Setting the bar high by going low

I started the month with higher-then-expected weight loss, bringing me down to 162.5 pounds, my lowest weight of the year. This is good. Today I maintained that weight, also good.

But this now means I need to keep losing and hitting new lows for the year in order to progress for the month. In other words, starting the month off with some unplanned weight gain gives me wiggle room to still lose weight but not have to lose as much to show progress over the 30 or 31 days.

This is silly, of course. I’m mostly surprised to be down so much. It’s nice, though. I could conceivably break below 160 pounds in September and enter into the home stretch of my seemingly epic-length quest to get to 150 pounds (again).

Here’s to no donuts for the next 28 days.

Progress update on assorted things

Let’s have a look now that we are eight months into this year of 2019:

  • World peace: Could be better, could be worse. Trump is still president, so likely to get worse.
  • Measles: on the rise, thanks to anti-vax paranoids. Thank you, Luddites and irrational fearmongers!
  • Global warming: We are doomed, pretty much.
  • Politics: Authoritarianism and despots on the rise, democracy ailing, even in places where it should be strong. This could change–but it could also change for the worse. See the first bullet point.
  • BC politics: The minority NDP government has proven adept and sane, boding well for the next election, though the general insanity of voters is always a worrying factor. It’s helped that the BC Liberals elected an out-of-touch rich white guy as their leader.

And my own list:

  • Meditation: Thought about it, but have yet to meditate. Before I can even begin, Pocket has already offered an article on the sinister side of meditation, where you apparently think tranquil thoughts about murdering people or something.
  • Stretching: Not really. A little here and there, but no concerted effort. This needs to be a higher priority unless I actually reverse the aging process.
  • Writing: The less said, the better. Which is how I’ve approached writing this year.
  • Drawing: I think about doodling. Then I never do it. But the doodles in my mind are great.
  • Reading: My pace is picking up again. If I stay at it, I may end up matching last year, which will be good.
  • Blogging: Generally running to catch up, as is the case this month where I’m tapping last minute inspiration to get to 31 posts before midnight.
  • Running: Doing more, and the runs are going well. I have yet to tackle a 10K this year, but will try to before we get fully into the fall weather.
  • Losing weight: It’s actually going down now. Yay.
  • Losing hair: Yes. Shaved head mutes the impact.
  • Legs: Still sexy.

Weight loss report, August 2019: Down 2.1 pounds

Something strange happened in August.

As I continued to run and walk and curb my snacking, I also…began to lose weight! So maybe not so weird.

Some last minute indulgences (due to extenuating circumstances and not part of a new, disturbing “Must eat all the donuts!” meltdown) pushed my weight up a bit, but it was not enough to reverse the month-long trend downward.

This means I dipped as low as 163.1 pounds, tantalizingly close to finally slipping back under 160. I don’t know if I can do this in September, but it’s definitely in the realm of possibility. I had been avoiding wearing my size 30 shorts because they were a bit snug (I have another that are size 31) but now they actually fit fine, so my shorts selection has now expanded, just in time for fall. Yay! Hopefully fall will be nice.

Runs have generally gone well, with improved times as my stamina strengthens. Snacking has been under control, though could always be better. I think I’m going to return to the “No snacks after x time” thing and make the cut-off either 7 or 8 p.m. before eventually moving to “nothing after dinner unless it’s a special occasion.” And then be careful to not define special occasions as things like “any day ending in ‘day’.”

Weight for the month was down a solid 2.1 pounds, and body fat also dropped a full pound after barely bulging (!) last month. I’m down 3.6 pounds for the year, which shows just how much improvement August saw. I’ll take it.

The stats:

August 1: 166 pounds
August 31: 163.9 pounds (down 2.1 pounds)

Year to date: From 167.5 to 163.9 pounds (down 3.6 pounds)

And the body fat:

August 1: 18.6% (30.8 pounds of fat)
August 31:
18.2% (29.8 pounds of fat) (down 1.0 pound)

Sleep is weird

Think about it. Every night you lay down on a bed and through no other action render yourself unconscious. In this unconscious state your brain manufactures elaborate scenarios that are at turns amusing, baffling or terrifying. When you wake up you usually remember little to nothing of what these scenarios–dreams or nightmares–were.

And if you don’t make yourself fall unconscious every night your body will malfunction in ways that are subtle to start and end with you putting pants on your head and thinking that’s completely okay (not counting places where it is completely okay).

This pattern of falling unconscious/your mind inventing little dramas repeats for your entire life.

Sleep is weird.

Also, I probably don’t get enough sleep.

That stitch in my side when running…

I’ve always assumed that when I get a stitch in my side while running it’s because I’m going too fast–basically pushing my body too hard and the stitch is my body’s way of saying, “Whoa, slow down there, partner!” Because slowing down would always seem to make the stitch go away.

It turns out that apparently no one really knows what causes these stitches because they haven’t been studied much. The consensus seems to be they’re relatively innocuous, not a sign of impending doom, and that even pro athletes get them. I have to admit, on one of my last runs I got a stitch and didn’t feel like I was pushing hard at the time, so my own theory may be so much hooey.

I’ll probably still slow down when I get them, though, partly because it still feels logical (to my mind) and also because running hard with a stitch is, in fact, hard.

Weight loss report, July 2019: Down 0.6 pounds

Despite going up on the last day of the month (I hate when that happens), I managed to defy the odds and come out with my weight down for the month, marking the fifth month my weight has either declined or at least stayed the same (I was up in February and May).

And yet for the year to date, I am still down less than a pound, so what’s going on? How can I keep losing weight and not really lose weight?

I think there are a few factors at play:

  1. I am exercising more. Specifically, I am running more often, back to my normal three times per week, and regular exercise is a good way to help control weight–but not lose weight.
  2. I have cut down on snacking, but my total calorie intake has not shifted dramatically.

These two factors combined mean a couple of things will happen:

  1. I will lose weight, but slowly.
  2. The slowness is partly due to a change in body composition. As I run more, I burn fat and replace it with hunky, sexy muscle. But hunky, sexy muscle is denser than fat and weighs more.

My theory is that my body fat should be down over the year to date, even if it it is essentially unchanged this month. Let’s see if it is!

January 1, 2019 body fat: 32.2 pounds, 19.2%
July 31, 2019 body fat: 30.9 pounds, 18.6%

Although still not dramatic, there is more change here, as I’ve shed 1.3 pounds of fat, but only dropped 0.8 pounds in actual weight. So this is good news, albeit not exactly the blistering pace of weight loss/fast loss I was hoping for. But if I keep running regularly (we’re tentatively planning on getting a treadmill for the spare bedroom, so running will be easy ‘n convenient, even when the weather is bad or it’s dark out and you might run into a werewolf) and do a bit better on snacking (it’s getting there), I should see more rapid declines. I’m trending in the right direction, at least, so I’ll take it.

Also, I managed to lose weight during vacation, something that is the opposite for most people, so I offer some self-kudos for that. Woo, I say.

And the stats:

July 1: 166.9 pounds
July 31: 166.3 pounds (down 0.6 pounds)

Year to date: From 167.5 to 166.3 pounds (down 0.8 pounds)

And the body fat:

July 1: 18.4% (30.8 pounds of fat)
July 31:
18.6% (30.9 pounds of fat) (up 0.1 pounds)

Weight loss report, June 2019: No weight loss

The seemingly bad news of not losing any weight is a bit deceptive. While it’s true that my weight was exactly the same on both June 1 and June 30, suggesting no progress in weight loss, there was, in fact, progress!

First, the year to date figure has me down 0.6 pounds. A trivial amount, sure, but still in the right direction.

The telling stat, however, is body fat. Over the course of the month it went from 19.8% to 18.5%, a dip of 2.2 pounds. This is a very good sign, and it reflects how I began to curb my snacking and exercise more in the latter half of the month.

Just in the past week I did my first set of three weekly runs in a long time and, despite eyeing it covetously, I passed on a free Boston Cream donut.

So while more actual weight loss would have been nice, I’m pleased with how things went for the month. Here’s to continuing the trend in July, but with more actual weight loss mixed in.

The stats:

June 1: 166.9 pounds
June 30: 166.9 pounds (no change)

Year to date: From 167.5 to 166.9 pounds (down 0.6 pounds)

And the body fat:

June 1: 19.8% (33.1 pounds of fat)
June 30:
18.5% (30.9 pounds of fat) (down 2.2 pounds)

Weight loss report, May 2019: Up 0.9 pounds

Let’s start with the bad news: I was up 0.9 pounds for the month, due to an uptick in my weight over the last week. I was sick with The World’s Worst Cold to start the month, but took to the “feed a cold” school of self-medication, so didn’t shed the pounds as often happens when an illness strikes.

On the plus side, my trend for the month was generally downward. Snacking was down, activity was marginally up (I actually went for a run) and the plan for June is regular outdoor activity, weather-permitting (save for running, which I will do regardless of the weather, unless the weather includes forest fires, bears or hail).

I remained donut-free again.

I didn’t buy another one of those Starbucks cookies that apparently has 570 (!) calories. I have erased from my mind how yummy they are. Mostly.

Perhaps best of all, my body fat seems to be under control again, meaning my diet has probably improved, even if only by a smidgen.

I am going to predict actual weight loss again for June and not be discouraged, just like I’m going to wear sleeveless shirts and not get sunburnt.

We’ll see how skinny/tanned I am in a month.

The stats:

May 1: 167.8 pounds
May 31: 168.7 pounds (down 0.5 pounds)

Year to date: From 167.5 to 168.7 pounds (up 1.2 pounds)

And the body fat:

May 1: 19.7% (33.1 pounds of fat)
May 31:
19.7% (33 pounds of fat) (down 0.1 pounds)

This cough of mine

It’s been awhile since I’ve had any kind of lingering cold or cold-like illness. Usually they blast in, knock me down for a few days, then within the week I’m pretty much back to normal.

This time I am stuck halfway between still sick and normal, with a congested chest and nagging cough persisting two weeks later.

I do not like it. I’m trying to think of a way to say this is an observation and not a complaint, but really, it’s a complaint.

But only a mild one. I can smell and taste more than I could two days ago, so progress is being made. I do have one small wish to stay illness-free for the rest of the summer, at least. I’ll drink Vitamin C-fortified drinks and whatever else it takes. I’ll eat healthy snacks–before dinner, instead of after. Honest! Pretty honest, anyway.

Mostly I just want this cough to go away. It’s been a nice visit, but it’s time for you to continue your travels somewhere far away from me.

2019: The Year of the Body (Horror) (Mine)

I am fighting off the last of the dregs of this current nasty ol’ cold. Fewer people are telling me I sound terrible, the coughing is less frequent and the strength of the hacking diminishes each day.

The weekend is going to be nice and warm and I was looking forward to just taking it in and doing nothing special. You know, relaxing.

Last night while sitting at the computer (as I am now as I type this) I marveled over how the muscle I pulled (again) in my lower back was already back to not being sore. Hooray. A short time later I felt an odd sort of pain in my upper right leg. I wondered if it might be connected. Then I stopped wondering and started going through various levels of agony as pain collected in my right butt cheek the way lint collects in a pocket. Except with more agony.

The pain started shooting down my leg. Sitting started to hurt. I stood. Standing started to hurt. I walked and hobbled instead. When I coughed it hurt. It hurt no matter what. Something was very wrong. I groused vocally about it. By rights, I should have moved my Complaint Free World bracelet back and forth between my wrists half a dozen times.

I found a position in bed in which I could lay and not cause the leg to send shards of pain all over. I slept…surprisingly well.

When I woke up, I was back to hobbling, but more movement seemed to help and eventually the pain become more of a nagging nuisance and I quickly adapted to not doing the things that caused the pain. Pavlov would have been proud. And then given me a biscuit.

I went to the nearby medical clinic to see if this was a pinched nerve and the adorable young doctor–who seemed to think we had met before (we had not)–confirmed that seemed likely. He recommended I get some physio, give it about a week to feel better, and gave me no medication. He implied if it was not better I could come back in a week and he’d give me something. When I came home I took a couple Alleve. I’m not sure if they made a difference, but I’m happy to indulge the placebo effect.

And so even as I wrap up a week of nigh-endless coughing, sneezing and feeling yucko, I now have an additional pain which is a literal pain in the butt. Well, butt cheek. As it is, I can live with it, and it has confirmed that my resolution to stretch this year was the correct one. Being limber and flexible makes pulling muscles randomly less likely. And look, it’s already the fifth month of the year and the only stretching I’ve done is to grab some more Goldfish crackers.

I shall work to correct this, starting on the weekend (because I know me, and I never start anything on a Friday).

Here’s to a month–heck, even a week–of no new issues plaguing my apparently fragile, sensitive body.

But I feel fine

Today I returned to work, not 100%, but close enough—like in horse shoes and hand grenades—to count.

Without exception, every time I have opened my mouth, the response has been, “You sound awful.” Which, to be fair, is accurate. I go on to assure everyone that I feel better than I sound.

Actually, there was one exception to this. One person said I sounded “different.” She was being kind.

And I find if I talk for more than a few seconds, my voice starts to give out. It’s like my mouth and vocal cords get too tired to continue. This forces me to choose my words carefully. Or use nods and other facial gestures to convey looks that carry a thousand words, or at least enough to leave the other person satisfied or confused enough to give up and go away. Given how I feel, I’m okay right now with either result.

Thus begins the slow, steady end of whatever horrible bug I caught. I have coughed and sneezed enough in the last week to last the next 10 years. No, 20 years. No, forever. Really, it was kind of ridiculous.

Today I have a little more energy, am coughing less, but still have almost no sense of smell or taste, plus my ears are plugged. Still, going for minutes at a time without coughing so hard the muscles in my abdomen ache is the stuff of luxury. How I have missed having a normal-acting body the past seven days.

I’ll never take this normal-acting body for granted again, unless I go long enough before getting sick again to forget how miserable it’s been this time.

And to end on an even more positive note, it’s sunny and warm out and somewhere out there is a cookie with my name on it.

Feeling grossbuckets, May 2019 edition

Yesterday was characterized by the delightful experience of coughing so hard that several times I nearly induced my gag reflex.

Today I was hoping I had hit peak cough, and the road to recovery would open before me, especially since I was going to see Avengers: Endgame in the afternoon and one can only avoid spoilers for so long and still stay connected to the internet.

Alas, it was not to be.

Instead, I coughed even more, though mercifully with less force than yesterday, but it was enough to keep me home. Over the course of the day my sinuses also plugged up and yet I also developed a runny nose. I did not buy more NyQuil as I didn’t expect to need it and tonight I have none. I will suffer and build character instead.

Also, the previous paragraph somehow started and ended with the word “instead,” which is a little weird and unintentional.

I did feel strangely warm earlier, though I didn’t feel hot. Thanks to last year’s preparation, I now have a thermometer for just such occasions and took my temperature. It was perfectly normal, as expected. So that was good, I suppose.

I’ll be toodling off to bed soon and hoping that tomorrow will be the beginning of my swift recovery, but I have my doubts. I’m going to put the doubts in an airtight tub to keep them fresh. I’m not sure if that means they will thrive or die.

I guess I’ll know tomorrow. For now, attempts at sleep.