A quick brag….

This one’s been a long time coming. For the last ten days, I’ve been at or below 380 (today: 377) — my lowest weight since 2007, which was about the time I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and almost the weight I carried when I left the Fruit company. That puts me at 35 pounds down from my high in 2013. What’s 35 pounds look like?

That’s eight 2 liter bottles of soda. As I’ve noted, a 2 liter bottle of soda weighs about 4.4 pounds, so that means I’m no longer carrying eight of these bastards around everywhere I go.

This also means I’ve lost 20 pounds  in the year I’ve been with Cisco, and that’s not coincidental. The work has been crazy, but in a fun way, and the stress is manageable and the work is interesting — and being able to work from home most of the time means I’m now better able to control all my meals and I’m not wandering around buildings full of tempting snacks (unless I choose to bring them in the house). That’s definitely made a difference.

But there are two bigger aspects to this change. One is that around Christmas, things kinda fell apart. The combination of the holidays, which are a bear for someone trying to manage carbs and diabetes, and some entrenched stress points that went insane around the holidays meant I went mostly off my diet, and my blood sugar spiked, enough so that I got yelled at by my doctor. Between some changes I made to distance myself from the stress and some suggestions by my doctor’s dietician, I made some changes to the diet and portion sizes, and the weight loss spiked. Even better, it happened almost without some of the side effects I’ve run into like random cases of the munchies or carb cravings.

So I’m down 12 pounds since Jan 1 despite gaining two pounds in January and it looks like I’m on a fairly sustainable 5 pound a month pace. That makes my day.

What else makes my day? The other day I grabbed my glass of ice in one hand and my Sodastream bottle (Diet Dr. Pete, no sugar) in the other and walked into my office to get to work — and my pants fell off and tried to trip me.

I have hit that point where I have to start replacing clothes because they are too big for me. That hasn’t happened in a long time, and that’s a nice feeling to have.

One other factor ties into this. When I had my emergency room adventure back in September my doctor had me do the stress tests that showed my heart is fine, and I got yelled at repeatedly for how poor my conditioning is and that I needed to step up my exercise and activity. And so I tried — knowing I could push the heart without it pushing back made it easier, but the reality is, I just don’t like sitting on a motionless bike going nowhere, and it’s hard to stay motivated on that.

But I like gardening. And I had various projects around the house that I’d put on hold because, basically, sitting was easier. So while I’ve been doing some structured exercise, what I’ve been trying to do is put the time into digging into these projects, and in fact, the garage is almost done. To give you an idea of how significant a job that was — in the garage is Laurie’s comic collection in storage, which include about 40 long-boxes of comic and a bunch of short-boxes as well. And they all needed to be moved from where they were to a new location as I worked to open up areas so I could install new shelves. So I’ve been slogging big heavy boxes around a couple of times a week since about November, and here we are in April and I’m down to sorting through and organizing the last eight or nine boxes of crap into useful (and labeled) containers so I can find stuff. I’ve also significantly de-cluttered and donated off a lot of stuff that we no longer need, and this week the nice truck is coming for the third round of donations in the last few months — and that means the dining area can be used for dining and not for storage of stuff going ot donation “soon”, and the library area that’s been the repository for boxes that have no home now has only a couple of boxes left, and can actually become the library again (and the home for that stationary bike again)

And the project once I finish the garage is to take the bikes that I just hung off a wall I built last week and make them functional again, because now, finally, they’re actually accessible so we can take them outside and, like, use them.

The physical stuff has been an interesting transition. I was so literally out of shape that basic activity would tire me out, and leave me sort and hurting. I’m talking about things like cutting down and filling the recycling bin with cardboard. When I started in November, I could go into the garage and move boxes for 15-20 minutes and then have to stop, and various joints in my body would rebel and I’d live under ice bags for 2-3 days before I felt like moving again.

Last weekend, when I started this last push to finish the stupid garage product, I waded in and started moving stuff around, and suddenly realized I’d been at it for over two hours — and I was tired, but nothing hurt. And the next day, I went out and put another hour in.

When you start making lifestyle changes this radical, there are many times when you feel like you simply can’t do it — and honestly, I think until I ended up in the emergency room I’d probably mentally checked out and decided I couldn’t succeed at the changes. That wakeup call was a nice motivator, but not one I suggest you try.

I have always said the one thing I don’t want to become is that old fat guy on the scooter — but I’d mentally convinced myself it was inevitable and stopped trying to avoid it. That trip to the emergency room and the stress tests on the heart were enough to convince me I had to give it another try, and that there was a chance to make it happen.

And there have been times since then where I wasn’t sure I could do it, but the by realizing that “exercise” didn’t necessarily mean the kind of boring crap that I simply can’t get motivated to do but could be anything that got me moving and sweating, I was able to push myself down a path of activity that motivated me — and it worked.

And maybe that’s the takeaway for others in this piece: It doesn’t matter what makes you breathe hard and sweat, just go find something that makes you breathe hard and sweat. In my case, it turned out to be a big home project that involved a lot of moving stuff around and swearing at crap, and next up is refurbishing the yards, which are in desperate need of some TLC, and fortunately, I love gardening — I just stopped thinking I could do it.

400 was my first goal. 380 was my second, and this is the goal where I’ve really started seeing and feeling (in a good way) the changes that come from shedding the weight. it’s a long, slow process — just like putting all of this weight on way, but now I can sense the changes happening, and that’s the kind of thing that makes it easy to take those next steps.

And now for the next goal: 350. And with the weather improving and the garage no longer a wasteland of lost intention, it’s time to start hiking and birding again and ramp up the exercise that way.  And that’s something that’ll be done a pound at a time, a step at a time — and a lot of sweaty shirts tossed into the washer.

See you on the other side — by then, definitely in new clothes.