smackshack: a crude digital self-portrait (Default)
(Is that the most over-used dramatic phrase ever? Or is it, "I have a bad feeling about this?" Regardless: annoying and boring health- and mood-related navel-gazing follows. You've been warned.)

I've reached that point in life when going to the doctor no longer involves being told what a fine, strapping specimen of American manhood I am. (If I'm honest I reached that point some time ago, but I visited the doctor less frequently then.) After the latest round of probing and poking, The Physician told me to lose 20 lbs. My blood pressure, blood sugar, and bad cholesterol are on the high side, he says, and my good cholesterol is on the low side.  Moreover, grappling with my goolies involves navigating a hairy belly that fills Shelob with envy. (The Physician's motives may not be entirely altruistic.)

The Physician said to lose 20 lbs., but that's clearly a minimal target. To achieve a truly non-spherical silhouette I need to lose something in the range of 50–70 lbs., I estimate. So my short-term goal is to see if regular exercise and the elimination of some bad eating habits will take care of the 20, and my long-term goal is to see if by making further lifestyle adjustments I can actually get in shape—a different shape, anyway—and maintain it.

Frankly, this business terrifies me. I'm excited by the opportunity to improve myself, but I hate hate hate hate hate the idea of monitoring all my food intake and weighing myself regularly and doing all the other things associated with being on a diet. And I like exercise, but when I was younger I was very active, running and swimming and lifting weights and doing karate, so I have a tendency to overdo it. If I'm being trained by someone, I want to tell them what they're doing wrong, and if I'm on my own I just keep working out until I break myself and give up in disgust.

My worst enemy is not my sweet tooth or my love of sloth, but my ego.

So to tame that ego I'm going to use a couple of tools.
  • Mindbloom: an nifty (and free) online tool that turns goal tracking into a social video game
  • CrossFit: an exercise regiment that won't leave me on my own (like at a gym) but which also doesn't incur the expense or the one-to-one relationship dynamics of a personal trainer. Plus, it looks really cool, and I hope it won't get boring.
  • I've heard good things about the nutritional tools on this web site. If I get into serious calorie counting, I'll come here for help.
  • Buddhism: Sort of. I'm going to try to treat the diet & exercise program like an extended session of meditation. I expect to be distracted and to screw up, but that's OK. In meditation, whenever you notice your mind wandering, you just take note of the fact and go back to the breathing and counting. It's not a big deal, and you don't beat yourself up over it because that's just how the brain is.
So this whole process is going to be a massive exercise in figuring out how to tolerate myself and change myself at the same time; to keep careful track while letting the details go (to a certain extent).

Suddenly I'm terrified again.


smackshack: a crude digital self-portrait (Default)

June 2012



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