May 22, 2009.
Weight: 174. The weather has gotten warmer and the Memorial Day holiday is upon us. The unofficial start to the summer season, with its poolside afternoons and beach trips, is about to begin. With the arrival of the warmer weather, fashion calls for less and less clothing. Those who are fit and in shape will receive the admiration of all those who cast their gaze upon them, while the unfit receive only derision and scorn.
On May 1, my lifelong friend Steve turned 49. His birthday comes one and one-half months before mine, and I always remember to give him a happy birthday phone call. I know that once this ritual has been completed, I will soon be able to count another year on the planet in my own personal history book.
As the years mount, it becomes more and more difficult to enter the summer season with the confidence that we may have had in younger years regarding fitness, appearance, or even health. Metabolism slows, life becomes both busier and more sedentary, and staying proactive where fitness is concerned becomes increasingly challenging. Just keeping up with the daily rigors of work, school, and family schedules, precludes time for exercise and eating right. The complexity of society conspires to sabotage our best efforts to fight fat and the deleterious effects of the years now behind us.
Last year around this time, I shared my journey into the “Rock Hard Challenge” posed by Muscle and Fitness magazine. I did not win the contest, but the ever increasing difficulty of the exercises and the fact that I was doing something different from my usual routine left me in the best shape I had been in years. But the effort expended to complete the program left me exhausted, both physically and mentally. Over the year that has transpired since, I have lapsed into numerous periods where I did not lift weights at all. Basketball in the morning has remained a constant, but the cardio regimen it contains resulted in a plateau effect, where the effort I was expending did not bring about the desired results. I was taking in too many calories and losing muscle mass. I watched the scale go from a trim 173 to a belt-loosened 179. Even though that’s only six pounds of added weight, I was adding abdominal fat while losing the core of muscle mass that I had established during the summer of 2008. I knew my eating habits were out of control. Too many calories in, most of them made of junk such as fast food, chips, and cake from the staff room.
For many of us, eating is not just a physical process designed for survival. It can also be a consciousness-altering and mood enhancing drug, ingested as a pain-reducer for whatever emotional ills ail a person. Even though I met my current girlfriend Karen last July, I may still have been trying to fill some sort of emotional void with food. We are about to complete our first year together, and I am so thankful for her acceptance of me in spite of my own battles with weight, my struggle to be physically and emotionally fit, and with some of the health issues I have experienced over the year.
With her in my life, my fitness goals have changed from being fit enough to attract a partner to remaining fit enough to keep a partner. This goal was shaped by my own personal experience with divorce, brought about in part my a loss of physical attraction due to weight gain.
Karen gave me a two-part gift as we approach birthday number 49. She gave me her old TV-DVD combination, and she ordered Tony Horton’s workout program called P90X (Performance in 90 days, Extreme version). His slogan: "Bring it!" That's what I intend to do over the summer months. I took the old cardio equipment out of the sunroom and carried the pieces into the basement. I kept the weights and lat-pull down machine in the sunroom so I can follow the DVDs in a pleasant atmosphere.
I have set my start date at June 1. Day 90, the date where results are promised if I stay with the program, will be September 1, just as it was last year when I followed the "Rock Hard Challenge." It seemed logical to complete the first few workout just to get base line, but when June 1 comes around, I will start over. It seems that with the new program I have entered a new mindset, becoming more disciplined about eating, portions, and keeping up a good calorie burn throughout the day.
I even dropped the five pounds I put on and got back to 174, a more
reasonable starting point. I’ll post commentaries on my progress here without really reviewing the program. You can find those on the web, and I may not be able to adhere to the exercises to the letter since it calls for a higher level of fitness than where I am now. I hope to build up to the level of fitness of those telling the success stories seen in the P90X infomercials.
Until next time,