Sunday, December 28, 2014

Operation Stay Well

I have a pinched nerve and can’t feel my left hand (and can’t touch-type for the first time in forever!); I’m switching from an anti-depressant with a nasty withdraw; I have sinusitis for the second time in this still young winter—because of a deviated left septum for which I’m going under the knife Tuesday morning.  And of the five people in my household, I’m the healthy one!

Yes, it’s that time of year, when illness runs rampant, and I’ll glad to be out of the contagion area as often as possible—yet another reason I love going to Five Seasons.  In years past, it always seemed like I was the first to go down with a holiday bug.  Not just once did I spend Christmas Eve on my snifflin’ own, while the rest the fam made merriment with our extended kin.  But not this year!  With all the body redeeming exercising and healthy eating, I have (touch wood) staved off illness, and it was me and my never-sick-but-now-sick dad who made the trek to Christmas Eve.  I seem to have developed a boost in my immunity which I need to continue (fingers crossed, popping mega-doses of Vitamin C) through my operation time, early Tuesday.

And when the doctor removes the packing from my nose, possibly as early as the next day, I’ll have to a hopefully brief interlude during while I’ll have to take it easy.  I can’t imagine a doctor who wouldn’t return a willing patient to light walking, and before I can run again I’ll walk and walk, all the while working with my Five Season’s team to address what is cause of my lingering pinched nerve.  Maybe just resting will resolve the issue.  Then, sometime is the new year, I will get clearance to do full exercise, and the new and improved 2015 Me—with a trimmed down exterior, more confidant handling, and a redesigned breathing system—will give it all I got, and I’ll be ready for all challenges.

I’ve just got to stay well…

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Liberating Week of Personal Progress, Part One

Woody Allen once quipped, “80 percent of success is showing up,” and throughout this year I’ve tried, I believe without fail, to take every opportunity this once in a lifetime experience has afforded me.  I’ve reiterated it often enough that it is one of my themes, but I cannot but be healthier—physically and mentally—the more time I spend at Five Seasons, and so I’ve committed without thinking—whether it be a 6:30am group with Laurie, a spur of the moment lunchtime walk with Joseph around both banks of the Ohio River, or in a second of the day workout, hitting the heavy bag in Stephanie’s kick boxing class—to drop everything that is inconsequential and give attention to what I had neglected for far too long, my health and fitness.  For I will likely never again have the flexibility of so much free time, without being in school or having to work, and if I—nay, when I—get it right, I will never again have to lose so much weight.

Agreeing to do everything that my team thinks will help me improve and knows that I can do has made me greatly more functional, leaner, and keener to try new things in order to get more experiences out of life.  So when Joseph asked me to speak at the Newport HeartChase committee meeting for their mission moment, I didn’t over think it, and I didn’t freak out realizing that I’m nervous enough walking around each day, let alone preparing to speak before a group of strangers.  Instead, I decided that since I was going to talk about a subject I know better than anything else—myself and my journey—I wouldn’t think about it at all, wouldn’t imagine all the ways I could stuttered and stammered my way to total embarrassment.  I told Joseph I’d love to.

Not being preoccupied on my little speech on Wednesday seemed to spur my active mind into attempting new things.  For the first time ever, I did my first load of laundry!  It’s probably ridiculous that a 27 year old man-child hadn’t ever washed his own clothes (especially when Mindy told me that her 10 year old son does his own laundry!), but the laundry room is the domain of my grandma, and she seems to like for me to be reliant on her as a way of feeling needed.  Well, Nana had been out of town visiting her sister, and at first it was alright because I had enough clean gym clothes.  Then Nana decided that she was going to stay a further four days, and I began to get nervous, trying to figure if I had sufficient outfits remaining in my dresser drawer, contemplating whether I could get by wearing once sweated-in clothes.  When Nana decided that she wasn’t coming home until after Christmas, the solution became starkly apparent: it was time to do it myself.

It doesn’t matter if it’s cooking a new recipe, building a desktop computer, or teaching oneself to launder one’s clothes, it takes so much longer to do things for the first time.  Mistakes are darn near guaranteed, techniques are yet to be developed.  I focused completely on not ruining the gym clothes I spent so much money amassing that I didn’t think about how much clothing constitutes one load of laundry.  I had figured out the right water temperature to not ruin my polyesters, but I smushed two weeks of dirty clothes into the washer.  At the end of the wash cycle the clothes were sopping wet (there were too many of them to spin the excess water out) and there was a soapy soup at the bottom of the tub.

Not knowing any better, that this was wrong, I flung the dripping articles into the dryer, and turned it on.  I walked away, coming back an hour later to a stopped machine.  Done, I thought, expecting to feel nice and warm freshly cleaned clothes, but reaching in and feeling the same sodden mess.  The newb figured out his mistake and halved the load, in the process at least doubling his time.  Yet at the end of a long afternoon, I returned upstairs with what had been a source of great angst, and instead of being tired I felt excited and liberated.  Liberated from having to rely on others for what I can do for myself.  And this feeling set off a chain of events that lead to a week of great progress…

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Five Seasons One Hundred

Reaching one hundred pounds of weight yesterday, and to record it on my trainer Laurie’s birthday, was such a special and wonderful feeling!  Laurie is so mature that she wished for me to set the big goal to coincide with her big day, something I wouldn’t want to have done, lest it overshadow my birthday.  But I’ve always admitted that my guide on the path to fitness is in all perceivable ways a better person that I, so I did my best to add to an amazing person’s day of celebration.

What a relief it was to stand on the scale and see the feedback of success; what palpable jubilation was returned when I sent the photo to Laurie!  Surely past the point of needing the validation of her abilities, she was just happy for me, happy that I had achieved what I had worked so hard for. 

I will analyze why I’m pleased about my weight loss in a post in the near future.  As I will myself to peck out a few lines with my pinch-nerved numbed left hand, battling a bit of the winter blues, I just want to ruminate on the genuine joy with which Laurie hailed me in person on her birthday.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

In Anticipation of a Milestone

It has been another great week on the diet and exercise front, and as I am on a good streak of really adhering to my meal plan, the weight is coming off at a steady clip.  Such a relief it is when you’ve tweaked upon the little change that pushes you off the proverbial plateau.  And whether you have done something intentional and are rightfully reaping the forward momentum, or it is your body deciding it’s ready to jettison weight, it’s wonderful when you feel yourself off that even ground and traveling downhill.

A large part of this latest momentum upswing might be a goal Laurie and I hit upon, a goal that I am within range of meeting and will, thusly, share with you.  For Laurie’s birthday, I want to be at or below 100 pounds for the year—278lbs by December 13!  I weighed in today at 280.4, and am ready to work out every day, twice a day through Friday to be able to text Laurie the goal accomplishing scale-shot on her big day. 

I felt a bit of trepidation in announcing a time sensitive goal for which I can empirically achieve or fail at, but I’m now at the place where I feel that putting goals out there sharpens my focus to eat as healthfully as I can, and fortifies my will to work out as hardily as possible.  Just one more good week separates me from success; if I continue in how I’m feeling tonight, I’ve got it! 

Monday, December 1, 2014


The holiday spirit of Thanksgiving helped to keep me warm as I waited for the start of my first Thanksgiving Day Race, sheltered from the wind by the Underground Railroad Freedom Center.  Surrounded by those responsible for bringing me this far—impossible far if I were to have contemplated it this time last year—I looked at the players, save a traveling Mindy, for whom I am deeply thankful for—Thomas Deere, COO of Five Seasons and a man of great encouragement to me; Joseph Pinnell, my friend and mentor; the lovely Laurie Lefton, for whom I’d leave my restful bed so work out with anytime; and Mark Rayburn, my brother in fitness.
Monsieurs Pinnell et Wright
Laurie and Rayburn quickly leapt ahead of us with the start of the race, establishing a fast pace that is a goal I hope to work towards.  Joseph—as always—had my back in racing by my side.  The first mile of the course was a straightaway, slightly uphill.  About half a mile in, the collective runners were past the din of the P.A. system yet not far enough to be huff-huffing out-of-breathe, and with a general, quiet focus, all one could hear was the amazing sound of 17,000 footfalls—an army of holidayers on a volunteered march.

I made it the whole stretch and some on the next turn without stopping, for which I was proud of.  Feeling fleet of foot and strong, I looked to my watch to see if I had set a new personal record and discovered that—forget any record—I hadn’t even set my watch.  Oh well!  The day was a celebration of the holiday and of how far I’ve come, and it was okay to dial back my efforts—okay even to walk.

It was something of a relief to be able to walk when I got tired of jogging, and then to just walk without worrying about making a record time.  I used the exercise to work on my marathon walking pace, and ended up dropping my average time from just under 14 minutes per mile at the Loveland Half Marathon to about twelve minutes and thirty seconds.  I think if I can get it to less than ten minutes per mile I just might have to try the full marathon at next year’s Flying Pig!

The course was wide and packed with families as we crossed from Downtown Cincinnati to Newport.  I had walked a shorter loop many times before with Joseph, but still thought that the bridge to Covington had brought us back to Cincinnati.  No worries, my year of conditioning left me with plenty in the tank!  And before I knew it we were back in the Nati and bearing down on the end.  Joseph suggested we run through the finish line, and I was game.  My mental enthusiasm wasn’t quite matched with my remaining physical endurance, but I do do do-da-do’ed the Rocky theme out loud and I made it on the run!

Such a wonderful event in the morning transferred into an awesome holiday spent with loved ones, and early the next day I found myself in a small exercise group with Laurie.  My appointment for the next hour fell through and I joined Laurie’s regular group training—the big leagues of Five Seasons workouts.  Though sore, I was able to do two straight hours of tough exercising after 6.2 miles the day before!  I am proud of that, and proud to say that I lost weight over the long feasting weekend!  It’s a great start to the month leading to Christmas/New Years—the final calendar test!  Let’s hope time slows down in this, my quickest year ever!