Went into the lion’s den for the first time since declaring myself invincible last night. I think I did OK. In English, I went to a brew pub to say goodbye to some friends that are leaving and I did not drink or eat anything. To say it was difficult was an understatement. Especially when, being a beer aficionado (ex), the street board out front was advertising their barley wine. One of my all time favorite beers. No, instead I quietly and painfully sipped my coffee and stared longingly at the pizza being eaten. I tried not to be obvious but will admit to wiping a bit of drool from my chin on occasion. Mostly at the beer…
This is how I measure success now. Can I say no. Can I sit at the bar and order water. Can I have salad at the pizza buffet. Can I do all of this without turning into an angry, bitter, troll. And most importantly, can I do it for the rest of my life. In theory (if I live an average male lifespan), I only need to do it about 10,000 more times and I will go to the grave a winner. But who is counting? Certainly not me. Remember my last post?
In some discussions last night it was clear that people were trying to apply what I was saying to their lifestyle and engage me in arguments about the pros and cons of drinking beer as an athlete. I kept telling them that this was a personal battle. That my body was different. I’m not sure they got it. The one doc I have spoken with genuinely about being an athlete, dealing with weight issues and the ups and downs of alcohol explained it thus. My body does not metabolize alcohol… AT ALL (this is GENERALIZING… doctor friends, don’t beat me up for the rudimentary explanation). This means that every calorie I take in from alcohol goes directly to fat. That, plus all the extra calories in the drink itself (of course I couldn’t like light beers at 100 calories… Oh no… My favorites have 300-500 calories a pint) are an absolute no win, no matter HOW much I exercise. Not to mention the bar food that goes along with it and my absolute inability to turn down nachos or wings and you can see how bad this gets.
It was also very clear last winter when I changed my habits for the “Biggest Loser” challenge. The results were obvious. I dropped inches and pounds very successfully. However, when the challenge was over and I started with the old eating/drinking habits again, the weight shot back on (and even went up MORE) EVEN THOUGH I was doing much longer and harder workouts. Hmm… lessee… good nutrition/no drinking…? Lose weight. Eat garbage/drink garbage…? Puff up like a toad. Even I can figure that out.
So I got to thinking about why I was eating so poorly and drinking so much. It boils down to a vicious cycle that is incredibly easy to slip into and damn near impossible to bail out of. First, I started working out more and pushing my limits. But I did so at too heavy a weight. This put extra stress on my ankles, knees, pelvis and back (remember, I have a bionic back and a big zipper of a scar to prove it). I would come home from workouts incredibly sore and tired (but I couldn’t sleep…). Tylenol/Advil did not help and I don’t have anything stronger. Nor would I take chemicals regularly anyway… just trading one bad habit (alcohol) for another (Percoset, et al.) is another level of stupid even I wouldn’t approach. Alcohol is cheap (relatively), readily available and eases the pain. However, it also comes with a tolerance that slowly builds until you have to put away a LOT of it to ease the pain. This, in turn, puts on more weight. …and repeat. Each cycle getting progressively worse. The bad food habits (MAN I love chips…) were just enhanced by the beer.
My tipping point was Christmas. After completing the 12 days of Christmas running challenge, I couldn’t walk up the stairs, sit in a chair for more than 10 minutes and was averaging about 2 hours of sleep a night.
So how am I going to try to break the cycle? Cut back on mileage, go low impact (bike/swim) more, strength train and focus on weight loss FIRST.
My other problem is (and ALWAYS has been) will power. Like I told my wife, last night it took EVERY OUNCE of my will power not to order one of those yummy barley wines and a pizza. The problem is I only have about ONE ounce of will power. That’s not much to give in a food fight. And the problem is that I could (and have) say “no” a thousand times, but I don’t WANT to and have never been able to convince myself it’s the right thing to do, even if I do it. It just pisses me off. That is the part that has to change for this to be a lifetime thing.
See, I can’t do the “in moderation” thing. For two reasons. First, as stated before, my body does not metabolize alcohol so even one drink is detrimental. Second, with me, there is no such thing as “one drink” (remember that “will power” thing?).
Sure, it’s my fault. I’m weak. That’s been one of the toughest things to come to grips with.
But just like the only way to run faster is to… well… run faster… The only way to get better at weight control is by… taking control of my weight.
I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement from people who have thanked me for saying things that they have been thinking. They say it takes courage to admit weakness and transgression. While I thank them for this I also remind them that I am merely sharing my personal journey. The only person that needs to own and/or personalize this is me. And that they shouldn’t think that I am making general statements about what I think everyone should do. We all walk our own path. I’m sharing mine. I would never tell anyone else where or how to walk.
Maybe I hope it will help keep me honest with myself.
Finally and completely unrelatedly (is that a word?), as I troll the internet I stumble on awesome things people say, some intentionally, some by accident. I am going to start sharing those here just for fun. I’ve got a ton of them but I start with my friend Rhodri, who gave me this random gem that had me giggling for days. You have to be a gamer to even understand it (bonus points if you get the game right), but it is profound in it’s simplicity, randomness and irony.
“Never pick up a duck in a dungeon”