pack with people I would have been standing in the same position. The bad thing was that I was certain I was coming down with something. At this point I’m just hoping it’s not… the flu!

Everything Hurts and I'm dying

Because I live in America and can’t afford to take days off my hope is that whatever this is will pass in the night (one can dream can’t they!) Even in this weakened and sickened state I’m still motivated to get back and start walking down this healthy path again.

At this point, I’d typically do my check-in criteria update. I haven’t been able to do much so I’ll try my best…

Check-in criteria.

Weight – Not the best indicator for progress, but one marker. How’d I do?

  1. July Check-In Weight – 224.6 lbs
  2. December Weight – 226 lbs!
  3. January – 223.6 lbs
    • Difference since the start = -1 lbs

Athletic Assessment –  

  1. First Athletic Assessment:
    1. 33 push-ups in 100 seconds
    2. 90 squats in 300 seconds
    3. 35 sit-ups in 300 seconds
  2. January Athletic Assessment
    1. I did 30 push-ups five days ago because I needed something to do while the shower water heated up
    2. I almost fell over picking up a pen the other day
    3. Yesterday’s workout was a simple stretch and my core feels like I did a 90 minute Pilates session

How you looking – To track any body changes, I’ll be taking a picture in the same outfit at the beginning of every month.

June 1 – First Picture:

June - Month 1

January Check-In Picture:

Liz Lemon toliet

How you feeling – Finally, how I’m feeling? Where is my head at? Am I feeling motivated or down? Has it been a tough month or has being healthy been easy?

January Check-In:

Flu Virus
Strong and Sick!

 

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October Check-In: Where Have You Been?

Each month I’m going to do a check-in, as a way to chart my progress and assess where I’m at, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

I’m back! (and not necessarily better than ever). Long time readers (/s) of this blog will know that I’ve been dealing with an array of personal obligations/tragedies/hardships that plagued my summer and only intensified over the past handful of weeks. Any time not spent working has been dedicated to taking care or working towards making any one of these situations better. Without going into all the bummer-y details, I’ve spent hours in vet hospitals, on the phone trying to mediate terrible situations, researching New York State’s mental health system and many more soul-crushing tasks.

Thankfully not everything in my life is bleak. Our cat, AnaCapri’s (a.k.a. Ana Bananas) last chemo visit yielded some positive news. Her oncologist informed us that it looks like her cancer is in remission. Ana will still need chemo sessions every three weeks for at least a year, but we’re cautiously optimistic.

I’ve also had some professional highlights. The organization I work for recently held an event at Madison Square Garden Theater and hosted over five thousand students from around the NY TriState area, celebrating their passion, compassion and dedication to making the world a better place. Plus the Canadian Prime Minister and his wife were there!

WE Day UN - Prime Minister

At this point, I’d typically do my check-in criteria update. Well, with everything that’s been going on, I haven’t been able to get any exact numbers so… here we go…

Check-in criteria.

Weight – Not the best indicator for progress, but one marker. How’d I do?

  1. July Check-In Weight – 224.6 lbs
  2. July Check-In – 217.4 lbs
  3. August Check-In – 217 lbs
  4. September Check-In – Who knows!?
  5. October Check-In – Not Great!
    • Difference = ???
    • Total Difference = Your guess is as good as mine

Athletic Assessment – I haven’t had much time to do anything. We recently purchased Beachbody On Demand (sorry Freeletics, my feet hurt). I’ve done a total of 3 workouts so far. So yeah, things haven’t been going great.  

  1. First Athletic Assessment:
    1. 33 push-ups in 100 seconds
    2. 90 squats in 300 seconds
    3. 35 sit-ups in 300 seconds
  2. October Athletic Assessment:
    1. I got winded walking up the stairs to the subway platform
    2. I ate two slices of pizza, a vegan burger, and half of a waffle full of ice cream yesterday
    3. My head, face and neck are so sunburned it hurts to blink

How you looking – To track any body changes, I’ll be taking a picture in the same outfit at the beginning of every month.

June 1 – First Picture:

June - Month 1

October Check-In Picture:

tomato-face_smiling

How you feeling – Finally, how I’m feeling? Where is my head at? Am I feeling motivated or down? Has it been a tough month or has being healthy been easy?

October Check-In:

I'm So Tired Gif

I’m so done with everything at this point it’s hard to even type. There is so much more that’s in front of me. All of those troubles that loomed so large these past months aren’t going away anytime soon. There is still so much that needs to be done. So many hours still to spend on the phone, in cars, going to appointments, doing research, mediating, trying to help solve other people’s problems.

Bagels & Donuts

Growing up my family didn’t subscribe to many traditions. Sure as kids we’d go over certain relatives’ houses for holidays, but overall, things were played fast and loose, with the default being “let’s sit on the couch and do nothing.” One tradition that I do remember was my father waking up early on Sundays and heading over to a traditional Lawwwnngg Eye-land bakery. It was a nice gesture and something that I looked forward to as a fat child. Looking back on this tradition, I think it perfectly encapsulates the relationship with food I’ve been fighting my entire adult life. When my dad came home from the bakery he’d always have a bag of bagels and a box of donuts. And each time that bag and that box was dropped on the kitchen table my brothers and I were given the same simple instruction. “You boys can have a donut, but only after you finish your bagel”

Bagels Dancing

That’s a lot of carbs and A LOT of sugar. Now I’m not here to trash my parents or make excuses for them or myself. I simply like telling that story and I think it speaks to a lot of people’s relationship with food. Some foods are considered treats, while others are considered healthy. Some healthy foods, maybe aren’t so healthy, and some treats, well maybe they shouldn’t be eaten every Sunday (or every day if you’re me as a child). Which foods are healthy and which ones aren’t is a topic of much debate, but I feel like even the most lax of nutritionists would agree that a full-size bagel topped with copious amounts of full fat cream cheese isn’t the healthiest option at the breakfast table.

Older and more informed, I feel like I have a pretty strong grasp as to which foods are the most nutritious. I’m looking at you kale and quinoa!

Superfoods-kale

Just because I know which foods are best for me, doesn’t mean I always make the right choices. When it comes to food, I’ve never been motivated by the “right” choice. It’s always been the “right now’ choice. Right now I want some cookies. Right now I want some chips. Right now I want some soup out of a bread bowl! (Actually I just want the bread bowl). I think that these “right now” decisions can be tied back to my bagel and donuts days as a kid. My “healthy” food and my “treat” were one in the same. Both tasted great in that “this is really bad for you” type of way. Sugar lit up my brain, making me desire only “right now” choices. I’d say over the past 5 years is when I’ve started to make a real conscience effort into the foods I consume being the “right” choices instead of the “right now” choices.

Hamsters Nibbling

Even during my early vegan days, I was lucky enough to have plenty of “right now” choices. Vegan ice cream? Check. Vegan cookies? Hell yeah. Vegan donuts and bagels? You bet your sweet ass! As vegan food choices grow, so will the “right now’ choices available to vegans all over. Being in a major city, certainly positions me to have more than enough temptations at my fingertips at all times. But I’m going for a new Sunday tradition. Oatmeal and bananas.

 

 

August Check-In: Gains & Lots of Pains

Each month I’m going to do a check-in, as a way to chart my progress and assess where I’m at, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Another post, another apologize for it’s lateness. If you read this post, you’ll understand for the tardiness. But really? There’s no excuse. Don’t take accept my faux-apologies! Hold me to a higher standard than that!

Let’s get to the reason we’re all here. I’m two months into the “Be a Better Me” Challenge and it’s time to see where I’ve progressed, regressed and stayed the same.

Check-in criteria.

Weight – I went the entire month without weighing myself again. This time around it wasn’t the slightest bit difficult. It’s been a shitty month, and the last thing I needed was to be demoralized by the scale. So after a crappy month of eating garbage and sitting depressed in my apartment, how did I do?

  1. July Check-In Weight – 224.6 lbs
  2. July Check-In – 217.4 lbs
  3. August Check-In – 217 lbs
    • Difference = – .4 lbs
    • Total Difference = – 7.6 lbs

Athletic Assessment – How many times can I say it? It’s been a shit month. This includes not working out. Which is probably the worst thing I could have done for myself. How many articles about exercise alleviating stress and anxiety do I have to read before I make it a point to actually make it a point to exercise in times like these. It’s only in the last 4 days that I’ve gotten back on track and have done some exercise. So with a (essentially) a month off, how did I fair? 

  1. First Athletic Assessment:
    1. 33 push-ups in 100 seconds
    2. 90 squats in 300 seconds
    3. 35 sit-ups in 300 seconds
  2. July Athletic Assessment
    1. 39 push-ups in 100 seconds
      • 6 more push-ups
    2. 110 squats in 300 seconds
      • 20 more squats
    3. 59 sit-ups in 300 seconds
      • 24 more sit-ups
  3. August Athletic Assessment
    1. 46 push-ups in 100 seconds
      • 7 more push-ups than last month
      • 13 more push-ups than first month
    2. 95 squats in 300 seconds
      • 15 less than last month
      • 5 more squats than first month
    3. 70 sit-ups in 300 seconds
      • 11 more sit-ups than last month
      • 35 more than first month

How you looking – To track any body changes, I’ll be taking a picture in the same outfit at the beginning of every month.

June 1 – First Picture:

June - Month 1

August Check-In Picture:

July CheckIn Pic

How you feeling – Finally, how I’m feeling? Where is my head at? Am I feeling motivated or down? Has it been a tough month or has being healthy been easy?

August Check-In:

Wait What

I’m feeling very confused and a bit scattered. As I’ve chronicled in previous posts, July was a month from hell. Lots of bad family news being thrown at us over and over again and I fell off the self-care bus. I neglected exercise and didn’t eat right. That being said, my numbers aren’t “bad”. I truly thought I was going to be starting from square one. I know how easy it is for me to put on weight and feel like I’m back to zero in regards to my fitness levels. The fact that I didn’t gain all my weight back and was able to beat some of my previous month’s numbers is both surprising and heartening.

I’m also feeling a bit scattered because I can’t seem to shake this crazy notion I’ve had in the back of my mind for years. I’ve alluded to it a number of times in previous posts. This idea that once I start a new path towards self-care and weight-loss some terrible life event happens and it derails me. Let me share something that happened just a few days ago. After a couple of weeks of eating crap and letting all this negativity overwhelm me, I decided to to ease my way back into things by doing some 10 minute yoga. After completing it I felt good and in my mind, I mapped out what I’ll be doing the rest of the week for exercise. “I’ll wake up early and do some yoga, then in the evenings I’ll do some cardio. That’ll be my new start.” I was cautious, but a little excited to get back into the swing of things. Then that night, our cat vomited. This was one of the side effects we needed to be on high alert for as she goes through the first three weeks of chemotherapy treatment. Four thirty in the morning and my wife and I were woken up by that familiar sound of a cat about to vomit. We scrambled, found her (didn’t find the vomit until MUCH later that day) and made sure she wasn’t acting abnormally. The rest of the day we were on high alert and extremely anxious about what our next steps were. Luckily, by the end of the day, things settled and our cat was back to her normal self.

But I wasn’t normal. I was reminded once again of this (understandably weird) paranoid thought I have in my head. The thought that when I try to better myself physically, bad things happen. I believe somewhere in the back recesses of my mind, I truly think that my desire to better myself triggers what could only be described as horrible luck. At this point, it’s essentially a complex. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know it sounds irrational, and I believe it to be irrational, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a thought that crosses my mind all.. the… time!

July Sucked. August, better?

Things have not gotten much better since we last saw each other. Some things are a bit more clear. Our cat was diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments. (Which she’s taking like a champ!) And my eating and drinking hasn’t slowed down. I was hoping that copping to all the self-destructive behavior, regardless of motivation, in my last post would give me the clarity necessary to right the ship. It did not. But I’m hoping that I’ve turned the corner.

Tomorrow begins a new month and tonight I employed a tried and true tactic. I ate so much garbage that I don’t want to even think about eating sugar (or anything for that matter) for quite some time. I downed a number of Cinnamon Snail donuts and some fries for good measure. As one would assume they were quite delicious but oh so rich and decadent. My plan is to start August with a new sense of purpose. There are still really challenging things lying ahead; uncertainty about this cancer treatment, truly difficult challenges family members are facing, and mounting debt from all these unforeseen expenses. As those G.I. Joe PSA’s taught me as a child, “Knowing is Half the Battle”. And at least now I know (of have some idea) of all the truly shitty things in front of me. Knowing they’re there is in some way comforting. The hope is that when they occur, they won’t throw me for a loop and cause me to tailspin as hard as I did this month.

GI Joe Meme

I also know what August should bring. As more of my friends move away, I have less and less reason to go out and do things. (See one of my previous posts about my stance of socializing). I also know that the figurative and literal belt needs to be tightened. With all these expenses, I’m going to have to be frugal, meaning all meals prepared at home and no more beer. [GASP] As beer is a luxury.

Help Me I'm Poor

I’m not sure if August is going to be any better, but I’m going to put forth an effort. I’m already dreading my next check-in, as I know my weight and numbers are going to significantly backslide. So I’m trying to stay positive now, in the hopes that it will help me weather the fat storm that is coming next week. New month, new chance, and hopefully, new luck?

Another Missed Week, For A Very Good Reason

So I missed another week for a blog post and I’ve been MIA with my social media posts. These actions could certainly be taken as a sign that I’ve decided to quit my weight loss journey, but that’s not the case. As, what seems to be a horrid pattern, life has gotten in the way of my attempt at self care.

The Monday before last, I started the day on a relative high note. I sold my car, one of the giant thorns that have been in my side for years. I’ve spent countless hours in traffic, circled the same ten block radius endlessly and developed hip, leg and feet pain over the ten years of habitually driving around New York City. Once the final paperwork was in, and I was free of the car, a weight was lifted. It was a glorious two hours. Then, “life’ threw a punch.

yeah-some-days-my-life-sucks_o_743705.jpg

Our cat, survivor of 7 moves throughout NYC and Hurricane Katrina started to show serious signs of illness. I rushed her to the emergency vet, a place I’ve spent way too much time in, and they didn’t have much news. A day passed and finally we get some word. She has growths (probably cancer) on her colon, gall bladder and other places. We’re devastated.

It’s been more than a week and we’ve been scheduling appointments, doing tests and trying to create a game plan for treatment. My wife and I aren’t sure what’s the best course of action, but we’re trying, and we’re fretting, and we’re anxious. What we want is a plan, a plan to treat our little girl and give her the best life and the most of her best life possible. But we find ourselves in this holding pattern still, more than a week later waiting for tests and doctors. We’re devastated.

Last year, we went through something very similar. Another cat we adopted went through a long bout with multiple ailments. He was an amazing cat, joyful, sweet and loving. Watching him go through the ravages of the diseases that took him from us was heartbreaking. It hurt a lot. That internal hurt was amplified by the external hurt of significant issues I had (have) with my feet. The combination of all these things lead me to gain over 30 pounds last year. Frankly, it’s the reason why I wanted to try this birthday challenge. When I turned 35 I thought to myself, I have a new job I like, my family is healthy (relatively) and “things” seem to be good. Now is a good time to focus on a little self care.

What I’m finding is that there is no “good time”. Life is constantly throwing things at you and you have to adapt. I haven’t been adapting well. Since the initial vet visit, I’ve worked out a total of zero times. I’ve eaten donuts, cookies and anything else I can get my hands on. I’ve drank a beer or three a few times. I just don’t respond well to this level of adversity. Will I course correct? I’m honestly not sure. I’m going to try, but as things get worse, or more “life” happens. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to respond.

This isn’t the first time this narrative has played out in my life. There’s been at least 5 different times when I’ve made a real effort to get in shape. Then a few months in, someone becomes ill, jobs get lost or someone dies. I’ve had this romanticized idea in my head that one of these times I’m going to try to get in shape and tragedy won’t strike until my health and routine are so ingrained that I can survive a true gut punch and keep myself on track. It hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t think it will ever happen. So now the question becomes, can I handle it? Can I move forward?

I’m not sure.

July Check-In

Each month I’m going to do a check-in, as a way to chart my progress and assess where I’m at, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

First off, I just wanted to say…

Dr Who - Sorry Gif

I’m sorry for missing last week’s post. Do I have a good excuse? Or course not. It was a busy weekend/week, but not so busy that I couldn’t have made the time. I think I was just paralyzed by the thoughts and ideas I had for various posts. So instead of writing about ANY of them, I decide to write about NONE of them, because that’s the kind of sense I make.

Now that I’ve officially groveled for your forgiveness, let’s get to the reason we’re all here. I’m one month into the “Be a Better Me” Challenge and it’s time to see where I’ve progressed, regressed and stayed the same.

Check-in criteria.

Weight – I went an entire month without weighing myself. I must admit that this was slightly difficult. There were times throughout the month that I thought I was doing pretty well and I wanted to see it in numbers. To be fair, there were other times that I wasn’t feeling all that motivated and knew that checking my weight would be discouraging. Waiting the full month, I think, was good for me. It gives a pretty good snapshot as to my month. So-so.

  1. Starting Weight – 224.6 lbs
  2. July Check-In – 217.4 lbs
    • Difference = -7.2 lbs

Athletic Assessment – My schedule has been, unsurprisingly, hectic. There have been a variety of things that have taken up large portions of my free time that (in a perfect world) would not exist. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m so much better when I have a schedule. This applies to working out as well. When I can plug into my calendar a day/time that I’m going to work out, I can typically do it. The second “emergencies” come into play, working out gets thrown out the window. To my credit, I was able to do some working out, at least three days a week of exercise. I’m sticking with the Freeletics and their intense HIIT workouts. They’re challenging, but their quick and effective. Definitely feel a bit stronger already.  

  1. First Athletic Assessment:
    1. 33 push-ups in 100 seconds
    2. 90 squats in 300 seconds
    3. 35 sit-ups in 300 seconds
  2. July Athletic Assessment
    1. 39 push-ups in 100 seconds
      • 6 more push-ups
    2. 110 squats in 300 seconds
      • 20 more squats
    3. 59 sit-ups in 300 seconds
      • 24 more sit-ups

How you looking – To track any body changes, I’ll be taking a picture in the same outfit at the beginning of every month.

June 1 – First Picture:

June - Month 1

July Check-In Picture:

July CheckIn Pic

How you feeling – Finally, how I’m feeling? Where is my head at? Am I feeling motivated or down? Has it been a tough month or has being healthy been easy?

July Check-In:

Cultivating Mass