Day 1 – This Is Not What I Thought It Would Be!

When I left the house I was feeling very impressed with myself for tackling this challenge but a little intimidated because I know gyms are full of buffed-up droids in the international sweat cult who look at guys like me with pity. But not today. Seems it was some special day for seniors at the rec center so I was immediately relieved. Nothing but seniors in slow motion on bikes and mountain climbers.  Then as if I wondered into the Twilight Zone,  I walked into the men’s locker room. The very first image I saw will be with me all the way through therapy. It was a man around 75 years old completely naked and completely in need of this facility.  What have I done?  As I made my way into the locker room more and more of them, in every frightening form you can imagine, were everywhere. It was like a forest of large flesh candles that had been melting wax for a decades.  When you find yourself in a situation like this you never what you will do. Trying to hold it together I made my way to a locker looked straight to the locker wall until I was dressed out. I learned what taking a thought “captive” was when I imagined for a nanosecond what the ladies locker room must have looked like.

The track at the rec center is upstairs. I had previously made a playlist on my iPod that had three songs that lasted fifteen minutes. After stretching I made my way to the track and started a slow jog for the first time in years. The track had several people on it but one lane is restricted to for joggers only and I was the only jogger so I had an entire lane to myself. The first lap went well then the second. After about 3 minutes I learned my lungs were flammable. Only 12 more minutes to go, I thought to myself. About the time I had consumed all of the oxygen in the building (that’s how it felt) I went into the “walk” part of the fifteen minute “walk-run.” For the rest of the time I ran some and walked some. Then, thank God, it was over.

I walked until I was able to breath normally again then set into my push-ups. I did 15 modified push-ups before my arms turned totally to jelly. Then 21 sit-ups and finally, 25 deep knee bends. The only thing I can say is my head was pounding, my heart was thumping and my skin was very, very red.  This, I said to myself, is a really bad idea.  What is wrong with being fat, out of shape and disgusted with yourself?  Was it worth visiting the men’s locker room again?

The next stop was the circuit trainer area. I hopped on the butterfly machine because I want my pecs to look they did at 23. I know, they don’t make a butterfly machine that can do that kind of miracle but by this time the endorphins had me loopy and I was fantasizing. But it’s about attitude, right? Besides, the thought of the human man forest gave me the motivation I needed to keep going.

The final unanticipated event was the shower I took when I was done working out.  The shower stalls went along one wall all the way to to a door I thought was a closet door but actually opened up to the pool area.  Although the stalls were out of sight of the door, once you stepped out – if you were using the last one – you stepped out right in front of the door.  I, by luck, chose the end shower next to the door leading to the pool area where there was a geriatric water ballet class going on. Just about the time I stepped out of the shower stall one of the old guys opened the door  and there I was booty naked, soaking wet and looking at a group of well intentioned senior mermaids performing to the theme song of Phantom of the Opera.  The guy that opened the door must have been as shocked as I was.   I stood there in numbly for what seemed like a good ten minutes but was really a split second, or so I keep telling myself. Actually, they took it very well, a couple of sinister smiles and a chuckle.   And to think, I was all choked up about the buffed up crowd.  Joke is on me.

When I left I felt great.  I had done what I went there to do and survived despite my surprised exposure to a bunch of old naked men.  In reality,  I had met some pretty cool seniors that made me hope I was still working out when I reach 70.

My eating habits changed today, as well.  This was also my first day without whole grain foods. No bread, no pasta, no tortillas, no beer.   I don’t know if the pain in my muscles or the bread withdrawals is worse.  No one ever promised me it would be easy.  But, really?

End of Day 1.

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It’s On, Baby!

Ok, sorry about the picture but that is what this blog is about.

I was going through some old photos with my wife the other day and was amazed how much body weight I have put on over the years. When I was in the Army, 82nd Airborne, I weighed about 190 and had very little body fat. I was in the best physical shape of my life. When I got out, of course, I started to gain as I passed thirty. In my early thirties I began running again and loved it. In fact, I ran about 5 miles day and lost about 20 pounds – until I hurt my knee. Then, the weight I gained all came back as I was incapable of exercise for too long.

Now, I am getting ready to turn 53 this month. I am nearly 270 pounds and have been seeing a weight doctor for about three years. I have been taking the dreaded diet pills which seem to do little more than keep me from gaining more. I do not feel good and I do not like how I look. I want to get back in shape! I want my wind back (I love to sail and often get too tired too fast), I want to slim way down to 220 and I want to be able to keep my sons wondering if I can still kick their butts (22 and 17).

I am not ready to give up and I am not ready to go on some fad diet that takes my money and makes some skinny trainer rich. I want the truth about health, weight, diet and exercise. Along my journey I am keeping a journal and you are welcome to go along with me and watch my progress in this blog. I hope I am successful and I hope you get inspired.

After much research I have decided on a hybrid, poor man’s version of Vic Magary’s weight loss program. There are several reasons why I am going this route instead of Weight Watcher’s points or meals-by-mail. Here are my thoughts:

1) Magary’s program doesn’t require any special equipment or memberships if you don’t want to spend the money on them. It can all be done from home. Not me though. I am going to the rec center because I am not afraid of young, buff dudes and chicks. Besides, its real cheap there.

2) Magary’s program is based on the US Army’s exercise regimen and that is when I looked my best and felt my best. I did it then and I think I can do it again. For me, it was successful once so it must be good.

3) Magary echoes what I have always heard – whole grains are not as good for you as many people say. I will cut out most, if not all, whole grains if I can. I love bread and I love pasta but it has to go for a while as does beer and any alcohol made from grains, including Sake made from rice. Everything else you can eat as much as you want – within reason. And I mean within reason! My weight doctor once told me moderation is the key. If you eat a ton of ice cream you will weigh a ton. If you eat a ton of yogurt you will weigh a ton. I will be sensible and eat well but moderate without whole grains.

4) Magary suggested people go to the gym and look at people who have been doing cardio workouts for a long time. The thing that most of them have in common is they don’t look much different than they did a year ago. The Army program is a short (15-30 minutes) work out with more intense muscle workouts like push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, knee bends and if you want, weights (but not necessary). Also, short runs or sprints to get warmed up. The problem is I have the A type personality so I instinctively think if 15 minutes is good 30 is better. No fear of a stroke! I am going for it. I have a chosen a 15 minute walk-run to get warmed up. As the weeks pass this the time I spend on the track will increase.

So, tomorrow we ride! I will renew my membership at the Claremore Recreation Center in Claremore, Oklahoma, brave the tough stuff and write it up in my posts. I do not know how many times a week I will go but I have committed to at least four times a week. This is my plan of action for week 1 based on the Army’s suggestions at http://www.goarmy.com/downloads/physical-training-guide.html :

15 Minute Run-Walk to warm up
15 Modified Push-Ups (modified is on your knees instead of your toes)
21 Crossover Sit-Ups (right elbow to left knee is one count)
25 Deep Knee Bends
10 Reps on Butterfly Machine
10 Reps on Military Press
20 Reps on Lat Pull Down Machine

At most this will be around a 30 minute (maybe a minute or two more) workout. Wish me luck!

Rick