This week I’m taking Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off from work. The pandemic eliminates most vacation spots of interest to me, so it’s going to be a staycation. Sadly, I have missions to complete — I got my passport renewed today, am having my annual eye appointment, etc. — but for the most part am just relaxing. As someone who used to never use my vacation hours, I can assure you that this is important, even if I’m not going anywhere.
In case a three-day vacation seems strange, the idea is to avoid making life miserable for my coworkers — Thursdays and Fridays are almost always busy — and to save a few vacation days. I can carry over only one week into the next year, and I intend to do that every year for my annual February vacation. I’ll have a little over two days left, which I’ll burn up over the holiday season. It makes sense, and I’m not going to give up any of my time.
Even if you’ve been working throughout the pandemic, take your vacation. Maybe watch some of the movies and shows I’ve been reviewing.
This past year has been a great ride. A collection of small and not-so-small things inspired me to make some changes in my life. I don’t like discussing it, but many people have credited me with inspiring them to make changes, so here I go again.
On May 21, 2017, I weighed 303 pounds. I was pre-diabetic, had high blood pressure, a B12 deficiency, and developed osteoarthritis in my hip. All of that sucked, but it didn’t inspire me to make any changes. What ultimately put me over the top was the burden I had become on society, and more severely on my friends. My gluttony and sloth were affecting others, and that wasn’t fair.
So, on May 22, I stopped drinking anything but water (occasionally with a bit of lemon or lime juice for flavor, but usually by itself). On June 5, I dropped my daily carb count to 70-75 grams per day and eliminated all but trace amounts of sugar from my diet. Everything that I eat has one of three things on the label: “0 g sugar,” “<1 g sugar,” or “not a significant source of sugars.” If it says 1 g of sugar, I won’t eat it. I don’t eat even onions and peppers because they have a higher natural sugar content then other vegetable options (spinach is your friend). To get me started, my first meal was at Wildfire in Tysons Corner. I had filet mignon and broccoli with lemon juice. Nothing wrong with that. When I had carb cravings, which happened a lot, I’d cook up an entire pack of bacon and eat that as an in-between-meals snack, and I’d still lose weight!
Note: If you have certain medical conditions, my diet won’t work for you. Also, if you’re only 20 pounds overweight, things won’t move as quickly as someone needing to lose 100 pounds. Consult a doctor if you have a genuine medical condition, but if you don’t have any genuine medical conditions, don’t pretend you do. Creating excuses will doom you from the start. This took dedication and persistence.
On July 6, I went back to my martial arts dojo and started working towards my 2nd degree black belt. In late September, I added weightlifting to my regimen, which is the first time in my life that I’ve regularly lifted weights. As my endurance improved, I started running. I do interval training, alternating between a jog speed (4.5 mph) and run speed (6.5 mph), but my goal is to regularly run at 7.5 (i.e., the fabled “8-minute mile”). Because of the workouts, I’ve actually had to force myself to eat 135 g of carbs per day and drink sugar-free Power Zero to replace potassium and sodium, but I never once faltered and resumed sugar intake.
My Results So Far
Today, I turn 50, and here are the results. I’ve lost 75 pounds. All of my numbers are great, and I have no persistent joint pain. I feel better physically, emotionally, and even mentally (i.e., no more B-12 deficiency causing vertigo, etc.). Don’t get me wrong. I’m 50. That means that lifting weights for the first time in my life can cause intense soreness. Even the very familiar martial arts has resulted in a badly-pulled hamstring and other assorted aches and pains. But that’s all temporary. If I give myself a little rest, it goes away, and then it’s back to the grind.
My Goals Going Forward
Okay, not quite. Here are the real goals: The aforementioned 8-minute mile and 2nd-degree black belt, another 8 pounds lost, but more importantly, everyone realizing that they can do the same thing. If you want to lose weight, start dieting right now, and then when you’re ready, start working out (preferably weights first, then cardio, but do whatever you enjoy more so that you’ll stick with it). If 50 isn’t too late, 40 sure isn’t, and neither is 30. The longer you wait, the more permanent damage you’ll do to yourself that will never be undone (I’ll spare you the gory details).
Get on it! If you have any questions or need a sounding board, let me know.
A special thanks to Ben Barr, champion of the First Amendment, whose post about a year ago gave me some good ideas.