I Suck at Health

So far this year has been about writing. I’ve worked to improve my quality, quantity, and visible output. This blog has been huge help. Making the commitment to put my writing out in the world was both scary and liberating. I’ve also learned about myself. I’ve had to come up with new work habits and strategies. It’s also been an education in goal setting.

The one thing that I wasn’t expecting was the weight gain. In May 2013 I reached my lowest weight as an adult, 155 lbs. For reference, I’m 5’9″ and that was a good weight for me. I also didn’t stay there long. Today I weighed in at 192.

How I got here

In January of 2013 I cracked my heel bone. It was a stress fracture from running on concrete. This is also when I learned about heel-striking. It was broken bad enough to need a cast and handfuls of Vicodin. The cast was on for four weeks, and I couldn’t walk on it. It was truly a pain-in-the-ass. If I went somewhere I was on crutches until I could get into the electric cart at the market. Around the house I mostly just sat.

The strange part was that even with my foot in a cast, I was able to lose about 15 lbs. I used the stationary bike in the exercise room. I also paid very close attention to what I ate. When the cast came off, I started riding my bike to work. And I continued to lose weight with the regular exercise. Then summer rolled around.

Outdoor exercise during the day in a Phoenix summer can be done. But it’s miserable and carries a non-trivial chance of death. When I stopped riding to work, I didn’t replace that exercise. I also got lazy about my food. So now, the slow and steady weight gain of the past year and a half has caught up with me.

My weight started trending upwards when I stopped weighing myself regularly. I also found out that daily use of a scale is hazardous to my mental health. Doubly so for digital scales that report back to an app. The tenth of a pound fluctuations get to be discouraging. Once I stopped it was easy to let the other bad habits creep back in.

Snacking is my other bad habit. And it’s grown out of control. Like buy chips at Costco so the bag will last bad.

Simply put, I’ve gotten heavier that I ever have been. Along with the weight I’ve developed debilitating acid reflux that wrecks my sleep. I’m miserable for a good portion of my day. At my last check-up in December, my blood work came back okay. My cholesterol was high, but not enough for medicine. I don’t think I’ve done permanent damage yet.

So now it’s up to me to fix this.

So I need to exercise more, track my progress, and stop snacking. It sounds so easy. I could add “eat better” to the list, but I need to ease into this. I’ll work on eating-in-general once I have the snacking under control.

So this is my plan:

  1. Get on the scale every Monday. Then post the results here. It’s worked for my writing. Hopefully some public accountability will work for this too.
  2. Check my blood pressure and pulse every Monday. I’ll be posting that too.
  3. Stop snacking. If it’s not a meal at a table, I’m not going to eat. I might wind up with more smaller meals per day. I’m okay with that.
  4. Exercise. I’m going to keep this simple since the hot weather is already here. I’m going to walk on the treadmill. Yes it’s boring. I’ll use this as podcast-listening time.

I’ve made a goal tracking spreadsheet, and shared it via iCloud. I’ll be doing Monday updates with a post here.

The tools I’ll be using are:

  • The spreadsheet. The apps are okay, but I want a permenant report that’s not dependant on cloud services.
  • Jawbone UP24. I’ve had this since it came out. I also stopped using it when my exercise stopped. Time to change that.
  • A standalone blood pressure monitor I got from Walgreens.
  • A Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale. This does fat mass and BMI in addition to weight.

The goals:

  • Lose 35-40 pounds. I’m not setting a time limit on this.
  • Walk enough to average 6000+ steps per day. This is low, but I want a starting goal that’s achievable.

Wish me luck!