tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

29Dec/160

Vacations and Loose Skin

Vacation wise, this has probably been one of my healthiest yet. My wife’s side of the family is very health conscious, so the food is healthy and in reasonable proportions, and everyone works out pretty much daily. There is also an adorable little niece who we hand off chasing duties to, meaning someone in the house is always responsible for following her around as she runs around and making sure she doesn’t bang her head on anything. It’s a running joke by now that she’s helping me get my daily steps in. Just now this blog was interrupted by following her around for 10 minutes, running after her, and occasionally sitting down to read half of a book.

Maybe it’s the mirrors here, or maybe it’s a weight loss, but I’m noticing some loose skin. The skin around my belly button is starting to sag a bit on each side. Just a bit. But I had my wife look at it, and she agrees it looks like loose skin.

I was hoping to avoid this. I was hoping I wasn’t too far gone, but the stretch marks that I’ve had for years likely speak against that. But it’s funny in that it’s both a positive and a negative. It’s something to celebrate and something to worry about. It means I’m making serious progress. But it’s also an unpleasant side effect of this whole process. It means I may need to have surgery, or do some special exercises to work on this. It means that I was working towards a place where I’d feel comfortable being shirtless in a pool, and now realizing I’m liking actually moving AWAY from that.

But it does mean progress. It does mean health. It does mean I’m moving in the right direction. It’s a funny little victory there.

25Nov/160

Hidden Progress

There are certain habits you develop when you’re bigger that you don’t even realize. Little things, little adjustments that those damned lucky people who never feel like that don’t do. Most of my pants have this hidden stretchy waist elastic. Comfort waist, they call it. I barely ever buy pants that don’t have that. I used to roll up the sleeves on all my dress shirts. I could never buy shirts that fit properly, the sleeves were always too long (since I had to buy XL shirts which are designed for taller guys), so I rolled them up.

The one that I’ve kept for a long time was unbuttoning my top button. Even with a tie tied I would always do this. It’s a look, I’d tell people if anyone asks, but realistically it was because buttoning it was uncomfortable. 

A couple days ago, I noticed my collar felt loose, and when I reached up to tighten my tie slightly, I noticed the shirt was buttoned. Not unbuttoned. I just hadn’t realized. It was comfortable. Loose, even. The shirt I’m wearing today I wore a few weeks ago and felt it a bit snug. Now it’s loose. The collar on this one actually is by most definitions too loose. The standard for a men’s collar is that you should be able to fit a finger or two between the collar and the neck comfortably. I can fit my whole hand pretty easily. 

I’m also wearing an old belt, one I’d bought a year or two ago when my old belt wore out, being optimistic and buying something smaller because I was sure this latest fitness trend I was vaguely following was going to work (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I wore it a month or two ago, but it felt tight at the second loop. Now I’m on the third loop and feel comfortable.

It’s funny because I was convinced I was stalled, stuck. My weight hasn’t been moving much. I’ve never set too much stock by the people who will dutifully remind me oh but muscle weighs more than fat, don’t worry. But I’m starting to wonder. I think I look different in the mirror. Damn you past Tom for not taking comparison pictures. Fuck that your bathroom is messy, take them anyway. I will tonight. I can’t really see much of a difference in the mirror, but I feel it. I stand taller. My chest feels..slimmer, but bigger, somehow. I feel like I take up less space. In a good way. I feel like I move easier. I do, really. And my arms and legs are in a near constant state of very slight ache. Not huge. Not crazy. Just sometimes when I reach a certain way, or bend a certain way, I feel that twinge that reminds me I spent 40 minutes this morning trying to improve myself.

I still worry about the weight loss. 215 is still well above the healthy range for my height, and I’m nowhere near the level where I have the bulk to balance that out. But I seem to be going back down again, and I seem to be doing so despite not eating perfectly lately. It’s slow. Very slow. But maybe that’s okay.

I’m getting stronger with the rings. I lift myself up more easily. I still can’t pull myself up fully, but I feel the progress. I guess the point of this is to remind you that progress comes in ways you don’t expect sometimes. In little weird spots that you might not notice immediately. But it’s important to be watchful, and to celebrate those victories, and to trust they will keep coming, more often than you think. 

There are certain habits you develop when you’re bigger that you don’t even realize. Little things, little adjustments that those damned lucky people who never feel like that don’t do. Most of my pants have this hidden stretchy waist elastic. Comfort waist, they call it. I barely ever buy pants that don’t have that. I used to roll up the sleeves on all my dress shirts. I could never buy shirts that fit properly, the sleeves were always too long (since I had to buy XL shirts which are designed for taller guys), so I rolled them up.

 

The one that I’ve kept for a long time was unbuttoning my top button. Even with a tie tied I would always do this. It’s a look, I’d tell people if anyone asks, but realistically it was because buttoning it was uncomfortable.

 

A couple days ago, I noticed my collar felt loose, and when I reached up to tighten my tie slightly, I noticed the shirt was buttoned. Not unbuttoned. I just hadn’t realized. It was comfortable. Loose, even. The shirt I’m wearing today I wore a few weeks ago and felt it a bit snug. Now it’s loose. The collar on this one actually is by most definitions too loose. The standard for a men’s collar is that you should be able to fit a finger or two between the collar and the neck comfortably. I can fit my whole hand pretty easily.

 

I’m also wearing an old belt, one I’d bought a year or two ago when my old belt wore out, being optimistic and buying something smaller because I was sure this latest fitness trend I was vaguely following was going to work (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I wore it a month or two ago, but it felt tight at the second loop. Now I’m on the third loop and feel comfortable.

 

It’s funny because I was convinced I was stalled, stuck. My weight hasn’t been moving much. I’ve never set too much stock by the people who will dutifully remind me oh but muscle weighs more than fat, don’t worry. But I’m starting to wonder. I think I look different in the mirror. Damn you past Tom for not taking comparison pictures. Fuck that your bathroom is messy, take them anyway. I will tonight. I can’t really see much of a difference in the mirror, but I feel it. I stand taller. My chest feels..slimmer, but bigger, somehow. I feel like I take up less space. In a good way. I feel like I move easier. I do, really. And my arms and legs are in a near constant state of very slight ache. Not huge. Not crazy. Just sometimes when I reach a certain way, or bend a certain way, I feel that twinge that reminds me I spent 40 minutes this morning trying to improve myself.

 

I still worry about the weight loss. 215 is still well above the healthy range for my height, and I’m nowhere near the level where I have the bulk to balance that out. But I seem to be going back down again, and I seem to be doing so despite not eating perfectly lately. It’s slow. Very slow. But maybe that’s okay.

 

I’m getting stronger with the rings. I lift myself up more easily. I still can’t pull myself up fully, but I feel the progress. I guess the point of this is to remind you that progress comes in ways you don’t expect sometimes. In little weird spots that you might not notice immediately. But it’s important to be watchful, and to celebrate those victories, and to trust they will keep coming, more often than you think.

18Nov/161

Getting Unstuck

It’s funny the way we think about things. I was ready to come here and post about how I’ve been stuck in terms of weight loss, losing and gaining the same 5ish pounds for the last 3 months. And in some ways that’s not untrue. 3 months ago as I was at 221. I’ve gotten down to a low of 214, and as of today am back up to 215. My weight will usually drop over the course of the week, and jump back up over the weekend. 

But I came here to say that I had first hit 215 several months ago when, looking at my tracking, it was less than that. A couple weeks. October 18th, to be precise. About 4 weeks ago. Not that bad. And if I look at the graph, and drew a line to get the average trend like they taught us in grade school, the line goes down. Absolutely downward. But it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I’ve been stuck. It feels like I’ve moved backwards lately, falling into old bad habits of mindless eating and cravings for chocolate and fried goodness. There’s been stress, and that’s part of it, I’m sure. 

I feel better equipped this time though. Portion control. Exercise. I have tools. I have a community. I have some ideas as to how to push myself a bit further, and most of them aren’t undoable. They involve some unpleasantness. Resisting some cravings. Staying involved with the community. 

I remember someone telling me a long time ago that, on average, once you’ve done something consistently for 6 months, you’re generally set on it. You need 6 months for a habit to form, to create something you’re doing constantly. For reference, I started actually working out on July 18th, 2016 and, with the exception of taking some time off for Legion, have worked out 5 days a week, M-F, since then. In order to work out for 6 months consistently I need to keep doing it until mid-January, 2016. I feel like if I can do that, I will get there. It may take me a while, I may not have the crazy huge results everyone else has in 6 months or 3 months or whatever, but that will help me keep the tools. Keep the faith.

18Jun/160

My Experience with NerdFitness Academy

Oh God the tags on this one are gonna attract SO MANY SPAMBOTS.

Last week I took the plunge and signed up for NerdFitness’s Academy, their paid course on weight loss and fitness. It was a one time fee of $99 USD, and I purchased their yoga course as well ($37 I think, half off when purchased with NF Academy). The Academy is essentially a large interactive book, coupled with a goal tracking quest system and tied to a large community, both on Facebook and in their forums.

So far, I’ve made a lot of progress and enjoyed the fuck out of it.

The course starts you off with mindset work, as the idea is less to have you lose weight fast, the idea is to change your relationship with weight and fitness, framed in nerdy and RPG elements. It definitely speaks to me very well, and it’s been successful. They hand you “quests” to complete, which include goal setting, logging your food, taking your measurements and taking before pictures, and as you complete them you get XP and level up.

You also choose a class, which generally symbolizes the kind of things you want to do. Druids, for example, do lots of meditation and yoga. Monks do lots of martial arts, warriors do strength training, etc. In his book, the founder of NerdFitness, Steve Kamb, even suggests creating your own class, though the website doesn’t support this currently. The class mostly comes into play in their forums, where you can join a guild for these classes and do challenges. A lot of people guild hop, however.

The goal setting section is a big part of it, and that’s been helpful. I set a few big goals, including a “Big Why.” Mine was, in short, that I need to give my wife a good, long life, and there’s a lot of things I’d like to do that I can’t currently, stuff like play golf with my in-laws, fit into suits that aren’t custom made, and keep myself well read, both on current events and in terms of fiction and non-fiction. NF focuses on physical fitness, but also has elements of just generally levelling up yourself and improving yourself overall.

So far I’ve been logging my foods and generally making better choices. I’m doing less emotional eating, less moments of “I’ve had a bad day so I’m getting M&Ms,” and it was that loss of control that really got me. Doing something that was legitimately bad for me, that I knew was, both from a financial and physical perspective, because I craved that momentary high of chocolate, of sugar, etc. I’m not saying I’m never eating M&Ms or junk food ever again, but trying to make better choices about when I do. I’d do things like graze on candy if we got some in the office, or if there were appetizers out I’d pretty much graze constantly. Last night we had chips out, and I ate some, yes, but not nearly as many as I wanted to, not nearly what I thought made sense. 

And this is my problem really. It’s not about never having those things, it’s about those emotional moments where I go to eat something and regret it afterwards, because I overeat, my stomach hurts, cause it is never as satisfying as I think it will be. 

So I’m hoping this will stick, and we’ll certainly see. I’m trying to take the victories where I can get them, make better, small choices, as opposed to big ones where I feel like I’m cheating myself or depriving myself. I do feel like my mindset has shifted a bit though. I know this will be hard, but thinking about “this is what’s healthy for me, and this is what I need to do” has been helping.

And there does seem to be a good community out there to support me! NF’s one is top notch, and there are daily Facebook posts of people sharing their victories (and defeats, occasionally) and I’m excited to dive into their forum, the guilds, and challenges therein. The ever-inspiring Jenn has also offered to help me dive into the Instagram fitness community, which looks like a good one as well. Debating if I want to set up a separate fitness Instagram account, as I’ve seen a few others do. Leaning towards it.

It feels good, and it feels like progress, which I haven’t felt in a long time. I haven’t taken any measurements or weighed myself yet, but this is more about lifelong change that will get me there, not about a quick fix. My mind feels better, and I’m excited about the future, and eager to accomplish the things I want to do. I have an idea for a walking challenge that has me really excited, specifically trying to walk the distance from Hobbiton to Mordor. Not barefoot, though.

I’ll do my best to update when I can, folks!

4Feb/140

Focus and Discipline

The running theme of my life could largely be described as one of desires. That’s a bit broad, and maybe unfair, but, the opening line is supposed to be a little overdramatic, I’ve always thought.

Throughout my life I’ve always had trouble resisting things. When I’m in the kitchen, and I know there are cookies or cake, it will feel like something is PULLING me to them. The same will be true, often, of purchases. If I’m in the mall, and I know there’s a fancy new Apple device, or some new gadget that will definitely help me accomplish all my life goals, or a lululemon thing I’ve had my eye on that I’m sure I’ll fit into in a few weeks when I lose weight, it feels like an honest to God PULL. Walking by, walking away is painful. Denying myself feels so WRONG. But we’ll get back to denial later.

I do feel that a lot of my life has been shaped by these impulses. I suppose that’s probably not as novel as I might think, but it feels so to me. People will give me tips on how to lose weight, or save money (and really the basic problems for me are one and the same) and I always kind of end up saying “I know, I know.” Because I do. I know I could reduce my weight by simply counting calories and making healthier choices. I know what the healthy choices are. I just choose not to make them. But it feels like less of a choice. It feels like there’s a pull, a kind of powerful force drawing me to them. Denying myself the fast food, or the cookie or what have you feels so very wrong.

I’ve been practicing that denial lately, both in finances and in food. I have been trying to eat less in general, not just make different choices, and it does feel very difficult. It’s wrong in a whole other way, to me. It feels like denial. Like I’m starving myself or doing something unnatural. Yes, unnatural is really the word. Making the healthy choice of x food instead of y food isn’t really an issue. It’s driving by the fast food place when I’ve had a rough day. It’s sitting there, having finished dinner at 8pm and saying “I am finished eating for the night.” It makes me irritable. 

Yet, I know it’s something I have to work on, saying no to myself, not being bound by those choices. Sitting with that denial and being okay with it. Making frugal choices instead of easy ones. I’ve just been really struck by how hard that denial can be. But also how getting past it doesn’t seem to have any long term negative implications. I don’t explode if I don’t eat after dinner. I can surprisingly make a lot with the food I have around the house. I’ve even been trying to be more disciplined about my internet browsing, not just mindlessly clicking through reddit links. I’ve even been trying to get to bed earlier and, when in bed, get all my devices off by 10:30, not just when I’m feeling tired (which is often not until midnight or 1am).

I feel good about it, about these choices, about this discipline. Let’s hope it pays off.

25Oct/121

Wine and Love: 13

5641043482 6f577b210d mTwo weeks in a row! Blogging win! Today I'm doing Wine and Love again, hosted by Suki! Here we talk about the things making us reach for the wine glass (or alcoholic beverage of choice) and the things we love this week! It's hard to keep track, I know, but do try to keep up!

Wine

  • I left my iPad on the train sometime on Monday. I've been worried sick about someone getting into my data, harassing friends or doing God knows what with it. So far I believe we're safe; it looks like whoever got it either turned it into the lost and found or has wiped it. Using the iCloud stuff I can tell it hasn't been online (at least without being wiped) at least since Monday night, which means either it's been turned off since then (which is the lost and found's standard procedure) or wiped. I've set it to wipe the next time it comes online for data integrity. All signs seem to be pointing to it being in the lost and found, but since all that stuff has to be processed I won't know for a few days.
  • Honestly that's been the big one, and some of the fallout and worries from that. Besides that, work's been busy, but I could practically leave that on here permanently!
  • I haven't been sleeping well lately. Part of it is just bad habits, part of it is the myriad things I'd rather be doing than sleeping, part of it is iPad and work things on my mind a lot. I've been trying to get to bed earlier, but it's not easy when there's so much I want to do.

Love

  • Mists of Pandaria continues to delight and entertain, which is great. I said this last week, but I cannot overemphasize how glad I am to have this awesome outlet and the wonderful people that come along with it. We ran dungeons last night and, even though they didn't go super well, I had a blast. If you've ever thought you might enjoy WoW, do give it a try, and let me know so I can bring you into my awesome group of people there.
  • My friends have been amazing. GFM especially has been a big help and is great at keeping me grounded and keeping things in perspective. Thanks, GFM.
  • I bought a ticket to VidCon! Still figuring out the flight and everything, but it'll be awesome to meet and hang out with people I've blogged around with and whatnot for so long.
  • I'm generally eating healthier and feeling better these days. I've had one person ask if I lost weight; I haven't checked in a while, so I'm not sure, but that was nice. I feel like I see a little bit in my face, but that could be imagination.
  • Therapy has been going well. I feel like I'm making real progress, which largely means breaking down a lot of the things I had thought I knew about myself. It's fascinating, and a tad bit scary, but good.
  • I've moved some money around and cleared up some financial stuff, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. I'm getting close to being ready to tackle the move. Not quite there, but close.

What are you loving this week? And what's making you whine?

21Jun/120

Wine and Love: 9

So today I'm doing Wine and Love again, hosted by Suki! Here we talk about the things making us reach for the wine glass (or alcoholic beverage of choice) and the things we love this week!

Wine

    • I feel like whenever I get ahead in one aspect of my life, others fall to the wayside. I'm exercising and eating better, but now I don't seem to have time to read blogs or watch videos, or blog myself!
    • While I'm excited about moving out in a few weeks, I am a little nervous. Lots of stuff to deal with. I've lived on my own before, but never while working full time. I know it will be good for me to learn, but I'm still worried I'll leave the stove on or the door unlocked or wake up and realize I have no clean clothes or something of the sort.
    • It's hot! Although not terrible, still a little unpleasant. Though I am grateful most places I'm in have AC.

Love

 

  • I have been running pretty regularly most weekday mornings. Not far, and not long, and with lots of stops for walking, but still. I've coupled this with calorie counting. It's amazing, when I realize how much latitude I gave myself and just how much I was eating. I do miss that, being able to eat whatever I want, but it wasn't healthy. I'm down around 4 pounds already since last week, which is excellent.
  • I'm excited about moving to the city for a little while. I'm still a little iffy about the idea of living there permanently, but this will be a good test of that. I'm looking forward to cooking for myself more and having more control over that.
  • Podcasts. I've been listening to some at work while doing some data entry work and, not only has it improved my productivity, but the time seems to just fly by, and I feel like I'm getting something done both work and personal-wise. Lately it's been Comedy Bang Bang and the Nerdist, but I'm open to other recommendations.

What are you loving, and not loving this week?

23Feb/123

6 Month Project: Getting Fit and the Search for the Grail

I have to say, I was more than a little intimidated as I walked into the CrossFit gym.

I've never been much of a gym guy. At all. I've never been particularly fit in my life (except for a short period in 2nd year) and I've never fit in with that whole gym crowd. I can't discuss the game last night, or that crazy Ref/Ump (though lately I may be able to talk about the basketball game, thanks to GFM). I'm not particularly competitive, nor do I have any interest in being the fittest person around. A disclaimer; I'm not saying that all gym-goers are like this, only that many guy gym-goers, in my experience, have this kind of attitude. Plus, public showers? Ew.

So when I walked into the CrossFit and no one really greeted me, there was no one at the front desk, no one to hold my hand and encourage me along and say "Welcome!" I was a bit unsettled. I'm also used to yoga studios, where there are usually friendly and attractive people to guide you every step of the way, and encourage you to take it easy.

CrossFit is not that.

I eventually found the guy I'd spoken to before, let's call him Jim. Jim walked me through where to go and what to do step by step, but only so far as the next step, and occasionally interrupting mid sentence to say hi to people around him, chat to those folks, and to introduce me to them. I found it a bit unsettling, this all being very new to me, but I rolled with it.

He took me through a "warmup" which ended up being the hardest workout I had done in years, and the second hardest workout I would do that day, of two short sessions on the rowing machine. By the end my abs, arms and legs ached, and that had only been 5 minutes or so.

Then it was on to what they call their Baseline, or a set of timed exercises meant to see where you are in overall fitness, including rowing, pushups, squats, crunches and pull-ups. I managed to do fairly well, landing actually in the middle of the pack in terms of Baseline, taking about 9 minutes, when the average runs between 5-15 minutes, though a couple of the exercises were more forgiving versions (jumping pull-ups and knee pushups). Afterwards I rested for a bit, before going to their small change room, and realizing that my legs were seizing up and I couldn't walk.

Well, to be clear, I'd end up sitting down, or standing up, and realize that bending my legs caused me to curse wildly. I started to worry about driving home. Getting my socks on. And the fact that I was half naked in a change room (a single one), with my one friend who I knew there well out of yelling distance, and my phone locked away in my car. I started worrying about if I could actually do this CrossFit, how the Hell I was going to get fit in an efficient way otherwise, how my parents would react when I needed a drive home and for them to pick up my car and a bunch of other things.

But after a minute or two, I started tentatively moving my legs a bit, and finding only a dull soreness. I carefully got my socks on, collected my things, and got out of the room. Met up with my friend, and signed up as a member. It'd be scary, yeah. But sometimes with scary things you just keep going. You take a minute, sit down, give yourself a minute to feel it, to worry. Let the fear run it's course. Then move on.

So I intend to be going back 3 days a week. They have some daily workouts which vary up, and scheduled times for instructors to run small groups through them, but ideally, eventually, you should be able to do them on your own, at whatever time you like. My idea is not to do this forever. While it's challenging, and interesting, it's not what I'd call fun. While there seems to be a good community, I'm not sure I fit in with that crowd. I've still yet to find the physical activity that I would actually choose over lying on my couch watching TV or gaming, but I'm trying to be open. No, CrossFit is a means to an end; I intend to use it to build up a baseline level of fitness in myself; get my weight down, build up some strength and agility, maybe, so that in 6 months I can settle things down a bit; do more walking, cook better for myself, and maybe play a bit of Wii Boxing to work up a sweat. I have no interest in being in peak physical condition; good will be just fine in that front. I may end up, as my one friend said, getting hooked on the adrenaline rush of working out, and start to enjoy this kind of activity, but I have my doubts.

Would I recommend this so far? Yes, absolutely. It's an amazing, full body workout that I'm still feeling two days later, and it is fun enough that I can see myself doing this for the next 6 months. But it's still not, to me, the Holy Grail of physical activity. Still searching for that