Watched.

Since the end of January I’ve been participating in the Weight Watchers program. At least that’s what it was called when we started the program; apparently it’s called something different now. The WW stands for whatever you want it to stand for. I think they were going for “Wonder Woman” but then realized those words were copyrighted and would probably alienate the small, yet present male population that also participates in the program. So now WW stands for Why? Why? 

For $20 a month (plus a hefty dose of Illinois Sales Tax), I am judged by a mediocre app experience at least three times a day. I have lost 25 pounds along this journey. The more I lose, the less points I am allowed to eat. A typical supper involves Earl making a meatball sandwich. He then throws the meatballs by my face while I inhale the mist of the meat. On Friday nights we go all out and he blows the scent of tomato paste in my face. I then deduct a healthy dollop of the scant amount of points I’m allowed. He then eats the meatball sandwich because he gets decades more points than I’m allowed and then he eats a brownie while in hiding in the other room as  I weep.

I must tell you this whole Weight Watchers experience has me feeling as wonderful as an audience member of Oprah’s show where she released the bees.

At 50 years old, amid the pressures of being a gay man that has never really fit into any situation, let alone an urban gay community such as that found in the city of Chicago, I know that I’m suppose to try to turn back time and look as fantastic as possible. I should try to be healthy because, despite the fact that I’m a stress eater, the food supply is rampant with as many unhealthy cost-effective ingredients as possible, and I must work my ass off 10-12 hours a day so we can have nice things, I need to keep my numbers in a range that was determined in the 1950s when folks had actual food made from actual ingredients, time to sleep, and worked eight-ish hours a day.

Nothing brings more joy to my heart than eating an eighth of a soy burger on a bun and seeing that I’ve used my points up for the next three days. Oprah sits there on a “WW” commercial wolfing down tacos and making sing-song noises about how she can eat anything she wants. I had one taco in Salt Lake City, Utah during our vacation and “WW” told me I had just burned off a third of my daily points and by the end of the day I realized I did not earn the coveted Blue Dot, a passive aggressive reminder that once again I failed at keeping my points within range.

Every night I see these millennial types sitting in all the pubs and restaurants and other glorious things we have here in Chicago. They have plates of nachos, plenty of beers, and they’re smiling and laughing and having a grand time. I wedge myself into a booth, order a beer, and Yet Another Salad and by the end of the experience I’m slightly giddy but needing a shirt that says “Goodyear” up the side. The happy millennial types order another round as they look at me playing on my phone.

I’m looking down being passive aggressively scolded by the “WW” app. I have lost my dot again.

Health.

As a middle-aged American private pilot I am required by the FAA to have a physical every two years. This physical has to be completed by an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner. Luckily, there are several in the area so finding an AME in these parts isn’t a difficult thing to do. The physical is a thorough assessment of eye sight, color perception, reflexes, blood pressure and the like, overall physical well being and a review of medications and medical history. There are many disqualifying medications, luckily I’m not taking any of them. Yesterday I was deemed fit enough to fly for another two years. To celebrate I went on a solo flight last night and practiced some night landings to maintain my night currency. I have to have three full-stop landings within 90 days to take passengers up with me at night. One of the things that we talked about during my flight physical was my weight gain since my physical two years ago. My weight has always been akin to a yo-yo. I’m not the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life but I’m currently in the upper 2/3rds of my average weight swings and I’d like to shed a few pounds, primarily to lower my blood pressure naturally and to feel physically better about myself. That’s where smart choices come in. Unfortunately, out in the wild there’s a lot of false information out there when it comes to making healthy choices. For example, the convenience store on the corner sells fountain drinks in small, medium and large sizes: 24, 32 and 44 ounce cups. To combat any guilt of one consuming that much sugar, they offer two types of ice: Low Carb and Diet Ice. 660A0077-123F-4E0F-B759-8DFA70187607 Honestly, I don’t know what the difference between Low Carb and Diet Ice is, because ice should be frozen water, which shouldn’t have any calories nor carbs. I mean, water is water. I asked the clerk and she said it was plain water, there was nothing special about it other than it was Low Carb and good for diets. Every once in a while I treat myself to a diet pop, which I know isn’t good for me. I’ve cut back on diet pop consumption considerably, having such a drink only once or twice a week. I’ve lost a couple of pounds since making this adjustment, and every little bit helps. I’m also focusing on salads; Earl and I just enjoyed a wonderful salad for lunch this afternoon. Another thing that we are doing is eating at home more and saving eating out for when we travel. The most important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is moving, and this is something that I am trying to do on a daily basis. When you make your living sitting at a desk staring at a computer all day, it’s important to get up and move at least once an hour. I also go for two 20-minute walks during my workday, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Now that spring is here I plan on riding the bike before work, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been braving the traffic in the neighborhood and walking on the shoulder of our busy road. Every step counts. I have a goal of losing a privately-determined amount of weight by my birthday in July. It’ll take a lot of small steps to get there, but every step counts.
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Fat.

While I was in Greenville for work I ran into a former co-worker who now works for the same company that I do. Life works out that way. We shook hands and hugged on the street of the beautiful downtown area and then he commented on the fact that I had gained weight. Apparently it made him do a double-take. I hadn’t gone on a bike ride since before my surgery during the first week of July; the comment about my weight inspired me to get back on my bike this morning. I enjoyed a nice 13 mile bike ride through the local SUNY campus and around the quiet streets of suburbia. I feel good after my bike ride and I’m planning on finding the stamina to get back into my routine this week. Hopefully my body will cooperate and not go all wonky in my sensitive parts. I’m determined to not have that surgery ever again. On the road for work this past week I discovered that it’s nearly impossible to eat healthy at most restaurants scattered throughout this fine country of ours. Portions are gigantic and I always give into the temptation to clean my plate. Whenever I watch one of those foolish food competition programs, where the judge eats one spoonful of a gorgeous plate of food, I want to slap the taster right across the face and/or throw a living room lamp. The waste of delicious food, right there in technicolor. I hate to admit it but the comment about my weight gain stung a bit. I’d like to think that I fit into the growing popularity of the “Dad Bod”, but to label myself in such a way would be silly since I’ve never really been that fit in my life. Yeah, I can put a thousand or so miles on my bike during a riding season, but I’ve never been one to be that muscular; I’d rather throw the aforementioned lamp instead of hurling a Volkswagen or something. Nevertheless, I’m going to try for the bajillionth time to eat healthy again. The trend should last a day or two until I start reading another article about the acceptance of the Dad Bod. Rationalization is beautiful.
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Almost Like New.

Another discussion that some may find to be TMI. Please feel free to skip this entry if you get squeamish. I’m sitting at the kitchen table ready to head to bed as soon as I get ready to do so. Today was a fairly good day; the surgery went well, everyone at the hospital was friendly and thankfully, the doctor didn’t have to insert what’s known as a Supra Pubic Catheter. I had not one, not two, not three, but four strictures, or clumps of scar tissue, that had to be removed. The pictures of the surgery show my urethra to now be clean as whistle and I am wearing a regular catheter for the next 10 days. I’ll be able to take it out the day before my birthday. That will be a nice birthday present. After carrying around nearly 900 ml of fluid in my bladder for who knows how long, I feel great not having that “I have to pee” feeling on a constant basis. Things are flowing through the catheter and with the help of some pain medicine, I’m feeling alright. In fact, I’m pretty sure I feel better than I did at this stage of the game back when I had the same procedure in 2005. It could be because I know what to expect, but I’m doing alright. A little groggy but in good spirits. Earl was kind enough to take a couple of photos (with my consent, and maybe I suggested it for posterity’s sake), before and after the surgery. I don’t think I look too bad. IMG_1736 IMG_1727

Outside.

For the first time in 2015, I am able to sit on our front steps and write a blog entry without fear of frost bite, sleet, snow, hail or other weather calamity. It’s a good feeling. With the weather being less than stellar over the past month or so, I’ve been walking every morning in an effort to get ready for cycling season. The snow banks are slowly receding and we see a little more of our lawn every day. IMG_0808 They’re predicting that tonight’s low is going to be relatively sane for this time of the year (in the low 40s), so I’m determined to go on my first bike ride of the year tomorrow morning before work. My bike is in great shape, I’ll have my clothes readied before bed tonight so I will have very little in the way of excuses not to ride. I’m looking forward to getting this spring thing in motion.

Prep.

I recently signed to ride my bike in this year’s Tour de Cure. Last year I rode the 62 mile, or 100 km (metric-century) ride. This year I decided to push myself a little harder and signed up for the 100 mile ride. The event takes place in June.  If you’re interested in contributing a donation to my ride, please feel free to visit my Tour de Cure Personal Page.

While I have been riding my stationary bike in the basement on an intermittent basis this winter, I feel like the experience does little in the way of getting me ready for a season of road cycling. Since the weather started to creep back into normal ranges this week, I started my pre-workday walk. I spend 45 to 60 minutes walking the roads of our neighborhood. It was 15ºF this morning when I went out; I bundled up and still found the walk to be enjoyable. 

Once the snow is gone and the roads are relatively debris free, I plan on riding my bike before work as I have done in years past. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve ridden a 100-mile ride in a day and quite honestly I’m really looking forward to the experience. Most importanly, it’s all for a great cause.  I’m planning on this ride being just one of many longer road trips on my bike this year. My plan for the nice weather is that if I’m not flying an airplane, I’m riding my bike.

With the weather finally getting somewhere in the direction of spring, I have started spending more time outdoors. I have a bad habit of staying cooped up in the house, especially since I work from home, and it does me a world of good to see some sunshine and a change of scenery throughout the day. For today’s lunch hour I’m sitting in the Jeep armed with an unsweetened tea from Dunkin’ Donuts, just as I would do if I was working at the office.

Unlike the office experience, the view here is a little bit better. Instead of staring at a shopping center parking lot, I’m able to enjoy the likes of the Barge Canal, which is just starting to show signs of thawing.




It’s a great day to be lunching in the Jeep.





Walk.

The jump to Daylight Saving Time is partially motivated to remind the American populace that spring is here. To celebrate this non-fact, I decided to go for a walk this morning, no matter what the weather. It ended up being 22ºF when I awoke this morning, so I bundled up and went on my usual walk. My desired route is a 3 mile trek and though it was a little chilly, it was still enjoyable. The only drawback of this morning’s walk was that it’s not spring. It’s still winter, despite what the clock says. IMG_0653 IMG_0657 IMG_0659
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Sunshine.

Even though it’s 19 degrees Fahrenheit today, I had a pressing need to get outside and get some fresh air. January can be a tough month for me if I don’t experience enough sunshine during the month. Living in Upstate New York puts me at a disadvantage. I decided to bundle up in my ski jacket and get out there and walk. I was fumbling with my phone and forgot to smile. IMG_0437 I did my usual warmer weather walking routine, where I walk about 4000 steps in 20 minutes. The walk is up the hill from the house, around the nearby corner and then I backtrack and come back down the hill. IMG_0438 There was only one close call as I walked along the dirt covered shoulder of the road. A woman oversteered the curve up the hill and scared me enough to make me jump into the little snowbank. I glared at her. The sunshine did wonders for my spirit and put me in a better mood. I miss being outside. It’s time to start braving the cold, look forward to spring and start getting fresh air again whenever I can.

Pressure.

So I checked my blood pressure the other day and it was at 118/81. This is a heck of a lot better than the beginning of the year when I was 156/98. I think there’s quite a few contributing factors to the lowering of my blood pressure, including the new position at work I started in April, my love of flying, my increase in exercise and probably the blood pressure medicine. I have been prescribed Norvasc 5 mg daily. The Norvasc makes me feel like crap. I have a constant headache, I feel heavy and my neck and shoulder muscles constantly feel tight. I took Norvasc in the early ’00s for a year and while it did lower my blood pressure, I also gained 20 pounds. I’ve gained 8 lbs since starting Norvasc again. Last time I stopped taking the medicine and my weight went back to where it should be and the headaches stopped. I’m going to check with my physician about stopping the medicine again. I hate the idea of being dependent on a medication. Some will tell me that it comes with the territory when we age, but there’s a part of me that hopes that’s not completely true, because I really don’t want to have my body chemistry altered if it doesn’t really need to be. There’s a hippy-dippy granola type in me at times that believes that if we eat right, maintain regular exercise and live a reasonable lifestyle, our body will find the balance that it strives to obtain. I’m not a huge fan of pharmaceuticals anyway, they lost me when they started advertising on television. I’m going to carefully monitor my blood pressure for the next few weeks and see if I can maintain these lower numbers and then see about getting off the medicine. I know that once I’m prescription free I’ll feel much better.

Routine.

Ive been pretty lazy for the past month or so. I havent been riding my bike as much as I usually do at this time of year and my body is feeling the effects of that. Sleeping in until I need to go downstairs for work has pretty much been my norm. While I have enjoyed the extra sleep, I have to admit that I havent liked the way Ive physically felt during the day as a result of not doing some sort of exercise in the morning.

This morning I decided to change this.

After riding in the Tour de Cure at the beginning of the month, I discovered that the rear tire on my bike wouldnt hold air overnight. Itd be fine for a short ride; I could go 10-15 miles and itd be fine when I got back to the house, but I wasnt comfortable with the fact that the next morning the tire would be completely flat so last night I decided to do something about it. Now, Ive changed tires on the side of the road at least a dozen times, but I just could not get the tire back on the rim last night. A quick trip to Bikes and Boards, where they changed the tire in less than five minutes and I was ready to get back to my old routine this morning.

Even though I was working from home, I set the alarm for 5:45 a.m., did a quick check of my email and then I went for an 18 mile ride (in 80 minutes). The sky had that look of impending rain, but Mother Nature held off. The ride was enjoyable and more importantly, I felt amazing upon arriving home.

Its all a matter of routine for me.

My challenge for tomorrow is to maintain the routine again and to resist the urge to sleep in until work time. Im going to do it, but its going to be a challenge.

Im looking forward to how I feel at this time tomorrow.