Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Three and a Half Months

I can hardly believe how much has happened in the last few months. I started training on April 12, 2007. I was 288 lbs and 41.5% body fat. I couldn’t walk up stairs without labored breathing. I never slept well. I ate poorly. I never had any energy to do the things I wanted to do. Most of the time, I didn’t even feel well enough to enjoy going out with my wife.

I am now slowly moving from 265 lbs to 260 lbs and my body fat is around 24%. Michele comments regularly on my disappearing belly. Muscles are appearing in strange places around my body. I’m more energetic and I’m eating much better. I drink between 2 and 5 liters of water a day. I work out 3-6 days a week, doing everything from personal training to capoeira. I may be in better shape than I have been at any time in the last 10 years. I still weigh more than I did 10 years ago but I can’t recall the last time I could run this far or this fast.

The first month of training was very hard. I started out with an hour twice a week. I had to stop between almost every set and pant until I could breath again. Usually, I had to stop mid-set to catch my breath. Once I hit that wall of cardio endurance, usually about 20 minutes in, I was wiped out for the rest of the hour.

Three to four weeks in, I started training for an hour, three times a week. I was fanatic about pushing myself. I was coming in to do cardio most days when I wasn’t training and even some days that I was. On off days, I sometimes did cardio twice a day. Being alive was great and feeling my body function and function reasonably well was a new and invigorating experience.

Towards the end of the second month, my left hand started feeling numb. Some exercises, like push-ups on the ground, actually hurt. Then, my hand started to get worse and my wrist and elbow started aching. I saw my doctor and he told me to do three things, get tests, see a neurosurgeon and stop lifting weights completely.

The next few weeks were miserable for me. I felt like a carpet had been pulled out from under me. Finally, I start doing something right and my doctor tells me to stop. I had many tests. I saw the neurosurgeon. They wanted to cut my elbow open.

I got a second opinion. I saw a physiatrist and his answers made a lot more sense than those I’d had so far. He could explain what was happening and could answer questions the other doctors didn’t even come close to. And above all, he prescribed physical therapy not surgery.

For the last month, I’ve been going to physical therapy a couple times a week. They’ve done ultrasound (for deep muscle heating), trigger point massage, hot packs, and talked to me about the root causes of my problem. I’ve been doing daily targeted stretches and more recently started a series of rotator cuff exercises. I’m slowly correcting my posture which we hope will stop the symptoms as I no longer need to compensate for weak muscles in my back. And above all, I can exercise again.

A month ago I started capoeira and also starting training again. My training sessions are targeted now to avoid making my arm worse and to help speed my recovery. I do a lot more legs. Capoeira is very intense for my legs as well. I’ve also started doing a lot of high intensity interval training in my cardio. The all out bursts, several times a work out cause a post work out increase in metabolism that really burns calories.

The point is, four months is enough to change your life. Are you in shape? Can you do the things you want to do without worrying about passing out along the way? Do you have the energy to love the people around you or even yourself? If you don’t, there aren’t any valid excuses. Get up. Do something about it right now. There is no better time to start.

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