Friday, January 28, 2011

Vanity & The Biggest Loser

I've been talking about The Biggest Loser a lot lately. This is the first season that I've actually started watching from day one of the season, because I got completely caught up in Rulon Gardner's Olympic saga in 2000 and to know that his weight has more than doubled, well, it's something else. I wanted to see how somebody who was a marvel of health (and, no, he wasn't exactly svelte, but a champion wrestler? Well, his body was built specifically for action, not necessarily for the cameras) ended up sliding so badly.

The biggest thing that bothers me about the show is the humiliation that the contestants need to go through. I'm not exactly shy about my body...but I'd feel quite exposed walking around amongst my friends & family in my underwear. Here, you have the most obese of the obese, and they're essentially in their underwear, and they're on television for millions of people. You're seeing them cry, puke, pass out. In a perfect world, these would be private moments. But, keeping those private doesn't necessarily make good TV.

I'm left wondering at what level you take away the "for the common good" and start investigating "for the best of the individual." I, honestly, believe that The Biggest Loser is good for the nation as a whole. There isn't an office that I know of that hasn't done some sort of "Biggest Loser" competition (and, while we can talk about whether weight loss should be the focus when you're dealing with health, most people, if they want to be healthier, need to lose weight...the only hope is that the weight loss is done in way that's as productive as possible for the body...I should note that weight programs are a significant portion of the Biggest Loser workout, and if weight loss were the only goal, they'd be near completely ignored). The Pound for Pound Challenge that they've initiated is a phenomenal idea. The show is taking a serious problem, finding obvious examples, and putting a harsh mirror onto the american public.

I'd look like a freaking supermodel on the show, and I'd balk at having cameras follow my workout & tape me in my underwear as I stepped on a scale. I guess it's obvious to anybody who signs up that they know what they're getting into. They're getting a certain amount of time with world class trainers & dietitians at the cost of having to check their humility, a certain amount of pride, and their privacy at the door.

I have to imagine, for the best of the contestants, it would be to provide the "Biggest Loser" experience, but to leave the cameras out. Put people who are having real & legitimate issues with their relationship with food at a place where they can concentrate only on themselves. Enable them to make the best decisions about food. Guide their workouts. Keep some element of competition so that people know that sliding will not be tolerated. But, for the love of god, allow people to preserve their dignity. I guess the question is, will that really do any good for anyone beyond the people in the room? Does that stripping of dignity empower more to take inspiration and work for themselves? I, of course, don't know the answers here. I just worry about psychological damage. But, is that damage any worse than going about your daily life thinking that every person you pass thinks you're repulsive (I don't think I'd think "that person is repulsive" if I passed the average contestant on the street, but I know I've certainly thought that people must think that way about me as I've been heavy)?

With all that said, I'd kick absolute ass at "The Moderate Loser," provided I didn't balk every single time a camera found me. I'm actually feeling pretty good about "me" these days. I've been allowing my food plan to slide a bit . . . I broke down and had a doughnut the other day, and I've had the random snack of chips. I've chosen french fries over a salad on several occasions. I've had second helpings when I didn't absolutely need them. With all that said, though, I'm not doing poorly. I'm still running, and I'm aware that the food decisions that I'm making are, perhaps not the best decisions. It's when I stop noticing that I'm making those decisions that I start getting in trouble. Right now, I'm in a golf-shirt that's just the tiniest bit tight around my biceps, which makes me feel all sorts of "guns" are, maybe .22's, hardly .45's...the shirt was obviously cut weird, but I'll take the ego boost. I actually haven't been doing much in the weight training department because of my elbow, which I'm having looked at next Wednesday...keep your fingers crossed that the pain I've had is just an abnormal & adverse reaction to winter and not something worse.

This morning, I did manage to run for a little bit. Last night was a cranky night from Leila. I had the alarm set for 4:30, but I set it for 5 after waking up between 3:30 and 4:00 with her. In all honesty, I'm not really sure who woke up, or what was going on, but I was out of bed, so I reset the alarm. After a quick dog walk, I managed a 30-something minute run. I actually pushed my pace below 10 minutes/mile (which is something, considering that I'm in several layers of clothing, some of which are trying their damndest to fall of my body).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

(Slightly Off Topic) Why I Didn't Work Out This Morning

I know, in my last post, that I went out of my way to say "no more excuses." Well, I have an excuse, and I think you'll forgive me this time.

The big news as Tuesday turned into Wednesday was snow. We were pretty sure we were getting something, but no idea how much. It was possible that we'd get a rainy/snowy mix that wouldn't amount to anything. It was possible that we'd get 16+ inches of the white stuff. I love those types of winter storms. I actually think the grocery stores are in cahoots with the weathermen to ensure that storm predictions make people crazy.

Anyway, snow. I woke up at 4:30 (because I'm a masochist) to walk the dogs, and it was obvious that there had been some form of wet precipitation the night before. While it was flurrying, there really wasn't anything to talk about.

However, as we walked, the snow started hitting us harder, and I noticed that I was slipping slight amounts. "Better safe than sorry," I thought as I cut the dogs' walk short & decided to not head out to run (but, instead, to spin).

After getting inside, I feed the dogs & Hobbes (the elder, cairn terrier) asks to go outside. Since I cut the walk short, I didn't think twice about letting him out, and of course Snickelfritz (the younger, border terrier) runs out after him. Seconds after they hit the yard, there was a very violent series of barking, and then nothing.

I walk outside to try to see what they've gotten into, and neither will come to me. Eventually, Hobbes comes by, poops, and I'm able to convince him to head through the door. But Snickelfritz stays under the porch. I can see him, I tempt him with a puppy treat, but nothing. I should note that he's all of the way under the porch and there's no way that I can easily go to retrieve him. I walk around to the other side of the porch, to better see what's going on, but it's too dark, and he simply won't come.

So, I walk back into the house, keeping Hobbes at bay (because he desperately wants to go outside again) to get a flash-light. With a flashlight, I walk all of the way around the porch (I need to head out to the steps, then all of the way around in order to get to this area, I'd draw a map, but my artistic skills suck) to see Snickelfritz coming out from under the deck. Dragging a possum corpse.

There are a plethora of emotions that run through your mind when you see a large, dead rodent. Complex, primal emotions: fight, flight, protect, flee, rescue, murder...they're all there. My first thought was "dear god, the fight lasted for seconds, if that, and this thing is larger than Snickelfritz...if the dogs killed it, it was diseased." Then, "what if it got a good bite in beforehand and Hobbes is currently trailing blood throughout the house?" Then, "how the fuck am I going to get rid of this thing?"

My most immediate concern was for my dogs. Hobbes walked into the house without aid, seemingly uninjured. Sure, there might be something wrong, but it's nothing to worry about right at that moment. Snickelfritz, though, well, he was dragging a rodent by the scruff of its neck, so of course he'd be moving funny. And now, here I am, near hysterical with fear. I'm sure there was a "oh, hi dad, aren't you proud of me?"-level emotion running through his head that immediately got confused. This dog knows my emotions better than I know them, myself. He looked up at me and immediately dropped the possum. In a firm voice, I said "drop it, leave it," and directed him into the house. Fortunately, I was able to convince him to go without actually forcing him to move, and I could see that he wasn't actually walking funny.

So, I round both dogs into the kitchen (because, in the family room, there are kids toys and stuff, and I didn't know if I'd be treating wounds), put up the gates, and check them out. Neither dog appears to be injured in the least. Hobbes, honestly, appears no different. There's the smallest amount of blood on Snick's muzzle, but that's it. My brain goes back to the "diseased" route.

Then I remember that I'm dealing with a possum...maybe it's, well, simply "playing possum." I head back upstairs to check with Duffy whether or not I have the right animal (it's not yet 5:00 in the morning, I haven't had any coffee, and therefore I have no idea if I'm capable of thinking straight) and then inform her of what happened, and that I was going to take the animal to the compost pile.

My thoughts here were twofold. First, make sure that Duffy knows what's going on, just in case the dogs start acting crazy, but don't tell her that our dogs just killed a diseased possum in our yard, because that was going to require significant cleanup and vet trips and a lot of stuff that's better thought of when a situation is fully evaluated. Next, give the possum time to move on it's own if it was faking, and leave it in the compost pile if we need to do tests for rabies

So, I grab a snow shovel and head back outside. The possum has not moved one iota. "Shit," I whisper under my breath and start to scoop it into the shovel. I manage to get it into the air and then work my way to the compost pile. As soon as I put the rodent down, it stands up, looks at me as if to say "thanks for the lift," and then walks away. No limp. No scurry. Walks, like it's a cat. I follow it for a little while, flabbergasted, until it looks back and hisses, and then I let it be. Damn possum played possum.

I head back inside, check the dogs for injuries one last time, put ice cubes in the water bowl to force Snickelfritz to drink water (he can't see an ice cube and not drink it) washing the blood from his muzzle, head back upstairs to give Duffy the update, and then head back down to spin.

Only, well, by the time I get on the spinning bike, my legs aren't quite working right. Yuck.

Anyway, that was my ordeal this morning . . . I'll eat right all day & might even try the bike again tonight. Or, just wait until tomorrow and walk the dogs & see what happens from there.

Monday, January 24, 2011

On the road again

I think I've let my marathon post say up there for long enough. I wanted to give it time, step back from this blog and just revel in the fact that I ran a marathon. It's really cool, and something I never actually thought I'd be able to. But, now it's time to start getting back to what I wanted . . . writing about my health.

I'm still running like a fiend. I really am - I have the Gettysburg North-South Marathon on May 1. There appear to be two camps of people, those who run a marathon to say they did it, and then never go back . . . and me. I'm not sure I actually have 'the marathon bug,' but I know I can do better than my previous soirée, and I do better when I have a goal in mind. So, right now, I have just over 3 months to continue my training. I got this. I've basically started both running & walking (over lunch) 2-3 days a work week, and then taking a day from the weekend to run a half-marathon. This past weekend has left me with a very sore left heel, but I think that's because I must have stepped on something, didn't feel it because my feet were frozen, so I just kept on going. In short, this weekend's run was very fucking cold.

Other areas of "health," however, I'm lacking with. I switched jobs at the end of the December, and with that, I no longer have an office. For the most part, this isn't that big an issue, but I was holding true to my "pushups every time I close or open my office door" rule, and now the rule is moot. Boo. So, I need to start getting more serious with my strength training. Pushups & situps - they're all I need to go with everything else I'm doing, so I just need to stop making excuses.

Speaking of making excuses, I need to stop making them for some mental-health issues. I've been battling a "come & go" funk for the longest time. Sometimes, I just feel a little blue. Sometimes, it takes all of my effort to keep from breaking into tears when I exhale. The thing about this is that I have no idea why I'm feeling this way. So, I need to find somebody who is completely removed from bias from my life to help me sort out my head. When I'm "good," I'm damn good. Most of the time, I'm "pretty ok," but those low points have been popping up, lower, deeper, and lasting longer each time. I can't live like that. Any advice here is beyond welcome (feel free to email if you don't want to comment).