Friday, August 12, 2011

The Why

Life can be daunting. We all have our challenges: mental, physical, spatial, and temporal. If I try to look at my life from the outside, I get the wrong impression of myself. First impressions are always physical: I guess I'm an okay-looking guy, I'm slender, generally fit. Then there's the social, perhaps. I come off nearly always chipper; laid back. Reasonably intelligent, sometimes stubbornly logical. I have a good job, and I'm often overworked. I manage high-cost environmental projects. And I'd guess, given the things I do, my free time seems ample; a vacuum just waiting to be filled. Perhaps some of this is true, but this is not the point of this blog. I can't believe I'm blogging, like someone might read it or it might make a difference.

But the thing is this: I am fit. I do eat...reasonably well. I exercise. These are the things we all hear: fitness is eating right, often with specific diets in mind; fitness is regimented exercise; fitness is achievable if it you follow the right prescription plan. I don't buy into this in its entirety, though, and that's what I want to share. (Surely you know by now the pills and thigh-masters don't work.)

I've always been active, and I'd never claim otherwise. History can come later, if anyone cares. I've been through transformations, and they've been gradual. I'd call none of them substantial. No, I've never been overweight, and I've accomplished some significant physical feats. At the same time, I've never won races or been recognized as anything other than a guy that's somewhat fit. That's my goal: I want to be healthy. And being healthy can seem like such a difficult thing, and here's what I'm getting to: it isn't. Sure, it takes some effort. But maybe now is a time to share some of my negatives. The anti-healthy: all those things fit people just don't do.

1. I don't diet. I think diets are asinine, to be honest. (I realize any form of eating is diet, but I'm talking about regimented diets.) I grew up on fast food. In high school, the people at Wendy's knew my order: double cheeseburger, large fries, soda. I've never cut carbs. I've never weighed portions. I've never gone heavy on the proteins or cut out my sugars. I drink alcohol nightly, and not always the "healthy" one or two glasses of wine. I'll down a bottle on my own, then fish the last beer out of the fridge. I don't drink heavily nightly, and I wouldn't say I get drunk a lot. Alcoholic? Debatable. (My uncle once told me I'm just a drunk; alcoholics go to meetings.) But again, that's a topic that can take more depth than I need here. And drinking isn't my only vice, but that's all I'm sharing for now. My point: I eat, essentially, what I want. I just finished a giant taco salad (with plenty of beef), a 22-ounce bottle of Port Brewing Company's Mongo IPA (8.5% alcohol), and poured myself a glass of Racer 5, another potent IPA. Get the idea?

2. I don't have a workout plan. I work out. How? It depends. Sure, I run. Usually 3 or 4 times a week, but sometimes maybe once. And I've done it long enough I can sometimes run pretty fast. You can too, with time. (Especially in your 30s.)  I swim. I got more serious about it a couple of years ago, just for some variety. I bike. When I'm real good, I do yoga. Very Men's Health, right? But I skip workouts. I'm bored with running right now. I haven't been biking much. I force myself to swim once a week, and I often struggle with that. I sometimes lift weights, and I know that I should, but I haven't in more than 4 months. But exercise isn't just running, biking, swimming, lifting.... Exercise is walking. It's taking the stairs. It's gardening. It's playing with you kids, or your wife, or your friends. or whoever. It's not sitting on your ass. The point is the first sentence of this point. HA!

3. I'm something of an insomniac. Others have it worse, surely, but I rarely get a good night's sleep. This may seem counter-intuitive, given some of the above, but it doesn't change the fact.

I have plenty of negatives on this theme, but I'm getting too wordy, especially for a first post when I'll likely never post again. But if I do, the reason I'm sitting and writing this right now is because I look around at people struggling to be happy with themselves: they want to lose weight, they want to be healthier, they want what we all want: insert positive thing here. And like everyone, including me, they have excuses. And unfortunately, many never try, or if they do, they give up. Shoot, if I weren't me and didn't work the way I do, I'd be scared to start from scratch based on the general prescriptions for success: stop eating everything you like, run 5 miles 5 times per week, lift weights, make friends at the gym, count your calories, avoid saturated fats, avoid not only sugar but all carbs, and maybe even pay someone to help guide you along.... Hell, I give up already. But that's not what it takes, in my experience--it takes sensibility. That's what I want to share.

Again, I'm a fit guy. Standing 6'2", I'm weighing in just under 170 pounds right now, which makes me sound like a cracked out weenie. (I've lost about 15 pounds in the last 3 months, and I didn't really meant to; I got busy, I've missed some lunches, and I've not been doing squats.) I've run a marathon, and I'm not sure I'd do it again (more on that later?). I've biked a century, and it's definitely no easier than marathon, and I'm not sure I'd do it again, either. I've completed a triathlon. Again, though, see the above: I don't watch much of what I eat (although I think there are some dietary keys). I drink more alcohol than any doctor would say one should. And there are the other vices, and maybe I'll gain enough comfort to share on those later, but not now. Suffice it to say, you're no worse off than me. Which means you can do anything I do. You probably have a head start without even realizing it.

And that's the why of this blog. I want to share my daily activities, if I can force myself to be so regimented, which isn't likely. I want to tell of the crap I eat, my struggles to get my feet to move or jump in a pool, the mundane things I do (and enjoy) that burn calories without thought, and the simple things I do that, oddly, just keep me healthy. I want to demonstrate that healthy is not difficult. It may require some change. I constantly adapt. But it's possible. It's even reasonably easy. And it doesn't have to happen overnight. In fact, I guarantee it won't.

I don't want to make a bunch of dietary recommendations. I'm not real into restriction, unless it makes absolute sense (e.g., don't eat hydrogenated oils, which isn't always avoidable). I'm not recommending any specific workouts, or intensities, or anything else. I just hope maybe one person will realize all these things aren't necessary, that health can be sensible, and that anyone can achieve the relatively simple goals of weight loss and general fitness. Maybe that sounds like crap coming from what you've read. But if you think so, check back. See what I do. Do it all, do bits, get ideas, or don't. I've learned quite a bit, and have WAY more to learn. But I truly think people can make substantial changes in their lives way easier than they think, and I'm hoping maybe a personal example can help to motivate someone. If life goes on as it is. If so...I'd be amazed someone cared enough to read, let alone listen.

So that's it. That's my intention. I want you to realize you can be healthy without being a health nut. Be fit without being a marathon-running gym rat. I want you to realize you can be just who you are, and maybe make a few little tweaks you'll barely even notice, and those tweaks can help push you more toward the person you may want to be. I just want to live a long time for my family. Your motivation may be different, and that's to be expected. We're all different.

I could go on and on right now, but I'm cutting out. A bit buzzed, a sleeping pill to help me rest (futile), and a stomach otherwise full of tacos. I'd munch down a half-pint of ice cream, which is pretty much my nightly norm, but the sleep is too difficult these days so I'm abstaining. Maybe tomorrow I'll share what I do. Maybe the simplicity of it all will raise questions for you. Maybe you think I'm full of shit. Read on if I write more, feel free to ask questions, and berate me if you think what I say is crap. I'll surely learn some things.

I've never blogged before. And now this. Goodness.