Monday, August 25, 2014

CONSTITUTIONALS: Kind of a mission statement.

For my whole adult life I've made bad decisions, and the way that's effected me most obviously (if not most profoundly) is with my weight. My weight has been the barometer of my health, both mental and physical, for as long as I can remember. Over the past eighteen years I've weighed as little as 180 (not skinny, but as thin as I get) and as much as 335. Most of the time I'm somewhere in between, but the changes are constant, and a good indicator of unstable habits and an unsustainable lifestyle.

I started smoking when I was fourteen and that continued through adulthood. I drink, too (see: this entire blog). Sometimes I drink too much. I've never enjoyed exercise, but can eat somewhat responsibly for months at a time when I'm in the right frame of mind. Two years ago, for the first time in my adult life, I made a positive change that seems to have stuck. When I started dating the woman I now call my girlfriend I had to make a choice. She was an adamant non-smoker, and it was obvious that the cigarettes were going to impede our relationship. It really wasn't that hard a choice; smoking was bad for me and she was good for me, so I quit smoking. Now, here's the amazing thing: I have not smoked for nearly two years. This is significant, it's the first and only lasting positive change I've made for my health in my life. I owe my girlfriend for the motivation, but I credit myself for actually sticking to it.

For these two years I've allowed myself to eat and drink whatever I wanted, rationalizing it by saying, hey, I quit smoking. Thing is, I'm a compulsive eater. So over these two years my weight has shot up from the relatively stable 220 I'd maintained for a while to 280 pounds. There's no excuse for that. Earlier this summer I finally blew out a knee (knees don't last that long when they're expected to carry around the weight of a man and a young teenager combined). So, faced with that, I decided to make some changes. I've been eating healthier, and I got serious about the exercise that my knee surgeon recommended for physical therapy. I've been taking walks almost daily, and some of those walks have become long walks. Some of them have become hikes. Over the past two months I've dropped about ten pounds. What makes this surprising and noteworthy is that, for the first time, I'm enjoying the exercise. I actually like getting up and being active. I think that the difference is that I'm a non-smoker now. Getting that debilitating habit out of my life has improved literally every aspect of it.

I use the Map My Walk phone app to log my walks, and I take pictures while I'm out there. I've enjoyed competing with myself, trying to stay out for longer periods, going longer distances, trudging up hills, etc. It has become a hobby I enjoy so much that I've decided to start logging it at the blog. Maybe keeping up with my progress here, and posting my pictures and jotting down my ideas, will make it more fun. Maybe that will make me stick with it longer. That's the rationale behind this first post in a brand new category, constitutionals.

Wish me luck.

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