It has been several months since I’ve blogged. In that time, the podcast has gone on hiatus which may end up being permanent. I have lost an interest in endurance racing generally, at least the obsession I had a few years ago.
But all is not lost, not at all. I’ve struggled, but I’m still in it. I just don’t write when I feel like I have nothing to say. Anyone who knows me would say I always have something to say, but I am trying to only say something if it is new, or could be useful.
In these last months, I lost my mind with food and regained weight. I was back up to almost 280 pounds. As of now, I am back down to the 265 mark that was a major milestone for me some time ago. I’m still unsure whether I will ever beat this thing. Whether the right word is addiction, compulsion, weakness, it doesn’t matter. The results are the same.
I know people will counsel me that we are not defined by our weaknesses, or our imperfections. And we as people are not our appearance. I know all that. But let’s be real. If we’re being super optimistic, and define ourselves by our good qualities, I’m not encouraged by the possibility of lasting change. I’m not saying I have no good qualities. But at the age of 44, I’ve come to realize that strength, determination, sticking to things, dealing with hardship, discipline, resilience: none of these are terms people would use to describe me. These are the traits that are needed for a person to actually change something, not just fake it enough to look good for a while.
But I’m not totally out of hope. Maybe faking it until I make it is actually the path. So today while I nearly quit during my crossfit session four times because of my frustration over my absurdly low abilities, I did finish the session. I got more miles on the road this week than I have in months. I am in a place that feels good.
My family is awesome and has way more faith in me than I have ever had in myself. For Fathers Day, they got me a Garmin Vivosmart HR. That’s like a fitbit with a heart rate monitor. It’s the HRM that I am most interested in, because I already have a GPS watch for running/walking/cycling. In the last couple years when I have tried to wear a heart rate strap, it has been unsuccessful. Yes, I really am that obese. A heart rate strap can’t pick up a beat. How’s that for encouraging? But the optical version on the wrist seems to be doing great.
Maybe it’s the new-gadget effect, but I have been more active this week. I’ve made all the (admittedly artificial) goals for climbing per day, steps per day, and most notably: intensity minutes. But that’s where things are getting scary.
Intensity minutes are defined as times when my heart rate is elevated. When working out, it is supposed to be elevated. Endurance athletes especially will talk about training zones, which are good indicators of intensity based on your heart rate. A zone two run is at a pace that is obviously well above your resting heart rate, but not racing so hard you can’t sustain it for an hour. Watching how my heart rate goes during crossfit is very interesting. Getting into periods of high intensity where my HR maxes out over 180 (very briefly) is provoking a different kind of physical change and response than a long run at 130. (I only saw that 180+ figure once. Usually a Metcon gets me into the 150s, 160s)
OK so what’s the problem? Well, as of Friday afternoon, I have made my goal at a factor of four. The default goal is 150 minutes of intensity for the week. I am currently at 665. That’s actually not good. That’s not good at all. Here’s why: I did crossfit three times this week. Each was about an hour session. I did an hour run, a 35 minute run, and some not-even-brisk walking. Let’s say 5 hours of actual exercise. That’s 300 minutes. So why do I have 665 minutes of “intensity?” Let’s even grant that for each of those sessions, my HR would stay elevated for up to a 1/4 hour after. So add 90 minutes of cool-down while my HR normalizes. I’m still left with well over four hours worth of time when my HR is elevated enough to be considered intense.
Aside from those intentional exercise sessions, I am not doing things that are physically straining. So someone please correct my thinking if I am off here, but this means I am really unhealthy. I mean, anyone would know that just by looking at me. But this is bad. If just walking around and maybe climbing 12 short stairs is so hard that my pulse goes over 100, I’m in a bad way here.People get concerned when they see a fat man doing exercise and sweating. But more concerning should be the all-too-common fat man who can’t walk around without his body being taxed. That’s a much bigger indicator that I am destined to drop over of a heart attack before I turn 50.
This all means that right now, I’m scared. I’m allegedly doing something about it with the exercise, and with the weight loss. But what if it’s too little too late? Heck my average “resting” rate is 66, which is hardly the resting rate of a fit and healthy person. Right now, thinking and typing have it up to 82.
I don’t want my family to regret this thoughtful gift, but the information is dire. Maybe ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power. Though did I really need HR data to confirm what I already know? That my “efforts” have been minimal and that at the end of the day, I am still in grave danger? I don’t care if it’s weights, running, triathlon, whatever – I have to condition this body to be stronger. I have to break the sugar addiction that has been my slow, socially-acceptable suicide.
Historically I’ve always been a quitter. Part of me is sure that this is just more evidence that I’m never going to be healthy. I’m trying to shut that voice down. But it’s hard not to listen to that voice when I’m at the age where most people are fully formed adults, yet I’m still wondering if I will ever develop basic life skills.If it hasn’t happened by now, is it reasonable to think it is?