A couple of years ago, I mentioned the dangers of a sedentary life as a writer (or anyone in general), and how I had developed a DVT in my lower left leg. That incident clearly has a strong chance of occurring to anyone who is sedentary and not active.
Most, if not the majority of full-time writers, spend hours seated while writing. Walking desks are good ways to avoid this as is the new desks where you can raise the work area and stand instead of being seated all the time.
But there are other dangers to avoid, too. For me, it was silent and steadily happening without me paying that much attention. Even though I kept active in the gym, going at least four times a week, I was gaining weight–a lot of weight, and ignoring the symptoms.
My self-denial was one of my worst enemies. When I mowed grass during the early spring, I struggled to push the mower for long periods of time on the level part of our yard. The hillsides, which are at forty-five degree angles, were far worse. After only a half hour of mowing, my chest was tight and I was gasping for air. I had to sit down on the back deck in the shade. Sweat rolled off me, and my chest ached. I feared a possible heart attack.
I kept telling myself that I was okay, and that going to the gym was keeping strong. Lawn mowing, however, forced me to think through my facade. I knew something wasn’t right.
My wife scheduled us doctor appointments in August for physicals and blood work. I went and we had a new doctor instead of our regular one. She asked pointed questions, and we were honest.
When they took my weight, I was astounded. I weighed 283 lbs, which was my highest weight. I should have never allowed myself to get that heavy. We had a scale in our bathroom, but to me, it was invisible (subconsciously). I was too close to 300 lbs. That was a problem I planned to correct.
I’m not sure what it is about getting older, but I often thought about my situation before we had our physicals. I knew I was too heavy, and I worried about what would happen if I passed out or fell later within the next few years. My wife and daughter couldn’t possibly move me. I’d be stuck on the floor until paramedics arrived. I needed to lose weight.
Another problem I suffered was my knees hurt all the time. I had a difficult time leaning over to tie my shoes. Squatting to pick something up was impossible. The pain in my knees was one of the most painful things I endured. I had no flexibility in my legs. My son kept telling me to stretch.
I went for a job interview and the bruise where they had taken my blood was on the inside of my left elbow. I got the job and found myself aching at the end of each work day, due to the concrete floors. I didn’t know how long I could endure it.
Our blood work came back, and my wife was in tears as she told me I was pre-diabetic. She worried that I was going to die. She didn’t want to lose me. She said that the doctor told her that I needed to lose weight. We both did. I nodded and said that I planned to, and I was serious about it. My target weight goal was 245 lbs. Losing weight required MORE than exercise. It meant changing our food habits.
I cut breads and potatoes. I increased my proteins and cut bad carbs. Each morning (5-6 days/week now) I started aerobics on the treadmill. We walked twenty minutes each day before we worked out. I drank more water. I ate more steamed vegetables.
With these changes and the amount of constant walking I did at my new job, the pounds melted away. By the end of December I had lost 35 lbs. I’m at 248 lbs. and I feel better than I have in years. My flexibility has returned. The last time I had mowed the lawn before the frost, I wasn’t tired or gasping for air. I can do squats without weights and without pain. I’m wearing pants I’ve not worn in three years. I have an adjustable belt that has had to have two sections cut off. Shirts that were too snug in August are now like tents on me.
What helped besides the doctor’s visit, changing my diet, and aerobic exercise? I started keeping a journal. I weigh each morning, write it down, and then after I work out, I write down what exercises we did at the gym. Keeping a daily track record keeps the goal in my head. It reminds me not to stray off the plan. Thirty-five pounds less is great.
However, I’m not finished. I’ve set a new goal to reach 225 lbs. I’ll post more later. We still need to do followup appointments with our doctor.
Until next time ….