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One year later…

So I had my annual physical exam today, and I don’t think it could have gone better. The doctor seemed incredibly surprised at the progress I’ve made over the last 12 months. According to their scale, I’m down 73 pounds. He said, “Wow… I mean, that’s a small child. Actually, that’s a large child! So what are you doing?” I shrugged and said, “It’s just calories in, calories out.” To which he said, “It’s amazing how simple that is.” And we both agreed that while simple, it’s also not easy.

He then mentioned – and seemed a little concerned – that my blood pressure was on the low side this morning. Especially after I told him that I’d been to the gym and had two cups of coffee before getting to his office. Fortunately I’ve been able to stop in at the grocery store blood pressure kiosk a few times over the last couple of months so I could show him those numbers too, which were similarly low. So we’re going to try stopping the blood pressure medication (YAY!!!!) for a little while to see what happens. He said it’d take a couple of weeks to work out of my system, but I’ll start doing weekly checks again to make sure that’s on track.

And we went over the numbers from the blood lab work they did a couple of weeks ago. He’s super happy with my cholesterol levels. HDL is up by 17 points, which he said is usually indicative of lots of exercise. I told him that I’m working out six days a week and he said, “Well, that’ll do it. That explains why that number is so much better.” My cholesterol/HDL ration is also markedly improved.

He asked about my exercise routine. I explained that I do three days of running and three days of lifting each week. He was surprised – again, pleasantly so – to learn that my joints aren’t giving me any trouble (yet) with the running, as that’s common as we get into our 40s. Yeah, my knees are a little stiff from yesterday’s 10.59km run. But that’s to be expected as I push for longer distances. (Incidentally, I’ve also registered for the Cinco de Mayo 10k again. So I’ve got that to look forward to.)

There were only a couple of things “out of range” which he wasn’t too concerned about. My phosphorus was a touch low, but my previous test it was right in the middle of the acceptable range. He said many things could cause that to fluctuate and if they did another test today, it’d probably be back up in the normal range again and really isn’t anything to worry about.

My bilirubin was also a touch high, as it was on my previous test as well. In fact, I had the exact same level as last year. He explained that this is usually linked to something called Gilbert’s Syndrome, which is a hereditary condition in which the liver does not properly process bilirubin. It can cause people who have it to appear jaundiced, but otherwise it generally isn’t anything to worry about.

So, yeah. That was a pretty great morning. Doctor said I was making him look good. I’ll take that.

Oh! I’m also realizing I never updated here with the results of my Blacksmithing for Beginners class from a week ago! Well, I enjoyed it. Very much a lot. There were seven of us, eight including the instructor. Everyone was really cool. Very chill vibe. We got to make candle holders. Here’s mine:

I’d intended the top to be the bottom, but the balance is funky so it won’t stand that way. I kind of like how it looks like it shouldn’t be able to stand this way. It’s also got a sort of Lovecraft meets Tim Burton vibe, so that’s cool. 

I definitely want to take more classes there, but I’m going to have to save up the cash for it. This is not going to be an inexpensive hobby, methinks.

C25K Report: Week 3

  • W3D1 (Sun)
    • Looked at the breakdown for this week: 5:00 warmup walk, (1:30 run, 1:30 walk, 3:00 run, 3:00 walk) two times, 5:00 cooldown walk.
    • Wait… I already have to run 3 minutes solid?
    • Okay, I made it through the 3:00 runs.  It was tough, but I did it.
  • REST DAY (Mon)
    • P90 Sculpt 1-2
  • W3D2 (Tues)
    • It was COLD out this morning. (What? 52° F is cold to us desert dwellers.)  Opted for long pants and a short-sleeved shirt instead of my usual shorts and sleeveless shirt.  Also a beanie.
    • Almost wished I’d had long sleeves and light gloves.  Almost.  By the time I hit the cooldown walk, I was feeling pretty comfortable, so probably would have been a bit too warm had I worn more.
    • Unrelated: I finally fit back into the t-shirt I wore in the photo I use here.
  • REST DAY (Wed)
    • P90 Sculpt 1-2
      • Discovered my gut has shrunk enough that I can finally comfortably do a runner’s stretch.  Thinking I should maybe bust out the Sweat 1-2 session again and see if the Power Yoga bit is any less awkward for me.  (I’ve let C25K replace the P90 cardio days for now.)
    • Given yesterday’s t-shirt success, decided to try another one that I haven’t worn in ages.  Also fits.  I may have to go “shopping” in my “smaller shirts” bin this weekend.
  • W3D3 (Thurs)
    • Didn’t feel great, didn’t suck.
    • Not sure if I’m ready for Week 4, or if I need to repeat Week 3 days a couple more times.  We’ll see how I’m feeling next run day.
  • REST DAY (Fri)
    • No time for P90.  Steelband gig after work.

This week’s rediscovered running music is Romantika by the Apparat Organ Quartet.

Final Chantix thoughts, Housecleaning.

I really can’t express enough how glad I am to finally be finished with Chantix.  I was fortunate to not experience any negative side effects beyond a few really nasty dreams and three months without any truly restful sleep.  On a whim, I decided to check out my stress levels as recorded by my Garmin tracker and compare the two periods, and the difference is staggering.

This first image compares my stress levels on average Wednesdays.  On the left are my stress levels while I was on Chantix.  Levels on the right are about one week after finishing it.

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And here are similar stats but from two different Sundays, which are largely spent hanging out on the couch with the cats.  Again the left is while on Chantix, the right is about a week after finishing.

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So, yeah.  I’m not just imagining feeling better.  But it’s nice to have that visual proof as well.  And it certainly helps explain how “on edge” I felt for those three months.  While I’m sure some of that was simply from quitting smoking, I think the medication had a lot to do with it as well.

Also this past weekend I spent a lot of time cleaning up and rearranging my laundry room.  When I moved into the house almost two years ago, that was the “throw it in there and deal with it later” room.  I kept meaning to get around to reorganizing it but just kept… not.  To complicate matters when Wes was sick earlier this year, he apparently started peeing on the utility shelves in the corner.  Which I did not realize until it got warm and began to bake said pee into whatever was there.

I had taken a half day at work on Friday and wasn’t sure what to do with myself when the bug to do something about that room finally bit.  Mostly because it’s not air conditioned and those damn shelves were making the whole house smell like cat pee as the room heated up during the day.  So I cleared off and disinfected the shelves, then pulled back the rug so I could move the shelves out and clean behind them.  That was when I discovered that Wes had also peed on the rugs.  A lot.*  So those went out to the dumpster – because ew – and Project: Organize The Shelves suddenly became Project: Reorganize The Laundry Room And Mop All The Things, which took pretty much all afternoon and evening.

So here’s the fun part: before and after pictures!

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Most of the boxes on those bottom two shelves in the “after” photo are empty.  They’re just filling space to hopefully keep Wes from trying to pee there again.  Over the weekend, I also ended up taking 47 pounds of paper (those boxes on the left side of “before”) to be shredded.  The room already feels way better, and no longer reeks of cat pee.

I still have to organize the tool table, which is located behind the door and is not pictured. Most of that stuff will likely go into the white cabinets in the photos, which I also cleared out of a bunch of junk that was left by the previous homeowners. Also not pictured is the massive box of “donation” stuff which has been sitting in there since I unpacked after the move, waiting for me to re-pack it into smaller, more manageable boxes and get it out of the house.  And I’d like to move a bunch of drums and stuff from the music room onto those corner shelves.  But those are maybe projects for this weekend.

*None of your stuff got peed on, Daphna.  I checked.

Listicle

Haven’t had time to write properly so I’ve been keeping a short list of things over the last week. Here it is.

Sunday night/Monday morning – another bad Chantix dream.  At least this time I wasn’t the bad guy. I’m so ready to be done with this stuff. Just four weeks plus a couple of days left.

Monday – Started working with 15lb dumb bells.  Got about half way through P90 before having to switch back to the 10lbers.

Tuesday – I hate that I got to a place where this statement makes sense, but I didn’t get winded while tying my shoes.

Thursday – went out to a really good Mexican restaurant for dinner with the parental units. Even though I felt famished and still had over 1600 calories available to eat for the day, I only ate about 700 calories and left satiated instead of uncomfortably stuffed. Even with the chips & salsa.

Friday – VACATION!!!!

Just keep swimming…

Only got three out of an intended five days of exercise in last week. But this is a new week. And I’m on vacation. My plan was to park on the couch in front of Netflix all week, but I realized that I have no excuse for missing even one day – especially since I’m not traveling anywhere. So I just got day 1 done.

Then there’s the part where I scored a really sweet bed headboard off Craigslist last week, so I’m also going to try to get my bedroom painted this week before mounting that headboard to the wall.

So the plan this week is exercise before getting to do Netflix or bedroom improvements. And I REALLY want to get that headboard in place before I have to go back to work in a week.

Also, there are band rehearsals and gigs through next weekend starting Friday night. I’ll be playing with Things That Aren’t Words at Mercado San Augustin on Saturday night, 5-8pm. Come say hi. (Sunday’s gig is a private event, or I’d talk about that too.)

Progress Report

So it’s been about a month since my last post and I’ve been doing much better with my dietary choices. My efforts at re-establishing a regular running routine have fallen fairly flat, but I’ve been doing much better about at least getting out for a walk three or four nights per week. (Which also means finally starting to get caught up on my podcast listening again.) I very recently registered for the 2016 Gabe Zimmeran Triple Crown with the intention of forcing myself to really get back out there. This set of races will be a 5K in May, a very hilly 8-miler in September, and a half-marathon in October. Then – hopefully – my first (and likely only) marathon in December. But now I’m getting ahead of myself…

And there’s the Zombies, Run! virtual 5K/10K that I registered for a while back – mostly because it came with a really cool looking shirt. The window for that one is 3/30-4/11 so I have that coming up. I’m hoping to be able to work back up to running 5K without any walking breaks by then, but it’s coming up really quickly so that may not actually happen unless I decide to do it at the later end of the window. We’ll see.

While I don’t feel like I’m making any progress on my weight, the scale is trending back downward ever so slowly. And a co-worker asked me today if I’ve lost more weight, which was encouraging. She was shocked when I told her how much I’d gained back, and I thanked her for noticing that my renewed efforts were actually doing something.

I also did manage to drag my ass out of bed early enough for a run this morning. My lungs are still kind of pissed at me, but they’ll get over it as I get (and keep) a routine established.

So, it’s been a while…

Wow. I haven’t written here since the Cinco de Mayo 10k. It’s been a pretty crazy eight and a half months or so.

2015 was a rough year in general for my running “routine”… if you could even call it that. I really didn’t keep up with it at all, and I got lazy with my diet. As a result, I have gained back about two thirds of the weight that I lost in the previous year and a half.

Somewhere around August/September I finally accepted that I am incapable of being at so many rock shows and controlling my drinking/smoking habits (and then later junk food eating habits), so I made the difficult choice to stop playing with Wight Lhite. I thought quitting the band would make it easier to reign those other things in, but that didn’t happen.

October brought a pretty big promotion at work. While I’ve been enjoying the new responsibilities – and the pay raise – the new job is much more sedentary in nature than the old one. And then there’s the part where my new desk is right next to the office snacks. Yeah… that’s not helpful.

I got to go on my very first business trip in early November to the MacTech conference in Manhattan beach. It was enjoyable but exhausting. Also, I learned that it’s a really bad idea to spend a couple of days at Disneyland immediately before a conference. Then there was Thanksgiving, December full of work holiday lunches and office treats, then Christmas and the closing of the year.

Hit the ground running in January in every sense of the word except for actual running. On the work-front, we were rebuilding servers and a bunch of computer labs starting on my first day back. That first weekend also marked the first rehearsals for the Sierra Vista Symphony’s winter concert. Things were pretty stressful and I utterly failed at trying to quit smoking again. After nearly falling asleep while driving back home from one of those rehearsals, I stopped and picked up a pack of smokes because they were the only way I could stay awake.

At that January orchestra concert, I was dismayed to discover that the tux I had been so proud of purchasing a year and a half ago no longer fit as it should. Thankfully I’m cheap and purchased a used rental tux, so I was able to extend all the extendable parts but I was still straining to get everything fastened appropriately. I thought that would be enough of a trigger for me to straighten things out, but apparently not.

Monday morning as I was getting ready for work, I discovered that my one pair of “fat jeans” had suddenly just become… my jeans. None of my smaller jeans fit at all. This is not okay. I am not okay with having to buy larger clothes and refuse to do so if it can be helped. So I managed to get up early enough for a run yesterday (Tues) morning, and took a walk after dinner last night. After that I got sucked into a documentary on PBS and ended up staying up too late, so I slept through my first alarm today.  I am determined to get a walk in tonight, though.  And get to bed early enough to get up and run tomorrow.

I know how hard these bad habits were to break the first time around and am really upset that I let them get re-established. The tough thing is that they all seem to feed each other. I know changing a bunch of habits at once isn’t always a good idea, but I think that may be what I have to do this time.

I guess time will tell.

 

2014 Damascus Bakery Half Marathon

Survived my first half marathon this morning! Official results are not yet posted but the clock at the finish line said 2:28:something. Time according to Zombies, Run! was 2:25:05. Time my sister received live from the chip-timing company was 2:24:30, which I expect will end up being my official recorded time – or at least awfully close. So, yeah. Clearly under 2:30:00 when I was hoping for 2:40:00ish but expecting 2:50:00ish. A pretty admirable effort, if I may say so.

The first five miles were pretty uneventful. I’ve been struggling with a recurring lower-neck/shoulder stitch on the right side during my longer runs lately. That decided to rear its ugly head just after the 5-mile mark, where I took my first short walk break hoping to work the stitch out. They were handing out gel packets at the 6 mile aid station, so I grabbed a couple without really thinking about whether or not I’d use them – especially since I’ve never even tasted one before.

The stitch returned around 7.5 miles, so I took a slightly longer walk break and decided to try one of the gels despite the “rule” I keep seeing around the interwebs of “Nothing new on race day!” The taste and texture where pretty off-putting, but “eating(?)” it forced me to slow down a little longer, which I think was helpful.

I was fine again until the one major hill on the course around the 9.5 mile point. Then the stitch came back with a vengeance and never truly went away for the rest of the race. I recall hitting the 10 mile mark and thinking, “Okay, just another 5k left. You can run a 5k! You do it all the time! Hell, that’s shorter than your ‘short’ runs are now!” I don’t remember much between that and finishing. My speed chart in RunKeeper shows I had many more very short walking breaks in those last three miles, though.

I do remember grabbing a couple of energy chews from one of the later aid stations. They tasted better than the gels initially, but had an odd aftertaste I did not care for. I’ve read somewhere that many runners like gummy bears. Maybe I’ll start carrying a small bag of those with me on long runs in the future.

Anyway, yes. I finished, and with a much better time than I had anticipated. Yes, I’m sure the course being almost entirely downhill helped with that. Though the small hills in miles 9-10 felt pretty brutal.

My splits according to RunKeeper:
1 mi 10:59
2 mi 10:20
3 mi 10:25
4 mi 10:01
5 mi 9:46
6 mi 10:53
7 mi 11:33
8 mi 10:49
9 mi 10:42
10 mi 11:20
11 mi 12:19
12 mi 11:55
13 mi 11:51
14 mi 11:52

It’s hard to believe it was just a year ago today that I ran my first 5K race and I’ve more than quadrupled that distance since then.

Was home by 10:40AM, which gave me plenty of time to shower and laze about a bit before going out for a well earned – if rather unhealthy – lunch. (Not pictured – jalapeño poppers. Because they were already in my belly. Which also explains the cottage cheese instead of a(nother) side of something fried.)

Now I plan to take it pretty easy for a week or two before starting to work on increasing my 5K time as a nice break from the distance-training. I’d really like to pull off a sub-30:00 5K. A bit later, I’ll start working toward a full marathon. (Goal: complete one before I hit 40 years old. I have juuuuuuuust over two years.)

In other news, while visiting my parents over Thanksgiving I received the results of my latest cholesterol test from my doctor. (Erm… yeah… just ignore the previous photo. And the bit about jalapeño poppers. Thanks.) For the first time since June 2013, my cholesterol ratio is finally within normal limits! Unfortunately, my triglycerides were pretty high despite having been well within the normal range for my previous two tests. I suspect it has something to do with the number of unhealthy choices I’ve made at and after all these shows I’ve been playing with the rock band in the weeks leading up to getting blood drawn. Guess I’ll have to be more careful about that, then. That said, I have an extension on the doctor’s orders to keep up with the diet and exercise instead of starting a statin prescription. Will check in with him again in a few months.

As always, thanks for reading.