Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Six month update: 25 pounds gone, 15 to go

It was six months ago that I finally knuckled under and started getting in shape. It was early July, and I'd accepted a friend's invitation to climb Mt Whitney at the end of September. At the time, I carried 220 pounds on my 6'2" frame and had just purchased a handful of shorts with 38" waists.

I'd taught backpacking and mountaineering and rock climbing in college, but that was fifteen years ago, and I'd done little outdoor back country adventuring since. Heck, I hadn't done a whole lot of regular exercise since before my first kid was born five years ago. Even so, there was no way I was going to be the last one of our group of six to the top of Mt Whitney, and that meant I had to get in shape. Fast.

I knew I had to start cardio work to get the stamina up, and I had to shed pounds so there'd be less of me to have to move up the mountain.

So I laced up my shoes and began to run. To be honest, it was more walking than running at first, but I stuck with it. Slowly but surely, I was able to jog/walk for 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then an hour, and then I could run the whole time. Before I knew it, I was running in the hills around our house and feeling pretty good about my cardiovascular condition (I still found the running monotonous, but I knew I had to stick with it).

And to shed the pounds, I started watching what I ate: more specifically, watching how much I ate. I cut back on portion sizes, I stopped having my nightly beer (or two), and I stopped drinking soda that didn't have alcohol in it (I loves me my diet-coke-and-Meyers Rum!).

By the time I made it back from the summit of Mt Whitney, I'd dropped twenty pounds and my pants with a 36-inch waist were feeling a little loose. I was walking a little taller and starting to feel better about myself. This exercise thing was really working.

It was now October, and I knew I didn't want to slip back to old slothful ways, so I chose an April triathlon as the next "summit." And I set a goal of maintaining a weight of 180 pounds by my birthday in June.

So I've stuck with my running and portion control, and by the end of the year, I'd dropped down to 195 pounds and had to buy new pants with 34-inch waists. I'm even enjoying my regular runs, and I feel like I've got a good base fitness upon which to start doing the multi-sport training next week.

And I can feel the shift in posture, in stance, in mind-set.

When I look in the mirror, I can see the difference in my body composition: the fat is melting away and the muscle definition is starting to pop in my mid-section. And that's a great motivator: watching your body turn into something you're, dare I say, proud of instead of something you'd rather clothe quickly and loosely. It makes it a heck of a lot easier to pass up the sweets and goodies that litter the office. And it's a good motivator to get me out of bed before the sun comes up so I can hit the road.

While I say I've got another fifteen pounds to go, I'm already hitting 193 on the scale some mornings, and given the workouts ahead of me, I've no doubt I'm going to get to 180 comfortably by June.

Oh, I got my activity center membership on Sunday so I've finally got access to a pool and a weight room. Now, it's time, at last, to get wet!

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