Saturday, January 16, 2010

The 300

All my adult life I have struggled trying to control my weight. It seems like when I turned 18, my metabolism came to a screeching halt. When I played sports in high school, and that was all the time, I never even gave a second thought to staying in shape. We did a calorie counting actvity in one of my classes, and with all the sports and work at home (cleaning the barn, splitting wood, etc.) I was burning 4500 calories per day. All that changed when I went to college. My one PE class that I was taking twice a week was nowhere close to enough activity to keep me in shape and I really didn't have time to do anything else. Between classes, studying, and work, I didn't even take the time to learn what I could do to exercise without organized sports.

Gaining weight was a slow process, and I wasn't really aware of the problem until my 10-year class reunion, when I weighed in at 307 pounds. I was the only one in my entire class who had "let themselves go," so to speak. When I returned home, I started looking for something I could do to exercise. As an avid comic book reader I had always been interested in martial arts, so I looked into taking Karate. I threw myself into Karate, going to classes four days a week and traveling to tournaments on weekends. I actually won a couple of trophies for forms and sparring. I enjoyed the competition and the discipline. I won the most dedicated student award in 1994, having not missed a class for an entire year. I even went to the kids' classes to help out with them. That appealed to the teacher in me. When one of the school's black belt participants returned after a long absense, I was the one who gave him his refresher course on the required kata (memorized techniques in sequence) so he could participate in class. All told, I did karate for two and a half years, until I moved away from Michigan City, where I lived at the time. I ended up at sankyu, or the lowest of the three degrees of brown belt in my school's system. I would have been a black belt in about one more year had I stayed. At the end of my Karate experience I was down to about 250 pounds, and felt great. But after that, the weight came back, and then some.

Now, years later, I am bicycling. I don't have time (or the cartilege in my knees) to do Karate. With a lot of work last year, I dropped from 340 pounds down to a low of 282. I love biking. I really do. I love how the wind cools me no matter how hot it is and that I actually go somewhere as a result of the exercise. I will ride for miles outside and shoot for an average speed as a goal. I typically aim for 16 mph and try to maintain that speed for at least 30 minutes. I ride around the neighborhoods and subdivisions around us where there is little traffic. It's what I look forward to when I'm sitting in my summer school classroom.

But now that it's winter and there's snow on the ground, I'm stuck on a trainer that elevates my rear wheel and resists it magnetically. I can watch TV while I pedal, but I don't get the same level of workout. My speedometer is on my front wheel, which is fixed, so I have no idea how fast I'm going.

The holidays are fun, and I take an occasional break from dieting so I don't just quit altogether. This year, Christmas, combined with vacation and enjoying the food and drink took its toll. Chocolate Mint Truffle coffee creamer really got me at 45 calories per tablespoon! I slipped back up to 299.6 despite still working out 3-5 times a week on break and was not happy. I swore to myself that when I lost that weight, I would never be 300 pounds again. So now, I'm working out even harder while watching action movies on DVD, so I get caught up in the excitement and work harder. My only measure of how hard I work is how much I sweat. I may have to get a pulse monitor so I can have numbers to work with. The good thing about numbers is that they don't lie, and they keep me honest as well.

Wish me luck in my battle against the 300.

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