Hoping for a Healthier Me

This post will be just a bit different from my norm.  The pitfall bloggers face is becoming whiny, and I’m going to try not to do that.  However, I do want to talk briefly about my attempts to improve my physical fitness.

It’s always hard to start; this applies to both a new workout plan, as well as a new blog post.  I opened my lap top, pulled up a new document, then sat there for about 5 minutes, staring at the screen, as the idle cursor blinked at me accusingly.  I knew what I wanted to do; I just didn’t know how to start.

This is me my sophomore year of college.

This is me my sophomore year of college.

A bit of a parallel, truth be told, for my recent endeavors in the area of physical fitness.  I know what I want, and even what I want to do.  I’ve just had trouble getting up the gumption to start.  The funny thing is, it hasn’t always been like this.  If you would run into me on the street, as I do my daily thing, you’d never guess that I ran cross-country and track all through high school and college.  I was never exceptional, but I wasn’t bad either.  I was captain of the boy’s cross-country and track teams three times in high school, and ran a solid 18:30 5k; I even broke 18 minutes once, and ran in the 17:50’s.  I could do 1600 meters (a mile) in 4:40.  College cross-country got off to a great start.  I ran the last race of my freshman year, a 5 mile distance, in 28:05.  You can do the math.

Things started to go downhill after that, fitness wise.  I didn’t run my sophomore year; I started to struggle with willing myself to get out the door and run the miles.  I’ve always enjoyed food; during college, it was easier to eat the junk then to force myself to eat healthy foods.  After I graduated and started working, it got even harder to want to make the time to go and do something as uncomfortable as exercising.  Currently, I’m married with an 9 month old son, and I work about 50-60 hours per week.  Physical activity and exercise do not play a large role in my daily or weekly routine.  I’m not massive, but I am obese for my height, and I’m out of shape.  Basically, I’m a “Big Guy.”

A (slightly less than flattering) more current picture.

A (slightly less than flattering) more current picture.

Being a Big Guy has made some things difficulty for me.  I get tired more easily, because I’m out of shape and I have more heft to lug around.  I’m not able to enjoy the physical activities that I take part in, like rock climbing, as much because I’m not physically up to the task sometimes.  I’m also a bit embarrassed by how I look; I really don’t enjoy taking my shirt off in public at this point, which makes swimming in the local river not quite as fun.  Most of the rest of my family is pretty fit, and I feel bad that I can’t keep up with them, and then I worry that I’m slowing them down.  Most of the time, when my brother and my dad invite me along on something, I tend to try to get out of it because I can’t keep up with them.

Basically, I’ve had to face the ugly truth that a) I need to do something about the physical predicament I find myself, and b) the choices I have made have landed me here.  I’m writing it so that my reader’s can keep me accountable, because I know that otherwise I will start with enthusiasm, and then taper off as the effort becomes harder, and I start to lose interest.

So, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the facts.

When I went into college in 2005, I was 19 years old.  I wore a medium t-shirt, and size 32-32 jeans.  I weighed in at 155 pounds, and stood 5’11”.  I could run a mile in under five minutes, and could run without stopping for at least an hour.  Today, I’m 26.  I wear a large t-shirt, and my jeans size is 36-32.  I weigh in at around 225 pounds, and I’m still 5’11”.  I can’t even begin to tell you how long I could run at a stretch, or what my mile time would be.

I know I’m not going to get back to the bean pole-like 19-year-old I was; in fact, my wife has told me that she doesn’t really want me to lose that much weight (I believe she used the word “scrawny” to describe how I looked back then).  I don’t think I could get back to that anyway.  I wasn’t finished growing back then; I’ve gained a lot of fat since then, but I’ve also gained some muscle and grown up a bit too.  I guess my thought is, though, that I’d like to get back under 200, and also get stronger.  I know I’m still going to be a “Big Guy.”  My feeling is, if I’m going to be big, I’d rather it to be muscle.

My dad used to say that “A wish without a plan is just a dream.”  His point was that unless you came up with a series of steps to get where you wanted to go, you never would.  So, I’ve decided to try to loose 45 pounds at one pound per week.  I recently got my first smart phone, and I’m using an app for my iPhone called Lose It!  I heard about this app from a WordPress blogger that I just started reading last night, Fat Guy to Tri Guy, for whom it had excellent and inspiring results (by the way, you should definitely check out his blog.  Very inspiring).

So far, the app is helping a lot.  I’m starting to choose food based on its health value.  I’m also drinking more water.  I’ve yet to start adding exercise to the mix, but that will come.  I do feel like I’m constantly hungry, and I have a feeling that if it all goes downhill, that will be the reason for it.  Still, I’m optimistic.

So, here we go!

The Big Guy can still climb, but I'm looking forward to how it will feel to climb when I've lost a bit of the Big.

The Big Guy can still climb, but I’m looking forward to how it will feel to climb when I’ve lost a bit of the Big.

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About Ethan Zook

I'm 27, and happily married to a pretty girl named Melissa with a little boy named Elijah. From the Shenandoah Valley, currently hanging out in Richmond, VA. I love exploring the wild places around the area. I write two blogs; Mountain Ramblings is about my personal explorations in the mountains and valleys that I live around. In Mountain Rescue Blog, I write about issues faced by rescuers in mountain environments both locally and around the world.
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One Response to Hoping for a Healthier Me

  1. John Burkhart says:

    Hey Eli, I enjoy your blog. It is well-rounded and straightforward. I hope that you can manage it to keep at it with your weight loss. You know as well as I do that it will definitely help you in your outdoor endeavors. If you have never weight trained, it might be time to start at it with that. I don’t think that exercise scientists have exactly figured it out, but I find that I am able to lose and maintain weight more effectively if I include resistance and weight training in my fitness regimen. But most of all, you have to look at your diet, particularly in the weight loss phase. Because you are eating less food, it needs to be very high quality so that it satisfies you. Additionally, I might look into a multivitamin, I especially prefer the “Alive” Brand of multivitamin since it is made out of plants and natural ingredients, and it’s still reasonably affordable.

    I live in Morgantown, WV so I go to the New and to Seneca to climb quite a bit. Hope you can find time with your growing family to get back out.

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